Happy Daft Day, winoniel! Recipient:winoniel Title: Pictures of Harry Author:centaury_squill Rating: R Warning: Non-magical AR. Summary: Harry travels far from home and uncovers secrets from the past. A/N: My first attempt at a non-magical AR. winoniel, I hope you enjoy the story! ♥ ♥ to the mods for running this fest and to G for the beta and the honey, lemon & rum tea.
Pictures of Harry
The frozen snow crunched under Harry's feet as he carefully made his way around the court. He scowled at the pristine expanse of white in the centre. It would be so much easier just to walk straight across, but their absurd rules were already ingrained in him, even after just one term. His scowl lifted into an impish grin as he imagined the expression on the porter's face if he came out of his cubby-hole to see a trail of footprints crossing the snow-covered grass and disappearing into the staircase opposite. It wasn't worth it, though – the culprit would be obvious. He and his supervisor were the only people left in this part of college. Everyone else had homes to go to, or friends to visit for Christmas. The scowl came back to Harry's face as he slowly climbed the stairs. He reached his supervisor's landing and glanced up at the name painted across the door lintel: DR SIRIUS BLACK.
The huge outer door was open, so at least Black was in and expecting him. Harry rapped on the inner door with knuckles reddened by the cold. He hated winter here. Even the glorious huge skies arching over miles of snowy fenland couldn't make up for the east winds scouring across the flat countryside, or the chilly draughts which invaded his room. He knocked again.
"Come!" Black's deep bark sounded annoyed. Harry wasn't sure why. It was his supervisor who had sent for him, after all. He shrugged and went in. Black was sitting at his desk: as usual, it was awash with books, papers and other detritus which overflowed onto the floor and left deposits on the shabby couch and armchairs. He waved Harry to a chair beside the desk then turned back to the document in his hand.
Harry looked at him in silence. Even after a term, he still knew very little about his supervisor. There were rumours that he had some kind of shady past, had even been in prison, but Harry wasn't sure if he believed them. He knew that Black didn't normally supervise PhD students, and that had given rise to speculation too. Some of the students had sniggered that it was because Sirius Black fancied Harry Potter. Harry knew that wasn't true. He'd had enough experience of fancying and being fancied by other men to know there was nothing like that in Black's attitude to him.
"You wanted to see me, sir?"
Black was still frowning at the document in his hand. He looked up at Harry. "Ah, yes. I'm flying out to Lima next week. I'm sure you can guess why?"
Harry nodded. The botanical research expedition to Peru had been the talk of the Plant Sciences department when he'd arrived at the university. Everyone had wanted to be part of it. Everyone – including himself – had made sure they had the necessary up-to-date passports and visas. Just in case.
It wasn't really surprising that a lowly, newly-arrived PhD student like himself hadn't, after all, been included. More surprising, perhaps, that Dr Black wasn't included either: he was one of the top plant researchers in the country, and Harry was sure that he, too, had been itching to go. Though it sounded like he now had his chance...
"That's great," Harry said, trying not to sound jealous. "You'll get away from this bloody awful winter, anyway!" He only had a hazy idea of Peru's climate, but it had to be warmer than this, surely? "I thought everyone was out there, now, though?"
Sirius Black gave a short bark of laughter. "Unfortunately some of them are having to come back. It appears there was an outbreak of food poisoning in the camp. Oh, nothing too serious, but it means there are now a few places to be filled." He scowled down at the document in his hand again. "And one has been filled by someone not at all to my liking," he added under his breath. Louder, he said: "You could come along too, if you like. I'm sure a fit young man like you could be useful."
Harry stared at him. This sounded almost too good to be true. "But there must be loads of other people – I mean –"
"Not at this short notice," Black said. "Not just before Christmas." He gave Harry a lopsided grin, almost a snarl, showing his teeth. "Don't you want to come?"
"Yeah, of course I do!" In spite of the cold, Harry felt a warm glow at the prospect.
"Good. Well, to work..."
The next hour or so were spent going over Harry's progress with his thesis, and which aspects of the work in Peru would be relevant. Dr Black gave him terse instructions on how to prepare for the journey and what to bring with him. Every so often he would break off, and the scowl would come back to his face. Harry wondered whether he was still brooding over this mysterious person who had also joined the expedition, the one who was not at all to his liking. It couldn't be someone from the department, surely. With the amount of gossip which went on there, any such feud would be common knowledge. Maybe it was someone from another university, another country, even: apparently several were involved in the project.
By the time Harry came out into the court the short winter day was already fading. The wind kicked up gusts of powdery snow and stung his cheeks, but he couldn't stop smiling. He was going to Peru.
Severus Snape rubbed his eyes and squinted down at the drawing board on his lap. Pinned to it was a sheet of cartridge paper, on which the lines of the mighty Peruvian cedar were beginning to take shape. He flexed his long thin fingers and selected another pencil from the array in front of him, but then sat staring at the tree without seeing it, the pencil forgotten in his hand.
He hadn't really expected to gain a place on this expedition, but now that he was here, he must make the most of things, despite the complications. Complications which included the two latest members, due to arrive at any moment. Black and Potter... names from the past, both of them. But this Potter could not possibly be that Potter. The son, perhaps? He knew there had been a son, but not what had become of him, not since that day...
Snape shook his head irritably, dismissing old, unhappy memories. He tightened his thin lips and began to rapidly sketch in the details of the tree. He became so absorbed that he lost all sense of time.
"Well, well. We meet again – Snivellus."
Hiding his shock, Snape looked up. His lip lifted in a sneer. "Black." His eyes drifted past his old enemy standing over him in a pathetic attempt at intimidation, to the shorter, slighter young man behind him. Oh, that was Potter's son, no question – the same unruly dark hair, same features, even similar glasses. But he lacked James Potter's air of sleek, cosseted confidence: he was thinner, almost waif-like. And his eyes – such haunting eyes – were the exact shade of green that Lily's had been...
Aware that he was staring, Snape snapped his attention back to Sirius Black. "It's been a long time since our schooldays, Black, but regretfully you don't seem to have improved." He nodded coolly to the young man. "A Potter, I presume."
Harry looked surprised. "Yeah, I'm Harry Potter, but how did you –"
"Snivellus and I were at school with your parents," Sirius interrupted, glaring at Snape.
"You were? But why didn't you tell me?" Harry felt confused, and rather hurt. Sirius Black had been his supervisor for a term, and hadn't bothered to tell him that he'd been to school with Harry's parents! Why?
"Oh, Black loves his little secrets," Snape said, glaring back at Sirius. He laid his drawing board and pencil to one side and stood up.
Harry looked from one to the other. The two men were almost nose to nose: the way they looked, they'd be fighting any minute. He cleared his throat, trying to think of a way to defuse the situation. Neither man paid any attention to him. Harry swiftly stooped and picked up Snape's drawing. "Wow, this is good!" he said, genuinely surprised by the picture.
Snape turned on him abruptly. "Don't touch that!" he snapped. Then he seemed to reconsider. "It's one of my contributions to the expedition," he went on smoothly. "Botanical illustrations – I draw all manner of flora – in fact tomorrow I'm going into the forest to draw some rather unique specimens." He paused, eyeing Harry thoughtfully. "Would you care to come with me and observe?"
"Ooh, yes, please!" Harry said enthusiastically. Snape didn't trouble to conceal his smirk. He'd put up with far more than an eager young graduate shadowing him, in order to annoy Sirius Black.
Harry sat spellbound, watching Snape's thin, clever fingers as he rapidly sketched the trumpet-like flowers. His undoubted artistic skill and delicacy of touch were such a contrast to his sneering manner. That alone would have piqued Harry's interest, even without the dark hints which Sirius Black had dropped when trying to put him off this trip with Snape.
Still, he wasn't here just to watch Snape: he had work of his own to do. Harry carefully unpacked his camera. He moved around the plant, looking for the best angle, setting focus and aperture to get what he hoped would be the best result.
"Photographs are all very well," observed Snape, watching him closely, "but they don't capture the true essence of a plant."
"Yeah, they do," countered Harry. He lowered his camera and grinned at Snape. "I don't see the point of your botanical illustrations, come to that," he said cheekily. "Photographs are much quicker."
"Crude representations," Snape said loftily, "lacking all subtlety. But then –" his voice dropped, became venomous – "I would not expect any son of James Potter to appreciate ... subtlety."
Harry took a step back. He felt almost as though Snape had punched him in the stomach. He struggled to breathe. All he could see were Snape's black, pitiless eyes.
"Stop looking at me like that!" Strangely, it was Snape who had spoken, voicing Harry's own thought.
In the trees behind them something disturbed the howler monkeys: their cacophony sounded like mocking laughter.
Snape slipped into the tent, silent as a shadow. He was sure that Sirius Black had an ulterior motive in coming to Peru, and he was determined to find out if it coincided with his own. His lip curled as he surveyed the disorder inside. He wasn't sure who else shared the four-man tent, but there was no doubt which sleeping compartment was Black's. Even at school he'd been fixated on motorbikes, and who else would have brought a Harley-Davidson badge into the wilds of Peru? Snape began to deftly sort through Black's belongings.
The sound of rain drumming on the canvas roof alerted him to a possible danger: would one or more of the tent's rightful occupants return to shelter? He moved towards the compartment's entrance, which he'd prudently zipped closed behind him, but before he could open it he heard someone hurrying into the tent's outer area. Snape cautiously eased the zip down a little and peeped out. His breath caught. There, standing dripping onto the groundsheet of the outer tent, was Harry Potter. He was absolutely drenched. His shirt, transparent with wetness, clung to his skinny upper body. He shook back his sopping black hair and laughed. He seemed utterly exhilarated.
Snape watched, fascinated, as Harry slid down the zip of his trousers and dropped them in a puddle around his feet. He kicked free of boots and trousers together and started to unbutton his shirt. Snape could see the outline of his cock through his almost translucent briefs. Stifling a groan, Snape plunged his hand into his pocket and began to stroke his own cock through the cloth.
Unaware of Snape, Harry continued to strip off his sodden clothing. Snape followed his movements avidly. He now had his own trousers undone and his fist clenched around his bare cock. His other hand was stuffed into his mouth to stop himself crying out. As Harry heedlessly revealed more and more of his body, Snape's tugs on his cock became correspondingly frantic, culminating in a spurt of stickiness into his palm as Harry slipped off his briefs.
Leaving his wet clothes in a heap on the groundsheet, Harry turned towards his own sleeping compartment in search of a towel and fresh clothes. This was Snape's chance to slip away unobserved, but he took a long moment to memorise the curve of the young man's back as he bent to unzip the inner canvas, the jut of his buttocks, the angular but graceful movements of his limbs.
Then Snape retreated to his own tent, to take up pencil and paper and draw what he'd just seen.
Snape laid down his pencil and eased his cramped hand. There. It was the best he could do. He looked at his sketches: Harry half-undressed, his tousled wet hair tumbling across his face; Harry naked, side view, head turned away; Harry stooping as he undid the zip to let himself into his sleeping compartment. He frowned. None of them really did justice to the young man. Perhaps a few touches of colour?
He opened the box which contained his brushes and tubes of Winsor and Newton watercolours, and set briskly to work. Soon he had mixed a few splashes of colour which he thought approximated to Harry's skin tones. Of course, without having the young man in front of him, he couldn't be sure... Snape smiled wryly. That was hardly likely to happen.
Carefully, he laid down the first washes and put the paper aside to dry a little. Strange, that he should be so obsessed by his old enemy's son. He seemed to see him with a double vision. One moment he just saw Harry, young, enthusiastic, endearing. Then some remembered gesture, and it was the young James Potter all over again. Though his eyes... they held nothing of James. Not just their vibrant green, which he surely had from his mother, but their haunted depths... what had life done to him, to make him look like that?
Snape picked up his brush again and began carefully building up colour. He suddenly wished his mouth could follow the same route around the real Harry's body. Stop that, he told himself sternly. This is just an aid to wanking. Nothing more.
He was concentrating so hard on the picture that he almost didn't hear someone coming into his tent. Warned just in time, he pushed his sketches out of sight and turned to face the intruder. It was Sirius Black.
"He'd got WHAT?"
"Sketches of you. Harry, you need to be careful." Sirius leaned forward and spoke quietly. "I think that sod sneaked into our tent; in fact I'm sure he did. Someone's been through my things."
Harry snorted. "You mean you could tell?"
Sirius gave an unwilling smile. "I know I'm not the tidiest person... but yes, I'm sure." He snorted. "In fact, my things were tidier than when I left them."
Harry considered this for a moment, then returned to the thing which interested him most. "These sketches you saw – what sort of sketches?"
"He whisked them away pretty quickly," Sirius said. He looked uncomfortable. "But I'm sure they were of you – uh –"
"What?" Harry demanded, intrigued.
"Naked," mumbled Sirius.
Harry laughed. "You're joking!"
Sirius frowned. "Harry, you've got to listen to me. I know things about Snivellus –"
"Why d'you keep calling him that?" Harry asked. "It's not very – I dunno – professional."
"We called him that at school," Sirius said angrily. "And as far as I'm concerned, he's not changed a bit. He's still the same sneaking, spying, evil little –" He broke off, breathing heavily. Then he continued, "Harry, I'm serious. I had a younger brother, Reg. He was at school with us, in the same house as Sniv– as Snape. He got involved in something bad, and I'm sure that bastard dragged him into it. I know he got into his pants."
"Look, if all this is just because you think Snape's gay," Harry said, "maybe you should know – so am I."
Snape cursed, and crumpled up another piece of paper. No matter how hard he tried to concentrate on capturing the lines of the tree in front of him, images of Harry Potter kept intruding. Tightening his thin lips, he pinned more paper to his board and doggedly went back to work.
If only he'd had more time to search Black's belongings... he was sure he could have found some clue, if only he'd had more time... and that brought him back to Harry again...
For a moment Snape thought he was imagining Harry's voice, as well as his body. Then he looked up.
Harry Potter stood between two trees on the edge of the clearing, looking uncertain. "Dr Black told me he had a bit of a run-in with you yesterday," he said.
"That's one way of putting it," Snape said drily. With an effort, he kept his face impassive. "You may have gathered that Black and I weren't exactly the best of friends at school."
Harry came further into the clearing and squatted on a fallen log. "And neither were you and my dad?"
Snape looked down. "No. James Potter was an insufferable, spoiled..." He stopped. "Well. That's all in the past, now." He looked at Harry; something in the young man's face made him add, "Your mother wasn't, though. Everybody liked Lily."
"Including you?" asked Harry. Then he went red. "Sorry. I shouldn't have asked."
"No, that's all right," Snape told him. He wondered at himself. "As a matter of fact I knew your mother before your father did; we grew up in the same town. Not that we were ever... romantically... involved. Just very good friends."
Harry nodded. Snape thought he looked rather knowing. "What did Black tell you about our, ah, run-in?" he demanded abruptly.
Grinning, Harry said, "He told me you'd drawn me nekkid, if that's what you're asking."
Snape's hand gripped his pencil so tightly that it snapped. He savagely wished it had been Black's neck.
"Oh, I don't mind," Harry said. "Actually, I'm rather flattered."
To his horror, Snape heard himself say, "In that case, would you care to pose for me?"
Harry could hardly believe this was happening. Surely he'd wake up in a minute and find himself back at college, extra blankets piled on his narrow bed, icy draughts blowing around his little room. He couldn't really be sprawled naked in a clearing near the foothills of the Andes, pleasantly warm, being sketched by a man he'd only met a couple of days ago. A man old enough to be his father – indeed, who had known his father – and hated him part of his mind whispered. Harry ignored it. He peeped up through his eyelashes at Snape, hunched so intently over his drawing board. From time to time Snape's dark, intense eyes looked up from his sketch to rake Harry's body. Harry wondered whether this was just artistic concentration, or something more. He lifted his head to see if he could catch a glimpse of the picture.
Harry dropped his head back onto his outstretched arm and resisted the temptation to close his spread legs. A faint, unfamiliar aroma wafted from the small fire Snape had lit in the middle of the clearing: he'd heaped some leaves onto it, explaining that their smoke would keep away the bugs. Harry wondered hazily if it had other properties as well. He certainly felt a warm sense of well-being. Relaxed and happy, he closed his eyes...
Harry slowly became aware of a tickling sensation on his thigh. Was a bug crawling up his bare leg? So much for Snape's magic leaves! The tickling crawled higher, became a warm, wet pressure against his arse. What the hell? Had something come out of the jungle to attack him? A puma? A snake?
The wet warmth trailed along his crack and began to slowly circle his pucker. Harry grinned with relief as he finally realised what was happening. Snape was rimming him!
Sirius looked up as Harry came towards him. A scowl replaced his anxious expression as he took in Harry's flushed face and euphoric smile. He'd been so worried when he'd discovered that his student had gone off alone with Snape on one of his sketching forays. He hated to think what Snivellus might do to him. He was aware of the tension between them, and at first had feared that Snape might take revenge for James Potter's treatment of him, that he might engineer an 'accident' for James's son. Then, remembering Snape's sketches of Harry, he'd realised that things might not be that simple.
Judging by the look on Harry's face now, his worst fears were coming true. With a chill, Sirius remembered what that look reminded him of: his younger brother Reg, when he was falling prey to Snape's loathsome seduction. Well, history wasn't going to repeat itself with Harry. Not if he could help it.
"Harry," he growled. "Sit down. We need to talk."
Harry threw himself down on the ground beside Sirius, his smile fading at the other's expression. "What's wrong?"
"Snape's what's wrong!" exclaimed Sirius. "What have you two been doing?"
Harry's smile had completely disappeared now. "I don't really think that's any of your business," he said coolly.
Sirius cursed himself. He was going about this the wrong way. He made an effort to speak reasonably. "Harry, listen. It's just that I'm worried about you. Your father was a good friend of mine at school, and I feel I owe it to him –"
"Yeah, and that's another thing," Harry interrupted. "How come you didn't tell me about that before? You've been supervising my PhD for a term now, and you've never said a bloody thing about knowing my parents." He looked at Sirius accusingly. "And if you were such great friends with my dad, how come I've never heard of you?"
Sirius looked sombre. "Ah, that's a good question." He hesitated. "How much did your uncle and aunt tell you about your parents' deaths?" he asked eventually.
Harry dug at the ground with his fingers. "They said my mum and dad were killed in a car crash. They said my dad was drunk. They said he was a useless layabout and I'd grow up just like him." He stopped and swallowed hard. Even though he'd escaped them now, the thought of Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia made him squirm.
Sirius bristled with rage. "Lying bastards! I know they signed the Official Secrets Act, so they couldn't tell you what really happened, but they didn't need to slander James!"
Harry gaped at him. "Official Secrets – what do you mean? How did my mum and dad die?"
Harry shifted restlessly in his sleeping bag. He'd left the camp fire early tonight, wanting to be alone. Sirius Black had given him a lot to think about. Oh, he'd been quite cagey, after dropping that bombshell about the Official Secrets Act. But it sounded like far from being an unemployed drunk, Harry's dad had in fact been some sort of government agent – MI5? MI6? It seemed so unreal, like one of those TV programmes about spies and spooks his cousin Dudley used to watch.
He thrashed around, feeling sweaty and uncomfortable. None of it made sense. Maybe it was all lies, to put him off Severus Snape? Dr Black had implied Snape had something to do with Lily and James Potter's deaths. Something about terrorists, a cult he was mixed up in – called themselves Death Eaters, worshipped snakes or something stupid like that. James Potter was investigating them when he was killed – but Dr Black had refused to say any more about that, just retreated behind the Official Secrets Act again. How convenient!
Then there were the things he'd said about his brother Reg. According to him, Reg had been seduced by Snape, and not just into his bed but into this illegal cult thing. But he'd become disillusioned with the mad guy, Tom something, who led the cult. And then Reg had died, in mysterious circumstances. That was what happened to people who tried to leave the cult, apparently. You couldn't just resign and go.
But what worried Harry most was the last thing Sirius Black had said to him as he was getting up to leave the camp fire. Snape had just given Harry another of those looks, and Black had noticed it. His face thunderous, he'd grabbed Harry's arm and growled, "He's a bad 'un, Harry. Once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater. Have you ever seen him without long sleeves? That's to hide the skull and snake tattoo. They're all marked with it."
Did Severus Snape really have such a tattoo on his arm? How could Harry find out? He could confront Snape and just ask him. Or he could go for a big seduction scene and rip Snape's clothes off in the heat of passion... the thought of undressing Snape made his breath hitch and his cock harden. He licked his fingers then wriggled his hand round in his sleeping bag till it met his arse. Closing his eyes he brushed his wet fingers around his pucker, trying to recapture the sensation of Snape rimming him.
If only Snape had taken things further! But as soon as he realised Harry was awake, he'd retreated, packed up his sketching things, and told Harry to get dressed. In Harry's imagination, though, Snape was still rimming him. He grabbed his cock with his other hand and, picturing long skilful fingers and dark intense eyes, began to thrust.
He was thankful he was still alone in the tent, with nobody to hear him gasp Snape's name as he climaxed.
When Harry woke next morning the question of Snape's tattoo was still haunting him. He was still undecided whether to confront him with Black's suspicions or try – tantalising thought – to catch a glimpse of him naked. However, when he joined the others in the morning team briefing he discovered there was no chance of doing either. Severus Snape had disappeared from the camp during the night.
Everyone was out looking for Snape. Even Sirius Black had joined the search, although Harry suspected sourly that he wouldn't be looking very hard. Harry himself had gone to the clearing where Snape had sketched the flowers. He had a vague idea that Snape might have come back to make more sketches and met with an accident. But there was no sign of him.
As Harry searched the undergrowth surrounding the clearing, he heard a low whistle. He straightened up and looked around. The whistle came again, and a thin youth appeared from behind a tree. Harry thought he recognised him as one of the Peruvian guides from the camp.
"You seek Señor Snape?" the youth asked, and when Harry nodded he went on, "I take you to him. You must come at once."
"Is there something wrong?" Harry asked. "Where is he?"
The youth looked grave. "Es un lugar peligroso, it's a dangerous place. Come!"
Harry didn't move. Could he trust the guide? Had he really come from Snape? As if realising Harry's thoughts, the youth pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and held it out. It was one of Snape's sketches of Harry.
Harry trudged along the trail following his guide; he caught glimpses of the treetops far below, and to either side rose steep, imposing terraces of rock. It got colder the higher they climbed. He wished he'd gone back to camp for a warm coat, but his guide had allowed no time for that. As they walked he took some leaves out of a small box and began to chew them. He offered the box to Harry, but Harry shook his head.
The sun was high in the sky by the time they reached a small plateau covered in strangely-shaped rock formations. Harry couldn't decide whether they were natural or man-made. He gaped up at them, in awe at their sheer scale. His guide pointed to one of the largest, which appeared to grow out of the side of the mountain. As Harry approached, he realised that a small opening in the rock formed the entrance to some kind of cavern. Stooping, he went inside.
It was surprisingly light and airy: holes in the rock high above let in shafts of sunlight. Harry could see a figure on the ground at the far end of the cavern. He rushed forward. It was Severus Snape, lying on his back, arms and legs outspread. Next to him a huge snake writhed and hissed in a wooden cage. A rope led from the cage to the man's neck.
Harry knelt down to examine Snape more closely. His wrists and ankles were tied to metal rings driven into the rocky floor of the cavern. The rope looped around his neck was fixed to the cage's door in such a way that if Snape moved more than a few inches, the door would spring open and release its occupant.
Snape looked vacantly up at Harry. His breath smelt bitter-sweet. He didn't seem aware of where he was. Was he drugged? Carefully, Harry freed Snape's arms and legs and used the ropes to secure the door of the snake's cage. Then, and only then, he unlooped the rope from around his neck. It had left a deep angry red mark. Harry stroked it with his fingers.
"Severus? Are you OK?"
Severus is aware of someone kneeling beside him. He hears a voice, low, monotonic. Some part of himself realises that the voice is his own: Tom's drugs have turned him into a babbling fool, pouring out his secrets for all to hear. He sees them, seeping from his nerveless body and hanging in the air like molten silver.
He is drowning in memories.
He is a boy, hiding in the bushes, watching. The girls are swinging, higher, higher. He has eyes only for Lily. She is so graceful, so joyful, so alive. He feels a strange pain. He's lost her already, before they've even met.
He is older. Lily against all odds, has become his friend. Her green eyes smile into his, she teases him. "Why always so suspicious, Sev?" Ah, why indeed. Her eyes encompass him. If only she were a boy, everything would be perfect. But she's not.
Tom Riddle isn't a boy, either; he's a man, a visionary, a charismatic leader. He promises a better world to those who follow him. Severus follows him. Lily does not.
Lily prefers a smug, soccer-playing oaf. James Potter. He and his sidekick Sirius Black are the bane of Severus' life. Regulus Black, however, is another matter entirely.
It's Regulus's death, even more than Lily's danger, which first turns him into a double agent. But it's Lily's death which finally seals his fate.
Now Lily's eyes are gazing earnestly into his. He must be dead, as she is dead. The mists of the drug clear a little; he sees it's not Lily. He reaches out and grabs a handful of shirt.
"Harry Potter." Snape's words were echoed by a high, cold voice behind Harry. He turned his head, and stared at the extraordinary figure which had just entered the cave.
He was tall, and skeletally thin, and he was holding a murderous-looking machete. He wore the wings of a scarlet macaw wrapped around his head like a crown. Bars of red paint striped his face. A dark robe enveloped his body. Six small, hairy objects dangled from its belt. Harry looked at them in horror: surely they couldn't be shrunken heads?
The figure came closer. The paint on his face gave the illusion that he had no nose, only deep snake-like slits. His eyes were quite mad.
"I am going to kill you. You are to be my sacrifice." He came closer still, eyes fixed on Harry. "Your death will ensure my immortality."
Harry swallowed hard. His voice came out as a croak. "Who are you?"
Unexpectedly, it was Snape who answered, his voice slurred. "This is Tom Riddle."
Riddle drew himself up proudly. "I once was Tom Riddle," he proclaimed. "I have another name now."
Snape still gripped Harry's shirt; his hand tightened. Harry looked back at him. He could see that Snape was struggling to throw off the effects of the drug. Snape made a slight gesture of his head towards Tom Riddle. "Keep him talking," he mouthed.
Harry slowly got to his feet and warily approached the shamanic figure. "Tell me about my parents. Sirius Black told me you murdered my parents and then disappeared. Did you come here, to Peru?"
The strange eyes did not blink. "I followed the Sendero Luminoso, the Shining Path. Some called them terrorists, but I knew they were more, that I could learn dark mysteries from among their number. And I have." He swept his arms out grandly. "Now, I can fly."
"You're mad as a box of frogs!" Harry blurted. He heard Snape give a soft huff of laughter. It helped steady Harry as he faced up to the nightmare figure in front of him. "Either that or you're as high as he is!"
The ground gave a sudden, unexpected lurch. Harry stumbled forward, finding it hard to stay upright. Had Riddle somehow managed to dope him? But Riddle, too, was off balance. What was happening?
Then Snape was on his feet, staggering. "It's an earthquake. We have to get out of here."
Lips drawn back in a snarl, Riddle raised his machete. There was a loud, rumbling noise, and bits of rock began to rain down from the cavern roof. Snape collapsed back onto the ground. Harry grabbed Riddle's arm and they swayed backwards and forwards as they struggled. Then Harry felt as if his skull was splitting open and everything went black.
It was four months later. Spring had come to England. Harry, long recovered from the blow on the head from a falling rock, was back at college and working hard. He remembered little about what had happened between setting out in search of Snape and coming to, staggering down the mountain track, his arm around Snape's shoulders. Behind them the aftermath of the earthquake and avalanche had left the plateau in ruins, its rock formations, sculptures, whatever they were, demolished. And under the rubble, presumably, lay Tom Riddle.
Then came another gap in his memory: the next he remembered, he was in hospital in Lima. A succession of semi-official visitors had come and questioned him, but he hadn't been able to tell them much. At one point he was surprised to find Severus Snape and Sirius Black both in his room, glaring at each other over his bed. But they seemed to come to some sort of uneasy truce.
Eventually Sirius and he had returned to England together. Snape had stayed in Peru for a while, doing whatever shadowy, spook-like, double agent things he did.
But that was all past, Harry mused, as he sat at his desk in his college room. Now, he was concerned with the future. He looked at the envelope lying on his desk, then glanced at his watch: it was time. He shook a small brass key out of the envelope, and stood up.
At the heart of the walled garden sat Severus Snape, his watercolour paraphenalia spread out on the grass beside him. A riot of flowers had begun to grow on the paper pinned to his easel, but at that moment he had eyes neither for them nor their prototypes all around him, glowing in the warm spring sun. He was engrossed in his portfolio of sketches; all of the same young man, Harry Potter. In the months they'd been apart it had grown from half a dozen to well over a hundred. There was no point denying it: he was obsessed. But how did Harry feel? Well, he'd soon know. It was almost midday, the time he'd set. Would Harry come?
As the hands of his watch crept past twelve, all his self-doubt rose up again. Why would anyone want him, ugly, old and tainted as he was? Certainly not this young man. His hands scrabbled among the papers. Almost, he ripped them to pieces. Then something made him look up.
The original of his sketches was walking across the grass towards him. Not even Severus Snape could mistake the look of joy on his face.
When Harry realised that he'd been seen, he started to run. Easel, watercolour, papers went flying as he threw himself on top of Severus and knocked him out of his chair. They sprawled on the grass together.
"What was that for?" Severus demanded, when he could speak.
"I'm pleased to see you," Harry said. "Aren't you pleased to see me?"
Before Severus could reply, Harry had spotted the pile of sketches, spilling out of the portfolio onto the grass. He picked one up. It showed himself, naked and langorous, with a private half-smile.
"Ooh, was this the one you did in Peru?" Without waiting for an answer, he began flipping through the others.
Harry, his shirt open, wet hair plastered across his face. Harry, translucent briefs tight across his erection. Harry, naked, eyes closed, hand wrapped around his thrusting cock. A back view of Harry, fingers in his arse, glancing back over his shoulder in unmistakeable invitation.
He looked accusingly at Severus, then began to laugh. "I don't remember posing for these ones."
For once, Severus was lost for words. His normally imperturbable face was red with embarrassment. He bent his head. Harry gently pushed back the curtains of hair which hid his face, and kissed the end of his beak-like nose.
"It's all right." he whispered. "You've got the real thing now."