Harry Potter sat in The Three Broomsticks with the appearance of a man who had all the time in the world to sit. He’d been nursing the same pint of Butterbeer for the last two and a half hours and Madam Rosmerta’s pity had long since been replaced by a scathing glare in his direction. Harry knew better than to feel sorry for himself, he hadn't been stood up this was just another mind game that his guardian was playing on him. If Harry left before Snape arrived, he would no doubt receive a Howler detailing his transgression in the most verbally humiliating and degrading way possible. Of course, he was equally as damned if he stayed as Snape could simply choose not to turn up at all and have someone spy on Harry to advise Snape of exactly how long he spent waiting for his guardian like a pathetic hopeful fool. If he had to choose which method of execution his pride would suffer from, then he chose to stay. At least then he could claim the higher moral ground no matter how badly it backfired on him. Besides which, he would have to see Snape eventually now that he was back in the country after an absence of five years. Why not just wait it out rather than putting himself at Snape's mercy twice?
Harry's patience finally paid off less than twenty minutes later. His aloof guardian strode into the pub, his black robes billowing behind him like a villain swishing his cloaks. For most students who had attended Hogwarts that description was how they saw their potions professor. All students except Slytherins and Harry Potter. Despite Snape's numerous bad qualities, Harry had never been able to bring himself to hate the man who had raised him after his parents' deaths even if Snape had never been able to repay the favour by bestowing affection upon Harry.
“You're late,” Snape greeted him.
Harry stood up as his guardian approached the table, sitting down only after Snape had taken up occupation in the seat opposite him. “I arrived before you did, how can I be late?”
“Five years late. You were supposed to be going to Europe for the summer. What have you been occupying your time with?”
Harry guessed that meant he hadn't heard. Unless it was another trick. He narrowed his eyes at the older man and took a gulp of his Butterbeer. “Would you like the truth or have you already made your mind up about what I spent the last few years doing?”
Snape sneered. “What fool did you bride to sign off on a teaching qualification? Anyone who took even the briefest of looks at your grades and attendance record would never have granted you permission to mould the minds of the next generation!”
Harry sighed internally. So, he had heard. He didn't know whether to be upset that the mere idea of Harry being accredited to teach infuriated and disgusted Snape or relieved that this was what he was choosing to focus upon. After all, if he knew that Harry had spent time teaching at Durmstang then he was almost certainly in the know about why he had returned to the UK. “Perhaps I am not quite the failure academically that you thought I was?”
Harry winced as soon as the words were out of his mouth. Yes, he had been baited, but that was nothing new. He should have known better than to react that way, now Snape had the perfect opening and from the glittering in his fathomless black eyes Harry knew that Snape wouldn't hesitate to take it. It was all kind of unfair really. Harry had never been a star pupil academically speaking, but he had never failed an exam or required extra lessons to keep up with his peers. He had maintained a reasonable grade level in all his classes, even managing an 'Outstandings' in Defence Against Dark Arts and 'Exceeds Expectations' in both Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. His grades were fine for applying for the position of teacher and any attendance issues had been due to illness or the occasional prank played by his best friend's brothers Fred and George.
“Academically, professionally and socially it appears. Not many people succeed in shaming themselves so thoroughly as to be barred from teaching and deported.”
“You must be enjoying this,” Harry said so quietly that he thought Snape might not have heard. No such luck, of course. It seemed luck and Harry Potter were no longer on speaking terms.
“I am, to an extent.” Snape admitted without remorse. “What ever possessed you to get involved with a thug like Andrzej Carlstrom? Or was that the attraction?”
“According to the newspapers.”
“Well, I want it from the horse's mouth! Leave home, travel to another country, take up teaching... live life, by all means, especially if it doesn't interfere with my own. Having an illicit affair with a married Swedish Auror who frequents Bondage Dungeons, however, must be one of the most impetuous, idiotic choices you have ever made and it most certainly reflects badly on myself.”
Harry's heart hurt inside of his chest, but he was determined to hide the effect his guardian's words were having on him. “Glad to see I haven't fallen even further in your regard,” he said and stood up to leave. He had no interest on continuing this abuse and wondered why he had even come in the first place. He knew better than to rely on Snape for anything more than insults and disdain.
“Sit down, Potter!” Snape hissed with venom in his voice.
“NO!” Harry turned and shouted at the other man. “I don't know why I even came here! Or why I ever bothered to keep in touch after leaving Hogwarts. Your obligation to me ended the moment I turned seventeen, Professor Snape, and as far as I can see it wasn't a moment too soon in your eyes! You have spent my entire life reminding me how useless I am and that I am nothing more than a burden to you. Well, let me unburden you, Snape. After today you never have to see me or hear from me again!”
Harry turned to escape so fast that he almost collided with a barman on his way to take Snape's order. It would have been cataclysmic, only Snape had reached out to grab onto his arm and pull him back to their table in an attempt to prevent him from leaving. Clearly, the unpleasant man was not done barraging him.
“SIT DOWN, Potter, and do NOT make me repeat myself again. You are clearly feeling very dramatic tonight. Harold, a glass of my favourite wine if you please, and a tea for Mr Potter hear. He needs something to calm him down.”
“Right away, Professor!” Harold was only a few years younger than Harry and had recently been taught by Snape. The fear that the man imposed upon his students, regardless of House or age, was permanently instilled into Harold. It was a survival technique that some students adopted in order to avoid mental breakdowns.
“Now, since you are so obviously unaware of the consequences of your dalliances, I will educate you,” Snape said to Harry in a cutting tone. “You were not relieved of your post at Durmstang for engaging in homosexual acts, nor was it anything to do with the scandal of dating a married man. It was the nature of those acts. By being seen in a compromising position at a Sex Dungeon the Wizarding world has judged you to be sexually submissive.”
“I don't understand. If it isn't the sex it's self, or who it's with, then why would it be what... what... position... why would it be that?” Despite the fact that Harry was now almost twenty three years old the idea of discussing his sex life with the man who had basically raised him for better or for worse, was abhorrent and more than a little nauseating. From the twist of distaste on Snape's mouth Harry could see his guardian felt the same way.
“Why you insist on being so ignorant when it comes to the society you live in, I will never know. Simply paying attention to the world around you would have saved us both a modicum of embarrassment and awkwardness. I do not, of course, blame myself, as I distinctly remember sending you to a decent school! What did you do during your Society & Sexual Education classes in fifth year? Please, do not answer. I am certain the the truth would only pain me more than anything I could come up with myself. Instead, simply try your best to listen with your ears as I explain the basics that even fifteen year old children are capable of understanding.
“Homophobia is almost non-existent in the Wizarding community, something to which Dumbledor himself can attest to. Magical people, being more open minded than their Muggle counterparts, freely accept a range of sexual identities and so called kinks. BDSM is practised openly although like all sexual practises it is kept behind closed doors, be they bedroom doors or the doors of a Dungeon. Dominant and Submissive roles are accepted and often incorporated into marriage contracts which family and friends are invited to witness. It is not considered abnormal or indecent. Those who identify with D/s tendencies, however, are thought of in a somewhat old fashioned manner. Dominant partners are stereotypically associated with strength and power, while the Submissives are seen as needing to be cared for. This was incorporated into Wizarding law over a hundred years ago and has never been removed. The politics of the matter are, frankly, nothing I have concerned myself with. Until this moment.”
“What do you mean? What does the law have to do with what I... what some people do in bed?”
“Or, rather, out of it?” Snape suggested with another sneer and Harry flushed with anger and shame. “The law decided to make it compulsory for a self-identifying Witch or Wizard to have a guardian for the entirety of their life. They would be homed by their parents until they took on a collar by a Dominant. It was done originally so that the Submissive would not end up in a relationship with someone who would abuse them or encourage them to misuse their powers.”
“That's ridiculous! Being Submissive does not make you a mindless idiot!”
“You are not the best example, but I happen to agree. However, 18th century Wizarding laws have not been updated, so for now you are stuck with me once again as your legal guardian. Well done, Potter.”
Harry had needed more than just tea to soothe him after that shocking announcement. A shot or two of Firewhiskey had dulled his emotional turmoil, but Snape had not allowed him more, citing the reason as not wishing to be humiliated in public, for the second time this month, by his drunk ward. Harry had argued through his embarrassment but Rosmerta had cut him off at Snape's command and directed them to the Floo. Once they had arrived at the small cottage that Snape called 'home', Harry had been deposited in his old bedroom and told that he should arrange to have his belongings brought there. For the foreseeable future Harry would be, once again, living under Snape's roof.
The whole incident left a bitter after-taste in Harry's mouth and the moment his adoptive father had turned his back, Harry had run for the adjoining toilet and thrown up the Firewhiskey, the tea, the Butterbeer and this morning's ham sandwich. Eventually he peeled himself off of the bathroom floor and collapsed in his small rickety bed, pulling over him a warm handmade blanket gifted to him ten years ago by Ron's mum. The familiar smells of potion ingredients with an underlying musty scent comforted him somewhat as he drifted off to sleep.
By the time Harry woke up the sun had set and he could smell the remnants of stew from downstairs. His stomach groaned, reminding him that what little he had eaten had been evacuated and that he would need something more substantial than the small bar of emergency chocolate he had hidden in his coat pocket. He guessed it was time to brave Snape's presence again. Despite coming to this conclusion, Harry crept out of his room and down the staircase as if by some unheard of miracle Snape wouldn't find out that he was awake. Unfortunately this was not the case, and Harry found himself confront with the inevitable.
Snape was sat at the small wooden kitchen table surrounded by books and parchment. It was a familiar sight, although Snape usually preferred his study, a small cluttered room at the back of the house in which Harry was not welcome. This change in behaviour indicated to Harry that, while Snape was most definitely not 'waiting' for Harry to emerge, his legal guardian was invested in continuing their earlier conversation. Avoidance was no longer a possibility.
“Any stew left?” Harry asked as he hovered in the small doorway of the kitchen.
Snape's eyes remained downcast where he was concentrating on his reading as he waved a hand in the direction of the cooker, upon which sat a cooling pan of beef stew. Harry's mouth stated to salivate. While neither Harry or Snape were particularly culinary inclined, they were both perfectly capable of doing the basics. The only time anything more adventurous than soup or cheese on toast was attempted was when Snape cooked his mother's famous stew. This was a special occasion indeed. Harry quickly banished any awkwardness he had felt at being back in Snape's home. He found a soup bowl, kept in the same place they had been all of his childhood, and ladled out a portion of stew before taking his customary seat; to the right of the head of the table, and started gulping down the lukewarm stew. Snape tutted in disgust, but Harry hadn't the patience to wait for the food to reheat (since Snape didn't allow heat charms on his mother's stew and didn't own a microwave). Besides, Harry preferred the stew this way. He thought it brought out the flavour better.
It was only when Harry had finished every last drop of his meal that Snape dropped his quill and made eye contact with his ward. Harry let his spoon fall and it clattered, an alarmingly loud noise in the silent kitchen. Snape cleared his throat and Harry's heart jumped with a return of the nerves that had abated during his rest.
“It seems we must discuss your future.”
Harry's fists clenched. “You mean lack thereof?”
“Don't be facetious, Potter! It is your own actions that have led to the restrictions of choices you now face.”
“If there are no choices open to me then why discuss it at all?”
“I did not say you had no choices, merely that they are restricted. Listening to what I say would be beneficial, so I suggest you open your ears,” Snape ground out, his frustration evident in every word.
“What are my choices then?” Harry asked quietly, doing his best to let go of the anger. He wasn't a teenager any more, despite the fact that he found himself in the same position he had been all those years ago.
“The path you have before you cannot be walked alone. Either you remain as my ward, an option that sounds desirably to neither of us, or you seek a Dominant partner and hope you find someone willing to spend the rest of their lives with you. I personally cannot imagine how brain damaged an individual would have to be to choose that future, but you found Mr Weasley to befriend you, so I gather you have some kind of innate homing beacons for the innately deranged or incompetent.”
Harry glowered at the place-mat in front of him. Trust Snape to make the idea of finding a suitably partner sound like a hunt for the most desperate fool on Earth. His adoptive father's words lacked sting only because Harry was used to it, and he had said much worse and meant it. This was just Snape letting off steam. Actually, he was practically being sweet.
Harry internally rolled his eyes at that thought. Was it any wonder he had grown into a masochist when the only affection he had ever been shown by the man who raised him was in the interpretation of barbed words and biting sentences.
“How do you suggest I go about finding myself a Dominant? Especially after failing in that pursuit so miserably by myself,” Harry asked bitterly. He hadn't actually been looking for Andrzej, not even as a lover let alone a Dominant. Before Harry had met him he hadn't even thought he was bisexual. Now it seemed that the only thing that aroused him was his memories; bound and beaten with Andrzej's hard hot cock pressed up against him, so close to where he wanted it but at the same time so far away that it was... torture. He'd been in so deep with Andrzej, fallen for his charm and dark seduction so fast and so hard that his marriage, his social position and his gender had meant nothing. The only thing that had mattered had been the next hit. Harry had been an addict, with subspace as his drug and Andrzej his dealer and enabler.
“There are ways of being introduced into those circles. I will make arrangements to contact an associate of mine who might have an idea or two of how to gain entry into that level of society. For now, you will stay here and submit to my authority on any life changing decisions.”
“Great. May I be excused?” Harry bit at him.
Snape's eyes narrowed. He clearly heard the attitude and sensed where it was coming from but for once chose not to call him on it. “Yes. Since you are acting like a child, you may go to your room.”
Harry didn't thank him. After all, what was there to be thankful for? Neither of them were happy to be in this situation. All they could do was focus on how to extract themselves from each other's lives with the minimum damage.
Dear Hermione and Ron,
I hope this letter finds you both healthy and happy. Molly sent me a letter a short while ago, catching me up on all the family news. I’m glad everyone is doing well, although I was sad to hear that Fleur has been sick. I sent some lillies to her and Bill.
By now you may have heard that I am back in the UK, so sorry if I’m not the first person to tell you. It all happened a bit fast. I know you’ll remember I’ve said many times that nothing would drag me back to the UK, especially not if it meant returning to Snape’s house? Well, I think I spoke too soon.
The newspapers have reported a ridiculously scandalous story, but the bare bones of the story are, surprisingly, correct. If your connection to me has caused you any embarrassment or grief I will understand and honour any wishes you may have to distance yourself from me. Please write to me to let me know, as I value our friendship greatly.
You are the most exasperating, idiotic boy who ever lived!
Honestly, what opinion you have of us! To think that we would ever turn our backs on you, especially over something as trivial as your sexuality! It was a shock, at least to Ron, who found out while reading the paper and having breakfast. Poor Hugo was covered in pumpkin juice when Ron saw the headline. I do wish you would have told us yourself. There was never any reason to hide from us, Harry, we’re your best friends and we love you.
Now, on to more important matters!
What on earth did you mean when you said you were back at Professor Snape’s house? Tell me everything, and I do mean everything! You owe us that after being so quiet these last few years.
All our love,
Hermione and Ron
That is a long conversation. Meet me at the Hogshead on Thursday at 12:30. Lunch is on me.
Hermione marched up to Snape's front door and, without letting her fear of her former potions master overwhelm her, knocked soundly and loudly. Silence greeted her. She glared at the door and repeated the action.
“Hermione, I don't think anyone's home and if they are then knocking again might not be the best course of action,” Ron cautioned her, standing behind her and eyeing the door warily. He hadn't wanted to make to trek out to Snape's residence but after Harry had failed to turn up as promised Hermione's concern for their friend outweighed any misgivings either of them had. Besides, it wasn't like Ron would let Hermione come on her own. She was his wife and he stood with her on everything, even if he didn't always agree with her.
“I'm worried about Harry, Ron!” She cried out, slapping him lightly on the arm. “You should be too! He comes back to the UK out of the blue, no warning, and just runs back to Snape's house? You know how unhappy it made him, growing up here. He promised he would be at the Hogshead today and he never turned up.”
“Hermione,” Ron said calmly but with some force in his tone. “Hermione,” he repeated, softer as he took her in his arms. “It's okay. We're going to find out why Harry has come back to the UK. We are going to ask him why he is living with Snape. Then, we are going to help him just like we always have.”
She curled up against his chest so that she could hear his heart beat and feel his warmth. How come this once clumsy, emotionally stunted boy had ended up being so insightful and wise? More importantly, how come she had been lucky enough to marry him and benefit from these qualities? “I love you,” she uttered.
He smiled against her hair. “Good!” Hermione whacked his shoulder with a balled up fist and he laughed.
Something from inside the house fell with an almighty thud that wiped the smiled off of both Ron and Hermione's faces. “Harry!” Ron yelled, and pounded on the door, while Hermione peaked into the murky window to the left of them. “Harry are you okay, mate?”
“Let go of me!” Harry yelled from inside, and the pair realised that the sound they had heard was of a struggle.
“Step back,” Hermione warned her husband before casting a spell to blast open the door of Snape's house. They barged inside and ran towards the thuds and yells.
“You are acting like a child! If you would simply-”
“What are you doing to him?” Ron asked.
They had found Snape and his adopted son in a narrow corridor at the back of the property. Harry had clearly been on his way to make an escape out of the rickety unmaintained back door when Snape had intercepted him. They must have been arguing ever since. Harry's face was flushed pink with anger and his hair was even more wild than normal. Snape towered over the younger man, his raged etched clearly in the white lines around his mouth and the hard dark stare he now aimed at the intruders. Hermione snapped her wand out and pointed it at Snape.
“Put that away, Miss Granger, before you poke someone's eye out,” Snape commanded dryly.
“It's Mrs Weasley, now.”
“I would say congratulations but that's hardly a step up, even for someone like you.”
Harry, who had been nervously eyeing Hermione and Snape now glared up at his adopted father and snapped, “don't talk to my friend like that!”
“Or what? You'll mope on me some more? Run away from home? Please, feel free!”
“I wasn't trying to run away! I just wanted to meet Hermione and Ron for lunch as I had promised.”
“Not without this.” Snape held up a bondage collar.
Hermione's blood rushed to her face and Ron averted his eyes. “Oh.”
“I am not a bloody dog! That thing is going no where near my neck,” Harry yelled.
“Then, as I said before, you may not leave the house. These are not my rules but rules of a society you have chosen to enter into. It is not my fault that you made that decision without bothering to educate yourself.”
“This is stupid. I've been outside on my own tons of times since meeting Andrzej and never once did I have to debase myself to do so.”
“That was before your involvement was public. There are certain restrictions on Submissive wizards, Harry, one's you agreed to knowingly or otherwise when you started your relationship with Carlstrom.”
“Oh, Harry!” Hermione sighed and both Snape and Harry turned to face her.
“What?” Harry asked, concerned at the worry he saw on her face.
Hermione smiled at him gently. “Come on. We'll go upstairs and talk. Ron, please can you make us some tea? Thanks, sweetheart.”
Hermione took Harry's hand in hers and led him upstairs and into his childhood bedroom. She now understood all too well what the problem was and it was time Harry did too.
“Okay, enough! Just... talk to me. Please?” Harry exploded.
Hermione had sat him down on his bed before taking a seat at his desk, her hands in her lap and her face poised to speak. Then, nothing. She would begin, and then pause, getting up to fix something in the room – move a lamp, retie the curtains, wipe dust from atop a book on the shelves – before coming to sit back down again and try again. She repeated her odd behaviour three times before Harry couldn't take it any more. He was nervous enough with the idea of discussing what had kept a secret so long and now Hermione looked like she had something far more intimidating to tell him. He just wanted it out in the open, so he could attack the issue head on. He had lived with a weight on his soul and he knew it would feel so good to get it if his chest. If only Hermione would actually get to the issue.
“Sorry, Harry, I just... I never thought I would have to have this conversation with anyone.”
“The birds and the bees.”
“Hermione, I'm twenty-three. I haven't gotten this far in life without knowing about sex and how to make babies.”
“Well, that's just it Harry, you don't. You never really paid attention in that class, relying on experience to teach you. I know that because you asked me to look over your end of term essay. It was very... basic.”
“You're talking about all the Dom/sub stuff that Snape has been filling me in on,” Harry said, worried she would dance around the subject all night.
A blush rushed to Hermione's cheeks. “Uh, that's one thing you missed, yes. Apparently quiet an important thing.”
“Snape says that because I... subbed... for someone then I... well, lose all my human rights, basically. Become like chattel.”
“I don't think you should think of it like that. It isn't meant to dehumanise you, more like protect you. Submissives have been horribly abused in the past, Harry, and no one wants to see that happen.”
“Not even Snape?” He joked lightly.
Hermione frowned. “He wasn't trying to debase you, Harry, you must know that. I mean, he did raise you after all. I know you don't talk about it, but it can't really have been that bad, can it?” Harry looked at his best friend and realised how hard it must have been for Hermione and Ron to be shut out of parts of his life, not just for the last few years since school but for their whole friendship.
A knock on the door signalled that Ron had arrived with the tea as requested, plus some biscuits which he had found hidden in the cupboard. Snape was quite frugal with his shopping which meant the snack was most likely something left over from when Harry had lived there. He politely declined the food and took a soothing sip of his perfectly brewed tea. “It wasn't awful. I should be thankful, actually. After school finished I wanted to find out more about my birth parents. Severus would never talk about my parents, other than to say my mum was a muggle and my dad was... well, I'm not sure I can trust his opinion. Apparently they didn't get along at school. I went to find my mother's sister. Her name is Petunia and she lives in Surrey with her husband and son. They... let's just say they weren't pleased to see me. I can't imagine growing up with people like that.”
Hermione and Ron exchanged glances but said nothing, and Harry realised he hadn't really revealed anything to them. Just more vague illusions to an experienced they hadn't shared with him. As a child he had often spent holidays at Ron's; surrounded by Mrs Weasley's unconditional love, and even a few visits to Hermione's house for dinner so that her parents could get to know her school friends. For obvious reasons there had been no invitation to spend Christmas at Spinner's End.
“Sorry, I don't mean to avoid the subject. I just... It's nothing like what I witnessed in your homes. We weren't really like a family. I always felt like an obligation, although I never managed to figure out who Snape was obligated to, maybe he did it out of guilt? Or to appease Dumbledor? I don't know. He made sure I was fed, educated, corrected my behaviour without cruelty, taught me not to be afraid of the dark and to stick up for what I believe in, but that I should never forget that just because I believe it doesn't make it true for everyone. In many ways he was a good guardian.”
“But not a parent.”
“No,” Harry smiled at Hermione, her insight was always welcome. “Not a father. Its only fair I guess, since he doesn't see me as a son.” He sighed. It was good to say it out loud, to share the niggling sensation of being unwanted that had plagued his entire childhood. He felt guilty for even thinking it, ungrateful, but telling his friends and having them understand alleviated the negative thoughts. What he had felt had been perfectly natural for any orphan to feel.
“Can you tell me now? I'm ready to listen,” he admitted.
When Hermione opened her mouth she once again stopped before she was able to speak aloud, but, to Harry's surprise, this time the reason was because Ron had taken her hand and given her a loving look that she interpreted correctly. She relaxed into her husband's arms and Ron spoke. “Honestly, mate, if I'd had any idea that was what you would get up to I would have told you myself! Being a Submissive in Wizarding society isn't anything to be ashamed of even if people don't really talk about it. It's just the same as any private relationship, only the rules need to be learnt. Snape's obviously told you about the part where you need a guardian? Only until you can find someone else to collar you.”
“Collar me... I don't really understand. If it's all private then how can someone publicly collar me?”
“It used to be more literal, but nowadays it just means a relationship, usually marriage but not necessarily.”
“Okay. Why, then, did he try and make me wear the... the collar just to come and meet you guys at the pub?” Harry asked, trying to stop his embarrassment from spreading across his face.
“Well, I imagine he was trying to let other people know you shouldn't be approaches. It's bad etiquette to harass a Submissive, but it's down right illegal to touch a Submissive wearing a collar,” Ron explained.
“He was trying to protect you,” Hermione added.
“Oh. Maybe I shouldn't have yelled?” Harry mumbled to himself and gulped down the dregs of his beverage. “This is all so confusing. Why can't wizards just treat BDSM the same way muggles do. They just ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist.”
“This is better. Don't you see Harry, you'll never have to hide who you are. When you find someone you can both be happy in public together and never have to lie. It's a freedom that most muggles don't enjoy,” Hermione said, a smile lighting up her pretty face.
“I think you mean if I find anyone. Not like I've had much luck so far. Andrzej was the only one I ever... and he, well I guess you both know how well that went,” he admitted bitterly.
Hermione stood up, approached the bed but paused before she reached him with an odd expression on her face. “May I?” She asked and Harry looked around to see what she could be asking for. “May I touch you,” she clarified.
Slowly she sat next to him on the bed and gently took his hand in hers. “It's only polite,” she explained. “Harry, just because you had a bad experience with Carlstrom doesn't mean you won't find someone who recognises how wonderful and worthy you are of their time and love. Try being yourself for a while, learn about your new place in society and when you meet 'the one' you'll be in a position to give everything to them so that they can give you everything. I promise you, it'll be worth the wait.”
“Thanks,” he muttered and pulled her into a hug. The bed depressed and Ron threw himself into the embrace as well. All three of them sat there, comforting each other and sharing in their friendship, until the door opened with a bang and Snape stood there with a disapproving frown on his face. Ron rolled off the bed quickly and dragged Hermione up too, stepping away from Harry as if he had the plague. Both Hermione and Ron looked guilty and avoided Harry's confused gaze.
“I asked him first,” Hermione defended herself weakly.
“Perhaps, but he is my ward and no one asked me. I think it's time you left, Mr and Mrs Weasley. You've rather worn out your welcome,” he sneered at them.
Hermione's jaw clenched with anger but she sensibly grabbed her purse and took Ron's hand. “Harry, we'll see you soon. Do write to us if there is anything we can do in the mean time.”
“Bye,” Harry said wistfully as his friends abandoned ship and left him to fend for himself against Snape. “What was that about?”
Snape heaved a long suffering sigh. “Must I explain everything to you like you are an infant, or an individual of retarded intelligence?”
Harry glared. “It had something to do with Hermione asking me permission before she touch my hand. She said it's illegal to touch a Submissive without consent, but I gave my consent.”
“Actually she requites my consent while you are my responsibility. Already it sounds like a lot of hard work and hassle, the sooner you are collared the better. In fact I already have an interview set up. At the very least this should result in an opportunity to get you trained up even if we are unable to match you with a suitable Dominant.”
“Train me? Like a pet?”
“Some Submissives like that. If you do not then do not think of it such a way. Everyone has things to learn about relationships, only in Dominant and Submissive relationships the things you learn could save your life so I would pay attention to what you are taught.”
“Don't worry. I'm paying attention,” Harry bit out. With one last indecipherable glance at Harry, Snape swirled and left the room, closing the door behind him with a resounding thud, leaving Harry alone to this thoughts. Exactly where he didn't want to be.
Thanks to everyone who had commented or added kudos! You're all so sweet! It really means a lot guys :)
Severus Snape arrived at the Hogshead precisely eighteen and a half minutes before the time that his invitation had stated, knowing that the pride of his guest would never permit him to arrive more than ten minutes early which, according to his own sense of social etiquette, was early enough to be considered polite without being wasteful or uncouth. Arriving first gave Severus the edge, he could appear as if he had been waiting an unknown amount of time and thus put his companion on the defensive straight away. It was a low ploy but useful when dealing with delicate matters.
Draco Malfoy arrived, as expected, eight minutes after Severus, and while he was pretending to read a particularly dull research paper on the benefits of fluxweed in healing potions with an emphasis on the instability of the ingredient, he didn't miss the smirk that Draco gave upon seeing him. Draco had always been a bright student, and every inch the Slytherin; always able to play the game without knowing the rules.
“Severus,” Draco greeted him informally, and Snape hid his own smirk. This was not a boy who stood before him, but a man prepared to greet him as an equal and unwilling to accept anything less. They were no longer professor and student, which was only fitting considering the matter which they had arranged to discuss.
“Draco, thank you for agreeing to meet with me.”
“Of course,. I was... intrigued by your correspondence. I trust you have been well?”
“As well as one can hope for. Yourself?”
“I am in good health.”
“You mother as well?”
“She keeps herself busy.”
“Understandable. Pray tell, what keeps you busy Draco?”
Draco grimaced and stared down into his chalice of wine. “I keep my father's business interests afloat to supplement the family vaults, find the time to collate research and, of course, the mandatory socialisation of a Malfoy heir.”
“I have heard that is not all you do. It is said that you spend your recreational time in the Pleasure Dungeons, with a whip in your hand and a sub at your feet.”
He shrugged with false modesty. “I like to dabble.”
“Do you like to train?”
Draco froze, emotion flashed across his face before he could control himself. Severus was pleased, he had surprised his former student. “I think you should speak plainly.”
“You must have seen the papers?”
“I was taught that the media always presents information with a bias, therefore I never assume what I am reading is some of the truth and some of it fiction.”
“The facts were presented were, for the most part, correct, although they had their own journalistic flare incorporated into the writing.”
“I take it he didn't know what he was getting into? I can't imagine Saint Potter deliberately coming between a man and wife, not even he is that self important.”
Severus winced to hear the bitter disdain in Draco's voice. He wanted to be right about young man, but there was a chance his old school rivalry with Harry could unbalance their negotiations. He would, of course, monitor the situation closely. “The was unaware of the consequences of his actions and now finds himself in a position in which he needs to learn his place, and fast, in order to resume living his life as he wishes.”
“You want me to train Harry Potter? Well, that is an invitation I cannot refuse,” Draco said eagerly, with a hint of something verging on the obsessive glinting in his cool grey eyes.
“I would appreciate it if you would train him to be fit to enter society as a Submissive so that he may pursue a collaring with a Dominant of his choosing. I do not wish him to be irrevocably damaged.”
Draco glared at him. “You know my reputation.”
“I know you. At school you were obsessed with Potter, first the idea of friendship and later the reality of your animosity. You made sure he never had an easy day at Hogwarts, and while I have no interest in chiding you for childish behaviour best condemned to the past, I would like to remind you that he is a Submissive and as such vulnerable and protected.”
“Protected by whom? You, Severus, really?” Draco sneered. The conversation had taken the turn that Snape wanted, with Draco on edge showing his true emotions. This was the side of Draco that he needed most to know before risking Harry's mental health on his childhood bully.
“I have always done my utmost to protect Harry. He is my ward, after all, and I always take my responsibilities seriously.”
“I fail to see how you protected him by treating him like an unwanted burden all his life.”
Snape winced imperceptibly. Draco would never know how wrong his words were, or how close to the truth. Certainly Snape had never planned on raising Harry, at least not without Lily. Rather, he had dreamed of raising a child of his own with her. Harry would always be half of Potter, and Potter would always be the man who had failed to protect Lily from death. “I said protect him, not coddle him.”
“Well, you'll understand the distinction between training and collaring then. I've enough pride to my name that I would never risk it by abusing my power as a figure of authority to a Submissive, no matter how much I used to hate the speccy git. Besides, having Potter kneel at my feet is far more satisfying than the kick in the gut I would have delivered to him ten years ago.”
Snape smiled and leaned back into his chair. “And that, Draco, is what makes you perfect for the position.”
Harry was afraid, unnerved and struggling not to show the simmer of arousal that had been plaguing him ever since Snape told him what would happen to him today.
Harry had been woken up by his guardian at five am, with a cup of herbal tea and instructions that he was to wash himself thoroughly before joining Snape in the kitchen for breakfast. At this point Harry had been far from pleased. It was cold in the mornings and he had always hated waking up earlier than he had to, and, in his opinion, five am was earlier than anyone should have to. Still, he did as he had been told, after all what else was there to do? He was twenty-three, unemployed, couldn't see his friends without permission – or public humiliation – and lived at home with his guardian. So, with a chip on his shoulder, he rose from bed, gulped down the minty tasting tea and took to scrubbing himself in a steaming shower using a perpetual warming spell to keep the temperature just right. When he had finished he felt calmer, but there was something else, something deep down in his gut that felt more like satisfaction. He shrugged off the emotion and joined Snape for breakfast, hoping the food would taste better than the tea had.
“Have I given you permission to sit down?” Snape asked from where he was relaxing in his own seat at the table, a copy of the Daily Prophet in front of him and a large fry up just waiting to be gobbled down. Harry's mouth watered.
“I... uh....” he jumped back up from the seat he had taken and stood next to the table awkwardly, unsure of what to do next. Seconds dragged by and Harry could have sworn that the tension in the room was so thick that the tick-tocking of the kitchen clock was echoing of the walls.
“Well?” Snape drawled, taking a sip of his own tea which looked to be the regular brown kind. Probably perfectly brewed, too, knowing how fussy Snape was about his favourite beverage.
“I... um... Can I sit down? Please?” He added when no answer came.
Snape's fathomless dark eyes snapped up to meet Harry's and he flushed, feeling ridiculous. “it could use some work, perhaps a 'please' wouldn't go amiss, but I suppose for now it will do. You may not be completely hopeless after all. Sit, then.”
Harry's arse practically fell into the chair with enthusiasm. Still, he realised he had no food. So he sat there for a few seconds, hoping that Snape would take pity on him. He should have known better. “Is there something else, Harry?”
“I thought we were having breakfast?” He blurted out, knowing it was the wrong thing to say but unable to stop himself. He felt out of sorts and more awkward than he remembered ever feeling in Snape's home. Clearly Snape was making and point but Harry hadn't been able to surmise it as of yet.
Snape sighed heavily. “I am having a wonderful breakfast, only it seems I keep being interrupted by an idiot. I guess I was wrong about you. Go on then, your food is under the grill. Fetch it and I will explain, in small words, what I have been attempting to prepare you for.”
Harry eyed him nervously but when Snape glared back at him he rushed to serve himself up some food and came back to the table with a sausage already in his mouth. Left to his own devices Harry rarely ate breakfast, and when he did make the effort it was rarely anything more exciting that cereal or porridge. This was a treat indeed, one he intended to take full advantage of.
“I have obtained the help of a renowned and respected Dominant who is willing to train you. He will expect you to be somewhat... rough around the edges, however I did hope that you might come to him with some manners. What did you and this Carlstrom occupy yourselves with, I do wonder. Clearly he missed some valuable lessons.”
Harry blushed, flinched, and blushed again. He felt completely uncomfortable with the idea of Snape taking an active role in his life as a Submissive. He really was unprepared for this, and it seemed that everything would change so much sooner than he could anticipate. “This dom person... It's a male, I'm assuming from your use of pronoun, what's his name?”
Snape smiled. “You aren't to know. Not until he has accepted you as an in-training Submissive and given you a temporary collar. Only then will his identity be revealed to you.”
Harry gulped. His mouth was dry and his heart was beating faster than normal. Was it fear? Or excitement. He didn't want to guess. “That sounds reckless.”
“As an unclaimed Submissive you could have ended up on the auction block in some countries, Harry, this is nothing in comparison to how reckless you have already been. Putting your trust in someone like Carlstrom... clearly I have failed in my attempts to guide you into adulthood. Still, you can only teach some people so much; for example the skill of listening. Perhaps if you had done so you would have realised that I have already met with and approved of this Dominant. The risk to yourself is minimal.”
“Right. Um... what is he like?”
“Exacting in his standards, so you'd better pay attention and hope he gives you a chance else you might end up here for the rest of your life, and no one wants that,” Snape snapped.
Harry took his advise, listening closely as he advised him on etiquette, safe words, and the dangers of the world he was entering. Despite his time with Andrzej it all sounded foreign to him and Harry was staring to wonder what he had started and if he had the guts to finish it. It sounded, intense, to say the very least.
Four hours later and Harry had arrived at the pre-arranged meeting location. He knew he was in a large blank room with a floor that was cushioned with some sort of charm and two entrances. Snape had been with him to start with, he had been the one to wrap the black silk scarf around his eyes and order him to kneel, but he was alone now. His arse rested on his heals and his back was military grade straight leaving his arms to rest in the small of his back, crossed at the wrists. If Andrzej had been there his eyes would have been downcast, as low as he could get them without putting a strain on his neck, but as he was blindfolded he didn't see the point.
Every breath he took echoed around the room. He strained his hearing to the max, hoping to hear a foot step, a swish of clothing against the still air, an intake of oxygen... or anything. It was torture, but Harry found it was not all together unpleasant.
Then, finally, a hiss. Air exiting the lungs of another person with speed. Shock, perhaps. Harry didn't care. He rose up on his knees ever so slightly and keened, an unbidden and unstoppable sound that escaped from his lips. He knew now just how much he wanted this, and waiting was agony.
The footfalls grew closer until Harry could feel heat radiating off of the other person in the room. He wanted to be touched but dared not make a noise. As ill-educated in this as he was, he knew enough not to speak unless directed to.
Suddenly a hand gripped the hair at the back of his head, painful and tight. He moved with the tug as the stranger pulled him up so that he was straining to stay upright on his knees. A hot, moist mouth descended to his ear and a lust deepened voice growled at him, “you want to belong, boy? You want this? To be debased and cherished in equal measure? To serve and depend upon the mercy of another? To submit? Is that what you want?”
“Please,” Harry whispered. “I need it.”
He was dropped, or so it seemed, for he never fell. Hands, gentle this time, cupped his jaw, stroking and soothing. Harry could tell that the owner of the hands was a fine boned man but strong. These were hands that could catch someone falling. The caress continued, down his neck and suddenly the grip was tight, restricting his air flow to the point of panic. Harry had been given a safe word, provisionally by Snape, but also a gesture and he realised now in what types of situation he might need it. Quickly he fought past the oxygen deprivation that was clouding his mind and remembered the movement. He lifted a palm flat into the air just inches from his face and waited. The hands left him immediately and the stranger took a step back. “Interesting,” he murmured and there was something about the tone that niggled at Harry, as if he had heard it before but where? He couldn't place it, and then he didn't have to. A collar was sliding into place around his neck and Snape's voice interrupted the fantasy.
“You are sure about this, Harry?” It was almost concerned.
“Yes,” Harry whispered and the buckle closed around his throat, simultaneously the blindfold fell off and Harry blinked against the brightness of the room.
“Malfoy?” He said in confusion.
Malfoy, five years older than when Harry has last seen him, smirked. “I think you'll find that it's 'Master' now.”
Ah. It all made a sick kind of sense now. This was why he had not been allowed to know the identity of the famous Sub tamer. Harry would never have agreed to let Malfoy, a boy who had been his enemy for years at school, have any power over him and now it seemed he had handed the boy, no man, the key to his life. With that realisation, Harry promptly fainted.
Oh my god, I feel like I have just abandoned everything and everyone and I am sorry! My muse ran away and writer's block moved in to help me cover rent!
“That was a stunning display of wussery right there, Potter. Well done,” Malfoy drawled as Harry blinked his was back into consciousness.
“Eight minutes,” Snape declared. Harry winced, he could hear exactly how unimpressed his guardian was with the wasted time. Still, Severus had definitely brought it on himself. He must have known that Harry would have an adverse reaction to the circumstances, and using that as an excuse to justify springing it all on Harry after it was too late to change his mind. He glanced uneasily between his guardian and the man who had just minutes ago placed a collar around his neck. He guessed it was too late to change his mind, at any rate.
“Oh, stop it,” Malfoy hissed at him in exasperation. “I knew he was undisciplined but Merlin! Has he had any kind of training at all?”
“Not that I can discern. His tryst with Carlstrom seems to have been purely for Carlstrom's benefit without any thought to encourage knowledge or explain etiquette.”
“Let's not assign all the blame to this Carlstrom. After all nothing was stopping Potter from educating himself, nothing except his own foolishness of course,” Draco drawled out bitingly.
“It's his safe word,” Snape sneered.
“I know,” Malfoy insisted. “I just don't understand why he's using it.”
“Perhaps you should just ask me instead of talking around me like I'm not even here,” Harry pointed out with a glare.
“Fine then, you may tell me.”
“Thank you so much,” Harry said heavy with sarcasm. “I'm using it because I don't like you talking about me with Snape.”
“If I'm going to train you then your guardian will have to be advised of your progress, Potter.”
“Fine! Just... not like this, and stop sneering at me; both of you! Everyone keeps telling me that no one is judging me for being a Submissive but all either of you have done is make fun of me.”
“Still so sensitive,” Snape said quietly, but the words were without malice. Harry's face pinked.
“I assure you I am not judging you for being a Submissive. I love submissives, and guess what Potter they love me. What I do loathe, however, is a lack of respect.”
“Look, if you're going to keep hating me then we better forget this whole thing and call it quits now. I'm not getting on my knees for someone who hates me.”
“Haven't you already? Or did you believe Carlstrom when he said he'd still respect you in the morning.”
Harry winced. His relationship with Andrzej was a sore spot and he really didn't want to talk about it with Draco Malfoy. In fact, he honestly didn't want to discuss his naivety and irresponsibility with anyone; ever.
Harry stood up and reached for the buckle around his neck, ready to strip it off of him and accept the consequences. Why had he even entertained the idea of staying on his knees after he realised who it was? Surely this was another way for Snape to humiliate him and not a serious suggestion. Again he'd been a fool and he was so tired of being foolish.
A hand, warm to the touch and gentler than anticipated, stopped him. “Harry,” Malfoy began, using his name for the first time that he could recall. “I do not hate you. I know we had our antagonistic childhood but I am mature enough to put that behind me. Are you?”
Harry's hand fell away and he was surprised that he missed Malfoy's... no, Draco's touch. “I... I can try. Don't expect miracles,” he added, half jokingly.
Draco scoffed. “Please, we're Wizards Harry, miracles we can do.”
“So... uh... what happens next?”
“I leave,” Snape said, reminding them of his presence. “As much as I need to be aware of your training, I do not need to witness it. Draco, I expect him home by eleven.”
“Of course,” Draco nodded.
“I'm not a child!” Harry groaned.
“Does that mean you want to spend all night with me? How very forward of you, Potter. You should at least offer to buy me dinner first,” Malfoy snarked.
“Shut up, you know that's not what I meant!” Harry blushed again, brighter this time and the heat travelled down his neck to his chest. Malfoy's eyes followed and Harry found himself warming on the inside as well.
“Do behave, children. Detention may be beyond me at this point however there are other deprivations of liberty that can be enforced,” he warned.
“You needn't worry,” Malfoy assured him loftily. “I'll put him in his place.”
Harry sent a glare in his old school rival's direction. So much for putting their past behind them!
“I was speaking to you as well, Draco,” Snape said smoothly, and donned his coat.
“You wouldn't dare.”
“I suggest you do not test me if you do not wish to discover exactly how far my authority extends, Mr Malfoy.”
“I think it's time you go,” Draco said, his tone dangerously subdued.
“Eleven, Draco, not a minute late,” Snape said before leaving through the door they had entered in. It seemed impossible that their entrance into this room was on the same day as this conversation, in Harry's mind a wall as impressive as the Great Wall of China separated the two moments. Certainly Harry's life had changed dramatically.
“Well, since you're standing up we'd better get the basics over with. Strip.”
Harry startled. “No way am I getting naked in front of you, Malfoy!”
A sigh greeted him. “We aren't going to get very far if you insist on acting like we are still in school. I am your Dom for the foreseeable future, a very long future indeed if every lesson is going to be so tiresome. Now, take your clothes off or, if you feel so uncomfortable doing so in front of one person after being naked and bound in front of an entire club of strangers, then feel free to leave and resign yourself to a miserable lifetime spent pestering Snape.”
“Strangers being the keyword!”
“Well, I never knew my opinion mattered so much to you. How flattering. Now strip.”
Harry mumbled something under his breath but did as instructed. He'd arrived dressed in clothes that Snape had declared 'acceptable', which translated to an outfit Harry would not normally be seen dead in. He stripped the formal robes off of his body and prepared for the cold to hit him. To his surprise the room instantly warmed to an acceptable level and he vowed to look the charm up, no more would he wake freezing in Snape's awkward little cottage. The man's frugality did not just extent to knuts and sickles, but also to magic.
Draco's eyes wondered all over Harry's lean frame, taking in the pale skin and sparse dustings of hair. His nipples were pronounced despite the warmth, their rosy pink tips hard to his gaze, and he had a very acceptable bottom. No comments were made on his physique, and to Harry's surprise he was allowed to keep his Muggle style boxer breifs on. Not that they hid a whole lot.
“You have no scarring.”
“You sound surpised.”
“Carlstrom's reputation is... unsavoury. It surprises me that he had the restraint not to mark you permanently.”
Harry looked away.
“Unless... he didn't.”
“I used magical lotions to heal.”
“At his request?”
“He didn't want me permanently marked,” Harry couldn't hide the emotion in his voice. Harry had known his longings had been selfish and reckless, he'd been a teacher having an affair with a married man! The last thing he should have wanted was proof written all across his body. The sad thing was, 'want; was far too tame a word to describe the longing that had haunted him. There had been days when Harry had done all he could to provoke Andrzej into making it harder in hopes that his ointment wouldn't erase all the scars.
“Sensible of him, considering. You will continue the use of the cream for the time being. I am sure whomever is brave enough or stupid enough to take you on full time will want you to be a blank canvas.”
Harry swallowed the disappointment at going longer without the signifier of ownership that he desired.
Draco pauses, giving Harry an odd look. “I am sure you will be grateful for the opportunity to belong to your Dom completely, with no reminders of past dalliances.”
Harry looked up sharply, catching grey eyes. It was almost as if Draco understood something about Harry that even he himself had trouble verbalising. Maybe... just maybe this wasn't the terrible idea that Harry feared it was.
“Now, kneel once more. We need to work on your positioning. Your knees, for starter, then we'll talk about hands.”
Harry rolled his eyes and obeyed, hoping he wasn't wrong to put his faith in Snape's judgement. Either way it looked it like would be a long day.