|snarryhols (snarryhols) wrote in snarry_holidays,|
@ 2007-12-19 21:21:00
|Entry tags:||fic, post-dh: ewe, rated: r|
Provocation, for nenyaentwhistle
Word Count: 6900ish
Pairing: Severus/Harry, Ron/Hermione
Warnings: Contains DH spoilers (EWE)
Disclaimer: Nothing that you recognize belongs to me – Harry Potter and etc. belong to J.K. Rowling.
Summary: Snape was determined to find and exploit Harry's weaknesses, while Harry had vowed to be mature and ignore Snape.
AN: nenyaentwhistle requested a story where Snape was never good to begin with and a Snarry with the "classic you-always-fall-for-a-bad-boy scenario." It was a struggle to make Snape a bastard but still redeemable enough for Harry to love him … I hope this fits the bill! Happy Snholidays!
Huge thanks to my betas for their quick and wonderful work – any mistakes that remain are entirely my own.
Severus had made seven Hufflepuffs cry before breakfast, had sent letters to a dozen Slytherin parents, and had made Trelawney take refuge in her tower. The incense and the Inner Eye did nothing to stop her sobbing, and he was glad of it.
Let the wretched woman cry – let them all weep their eyes out, it was none of his concern. Severus strode into the Great Hall, upsetting Minerva by flicking a sherbet lemon into her teacup, and then he managed to tread on Potter's robe, tearing the hem, as he sat down next to him.
"Good morning, Professor Snape."
Potter was clutching his teacup as if it were infinitely precious, and staring into the depths of the liquid as though he was determined to find an answer to life's mysteries there. Severus scooted his chair into the table, jostling Potter's elbow.
Tea went all over Potter's lap, but true to his new, mature persona, he didn't explode at Severus with hasty words or hexes. He blotted at the spill with his napkin and banished the rest of the tea with a flick of his wand.
"I trust you had a good morning," Potter said. "It seems that the tearful Hufflepuffs have arrived for breakfast at last – and yes, I've already heard that you broke Sibyl's favorite crystal ball and sent her packing with a few choice words. The day's shaping up well for you, isn't it?"
Of all the things that maturity had brought Potter, the virtue of silence was not one of them. Severus drew his wand, focusing on a nonverbal silencing spell – Potter disarmed him handily and then passed the wand back to him.
"I wouldn't do that, if I were you," he said. He poured himself another cup of tea and downed it in one gulp, using his napkin to blot his lips and cover his cough when he had finished. "That's the only way to start the morning," he told Snape. "A dose of caffeine – well, I'm off to my classes now. I need to set up the classroom for dueling lessons."
Before he'd gone more than a pace, he turned back to Severus. "I don't mind what you say, Professor Snape – though Merlin only knows how many lives you've ruined with that sharp tongue of yours – but you will not hex me or any other inhabitant of this castle, is that understood? Not me or anyone else here."
He left without looking back, not giving Severus a chance to answer. Severus watched him go – the boy had finally developed a sense of the dramatic exit, though he'd never learned a sense of self-preservation.
Leaving his toast and tea untouched, Severus strode off to his rooms in the dungeons. He had the first class free, and he had plans to make. He'd make Potter lose his newfound control, even if it took him a month of plotting and cost him a year's salary – he'd show the world that Potter was still no hero and that he was still nothing better than the spoiled, nasty brat he'd always been.
Harry was bone-weary by the time he'd finished the last class of the day, and he had a waist-high pile of scrolls to grade. He added the last of them to the heap and summoned Kreacher, asking him to move them to his private quarters. He'd time for an hour or two of marking before dinner – he'd Floo Ron and Hermione afterwards, send an owl to Ginny, and then wrap up the last of the essays before he went to bed.
Harry's plans didn't include Snape, who was standing just outside Harry's classroom, a solid black wall that Harry slammed into. His wand and inkwell went flying, and his favourite quill snapped in his hand.
Taking a deep breath, Harry stepped back and nodded at Snape. "Good evening, Professor."
Snape pushed him back into the classroom, leaning heavily into Harry's personal space. His crooked, yellow teeth, his tobacco-sour breath – Harry Summoned his wand, Banishing the mess from the floor, and retreated into the classroom. He took his place at the professor's desk, sitting abruptly and looking up at Snape. "Yes, Professor? Was there something that you wanted me to help you with?"
Snape's fingers were as slim and elegant as ever, the potions stains washed away on a daily basis now. He'd taken to brushing his hair back into a long tail, tied off with a black velvet ribbon, ever since the war had ended. No longer greasy or sallow or unkempt, Harry mused – he did not have the appearance of the dreadful monster he had once been, but he had more than made up for his pleasant looks with his unpleasant manners.
There had been a time when Harry had seen the man behind the mask – during the final battle, he'd had all of Snape's memories, he'd known the dreams and terrors that motivated him, and he'd convinced himself that Snape was not the bastard he'd seemed to be.
The years after the war had proved him wrong.
Snape leaned closer to Harry's desk, towering over him and glaring down at him. Harry refused to be intimidated by the man he had held when he was dying. "If there's nothing, I have a great deal of marking to do," Harry said.
"What," Snape said, pausing and biting off each word, "whatever gave you the impression that you were even half-way qualified to be a professor at this institution, Potter? What dream of grandeur prompted you to leave your Quidditch wet dreams behind and saddle yourself with classroom after classroom of angst-ridden, pimple-faced adolescents? What gave you the hare-brained idea that you could make a difference in this world?"
"I didn't –"
"What made you decide to stop saving the world? Was being an Auror not good enough for you – did you have to decide to torment us with your presence instead?"
Harry only blinked, leaning out of the range of the spittle flying from Snape's mouth.
"Harry Potter, saviour of the world – only he's too good to save the world now, isn't he? He thinks it's beneath him. He thinks that he has better, more important things to do, here at Hogwarts. He thinks that he's the clever one, that he's capable of teaching, that he's making a difference by cramming knowledge through the thick skulls of the next generation.
"Well, let me tell you something, Potter. You aren't doing anything good or useful here. You aren't saving the world. You're a washed-up, has-been savior with a chip on his shoulder and an egocentric, self-satisfied, attention-grabbing attitude. You've never been truly special and you never will be."
"I see," Harry said. He felt leaden and heavy – there was nothing in him, nothing that he had to say to Snape. "If that's all, I think that you've made your opinion quite clear, Professor Snape. If you'll excuse me."
Pinching his nose shut, Harry strode past Snape. He held his breath until he was out in the corridor, out of the range of Snape's musky, potent cologne, and he rubbed his temples until his throbbing headache dissipated.
Snape followed him, popping out of the classroom and grabbing Harry's elbow. "Moreover, if you think that you can settle into this job with ease, that you can use your fame to –"
"Please release me, Professor." Harry wrenched his arm out of Snape's grip and hurried down the corridor to his rooms. He felt Snape's eyes on him as he retreated and he felt clumsy, as if he was too large for his robes and his skin again – the same way that he'd always felt as a gawky adolescent in Snape's classes, the same way that Snape had always made him feel.
Nothing except the promise of dinner and a stiff drink would have lured Harry out of his rooms again that evening. He threw his cloak on over his robes, drawing a Gryffindor striped scarf out of the cupboard and wrapping it around his neck. In the warm castle, he began to sweat, and he tucked his wand into his cloak pocket and strode to the door, warding his rooms behind him and making his way down to the entrance hall as quickly as possible.
"Ron," he said with relief when he saw a figure waiting for him by the door. "Are you –"
"Spending time with your intellectual equals, Potter?" Snape stepped out from the shadows, giving Harry an unpleasant smirk. "On the other hand, Weasley and his overgrown family of rabbits are probably a challenge for your mind – I seem to recall that he at least had enough wits to leave Hogwarts and stay away from it. If you would do the same –"
"A pleasant evening to you as well, Professor Snape." Harry cut him off without remorse, stepping past him and into the cold night air. He pulled a pair of gloves out of his pocket and worked his hands into them, pulling them on snugly and then sticking his hands in his pockets for extra warmth.
"A curse upon you and your offspring, Potter – for your rudeness, your degeneracy, and your insolent misapprehension that all the world is –"
"I don't think that will be a problem, Professor Snape." Harry tried not to grind his teeth together – even when Snape tried his patience, he reminded himself that he and all of the Wizarding world would be dead or worse, if it weren't for this man. Even when Snape was a bastard, even when he terrorized the students or drowned kittens, he was still the man who had saved them all – and even when Snape was a bastard, Harry was still a better man than his father had been.
Instead of retaliating, he looked back to give Snape a half-smile. "I'll see you at breakfast in the Great Hall tomorrow morning, Professor. Enjoy the rest of your evening."
He ate at the Three Broomsticks with Ron and Hermione, watching them pick fights over the pile of fish and chips that was big enough to feed all three of them. Sometimes it seemed that having children had turned them into children – the lines of the war and the post-war years were erased from their faces, and the two of them were as playful as they had been, back at school.
The small smile that Harry had given Snape twitched on his lips and finally broadened into a grin when Hermione flicked one of the chips at Ron. It landed on his nose and fell to the table, bouncing once before it came to rest. "Stop it, you two. Don't you have any manners left at all, or has Rose worked them all out of you?"
"Pretty much," Ron said.
"It wasn't hard – Ron didn't start out with many," Hermione said. "Not that Rose isn't a prodigy in her own way, but –"
"But even a prodigy has her limits at that age, I know." Harry finished the last of his own drink and grinned at them. "If I get the next round, do you promise not to be snogging like teenagers when I get back from the bar?"
"Sure mate, whatever you say." Ron waved him away, and then caught Hermione's hand, pressing a kiss to her knuckles. Harry laughed with them, and pinched the bridge of his nose as he made his way up to the bar to get their drinks. He didn't look over his shoulder to see whether they were kissing.
With a sudden bitterness like the hoppy aftertaste of his ale, Harry watched the foam rising to the surface as Rosmerta filled their glasses, and realized that he wanted what Ron and Hermione had.
Snape paced through his rooms, as restless as a caged phoenix. He felt as though he were about to be consumed by flames, eaten up by his own vitriol. For all his words, he'd done nothing to Potter – a tired look in his eyes, a slight slump to his shoulders as he turned away – nothing.
He had the gall to be civil, to be professional and reasonable. He had the gall to stand there and look at Severus with Lily's eyes, wrinkles around them that she'd never had – he had silver in his hair that she'd never had.
He was older than his parents had ever been, calmer than his father and kinder than his mother. Severus's stomach twisted. They would have been proud to know him.
He had the gall to return to Hogwarts, where he did not belong – where Severus belonged – and act as though it was his home, as though there were not a thousand homes in the Wizarding world that would have welcomed him with open arms, as though there were not a thousand, thousand lives that he could have led, far from here. He could have had so much more and he flaunted it in Severus's face every day.
Potter, bloody Potter – he'd waltzed out of the castle, as blithe and merry as the day was long. He'd spend the evening reveling with his friends, while Severus was kept here by fate and poor choices. While the savior of the Wizarding world drank with his friends and was doted on by crowds of fans, Severus was forced to stay in the school, unable to go even so far as Hogsmeade. He'd no life to call his own, and it was Potter's fault.
A set of empty potions vials lined the mantle – Severus took them one by one, hefting them in his hands and feeling their weight, the fragile glass warm in his hands before he flung it at the farthest wall. When a vial shattered, a new one appeared to take its place on the mantle, unbroken and perfect. Severus grabbed them all, in the end, flinging them to the floor with an almighty crash.
He'd no life to call his own, and it was Potter's fault. His life was Potter's own, but it wasn't good enough for the boy, no. Life debt after life debt had been brushed aside as though Severus's life didn't matter – as though Severus and all that he had suffered, all of the sacrifices he had made, were of no consequence.
Potter walked free in the world and Severus was trapped here at Hogwarts by the press and the public that refused to believe in his innocence – but he was not trapped when it came to Potter. He would make Potter lose his control. He would show the school and all of the world that Potter was no the saint that he pretended to be, that he was no the world-weary, patient teacher that he'd pretended to be ever since he returned to Hogwarts.
There were skeletons in Potter's closet, and Severus was determined to find them and bare them to the world. It'd all come out, all of Potter's temper, the lovely flush to his cheeks when he clenched his fists, the perfect curve of his lips when he shouted – it would be sweet, sweet revenge, and Severus would have it soon.
Harry stumbled back to Hogwarts, brushing aside Ron and Hermione's hands. He wasn't in need of any help – he stumbled over a crack in the flagstone, and caught himself on one of the rose bushes. Bare and bereft of all but thorns in the winter, it didn't make for a soft landing. Harry's head spun and he reached up to push his glasses up into place.
Snape stepped out of the shadows and helped him up, slipping him out of his cloak to pull him free from the thorns. Harry caught Snape's shoulder for balance and turned, waving unsteadily at the cloak. He botched the spell – instead of banishing the thorns, he'd banished his cloak. Moonlight shone down on the empty rosebush, and Harry turned back to Snape.
"That was my favorite cloak," he said.
"Come along," Snape said. "Get back inside before you catch your death of cold and somehow manage to posthumously blame me. I'm not eager to be metaphorically lynched by your favorite reporter at the Daily Prophet yet again."
"Rita Skeeter isn't my favorite." Harry leaned against Snape, grinning up at him. "Guess who my favorite is."
Snape pushed him away, taking a step back and only relenting when Harry was teetering over another rosebush. He came forward to grab Harry by the elbow, pulling him straight on his feet with a rough tug.
"I can't even begin to divine the thought processes going through your brain, or the lack thereof," Snape said. "Nor am I particularly interested in the identity of your favorite anything, so if you'll be good enough to keep the information to yourself –"
Harry stopped, digging his heels into the ground and tugging on Snape's arm. "Hey," he said. "That wasn't very nice."
"Not very nice, hmmm? Perhaps you'll be reporting that to the Daily Prophet next. Bellatrix LeStrange runs a nice column on etiquette for reformed Death Eaters – I'm sure she'd be happy to point my flaws out to me."
Harry's ears buzzed and he felt a loopy, sloppy grin spread across his face. "I know your game, Snape. You're not fooling me."
It was obvious – Snape had lost some of his subtlety, some of his careful precision during the war. He wasn't as sharp as he once had been, and Harry wouldn't hesitate to take any advantage that he could find. "I know what you're up to," he said again.
Snape pulled away from him again, letting him flounder in the dark until he came up against one of the castle's stone walls, balancing himself against it. It was strong and solid, just like Snape.
"Do, pray, enlighten me."
"You're just trying to bait me," Harry said, grinning at his own accomplishment. In the half-light, he saw Snape flinch and he knew that he was right. "Bringing up my failings, the Daily Prophet articles, the trash that Rita Skeeter always writes about me, the woman who killed my godfather – you're just going to have to try harder, Snape. Provoke me all you like, but I'm not a boy anymore. I've more control over my temper and I'm not your student either – I don't have to stand for it."
"You wretched –"
Snape had pulled Harry in through the great door, and the warm air swirled around them, frosting Harry's glasses and making his skin prickle. Warmth pooled at the base of his spine and he leaned on Snape's arm, pulling him to a halt.
"Don't," Harry said. "You don't have to do this, you know. There's no reason we can't – after everything that we've been through together, everything that we have in common –"
"You fail to realize a significant feature in all of our supposed commonalities, Potter." Snape pinched his elbow, catching the nerve there and squeezing it until Harry released him, wobbling a little on his feet. "We did not experience any of those events together, you dolt – we experienced them from opposing sides. Now, if you will be good enough to spare me your presence –"
Snape turned, his cloak whirling around him, and strode down the corridor, disappearing into the darkness. Head spinning, Harry watched him go, and then he found his way back to his rooms, balancing against the wall and wondering why the castle was suddenly drafty and cold.
For all of Potter's newfound maturity and stability, he had to have a weakness. Severus was going to make him lose his temper, even if none of the usual approaches had worked. Potter might not be susceptible to memories of his parents and late, unlamented god-mutt, but he was only human – he had at least one weakness. Severus would find it, and Potter would be his. Severus would expose him to the world for the fraud that he was.
He began at breakfast, when Potter was wan and unsteady on his feet. The brat nibbled at a piece of dry toast and clung to his teacup as though it were a lifeboat. Severus snorted, and pulled a vial of hangover potion from his pocket. He pushed it across the table to Potter, smirking when the noise made Potter wince. He would kill Potter with kindness.
"It isn't right for you to suffer so," Severus said, taking care to keep his tone honey-sweet. He put the vial in Potter's palm and closed his fingers around it. "Let me help you – after all, I know that you would help me, if I was the one who needed it."
Potter looked at him, blinking. His fingers clenched around the vial, his knuckles turning white, and then he set it in front of Snape. "No, thank you," he said, his words carefully measured and spoken in a low voice. He held his head in both hands, as though he was trying to keep his skull from splitting open. "I overestimated my capability for alcohol and I deserve to pay the price for my folly."
Severus gave him a saccharine smile. "Nonsense, Professor Potter. I know that you're trying to be mature and polite about the fact that you don't trust me or my potions, but I assure you – I'm ready to turn over a new leaf and start a new relationship with you. It hurts the school if the staff aren't able to trust each other, since we need to be able to rely on one another in emergency situations. After reconsidering my past behavior, I want to make a new beginning with you."
Potter blinked again. Like any foolish Gryffindor, he hesitated for only a second before accepting the vial from Severus. "Thank you," he said.
Severus insisted on walking Potter back to his quarters – "It's a weekend, and even with the hangover potion, you need rest to recover. You'll want to be feeling your best again for classes on Monday." At the door, he took Potter's hand, brushing a light caress across the knuckles.
He leaned in close to speak softly in Potter's ear, tempering his voice to a low, sensual rumble. "I hope that you'll be recovered by dinner-time," he said. "I look forward to eating with you."
Potter took a step away from him, backing into the entrance to his chambers. "I – that is – thank you, Professor Snape."
"You're most welcome." Severus touched his shoulder, running his thumb across the skin just under his collar, and let his hand linger until Potter jerked away from him, stumbling into his room.
At dinner, Severus played the part of the perfect gentleman – holding Potter's chair out for him, serving him, making polite conversation – and he marked a point in his favor for each of Potter's flinches. It was all too easy to win this game.
"How are your lesson plans for the rest of the term faring, Professor?" Severus asked, catching Potter's elbow when he reached for the pumpkin juice. "No – please allow me."
He watched Potter flush, and made sure to brush against his arm again. "If you need any assistance with the curricula, don't hesitate to ask me – I still have all of my old lesson plans, after all. It'd be no trouble."
Better to catch a fly with honey – Potter would walk straight into Severus's trap. Even now, he flushed a brighter shade of red and refused to look at Severus. "I – you don't mean that," he said. "Why are you being so nice to me all of a sudden?"
"I told you – it's time to end the enmity between us. There's no reason why we can't be … friends." Severus let his voice drop to a lower register, and he reached over to put a hand on Potter's shoulder – before he could touch him, Potter dropped his fork and bolted from his seat. While his footfalls echoed in the Great Hall, Severus allowed himself a tiny smile.
Ron and Hermione had gone on a whirlwind weekend tour of Wizarding Pisa, the new caretaker hadn't managed to find a single Boggart for his lesson plans, the house elves had forgotten to light a fire in his room, and – "Oh hell," Harry said, punching his pillow. Snape had been possessed by some cruel demon, extending his mission to make Harry's life miserable once again. What he'd failed to do with temper and vitriol, he'd determined to do with kindness.
Harry rolled over, yanking his blankets up over his head. He wouldn't succumb to Snape's torments – no matter the provocation, he would be firm. He would be a mature, responsible adult.
He would not think about the smooth skin and gentle caress of Snape's fingers. He would forget the warm, sexy lilt of his voice. Harry would not allow Snape to make him feel like a stumbling, blushing adolescent again.
His eyelids were sandpaper-rough when he rose, and he was late for breakfast in the Great Hall. Kreacher brought him a plate piled high with toast and a mug of steaming tea, and Harry ate as he hurried down the hall to his classroom, slopping tea down his trousers and nearly tripping over the hem of his robe.
"I see that your newfound maturity is serving you well," Snape said, and Harry stopped dead. A shudder went down his spine at the sound of Snape's voice, but he refused to turn around to look at the man. He would not succumb – he would not humiliate himself.
Snape stood behind him, palms on Harry's shoulders – his hands were warm, and Harry bit his lower lip, forcing himself not to take a step away.
He had a memory of Ron and Hermione at one of the post-war celebrations, standing front to back just like this, Ron's arms curled around Hermione. She'd looked back up at him and laughed, and they'd mashed their lips together in an awkward, upside-down kiss.
Snape brushed a finger along the line of Harry's jaw and whispered a spell. Harry stood stock still as the charm rasped over his skin, praying that he wouldn't shed any blood at Snape's hands this morning. He tensed when it was over, but no – he rubbed his hand over his chin, and his face felt smooth and clean. Snape's spell hadn't harmed him.
"You forgot to shave this morning," Snape said. He tested the smoothness of Harry's skin with a finger and then spun Harry around to face him. Their eyes met. "In a hurry, were you?"
"I –" When Harry blushed and stammered, Snape swooped down on him. Their mouths were close enough for a kiss, and Snape looked Harry directly in the eye.
"Are you all right, Potter?"
This was the Snape that Harry had dreamed of after the war, the Snape that he had built up with scraps of memories and the discarded vial, all that was left after Snape took his Pensieve memories back. Intense, almost kind, almost loving – this was how Snape had cared for Harry's mother. This was the Snape who had devoted his life to helping the Headmaster – this was the Snape who had saved Harry's life again and again.
It took only a second for Harry to bridge the distance between them, pushing his lips against Snape's in an awkward kiss. Their noses bumped together, and when Harry tried to correct the angle, Snape backed him into the nearest wall, pinning him there. His lips moved over Harry's, and it felt to Harry as though he were being devoured, as though his soul was being sucked out, as though Snape was claiming Harry as his own.
Their teeth scraped together, Snape smashing his nose into Harry's cheekbone, and Snape caught Harry's bottom lip, sucking on it where it was sore and chapped.
Harry cried out, trying to move away from Snape, but he was held fast, pinned in Snape's arms and held by Snape's kiss. Snape ran his fingers up and down Harry's arms, soothing the bruises he had pressed there, and Harry leaned against him, into his warmth.
"Well," Snape said, finally breaking the kiss. "That was a –"
Harry looked up at him, touching his lips. He'd never been kissed like that before. "I'm – I'm sorry. I'm late for class."
"Potter, are you –"
Ducking under Snape's arm, Harry pretended that he hadn't heard him and hurried down the corridor as fast as he could run. He had kissed Severus Snape – he was late for class, and he had kissed Snape. The world spun on its axis, tilted and off-kilter.
Severus had shattered all of the glass vials on his mantel by the time Potter knocked on his door. He'd blown apart the spell that restored them, leaving glass fragments smashed on the stone floor. Potter hadn't matured at all – insufferable, idiotic, just like his father, he thought that he could prank Severus, that he could toy with –
Severus had felt Potter's presence outside his door and refused to answer the knock, but then Potter began to break his way through Severus's wards, unraveling them spell by spell. His robe sweeping through the glass shards, Severus crossed the room and went to the door.
Blocking Potter's entrance, he said, "What is it?"
Potter pushed up against him, one hand pressed to Severus's breastbone and the other cupping his face. "You are –"
"No," Severus said. "You are an infuriating, presumptuous brat, and if you think that I'll –"
Potter stopped his mouth with a kiss, and Severus pushed him away. "No – idiot boy, do you not understand the meaning of the word?"
"You want me," Potter said. His face was flushed and he was breathing hard – he reached out for Severus, his hand held open in entreaty. "You've been flirting with me all this time, playing hard to get and then trying to drive me mad with kindness. It's all just a ploy for my affection … you want me and you're trying to keep me focused on you."
"If I meant to encourage your delusions, Potter, I'd simply have given you a potion. I'd implant such subtle, pernicious illusions in your mind, you'd never know truth from reality … I'd bewitch your mind until you answered to no one but me. I'd put you completely under my control, if that was what I wanted to do …"
Potter slammed into Severus, grasping both of his shoulders and pressing against him. He lifted his face up to Severus's, lips parted as if for a kiss. "Yes. Please."
Severus began to shake his head, but Potter caught his chin and tilted his head, brushing their lips together in a dry kiss. "I know you're not as cruel and heartless as you act," he said. "Everything that you've done, all of the times that you saved me – you can't convince me that this act is all that there really is to you. You're a master spy, Severus Snape, but I know the real you – a man who's afraid to open up, afraid to love for fear of rejection, afraid to –"
Severus grabbed both of Potter's wrists, wrenching his hands away and twisting them backwards until Potter yelped. "You know nothing," he said, pushing Potter away and letting him fall to the ground. "Nothing and less than nothing."
When Potter was gone, when silence was restored and Severus was left alone to banish the shards of glass and restore his wards, it was all that Severus could do to keep from laughing. He had Potter – he'd caught him entirely.
Three glasses of whisky were not enough to erase the taste of Potter from Severus's mouth. Breaking glass helped – he flung his glass into the fireplace and listened to it shatter – but was not enough.
He shifted at the sound of a throat being cleared. The noise came from the portrait hanging over the mantle. Severus closed his eyes.
"Was that Harry I heard out in the corridor earlier?" Albus asked.
Counting to ten did the trick, or so Severus had been told. He Summoned a new glass and poured a shot of whisky into it, draining it in one swallow – four. He reached for the bottle again.
"Is that really necessary, Severus? I hate to see good whisky go to waste … and after all, I'm not here to give you a new bottle for Christmas this year."
"Is whisky ever wasted?" Severus lifted the glass to his lips but stopped short at Albus's next words.
"It would be if I had Harry brought down here to sober you up."
"What? You're –"
"Kreacher could bring him through the wards, and I'm sure Harry knows a good sober-up charm or two. Otherwise, I'd just have to tell him where you keep your private stock of potions."
"Potter couldn't identify a sobering potion if it hit him on the head."
"The triangular vials filled with a green potion, counter-clockwise spiral in black ink on the label. I do remember your cataloging system, Severus."
Severus flung his new glass against the wall, letting the crash drown out his muttered curses. "Damn you for a meddling fool, Albus."
"Come, Severus, wouldn't you like him to sober you up? Think of Harry – he'd be a warm lapful of eager lover, his hands twined in your hair, his lips on yours, his –"
Severus turned to look at the portrait at last. "Stop right there, Albus, and tell me what you want."
Albus had been painted in his old office, the soft glow of Fawkes behind him and his teapot and sherbet lemons on the desk in front of him. It was a peaceful and serene setting until it was broken by the damned mischievous twinkling of Albus's eyes. "I just want my two favourite boys to be happy," he said.
"If you think that Potter, of all people, can make me happy, then you're barmier than I thought."
"Now, now, Severus, don't rant and rage at me. Yes, I know perfectly well by now that you have gallons of turpentine and even nastier potions that dissolve a portrait quite painfully – but you'd feel a gap in your life if I wasn't here to give you advice, just as you'd be lonely without Harry to challenge and strengthen you. Think of it –"
"Give me advice? Is that what you're calling it now?"
Severus reached for the whisky, but Albus shook his head. "Harry's on his way down, you know. You wouldn't want to waste good whisky – I know you, Severus. Trust me."
"That's what I was afraid of," Severus said. He opened the bottle and drank straight from it, managing two swallows before Potter popped into his quarters, sprawling on the floor on top of a house elf.
Harry wasn't a Gryffindor for nothing – he might have been wrong about Severus Snape time and time again, but he trusted the man now, and he'd trust him against all odds. He trusted Snape, in spite of all his bluster and unpleasantness, in spite of the fact that he delighted in making the youngest Hufflepuffs cry and would have cheerfully ruined Harry's life – he knew that, in spite of everything, Snape was a good man.
He knew that when he'd kissed Snape, Snape had kissed him back, and he knew that when he'd pressed against Snape, he'd felt the man's hard cock pressing against his thigh.
The taste of Snape's mouth, spicy and sweet with gingerbread, and the feeling of Snape's arms around him – Harry wouldn't forget that. He'd vowed to keep his temper in front of Snape, vowed to be mature and responsible, but he felt like a schoolboy after his first kiss.
Kreacher popped in front of Harry, groveling and scraping.
"None of that," Harry said, lifting him up off the ground. "Thanks for coming to see me, Kreacher – you know there's no need to punish yourself for disturbing me. I thought we'd been over this."
"Master Dumbledore's portrait is wanting you to come to Professor Snape's rooms, and he is wanting Kreacher to bring you through the wards. Will Master Harry come?"
Harry ruffled his hair, rubbed his hand over the face and discreetly pressed his palm against his lips – lips that Snape had kissed. "Of course," he said.
Snape was drunk and sprawling in his chair, arguing with Dumbledore's portrait. Legs spread, arms gesturing broadly, he was graceful even as he slurred his words and glared at Harry.
"Potter," he said, spit flying from his mouth, "I might have known that you'd come. I told the meddling old man that this was a bad idea, but –"
"Will you never learn, Severus? Honestly, sometimes I do wonder how you can be so intelligent … kiss him, Harry."
"The brat is still wet behind the ears and barely able to tie his own bootlaces, Albus. He can't possibly –"
Harry had landed on top of Kreacher – he struggled to stand, thanking the house elf and dusting himself off. "You liked it when I kissed you before," he said, taking a step towards Snape and coming to stand between his legs. "I think you'd like it again."
"Go ahead, Harry. Kiss him."
Snape glared up at Harry, and Harry bent down to trace the line of his lips. "Do you want me to kiss you?" he asked. "Why don't we go into your bedroom where the Headmaster can't watch?"
He trapped Snape, leaning down and putting one hand on either side of his head, holding him in place. Harry held his lips just a breath away from Snape's, almost close enough to kiss. "Stop deluding yourself, Severus. You're a good man, and we both know it – and you want me, and we both know it. There's no reason why you –"
With a muffled noise, Snape surged up to capture Harry's lips in a kiss, cutting him off. He pushed himself up, pressing his body against Harry's, and stumbled, forcing Harry backwards until they hit a wall.
He tasted like whisky, and Harry curled his arms around Severus's back, holding him close and keeping him from escaping. "I have you trapped now," he said when they paused for breath, while Severus steered them toward his bedroom. "I've got you, Severus, and I don't plan on letting you go."
Harry was waiting in the Great Hall when Severus came in for breakfast. He'd already poured two cups of tea and was buttering his toast, ignoring Sibyl's attempt to read his tea leaves – she scuttled away when Severus entered, and Harry looked up at him with a smile.
"Good morning," he said. "How's your day been so far, Professor Snape?"
Severus gave Harry a scowl before accepting a piece of toast from him. "Impertinence," he said. "Impertinence and arrogance and more impertinence – am I never to get anything more from you, Potter?"
Harry leaned close just as Severus was reaching for the bacon. "Actually," he said in a low voice, "I was planning on giving you something else tonight … in my rooms, after you've finished your marking?"
"Perhaps," Severus said. "I expect to be busy until quite late – I've already found a dozen crying Hufflepuffs this morning, and I was forced to take points and assign detentions. It won't do for them to imitate watering pots. It casts a bad reputation upon their House and on Hogwarts."
Harry elbowed him, and slipped a hand under the table to grope his thigh. He ran his fingers along Severus's inseam, lingering near his groin. "Bastard," he said. "You made them cry."
"I did," Severus said. He pretended not to notice Harry's wandering hand, and took a sip of his tea. "I intend to move on to tormenting the Ravenclaws this afternoon, and then the Gryffindors this evening – I wouldn't want to be accused of partiality, after all."
"You're an even-handed bastard, always fair," Harry agreed. "You might as well put the entire school in detention and let them all off early. I've got better plans for you."
"At least I can provoke you now." Severus set his teacup down and leaned closer to Harry, whispering into his ear and smirking when he turned bright red.
Harry's hand froze, and he gave Severus's thigh a last squeeze before releasing him. "Yes, but I like the way that you provoke me now," he said. He rose, draining the last of his tea, and turned to leave. "Ron and Hermione are coming for dinner tonight, but you can join us in Hogsmeade … and after that, you can provoke me all you like."
"Indeed," Severus said. "I'll look forward to it."