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Potter looks terrified.

His face and chest are flushed, sweat beads up across his collarbone, his throat, gathers into drops at the bridge of his nose, and at his hairline where his ridiculous spectacles press skin. I can barely see his eyes for the firelight glare off that glass, and privately I am glad of this. There are times when those green eyes and their expression are emphatically not what I want to see of him.

I cast my transfiguration, and the white birch stirring rod stretches, thickens - suggestive enough, even without the irony involved, - until it is roughly the length of my arm, the base as thick as my middle finger. I give it a swish, and it sings. A flick, and it snarls. It is awesome, it is awful, and it is utterly perfect.

Potter’s throat convulses as though he’s trying to swallow his heart along with his nerves. “Snape, I…” another gulp.

*So much,* I think, *for Gryffindor courage.*

“I don’t think I can-” He flinches to silence as I make the switch sing again.

His penis, I notice, is small, soft, and inclined to hide in the crook of his groin if it could. The cage of rings and bars surrounding it makes that as impossible as the erection it was designed to prevent, of course, but looking at the rapid rise and fall of Potter’s chest, I suspect hyperventilation might be just as much a threat to the proceedings as his normal lack of self-control.

“Of course you can,” I tell him, setting the switch aside in order to begin disrobing. His eyes focus on my hands, and the precise, meditative process of pushing each button back though each buttonhole. His breathing slows again, and I take the victory, and the implied compliment of his rapt attention on my fingers, for what it’s worth - very little against the whole, but enough to be going on with. The little bastard won’t be fainting away on me. Not from nerves, at least.

“You can do this,” I remind him when at last I lay my folded shirt aside and take up the switch again, “And what’s more, Potter, you will do this.” He would back away from my advance, were he not already pressed up against the wall. I press my every advantage to keep him there - my height, the weight of my voice, my gaze, his birdlike fascination with my fingers around the pale wooden handle. He does not - cannot evade me as I lean close to him, take up his hand, and close his own chilled fingers around the switch. “You will do this, because you owe me no less.”

His other hand, pressed forcibly against the placket of my trousers by way of my grip on his wrist, twitches convulsively before it curves around my body in surrender. It is shaking. He is shaking. And I am harder, and more furious than I have ever been.

“I don’t want to do this.” It is hardly even a whisper, just his lips moving against the scarred side of my neck. I release his whip hand in favor of his chin, forcing his head up so I can pour my rising rage into him by way of a kiss. It is punishing, and it is merciless, and it is intended in every way to overwhelm.

Only when it has done its work, rendered Harry Potter into a boneless wreck, do I back away far enough to whisper, “I don’t care.”

Then I shove away from the wall, leaving him to find his own damned balance as I push down my trousers and underpants in one go. My own erection presents no challenge here, and I snarl as I toss the clothing atop the rest, caring less now for trivialities of wrinkle and crease. “Do it,” I growl and turn, hands clasped and raised overhead, legs akimbo, presenting him with the canvas of my flesh. “Give me your worst!”

He makes a sound, desperate and moist, as though he might cry. But then the fierce, tight bind of incarcerous snakes around my wrists and ankles, and I hear the switch begin to sing.

~*~

Oh dear. I deduce by your confusion that I’ve gotten ahead of your limited understanding of things. Do forgive. Shall I attempt to backfill the gaps? The task is Herculean, true, but we've ventured more daunting work in our time.

Neville Longbottom, for instance, to say nothing of the snake.

Very well then.

Knowledge of Harry Potter’s curse first came to me through the entirely predictable agency of one Draco Malfoy. He was giddy with the news, all but hopping in place while he waited for me to finish peeling the recalcitrant ball python for its precious eye-caps. It was a delicate procedure, as the python was not fond of tweezers near its eye, and I was in no hurry to finish the task. It was something of an amusement to see whether my apprentice’s impatience to share his gossip might not actually drive him to dither.

He might have done, had the snake less intimidated him. Honestly, he’d seen one little Muggle Studies teacher swallowed whole, and his nerve broke forever - Draco couldn’t even be asked to handle boomslang skin anymore, let alone a live serpent, even one which was neither venomous, nor actually capable of eating anything bigger than a large mouse. Good job it hadn’t been HIM who’d had to crawl from the Shrieking Shack and the brink of Nagini’s tender devotions, or he’d have perished of the collywobbles first.

I finished with the python, who made her displeasure known with a loud hiss as I dropped her into her cage, and at last spared my protégé a glance.

That was all the invitation he needed. “Guess what!”

I did not manage to quell the urge to roll my eyes. “You’re pregnant?” I turned to drop the eye-cap into my cauldron, the contents of which hissed and turned a satisfying purple. In my peripheral vision, Draco’s glee wavered momentarily into incomprehension, then veered perilously close to abject horror. “Ah, but no,” I contradicted before he could change color as well, or possibly faint, “that would require your fancying boys, wouldn’t it? And as your father’s mortal coil remains as yet unshuffled, that could not possibly be your news.”

“SEVERUS!” Dear Merlin, he nearly squealed.

I gave him a solemn nod. “Do forgive my mistake, Draco. I am so rarely wrong. Now let me see, what can have got you into such a state…” Ah, and there went the color, furious and blotchy across his alabaster cheeks. I smirked, and chose the next most improbable guess I could. “You’ve just learnt that Harry Potter is impotent?”

Had his face fallen any harder, it might have cracked. “You knew?”

I set the tweezers down very carefully, folded my hands in front of my waist, and turned. That had been well-delivered, and as such, it lent Draco’s joke enough merit to warrant my full attention for the punchline. “Knew?” I repeated, obligingly.

But instead of the humorous coup de grace worthy of his set-up, the scion of house Malfoy pitched a wobbly. “Damn it, how could you not TELL me?” he wailed, flinging wide his arms in an excess of outrage. “ME, of all people!” I could feel my eyebrow, the left one, pressing inexorably higher and higher up my forehead, as what had bid fair to be a halfway decent joke descended into a rather shrill snit. “Here I am, working for you day in and day out, chopping your ingredients, owling your orders, brewing your bases and simples, apparating all over Europe to make your deliveries, and you’re keeping secrets from me! Don’t I share all my gossip? Don’t I share all my news? Why would you hold this back?”

I considered, briefly, setting the python on him, but decided she was in too bad a temper, and might actually bite him. Then I’d have to wait through the resultant nervous collapse before I could get any sense at all out of my apprentice. So instead, I resorted to the schoolroom tactics which had never yet failed me.

I loomed, and kept on looming as he wittered off into sulky silence.

“Mr. Malfoy,” I said, once I was certain of his attention. “You are babbling. Now tell me your news, succinctly, and without embroidery. From the beginning, if you please.”

He harrumphed, but knew better than to disobey me. Not only did he have the good sense to fear my wand, but likewise to realize that I was entirely capable of making good on my threat to dismiss the shop elves entirely, and add their duties to his apprenticeship tasks if he vexed me enough. Draco Malfoy had never scrubbed a cauldron by hand in his life, and he clearly did not mean to learn the way of it now. Hooking a stool from under the workbench, he perched upon it, and began his story.

“I was just at the Kronos Clinic, delivering that latest batch of Gentlemen’s Tonic, and that tosser Clarkson had me waiting out in his hallway for bloody well an hour, which I’m certain was entirely out of spite, because he always makes me wait, even when he’s got nobody in his office at all. That’s why I always leave the Kronos Clinic till last delivery, because I don’t want to be late for the rest when I’m sure he’s just wanking in his office, assuming he can even get it up at-”

I loomed again, and Draco lost hold of that fruitless train of thought. “Right. So. Beginning. I was sitting out in the hall, waiting for Clarkson to finish with his… erm… paperwork and sign for the delivery, when I hear Potter’s voice coming from one of the consultation rooms down the hall.”

“Potter? You’re certain?” The words were out of my mouth before I recalled The Obsession, but I daresay I hardly deserved the scathing look with which he replied. Of course he had been certain it was Potter’s voice. As certain as Draco Malfoy could be, at least. “Polyjuice is a possibility,” I reminded him, “even for the Celebrity Auror.”

Draco shook his head so emphatically that some of his hair broke free of its pomade. “I was there for an hour, remember? And anyway, since when can Polyjuice do the voice? No, it was Potter, in the flesh, and shouting - you know how he does.”

I knew; who better? A smirk passed between my apprentice and I to acknowledge the fact. “Anyway, he was all ‘It’s not impotence, it’s a curse, and it’s ruining my life!’ which is clearly a load of bollocks, since every man who shows up at Kronos has the same problem, really, and it always winds up as some variety of impotence, and they always say it’s a curse. See?”

I crossed my arms over my breast. “I see that your evidence is thinner than water, and rather more self-gratifying than credulity allows.”

Strangely, he seemed to anticipate that, and dug into his robe pocket with a grin. “Right, which is why I swiped his file off the admitting clerk. Here, have a look!” I snatched it from his hand mid-flourish, and at my glare, he attempted a mien of injured innocence. “It’s only a copy! I'm not stupid enough to take the original.”

“Imagine my relief to hear it,” I said, and broke the official seal - well, he’d stolen the damned thing, after all, and I’ve always preferred to be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

“See?” a well-manicured finger poked at the questionnaire, “Can you achieve an erection - he checked no!”

It wasn’t a check mark, actually, but a question mark. And it was squarely between the two options. I slapped Draco’s hand away, and glared. “Do you need a task, apprentice?”

He did not take the warning, flipping the page instead, and craning his neck to squint at the Clinician’s notes. “There! I knew I’d heard something like that - he said the problem started in 1997.” He bounced on his toes, jostling my elbow, and annoying me considerably. “That was sixth year! He’s been limp as a noodle ever since then! No wonder he was off his bloody nut all the time!”

Slapping the file down onto the worktop, I caught Draco's collar and frogmarched him around the worktop, to the steaming cauldron there. “Thirty strokes clockwise in precise, one second intervals,” I ordered, pressing the glass stirring rod into his hand with no particular gentleness. “Then thirty anti-clockwise in two second intervals, then thirty clockwise again.” The potion, my tonic against the lingering toxicity of Nagini’s murder attempt, required no such procedure, and we both knew it. Draco opened his mouth, and a tiny, outraged gasp escaped him before his good sense caught up with him.

He stirred and he counted and he sulked while I took the file across the room to read it in peace. By the time I finished the last page, my heart rate had climbed considerably, my mind was racing with plans and questions, and my apprentice had finished his make-work, and stood pouting at me from behind my second-best number two cauldron.

I regarded him for a long moment, considering the man that Voldemort's war had made out of Draco Malfoy; where the boy had been savagely ambitious, blood-proud, and willfully determined to consider the whole world beneath his quality, the man was now a study in shallow enterprise, facile charm, and a thoroughgoing immersion in society gossip. Nothing political, nothing dangerous, nothing threatening enough to draw the Ministry's notice to what name and property his family had managed to retain once the fever of restoration had spiked and broken over the Wizarding World. All told, it was a rather ingenious camouflage Draco Malfoy had crafted for himself, and if I hadn't known him better, even I might have taken him for nothing more than a simpering dandy. As it was, however...

“And to what use did you intend to put this information?” I asked him, closing the file, and re-fixing the seal. “The press? Your old friend Ms. Skeeter’s pockets are not so deep as when she was the Prophet’s darling, but she is still good for the occasional sensational smear campaign.”

Draco actually looked offended, despite his renewed blush. “Of course not!”

“Blackmail then?” I pressed, “The Potter fortune is not so great as all that, and of course the Weasleys have nothing to speak of, but the Black vaults would do much to soften the penalties the Ministry has imposed upon the House of Malfoy…”

“No! I’d never ask him for money!”

Scenting blood, I pressed on. “Then what could possibly have convinced you of the need to steal this evidence of an encounter, and a consultation which he would surely not wish to have you, or any other living being, know?”

He went rather pale at my emphasis on the word ‘steal’, but still he drew himself upright in a show of affronted dignity. “I st- I wanted it for me, that’s all! And to show you, because I knew you’d think I’d made it up, but mostly just for me. It’s…” he chewed his lip, blinking hard. “It’s just that damned life-debt, is all. He won’t let me pay it, and he won’t even admit it’s really there, and it just… he doesn’t understand, because he’s no better than a stupid m-”

I slammed the file down on the worktop, and he flinched silent, contrite. “I figured what harm could it do for me to know?” he went on after a solemn moment. “It’s something I can do that he can’t, after all. I can get it up. I can satisfy my fiancé, instead of having her run off to join a Quidditch team, and make headlines snogging her Keeper in a Cardiff bar. I may be an ex-Death Eater, and a failed murderer, and a coward, and a bloody irrelevancy to Potter the Hero, but at least I’m a real man, and that’s more than he can say!”

A real man, Merlin help us all. Clearly in his eagerness to even the score between them, Draco hadn’t bothered to read beyond that first check mark. My eyes were surely crossing from the strain of not rolling them in disgust.

“Very well then,” I said, slinging the stolen file across the worktop and turning away with a sneer, “kindly keep your gratuitous schadenfreude to yourself, along with any further information regarding the functionality of your genitals. I find neither topic warrants any interest on my own part.”

And upon that, I marched up the stairs, and out of the shop, disapparating the moment my boots touched the street. I made good my escape before a trembling hand, an unsteady voice, or wobbled mis-step I could betray me for the blatant liar I was.

~*~

I sent no word to Potter of Draco’s theft, but of course why should I? I had not clapped eyes upon The Boy Who Lived since the day of my trial and acquittal before the Wizengamot. And while we had parted ways in… relative amicability, not even the worst of romantics could say there had been any genuine feeling in our final meeting beyond relief when we both could walk away and call it done.

I'd accepted Potter's apology, had offered none of my own, had taken back the memories that had sent him to his death, and planned with deep enjoyment never to feature significantly in Harry Potter’s life again. Merlin knew I’d neither intention, nor aspiration of him invading my own future, beyond the occasional, inevitable Prophet scandal, or Witch Weekly review. Ridiculously noble he might be, but not even he could truly be masochistic enough to want to plumb the bitter depths of all the water passed beneath our particular bridge.

For nearly two years, I’d succeeded quite well in ignoring his existence, too. Damn Draco Malfoy and his obsessive curiousity for all things Potter, anyway!

No, upon leaving my apprentice to see to the scut work of bottling my tonic, cleaning the workroom, and locking up shop, I took myself straight home to my liquor cabinet.

I’d a notion to edit the mental invasion by racing myself to the bottom of a rather nice bottle of bourbon I’d been saving. I’d taken in trade from an American wizard who wanted an overnight cure for crabs, and did not much care if his body hair ever retained its natural hue afterward. It seemed to fit the current circumstances admirably.

I was halfway to the finish line when it all clicked horribly into place.

Harry James Potter. A curse which unmanned him with, shall we say an embarrassment of riches. A curse which came upon him during the summer between his fifth and sixth years at school. After that disastrous night at the Ministry, when Black had charged headlong into his just reward, leaving the rest of the Order to pick up the pieces, and mop up after his carelessness, as was his wont.

Sirius sodding Black, who had died, and left everything he owned to Harry fucking Potter.

Everything he owned.

Everything.

I threw my half full glass into the fireplace, and seethed into the sudden blaze - it was either that, or else crush the thing in my fist, and frankly, I’d already done enough bleeding over the whole, festering matter! Had the scars at my throat to prove it, as well. Black and his puerile sense of ‘justice’ could just go barking for it!

That is, I find, the only truly redeeming aspect of the drunken state - puns, and the ability to enjoy them. Well, and the ability to swill liquor directly from the bottle without concern as to how one would look should a student, employer, client, auror, or parent happen to wander past and see one. That is rather liberating as well, I will own.

And I suppose I must admit that unpleasant necessities viewed through the lens of half a bottle of potent spirits, can seem entirely within reach of a single floo call. No matter how thorny or tangled a problem, half a bottle can lead one to solutions as elegantly simple as Alexander’s answer to the Gordian Knot. Why search for the skein’s end when a knife-stroke will give you two of them, front and center?

Why nibble at Black’s deathless vengeance from the shadows of my self imposed exile when clearly I needn’t creep about the matter at all? I was the wronged party here! Why should I behave as though I’d anything to hide? I was owed satisfaction, damn it!

And that was how I found myself on my knees with a hand full of floo powder, calling out “Draco Malfoy’s rooms, Malfoy Manor.”

In my defense, it truly did seem like a good idea at the time.

It was Miss Greengrass who answered, unsurprisingly disheveled, having come from a bed not her own. While she did not much like the idea of waking Draco to take my call, she apparently liked less the idea of defending such a refusal to her old head of house. I waited until she had shoved the sleeping dragon out of his nest of pillows, and huffed her way out of the room before I explained my call.

Predictably, Draco was appalled.

“I- you can’t-”

“Don’t be ridiculous, of course I can,” I cut off his whinging before it could build up steam.

A futile effort, alas. “No, I mean you can’t just go and offer to cure him! Severus, you’re not even meant to know!

I cleared my throat with a pull from the bottle before correcting him. “Neither my doing, nor my problem, as I have not set foot at the Kronos Clinic in well over two years. Look to your own hand for that, Mr. Malfoy. Anyway, Potter knows he never could hide anything from me, and I daresay he’ll not think twice about it.”

“He’ll bloody well too think twice about me just showing up in his office-”

“He’s on leave from work,” I put in, remembering the detail noted in the file, “you had better look for him at his home instead.”

“-About me just showing up wherever he is, and telling him that Severus Snape wants to see him!” He went on, gesticulating as though he might achieve escape velocity through his flapping night robe alone. “What makes you think he’d even listen to me, and not slam the door in my face?”

“Life debt,” I replied. Short words seemed best, given Draco's current hysteria, but the stunned, gaping look I received in response belied my best intentions, alas. I sighed, and drank again before attempting to explain. “You owe him your life at least twice over, Malfoy. That debt alone will require him to hear you out. Just as the life debt between myself and Potter is all he will need to accede to my request for a meeting at the time and place of my choosing.”

“But-”

I waved him silent, and noticed only after he’d scrambled backward, that I still had the bottle in that hand. “And before you go bewailing the loss of your presumed masculine high ground,” I told him, absently slapping blue flames off my sleeve, “What I am offering you is no less than a chance to level your debt with Potter.”

Draco made a disgusted noise, fanning smoke out of his face, but I was having none of his squeamishness. “Yes, as it happens, his medical leave from the Aurory is directly related to his curse, and has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘exhaustion’!” That caught his attention, I was pleased to note. “Nor is Potter likely to live much longer as an Auror once his vulnerability becomes public knowledge, which you know it will.”

“I told you I wouldn’t-”

“This is Potter, you imbecile! He does not move his bowels without some reporter sniffing after it for consistency!” I cut off his protest rather more emphatically than I’d intended, and had to lean back as the flames roared briefly blue again. “If he takes a single treatment at the Kronos Clinic, the Daily Prophet will see the test results before his Clinician!”

“Well…” He cut his eyes to the side, but I could tell from the set of his shoulders that Draco was all but convinced. “You know the Weasel and Granger aren’t going to let me just walk in and talk to him alone…”

At last, a valid concern! I showed him my teeth, and absolutely no mercy. “This is true. It is also why you will get dressed, and attend to this little matter tonight.

“Tonight.” He said, after a long moment of staring as though someone had walloped him in the back of the head with a mackerel. “You want me to go drag Harry Potter out of bed at…” he squinted at the mantel above him, “half midnight, and convince him that it’s a matter of life and death that he must come to your house tonight … while you’re drunker than Silenus?!

Honestly, sometimes I wonder whether that boy got even a lick of Narcissa’s brains…

~*~

 

Potter is good at this.

Surprisingly so, given his own thin skin, and overly sympathetic nature. He does not attempt to pull short the blows, or to use less than the full weight of his body behind each swing. Through the switch’s howl and crack, and the roaring of blood in my ears, I can hear Potter grunting, swearing with each impact. He is giving me his all. Ironically, this just might be the first time.

I’d laugh, but I might begin screaming if I did, and it is too early yet for that. Instead, I focus on soaking in the impacts, drawing each raging, painful slash of that birch rod deeply in, holding it like breath for a second, and then pushing it out again - riding the pain, rolling beneath it like a swimmer under lashing waves. All tricks one may use to rise through, and ride out a beating, but which Cruciatus renders impossible. I use every trick I have ever learnt to cling to my silence, my reserve.

It is not easy to do, for Potter does not fall into any predictable rhythm, either. I cannot anticipate, and steel myself for any blow, nor can I guess where it might fall - whether another stripe will rise up along my arse, my thighs, my shoulders; whether the switch will curl around my ribs and just flick, just savagely kiss at a nipple that has never been harder, or will snap a bloody hell of pain into the sensitive hollow behind my knee.

Dear God, this is more than I’d thought he could do. This is better than I’d imagined. It is worse by far. I’d thought it would take longer. I’d thought I could take more.

He does something with his wrist, something brilliantly awful that sends the switch up between my legs, and lays a stripe of blinding pain along inner thigh, but snaps the tip against my exposed perineum.

And I have lost the war for my silence before I’d even realized I was screaming.

The sound of it shocks us both, a little. There follows a ringing hush, broken only by panting breaths, and the fat slap of sweat or blood dripping onto the stone floor. Then I hear him swallow.

“Sn- Severus?”

I cannot speak, lest the scream escape again. All I can do is shake my head as hard as my bindings will allow. I am burning all over, I am soaring inside my skin, I ache in every joint, and I am beyond the words to frame anything I feel.

His fingers are dry and hot as they catch my chin, crane my head backward to look at him. His glasses are gone, revealing eyes so green, so bright they might be fevered. His cheeks are stained a hectic pink, and streaked with his exertions. "Enough?" he asks. His lips are plump, marked with his teeth. I refuse his clemency with a grimace - closest kin to a sneer I can manage just now, but he takes my meaning. He grips my chin, stares into my eyes, and he is smiling. There is more of hunger to his face than of anything merciful or kind.

I can feel the rings of his cock cage against my arse; a tidy little chill in a lake of flame. Would he be hard without it, now he's taken a shine to the lash? Without the curse, would his cock be red and full and eager at the devastation he's wrought? A drip of his sweat streaks across the rawness of my back, and I cannot stop the moan grinding out between my teeth.

“Then we'll carry on,” he tells me, his breath an added burn where the switch-tip had earlier striped my cheek, “You may scream if you like, Severus. I think you’ve earned that… and I know I’d like to hear it.”

I close my eyes, try to breathe through my nose. His silent laughter singes me, gathering like a knot behind my groin.

Then he lets go, stepping back to his spot. I hear his feet slap bare on the stones, hear the rattle of glass, the sucking pull of a cork coming free, hear Potter swallow several times.

He’s taking the first of the potions. I realize that, somewhere above the lofting, buzzing cloud of sensation that’s bearing me up. I remember that’s a good thing for him to be doing. There is a flicker of something like pride, something else like gratitude, before both are whelmed in an upsurge of hungry impatience that he is taking so bloody long about it.

But then I hear him lick his lips, set the flask down, take a deep breath in and hold it. My heart speeds to a gallop, my muscles twitch taut in ragged anticipation, and all I can care about is the dry, savage snarl the switch gives as it swings in his hand. Drops shaken loose from that rod scatter up the wall, each louder than thunder, but not as loud as the roar of blood in my ears. What is he waiting for?

“Right,” he grits out then, and again, “Right.”

And then he lets go.

And so do I.

 

~*~

 

No, of course you don't believe it. This is precisely why we're having this conversation, and you know it. Best for all, really, if you just have done with the protestations and let me finish. You know you'll not rest until you know the lot, after all.

Now where was I? Ah yes.

 

~*~

The functional difficulty of taking action when one is drunk, of course, lies in that the fallout of said action waits until one is sober to come calling for its dues. And somehow paying the piper in the cold light of the morning after, for the tunes to which one but hazily recalls dancing the night before, never fails to be awkward.

My bottle-logic had been reasonably sound, however. Summoning the co-sufferer of my own curse to discuss possible solutions over a private dinner in a well-warded place was a grounded strategy; sensible; a promising start toward a mutually beneficial solution. Any Wizard of reason would begin in just the same way, stood he in my shoes.

However, the fact that the person in question was Harry Bloody Potter, son of my childhood love, embodiment of my greatest mistakes, and my seventeen years of grueling penance, not to mention thorn in my side on his own account, well, that did rather complicate matters.

For a start, there was the nature of the curse we shared, and that I was operating on rather a long reach of logic, and the benefit of the prickling in my thumbs to assert that my curse and Potters, were actually connected by way of Sirius Black. And oh, just the thought of trying to force the little bastard to admit that his beloved dogfather had effectively fucked both of us over out of spite was nearly enough to send me after another bottle.

Let it not be said, however, that I am a coward.

Black had done his worst to me, and then had run and hid from the personal consequences in Azkaban. I would not have appealed to him for release even had I known the cost he was paying to sustain the curse. Moreover, I can say with certainty that Black would rather have rocked his prick to sleep each night to the end of his lonely life, than to even contemplate assisting me.

Most likely, he had gone to his grave considering that curse a triumph, whatever the cost.

Potter, however, was a different story. He did not deserve Black's end of the curse, and according to his report with the Clinician at Kronos, he stood to lose considerably more than his standing as a Man Of Interest to the Wizarding World were he to attempt to suffer the effects in silence. He would surely have the courage to meet the matter head on, however horrified he might initially be to find himself discussing the matter with me. If he'd been man enough bring the matter to medical attention, then surely, surely he would be man enough to hear the truth of his curse's origin from me.

No, I decided, Saturday's dinner would be no sidelong seduction, no smalltalk schemes and carefully planned gambits to lead the innocent, lamblike to my will. I knew enough of the boy to realize how ill equipped I was to play the game as Albus would have done. No, I would challenge him, as I had always done - as he had come to expect from me, and together we would see if his Gryffindor courage was up to the test.

Although, admittedly some tactical alterations were in order, lest hexes interrupt the process of negotiations overly. It could not be, I told myself, any worse than courting the Dark Lord for crumbs of his favour… could it?

 

~*~

 

Don't think I can't see you, trying to hide that smile. Think you know how it went, do you, just on the basis of how Potter and I snapped and snarled at each other throughout his Hogwarts years? You imagine him chesty and chinny, all gritted teeth and narrow mind while I dug at his every weakness to try and coax the worst from him? Can't you just hear the bellow when restraint falls to his childish indignation, and the quiet glee in my voice as I turn his own rage against him and break it over his head?

Of course you don't. You are a Slytherin, and you know better.

What idiot needlessly antagonizes another who has something he wants? I'd nothing to gain from fighting with Potter - there was more at stake now, than bad memories, displaced frustration, or my cover with the Death Eaters.

Even if Potter's very presence did still grate on my mind the same way he did when he'd a piece of the Dark Lord's soul encysted in that scar of his - which it did not, thank all stars; even if my brief hours of very-nearly-death had not forcibly changed my estimation of what was worth the fight; even if we did not now both know the other was nothing like the worst he had shown before the war, it would not have fallen out as I'd described. For the simple reason that he and I were, perhaps for the first time since we met, in pursuit of the same goal.

Though of course he had no way to know it when he rapped upon the door, combed, pressed, and wearing his nervous curiousity more plainly than his understatedly elegant robes. I could read the traces of our last awkward parting in the Ministry's canteen in the hesitant half-smile he offered with the bottle of mead. He also wanted badly to fidget, but was resisting the urge with all his will - he too expected the worst from the meeting, but had come out of sheer, blind optimism.

I showed him in with all due civility, took his cloak and his mead, and put off his immediate enquiry into my reason for the invitation with a wave of my hand, and a pointed detour into small talk while I portioned out the takeaway I'd ordered for our dinner.

You wish, no doubt, to know just how I convinced him. Had we more time, and I a more generous mood, I might share the details, in their tentative, awful, uncertain glory, but it pretty much comes down to this: I was civil to him. Some might even, by way of contrast, insist I was actually kind, and with dewy eyed enthusiasm, stretch the definition to 'nice'.

But the fact is, Potter had waited nearly ten years for a kind, or even a fair word from me, and what Slytherin worth his guile would neglect such an advantage? I disarmed him with common courtesy, small talk, and excellent take-away, and he all but ate it from my palm.

To be fair, the nervy, suspicious light never quite faded from his eyes as the evening wiled away. But Potter did relax by measurable degrees as the conversation meandered from shop-talk to Order gossip, politics both national and local, and even Holyhead's odds in the World cup without him ever running athwart the sharp side of my tongue. He was not, perhaps, entirely lulled, but I maintain he was still unprepared for it when I played my gambit at last.

First, a feint as he recounted his latest pursuit and arrest. The infamous Shropshire Widow had disposed of nine husbands through various curses and poisons, the last of them an Auror himself. Ambitious, even for a half-Veela.

"One may hope," I said, gaze fixed upon my glass, "that in light of the amassed evidence, your interrogation yielded a confession?"

As expected, Potter flushed and looked down. A muscle in his jaw bunched with the effort of biting back whatever he wished to say, but despite my expectation, he did not lie. "She did confess in the end," he said carefully, still rather a stranger to subtlety, even after all this time.

"But not to you?" The effort not to smirk knowingly was heroic, I hope you realize. "As the investigating Auror, I'd have thought the interrogation would lie solely in your hands. Or has policy changed in that regard?"

He cast me a narrow glance, then finished his drink and shook his head. "Special circumstances, special interrogator," he lied, boosting himself from his chair in a rush of nerves, "Anyhow, I can't discuss a still-open case. Erm, where's the…?"

I gestured toward the kitchen, and smiled. "First door beside the cooker. First, mind. The second's a pantry."

Of course his curse had not allowed him to intimately question a halfblood Veela who knew how to use her gifts to get what she wanted. He was bloody lucky she hadn't killed him in that moment of vulnerability I imagined he must have suffered before his underlings could whisk him away to safety.

He returned in due course, his face set in calm lines that belied the heat across his cheeks. He had decided, I supposed, to shut down any further attempt on that line of questioning, though out of some misplaced ghost of respect or obligation, he clearly meant to do so as politely as he could manage. Pleased to see my opening gambit had struck blood, I knew at once how to get round that steely resolve; I changed the subject.

Nonplussed at first, Potter still listened, still smirked, laughed, and exclaimed at the absurdities of my negotiations with the Romanian Consul for mass-production rights to my latest blood-supplement potions. He also, by degrees faster now than before, relaxed.

"I thought you said it was indigestible to the undead," he put in as I portioned out the last of the mead between our glasses. "Why would they bid for exclusive rights?"

"Dark Creatures are not my area of expertise, but it seems that Vampires' reputation for being ludicrously territorial may have some merit after all." He laughed, as I had intended, and tipped his head back to drink again. I struck while his throat was bared. "At any rate, I am not very tempted by their money."

A sidelong glance, surprised. I smiled and took in the room with a wave of my hand. "My home is my own, Potter, and my lifestyle is hardly lavish. My patented potions bring in enough to support my continuing research, and what few further luxuries I desire are more than met by the fees I collect from supplying various private clinics and hospitals around the country. Why, the Kronos account alone is more than equal to my monthly literature habit."

"Kronos…"

"Clinic for Men's Maladies," I finished, pretending I hadn't noticed the way all trace of color bled from his face. "They purchase a variant of Pepper Up by gallons every month, amoung other... things." I pretended to consider the amber shadows in my glass while I watched Potter set his own aside with terrible precision. "There's plenty of money to be had in indulging the Wizarding World's obsession with foolish wand waving. Little challenge in the work though, beyond the occasional special consultation."

And there, I had expected him to cut in, to rant a bit perhaps, throw something, and accuse me of mocking him. I was prepared for this; had the entire conversation marked out in all its eventual permutations, each one petering to checkmate in twelve moves or less. But Potter, ever headstrong, refused to cooperate.

Instead, he stared at me. Many might have supposed that face to be impassive, or if they spotted the tic of the pulsing vein just at his temple, perhaps restrained. To me, however, staring down the beam of those wild green eyes, he was already screaming.

Imagine my surprise, then, when Potter, the brat prince of Gryffindor, forewent the anticipated histrionics in favor of standing without a word, straightening his robes with two viciously efficient tugs, and striding for the door. I almost let him escape from the sheer unexpectedness of it. That would have been awkward, for I'd never have got him back again willingly.

"Potter!" He still responded to that voice, thank Merlin. "Where the devil do you think you're going?" He whirled as I came up behind him, and though the color was high and furious in his cheeks, and fury practically crackling off him in sheets, he set his face in a grin.

"Going to go burn down a clinic, Sir," he said in his old, cheeky, detention-earning voice, "Then I'm going to track down the employees, owners, patients, and all their other suppliers, and murder every one of them."

I was nearly certain this was gross exaggeration, but I caught his elbow anyway.
"Don't be ridiculous! Who do you think you are, the Dark Lord?"

And that manic grin tipped a little farther over the edge. "Oh, no. I'll only obliviate their families and friends, you see, not wipe them out entirely," he said, and reached up to pry loose my fingers, "much more humane!"

"Potter, listen to me," I gave him a shake to try and get his attention, but he laughed, sharply hysterical in my face.

"Oh, no," he said, and gave up trying to loosen my grip, settling instead for dragging the both of us toward the door despite my planted heels. "I'm absolutely not listening to you!"

"While this is no new development, I must insist…"

He did not stop - talking, or hauling toward the door. "No, no, no! I can't listen to you, because whatever it is you're dying to tell me, it's going to be so awful, and vicious, and horrible, and cruel that I'll do my nut, and then I'll have killed you before I can convince myself not to do it, and I've promised myself I absolutely would not murder you, even if you bloody well deserve it, you sneaky, spying, evil GIT! NOW WILL YOU LET ME GO!"

Ah, familiar territory at last. I curled my lip and glowered down my nose at his panting fury. "Very well," I said, and released his arm. I had my wand in hand, and the hex in flight before he'd recovered from the stagger. The light was pink, and the effect immediate.

Potter gasped and buckled in half as though he'd been thestral-kicked. His own wand scraped from his sleeve - something of an irrelevant afterthought, given the circumstances, - but I did not make the mistake of discounting it as he sighted along its length at me. "What … the fuck …was that?" he grit through his teeth, off-hand bunched tight in his robes, as if to shield his groin from the hex that was even then working its will on him. Sweat gathered across his upper lip as the color drained from his face.

Calculating the risk, I sleeved my own wand again before answering. "It's called an 'erection,' Potter," I told him, "Perfectly normal, and even useful at times, but it can be distracting during a duel, which was why I developed this spell."

"You've- That's-" He grunted, folded over again, shaking. "You utter son of a- Ahh!" and with that, fell on his knees. Dramatic as usual. I tsked and plucked Potter's wand from his fingers before crouching to his level.

"The condition does not usually cause pain, however," I admitted, catching his chin, and turning his face to the light. Potter's eyes were glazed and fluttering, his shallow breath moist where it gusted across my wrist. "What is the matter with you?"

Another wracking shudder, this one nearly shook him from my grip. I caught him up against my chest before he could crack his fool head open, and then, like the breath of a ghost, I heard his reply. "Tr… trousers. Tight. Please…!"

Oh, surely not.

But when I twitched his robes aside, sure enough, there were his standard Muggle denims, straining at the seam to contain a monster he surely had not packed in there himself. I swallowed, tried to ignore the boy's shivering, panting, wire-strung, barely-not-convulsing tension while I thought what I ought to do about all of this. I had expected a reaction, of course, but I had not expected the hex to amount to a disabling attack…

Then Potter gave a strange, half cough, half whimper, rolling his head against my shoulder as though to hide in the crook of my neck. His hand tugged at his trouser button, too weak to budge the force behind it. I heard the denim creak with stress, and gave the niceties of consent up for a rum job, vanishing Potter's clothes altogether.

He yelped, arched up at the sudden release of pressure, vibrating like a plucked string. His cock lolled out between his thighs to drag the floor by a good six inches - still only semi-erect. "God," Potter sighed, deflating into my arms again, "God, thank you…"

I watched his cock, grotesque and enormous, lurch and stretch now it had room to do so. At a guess, it would hang to his knee and be as thick around as his arm, assuming he had enough blood in his scrawny body to get the thing to full staff… God damn Sirius Black to every fecund hell.

I caught Potter's chin again, gave it a shake to stir his eyes open. "Does this happen every time?" I took the resultant twitch for a nod. "Since your sixteenth birthday?" Another twitch, less certain. I shook him again. "Focus, Potter!"

But there was no more focus to be had of him; the Boy Who Lived had fainted dead away.

~*~

 

He cuts me down, and I fall, too far gone to find alarm, or wonder in the fact that he's there to catch me in his arms, and does not leave the business to a spell. I had been flying. Falling feels little different, barring the sudden lurch of arms under mine, and his sweaty chest laying a deeper glow along my back.

He is speaking.

To me.

I know this by the feel of his lips moving against my temple; the tiny scrape of his late-night beard against my ear as his jaw works the words out' the wind of his breath across my brow as his fingers drag my dripping hair from my face. Meaningless. Noise with no signal. Kindly vibrations that pillow me like clouds as we slip easily to the floor.

Words have long since lost their meaning. Once my allies, my armour, and my sword, they have left me now - perhaps it was when the screaming turned to begging. Or when, as we had agreed, the begging bore no fruit. Yes, that was when words left, pared away with slice after slice of silver fire and soaring pain.

He pets my brow again, gives me more words. I close my eyes, and groan a little, grateful for the useless sound of them. I can hear a heart beating - his, or mine, I cannot tell. Then his fingers take my chin, turn my face to his, and he presses chilly, wet lips to mine. It is a surprise when water flows between them, flooding my mouth with a shock of need I hadn't realized until it is sated. It takes work to remember to swallow the water, not to breathe it, but that too, is a blessing - it grounds me just enough.

More words. I hear my name. Severus.

Recognizing it is a triumph, and I smile my victory. He brings the lips back, wet again, and again I take the benediction of water from his mouth. So great is my pleasure in the drink that I hardly notice him arranging me, doll-like, as he chooses. He does the business, and I let him, bestirring my efforts only to maintain my balance as needed when he settles me on my knees, and to hold my hands together behind my back, where last he placed them. It is not a reasoned decision, this last. It simply seems the thing to do. All the rest of me, all the best, and worst, and rational and reserved of me, is far away, aglow like cinders on the horizon.

This part is easy.

He walks away. I can hear him moving, can hear magic, (almost interested enough to listen for the spells, but no, not yet there, thank you,) can hear the clank and rustle and deafening whisper of his body as he moves over there across the room. I've not yet managed to keep my eyes open long enough to look for him.

Seeing him's not what I want anyhow. I miss feeling him. (And somewhere in the cinders, something wails and collapses into ash at that thought. I can't be arsed, though. Let it burn.) I take another breath, this one deep enough to make my ribs ache from the inside. I hold it until I am shaking with the strain, and then a moment more...

"Severus." He says it again at last. My name. Me.

I let the breath escape, and with it, the darkness of my closed eyes. He has transfigured himself a chair; low-slung and wide, a squashy sort of throne. He should sprawl in it like a prince, like the glorious bastard who broke that birch across my back... but he sits erect, his knees pinned, the chrome cage perched awkwardly above the crook of his thighs.

Only the fierce colour in his cheeks betrays any ghost of the passion he laid into me before... that, and the note of command when he crooks a finger, and says, "Come to me."

It is easy.

So, so easy to go to him, hands and knees across the grit-stone floor, eyes fixed upon his face, letting the mass of his twin green stars drag me in. He could swallow me whole, what's left of me, and though he might leave my blackened shell rattling about the twilight edge of his regard, the thought that first, he would burn me entirely clean... it is very nearly worth it.

At his feet, I nearly collapse - not from pain, but from something like habit, though my hands grip his chilled feet instead of the hem of a robe, and my eyes blur with tears, not with horror now. No, it is not that rotten ghost which finds me here, shaking and leaking salt regret across my tormentor's feet. It is the weight of words beginning to return to me. Hard words, words that will bleed, and burn, and cut me deeper than any stroke I've suffered at his hands.

Apology. The syllables gather in a knot behind my tongue, and it is all I can do to breathe. I said it. I said it all, and she refused. It was useless. It is useless still. She is dead, and I-

I cannot do this. I cannot.

"Severus."

I manage a breath through my teeth, but no more. No words. No words. I cannot do this. He touches my shoulder, and I flinch, nearly scream from the single, gentle brush. But the touch stays with me. It follows my shuddering evasion, searches deftly through the greasy curtain behind which I shelter, and catches my chin in gentle, inexorable fingers.

"Severus, look at me," he says, and because I haven't the strength to do anything else, I do. I let him draw me to my knees, let him bridge the crackling air between us with his gaze. "You can do this."

I feel myself nodding, and he smiles. Those eyes, his eyes, hold me up, lift the weight of those awful words off my throat. "Tell me."

"I am sorry," like breathing, like weeping, like letting go. So easy now; harder, in fact, to stop. "I've wronged you, I wronged her, out of fear, out of envy, out of arrogance. I took her from the world, from her friends, from her husband, from you, and all for some trifling-"

"Shh," he says as the babbling looms. "I know." His hand slips from beneath my chin, cards, with its partner, into the tangled mess beside my face. Then his lips are brushing the words across my forehead, scoring the grime of sweat there with something that crackles electrically through my bones. "I forgive you."

And the curse between us cracks a little. I feel it in the searing wash of magic that scours the welts and cuts from my skin. Merlin knows where he feels it, though his gasp, and his startled, hungry kiss is a fair clue. I kiss him back, afloat on a cloud of endorphins and unraveling dark magic, content to luxuriate in the twining sensations.

Potter, though, is not so patient. All too soon, he pulls away with a groan. "I can't-" He grips both hands at his caged member, and shudders deeply. "God, Severus, take it off! Get it off me, now!"

The desperation in his voice makes my own cock lurch, and the tickle of it is just enough to remind me what comes next.

"The nerve tonic first," I croak, knocking his hands out of my way so I can work the buckles. "And another blood potion." His skin is so soft here, above the fine hairs of his thigh, and the thicker, darker tangle that sketches the divot between his navel and pubis. The smell of him is thick with new sweat and musk and the coppery residue of the blood replenishing potions he's metabolizing. His face is already florid with the potions I've been making him drink all weekend, but I wait until he's got the last two in him before risking a touch that could ruin the lot.

"Ngh," he gulps, dropping the last one, "Please!" But he keeps his hands away, knuckled hard into the squashy arms of his throne - leaving his release to me, as promised. Potter's bony knees press into my ribs as I slide the straps free, and pull the cage off his almost-soft, thoroughly average penis.

I take it into my mouth now, while I still can, slip the petal-soft head along my tongue, to press my lips into the curling hair at its base.

The effect on Potter is electric. He bucks in the chair, and for a moment, in some mixture of relief and alarm, he nearly flies. He'll never have had this before, I realize, and the thought gives me a savage gratification as I suckle harder, hoping to make him scream before-

But no. The curse hasn't bent quite that far yet. His cock gives a mighty lurch, and despite my grip on his thighs, it's shoving at my throat before I can back away. I pull free, coughing and annoyed despite myself. But Potter isn't looking at me, doesn't see my glower; he's staring at the appendage that's swelling, bloating, and rising like a cobra between his thighs.

He couldn't have seen it fully erect before, I realized, as he manages to look away, and meets my eyes at last, the very picture of horrified alarm. "God," he breathes, as though he hardly dares to touch the thing, "No wonder Ginny freaked out."

 

~*~

 

Watch a man wake, and you will learn a lot about him. Some wake like a puppy - all stretch and squeak, wheezing little snores giving way to belly scratches and gusting yawns foul enough to drop a marauding erumpet in its tracks. That man, you may be sure, has never fought a war.

Others will wake in body some hours before their brain joins in. Eyes glazedly examining the conundrum of a pillowslip, lips slack and moist while the hindbrain somnambulates through the business of bestirring the body. Their cock is usually more attentive first thing in the morning, and will sometimes be directly responsible for getting the fool out of bed at all. Lucius, I am given to understand, is one such.

Then there are some who waken all at once, bright, perky, and excited at the notion of another glorious day. I understand we call those 'girls', and I feel the safest strategy with those, should one find oneself sharing early hours, is to smother them with the pillow before they can begin to sing.

Spies and soldiers, though, we are most clearly seen for what we are in that electric, alchemical moment when oblivion yields to waking in a sudden, silent, and utterly motionless spark. We wake completely in a second, without motion or sound, and the first thing we do is not to stretch, yawn, swallow drool or snort around a fluttering epiglotis - the first thing we do upon wakening is to listen.

One may see that listening, if one knows to watch for it; the muscle tense and flutter just before the ear, and sometimes the cartilage will flex just so. It is the only warning one gets, in certain cases. Oddly, I had not supposed Potter to be amoung those cases, though I own I ought to have done - between muggle relatives, auror dormitory hazings, and one very memorable year spent hiding in a tent from Death Eaters, it could be argued that Potter had most likely not awoken normally in years.

When I saw, by chance, the soft, pale flesh tense behind Potter's ear, I knew. Reaching for the bottles I'd lined up on the bedside table, I caught up the first, and gave him a rustle and clink to think about before I told him, "You're safe, Potter."

"Snape." Not muzzy at all, though he didn't open his eyes when I pressed the phial into his hand, nor did he attempt to inch away from me. Which was good, because my bed is not a large one, and I was not positioned to stop the wretch falling off it in a spasm of missishness. "Am I naked?" he asked after a moment.

"Yes you are. Now drink that hangover potion so we may discuss it."

"Not hung over," at last, a blink, a wince. He hid those eyes behind a frantic hand while I laughed at him. "Oww… I only had, what, two drinks?"

"And then you lost consciousness due to blood shortage in your brain, yes," I reminded him, capturing his hand and guiding the phial toward his lips. "The result of which can be remarkably similar to mild alcohol poisoning."

"I remember now," he said once he'd finished swallowing, and licked the potion from his lips. "You hexed me. Then you vanished my clothes."

"My moral obligation to uphold Wizarding law," I admitted, taking the phial back and setting it aside. "You were, if you will remember, threatening mass murder?"

"Why is your moral obligation naked too?" he asked, finally managing to open his eyes. "Most people manage to uphold Wizarding law with their clothes on, you know." Only a mild note of reproach there, strangely, and I concluded he was either completely ignorant of the implications of waking up naked and hungover in my bed, or else hiding utter terror under a blasé mask. It had to be one of those two, because the only other option - that he somehow trusted me despite our history of mutual loathing, - was ridiculous.

"Expedience," I replied, pushing aside the duvet and putting my feet to the floor. "The story goes faster with visual aids."

"Story?" At last, that guardedly blank expression cracked with equal measures of interest and disbelief. "You're going to tell me a story that we need to be naked for?"

I rolled my eyes, charmed up the fire, and stood to face him. Arms akimbo, scars and stains and bony ridges displayed, I stood beneath his puzzled regard until he grew too uncomfortable to stare any longer.

"I... I don't-"

"What you do not see," I cut him off, "is a curse. One under which I have lived for twenty years, with no hope of release. Until now."

And of course with that, his gaze dropped from my face to my groin, where my penis lay softly unremarkable, and propped over my bollocks. He coughed, coloured just a bit, and fidgeted against the sheets. "Looks fine to me…"

I nodded, and a slash of my wand slung the covers away, exposing Potter to the air. "As does your own," I observed as he jumped and squeaked like a girl. "Fine and functional, so long as all you need it for is elimination of urine. However take the notion to enjoy its other functions, and the curse leaps into your way."

"You…" he swallowed, fingers kneading the pillow he'd snatched down to cover himself. "You mean yours does… that too?"

"No," I said through my teeth, "it does not." Then I snatched the pillow from his hands, and settled it into my own lap as I sat once more on the bed. "Have I engaged enough of your attention that I might tell you the story without interruption now?"

He chewed his lip a moment, then gathered his legs beneath him and hid beneath the other pillow. "Do we have to stay naked while you do?"

"You will recall, no doubt, my memory of having gone to Albus Dumbledore once I'd learned of the Dark Lord's intention to murder you." I said, and that wary look drove all self-consciousness from Potter's face in an instant. He nodded. "And you will have deduced that soon afterward, you and your parents were put under the fidelis charm by way of protection. It is to their Secret Keeper, Mr. Potter, that we both owe thanks for our current… predicament."

"Pettigrew? But he's dead."

"The other Secret Keeper, Potter!" I restrained the urge to fling the pillow at his head. "Sirius Black took it upon himself to exact revenge on me when his best friend had to take his new bride into hiding."

He flinched, then came back, all defiance. "Well… well, how the hell could Sirius' curse on YOU still be affecting me after all these years? Curses die with their caster-"

"Not black magic curses that are tied into an un-resolved, if flagrantly contrived, life debt." I watched the weight of that shock into his green gaze, and weathered some satisfaction at the horror that rose up around it. "Yes, that's right. Sirius Black lived down to his family's worst, deliberately, with malice and forethought. He could see no farther than our school rivalry, and so he assumed I had set the Dark Lord on Potter deliberately. Therefore, being complicit in the debt to begin with, he had just enough influence to set the curse where he supposed it would last the longest." Potter swallowed, as though he might be ill. I pressed on, merciless. "And, of course, being stunted to the emotional maturity of early puberty, he attacked me where he assumed it would hurt the worst."

"Oh God…"

"Of course, dark magic curses of that magnitude require a significant penalty of the caster as well," I carried on as though in the most casual of reminiscences, all the while watching Potter struggle not to disgrace himself all over the bed. Reformed Death Eater or not, there is something to be said for schadenfreude. "Most dark wizards would pay it through blood sacrifice of an unwilling victim, but apparently Mr. Black elected to break from family tradition there, and … shoulder the burden himself."

Potter gulped. Then, when I did not drop the other shoe onto his head, ventured into the silence himself. "So when he died… and I was his heir, then I inherited the curse too." I will admit to a tiny glimmer of pride that he had not phrased it as a question. Apparently he can be taught when motivated.

"But that makes no sense," he declared suddenly, adamantly. "This is miserable to live with! Why would he do this to himself?"

And there, I had to shrug. "Knowing Black, I doubt he considered the consequences when he set the curse into play."

"But once he knew," Potter rolled up to his knees, pillow still clutched close, though not so much a shield now, as something he could knead and tug in his distress. "He had to find out what it was going to do pretty quickly, I mean this was Sirius! And he-"

"Expected one, or both, or all of us to die in the war, and settle the debt in blood, no doubt," I cut him off, "and even after your thrilling heroics cleared his name, and Dumbledore forced him to accept my presence in the Order, I should sooner have lit myself on fire at the Halloween Feast than to even think of asking him to lift it!"

Damn. I hadn't meant to shout.

Potter, though, took the outburst in stride. "What's it do to you?" he asked, tactless and perfect. "I mean," he blushed and stammered when I gave him the Look, "you haven't really said, just hinted, and this…" he poked at the pillow in his lap, "this does way more than frustrate and embarrass me. As you saw…"

"And you wish to play Top My Trauma with me?" I didn't bother to restrain my smirk as I threw my pillow back to the head of the bed, and knelt up beside him. "Very well, Mr. Potter, though I warn you, this is one contest you'll not enjoy winning." I didn't point out that I had more headache potion, as well as smelling salts on the night table for when the inevitable consequence of his youth excited his own curse. Let him learn that the hard way.

"Erm…" he did not precisely flinch back against the headboard, but it was clearly an act of will to resist the urge. "You could just tell me-"

"Oh no," And here, I caught his wrist, still slender and wiry under velvet skin. "Some things are beyond the telling. Take me in hand, and see what you get."

"But can't you-"

"Do you imagine Black would have left me that release?" I snarled back at him. "My own touch brings me nothing!" A lie, actually. If I am honest - and with you, at present, I might as well be such, - I merely wished to see if he could bring himself to lay hands upon me in such a way. After all, if he were so straight as to be non-functional with a man, then there would be no hope of escape for either of us.

"But… erm… I don't think it's-"

"It will not bite you."

"No, I know, it's just I've only just-" he waved faintly at his pillow-covered crotch, and gulped. "I don't know if I can-"

Out of patience, I caught his wrist and gripped it tight. "The Boy Who Defeated Voldemort is afraid to touch a cock not his own?" I did not bother to alter the smirk, or the sneering tone on which those words arose. "How… telling."

"Oh, for fuck's sake…" he cast me a wearily annoyed glance, as if to say 'are you twelve?' But aloud, added only, "You'd better have more of that hangover potion." And then, before I tease him further for his anticipated response to the situation, Potter wrapped his hand around my cock, and gave it a tug.

"It's not a bloody broomstick, Potter!" I managed through my teeth. "A little finesse, perhaps?" Of course a little lubrication makes up for many sins, and the last bottle in the row on the nightstand was handily within reach. I dumped half of the viscous stuff over his knuckles even as he apologized and jerked his hand away. "Just have a care," I replied, and let my impatience show. He found it reassuring, apparently, and his second try was quite credible.

I held my breath lest I humiliate myself by groaning, awarding house points, or some other nonsense. But Merlin, it had been so very long… so long since I'd allowed such a caress, since I'd even let myself imagine any foreign hand fondling me there, let alone Potter's quick, clever Seeker's fingers. Sure, luxuriant strokes, callus-roughened, glinting with oil, and setting my veins crackling with lust. Even the anxiety pounding in my chest as the soft flesh tightened and lifted against Potter's touch was not enough to slow the reaction. I might as well have been a third year virgin in his first locker room fumble again, for the speed at which my member leapt to attention - hardened, reddened… and shrank.

"Shite!" Potter flinched when he realized what was happening, but then froze as my wand tip pressed into the hollow behind his ear.

"Laugh," I breathed, "and I will murder you. Not a jury in the world would convict me, even if they did find your body!"

His eyes flicked up, full of horror rather than derision. "Course I'm not… Christ, Snape, just…" Another appalled glance, and then he shook free of the wand and its implied threat, and focused on the matter at hand; my cock, rampantly engorged, scarlet with need, and slightly shorter than the smallest finger on his hand. "That's… how in the world did you not murder Sirius for this?" he managed at last, his greasy fingers still half curled, as though afraid to touch now the curse has revealed itself.

"Unlike some, I do not judge my worth via genital length," I gritted, and pushed his hand back to work with a thrust of my hips. "Now less sympathy and more friction, if you please!"

Potter gave me a narrow stare, but so long as he kept those fingers sliding back and forth on me, for all I cared he could drop those eyes right out of his head and I should not have complained. "So... twenty years, then?" he added after a few, breathless strokes. I nodded, not actually listening at all - the tightening in my bollocks was far more interesting.

He swayed a little, rested his shaggy head against my hip for a second, his rhythm faltering. I growled, and rutted against him, jostling his clammy forehead off me, and his lazy damned hand back to work. Two strokes later, though, he stopped, dropped his hand away, and grabbed my hip with sticky fingers.

"Potter," I growled, wishing I had not dropped my wand in the bedclothes, "If you faint on me now, so help me..."

He shook his head, that eiderdown hair a maddening tickle against my foreskin, but before I could scruff him for a good shaking, the brat straightened up, cast me a sour glare, and muttered, "Right." And then he lunged to take my tiny, grotesque cock into his mouth.

I might have screamed, had I been able to breathe. The suction was beyond belief, and the torturous rasp of his tongue fretted back and forth, rolling me in his mouth like a sherbet lemon. His nose pressed hard against my belly, his breath streaming hot/cold through the sudden sweat that pricked my skin, and even the rasp of his chin against my bollocks was a maddening perfection. "Suck. Harder," I gritted through my teeth, and wound both hands tightly into his hair.

And he did, making the most revolting, enticing whimpering sounds around me as his impertinent tongue once more drove me toward madness. He sucked, and he moaned, and he licked me like a perfect slut... and he bloody well passed out two seconds shy of finishing the job. Just like a bloody Gryffindor!

Didn't stop me coming all over his irreverent, beautiful, pasty-white face though. Didn't stop me painting his upturned nose and butter-smooth cheeks and sooty lashes and slick, plumped lips with the fruits of his labour. The curse had no effect on my bollocks, after all, which had always been able to do their job copiously. Potter, I scruple not to say, had it coming.

It wasn't a bad look on him, either, I decided, and went to have a slash.

 

~*~

 

Oh yes. Grotesque, isn't it? Snape and Potter, in flagrante dilecto, and make no mistake, entirely true as well. Perhaps you'd like to sit down? Fetch yourself a strong drink before we continue? It only gets... more intense from here, you know.

No? Well, don't you go fainting on me then, if you please.

 

~*~

 

Potter is like a musical instrument, vibrating with every stroke of tongue, belling his astonishment at what a little suction, a little friction, a little heat and a little lubrication can make him feel. Goading him to ever higher reaches of passion and alarm is an indulgence I hadn't expected to enjoy, but I find just as much satisfaction in making Potter howl and writhe as I once did in making him shout and sulk.

It takes most of my weight to keep his thrashing contained to the chair - to keep his cock where I can reach it. I am half in his lap already, kneeling close between his thighs and cradling his velvety cock against my collarbone, up along my throat, where I can stroke its sensitive head with every shift of my own. Streaks of his precome paint the skin behind my ear, and my hair sticks to him, tugging pinprick flares of heat and want every time I lean down to lick the shaft sliding through my hands. My cock, rampant and aching, only just brushes his shinbone if I press my hips after the contact.

I manage to resist it, to focus on the task before me - on the boy, florid and sweaty under my hands, his eyes green as glass, rolling wildly. He'd have come long since, had I not put a numbing potion in the lubricant, and an endurance chaser into his blood-replenishing potions, and it gives me some comfort to know that whether tonight ends the curse or not, the wretch will never live to experience a better blowjob than this.

He makes a keening noise, braced with sibilants at beginning and end, and his hands flail out, catching my shoulders hard. The veins are standing large and full along his cock, and I can feel the head of it lurching against my jaw with his every heartbeat. For a moment, I find myself wondering if this will do it; if I pull back, suck as much of the head as I can manage, and bring that cannon of a cock off all over my face, will the curse accept the degradation as fair recompense?

My own cock taps eagerly below my belly, and I can feel my bollocks draw up in eagerness. Damn it.

"S-s-top," he manages, a breath or two after I have already done so. "Oh god, Severus…" And then he pushes me away and pinches savagely at his scrotum, eyes clenched, lip pinned between his teeth. I find myself promising silently to curse the little bastard if he wastes this, Azkaban or no. For a moment, neither of us is sure it will be enough, then he lets that breath out again, shaking around a little laugh. "That wasn't part of the plan, you sucking me."

"You're complaining?" The words are out of my mouth before I remember the curse, but its sudden, withering clench around my cock reminds me to be humble, submissive, obedient too late. I grit my teeth, and try to think of something that will appease.

"Severus," Potter's voice invades, strangely soothing. "I'm not complaining. You did… very well." And the curse relaxes. Not so much as it had been before, but at least enough to let me breathe properly again. Whether he reads it in my face, or the unbidden slump of my shoulders, Potter does not resist the urge to smile as he leans back in the chair, takes up the large pot of lubricant off the table, and, with some effort, pushes his cock down between his knees. "Come on," he says, and pats his lap, "I'm ready for the rest."

If there were an ounce of derision in that smile, if it were gloating instead of just confident, or if those maddening eyes shone with glee instead of lust, I could never have done it. I could never have clambered up across his knees, my prick nearly engulfed by my own bollocks as my weight presses down, and my arse tilts upward. Focusing on the humiliation of that tiny, furious thing, lurching and throbbing in its prickling, fleshy prison is all that keeps my control intact when I feel Potter spread the cheeks of my arse and trail one cold, oily finger down the crack.

Then he presses that finger inward in a single, inexorable slide, and all I have to do is breathe, and take it. And take it, and take it, and take it.

 

~*~

 

"The first element of the spell is presumed guilt," I took refuge in my best lecturing voice, the tea things and kitchen table doing service for my desk and potions supplies. "In this case, the culpability is somewhat accurate, if… complicated."

"Right," Potter nodded, fiddling with his teacup. "Because you did what Sirius cursed you for, though you didn't do it for the reason he thought. And because my father did save your life once, although his friend was the one who put it in danger to begin with… although…" here, he tilted his head a little to the side, and a gleam of that damnable, mercurious intelligence sparked the green.

"Thus the key to unraveling the curse will most likely lie in punishment," I put in, before he could say anything that would make me have to kill him.

"Punishment." Incredulity drove the insulting suppositions out of his gaze rather nicely, but I indulged myself in an eye-roll all the same.

"Yes, punishment. It's not a concept with which you'll have gotten any personal experience, I understand, but it's generally well understood that wrongdoing begets-"

"I know what it means!" He cried, and thumped the table so the teacups rattled. "But it doesn't make any sense. You've been punished for what you did. I mean, aside from months in Azkaban, you spent seventeen years suffering for that mistake! So what kind of punishment could that curse possibly want from you if that wasn't enough?"

I grimaced, and accioed a towel to wipe up the sloshed tea. "Sexual." He stared at me as though I'd slapped him with a fish, so I busied myself pouring more tea while I waited for either words, or flies, whichever came to his open mouth first.

"Sexual punishment?" He managed presently. "You… it wants me to-"

"Do not play the blushing virgin with me," I warned him, notwithstanding the fact that he justly deserved the appellation, "Nobody asked you to suck my cock last night, after all. You're entirely capable of sexual congress with a man… assuming certain precautions are taken."

"I'm NOT capable of raping you!" he all but screamed, and hit the table again. "Jesus, Snape, do you really think-"

"Who the devil said anything about rape?"

"You said it would come down to sexual-"

"-Punishment," I finished the phrase, realizing suddenly which stick he'd got the wrong end of. "As in caning, flogging, whipping, spanking, bondage, dominance, submission, humiliation, - all these things can be done in a sexualized way, Potter, and they all involve one person allowing another to perpetrate them." I caught his eye. "Willingly."

He licked his lips, reached for his tea. "I'm n-not sure I can-"

"Oh, for fuck's sake, Potter," I bellowed, and pounded the table myself, "YOU wouldn't be the one taking the beating!"

"I KNOW THAT!" He stopped himself, took a deep breath, obviously counting. Curious, I let him do it, and come around to his words again in a more reasonable voice. "I know that. It's pretty obvious that the humiliated one would have to be you, if we're convincing the curse that you've paid your lot. It's just… I'm not sure I can do things like that to you."

I scoffed. "Of course you can. All except the whipping, of course. There's a learning curve to a singletail whip, and given your slapdash performance in my classes, I'd not trust you with one for two minutes. Still, the rest is reasonably straightforward, so-"

"No! Don't you see, I couldn't DO it to you!" Potter interrupted, thumping his fist over his heart. "I couldn't make you… You've suffered enough for me, Snape. Far more than I think you should have had to do, given what I know now. I don't think I can dish out more when I already think it's bloody unfair!" He met my glower with pleading eyes, and spread his fist, so his robes pillowed out around the press of his white fingers. "I don't want to hurt you."

I smirked at him, and pushed the table aside. "Yes you do."

"Wh-" He staggered to his feet as I closed in on him, toppling his chair as he backed away. "No! I don't!"

“Don’t be a fool, boy," I said, herding him into a corner of countertop and cooker, "Of course you do. I’ve seen the inside of your mind, don't forget; back when you were little more than a hormonal attitude problem!"

"I was sixteen!" He put a hand on my chest as I braced one hand on either side of him, so that without climbing onto the counter, he had no escape.

I refused to be pushed back, and leaned close to speak against his ear. "I've seen how you long to rip these black robes to shreds around me," As if on cue, his pressing fingers curled into the fabric - clinging now, rather than repelling. I could feel his shallow, panting breaths like steam on my jaw. "I've seen your daydreams of forcing me face down across that great desk in Hogwarts' dungeons, and tying me there, spread wide and helpless while you lay welts across my arse and legs until I beg you to stop."

"You-" he wriggled beneath me, whimpered high and pained in his throat, but was long past pushing me away. "I didn't. You're mad…"

I ignored his feeble protests. The massive swelling just below the waistband of his trousers told me a surer truth. "You dream of me begging you to stop," I pressed on, "because then you can say no, and lay a few more stripes down, make me scream some more. You may choose to pretend that you don't long to see what designs your birch rod can carve into my skin, but I feel no obligation to indulge your fiction - I know what I saw in your filthy little mind."

Briefly, he struggled to push me back to where he could stare pleadingly, if myopically, into my face. "But that was… I …" He shook his head, fingers still wound in my lapels. "You were… different then… I didn’t understand!"

But I was in no mood for palliatives. “You understood what you wanted to do to me, boy - you understood it on a biological level, you just didn’t understand WHY you wanted it." And here, once again, I leaned close enough to press the truth into the velvet behind his ear, "But the time has come for you to live up to those filthy little daydreams, Potter. Assuming you're man enough for it.”

"Gurb…" he said back, just before he began to sag toward the floor.

I caught him with a disengorgement spell just barely in time to stop another fainting spell, and held him up by the shirt scruff while he got his wobbly feet straight under him again.

"First things being first," I observed, once he'd gotten a bracing arm to the counter to take on his weight, "We'll need to work on your stamina."

"Bastard," he agreed, and hobbled back to his tea.

 

~*~

 

"Severus," he says as he folds his thumb into the cradle of his four fingers, and slides the lot inward. His knuckles press a bony promise against my stretched, heated skin.

"Yes," I manage to breathe, consent, permission, and acknowledgement in one. Sweat-slick, buzzing with adrenaline and lust, hungry to the bone, I have no capacity for refusal, whatever pain or pleasure he offered.

He does not force the issue though, only draws back his hand until only the fingertips hold his place. "Did Sirius ever apologize to you?"

"Did... " I catch myself canting back against his maddeningly light touch, and gripp his calf hard to stop it. "What?"

"Did he ever apologize," Potter says, and I feel the liquid kiss of more oil pouring over my sacrum in a tingling benediction before the pressure of his regard returns in full. "For what he did in school. The Shrieking Shack, I mean. Did he ever ask you to forgive him?"

His knuckles pop past the guardian ring, startling the truth from me in a flash of how-can-this-not-be-pain. "Hah! Yes," I pant, barely remembering to bear down against the incredible force of him inside me, "Grudgingly. The Headmaster's insistence, dear God, Potter..." I can feel myself closed tight around his wrist now, just past the incredible bulk of his hand. One of us is trembling. Both of us, perhaps.

"Almost," he murmurs, smoothing up and down my spine with his free hand. Incongruously, I want to arch into the touch, but pinned from within, I daren't. He rewards my restraint with a long, smooth inward slide as he asks, "So what did you tell him when he did?"

"That he could..." the fingers begin to curl, I can feel each one twisting, bending as inside me, Potter begins to build a fist. "Could shove his e...empty contrition up his arse, of course." Another time, I'd be appalled at the breathless shrill in my voice. Perhaps when I do not have a bloody fist making way for a monster cock inside me. I manage to twist up enough to look at Potter, flushed and lusting in his low-slung throne, his eyes a furtive gleam beneath heavy lids, his lips glistening from the passage of his tongue.

"Yeah," he sighs, and draws his fist almost out. I pretend not to hear the noise I make as those knuckles crush past my prostate on their way. "I thought so. I'm getting a feel for it now," he explains once I can focus my eyes again, "getting a sense of what the curse wants from us." The bony crown twists just inside me, teasing my straining guardian muscles into a lax, accepting glow before he thrusts inward once more.

"You're going to have to do it now," he murmurs, stroking my back in maddening syncopation with the unforgiving fist he's working inside me. "I know, shh, I know. Just listen for a moment. He never stopped regretting that, and not just for Remus' sake - he really did wish he'd never done it to you."

It's madness, of course. Puerile, simpering idiocy, but Potter's asked that I listen, and the inexorable glide of his mass inside me holds my attention and my tongue while he speaks. "But Sirius was proud, just like you are. When you refused his apology, he couldn't make himself offer another one. He just hated you more instead, knowing that you'd never forgive him. Never trying to ask, because he couldn't imagine forgiving himself for such a thing."

"Unforgivable," I manage to gasp, then drop my head weakly as his fingers trail gently up my neck to nestle in my sweaty hair.

"Exactly. Like telling Voldemort about the prophecy was unforgivable. You didn't mean to kill Lily and James, and he didn't mean to kill you either. Just neither one of you thought it through before you spoke up, and then when the damage was done, you both thought it was too late for forgiveness."

"It is too late," the words escape me in a sigh, and I ignore the heat behind my eyes as he combs my tangles with careful fingers. "He is dead. They are-"

"He's dead, but still unforgiven. Twelve years in Azkaban, two years fighting the Death Eaters after that, and he's still not earned your forgiveness. And I think that's what his curse is living on now. It's punishing you for not learning from his mistake, and it's punishing his heir by proxy because he didn't feel worthy of forgiveness in the first place." Again, Potter draws back, tugging gently at the thin rind of skin that holds him inside me. "Guilt is almost as powerful a force as Love, you know?"

And how can I argue with that, knowing Guilt for the pole-star around which my life orbited for the better part of twenty years? How can I argue that when the curse lashed tight around my shriveled cock is resonating with the very words? How can I argue that when Potter's hand is making me see stars, and buzz like a bell inside my hungry skin?

"What do you wish me to do?" I let the words fall with my breath, trying not to hear them too keenly.

"Imagine it was true," he says, and I feel the chair beginning to move beneath us as his fist relaxes to draw free at last. "Imagine he really did mean it all those years ago. Imagine that he didn't have to be told to say it, that he wanted to say it anyway, that he was terrified by what almost happened to you, and horrified that it was all down to his stupidity." The knuckles roll free like great pearls, each one with a final kiss of stretch as it goes, and then his fingers retreat, leaving me empty and aching as they go.

"Just imagine he deserved your forgiveness, that after all he suffered, perhaps he'd earned it." Potter's arms guide me around to face him, then hike my knees up underneath me so he can bring his enormous penis upright at last. I cannot quell a shiver as I feel it bump, hot and hungry against my back. "Perhaps he'd learnt just how terribly he'd cocked everything up, there at the end, and he really had paid for his crime, just as you have done in all these years since that night when you spied on Dumbledore in the Hog's Head."

"Imagine it," Potter says, setting the half-empty bottle of opiated lubricant into my shaking palm, and then kissing my cheek tenderly, "and then just say the words."

"And then fuck you," I add, as I feel his body dropping away beneath me, dragging that massive cock down my spine in a damp, sticky promise, and leaving only the chair's arms to support my crouch on hands and knees. I don't want him to know how much I crave that, the invasion as much as the release, and so I kneel up and drizzle the unguent all over his prick where it stands up against my own tiny specimen.

His hands tighten above my knees, and he groans. "And then fuck me."

I use it all, splattering Potter's belly as well as his cock, the chair, the floor, my thighs with glistening slick before the bottle empties. Then I press it down between my bollocks, hard along my perineum, to nestle against the emptiness his fist left behind. Better this, even if it's agony, than...

"Snape," he says, and I can't help letting the command in his voice stop me from bearing down to take it. "Snape, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I was a stupid kid who didn't really know how badly things could go wrong. I never meant for you to get hurt, I never meant for you to be killed because of me, and I wish I could go back and make it never have happened. I wish I could go back and know better now, but I can't. All I can do is tell you how sorry I am, promise you that I've learnt my lesson, and ask you to please, please forgive me."

 

~*~

 

"You're still under Probation, aren't you?" Potter asked from the doorway to my cellar brewing lab.

I quelled the urge to startle - trust Potter to go skulking about silently first thing in the morning instead of blundering noisily about my conjured guestroom like any well mannered guest, - and carried on stirring the blood supplement potion with even strokes. I was, of course, still under the Ministry's official sentence of probation for another three years. However, as one of the only free-ranging Death Eaters in the wake of the second Voldemort war, I rather expected to suffer some level or other of Ministry interference in my business for the rest of my natural life. But that hardly gave Potter leave to gloat about it.

When I'd reached fifty, I set the rod aside and turned to glower at the wretch, who looked entirely too well-rested for the late hour our discussions had seen the night before. "If you mean to suggest a Probity Probe, Auror Potter, you might ask yourself whether it's worth having to live with this curse for the rest of your no-doubt short life."

His eyes narrowed, but bafflingly, a corner of his mouth still quirked up. "No, actually I was more curious about Dark Detectors, really. How are they not picking up this curse on you every time you have a wet dream?" He pushed off the doorframe and wandered in, uninvited, but bearing two steaming teacups, so I forebore to object. "For that matter, why don't I set them off when I go into the Aurory, since I'm carrying one end of the same curse?"

I raised an eyebrow and reached for the shallow dish of crushed murex shell. "At what point did you come by the supposition that a life-debt was in any way a light magic?" This gave him a moment's pause, but not much more, and he set one mug into the space the shells had left open.

"And at any rate," I added after a sip, "there is a stain on my arm, and a corresponding scar on your forehead which makes such niceties as Dark Detectors rather useless on the likes of we two."

"So there aren't any set on you then."

As it wasn't a question, I did not bother to answer. Either he was prying in order to learn whether I'd admit that the Ministry had seeded my home and business with detection spells, in which case he could go and bark for it, or he hadn't noticed them already, in which case I held no hope for him.

Instead, I add three tiny, perfect pearls to the brew, and leant back as the smell of scorched feathers puffed out of the cauldron.

"Only, I thought we might better do this at Grimmauld Place," he said, long after the silence had grown a cramp. I gave him exactly the look that suggestion warranted, and he shrugged, all pillow-twist hair and implausibly guileless eyes. "It just makes more sense than to do it here, you know; having to put yourself into your enemy's territory and all."

"By such logic, Godric's Hollow, as the scene of the crime, would be better yet." I ground out as I banished the cauldron flame.

He looked a trifle queasy at that, and shook his head. "No, I'm not keen to do this in a ruined building where anybody can walk by and see, thanks. And actually, the Hog's Head would be closer to the scene of the actual crime, but I'm not about to do this in a bloody pub, before you ask!"

And thank Merlin for that.

"What, exactly, is your objection to breaking the curse here?" I demanded, soothing my embarrassment with contrariness, and silently promising myself a vengeance that would involve the wretch passing out cold before luncheon. "Afraid to face me in my own home?"

He smirked at that, damn him, and set aside his tea to begin uncapping bottles. "More like I want this to work the first time, actually. Much as you think the idea of giving you the beating of a life appeals to me, it's not really my kink, hurting people. And I really don't think it'll actually work here in Spinner's End. You feel safe here, in control, and the curse won't like that. If you're right about how this breaking will work, we'll want you as off-balance and vulnerable as possible." He gave a half-shrug, and cut a cruelly merry glance at me. "And Sirius would have liked the idea of you having to bare your arse to him there."

And he was right too, damn the wretch. I didn't bother to school the annoyance from my face as I began to fill the bottles. He stood ready at my elbow with the corks and a sympathetic smile.

"Look at it this way," he offered after a moment, "there can't be any Dark Detectors active at Grimmauld Place, so even if the curse fights like a bitch, at least we won't have Aurors showing up while we're both bare-arsed naked to ask what we're getting up to!"

 

~*~

 

Tsk. Impatience does not become you. Surely you realize I have every intention of revealing all in due course, and of all people you ought to know that ranting merely delays things.

Still, if you had rather vent your spleen than garner any actual information, far be it from me to impede you... Oh, do carry on. I can wait.

There, there. There. Perhaps a drink would be in order after all? I'm going nowhere, you know, I can wait.

Good. Now, if I may continue?

~*~

 

For a moment when he speaks, when he begs my forgiveness, I cannot breathe.

I tell myself it is confusion, that Potter had made his apology two years before, and this can be nothing less than mockery... but the pretense does not stand. His eyes are open, defenseless as I have not seen them for years, shining with emotion and an absence of guile I haven't the strength to scorn. He means it, whether he apologizes for himself, his Godfather, or even for me, he means every word, and that raw, earnest plea is almost harder to take in than the cursed member that is poised to split me wide.

"I..." My throat closes around the absurdity. Me, forgiving him. Forgiving either of them. Any of us.

He strokes my knee, and moisture gathers at his lashes. "I know it's hard. But someone has to be the first to forgive..."

Which is ridiculous. He forgave me not half an hour before, with my back laid raw and bloody, and my knees bruising on the cold floor. He forgave me... and still the damned curse wants more, and I....

I don't know if I can even pretend to give it. I have gone so long with my hatred for Sirius Black as unbending as a stone, that I feel I should hardly know myself without it. Having lost what I most dearly loved, and survived what I most feared, do I dare now relinquish what I have most hated? Who would I be then?

"Severus..." he whispers, as though to answer my unspoken question.

"You moronic, careless, selfish, shallow child," I breathe, and let my weight bear me down into the mightiest stretch of my life. "You... dear Merlin, you petty little infant, how could you live with yourself knowing what you'd ... Aah!"

"God," Potter gasps, fretting back and forth against the shapeless mass of his conjured bed as I force myself down around him. "Oh god, Severus, please...!"

"Damn your pride," I groan, thighs shaking with the strain of my slow descent, "damn your silence, damn your selfish, cowardly temper..." It is overwhelming, the sensation, the invasion, the tension coiling from my bollocks to my throat, to my streaming eyes as, pushed from within, the words force their own way out of me. "Damn you for taking so long to ask, but yes, you bastard!"

I lurch downward. Not by much, but it is enough to shock and terrify me. Potter's cursed cock has shrunk. Not hugely, but the mass inside me is definitely less impossible than it had been a moment before I said the words. Dear Merlin, he might actually be right!

His eyes blaze into mine, equal parts alarm, lust, and cautious hope, and then his fingers are seeking after my cock, curling strong and sure about it, and damn me if I have the courage to look and see if they've more to grasp. It feels like it, but I daren't hope - not yet, not just yet.

"Yes what, Severus," Potter gasps, and his hips jut up just a little more snugly, urge that still-massive invader a little further in.

"Yes, I..." Is it easier now to say? Do I mean it more now than I did before? "I forgive you!"

Another lurch. Potters hand is tighter, his cock slipping farther into me as its girth dwindles, filling me better, even as it nudges into territory untouched. I groan, Potter's voice counterpoint to mine, his hands supporting me almost more than my own. "I forgive you, Sirius Black, you son of a septic bitch," I pant, rocking fretfully on the still-too-big intrusion, and believing with all I am worth, "now give me back what you stole from me!"

Another lurch, another brief plummet, and suddenly there is no more of him to take in. My bollocks crush up tight against Potter's pubic bone, and my cock is a stretching, aching agony of blood and gristle and furious desire in his fist. Potter's hands, both of them, glide along it, and from within me, I feel his breathless laugh. "You did it," he says, and his thumb swipes my cockhead.

I did. I let the awe of it rock me forward, catching myself on my hands just inches shy of a boneless flop against him. Potter, grinning, misinterprets shock for romantic mush, and nuzzles me into a kiss before I can dissuade him, rocking gently within me as his impertinent tongue entwines with mine. How like a bloody virgin!

I control my scorn long enough to teach him how such a kiss is properly done, and then when he is panting for it, I rock up onto my knees to give us both the friction we crave. "And now you fuck me," I tell him as he almost, almost, very nearly slides free of me.

"And now I fuck you..." he agrees, grabbing my hips and giving a mighty thrust. Pleasure breaks over me in a sheeting wave and a shock of lust - he is still plenty big even without the curse, and my prostate gives him due regard, dazzling sparks before my eyes as he bounces me hard against him over and over - fucking me, as promised.

Freed of his giant's burden, it seems Potter intends to make up for his earlier caution, and though I had intended a more active part, I find I can do little more than to hang on, and be thoroughly fucked. The conjured lounge, responding to his unspoken desires, wells and shifts beneath us, toppling me even as it props him to just the perfect angle by which to pound into me. I can barely breathe, and hardly care to as he takes hold of my cock - my whole, restored, blessedly normal cock, hard and red and slick with precome as it slides through his tight-knuckled fist.

"Come for me, you bastard," he rasps, all flopping hair and gleaming flush as he nails me with all the strength he can manage, "come for me!"
And just like that, the last of the curse lets go - I feel it in the spasming clench of my core, in the blinding roar of my tormented bollocks letting go at last, feel the remnants of shattered spite pulsing out of me, hot and viscous as it splatters my chest, my belly, dear Merlin, my nose.

Potter is roaring out his own release, his prick jerking inside me as he floods me with heat, and spunk, and the blazing, roaring magic of a curse folding in upon itself.

I haven't the strength to catch him when his eyes roll back in his head and he topples across me like a string-cut marionette. I am, myself, only a breath or two behind him in his faint.

 

~*~

 

All preparations seen to; all excuses for our scarcity made to my apprentice and to Potter's friends; all potions made; all charms cast, and all special equipment ordered in by anonymous owl post, I arrived at Grimmauld Place early on the day of our... assignation.

Potter was, of course, in a dither of nervous anticipation. Gryffindors never do know how to cope with an actual plan, I've found. One would think forethought must give them a rash, from the lengths they'll go to avoid it. Potter was dealing with his confusion by cleaning.

Cleaning, of all things! His house elf, in a high dudgeon, could hardly be convinced to bring me to him once the damned thing had opened the door, but eventually I was shown downstairs, to a grim little chamber well below the level of the basement kitchen. It was all dingy brick and piled stone, with only the smoke-riddled shadows to show where once, hundreds of years before, windows had looked out onto the streets of a very different London Town.

Under the purview of the Black clan, the grim little room had clearly come to exactly the sort of use one might expect of a dungeon; solid bolts fused deep into the walls, great rusting racks, hooks and chains overhanging tables, benches, shelves and hoists all hewn of massive timber. One could easily imagine the place filled with mercy seats, iron maidens, boots, screws, scold's masks, and stretching racks; screams haunting the cobwebbed ceiling, and generations of bloodstains under the film of dust on the floor.

And it's not unlikely that the room had contained exactly that, before Potter went down there and began vanishing things. I walked in just as a bank of rusty, but hand-forged chains sparkled into nothingness under his wand.

"What the devil are you doing?" I inquired in an entirely temperate and reasonable tone of voice.

Potter, of course, jumped like a scalded cat, and all but hexed me before he got himself under control. "You- they-"

"Were artisan-crafted ironwork, and quite probably older than Hogsmeade!"

"Also cursed," he sulked, "Kreacher told me about this room when I asked him where we could do... the cursebreaking, but he was so scared of all this rubbish, he didn't dare come down and show me himself. Fucking monsters..." He turned as though he meant to banish the brazier and irons in the corner, where a crude sort of chimney let up through the wall and ceiling.

I caught his wrist just in time. "A little respect for antiquity if you please, you cretin! Curses may be broken, but what is vanished may never be recovered, no matter how irreplaceable!"

"Fine," he said, every inch the snarling, snappish brat prince I had loathed across my classroom cauldrons for years. "If you fancy them so much, you can have them! You can have the whole filthy lot of it, with my blessing, just tell me where to send them to, because I won't bloody well have them here tonight!"

I rolled my eyes, quelling the glow of excitement that raised its head at the unexpected gift. I knew wizards who would pay handsomely for work like this, curses intact or broken. Not that Potter needed to know that, of course. "Of course not, your Highness," I told him, shrinking everything in the room save the bricks in the walls, and bundling the lot into an unfolded handkerchief. "Merlin forbid you should suffer the proximity, let alone that you've been living over the lot for two years now."

Potter, however, would not be goaded further. "No, don't touch them!" he yelped as I knelt to tie the handkerchief closed. "Some of those curses are really vicious," he muttered as I gave him an eyebrow.

"Oh, by all means, Auror Potter, do educate me on the proper handling of Dark Artefacts..."

He had the grace to blush at least. "Fine. Just get them out of here," he grumbled at last, sleeving his wand, "I'm going to have a shower." And with that, he turned and flounced up the stairs, leaving me alone with my unexpected windfall.

 

~*~

 

Aha, I see the knut has dropped at last.

Cursed and extremely valuable items sent clattering down your floo at Periodic Alley Potions, which just happened to be covered, from rooftree to dooryard with the Ministry's Dark Detection spells. Tsk. Good luck you chose a holiday weekend for it. If the Aurory'd been on anything but a skeleton crew, they might've sent out a team to track you down that very night, instead of waiting for opening-of-business on Monday, and scaring the water out of your apprentice.

And of course that's why Potter turned up to your rescue as well, once Draco caught on to the notion that perhaps someone who could alibi you ought to be notified of your arrest.

He told them the truth about where the cursed items came from, and why you had them, and he vouched, as Chief Auror, for your good behavior, and they let you go on the spot, all inquiries dropped, all irregularities forgot.

Really, if you'd just allowed him to see you home as he wanted, the whole thing might have been avoided alto... what?

Well of course he wanted to see you home. He wanted to feed you breakfast, and share a shower with you, as well, but you were busy running for the door. What on earth do you mean, 'why'? The man woke up next to that face in his very own bed, with that prick trying to knock him out of it, and instead of turfing you on the spot, he rolled over and allowed you to thoroughly despoil him! I daresay he hardly needed to do that for any curse's sake! Potter would have asked you to stay the night, the week, or forever if you'd given him the chance to think of it. Or a crumb of encouragement.

The boy was smitten, and you ran off like a ... oh put your wand away, I'm not going to say it. I hardly need to. I could show you though, if you still need convincing. It was quite a touching scene, you waking up hard and wanting with a toothsome and willing armful in reach, just waiting to be heartily shagged...

No? Pity.

Well, I suppose the only detail remaining, is what these, your rather incendiary memories of an undeniably touchy subject, are doing in the care of a rather neglected , and in need of a new coat of silver lavatory mirror at the back of a nearly-respectable apothecary shop owned by a nearly-heroic ex-Death Eater in Bath, yes? Just how did your office loo's looking glass come to do service for both pensieve and secret keeper at once?

Well, speaking as your reflection, I feel imminently qualified to state that you, Severus Snape, seem to come up with the most brilliantly unusual ideas of what to do with your memories when you're in a panic...

~* The End *~