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When Ron saw they had Harry, too, he struggled harder for a moment, though he knew that, wandless, the two of them were no match even for the goons who held him, much less for an armed man. But Snape didn't even draw his wand. And Harry didn't even stand, just stayed at Snape's feet, kneeling, his naked skin milk-pale against the black of Snape's robes and the wild scarlet and purple of the carpet. But he looked up, hardly moving except for his eyes, and gave Ron an almost imperceptible shake of his head, and Ron stopped fighting-- just stood reeling between his captors while Snape's voice washed over him, issuing orders to the goons, to him, and Harry stared up at him without ever lifting his head.

They let him bathe away the grime and the blood-- none of it was his, and would Harry have let him fight, have joined him, if he'd known that?-- and they took his clothes away. They didn't bring him new ones. They didn't come to get him, either, even after he'd started to shiver in the steam-heavy air. For a long time, he stared at the door, not chasing down any of the thoughts that ran through his head, things like Harry still has his glasses, and There weren't any bruises on him and Why does Snape have a Gryffindor scarlet carpet in his rooms, anyway? He didn't let himself think, Has Harry been here all this time? or Did they take anyone else alive? or Has Snape ever been on anyone's side? He tried not to let himself think the big questions about Harry, either-- the what have they done to him, and is he all right? questions-- but Harry was just on the other side of the door, and here he was hiding in the bathroom instead of going out there where Harry was kneeling-- kneeling-- at that bastard's feet, and finally Ron opened the door.

"Weasley." Snape looked up from the depths of a green wing chair. One long white hand rested on Harry's head, tangled in Harry's hair. "Punctual as ever, I see." Ron waited for the rest, for Snape to say something about how undisciplined and disorderly they must have become since he disappeared. But Snape let it lie, as if he could tell that there was nothing he could say in that vein that Ron hadn't said a thousand times himself, to Harry, to what was left of their ragged troop; he petted Harry's hair while Ron glanced around the room, trying to get his bearings.

There was a fire in the hearth, warm on Ron's skin, and there were windows, though it was night outside, and black. The curtains were green, too, and Ron looked down at the gold-shot carpet and remembered standing in Dumbledore's office-- too many late-night vigils in Dumbledore's office, when his father was hurt, and then for Percy, and then for Ginny-- and tracing that line and that curve with his foot. His bare toes curled into the deep pile, and only that told him he had swayed on his feet.

"There are rules," Snape said, not giving any sign that he'd noticed Ron's shock of recognition, "which you will follow for as long as you remain here."

"Where is 'here?'" Ron began, but Snape cut him off: "The first of which is that you do not interrupt me.

"Now. Potter has made an extraordinary request of me." He spoke as if he were talking about-- no, Snape had never been so calm when discussing marks, or potions, or even war business, before that terrible late-night vigil for him. He spoke as though nothing were wrong here, as though Ron weren't naked and Harry weren't on his knees. "He asks that I not touch you, Weasley; that I let you be until you have recovered from your ordeal." Snape didn't even say it sarcastically, just let his gaze rest a moment on the bruises his goons had left on Ron's upper arms. Ron had come away with no other marks; this time the Death Eaters had outnumbered them four to one at least, and he'd been overpowered and carried off almost without a fight. Almost.

"In fact," Snape continued, "Potter has offered to bear your punishment himself." Snape petted Harry's hair while he talked. Harry didn't move. "And as I find myself in an unusually... generous mood--" he stroked Harry's cheek and mouth with his thumb; Ron flinched, but Harry stayed still, though Ron could see the tension in his shoulders-- "I have agreed."

Snape looked Ron up and down, letting his appraising gaze fall longest and heaviest on Ron's face, his eyes. Ron stood straight, and tried not to look away. "So. You took an unconscionably long time to follow my orders and present yourself, Weasley, but as Potter was able to put the intervening time to such delightful use I shall l let that slide, just this once. But your language, when my associates brought you in, was completely unsuitable. And you spat on my robes, Weasley. Don't think I'll forgive that easily." And now he did sound like the old Snape. He drew his wand, finally, and Ron couldn't help but flinch again, but he only summoned a flat wooden box with a brass latch. He opened it-- the lid obscured its contents from Ron's view-- and after a moment's consideration, took out a black leather strap, with a thick leather braid for a handle. "Five strokes, let us say, for swearing, and fifteen for spitting." He pulled the leather tight over the handle and stroked Harry's cheek with it. "You know what to do, Potter."

And Harry did; he got down on his hands and knees and turned his bare arse up to Snape, easily, like it was something he did every day. He hung his head, not looking up at Ron.

Harry had been only been missing for four weeks. How long had it taken Snape to make him give in like this?

Snape ran a fold of the leather down Harry's spine, over each buttock, and finally down the crease between them. Ron could tell Harry was trying to stay still-- he could see his determination in the clench of his shoulders, the tightness across the back of his neck-- but he still shuddered, and when Snape took the strap in both hands and pulled it back and forth along Harry's cleft, Harry let that light touch push his knees even wider, let it spread him open, and when Snape took the leather away, Harry didn't quite suppress a little backward thrust of his hips.

"So greedy," Snape said, though he didn't sound angry. He got out of the chair and knelt on the carpet behind Harry. "Don't imagine your friend is acting out of altruism, Weasley," he added. "Potter's just a greedy slut who doesn't want to share." He smacked a fold of leather against his palm, and Harry flinched, but whether towards the sound or away, Ron couldn't tell. "Now, Weasley, your part in this is very simple." He idly traced circles over Harry's back, over the base of his spine and his buttocks. "You will count each blow. If you lose count, I will start over. Do you understand?"

Ron stared at the back of Harry's neck, willing him to look up, to meet his eyes. There was a sharp thwack; a tremor ran down Harry's spine and Ron looked up to see the slack leather strap slither over Harry's arse, a line of flesh reddening in its wake. "I asked you a question, Weasley. Do you understand?"

"Yes." Harry wouldn't look at him, but Harry was doing this for him-- for him, no matter what Snape said-- and he couldn't make it worse for Harry.

"As for you, Potter..." Snape reached between Harry's legs, and Harry's breath caught, and Ron realized-- he leaned over just far enough to see-- Harry was hard. He'd got hard, waiting there.

Snape pulled at Harry's cock, rolled his balls in his palm, and then pulled back and gave Ron that appraising look again... "Suck him."

And now, finally, Harry did look up. He looked dismayed; he looked like he wanted to say 'no.' But his eyes, behind his glasses, were so wide they were almost black. Ron nodded, a small nod, because what other reassurance could he give? If he said You're all right, we'll be all right, Harry would know it for a lie. But Harry didn't nod back: he swallowed, and he-- god, he licked his lips, quickly, like he didn't even know he was doing it, and Ron felt his own cock twitch, unstoppably.

It was wrong-- it had to be wrong-- to be turned on, when Snape was running the leather strap over his palms, about to use it on Harry. But Harry was turned on like Ron had never seen him, not just hard but trembling, and his breath shallow and fast, and when Ron knelt down and took himself in hand Harry strained forward, opening his mouth for him.

So warm, so hot, and when Harry sucked he could feel all the blood in his body rushing into his cock, into Harry's mouth. Harry held on to his hip, and he ran his hands through Harry's hair, and when the first stroke fell, he felt the sudden pressure of Harry's fingers, the tight pull of his mouth, before he heard the snap of the leather. He looked up; Snape brought the strap down again across Harry's arse-- Harry's whole body tightened, mouth like a fist around his cock-- and Ron gasped, "One."

With every blow (two, three) Harry opened himself wider: his mouth, his knees and thighs spreading open, and his eyes (four, five, six) dilating bigger and blacker, until Ron finally took Harry's glasses off and laid them aside, made Harry hide that black stare with a squint. And with every blow, (seven, eight, nine) Harry swallowed Ron down deeper, sucked him in, until on ten he suddenly opened around him, slid his mouth all the way down until his lips disappeared into Ron's hair, and Ron reeled, clutching at Harry's shoulder to stay upright.

It was-- another blow fell, and Ron choked "Eleven"-- it was impossibly slick and hot and though he tried to stay still, he couldn't help but thrust, just a little. Harry gagged-- he could feel Harry's throat trying to close around him-- but then he just dove back in, bobbing his head down, down to the root and back and Ron was going to come very soon, he was going to--

Thwack! The blow rang out, and Ron realized it was the second he had heard, or maybe the third. Snape grabbed Harry's hair and pulled him off of Ron's cock. "Potter," he said, and his voice was rougher now, and deeper. "Don't let him come until I tell you." He let Harry go and looked at Ron. "We will start over from the beginning, Weasley."

And now Ron looked, really looked, at Harry-- not at the red mouth that stretched so hungrily around his cock, or the soft black hair curling with sweat over his livid scar, but at the sweat-sheen down his pale taut back, and the red-- the angry red scrawl of welts across his arse, and the way Harry's thighs shivered, as though all the blood and warmth had left them for those lines of reddened skin. For a moment, the rasp of Harry's tongue hurt, like his cock suddenly remembered it was wrong to feel so good when Harry was-- "Harry--"

He barely whispered, but Snape brought the strap down-- a stripe of skin flashed white, and then red-on-red, and a tightness rippled along Harry's back, into his clutching hand, his grasping mouth. "Whenever you're ready, Weasley." And Snape raised his arm, and it began all over again.

The blows seemed to fall slower this time, now that Ron was watching-- the leather curled and flashed in the air on each upstroke, and seemed to hang frozen there, suspended, before diving fast and unavoidable back to Harry's body, to Harry's skin. And Harry, too, seemed to freeze, waiting for each stroke to land-- his mouth going still, even the trembling of his legs, the little twitches under the skin of his back, all bracing against each impending blow of the leather strap.

But when the blow fell, Harry would arch into it, his body tightening under the leather and going loose again as it coiled away down, and by eight Harry's whole body was rippling and pulsing with the same pattern-- tight-loose, suck-lick, clench-release. Harry's hips thrust forward and back, rutting desperately against the empty air, and spreading himself wide open to the leather's licking blows.

Ten fell across Harry's thighs, where the skin was still pristine white, and Harry made a choking sound around Ron's cock. On the next blow, tears spilled from his tight-closed eyes, and they streamed down his face through twelve, thirteen, fourteen; but he sucked Ron even harder, and pulled at Ron's hips until Ron finally thrust, finally fucked his mouth hard. Ron bit his lip, hard, to keep from coming, while Harry, Harry who never cried, sobbed silently around his cock.

And then fifteen fell straight across Harry's buttocks again, and Harry made a low noise of relief and Ron did come, spilling helplessly into Harry's mouth, into Harry's moaning throat. But he kept counting, even as Harry swallowed and swallowed around him, kept counting sixteen, seventeen, eighteen as Snape brought the strap down right down the center of Harry's arse, right along his cleft, over his dark and clutching hole.

He tried to pull back, but Harry held him tight and sucked till there was nothing left in him, sucked him while the nineteenth blow angled across one cheek, with the loudest thwack yet, and the twentieth landed, still more forceful, across the other-- and then in the sudden silence, Harry kept sucking him, even though now he was just sore, and kept fucking the air, kept rocking back into blows that didn't come. He whimpered-- the sound scraped rawly over Ron's cock-- Harry had never made that sound while the blows were falling, but now that they had stopped-- now that Snape had--

Snape was breathing as hard as he was now, almost as hard as Harry. He stared at Harry for a long moment, at the red ruin he'd made of his arse, at Harry's still-busy mouth, before he finally reached out and brushed his fingers, very lightly, over Harry's cheek, over his lips, stopping just short of touching Ron's cock. Harry stopped sucking him almost at once and slowly drew away, leaning his cheek into Snape's hand. His eyes were glassy, fixed on nothing.

"I told you not to let him come." Snape's voice was deep and rough with arousal. "For that, you will have to wait for your own release, Potter." He stroked Harry's back, one long brush of his fingers down Harry's spine. When he reached the red and tender flesh of Harry's arse, Harry choked down another tiny whimper, and tried to press back into Snape's touch; when he circled his fingers around Harry's arsehole, Harry shut his eyes tight and bit his lip.

"You want to be fucked, don't you." Harry's nod turned into a shiver as Snape reached between his legs, cradled his balls. Harry's cock was so hard it had to have hurt, blood-dark and glistening. "Your arse wants what your mouth just had. Weasley's cock, here--" Snape pressed the pad of his thumb against Harry's hole, and Harry let out a breath that caught in his throat-- "here, fucking your tight arse, stretching you and filling you. That's what you need, isn't it Potter?"

"Yes." Harry's voice was something Ron had never heard, desperate and needy and nothing like Harry, and something twisted inside him. But then Harry lifted his head and looked up at Ron-- his eyes were black and blurred, but he was looking straight at Ron, with recognition and trust. "Yes," Harry said again, and licked his swollen lips, and this time the twist in Ron's belly left a warmth, snaking and coiling behind it.

"Weasley." Snape moved to kneel by Harry's side, cupped one reddened buttock possessively; Harry bared his teeth and gasped, though he didn't take his eyes off Ron's. "Come here and get him ready."

Ron wanted to touch Harry's face, or squeeze his shoulder, make some connection, but Snape might have taken it out on Harry again, and so he had to hope his eyes were speaking as clearly as Harry's. He crawled over the rough wool carpet-- his knees already felt scraped raw-- and knelt where Snape had knelt to...

--god, to do this. Up close, it was even worse-- Harry's skin wasn't just red, but hot, hotter than the worst sunburn he'd ever had, and he could see the red-on-red lines of individual welts. He skated a hand over Harry's other buttock and Harry let his head fall, biting back a cry.

"Get him ready, Weasley," Snape repeated.

Ron looked up; Snape was staring at him as though he'd messed up a potion in class. "How?"

Snape sighed heavily and shook his head. He took the leather strap in both hands, and Ron flinched, but Snape only reversed his grip, and reached out to stroke Ron's cheek with the handle end. He skimmed the thick leather braid over Ron's lips, then pressed until Ron had to open his mouth. The leather tasted of sweat and old books, and the braid held Ron's tongue down like a mediwitch's wand; Snape pushed it into his mouth, slowly, and pulled it out, dragging it heavily over his tongue, and suddenly there Ron was with his tongue all stretched out, licking at the damp leather, its weight gone but the feel of it still there in his mouth.

Snape gave the braided handle one final twist and tucked it back into his belt, and Ron closed his mouth, feeling foolish. "Oh," he said. His tongue could feel every part of his mouth.

"Yes." Snape licked his thin lips, quickly but deliberately. "Be thorough, Weasley; that's all you'll have to ease the way when you fuck him."

And his cock twitched at that, because what did his cock care how wrong all of this was, now that it had been inside Harry? Harry stifled another whimper-- Ron's nails were biting at his abused flesh. Ron unclenched his hand. "I'm sorry," he murmured, and he spread Harry open and licked him, from the base of his spine all the way down to his balls.

Hot, Harry was so hot under his tongue, and hottest here at the center, down the middle of the tight crease of his arse. Ron licked broad stripes, working to soothe, to cool Harry's throbbing skin. But Harry shuddered, not soothed at all; his thighs trembled with the effort to stay still, and when Ron licked a circle-- lightly, tentatively-- around Harry's hole, the flesh spasmed, grabbing at Ron's tongue like a clutching fist.

And after that it didn't matter to Ron where his mouth was-- it was all just skin, hot and dark with blood, tender, creased with folds and wrinkles that smoothed as Ron licked, as the muscle beneath them opened and stretched. Harry was panting, his cock tight against his belly and his head hanging limp, and his hole pulsing, grasping at Ron's tongue, and then opening still wider to reach and grasp again. And finally Ron let his tongue be caught, and drawn inside.

Hot, hot like the first swallow of mulled mead in winter, that Ron was always too impatient to let cool, too thirsty and cold. And how could he be patient with Harry writhing against him, around him, with Harry's flesh sucking at his tongue, and god, Ron had still never kissed Harry, and that thought wrenched a little moan from his throat. If they got out, if they got away, Ron was going to kiss Harry every day, every fucking hour. He was going to touch Harry every place that Snape had touched-- and had Snape ever tried to kiss him?-- and he was going to do it slowly, and as gentle as anyone had ever been.

He would let Harry fuck him, when they got away.

But for now-- now, Harry's hips jerked back against him, one short thrust after another. He was trying to fuck himself on Ron's tongue-- Ron pulled back just long enough to lick two of his fingers and slid them inside. Harry's arse clenched around them-- so tight, there was no way his cock would ever fit-- and Ron licked the ring of flesh, where his fingers disappeared, trying to get them wet enough, slick enough, to slide easily in that tightness. He pushed in deeper, and Harry keened, a high, thin cry, more pleading than any noise he'd made when Snape beat him.

Ron looked up at Snape-- would he punish Harry for that, too? But Snape looked almost as far gone as Harry, staring hungrily and cupping the bulge in his robes. "Weasley," he rasped. "Feed Potter your cock again. Let him get you wet for him."

And, fuck, Ron was already wet, slick and hard for Harry, and just the sight of Harry lifting his head, of the way Harry's eyes went wide and then narrowed to dark slits when Harry looked at his cock, made him even harder. He had to pull hard at his balls to keep from thrusting helplessly in Harry's mouth, and when Harry licked him up and down, and then sucked him down again, wetly and greedily, Ron thought he knew what it had been like for Harry, trembling and sobbing with the effort to stay still while Ron licked him open.

"Enough." Snape was clutching the base of his cock through a handful of his robes; there was a wet patch on the bunched fabric. He pulled Harry's head back by the hair, pulled his mouth off Ron's cock. "Enough." He ran one hand down Harry's spine-- Harry arched into the touch-- and down his cleft. He slid one long finger inside and circled it; Harry moaned. "Weasley. Give Potter what he needs." And Harry looked up at him and nodded, just once, less with his head than with his eyes. Ron nodded back, just as slightly, and stroked Harry's back, following the line of Snape's caress with his own hand.

As soon as Ron knelt behind him, Harry's whole body fell into position, arse lifted and legs spread, but Ron held him in place anyway, cupped his arse cheeks and spread them with his thumbs. Harry's skin was still hot under his hands, and he was whimpering, little gasping moans pouring out of his throat like he wasn't even trying to stifle them anymore. Ron took a deep breath, and then another, and then he lined himself up against Harry's hole and pressed forward.

Tight. His tongue, his fingers, had found nothing like the tightness his cock met. He pushed forward in little thrusts, trying to go slowly, and on each thrust Harry's arse spasmed around him, tugging at his cock, pulling him in a finger's breadth at a time. Ron bit his lip, hard, sure he would come before he ever got inside; and when the head of his cock finally slid in, and that tight ring of muscle clenched down on the sensitive spot just behind it, Ron had to hold himself back, hold still and bite his tongue and count to ten in his head, desperately talking himself down before Harry could pull another orgasm out of him.

Harry's hot flesh was all around him, pressed tight against him, and then in another few shallow thrusts Harry's sweat-damp back was pressed against Ron's chest, and if Ron leaned in he could rub his cheek against Harry's shoulder, or against the fine curling hair at the back of his neck. He'd thought a moment ago that there was nothing left of him but his cock, but now there was so much of Harry to feel, to stroke and to kiss, that he could almost wish for that alone, wish to have Harry spread out under him without the distraction of that smooth tight heat around him. Almost-- but that heat was Harry, too, Harry from the inside, and the thought was as overwhelming as the sensation.

Harry groaned low in his throat and jerked his hips, and Ron gave another small thrust. It was hard to really move-- not slick, not like with a girl-- and Harry gasped, like it hurt; but he arched his back, and tried to spread his legs even wider, and so Ron did it again, and it was easier this time; and then every stroke was easier than the last one, Harry's body opening up around him, letting him in, moving with him.

But Harry pushed back against him, harder and faster, like he couldn't stand for this to be easy, and Ron tried to give him what he wanted-- he couldn't thrust fast or long, not with only spit slicking them, but he could make Harry feel how deep he was, could twist his hips and let Harry feel the whole length of his cock. Harry writhed up against him, legs spread impossibly wide, until his motion bore them both down to the carpet, and for a moment Ron's arms and legs enfolded Harry's whole body, tangled and twisted around him and held him close.

Only for a moment. "Get up. Up." Snape tugged at Harry's shoulder, pulling him out from under Ron, back up on his hands and knees; Ron kept his balance, but he lost the warm curve of Harry's back. But Harry's hips followed his as he knelt up, fitting perfectly against him; Ron dropped his hands to the grooves of Harry's hipbones, and that fit, too, an empty place just right for Ron's hands to fill. But Harry's eyes were on Snape now, on the hard, dark cock jutting out from Snape's open robes; and Harry's cheekbones, the angle under them, that was another empty place, and Snape touched him there, took Harry's face between his hands, like he knew they fit together there.

Snape tilted Harry's head back and stared at his face for a long time before he said "Suck me." Harry didn't hesitate-- or nod, or smile, Ron was sure of that-- before he obeyed. He swallowed Snape's cock almost to the root all at once, like he wanted to get it over with. But he sucked Snape like he liked it. Like he needed it, needed Snape's slow deep strokes over his tongue as much as Ron's quick and shallow thrusts, needed Snape's thumbs circling over his cheeks and the hinges of his jaw as much as Ron's hands holding him up by the hipbones and Ron's legs sliding all along his.

Snape stared down at Harry's face, not even noticing Ron, but Ron couldn't not watch Snape-- or Snape's cock, rather, sliding over and over between Harry's swollen lips, redder and more insistent each time it appeared. It should have made him wilt, looking at it-- Snape's cock was as ugly as the rest of him, all spidered with dark veins-- but now Ron knew just how good it must feel for Snape, how hot Harry's mouth would be on each plunge, how slick Harry's tongue would be, curling against his shaft-- and Ron had to bite his lip to keep from coming.

And Snape was on the edge, too, sweat beading on his forehead and breath coming so shallow he barely moved. He spoke, suddenly, and his voice was rough and hoarse: "You want to come, don't you Potter?"

Harry choked, audibly, and his whole body seized--- a shudder went down his back, and through him; Ron could feel it all along his cock, and he hissed. Snape looked up, like he'd only just noticed Ron was there; his eyes were narrowed to slits, and his thin lips were parted and wet. "Weasley. Touch Potter." He looked back down at Harry's face. "Take his prick in your hand and tell me just how hard he is."

Harry's cock fit Ron's hand perfectly, and Ron's own cock jumped when he took hold of it. "He's hard, fuck, he's so hard, I can't believe he hasn't come, he's so ready." Ron tried not to stroke Harry like he wanted to; Snape might punish Harry if he came without permission. But it was hard not to, and hard to stop talking now that he'd loosed his tongue. "He's wet, too. Wet and slick, all the way down, like he's been wet and leaking for hours. He-- god, Harry." Harry shuddered, under him and around him. "You like it, hearing us talk like this." He could feel the blood speed under Harry's skin, in Harry's cock. "I can feel him jump in my hand, when I talk to him, twitching and, fuck, Harry, you have no idea how good your cock feels in my hand, so hot, god, so hot--"

There was no help for it; Ron was coming, clenching his hand around Harry's cock like it was his own, bending his back until he could rest his forehead between Harry's shoulder blades and breathe the scent of his skin and his sweat, listen to him whimper and moan around Snape's cock, little high-pitched sounds, desperate and needy. Harry would pay for this, Ron knew, and he uncurled his fist, a finger at a time, from Harry's cock-- still hard, still hot and ready.

Harry's whimpers turned to a choke, and Ron raised his head to see Snape grab a fistful of Harry's hair and thrust, fast and blindly, into Harry's throat. Harry's open eyes were streaming with tears, and his cock was slicker with every heaving surge of his back and his legs.

And then Snape stopped, he held there buried to the root in Harry's throat-- Ron laid a hand on Harry's back, suddenly dizzy with the tightness of him, wanting to pull out-- but Snape looked up at him, one bitten lip caught between his jagged teeth. "Not yet," he rasped. It was more a plea than an order.

And Ron obeyed, waiting, one hand braced over Harry's spine, and Harry's wild writhing suddenly stopped, even his cock going completely still in Ron's hand; only a little quavering sob came from deep in his chest. "Yes," Snape hissed. "You want to come. To come all over everything, like the dirty little slut you are. You can hardly stop yourself." He stroked Harry's stretched and swollen lips, and whispered, "So don't. Come. Now."

Harry's whole body clenched, not just his arse but his thighs and legs, twisting and wringing Ron's cock, and his mouth working helplessly around Snape's red prick. Ron reared back and fucked Harry hard and deep, his cock spent but not yet soft, and slick with his come. Harry's rhythm pulled him along, and it was all he could do to hold on, to cradle Harry's cock as it jumped and shot all over Snape's black robes and the red and gold carpet, all over Harry's stomach and warm and thick and wet over Ron's hand.

Snape held tight to Harry's hair and Harry's shoulder, his knuckles going whiter and whiter, while Harry shuddered through to the end, until just as the last spasm took Harry he gave one final thrust and came down Harry's throat. Harry swallowed it all, not opening his eyes, and Snape's own eyes fluttered shut. The moment stretched out, Harry's body gone limp with release, growing heavier between them. Finally Snape pulled Harry's head back, off of his cock; he wiped a drop of come from Harry's lip with his thumb, and traced the tracks of tears above his cheekbones, before he let go of Harry's hair. Ron slipped out, and held Harry as his knees finally gave out; pulled him into a sprawl across his lap and held him there. He looked up at Snape, sure he would meet some challenge for this, but Snape, when he finally opened his eyes, only gave him a long, speculative look.

"Weasley." He sounded very weary. "I told you there were rules you would follow. Do you want to tell me which one you have violated, not once but twice tonight?"

Ron thought he knew, but he was damned if he was going to say it. "No. Tell me."

Snape sighed and started righting his robes, buttoning them up the front, and patting the whip and the wand tucked into his belt. "Your release is for me to grant or withhold. You did not have my permission to come, Weasley."

Ron tightened his arms around Harry's chest. "I suppose you're going to punish me for that."

"Well. That remains to be seen." Snape rose, stiffly, and sat down in the wing chair. He opened the case the leather strap had come from-- this time, Ron caught a glimpse of the other implements in it, gleaming leather and steel and polished wood-- but then he set it aside again without replacing the strap. "You remember, I-- foolishly, I concede-- made a promise to Potter."

Harry opened his eyes. He squinted, and Ron looked around for his glasses; they were out of reach, but they flew into Harry's hand at Snape's muttered Accio.

Harry put his glasses on and looked up at Snape. "You said you wouldn't touch him."

"For a time, I said. And I did not give you permission to speak." Harry pressed his lips together, and fell silent, though Ron could feel his shoulders and back go tense. "But if you insist on bearing Weasley's punishment a second time--"

"No," said Ron. Harry grabbed his arm-- hard, digging in with his nails. "No, punish me if youre going to, but leave Harry out of it."

"Well, Potter?" Snape reached out and stroked Harry's cheek, lightly, with the backs of his fingers; Harry went very still. "It seems to me that I am released from your promise. Weasley appears to be quite recovered."

"You can't do this, Harry," Ron murmured against Harry's hair. "We'll be all right; I can take whatever you can."

Harry shivered. He turned his face up to Ron's, though the motion made him lean into Snape's touch. "No, Ron. You can't." His half-shut eyes were clear and sad. "You're not--"

"I'm not what? I'm not as, as strong as you? As brave as you? I--"

Harry interrupted him before he could say I carried you out of the rubble of Hogwarts or I held your hand in the hospital tent or I never told you I crawled into your cot when you had nightmares, and you always stopped screaming and slept so peacefully when I was there. "You're not like me," he said, shaking his head.

Snape knelt down on the rug again, knees almost touching Ron's, and twined his fingers into Harry's hair. "No, he's not," he said, sounding almost regretful. "I daresay Mr. Weasley has a far more realistic idea of his own limits." He was stroking Harry's back now, with one hand on the hilt of his wand, and Ron had seen too much triage not to recognize the spells Snape muttered; he was checking to see how much damage he had inflicted. How badly he'd broken him.

And Harry had just taken it, taken and taken whatever had been thrown at him. Like he always had. Like he would again as soon as Snape felt like it, if he wouldn't release Snape from the promise that-- however strange it seemed-- Ron was sure Snape would keep.

But Harry had got that promise out of him, even against Snape's better judgement.

"No," he whispered, right against Harry's ear. "I'm not like you." He slowly ran his hands up and down Harry's back; one hand brushed one of Snape's, and Snape drew it back as though burned. "But I can still learn to take what you can. I can-- I can share it with you, if you'll let me." He opened his eyes; Snape's face was right there behind Harry's shoulder, unreadable. "You used to let me share what you had to take." And he kissed Harry's scar, then his cheek, and finally, when Harry still didn't move or open his eyes, kissed his lips, softly and slow.

"Please," he said, when Harry finally opened his eyes. Harry took in a long, deep breath, and Harry's lower lip made a little dip in the center, like it was about to start quivering, but his mouth was set by the time he turned to face Snape and said, very softly, "All right."

Snape nodded, slowly, and looked into Ron's face for a long time, and Ron didn't think he wanted to know what Snape saw there. But then he took the leather from his belt again-- he didn't stop to fondle it this time, or twine it around his long fingers, just touched the handle to Ron's lips, and Ron opened his mouth for it, and let Snape press it in and out, once, twice, three times. And then Snape traced Ron's lips with his fingers-- they were dry and smooth, like old paper-- and pressed them into Ron's mouth, over his tongue, and out, leaving behind the taste of salt and sour sweat.

And then he took Harry away, and pointed Ron to an alcove with only a curtain for a door. There was a low bed, with a pillow that smelled very faintly of Harry, and three plain robes in Harry's size hanging on pegs-- two black, one dark bottle-green. Ron lay there, still tasting leather, and listened to the sounds of running water and of Snape's voice murmuring healing charms, and other things Ron couldn't make out. Harry answered a few timescalmly, a little sadly, not at all like he was talking to Snape. And not like Snape had just beaten him like a hired hippogriff and fucked his mouth.

When Harry finally came to bed, his skin damp and smelling of aromatic salves, he put his arms around Ron and held him for a long time before turning up his lips for Ron's kiss.

After a moment, Ron broke it and murmured, "Do they think he's broken you? The other Death Eaters?"

Harry nodded against his shoulder. "Ron. He will. If you can't-- he will break you, if he has to." His breath was warm and secret between them.

Ron pressed his forehead against Harry's, against the angry heat of his scar. "I can bend," he whispered.

Harry tilted his head and kissed Ron's mouth again. The tastes of salt and leather hung between their lips, stronger and stronger, it seemed to Ron, the longer and the deeper they kissed.