|whitecotton (whitecotton) wrote in pressie,|
@ 2009-09-18 02:42:00
|Entry tags:||fic, rating: r, team snitch, whitecotton|
The Idiot's Guide to Courtship by WhiteCotton
Title: The Idiot’s Guide to Courtship
Word Count: 7,500
Summary: Summary: With an Idiot’s Guide to direct his steps, how could Harry’s courtship of Severus possibly fail?
Author Notes/Disclaimers/Betas Written for djin7, who has once again given us a Snarry Games to remember. While very many expressions of appreciation have been wrapped together into this story, I would like to thank her explicitly for her wonderful sense of community. This inimitable trait has been a blessing for us all, enabling us to extend our love for the fandom into ever greater stretches of the imagination. Many, many thanks to you, djin7, leaving some left over for joanwilder and atypicalsnowman for their work on this gift
I do not own or make any money from the characters or situations belonging, in all rights, to JK Rowling.
The Idiot’s Guide to Courtship
Harry walked slowly up the steps onto the dais and behind the chairs of the faculty. Once he reached his usual seat, he pulled out the chair, careful not to allow its legs to scrape jarringly, and set his attention to his plate.
Almost as an afterthought, he inclined his head to his right. “Good evening, Severus,” he said quietly, his face a measure of his hard-won gravity.
Although grudgingly given, Harry nevertheless felt warmed by the greeting and considered it tacit permission to initiate conversation.
“I’m glad I caught you, Severus,” he said, smoothing his napkin into a perfect rectangle on his lap. “I would be interested in your opinion on the Batty versus Markham debate.” Despite receiving only a harried grunt, Harry continued, occasionally waving his fork as punctuation for the more pressing points of his argument. “Their positions seem, at first glance, to be divided between the possibility for existential phenomenon during the initial, modular stage of spell creation, and the concept that magic is too far divorced from the human consciousness to discern such influence. Personally, I accept there is merit in both arguments, though it would seem there is more to be said for the concept of duality – between the consciousness and the nonfigurative – which both would dismiss.
“As one who is familiar with both forms of spell creation, what is your considered opinion, Severus?” He bent his attention to his carrots and waited.
After much huffing and grinding of teeth, Severus said, “Markham was a fool and a menace. He had no more idea of how to create the necessary power to initiate magical innovation than I have of crocheting a nightcap. The man was a charlatan, and Batty was clearly wasting his intelligence by indulging in such an ignominious debate.”
“Hm, interesting,” Harry mused. “Although, Markham did manage to separate the strings of an Accio, thereby rendering null all previous concepts of solely associative bands of magic. That necessitated a radical rethink of many of our stable foundational beliefs, so surely should be respected.” When that didn’t get an intelligible response, only further grinding of teeth, he added, “Don’t you think?”
“Not at all,” Severus replied, again with seeming reluctance. “There were many others who had come to the same conclusion at that time; Markham merely had the answer given to him for a problem that had long confused him.”
Harry nodded slowly, digesting what Severus had said. Two seats away, Hermione caught his eye. She smiled and gave him a discreet thumbs-up before turning back to her dinner. Doing the same, Harry sneaked a sidelong look at his neighbour, trying to judge how his part in the conversation had been received.
From the pursed lips and clenched jaw, it didn’t look good; the way Severus then attacked his meat had Harry’s stomach dropping further.
Deflated, Harry allowed the rest of dinner to pass in silence.
Just before the scraping of chairs announced a mass departure, Harry scrunched his napkin into a ball and turned to Severus. “If you have no plans for tonight, I would enjoy hearing your opinion on the role of the human conscious in spell crafting. Perhaps over a bottle of wine?”
Severus, both hands on the edge of the table, ready to rise, stared at him for a moment, his face blank of all expression. Then shades of disappointment and loss appeared to mar the mask, making Harry sad without knowing the reason why.
“I have marking to do,” he said, and pushed his chair away from the table and stood up to leave the Hall.
“Perhaps another time?” Harry said quickly, before Severus had fully turned away.
“Perhaps,” said Severus after a pause, not looking at Harry, and then he strode off in a flare of black.
Harry waved his arm in a negligent manner and continued, “While the hypothesis appeared sound, on examination, I found the spell’s force injected a pseudo-mechanical effect on the subject matter, which intensified the resulting change that magical variation alone could not have achieved.” He angled his head slightly, in a self-deprecating way. “Of course, it has no practical purpose within the obvious limitations, but the same techniques can be applied elsewhere in situations meriting greater scrutiny.”
Sinking into the armchair, he took a healthy sip of butterbeer and waited for the verdict.
On the pouffe at his feet, her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands, Hermione stared at him, wide-eyed. After a long blink, she smiled and nodded. “I particularly like the ‘pseudo-mechanical’. It sounds very intelligent.” She rocked forwards and asked, “What if he asks for details? Do you have anything else?”
“Okay,” she said and then paused for thought, glancing towards the book on the table – Paradigmatic Construction of Spell-Crafte: An Idiot’s Guide. A wicked smile accompanied her next words. “Has your experimentation detrimentally modified the original purpose of the subject?”
Harry grinned and let his entwined fingers rest on his stomach in what he thought was inimitably academic. “While I confess there is some ... change, its purpose is no less viable.”
Clapping her hands, Hermione laughed. “Bravo, Harry! Bravo!”
Pleased, Harry laughed with her, enjoying the moment, before becoming serious again. He picked up the book from the table, stroked the tan-coloured wings which were once board covers – the result of his frustration-laden Banishing Charm – and said, “Actually, I don’t think it’s working.” He glanced at her from beneath his eyelashes. “This evening he looked at me like I was a potion ingredient he had to dissect.”
“Oh Harry.” Hermione rested a hand on his knee and rubbed circles there with her thumb. “He just needs to accept this new you.”
“But that’s it; it isn’t me.”
She bit her lip and then said quietly, gently, “This was your idea, Harry.”
He sighed. “I know.”
Running a thumb and forefinger along a perfect crease in his austere robes, he tried to summon the enthusiasm that had generated this idea. It had seemed to be the perfect solution over a month ago, but now he had his doubts.
After that disastrous Ministry ceremony two years after the Battle, Harry had avoided all contact with Severus for several years. That night – which he couldn’t think about without squirming with embarrassment – Harry had fumbled and mumbled his way through a very painful conversation with Severus, followed by a second attempt an hour later, spurred on by copious glasses of champagne, which had resulted in Severus thrusting him into Molly Weasley’s arms with the instruction to ‘grow up!’.
As his abiding memory of that night was the look of contempt as Harry had slurred and stuttered, any hope of persuading Severus that Harry was anything but a bumbling idiot, not worthy of his notice, had been dispelled.
And Harry so wanted to be noticed by Severus, finding other men somehow flat and lifeless in comparison. He wanted a challenge in his bed, someone strong to rail against when his memories were too close to the present, who would sit and talk to him, not stroke him as though he were a king. But most of all, what he wanted was mystery, a man who was enigmatic and held Harry’s interest beyond the first evening. Too many times Harry had opened his door for a relative stranger, only to see the guy out the next morning knowing everything from the name of his first crup to his favourite great-aunt. They were just too ready to disgorge everything about themselves, wanting to be known by the great Harry Potter.
At the age of twenty-five, he sincerely regretted not persevering with Severus Snape. Even if it had ended badly, the experience would have appeased this perpetual aching want.
So when Minerva had offered him a post as Dean of House he had jumped at the chance. If it had been a teaching role he would have laughed at the offer, knowing he had little aptitude for theory. However, Hermione, the new Charms Professor, had explained that the role was part of Minerva’s plan to establish a single focus system of student care. For each house there was to be one person – a dean – charged with looking after its students, dedicating their whole effort to that purpose without the time-consuming distractions of a teaching role. Harry, so the letter told him, was to be Dean of Gryffindor.
When he’d looked at it from all angles, Harry had viewed his return to Hogwarts in the light of Fate stepping in and giving his desire for Severus a little nudge. It had also been the catalyst for his idea, designed that same day when he had come across his spell-craft book in a dark corner of Grimmauld’s library.
Was there a better way to impress Severus Snape, the Half-Blood Prince, than to dazzle him with Harry’s own talent for making spells? There were potions, of course, but Harry knew he didn’t have a hope in Hades of meeting Severus on the same line, let alone anywhere near the middle. That said, Harry didn’t have any talent in making spells, either; but that was a small matter when he had motivation, determination and Paradigmatic Construction of Spell-Crafte: An Idiot’s Guide.
Any doubts he had about the idea were swamped when he thought of the benefits. How could Severus disregard him if Harry met him on the same level? If he also dressed like an adult, spoke like one, and had the manners of one, surely Severus would look at him with new eyes and see Harry was not the fool he had thought him.
As far as plans went, this one was foolproof.
Scribbling off a hasty note of acceptance for Minerva, Harry had then spent the remaining few weeks before he was expected at Hogwarts going through the Idiot’s Guide.
With Hermione’s help predicting Severus’ likely responses, they had converted the stuff he had culled from it into scripted conversations, which he could deliver in easy, bite-sized pieces at will.
It had taken a long, hard look in the mirror one morning to motivate him into the next step. Tilting his head this way and that, he had tried to assess his body dispassionately. His proportions were good; his chest, waist and legs just right for his height, and his cock was nothing to be ashamed of, he knew. Certainly there was nothing to make Severus disappointed. In fact, recalling those gits Severus had been seen with on occasion, dining out or traipsing round Diagon Alley, there was a possibility his body would be a step up.
He suspected that if he had a physical weak point, it was the outer package. Eyeing the pile of clothes on his bed, he decided that nothing short of a complete transformation would do. How that was to be accomplished was easy: Harry had only to use Severus as his sartorial guide and he was sure to hit his mark.
A visit to Groodles and Bunthorn, the gentleman wizard tailors, and Harry was soon decked out in what he thought was suitable attire for a Snape paramour: gone were the worn and faded t-shirts, gone were the jeans and trainers, and gone was any hint of colour other than black. Instead, a fortnight later Harry emerged from his new rooms at the base of Gryffindor Tower the perfect image of a staid, studious and sensible young man.
At first the students had been confused by this pallid version of their hero, but as Harry could only keep up the main act – that the staid, studious and sensible went deeper than the cloth – for short periods, they soon pronounced him as cool as ever.
Severus, on the other hand, had in general been decidedly unimpressed. They had met for the first time at breakfast, two weeks before term started. As Harry had walked the length of the Great Hall towards the High Table, Severus at first had eyed him with approval. He had even smiled slightly when Harry had chosen a seat next to him, causing Harry’s colour to heighten and his cock to perk up in his trousers.
By the end of the meal, with Harry trying out some of his first scripted conversations, Severus’ face had taken on a hint of his former closed-off look, tainting the end of their conversation with a sneering sarcasm that had been absent from the beginning of it. By the time Harry had thrown himself on his bed later, he had felt abandoned by his Severus interpretation skills.
Now into October, he and his mirror had reached a consensus that while the monk-like robes were mostly comfortable and eminently practical, they were much too thick for the mild autumn and boring if worn day after day with no respite. Thinking up conversations about spell making was just as tedious, and getting harder and harder to do. Worse was that it was increasingly difficult to restrain that bubble of Harryness; that contrary nature of his that seemed intent on mucking up his plans by tempting him to slouch at the table, to laugh uproariously, or to throw bread rolls at Hagrid.
And for all Harry’s efforts, Severus seemed to be drawing farther away from him than ever.
At first, he had seemed unwillingly intrigued by this new Harry. He was attracted to Harry’s company, sitting by him in meetings and engaging him in discussing such things as the Dark Arts and their defence and Muggle films. Although Harry found these subjects preferable to spell making, he knew Severus was lowering his conversation to what he thought was Harry’s level ... Well, it was, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to make him appear to be at Severus’ level. But no matter how many times Harry turned these miscellaneous discussions towards what he knew would be of interest to him, Severus now sought his company less and less.
Harry would just have to try harder.
The next morning Harry donned the long, thick, figure-disguising robes, gave his reflection a stern talking to, and hitched up his resolve.
Not five minutes later, it was in tatters.
Just as he had jumped off the main staircase, giving free rein to a last burst of energy before assuming a more sedate pace better suited to the new Harry, he had caught sight of Severus. He saw his robes first of course, as there was none others like them in Hogwarts. Able to flow and ebb without the mechanics of Severus’ body to propel them, they generally arrested attention wherever they were. At the moment they were half hidden around the corner of the dungeons corridor, their hems lifting in a wave as though a wind caught them.
Perfect timing had always been one of Harry’s strongest suits, so he judged this an opportunity to ensnare one Severus Snape before breakfast. Plastering a humble and studious expression onto his face, Harry rounded the corner, ready to engage in one more attempt at seduction.
Only to find that Severus was not alone.
The new Dean of Slytherin, an obsequious bloke with more insincerity in his manner than Lockhart and Malfoy combined, was the last person Harry wanted to see in a cosy huddle with Severus. Especially when the bastard had his hand on Severus’ arm and was ... was stroking it!
Undecided whether to sink his teeth into an ankle or go for the throat, Harry just stood there and watched as the Dean tipped his head back and laughed at something Severus said.
Harry’s resolve drooped pathetically.
It was too much for him to bear after the failures of the past month, so he turned away, determined to find somewhere to lick his wounds in peace. He had taken two steps when that beautiful, sultry voice called him back.
“Dean Potter, a moment, if you please.”
With a sigh, Harry turned on his heel and faced Severus. He suspected he was a vision of hopelessness, but couldn’t will up the enthusiasm to replace it with one of his new Harry attitudes. Seeing another man bend his head so intimately close to Severus’ distinguished face, Harry felt his dreams slipping away from him. How could he compete with a man who spoke fluent potions, as the Slytherin Dean did, match him with cunning and wit, or share a history of growing up in the snake pit? Even if the bloke was a toadying git, he still had more in common with Severus than Harry had in his little finger; adding all that to more than passably handsome, although in a smarmy way, Harry realised he had been pipped at the post.
Fighting the urge to flee, Harry stood unmoving while Severus closed the distance between them, the Slytherin Dean on his heels.
“I have one or two concerns regarding one of your Gryffindors, Dean Potter. Do you have the time to discuss them, perhaps if we go into breakfast early?”
Normally Harry would have been inwardly jumping for joy at the invitation, but the hovering presence of the other Dean doused any pleasure. Flicking his eyes from one to the other, he tried to be gracious and intelligent. However, it was the old Harry’s voice that emerged, in all its stuttering, bumbling glory.
“Er, yes, of course, sir – Severus. Whenever – now, if you want me ... To talk to me, I mean...”
Dean Bastard raised an eyebrow disdainfully, which annoyed the fuck out of Harry as that was the one thing the new Harry had been unable to pull off without scrunching up his cheek.
“Thank you, Martin, for the loan of the book, but don’t let me detain you any longer.”
Severus’ voice had been distant, impersonal, but to Harry’s continued chagrin, the Slytherin Dean merely smiled, waved a hand negligently, and stepped around Harry towards the Entrance Hall.
A few paces on, he half-turned and, still smiling, said, “I shall meet you in your quarters at eight sharp, Severus.” And then he walked on again.
“Yes, yes, I know; it will be Laphroaig as usual, not Ogden’s,” he called over his shoulder, that hand waving again as he rounded the corner.
Harry had never thought to master a negligent wave and he kicked himself for the oversight.
“Shall we, Dean Potter?” Severus asked with a sigh, bringing Harry’s attention back to him.
Harry thought about it; thought about sitting through breakfast while his heart was in his socks. He couldn’t do it, not yet.
Unable even to muster a shadow of maturity, Harry knew he had to be on his own before he could collect himself.
“Are you all right?”
“What?” Harry looked into Severus’ eyes and saw the reflection of a fool there. “Actually, just remembered that I can’t ... Not this morning. Can we do it – er, talk later?”
Severus’ eyes narrowed and he looked searchingly into Harry’s eyes. After a moment, in which Harry was certain Severus saw his dejection, Severus jerked his head up the corridor.
“As you heard, I have an ... appointment tonight,” Severus said. “My schedule is also rather full for today. Perhaps we could meet tomorrow afternoon, in my office?”
“Yes, that would be great. I mean good.”
After another searching look, Severus nodded briefly. “Four o’clock tomorrow, my office.”
And then he was gone, leaving Harry standing in the middle of the dark corridor, wishing Molly Weasley’s big bosom was there to cry into.
“You can’t give up, now, Harry. It just means you’ll have to try harder,” was Hermione’s opinion when they met up for a quiet, after-dinner drink by the lake.
It was all well and good for her to say that, although he appreciated her support. He pulled the collar of his woollen robes away from his neck, feeling the unseasonable warmth of the day hiss out in a gush of steam, and lay back against a tree.
“You weren’t there, Hermione. They were standing so close together I couldn’t have put a hand between them.” His piteous whine ratcheted up a notch as he added, “And they have a date for tonight!”
“It might not be a real date, you know,” she patted his leg sympathetically, “it could just be sex.”
Harry felt the pained groan rumble up from around his heart and dropped his head onto his chest as it reached his mouth.
She patted his leg again.
The following morning, Harry had grabbed a corner of the Staff Room for his own and was fighting off all comers with a growl, his nose buried in Paradigmatic Construction of Spell-Crafte: An Idiot’s Guide.
Normally, he would be out and about, helping Hagrid with his classes or trailing around after the first-years as they experienced broom flying for the first time. Hogwarts was, for him, like coming home. Regardless of the agreeable abode he had made of Grimmauld Place, bringing it kicking and screaming – literally – into some semblance of cheeriness and comfort, there was no place like Hogwarts. He belonged here, loved it from its misshapen walls to its North and South draughts.
When he walked its halls, it almost seemed to sing to him; a soft lullaby that eased and caressed his need to be secure and cared for. But not now. Yesterday he had found an enemy living within its walls, one who stood between him and Severus. Not only that, but one whom Severus was sure to think shone so brilliantly he cast a shadow over Harry’s own suit.
Why couldn’t he have fallen in love with someone normal, like Neville or Ron? He had said that to them once or twice, and then a third and fourth time with malicious delight when he noted their shudders. It would have been so much easier if he had fallen for one of the string of blokes who’d enticed him with their firm, muscled bodies, uncomplicated characters, and their hearts already half his for the taking.
He kicked the leg of the coffee table, attracting the stares of the room’s other occupants, filling up on mid-morning caffeine. With a sheepish apology to everyone in general, he buried his head again.
Without knowing how long Dean Bastard and Severus had been seeing each other, it was difficult to know whether Harry had lost his chance or if there was still time to hoist the other out of the running. Although, the git knowing Severus preferred Laphroaig, which Harry hadn’t, suggested it had been going on for some time. Just one more month – week, he amended when he saw how few pages were left in the Idiot’s Guide – and if Severus hadn’t bent him over a desk by then, he would throw in the towel.
Resting his head back against the chair, he pondered what he should do then. The thought of leaving Hogwarts caused an ache, a solid one that made him want to blubber like a baby; when he thought of leaving Severus, the ache turned into a breathless pain.
Ron might think he was nuts to want Severus, but the truth was that Harry didn’t just want him; he needed him. It may have started out as wanting to scratch a Severus-sized itch, but after a month of being in his company – forced on Severus or willingly – he truly had fallen in love with him. It had taken yesterday’s surprising encounter to hammer that home to Harry; to see it written in big letters in front of his face. So if there was no Severus, could he bear to stay around him, watching him with someone else?
Brave Harry might be, but he was not a fucking masochist. No, he would have to leave Hogwarts, and that thought sent him deeper into the cushions of the chair.
“Of course, Minerva.”
Jerking upright with the skill of an oft-drilled soldier, Harry turned towards the room. There, holding the door open for the Headmistress was Severus.
Quickly shoving the Idiot’s Guide underneath the cushion of his chair, Harry pulled together his most studious persona. Knowing that time was fast running out, he gave it more strength than ever, even going so far as to cross his arms and tuck his hands into the sleeves of his robes, rather like a monk would do. That done, he eased his face into a half frown, half-pensive image that hopefully presented the impression of one in profound thought. With a last minute burst of inspiration, he added protruding lips and a slight nod. Then, keeping his face directed towards the empty chair opposite, he waited.
A minute or two later, he sensed a presence by his side and from the corner of his eye saw the ebb and flow of Severus’ robes.
Raising his eyes and affecting a start of surprise, Harry acknowledged Severus with a stately incline of the head. “Good day to you, Severus. Would you care to join me?”
Severus’ brows creased in annoyance, he nevertheless folded himself gracefully into the chair and sat there, staring at Harry.
Once again feeling as though he were on a slab, with Severus’ knife poised above him, Harry faltered slightly. Then unwanted images of Dean Bastard, Severus’ cock embedded deep in his arse, bolstered his determination to oust him from the lists.
Recalling his latest cribbed conversation word for word, again scripted with Hermione’s assistance, Harry entered the breach. “You find me musing on a little problem, Severus.” He nodded solemnly at Severus, though with a little stumble on noting how his eyes narrowed and his lips pinched. With true Gryffindor bravery, Harry tried his best to ignore the signs of increased annoyance and persisted. “I have been considering Gamp’s Law relative to other spells where a similar forced symbiosis would be of benefit. However, the constructive elements necessary are beyond the merely functional – being derivative of societal equities – which negates commonality parallels. Dietetic needs aside, there are surely more important elemental societal requirements that deserve similar parity.” Harry nodded, protruding his lips again. “One’s mind naturally gravitates to our defensive spells, doesn’t it?”
It seemed that Severus’ mind did not, for he growled and shook his head. A moment later his eyes narrowed even further, which Harry would have sworn was impossible, and said, “Tell me, Dean Potter, having thought about our societal equities, have you an opinion on the Ministry’s integration of pre-school Muggle-borns?”
Before Harry could stop himself, his shoulders twitched, his eyes brightened and his brain switched up a gear. Luckily, he caught himself before he could expound on his probably stupid thoughts on the matter and dampened old Harry with a heavy boot to the metaphorical head.
His interest in the Ministry’s surprisingly wholesome policy thus adjured to the back of his mind, he was now left confused. He was unable to account for Severus’ neat turn of the topic under discussion; other than that he had made a mess of his cribbed notes. Playing back what he had said, he was certain he had understood what the book had said on it; after all, it was an idiot’s guide.
However, here he was, giving Severus every opportunity to indulge in fascinating – for Severus, that is – debate, and yet he had turned it on a sickle. What was with him?
Peering hard at Severus – Merlin, they were mere slits now! – he tried to detect any sign of what was going on in that wonderful head. But, yet again, his Severus Snape interpretation skills were absent.
With a start, Harry jerked back to attention. Now what, though? One part of him was straining to discuss the Ministry, but the other, saner part was resolute in keeping the courting of Severus as his only focus. He was just about to give in to the old Harry, when the Slytherin Dean ambled over to them, two mugs of coffee in his hands.
“Here you are, Severus.”
The pain in Harry’s heart, which had begun piercing him yesterday morning, dug an inch deeper. Almost twisting and writhing with jealousy, Harry did the only thing he could do: he fled.
“Right-o, Severus – must be off – got to go,” he rattled off, pulling himself up and out of the chair onto his awkward, uncooperative feet. “Cheerio,” he said, a fake smile on his face, “must dash.”
While trying to avoid touching the usurper, Harry stumbled against the wall and coloured with embarrassment. The Slytherin Dean sniggered, and Harry had to clench his fists by his sides to stop himself from punching the fucking bastard’s lights out. His legs stiff, he started to walk away, only to be brought up short by a hand on his arm.
“Don’t forget we have a meeting this afternoon at four, will you?”
“No, I won’t. I’ll be there,” Harry said, again with the fake smile.
The hand stayed there for a moment while Severus searched his face. Severus’ own was a picture of confusion, which rattled Harry a bit. Before Harry could determine what it was about, the confusion was masked and the hand slipped away.
“Good,” said Severus and then turned to accept the offered cup of coffee, leaving Harry to walk disconsolately out of the room.
Once he’d closed the door behind him, Harry gave vent to his feelings. “Fucking arsehole! Who the hell does he think he is, stealing Severus away from me?”
With his hands deep in his pockets and rebelliously scuffing his leather-soled shoes on the flags, Harry stormed down the corridor on his way back to his rooms, the very picture of a pissed off dean.
He was still venting by the time he reached the sanctuary of Gryffindor Tower; still ranting as he threw his briefcase onto his sitting room table and thumped the back of the sofa, so it was a while before he realised he wasn’t alone.
“You tell him, Harry!”
Blinking, Harry focussed on his visitor.
“Don’t let the Slytherin bastard beat you, mate,” said Ron, his legs crossed at the ankles and feet on the pouffe. “You go get your man!”
Harry sagged, all the air of his temper releasing into an agonising feeling of loss.
“But he’s not mine, he’s the Slytherin bastard’s,” he wailed, sinking onto the sofa next to Ron.
“Rubbish!” Ron rallied, thrusting a pumpkin juice into Harry’s hand and grabbing a butterbeer for himself. “You just need to stick at it, mate.”
“No. I’ve lost him.”
“I’m telling you, mate, that’s rubbish. I’ve seen the bloke and he’s nothing compared to you.”
“Yeah, maybe so, but you haven’t seen them together,” Harry whined and then winced when the tone reminded him of some of his more irritating female acquaintances.
Ron, however, and being the good friend he was, kindly ignored it and took a swig of his beer. “Don’t need to. Hermione says he’s like Lockhart and you know what Snape thought of him.”
Harry was about to argue more when he stopped short. Actually, that was true. The Slytherin Dean and Lockhart were very similar; he’d thought so himself. So why was Severus attracted to him? And why hadn’t Harry thought to model himself on being a nancy, instead going for the enormously difficult academe thing. When he thought about it, he could have pulled off a Lockhart with no problems at all, and it would not have required he twist his tongue into knots with multi-syllable words he didn’t understand.
He hadn’t because he knew Severus had hated Lockhart’s mincing with a passion. So why did he fancy the Slytherin Dean, with his curly hair and lilac robes?
That was a thought.
“But if Severus doesn’t like him that way, why is he dating him?”
“Dunno, mate, but I think you’re reading too much into it, coming to the wrong conclusion.” Ron turned his head and looked at Harry intently. “You do know that’s a bad habit of yours, don’t you?”
Harry, his temper bristling, glared and pointedly ignored the comment.
“What are you doing here, anyway?” he asked instead.
“Waiting for Hermione, of course.” Ron tipped his head back and gulped his beer.
“Yeah, but she doesn’t live here, Ron. Why not wait in her rooms?”
“Cushions,” Ron said, grimacing. “Tassels.”
“Right,” said Harry, handing Ron another butterbeer.
Harry looked down at his robes and swore. “Look what you’ve done, you little shit!”
Cackling madly, Peeves blew raspberries to the tune of the funeral march.
“But why pink?” Harry asked angrily, then, knowing it must be close on four o’clock, added, “Never mind!”
Ducking into an empty classroom rather than make an exhibition of himself, Harry lost no time in restoring his robes to midnight black. However, it took several Scourgify Charms to get rid of all traces of pink paint, and by that time, the Hogwarts clock had already started chiming the hour.
Swearing roundly, Harry hurried out of the classroom and ran full speed towards the dungeons. He made it in three minutes flat, out of breath and leaving one fallen Hufflepuff behind him. Tearing round the last bend in the corridor, he skidded to a halt right outside Severus’ office, coming face to face with the man himself and Hermione.
“Never mind, Professor Granger,” Severus growled.
Looking from one to the other, Harry’s sixth sense told him something was up. Of course that could have been because while Severus was looking Harry up and down in distaste, Hermione was making little flappy signals behind his back.
Not as eloquent as Ron was in Hermione language, Harry tried glaring at her. She merely rolled her eyes and began flapping again.
“Shall we, Dean Potter?” Severus asked ominously, gesturing towards his office door.
With a last enquiring glance at Hermione, which he successfully turned to one of grave censure when Severus caught him, he followed the direction of Severus’ hand.
As soon as the door had closed – and locked? – Severus turned a suspiciously sweet smile to Harry and directed their movements to the wingback chairs by the fire.
Already hot and sweaty from his mad dash through the castle, that smile made Harry even more uncomfortable. He had never seen a smile quite like that, unless one counted the one he gave Trelawney to accompany his daily verbal annihilation of her character. Nevertheless, he had never seen it directed at him before, and it made him more nervous than ever.
“So, Dean Potter,” Severus began, while pouring two cups of tea from the tray at his side. “I asked you here because of my concerns regarding Mr Thistlethwaite – one sugar or two? – While it is not unusual for only children to feel the separation from their parents more severely than those from larger families, I feel it to be excessive in Mr Thistlethwaite’s case.”
Harry took the offered cup and settled himself in the chair, trying to ease his legs as far away from the heat of the fire as possible.
“Well,” Harry said, “what do you suggest?”
That smile, which had disappeared while Severus was busy making the tea, reappeared, and Harry suspected a bell was tolling somewhere.
“Ah, but as his Dean of House, I subject myself to your advice, Dean Potter.” Saying which, Severus leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs, waiting.
Which was when Harry realised he was in deep water without the benefit of floaties. Or in this case, a crib sheet. It hadn’t occurred to him that he would be expected to discuss something seriously that was not of his instigation. So to have Severus waiting for him to say something, something that matched the new Harry’s normal mode of conversation, stunned him into silence.
“I – erm ... I ...”
Or rather, into the old Harry’s normal gibbering.
“Come now, Potter. Surely, having been given the responsibility for their welfare, you will have spent many hours analysing the approach you should take?”
Actually, Harry had done exactly that, but none of it had been reworded, scripted and proofread with Severus in mind. His methods were Harry-like, right down to the ‘be prepared to Disillusion first-year's teddies to prevent teasing’ line.
“My apologies; have I caught you unprepared?”
And then, before Harry could wonder at Severus echoing his thoughts, Severus reached into his pocket, drew out Paradigmatic Construction of Spell-Crafte: An Idiot’s Guide, and threw it into Harry’s lap.
While Harry was glad he now had the key to Hermione’s flapping mime, remembering how he’d inadvertently spelled wings onto the book, dismay was the overriding feeling. He just stared at the book for a moment, willing it to be some treatise relevant to their current discussion. Unfortunately the title on the spine refused to change to Oddities, Weirdos and Other Magical Children: An Interpretation, and Harry’s life-long journey towards complete mortification was realised.
“My, my,” Severus sneered. “Nothing to say? No explanation?”
No. Harry had nothing to say. Keeping his eyes downwards, Harry carefully placed the book onto the side-table and stood up.
“Goodbye, Severus,” he said, his voice breaking on the name. Without waiting for a response, his heart thumping and his face burning with shame, he turned to leave.
“Oh no you don’t, Potter!”
Feeling the full force of that cutting tone like blades in his sweat-soaked back, Harry closed his eyes. He couldn’t bear to face Severus, to see the look of mockery and disgust there. Instead he kept his back to him and waited for the diatribe to come. He didn’t have long to wait.
“Is this really who you want to be? Some mind-numbing bore who looks a cross between a professional mourner and the officiate?” Harry heard the scrape of chair legs and the flap of Severus’ robes as he too stood. “Why on earth would you think it a good idea, Potter? You must realise no one wants that!”
That hit Harry low. Spinning round, his face livid, he yelled, “Well, obviously not you!”
Severus’ lips twisted cruelly at that, the hand he held on the back of his chair whitening as he clenched hard.
“That is beside the point!” Severus snapped. “This act you’ve been putting on is a joke. A joke that will stop this minute!”
Hands clenched into fists, Harry jutted out his chin. “I’m a joke, am I?”
“Yes, and if I have my way it will go no further.” Severus stepped closer. “Take off your robes.”
Harry shook his head to clear his ears. “What did you just say?”
“Take off those robes!”
He shook his head again. “What—”
“Just take off the fucking robes! You will not leave this room with any vestige of this ridiculous charade still intact,” Severus growled, stepping even closer. “Do I make myself clear?”
“But – I can’t—”
The voice unbearably reminiscent of Potions lessons, Harry obeyed without further protestation or thought. With much haste, he unbuttoned his robes, fingers fumbling on numerous buttons, ties and the cummerbund. He thought of making one last attempt of getting out of doing it, but a look at Severus’ determined face and any hope of respite was lost. Finally, he managed to undo everything that needed undoing and let his robes fall to the floor in thick, wool folds.
“What ... You -- you ...!”
“That was what I was trying to tell you,” Harry said self-consciously, standing there in shoes, socks and black silk boxers. “They’re too hot to wear anything underneath them.”
“Then why would you wear them?”
Beyond caring and thinking only that as soon as he left Severus’ office, he wouldn’t stop walking until he got to Inverness, Harry finally laid his cards on the table.
“For you,” he said.
The ensuing silence was a strange mix of the excruciatingly uncomfortable and the eminently comfortable. Harry put it down to standing there, in his undies, fully expecting Severus to break the silence with disparaging laughter, while a much welcome cool draught played on his over-heated skin. It was not unexpected, therefore, that Harry didn’t know whether he was on his arse or his elbow.
“Explain to me why wearing the most god-awful robes would be for my benefit? And, while we are at it, why you saw the need to appear interested in a subject you obviously know nothing about?”
Harry waved his arms impatiently. “Isn’t it obvious – Haven’t I been obvious?” he said through gritted teeth. “I fancy you, you berk. I’ve been trying to court you!”
Then, just like that, the eminently comfortable withered and died at the sound of Severus’ rather too-loud guffaw. Hurriedly, his skin prickling and his heart in shreds, Harry bent down and grabbed his robes.
One moment Severus was several feet away, laughing, and the next his hand was just there, resting on Harry’s arm and applying gentle pressure. Another moment and Harry was in Severus’ arms, pressed into a bruising kiss.
And it was everything Harry had dreamt it would be. Delicious trickles of pleasure and excitement bubbled up in his chest, then spread through his veins and straight into his cock. His hips jerked, thrusting against Severus’ thigh, and the bliss of it had him moaning and floating.
He was pushed backwards until his back hit the bookshelves and then a thigh was slipped between his legs, Severus’ hard cock thrusting against his.
“Merlin, yes!” he whispered. “Please!”
“Oh don’t concern yourself with begging, Harry; it’s coming,” Severus hissed into his ear at the same time as a hand caressed its way down his stomach and underneath the waistband of his boxers.
“Nngh ... !”
After a little shuffling, Severus had both their cocks in his hand, pumping them, twisting them, while skilfully massaging Harry’s balls with the tips of his fingers. His back pressed hard against the shelves, Severus’ whole body grinding against his, for many minutes Harry could do nothing but surrender to the wealth of sensation. That is, until Severus dropped his head to nuzzle at Harry’s neck, and the desperate need to watch them together forced him into peering between their bodies.
Harry-the-cock-whore was in heaven.
Pushing his cock up into the cup of Severus’ hand with short, erratic thrusts of his hips, Harry came in thick spurts, covering Severus’ robes. Barely seconds later and Severus came with a long, drawn out groan, his head thrown back, trapping Harry in a hooded-eyed gaze.
Through a lack of support, they slid down onto the floor, the wooden shelves hitting every single knob of Harry’s spine painfully. But he didn’t care; he was breathless, covered in come, and in Severus’ arms.
They sat there for several minutes, panting but otherwise silent, until finally Severus recovered enough to operate his mouth.
“Well, that was nice. Unexpected but nice.”
Unsure whether that was a good omen or not, and having more or less learned by his mistakes, Harry decided to be up front. “’Nice’ as in ‘we should do this again sometime’ or in ‘we must do this again sometime’?”
Severus chuckled dryly. “Oh definitely the latter, Harry.”
Pleased – in fact deliriously happy – there was just one thing he had to make clear. “This is serious for me, Severus, and has been for some time. So if we do this, it means we do it exclusively, as in no more Slytherin Deans.”
Severus looked at him, one eyebrow raised and the other scrunched low over the eye, lips protruding nicely and a profound expression of thought over the whole: Harry was awed.
“Do you mean Martin?”
“Yes, I mean Martin.”
Both of Severus’ eyebrows shot into his hairline. “Harry,” he said as though to a first-year. “You do realise that not everyone is gay, don’t you? In fact, I know for certain that you and I are the only members of the faculty who are; Martin certainly isn’t.”
Harry dismissed the need for a response by deeming it past time they returned to the kissing. And it was as perfect this time as the first had been – perhaps even better.
It was some time before they emerged, once again panting, and Harry leant dreamily into Severus’ embrace, resting his beleaguered back.
“So. All this – the clothes, the discussions and the permanent frown – was because you liked me?”
Snuggling deeper into Severus’ arms, Harry nodded.
“Even though I was bemoaning the fact that such a wonderful body was hidden behind shapeless robes, regretting the chance to talk about something other than fucking academic subjects, and missing seeing that particular brilliance and vitality that is so very you?”
Harry dropped his head into his hands and groaned.
“And you used an idiot’s guide to court me?”
Harry nodded again.
“Naturally,” said Severus.