|auctasinistra (auctasinistra) wrote in wip_rip,|
@ 2008-10-28 17:16:00
Tony’s eyes widened and Harry looked over his shoulder at the sight of Severus Snape sprawled face down and naked, uncovered to his hips, across Harry’s bed.
Tony grinned. “I see you two have finally come to an understanding.”
Harry blushed, running a hand through his messy hair. “I think I’m in love,” he blurted, immediately horrified that he’d said it out loud.
“No kidding. Just be careful.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well.” Tony glanced past him again, shrugged. “You know him better, of course. But it seems to me that he’s ... um ... dangerous. And I think he’s the kind of guy who keeps his feelings under pretty tight control.”
Harry nodded. “It’s OK. I know how he is. I don’t ... expect anything. I didn’t even really expect this.” He found himself grinning and flushing again.
“Just don’t sell yourself short, Harry. You’re a great guy. Don’t settle.”
Harry glanced back at Snape. A man who rarely slept and never trusted. Still asleep in his bed. Trusting him enough to sleep. He turned back to Tony and shook his head. He had nothing to say.
Tony sighed. “Never mind. I can see how it is with you.”
“You’re one of those fairy-tale, head over heels, once-and-forever types. That’s great, as long as the man you fall in love with is worth it.”
Harry opened his mouth and Tony held up a hand.
“I know, I know. You’re going to say he is. It’s your funeral, kiddo.” He sighed again. “Anyway, coffee’s on downstairs if you guys want to get moving. The boss lady should be here in an hour and do not tell her I told you she was coming.”
“We won’t,” Harry said. “Thanks for letting me know. And thanks for everything.”
“You sound like you’re leaving.”
Harry shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Why do I have a feeling I don’t want to be anywhere in the vicinity when you and the dragon lady finally meet?”
Not wanting to wake Snape – smiling to himself that he still thought of him as Snape – Harry sat in a chair and watched the man sleep. What the hell was he going to do now? Was he in love? Should he say so?
Snape would laugh. Harry could hear it; it made his skin crawl.
He thought about the night before, trying to be objective although he felt sick to his stomach that he should have to be cautious, now.
They had ... made love? Or had sex? Granted Snape had had quite a bit of wine, and Harry had pushed a bit – two good reasons for regret if Snape was inclined.
Harry tried to remember anything Snape had said or done that spoke of more than the scratching of an itch – however fucking spectacular.
Come on, he chided himself. You were going to be objective. You know it meant something to you. What did it mean to Snape?
There are two kinds of feeling. Do not confuse sensation with emotion. He could almost hear Snape saying that.
But the emotion, for Harry, had already been there. His feelings for Snape had been a long time brewing, but they were real. Whatever the hell they were, they were real.
And Harry knew Snape could destroy them completely with a few well-chosen words of rejection.
Without shifting a millimeter, Snape opened his eyes, looking uncannily right at Harry.
“Good morning,” Harry said, trying not to expect anything, as he’d told Tony.
Snape closed his eyes. Opened them again. Rolled over on his back. Blinked at the ceiling for a long moment while Harry’s heart sank through the floor.
“I always knew you would be the death of me, Potter.” Snape ground out in a world-weary tone. Overwhelmed with relief, Harry laughed. He bounded up, leaned over Snape, planted a brief but hard kiss on his mouth – feeling Snape start – then drew back to say, “Shall I bring you coffee?”
Snape blinked up at him. His lips twitched. “Five points to Gryffindor for an unprecedentedly brilliant suggestion.”
Harry chuckled again. “Shower if you like,” he said, heading for the door. “We have a ... an accidental meeting downstairs in an hour.”
At the door he glanced back. Snape was sitting up, the sheet puddled around his hips, casting a questioning look at him.
Harry nodded. God the man looked so incredibly sexy sitting there naked and scowling, hair awry, one hand massaging his temples ...
“Coffee, Potter,” Snape said, and Harry jumped, realizing he’d been staring.
“You’re starting to see the man behind that twinkling mask of benevolence, aren’t you?”
Harry nodded. “I knew that ... well, that he manipulated people – in a good way, or at least for good causes.”
“But I’ve never been on the receiving end...” Harry saw Snape’s brow rise, added sheepishly, “or rather, I never knew about it before.”
Harry knocked. Silence. He waited, visualizing Snape in his rooms, the hesitation, the consideration, the rising to his feet, the unwarding of the door.
Still nothing. He didn’t like to think the consideration would take this long; it didn’t bode well for his welcome. He knocked again, guessing Snape’s wards would tell him who was out here.
He heard metallic sounds as of heavy locks and latches being released. The door creaked open to reveal the potions master, looking unsurprised, but a trifle ...worried?
“May I come in?” Harry was determined to make no assumptions, though he couldn’t promise himself to make no mistakes. That, in conversation with Snape, wasn’t possible.
Snape stood aside and Harry entered the room.
He looked strangely formal, back in his flowing school robes and old-fashioned wizarding clothes. Harry hadn’t realized how much of a difference it would make. That and the fact that they were back at Hogwarts put Harry too firmly back into his student frame of mind. He wondered if he would ever have found the courage, here, to do what he’d done in California.
The potions master swung the door shut and stood, arms crossed, watching Harry survey the room. When Harry turned around, he said, “Don’t do that.”
Snape blinked. “Don’t do what?”
Harry waved at him. “Armor yourself against me like that.”
Snape seemed to consider the words. He dropped his hands, outspread in a sarcastic request for approval. Harry sighed.
“Come in,” Snape said, sweeping past him toward the chairs set before the fire.
“I’m going back to the Ministry in the morning. We haven’t had a chance to talk since Dumbledore’s little revelation.”
“Mostly because you haven’t left the dungeons since then,” Harry went on. Still nothing. “You might want to participate, here. Help me out.” Why have you been avoiding me? Fortunately he stopped himself before blurting that out – he would’ve sounded like a little girl.
“I’ve had a great deal of catching up to do,” Snape said. “I’ve been preparing next term’s lesson plans. I was away from my work for a fortnight, if you’ll recall.”
“Oh.” Harry felt himself blush.
“Did you imagine I walk into the classroom at the start of each term without thought or preparation? The lessons you and your friends found so odious do not appear out of thin air.”
“I see. I thought...” Idiot. You thought he was troubled. Bothered. Maybe even upset. Maybe wanting to end it. Maybe not. But ... he hasn’t even given you a thought since you got back. That hurt, a tight pain in Harry’s chest.
“Did you think I was hiding?” Snape said, predictably sarcastic. “Hiding from you?”
Harry took in a fortifying breath. “Sorry, professor. I should have known it had nothing to do with me.” He got up. “I’d better let you get back to work.” He rubbed damp palms down the front of his pants, straightened. “Thank you. For everything you did to help me, I mean. In California.” He moved for the door. Don’t stumble, don’t rush, don’t hesitate. He’s blown you off; take it like a man.
His hand was on the door handle when he heard – barely – his name. His first name. He stopped.
“Why did you come down here?” Snape’s soft voice carried to him.
Harry squeezed the doorhandle fiercely, turned around. Snape sat on the edge of his chair, as if he’d been about to rise.
“Because ... well, partly to say goodbye. And thank you. But mostly ... I thought that you were avoiding me. I thought that you ... maybe that you regretted what we did. That you were angry. I wanted to ... um ... clear the air, I suppose. I don’t want you to go back to hating me.” He smiled weakly.
Snape sat back. “Come back here and sit down.”
Harry did as he was told, shaky inside.
Snape simply looked at him. Before – before California – Harry would have squirmed under the unreadable weight of it. Now he waited, grateful Snape was talking to him at all, even though he suspected he wasn’t going to like hearing it.
Amazing, he thought into that dark silence, how differently you view someone once you’ve seen him sleep. Once you’ve seen his face in passion, open, undefended, trusting...
“You are going back to London.”
“Tomorrow morning. So I was worried I wouldn’t see you again for ... well, a while. And I was worried you were mad at me.”
Harry sighed. “For pushing you into doing something you seem to regret.”
Elbows planted on the chair arms, Snape steepled his fingers. “Do I understand you correctly? Are you simply concerned that I am angry with you, or disturbed about what we did?”
“Yes...” Harry ventured, not sure of his answer, feeling a trap whose parameters he could not define.
Snape’s mouth twitched in a brief sneer. “In that event you may toddle off to Fudge’s senile clutches with an easy conscience, Mr. Potter. I am not angry with you. And I never waste time or energy on regret. Given those things I have chosen, and been forced, to do in my life, such a weakness would cripple me.”
Harry felt the knot in his chest tighten. “Thanks,” he forced out. “It was good for me too.”
Snape didn’t look up from his steepled hands. “If that is all, you’re welcome to leave.”
Harry started to get up. Stopped. Sat back down. “That’s not all.”
Snape still didn’t raise his eyes.
“It’s not really my conscience that’s bothering me. Well, it is. But not only my conscience. If you say you aren’t angry, that you don’t regret it, I believe you. That takes care of conscience.”
“Then what else?” The sneer was back in Snape’s voice. “Your cock? Did you want one more, a quickie, for the road?”
Harry flinched – visibly, he realized when Snape’s eyes widened briefly. His voice came out in a pained whisper. “What did I do to deserve that?” Silence. “Or are you just trying to get rid of me?”
“And if I were?”
“I would ask you why.”
“You’re going anyway,” Snape pointed out. “What difference can it possibly make to me whether you leave now or in the morning?”
Realization filled Harry’s head and body. Snape was so good at playing cold it was easy to fall back into his childhood habit of looking no deeper. He carefully – but swiftly – considered what to say next. Confession seemed best. He’d come down here to say this anyway – now was a good time.
“I didn’t come here for the sake of my conscience or my cock. I came to say thank you. To say that ... that what we shared was, and is, the best thing that has ever happened to me. And if you think I’m just talking about the sex I will do my damnedest to kill you where you sit.”
Snape snorted a laugh. “I tremble.” But his tone was free of contempt, and his eyes locked onto Harry’s face.
“You were ... you became my friend. And a mind-blowing lover—” again the amused snort – “but most importantly a man I’ve learned to respect and care about. You’ve become very important to me, and I wanted you to know that. Whatever you may think or feel about me.”
Snape’s voice was precise, almost wary. “Are you trying to tell me that you are in love with me?”
Harry smiled, not happily. “I don’t know. I’ve never been in love. And you ... you are so difficult .... it’s not at all the way I imagine love. All I know is ... I wish I didn’t have to leave you. And part of me wishes we could have stayed in California. And I wish that you wanted me, and cared about me, too. And...” He felt his face flame.
“And?” Snape prompted, soft but merciless.
“And I want to make love to you,” Harry said. “I didn’t come here to ask that. I thought you were angry at me. All I wanted to do was fix that, if I possibly could.”
“I am not angry with you,” Snape said, again staring at his own hands.
“I’m glad. I ... your good opinion means a lot to me. It always did, even when I was a student and would rather have had my tongue ripped out than admit it.” Harry watched Snape’s steepled hands fall to the chair arms. “I .. the last thing I want you to think is that this was just about sex. About a wanker of a kid getting off. I wanted you then and I want you now. But not at the cost of your respect. Not if you think it’s just about fucking, not if you think I don’t care...”
Black eyes blazing, Snape pushed himself out of his chair – hesitated – turned to face his fireplace.
“I don’t think that you ... don’t care,” he said, to the mantel. Harry waited, feeling the tension in the potions master, feeling that he was fighting some sort of internal battle. “You do me honor in desiring my respect, and I am troubled to think that you believe you do not have it.”
Surprise bubbled up in Harry’s chest. “You mean...?” Don’t stammer, idiot. “Thank you. I really ... thank you.” That’s one. One of the two things I want from him. It wasn’t easy for him, but he said it. The other thing didn’t seem very likely, though.
Snape sighed, still staring into the fire. “Harry...”
Quietly Harry said one of the hardest things he’d ever said. “I understand if you ... want to forget what happened between us. I mean ... maybe I don’t understand, exactly, but I would accept it. If that’s what you want, I won’t mention it again.” Please ... say something. Anything but that.
Snape whispered, “You should forget it.”
“I don’t want to.” Harry watched him, watched the taut motions as Snape rubbed his eyes, shook his head, tried to dispell some inner demon.
“I should forget it,” he said at last. “I should wish to.” He snorted a laugh. “But...”
That one word made Harry’s heart swell with hope. He was on his feet, moving toward Snape, seeing him stiffen, but not hesitating.
Snape turned to look at him, his face pinched, pained, and Harry wrapped his arms around him, burying his own face in Snape’s neck, feeling the rapid pulse against his eyelids. Snape shuddered, and his arms slid around Harry’s body, crushing him.
He cares, Harry thought, feeling his eyes prickle. He might not love me, but he cares. It’s enough.
Snape bent his head and kissed him, and fire flared in his stomach, blazing outward through his body.
“I wasn’t ... I didn’t want to ask anything of you,” Harry said. “I just needed to tell you how I feel.”
“I notice that you have not once actually asked me how I feel,” Snape said, running his fingers through Harry’s hair, lightly over his scalp. “Why is that?”
“Because I was afraid you’d tell me,” Harry admitted. “I’m not sure I want to know.”
Snape stopped his insidious caresses, drew back to look at him, brow arched.
“It’s not because I think you wouldn’t tell me the truth,” Harry said, laughing nervously. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
“I see.” Snape backed away and Harry sighed.
“And because I knew you’d stop. Even if I tell you that it doesn’t matter to me that you don’t feel the same –”
“Especially if you tell me that,” Snape growled. Harry sighed again.
“Severus. I’m a grownup. I don’t believe in happily ever after. I know sometimes we love those who can’t love us back. It’s enough if you ... if you want me. If you like me.” He reached out, lightly clasping Snape’s arms, not trying to pull him closer. “It’s enough.”
Snape didn’t move, only examined Harry’s face. Harry knew he looked as if he were pleading. He didn’t care; maybe he was.