|webmistresses (webmistresses) wrote in severus_sighs,|
@ 2010-02-14 09:53:00
|Entry tags:||event: anti-valentine's day 2010, fic, member: faeryqueen07, pairing: severus/harry, rating: pg-13|
By Unconventional Means by FaeryQueen
Title: By Unconventional Means
Word Count: 5,732
Warnings: Aside from a bit of melodrama on Harry’s part, there’s nothing to warn about. :D
Summary: Severus Snape knows there’s only one way to woo Harry Potter on Valentine’s Day, and it isn’t through conventional means.
A/N: No magic in the world could make me the owner of anything Harry Potter. That privilege belongs to JK Rowling, et al. A million thanks to dracosoftie for her beta services. I could not have completed this without her cheering me on. :D This is canon compliant, save that horrendous epilogue. We don’t speak about that. Ever. The poem is from John Donne’s ‘The Bait.’ And this is the stuffed animal that is later described: http://bit.ly/6wCIUI
Severus watched with growing annoyance as yet another seventh year student fled down the astronomy tower stairs, tears making her eyes bright. It had been going on for nearly a week and he was growing sick of witnessing it. Gathering his robes about him in an effort to stave off the chill that would await him, he began the long trek up the stairwell. He had to stop twice and he cursed the lingering effects of Nagini’s poison that made everyday things draining.
He sighed with relief when he reached the doorway and paused to pull out his wand. Before he could do so, however, a Warming spell blanketed him. Severus let a rare smile cross his face, but he smothered it before stepping out of the shadows.
“What does that make, Potter? Six young hearts broken by your careless disregard?”
Harry looked at him, face blank. “I hate it when you call me by my last name.”
“It seems the only way to get your attention. Is there a reason you have decided to send every young woman who comes your way fleeing in tears?”
“They’re all after the same thing.”
“The famous Harry Potter, Savior of the Wizarding World, as their Valentine. It feels...degrading, knowing that the only reason they want me is so that they can be on the cover of Witch Weekly.”
“And how do you know that this is, in fact, their intention?”
“Because I overheard several of them whispering about the other day in the library. They think that just because they’ve read every article about me in the magazines or Rita Skeeter’s horrid biography that was published without my consent, that they know me.” He let out a mirthless laugh. “No one knows me.”
“Oh, do quit with the theatrics, Harry,” Severus sighed. “They don’t suit you.”
The laugh that escaped then was more genuine, and Harry turned finally to face him, putting his back to view of the forest. There was a depth of tiredness in his eyes that had come early, brought on by battles with Voldemort, the Ministry and now, of all things, his female followers. There was little room in Severus’ heart for pity, but sympathy was another thing.
“And what do you want, Harry?”
“Well, certainly not roses, bows and love letters and other such delusions. I had enough of that when I was a student here. You’d think the scandal of getting engaged to my childhood sweetheart only to be caught in bed with her brother the night before the wedding would have put a damper on their interest.”
“To the contrary, it has made you even more attractive in their eyes. You are now even further out of their reach, and so they desire you more. I believe it worked out to Charlie Weasley’s benefit, as well.” Severus eyed him critically. “I take it the young men have been more discreet.”
“Yes, but no less fanciful.” Harry snorted, disgusted by the frivolity of his seventh year students. “And you’d think that my being a professor would mean something. Like maybe that student-teacher relations are strictly forbidden?”
Severus grunted. “I cannot tell you just how many tasteless jokes I have had to listen to over the past week concerning your Charms class.”
Harry grimaced. “I bet. I’ve heard a fair few myself.” With a sigh, he pushed away from the railing and headed towards the door. “I’ll have to find somewhere new tomorrow. Word has spread that I come here and it’s ruined the peacefulness of the place.”
“I’m surprised you come here at all.”
Harry turned towards him, viridian gaze haunted. “It still hurts, I won’t lie about that. But it’s also comforting, in a way.”
Severus nodded in agreement, then waved Harry away when it became apparent that Harry was waiting for him. “I think I shall catch my breath up here for just a little bit longer. Those stairs are murder on my body.”
“Take care, Severus,” Harry said as ducked through the doorway.
As Severus tilted his head back to gaze at the star-filled sky, he began to think. And as his thoughts came together, a plan began to form. It was true that of all professors at Hogwarts, Harry was closest to him. Even with former classmates having taken on positions with the school, it was still Severus’ company that Harry sought out four out of seven nights each week. It was Severus’ opinion that seemed to have become the deciding factor in what Harry did and, if Severus was completely honest, Harry’s attachment to him had become something that was whispered about in the staffroom.
Though Harry had never dated after that brief interlude with Charlie, he had gone through a stint of one-night stands. Always with Muggles and always during school breaks, but he had been careful not to form any strong relationships with anyone else. His friendship with Ronald Weasley had become a thing of brittle tensions after The Prophet had caught wind of his affair with his fiancée’s brother. Harry, in turn, had withdrawn from the Wizarding world for a time, spending his days as a companion while Severus slowly regained motor functions, relearned how to talk and adjusted to the healing potions he would require for the rest of his life.
Now, five years down the line, the past was a thing left unspoken of. They had made their peace with one another and moved forward, much to the shock of many. But then again, both of them had died. Only the anti-venom and blood-clotting potions Severus had been taking ritually had kept him from staying dead. That and Aberforth Dumbledore rescuing him from the Shrieking Shack.
But ever since Christmas, when Harry and Severus had chosen to celebrate the holidays not as they usually did – alone – but with one another at Spinner’s End, something had been different. Harry had become more aware of Severus, for one thing. He would look up the moment Severus entered a room, even if he came in with several other people, or, if his back was to the door, his shoulders would tense and his head would come up. He was suddenly five minutes early for tea each time they met and the small little touches that were normal for most people but so hard for Harry were more frequent. A hand on Severus’ shoulder, on his arm on his knee.... He had ignored it before, thinking himself a fool or that he was simply reading into things. Now, however, he had to wonder.
Harry had claimed that he wanted someone who knew him. The information from Witch Weekly and his unofficial biography were half-truths, at best; even Severus knew that Harry loathed being wooed in such a public fashion. While some girls had tried to press their affections on him on the astronomy tower, others had been far less discreet, going so far as to set off fireworks that spelled out his name. No, Harry preferred that private affairs remain just that...private. And if one was truly bent on wooing him publicly, they should not be as clichéd as the normal Valentine’s Day proceedings. And that, Severus realized, was the key.
Severus was going to get his Valentine, one way or another...and so was Harry.
~ * ~
If Severus hadn’t already known that it was Valentine’s Day when he woke up that morning, the garish decorations that the decked the corridors would have been the giveaway. As it was, however, he had woken especially early so he could prepare for the day. Lips curved up in a sneer, he stalked into the Great Hall and took his seat at the Head Table, between Harry and Minerva. He snorted when he saw the dour expression on Harry’s face.
“Did your morning get off on the wrong foot, Harry?” he asked in a hushed voice as he poured himself some tea.
“You could say that,” Harry sighed. “Valentine’s Day started out not so terrible. No one accosted me in the halls and the hallway outside my room wasn’t jerry-rigged like it was last year. Then I got here and I saw this.” He waved his hand at the balloons festooned around his chair, the heart-shaped chocolate pancakes and the goblet of Pumpkin juice that seemed an odder shade than usual. “As you can see, it’s quickly headed towards disaster.”
Severus curled his upper lip back as he lifted Harry's drink to his nose. “I assume you were smart enough not to drink this?”
“Of course.” Harry didn’t even have it in him to sound offended.
“Shall I Banish them for you, or are you done whinging now and can do it yourself?”
Reaching for his wand, Harry made the whole lot disappear, but didn’t seem inclined towards much else. Severus huffed once, then reached for his plate and began serving out small helping of the few foods he knew Harry to truly enjoy.
“Eat, Harry. You have four lessons to get through, two breaks and two more meals. Fortify yourself.”
Even as he spoke, a commotion broke out in the Great Hall as two large eagle owls swooped in with a package. Harry groaned when they settled down in front of him, but he gave each owl a strip of bacon before sending them on their way. With obvious displeasure, he reached for the ribbon holding the paper in place and pulled it free.
The box was inconspicuous enough, and after going through the gauntlet of spells required to test for poisons, Dark Magic and other such nastiness, Harry deemed it safe enough. Upon removing the lid, however, he wondered if perhaps he had been too hasty in that assumption.
“A pig’s heart, if I am not mistaken,” Severus murmured, peering past Harry to look in the box. “And fresh, at that. It is a shame about the nails, though, as they will make it quite unusable for potions.”
Harry didn’t have a chance to respond because at that moment, young Jayne Weston, a Ravenclaw seventh year whom Severus would have thought too clear-headed for such frippery, appeared at Harry’s elbow with a heart-shaped box of candy. Upon seeing the nail-studded heart, she gave a shriek and fled, candies spilling across the floor in her wake.
Harry blinked after her, then turned back to the present on the table. After a moment, a huge smile broke out of Harry’s face. It was enough to startle those who were close enough to see what he was smiling at.
“This amuses you?” Severus inquired.
“Oh gods, yes. It’s from an episode of a Muggle show called The Real World. I got into them the summer after the war, while I was convalescing and watched about six seasons. The one this is from was filmed in London.” With anyone else, Harry would have continued rattling off useless information about the show, but Severus, he knew, only cared that it had meaning to him. Harry frowned then. “I wonder who sent it. Had to’ve been someone who knows I watched it.”
Harry sifted through the paper and checked beneath the box, but came up with no card to discern whom the gift was from. With a shrug, he cast a quick preserving charm over the contents, then closed the lid once more. A tap of his wand made it pocket-sized and he slipped it into his robes. A second later, Harry was digging into his food with renewed gusto.
As the meal came to an end and the students began to filter out, Severus shot Harry a meaningful look.
“My rooms or yours?” Harry asked around a mouthful of eggs.
Severus sneered with disgust. “Neither, if you do not mind your manners.” At the blush he received for the chastisement, Severus smirked. “My rooms. At least there we shall be free from your ever-present fan club.” He nodded towards the flock of young men and women gathered just outside the Great Hall doors, not bothering to hide his smile as Harry groaned once more. “And you will have to tell me if you have discovered the identity of your newest secret Valentine.”
Not bothering to wait for a more coherent answer, Severus swept out of the room. As the doors shut behind him, he let a small, congratulatory smile creep over his face. Things were shaping up well, already.
~ * ~
The Harry who collapsed onto Severus’ chair at the mid-morning break looked far more relaxed than the one he had seen at the beginning of breakfast. It was disconcerting enough that he broke his ask-no-questions rule.
“I take it there were no more frivolous surprises awaiting you?”
“Nothing frivolous, no,” Harry replied, gaze locked on Severus. “However, sitting on my desk was a bouquet of black roses. Cursed, as you would have it, but nothing that had any adverse affect on me.”
“Ah, well, that is good, is it not?”
The green gaze was penetrating. “Yes, though not so for poor Ms. Bennett. She now resembles something akin to a puffskein. Thankfully, Madam Pomfrey is sorting her out.”
Severus smothered the glee that shot through him. That particular seventh year had the bad habit of trying to break into Harry’s rooms after hours. It had been tiresome, soothing Harry’s worry that he would be held responsible for her actions and it was a mark of just how much Severus had changed that he did not simply throw his hands up in disgust. Instead, he had helped devise plans to dissuade her. Perhaps, he thought, when all was revealed at dinner, the little tart would move on. After all, Severus Snape was the most formidable foe one could find on campus.
“Perhaps a jealous suitor, then?” He disappeared for a moment to fetch the tea service from the other room, and set it down on the table. Pouring each of them a cup, he offered Harry one first. “It may be cause for more concern, Harry.”
Harry’s eyes crinkled at the corners as he laughed. “I’m not too worried for myself.”
“But if they are acting out against the student body?”
“They haven’t caused any real harm.” Harry accepted the tea and sat up, eyes tracking Severus as he took a seat in the chair opposite the couch.
“I would suggest not assuming anything too soon, Harry. People can be unpredictable at best on days such as this.” His lips twisted a little, illustrating his disgust.
“Mmm.” Harry sipped his tea, his eyes falling shut. “Do you know what I love best about tea in your rooms, Severus?” he asked at long last.
“The titillating conversation?”
“That too, but I was going to say the tea. It seems like all the other professors have decided to follow in Dumbledore’s footsteps by trying to serve the most exotic teas they can get their hands on. Most are too sweet, some are just plain...not to my taste. But you have a select few that you serve, all of which I love. It isn’t that there’s no mystery as to which you’ll serve, either. It’s simply that I know no matter what, when I come here...” The sentence trailed off and Harry looked to be at a loss for words.
“A high compliment coming from you, I should think. I open my doors for few, as you know, so believe that it is paid in kind.” A glance at the clock revealed that far too much time had passed. “Now, if we are not to be late, I think it would be best if we parted ways now. I shall see you at lunch?”
Harry grimaced. “Yes, if I survive the sixth years.” He sighed as he stood. At the door, he looked over his shoulder and said, without an ounce of insincerity, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Severus.”
“And to you, Harry,” Severus replied after the door thudded shut.
~ * ~
Harry looked to be high spirits when he sat down at lunch time, bringing with him a new companion. Several people at the table looked mildly appalled by the grotesque creature that Harry had tucked beneath one arm, but Severus was amused. When Harry relinquished it to him, Severus twisted it about, his long, pale fingers mapping the figure.
The cat -- for that is what it was surely supposed to resemble -- was beyond rangy. Its skeletal frame was decorated with tribal tattoos and one of the ears sported a large, silver hoop. By far the worst, though, was the mouth; pulled up in a permanent smile of malice, it bared a row of teeth realistically stained with blood. All in all, the toy was like something out of child's nightmare.
“It is a rather morbid rendition of a cat,” he said at long-last. “Another token from the Muggle world?”
“Yes, in fact.” Harry’s eyes were dancing as he took it back. “It’s the Cheshire Cat, from Lewis Carroll’s story, Alice in Wonderland. Actually, this one seems to have been made after the computer game that came out a few years ago.” He smiled fondly down at the ugly thing. “It even says quotes from the game. It’s quite amazing, considering how few people from the Wizarding world know about it, least of all how much I enjoyed playing it.”
“And what, pray tell, does the beast say?”
Harry’s bright green eyes seemed to stare right through Severus, causing him to shift uncomfortably.
“Shall I show you?” He made to squeeze the cat about the middle, but Severus’ hand on his own gave him pause.
The game, it seemed, was not over yet. Harry was puzzled by Severus’ actions – especially as it was Valentine’s Day – but he had a feeling that the reasons behind them would be even more surprising.
"This isn't all I received," Harry continued as he took a bite of his sandwich. "There were tickets, as well."
"To the opera?" Severus inquired with a smirk.
Harry had gone out on two dates since he become with friends Severus, both with the same young man. After a slightly less-than-satisfactory first date, the young man had decided that he needed to appear more cultured if he was going to hold Harry's interest. The result had been Harry sitting through three hours of an opera, bored to tears. Needless to say, Severus teased Harry about the incident whenever possible.
"The theatre, then?"
"Close." Harry sipped his water, shrewd gaze on Severus. "Tickets to the cinema to see Tim Burton's rendition of Alice in Wonderland."
"I take it this pleases you?"
"That's an understatement. I love Tim Burton's movies. They're dark, twisted and very unique."
To anyone else at the table, Severus had probably sounded far from interested, but Harry was close enough to see the gleam in his obsidian depths. Biting back a smile, Harry polished off the rest of his sandwich and pushed back his chair.
"Well, I'm off. I have the Hufflepuffs and Slytherins next, and though the House rivalries aren't quite what they used to be, my Puffs do tend to end up the victims-I mean guinea pigs during the practical lessons.”
Severus muttered something that sounded vaguely like, ‘As it should be,’ but Harry let it slide. In a move that was too casual to be an accident, Harry ran his fingers through his hair, then dropped his hand to Severus’ shoulder.
“I can’t make it to tea at the next break, but perhaps after dinner?”
Severus nodded, aware of the dozens of eyes on them. Harry was not normally one to initiate physical contact and Severus rarely welcomed it, but over the years, the two of them had grown accustomed to one another. However, they had always kept such intimacies out of sight of their peers. Harry had let his guard down, Severus realized, exposing far more than just how friendly they had become.
The whispers broke out the moment Harry disappeared through the doorway, but Severus ignored them in favor of his soup. Once he had finished his meal, he nodded in Minerva’s general direction, taking care not to make eye contact, and exited the Great Hall. Dinner was only two classes away and Severus had a lot to accomplish before then.
~ * ~
Harry woke not in the infirmary, but somewhere else entirely. Keeping his breathing even, he tried to recall what he had been doing last, but he felt too sluggish. Instead, he opened his eyes slowly and scanned the room, disappointed at the lack of discerning features. The voice that cut through the fog in his head, however, was the only proof he needed to know that he was safe.
“Do not sit up too quickly, Harry, or you will make yourself sick.”
“Where are we?”
Severus chuckled, and the clove-orange-and-chocolate sound reached right into Harry’s gut, twisting it up. His chest felt too tight, suddenly, for his heart, which was pounding and his fingers tingled. All three, he thought, could be blamed on whatever spell or potion had been used to drug him, but he doubted it. It wasn’t his first time experiencing them.
“We are in my room, Harry. My bedroom, to be precise. I thought you would prefer to recover here.”
Harry rolled to his side and waited for nausea to subside, then pushed himself up into a semi-upright position. He was careful to keep his head over the edge of the bed, however, lest he actually sick up. He didn’t think Severus would take kindly to that at all.
“Why am I here?”
“Because I wished it to be so. And yes, I made certain that someone was able to take over your afternoon classes, first. Your seventh year Hufflepuffs are saved as they will be studying in the classroom while the Slytherins have been taken to the library. Although, why you paired them that way at all is beyond me. Why not mix the Slytherins with the Ravenclaws?”
“Are you seriously asking me that when I’m sitting here, numb and sick, on your bed?”
Severus’ face appeared within his field of vision so suddenly that Harry gave a yelp and fell backwards. It was sheer luck that he didn’t sick up from the movement. Glaring at Severus, Harry brought a hand up to his face and froze.
“There’s a tattoo.”
“On my finger.”
“Would you have preferred it somewhere else?”
“There is a tattoo...on my wrist.”
“Now you are simply stating the obvious.”
Squinting, Harry tried to make out the writing. “Be my Valentine? You seriously tattooed that to my wrist?”
“I did not do the actual tattooing, hence why you were unconscious for so long.” Severus paused, a glint of humor in his dark eyes. “It was remarkably easier to smuggle you out of Hogwarts than I would have thought.”
Harry sat up slowly, careful not to jar himself too much. “I was keyed to Hogwarts’ wards by Minerva. It actually depends on the intent, though. Had you had bad intentions, you would have been petrified before you made it to the Entrance Hall.”
“Interesting. And the reason they are keyed to you?”
“Because I contribute about a third of the magic that goes into wards around the school and grounds.” Harry glanced up, slightly taken aback by the look of surprise on Severus’ face. He realized belatedly that he had never actually told Severus what the after-effects of losing Voldemort’s soul had been. “Because Voldemort had such strong ties to the school, when the part of his soul that was inside me died, all those ties transferred to me. It’s why I couldn’t remain an Auror for more than two years; I needed to be here, close to Hogwarts. But when they transferred, the intent behind the ties changed, which is why the Defense Against the Dark Arts position isn’t cursed anymore. My own ties to Hogwarts were purer than Voldemort’s.”
Harry could see that Severus meant it and it made him smile. “I’ll have to have a talk with the castle, however, about letting people haul me off only to bring me back tattooed.”
“In a few months, your wrist will be tattoo-free, though...”
“You shall see, Harry.”
Harry laughed and shook his head cautiously. Deciding he was fit to move about freely, he stood. “So what time is it now?”
“You have enough time to shower and change before dinner.”
“And you’ll be there?” Harry knew a moment of trepidation when he saw the smile on Severus’ face.
“I would not miss it.”
Stretching, Harry glanced down at his hand, his finger tracing over the tattoo. Taking a step closer to Severus, Harry tipped his head back so that he could look him in the eye and breathed, “Yes. My answer is yes.” He was gone before the words really struck home.
~ * ~
Dinner started out as a rather quiet affair. Most of the students were too wrapped in their Valentine’s Day bliss to pay attention to much else, and the professors were exhausted after a day spent battling teenage hormones. Severus arrived first and took his customary seat at Minerva’s side, allowing her to pull him into a conversation about the day’s events while he waited for Harry to take his seat.
It was Madam Hooch who noticed Harry’s tattoo first, and her overly-loud statement drew several eyes. “You got a tattoo, Harry? What’s it say?” She grabbed his hand before he could hide in the safety of the shadows beneath the table, squinting as she read it. “Offering yourself up as a Valentine’s treat? What a splendid idea!”
Harry fought off the blush threatening to stain his cheeks and tugged his hand free. “Ah, actually, it was a gift. From someone else.”
Luna Lovegood, who had taken over as Care of Magical Creatures instructor so that Hagrid could retire and devote his time to the grounds and his brother, Grawp, leaned over to inspect the tattoo. Her eyes lit up as she traced over the lettering.
“It’s a very special tattoo, Harry. Did you know that?”
Luna nodded sagely. “It has magical properties that allow the tattoo to shift with the blossoming of a relationship. When you received it, did it say, ‘will you be my Valentine?’”
Harry frowned at her, looking down to check the tattoo. Somehow, he hadn’t noticed that the words had changed to simply read, ‘your Valentine.’ “Yes, it did. When did it change?”
“I suspect,” Luna replied, smiling widely, “that it changed when you said yes.”
Harry cast a sideways glare at Severus, who was studiously ignoring them all. “I was told it would go away after a few months.”
“I said nothing of the sort, Potter,” Snape grumbled under his breath.
“Oh, it won’t stay on your wrist forever, Harry.” Luna patted him on the arm soothingly and Harry almost made the mistake of relaxing. “Once the relationship begins to progress, the tattoo will move to your ring finger, and after a while it will turn into a bonding proposal. After that, the words become part of the bonding ring design. Of course, you can always choose to wear a real ring, but the tattoo is quite beautiful.”
Harry was stunned, to say the least and he desperately wanted to look at Severus, to see if the intent was truly there. He opened his mouth to reply, but at that moment a large owl swooped in to drop two envelopes in front of Harry. After receiving its treat, however, it flew not back the way it had come but to the back of Harry’s chair where it sat looking stiff and proud. Harry picked up the first hesitantly; it was a red envelope, which generally meant a Howler, but it was also Valentine’s Day. Lifting the flap gingerly, he winced when it immediately flew out of his hands to hover before him.
“A Howler, then,” Harry muttered. Minerva and several others looked sympathetic, but Severus’ face was suspiciously blank.
COME live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines and silver hooks.
There will the river whisp'ring run
Warm'd by thy eyes, more than the sun ;
And there th' enamour'd fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray...
Harry sat, enthralled by the booming voice that filled the air. All the students had gone silent, their eyes straying from the Howler to Harry and then to his left, disbelief in their eyes. Minerva looked a little shocked as well, though Luna seemed unsurprised by the revelation. Smiling, she reached past Harry for the pitcher of Pumpkin juice, pouring herself a glass so that she could toast her friend when it was time.
Let coarse bold hands from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest ;
Or curious traitors, sleeve-silk flies,
Bewitch poor fishes' wand'ring eyes.
For thee, thou need'st no such deceit,
For thou thyself art thine own bait :
That fish, that is not catch'd thereby,
Alas ! is wiser far than I.
As the last stanza continued to ring through the Hall, the Howler tore itself apart, little pieces of confetti falling over the table. Harry smiled at the scattered pieces of paper, somewhat sad that he couldn’t hear the poem again. As he opened the second letter and read it, Minerva spluttered, the first to break the silence.
“What on earth kind of Valentine is that, Severus Snape? Are you wooing the boy or aren’t you?”
Severus smiled and opened his mouth to reply, but it was Harry who answered her first.
“I believe it was about the, ah, attention I’ve been receiving from some of the students. It isn’t far off base, though it was never my intent to encourage their behavior. And chances are, once they actually got to know me, they’d realize I’m not at all what they thought I was.”
Madam Hooch’s mouth opened and closed several times as she stared at Harry and Severus in turn. Finally, she found her voice. “Severus, you were the one who sent Harry all those disturbing Valentine’s Day gifts?” She sounded almost outraged. “Severus Snape, Valentine’s Day is supposed to be red posies and heart-shaped offerings. Kisses and love-filled promises. It is not supposed to be like this!” She was red in the face and nearly shrieking by the time she ran out of air.
“Though my means were unconventional, I will point out that I followed the general theme of the day. I simply made a few adjustments. Posies are ridiculous flowers on a good day, Rolanda. Roses are the normal flower choice for the holiday. As such, I chose the black rose, whose meaning was directed not towards Harry but towards those who would interfere with my...” He hesitated, searching for the appropriate word.
“Courtship?” Luna offered.
Severus nodded. “My first gift, if you recall, was a heart-shaped offering. Granted, it was a more literal translation, if you would, than what is generally used, but I believe I made my point, regardless. And the tattoo on Harry’s wrist should fulfill the ‘love-filled promises’ requirement.” The gaze became hooded and Madam Hooch sucked in a deep breath. “As for the kisses...”
Severus moved faster than Harry would have imagined, leaving his chair to swoop in and claim Harry’s lips in a crushing kiss. Luna cast a quick Disillusionment charm, hiding a smile behind one hand as she sheltered the students from the sight of Severus Snape snogging Harry Potter.
When Severus pulled back, Harry blinked up at him, too dazed to speak. He brought one hand up to touch kiss-bruised lips, his fingers trembling. “Wow,” he said, when he was finally able to catch his breath.
Madam Hooch echoed the sentiment as she sat back and Minerva cancelled Luna’s spell. The students clearly had an idea of what had gone on, however, as most of them look horrified. Straightening his robes, Severus looked down at Harry, ignoring everyone else.
“I shall expect to see you in my rooms at eight o’clock sharp, Harry.” With a nod to the other staff, he whirled and headed for the exit, robes billowing almost menacingly. The students closest to the staff table flinched as he stormed out.
“Well, Harry, that was quite entertaining.”
Luna’s calm words broke the tension in the room and the students returned to their meal, eager to forget about what had just happened. Madam Hooch switched seats so that she could whisper with Minerva, and Luna scooted down so she was beside Harry.
“I’d love to see the cat he gave you. It reminds me so much of a baby Nundu. You said it was from a Muggle game?”
“Yes, based off the Alice in Wonderland story.” Harry produced the mangy stuffed cat from his robes. After returning it to its normal size, he squeezed the cat’s chest.
“And you’ve picked up a bit of an attitude. Still curious and willing to learn, I hope,” the cat said in Severus’ silky tone. Another squeeze and it said, “Every adventure requires a first step. Trite, but true, even here.”
Luna grinned and took the cat when he offered it to her. Rather than being put off by its appearance, she seemed rather enthralled by it. Harry understood why a moment later.
“It reminds me a bit of the Thestrals. Beautiful, in a somewhat ugly sort of way.” She glanced up at Harry. “Or perhaps it’s simply that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” She handed the cat back to Harry and patted his arm. “Well, if you don’t want to be late, Harry, I suggest you leave now.”
“It’s only six o’clock!”
“I know,” she replied airily. “But Ms. Weston seems to think she can change your mind before it’s too late.”
Harry glanced down at the house tables, grimacing as he spotted the Ravenclaw girl gathering up a heart-shaped box, a fluffy teddy bear, red roses and Merlin only knew what else. Deciding that Luna was right, Harry pressed a quick kiss to her cheek before leaping from his chair and sprinting for the door. Jayne Weston’s cries of ‘Professor Potter’ fell on deaf ears. He had a date with a potions master, and Harry would be damned if he was going to miss it.