|snarryhols (snarryhols) wrote in snarry_holidays,|
@ 2008-12-03 17:27:00
|Entry tags:||fic, giftee: who_la_hoop, rated: nc-17|
Fic: Dust of Snow
Title: Dust of Snow
Word Count: 10,200
Rating: NC17, but not by loads.
Warnings: none, unless you think EWE is a warning.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Severus wakes up, to his surprise, but he has some catching up to do.
Author's Notes: The prompt included relative equality of Snape and Harry, and for Snape to be rescued/saved by Harry. Severus was surprisingly uninterested in bringing quite the usual measure of snark or bitterness, but maybe he's just turned over a new leaf? Thanks to I and V for reading through.
The first thing Severus thought on awakening was that there was something desperately wrong with the glossy wool of the empty purple floor.
The second thing he thought was that if someone really was so set upon licking his toes, the least they could do would be use something other than a hedgehog for the task.
Even though he was aware there was something quite disordered about his reasoning, he couldn't quite bring himself to ob…obstruct. No. Well. He smacked his lips to clear away the light, and went back to division.
When he sneered, there were no hedgehogs.
He rather missed them.
Except on Wednesdays. Wait, was this a Wednesday? Perhaps it was July. Or a tribble. He remembered tribbles. From somewhere. Though then it probably wouldn’t snuggle his toes. He tried to ask, staring at the boy--man?--boy. Staring at the boy behind the sourceless waterfall, who stared back and said something about lasting and magic. Well of course it was magic; how else would the water be melonade falling out of the floating tartan?
He thought about answering, but before he got to it, someone blindfolded him with his eyelids, and then he forgot.
Severus tried to frown in concentration and work out who was speaking, but before he got there, he found himself wondering as to what he was concentrating on. And whether his eyelashes had always been made of capsicum floss.
Edible eyelashes. That wasn't right. But they certainly felt sharp and wet. And spicy.
Ah, there was Potter. Right, Potter. It was all his fault. Maybe that was what he was supposed to be focused on. Focus was difficult with orangutans lifting and lowering him on no particular pattern.
Severus managed a frown this time, noting that he had at least got this far awake; he made an effort to breathe slowly and reminded himself that it was unlikely Potter had liberated a circus-ful of orangutans solely for the purpose of a private Snape du Soleil performance.
Even on a Wednesday.
"How is he?"
"I think he's better, but, I don't know. He's only been truly alert once, though I've wakened him several times."
Severus blinked. No. He had been wakened once. Just once. Once was the word for not twice yet. Hadn't he? Wait. Wasn't it? Well. Were Thursdays for polygons and peppercorns instead, and no one had shared? He felt his good humor begin to capsize into horrifically pink mud.
"The other times?"
"Totally muddled, like he'd been pithed entirely."
The boy loomed over him. "Oh! He's awake now, actually. Snape?"
"Being. It. One. Of hedgehogs and backwarding waterminty." Severus heard the words and tried to shake his head. This only led to purple nausea and a sea of violently slithering weather vanes. He stilled and tried to work out what he had meant to say.
"Oh, like that?"
"No, worse. Those are words, more or less." Potter looked him in the eye. "Feeling better?"
"It. Humorous me."
The boy laughed. "Actually, yes, but somehow I doubt that's what you meant to say. Still, it's a good sign, that you're using words, if slightly wrong. Do they sound wrong to you?"
"Unbelted. With the surfeit and kale."
"I'll… take that as a yes." The boy held out a flask. "Here, drink this. I think I've got it fixed now, so you won't be so fuzzy, next time you wake."
Severus sniffed, letting the fumes waft up his nose. "Underqualitication."
"Yes, I know. Not what you'd have made. Still, I used your notes. It won't hurt you."
"Always herds of mete. If the spirophilia is wasted, harmony is dejected."
"I don't know what that meant. But, it sounded like an objection." Objection. That had been what he hadn't done, before, not obstruct. Object. The boy shrugged and moved away. "Suit yourself."
"Close, if you meant wait. You must want your vocabulary back. Don't you?"
"Wand. No. Wink. Not." Severus broke off, unable to agree he did want that, and finally bobbed his head.
Severus scowled, but accepted assistance to sit up. The potion was, as expected, vile. "Exportatious. Levering sparkness."
"Ah." Potter peered at him, and Severus wondered when he had colored his hair, and also when he had planted daisies in it.
And then he fell back, watching the aurora …camarialis swirling around him, forming arches and hollows of inlocking dark sparks until he closed his eyes in self-defense. It didn't help.
Eventually, he realized he was probably asleep, but there was nothing he could do to change it, so he settled in to enjoy the absurd visions, even as he wondered where, exactly, his mind had acquired any sense of what a lemon-yellow surfing centaur would look like when it played the harmonica under cannon fire.
"Potter." Severus heard his voice say the same thing he was thinking, and paused. "I say-said what I m-meant to on the fri... First attem. Attempt."
"Told you it'd help."
"Even a broken clock is create--correct. Correct, twice per demi."
"Nice. I did save your arse, you know. Hermione was pretty sure I couldn't do it, when we first found you."
Severus opened his eyes. "She… was here, before."
"Yeah, she helped and all. She and the others have been a big help."
Severus shuddered. "Did she link…lick. Did she lick my toes?"
Potter raised his eyebrows. "Uh. No, actually. I'm not sure I can think of anything that would induce her to."
"I thought, perhaps, the hedgehogs were her hair." Severus considered for a moment. "I believe that made less sentence--sense. Less sense aloud than it had in my…thoughts."
"Can't say; nothing to compare it to. Either way, you need another dose."
"I should rather production my own. Produce."
"I understood you--close enough--"
"Bollocks; preciseness, no, precision requires an amp…amplitude, no altitude, no. Something opposite that."
"Yes, I know. Still, for this situation, don't feel you have to be precise. Anyway. After a few more doses, you maybe can. Right now, just for fun, which of these is a dram?" Potter held up a tray on which set several measuring phials with clever and illegible markings on them.
"None of them?"
"Two of them, actually. You can't read yet."
"That makes absurd."
"Yes, also, how many fingers am I holding up?"
"On one hand?"
"That does no, it has. Nonsense."
"Exactly. Or, to use your word, precisely. Anyhow. You can't read, and you can't measure, and even if you could, you can't stay upright. Sorry, I'll have to make it for a bit. Want to watch?"
"Wow. Even like this, you're still a sarcastic bastard. I might as well get this out of the way: I'm glad of it."
"I am not happy for you."
"You should be happy for you, though. I chose to save most of your memory and personality."
"What was the other porta… positive… populate… Fuck. What else could you do?"
"Well. First, good thing Hermione's not here this time; she'd chastise you for the language. Anyway. I'd hoped to keep you intact, but keeping your body alive was a bitch. And then, I could have kept skills, but not personality, not memories…"
"I have memories, which. Not well …made. Not…" Severus pressed his lips together in irritation. He could tell he'd improved quite a lot; his thoughts made sense all right. Still, not being able to express himself was frustrating, and given that the notion of Harry Potter deliberately saving his personality was bizarre and difficult to make sense of, he had questions. Finally, he settled on, "Explain."
"Well! I only had a second to choose. I mean, at the time I had this whole--" Potter waved a hand in a sort of spinning ellipse near his head. "Hermione could explain the theory, but basically it showed up as a question, and it asked which I'd rather help you regain, and I thought I could teach you skills, I mean, except the ones I'm crap at, which, don't say it, I know, that's all of them, except flying, which I'm bloody good at thanks, and anyway, I didn't see the point of saving you without your personality, and also, your memories are valuable, so--"
Severus abruptly sat up, ignoring the way it made his head swim. "Value. You are kept me alivving for have memory it saving already it is done to, to," Severus stopped trying to make his outburst make sense, completely unable to express his outrage at the notion that he'd been kept around for his strategic value. "You can just… bugger."
Potter shook his head. "Er. I think I said that badly, because I'm pretty sure you think I meant I wanted to still profit from more of your memories, which, no. I meant, um…" He scrunched up his nose and scrubbed his hand through his ridiculous hair. "Right, well, you're unlikely to think I'm a bigger fool than you already do, so. It's that it seemed to me that it would be failing to honor everything you went through, if I just dumped all your memories. I mean, I expect there are a few you could do without--"
Severus made a rude sound. "Many, for not having, for. Damn it."
"Well, your cursing appears to be completely recovered, anyway."
"See?" The boy beamed. "That's good! Anyway, I wasn't about to sort through and choose for you, not that I had time, so I kept memory and personality, because honestly, what's the point saving someone if you don't save who they are?"
Severus blinked. "I requisition. No, re… need. I need a nap."
"Too much information? Well, naps are good, plus, Hermione says babies learn from sleeping, which, not that you're a baby, exactly, but then, I don't know, relearning everything, so maybe. So yes, a nap would probably be a good idea, if you feel overwhelmed. Oh! Wait. More of the potion first." He turned to reach for the phial he'd set down before.
Severus tried to go ahead and lie back down, but his judgment as to his position relative to the pillow was all wrong, yet--apparently sitting up had been more reflex than sense--and he hit his head on the frame and yelped.
"Oi, none of that. Here, wait, let me--" Potter was at his side immediately, sitting on the edge of the mattress, supporting him and carefully checking his head for anything worse than a bruise. "Here. Drink, then nap."
Severus drank, then let Potter help him lie down and pull the cover up over his shoulder.
"You'll be more better when you wake up again."
"More better." Severus rolled his eyes, then closed them. "Basing grammar…"
Potter chuckled. "I know. Hermione said the same thing. Also, sorry about the blowing your mind and all."
"Always wanting you to blow me," Severus said. He frowned. That wasn't exactly what he'd meant, but when he opened his mouth to say something further, he also opened his eyes, and the look--and the blush--on Potter's face was …intriguing in its lack of outrage. Plus, he'd probably just foul the situation further.
Plus, the blush was increasing.
He closed his eyes and went to sleep.
"Potter!" Severus had awoken in the dark with a pressing need to empty his bladder, and since he heard nothing, he assumed the boy was asleep. It was clearly the middle of the night.
When there was no answer for several seconds, he shouted again. "Potter!"
Well. That was just brilliant, he had his mind, and he knew he needed the toilet, and the last time he'd tried to coordinate his own movement, he'd all but brained himself on a bedframe. And no one was coming.
He carefully slid his legs to the side and off the edge of the mattress, letting gravity help get him up out of the bed, and pushed himself upright.
Of course, he had no bloody idea where, if anywhere, there might be a bathrobe or any sort of nightshirt to wear on his journey. He also had no idea where the toilet might be, though there was only the one door in this room, so clearly that was the corridor, and he could hope it was near.
And if it wasn't, he could piss on the floor outside the bedroom, and then get back in the bed.
He lurched naked toward the door, making it there in three steps, and gripped the frame and handle hard. Or tried; his fingers seemed disinterested in clinging, and his knees seemed to want to buckle. Fortunately, just then he heard footsteps approaching, and Potter was pushing at the door.
Which, unfortunately, Severus was leaning against. And his efforts to move aside were failing badly. He tried again, but the pop behind him informed him that Potter had simply come in via Apparition--a surprisingly good idea, actually--and then sturdy hands were pulling him away from the door and helping him open it.
"Toilet?" Potter asked.
"No, I was planning a trip to the zoo."
Potter chuckled. "You sound like you!"
"Alas. My plan to rule the world begins with an impersonation of Dougal the Skye Terrier, so I've a great deal of work to do. He sounds very little like me."
"True," Potter said. "But first, the toilet. First door on your left. Uh, Hermione says I should let you tell me how much help you need or want, but if it's all the same to you, I'd rather not sponge piss out of the carpet, so I'd prefer you asked for help even if it's awkward for everyone, yeah?"
"I believe I can manage to sit on the toilet and piss straight down, Potter."
"Right, but just saying. The stuff that can't be retaught by magic--the reading and whatnot--you just will have to learn, and walking is one of those things, but I just would rather minimize the number of avoidable accidents. Anyway. Here we are." Severus shuffled in and let Potter help him get seated, then waited until he went away and pulled the door shut before letting his bladder drain, which, in fact, was more difficult than he'd expected, because although gravity managed the flow downward, coordinating his body was no easier than it had been before.
By the time he was done, he was exhausted again, from the effort of remaining upright after all that walking--it had to have been a good fifteen feet, in sum. Still, he took a moment before he called out to ask Potter to take him back to bed. He sat still, pretending to be able to manage himself independently. It didn't hurt to pretend.
When he did call out, Potter appeared immediately, having obviously been just outside the door. "Are you all right?"
"You look sort of pale."
"How can you tell? It's dark in here."
"I can tell. Also, it's not so much that you look pale as that the charm that the Neville helped me set up to keep an eye on you--"
"Longbottom has been involved in your adventure to repair me? Please tell me his participation has been minimal."
"Oi, he's good at lots of things. None of them are Potions, which probably you knew. But no, he only helped with a charm he knows about for taking care of really delicate plants. Orchids and shit like that. I was saying I wanted to be able to tell without being right there if you were feeling bad. Speaking of which, you are; let's get you back to bed." Potter bent and slipped and arm under Severus's, helping him stand upright and steadying him once he was up. "Ready?"
"Yes, though I believe I object to being compared to a fragile flower."
Potter sighed. "Yes, but we modified the charm to make it notify me if a fragile snarky bastard was feeling bad, instead."
"Some. Also, Flitwick had some input, and Bill went looking for whether there was anything, uh, he said sometimes modifying a charm to a different class, like, the object is animal instead of plant for this one, if you don't know what you're doing, you can build in a curse you don't mean to. Says that used to happen a lot, in old times. Anyway, he looked at it and decided it wasn't going to fuck anything up, so we went for it. Which was a really big help; I mean, I think I was disturbing your sleep at least as much as you were disturbing mine. Come on."
"Disturbing my sleep?"
"Yeah. I didn't want to stay far away, because early on, you were kind of a fucked-up mess."
"As opposed to now?"
"You have no idea. Anyway. So I wanted to sleep in my own bed--"
"You were sleeping in my bed?" Severus blinked. "I would think I'd have noticed."
"As I said. Fucked-up mess. But it's all better now. Except that you're shaking, which isn't that surprising, I suppose. I could Apparate you back to bed."
"Yes, because Apparating ten feet is an excellent use of your energies."
"You sound more like you every minute."
"No, it's all right. I mean, I'm glad it's all working. We kind of went to a lot of trouble. Uh, which I'm not saying to make you feel beholden or anything, just it would've sucked if you'd woken up acting like Trelawney."
"If I had, would you have put me out of your misery?"
"Well, I did keep up hope when you asked about hedgehogs."
"So, no." Severus paused. "Perhaps that was an error in judgment, that you didn't call it a lost cause then."
"You think so?"
"No; I'm glad you continued. I just wonder at your critical thinking. Also, if we could get to the bed, I'm going to fall down." He hadn't said it soon enough; no sooner had the words left his mouth than he was sagging, and of course, because Potter had started trying to move him more quickly, they both tumbled down hard.
Severus heard, as much as felt, the bone in his ankle crack, and ten seconds later, he was listening to Potter send him into unconsciousness again after several choice words. He didn't have time to object.
When Severus woke again, his neck was stiff and his groin was tingling with the sensation of recent magic.
Which certainly hadn't been done by him.
At least, he hoped he hadn't been casting lubrication charms whilst unconscious; that would be quite odd. That was rather what this felt like, though as he didn't often cast any other sorts of charms on his own cock, he supposed it might feel similar only in the sense of being magic and in the area.
Either way, he wouldn’t have had any reason to be… he frowned. Why was he justifying to himself whether he might or might not have masturbated recently? If he had, it was no one's business and wasn't the sort of thing over which a man of his age ought to be concerned.
Except that he had been asleep since …since using the toilet and breaking his ankle? He had the sense of having been asleep a long time, and wondered how long it had been. He flexed the ankle experimentally, gritting his teeth against the expected stiffness. Broken bones had been all too present in his life, though usually they'd transpired at the hands of miscreants and evildoers, but the feeling was the same, and regardless of the ease of a bone-healing potion, the muscles and sinews were often less resilient, especially when one was no longer a child with fibers accustomed to growing.
His ankle felt fine.
He sat up. "Potter?"
"Oh, are you awake?" The voice, sounding slightly tense, came from the next room, which, if memory served, was the bath. "Just a minute, I'll be right there."
Severus swung his feet over the edge of the bed and started to get up, then realized he was once again naked, and pulled the sheet with him. He felt somewhat steadier this time, and his ankle barely twinged. He wrapped himself in the sheet, sitting back down twice before he managed to both stay upright and get it organized, then pulled the door open, holding onto the wall as he walked the three steps to the other door. It was ajar, so he pushed it open.
And froze. "Er. I beg your pardon."
He pulled the door closed again, which landed him on his arse on the floor, legs sprawled awkwardly as his head hit the opposite wall. Fortunately, it didn't hit hard. He gathered himself and rolled over, and after a futile struggle with his body and the sheet to get back to his feet, retreated back to bed on his hands and knees, abandoning his previous half-formed thought to go exploring half-dressed, uncertain as to the location of his wand and proper clothes, and unable to remove from his mind the image of Potter, his hand on his hard cock, his face flushed, his mouth and eyes open wide with startled shock.
He crawled up onto the bed and with some difficulty pulled the blanket over him, irritated to find that the longer he moved about, the less coordinated he apparently became. Finally, he settled on trying to take deep breaths and slow his heartbeat.
A moment later, Potter shuffled in, face flaming red. "Uh. Sorry."
"I believe the fault was mine," Severus said, noting with some pride that he sounded rather normal. "Though I admit, I didn't expect …that, in the middle of the afternoon."
"I didn't expect you to wake up for a couple more hours," Potter said. "Or I'd have just got you up for the toilet in the first place."
"I'd just been in a little while ago. To--you've been unconscious again, so I've been taking care of you, right?"
"Why have I been unconscious?"
"Because you were awake too soon, before. We've kept you asleep because it allowed us to fix a lot more. I mean, we can't teach you to read while you sleep, but your body's all repaired. I think. How do you feel?"
Severus raised one eyebrow and pursed his lips before he answered. "Fine; however, I wonder whether it ever crossed your tiny mind to check, whether I wished to be rendered unconscious?"
"Sorry. That's what Bill asked, too, which, I guess he'd know; he has a standing order for St. Mungo's not to knock him out without permission, barring emergency. He has a really hard time with, you know, the werewolf things."
"When I last knew, he hadn't been completely turned."
"Still hasn't, but there are things, which, not my place to tell, but my point was, he asked. But then I figured it was already done and we might as well fix you, so I said it was all right. I, uh. Should I not do that again, even if you get hurt?"
"Potter. I've spent months of my life with consecutive and overlapping bouts of misery, physical, emotional, and psychological, and I've been injured more times than I can count, usually with the additional joyful reality of having to go on enduring several hundred mutton-headed brats destroying perfectly good potion bases. I think I can stand a broken ankle."
"You remember, then. When you were up before. I wasn't sure if you were still too, you know, addled, especially since I'd put you back under under some stress. Though you did seem rather well."
"I remember. Perhaps we could return to the topic of why you were in and didn't simply take me to the toilet, since apparently you were on your way there?"
"I wasn't on my way there! I just, see, we were still feeding you, of course. So you would need to, you know, excretions. That would need to be cleared away. I've learned a slew of nursing charms and whatnot, for all that sort of thing. So anyway, emptying you, was what I was doing just before, because I didn't expect you to wake up yet, which I probably should have done because you are a contrary bastard and you always do whatever is least convenient for me."
"Another life goal met. My deepest and most heart-felt apologies for inconveniencing you by almost dying."
"Not that. I just, never mind. I don't mind the taking care of you, exactly, just, you've a bit of a habit of not going the way we expect. But you don't owe me an apology. I owe you a lot, so."
"You owe me nothing; I don't keep that kind of tally. I did, for a long while, but having lived out what worked out to be my entire life except that you apparently resurrected me under such a system of weights and measures, I no longer do, effective immediately. So. You were emptying me. Which explains the magic I felt. In the vicinity of my bladder."
"Oh, right! Exactly."
"And so, immediately after you performed the task of removing urine from my body, you went in the loo and--"
"No! I mean, yes, but it wasn't to do with the piss or anything. I just… there's not any good way to explain this."
"I ...see. Well, I suppose I shall have no choice but to wait for a more satisfactory explanation; however, now, I am awake, hungry, and interested in relearning to read. Since I have no wish to explain to the world at large that I currently am unable--this is not common knowledge, I assume?"
"No. Only a few people know you're not dead, actually."
"Good. Then, I should like to learn whatever I must here."
"Oh, right. I could, um, do you want Hermione to teach you the academic things?" Potter leaned against the small writing desk next to the door, crossing his feet at the ankle.
"Not in the slightest. I'm certain she has more interesting things to do, and also, I believe it quite likely we might kill one another."
"You noted before that others had been involved in this little game. Who are they?"
"Hermione, Neville, Ron knows but hasn't been here because actually, um, there was a complication with Lavender and him, and he's been a bit preoccupied, which, honestly, you really don't want to mention that to Hermione, like, ever."
"I shall try to restrain the impulse."
"No, really, she'd hex you. The whole topic--"
"Yes, I believe I understand. In any case. Mr Weasley?"
"What? Oh. Bill, yes, and also Arthur, though he's really busy helping Kingsley because the Ministry has been a bit, um, there have been changes, and there's a lot of mail. And a lot of Howlers."
"Is that everyone?"
"Maybe. I think so. Oh, no, Flitwick, and Hagrid, because he brought you here because you couldn’t be Apparated, oh, and I guess Madam Pomfrey must know. Why?"
"I wish to know whom I might expect to teach me. Miss Granger, we've already ruled out. And I doubt Longbottom has any wish to be in my sight."
"Not really, no. Though to tell the truth, he's been really amazing, after everything. I mean, he'd be good at the teaching part, except for how you kind of make him stammer."
"Exactly that. I wish to learn to read, sans stammer. I assume the Hogwarts staff members have had their hands rather full?"
"Yes, though things are finally slowing down. But, then they'll have the anniversary crap--"
"Of the battle. It'll be a year in, hm, six weeks, maybe?"
"You might have said. I've been unconscious for nearly a year?"
"No, you were mostly dead for about two months, and then in and out, just not sane for another three or four. So, I guess, like five months or so? Four, and then recently one. More or less. Sorry. I guess I hadn't really thought to mention it."
Severus swallowed. "Well. It would appear I've missed my birthday."
"Oh, uh. Okay. You're, um, thirty-nine, then?"
"It would seem."
"Good to know." Potter blushed again and looked at his hands.
Finally, after an awkward moment of silence, Severus cleared his throat. "Weasley, then? Bill, that is."
Potter blushed more, which made little sense, and shook his head. "Back in Egypt, right now. I mean, he'll be back in a few months, but I guess they had some situation and called everyone down there? So, I don't know. I guess that leaves me. Which is okay. I mean, I don't mind. If I could do all the rest of this, I can teach you to read, right?"
Severus sighed. "Perfect. Lessons from the hero."
"I can't help the past. Also, I still think Hermione would be better at it."
"I still think she and I would kill each other, so I see no better option."
"And you don't think you'll kill me?"
"Had I wished to do that, I can think of roughly a dozen opportunities to do it while you were smaller and less competent at defense. Not that there weren't moments of temptation. From time to time."
"Oh. Well, good. I mean, that you didn't give in. To the temptation, or whatever. Uh, I won't kill you, either. I mean, it would be kind of stupid, after everything."
"I'm gratified to learn you've acquired the capacity to think ahead."
Potter snorted. "I'm a bit older than I was, before."
"Aren't we all." Severus agreed. "Still, every indication was that you were intractable and unteachable."
"Nice. I take care of you and offer to teach--"
"And choose to retain my personality. It can't be a surprise, therefore, that I still have it. Why were you masturbating?"
"I think it was a fairly clear question. Four words, a simple interrogative structure, a subject you can't find unfamiliar."
"Oi, I don't do it that much!"
"Can't find unfamiliar?"
"Oh. I meant, subject of the sentence, which was 'you;' masturbation was, in this instance, the action being described and was therefore a verb."
"I can't believe I'm having a grammar lesson regarding, you know, that."
"I do know that, and I'm pleased to find my grasp of the subject is apparently memory, not skill." Potter's expression was puzzled, so Severus rolled his eyes and added, "That I remember it. Don't think it's escaped my notice that you haven't answered."
"I know. Look, all right, to empty, you know, it involves, you're undressed, and there's the magic and usually you get, uh." Potter looked away. "And then I do, too, which is probably weird and also you're going to think I'm a pervert because, um, and usually it's easiest to, you know, that, because it became clear really quickly that else I just keep thinking about it, and anyway, I think I'll go start lunch." He stood up off the edge of the desk and fled before Severus could ask any more questions or even offer any commentary on the ridiculous grammar of his explanation.
It was probably just as well; to his surprise, the notion of Potter getting hard looking at him had left him rather startled despite it being a rational explanation, and besides, it had started to have the reverse--or perhaps inverse--effect as well, and a discussion of parallel erections was likely to be awkward.
"So, I thought between reading lessons, since there's only so much C is for Carrot one can stand, maybe we would work on other things. Um, physical skills." Harry looked up from the coffee table where they'd spread out the primer and rolls of parchment.
Severus considered asking whether masturbation, parallel or otherwise, was one of the skills they would work on, mostly because every time anything might possibly be taken as a reference to their upstairs-loo encounter, Potter flushed bright red, even yet, but usually that also led to the idiot hiding away all afternoon, so he held his tongue. "Such as?"
"Walking without holding onto anything?"
"Yes, because I certainly can't attempt to merely practice balance on my own."
"No. When I have done, I have fallen down. I decided to wait until my capacity to correctly direct my arms promptly caught up with my desire to catch myself."
"So, then, you think we shouldn't practice physical skills. I just thought, you know, if you wanted to help with the Potions stuff, we should try to make you more able to handle a sharp knife and stuff."
"I didn't say that I didn't think we should work on motor skills. I merely think at this point walking well without any disasters is beyond me. And, as I have directed you not to render me comatose again, I would prefer not to injure myself."
"Right. Well, we could practice writing more, I suppose."
"I doubt that would help my balance."
Potter crinkled his nose. "You don't make any bloody sense. You want to get better, only not, but your way, even though you can't do about eighty percent of everything, only you hate my suggestions. Fine. What do you want to do?"
"Something that involves moving about, of course," Severus said. "I suppose everything is more difficult than walking, but it's awkward, moving with you right there, as evidenced by our regular tumbles. So, something else. Dancing, perhaps, odd though it sounds."
Potter snorted loudly. "Yes, I should definitely be in charge of dancing lessons. Have you seen me dance?"
"Yes. I didn't want dancing lessons," Severus explained. "I merely thought we could dance." At the expression on Potter's face, disbelief at the concept with a slight shade of alarm, he went on, "It simply occurred to me on the spur of the moment that it would be an activity that would involve being upright and changing directions periodically, as an alternative to walking, since it is an activity intended to be performed in close proximity to a partner."
"Uh, right. Well, I suppose you've a point there. Sort of. Though I don't think dancing is less difficult than walking, even with a partner right there. But, we could give it a try." Potter stood up. "What, then, the tango?"
Severus shook his head. "I doubt I could manage anything more complicated than the waltz. And neither could you."
"I was more thinking you've been all dramatic and would want that whole rose in your teeth thing."
"Snarkiness doesn't suit you, Potter."
"Sorry. Uh. We could go flying or something instead. I mean, I'm good at that...?"
"But either I'd have to manage on a broom, or you'd have to literally hold me on. The first would--"
"Fuck up all my efforts to fix you, yeah. And I guess it wouldn't really be you doing any work if I did it all. Fine. Then dancing it is." He held out his hand.
Severus took the offer and levered himself upright with a groan. He'd been sitting fairly still for two hours working on ridiculously simple--and frustratingly difficult--reading lessons; he'd so far in ten days managed to acquire the typical skills of a particularly dull seven-year-old. Getting up, therefore, was a challenge irrespective of the coordination issue. He'd found his body still was entirely more aware than he'd have hoped of all the damage he'd done to it, both over time in damp, dank places and with an immediate supervisor with a penchant for violence, and in the single night of blood loss, poisoning, and putrefaction of a magical wound. The upshot of this was, he ached fairly constantly, and his joints tended to swell and stiffen if he was still for very long.
This, he'd concluded, was as big a pain in the arse as any other part of his rehabilitation, but given the boy had explained the potions for that would conflict with the other things he was still getting (and watching him make), and cheerfully offered to drop him back into unconsciousness for a while longer yet, he didn't get to complain. Instead, he winced, but stood, and gripped Potter's arms tightly, trying not to fall over as he swayed on unsteady feet.
"Um, shouldn't we have music?"
"If you like," Severus said. "Or, we could merely count."
"Right. On three, then."
"I shall count. And one--" Severus stepped with his left foot as Potter did the same, and after a brief struggle for balance, they faced each other again.
"Maybe I should count. You're busy focusing on which way to go."
"I wasn't the one who went the wrong way."
"Oi, says who?"
"You've already agreed you're a dreadful dancer."
"I didn't say dreadful. Anyway, let's try again. Right foot this time. Um, go." He stepped with his right foot as Severus did the same, and sat down hard between the table and the couch, catching Severus in his lap. "I meant my right."
"I gathered." Severus shifted, then raised an eyebrow. "Potter. I'm nearly sure you haven't emptied my bladder recently, so I'm surprised to find--"
"Shut it. You're standing-- you're just right there."
"And that makes you, let me see. Imagine my hard cock displayed for your entertainment?"
Potter scowled. "Maybe. I can't help it. You don't have to be like that."
"What, like myself? I thought that was one of the goals of your Snape resurrection program."
"It is. But it's not, look. Fine. You make me, you know, like that."
"I believe the word you want is 'aroused,' Potter."
"Yes, I know the word, you bastard."
Severus repositioned himself slightly, moving onto the floor and straightening his legs before him, leaning back against the couch. "So, to summarize, you've tended my body for nearly a year, but it hasn't, in fact, been out of the goodness of your heart; deep down, you are a pervert who enjoys whacking off over me. You saved my personality because despite protestations previous and current, you liked it, and--"
"No, that's not why I saved it."
"Of course not."
Potter rolled his eyes and shifted to sit next to Severus. "Look, Snape, fine. You get me hard. Fuck off. Like it or not, I did have this interesting opportunity to die last spring, and I'm probably clearer about my motivations than you have any reason to know. And, yes, I do tend to get myself off after, you know, I see you, because seriously, the other choice is to be distracted by it all bloody afternoon, and as long as we're poking at each other--"
"Dreadful choice of words, Potter."
"Again, fuck off. As long as we're discussing it, you prick, let's consider the following. You dumped memories at me. I've been in your head a lot for months. And I chose to keep you intact. If I'd really wanted to, I could have taken the attraction you're probably about to not admit you have and played it."
"I doubt it."
"That you could have 'played' it. I see no point in doubting whether I'm about to deny anything, since this is in my own control."
"Fine. Maybe I couldn't. But I could have tried, and I could have messed it up. And I could have made it clear I expected payment, because I do understand this is the way some people get along. Which I don't, incidentally. Expect payment, or get along."
Severus snorted, then stared for a moment, then snorted again. "Of course you don't. I doubt you could if you tried."
"We can just disagree about that. Though I think I'd rather you called me Harry. You can call that your payment if you think it's necessary I do try."
"Harry, is that the best you can do to demand payment?"
"No, because I wasn't. I was just asking, and adding a suggestion. Demanding usually doesn't involve offering a choice. You were always quite good at it, so I'd think you'd know. Now, are we dancing?" Harry stood and held his hand out again, so Severus took it.
"We are, but of curiosity, why are you bad at asking for this? You've always thought everything else your birthright." Severus deliberately pulled Harry closer than before and lifted a brow as he looked down at him. He was still completely dependent as far as movement, but given this conversation and that he hadn't been abandoned because Potter--Harry--was hiding in the bloody attic, he was going to press the issue.
"I haven't," Harry said. "There were things people did for me, and sometimes, I didn't know to question, and sometimes I was …busy. I'm never good at asking for things. Also, what is the 'this' in your question? Why am I bad at asking to be called Harry?"
"Oh. Well, right. Good, because I don't think I did that badly, and also, I don't usually have to ask people to call me things, because practically everyone assumes they know me and I know them, which is kind of a pain. Anyway. Your left foot, my right. Ready? Go."
They managed half a dozen steps before Severus mis-stepped and tangled them up. Unfortunately, their landing was considerably less graceful this time; Severus barked his shoulder and ribs hard on the back of a chair on the way down, and Harry landed on his elbows, one of which was on Severus's stomach. Severus groaned. "Dancing may be too complex for me yet."
"Maybe." Harry shifted and set his hands on the floor, then blinked. "So, not to destroy your illusion that I've gained the, uh, what was it? Capacity to think ahead?"
"Rushing in blindly has always been one of your strengths. I'd hate to see it compromised at this late date despite that it was a source of frustration in keeping you alive."
"Oh, good, because there's a decent chance you're going to hex me for asking this, but, if either dancing badly with me, or discussing my hard-on gets you like this, too, uh, were you hoping for something other than dancing?"
"I can't hex you, you imbecile; I still don't have a wand."
Harry raised his eyebrows and glanced down between them. "No? Well, then I guess there goes plausible denial as to what that is."
"You already said you'd been mucking about in my head," Severus said with some exasperation. "I see little point in denying my unwelcome ongoing attraction to the prize hero and chief dunderhead. However, as I've spent most of my life wanting things I cannot have, and since I'm quite clear on the difference between something feeling like a good idea, and being a good idea, no, I wasn't hoping for anything in particular when I suggested dancing."
Harry examined him for a minute, then pushed up off him and helped him up. "You've hurt yourself again. I should--"
"Don't you dare render me unconscious."
"Duh. Even dunderheads can remember things that've been mentioned a hundred and seventeen times a day for the last week and a half. I was going to say, I should get you back to bed and have a look at that."
Severus frowned. He hadn't missed the emphasis on dunderhead, and wondered, for a moment, if he'd managed to offend him. Then he wondered why he cared; a physical response, especially one as basic as that, was hardly an expression of deep caring, and at this point, if worse came to worst, he could marginally fend for himself, and enough people evidently knew of his whereabouts that someone would come even if Harry flounced out. After a moment, he nodded. "Fine."
"Levitate or Apparate?"
"I'll walk, if you don't mind."
"No wall to hold, from here."
Severus rolled his eyes. "I didn't say I was unwilling to touch you. You're hardly infected with anything dreadful, and if you were, I think now would be somewhat too late to become concerned."
"So, you want me to help you, then?"
"I…" Severus blinked. "Yes, I require assistance."
"So, I should call Neville to help you, then, if I'd rather not?"
"So you require my assistance."
"Potter, honestly. What is it you wish me to say, and also, does it not seem as though we ought to go ahead and get me to bed?"
"I wish you to say, since I already said a hell of a lot on and in return you suggested you didn't want anything to do with the dunderheaded unintentional hero person, that you want my help."
Severus pursed his lips. "Fine. I required your assistance in getting to bed."
"And you not only require it, but you want it?"
"Of course I want it. Potter--"
"Harry, actually, and obviously I'm going to help you, and do you have to be such a complete arse?"
"Have we not already discussed what it means that you saved my personality?"
"Damn it." Harry slipped his arm under Severus's shoulder and turned toward the stairs. "Come on. It'd still be easier to Apparate you."
"Get used to non-easy."
Harry shook his head. "Done, long since. Bastard."
Severus stopped his careful steps forward. "Fine. Apparate. I'm tired."
"I swear, your main goal in life is to be as contrary as possible," Harry said. "However, hold on." He Apparated Severus upstairs and efficiently stripped off his shirt, applying salve quickly and helping him into bed before going back downstairs on foot with an odd, overly casual, parting comment of, "I'll just leave you to feel better."
It was only several minutes later that Severus realized he'd left the jar of salve, open, on the bedside table, probably entirely on purpose. He contemplated it for a moment, then reached over and put the lid back on.
Severus opened his eyes in the dim room. The sun had nearly set, and while he did recall lying here staring at the ceiling while Harry's salve faded his bruises and stopped the heated throb of the scrape to his back, he hadn't meant to sleep. "If I'm to call you Harry, maybe you should call me Severus."
"Feeling better, then?"
Severus snorted. "Are you asking whether I made use of your incredibly obvious salve?"
"I didn't. You?"
"Left the salve here."
"Not the question."
"…I feel fine."
Severus chuckled. "Also not the question. However, since apparently unless something is said a hundred and seventeen times, you don't understand it, the question was, did you do anything about your previous state of arousal?"
Harry snorted. "Yes; I thought about Hagrid's pants."
"You, Harry Potter, are a bigger pervert than I had ever been given reason to believe," Severus said, startled.
"What? No, not… God. Ew. I found it really effective to think of Hagrid's unappealing pants in order to lose my previous state of arousal."
"What, why was it effective?"
"No." Severus paused. "Potter, Harry, did you come in here for any specific purpose?"
"To wake you."
"I'm awake, and yet, you're still here."
"Then it would seem your work here is done."
Harry shifted to lean against the jamb, barely visible in what was now nearly full darkness, though his glasses did glint in the light of the rising moon. "Yeah, but I was maybe wondering whether there was any play to be had."
"Opposite of work. Perhaps you know it?"
"You came in here to play?"
"I came in here because if we're both attracted and neither of us did anything about it before, uh, maybe we have other options besides dancing to help you get more coordinated?"
"Is that what it is? Physical therapy?"
"No. I mean, yes, effectively, but it would be the fun kind. I guess. I think. I mean, if it was fun, it would be, er, fun."
"I see." Severus tried to work out how to gauge Harry's full intent, uncertain how to proceed and wondering whether it wouldn't have been better to use the salve and claim exhaustion now.
After a long pause, Harry shifted again, then pushed away from the door frame and sat on the edge of the bed. "Fuck it. We got off track before in being all pissed off, but it comes to this: I'm interested. You're interested. Wanna?"
"Such glib language. Does this always work for you?"
"Never tried it before. So. Wanna?"
"Usually they just offer, then?"
"Wordless communication? Eyes across a crowded room? Nameless mouths in the dark?"
"Never tried any of those, either, actually."
Severus sighed in renewed exasperation. "Honestly, Harry. What have you tried?"
"Basically, not a lot. Usually I've been busy being a pawn in someone else's game, and/or seeing to the upkeep of a snarky bastard who's been asleep most of the year. Therefore, my experience is limited. I mean, you know, groping. And wanking. Which you knew. So that's all, so I didn't really know how to go about it. However, you don't really seem the type to want flowers, which is the only other approach I ever briefly tried, you know, with girls, so I thought I'd try the direct option, which was why I came up here, except it was a little alarming, so I stalled. Then I reminded myself I stood up to Voldemort, which was slightly less alarming but didn't kill me, so I stopped stalling."
"I see." Severus waited to see if Harry had anything else to say or had completed his enormous unending explanation, then went on. "Have you, in your perusing of my mind, spent any energy contemplating my sex life?"
"No! I. That's personal. It wouldn't have been right to just barge in, any more than I could help, which I tried, honestly, just some things I couldn't not see, like what I said before, but it wouldn't have bad to go looking. Plus if I'd seen anything, given I've been, you know, wanking over you for a while now, I would have just wound up both pissed off and also probably spending a lot more time in the washroom, and, I mean. It would have been like live porn, only without the participants knowing it, which, well. Wrong."
"So, you at last learn to respect my privacy when prying might have been instructive. Hopelessly Gryffindor of you."
"As am I, because it only means I have to actually say out loud that my experience is probably more limited than yours. Had you been a great deal further along, or had you pried, I'd have assumed you could figure that out on your own and account for it."
"Doubt it. That it's more limited, I mean. I'm hoping at this point that this is one of those skills that come naturally, like flying and using disarming spells. Also, fuck, I'm glad the lights are off, because I don't know if I could have managed to say any of this if you could actually see--"
"Potter, if you don't get your arse in this bed and save me having any more of this conversation, I will find the inner fortitude to wandlessly turn on the sodding lights, and then we shall both have to wait even more, because there is very little chance I shall be willing to follow through with you staring."
"Oh. Uh, right. Are you…"
"Get. In. The bed." Severus yanked the edge of the blanket out from under Harry's arse and held it up, although to his irritation, he struggled to keep his raised arm as steady as he meant for it to be. Well, at least it was dark, so it probably wasn't visible.
Finally, Harry turned to the side, remaining seated as he pulled his knee up onto the bed, the dark cloth of his denims easy to see on the pale sheet, and put his hand flat on the bed between them. "If I ask if you're sure, you're going to kill me by hand, right?"
"You're still dressed. Aside from the fact that you said once before you used to share this bed, and therefore you ought to be familiar with how to put yourself in it, I should think it would be apparent that being undressed would be useful to your intent."
Harry stilled, then dropped his head and laughed. He stood to pull his shirt over his head and unbuttoned the dark denims so they could drop to the floor. "Better?" His skin was pale; perhaps less so than Severus's own, but as that was probably true of things like bed-linens and mascarpone cheese, after a decade in a dungeon and a year in bed, this was hardly relevant. Severus dropped his hand and the blanket and watched skin appearing as clothing dropped, watched the white-blue line where the moonlight limned shoulder and arm and hip, and nodded.
Then he cleared his throat and expanded, "Somewhat."
Harry put his knee up on the bed again and quickly scooted under the cover, warm and firm everywhere that Severus felt cold and dry and probably wrinkled. Severus paused, then shrugged to himself. Harry had seen his dry old wrinkled skin, and had gone to the loo straightaway, so he thought he needn't worry about that. At least, not much. Even if it was probably all about teen-aged hormones and opportunity.
"What do you mean, what?"
"I was convincing myself to do this." Severus reached, clumsily but accurately, for Harry's thigh, letting his fingers trace.
"You needed convincing?"
"No, I merely had thought I might wait for you to make the first move. Then I remembered that that would likely end one of two ways: my death of old age, or something precipitous and injurious, and--Potter!"
Harry had suddenly squirmed his way around onto his side, and had his thigh draped over Severus's, his fingers busily cupping and teasing his balls. "What? Neither old age nor precipitous injury, so you've nothing to complain about. Plus, unless you're an enormous pervert who gets off on things he doesn't like--"
"I believe that's a contradiction in terms."
"That was kind of my point. Anyway. Unless that, I think you like this just fine."
"Yeah. Also, I've got you hard lots of times by accident, but doing it on purpose is more fun."
"I live to serve." Severus felt the quirk of Harry's cheek lifting in a grin against his shoulder, and found he was grinning back.
Well, at least it was dark.
Severus considered opening his eyes and frowned. It was early yet, and he usually slept later than this, but something warm, something new... oh. He'd shifted slightly and come in contact with the sprawled and naked body of Harry lying next to him flat on his belly, fingers of one hand curled against his chin while the other hung half off the mattress. He turned up on his side, a process which was more awkward than he would have preferred, and set his hand flat on Harry's back. "Harry."
"Sev'rs," Harry answered, not opening his eyes. His voice was thick with sleep. "D'you lick my toes with hedgehogs yet?"
Severus shook his head, despite Harry's closed eyes. "I'm sorry to report reaching your toes is an advanced lesson, and also, I've no hedgehogs." He waited a moment, then exhaled. "Do you plan to sleep the day away, then?"
"No, but it's like five in the morning or something."
"Five forty, in fact, if my clock is correct."
"Was last I checked."
"I thought perhaps you might have broken it last night with your rather startling display of uncontrolled magic. Which, incidentally, once I've learned to read and got a new wand, we shall have to do something about."
Harry lifted his head. "You're complaining about the fact that feeling you come on my dick between us made me lose control? I only broke the one window, and I fixed that."
"It wasn't precisely, a complaint. I merely wish to suggest that that sort of thing can leave one vulnerable."
"You weren't about to attack. Or rather, if you could manage to do it fifteen seconds after you came and with serious coordination and balance issues, I'd have deserved it anyway, right?"
"Getting what you deserve hasn't usually been a likely outcome, for you."
Harry shrugged. "You either. Though we can work on that, too."
Severus blinked, habitual paranoid tension stiffening his body even though nothing in the conversation seemed like a threat. "What?"
"We'll get you what you deserve, now we've got this part done."
"Done? You've satisfied your bizarre craving, then, and now you intend to do away with my inconvenient memory?"
"What? No. God, Snape. I meant, you had like twenty years of completely dreadful circumstances--"
"Twenty? I believe we've established I'm nearly forty."
"I meant since the whole Voldemort, my parents, um. All right, so forty. It's a lot of compensatory sex you need, don't you think?"
"You plan to make up for my life with fucking?"
"It's worth a try." Harry reached for Severus again, then scrambled backwards down the bed to position himself half-over Severus's legs, one hand and his warm wet lips working their way over his balls and up his hardening shaft. "Plus," he said, lifting his head up just enough to partially lift the blanket off Severus's belly, "a lot of fucking works out to make up for some of the stupid things in my life, too. Win-win, you know?"
He went back to sucking more earnestly as Severus groaned his agreement, gradually shifting his position so Severus could feel the sticky-wet tip of his cock pressing and pulling against his ankle, rocking harder as Severus's body started to move as well.
Severus threw off the blanket, looking down his chest as the (insane, absurd, never-expected) sight, then bit off another groan and cleared his throat.
Harry looked up, eyes wide. "Hmm?"
"It occurs to me," Severus said, "that if that's the goal, we've work to do."
Harry gave one more good slurp and lifted his head. "What?"
"If we're to save your sanity and by extension the free world, with unrestrained fucking, we should start. Unless memory fails me, and usually it doesn't--"
"Well, no, I kept your memories, remember?"
"Yes, I think I recall. In any case, we didn't quite get to that part, the fucking, last night."
Harry put his head back down, sucking and licking at Severus's cock for another minute, then nodded and moved forward again, straddling Severus's thighs as he had the night before and leaning off to the side until his wand jumped to his hand. He used it to Summon a sealed jar from the next room, then set the wand aside and opened the jar, scooping out some thick slick gel and dripping it onto Severus's cock. "You do understand," he said conversationally, only a slight quiver to his voice as he smeared the stuff up and down, twisting his hand until Severus could barely hear him much less concentrate, "that if you coming on my cock made me shatter a window, you coming inside me is likely to bring down the roof..."
Severus shuddered. "I should like to take my chances," he said, thrusting up, seeking more contact.
Harry crawled forward, legs wide, and looked down between them again, holding Severus's cock up and twisting his lips in doubtful concentration before trying to slide down onto it and failing, leaving Severus's cock sliding slickly along his crack. Both of them groaned, and Harry looked up, rueful. "I, uh. Well, if I can't work out the mechanics, I supposed we'll just have to have a nap and try again."
"An excellent plan," Severus agreed, pushing up again and again, gripping Harry's arse hard. "I should like to point out, my grip is already improving."
Harry nodded, panting, eyes wide as he ground back and forth against Severus's stomach. "This time... tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"When you're going to come," Harry said. "I want to watch you."
Severus blinked, startled once again, and nodded. "Then, watch."