|snarrymod (snarrymod) wrote in snarry_games,|
@ 2008-05-09 07:49:00
|Entry tags:||entry, faynia, team phoenix|
TEAM PHOENIX ENTRY: Faynia "Not a Lost Cause"
Title: Not a Lost Cause
Genre(s): Romance, Alternate Universe *Hover/Click for Games Definition of Alternate Universe*
Prompt(s): Treasure Hunt
Word Count: 5, 575
Summary: Magic has no power over the human heart. - Merlin
A/N: Many thanks to my wonderful betas: darkladyvamp, carpet_diemon, chiralove, and rakina. And a special thanks to the members of Team Phoenix, especially leela_cat, for helping me during stage one.
A steady leak from the roof had formed a puddle on top of Harry's dresser. Each new droplet hit the battered wood with a quiet tap, tap, tap. The permanent chill from the walls couldn't be repressed by the few heating charms Harry had cast on them before he had fallen asleep. Tumbling off his cot to stand on the damp floor, Harry padded across the small interior of the tent to haul the overflowing bucket off his dresser.
Teetering dangerously to the side, Harry managed to stumble out into the next room of the tent and set the pail beside the other one. He sighed, pulling out his wand to cast a quick-seal charm over the new rip—an extension to an old one he'd sealed last night—in the tent.
Rain had been falling every night since they had arrived, and showed no signs of stopping, or cooperating in any manner.
Bending over, Harry made to lift the other half-full bucket when the sound of someone clearing their throat startled him.
"Potter, what are you doing?"
"Emptying these buckets," he said, pointing at the two identical pails. "They filled up."
"Merlin save us all from incompetents like—" Snape stopped speaking.
Harry glanced up, his fingers wrapping around the handles.
"Are you a wizard?"
"Yes?" Harry straightened up with a sheepish smile. "I reckon you're going to lecture me now, aren't you?"
Snape looked down his nose at him. "You've earned yourself one."
"'Course." Harry fiddled with the cords of his pyjama bottoms and grinned. He hadn't been wrong. Leaky tents needing to be fixed aside, Snape tearing into him before six was always high on his list of fun things to do before fully awake. "I'm all ears."
"You spent nearly seven years of your life in an institution that taught you nothing but magic day after day, and yet you continue to work like a common Muggle. Have you forgotten every single banishment charm your professors tried to cram into your incredibly thick skull? Did it never occur to you to cast a charm that would actually seal the leak in the first place, ridding yourself of the need to worry about buckets of water overflowing? No, instead you continue this idiotic back-breaking work when we have a job to focus on... or did that in fact slip your notice as well?"
Harry beamed. He'd never admit that he did half the stupid things Snape accused him of just to get a rise out of the man. It was entertaining when all you had to look forward to was a soggy day and even wetter nights. The best part was that Snape never hexed him without cause, and Harry's cheek was not a real cause, only an annoyance. "Not at all, but I don't get to work out much otherwise, do I?" Snape's growl only made Harry's smile grow wider. "What? Maybe you don't enjoy doing anything manually, but let a bloke have his fun, will you?"
"What, exactly, is fun about a leak? Or carrying full buckets of water, for that matter?" Snape asked.
"You chose to work with me."
"Only to save your neck from your own reckless behaviour."
Harry cocked his head to the side, studying Snape, and shrugged. "I don't plan on being reckless. I'm only reckless because someone makes me," he muttered, rubbing his eyes. "I need coffee."
"I'll take mine—"
"Black," Harry interrupted, before Snape could go off on a tangent. "And I never said I was going to make it," he added. Harry grasped the handles of the pails and lifted them off the ground. "I've got these buckets to tip out, remember?"
Snape pulled out his wand and flicked them at the metal pails, causing the water to vanish. Harry frowned. "Where do you suppose banished things go?" he asked, jumping when Snape flicked his wand again, pulling the buckets from Harry's hands, and sending them sailing across the tent where they dropped with a clang. "I mean. They don't vanish, right? They have to go somewhere."
He took one look at Snape's face and bit his lip. "Never mind then. You wanted your coffee black, you said?"
Snape nodded curtly, and then walked to the small table that was covered with assorted parchments with notes scribbled all over them. Harry stared at him for a few moments before turning toward the kitchen.
He loved what magic provided for them. Somehow he couldn't see Snape being the beans and sausages over an open fire sort. Setting about making the coffee, he glanced back over his shoulder to see Snape's lips curve into an inelegant scowl.
Harry knew the feeling. They were so close, and he knew it, but they couldn't find the missing piece. The texts, both Muggle and magical, were endless and most, if not all, sources pointed to one remote location in Wales—a remote island even, Bardsey—which was where they were right now, but, there was nothing else. Discounting bird enthusiasts whom they had set up careful wards against, all they found was a lonely cliff with the Irish Sea hitting the rocks below.
Snape's fingers were idly tracing a small figure of eight as he studied the information they had, not even glancing up when Harry set the coffee down next to him.
"We're missing something," Snape said as Harry sat down across from him.
The table was so small their knees were practically brushing against one another. Harry spread his legs wide to bring them into contact, and didn't pull away when Snape sent an irritated glower his way. "Well, yeah. You sure we shouldn't check Mar—"
Snape's glare was sharp and Harry let the idea fade back into nothing. Sighing, he grabbed at the scroll Snape was looking over. "Give me that. I'll read it again, but I swear its complete gibberish. If Merlin had been entombed, surely the spot would have been marked. I mean, someone that important to four rulers ought to have at least a headstone, or something." He pursed his lips, swinging one foot in agitation.
Merlin's magic was awesome, but simple detection spells should have been able to pick up something here. Everywhere a wizard set foot a faint imprint of magic was left behind. Even magic as ancient as Merlin's wouldn't fade without a fight. Harry knew this and was frustrated that it was failing him for the first time.
Snape seemed to be feeling the same way if the constant tic to his jaw said anything.
They had a deadline. He hated having a deadline. Five months wasn't a reasonable amount of time for a job like this -- the research alone could take years, and they were given five months! It was lunacy. Every magical child had heard the legend of the Thirteen Treasures of Britain since they'd been in the cradle. They were raised hearing about Merlin's magic and how it helped a fabled king. Lessons in their first schools explained how modern wizards and witches have been striving to replicate the lost objects, and now Harry had been handed the opportunity to go and find them.
He may as well have been chasing air for the amount of time they'd been allotted! Snape had suspected that the company had already begun to circulate flyers to private collectors, hoping to increase revenue on their already recovered objects by promising something special. The only thing special would be the Galleons lining Stevenson's pockets if they succeeded.
One day Harry swore he'd go freelance. He had said as much to Snape not even two nights previous. But until they had more funds and a bigger tent, and maybe a team, they were stuck right where they were, with four half-arsed maps to Arthur's Britain, and—some really nasty coffee? Harry stared down at his cup in bewilderment, and then flushed, pushing the chipped mug back over to its rightful owner.
Snape scowled, wrapping his fingers possessively around the old mug. Harry had to fight back a grin.
"Good luck, Potter. If I had little success deciphering that tripe, what chance do you have?" Snape grumbled, downing the last of his coffee.
Harry watched Snape as he pushed back from the table and took a few steps to the small stack of books shoved against the tent wall. He grabbed the topmost book and returned to the table, practically slamming it down. The table wobbled.
Harry fidgeted, his fingers tightening around the edge of the scroll. "We're in the right spot. I can feel it."
"Your feelings are moot," Snape said, flipping through the worn pages as if the familiar tale would reveal anything new. "There is nothing more out there than an empty dream."
Harry flinched, stung by the bitterness in the comment. He was used to the slicing sarcasm and the put downs, but Snape rarely gave up before they found something. "You need more coffee," he mumbled, standing before Snape could catch Harry's fingers between the pages of the text.
"What I need is a job that isn't so bloody impossible," Snape snapped, making Harry frown. It never boded well for him when Snape started to lose his temper. His biting tone was one thing, but when it felt like a real bite, that was quite another.
"You can always go home, you know," Harry pointed out, taking a calming breath. "I'm not keeping you out here."
"Don't be ridiculous, if I left you out here on your own, you'd end up falling off the edge of the cliff trying to dump buckets of water back into the ocean," he said, sarcasm dripping from each word. "I'm sure I'd be blamed for your death, and if that is going to happen, I wish to be here to actually cause said death myself."
Harry flushed and looked down at his feet to hide his smile as he shuffled back over to the coffee pot. "Nice to know."
"Now cease your babbling so I can concentrate! We are finding it today, or we are not finding it at all!" Snape glanced back down at his tome. "I suggest you get back to work as well."
"Tetchy." Harry filled Snape's cup once more and brought it back to the table. "I'll be outside, in the rain, alone, near a cliff, casting detection spells. Have fun with your books."
"Don't throw yourself over the edge until I join you. I really would be loath to miss that."
"You're so much fun, Severus," Harry grumbled while slipping on his trainers and loosely lacing them, "just a bundle of joy before seven every day."
Harry didn't wait for a response but ducked out of the tent into the drizzle. He blinked rapidly against the water slipping down behind his glasses as he looked around the deserted area.
What were they missing? No matter how hard they searched, they came up empty handed every blasted time. Their jobs were unstable enough without the added hassle of hunting something that might not even exist. As it were, they were only ever called upon when Dark magic or the difficult removal of an object was suspected. It sucked the fun right out of every job they got. Harry wanted nothing more than to get on his broom and fly for a few hours.
Harry stopped in his tracks. The view from above would be much different than their current vantage point. If he flew, he could see the big picture Snape was always accusing him of missing. Harry glanced upward, looking at the clouds as he blinked water from his eyes. He'd flown in much worse weather, and the clouds weren't so low that he wouldn't be able to see the land below him.
Grinning, Harry hurried back to the tent and ducked inside. Snape was still bent over the book, murmuring to himself, and Harry reckoned that he barely even registered Harry's presence, let alone the fact he'd grabbed his broom and hurried outside.
"Just where do you think you're going with that?"
Harry froze halfway out of the tent. He peered over his shoulder with a frown. Snape hadn't even looked up at him. He took another step forward, and then sighed, turned around and went inside.
"To fly," he answered, shouldering his broom. His gaze dug into the back of Snape's head, willing him to turn around, but Snape seemed to be immune. Of course he would be -- he was immune to every other blasted thing Harry did. "I didn't think I needed permission."
"I believe I told you not to splatter yourself along the cliff without me there to supervise."
"I'm not going out over the sea," Harry grumbled, "I just want to circle around from another angle to see if anything is different."
"In this weather you'll hardly be able to stay on that blasted broom of yours, let alone see anything 'different'."
Harry opened his mouth to protest, but he was cut off when Snape turned to look at him.
"However, your plan has some merit. Perhaps later this afternoon would be better; the weather will be clearing to a mist."
"Don't sulk, Potter," Snape commanded, slicing a glare across the tent. "Let me guess, you found nothing."
"Shut up. It's here." Harry glowered. He tossed his broom aside and folded his arms across his chest. "It's got to be here!"
"So you've said. But, as you have seen, there is nothing out there."
"But I did feel-"
"What you felt was nothing more than a stray gust of wind hitting your neck."
Harry's expression soured. "I think I know what wind feels like. The feeling wasn't—it wasn't normal, Snape."
"No doubt," Snape drawled, turning the page of his text. Harry wanted to snatch it away and chuck it into a mud puddle.
"Fine then, what do your mouldy books say? You're not exactly shouting for joy in here either. I'd have heard it over the wind."
Snape said nothing for a moment. His expression was grim and downcast and his shoulders were hunched. If Harry had to state an opinion, he'd say Snape looked defeated, which was idiotic. Snape never gave up until there was no hope at all, and even then sometimes he could be pushed just a mite further. Harry knew this; knew it and manipulated it on every single one of their expeditions, but the sudden appearance of that expression now startled him.
He rubbed his arm awkwardly, shifting over the canvas floor. "Se—"
"Silence, Potter. If you would give me a moment to think we might actually finish a job on time for once."
"Has my silence helped before?"
"Does this mean I can take my broom and—"
"No!" The sharp bark fell flat in the cramped quarters, and Harry took a wary step forward. "You will sit here, and explain what you felt. This time without overusing the word 'um'."
"Why?" Harry said. "So you can mock me again?"
Harry sat. He tugged at the corner of one of the pieces of aged parchment, eyes squinting to read the old, spindly script. Snape's glasses were abandoned next to his empty coffee mug, the tiny chip on the rim more noticeable at the angle Harry was sitting. It wouldn't be replaced until that chip became a crack straight down the side and the coffee leaked. Even then, Harry suspected he'd have to steal it out of their supplies in the dead of night and obliterate it before it was gone for good. It wouldn't be the first time either.
Black eyes rolled heavenward, but a small smirk appeared on Snape's face. Harry relaxed back in the chair to stretch his feet far under the unstable table.
"You have two minutes, Potter. I wouldn't suggest wasting them."
"Yes, of course, because we don't have any time at all."
"Potter..." Snape warned.
Harry scratched the side of his neck as he leaned forward. Tilting his head toward his chest, he thought over the odd happening the first night they'd arrived. It wasn't surprising to feel bursts of magic in old places. Harry had been struck blind by an old alarm system where a manor had once stood not even a year before. Most of that night had been spent in panic on his part and exasperation on Snape's while Snape finished the job and then rushed them to St. Mungo's. He was aware of the risks of his job, but he'd never felt anything like the skin-prickling feeling he'd gotten after Apparating here.
It was both welcoming and forbidding, warm and cold, and all the hair on his body had stood on end. Snape hadn't acted like anything was out of the ordinary at the time, but Harry could never be sure if Snape felt the same things he did. He told Snape all of this, right down to the mild flutter of his heart when the sensation had passed, without any 'um's or 'er's littering his speech, although the word 'like' might have cropped up more than once, and not to indicate a simile either.
When he was done, Harry raised his head to meet Snape's intent gaze and flushed from forehead to foot. "Er—"
"Have you felt it since?" Snape demanded suddenly. He grasped Harry's shoulders and shook him once before releasing. "No, of course you haven't. Why didn't you open your mouth the first night we arrived? Why didn't I—" Snape's mumbling became softer as he shifted through all the texts and scrolls spread across the table. Harry didn't dare try to help, knowing that if he did, his fingers would be smacked for certain this time. He didn't even bother to try and remind Snape that he had made an attempt to explain the first night they had arrived.
Harry sat back in the folding chair, contenting himself with another five minutes of silence except for the sounds of the rain and the wind beating against the tent. He glanced over his shoulder at the opening of the tent to make sure it had shut properly, and frowned when he realised it was flapping uselessly in the wind.
Sliding out of his chair, Harry padded across the tent to close it, and froze.
"Potter, what are you—"
"Did the rain just stop?"
"Do you have a point?" Snape muttered, still digging about the books and parchment for something. "It is fairly common for rain showers to be brief."
"No, I mean, it just—" Snape's snort stopped him.
"The weather is the least of our concerns. I would be far more concerned about our jobs, and your incessant need to explain the obvious is— Did you say the rain 'just' stopped?"
Harry nodded, peering at the tent flap that had fluttered to a stop seconds after the rain. Unease crept into his mind as he shuffled closer to their only exit. Their sticking charm still held fast. Harry found himself stubbing his toe once again on a rock that had escaped their notice until the tent had been erected the first night. They hadn't moved, but that didn't mean someone hadn't cast a charm around them.
Snape moved up behind Harry and laid a hand on his shoulder which Harry grabbed. His heart was beating too fast, making it hard for him to breathe. Snape reached over him to the motionless bit of canvas, curling his fingers around it.
"Don't move," Snape breathed against his ear. His hand tightened on Harry's shoulder, and Harry nodded jerkily at the command. "If I need you to Apparate, you will do so without hesitation, am I clear?"
"Ye—" Harry stopped himself and nodded instead. He pressed himself back against Snape, his body curving into the taller man's. Seconds ticked away in silence, and sweat broke out along Harry's brow.
Anyone could be waiting for them out there—other hunters, fans, stupid campers, curious onlookers, an assassin or anarchist, someone they'd accidentally robbed because the last owner had been declared dead, but nothing had been said of the new ones. The list went on and on in Harry's mind as he tapped his wand quietly against his thigh.
Snape's body was a warm weight behind him, and the hand that had once been on his shoulder was holding firm against Harry's stomach. If this had been any other situation, Harry would have thought Snape was hugging him.
He bit his lip, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he waited for the cue to leave. Snape stiffened, causing Harry to freeze. Every muscle in his body tensed as he waited for an order, but when none came, he slowly began to relax, lapsing into confusion. Everything had been silent for ages now, and it was driving him crazy.
"Stop fidgeting," Snape growled, gripping Harry tighter to him. Harry froze and barely held onto the startled gasp that the motion caused. Snape was so close Harry could smell the aftershave he had applied that morning. The thick scent tickled his nose to the point of distraction, and there was nothing he could do about it but take shallow breaths through his mouth. Seconds ticked past with no sound heard, and it was all Harry could do not to squirm in frustration.
Snape didn't set him free. Harry tipped his head up to see Snape's face, but found nothing different about his features. Whatever happened outside was bothering Snape far more than it was Harry.
Harry already knew that if someone had wanted to harm them, they would have attacked minutes ago and not waited for Harry and Snape to emerge.
Harry frowned, and lifted his hand up to trace circles on the arm surrounding him. His fingers ran through coarse arm hair, twisting and twirling the short strands in bizarre patterns.
He hated waiting.
Snape tugged back the tent flap and pushed them forward into the early morning air. A strong fog had rolled in, obscuring their vision to the point of blindness, and Harry stopped short.
When no one immediately jumped them from behind Harry squinted into the whorls of white. He couldn't pinpoint what was making his skin hum in anticipation through the fog, but he knew something wasn't quite right.
"No one's here," he whispered, taking a step toward the tent rather than away from it. He bumped into Snape who hadn't started to go backward with him. "What—"
Snape pointed in the direction of the cliff, placing a hand over Harry's mouth. Harry pursed his lips, flushing when Snape instantly retracted his hand. Frowning now, he followed Snape's finger and blinked in shock. He made to take a step closer, but Snape's arm was once again around his stomach to restrict his movement. The impenetrable fog dissipated with each second they stood there, and Harry could hardly breathe.
A small glass hut sat at the edge of the cliff unaffected by the fog. It sparkled in the dimmed sunlight, catching the few rays peeking through the rain clouds. Harry squinted towards the other edge near a large tree where a stranger was bent over a sack made of some coarse cloth. Snape shifted behind him, his hand tightening a fraction on Harry's stomach to keep him still -- as if Harry had any intention of moving. Nothing like this had happened in the time since Harry had joined Stevenson's archaeology team. He didn't dare blink again in case the phantom vanished.
The tableau before him was milky white and transparent, intangible but very real. Harry understood Snape's need to keep him in place. Neither had any idea about what could happen if they moved forward, but that was exactly what Harry wanted to do. He longed to be able to see the action closer, but he feared being trapped in that wavering world.
Twisting in Snape's arms, Harry asked, "How is this even pos—" Lips crushed against his, demanding his silence non-verbally. Harry's eyes flew open in stunned amazement, electricity buzzing through him, heating him inside and out. His toes curled in his shoes as he tried to twist in Snape's arms, but he was held firmly in place. Too soon, the kiss ended and Snape pulled his head out of reach.
Harry swayed precariously as he tried to regain composure, except how could he? Snape's hand felt like a brand against his stomach, his hair tickled the back of Harry's neck and cheek, and he felt Snape's heavy heartbeat against his back. He blinked rapidly, pulling off his glasses to wipe invisible dust specks off them before replacing them.
The stranger—a young man, Harry guessed—busily moved objects from his sack to the glass hut that tottered dangerously on the edge of the cliff, and a glint of light bounced off the coat in the man's arms, making it shimmer and sparkle silver and purple. Harry's heart flipped as he leaned forward, trying to inspect the coat more closely. Snape did nothing to resist that motion, despite not fully letting him go. Harry found he had no issue with this position any longer, but this was their chance to get the objects and go home. Wasn't it? This was what they'd been hunting down for well over three months now, their pet project with a deadline that was closing in on them faster than Harry had thought it would.
Snape had been ready to give up on the whole thing. The git.
Harry leaned back in the circle of Snape's arm and tilted his head to see into his partner's face. It felt nice to be right for once. He just hoped it would be enough for Snape to decide not to quit on him. The pay for this might be enough to set them free to do what they pleased.
Harry focused his attention on the activity, eyes widening when the young, sandy-haired man tripped to his knees which sent the jewel-encrusted scabbard he'd been holding sailing towards the edge of the cliff. The man tensed along with Harry, and surprisingly Snape as well, as it wavered on the edge before slipping off completely. The man uttered a soundless cry and extended his hand, and the scabbard magically sailed back to his hands. He clutched to the object with a startled expression, clambered to his feet, and stowed it away with the seven other objects he'd already delivered. Harry saw the five remaining objects peeking out from the sack and he couldn't wait for those to be removed, but then a drop of rain hit his cheek.
Harry blinked up at the greying sky in bewilderment and Snape tightened his hold on Harry's waist as if trying to reassure him. The ground beneath them became soggy as the images blurred into fog and dispersed. Harry let out a strangled sob and tore free of Snape's grasp. He pelted across the empty clearing to the cliff's edge, but no one was there. Tree, hut and man had all vanished in the space of a second.
Angrily, Harry kicked at a rock, shooting it out and over the edge before he dropped to the ground. A light hand settled on his shoulder and Harry shrugged it off petulantly as he watched the choppy water breaking on the jagged rocks below. "Piss off, Snape."
"I am not certain who this 'Snape' is you speak of," a low voice rumbled, "but I can see you do not mean to offend."
Harry whipped his head around to stare in bewilderment at the sandy-haired man in loose robes who had taken a seat beside him.
"Merlin!" Harry breathed, grasping his shirt above his heart as he waited for the shock to wear off.
The younger man grinned, blue eyes dull and aged, but his face still had a friendly feel to it that Harry couldn't deny.
"Some call me that, yes," the man agreed affably. "Who are you?"
"H-Harry, sir," Harry stammered, wiping his sweaty palms along the inseam of his trousers. It took Harry a moment to realise why he kept running his eyes over the man's body, and when he came to his conclusion, it was nowhere near reassuring to him. The man was translucent and pale, but the heat emanating from him couldn't be faked, nor could the hair-raising sensation along Harry's arms and neck.
"Harry, then. I'm Emrys, Merlin, to some like you, I see." Merlin's grin didn't dim as he said this. He drew his knees to his chest, and with a blank look, gazed out across the sea. "How is it you found this place?"
Harry flushed and fidgeted with the hemline of his sleeve. His fingers danced along the grooved stitch-work as he tried to remain convinced he hadn't clonked his head by slipping on some wet grass. "Ages of research."
"Ah, but many have come before you seeking the exact thing you do." Merlin hummed softly and turned back to Harry. "What makes you different from them, I wonder?"
Harry wondered the same as well. Merlin's quiet confession baffled him, because he was positive his reasons for being here were no better than the countless others who must have hunted the Thirteen Treasures before him and Snape. "I don't know."
Merlin laid his hand back on Harry's shoulder. "I have no doubt you will solve it, Harry."
As if he had never been there to begin with, the pressure on Harry's back, and the man who had produced it, vanished. Harry stayed still for countless seconds, and nearly pitched forward off the cliff when hands grasped him under the arms and hauled him to his feet.
"Haven't I already told you my feelings on your suicidal tendencies, Potter?"
Harry chuckled weakly and turned to embrace Snape in a fierce hug. "Yeah, you want to make sure you're there to see it when they come to a head."
Sighing, Harry gazed down at the rolling waves hitting the cliff wall. What had Merlin meant? Snape's presence was welcomed as Harry mulled over the brief conversation with a man who, until very recently, Harry had assumed was nothing more than a mythical figurehead. Merlin was worse than Dumbledore, which shouldn't have surprised Harry at all, but nevertheless did.
There was something he was missing. This time Snape couldn't even help him think it through either. How could he explain to the snarky git that he'd wrecked his only chance to ask for even one of the treasures without sounding like a stuttering idiot?
Licking his lips slowly, a new idea began to form. Harry's stomach clenched. What if-? But surely Merlin hadn't noticed? Except here they were, treasure-less in one sense, but— maybe he was missing something huge that was right in front of him. Snape loathed this job as much as Harry did, only Snape stayed for him. Snape could have quit once he'd earned enough money to buy a small flat somewhere far away from Harry, but he hadn't. He hadn't... and Harry's knees nearly buckled.
"I'm ready to go home now," Harry whispered.
Snape's hand settled on the back of Harry's head. "You're finally admitting this is a lost cause?"
Snape harrumphed and began to card his fingers through Harry's wild hair as the rain started to beat down on them. Harry cocked his head to the side as he studied Snape's calm expression and a grin quirked the corners of Harry's mouth.
"What are you smiling about, Potter?" Snape muttered, but there was no poison to the words.
"Just thinking." Harry chuckled. "We're going to be sacked, aren't we?"
"I was thinking of it more as a needed release to pursue different career goals at our leisure," Snape said, eyeing Harry in a way that Harry had come to affectionately dub the 'you're being an idiot again glare', "but yes. There is little doubt that we will not be holding our current jobs tomorrow."
"And you're not angry about it?"
"Do I seem angry to you?"
Harry shook his head. "Then what will we do?"
"A tad presumptuous today, aren't we, Mr. Potter?" Snape's fingers stilled in his hair and Harry found his head being tipped back. "However, a little bird told me there is something in freelance work that I have overlooked."
"Really, strange that," Harry mused, unable to keep the laughter from his voice, "because some little bird told me the exact same thing."
"Potter," Snape growled, eyes wrinkling at the edges as he fought to keep a smile off his face. Harry couldn't help himself. Pushing himself up on tiptoe, he dusted his lips lightly across that almost-smile and turned to go back to the tent. Snape grabbed him by the wrist and swung him back into his embrace. Without giving Harry a chance to catch his breath, Snape captured his lips in a rough kiss that sent bolts of pleasure sizzling down his spine. For long, breathless seconds, the kiss lasted, Snape taking everything from him.
Harry was dizzy by the time Snape released him, and he clung to him like a limp doll. The fingers were back again, trailing through Harry's rain-slick hair, brushing his fringe off his forehead to reveal the fading scar.
"Now," Snape murmured, pressing a solid kiss to the marred flesh, "we will go home."