|snarryhols (snarryhols) wrote in snarry_holidays,|
@ 2007-12-19 08:10:00
|Entry tags:||fic, post-dh: ewe, rated: nc-17|
Pure, Bright Joy (With a Side Order of Masturbation), for bridgetmkennit
Title: Pure, Bright Joy (With a Side Order of Masturbation)
Word Count: 7,000
Rating: (A slightly tame overall) NC-17
Pairing: Harry/Snape, Harry/Draco, Harry/Snape/Draco
Warnings: DH spoilers (fairly canon compliant, although definitely EWE), swearing, er, wanking, threesome(ish!)
Disclaimer: All characters belong to JKR et al. Please don’t sue, I’m only playing with them!
Summary: Voldemort is dead, and Severus Snape is next on the list of Death Eaters to be executed. Draco Malfoy – Death Eater turned informant – is in fear for his life. Harry Potter’s lost and lonely, and in need of distraction. When the three meet, all does not go as expected! From bridgetmkennit’s list of kinks I took Snape’s doe, lots of plot, hidden glances, threesome with Draco and Snape very much alive. Her main prompt was smoke. Many thanks to A, Z and A for amazingly speedy and helpful beta jobs. Any remaining mistakes are entirely my fault. Very happy holidays bridgetmkennit - I hope you enjoy!
It’s a common, bold, plain fact that every educated wizard and witch knows: to create a dark artefact, you need blood. And it’s equally common knowledge – although perhaps shared more shiftily, in whispers with fingers twitched to avert bad fortune – that, if a dark artefact is set alight, any unlucky witnesses will hear it scream.
It’s just an old wives tale of course. Something to terrify the children with, to make them huddle in fear indoors on dark nights, instead of roaming free and dangerously. Just an old wives tale. But doesn’t make it any less true.
Imagine, if you will, the scent of smoke. It’s nasty, acrid, choking. The sparks burn the back of your throat, and make your eyes water with sooty irritation. You can feel the warmth around you, surrounding you, with a harsh heat that’s on the edge of pain. The ceiling collapses. You think you must be dead, but you’re in too much agony to know for sure.
They took your reputation; they took your wand. You knew they’d be back to take your life. It’s silent apart from the crackling of the flames, but you think you can hear the screams. It’s almost reassuring to know that, if you must die, Malfoy Manor – that ridiculous, luxurious memorial to darkness and evil – will be pulled down screaming with you.
You wonder – in a kind of delirious panic – if Lord Voldemort and Father and Aunt Bella and the whole happy gang will be there in hell to meet you. You chose them in life, so it seems only fitting that in death they should provide your own private, eternal hell.
You try to die with dignity, but it’s too hard, so you just try to die. You wish… But it’s too late. You sink and fall. And faintly, on the air, the house screams…
* * *
In the days immediately after the war, Harry had found it impossible to settle. Victory had come at a price, of course, and it was a price almost too hard to bear, but, in many, guilty, ways, all too easy. Ron and Hermione were alive. He was alive. His losses were deep and awful, but he’d mourned for his parents, for Sirius, for Dumbledore. What were a few more ghosts to one who had already lost so much? He wondered if he were cold and cruel. He could not cry. He panicked that he’d saved the world, only to lose his own humanity.
It took a week – and then he wept, until his eyes hurt so much he wondered if his tears were blood. Hermione and Ron clung to him – suddenly so frail, so broken – against the tide of agony.
The three of them – alive, alive, alive. The word a constant beat against his brain. Alive – alive – alive. The guilt threaded by a pure bright joy. Alive.
Each day brought new experiences, new ways to help mute the pain, make it more compact, more manageable. Less all-encompassing. The joy allowed to seep back through in a myriad ways. Mrs Weasley helped. Fred’s funeral – packed with gags and booby traps – helped. Going to Australia to track down Hermione’s parents helped.
Other things were more ambiguous. Hermione and Ron’s engagement helped as much as it hurt – the happiness immense, the pain almost unbearable. Three had never been a crowd until now, and Ron and Hermione tried so hard to keep him included that it almost made things worse. Quietly splitting up with Ginny was bad – because it upset him to hurt such a dear friend, one who was almost a sister to him (and that was part of the problem, although only part) – and good, because he didn’t want his life mapped out that way: job, marriage, home, kids.
It was terrifying to wake up each morning and not know what was coming next – but a good kind of terrifying. Invigorating. Glorious to be finally free of the easy manipulations of Dumbledore. To be in control of his own destiny, as far as he could be.
And if a series of illicit encounters in Muggle London (with women, and – somewhat to his surprise – men), wasn’t exactly healthy, well it wasn’t illegal or bad in any sense. He was an 18 year old boy who’d grown up too fast, and in many ways far too slowly, for fuck’s sake. He used protection. And if these encounters made him feel lonely and slightly sordid, then that was his own lookout, right?
But – and now he no longer wanted to be an Auror (was sick, sick, sick of detective work and dark magic and danger and death) – he knew he had to do something. And fast, before his clammy grip on his sanity slipped, and he ended up gibbering on a bed in St Mungo’s. Because – and he wanted to make it quite clear (even within the safe space of his own head) – while he didn’t want to be dramatic in any way, life was fucking hard and really, if you’ve saved the world by 17, what’s left for you to look forward to?
Trouble is, you all too often get what you wish for…
* * *
Harry wondered, quite idly as he approached Azkaban prison to pick up Death Eater house-guest number one, if he were completely insane or just an enormous chump.
When Kingsley had suggested, in an impressively off-hand manner, that Professor Snape’s head was for the chopping block, and only Harry could save him, Harry had reacted in the only way he knew how: he’d yelled a bit, and then dragged Hermione off to help him research ways that they could rescue Snape, Merlin rot him.
Turns out there were plenty of ways: all of them as objectionable as each other. It had taken weeks of arguments with Snape (who was, of course, abjectly ungrateful for the help, the nasty, sarcastic, greasy git) to get him to agree to anything. Weeks during which Harry found himself surprisingly perky, now that he had an irritating cause to fight for – and with.
They’d finally settled on a bond of such awfulness that Harry felt quite sick, despite the fact that he knew (intellectually) that they’d passed up on much worse. He knew that Snape was only agreeing to it because it would be just as bad for him, Harry, as for Snape himself. Rather like tying an albatross around your neck.
There was the hideous sympathetic magic aspect – that if Snape tried to hurt Harry, the feeling would rebound onto him. There was the awful control aspect – that Harry could, if he activated the bond, command Snape to do anything he desired, even kill himself. And then – the worst bit – the terrible proximity part, which meant that if they moved even one step too far apart (and too far was the width of a room, in all honesty), Snape would be in absolute agony.
All in all, Harry thought, as he reflected grimly on the only way he was allowed to save Snape from death, it wouldn’t be fun. And if Snape didn’t murder him first, he’d murder Snape. Or perhaps Snape would strike the fatal blow and then expire from the backlash.
And – to top it off – after he’d bound himself to the greasy git, he then had to go to St Mungo’s and pick up Death Eater house-guest number two. Draco fucking Malfoy. Who had, it seemed, survived an impressive number of assassination attempts, but finally had a close call with a fire. He was now broke, friendless, entirely alone in the world, homeless and temporarily bed-bound (it was going to be a tough job not to call him Legless, Harry thought), and in need of a safe place to say. And who would dare attack the home of the Boy Who Lived?
Harry thought he might just save the assassins the trouble and burn down his house himself. He was going to want to die soon enough. One Slytherin was bad enough, but two? He doubted very much that he had the strength. It was going to be a disaster.
* * *
The binding ceremony was short and awful. A few muttered words to wind the two of them together in a lopsided balance of power. A long length of ribbon wrapped around their wrists, which cut down into their palms and disintegrated with a stinging pain, binding their physical presences together. Snape refused to look at Harry as the wizard carried out the formalities, bending forward slightly so that his dark, overlong hair formed an effective curtain around his face.
And when they left, Snape following close behind Harry, he didn’t bother to let Harry know that he was injured – a parting present from the various Death Eaters in the jail – evidently preferring to give Harry a heart attack when he fainted dead away.
And it was only then that Harry noticed quite how dirty and unkempt Snape looked, could see the dark bruises flowering on Snape’s cheek, and the blotchy marks around his throat that looked suspiciously like the imprint of fingers.
He’d been planning on picking up a sod from St Mungo’s, but instead he had to add one to their collection, picking nervously at his fingers while a Mediwitch treated Snape’s ribs (broken), his internal bruising, his ankle (broken) and cheekbone (broken).
And then – to Harry’s supreme shock – when Snape woke up, instead of being in a towering temper, and taking out his ire on Harry himself, he was soft and dizzy and confused. And opened his arms looking scared, as if he expected to be rejected. And Harry hugged him, too tight for his mending ribs he was sure, and felt a range of contradictory emotions buzzing around in his brain.
The next day, Snape was back to normal – cantankerous, rude and unpleasant. But he’d slipped, and he knew he’d slipped, and knew that Harry knew he’d slipped. And it made things somehow a little easier to bear. And when Snape whimpered in pain the next night, no longer quite so good at keeping his barriers raised so high (the memory of Nagini’s bite evidently a dark terror in his mind), and Harry – used, so used, to nightmares – slipped in bed beside him and stroked his cheek sleepily, he didn’t push Harry away.
And Harry tried to breathe, as he wondered, helplessly, how a man could go from hatred to sympathy to love in so short and ridiculous a space.
And then the assassin set St Mungo’s on fire.
* * *
Harry wondered if he was going mad. It had only been a week, but he was quite sure, almost positive, that he was at least on the borders of insanity, if not the full blown doolally deal. Bolted up in a tiny cottage in the middle of nowhere, unable to even go out for a breath of fresh air, in case a madman tried to set fire to them all. Because they were in hiding, you see. In hiding from the assassin who was doing his level best to kill Draco. Harry’s oldest enemy. Who was still just as petulant, and stuck up, and annoying, and bloody gorgeous as he’d ever been. And who’d actually laughed when Harry had called him Legless, and insulted him back with a vengeance, until Harry had almost felt normal again, just like being back at school.
And Snape was killing him in a peculiar kind of way, all harsh edges and dark, brooding stares that played on Harry’s nerves and set his senses alight. And Draco wasn’t much better, all platinum blond good looks, and thin toned body, and a mouth that was unbearably kissable, despite the utter filth that sometimes came out of it.
Harry felt ridiculously, unbearably protective of them both, and that was what convinced him that he must be insane. Because he must be insane to want to keep Malfoy safe, and if anyone could take care of himself it was Snape. And the alternative – that he actually cared about the two men, who were two of the only people in the world who didn’t give a fuck about his reputation as hero and world-saver – was too unbelievable to process. So he concluded he was insane and getting madder by the day, by the hour even.
* * *
Draco stretched irritably in bed. “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a good wank?”
Harry started, and Snape made a faint snorting noise, not looking up from the book he was reading.
“It’s been too long, that’s what,” Draco continued, wrinkling his nose and looking infuriated. He caught Harry’s look. “What?” he snapped. “It’s not like I can just nip off to the bathroom, what with being temporarily bed-bound at the moment. And,” he continued, his voice taking on a whining tone. “If I try, then I have to bend down slightly, and my back hurts. Which kills my mood, if you see what I mean.”
Harry couldn’t quite believe that Draco was still going on about it. “Shut up, Malfoy,” he muttered.
Draco pulled a face. “If you were any sort of friend, you’d offer to help out,” he said plaintively.
There was an audible splutter from Snape. Harry and Draco turned to look at him, but he didn’t look up.
“Don’t be such an arse,” Harry said, feeling himself blush.
“Oh, go on,” Draco said, his voice taking on a mock seductive tone. “With your gorgeous face to look at, it’ll hardly take any time at all.”
Draco scowled. “Can’t you just leave your prudish values at the door for just ten minutes? You can shut your eyes, if the sight of my cock offends you. I’m dying here, Potter. This is killing me.”
“Are you being serious?” Harry said, feeling a tremor of something peculiar zip through his guts.
Draco looked smug. “My hero,” he said with a snort. “I knew you’d agree. Well, come here, then.”
Harry frowned and got up slowly, hyper aware of how ridiculous this situation was.
Draco tugged him down, and planted a purposely-wet kiss on his lips.
“Ew,” Harry spluttered, and Draco cracked up against him, tugging Harry closer and licking his face between laughs. But the licks somehow became kisses, sloppy to be sure, but not exactly unpleasant. Not unpleasant at all.
Harry could feel Snape watching him – them. He began to feel intensely uncomfortable… and intensely turned on.
Draco’s face had gone red, and he managed to stop laughing with visible effort. He eyed Harry with some amusement, and drew back the covers to reveal an impressive erection tenting his pyjama bottoms. He yanked his bottoms down, and pulled Harry’s hand down to meet his cock, before lying back, looking rather like the cat that had got the cream. Harry stroked Draco’s cock experimentally. He’d done this to another bloke before, and more than once, but never in broad daylight, and never entirely sober.
In less than a minute Draco had lost his amused expression, and was biting his lip, his cheeks flushed. Harry looked up. As soon as Draco saw Harry looking at him, he shut his eyes.
“Coward,” Harry breathed.
“Am not!” Draco said indignantly, his eyes snapping open. “I can look you in the eye the whole time.”
Harry raised his eyebrows, and stared hard at Draco.
Draco’s lips were parted, and he flushed under Harry’s scrutiny, but didn’t look away. “That feels…. adequate,” he managed, and tried to look supercilious, and failed.
Snape’s eyes were burning into the back of Harry’s head. He felt like a traitor, and he wasn’t quite sure why. Draco’s flesh was warm and stiff under his hand, and he could feel his own cock stiffening in response. Draco really was attractive, Harry thought, as he stared into Draco’s face, not sure whether he was trying to simply embarrass him, or whether he was actually enjoying watching Draco’s face flush with arousal. But Draco was refusing to be embarrassed; refusing to look away – and the moans he was starting to make, albeit through clenched teeth, were starting to make Harry feel immensely hot and bothered.
It was only when Draco licked his lips, looking right at Harry, and came with a shudder and a sharp cry, that Harry realised that Snape had left the room. And he didn’t know why that mattered, but it did.
* * *
Harry nearly tripped over Snape when he left the room on his way to the bathroom. He’d expected the aftermath of a Malfoy orgasm to be distinctly unpleasant, and Draco had been predictably insulting and ungrateful. But his face had been red with something that wasn’t anger, and Harry sensed that there was something more than irritation fuelling Draco’s reaction to him. He’d only done as asked, after all. Harry knew that he was a bit slow on the uptake sometimes, but surely a bloke didn’t ask you to wank him off unless he meant something by it? He’d sighed as Draco’s tone got colder and colder as he insulted his technique, and decided that retreat was necessary for his own sanity. He’d almost forgotten about Snape. Almost.
“Will you watch it, you clumsy idiot?” Snape said coldly, and glared at Harry with full force.
Harry frowned. “It’s not my fault you’re sitting right in the way.”
Snape’s face twisted into a sneer. “Then I suggest that in future you act with a little more consideration for my situation, Potter. I attempted to go further, but the consequences were most unpleasant.”
Harry felt sick. He’d forgotten (how could he have forgotten?) that Snape had to practically stick by his side like glue or else suffer incredible physical pain. “I am so sorry,” he said, and crouched down next to Snape, taking his chin in his hands so that Snape’s hair fell back from his face. “Are you okay?”
Snape pulled away irritably. “No thanks to you,” he snapped.
Harry sank back on his heels, feeling chastened. “Well, sorry anyway.”
There was silence for a moment, and Harry, tired of his current position, sat down on the floor next to Snape. “Are you mad at me?” he asked, finally.
Snape made an indescribable noise, and didn’t follow it up with a cutting remark. Harry took that to mean that yes, he was mad at him, so mad that he couldn’t bring himself to speak. And that was mad indeed.
“Um, sorry?” he said, feeling a bit useless.
“There is no need for apologies, Potter,” Snape said, his voice curiously flat. “Although in future I would be grateful if you could be more discreet in your activities with Mr Malfoy. It is most unpleasant to be placed in the role of voyeur.”
Harry blushed. “It’s not going to happen again!” he protested. “I don’t know why I went along with it in the first place.”
Snape didn’t respond to this, just sat there, his hair a dark curtain hiding his face.
“Well, if it helps, Malfoy’s been taking the piss out of me like no one’s business,” Harry said with a wry laugh. “You should come back and sit with us. I’m sure you’d like to join in.”
Snape laughed shortly. “I confess that the idea holds a certain charm.”
They both rose. “Just going to the loo,” Harry said, and dashed off.
Occupied by the pressing need of his bladder, Harry missed the tensing of Snape’s shoulders as he eyed the door to the room that held Draco – and, more interestingly, the sharp, judging look that passed between the two Slytherins as Snape re-entered.
* * *
“I know you’re not asleep, Professor,” Draco drawled into the darkness. “Your breathing patterns aren’t quite right.”
“Indeed,” Snape said sourly. “I find it hard to sleep when the room is practically shaking from the strength of Potter’s snores. I am finding the idea of strangling the boy a sore temptation.”
“Wouldn’t that kill you too?” Draco said speculatively.
“Perhaps,” Snape replied, his voice chilly. “But sometimes death is a welcome release from unbearable irritation.”
“And by that, you don’t mean Potter, do you?”
“My, my, Mr Malfoy,” Snape said coldly. “Your perceptive nature never fails to astound me. Just to satisfy my curiosity, what was your little performance this afternoon in aid of? It was immature beyond belief.”
Draco paused, and when he replied, his voice sounded strained. “Fuck you, Snape,” he said. “Fuck you.”
“Even in your wildest dreams I would not be amenable to such a proposition,” Snape mocked. “So thank you, but I will have to decline your kind invitation. If you are attempting to move Mr Potter in this direction, he has my deepest sympathies.”
“Oh piss off,” Draco snarled. “You know nothing about me, and nothing about anything.”
“Eloquently put,” Snape replied. “But you will not win the boy’s affections by behaving like a spoiled idiot.”
“And he can see right through your pathetic attempts,” Draco said spitefully.
There was a shocked silence. “I beg your pardon?” Snape all but hissed, his voice low and malicious.
“You heard me,” Draco replied. “Storming off when I made my move on Potter? Not exactly subtle was it? Go on, admit it. You want him as much as I do.”
“So you confess you want the boy?” Snape replied at lightening speed.
There was another silence. “Fuck you,” Draco hissed finally. “Yes, I do, and you’d better not get in my way.”
“He will never want you that way,” Snape said with a hard laugh.
“And I read in the paper that you wanted to fuck his mother, so I don’t think you’re exactly in with a chance,” Draco sneered.
“Don’t you DARE insult Lily’s memory!” Snape shouted.
There was a ringing silence, during which both men evidently noticed the distinct lack of snores.
“How long exactly have you been awake, Potter?” Draco said sullenly.
“Um, I’m not sure,” Harry said, sounding bewildered. “This is a dream, right?”
Neither man graced this statement with a response. There was complete silence for a very long time. It is probably a safe assumption that neither of the three gained much further sleep that night.
* * *
It was a matter of luck, rather than anything more substantial, that Snape happened to wake up at all. It was still early, and he had supposed, after his disastrous argument with Malfoy, that he wouldn’t be able to sleep at all. But then he’d always been skilled in putting aside unpleasant thoughts and succumbing to a kind of half-sleep – if he hadn’t been, then he wouldn’t have slept at all during past horrendous months.
Snape had an innate sixth-sense for trouble, and he woke with the distinct feeling that he was in terrible danger. He lay still of course, he was no fool. Any sudden movements could force an enemy into sudden, deadly action. But it didn’t take him long to analyse the situation and come to a conclusion: the house they were currently situated in was on fire.
The smell of smoke was sharp and acrid, and when Snape snapped his eyes the room was tinged a dirty white. He coughed and choked. “Potter, Malfoy. Wake up this instant,” he ordered, scrambling out of bed and fishing for his wand, which always rested on the bedside table. It was gone. For a dreadful moment Snape panicked – and he never, ever panicked, no matter how great the provocation – but then he pulled himself together. He could get another wand. He could not get another Harry or Draco or, come to think of it, another Severus.
Snape jumped up and groped his way towards Harry’s bed. He would need Harry awake first, so that the two of them could carry Draco out. Harry was dead to the world, his breathing laboured, and Snape had to shake him with some force before he woke up.
Harry looked up at him with a dazed expression, and Snape wondered exactly what he was thinking. He was almost glad that the smoke obscured much of Harry’s view, but then dismissed the thought as ridiculous. There would be time – hopefully lots of time – for reflecting on embarrassments later. Now was the time to escape and save their lives.
“Draco?” Harry asked, his voice hoarse but purposeful.
“Still asleep,” Snape said shortly. “I’ll need your help to carry him.”
“Our wands?” Harry asked. “I can’t find mine.”
Snape tried not to flinch at this double confirmation of foul play. “We must get out of here, and quickly.”
Harry rose, and to Snape’s surprise, pulled him into a very brief hug. “Let’s get Draco,” Harry said, sounding determined.
They fumbled their way across the room to Draco’s bed. By now the smoke was so thick that that Snape was finding it increasingly difficult to breathe, and he was sure that it was having a similar effect on Harry.
“DRACO!” Snape yelled in Draco’s ear. The boy stirred slightly. “WAKE UP, YOU IMBECILE!” Snape continued, speaking louder than he’d ever done in his life.
Draco’s eyes fluttered open, and then closed again.
“We could Apparate?” Harry suggested.
Snape resisted the temptation to roll his eyes. “Through the anti-Apparition wards? With an injured man? Let me inform you that if we attempted such a manoeuvre and were merely splinched, that would be a welcome result, considering all the possible outcomes. If we managed to leave the building at all, of course, since–”
“Alright, alright,” Harry interrupted irritably. “We’ll just have to drag him out then. Wrap one of his arms round your neck, and I’ll do the same.”
The two of them stumbled towards the door with some difficulty. Draco was awake enough to take a minimal part of his own weight, but still asleep enough to make him heavy and unwieldy.
“You’re going on a diet, ferret-face,” Harry snorted, as they found the door and attempted to wrench it open.
It was locked.
“Oh hell,” Harry said.
“The window?” Snape suggested tersely.
“Good plan. If you can find it.”
“Do you think I’m some kind of idiot?” Snape asked, “Of course I can find the window. It is right next to the door, here… Ah.”
Snape’s questing arm found – nothing. The window had vanished as if it had never been, replaced by a solid wooden wall.
“I could kick the door off its hinges?” Harry said, sounding doubtful.
“Or you could use Alohomora,” Snape said, between coughs. “Quickly, before we suffocate to death.”
“Alohomora,” Harry said tentatively. “It’s not going to bloody work without my wand.”
Snape glared into the smoke. “With conviction!”
“Alohomora!” Harry half-yelled, and then choked on the smoke.
The door swung open, and Harry and Snape stumbled out, pulling Draco along with them. They were on a barren hillside, but the air was sweet and clean and…
“Run,” Snape said flatly.
They half-ran, half-staggered away from the building just in time. A resounding crash told them that the wooden walls had given up and collapsed, the fire taking hold of the whole frame.
Snape helped Harry lay Draco down on the ground, and lowered himself down beside him. He wiped his streaming eyes and felt ridiculously glad to be alive. He noticed Harry looking at him, and glared.
“Wipe that cheery look off your face,” Harry said with a grin.
Snape’s expression turned from sour to withering. “May I remind you that we are not only in the middle of nowhere in our nightclothes, but we are unarmed? Not only that, but our attacker knows precisely where we are, and has managed to not only break into the supposedly impenetrable cottage, but also to steal our wands. I am not at my best, Draco is injured and you are a moron. The outlook is less than promising.”
“Ow,” Draco said from between them, struggling to sit up. “Can you two stop fighting for one moment and consider my incredible pain?”
Snape looked down with some irritation. “Your pain would now be ended if we had not dragged you from the burning building, Mr Malfoy,” he said with some disdain. “Permanently.”
Draco looked scared for a second, before his usual sneer righted itself. “Well? What are you planning on doing now? It’s cold out here, and I am not exactly comfortable.”
Snape glared at him, and was about to reply when Harry interrupted.
“Just shut up, will you?”
Snape opened his mouth to reply, but Harry cut him off as well.
“The both of you! We need to get out of here. Find somewhere we can hide out, and some way of getting in contact with the Order. They’ll know what to do, but until then, we’re on our own. Draco, how bad does it hurt? And I mean really, rather than what you’d like us to think?”
Draco scowled at him, and then looked thoughtful. He stretched tentatively. “If you two louts dragging me about like that didn’t cause me any further damage…” He grimaced. “I hurt, but at least I can still feel all my limbs. I think Poppy was nervous that I’d be paralys…” He broke off. “I’m fine,” he said stiffly. “I’ll need help to walk I think, but I’m fine.” He glared into the distance, as if defying them to question his self-analysis.
Harry looked torn. Finally he put an arm around Draco and gave him a quick squeeze. Snape was almost astonished by the sudden stab of jealousy that he experienced, but he managed to keep his expression passive. While his feelings for the tousle-haired boy had always been confused, for the past weeks they had been positively repellent to him. He should not – and could not, for Merlin’s sake – feel that way towards a young man youthful enough to be his child. It was beyond ridiculous – but then again, the boy was beyond tempting. Loyal, brave, handsome and immeasurably powerful. It was a heady mix. Snape grit his teeth and tried to focus.
Draco shot a very quick look in Snape’s direction, and Snape glared at him. But the boy’s face was not mocking for once. It was troubled. And that was almost worse.
Snape got up, pushing down his thin nightshirt and grimacing at the spectacle he made. His bare feet were cold. He looked around speculatively. There was a tangle of trees at the bottom of the hill in one direction, but in all other respects the landscape was bare and open.
“Either we remain here like sitting ducks, or move into the wood,” he pronounced.
“It could be a trap,” Harry said, frowning.
“And how would that be worse than sitting here and doing nothing?” Snape replied.
Harry shrugged. “Okay. I’m up for it. Draco?”
Draco rolled his eyes. His pale face was tinged with blue. “At least it might make me feel a bit warmer.”
“You’d be warmer if you were burning to death,” Snape said grimly.
Draco scowled, and evidently bit down a sharp retort. “Help me up.”
Harry struggled up himself, and then joined with Snape to haul Draco to his feet. Draco’s face contorted, but he made no complaint, and he didn’t wobble.
They slowly made their way down the hill, Draco clutching their arms tightly, his face grim.
“How you doing?” Snape heard Harry whisper to Draco. He tried not to listen.
Draco made a breathy noise that he evidently attempted to transform into a laugh, rather than a whimper. “Better than you’d do in my situation,” he whispered back.
Harry laughed faintly, and Snape stumbled when Harry pressed a quick kiss against the side of Draco’s head.
“Watch out, clumsy,” Draco managed to spit, but when Snape turned his head to glare at him, he noticed that Draco’s face was flushed and sweaty. He was evidently in some considerable pain.
“Don’t worry, Draco, we’re nearly there. You can rest soon,” he said, trying to sound comforting rather than sharp.
Draco looked faintly surprised, but said nothing and struggled onwards.
* * *
“You do know that wood burns rather well, don’t you?” Draco said crossly, once they had reached the tangle of trees. He peered into the wood and looked annoyed. “But right now I don’t give a rat’s arse. I need to sit down.”
Harry and Snape manoeuvred him over to a huge log and he perched on it primly, passing a shaky hand over his clammy brow. He pulled a face. “Gross,” he muttered, and shut his eyes for a moment.
Harry sat down next to him. “Aren’t you going to sit down?” he asked Snape.
Snape frowned. Sitting down would mean sitting far too close to Harry for comfort. The boy was looking dishevelled and achingly attractive in his dark, fitted pyjamas. But on the other hand, his back ached, and sitting on the ground – with all its potential for insects and sharp sticks – was not a pleasant notion. He sat next to Draco instead. Draco rubbed him up the wrong way, but at least he did not find himself bizarrely attracted to the young man. Much.
“What now?” Draco said crossly.
“Now we wait,” Snape said coldly.
Harry shot him a look. “And?”
“We wait for the inevitable. We have been herded into this wood, and now we must wait for our enemy to reveal himself.”
“Could be anyone,” Draco said sullenly.
“Indeed,” Snape said meditatively. “There were many corpses I did not have the pleasure of viewing. Those of the Lestrange brothers, for instance.”
Draco frowned. “They were executed. Like you were going to be. Like my family,” he added, his tone sharp and defiant in its pain.
Snape stiffened, and felt an unexpected surge of sympathy for Draco. But the boy would not appreciate any demonstration of such – rather the opposite – so he refrained. “Indeed. But my point still stands. And for want of a better plan, I suggest we follow my own.”
“Sitting?” Harry said with a grin, one arm snaking around Draco’s shoulders in an act of wordless comfort. “That’s your plan. We sit?”
Snape didn’t bother to gratify him with a response.
* * *
“I will NOT be bait,” Draco snapped. The light was falling, and the horizon was a kind of washed out pink.
“Oh go on,” Harry said. “It’s better than Snape’s plan, you have to admit. It’s got an action element.”
“I sit and die, and you run away?” Draco said icily.
“No,” Harry said impatiently. “You sit and get attacked, and we save you, whilst also catching the bloke that’s trying to kill you.”
“While your scheme is no doubt sound in principle, I’m going to have to decline,” Draco said stiffly. “I don’t want to be attacked, thank you.”
“So we should all sit here and all get attacked?”
“Yes,” Draco said haughtily. “Correct.”
“Don’t be a fool,” Snape said, joining in the conversation. “While it pains me to confess it, Harry’s plan has certain advantages that mine does not. Come, Harry, let us conceal ourselves.”
Draco looked outraged. “Harry, please!” he said, and to Snape’s ears the words sounded needy and desperate, despite their cold tone.
Harry looked comfortingly at Draco. “Don’t worry, we won’t be far away. I won’t let anyone hurt you, I promise.”
Draco looked unconvinced, but didn’t try and prevent Harry from leaving. “Don’t go too far,” he cautioned, as Harry disappeared into the deepening gloom. As soon as Harry had gone, he glared at Snape. “If I die, you’d better look after him, you absolute fucker,” he spat.
Snape tried not to show his surprise on his face. Had Draco really just placed greater priority over Harry’s happiness than over his own life? Was it possible that the spawn of Malfoy had deigned to actually grow up a little? Surely not.
“You will not die, Draco,” he said as coldly as he could manage. “What, let someone else rob me of the pleasure of dispatching you from this world myself? I think not. Just be calm, and all will be well.”
Draco glared at him, but Snape turned quickly and headed into the trees to find a hiding spot. It would be difficult to conceal himself well without the help of magic, but he had no doubts that he could do so with relative efficiency.
He ducked behind a tree. Dark had fallen, but the moon was full, and the faint light shone off Draco’s white-blond hair in the distance. Snape wondered for a moment if Draco realised quite how beautiful he was, but then dismissed the thought. The boy had an ego the size of the world. Of course he knew. Snape shifted irritably and tried not to yelp when he stood on a sharp twig. He swore that, in future, he would wear shoes to bed. They were imminently helpful, and a little night-time inconvenience was nothing compared to the pain of rough ground on delicate soles.
This was going to be a very long night.
* * *
But, as with all expected but unpleasant situations, things unfolded so speedily that everything was a kind of horrific half-blur. Snape jolted to attention as the whole forest flared, a dark figure in the distance painting the landscape red with one terrifying blast of their wand. And suddenly Draco was screaming, his terror intermingled with Harry’s yells. Snape could see him leap upon the figure, tackling him to the ground, Harry’s pyjamas catching alight in the process as they struggled on the smouldering ground. And then the wood was filled with Aurors, with lights and noise and panic.
A cloud of Dementors descended silently, and then the whole wood was filled with screams. Snape felt himself grow cold with fear for Harry and Draco – defenceless in the midst of such horror. He swung a fist at the nearest Auror, who fell without protest, and grabbed his wand. It felt clumsy, odd in his hand, but it would do.
Snape summoned his happiest, strongest, saddest memory – of Harry binding himself to his sarcastic, unpleasant professor to save his life – and cast his Patronus with all his might. The silver doe surged forward. But even as he acted, the Aurors moved against him as if he were the assailant.
Snape found himself immobilised and blind as a dozen spells were thrown at him, and when the Aurors attempted to pull him too far away from Harry he fainted from the pain of it. As he tumbled under, he could hear himself screaming… Except it couldn’t have been him, because he was always quiet under torture, under pain, under distress. Always silent.
* * *
When Snape awoke, it was to a terrifying sound: Draco Malfoy, sobbing. As soon as Draco became aware of Snape’s conscious state, he whipped around, but made no attempt to conceal the tears that stained his face.
“At least you two told me I was bait,” he said, in a voice that was too calm to surely actually be calm. “The Ministry set us up. They knew it was my father. They saw him set the cottage alight, and saw us struggle out into the wood, completely unprotected. They wouldn’t have cared if we’d died in there. All they wanted was to catch him.” Draco’s voice broke on the last word, and his face twisted with a horrifying pain and rage.
“Your father?” Snape said softly.
Draco nodded. “He’s alive,” he whispered, with an incredulous tone. “Alive. Polyjuiced his way out of Azkaban and left another man to be executed in his place.”
“But why…” Snape started, then faltered. It was not his business to know why Lucius would want to kill his own son. Besides, he had all too good an idea.
“Better a dead son, than a traitor to the cause,” Draco said, his mouth twisting. “I gave evidence that got scores of Death Eaters jailed and executed. He…” Draco stopped, and looked down at his hands. “He wanted me to suffer,” he half-whispered. “To burn.”
Snape said nothing for a moment. “That must be how he got through the wards,” he said speculatively. “His blood is all too similar to yours.”
Draco didn’t reply.
“His heart, however, is vastly inferior,” Snape said coolly. “Now, Draco, tell me how Harry fares.”
Draco looked startled for a moment at the unexpected compliment, then smiled slightly. “Poppy says he’ll live. He’s badly burned, but she’s fixed him up with a potion that’ll heal him with minimal scarring. He’s under sedation at the moment, she says.”
“And how likely is it that he will awake during this sedation, to confess to hearing our discussion?” Snape asked dryly.
Draco snorted. “Unlikely. But knowing our luck…”
“Indeed.” Snape paused, and forced the reluctant words to leave his mouth. “Harry is enamoured of you, Draco. I will not stand in your way.”
Draco flushed darkly. “He’s not so… I mean, he doesn’t…” He pulled a face. “He doesn’t think you’re so bad either, in my opinion,” he managed, his voice haughty.
Snape stared at him, and swallowed. “What course do you suggest we follow? We can’t both…” He paused, slightly horrified by the image that flashed through his mind, and even more horrified at the sudden flush of arousal that coursed through his veins.
Draco’s face went even redder, the flush spreading down his neck. He wet his lips and went to speak, but no words came out. “We couldn’t,” he said finally, sounding dubious. “Could we?” The words came out in little more than a whisper. “I’ll kill you if you take him away from me.”
They both turned to look at Harry, sleeping peacefully in the bed across the room. His hair was a mess, and he was grinning widely as he dreamed. The sight, Snape thought, was curiously moving.
“And I will kill you in the most painful and subtle of means possible, if you reveal any part of this conversation to any other living or inanimate being – with the exception, perhaps, of Harry,” Snape said stiffly. “But my instinct tells me that to…” He grimaced. “To share is better than to lose out. You are not so intolerable as all that.”
Draco smiled slightly. “I think you will find me more than bearable,” he said. “In fact, I have the highest references for the particular manoeuvre I like to call the..”
Snape shuddered. “If you do not stop right there, I can make no promises for your physical safety,” he warned. “Do not push me, Draco. This… situation… is adverse to my nature.”
Draco’s expression became tinged with a kind of spiteful glee. He opened his mouth to speak – and was interrupted by a sigh from Harry.
Draco and Snape froze, and then relaxed.
“He’s just dreaming,” Snape said dismissively. “No need to worry.”
“He certainly looks asleep.”
Draco and Snape smiled at each other in relief, and then realised they’d done so.
“We can do this,” Draco said suddenly. “If Harry agrees, then I don’t see why not.”
Snape snorted. “It is unorthodox, but perhaps it could be attempted.”
And the two men relaxed, as they turned to watch the hero of the wizarding world smile in his sleep. It was ridiculously soppy, Snape thought, but somehow more than wonderful.
And in his feigned sleep, Harry tried not to laugh and reveal that he was all too awake. It was enough that Draco and Snape had come to an agreement. And it would be all too hilarious to hear them try to put it into words at a later date. For now he was content to lie down in a warm bed and finally feel happy. They were safe, and all was well. The future looked bright.