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Admittance

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"Want something to drink, Draco?" Harry called out from the kitchen, lifting the cooling charm from a bottle of lager. It wasn't an entirely casual question, though Harry wouldn't have said he was trying to get Draco drunk, exactly.

"Whatever you're having," Draco called back. He was sprawled across their bed, dictating a letter to his parents with a self-correcting quill that would remove all his profanities before they reached his mother. This was not one of Draco's favorite tasks, and Harry knew a bit of coaxing would be needed before Draco was relaxed enough for an enjoyable evening.

When it came to sex, usually Draco was the inventive one -- the blindfold had been his idea, and the ice. The cherry-flavored edible underwear might have been a mistake, since it tasted like the vile cough syrup Aunt Petunia had given Harry as a child. But most of Draco's ideas of how to spice things up in bed were splendid, and Harry was feeling impatient for Draco to finish this chore.

"Just make sure it's cold -- no, scratch that," Draco added hastily to the quill, which had recorded the conversation. Obediently the quill retraced the words, the ink flowing upward again, as Draco continued, "I don't know where you've picked up the bizarre idea that I'm no longer a proper bloody little Slytherin. No, I was not wearing a scarlet-and-gold necktie to work. I don't even own a scarlet necktie. But since you've asked, I will have Professor Snape over for dinner one of these days. Though I must say he hasn't exactly shown a great deal of desire for my company. I haven't had an owl from him in ages."

Harry knew that any estrangement between Draco and his former Head of House was probably his own fault -- Snape had made it plain more than once that he was no more keen to spend time with Harry now than he had been when Harry was a student -- but Draco grinned at him anyway as Harry came over with two glasses. "You also needn't bother to keep reminding me that there are plenty of nice pureblood girls I could marry," Draco dictated to the quill. "I'm fully aware of what you want me to do, and it's not on the agenda. As you know. I hope you're not planning to spend the whole of the damned holiday nagging me, because Harry and I will leave if that's the case. I respect your wishes, but you have to respect mine too. Your son, Draco."

"That's all for the weekly letter?" Harry asked, watching the quill sign with a flourish and replace itself in the inkwell.

"If I don't write, they might visit," Draco said darkly. "And Father will give us both the lecture about our duty to the wizarding community, and Mother will insist that we need a house-elf to tidy up. Honestly. It's not like we're dirty." He caught Harry's eye and let one lid droop in a slow wink. "Not in any way that a house-elf could help, that is."

Harry laughed and handed Draco a glass. "Cheers." He took a large swallow from his own and said, "Are they threatening to visit again? Haven't you explained that we only have the one bedroom?"

"You don't think they'd want to stay overnight, do you?" asked Draco in horror. "I thought they'd Apparate back to their lovely, pristine home!" He took a swallow of his lager. "If they stayed here, they'd make me sleep on the sofa and probably suggest that since you inherited Sirius' house which should have gone to Mother since he was disowned, you should sleep there."

"If I went to Grimmauld Place, you wouldn't sleep on the sofa, you'd go with me," Harry pointed out. "And since your parents resolutely ignore the fact that we're together, somehow I can't see them making that suggestion." He glanced around the bedroom. "But even a day visit from them would mean having to do some redecorating, wouldn't it? I mean, we love those nineteenth-century engravings, but I think Narcissa might have a stroke if she looked at them very closely."

"They're sure to want to inspect the place sooner or later." With a sigh Draco pushed the letter and quill to the side. "Isn't there a spell to make the whole place look completely different? What was that thing you told me Slughorn had used the first time you ever met him? Couldn't we hide our secret vices under fresh wallpaper?" Grinning again, he took another gulp.

Harry grinned back. "I don't remember what the spell was, but maybe we should find out. Probably a Transfiguration variant, although I wouldn't want to ask McGonagall -- can you imagine, probably all the walls would be covered in tartan paper."

"In Gryffindor colors. Horrible," Draco gave an exaggerated shudder and finished his drink.

"Get you another?" Harry offered.

"Are you trying to get me drunk?"

"Would I do that?"

For a moment Draco looked suspicious, but then he frowned slightly in disappointment. "Probably not. Too well behaved. Mother and Father would approve of you completely if you weren't a half-blood," he snickered.

"Except for the little matter that what's between my legs and matches yours," shot back Harry as he went off to fetch another round.

"There's always that," Draco acknowledged. "But Mother wouldn't be satisfied if she couldn't complain about something. And you know Father. He'll never criticize you to your face, now that you've defeated the Dark Lord." Harry wondered whether to be relieved he didn't have parents like Draco's or whether to be envious that Draco had parents who loved him... even such parents as Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy. On the whole, he thought he would leave Draco's parents to Draco. At least this way he didn't have to write them letters once a week.

"Let's not talk about them any more tonight," he said, handing back the glass. "They're not threatening to visit imminently, are they? So no worries for the moment, we just have to go to Wiltshire for the Beltane celebration. I can stand that. Even if they won't have such a lowbrow Muggle sort of beverage as this." He lifted his beer and drank.

"This is really quite palatable." Draco sniffed at it. "I never thought I'd like any of this Muggle stuff, but the food's not bad, and some of those things you need in your kitchen..." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively. "There's something the purebloods could learn about from Mudbloods. Those rubbery things you use to open jars when you can't use a spell? I can think of lots better uses for them. And those juicer things, and those things you use to flip eggs?" He winked, taking another drink. "Maybe it's not as interesting for you. Not like being let loose in a toy shop."

"After all those years having to cook for the Dursleys, kitchen tools are not my first idea as a source of excitement. Much more fun to see what uses you can think of for those gadgets, I have to say." Harry refrained from mentioning Arthur Weasley's similar fascinations, knowing that Draco was likely to be offended by any such comparison. He swallowed the last of his lager and added, "I wondered if you wanted to play tonight?"

Draco cocked his head. "So that's why you wanted me to drink with you -- get me all relaxed and willing." A smirk brightened his eyes as he sent the letter flying to the desk and hopped off the bed. "I'm done with this, so come on. Let's see what's in the kitchen that might be inspiring."

Rummaging in the refrigerator, Draco made a pleased sound. "Here we go." He filled a bowl with the whipped cream and pulled a spatula from a drawer with a flourish. "Dessert?"

Harry grinned. "Only if you were planning to put a cherry on top," he replied, swiping one finger through the cream and licking it off.

"My cherry's long gone." With a laugh Draco scooped up a large dollop on the spatula, wiped it on Harry's cheek, and leaned over to slurp it away. "Don't you like licking up messes for their own sake?'

Harry unbuttoned Draco's shirt with one hand and took the spatula from him with the other, swirling white peaks onto Draco's chest. "This kind of mess, absolutely." He looked up, his lips smeared with sweet whipped cream, tongue darting out to lap them clean.

Rolling his eyes slightly, Draco pulled out his wand with his newly-freed hand and said, "You're doing things the difficult way, as usual. Divestimento!" As Harry's clothing fell to the floor, he grinned. "Now. Give me that Muggle utensil." "And just what were you planning to do with it?" Laughter edged the pretended suspicion in Harry's voice as he handed the spatula back to Draco. "Can I have three guesses?"

"One," counted Draco as he painted a stripe of whipped cream along Harry's thickening cock. "Two..." Wiry curls showed through the white when Draco stroked down, catching the rubbery tip in the narrow space between Harry's thigh and balls. "Three!" Harry groaned and spread his legs wider, leaning back and bracing his hands on the edge of the cooker behind him. Draco knelt and looked up at Harry as he dragged the spatula further along, teasingly.

"Are you going to lick that off, or what?" demanded Harry somewhat breathlessly.

"All in good time." There was an arch grin on Draco's face as he nudged whipped cream behind Harry's balls. Finally he set down spatula and bowl, put his hands on Harry's thighs and took an experimental lick. "Not bad," he conceded, trying another.

"Not bad?" Harry wriggled; the combination of the cream dripping slowly down his thighs and Draco's too-light licks was tickling him unbearably. "I'll have you know that this cream is not a day out of the cow. The dairy farmers of Guernsey would be highly affronted."

Wrinkling his nose slightly, Draco muttered, "Don't remind me it's from a cow; I'd rather suck you," and took the head of Harry's cock into his mouth, sucking it forcefully. Groaning, Harry slid his fingers into Draco's hair, stroking and hoping to hold him there, but after another minute Draco slid his mouth down the shaft and licked Harry's balls. "Stuff gets all oozy when it gets warm, too."

"It does," Harry agreed, his breath hitching as Draco used his teeth to scrape skin, not enough to hurt, just enough to send shivers along Harry's spine. "More?" Draco looked up, grinning, and handed him the bowl. He sat back on his haunches to watch as Harry smoothed the whipped cream over his own cock, all but the head. "Now there's a cherry on top."

Draco sucked that first, then licked off the shaft, catching some melting cream on his finger when it started to run down Harry's thigh and using the wet digit to tease behind Harry's balls. "You do realize that I'm working up an appetite," he snickered. "All this sugar's making me want to fuck you."

"The bedroom might be more comfortable then. Last time we did it in here it took your knees two days to recover." Harry's cheeks turned slightly pink, watching Draco run his tongue along the underside of Harry's cock.

"Hmm." Draco gave a last slurp and stood up. "I thought it was you who had the knee trouble."

"That was the time before. Bedroom?"

"All right." Draco groped Harry's arse. "I suppose you want a bedtime story, too?" "Do you know any good ones?" Harry groped right back and began steering them down the hall.

"Hmm." There was a familiar wickedness in Draco's snicker. "I could tell you about a most unfortunate Potions accident. A true tale, even."

"Ooh, sounds good." Harry crawled onto the bed, Draco right behind him. "So tell me."

Draco knelt with one knee on either side of Harry's hips, effectively pinning him to the bed. "Now, what happened was not entirely my fault," he began.

"Not entirely your fault?" Harry raised his eyebrows and rested his arms on Draco's thighs.

"Not at all my fault, really. I didn't realize ginseng and saw palmetto together would act as an erectile enhancement potion. I only knew that in combination with ginkgo and stevia, they were supposed to give you a killer orgasm. They should explain these things in Potions textbooks."

"If they had, I'd have been a much better Potions student. Even Neville might have managed to survive it," interjected Harry fervently, running his fingers over Draco's smooth stomach.

"Don't put Longbottom into my head, please." Draco tweaked one of Harry's nipples. "As I was saying, I was attempting to work out a potion that was definitely not in any Ministry-approved textbook. Old Sluggy had given me permission to use the classroom one weekend; I told him I wanted to practice more on whichever potion it was we'd been learning that week. Wouldn't have done to tell him the truth."

This must have been sixth year, then. Harry hadn't known Draco took time away from his assignment for Voldemort to have any fun. Even now, they mostly avoided talking about that time. "Did you put a little too much of something in?" asked Harry.

"A lot too much. Let's not even discuss the details. Suffice it to say that after six hours, an erection is not only no longer desirable, it is acutely painful. I wasn't about to go to Slughorn for help -- you know he has a grudge against my entire family. Probably my father refused to join the Slug Club or get Sluggy a Ministry position. So I did the next best thing."

"You went to Snape," guessed Harry, making a face.

"I thought if anyone would know what to do, he would. And even though he wasn't teaching Potions that year, his rooms were still the closest, and believe me, I didn't want to walk any further than I had to. So I knocked on his door and explained the situation. He threatened to take twenty points from Slytherin for unauthorized brewing, but I don't think he actually did..." Draco's voice trailed off. He shook his head. "Doesn't matter. He had me go through exactly what I had done to make the potion, of course, and laughed when I told him how much stevia I'd used and how long I'd stirred."

"Snape laughed?" Harry was a bit sorry he hadn't been there.

"He laughed. And then he told me that instead of getting a detention, I was going to make the antidote myself. Now, I was so hard I could barely stand up. I kept shifting my weight while he went on and on about what I had to do -- only heard half of it, I was so distracted -- and he was definitely smirking."

"So what did you do?" Harry brushed over Draco's cock, which was surprisingly limp. The memory of a six-hour erection must have been terrible.

"Well, there was no way that I was going to be able to make the antidote without some relief, because as Snape explained it, there was an hour-long steeping period and if I rushed that, it would have the opposite effect of the one intended. I told him I didn't think I could do it, even though I was sure he would laugh at me again."

"Did he?" Though he would not have admitted it aloud, Harry took a secret delight in the idea of Snape scoffing at Draco the way he had so often ridiculed Harry before a classroom full of students. He had made a certain sort of peace with the idea, after the war, that Snape had been trying to make him tougher -- better mentally prepared to face Voldemort -- but that did not make his recollections of being made to feel ashamed any easier.

"He rolled his eyes at me and had me follow him to his bathroom, shoved me at the toilet, and told me to undo my trousers. Then he went and got some salve and told me to rub it on my prick." To Harry's surprise, Draco was blushing. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen Draco embarrassed over anything. "The moment I started rubbing it in I knew I was going to come. I mean, hard -- one for the record books. I was moaning as if I'd never wanked before."

"And Snape laughed at you again," guessed Harry.

"No," said Draco. "He. Ah. He watched. Not that he said anything, but the door was partway open and I could see him looking in out of the corner of my eye. After, he made me Scourgify the entire loo, and then we went back to the Potions room so he could talk me through brewing the antidote. I drank it, and that was that. That's the story of my failed Priapic Potion."

"That's all that happened? Snape just looked at your cock? He didn't do anything else?" Harry was disappointed, though the thought should have been repellent.

Draco rolled his eyes. "I know you're never going to join the Severus Snape Admiration Society, but he'd never have touched a student, especially not one who was still underage. And he did hide me after all that mess at Hogwarts."

"Did he watch you again then?" Harry's voice sounded far too enthusiastic, but Draco was too lost in thought to notice.

"We were in pretty close quarters. Hard to avoid. I saw him, too: Snape with morning wood. When he caught me looking he glared and said, in the voice he gets when he's about to take fifty points, 'I had thought that Narcissa Malfoy's son would have had the rudiments of polite behavior drilled into him by now.' But I couldn't help it; I hadn't expected his prick to look like that. If he'd wanted to, he could have found a job posing for those wicked witch magazines instead of teaching at Hogwarts."

"You're joking," said Harry. He was impressed at how well Draco mimicked Snape's voice... and ignored the fact that it seemed to be making him harder. "Only if he had a bag over his head, surely."

"No, honestly. It's the little head that counts in those mags, you know. Even with him sneering at me, I was turned on."

"You're mental." Harry laughed nervously. He didn't know which was more disturbing: that Draco had been excited watching Snape, or that he was excited listening to Draco talk about it. He wanted to grab his own cock, but then Draco might guess what he was thinking, and who knew what kind of teasing that might lead to?

"Jealous, are we?"

"No!" protested Harry. "Or... did you just watch him?"

Draco smirked. "That time." He rocked his hips against Harry's. "Eventually I talked him into letting me give him a blow job... Merlin only knows the last time he'd had one before that." Harry looked suspiciously at Draco -- it seemed improbable that Snape would have permitted it, and he wondered whether Draco was inventing just to excite him -- but Draco caught the look and added, "Do you think I would make up having any kind of sex with Snape? He was gracious about returning the favor, too. He may be greasy and foul-tempered, but he must have got experience somewhere, because I could hardly stand up when he was finished."

By now Harry was so hard that he was afraid he'd come untouched. "You're telling me that Snape is the one you learned your technique from?"

"One of them." Draco slithered down between Harry's legs, grinning. "Want a demonstration?"

Harry hesitated, torn. He was inclined to agree, but on the other hand he did love bottoming for Draco. "I'd rather you fucked me."

Draco grabbed the flask of lube from the bedside table, unstoppering it. "You're lucky that Snape taught me how to brew a proper sex potion afterward."

"Snape taught you!" Harry had assumed that Draco picked up that particular knowledge from older friends or sneaked in ingredients from Knockturn Alley. "You mean all this time I've been getting buggered with his stuff!"

"And don't you love it?" purred Draco. "Turned out that my instincts hadn't been as far off as I'd thought. This particular potion isn't supposed to be drunk; it makes a great lube, instead. Although it does taste quite good, as long as you don't take much of it." He poured out a dollop on his palm and licked it, eyes glinting at Harry. "Turn around."

Harry whimpered slightly, blushing, but he obeyed. It felt weird to him to be on the receiving end of something that felt so good when it had originally come from Snape. Maybe it was the compensation he deserved for everything he'd had to put up with in Potions class and Occlumency lessons, but it was still a little disturbing. And Draco had said Snape was huge! "You're trying to make it so I can't hold out," he moaned as he felt Draco's fingers against him.

"Just encouraging you to have fun," countered Draco, twisting his hand. Harry's head nearly knocked against the headboard as he reacted to the sensation.

"Merlin -- Draco -- if you don't fuck me soon I'll come by myself."

He yelped as Draco pinched his arse. "No fear," Draco panted, and Harry felt himself being opened as Draco slid in.

"Tight, Potter," Draco said in an approving voice, so much like a teacher praising a student that it made Harry whimper. "What sort of sex magic did you study? Quidditch exercise these muscles well?" With one hand he squeezed Harry's bum as he moved, angling Harry until he could strike his prostate.

The entire room went white as Harry shrieked. "Oh, fuck," he chanted when he had breath to do it again. "Fuck -- fuck -- fuck!"

"You like it when I call you Potter," said Draco delightedly. "You're thinking about Snape!" He thrust fast and shallow now, teasing.

"Shut up, Malfoy," groaned Harry urgently. "Maybe it just reminds me of you..." He remembered how much he had hated Draco and thought it could never be otherwise, and how Draco had watched him with that smirk that Harry hadn't understood. Snape had watched him with the same look, as if he couldn't decide whether he was hoping that Harry would fail at whatever he did or wishing that for once his expectations would be exceeded. Fuck, he didn't want to be thinking about Snape! It had been bad enough when Draco was talking about Snape watching him, and Harry had gotten hard at the thought. That was about Draco, really, wasn't it? Not Snape. Definitely not Snape.

"I don't think I believe you, Potter," Draco hissed. He pinched Harry's nipple.

"I'm not thinking of Snape, I'm not," Harry chanted. He cast about for some other memory -- any other memory -- but it was laughable to think he could ever have had a thing for Lockhart like all the girls did, and Remus had always called him Harry, and if Slughorn had ever had sex then Harry fervently did not want to know about it. No, any memories of reacting to his name being hissed at him like that were, oh Merlin, of Snape.

Draco was laughing. "How ironic." Then his voice changed, grew silky. "Wouldn't you like to serve a detention, for old time's sake? Hm?"

Harry shuddered. He was so close; it wasn't fair that Draco was saying these things to him, he would have found anything Draco said at that moment arousing. Particularly kinky things. "Just shut up, please shut up," he begged.

"Rudeness. Ten points from Gryffindor," Draco said, imitating Snape's voice again, and Harry came without Draco having even touched his cock, white spunk spattering onto the duvet, his arse clenching.

"Oh," moaned Draco, who clearly had not been expecting that so quickly. "Fuck. You're..." And then Draco was coming too, digging his fingers into Harry's hips and bucking him back against the pillows.

"Sorry," said Harry when his pulse and breath had slowed enough to be able to speak. "I didn't mean..."

"I didn't realize you'd come like that," said Draco in the same moment. "The depths of your perversion need serious consideration, I'd say." He grinned wickedly at Harry. "There's all kinds of possibilities here."

Harry knew that his face was scarlet. "Speaking of consideration, do you want to cast Scourgify, or sleep in the wet spot?"

"I'll cast it, but then I'm going back to the kitchen. I believe we have a sweet to finish." Draco licked his lips. "Maybe we should invite Snape over for dessert some time?"

Chapter Text

The door buzzer shrilled loudly through the flat. "Get that, would you Harry?" Draco called out.

"It's bound to be some wretched Muggle wanting us to sign a petition about the road-widening scheme," Harry grumbled. "Better to just ignore it."

The buzzer sounded again. With a sigh Harry heaved himself up off the couch and opened the door. "Whatever it is, we don't..."

His jaw dropped open as he saw who was standing outside his home. Snape! Professor Snape, chided Dumbledore's voice in his head, which was the only reason Harry managed to remain polite enough to say, "Sir. What are you doing... that is, what brings you here?"

Snape's sneer was dishearteningly familiar as he replied, "I was invited." He produced a piece of parchment from a pocket in his robe and handed it to Harry. "By your... housemate."

Harry didn't need to read the letter; a glance at Draco's handwriting was enough to confirm that Snape was telling the truth. But Draco hadn't mentioned a word of this to Harry. What was he playing at?

"It's customary to invite a guest inside, Mr. Potter."

"Um. Fine." Stepping back from the doorway, Harry gestured toward the couch he had abandoned to answer the buzzer. "Sit down. I'll just get Draco." Stalking down the hall, he burst into the kitchen and hissed, "What is Snape doing here?"

Draco looked around from where he was setting glasses and a decanter on a tea tray. His smirk was irrepressible. "You heard me tell my parents that I'd have him over. And you agreed that we should invite him for dessert sometime."

"I was joking! We'd been talking about...!" Harry didn't want to repeat in detail what they had been talking about -- not with Snape sitting just outside the room. "I'd think you would tell me if you were inviting him!" he fumed.

"But that would spoil the surprise." With an innocent smile, Draco pointed toward the icebox. "There's whipped cream in there."

Harry flushed pink, not entirely in anger. "And what did you have in mind -- spreading it on him?"

"Actually I thought we'd use it with the berries, but if you want to suggest..."

"Shut up!" Elbowing Draco aside, Harry grabbed the tray. "You can bring in the whipped cream. I'll take the drinks." The glasses jittered on the tray as he marched back into the sitting room where Snape looked entirely too much at home for Harry's taste. He took a firm grip on his annoyance and set the tray down on an end table. "Would you like a drink?" He was damned if he was going to call Snape "sir" again.

"Thank you, Mister Potter," Snape replied as if Harry had just held out an essay that he was looking forward to marking all over with red ink. When Draco followed Harry into the room, Snape glanced up and Harry thought that he looked a bit curious, as if maybe Snape didn't even know why he was there. Turning to follow Snape's gaze, Harry discovered that Draco was only barely holding back another smirk.

"Out with it. What are you two up to?"

"Can't I invite my old Head of House for drinks and dessert without suspicion?" said Draco in his most innocent tone.

"No," responded Harry and Snape at the same time. They glared at each other, then Harry looked back at Draco, who was giving Snape his most charming smile.

"It was actually Harry who gave me the idea to ask you over," he said airily, and Harry felt his cheeks heat again. Fine -- he wouldn't say anything for the rest of the evening. "I was talking about you, remembering things I missed from Hogwarts..."

"Things you missed from Hogwarts?" Snape's voice was thick with suspicion, and, Harry thought, perhaps just a tinge of unease. Which probably meant that the story Draco had told him was true!

"Oh, you know. Potions. Detentions. All those things that are so dreary when one's in school, but afterward one realizes that they've lent a certain interest to life," Draco said.

"I hardly think that Mr. Potter can have missed either Potions class or his frequent detentions," Snape replied.

"No, those were things I missed." Draco's smile spread archly across his face.

"I don't recall detention being a regular part of your school life..." Snape began and then instantly looked as if he regretted the words. "Malfoy, get to the point. Why am I here?"

"I was sort of wondering that too," muttered Harry, rapidly abandoning his plan of keeping silent. He tried to ignore the fact that hearing Snape talk down to Draco was turning him on.

"As I said, it was Harry's idea. We were having dessert one night, and your name... came up," said Draco. Harry nearly choked on his drink. "It seems that he has had, shall we say, ambivalent feelings about you," continued Draco blithely.

"I was under the impression that Mister Potter's feelings toward me consisted of unmitigated dislike, perhaps tempered in some minuscule amount now by his realization that I was never, in fact, working for his imminent destruction and the end of the Wizarding world as we know it." But Snape was studying Harry, and Harry struggled to keep his eyes elsewhere... anywhere but where Snape might try to read his mind!

"Well, there is that," conceded Draco. "But when I told him that sometimes I was a very naughty student and you had to discipline me..."

"Draco," Harry and Snape warned nearly simultaneously, and once again glared at each other for having had the identical response.

Harry would have called it a giggle if the sound had come from anyone else. "Surely you remember that time when I was working on an unauthorized potion during sixth year..."

"Vaguely," said Snape in his most repressive voice. "I hardly keep track of every bit of foolishness perpetuated by students. Especially in classes that I did not teach. Professor Slughorn was your Potions instructor then." Harry saw him shift slightly, uncrossing his legs.

"Yes, he was, but I think you remember." Draco's smile was no longer quite so sweet. "I made a terrible mess in your private bathroom." Despite his own mortification, it was worth it, thought Harry, to see Snape's pale cheeks slowly color as he realized that Draco must have told Harry the entire story. "And do you know, Harry was so impressed, I think he wanted to act out the..."

"Does the word 'private' mean anything to you?" Harry interrupted, feeling a bit queasy.

"For once I must concede that Potter has asked an excellent question," growled Snape. The growl did strange things to Harry's stomach, but not bad things.

"But if Harry knows, I think you ought to know that he knows," said Draco.

Snape huffed out a breath and stood up. "I might have expected such behavior from Potter, but not from you, Mr. Malfoy. Good night."

Draco was standing next to Snape so quickly that Harry didn't have time to blink. "No, sir, I don't think you want to do that." His hand glanced across the front of Snape's robes. "I know you don't want to do that." Harry wasn't about to interfere; this was Draco's game. He watched Snape stare down at Draco and wondered whether he was using Legilimency on him, but he didn't think so; Draco was a better Occlumens than Harry and anyway, he would apparently be happy to say anything Snape wanted aloud. "You'd expect such behavior from Potter? That's interesting," continued Draco, moving his hand again.

Slowly Snape sat back down on the sofa. "That's not quite what I meant," he muttered.

"What did you mean, then?" Draco asked. Harry was curious, too. It was clear that Snape must be hard under those robes. "Did you want us to make it a good night for you? Because I for one am quite willing to do so. But you and Harry will have to agree."

Snape locked eyes with Harry rather quickly -- too much so for Harry to evade the gaze. He always felt transparent when Snape glared at him, even though Snape wasn't trying to pry into his thoughts and Harry believed that he could block him now if he tried. But who knew what bits of memory he had seen and remembered from their Occlumency lessons? For all his dislike of Snape, it suddenly occurred to Harry to be fervently grateful that the man was not the sort to go talking to The Daily Prophet.

"What is it that you're after, Malfoy?" demanded Snape, though his gaze was still on Harry.

"After all we've been through together, I should think you might call me Draco."

"Draco," Snape growled, and Harry shivered at the sound.

"I thought it was quite obvious, really, what I'm after. You. And Harry. Together," said Draco. Harry could feel his face flushing crimson as Draco added, "Since he wants you, and you want him."

Snape, at least, looked as uncomfortable as Harry felt. "What makes you think..." he started to say and then seemed to think better of it. "Potter, you don't look particularly gratified by Draco's choice of entertainment for the evening."

Thank Merlin, thought Harry, that Snape was looking at his face, rather than somewhat lower. "I, ah, I feel I'm at something of a disadvantage here," he managed to rasp out. "Considering that you've poked around in my brain, and apparently Draco will say anything that comes into his head..."

"Are you trying to claim that I'm lying?" demanded Draco.

Oh, hell. "No," Harry backed off. He paused. "Wait a minute. What did you just say about Snape wanting me?" If he was going to be put on the spot, he was going to make sure that someone else shared that distinction with him. Now he was able to look Snape in the eye with aplomb; if one of them went down here, it was not going to be himself alone.

Snape pursed his thin lips in a calculating manner. "I imagine you know that Draco wanted you even in school when the two of you were enemies -- that much was obvious even to observers," he drawled. "Since he seemed to find it amusing to hear your name in..."

"Oh, come off it!" Draco interrupted sarcastically. "Yes, Severus used to moan Harry's name just to turn me on, and Harry comes all over the place when I say 'Ten points from Gryffindor' because he thinks it will amuse me. Right. Makes perfect sense." Now Snape was carefully studying the erotic art on the walls, avoiding both their gazes, and Draco locked eyes with Harry. "I was trying to do you both a favor," he insisted. Harry bit his lip. Draco seemed to be serious... although with Draco it was sometimes difficult to tell. Come on, you're a Gryffindor, he admonished himself. All about rushing in with more courage than good sense, right? "It's true. I do," he admitted, and when Draco gave the tiniest smile, he risked a glance at Snape, who was picking at a loose thread in the seam of his sleeve.

Snape's eyes flickered up to his. Harry had seen the look in them before; he just hadn't wanted to recognize it, it had been much easier to tell himself that Snape regarded him with unalloyed hatred. Inclining his head slightly toward Draco, Snape said, "I expect that even you know there is a difference between fantasy and reality. The fact that one suffers from certain physical responses does not necessarily mean..."

"Severus. He just said yes! Would you shut up and admit that the only time his first name ever escapes your lips is when you're five seconds from orgasm? You've called me Harry in the heat of the moment," Draco smirked. "A bit of a giveaway, that."

Snape did not deny this, yet his expression remained defiant. "And because of this... exactly what did you have in mind?"

"It's pretty simple, really," said Draco offhandedly, winking at Harry. "I thought you might like to fuck him and he might like that too. Or you might like to fuck me and let him watch. Or you..."

"Hang on," Harry broke in. "Don't I get any say in this?" Although both the possibilities Draco had suggested sounded quite appealing to his very interested cock, he didn't want to be assigned a role with no consultation.

"Oh, were you wanting to top, Harry? Sorry. Severus, Harry could fuck you and I could watch."

"Excuse me," said Snape sharply. "You think I would bottom to Potter?"

"I think you would bottom to him in a heartbeat. Sir." Draco's expression was positively wicked. "You bottomed to me..."

"Only when you woke me up in the middle of the night and I was too tired to protest!" At that, Harry had to grab one of the glasses and take a drink before he burst out laughing. "I'm not bottoming, Malfoy."

"Not even if we let you be in the middle?"

Now Harry could see Snape having to pause and consider that possibility. He hadn't really meant that he wanted to top Snape, but since Draco had suggested it... there was something awfully appealing about the idea. His cock thought it was awfully appealing too. "Are you offering any other incentives besides the dubious one of your own arse?" asked Snape, his tongue darting out to sweep across his lower lip.

"Did you have something in mind?" Draco inquired.

Snape glanced speculatively from Draco to Harry, and now he let his eyes sweep down Harry's body. Unlike Snape, Harry wasn't so well hidden behind Wizarding robes; he was wearing jeans, and he was fairly certain that Snape could see his interest quite clearly beneath the bulging material. "I'd like," Snape began, then stopped to lick his lips. "I'd like you on your knees."

"If he's on his knees, he's not topping," Draco pointed out.

"To begin with," Snape clarified. "On your knees, Potter," he snapped in exactly the same voice that he used to use when saying, Detention, Potter, and before Harry could think about it, he was sliding off the sofa and kneeling in front of Snape. Embarrassment at how quickly he had reacted flamed in his cheeks, but the surprise on Snape's face made Harry's discomfiture worth it.

Snape harrumphed in a satisfied way, peering down at him. "It isn't as I've never seen you on your knees before," he murmured in a voice that was far more arousing than it had any right to be. "You ended up on your knees on the floor of my office all the time during Occlumency lessons."

Draco choked back a sound suspiciously like a snicker as Harry burst out, "That was YOUR fault, you prick!"

"My fault?" Snape was unfastening the lower part of his robes and appeared to have forgotten that Draco was even there. "Even though you apparently enjoyed the position, I thought that wishing to stop Voldemort might provide some tiny incentive. If you had ever practiced Occlumency..."

"Did you expect me to practice for you?" Harry couldn't help himself; he wanted to see if what Draco had said about Snape's cock was true, and he reached up to open Snape's trousers. "I did stop Voldemort in the end after all. Without much help from you."

"Without much...!" Snape very nearly smiled at this. "You actually believe all those leaflets the Ministry printed about The Chosen One!" And with that, he withdrew his cock.

Draco hadn't lied. Snape's cock was big enough that he'd have rated an overleaf in the centerfold of a dirty magazine, and if it wasn't at full size now, Harry didn't even want to imagine the possibilities. "The leaflets weren't written by Rita Skeeter," he mumbled, eyes fixed on the hard length swaying before them. "The Ministry has to get things right or they'll be voted out."

"No, I believe Draco's father wrote them. It's very... touching... to see his devotion to you these days," said Snape. "I expect that he'll be Minister of Magic before the end of the year."

"Damn. Then he'll be in the flat all the time, pretending he just wants to say hello but really to nag me to get married. And we'll have to redecorate," groaned Draco. "You think the etchings will disturb him?" Harry, who was still staring at Snape's cock, had no opinion whatsoever on the matter at the moment and wished that for once Draco would just shut up. Who could talk about etchings with this in the room? "I'd advise against redecorating," replied Snape, though his eyes remained riveted on Harry. "Once you say yes to Lucius, he expects more of the same."

"And you should know."

"Jealous, are we?" Harry shivered softly at the silken hiss, his hand moving up Snape's thigh, and Snape smiled triumphantly down at him. "I must say, Draco, you are good for the Chosen One. He can't possibly believe that he knows everything around you."

"You never taught me Legilimency anyway," whispered Harry. "But I know what you want..." His fingers had reached the thick shaft, and he stroked up it, tilting it toward his lips. "...sir," he added as mockingly as he could before bending his head and kissing the swollen tip of the cock.

Snape's hand tightened in Harry's hair, but Harry hardly needed the encouragement as he opened his mouth to take in all that he could. He'd learned to relax his throat enough to let Draco fuck his mouth, but he wasn't sure that he'd be able to do the same for Snape. He wondered if Draco had managed it. The vein on the underside pulsed against his tongue as he sucked, careful to keep his teeth out of the way. He felt Draco's hands on him, undoing the zip of his jeans and setting his cock free, but had no attention to spare for that just now.

Snape let out a quiet moan, really more a puff of air, yet Harry felt exultant; it was more encouragement than he'd received during any of his lessons with Snape, whether they were Potions, Occlumency, or Defense Against the Dark Arts. When he flicked his tongue up the length of the shaft, he heard Snape's breath hitch, and when he ran it up and down the slit, he was rewarded with a full grunt and Snape's hips shifting forward. "Potter..." he muttered.

Harry heard Draco's sound of protest, but it was fine -- he liked hearing Snape say Potter like that. He wrapped one hand around the base of Snape's cock, using the saliva that slicked it to stroke in time with the movements of his mouth, and was rewarded by another moan. Merlin, did the man know how erotic he sounded?

"How long were you planning to keep him at this?" he heard Draco say. A hand patted Harry's cheek and he relinquished his mouthful, looking up. Snape was staring back at him so intently that Harry had to swallow, which had nothing to do with the taste of aroused cock lingering in his mouth. He hoped that Draco didn't think he'd created a monster, putting Harry and Snape together, because all Harry could think about was how much he...

"Mr. Malfoy," said Snape in a voice that was more ragged than usual, "I believe you said something about giving me your arse if I let Potter fuck me."

"I believe I did, yes," Draco drawled, and Harry glanced around to see Draco naked, sprawled on the couch and stroking himself, his eyes on Harry next to Snape's cock. "Accio lube," he called out, and the pot of ointment flew out of the bedroom and into his free hand. "Your own formula, Severus. Harry was quite impressed when he found out where I learned to make this." He stood up and stretched lazily. "Here all right with you?"

Snape rolled his eyes. "You think that the three of us will fit on that?" Pulling his wand seemingly out of nowhere, though it must have been in his open trouser pocket, he caused half the furniture to fly across the room and then transfigured the couch into a giant mattress, without seeming to displace Draco at all.

For a moment Harry wondered why Draco wanted to do this in the most public room of the flat -- their bed was big enough -- but maybe the fact that this wasn't their bedroom was the point. Draco seemed completely unfazed by the moving furniture, simply handing the lube to Harry and climbing up onto the bed. "Harry, I think you should do the honors," he said.

His trousers were still around his ankles, so Harry set the pot down and hastily tugged them off, snagging them on his shoes and feeling like a complete git as he struggled to get undressed with both Draco and Snape watching. "I cannot believe you succeeded in eliminating Voldemort without doing yourself in at the same time," sighed Snape, his fingers busy on the remaining buttons on his robe.

"Now who's not thinking?" shot back Harry, fishing out his own wand (though he nearly tripped over his own feet to do it) and making Snape's robes fall open. Snape looked startled and rather uncomfortable as Harry looked him over -- he was twenty years older than Harry and Draco and considerably more scarred than either of them -- but Harry found that that only made him more eager. "On the mattress. You can get Draco ready. I want to watch, and then I'll do you."

"Are you giving me orders, Potter?" asked Snape scornfully, yet he obeyed, reaching for the little container. He scooped out a single fingerful of the contents and waggled the finger at Harry before turning to Draco. Harry was almost as astonished as Snape at what he had said, but Draco seemed completely composed, winking at Harry before turning and kneeling to present his arse to Snape.

"You're following my orders, aren't you?" Watching Snape's finger disappear into Draco was tantalizing, and for a moment Harry regretted that he wasn't going to be receiving such attentions tonight. On the other hand, being able to give Snape an order was as hot as the reverse.

Snape must have known what he was doing, too, because Draco was quickly incoherent, moaning and writhing and clawing at the mattress beneath him; the only consistently recognizable word from his mouth was "More!"

Though Snape appeared to be pleased about this, he was watching Harry as much as Draco. "Are you planning to watch me fuck him, or are we going to do this all at once?" he demanded.

"We could do it all at once?" Harry asked rather stupidly.

"Yes, Potter, we could. Use your imagination." Snape rolled his eyes.

Oh. Harry blushed. Having Snape use his surname again in that tone set his cock tingling. "Er. Right." He reached for the pot of lube and scooped some out onto his fingers. "Bend over, then." Once again Snape did as he was told, holding his legs wide. Dark hair furred his balls and crack, so very different from Draco's, and he smelled tangier, richer, as well.

Harry slid a damp finger up and down along the furrow, pleased to feel Snape jolt a bit when he stroked the wrinkled pink skin around his entrance. He wondered whether Snape was getting much sex these days; he was something of a war hero, but he was also... well, Severus Snape, perhaps the least sociable man Harry had ever met. "Like that?" he asked when a probing finger brought a strange soft whimper. "Am I allowed to call you Severus?"

"Very well," Snape said, inhaling sharply.

"If I call him that, you should," said Draco. Snape had stopped finger-fucking him when Harry had begun on Snape, allowing Draco coherent speech once again. "Ah, Severus? I realize that Harry's good at this, but I rather thought that you could manage two things at the same time."

Snape growled, although Harry wasn't sure if it was at the reprimand or because Harry had just added another finger. "Have it your way, then," he snapped as he plunged two fingers back into Draco, who let out a little high-pitched exclamation before adjusting his hips and groaning. Oh, yes, Harry wanted that from Snape too... once was not going to be enough, he thought, and wondered again whether that would bother Draco or whether that had been the plan all along. Snape -- Severus, although it was difficult to think of him so -- was considerably more interesting than any kitchen implement, and Harry suspected that lubricating potions weren't the only thing he had taught Draco.

Right now, however, he was concentrating on stretching Snape's arsehole so he could push his cock inside it, and it was just as well that no one was doing the same to him or Harry suspected he'd have come from the stimulation and just thinking about fucking Snape. He let out a small moan. "Impatient, Potter? Or have you learned some control?"

"I never thought you rated patience as much of a virtue," said Harry as coolly as he could under the circumstances. He deliberately brushed a fingertip over Snape's prostate and grinned to himself as Snape pushed his arse back against him. Gotcha. "But if you'd like to practice it yourself..." Harry withdrew altogether and waited.

"Turned into quite the little tease, haven't you? If you were still in school, I'd have you in detention so fast..." grated Snape.

With a helpless whimper Harry reached for the little jar, slicking his cock, which thankfully gave him an excuse to groan when Draco said breathlessly to Snape, "Bet you wished you could have spanked him. Wouldn't you have loved that? To put the Chosen One over your knee and bare his bum..." With a growl Snape pulled his fingers away from Draco's arsehole, replacing them with his cock and pushing in far more quickly than Harry would have dared if he were as big as Snape was. "Spanking wouldn't have been enough for Mr. Potter." Oh, it might have been, thought Harry, the idea of being bare-arsed over Snape's lap sending delicious shivers through him. Not that there was anything wrong with this. He watched Snape beginning to thrust in and out, listening to Draco's yowls which Harry suspected expressed a bit of pain as well as pleasure -- he'd never heard Draco make noises quite like that before.

"Well, Potter? Were you planning to enjoy the show, or will you put your cock to some use?"

Was Snape asking him to fuck him? Harry groaned again. "Oh -- yes." He almost asked whether Snape was ready, but given the way Snape had thrust into Draco he really doubted that that was a concern. Grabbing one of his hips, Harry waited for him to still before he aligned himself and thrust, meeting resistance but not stopping until the entire head of his cock was engulfed.

Snape grunted, and Harry took that to mean he should pause. "We're waiting for you," he was told after a moment. "You wanted to top, you set the pace." Well, if that was what he was supposed to do... Harry thrust, sliding all the way up to his balls. Merlin, Snape's arse was as deep and willing as his cock was huge. He stilled again for a moment, enjoying the heat and tightness and the way Snape deliberately clenched his muscles, probably the only sort of a hug Harry would ever get from him. Then he started pumping in and out, afraid that Snape would taunt him again if he were too slow to move.

Snape didn't say anything for several minutes; he grunted quietly, letting himself be pushed into Draco, but when Harry moved his legs together to shift his hips and change the angle inside, he was rewarded with a full-fledged "Aah!" The sound was so erotic that Harry nearly lost control, but he gritted his teeth, clamped his fingers on Snape's hip and managed to thrust in again, hitting the same spot.

Draco had settled into a stream of sounds that were less than half intelligible, and Harry could tell that he was close to the edge. "Hold still," Harry hissed to Snape. "Don't let him come yet." He expected a snide response, but Snape only moaned softly and held onto Draco's hips, pulling them tightly to his own so that Harry's thrusts would not be passed on. Harry pumped against him, feeling the muscles clench and loosen in rippling waves as he fucked that tight arse.

"Would you -- just -- " Rocking back and forth, Draco tried to impale himself on Snape's cock. "Let. Me. Move!"

"Silence," barked Snape in his classroom voice. It was just as sexy as listening to him moan, and Harry disobeyed, groaning as he continued to slide in and out. He didn't think he could reach Draco's cock around Snape's hip, but he moved his hands over both their sides and then between them, finding one of Snape's nipples and squeezing.

Snape arched, thrusting his hips forward, and Draco -- who by now had his hand on his own cock -- cried out in delight. "Yes, FUCK! Don't stop, Severus, you know I love it when you pound me with that hot cock," he babbled. "Fuck me, come on, yeah, fuck me hard!"

Harry loved it when Draco talked like that during sex, though he wouldn't have guessed it would be equally arousing to hear Draco say such things to someone else. Snape seemed to like it too, because he suddenly took over control from Harry and started setting the pace for all three of them, rutting forward onto Draco and then shoving back at Harry, hard and fast and slick and Harry could feel the orgasm building in his balls as they all moved together. "Oh -- gonna come -- fuck, fuck Harry..." Draco hadn't shut up, and Harry could feel Snape's arm pumping, hand moving over Draco's on himself.

"Do it," the older man commanded in an urgent voice unlike any Harry had heard from him before, yet still very much an order from Professor Snape. It was more than Harry could withstand; with a final thrust he felt himself spurting deep into Snape's arse, while at the same time he could hear Draco shrieking in pleasure.

Snape made another few thrusts and then he must have come too, because he suddenly collapsed forward onto Draco, causing Harry's spent cock to be nearly dislodged. Harry pulled out the rest of the way and rolled over so that Draco would not have the weight of two on top of him. He peered over at Draco's sweaty, blissful face and saw his partner wink at him.

Then he glanced up at Snape, whose long hair was sticking to his face and whose eyes were still closed. He looked flushed and disheveled, and it looked good on him; maybe because there was a reason for his lanky hair to be hanging in his face, or maybe just because for once the perpetual sneer was gone. Snape's eyes flickered open and caught Harry staring. "Satisfied?" he asked, though the usual biting edge to the question was muted.

Harry grinned. "What would you do if I said I wasn't?"

The dark eyes widened. "Do you expect me to believe that, when you have an almost indecently satiated expression on your face?"

"He's teasing you, Severus," interjected Draco in lazy tones. "You'll get used to it. Harry has a peculiar sense of humor."

"Nothing peculiar about it," said Harry, watching Snape withdraw -- somewhat reluctantly, he thought -- and slide away from Draco's prone form. He looked uncomfortable, now, as if he didn't know whether they expected him to put on his clothes and leave at once or whether they were going to sit down and eat the wilting fruit and deflating whipped cream on the table across the room. "There is one other thing I wanted," he added.

Snape's lip twisted very slightly and his shoulders hunched defensively. "Not all of us have the recuperative powers of the young. Of course, there are potions..."

"Nothing like that." Draco had rolled onto his side and was looking at Harry curiously. "I want you to kiss me."

"Kiss you?" Snape repeated blankly.

"Kiss me," said Harry. He leaned over Draco and brushed his lips lightly over Snape's, then did it again. The third time they opened to him and Snape's tongue curled around his own, strong and warm. He felt Snape's hands on his shoulders, pulling him closer.

Kissing Snape was not like kissing anyone else in Harry's experience. It wasn't that Snape was the best kisser; he was a little too forceful, his teeth crushing into Harry's lip, and coming up for air did not seem to be on his mind. Yet Harry didn't ever want him to stop. The intensity was overwhelming. It was almost like Occlumency lessons, as if Snape were reaching into his mind and pulling out secret fantasies that Harry hadn't even admitted to himself that he had...

Gasping, he pulled back, only to find Draco staring at the two of them with his mouth hanging open and his cock twitching. "That... was really hot," he muttered.

Harry was inclined to agree. If he hadn't known that the lube they had used was Draco's make instead of Snape's, he might have suspected a certain amount of enhancement, because he found his own cock showing renewed interest too. "Yeah," he breathed.

Snape's expression was not quite as imperturbable as usual; Harry thought he detected more than a hint of smug satisfaction there. "I trust that now you are satisfied, Potter?"

The incongruity of being called "Potter" after that was too much for Harry. He laughed. "I don't know if I'll be completely satisfied until we try it the other way."

Snape glowered at him, then appeared to consider Harry's words and looked rather more intrigued. "With you on the bottom," he clarified.

"Yes. And Draco on top." Draco made an enthusiastic hooting noise, earning him a grimace from Snape, yet again Harry thought that there was none of the usual contempt behind it. Snape liked the idea as much as Draco did.

"Or there are other possibilities," Draco added.

"Such as?" Snape's expression turned slightly wary.

"I'm sure you can think of a few," said Draco artlessly. "Given your experience with potions... and potions gone awry." Harry swallowed, sure that Draco was once again referring to the incident that he had told Harry the story about. Unless there was another incident, which -- given that this was Draco -- was entirely possible. Snape had made a most surprising reference to Lucius Malfoy, after all.

Instead of glaring at Draco, Snape was peering at Harry speculatively, as if trying to guess whether Harry knew what Draco might be talking about. "I never thought that Potter was particularly interested in potions," he said.

"Er," began Harry, flushing. "I think, ah, we got off on the wrong foot. That is. Um, I'd be willing to... learn what you think I missed."

"I think you'll find he's a very -- willing -- student," said Draco. "Especially with a teacher like yourself. When he wants to be."

"Very well," Snape nodded after a moment's thought. "I've never taught a class of two NEWT-level students. This could be quite... I'm sorry, did you have something to say?" he asked Draco, who was choking at being informed he would also be a pupil.

"Er... no, sir," said Draco. There was no mistaking the way Snape's nostrils flared at that. "We'll be excellent students, sir."

"That's right," added Harry, feeling his face burn. He had never before willingly called Snape... "Sir."

Chapter Text

Harry was standing in the kitchen, barefoot and yawning as he spelled the teakettle to boil, when the morning post arrived. Two invitations to Ministry functions he had no wish to attend, several requests for donations to worthy causes, a note from Remus... and what was this?

The handwriting was suspiciously familiar, though Harry had never seen it on an envelope before. It was addressed to Messrs. Malfoy and Potter, however, so he slit it open, smoothing out the folded parchment inside. "Draco!" he called out, reading, before he realized that Draco was in the shower. He went into the bathroom -- ignoring Draco's complaints that he was letting in the cold air -- and waved the letter at him.

"We've had a letter from Snape. Seems he's having trouble with his new broom. I think he's asking for us for help."

The water stopped and Draco's arm reached out for a towel. "Having trouble with his broom?" he snickered. "Needs someone to polish the stick, does he?"

Hearing it phrased that way, Harry had to smile. "He says he finally replaced his Cleansweep and thought that two avid Quidditch players might have a suggestion on treating the handle. Of course he didn't actually come right out and ask for help." He started to hand Draco the towel, then thought better of it and began to dry him off himself.

"Of course he didn't actually come right out and say what he really wanted. Probably to have it varnished," Draco snickered, arching his back as Harry rubbed it dry. "How urgent is this problem of his?"

Harry glanced at the parchment. "He's asking if we could come over tomorrow."

"Well, write him back and tell him... wait, what time?" Draco took the parchment from Harry, wet fingers smearing the ink. "Bugger. I'll have to meet you there. I can't not meet my father again -- he'll come here."

"Since we haven't learned that redecorating charm yet, I'd rather not have him visiting," agreed Harry.

"Even if he's the one who's been writing all those flattering Ministry pamphlets?"

Draco grinned and set the parchment down, taking the towel to dry his hair, while Harry shuddered. "I wish Snape hadn't mentioned that. Makes me feel under obligation to him, which is not somewhere I want to be."

"Well, technically you're under a greater obligation to Snape, seeing as he did save your life. Which I suppose means that I'm under an obligation to him as well... what do you suppose I have that he wants?" The smile on Draco's face was very wicked, and Harry couldn't help noticing that he was half-hard as well. "He seemed to like your arse well enough the other day," Harry teased.

"He was at least as interested in yours," returned Draco. "Which I can well understand. You're the hottest thing on this side of the Channel, you know."

Harry caught sight of his own pink face in the mirror and turned, not wanting to meet Draco's eyes. He didn't want to admit how much it excited him that Snape wanted him that way. Not because he thought it bothered Draco, for Draco seemed intrigued by the idea, and after all, he had been the one to invite Snape over. It just didn't seem quite right after hating Snape for so long that he really wanted to... well, fuck him again, as soon as possible. He hoped he wouldn't get hard talking about broomsticks.

Draco's arms caught him around the waist, and a finger snaked into the waistband of his pyjama bottoms. "I'm feeling quite interested in your arse right now, come to think of it."

"The kettle's boiling," Harry protested weakly, but he was already helping Draco to finish undressing him. Wizarding kettles couldn't boil dry.

The next morning, Harry showered early; he knew that if he saw Draco in the bathroom again, there would just be a repeat of the day before and they would both be late again, if only for personal appointments rather than work. Draco went to meet his father, but because it was a Saturday, Harry had no place he particularly needed to be. He decided to take a walk, hoping that some of his restless agitation would fade before he showed up on Snape's doorstep at the stroke of twelve. For awhile he browsed in Flourish & Blotts, then spent some time in Quality Quidditch Supplies, where he picked up a jar of broom polish. Perhaps Snape really did need help with his broom, after all.

He had never actually been to Snape's flat before; there had been no reason to go. It was off a narrow passage near Knockturn Alley, and Harry walked over cobblestones that smelt of cabbage leaves and cat piss before knocking at number eight, Dorse Close. Snape had always insisted on punctuality at Hogwarts, so Harry was surprised to be kept waiting outside for nearly two minutes after an initial, irritable, "One moment!" When the door finally opened, he beheld a Snape who appeared somewhat disheveled, as if he had thrown his clothing on quickly. "Potter, what are you doing here at this hour?"

"It's twelve o'clock," said Harry blankly, pulling the invitation from his pocket. "Draco had to see Lucius this morning so we said we'd meet here." He held the crumpled letter out. "Don't say that this is a joke."

The parchment was snatched out of his hands and Snape pointed at the time that was written there. "What does that say?"

"Twelve o'clock."

"That's not a twelve, it's a two. Two o'clock," Snape growled at him.

"Oh. The ink is smudged." Harry felt as if he were eleven years old again, facing an angry Potions professor. There was no way he was going to explain to Snape how the ink had got smeared that way. Trying not to cringe, he said, "I'm sorry -- I guess, ah, I'll come back later..."

Snape was staring at him with a mixture of suspicion and wariness. "Just come in," he demanded irritably.

The paint was peeling on the woodwork of the entryway and the floorboards creaked under Harry's feet, giving way with the dead feel of wood that was close to rotting. "My splendid domicile," Snape said, his tones heavy with irony as he pointed Harry into the sitting room.

Harry shrugged. "It has atmosphere," he offered, but Snape only sneered at his feeble attempt at politeness. This visit seemed unlikely to work out well... and it was going to be two hours before Draco arrived.

"I suppose you'd like a drink," Snape grumbled and disappeared in what was evidently the direction of the kitchen. Harry took the opportunity to glance at the books on the double-stacked shelves. Reading material was something Snape appeared to have in abundance, as opposed to furniture and decorations. Harry was about to pull out a book on poison inks when Snape stepped back in the room and snapped sharply, "Don't touch that!"

"Sorry," said Harry meekly, accepting the bottle of butterbeer from Snape's outstretched hand. "Is it Restricted Section material?"

"Every page contains a sample of the ink described, and if you open it without gloves on, you'll be dead before you reach Invisible Inks," Snape replied crossly.

"Oh." Harry supposed that if Snape was the only one who normally ever used the books, it didn't matter. But it suggested that he had very few visitors, and Harry found himself feeling an unexpected sympathy. He took a drink to cover his confusion. "You said that you bought a new broom? What's the make?"

"I didn't buy it, it was a gift." Snape's vehemence was unexpected and Harry couldn't guess why. Was he embarrassed to be receiving gifts? Did he consider something as practical as a broom to be an indulgence? "Why don't I show it to you?" Turning, he swept out of the room, and Harry set down his butterbeer, assuming that he was meant to follow.

Since the flat was very small, Snape's bedroom was only a few steps away. Harry followed him inside and watched Snape pull the broom from a closet as one might pick up an antique. He laid it carefully on the bed and Harry saw that it was a Thunderbolt -- the newer, faster successor to the Firebolt. He whistled, but Snape appeared to flinch. "Take it, if you like, and give me something more practical in exchange. I don't know what Lucius was thinking, sending me such a thing." "Don't you want it? Half the professional teams in Britain aren't flying on this quality of broom," said Harry, running his fingers along the smooth shaft longingly. "What's wrong with the handle? It seems perfectly fine to me. Have you flown on it yet?"

Snape flushed unbecomingly. "No. I don't fly much."

"But Lucius gave this to you as a gift?"

Harry didn't mean the remark critically, but Snape seemed to take it that way. "Unless he gave it to me as a bribe, and since I have already nodded meekly and agreed with everything he has told the Ministry..." Abruptly Snape seemed to remember that he was speaking to Lucius son's lover, even though Harry's opinion of Lucius Malfoy could hardly have been any lower. Except for an apparently sincere attachment to his offspring, the elder Malfoy had little to recommend him, Harry felt.

"Well, I don't think you have to worry about scratching it or anything -- unless you fly into the Whomping Willow, this will be hard to damage." His fingers were still stroking the handle and he became aware that Snape was watching them intently. As he snatched them away, heat flooded his face, and worse, his groin.

"So there's nothing you would recommend that I do for preventive maintenance?" Snape reached out and imitated the motion that Harry had been making. "No particular oil, perhaps, to treat the wood and keep it at a proper level of polish for optimum performance?" His eyes were still on Harry as his thumb rubbed over the end of the handle. "I was sure that you, with your fondness for Quidditch, would have suggestions."

Harry swallowed. "I did pick up some broom polish on my way here, but I didn't realize you'd have a Thunderbolt. What I bought is just water-based; I think Thunderbolt's makers recommend something with walnut oil in it."

"Let me see." Snape held out his hand and Harry reached into his pocket, pulling out the little jar. Snape's expression was odd as he took it, and he said "Thank you" without the sneer that Harry half-expected. Anyone would have thought that Snape was happier to get a container of polish than the world's most expensive broom.

Then, to Harry's shock, Snape shoved the broom off the bed and onto the floor. "What..." Harry started to ask, but he never got the question out, because Snape had lunged at him and was kissing him, pulling him toward the bed.

Snape's mouth on his was just as Harry remembered it. No finesse here; this kiss demanded Harry's attention as much as the most meticulous potion instructions he had ever followed in one of Snape's classes. He tumbled down onto the mattress and Snape rolled over on top of him, knocking Harry's glasses askew so that one earpiece was cutting into his cheek, but he ignored it, not wanting anything to interrupt. When Snape finally broke away, breathing heavily, Harry stifled a whimper. How did Snape do this to him? "Potter," he said in a strained voice, and Harry felt his already stiffening cock leap to attention, prodding against Snape's thigh. He didn't know whether to apologize or wriggle and thrust up, which was what his lower body wanted. Snape, too, looked chagrined for a moment, as if he thought he should ask forgiveness or at least withdraw, but then he reached to straighten Harry's glasses and Harry couldn't hold back the moan that escaped his lips.

In a single gesture Snape removed the glasses and sent them floating across the room. With his vision blurred, the only thing Harry could see clearly were Snape's eyes and mouth hovering just above him. Do that again, he wanted to beg. Somehow what came out instead was "Sir," but it might have meant the same thing.

Certainly Snape seemed to understand, because he brought his mouth to Harry's once again, with just as much avidity as before, and now Harry could tell that Snape's cock was as hard as his own. He thought about having it up his arse, of having Snape fuck him the way he had Draco, and a shudder passed through him. The next time his lips were free, he mumbled, "Please..."

"Please, what?"

The tone strove for but did not quite achieve that whip-crack it had had in the classroom, but still made Harry's longing flare higher. "Please, sir..." Harry could not force the words fuck me past his lips. "Would you..." His fingers tugged at the fastenings on Snape's robes. Why did Snape always dress like he was going to a funeral, and why did his clothes have so many buttons?

While Harry was fumbling, Snape grasped Harry's shirt and muttered something under his breath. The shirt ripped neatly in two, and Snape tossed aside the pieces as Harry stared. "Surely you can manage a simple 'Reparo,' Potter?"

"I can." And then Harry remembered something Draco had taught him. "Refigo!" He smiled a little as every button on Snape's clothing popped itself free.

Snape looked discomfited for an instant, but a little pleased too, as if Harry had brewed a complex potion correctly when Snape had expected his cauldron to melt instead. He shrugged out of his loosened robes, baring his scarred and aging body defiantly to Harry's gaze. His cock stood up hard and ruddy from dark curls. Harry licked his kiss-swollen lips, recalling the taste from last week. He sat up and reached for it, but to his surprise Snape moved away.

"Your turn, Potter." A moment later Snape had slid down the edge of the bed, pulling Harry forward by his hips. His dark hair fell forward like a curtain over his face as he bent his head into Harry's lap. "Don't think this means that I'm not going to fuck you," he said and ran his tongue over the leaking slit.

"Fuck," Harry gasped, arching helplessly toward Snape's mouth, which opened and sucked him inside. He wouldn't last two minutes like this. However long it had been since Snape had done this -- and Harry had his suspicions on that score -- his cocksucking technique was more practiced and subtle than his kissing. Just when Harry thought he was about to come, Snape relinquished the suction and instead began a leisurely exploration, slipping his tongue along Harry's shaft and down to his balls, using his teeth to tug at them gently. Harry clenched at the thin duvet and moaned. "Oh -- please -- don't," he babbled.

"Don't?" With a final, rather sharp bite inside Harry's thigh, Snape rose, standing over Harry and staring down at him, his own cock twitching. "Very well. Turn around. On your knees."

Harry's knees were shaking slightly, but he quickly scrambled onto all fours, blurting out, "Yes, sir." It did not seem right that talking to Snape that way in bed made him so hard when it had made him angry for so many years to have to do it. He felt Snape's fingers stroke over his bum, then slide down the middle and hold him open as his tongue picked up where it had left off from the front, coming up behind his balls and right across his arsehole.

It was almost too much for Harry, having Snape's tongue snake inside him, but he could hardly protest. He only hoped that he wouldn't come from this alone, which seemed not at all impossible just at the moment. He wriggled his knees further apart and let his head hang down, quivering as Snape sucked at him.

With a final, delicious lick Snape's tongue left him, only to be replaced by what Harry decided must be two fingers, from the sense of fullness in his arse. Was Snape using... he couldn't be using the broom polish Harry had brought, could he? Well, Snape was the Potions expert... Harry could only hope that he knew what he was doing. It certainly felt like he did; Harry could hear himself moaning as he pressed back on Snape's fingers. "M-more," he whispered, ashamed of how his voice shook yet unable to expend much energy worrying about it. He wanted Snape inside him, even if Snape made him beg for it.

Whether Snape did, indeed, want to make him beg or only to be perfectly clear that Harry wanted this, he leaned over Harry's back so that his chin was brushing Harry's shoulder as he hissed in his ear, "Do you want me to fuck you, Potter?"

Harry nodded, gulped, and then said softly, "Please, sir, yes, I want you to fuck me," with a sense of relief and finality as he spoke aloud what he had been thinking ever since Draco had told him that bedtime story. He tried not to tense up, anticipating. Snape did not keep him waiting long. He buried his mouth in Harry's hair and Harry had the impression that he was trying to stop himself from moaning or perhaps kissing his back.

After a moment Snape moved back slightly, and Harry could hear him sliding slick fingers up his cock, preparing it before he pressed against Harry's stretched entrance and pushed. It was bigger than Draco's, and there was a moment of sharp pain before the thickest part of the head had slid inside. Harry couldn't help grunting in discomfort, and he felt Snape go still.

"Are you all right?" The words were spoken to sound very nearly disinterested, yet Harry was surprised that Snape had asked at all. "Give me a second," he replied, doing his best to relax. Snape's breath was warm against his ear. Harry inhaled deeply and let the tightness drain away as he exhaled. "All right." Slowly, he felt Snape slide further in, pausing often, but the ache was less than the satisfaction and the noises Harry made now were moans of pleasure rather than pain as he was stretched to his limit. "Please, sir," he begged again, now unashamed by his need. "Fuck me."

Snape's fingers closed around his hip as he began to thrust steadily, shifting upright, which changed the angle. Pleasure so acute that it was almost unbearable shot through Harry; he cried out, clutching the duvet and twisting it completely off the top of the bed. Snape groaned as well, thighs slapping against the backs of Harry's as he moved. Harry wanted desperately to touch himself, but he was afraid that he would lose his balance and be knocked face-first onto the mattress if he lifted either of his hands.

Just when he thought he couldn't bear it, Snape unclenched his fingers from Harry's hip and reached for his cock. He was half-bent over again, and he grunted, "Harry..."

His name on Snape's lips was the sexiest thing Harry had ever heard, he thought, as Snape's hand closed around him. That voice just made every nerve in his body quiver. "Severus," he gasped in return as Snape started to fist his cock in a rapid rhythm. He heard Snape grunt again and begin to pound even harder. Harry was writhing, teetering on the edge between torment and ecstasy as Snape slammed into him. With a wail he exploded, thick splatters of come falling through Snape's fingers and onto the duvet.

Through the haze of pleasure he heard Snape groan his name again, loudly now, as unrestrained as the frenzied movements that drove his cock deep inside Harry. He felt Snape's open mouth on the back of his shoulder and neck, tasting him, sucking, then the hand on his cock left a wet smear over his hip as Snape pulled it to his face, where Harry could hear him sucking the fingers.

"Oh fuck, Severus," he choked, and felt Snape stiffen, pressed deep inside him, no longer thrusting. Then Snape let out a roar and flattened Harry with one final push, crushing Harry's hips as he pumped himself into his arse.

They sprawled forward together. The weight of Snape on top of him was somehow less than Harry had expected; although when he thought about it, Snape and Draco were nearly the same height and build, tall but not broad. But Snape had loomed so large in his days at Hogwarts, and recently, his mind whispered, that it seemed he should be equally huge physically, and not just when it came to that cock now slipping away from him. With a sigh Snape rolled off to Harry's left and Harry twisted around to look at his face. "Thank you," he whispered, and saw Snape's eyebrows go up.

"I trust that Mister Malfoy will forgive us for starting without him?" Harry gave a guilty jump. He hadn't even stopped to think about how Draco might feel about Harry fucking Snape without him present. It was one thing for the three of them to do it together, but this...

"This was all Draco's idea in the first place," he insisted. "Indeed." Snape's voice was dry.

"Well... last time it was. And I wouldn't be here today if it hadn't been for that," said Harry. He considered the matter. Draco had certainly been quite enthusiastic about the notion of another assignation with Snape, even though they had both assumed all three of them would be present for it. "I don't think he'll mind."

"Then this is all just to add a little spice to your romance?" Now there was a familiar bite in Snape's voice. "Have things become a bit dull already, Potter? Tired of the usual toys? Draco thought I could..."

"I don't know what he thought." The words stung unexpectedly. A minute ago Snape had been calling him Harry and touching him like... well, not like he was a toy. "Maybe he thought you wanted it. He -- he knew I did. I do."

Tentatively Harry reached out and brushed his fingers over Snape's cheek. Snape grabbed his hand, crushing it almost to the point of pain. "Why?"

"I don't know," Harry answered truthfully. He peered at Snape's face, blurry without his glasses. "But don't you want it too?"

There was silence for a long moment, though Harry could feel Snape's chest rising and falling as he breathed, still more heavily than usual. Finally he said, in his most irritated voice, "You know I do."

And is that why you've continued to treat me like vermin even though the war is over? Harry wondered. He felt himself smiling a little; it would be just like Snape to be extra nasty to someone he was attracted to. "Then if we both want it, and Draco doesn't mind..." he began.

"Humph," Snape growled. "I assume you'll want to tell him."

"Of course." Then Harry realized what Snape was really asking. "And yes, I will tell him. You don't have to." He stretched, feeling the almost-pleasurable burn in his arse. "He won't be here for awhile anyhow. And we were up rather late last night. I could stand a bit of rest, couldn't you?" Snape only grunted again, but he let Harry curl up against him, and after a moment Harry felt Snape's arm slide over his shoulders.

One minute he was lying contentedly against Snape, not really thinking about much of anything -- if he started to think, he might get hard again, and what Draco might forgive once, he would certainly object to if he arrived and found Harry and Snape both too tired to respond to him. The next minute, it seemed, someone was clearing his throat loudly and choking back a chuckle, waking Harry from a vague, pleasant dream. He felt Snape tense against him at the same moment he lifted his head to see Draco standing at the foot of the bed, smirking broadly.

"I leave you alone for the morning," Draco said in a stern, professorial voice that sounded unnervingly like Snape in lecture mode. "And what do the two of you get up to?" He sniffed. "This room reeks of sex."

Hell. Harry had anticipated telling Draco -- perhaps even this afternoon while they were at Snape's -- but he had not expected to be in quite such an obviously compromised position while so doing. He couldn't even reach his torn shirt from here to cover himself. Not that he was showing anything Draco hadn't seen before, but...

"I, er, misread the time on the invitation," he explained, thinking even as he said it that it sounded the most feeble excuse in the world. "I thought it was for twelve, when it was really two."

"Misread it, hmm?" Draco's smile broadened. "Now there's a likely story."

"Be quiet, Malfoy, and make yourself useful." Snape groaned faintly. "Potter left a bottle of butterbeer somewhere. Why don't you find it, and fetch some more for the rest of us."

"Honestly, Severus, I walk in on you in bed with my boyfriend, and you make me fetch you drinks!" But Draco was laughing as he walked out of the room, returning a moment later with the bottle Harry had left in the parlor and two more for himself and Snape. While he was gone, Snape and Harry exchanged glances, then slid beneath the duvet as if it had been agreed upon that a little modesty might become them. When Draco walked back in, he snickered again. "You didn't even put up any wards. Now don't tell me you've become shy? Next you'll tell me you've turned vanilla on me."

Harry flushed. Draco had an amazing capacity for making him feel more exposed when he was covered up that any person ought to be able to do. He took a swallow of the tepid butterbeer to avoid answering.

"Shove over a bit," said Draco to Harry, and plopped down on the bed. "So, Severus, was Harry able to help you with your broom problem?"

"We never actually did resolve the broom issue," Snape said to Harry, glancing at him and giving him something very like a wink, except that Harry was certain he must have imagined it because Snape didn't wink. "I was thinking about giving my broom to Potter in exchange for his. I'm certain he'll get more enjoyment out of it."

"It's still 'Potter' is it?" Draco sounded disappointed.

"Harry," said Snape grudgingly, no longer looking at him.

"You know what I think?" Draco's tongue pushed his cheek out. "I think you associate that name with sexual fantasies, so you don't dare say it in public."

"And I think that you need a spanking," Snape retorted.

"Probably," Draco agreed while Harry tried not to choke from inhaling his butterbeer. "You'd love to give me one, wouldn't you? Not quite as good as those fantasies of paddling Harry back at Hogwarts, perhaps, but you know my arse turns a lovely shade of pink."

Now Harry really did choke. Snape had fantasized about paddling him? And had told Draco? Draco swatted him on the back. "Something go down wrong, Harry?" he asked in mock sympathy.

Harry shook his head, his eyes streaming. "You really are an imp of perversity," Snape growled.

"I studied with the best." Draco tugged at the tie he had worn to lunch with his father, squirming. "Is it warm in here? Oh, it's probably me; I seem to be overdressed."

Standing, he began to remove his clothes, unconcerned at being watched... quite pleased, actually, at the way both Harry and Snape turned their heads in his direction. Harry couldn't really see -- between his glasses being off and his eyes watering, he was nearly blind -- but he was aware of Draco strutting a bit as he folded his clothes neatly and put them in a pile on the floor. Slowly Draco's previous words began to make sense to Harry. "Snape spanked you?" he demanded.

"When I deserved it," was Draco's offhand reply. "Didn't you, Severus?" He tilted his butterbeer bottle to his lips and finished it, setting the empty bottle on the windowsill. "Do you think I deserve it now? I say maybe Harry does, for starting without me. Quite unfair."

The idea of Snape spanking one of them was making Harry's cock twitch again. He wasn't sure if he would rather be spanked himself or watch Snape do it to Draco. He and Draco had done it to each other a few times, but it was a bit outside what Harry found comfortable, particularly doing it to someone else, and it embarrassed him to be excited by it.

"Severus?" Draco pressed.

"I can't think of a time when you didn't deserve it," Snape replied to Draco, but he was looking at Harry. His cheeks were flushed and there was heat in his eyes as well -- the same intensity as he had shown just before he leaned over and kissed Harry earlier. "What do you think, Harry?"

The sound of his own name in Snape's mouth made Harry's gut clench. He was nervous; he suspected that Snape spanked the way he kissed and fucked, with more passion than caution, and Harry did not want to find himself tearful and humiliated in front of either Snape or Draco. At the same time, he was painfully excited by the idea.

"Well, Harry?" asked Draco with a trace of a taunt in his voice.

Harry gulped. "I suppose... since we started without him, I do deserve it. Sir. But, er..."

Snape raised his eyebrows. "Yes?"

"I need the loo," Harry admitted. It was going to be difficult to piss with his cock so hard, but better now than accidentally while Snape was spanking him.

"Left out the door, next down," said Snape. Harry hurried out.

The bathroom was as spare as everything else in the flat: dingy walls, gray towels, white soap, immaculately clean faucets. Harry studied his reflection in the small mirror by the sink. He wondered whether Snape was getting off on how nervous he was -- of course Draco was, but Harry would have his revenge later. Snape's dislike of him had been real enough, all those years he was at Hogwarts. What if he decided to indulge his anger? Would Draco stop him? What had Harry got himself into?

Washing his hands, he took a moment to splash water on his face, feeling almost surreal. He was going to walk back into that bedroom and willingly put himself in Snape's hands. He should have been terrified rather than excited, yet the sound of his name in Snape's voice kept ringing in his head... and he had the guilty suspicion that Snape would not have fucked him earlier with such a lack of restraint had Draco been there to watch.

What was Draco going to be doing while Harry was being spanked, anyway? Harry knew his partner well enough to be sure that Draco had some scheme in mind, but he had no idea what it might be. He rested his forehead against the wall for a moment, glad for the coolness of it against his skin. He would just have to trust that neither of his erstwhile adversaries intended anything other than what they had indicated.

As he stepped back into Snape's bedroom, he saw that his absence had been put to good use. Snape was lying flat on his back, and Draco was sucking his cock, seemingly unconcerned that it had been in Harry's arse not long before he arrived. Probably he'd used a cleaning spell. He glanced up from his task when Harry sat on the bed and grinned around the shaft, then went back to what he had been doing. For his part, Snape gave Harry a faintly embarrassed look, gesturing at Draco: "He seemed to feel I needed... preparation."

"Did you?" Seeing Snape uncomfortable was something of a comfort to Harry. "You mean you weren't about to burst just thinking about spanking me?"

Draco lifted his head. "I think he was afraid you were going to back out. I tried to tell him what a pervert you've turned into since you've known me." He grinned.

If Harry had tried to protest, Draco would have laughed... and Harry didn't really want to protest. "You could say that," he agreed. "But I suppose that's no surprise to anyone who knows you."

"It was to Severus, evidently," said Draco, sitting up. "Though I can't imagine why. Maybe he believes those Ministry pamphlets about the wonderful Harry Potter." The skeptical noise Snape made in response was interrupted when Draco asked, "How would you like Harry positioned, Severus? Across your lap? Or bent across the bed?"

"Across your lap," Harry answered before Snape could. If he was going to do this, he was determined to be able to feel Snape react as much as Snape could feel him. He watched Snape sit up slowly, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, and strode over before he could lose his nerve. "Make Draco count," he suggested -- he wanted Draco to be doing something, not just watching him.

Snape looked up at him, and again his eyes were bright with something Harry didn't dare try to name. Bending, he sprawled awkwardly over Snape's knees, nudging his cock against a hairy thigh. He felt Snape's hand stroke over his bum once before the hand withdrew, then returned, quick and stinging.

"Count," Snape ordered, and Draco said, "One," as Harry gasped.

"Two. Three. Four..." the count went on at a measured pace. Harry felt Snape's cock pulse against his belly and his own leapt in response. The blows were not as hard as he had feared they might be; a spanking, as Draco had said, nothing like a beating, but hard enough that he could sense his skin reddening.

They had said nothing of how long this was to last... was Snape expecting him to beg it to come to an end? Did he have some fixed number of blows in mind? Harry began to whimper softly as Draco said, "Ten."

"Had enough?" The fingers ghosted over his stinging arse, still not recovered from having been fucked so thoroughly earlier. Harry didn't answer for a moment, uncertain what he was supposed to say. The hand rubbing him slid down to one of his thighs, and Harry felt Snape's prick prod him from underneath.

"Yes, sir," he said, flinching as his voice cracked, but Snape continued to pay very pleasant attention to his thighs and to rub up against him. He wanted that cock in his mouth again. He wondered what it would be like to have Snape and Draco in his mouth at once...would it even be possible? Would he choke? Or would it be as exciting to feel their cocks rubbing together as he thought it might?

He turned his head, looking for Draco, who was now standing a foot or two in front of Snape and watching Harry with a slight smile. When he saw Harry glance over, he stepped closer. "I think a few more might be a good idea, really," Draco said to Snape. "But since Harry wants me to do the counting for him, perhaps he should put his mouth to another use."

"Do you think he can manage to keep his teeth under control?" Snape's voice was doubtful.

Draco knelt down so that he was eye to eye with Harry. "What do you think, Harry? Can you suck me off while Severus gives you another five swats?"

"You must be kidding," Harry objected. His teeth had been clenched throughout the first ten and he didn't believe that it was physically possible to block the impulse to bite down. It was so typical of Draco to try to -- what? Humiliate him? Though really that hadn't been typical for a long time now. But push him, yes. Was this punishment for letting Snape touch him before Draco arrived? Uneasily he slid out of Snape's lap.

"All right, perhaps that would have been a bit much," said Draco smugly. Harry felt the mattress shift as Draco climbed up and turned his head away, but Draco seized his shoulders and rolled him over so that he could not avoid looking into those grey eyes. "Don't be pissy about it."

"What do you want, an apology?" He watched Draco's eyes go round, stung. Snape's hand was running along Harry's spine, soothing. "I didn't think you'd care -- it's not like he and I did anything you and he haven't done before. Or did I break the rules of your game?"

"My game! Got what you wanted, didn't you?"

"Stop it," Snape interrupted, sounding extremely irritable. Glancing over at him, Harry realized that they had abandoned him with a very hard cock to start a row. "As I have already told Mister Potter, I am not here to provide drama for your little romance."

Harry saw Draco take a deep breath and guessed he was probably counting to ten under his breath. "All right, Severus," Draco said finally. "Perhaps this was all a mistake and we should leave."

"Oh, for..." Harry shook his head. He grabbed Draco and kissed him, hard, rubbing against him while sliding a foot back to wrap around Snape's ankle. "Stop being ridiculous. You know you don't want to leave, and neither do I."

"Well, then, perhaps I should leave," grumbled Snape, though Harry could see from the angle of his body that he was watching them intently and making no move to go anywhere. "What is it you're angling for, Malfoy? All this on your terms?"

Draco whimpered softly, thrusting back against Harry. "So far, nothing today's been on my terms. I'm not the one who was lying around blissfully post-whatever I missed. I know you have a thing for Harry..."

"A thing?" Snape and Harry said simultaneously -- Harry in surprise, Snape in disgust.

"I do not have, as you put it, a thing for Harry," Snape continued. Harry could not decide whether to be disappointed by the denial or pleased that Snape had used his first name again.

"Well, what would you call it, then? Because I know damned well that there is something that's not just you fancying a hot young arse," said Draco. "I think I deserve some thanks, actually."

"What kind of thanks did you have in mind?" Snape asked silkily. Harry couldn't help noticing that he had evaded the question.

But Draco flopped onto his back, spreading his knees and letting his stiff cock wave above his belly. "Someone owes me some attention," he insisted. "In fact I think both of you owe me some attention."

At least Draco was predictable, so long as he was getting his way. Harry couldn't help snickering softly. "You take the right side, I'll take the left," he said to Snape and bent over Draco's thigh, licking his way up the inside while Draco groaned and squirmed.

When he reached Draco's cock, slightly ahead of Snape, Harry decided to leave it to the older man. He knew from Draco's story that Snape had sucked Draco off before, but he was certain that it had not happened recently. Instead he ducked down to mouth Draco's tight balls, and with one hand stroked along his perineum and down to his arsehole. After a moment he let his other hand wander up along Snape's thigh, which was conveniently nearby.

Harry could feel Draco writhing and hear him babbling encouragement -- he knew how Draco liked to be touched here, and whatever Snape was doing to his cock, it seemed to have met with Draco's approval as well. What was particularly exciting, however, was the way Snape twisted to press his cock into Harry's hand, reaching with his own hand to stroke Harry's arse, carefully, as if he was afraid he'd hurt him, fucking him and spanking him as he had. Harry wriggled back into the touch, squeezing Snape's cock before beginning to stroke it.

"Fuck yeah," grunted Draco, and Harry smiled as he tongued behind his balls. He shifted over slightly, so that his own cock could press against Draco's leg without taking him away from Snape's questing fingers. Snape was teasing Harry's hole, sinking a fingertip barely inside and then pulling it back out, able to do so easily from the lingering remnants of the broom polish, and Harry wished that he had some lube handy. Instead he spat on his fingers and used that to go knuckle-deep into Draco. With his other thumb he smeared the moisture weeping from the head of Snape's cock along the thick shaft, and was gratified to hear Snape groaning almost as loudly as Draco.

"Do it, give it to me, Harry," Draco was muttering, pushing down on his finger, raising his leg onto Harry's shoulder to give Harry better access. For a moment Harry wanted to whimper, but then Snape slid his hand over Harry's hip and began to mimic the movements of Harry's fingers, stroking up and down his cock. "Fuck, yes, fuck, yes," he heard Draco wail, though he might well have said it himself, as Snape's cock throbbed in his hand and Snape's hand tugged mercilessly at him.

Harry pulled out and spat again, then was able to push in deep enough to feel the nub of Draco's prostate through the clinging heat of his arse, brushing over it repeatedly as Draco cried out now-inarticulate sounds. Snape's fingers twisted over Harry's cock and Harry, too, was groaning, trying to split his attention three ways at once. Just when he thought he couldn't keep it up -- he was either going to end up rubbing Snape raw or prodding Draco painfully -- he felt Draco clench down hard on his fingers and heard him let out a piercing cry.

Snape's fingers caught Harry's wrist and held his hand still, letting him concentrate on swallowing rather than choking. Harry's own hips were still moving, thrusting into the air, trying to bring his cock into contact with the nearest warm body. He had sunk down and was rubbing frantically against Draco when Snape let go of his wrist, but before he could reach to Snape's cock again, he was tugged sideways and suddenly Snape's mouth had closed around him, sucking as he had done earlier, except that this time Snape did not let him go until Harry had come in his mouth. Harry stared down at the dark head as Snape's tongue bathed his cock and balls, licking them clean.

Only then did Snape sit up and bring Harry's hand back to his own prick, wordlessly, his expression almost an entreaty. Draco had recovered and was watching them, looking sated but somewhat overwhelmed. "Get up and return the favor," Harry told him, pushing Snape between them.

"Give me that stuff." Draco fumbled for the little jar, which was lying forgotten where it had fallen on the floor. Climbing around behind Snape, he slicked his fingers and grinned at Harry as he reached down, drawing a soft moan from the older man while Harry began to stroke again, watching his eyes roll back. When he had matched the rhythm that Draco was setting to his own, he wriggled down and pressed his lips against the head of Snape's cock, running his tongue around it and nudging the foreskin away, savoring the salty-tangy-bitter flavor that was like and yet unlike the way Draco tasted.

Snape's hand was in his hair, not controlling how deep Harry took him, just resting there... affectionately, Harry thought, as he tried to relax his throat and take in more. Snape's cock was so thick, however, that he could only manage to squeeze it between his tongue and the roof of his mouth without worrying about getting his teeth in the wrong place, so he sucked while continuing to move his hand up and down on the lower part of the shaft.

"Like that?" he heard Draco ask, followed by a strangled sound from Snape; Draco must have been rubbing his prostate. "Well, go on, Severus. You know you want to say his name."

Harry felt Snape shudder, then his breath was cut off for a moment as Snape's hips bucked, thrusting the cock deeper into his throat. He coughed, tensing, and heard Snape whisper, "Harry." He decided that the moisture on his cheeks was from nearly choking as Snape's semen shot into his throat, and he swallowed hard, lapping up the last drops as Snape pulled away.

Over Snape's hip he could see Draco's head, a bit fuzzily without his glasses, but he could guess at his partner's smug expression. Harry sat up, swiping his hand over his face. Deliberately he leaned across and kissed Draco, then bent down to press his lips to Snape's as well.

Snape held him there, reaching behind himself to pull Draco around, so that all three of them were kissing sloppily. After a minute Draco flopped back again, wiping the corner of his mouth with his thumb. "You two have turned vanilla on me," he announced. "Next time, he gets the spanking," Harry told Snape.

"But that would be giving him just what he wants."

Draco snorted a little. "Maybe you're due for a spanking, Severus. There are two of us; I doubt you could stop us if we worked together..."

"Malfoy, one day you will realize that I have skills of which you know nothing," said Snape idly. A moment later Draco was floating upside-down above the bed, yelping.

Harry spread his hands when Draco squawked for help. "Oh, no, this is between you and Severus. I'm not getting in the middle." He realized he had used Snape's first name when the older man turned his head to look at Harry, and blushed.

"Fairness would suggest that it is, in fact, your turn in the middle," said Snape. "Although there's merit in your suggestion that Mister Malfoy should be properly chastised for his disrespectful attitude." With a negligent flick of his fingers, he caused Draco to fall back to the mattress. "I did agree to teach the two of you."

"I thought you were going to teach us kinky uses of the Dark Arts," spluttered Draco petulantly, making Harry laugh, particularly when he saw the look on Snape's face. "And I don't know what you mean by disrespectful! You weren't complaining when my fingers were in your arse!"

"What kind of chastisement did you have in mind?" Harry grinned at Snape, who appeared thoughtful.

"Do you know, I'm having difficulty coming up with anything that Mister Malfoy will interpret as a punishment rather than a reward." Draco grinned widely at this, but Harry knew from the look on Snape's face that he wasn't finished. "He only seems unhappy when everyone's attention is focused on you."

"Then it's a good thing I know you don't want to encourage this Chosen One business," retorted Draco.

He had Snape there. "Mm. Yes," their teacher admitted. "I may have to think about the possibilities for a few days, but I am sure I will find something appropriate in the end. Perhaps I will consult your father -- quite discreetly, I assure you," he added when Draco looked aghast at the notion. The idea of Snape asking Lucius Malfoy how to punish Draco tore Harry between laughter and consternation. Lucius was polite to Harry these days, but it was a politeness born of toleration, not respect, and if Snape let anything slip...!

Draco, however, looked unfazed. "You know, that's an interesting idea, to ask my father," he said. "I have the impression that he may have interesting stories about you that you're never going to tell me."

"And vice versa," agreed Snape in a voice that contained a hint of warning. Was Snape sorry that he had brought Lucius into this? If Lucius thought that he could use Snape to drive a wedge between Draco and Harry, he would not hesitate to do it; he was determined that his son was going to marry a pureblood and father a pureblood child, just as Lucius himself had done.

Studying Snape's expression, Harry wondered whether he dared to think about what sort of stories there might have been, and whether he would ever discover them all.

Chapter Text

Harry had meant to stop by Snape's for only a few minutes after work -- long enough to see if Snape was serious about trading him that magnificent new Thunderbolt for his own older broom. It seemed odd that Lucius Malfoy should have given Snape such a gift. Not that Lucius couldn't afford it, easily, but he hadn't even bought Draco the latest model racing broom, and Draco would get far more use out of it than Snape.

In fact, when Harry thought about Lucius Malfoy, he was disturbed by how many people the onetime Death Eater seemed still to be manipulating, beginning with his own son. But since Harry was living with Draco and had no desire to change that situation, he supposed that putting up with meddling Malfoys was unavoidable. He wanted to ask Snape about Lucius. Snape had known Draco's father since before Draco was born and would likely have guessed, if not been told, whether Lucius had plans to try to bend Draco to his plans for the future of the Malfoy name and fortune.

Of course, Draco was rather strong-willed himself, but Draco had spent his entire life enjoying the privileges that came with his wealthy pureblood status, even if those had also led him to some very foolish decisions during the wizarding war. Harry had the impression that even Lucius' regrets were sincere, not because Voldemort was pure evil but because he had put his own family at risk. The only thing more important to Lucius than power was the continuation of the Malfoy line, and he had Draco well indoctrinated in his beliefs.

But Snape wasn't a pureblood and Harry found himself feeling an unlikely kinship. Had Severus once considered Lucius a friend, only to find himself denigrated because of his Muggle father? Had there ever been more between them? Draco had made a face when Harry had suggested it, but Harry knew Draco suspected that Lucius and Severus had been lovers once. Curiosity gnawed at him as he knocked on Snape's door, wondering how to broach any topic other than brooms.

There was no immediate response from within, and Harry wondered if Snape was in fact home. Come to think of it, he wasn't entirely certain what Snape did these days. Harry had heard that he had turned down an offer to return to Hogwarts -- probably sensible, that -- and recalled Draco saying something about Snape doing consulting, but Harry didn't know if Snape would do so from his flat or if he had an office somewhere else. Since he was here already, he knocked once again, more loudly, and this time heard muffled sounds when he put his ear to the door. He was surprised nonetheless when it opened unexpectedly, and nearly ended up sprawled across the doorstep.

Instead he found himself clutching at Snape's robes in an attempt to remain more or less upright. Hastily he let go and stood up, flushing.

"Potter, what are you doing here?" Snape demanded with a sort of glee in his eyes, as if he had caught Harry snooping around his neighborhood. "Don't you have better things to do?"

"I, ah, brought this." Harry picked up his broomstick from where he had propped it by the door. "I don't know if you were serious about swapping, but if you were really offering me the chance to fly on a Thunderbolt..." Snape stared at the broomstick and for a moment Harry thought he looked disappointed. "If you were joking, of course I..."

"I don't joke." Reaching out, Snape pulled him inside by the arm.

"This is the broom I bought for myself right after the war ended," Harry explained when they were in the sitting room. "The newest Firebolt. Great flyer, and I've taken good care of it, but a Thunderbolt... Which Broomstick said it was like having lightning between your legs."

He was holding the broom in front of him and Snape's eyes were fixed on it... unless they were fixed about eight inches further back, on Harry himself. Harry couldn't be certain in the dim greenish light that filtered through the curtains. "As I told you, I haven't flown on it myself," replied Snape.

Harry wondered why not. If he were given a broom -- any broom, much less a Thunderbolt -- the first chance he had, he would be out flying, testing it. "Well, if you'd like to give it a try, I didn't mean to just march over here and ask for your gift..."

"I've already explained that it means very little to me. If you have no particular attachment to this one, I would be happy to switch." The phrases were clipped, curt. Maybe Snape was annoyed nonetheless.

Or maybe, Harry suspected suddenly, Snape liked the idea of having Harry's broom just because it was Harry's. He'd never imagined Snape to be sentimental, but then again, he'd never imagined that Snape had fantasized about fucking him, either. "This one isn't quite lightning, but it feels pretty good there," he said, gesturing at his lap. "If you'd like to give it a go..."

Snape took two steps forward and his hand closed around the handle of the broomstick, just above Harry's, barely touching. "Perhaps not just now." His gaze glanced across Harry's face, then slid away, and abruptly he let go and turned his back.

Vaguely disappointed, Harry asked, "Is this a bad time for you? You weren't expecting me and perhaps I've interrupted something."

"No." But the word sounded forced. Harry walked around Snape; not seeing his face made it even more difficult than usual to tell what he meant. Snape's hands were clenched at his sides, pulling his robes taut, and Harry saw why Snape did not want to fly just now -- riding a broom with a hard-on tended to be extremely uncomfortable.

Seeing Snape like that gave Harry a rush like nothing he had ever felt before. It was absurd -- he had faced down Voldemort, argued with two Ministers of Magic, and fought off dozens of threats to his life -- yet the knowledge that he could do this to Snape made a kind of reckless power surge through him. "You don't want to fly... and I didn't come here just to talk about brooms," he said, flushing to hear himself admit that aloud when he hadn't even wanted to think it.

"What did you come here for?" Snape asked. His expression was guarded though Harry was certain he already knew the answer -- he just wanted to make Harry say the words. Instead Harry propped the broom against the wall, closed the distance between them and pulled Snape's face down to his. For a moment he thought that Snape was going to resist, but then Snape's hands closed around his back and his mouth opened.

The kiss was just as demanding as Harry expected, almost desperate, as if Snape thought that Harry might disappear at any moment. He tasted the traces of herbs that he half-recognized from Potions classes, and wondered what Snape had been brewing and why he was testing it on himself. After what might have been several minutes, Snape broke away, staring at Harry, a muscle in his cheek jerking rapidly. "You don't know..."

"Don't know how much you want this? I know how much I do," said Harry, heady with the realization that Snape was nearer losing control than he was, and more willing to concede his own desire if it was going to provoke such a response.

"Does your..." Then Snape apparently thought better of whatever he had been going to ask. "Get in the bedroom before I decide the floor will do." Grinning, Harry obeyed, kicking off his shoes and unbuttoning his shirt on the way. He could hear Snape's clothing rustling behind him and suspected that he was doing the same thing.

The smell of herbs was stronger in the bedroom and somewhat sweet -- was that cinnamon? Or some exotic spice? Harry's mouth watered and he had an urge to lick Snape's skin. When he turned, however, having dropped his trousers in a messy pile at the foot of the bed, he found Snape pointing his wand at him.

Before Harry even had time to register surprise, thin cords shot out of the end of the wand, binding his wrists together and tugging them over his head, pulling him flat onto his back and toward the headboard, which they wrapped around firmly. His cock leapt to full attention as he was bound. From the hungry gaze that swept over him, Harry thought he might be devoured whole, but Snape asked, "You have done this before, I assume?"

Harry nodded, adding, "Once or twice." Which was an understatement, but not much of one. It seemed to suit Snape, because he smirked slightly and then bound Harry's feet in a similar fashion, leaving him spread-eagled on the bed. A quick flick of Snape's wand lit a trio of candles on the top of the wardrobe, and the sweet scent grew stronger.

Harry couldn't keep his eyes off Snape, longing to have that prick inside him again -- mouth, arse, he hardly cared -- but Snape remained standing beside the bed, drumming his fingers thoughtfully on the headboard. "Sir?" he asked, bringing Snape's attention back to his face. The older man put down the armful of clothing he held, folding it quickly but with characteristic precision over the chair where last time, Draco had...

Draco! Harry gave a guilty whimper. It had been one thing to do this thoughtlessly when he had known Draco would be joining them, and even then, Draco had sulked a bit that they had started without him. This, though, was something else -- not sneaking around, exactly, since of course Harry would explain why he was late and would tell Draco everything, but...

Snape climbed onto the bed, straddling his torso, and Harry forgot everything else. The cock he had been daydreaming about every spare moment for days was poised in front of him, inches from his mouth. His lips parted involuntarily.

"Not quite yet, Potter," Snape rumbled, and Harry shivered as callused and potion-stained fingers brushed over his nipples, pinching them to tautness. How Snape knew just what pressure to apply to bring the sensation to the border of exquisite ache but not beyond, Harry had no idea; he only writhed fruitlessly against the bonds as Snape tantalized him. His own cock was straining for contact, but Snape was kneeling just high enough that Harry couldn't press against him no matter how he tried to arch up. Shutting his eyes, he groaned and let his head fall back, but Snape ordered, "No. Look at me."

Harry obeyed, sweeping his attention from Snape's face down to his hard, twitching cock. Following that gaze, Snape took the rigid shaft in his hand and began to stroke it, drawing another needy noise from Harry. He wanted to taste the damp head, wanted Snape to rub it against his nipples and along his chest, wanted it pushing him open or spurting over his cock. Preferably one after the other. "Please," he begged, and dared to add, "Please, Severus."

Snape's stroke faltered and he squeezed the base of his cock, a sound halfway between a sigh and a groan escaping from him. "Silence." Harry bit back the wail that he wanted to make as finally Snape's cock touched his chest, leaving a faint smear of dampness from the leaking head. Snape braced his hands on either side of Harry's head and rotated his hips so that he swept circles across Harry's skin, teasingly coming close to Harry's lips but only near enough that Harry could taste him with flickering laps of his tongue, not so that he could fasten his mouth around that pulsing shaft and suck as he wanted to.

He didn't dare to plead aloud again, nor make more than a muffled whimper. After a few moments, though, to his relief, Snape whispered, "Good," and nudged his cock against Harry's mouth. Eagerly Harry parted his lips, taking in as much as he could. Snape's hand was on the back of his neck, supporting his head. The thick shaft slid back and forth between his lips as Harry tongued the slit, slippery with the fluid dripping from it. He could feel Snape holding the base of his cock steady since Harry had no free hand, guiding it into Harry's mouth.

Snape's knees were pressed close around Harry's ribcage, his slightly cold feet brushing Harry's sides. Tied up as he was, Harry felt claimed -- owned -- marked -- and it astonished him how arousing it was, to find himself so completely in Snape's power and to surrender willingly. And Snape seemed to feel the same way, making soft murmurs of encouragement as Harry sucked at him, trying to get more.

It was hard to remember to breathe, and once he nearly choked, but the hand cradling the back of his head tugged him down, distracting him from the pulsing of the cock under his tongue. He was able to gasp out and then inhale again through his nose, the smell of musky cock heightened by the candles' scent. He half-hoped that Snape would lose control and come in his mouth, even though he also wanted to have his arse filled again and feel Snape pounding against him. His own neglected cock was leaving sticky drops against his belly.

Finally Snape withdrew, shifting down Harry's body and brushing over the rigid erection so that Harry couldn't help crying out. "Wait," Snape warned him in a thick voice, picking up his wand and freeing Harry's feet. "I am going to fuck you, and you are going to wrap your legs around me and beg for more."

"Yes, sir," Harry gasped, tilting his hips to give Snape whatever access he wanted to his arse. Snape pointed the wand at him without saying anything and Harry felt the region behind his balls seem to melt in a very pleasurable way, growing slick and sensitive. The feeling intensified when Snape pressed a finger into him, fucking him slowly with that single digit before adding another and making Harry worry yet again that he might come before Snape actually touched his cock.

It felt too good for him to become overly concerned, though, even when Snape entered him with a third finger. Harry inhaled sharply and Snape waited, looking at him until he nodded before twisting his fingers to stretch Harry further open, making him ready to take that bulky prick. When at last the head of Snape's cock was positioned against him, Harry was panting, his knees pulled up and wide and his ankles high on Snape's back. "Beg me for it," growled Snape.

And Harry did, abandoning any shreds of dignity at the sound of that commanding voice. "Please sir -- fuck me -- fuck me hard!"

Even before the last syllable left his tongue, Snape had begun to shove in, pushing the widest part of the head of his cock past the ring of muscle and into Harry's slippery arse. He locked his ankles behind Snape's back, refusing to let Snape take it out again, and Snape muttered, "Greedy," as he began to rock his hips, pushing a little harder with each thrust.

"Yes," agreed Harry, not caring what Snape thought, just not wanting him to stop. "More, please!" A slight shift, and Snape struck Harry inside in the place that made him gasp and knot his hands into fists within their ties. "That...!"

Snape's eyes were open, boring into Harry's. "There..." he breathed, nodding and thrusting again at the same angle. And again, the pleasure of it spiraling out of any control Harry could have hoped to have. He gave a keening wail. "You want it," Snape rasped.

"I want it," Harry groaned. "So good... need more... need you..."

"Harry," muttered Snape softly, and then he began to chant, "Harry -- Harry -- " as if the name were an incantation. Maybe it was; it worked on Harry like a binding spell, making him pull Snape even closer with his legs and strain up to him and wish his hands were free so that he could dig his fingers into Snape's hair. Or, perhaps, touch himself, but any minute now Snape would surely close his hand around Harry's cock and make him...

Abruptly Snape went rigid, shuddering. He choked out Harry's name once more before his words were lost to the inarticulate sounds emitting from his throat. Harry could feel the cock pulsing deep within his arse.

"Please," he whimpered, unable to wait, "please, Severus..."

Snape's head snapped up from where it had sagged in the aftermath of his orgasm. He stroked a hand along Harry's leg, encouraging him to let go, as he carefully withdrew his cock. When Harry was again spread out before him Snape lowered his head, taking Harry's straining shaft into his mouth. The suddenness of the wet suction on oversensitive nerves was too much; though Harry would have liked to enjoy the feel of Snape sucking him off for longer, he came almost immediately, thrusting shamelessly into Snape's throat.

Snape swallowed, holding Harry in his mouth until he had stopped writhing, then licked Harry's cock and balls clean for longer than was likely necessary. Harry continued to moan, spreading his legs to let Snape settle between them. He felt an arm reach across his leg, returning with wand in hand, and Snape aimed at the headboard, freeing Harry's wrists.

"Come up here," he entreated, reaching down, now that he could, to put his hands in Snape's hair. The dark mane was not so much greasy as simply lank, he decided, twisting some of the overlong strands around his fingers. Snape caught one of his wrists and licked at the palm, sending a shiver up Harry's spine. "Come here," he repeated, and then Snape did, wrapping his arms around Harry's chest.

"You can't stay." It was not dismissal that he heard in Snape's voice, but regret.

"No. I'll be late for dinner as it is," Harry admitted. "I didn't intend..."

Bending his head, Snape kissed him, and again Harry could think of nothing else for the span of the contact, even though the frantic, passionate edge was off. "Didn't you?"

"I suppose I did, but I didn't think of it like that."

"Are you going to tell him why you were late?"

"Of course I am!"

Snape's expression was thoughtful... not quite calculating, but with the sort of cynicism Harry had seen in Draco's eyes when he looked for excuses to avoid his parents. "He won't like it. You might have a quieter evening if you omit the details and simply tell him that you came to get my broom."

"I wouldn't lie to him." Nodding, Snape slid away, then rose and went to the closet, from which he removed the Thunderbolt. Seeing it again, Harry felt a pang of guilt. "Are you really sure that you want to trade? Not that I don't appreciate the offer," he added hastily. "But since it was a gift to you... I wouldn't want you to regret this if Lucius asked you what happened to it."

"Lucius knew when he gave it to me that I had no use for a broom of this quality," snorted Snape. "I will be very content to fly yours." He paused for a moment. "He has every intention of fitting all our lives to his plans, you know. He won't leave Draco alone until Draco has married a pureblood witch and fathered a Malfoy heir, which means that he must have plans for you as well. And for some ridiculous reason he seems to believe that I can be kept content with gifts like this..."

Snape fell silent, staring at the broom. "I had wondered whether he expected me to give this to Draco," he murmured.

What Harry wondered was what Lucius might be planning for him... because Harry had no intention of leaving Draco, and Draco only laughed at the idea of leaving Harry to get married, despite the lectures from his father and reproachful talks with his mother. "Draco would enjoy flying it," Harry said, "if you'd rather give it to him."

"No, I want you to have it," said Snape firmly. "Let Draco borrow it if you like, but it's yours now."

Harry nodded, realizing that any further debate on the point would be useless. "All right... and thank you." He bent down to retrieve his trousers and slip them on. The rest of his clothes were still strewn between the sitting room and bedroom.

Snape shrugged into his own robes, retrieving his wand. "Don't you want to wash? A spell, at least?"

"No." It wasn't that it would be dishonest, since Harry intended to tell Draco anyway. It was that he wanted to be reminded as long as possible that this had happened... to feel it the whole way home. "But thank you," he said again.

"Stop thanking me." Snape frowned. "As you know, I was a willing participant."

"I know," said Harry, walking out the bedroom door. "I..." he broke off to pull on his shirt, carefully aligning the buttons to their holes and beginning to do them up. "I'd like to keep doing this. With you."

"Without Draco?"

"No. Well, maybe. But not lying about it." Harry took a deep breath. "What do you think?"

"I think that you need to think about what you're doing." Snape's voice held a warning. "I'm not doing anything that Draco didn't put in my head in the first place!" Harry's voice was louder than he had intended. "Sorry. I'm... I don't know. Not confused, because I know I want to do this again. But I don't know what he wants." He stopped, looking around for his shoes. "And, really, I don't know what you want -- why you're doing this."

"Does it really matter what I want?" came the dry response.

"Yes," said Harry vehemently. "If you don't want to do this again, then there's no point, is there?"

"I'd not be averse to seeing you, with or without Draco," Snape said. "But that decision you will have to work out with him." He shook his head. "I offered to be your teacher again. My reasons are my own, but I've no intention of becoming a bone of contention between you."

Draco, thought Harry somewhat petulantly, had already had his turn with Snape, before Harry had ever considered that he might be attracted to either of them. The bones of contention between them were likely to be more complicated things... like the fact that Draco seemed to believe it would ultimately be possible both to please his parents and to stay with Harry, which Harry knew was never going to work. Not unless Lucius and Narcissa changed in ways he couldn't even imagine.

"I want this," he replied to Snape. "Draco wants it too. I don't know if he really thought it out... he thought it would be fun, that's all." Even as he spoke, Harry wondered whether it had ever been that simple. Had Draco suspected Harry had urges that needed addressing before they became a problem?

Snape sniffed. "Mr. Malfoy is perhaps fonder than he should be of physical pleasure without considering its consequences. I hope it is not an attitude that you will adopt." The statement struck Harry like a slap in the face. Did Snape see both Draco and Harry as childish, playing around thoughtlessly? But even the reprimand, spoken in that voice, gave him an illicit thrill.

He summoned up his determination and said, "Then you'll just have to teach us both better, won't you?" He thought he saw a gleam of satisfaction in Snape's eye at that remark.

"Go, then, before you cause any further trouble." Snape looked down and frowned; he had missed one of the numerous buttons on his robes and was going to have to unfasten and redo many of them. "Why don't you send me an owl and let me know if the broom feels like lightning between your legs?"

Now Snape was smirking, looking rather pleased with himself. Harry knew that he would remember the statement every single time he mounted the Thunderbolt, and that Snape had intended exactly that. "Thanks. I will. Have fun with mine... it's always felt pretty good between my legs, at least."

Slipping through the alleys after they had said goodbye -- there had been no kissing, mostly because Harry was afraid everything would start all over again if there were -- he thought about what to say to Draco. He could, of course, say that he had gone to Snape's to exchange brooms and things had got out of hand, feigning surprise if Draco objected and claiming he never thought Draco would mind after what the three of them had already done. He was appallingly late, though, and Draco was bound to be in a mood. Perhaps the thing to do was to bring a peace offering, a bottle or two of wine, and soothe the inevitable ruffled feathers before he made Draco's hackles rise once more.

Thus he arrived home, armed with wine, chocolate, and the new Stubby Boardman solo recording, only to find Draco flopped across their bed reading an article on Muggle environmental hazards and what the wizarding world could do about them. "I got tired of waiting, so I got takeaway. Yours is under a keep-warm spell on the table."

"Oh. Thanks," said Harry, holding out the music, which Draco glanced at, then tossed on the pillow beside him. "Sorry. I, ah..."

"You what?" Draco turned a page. "Thought you'd try to bribe me with presents so I'd forgive you for being nearly three hours late?" His voice didn't rise at all, and he didn't look at Harry.

"I got a new broom," Harry offered weakly.

"I didn't realize that Quality Quidditch Supplies was hiring dyslexic doxies to work their till, which the length of time it took you to make that purchase would suggest." Draco sniffed the air in Harry's direction. "Nor was I aware that they're burning incense in the shop these days. You reek."

"I didn't go to Quality Quidditch Supplies." Harry blushed furiously. He had known this wouldn't be as easy as pouring Draco a glass of wine and apologizing, but he'd expected... well, that Draco would yell at him and then he could quarrel back. "Snape told me he'd let me have his new broom, remember?"

"Oh, were you at Snape's?" Draco gave Harry a wide-eyed smile of feigned surprise. "How is Severus? Very altruistic of him to offer you his broom. Maybe your Gryffindor generosity is rubbing off on him. What do you think?" The smile was still twisting Draco's face but there was nothing sweet about it.

Harry's heart began to pound. It was really fucking unfair, he thought, that that dangerous glint in Draco's eye made him more sexy than usual. This was not the time for his libido to take notice. He gazed at Draco, dry-mouthed, unable to answer.

"I think you are rubbing off on him," Draco said after a pause. "But he hasn't returned the favor -- didn't teach you that the stupidest thing to do after cheating is to come home with little gifts. Not very cunning, Harry. I'm disappointed."

Taking a deep breath, Harry replied, "Actually, he suggested that maybe I should lie about where I'd been. Is that what a Slytherin would do?" Draco's expression darkened. "If you'd been with someone else, would you..."

"I'm not the one who was at Snape's." Shoving aside his magazine, Draco sat up. "Since we've been together, I've never touched Snape except when you were in the room."

"Is that why you invited him for dessert, then -- missed the opportunity?" His voice was rising, which Harry knew wasn't helping matters. "First of all, I was not cheating. I had every intention of telling you where I was and what we did. And second, I never thought about touching Snape until you suggested it."

"Sure you didn't," said Draco sarcastically. "That's why you came when I imitated his voice. Because you never thought about him."

"You were fucking me at the time!" Harry protested. "And it was your idea to ask him over! Even if I had some kinky fantasy, it was just that. I wouldn't have done anything to make it real without you pushing me."

Draco's face was set. "So this is my fault?"

"Why does it have to be anyone's fault? Can't we just say, it happened -- I shouldn't have let it without talking to you beforehand -- and it won't happen that way again?"

Draco studied him. "Suppose I say fine," he said. "Suppose I say, I'm happy you had a nice time. Suppose I say that in fact I've been missing Snape and I'd like to go spend an evening with him myself. Would you say, oh, all right then?"

Harry had to admit to himself that he wasn't at all happy about that idea, but... "I'd accept it. Fair's fair."

"You're such a Gryffindor sometimes," Draco shook his head. "'Fair's fair,' my arse." But his face had relaxed, just a little bit, to Harry's relief. "And what if it was someone else, not Snape?"

"Do you have someone in mind?" countered Harry.

"Think hypothetically, Potter. I'd rather not have to have this conversation more than once."

Draco only called him Potter when he wanted to make him feel younger, stupider... distant. "You know as well as I do that there's a difference between meeting some stranger you decide you want to fuck and someone you have history with," he snapped.

"Is that supposed to make this better, because you have 'history' with Snape? Doesn't that just make it more complicated? What did you think was going to happen when you went over there to talk about brooms... why do you think he offered his to you?"

"Because he has no use for it," retorted Harry. "Why else would he offer to trade? It's not as if I couldn't buy myself a Thunderbolt if I really wanted one." Harry's annoyance was aggravated by the fact that he suspected Draco was right. Let me know if the broom feels like lightning between your legs.

"Exactly. You could have bought yourself a Thunderbolt -- for that matter, I'm sure one of your admirers would have presented you with one if you gave the slightest hint. Or my father will probably give me one for Christmas and you know I'd have let you fly it. You didn't go over there just to get Snape's broom!"

"Fine." Harry threw up his hands. "After you maneuvered me into bed with him, twice, first inviting him over here and then insisting that we accept his transparent invitation to further sex, I snuck around behind your back to have a sordid secret affair with him and then came home with silly gifts in the hope of hiding it all from you! Is that what you think?"

Draco stared at him, and then, to Harry's surprise, he giggled, flopped back onto the bed and laughed until he was gasping for breath. "No, Harry, when you put it like that... no." He rolled over. "But that doesn't mean I'm quite ready to forgive you yet."

"It doesn't?" said Harry warily.

"No. You were naughty... and you ought to be punished for it, don't you think?" Now Draco's smirk was pure lust.

Harry grinned back, though a part of him was still remembering Draco asking whether he could suck him off and take a spanking at the same time -- the sense of being pushed too far, even humiliated, just for the sake of it. "What did you have in mind?" he asked somewhat guardedly.

"Well, first you'd better tell me everything you and Snape did, and how it felt. If you've already been tied up and paddled and wanked over, I wouldn't want to bore you by repeating it." Harry felt his cheeks turning red. He expected that Draco would realize he'd been tied up as soon as he saw Harry's wrists, which were still a bit chafed, but to describe how that felt... and he would have loved it if Snape had finished wanking on him while he couldn't have done anything but lie there and let it spurt over him.

"He did tie me up," Harry admitted, unbuttoning his cuffs to push up his shirt sleeves and show Draco the marks. "Without asking first... although he asked after, to make sure I was all right with it. Then he wanked for a bit, not touching me, making me watch. And then..."

"But how did it make you feel?" demanded Draco, interrupting, his eyes gleaming.

"Excited." Harry flushed an even deeper shade of scarlet. "I thought I might come without even being touched, and I was begging him to fuck me."

"You turn into quite a bottom for him, don't you." It wasn't a question, and Harry knew that it was true: after so many years of resentfully taking orders from Snape, hating that he had to do it, something in him enjoyed doing it willingly and got off on how much that excited Snape. He nodded, and Draco said, "Is it because he's older... or is it the voice?"

"It's not..."

Narrowing his eyes suspiciously, Draco barked, "Get your trousers off and show me that filthy cock of yours, Potter," in an uncanny imitation of Snape. Harry had hastened to obey before he realized that Draco was grinning widely. "Ooh, you really do. And then you expect a reward for pleasing the teacher. Well, go on -- take off the rest." For the second time that evening, Harry fumbled with the buttons on his shirt, trying to undo them while simultaneously kicking off his shoes.

Draco eyed him. "When I said you had a filthy cock, I was right. Were you in such a hurry to get home that you couldn't be bothered to clean up? Ten points for slovenliness," he snapped, again in Snape's voice, and Harry quivered -- but he saw the bulge at Draco's groin and knew that the idea of Harry with Snape was turning Draco on as well. "Did he spank you, or were you too good a boy for him?" Draco got up and came to stand behind Harry, close enough that Harry could feel the hairs on his neck rising as Draco whispered. "Did you want him to?"

"He didn't spank me." Harry's whimper sounded alarmingly regretful as he tried to push back against Draco. "He tied me to the bed and made me suck him..." Let me suck him, he amended silently, remembering how badly he had wanted that cock in his mouth. "Then he fucked me."

"After he made you beg," guessed Draco, pushing his clothed cock against Harry's naked bum. Unbidden an image came to Harry of Snape kneeling over him, staring down in triumph; he groaned, cock throbbing as Draco's hand came around to squeeze it. "I knew it. Next time he'll have you begging him to spank you."

"Maybe," Harry temporized.

"If you don't, I will," Draco assured him, tickling his balls. "I want to see him do it." He bit at Harry's neck and rubbed up against him. "Won't you like that? Don't you wish he were here now?"

Harry nodded, a little bit chagrined that Draco could read him so well. "Aren't you going to take your trousers off?" he asked.

"Now, why would I want to do that?" There was laughter in Draco's voice as his fingers traveled behind Harry's balls, probing. "You're still wet. You came home dripping. You love having his come smeared on you."

"And you love the idea of fucking me when I'm filthy from him, so stop complaining." Pushing his hips back again, Harry could feel how right he was. Draco was practically bursting out of his clothes. With his free hand, Draco began to unfasten the trousers as he said, "Not just yet. Bend over the bed." Harry wondered just what Draco had in mind as he leaned forward and braced himself on his folded arms, his arse high in the air. It could be a spanking... he moaned, waiting impatiently.

What Draco did first was to nudge Harry's legs further apart, running his hands down from thigh to ankle. He could feel Draco's warm breath on his bum. "You reek, Potter," Draco whispered, and flicked out his tongue to taste. "You really are filthy. You need to be cleaned up." With another groan, Harry nodded agreement. Draco was licking shamelessly, devouring the mess Snape had left inside Harry. "Filthy," Draco groaned like it was praise. "And he had to let you come home to me."

A moment later he felt the head of Draco's cock against his arsehole, barely nudging him open, without any preamble whatsoever. Harry cried out and shuddered. "Fuck!" as eager hands grabbed his hips, fingernails digging into the tender skin of his thighs. "Oh, fuck -- yes -- "

Even though Harry was still slick from Snape's ministrations, the first thrust stung. "You're mine," Draco panted over Harry's strangled moan. "Severus had better realize that..." He snapped his fingers. "Accio lube." As Harry felt Draco's slick cock push into his arse, soothing the stretched entrance, he imagined Draco and Snape facing off, quarreling over him, each trying to claim him; imagined two cocks coming in his mouth, and something in him reared up and said, Yes, that. I want that.

"You love it, don't you?" panted Draco. "You love being owned..."

"And you love that I love it," choked Harry -- Draco was really pounding him. "Snape training me well enough for you?"

"Yeah," Draco gasped, reaching around and grabbing Harry's cock, fisting it hard in counter-rhythm to his thrusts. "Rather he trained you with me though."

A kaleidoscope of images flashed through Harry's mind: Draco up against a wall, his arse reddened; himself kneeling before Snape, come dripping down his chest; their teacher naked, erect, with both of them at attention before him. "Yeah," he agreed, and wailed as Draco's grip tightened.

"Come on," Draco urged. "Come for me like you'd come for him." And with another cry, Harry was over the edge for the second time that evening, body thrashing as he spurted over Draco's hand. "Yeah..." Draco grunted, still gripping Harry's hip. "Just... like..." His voice dissolved with a wail as he slammed in deep.

Harry winced as Draco withdrew; neither Draco nor Snape had been gentle, which was as he had wanted, but now he hurt. Draco fell to the bed by his side, and Harry rolled over so that he could see him. "I don't love him like I love you," he said quietly.

Draco only stared at him for a few seconds, long enough that Harry began to worry. "I never thought about whether you did." Fuck. That had been the wrong thing to say -- he shouldn't have mentioned Snape at all, he should have told Draco how great it was and left it at that. "Tell me something. How many people have you shagged purely because you felt like shagging them -- no relationship, just plain sex?"

Before they'd been together, Harry knew that Draco had amassed something of a history -- women as well as men, with no expectation of any sort of relationship attached. For Harry... well, there had been Ginny, and a rather foolish drunken incident with Neville that they both pretended had never happened but which had confirmed for Harry that he was capable of feeling more excitement over boys than girls, and a very discreet romance with the Auror assigned to guard him after some death threats that came to nothing... and Draco. "You already know the answer to that," he replied irritably, shifting to try to find a more comfortable position. "I'm not exactly unrecognizable. I didn't really want to read about my sexual escapades in The Daily Prophet."

"That's why you think that sex is an equivalent to love, or at least invariably connected to it. But it's not. Sex is for fun. There's nothing wrong with having fun with someone without falling in love with them."

"Then why does it bother you that I was shagging Snape earlier?" Harry demanded. "Because it's obvious that you're not happy about that."

"Now that is a mere question of courtesy. You were hours late, without leaving me a message of any kind, and then you came home with gifts as if I were some sort of imbecile who couldn't figure out what was going on," said Draco. "Of course I was annoyed."

"You're saying that if I'd told you I was planning to go there, you wouldn't have minded?"

"If you'd told me you were planning to go there, I could have crashed the party, or arranged my own evening's entertainment..." Draco stopped and grinned as Harry pulled himself upright to object, then flinched as his arse protested. "See? You don't much like that idea at all. 'Fair's fair.'"

Harry wasn't sure which bothered him more, the suggestion or the taunt in Draco's voice as he parroted Harry's own words back to him. "I can't win here. If I say it was just fucking, you get to suggest that you should be allowed to have nights off whenever you want..."

"I never said that," Draco interrupted.

"...and if I say it wasn't just fucking, then you think I have some kind of, I don't know, romantic attachment! To Snape!"

"Actually, I think you bloody want everything both ways." Unexpectedly, Draco was grinning. "Now lie down so I can fix your arse, unless you're enjoying being in pain."

Harry grumbled but lay on his stomach, which growled, reminding him that he'd never had any dinner. When Draco had finished the healing spell, Harry asked, "What kind of takeaway did you get, anyhow?"

"Indian." Draco prodded him in the arse. "Come on, you need a shower... then we can eat in bed."

"I thought you'd had yours?" The thought of a shower with Draco was appealing, and Harry rose with alacrity.

"Not much. First I kept thinking you'd be home at any moment, then I was angry, and then I was worried that something had happened to you."

"Sorry." Now that he had calmed down, Harry was both remorseful and embarrassed. It had been foolish not to send Draco a message that he was going to be late. "I knew you'd be angry. I guess I knew I deserved it."

"Yet again you prove that you could never have been a Slytherin, whatever that stupid hat told you." Pulling him closer, Draco kissed him, then released him to aim a cleaning spell at the bedcovers. "How did you leave things with Snape?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, does he want you back? ...stupid question. Does he expect you back? With or without me?"

Taking Draco's hand, Harry tugged him toward the bathroom. "I think he's hoping, with."

"Good." Draco twined his fingers between Harry's. "I'd be very disappointed if my old Head of House didn't want to see me again, after he promised he'd take us both on for extra lessons."

"Mm. Want me to wash your back?" Harry offered, turning on the water and waiting for it to warm up.

"You can tell me what you're hoping to learn from Snape while you're doing that," said Draco. He stepped under the hot spray and handed Harry the soap.

"I don't know, really." Soaping his hands, Harry was glad that it was Draco's back that he was washing so he didn't have to see the smirk he knew Draco was wearing. "Like you said. I don't have a lot of experience with sex for its own sake. Wouldn't want to miss out on something, or let you get bored and start looking around."

"I am not looking around." Draco turned beneath Harry's hands, which left a trail of soap across his side. "I did plenty of that before we got together. And I'm not bored. You seem to enjoy it as much as I do whenever I suggest that we do something..."

"Perverted?"

"Creative." Grabbing the soap from him, Draco got to his knees and began to wash Harry's thighs, which were slightly itchy. "Sometimes I get the feeling that you expect this all to be temporary."

"Maybe I do," Harry admitted. He stepped his feet further apart and leaned back against the tiled wall.

"Why -- because we can't actually make things official since we're both men?" Draco frowned. "Do you think that means I'd just leave you if I did get bored?"

"Not because you're a bloke. Because you are who you are," said Harry simply. "You're a Malfoy. I know the kind of pressure your father has been putting on you."

Draco stared up at him, water streaming down the sides of his face, his expression growing pinched and unhappy. "The last time I tried to do what I thought my father wanted, I got this," he said, twisting his arm upward as he rested his hand against Harry's hip. The Dark Mark was nearly invisible now, but Harry could still see the faint red outline of the skull -- something Draco would have to live with forever, as would Draco's father and Snape. "I remind my father of that whenever he starts in about the Malfoy bloodline. You know what I think? He's sorry he let his family bully him around as much as he did. Not that he's sorry to have the house and the titles -- or my mother -- but that pureblood obsession almost got us all killed so the son of a Muggle could try to take over the world."

"You're still thinking in terms of purebloods and Muggles," Harry pointed out. "My mother was Muggle-born -- do you think your father doesn't remember that every time he looks at me? You're not just failing to carry on the family line, you're consorting with the son of a Mudblood. Even if I did keep that maniac from killing you, Lucius is bound to do something to try to split us up. Snape mentioned it too. He didn't buy that Thunderbolt, your father gave it to him, and Snape was wondering if perhaps he expected him to give it to you... although I can't quite see how that would aid Lucius' cause." Harry frowned.

With a final swipe of his fingers across Harry's thighs, Draco stood, waving his hand dismissively. "Snape sees conspiracies where there aren't any. Why would my father expect Snape to give me his broom when Snape knows my father could have bought me one? Which I have been meaning to ask him to do." Harry couldn't help rolling his eyes; no matter how independent Draco might declare himself to be, he was very attached to Malfoy money and Malfoy influence, and Lucius knew it, and used it. "It would make more sense if he thought Snape would give the broom to you. Because I think my father's still not sure you'll accept gifts from him."

"That's because they always come with a hidden price," Harry observed. "You're right: it would make more sense if he thought Snape would give the broom to me. And it would also make sense if he assumed Snape wouldn't give it to me for nothing in return. If your father thought he could break you and me up by getting me in bed with Snape, I expect he'd think it was a brilliant plan." Maybe that was why Snape had been warning Harry to think about what he was doing. "Except your father must know Snape would be smart enough to figure that out. And he'd have to have guessed that I'd go for it, which is really a stretch -- so far as your father knows, I've never liked Snape."

"Well, as for that." Draco looked sheepish. "I might have told him once that I thought you were a little hot for Snape."

"What!"

"It was mostly a joke! He's always asking me whether I've seen Severus, and I told him not very often because Severus wasn't your favorite person, though I thought you objected to him a bit too much for there not to be something you were repressing. My father found that very amusing. I didn't really make anything of it. I mean... you used to hate me almost as much as you hated Snape!"

"Actually I hated you more," groaned Harry. "Draco, you git!"

"It isn't like I was actually worried that my father could use Snape to break us up," Draco protested. "My father has a pretty high opinion of his own cleverness and not a very high one of anyone else's, but he knows Snape isn't an idiot." A calculating gleam flashed in his eyes. "Though if that is what my father was hoping, maybe it's for the best. We could pretend that it's working."

Harry stared in disbelief. "What, you could pretend that we're breaking up over Snape?"

"No, just pretend that we're fighting a lot -- like things aren't going well between us. Then Father would leave me alone for awhile." Draco raked Harry with a calculating glance. "If we're not sure whether Severus is helping my father or not, we'll have to be sure to mislead him, too."

"Couldn't we just ask Snape if your father suggested anything to him? It would be so much easier."

"But it would also give the game away," Draco sighed impatiently. "A roundabout approach is the only possibility. While distracting him with your arse."

Harry sighed. "I don't want to play this game," he said. "Look, I'm sorry if your father won't leave you alone, but I don't see how pretending we're fighting is going to help -- he'll just assume his plan is working and double his efforts. And if Snape is working with him, I don't want any part of it." He had thought that Snape felt something for him... at the very least, fancying his arse, if not anything more. The idea that Snape might be helping Lucius Malfoy to break up himself and Draco made him feel used... dirty, for the first time, despite how filthy Draco had told him that he was when he came home, and despite the fact that he was standing clean in the shower. "Besides, if your father actually knew about me and Snape, he'd skip the subtleties and move directly to blackmail."

Draco started to laugh, then got water in his mouth and ended up coughing. Deciding that they were clean enough, Harry turned off the faucets and reached out for a towel. Draco was choking, still amused. "You do realize my father would consider that a compliment? Fear is power, right?"

"I'm not afraid of him!" scoffed Harry. "And neither is Snape. And neither are you." But he wondered how much of that was really true. Harry did believe that Lucius had both the desire and the wherewithal to come between him and Draco; he was biding his time for now, playing the loving father, but sooner or later he make a more aggressive move. The broom suddenly seemed malevolent. Let me know if it feels like lightning between your legs. But lightning could kill. "Do you really think Snape could be working with your father just to get you to do what the Malfoys want?"

Draco looked thoughtful, rubbing his arms with the towel. "I'm pretty sure that Severus and my father once... you know." It amused Harry that Draco wouldn't come right out and say that his father and Snape had probably had sex. "But Severus is not someone who's going to do anything my father wants just because he's Lucius Malfoy. There would have to be a reason for it."

Shivering softly, Harry wrapped his towel around himself. "And you don't think your arse would be enough of a reason?"

"Nah. Severus had that before. I'm sure my father knows... probably decided that it was all right because Severus wouldn't expect to keep me." He paused with the towel halfway to his waist, looking at Harry. "Your arse might be enough of a reason."

"I don't know." Grabbing the end of the towel, Harry began to dry his face vigorously, hoping that would give him a reason for turning pink.

"Don't sulk. Maybe Severus just wants your arse, and everything else is just a coincidence." Tossing the towels aside, Draco put an arm around Harry's waist and drew him over to their bed. "Just a minute, let me get the food." Harry heard him thumping around in the kitchen before he brought plates back. "The only way to find out the truth is to bring up the subject discreetly. I'll do it."

"As discreetly as you invited Severus over for dessert?" Harry took a plate, though he was no longer very hungry. "If you really think he's in league with your father to break us up, then I am going to talk to him." No, he decided -- he hadn't misjudged Snape. Snape might pretend to be going along with Lucius, but he had his own agenda. He always did.

Draco's expression was sour. "Planning to go over there after work and come home hours late again?"

"I thought I'd ask him over here, actually," said Harry. "Friday night, for dinner. You didn't have any plans, did you?" He took a forkful of saag paneer and chewed. "Blaise was talking about going to some new club, but..." Draco shrugged. "This is more important. I don't like it when my father tries to play games with my life."

"Well, then, maybe we should have Lucius over for dinner some night as well." Draco stared at him as if he might be daft, fork lifted halfway to his mouth. "If you intend to have a relationship with me and also one with your parents, you can't not have them in your home. Maybe if he sees how we live, your father will realize that you're happy and you know what you're doing with your life. I don't see what's going to make him change, otherwise."

"If you say so." Draco sounded extremely dubious, but Harry felt better. "He might come over here and then present me with a list of the ways he thinks you're bad for me."

"How is that worse than what he's doing now? I'd rather make him put his cards on the table and deal with it openly." Harry scooped up a last bite of rice and leaned over to set his plate on the bedside table, stacking Draco's on top. "You say you don't intend to leave me -- so tell your father that. And tell him to shove it up his arse if he doesn't like it."

Chapter Text

It was absurd to be so fussed about having Snape over to dinner, really. After shagging the man both with and without Draco, it was not as if Harry ought to have any worries about whether Snape would criticize the food, the wine, or the company offered. Nevertheless he had already adjusted the position of each place setting three times, and was now pacing around the flat straightening pictures that had been perfectly straight already.

Draco eyed him with amusement. "Calm down, Harry. Have a glass of wine or something."

"The wine! I haven't opened the wine, and it needs to breathe." Harry whirled and went into the kitchen.

"I opened it," Draco called after him. "Just pour some and come back here. It's only ten of seven, and you know that Snape will be right on time."

That was certain, yet Harry wished Snape would just arrive already and get it over with. It wasn't as if he felt like eating anything. He poured himself a very full glass of wine, drank half of it, then refilled it and poured for Draco as well before taking the glasses back to the other room.

"What exactly are you worried about?" Draco watched as Harry took another gulp of wine. "That he isn't going to want to touch you, or that he's going to walk through the door, shove you to your knees, take out his prick and put it in your mouth?"

"Stop," whimpered Harry, brushing his hair back and trying to force it to stay in place. "He's not going to do that. The last time I saw him, he wasn't even sure you wanted..."

There was a knock at the door. "Early," Draco murmured. "That's not like him. He must be desperate to stick it in you." With a wicked grin, he went to answer the door. Harry started to rise, changed his mind and half-sat, then changed his mind again, succeeding only in very nearly dropping his wineglass as Snape entered the room.

"We've about twenty minutes before dinner's ready," Draco was saying casually behind him. "Would you like a glass of wine? Harry picked up some rather nice Beaujolais the other day, along with a new broom." He winked at Harry.

"Wine sounds very pleasant, thank you." Snape sat down in one of the overstuffed chairs, looking uncomfortable and dour. "Have you tried the Thunderbolt, Harry?"

The sound of his name in Snape's mouth made Harry jolt, sloshing the wine over his hand on the glass. "It's great," he babbled. "It's just as fast as everyone says, and very easy to control, I've only flown it locally which seems a waste but I'd love to take it to the mountains or someplace and really take off..."

"Like lightning between your legs, as they say," drawled Snape. Harry jerked his knees together. Draco snickered as Snape added, "Yours has been quite satisfactory for me."

"I'll bet it has."

Two heads swivelled to look at Draco. "Precisely what is that supposed to mean?" Snape demanded.

"I'm astonished that you've managed to fly the Firebolt in the last four days, given that in all the years I've known you I've seen you on a broom, what, six times?" Draco's expression was innocent.

Surely Snape wasn't... blushing? But an unlovely red stained the skin of his throat and face, Harry saw, though Snape raised his hand to his lips as if to hide behind it. "I had some unexpected free time yesterday afternoon," he snapped. "It seemed only sensible to try it out before coming here tonight."

Harry distinctly recalled that it had rained most of the day before, and he was sure Draco did as well, though Draco only raised his eyebrows and replied, "I see. I'll just get you a glass of wine, then."

He disappeared into the kitchen, leaving Harry alone with Snape, who continued to look as if his clothes were too tight or the chair too hard. Nodding after Draco, Snape asked, "Am I to assume that he was not angry about your tardiness?"

Hearing it phrased that way, tardiness, as if he were still a student, made Harry squirm in a way that wasn't entirely unpleasant. "He was angry at first. Then he demanded details. And... well, eventually he suggested inviting you over."

"He seems to be in fine spirits tonight."

"That's because he knows I'm nervous and you're likely a bit..."

Harry let his voice trail off as Draco came back in. "I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" he demanded cheerfully.

"No," said Harry and Snape simultaneously.

"Too bad." Draco handed a glass to Snape and set down the bottle on the table. "You were prepared to teach us something tonight, weren't you, Severus?"

Snape sputtered slightly. "What do you expect me to teach you? Your invitation to dinner said nothing of the sort. If you wished to learn new potion formulas, for instance, it would have been appropriate to warn me."

"Potions? Hardly. You know what I mean," said Draco. Snape's eyes flickered back and forth between Draco and Harry. "Is this what you want, Potter, or only what he wants?"

The familiar, contemptuous twist on his name made Harry slightly less nervous, ironic though that was. Feeling his face heat, he stared down into his glass and said, "It's what I want. If it's not what you want, though..."

Snape's eyes, when Harry glanced back up, were unreadable. "You can't honestly think I'd say no."

"It isn't just that." Harry struggled to think how to ask what he wanted to know. "If you had any ulterior motive, if someone suggested to you that maybe meddling with the two of us might be a good idea..."

Snape's expression darkened, but to Harry's great relief, he did not pretend to misunderstand. "Do you think I'm a paid whore, Potter? If you believe that I am such a pawn of anyone that I would involve myself in your private affairs..."

"That isn't what he meant." Draco's voice cut across the conversation. "You must have some theory on why my father gave you that broom. Harry was just a bit curious what you thought he had in mind."

"Lucius does not often confide in me these days." Snape's lips thinned. "It's quite clear that he's displeased with your choice of living arrangements, but you know that already." He looked at Harry. "As I said the other evening when we exchanged brooms, I have no idea why he gave me the Thunderbolt when he knows how rarely I use one. Logically he cannot have expected me to give it to either of you; why should I?"

"Because both of us love to fly on a broom, and you don't?" said Harry. "If Lucius knew that you might see Draco and think he would appreciate the broom, or see me and think the same?"

"I told him that his son had asked me over for dessert last week," Snape said, tapping his finger against his glass thoughtfully. "Just after that, he gave me the Thunderbolt."

"I knew it," Harry muttered darkly. "You mean it never occurred to you that he was..."

"That he was attempting to manipulate me? Of course it did." Now Snape glared at Draco as if he blamed him for his father's behavior, but Draco only crossed his arms and stared back. "If you think that I make any decisions, let alone intimate ones, based on Lucius Malfoy's machinations..."

"Good," said Harry, more comforted than he wanted to let on. Draco did not look nearly so pleased, but then Draco had been insisting that his father wasn't actively trying to interfere with their private lives, and he was going to have to face up to him doing just that.

"Let me make this very clear," added Snape. "I am here because I wish to be. However, if either of you is putting on a show of bravado for myself or the other, we should put a stop to it at once. I told you I thought you were playing at something dangerous."

"I like things dangerous." It was Draco who had spoken, and he was looking at Harry.

"Going up against Voldemort was the greatest danger I ever hope to face," said Harry. "And I can't say I liked it. But I'm not going to let Lucius Malfoy tell me what I can do, or who I should be with." He turned to Draco. "It's none of his damned business, is it?"

"It hardly matters whether you think it is or not," Snape pointed out. "He thinks so, and Lucius is not accustomed to surrendering his prerogatives lightly. There are... pressures... he can bring to bear."

Harry could think of several quite easily. Threatening Draco to cut off his access to Malfoy funds, for instance, or even to disinherit him. As for Harry, being the savior of the wizarding world wouldn't mean much if Lucius promised a scandalous exclusive to the Daily Prophet. It was always so much easier to sling mud than to clear it off afterward, even if there was no basis in fact for the aspersions cast.

"He may keep trying to bully me, but my father is not going to do anything to push me away." Draco spoke with a confidence that Harry wished he shared. "If he'd been willing to cut me off for being a potential liability, he'd have done so a long time ago. I know you both find this hard to believe, but he loves me."

"As an extension of himself," muttered Snape.

"Maybe. But the other side of that is, he knows how well I know him. He couldn't threaten to ruin me without risking me opening my mouth about him...and he has much more to lose, if there's a scandal. If he really put his bloodline ahead of his family, he'd have had another child for security -- don't you think I've thought about this? He made a choice, at some point, to risk seeing the end of his line, because he wanted this life. The one he has, with my mother and me. He isn't going to take my life away from me."

"I'm glad you're so sure," Harry replied in a dark tone. "In the meantime... what are we going to do about all this?"

Draco stared at him as if he'd gone daft. "Whatever my father may have been trying to do, you want me. I want you. You want Severus, and so do I, and he wants both of us. Why should we do anything besides exactly what we all want?"

"Well, just to think of the most immediate practical consequence, how about because if we start shagging, dinner's going to burn," said Harry. Now Snape was staring at him too. "It's true," he added defensively.

"I find myself astonished by your bluntness, Potter."

"It's a valuable trait... sometimes," said Draco, grinning. "He's not always good at saying just what it is he wants, but he's improving. And you're right about dinner, I can smell it. Three minutes and I'll have everything on the table." Draco stood up.

Harry took the opportunity to take another gulp of wine, nearly emptying his glass. Snape watched him with a curious expression. "Hungry, Potter?" he asked softly.

Shivering softly, Harry recognized what was in those eyes: not only amusement but barely concealed lust. Quite suddenly Harry found that he was hungry; the tension in his belly had melted elsewhere. "Yes," he nodded, moving his head with increasing force. "I am hungry. And I know what I want for dessert. Come on -- let's go in."

They both stood up. As Harry walked past Snape, a hand on his shoulder stopped him and teeth bit into his neck. "I know what I want, too," rumbled the voice that sent sparks of heat down Harry's spine. Snape let him go abruptly and Harry shook his head, dizzied. He could feel Snape's eyes boring into the back of his neck as they went in to eat.

The meal was delicious -- Draco had chosen the menu, a chicken pie which had sounded far too plain to Harry when he had first heard it, but proved to be laden with exotic mushrooms and leeks and herbs that he couldn't identify.

"The thing is, Draco, your father isn't going to nod and accept it if you tell him to fuck off." Harry returned to the point he had been trying to make. "It's not that simple. You know what he's like when someone challenges him; he's used to having his way."

"Then I either need to have something he wants so badly that he'll back down to get it, or else something to hold over him," shrugged Draco, looking at Snape reflectively. "You must have some suggestions as to how we can keep this little happy arrangement, Severus?"

"I am not going to help you blackmail or bribe your father any more than I would have helped him do so to you," said Snape rather sourly. He sounded as if he had had more than enough Malfoy entanglement, and Harry wondered whether that was why Snape seemed so different -- more passionate -- when Draco wasn't around. Did he not like the idea of betraying Lucius, or did he enjoy the thought that he was taking some part of Harry away from Draco? Harry studied him speculatively as he opened a second bottle of wine and refilled their glasses.

"Asking you for advice is not suggesting that you should help blackmail my father," said Draco in exasperation. "You're potentially vulnerable too. But you've known my father since before I was born... you might know him better than I do." Harry knew that it had to have cost Draco something to admit that; he could see Draco swallowing.

"That is exactly why it would be inappropriate of me to make any such suggestions. It would be a betrayal of trust." Snape took a bite of chicken. "Come on." Draco turned his head, glaring at Snape. "Wouldn't he think fucking me is a betrayal of his trust, too?"

"Malfoy, if you were fucking Potter rather than living with him, your father would either discreetly ignore it or let it be known that his son had seduced the Chosen One." Snape sneered very slightly. Harry wondered yet again when he had come to find that sexy. "I expect your father has his suspicions about the coin in which you showed me your gratitude for hiding you after the attack at Hogwarts. Surely you've noticed that there is a different attitude among purebloods toward men who merely dally with other men as opposed to men who choose to share their lives together."

"Right, because we're supposed to make pureblood babies. So it was fine for my father to jerk you around -- is that what you're saying? Don't think I don't know." Now Snape was pale with anger and Draco was a little flushed. "Anyone would think you wanted me to end up like him. Or is this about Harry? You let me get you through the door, and now you're waiting for me to get out of the way?"

"Would I be so obvious if that were my goal?" snapped Snape. But he didn't deny Draco's accusation, Harry noted. With great effort he kept his mouth shut. Anything he said just then would only get one or the other, or more likely both of them, angry at him as well.

"I don't know, Severus." Draco raked his other hand through his hair. "You might, if you thought I wouldn't believe it."

"You're a fool, Malfoy," Snape's voice was deadly quiet, "if you think Potter would leave you for me."

"If Harry left, it wouldn't be anything so simple as him leaving me for someone else," Draco retorted so quickly and so calmly that Harry felt funny in his chest. Obviously Draco had thought about this before. "He's not like that. He'd leave because I bollixed things up, or because my family isn't worth the effort. You don't know him as well as I do, no matter how much you went poking around in his mind back at school."

"Then why would you think I'd be interfering?" Snape asked smoothly, still in that low, dangerous voice.

"Because maybe you're counting on my father winning this one, one way or another. In which case all you have to do is wait."

Harry dropped his fork on his empty plate with a clatter, making the other two turn their heads toward him. "Would the two of you mind not talking about me as if I weren't in the room?" he asked sharply. "Draco, I agree with Snape -- you're an idiot -- but I'm not leaving." He glanced at Snape to see his reaction to that, but Snape's face remained impassive. Then he glanced at Draco, expecting him to be -- pleased? Relieved?

Instead Draco still looked angry. "Would you mind explaining how I'm an idiot when, may I point out, Severus has not said that I'm wrong about thinking his ultimate goal is you, whatever your feelings on the matter may be?"

Snape should have known that Draco wouldn't miss that evasion. "I'm not going to dignify that with an answer," he cut in before Harry could reply. "And I think this conversation has gone far enough for the moment. If you want me to teach you, Malfoy, perhaps the first thing you need to learn is table manners. So. How do you think the Holyhead Harpies are likely to do this season?"

Talking about Quidditch relaxed the tension; so did the third bottle of wine Draco opened, and Harry found himself more relaxed than he had anticipated at the beginning of the evening.

They had eaten (and drunk) so much that when they sent their plates into the sink to be cleaned and got up to leave the kitchen, Harry thought he might need a little while before he could think about sex. He was pleasantly full and a little bit lethargic. "Are we going to Transfigure the furniture again, or do you intend to allow me into your bedroom?" Snape asked Draco, pausing in the hallway as if it were a challenge.

"You can see the bedroom." Smirking, Draco turned to lead them there as Snape gave Harry a glance that woke him up very thoroughly. "I'll give you the full tour. That's what passes for the library though most of the books are Harry's, second door's the linen closet, there's the loo if you need it. And here's the bedroom."

"Immaculate," Snape noted dryly.

"Harry cleaned it for you." Draco turned to wink. "But don't worry, he prefers things dirty. Don't you, Harry?"

He had to nod agreement to that. Snape raised an inquiring eyebrow. "I..." his throat closed up, and he looked at the older man helplessly. How could he tell Snape that what he really wanted was to be fucked by both him and Draco without even a wash in between? Embarrassment knotted his stomach.

"Tell him, Harry... or do you want me to do it?" Draco's smile dared Harry to try to evade Snape's question.

Snape waited, holding up a hand to stop Draco from speaking. When Harry remained silent, though, Snape commanded, "Speak, Potter, if you want something from me."

"I want you to..." His voice squeaked alarmingly. Snape's smirk very nearly mirrored Draco's, and Harry charged, "You already know what I'm going to say!"

"Perhaps, but it wouldn't be fair for me to take advantage of the things I saw in the depths of your mind during Occlumency lessons, now would it?"

Draco's eyebrows lifted and Harry's face burned. For all his dislike of Snape, it had never occurred to him that Snape might have made use of all the erotic memories and fantasies he had sifted through during his halfhearted effort to teach Harry to block intrusions into his thoughts. "You've been wanking for years to things you had no business looking at!" he accused. Snape had the decency to avert his eyes, but the smirk did not leave his face.

"But for those of us who can't read your mind...you still need to talk," insisted Draco.

Harry crossed his arms, hugging himself, and took a deep breath. He stared at the rug on the floor, unable to meet either pair of eyes lest he see mockery there at his reluctance to voice something that he knew all three of them had done. "I want you to fuck me," he muttered at last, and shivered despite himself. "I want...want you to make me beg."

"Clothes off. Now." Snape's voice cut through the air and both Harry and Draco jumped a little before they hastened to obey. Draco moved with a sort of studied flamboyance -- he was showing off, letting his erect cock poke teasingly above the waistband of his unbelted trousers as he pulled his shirt off -- but Harry couldn't spare the focus from trying to unbutton and unfasten his own clothing without ripping anything or tripping over his own feet. He could feel Snape watching him despite Draco's little show and only hoped he was moving quickly enough that Snape couldn't see his hands trembling.

"Where do you want us, sir?" he asked tremulously.

Snape looked around the room, considering, then with a gesture to them to stay there strode out the door. When he returned it was with a pleased expression on his face. "Quite a large bath you have -- you must have chosen that, Draco?" Draco nodded. "Excellent. Follow me."

The tiled floor was cold under Harry's feet as he stood at attention next to Draco. Snape raked them both with an appraising eye. "I seem to be overdressed for this occasion."

"Shall we undress you?" This time it was Draco who asked.

Snape's smile was sharp. "Yes. Without hands or wands."

This was temptation that Harry could not resist -- he'd thought about it before -- and before Draco could move, he had stepped forward, dropped to his knees and begun to tug at the fabric surrounding the lowest button on Snape's vest with his teeth. He knew that if he started at the top, Draco would reach the trousers before he did, and he couldn't allow that: tugging a zip with his teeth was something he knew he did well.

"I think he meant nonverbal spells," Draco snickered. He stepped behind Harry, pressing against him as he leaned close to Snape, and a moment later Harry heard one of the upper buttons pop open, then another. "Any objections, sir?"

"Both methods are equally efficacious," was the cool reply, "but one is more... personal." "Yes, sir," said Draco in a subdued voice, and Harry smiled to himself, moving on to the next button. Draco so often was able to take the easy way to get whatever he wanted; it was satisfying to know that Snape wouldn't let him get away with that entirely. Not that the rebuke held Draco back from rubbing against Harry as he worked. Once they had met in the middle and Snape's vest was completely unbuttoned, Harry was quick to take on the trousers, leaving the shirt to Draco. He undid the button and then delicately grasped the zip with his teeth, easing it down over the bulge of Snape's cock, his nose brushing against the white cotton which hid that hard flesh from view but did not prevent him from smelling the strong scent of Snape's lust.

"I expect you to be careful where you put those teeth, Potter," Snape growled. The sound made Harry whimper, but he closed his mouth over the clothed cock-head, tasting the dampness leaking through from the other side. Then he caught the elastic waistband in his teeth and carefully eased it down. After a moment Draco knelt behind him -- very nearly curled over him -- and caught a bit of elastic several inches from Harry's, helping him tug the underwear down.

"Does the tub meet with your approval?" asked Draco when his mouth was free. "And do you want it empty or full?"

"Empty," said Snape after a moment's reflection. "For now." He stepped free of the clothing now puddled around his ankles and picked up a towel, placing it over the edge of the tub and sitting on it as regally as... well, as if he were Lucius Malfoy, Harry thought, and shook his head to free it of that image, which was most emphatically not arousing. "Get in."

Harry took Draco's hand as they stood waiting in front of Snape, and the pressure of warm fingers against his own reminded him of why they were here.

"On your knees." Releasing Draco's hand, Harry slid to kneel at Snape's feet at the bottom of the tub. "Malfoy. Take his hands and pull them over his head."

As Draco bent and reached from behind him to catch his wrists, drawing them up and back -- effectively trapping Harry there, as if he were bound -- he let out a shameless whimper. "Please..."

There was a peculiar gleam in Snape's eyes as Harry spoke. He moved his knees further apart, letting Harry see his cock, which was semi-erect but not quite at full hardness. "Tell me exactly what you want," he insisted. Harry realized that he had to say more, that Snape would keep him waiting there until he did.

It shouldn't have been exciting to be made to beg, it should have been humiliating, yet Harry thought that he might come just from the anticipation as he tilted his face up and said, "M-make me suck you. Come on my face."

Snape nodded and took his prick in his hand, rubbing it around Harry's mouth. It was just as well that Draco was holding him up, the way that Harry shook. "Oh... sir..." he choked out, whimpering as Snape painted his mouth with the wetness collecting at the head of his cock as he grew fully hard, not trying to press past Harry's lips. "Please let me...please..."

Rising, Snape let his hips snap forward, thrusting into Harry's mouth. With Draco holding Harry's arms up from behind, he had no choice but to hold still, trying to relax his throat as Snape fucked his mouth with that big cock. Harry's own cock was throbbing, aching to be touched, but he ignored it, sucking as well as he could without the use of his hands, until Snape pulled out, stroking himself directly in front of Harry's face. In a strangled voice, he said, "Close your eyes."

The instant Harry obeyed, he felt hot liquid splashing onto his face, dripping down his cheek into his open mouth. Moaning, he reached with his tongue to lick Snape's semen as it spilled across his lips. He was so close, fuck, so close he thought that if he only looked at Snape...

Cracking his eyelids, Harry took in the sight of Snape standing over him, cock still in his fingers, dripping. A streak of white oozed down the outer pane of his glasses. "Come for me, Harry," commanded Snape, and without a single touch Harry groaned and shuddered and spent, white stickiness spurting from his cock and spattering Snape's thighs and the wall of the tub.

"Very nice," Snape drawled as he squeezed himself empty, while Harry was still gasping, immensely grateful for Draco's hands holding him upright and preventing him from collapsing in a heap. It was, he thought hazily, the most direct compliment Snape had ever paid him. "Well, Malfoy, he's yours -- is he dirty enough for you yet?"

Draco leaned over from behind Harry, who tilted his head back so he could meet the grey eyes, darkened and glassy with lust. "Lean back further," Draco ordered him, still holding his wrists. Harry tipped himself backward, spreading his knees more widely to keep his balance. He could feel Draco's hard cock nudging the back of his head, prodding in his hair.

"Well, go on," encouraged Snape.

An instant later, Harry could feel Draco moving, thrusting into his hair and against his skull. "Oh fuck," groaned Draco. "That's good, fuck, Severus, take his hands, I need mine..."

Snape's fingers closed tightly around Harry's wrists, tugging him forward slightly as Draco grabbed a fistful of Harry's hair and none too gently wrapped it around his own cock, stroking it up and down. "Oh, yeah!" he moaned enthusiastically. "Fuck, this is hot, you always have the best ideas, Severus, knew I wouldn't be sorry inviting you..."

Listening to Draco babble, Harry moaned softly, but his eyes were on Snape. The older man's cock was no longer erect as he swayed forward, releasing one of Harry's wrists to stroke a wet streak away from Harry's glasses with his thumb.

The gesture, as tender as wiping away a tear, made Harry moan again. He tilted his head to look up at Snape's face, changing the angle of his skull against Draco's cock. There was a roar from behind and Harry felt a hot jet spatter his head, as if a spigot had been turned on behind him. He heard Draco groan as he spurted into Harry's hair. If he had not just come, he might have then, but as it was Harry's cock gave just one feeble twitch. The rest of him, though, shivered in delight at the feel -- dirty, yes, but oh so good to be claimed like that, owned. Draco's fingers nudged behind Harry's ear, knocking the glasses askew, and Snape lifted them off, still damp, putting them aside as he bent forward to press his lips to Harry's.

The kiss was quick and rough, flavored with semen and the taste of stale wine on Snape's breath. Harry felt Snape's hands reaching around him and heard the intake of Draco's breath.

"Help me up." Draco caught Harry under the arms and heaved, letting Harry get his feet under himself on the bottom of the tub. His foot slipped in a streak of come and Snape reached out to steady him. Catching Snape's arm, Harry pressed close to the older man, feeling Draco pushing right up behind him.

Draco was holding Harry's waist and Snape had his arms wrapped snugly around him to reach Draco; Harry was straddling Snape's thighs and when Snape tilted his head up, Harry leaned down and, filthy as he was, kissed Snape's welcoming mouth. He heard Draco moan again and felt teeth scraping over his shoulder. A nip at his lips caused Harry to open his eyes, and he found Snape staring at him. He was using Legilimency, Harry was nearly certain, and the idea that Snape could sense how good this felt to Harry, how much it turned him on to be sandwiched between the two of them, was half-humiliating but half-exciting as well.

"Turn on the water," Snape ordered Draco. Unclenching his hands from around Harry, Draco turned to twist the faucets so that the tub began to fill when he pushed in the stopper. "Malfoy, you may wash us."

"Why me?"

Snape narrowed his eyes. "You said that you wanted me to teach you. You need to learn that not everything is about you." Harry tried to swallow a smirk. "As for Potter..." Snape's glance had shifted. "He needs to learn that so long as he trusts his interests and his pleasures to others, they will certainly take advantage of his weaknesses. Malfoy will wash me first. You, Potter, will touch neither of us, nor yourself."

That wiped the smile from Harry's face, and his dismay was only partly relieved when Snape added to Draco, "And you are not to touch yourself either." If Harry was forbidden from participating, and had to watch Draco and Snape together, at least he could be sure that Draco was not going to have too much fun yet. His cock was already forgetting that it had come just now, though, as he saw Draco lathering Snape with soap, careful to cleanse every inch and paying particular attention to his cock and balls before rinsing him off.

Obviously Snape was enjoying this, resting one hand on Draco's head as he worked, controlling his speed. Harry held back an impulse to beg to be allowed to help; that would only confirm Snape's opinion that he was weak when it came to sex. And he was, Harry admitted -- now that he allowed himself to be. "Now Potter. Wash him -- don't wank him." There was fury in Draco's eyes as he turned and knelt in front of Harry, scrubbing him as matter-of-factly as possible, avoiding direct contact with Harry's cock as he scooped handfuls of soapy water over it.

"Shouldn't I be giving him orders, if I'm not supposed to let anyone take advantage of my weaknesses?" Harry asked Snape. The question came out as a plea, and Draco smiled a bit as he worked.

"I believe you have already been indulged once this evening. And since, as Malfoy has pointed out several times, you need to learn control, I think what would suit you best is to practice your oral skills while he is preparing your arse for penetration."

Now that sounded more like it, but if those were to both happen at once... Harry knelt down, up to his thighs in the warm water. It was a bit awkward to try to keep his bum above the water while leaning forward to take Snape's cock in his mouth, and the porcelain was hard on his knees, but he ignored the discomfort of both. Pausing before he began, Harry asked, "Was there something in particular you wanted me to practice? Sir?"

Behind him Draco pinched his arse. Harry wondered if it would be Snape, or Draco, or both, who ended up fucking him eventually.

"Why don't you begin as you wish, and I will instruct you as necessary," Snape told him. Balancing precariously on one hand, Harry reached out to guide Snape's cock between his lips, pressing down on the foreskin and sucking on the head. It was almost disappointingly clean after having been washed by Draco, lacking the sharp flavor of skin and all the secretions that tasted so wicked-good to Harry. But after a few moments, fluid welled in the slit and Harry licked it away eagerly before taking Snape deeper into his mouth.

As he did so, he felt Draco's fingers moving intimately inside his thigh, brushing the backs of his balls and moving into the crack until one damp finger found the spot it was looking for. Very carefully, Draco inserted a fingertip and wriggled it, saying, "Did you want me to use lube on him, sir? Or my tongue?"

"Tongue for now," said Snape, and grunted, adding, "Watch the teeth, Potter." In his efforts to suck Snape more deeply, Harry had grazed his molars against the head. He let go and licked at it apologetically, then tried again. It was difficult for him to go further without gagging, so he curled his fingers round the base of Snape's cock instead and rubbed it in firm circles. The distraction of Draco's tongue flicking over his arsehole was also a bit of a problem -- if he spread his knees wider to give Draco better access and let that incorrigible tongue really penetrate him, it would make the angle of his head yet more uncomfortable.

Harry moaned around his mouthful, trying to tilt his arse without crimping his neck. Draco pulled his cheeks apart and Harry felt Draco's tongue slide into him, lapping at him. Snape sighed softly. "Perhaps this would be more comfortable somewhere other than the tub." Lifting his head, Harry rubbed at his neck in relief as Draco withdrew just as quickly, pulling out the stopper and turning the water back on to rinse them before Snape had time to change his mind.

When he glanced at Snape, Harry expected him to look irritated at their inability to follow his orders, but he looked satisfied at their discomfort. Stretching out, he picked up a towel and gestured for Harry to stand, which Harry did gratefully, shaking out his knees. He reached to take the towel from Snape but instead found himself being wrapped in it, a gesture so oddly affectionate that Harry felt himself blushing. Snape caught his eye and quickly reached for another towel for Draco, doing the same for him. The towel on which he had been sitting was damp, but the heavy green robe that Draco's parents had given him for a birthday and that Draco never wore hung on the back of the bathroom door, and Snape Summoned it.

In the robe Snape appeared... magisterial, Harry decided was the right word, as Snape knotted the belt around his waist. Even with his cock tenting the quilted silk. "Come along."

They followed him to the bedroom and again Harry took Draco's hand, which squeezed gently back as they walked. He decided that sometime in the next few days he would have to think of a way to show Draco his gratitude for having got them into this. Once in the bedroom, though, he had to let go and again focus his attention on Snape, who had picked up the pot with Draco's favorite lube and was sniffing at it.

"It seems you've varied my formula," he remarked, dipping into the salve and rubbing a dollop between finger and thumb, then tasting it delicately. "More comfrey?" Draco nodded, looking pleased that his change had been recognized. Snape handed the container to him. "Potter, on the bed, hands and knees," he barked, and Harry hastened to obey. "Malfoy, you finish preparing him. Stimulate him as much as you can, but don't let him come."

Oh god, Snape was testing his control again, thought Harry as he remembered Snape's fingers on his nipples from when they had been alone at Snape's flat...he had thought he might come just from that. With a soft whimper he turned so that Snape would have a full view of what Draco was doing to him, but Snape came around the bed, opening the robe without taking it off. His cock was too far away from Harry to touch or lick but Harry still found himself imagining it erupting and hitting him in the face from that distance. He whimpered softly as he felt Draco's fingers on his arse again.

Experience had taught Draco just what would make Harry writhe with need and he made full use of the knowledge, quickly filling Harry with three fingers but only brushing lightly over his prostate. Harry clenched his hands into the bedclothes and groaned. His cock tapped against his belly with each movement Draco made, but it was not enough to do more than tantalize him. He couldn't take his eyes off Snape's prick; more than anything Harry wished he were sucking it again... he swallowed, squirming, as Draco pulled out and ran one finger in a circle around his arsehole, which contracted, trying to get more.

"I think he's ready, sir," Draco announced. "Did you want to fuck him?"

Please, thought Harry silently, staring at Snape, who regarded him with pursed lips. But then Snape shook his head. "No, Malfoy, I think you should do it. Again -- stimulate him as much as you can before you begin to focus on your own needs. And Potter...you are not to come until I say the word, do you understand?"

"I'll try," Harry strangled out of his dry throat. Snape had taken his own cock in his hand and was beginning to stroke it, still just out of Harry's reach but aimed directly at his face.

"If you're a very good boy, Draco, and manage to hold off for a suitably long period of time, perhaps I will fuck you while you finish with Harry."

Harry's cock throbbed at the sound of his name. Would he ever get past the point when Snape's voice made him quiver with lust? He almost hoped not.

"Yes, sir," said Draco. Harry felt him shift and the press of Draco's cock against his hole, the head of it stretching him open again. Draco's hands settled on Harry's hips and pulled him back as he slid in slowly, sighing in a breathy moan.

"Tell me how he feels," urged Snape. His fingers played along the length of his shaft, rubbing it with the moisture that leaked from the tip.

"Tight," said Draco, and "So hot," said Harry at the same time.

"I meant Malfoy to speak," Snape amended.

Whimpering softly, Harry balled his hands into fists beneath him on the bed. His eyes were fixed on Snape's hand, slowly stroking himself as he watched Draco's cock slide out partway and then back inside Harry. Did Snape ever lie on the bed where he had fucked Harry and make himself come while picturing this very scene? When he managed to tear his eyes away, Harry glanced at Snape's wide black eyes and parted lips, thinking, yes, he did, I'm sure he did.

Draco exhaled a soft moan and continued, "He's clenching a bit...probably likes watching you, sir." Peering down, Snape caught Harry's eyes and smirked. "He likes it when I do this..." Draco's fingers traveled across the backs of Harry's balls, lifting them toward his body, then letting them roll gently in the palm of his hand, and Harry had to shut his eyes for a moment.

"Harry," said Snape warningly, and Harry looked at him again, at the plum-colored head of his cock. "Keep your eyes open."

"Yes, sir," Harry whispered, and bit back a groan as Draco continued to tease his balls. He was close, so close, and having to watch Snape wank himself made Harry itch to have those hands on him instead.

"He likes to have his nipples pinched too," added Draco. A predatory smile touched Snape's lips and he leaned forward, brushing the fingertips of his free hand across Harry's chest. Harry shivered as Snape's nails scraped across one nipple, then tweaked it firmly. He bucked back against Draco. Snape's cock was almost within reach of his mouth, but not quite; he could smell the musky scent of it.

"Please," Harry whispered, then watched Snape's cock twitch at the feel of his breath against it.

Now that was interesting. Puckering his lips just enough that he could plausibly pretend he'd had no ulterior motive, Harry blew harder over the damp head and saw Snape's hand squeeze down hard on the base in reaction. "Potter," he warned, pinching the nipple and making Harry convulse around Draco again, only barely keeping his orgasm in check.

"Fuck..." warned Draco with a little whimper. "He likes that, whatever you're..."

Abruptly Snape straightened, still clutching his cock as if he feared it might misbehave. "Just hold still, Malfoy. I'm ready to fuck you now."

Draco stopped thrusting into Harry when Snape moved behind them; Harry assumed that Snape must be preparing Draco with the lube. He let his head hang, panting. From there he could see his own straining cock, and behind him first Draco's pale legs and then Snape's. Draco was twisting a little against Harry, wriggling as he was opened up to be taken. Harry wished that he were the one in the middle, imagining Snape's cock filling his arse even fuller than Draco's did, and himself sheathed snugly in Draco's bum. His balls tightened at the thought and he quickly tried to turn his mind away from it lest he come now, without Snape's permission.

Unexpectedly Draco pulled nearly all the way out -- Snape must have tugged at Draco's hips, Harry decided, to seat himself fully. He whimpered, needing, until Draco slammed into him again, groaning, "Oh, fuck, Severus."

"Don't neglect your partner," Snape chided huskily and began to move, crushing all three of them together with each thrust. Draco wasn't moving in and out of Harry as much as he had been before -- probably afraid of sliding out, or of throwing off Snape's rhythm -- but his hand came around Harry's side, finding and tugging at the nipple that Snape had punished earlier before reaching down for his cock.

"Next time I get to be in the middle," Harry gasped.

"Perhaps next time I'll have you ride me while Draco watches," retorted Snape. Draco and Harry both cried out at once, and Harry nearly fell forward onto his face at the hard thrust from behind. "Or perhaps next time I will demonstrate that it is possible to take a cock in one's mouth and one's arse at the same time without biting."

Either of those suggestions sounded excellent to Harry... not that he could say so coherently at the moment, not with the way Draco was slamming into him. Evidently Draco found the ideas equally exciting; he tugged at Harry's cock relentlessly and Harry gulped. "Please," he begged.

"Please, what?" Snape's voice was thick -- he must be close to the edge himself, after all this time -- but bore an exultant note.

"Please let me come. Sir." Harry could not keep from wailing as he dug his nails into his palms, trying desperately to hold back. Draco growled and bit into Harry's shoulder. "Please!" The sir seemed to have made little impression on Snape, so he tried once more. "I can't...ahh fuck, please, Severus..."

"Come," Snape barked, and then Harry felt himself slammed forward, knees splaying as the weight of two bodies pushed him flat on the bed. It was Draco wailing in his ear, but it was Snape, groaning, "Harry..." who had thrust so hard that they had fallen onto the mattress together.

Gasping, Harry spurted over Draco's fingers and onto the covers, feeling his belly grow wet as Draco tried frantically to move his hips, caught between Harry and Snape as they both came around and inside him. Harry tightened his arse and felt Draco's teeth dig into him, heard Draco hissing with the constriction, at last shuddering and pulsing in orgasm. A drop of sweat rolled down from Harry's hairline and into his eye. He blinked, trying to clear the stinging salt, unable to reach his arm up from where it was trapped under his chest with the weight of the other two men on top of him.

After a moment he felt the mattress shift as Snape rolled away; then Draco too lifted himself off Harry. "Feeling rough tonight, Severus?" Draco asked conversationally.

"Are you complaining about my methods of teaching?" Snape rumbled, and Harry turned over to watch them both.

"No complaints," Draco conceded. "But I'm not the one who was crushed on the bottom. You all right, Harry?"

"Never better." Reaching back, Harry tried to reach the spot on his shoulder where Draco's teeth had left an impression. "You bit me. That was rough for you."

"I had him crying, 'Oh, HARRY!' and you crying, 'Oh, SEVERUS!'" Draco made his voice high-pitched and girly, and he grinned when both Harry and Snape glared and started to object. "I think I should suck you both off at the same time. That way you can rub your pricks together and kiss and when you're done coming in my mouth, you can fight over who gets the privilege of putting his tongue in my arse."

"Hmph. I'm not sure the latter should be considered a privilege," Snape said. He snaked an arm under Draco and pulled him closer, then flipped over him so that he was lying between the two younger men. "But the first idea... has possibilities."

"Yes," agreed Harry, wriggling closer to Snape. "I wouldn't mind sucking the two of you off together, either."

"A little work on your technique would be desirable in that case." But Snape softened the criticism by turning his head to nip at Harry's ear, sending a shiver down his spine. "Perhaps we should allow Draco to give a demonstration." His voice was low and warm in Harry's ear, hand coming to rest against Harry's lower back which he kneaded with his fingers. Draco had raised himself up on an elbow and was watching them. "He does use his mouth very well. And he can't talk too much if we're both fucking it."

Snape's voice and his fingers were raising goosebumps all along Harry's lower back. "That's a good idea. Sir."

"What do you suppose it is about you that makes him such an eager little bottom for you, Severus?" asked Draco lazily, still content to watch. "He's never acted quite like that with me... or anyone else, so far as I know."

"An interesting question." Snape squeezed Harry's arse gently. "Can you explain?"

Harry swallowed, feeling the blood rushing into his face. "I don't know," he mumbled.

"Come on, Harry," said Draco. "You know you think his voice is sexy -- you get all hot and bothered when I imitate it, even. But there must be more than that; that's not enough to account for it."

Harry thought about this for a minute, though Snape's hand stroking his bum was rather distracting. "With both of you," he said finally, "neither of you really expected me to be 'The Chosen One' with all those trappings. Draco, you were sure I couldn't be because your father told you so, and Snape...I suppose you were such a bastard to me because you didn't really believe I had it in me. I don't have to be anything, really, with either of you."

Snape was giving him a very peculiar look. "Dumbledore was certain that you were the one," he said finally. "I felt it necessary to ensure that he was right."

"So we're both forgiven for being arseholes at Hogwarts because we both expect you to fuck up." Draco pursed his lips. "Not very romantic."

"I wasn't trying to be romantic," said Harry, nettled. "You asked, I answered. I'm sorry if you don't like it, but it's the truth." If not necessarily the whole truth, jibed his conscience. "Having the whole anti-Voldemort wizarding world depending on me... it was flattering, but awful too. Knowing that if I mucked things up it wasn't just myself that I'd hurt, but my friends and hundreds, thousands of people I didn't even know. Neither of you ever put that kind of pressure on me. And there's something... restful... about not having to be the person making decisions, about having someone make them for me."

"But you don't get off on it with me the same way you do with Severus," Draco pointed out. "Even though you like it when I top, it's not the same."

"No," admitted Harry. "Maybe because in all that, it was Hermione and Ron, and a few other students, who were the ones who really helped me. Most of the adults that I trusted weren't around when I needed them, one way or another. Sirius. Dumbledore."

"You're his father figure, Severus!" Draco exclaimed gleefully.

"Oh, please," said Snape in a voice that dripped contempt. Harry had at one time been accustomed to having that disgust directed at him, and it gave him no small thrill to hear it focused on Draco. "Black and I were never in the same room without an argument erupting and Dumbledore and I quarreled constantly about the best way to prepare Potter for the role for which Voldemort had singled him out."

"I haven't had much luck with father figures," Harry agreed. His stomach had twisted at the thought of all the people he had thought he could count on who had died, beginning with his own father, whom he had carefully not named given Snape's loathing for James Potter. "Snape never pretended that he was doing anything for me. Or even for the wizarding world. Only because it was right. And this feels sort of...selfish." He decided he liked it.

Draco's eyebrows were raised, but all he said was, "Selfish? I had a good time. I think Severus did too." Which wasn't exactly what Harry was trying to say. Perhaps there was no way to explain. There was something about having Snape tell him what to do that made Harry feel safe, even though he wasn't sure what Snape really wanted.

"Naturally," Snape sniffed. His hand wandered over Harry's hip and rested there, his thumb brushing the skin in soothing strokes.

"Severus? Sir?"

"What?"

"Do you... like all this? I mean..." Harry faltered. "We both wanted you here, but..."

"No. I'm here out of a selfless desire to better your tragically deprived existence, and Malfoy's as well."

Draco started to laugh and Harry felt himself blushing hard as he spoke. "I know it must be rough for you, having to fuck an arse like mine. And let him suck you. I'm sure you'd have preferred a nice evening with your..."

"I'm not talking about sex, but what we were discussing earlier." Draco fell silent as he and Snape both looked at Harry. "We all think Draco's father is probably trying to manipulate us. Maybe Draco's right that Lucius won't ever try to hurt him, but there's nothing to stop him from trying to hurt Severus and me."

Snape cut across Draco's protest. "Depending on what, exactly, you mean by 'hurt', I think you're correct. Physical injury -- I doubt it. The results wouldn't be worth the risk. But Lucius is very, very good at working behind the scenes, pulling strings to discredit people. He wouldn't want to harm Draco's public reputation if he could help it, but he could well try to ruin yours, Harry, hoping that would make Draco think again. Or he might influence my employment, or yours." He frowned. "I wish I could think better of him... but I have known Lucius for too long. His obsession with the preservation of the Malfoy line and name and inheritance will not permit him to let Draco make choices that might put those things in jeopardy."

"That's what I mean," said Harry, relieved that Snape was taking his concern seriously. "If Lucius knew you were here, what we've been doing... it could be bad for all of us, even Draco. I wish there were some way to confront him, perhaps convince him to give up his ideas about running Draco's life."

"Why do the two of you have so little faith in me? I tell him all the time that he isn't going to run my life." Harry only looked at Draco sadly. He had always known better than to insist that Draco choose between his family and Harry...and really, having lost his own family, he would never have put Draco in that position, but he felt certain that Lucius would do it and tell himself that it was for his son's own good.

Snape had turned his head from Harry to gaze at Draco as well, but Harry could see the tension in the older man's shoulders. "What evidence do you have that your father is listening to you?" he demanded. "He hasn't stopped his demands that you do as he did -- marry a pureblood and enter the Ministry -- has he?"

Draco drew in a breath as if to dispute that, but seemed to think better of it. "No," he admitted rather sullenly. "He was still harping on the same old tune last weekend when I had lunch with him."

"And he's offered you some inducements." Snape stated it as a fact, and Harry wondered how Snape knew that... and what those inducements might be.

"Yes. But I'm not going to take him up on any of his little offers! I've told him so over and over; I don't know why he still thinks it will work," protested Draco, although he wouldn't look at Harry or Snape as he spoke.

"Because you don't want to give up all these little pleasures you've taken for granted all your life?" suggested Snape wearily. His hand was once more on Harry's lower back, stroking the one spot that never failed to make Harry shiver slightly. "For most people, these are not 'little offers' to consider. You need to think about what you want -- a steady job and weekend Quidditch aren't going to keep you entertained forever. You're accustomed to traveling and entertainment and getting your way..."

"I don't think it's that, exactly." Snape twisted back around to look at Harry, drawing him closer as he did so, and Harry felt his recovering cock leap. "I mean, for all my telling Draco that he's spoiled," Harry looked up at Draco, "he doesn't want to let his parents down. And his father knows that. And I can't even blame him, really, because if I had my dad around..." Snape's face had gone very tight, and there was something distinctly possessive in the way he was holding on to Harry's hip. "I know you think he wasn't always the nicest person but I'd have wanted to do what he asked me."

"Even if it was the wrong thing to do?" Snape bit out. "No matter how many other people it hurt?"

"It would be hard," Harry admitted, and now Draco met his eyes, nodding. "I'd probably be tempted to let my dad think I might do what he asked, or at least that I'd consider it, even if I wasn't really serious. Because I wouldn't want to hurt him either, or my mother." He worried at his lip with his teeth. "But... in the end I'd have to live my own life, not let them live it for me, or dictate it to me. And I'd hope that I could convince them that I was making the choices that would make me happiest."

Draco opened his mouth, but Harry continued before he could speak, "Maybe what you have to do is put the shoe on the other foot, Draco. If your father really does love you as much as you think, maybe you have to tell him that you're not going to take his meddling, and if he keeps it up you'll cut him out of your life. Not that I think you actually want to, or should," he added hastily. "But if he's going to bully you, well... I grew up with my cousin Dudley. So I know the only thing a bully respects is strength."

Chapter Text

Lucius Malfoy's presence dominated Harry and Draco's dining room, though Draco was taller than his father and Lucius sitting did not have quite the same presence as Lucius standing, when his elegant robes would have been displayed to their best advantage and his walking stick poised to emphasize whatever point he might have been trying to make. He had swept into the flat as if he owned it -- which, Harry supposed, he might consider that he did, since Draco paid for half of everything, and Harry was certain that Draco drew upon his trust fund as well as his salary. Lucius had not said a word as he looked at their furniture and artwork, some of which was rather lascivious in nature, but the slant of his eyebrow spoke eloquently of his opinion.

Thus far he had been entirely cordial to Harry, insisting on being addressed by his first name when Harry had called him "Mister Malfoy." Yet there was an icy distance in the smile that Harry recognized all too well -- it was the same smile Draco turned on anything or anyone he regarded with a contempt that common sense or good manners dictated he should hide.

Now -- sipping from a glass of the very expensive French wine that Draco had bought for the occasion of his father's visit -- Lucius inclined his head toward the kitchen, where Draco was taking dinner from the oven, then met Harry's eyes with challenge brewing in his own. "I'd never have expected Draco to become so interested in cooking," he said in a superficially friendly tone that had undertones of accusation. "Who would have guessed that he would enjoy housework?"

"He was always good at Potions -- I wasn't at all surprised that he took to cooking," retorted Harry. "Besides, it's something of a novelty to him, since he didn't grow up doing it. My aunt and uncle made me cook for them, so I can't stand to do it now."

Lucius' nostrils flared at this reminder that Harry had been brought up by Muggles. "And how long do you think this infatuation with domestic life will last?"

"I've really no idea," said Harry coolly. Narcissa kept insisting that her son required a house-elf, something the Malfoys could afford despite all the new reforms in the status of servants, but Harry disliked the idea and Draco seemed to find magical housework an amusing novelty, at least for the moment. "We divided the chores and Draco offered to do the cooking, so unless he decides he'd rather dust the furniture and clean the loo, I think the arrangement will stand." Harry raised his glass in an ironic salute. "I'd be quite happy if it lasted a lifetime."

Eyes narrowed, Lucius replied, "I wasn't aware that you'd made permanent decisions about such matters."

Harry was torn between anger and laughter at Lucius' sham ignorance -- Draco had insisted that his parents treat Harry as his partner from the time they had moved in together, and Narcissa had already arranged that they visit for the annual May Day festivities... although Harry suspected that her motives were ambiguous at best. He was saved from having to respond by a call from the other room that dinner was on the table. "After you." He followed the older man, wondering what on earth Snape saw in Draco's father that could possibly be attractive. Snape was too canny to be lured simply by physical beauty... which Harry had to concede Lucius Malfoy possessed.

For all their conflicts, it was evident that Draco was quite attached to his father as well. "I left out the cilantro... I know you don't like it," he was saying to Lucius, looking proud of himself. "And I was very sparing with the garlic, just the slightest bit." Sitting at the table, Lucius smiled, but the pleased expression did not reach his eyes. "Would you like some greens? They're fresh. Or we have fresh fruit, too, though if you'd rather save that for dessert..."

"Sit," ordered Lucius, and Draco obeyed with alarming speed; he didn't jump so quickly even for Snape's sexual commands. "Since you did so much work preparing the meal, perhaps Harry would like to serve it." Phrased as a request, Lucius spoke it as an order.

Making Harry feel like an attendant, a lesser wizard -- a half-blood -- had never ceased to be a project of the elder Malfoys, even when they were wearing friendly expressions. "I'd be happy to serve Draco," he said, though he knew manners dictated that he should put food on their guest's plate first. Draco glanced at him anxiously but thanked him, and Lucius did as well when Harry got around to serving him. When he finally tasted his own meal, Harry discovered that everything was delicious and he complimented Draco. Lucius merely nodded when Draco asked if he thought the food was all right, and Harry had to restrain himself from hexing Lucius right there, keeping it fixed firmly in mind that he had been the one to suggest that they invite Lucius to dinner to begin with.

Conversation was awkward. Lucius chose to talk about Malfoy Manor and some improvements he was having made to the grounds, a topic to which Harry could contribute little. He nodded and smiled politely as if he cared whether a new grove would be planted with beeches or oaks, carefully ensuring that Lucius' glass remained full. Alcohol might not mellow the man, but perhaps he would be less inclined to the verbal jabs with which he skewered both of them. Lucius did unbend sufficiently to inquire about the wine, and Draco responded eagerly with a description of the vintages he had considered and rejected for this occasion.

Lucius listened politely, but after a few minutes he held up a hand. "You didn't invite me to dinner to discuss wine, Draco. What is it? Do you need money? Or are you thinking about changing jobs? I have never thought that Gringotts was suitable for one of your talents and connections."

Flushing slightly, Draco dropped his eyes. "Harry and I just thought it was time we had you over to the flat," he shrugged.

"Without your mother? She won't be pleased about those engravings you have hanging on your walls, but she cannot be any more shocked by them than she was when you announced that you planned to move in with Harry Potter." Lucius' voice was superficially amused, yet Harry thought that if he could have been digging his fingernails into Draco with every word, he'd have done so. "There must have been something you wished to discuss with me privately."

"It's about Severus," began Draco sullenly. "Well... it isn't about him, but he's the reason we were thinking of it. What did you have in mind, giving him a Thunderbolt? You know he doesn't much like to fly."

"What a question, Draco," Lucius said smoothly, leaning back in his chair. "He's one of my oldest friends, and he has done great service to our family -- including you -- so why shouldn't I give him a gift that he would never be able or willing to purchase for himself? Indeed, I'm rather surprised that you're aware of it."

"Are you." Harry did not voice it as a question. "He was quite open about the fact that you had given it to him, even before he told me that he doubted he would use it and offered to exchange it for my Firebolt."

There was a flash of something -- satisfaction? -- in Lucius' eyes. "Did you accept? Draco has often told me how much you enjoy playing Quidditch."

"How could I possibly turn down the chance to fly on a Thunderbolt?"

"Perhaps I should have found another gift for Severus, and offered it to you instead?" Harry was certain it was a poorly-suppressed note of triumph he heard in that silky voice.

"As you've gathered, it wasn't necessary. Snape gave me the Thunderbolt. He said he'd be very happy to fly on my old broom." An emotion Harry couldn't identify flickered across Lucius' face at that, gone before he could study it; still, he had the distinct impression that Lucius had felt a momentary qualm. "Draco tried it out too. Doesn't seem to be hexed or anything."

"Whyever would you think it was hexed?" Innocence looked even less natural on Lucius' face than it did on Draco's, where Harry often found the wide-eyed, vaguely wounded expression sexy, though rarely believable. "I would have been happy to give you a Thunderbolt, you know. I'd been under the impression that you're not comfortable accepting gifts from me."

"He's seen you shopping in Borgin & Burkes," Draco pointed out. Lucius shot a glare in his direction. "Do you blame him for not accepting gifts from you when pretty much every time you see the two of us, you tell us all the reasons that our living arrangements are unacceptable and that even if he were a witch, Harry wouldn't be good enough for me because he's not a pureblood?"

"It isn't a question of 'good enough,'" said Lucius, his voice now strained. "No one doubts that Harry Potter is the most powerful wizard in the world -- I expect that the old standards that judge wizards and witches by their blood may soon be a thing of the past." Harry bit his lip, refraining from saying that for everyone except a few diehards like the Malfoys, they already were a thing of the past. "But there is still family to consider. Draco, raising you has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Surely you realize that if I had to choose between becoming Minister of Magic and my family, I would choose you?" He sounded sincere, thought Harry. "You're young, and you may think that indulging this -- attraction -- is the most important thing there is, but when you recognize the tradition that..." "This is not just an attraction!" Draco put his glass down so hard that some of the expensive wine sloshed onto the tablecloth. "You aren't listening. I love him."

Hearing Draco say that did queer things to Harry's stomach. Of course Draco had told Harry he loved him, but he had never said it in so many words to Lucius, at least not to Harry's knowledge. Apparently it had an entirely different effect on Lucius; white to the lips, he set down his own glass, as if he were afraid that he would snap the stem in two if he continued to hold it. "And I suppose you're going to tell me that's the only thing that matters to you," he said.

"Of course," Draco replied defiantly. "You've set me such a wonderful example, you know. You're a textbook case of what it's like not to choose your partner for love -- d'you think I don't see what's before my eyes? You and Mother behave with great courtesy towards each other, you hardly ever even quarrel, but you could be living at opposite ends of the earth and neither of you would care. I'm not willing to spend my life like that! No matter what family tradition says. If you're so keen to have the family name carried on, see to it yourself!" He was nearly shouting now, and had half-risen from his chair. Harry put out a hand to Draco, who took it and gave his father an obstinate glare. "I think you've felt trapped all your life, and you want to put me in a similar situation so that you can justify your own decisions as having been the right ones."

Lucius wore an expression of enforced calm. "Would you rather that you had never been born, Draco?" he asked in a quietly dangerous voice. "Would you rather that you had grown up like Harry did -- in a closet, was that the story?" Harry felt his face burning. Of course, there were wizards and witches who had known where he lived during the summers -- one had even sent Dementors after him -- but he had not known that Lucius Malfoy's Ministry connections went so deep that he had learned the more humiliating details of Harry's childhood. "Draco, you are a Malfoy and a Black -- you have the strongest blood of any wizard of your generation. The gifts you take for granted..."

"Not only did Harry beat me in every Quidditch tournament we played fairly at school, Hermione Granger's always been better at Transfiguration and Charms than I am and she's a Mudblood!" Harry didn't even bother to react to Draco's casual use of the term. "Look at the Blacks -- you consider Sirius a blood traitor and Regulus a fool. One of my aunts married a Muggle and the other's insane! And you're the last of the Malfoy direct line, besides me. How does that make us strong?"

"We aren't as strong as we should be. That is why you must carry on the line." Lucius seemed to have switched tactics; there was a note of barely subdued anguish in his tones now. "If my generation has failed, you can redeem us... but not if you persist in such selfish behavior. You would be nothing without your family, Draco; you wouldn't even exist. Don't you think you owe something to both past and future? To the parents who wanted you enough to bring you into the world, to carry on a tradition that is so much greater than our own petty wishes?"

Draco shook his head. "I didn't ask to be born, and I don't owe it to anyone to marry a person I don't love just to have children I don't want. Why do you care so much whether I have pureblood children? Why can't you be glad for me that I've found someone I love?" Harry could feel that Draco was trembling, and he squeezed his hand before turning to Lucius. "If you really want to better the Wizarding world, why don't you put some of your money and time toward helping other people's families? There are many who were orphaned in the war, and I wouldn't ever want anyone to have to grow up the way I did. I bet there's a pureblood somewhere - maybe even one who's related to you -- who needs a home."

"It's pretty clear the Malfoys aren't going to reign over anyone, anyway," spat Draco. "Otherwise, why would you have found yourself kneeling to a half-blood Dark Lord whom Harry defeated even though he wouldn't use all the Dark magic our family's kept around?"

Lucius' lips were pinched tightly together, his eyes looked small and beady, and his knuckles were white on his fork. Again Harry wondered what Snape could ever have found appealing about the man. "No matter how powerful you think you are, you are still very young," he grated. "There is a great deal about how power works in our world that neither of you understands. How many of your friends in the Order of the Phoenix survived the war, Harry? How many Death Eaters? Yet look at us. We may be all that is left of our line, Draco. Do you want to leave the Ministry to fools like Arthur Weasley and your clumsy cousin Nymphadora Tonks? Is that who you see rebuilding the world?"

Far better them than Lucius, in Harry's opinion. Not that he had any say in the matter.

"If it weren't for the crazed lust for power that Voldemort had, and his gathering of so many purebloods to support him, there wouldn't have been any need to rebuild it in the first place," Draco countered. "That's not much of an endorsement for the kind of power you seem to be promoting. And at least Weasley and Tonks are trying to rebuild in ways that don't dictate to every witch and wizard how they must act." He drew a deep breath, and suddenly looked very young and tired. "I'm sorry that I'm such a disappointment to you, Father, but if I let you tell me whom I must marry, then Voldemort might as well have won, for all the difference it would make to me."

"I'd like to think that my friends died for a purpose," Harry added. "They chose to fight against someone whose use of power and manipulation of others were intolerable. To prevent that, we all risked our lives. Even Draco in the end. That some people died doesn't mean it wasn't worthwhile."

He met Lucius' gaze steadily, and to his surprise the older man was the first to look away, turning towards his son. "You live very nicely here. This wine, those engravings... were those purchased with Harry's salary or yours? No. That is Malfoy money and Potter money. You do understand, Harry, that those Galleons your parents left you weren't earnings and compensation? Your pureblood father left you a pureblood fortune."

"He's a perfect example then," insisted Harry. "His pureblood parents didn't disown him for marrying my Muggle-born mother."

"Who," asked Lucius, lifting his wineglass, "is talking about disowning anyone?" Harry and Draco glanced at each other. "Just how else am I supposed to take all your hints and reminders about the Malfoy fortune?" Draco asked.

"You're my son, Draco, my only child -- the last of the Malfoys. Don't you think I will do all I can to ensure that you receive what should be rightfully yours, unless you leave me no alternative?" Lucius held his glass to the light, studying the deep color of the wine. His face was more relaxed now, and reminded Harry of how Draco looked sometimes when he had pulled off a tricky maneuver in Quidditch.

"What do you mean by no alternative?" Draco's voice was wary.

"I mean that of course, if my values differ so greatly from yours, then I would not want to put pressure on you by making any further demands concerning the Malfoy legacy, which involves much more than its fortune. The manor has a history that... well, you already know. But unless I am misunderstanding, you don't really believe that I have a right to it, any more than you do. You think it was a mistake for me to follow my parents, and their parents, all the way back through the centuries. Instead of providing you with a monthly stipend, I should be supporting you by contributing that money to some Ministry cause that matters a great deal to you... the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, perhaps, Harry? So that creatu... people like your friend Remus Lupin no longer need to suffer?"

"You're bluffing." Draco crossed his arms. "You think I'm so afraid of losing the money that I'm going to try to stop you, but I'm not. There's no way you're going to give away the Malfoy fortune to people you despise."

"What precisely do you expect to happen to it if you don't want it, Draco?"

"You've thought of everything, haven't you," Harry cut in. "You cut Draco off from the money while claiming you're only doing what he said he wanted. You put the money into branches the Ministry can't afford to fund, which only increases your power there, and it looks as if your motives are entirely selfless. And while you're buying yourself into the Minister's office..."

"Do you have an alternative proposal?" Lucius asked him sharply.

"You don't think it's any of my business in the first place, do you? That's the whole point. Any proposal I might make you'd simply ignore, so why should I bother? If you are seriously asking for some way in which there can be a compromise here -- I don't know that it's possible. You want something from Draco that he's not willing to give you."

"Not at this time, perhaps, but he may change his mind. You're not a fool, Draco," Lucius added. "I'd advise you to think very carefully about this matter before you make any irrevocable choices. And should you think of any acceptable alternatives to the course of action I have outlined, do tell me. I'm only willing to wait so long." He pushed his chair back from the table and stood, gazing at Draco, his expression unreadable. "I won't tell your mother about this... yet."

"No, of course you won't. Because if I won't play your game, and her crying and begging has no effect on me, then it's up to both of you to get me out of the way, isn't it?" Draco rose to his feet as well. "Are you certain she'll ask me to fall on a sword for the remote possibility of another child? Or are you planning to have her out of the way so you can marry another pureblood witch and manage more than one offspring, to give you something to fall back on?"

Draco's voice had been rising with each sentence; now his face was red and his hand shaking, hovering near the pocket where he kept his wand. "Draco," said Harry calmly but emphatically. "Let it go for now."

"He said the..."

"He said think. He's not going to do anything tonight that we need to worry about." Lucius' head whipped around so he could stare at Harry, and for a moment Harry thought he looked unnerved. "I'm sure there must be legal precedents here..."

"There are," interrupted Lucius smoothly. "When the eldest son of a pureblood household chooses unnatural behavior, he can be cast out of the inheritance."

Harry wondered whether in this case Lucius meant consorting with another wizard or with a non-pureblood, and whether something similar had been how Sirius' parents had disinherited him. Clearly the magical law was complicated, because Sirius had ended up with number 12 Grimmauld Place after all, and he had passed it on to Harry rather than a closer relative. "If you wanted to bring your lawyers against Draco, you could have done it already. Neither one of you wants to be arguing, do you?"

Draco refused to meet his eyes as he shook his head, and Lucius looked almost remorseful as he jerked his head to the side. "Of course not."

"Then I think it would be best if you left now," Harry told Lucius. He expected opposition, but instead he thought he saw a flash of respect in the older man's eyes as Lucius stepped gracefully from the table and picked up his walking stick.

"Draco," he said easily, "send me an owl when you're ready to speak."

"I will." Draco did not look up, and Lucius looked as if he wanted to say something more, but he only inclined his head curtly at Harry, turned, and left the room. A moment later Harry heard the distinctive crack of Apparition.

"He's gone."

"I know." Draco was white-knuckled, clutching the edge of the table. Suddenly he swept his arm across and knocked his plate and glass to the floor, shattering them. "Fuck!"

"Hey," said Harry, in sympathy but also wanting to protect the rest of the plates. "You have to admit, that could have gone a lot worse." He tried to keep his voice light. "No curses were thrown, no..."

"Shut up!" Harry fell silent. It was not at all like Draco to speak to him like this, these days. "He will never stop. Don't you see that? He'll ruin you, me, and my mother if he has to."

While it was probably a good thing that Draco had finally realized what his father's purposes were, now that he had been disillusioned he was clearly going to be very unhappy and exaggerate things the other way instead. "We don't know that for certain," Harry offered. "You said the other day that he loves you, that he wasn't going to take your life away from you... maybe there's some way out of this, something we haven't seen or thought of yet."

Draco had wrapped his arms around himself and was hunched over, glowering, in his chair. He raised a despairing face to Harry. "Like what? He wants me to marry a pureblood girl and have a child with her, just as he did. That is all he wants from me. It doesn't leave a lot of room for compromise, does it? What can I possibly offer that he would accept instead?"

"I don't know." Harry cast a spell to sweep the broken glass and china to the side and knelt next to Draco's chair, making as if to embrace him, soothe him with his own touch, but Draco was rigid in his arms. "Maybe..." he took a breath and spoke tentatively, "maybe we could talk to Snape about it? He knows your father well... he might have some ideas. It wouldn't be taking sides between the two of you, trying to find a way to reconcile what you both want."

Draco slumped in his chair, sagging against Harry. "Talk to Snape," he repeated. "Now that's the solution to everything, is it? My father admitted he gave him that broom assuming it might end up in your hands. Don't think Snape's on anyone's side but his own."

"Even if that's true, there's no reason to assume he's helping your father," sighed Harry. "They certainly weren't working together during the war. Look, it was just an idea. If you don't think..."

"Actually, it's a good idea," interrupted Draco, whose hands were still shaking. "But not just now. I don't want him showing up and saying he told me so." He rubbed at his face.

"Come here." Pulling Draco up from his chair, Harry put his arms around him, and this time Draco returned the contact. "I'm sorry," Harry whispered in his ear. "When I insisted we should have your father over... I guess it wasn't such a great plan. I thought he might be a little more reasonable."

"So did I." Draco's voice was muffled against Harry's shoulder. "He wasn't like this when I was younger, or at least, I never saw it. He always told me I could do anything I wanted, because I was a Malfoy... but he meant anything he wanted. And he was wrong even then." Draco lifted his head and looked at Harry. "I couldn't succeed at whatever I wanted just because I was a Malfoy. Granger got higher marks, you always outflew me, I never managed to get rid of Dumbledore... I don't mind any of that now, but I did then. I hated not living up to what Father expected of me. Oh, there was always some excuse, some reason, and he would agree that it wasn't my fault, but I was still disappointing him, and I knew it."

"He didn't expect it of you. Hoped, probably. Hermione pointed out to me once that he didn't lead his team to the Quidditch Cup. Probably he got to be Head Boy because Slughorn made sure a Slytherin held the position once in a while." Harry remembered that there had been some unpleasantness between Lucius Malfoy and Horace Slughorn, and gave himself a private reminder to see if he could find out what that had been about; Malfoy wouldn't have been the only Death Eater Slughorn had supported, if he had. "Anyway, if I outflew you it wasn't by much. Any parent would have to be an idiot not to be proud of you. And you saved yours, joining Voldemort when you did; you might not be proud of it now, but I think we both know what would have happened to your parents if you hadn't."

"I had no choice. I was a Malfoy. That was what we did." Draco sniffled slightly. "Was Father threatening me, do you think? I find it hard to believe that he would hurt my mother, but sometimes I think I don't know him at all, or what he might do. It scares me."

Releasing Draco for a moment, Harry pulled out his wand and concentrated, thinking about how happy he'd felt lying between Draco and Snape in bed the last time they'd all been together. Light burst from the tip, coalescing into the form of a stag, which reared up and then leapt through the window out into the night.

When he turned back, Draco was watching wide-eyed. "It might have been worth joining Dumbledore just to learn to do that."

"I could teach you," offered Harry, not for the first time. Dumbledore had taught the original members of the Order to send messages via Patronus, and when Lupin had taught Harry, he had explained that Voldemort had difficulty intercepting messages fueled by the joyous thoughts of others. So far as he knew, none of the Death Eaters communicated this way.

But as he had before, Draco shook his head. "Someday, maybe. Did you send it to Snape? He's going to think something's really wrong."

"All I told him was to come here when he could. In the meantime, here -- let's finish the wine." Picking up his own glass, he tilted it to Draco's lips, pulling him closer as he did so. Draco rarely allowed him the opportunity to be the one to give comfort; though they had both still had nightmares occasionally despite Voldemort's defeat, Draco's preferred way of coping was to sit alone, pulling calm around himself like a cloak of ice, brittle and transparent.

Harry held the glass as Draco drank. When it was empty he set it down, took his wand again and Transfigured a dining chair into a sofa big enough to hold them both. He sat with Draco leaning against him, and rocked slightly, humming. "Love you," he whispered after a few minutes.

"I love you, too," said Draco. He gave a feeble chuckle. "If I didn't, I wouldn't be having this problem with my father, would I?"

"Oh, I don't know," Harry replied, tightening his arms. "You're a stubborn bastard at times -- you'd have been bound to cross wills with Lucius eventually over something." He stroked Draco's hair and kissed him on the cheek. The familiar scent of Draco's skin sent a wave of untimely desire through him and he shifted awkwardly, trying to ease the pressure on his cock. "Besides, if you didn't, then where would I be? Mooning around with unrequited passion."

Deliberately he spoke in a light tone, hoping to cheer Draco a little, and it seemed to work. "I'm sure you'd have found a way to have your passion requited," Draco snickered softly. "I keep telling you, love and sex don't have to go together. You've probably missed out on some pretty hot opportunities for...!" The sentence ended abruptly with a wordless exclamation as Draco moved against him on the couch and encountered Harry's erection. Pulling back slightly, Draco looked at him. "But you actually get excited over this drippy stuff, don't you?"

Flushing, Harry insisted, "It's just because we were touching and we haven't, you know, in ages..."

"Last night is not 'ages,'" Draco contradicted as he slid his palm flat over the bulge in Harry's trousers. "You do! You got off on me telling my father I love you. Admit it."

"Nothing connected to your father excites me! I worry sometimes that he'll try to hex off my balls." As Draco's fingers continued to wander, Harry hid his face against Draco's neck and sucked a spot of skin. Draco wasn't responding to him, exactly, but he seemed pleased to have made Harry hard and that was an improvement on his previous mood.

"He wouldn't do that." Draco spoke definitively, brushing over the articles in question. "He would be too worried about equivalent retaliation... and with cause."

Harry privately thought that Lucius would do it if he thought he could get away with it, but he didn't argue, preferring to enjoy the feel of Draco's hand through the fabric of his trousers. It was rather like being back in school, except that in school anything to do with sex was always awkward, fumbling, urgent -- none of these sure strokes and the knowledge that he would have Draco sleeping beside him later.

"You did like it when I told him I loved you, didn't you," insisted Draco.

"Of course." Harry moaned a little as Draco's hand moved away to be replaced by the sharp jut of his hip. Draco twisted to put his arms around Harry and rocked gently against him. "That's what he finds so unforgivable, I think... so it was brave of you to say it, and it thrilled me that you did."

"My hope was that he'd realize that I'm really serious about you. Can't think why, but I am." Draco dropped a feather-light kiss against Harry's jaw.

"Because I'm exceptionally good-looking and hot in bed?"

"Not that. I mean, you are, but so are other people. And it's not because you're the Boy Who Lived. It's completely inexplicable, yet there it is, undeniable." Draco nestled a little closer. He actually sounded serious.

Harry whimpered softly. It was hard enough to concentrate with Draco rubbing against him, but Draco usually refused this kind of sentimental talk, laughing that Harry sounded like a poof if he said anything beyond the most straightforward declaration of affection. "Don't stop," he muttered, meaning both the press of Draco's body and the words, but Draco lifted his head to find Harry's mouth and that was the end of conversation for awhile.

"You really have become quite the little pervert," Draco gasped when they broke apart for breath, Harry moaning, Draco grinning a bit which was wonderful to see. "You get turned on by my tongue up your arse. You get turned on by having Snape order you around. And you get turned on by me saying soppy things about you to my father, which is almost the worst of all." His hand wriggled between them and squeezed Harry's cock through his clothing. "Bet I can make you come just telling you what a bad boy you are."

"Probably," Harry gulped. He tried to push his hips forward but Draco's weight was resting on his leg and he couldn't move more than a half-inch.

"You are a bad boy," Draco murmured in Harry's ear, warm breath ruffling his hair and not-quite tickling. "You love it when things are dirty and you can wallow shamelessly and feel good without caring about appearances. You liked it when I fucked you with Severus' come still inside you... you practically came in seconds, you were so excited." He stroked Harry's cock again. "You'd like it if I came on your face right now. You'd like it even better if Severus were here too, wouldn't you? Two pricks are better than one. You'd be down on the floor begging before the end of a minute. Wouldn't you?"

"Yesss," Harry hissed. "God -- Draco..."

Draco's voice became even lower and more suggestive, his hand quickening. "But you wouldn't do it for just anyone, would you? You really like it when Severus orders you around. Just thinking about that gets you hot. And that makes me want to see him doing it to you, to see your face."

"Oh God..." Harry clutched at Draco's arm, trying to slow it, but Draco only shook his fingers off. He was going to come in his clothes if this kept up. "Draco -- slow down -- mmmplease..."

"No, I don't think so. You need to learn control, Potter!" he barked in Snape's voice. And even though it wasn't real, Harry was over the edge immediately, arching helplessly into Draco's hand and wailing so loudly he was sure he must have hurt Draco's ear. "You see? You want it so badly you'll do it in your own clothes. Filthy, Potter. I always knew it."

Draco kept talking, and Harry kept coming; it felt endless, the pulses in his cock, even after he knew he must have pumped himself dry. Finally, with a sigh, Draco said in his own voice, "My father's insane if he thinks I'm going to give this up just for a lot of money and a big house." Harry stared at him, then burst into breathless laughter as Draco gave him a wicked grin back. "It's true, though. I'm not giving you up." There was steel in his tone.

"I'm glad to hear it," Harry told him, as soon as he could breathe again. "Trouble is that I don't think Lucius believes you."

"We just have to come up with a way to make him believe, then." Which brought them full circle to where they had started -- how to find some way to compromise with Lucius Malfoy -- except that now Draco seemed to be more determined than despairing, much to Harry's relief. "Just telling him obviously isn't sufficient; he's always been rather good at ignoring things he didn't want to see. How completely mad Voldemort was, for instance."

Harry rather thought that Lucius had known how mad Voldemort was; he must have, after Voldemort returned, when Lucius realized exactly what he had done, but at that point he could hardly withdraw from the Dark Lord's service without his entire family being killed. "He needs to believe the risk is greater than the reward of succeeding," he said slowly. "There must be..."

The loud crack of Apparition cut him off mid-sentence, and Harry and Draco both jolted, with Harry's head crashing painfully into Draco's chin. "Ow," Draco complained, rubbing his chin as he looked up. "Nice of you to join us, Severus."

Closing his eyes, Harry hoped with all his might that he had mastered silent spells well enough to cast Scourgify upon his clothing without Snape noticing.

"From your message I thought something had happened to you," Snape drawled. "But I see that you were having an emergency of a different sort."

"No -- wait -- Lucius was here -- " Harry tried to sit up and only succeeded in banging into Draco again.

Snape shook his head wearily. "I really thought you'd have outgrown the adolescent fumbling by now, Potter. Malfoy. You have to untangle yourselves before you can stand up." But there was an almost unnoticeable quirk to his lips, and Harry realized that this was Snape's peculiar idea of humor, to devil them both. Snape looked around the room, his eyes widening as he saw the smashed china on the floor. "You said Lucius was here? He's not responsible for that, is he?" he asked, indicating the mess, and now there was concern in his voice.

"No, that was me," Draco admitted. He had somehow slithered out of Harry's lap and was sitting primly upright on the sofa as if he hadn't just been engaged in making Harry come in his pants. Harry pushed himself into a more dignified position as well.

"So what prompted you to send your Patronus?"

Pulling out the chair that Lucius had used, Snape sat down. Harry wished that he were on the sofa with them instead.

"You've known Lucius for a long time. We were thinking that you probably had a good idea of exactly how far he would go to get what he wanted from Draco." The dark frown on Snape's face was not encouraging. "And whether there was any way to... divert him."

"He can't be bribed," Snape said at once. "I doubt there's anything in the world he wants more than an heir of his blood."

"Do you think he wants those things badly enough to disown me?" For a moment Draco's lip trembled again. "I know there are laws that would allow that, given my... preferences. He has more he could throw against me at this point than the Blacks had on Sirius, and they didn't have my father's connections at the Ministry."

"You're presuming that your mother would allow it," Snape said. "She came to me, as you know, to demand that I take the Unbreakable Vow to defend you. I do not believe that she would go along with any plan to disown you, and she has her own money and connections."

"And you're presuming that Lucius wouldn't somehow make her disappear," Harry cut in. Draco and Snape both stared at him. "What? Come on! How many people did he kill when he was working for Voldemort? Don't you think he might try it?"

"No," said Draco instantly, but Snape hesitated, and Draco clenched his hands on his knees. "You don't think he would?"

"I doubt you need fear for her life. It isn't only the question of the risk of exposure to Lucius; her abilities as a witch are not insignificant. And there are many people in the Ministry who would attempt to exploit any schism among the Malfoys. I suspect this is why your father's pressure on you has so far been of a private nature."

"What if he blames her for Draco's unwillingness to comply with his demands?" Harry suggested. "If Narcissa were to defend Draco, wouldn't that be possible?"

"Lucius did not marry Narcissa without persuasion, of that I am certain. How Narcissa felt about it -- I do not know." Snape didn't look at either of them. "It has been a good marriage for a pureblood arrangement. I would expect that Lucius would feel a certain regard for her, after all these years and with Draco to bind them together."

Draco's face was twisted with relief. Much as Harry disliked Narcissa Malfoy, he had been prepared to leap to her defense; having lost his own mother, he would not have seen the same happen to Draco, not if he could do something to stop it.

Snape continued, however. "If Lucius felt jeopardized by his own wife, however, he might not need to threaten her life. Narcissa was never brought to trial after the war, even though it was widely suspected -- and known for certain by people like myself -- that she had harbored her sister Bellatrix and other Death Eaters. He could make things most unpleasant for her if he wished."

"You're saying that Lucius Malfoy would dare point a finger at someone else for harboring a Death Eater?" asked Harry incredulously. "At his own wife, after the maneuvering he did to escape being declared guilty himself, when there were massive numbers of witnesses against him?"

"He wouldn't have to have Narcissa charged officially," Snape explained patiently. "As it is now, since she was never tried and he was let off, they have both been able to lead normal lives in Wizarding society. But because she was never tried and declared innocent, if rumors circulated... she would stop receiving invitations, her friends would melt away. Even other former suspects would disappear from her social circle -- in fact, they would be especially likely to do so. Guilt by association. And society is important to her, or so I've always observed."

"It is," Draco agreed. "Mother loves her parties, and her 'days out with the girls'. She's always hosted charity balls and Ministry events..."

"She's not going to cut you out of her life just for that," Harry said. He felt very certain of this. If Narcissa had risked her own life to go to Snape to beg him to help Draco, knowing what Voldemort would do if he discovered it, then no superficial social rejection was going to make her give Draco up. "Besides, the rumors would affect Lucius too. It's the same problem as publicly denouncing you... people at the Ministry would find out, people who will be involved in choosing the next Minister. It really seems to me that this is all or nothing. Either Lucius will have to risk losing everything just to have a pureblood heir, or sooner or later he'll have to accept you as you are."

"Being Minister would mean nothing to him without the Malfoy line continuing," Draco said. "He said so, and I believe it -- that tallies with everything he's always professed. It's all about the bloodline. I think... if it's all or nothing, then it's going to be nothing. For me."

Hearing that made Harry want to be far more sentimental than Draco would ever tolerate, even if they were alone. Because really, it was for him that Draco was contemplating going against all his father's wishes. Draco had had plenty of other friends and lovers in the past, of both sexes, but none of them had been permanent. Without Harry, who knew but that Draco might have been willing to go along with Lucius' wishes, to marry, to sire children? Harry contented himself for the moment with taking Draco's hand and holding it tightly. Draco turned his head and gave him a rather forlorn smile.

"Admirable and touching as this is," rumbled Snape, lacing his fingers together, "and however determined you may be, you know quite well that your father will not simply give up on you. Lucius has on occasion acted rashly. Are you prepared for that? He will continue to pressure you, and the slightest hint of weakness..."

"It's not what he might do. It's not the money or connections or any of that." Draco looked miserable. "It isn't as if we're going to starve if he cuts off my money -- Harry and I both do all right. If he tried to interfere with our jobs, we could always go away. Move to France or America or someplace he doesn't have influence."

Privately Harry thought that he would not move far from his friends just to get away from Lucius Malfoy. He also didn't think Draco really wanted that; no matter what he said now, Draco had always loved the prestige of being a Malfoy -- he still had friends and admirers from school who were always sending them invitations -- his social network was almost as wide as his mother's. "I don't think running away is a solution," he said.

"At least it gets me out of here. I just don't want my father to hate me." Draco's face tightened, and across the room one of the wineglasses on the table shattered.

"Having a tantrum is not going to solve anything," Snape said in a baleful tone. "And leaving wouldn't change your father's feelings. He might be able to affect your jobs even if you were out of Britain. You wouldn't get away that easily."

"You're being really helpful, both of you," Draco spat. "Telling me all the reasons why it's going to be impossible to reach a solution. I want advice, not gloom."

"Draco..." Harry squeezed his hand again. "There may not be a solution."

"I won't accept that." Draco looked a little wild about the eyes. "There has to be something that will get my father to leave us be without having my parents and me permanently estranged. Please... help me think of a way out, don't just tell me it's hopeless!"

"There is the obvious," said Snape. "Marry a pureblood witch and father a child. You do understand that many women would marry you for your money and prestige, and would be content to live apart from you. I daresay there are as many witches who prefer the company of other witches as there are wizards like ourselves..." Harry bit the inside of his lip. It was kind of funny to hear his former professor talk about himself as queer. "I'm sure you know that there are techniques that would make sexual intercourse unnecessary. I'm told that the Muggles have advanced this to a science."

"But that's giving Lucius everything he wants!" objected Harry. "It's saying having a pureblood child is the most important thing. It's perpetuating the same attitude... what happens if Draco has a son and he thinks this tradition is as awful as Draco thinks it is?"

"First of all, I don't know whether I want children. Look what runs in my family -- insanity on one side, and the Malfoys haven't exactly been producing big healthy litters like the Weasleys. And even if I did want them... how is it fair to anyone to be bred to take over a role I didn't want in the first place?"

"You also can't think I'd ever raise a child to value his pure blood," Harry pointed out. "We'd just be postponing the inevitable." "But you would be postponing it," said Snape. "Draco asked what he could do to remain in his father's good graces; that is the best answer I can give you."

They sat in silence for several minutes. Draco was scowling and chewing on his lip, while Snape looked irritatingly calm. Everything in Harry cried out that such a solution could never work. What if Draco did marry a witch, and had a child with her, but still lived with Harry -- which of them would raise the child? What if the witch didn't agree that it was stupid to value perpetuating the family line above anything else -- what if she pretended to, but taught the child to believe things that Draco and Harry rejected? What if... what if Draco decided to leave Harry for his legal wife?

Harry looked sidelong at Snape. Did Snape have that possibility in mind? What were his motives here? Snape had never married, he wasn't a pureblood to have had family pressures of that sort, but as far as Harry knew, Snape had never had a long-term male partner either. "What would you do, Severus?" Harry asked abruptly. Snape looked surprised.

"I have never been on Draco's side of the equation," he said thoughtfully. "I've rather found myself in your position." Harry suspected that there was a story about Lucius hidden in that sentence -- maybe a whole lot of stories -- but he was certain he wasn't going to get to hear them now, not with Lucius' son talking about ways to appease his father. "I cannot afford to discount what Draco would be giving up. If he remains within his father's good graces, he will never need to worry about money -- he could choose not to work at all, or take up painting or some profession that rarely pays well. The social circles in which he has always traveled will welcome him. And -- this is not to be dismissed lightly -- he will be in a position to do a very great deal of good, should he elect to do so. He will have the same influence at the Ministry that Lucius enjoys, and should he choose to devote himself to particular reforms, he is much more likely to be heeded than someone like myself."

"You're saying you think I should just do it. Get married, have a child, try to change the system from within." Draco's voice sounded defeated. It wasn't pleasant to hear.

"I am not saying that. I am merely laying out what I see as the facts." Snape turned from Harry to Draco. "You must realize that if you say yes to your father now, he will assume he can make any demands he pleases. If you are willing to compromise on such a fundamental issue as this, he will expect you to give in easily to any other conflict you may face. Once he knows that his threats work, he will have no reason to stop using them."

Draco slumped forward and buried his face in his hands, shaking. "No. He won't," came the muffled agreement. Harry wondered if Draco was weeping in frustration, but when Draco looked up he was dry-eyed. "I can't decide this now."

"No one said you had to," Harry assured him. He reached out and started rubbing Draco's neck where the muscles were tightest. "Your father said to owl him when you wanted to talk... he didn't give any time frame, only said that his patience wasn't infinite. Which we could have guessed anyhow. There's days, weeks, perhaps months to think about this." He gave a short bark of laughter. "Maybe we'll get lucky and he'll be so upset that he'll have a stroke and not be able to threaten you any more at all. No, I don't mean that," he said as Draco tensed. "I don't want your father to be hurt," not as long as Draco still loved Lucius, "I just wish he'd realize that what you choose to do is none of his business."

Snape shifted in his chair, and Harry glanced over to see that he had a peculiar, almost remorseful, expression on his face which he erased promptly as soon as he realized that Harry was looking at him. "If there's nothing further I can help you with tonight -- although I don't know that I've been of much assistance -- I should go," Snape said.

"Stay and have a glass of wine," Draco muttered. "Merlin knows I need another one." He held out his hand and the bottle flew over from the table, followed by three clean glasses from the cabinet. "Sorry to have bothered you."

"It was no bother," Snape said rather stiffly. He averted his eyes, and Harry wondered again whether it was because Snape had ulterior motives of his own that he had come to see them tonight. At least he was certain at this point that Snape wasn't working with Lucius.

Draco rolled his head from side to side, the muscles loosening under Harry's fingers, and his concentration flagged, spilling wine as he poured it into Snape's glass. "Sorry. You can stay here, you know, if there's nowhere you have to be, although it isn't as if I'm going to be any entertainment this evening."

"Neither am I," said Harry, then felt himself reddening at what he and Draco had been doing just before Snape arrived. "We've plenty of room, though."

Snape cast a quick cleaning charm on his spattered cuffs. "Do you." It wasn't a question; Snape had seen their entire flat before, and there was only the one bedroom. "I'm afraid I'm no longer of an age to find kipping on a sofa all that appealing, even if it's Transfigured. I can Apparate home perfectly easily."

"I meant that you could share our bed," mumbled Harry. Beside him Draco nodded. "It's large enough for three."

"So it is..." Snape's voice was soft. He took a deep draught from his glass. "If you both want me to, I will stay." Harry was absurdly pleased that Snape had agreed.

"But I get the good pillow," Draco yawned. "And the middle. I refuse to be woken up in the middle of the night by the two of you shagging."

"If we woke you up shagging in the middle of the night, it would be so you could join us, git." Harry elbowed Draco, then stood up and tugged on his elbow to force him to stand too. Snape caught Draco's arm when he swayed as Harry released him to draw his wand and utter "Finite incantatem," turning the sofa back into a dining chair. "I'll get the rest of the dishes. Do me a favor and see if we've got anything to stop us from waking up with hangovers." "I can brew one easily if you haven't." Snape led Draco out of the room while Harry began to clean up the rest of the shattered china and glass; there were too many pieces to bother with Reparo. The sink turned itself on and began to wash the dishes as he swept the shards into a pan, accidentally cutting his finger in the process.

Ouch. As he walked over to the sink to wash it before charming it, he looked at the blood welling in the broken skin. After Dumbledore had explained that Voldemort might have intended to make a Horcrux out of something belonging to Godric Gryffindor, Harry had begun to wonder whether that "something" might be himself. He'd already had to consider whether he might be the Heir of Slytherin, though he later learned he'd acquired those abilities from Voldemort himself. But maybe the reason Voldemort had singled him out was that, half-blood or no, he came from the line of the legendary founder of his House...

It hadn't been the case. James Potter had been related to a number of famous witches and wizards through the ages, including Blacks and Malfoys, but Hermione had done some research which proved that Harry didn't descend directly from any of the most prominent Wizarding lines, certainly none of the Founders. Whatever he could do, those talents were as likely inherited from his Muggle-born mother as his pureblood father.

And Lucius Malfoy just couldn't stand that idea.

Chapter Text

When the murmurs penetrated his sleep-fogged brain enough to break through a dream about house-elves writing poetry for a new column in the Daily Prophet, Harry reached with his eyes closed for the sheet, wanting to pull it over his night-cooled bare skin. It wasn't there. He came reluctantly further awake, and by then he was able to make out words. "Oh -- fuck yeah -- oh yeah." Rolling over, Harry cracked an eye open to see what was going on without him.

Snape was kneeling between Draco's legs, crouched over with Draco's cock in his mouth, his lank dark hair falling forward to obscure his face as he sucked. Draco's back was arched to tilt his hips. When Harry shifted up onto an elbow for a better view, Draco turned toward him and stopped mouthing the string of encouraging sounds to smirk. "Good morning."

"Looks like it is for you," Harry replied, yawning and running his tongue over his teeth. The anti-hangover potion Snape had brewed had some interesting side effects; not only did Harry not have a lingering malaise, he didn't even seem to have morning breath. He wondered why Snape wasn't making a fortune selling the stuff -- not just wizards but Muggles would snap it up. "I don't think I'm actually awake yet."

"Part of you seems to be," panted Draco, nodding at Harry's morning erection. He twined his fingers into Snape's hair and tugged.

Relinquishing Draco's cock, Snape sat up and wiped his mouth absentmindedly with the back of his hand. His face seemed softened from its usual dourness this morning, though the red crease lines across his cheek and chest from the sheets doubtless contributed to that impression. "Good morning, Potter."

The incongruity of being addressed by his surname in these circumstances -- even by Snape -- made Harry snort softly. "Severus." Snape blinked. "I didn't mean to interrupt. Carry on by all means." He yawned again and stretched luxuriously. "I'll just watch, shall I?"

It seemed quite a good plan to let Snape get Draco off; might cheer his partner up, after last night, or at any rate distract him for a little while. But Draco leveled an accusation: "Lazy." Glancing down the bed, he grinned and added, "Severus, am I misremembering, or did you once offer to demonstrate for Harry that it possible to take a prick in one's mouth and another in one's arse at the same time without biting?"

"I believe I may have said that, yes," Snape allowed as Harry's cock leapt even more rigidly to attention. "But do you really believe that Potter has the self-control to bugger me so soon after awakening?"

"Self-control's not his strongest point in the morning," conceded Draco with another grin. "Sometimes he doesn't last two minutes if he hasn't been to the loo..."

"Hey!" Harry interrupted, blushing. "...but really I was thinking that I could fuck you while you did something about that stiffy of his." Draco looked extraordinarily proud of this plan, and Harry was so relieved to see him back to himself after his unhappiness the night before that he decided not to argue further about his early morning stamina, which admittedly would never win him any sort of accolade. "Now then... Harry, you'd better move that lazy arse of yours and sit up, or Severus won't be able to reach you."

"Draco is correct," Snape agreed dryly, and Harry's cock twitched again as he realized that this meant Snape's mouth would be wrapped around it in a matter of minutes. Scooting to lean against the headboard, he spread his legs wide with Snape kneeling between them. Draco picked up the pot of lube and slicked his own cock, then began to apply it to Snape.

Harry thought that Snape might simply start in on him, but instead he found himself being kissed with great hunger and thoroughness. It surprised Harry; in a way such a kiss was more intimate than fucking. Perhaps Snape assumed that Draco was sufficiently busy not to notice... yet though Draco might not have minded, he certainly did notice. "Can you taste my prick on him, Harry?" he snickered.

"Maybe a little," Harry replied when Snape came up for air, leaving him breathless and more aroused than ever. Snape's dark eyes stared into his own, and after a moment's concentration, the room began to swim as Harry found himself looking at erotic memories and fantasies -- some involving him, some involving Draco, some involving the two of them together in rather elaborate scenarios.

"It isn't nice to go poking around in someone's thoughts without permission," Snape said softly, bringing Harry back abruptly to the present. He bit his lip, but he was sure that Snape could have stopped him had he wished to.

"I might say the same to you. You were using Legilimency on me the last time, weren't you?"

"And you made no effort to block me. I think you find it a comfort that someone knows exactly how wanton the Chosen One chooses to be." With that, Snape bent his head, raising his hips to give Draco better access while his mouth descended to lick across the head of Harry's cock.

A groan escaped Harry's lips. Snape was mouthing him softly, with gentle laps at odds with the intensity of the kiss they had just shared. When the wet warmth of Snape's tongue slid along the length of his cock and then around his balls, barely tugging at them, he almost came. Stroking the back of Snape's neck, Harry looked up and met Draco's grey eyes. He wished that he could tell what Draco was thinking, too, but Draco was always resolute in keeping Harry out of his mind at such times.

"Now, Severus," said Draco, keeping his gaze fixed on Harry as he pushed forward into Snape's arse. Harry could feel Snape's response in the way that his mouth moved; he didn't clamp down at all, but rather relaxed. Harry decided he was being so careful that he was overcompensating. Once Draco had established a rhythm, though, Snape matched it, shifting back to the head of Harry's cock and sucking on it in time to Draco's thrusts, so that it was almost as if Harry were fucking Snape as well.

He clenched his fists, willing himself to hold out. Last time Snape had sucked him, he hadn't lasted nearly long enough to enjoy to the full that agile tongue. "Oh, god -- so tight -- oh fuck," breathed Draco, his face contorting in bliss, and Harry added his own whimper to Draco's noises. Snape's hands gripped Harry's thighs. His throat seemed to open up to Harry's cock and he gave a pleased kind of hum, sending a delicious shiver through all of Harry's nerves.

"Hurry," he groaned to Draco, knowing that there was no way he could hold back for long no matter how badly he wanted to. His bladder was quite full from all the wine he'd drunk the night before, and the added pressure just intensified his desire to come.

"I promised him I'd be gentle," Draco reminded Harry, though he was thrusting quite vigorously. "Wouldn't want to make him bite you..."

At that moment Snape did something with his tongue on the underside of Harry's cock, and Harry cried out, cutting Draco off. Apparently pleased with this response, Snape did it again. "Coming, Draco, oh fuck, please," Harry gasped, seeing amusement in Draco's eyes; he was usually the vocal one.

"Come on, Harry," Draco encouraged, as Snape made that flickering tug once more, and Harry did, spilling with a strangled shout into Snape's mouth, his hips rising and his hands knotting into the sheet. Remarkably, Snape still managed to keep his teeth away from Harry's cock, swallowing and licking at him as the last shocks of orgasm died away.

When Snape let go and lifted his head, Draco started pounding harder, growling, "Fuck -- yeah -- fuck," over and over. Snape looked at Harry with a slightly smug twist to his lips, and once more Harry found himself caught up in images that he knew were Snape's fantasies. One was particularly prominent, and almost without thinking he wriggled out from under Snape's braced arms and came to his knees to Draco's left side. It was awkward to insert himself between Snape's thigh and Draco's close-pressed body but he managed to work his tongue beneath Draco's thrusting cock, licking at the backs of Snape's balls.

"Oh that's hot," moaned Draco. Harry didn't know whether he meant in a literal sense or not; his tongue was brushing Draco's cock and his spittle was mixing with the lube. Snape, meanwhile, let out a surprisingly loud moan, spreading his legs more widely. "So dirty, you love it, don't you," grunted Draco, and Snape let out another wordless cry as he spurted over his own hand, sending white spatters onto the sheet underneath him. Harry was sure Draco was about to make a joke about how Snape had been almost as quick as Potter, but Draco's face was twisted in concentration. "Oh, fuck, that's... fuck!"

Draco's fingers bit into Snape's hips, pulling him back hard as Draco thrust once more, grunting, "Fuck, Severus, yeah," and then stiffening as he came in little shudders. Harry loved to see Draco's expression as he came; sometimes still Draco kept the mask of cold pride that he had worn in their schooldays, although less and less often now, but in ecstasy it invariably shattered into triumphant joy.

"Oh, yeah," Draco gulped as his grip on Snape relaxed. "Fuck. What made you think of that, Harry?"

"It was Severus's idea." Snape sagged forward, Draco's cock sliding messily from his arse.

"He may never have mastered Occlumency to the extent I might have hoped, but Potter seems to have picked up a greater degree of Legilimency than I'd expected as well," said Snape. Twisting, he looked at up at Harry, who felt his spent cock give an odd squirm.

"If the two of you are going to be rude enough to read each other's minds while we're all in bed together, I'd think the least you could do is give him what he's been hoping for." Harry couldn't help whimpering softly, which drew the older man's eyes in his direction.

Harry was sure that Snape could read the fantasy in his mind, his hope that Snape and Draco both would tie him to the headboard and put their mouths all over him. He moaned again, and Snape quirked an eyebrow. "You really have been training him to be quite dissolute."

"Nothing he didn't want, and particularly from you," Draco shot back. He was grinning proudly, and a moment later, one of the pillowcases had forcefully ejected its pillow and begun to tie itself around one of Harry's wrists.

Harry assumed that it was Snape who had charmed the pillowcase, but Draco quickly picked up on what Harry wanted and reached for his wand. "Incarcerous." Before Harry could move, his ankles had been bound as well, and he was lying spread out like a starfish. Snape had propped himself on one elbow, regarding Harry thoughtfully, and Draco squatted on his heels with a particularly wicked expression.

"Yes, wanton is the right word, I think." Snape stroked Harry's hip, and he felt a rush of lust although his cock wasn't quite ready for another round yet. He squeaked as Snape's fingers tugged at the hair around his balls.

"Talk to him," suggested Draco. "Tell him how greedy he is." He rested one hand on Snape to keep his balance.

"Potter already knows how greedy he is." Snape's voice was low and sibilant; he might have been speaking Parseltongue, so drawn out were the S-sounds at the ends of words. Whimpering again, Harry twisted in the bonds, but they held him tightly. "You don't particularly enjoy being everyone's savior, do you? It stops you from wallowing in all the perverse behavior you would otherwise indulge in as often as possible."

"You're one to talk," Harry panted.

"Oh, but I've never enjoyed the privileges of being the Chosen One," Snape replied smoothly. "That opens more doors than even Malfoy money, doesn't it?" And it was true: Harry had had offers for payment just for associating his name with certain businesses, he'd been given the use of people's vacation homes, there wasn't a major social event to which he didn't receive an owl. He hated it. "No one expects anything from me beyond bile and resentment. You may think I'm going to taste your precious skin because it's what you want..." Harry moaned helplessly, straining at the knots again. "...but I'm going to do it because it's what I want."

"Oh god, please," Harry shuddered. His cock was stiffening in spite of his recent orgasm.

"God? That's quite a concession from you, Potter, when you used to refuse even to address me by my proper title." Snape sounded more gratified than surprised, though. "You're much happier now, aren't you, admitting that you're not anything special after all. You can't hide here, you can't play the part of the golden boy when we can see how dirty you are. Malfoy -- show him."

Bending down, Draco buried his face in Harry's armpit, making a disdainful sniffing noise that he immediately contradicted by sinking his tongue deep into the wiry hair. Harry whimpered, and Snape went on, "I want your eyes open." Snape was planning to read his mind again, Harry was sure of that -- he was going to see exactly how much Harry loved this. The thought should have been humiliating, but instead it was almost unbearably arousing. He was nearly fully erect again, and Snape reached over to grasp his cock. "You're going to come from this, and I'm going to be holding you when you do. Draco -- make it as slow as you can."

Harry could feel Draco grinning against him as Snape took Harry's cock in his hand; he could feel the room distorting with Legilimency, but it went both ways, and he could see how much Snape enjoyed touching him like this even as his own thoughts were being drawn out. Draco was raising goosebumps on him, making his nipples tighten, and Harry groaned helplessly, digging his fingers into the taut cotton that bound his wrists, thinking he might come before Snape had even...

"Don't you dare," Snape said softly, bending to kiss him, and Harry concentrated on the threat in that voice, not because he was afraid of Snape but because he didn't want to disappoint him. The kisses were hard and hungry, sliding down Harry's throat with such force that Harry expected happily to find himself marked there.

After what seemed like several minutes, Draco switched to the other side. Harry squirmed in his bonds, wanting Snape even closer; the urgency he felt must have been picked up, because Snape obliged, rather awkwardly swinging one knee across Harry's thigh so that he straddled it, the tip of his cock now touching Harry's. Draco had started to pinch Harry's nipples, and he wailed with need.

"Now, Potter," Snape said, low-voiced, tugging mercilessly on his cock. The heat of everything happening to him came together in spiraling excitement. "Yes," hissed Snape, "come for me, Harry." He felt his muscles go rigid as white spunk shot through Snape's fingers.

"And you think I'm spoiled," Draco said approvingly as Harry tried to catch his breath, aware of Snape's gaze scanning his flushed face as he came slowly back to himself. The ties on his wrists abruptly loosened, and without thought Harry slid a hand down his belly into the slippery mess covering him, lifting the fingers to his nose and sniffing them. "Your turn to clean up."

"And your turn to go make tea," Harry shot back. Leaning over to pick up his wand, Draco fired off a spell in the direction of the doorway, and Harry knew that there would be hot tea momentarily. With Snape still watching him intently, he closed his eyes and concentrated on Scourgify-ing himself and the bed, but only the sheets around him dried properly.

"You have to want to do it, Potter," Snape reminded him mildly, touching his fingers. Instantly Harry was dry and the semen streaking his belly was gone. Before Snape could pull away, he caught his hand.

"Thank you. Sir."

He caught a last flash from Snape's thoughts before he was closed out of them again, and reveled in the knowledge that Snape loved tying up Harry just as much as Harry loved having it happen. The only immediate response, though, was a raised eyebrow and the slightest of smiles.

Draco got up and went, still naked, to fetch the tea -- he had a tendency to crack the cups if he summoned them magically. Harry shoved himself up to lean against the headboard, and Snape touched his leg. "You're welcome."

"Why..." Harry started to ask, but Draco whipped back into the room, tea tray in hands, and plunked it down on the bed next to Harry. He sat cross-legged on the mattress and poured them each a cup, adding two sugars to Harry's and handing Snape his unsweetened.

"This is very domestic," Draco said, then snickered.

"I generally take my tea in the kitchen, with my robes on, or at least a dressing gown," Snape retorted with a trace of his familiar condescension.

"Now why does it not surprise me that you don't walk around undressed even in your own house? You know what, Severus -- I think you're even more uptight than Harry, here."

"I am not uptight!" objected Harry.

"Not as much as you used to be. Still, remember how you objected the first time I wanted to be tied up? And the first time I got you to spank me? And the..."

"Just because I'd never done it before does not make me uptight!" Glancing at Snape, Harry found him pressing his lips together, not looking entirely pleased with the turn of the conversation.

"Malfoy is, as usual, confusing hedonism with eroticism. I would have thought you'd have learned by now that the sum total of one's experiences does not accurately predict their quality."

"If you're trying to say that you know better than I do when it comes to sex, Severus, well of course you have years more experiences, but I might just have a greater variety," Draco disagreed. "Sure, not all of them were wonderful, but who can expect that?"

Snape's smile was tight indeed. "I would be very surprised if you had a greater variety of experiences than I," he said softly. "More partners, no doubt, but that is quite unimportant next to what one does, and why."

"Why? To enjoy yourself, obviously. Why else?" Draco took a gulp of his tea.

"How about because you care for the other person?" Harry knew that his own sexual history was much less sophisticated than either of theirs, but even with that limited experience he could be certain that for him, the emotional dimension added to his satisfaction. If something was fun in general, he thought, it had to be even better with someone you loved.

"Are you still going on about that? Do you honestly think it feels that different to close your eyes and be sucked off by one mouth or another? Sometimes it's more exciting to get it on with a total stranger, or even someone you don't like -- you don't know what's going to happen."

"Oh, and is that how we ended up in bed together?" Harry asked sardonically. When they had first encountered one another after the war and the months of aftermath, he had put Draco off for a long time, certain at first that Draco was pursuing him only to form an alliance and out of a sense of remorse about Draco's own role as a Death Eater. By the time Draco had convinced him of his sincerity, they both knew that there was something more complicated than curiosity and superficial attraction.

And with Snape it was even more enigmatic; Harry had never been at all attracted to him, at least not consciously, yet it had been a tremendous relief to discover that Snape had never been his enemy... that even Dumbledore's death had been for a reason, that Harry did not have to continue to hate him. Just now Snape was refusing to meet his eyes, and he wondered whether Snape had felt something similar. Maybe the relief of no longer having to hate Harry so that Voldemort could not sense anything else had made other feelings possible.

Draco was looking at both of them with narrowed eyes. "You both believe that soppy stuff," he accused. "Severus, I'm surprised at you. Aren't you supposed to be gloating? You finally got Harry to call you 'Sir.'"

Shrugging, Snape took a sip of his tea. It occurred to Harry that Draco was very likely correct; if Snape believed in the "soppy stuff," that would explain some things about him, such as his resolutely single state. If he had loved someone unavailable -- although Harry tried not to think that it could have been Lucius Malfoy -- he might not have been willing to settle for anyone else.

"It only shows that even Potter can be taught manners, if he has sufficient incentive. There is strong precedent in history for sex as a motivator, and it's hardly worth gloating to have succeeded in using it here."

"You -- for Merlin's sake." Draco shook his head. "Listen to yourself... 'there is strong precedent for sex as a motivator,'" he mimicked, sounding uncannily like Snape. "The reason why it's a good motivator is because it's fun, Severus. There's no need to confuse things by thinking you have to be in love with the other person -- that's Harry's problem."

"I don't have a problem!" said Harry with indignation. "It's not as if you're not benefiting from the fact that I think love and sex go together."

"I am confusing nothing," Snape assured Draco as if Harry had not spoken. "I learned to distinguish between sex and intimacy a long time ago, though I was not quite young enough to be spared some foolish mistakes."

Draco's eyebrows shot up as Snape buried his face in his teacup again. Now Harry wondered if he did mean Lucius. Had Snape joined the Death Eaters not out of any admiration for Voldemort or his philosophy, but because someone he cared for very much had invited him? It was hard to imagine, but Lucius had probably not been so brittle when he was young, nor so self-assured... and he must have been very handsome, a more formal, patrician version of Draco.

Draco thought Snape only wanted Harry to prove some sort of mastery. Was that why Draco thought Snape wanted him, too? It made Harry sort of sad. "Would you actually like it if he said he didn't care about either of us? That it was just our fine young arses?"

Now Draco hesitated. "I wouldn't like it, necessarily, but I wouldn't mind," he said finally, but Harry thought that the denial was more pretense than real. "Not if the sex was the same."

"It wouldn't be." Harry could say that in complete confidence. "Because if he said that then I wouldn't be so keen on it. I'm not saying that I think that you have to be in love to have good sex," he explained, as Snape looked at him. "Just that -- well -- then it's better. That's all."

"So as long as Severus doesn't actually say that he doesn't care, you'll assume he does, and be happy. And I won't assume, but I won't be fussed about it." Draco set down his empty cup on the tray and poured himself more tea.

"You realize that we could ask him, rather than discussing the matter in hypothetical terms," said Harry with a glance in Snape's direction.

"Yes, but that ruins the mystery, doesn't it?" grinned Draco. "It isn't like I'd necessarily expect him to tell the truth, anyway." Snape's rather beaky nose wrinkled as his eyes narrowed at Draco. "You're not going to say anything drippy to me because you don't trust me not to hold it over your head later. But you want Harry to believe one thing and me to believe another -- he just said he wouldn't be keen on it if he thought you didn't have feelings for him, but it wouldn't exactly be smart to tell my boyfriend something like that in front of me, now would it?"

"I believe Potter is the one you are testing here, not me," said Snape rather irritably.

"What are you talking about?" Harry asked him blankly.

"Last night Draco was distraught because he believed Lucius would break all ties with him for sharing his life with you. This morning the three of us have been... let's merely say that this is not the most traditional of arrangements. What precisely were you hoping for when you invited me here for dessert that first time, Malfoy... to learn that Potter wasn't really interested after all? Or are you trying to accustom him to the idea that it might be possible to bring in another partner, perhaps even a wife, and thus keep your male lover while pleasing your parents?"

"That's...! I'm not...!" Draco spluttered. He turned to Harry. "You can't possibly believe that I'd do that!"

Harry didn't really think that Draco had been quite so cunning as Snape was suggesting, not when Draco had so emphatically refused Lucius' demands last night, and had pleaded with both Harry and Snape to help him think of a way out of his dilemma. Nevertheless, the possibility sent a pang through him and he looked hard at Draco. "You've considered it, haven't you? You like having sex with girls, too, or at least so you've told me. If you could convince me that we would stay together even if you got married as your father wants, wouldn't you want to do that?"

Draco looked angry and horrified and trapped, all at once, his mouth opening but no words coming out. Harry waited. "I can't believe this," he said finally. "Did you listen to one word that I said to my father? If I ever got married -- if, I don't know, you decided to study with one of those esoteric schools of magic that demands celibacy and broke it off with me, and I started seeing a witch -- it wouldn't be because it was what my parents wanted, it would have to be what I wanted! And who you want to shag isn't the same thing as who you want to spend your life with! If my father wants to keep the Malfoy blood in circulation so badly, he can find some pureblood couple who can't have children and offer to donate his precious seed."

"A lot of Muggles do that, you know," snickered Harry, very amused at the idea of Lucius Malfoy walking into a Muggle laboratory to make a donation.

Draco glared at him and Snape glanced over as if Harry had gone daft, but after a moment they both started smiling as well. "I should tell him I've done that!" crowed Draco. "If he's so determined to keep the Malfoy bloodline alive, I should tell him I've generously offered it to the entire world. Dozens of Muggle women could be walking around carrying my halfblood offspring!"

"He would cut you out of the family before Rita Skeeter could print the news," Snape said dryly. "Not merely do everything he could to disinherit you, but prevent all contact between himself and your mother, and you."

"That's true," said Harry, watching Draco's grin fade. "But it might be worth it, just to see his face!"

"He's probably going to cut me off anyway, if I keep refusing his demands to get married." A wicked glint crept into Draco's eyes. "I could make the donations and save telling him for whenever he decides to give me an ultimatum. I can't imagine that it's a difficult process!"

"Actually, you know," said Harry thoughtfully, "there might be some Wizarding families -- not necessarily just purebloods -- who'd be interested in that sort of thing. Magic can't solve all medical problems; I remember when Arthur Weasley was in St. Mungo's once and they tried some Muggle healing techniques. There should be more attempts to bring wizard and Muggle ideas together."

"A variant of the practice you speak of is not unknown among purebloods." Harry and Draco both looked at Snape, who cocked an eyebrow at their expressions. "Don't look so surprised; I'm sure you've noticed that wizards incline to greater discretion than Muggles about their intimate lives. The ancient pureblood families could hardly be described as healthy after so many generations. So-called blood traitors tend to have stronger children. One of the reasons the Dark Lord was so successful at recruiting purebloods with hints of conquering death was their inability to keep their population steady."

"I always thought my parents only had one child because my mother didn't want to get fat or something," said Draco. "Are you saying maybe they couldn't have another child?"

Snape hesitated, then his lips pressed together. "It is not my place to speculate," he said shortly.

"Come on... you know something. What is it?"

Again Snape answered with uncharacteristic reluctance. "As you know, your mother has always made much of the fact that you are her only son," he said. "I have never spoken directly with her about whether she wanted other children."

Maybe not, thought Harry, but he was quite sure Snape had spoken to Lucius. If you wanted a fertility draught, who better to ask than a Potions master? "Professor," he began, not realizing what he was saying until Snape and Draco both looked at him strangely, and Harry belatedly saw the humor of addressing the man naked on the bed beside him in such a manner. "Severus. Are you saying... do you think the ancient wizarding lines will die out if they keep marrying each other?"

"My opinion is unimportant," Snape said. "There are only the numbers to consider. The Blacks are gone. The two of you are the last of the Malfoy and Potter lineages. Harry, your father may have made the wiser choice, marrying a woman of Muggle origins." But Snape said that last with something dark in his voice, and Harry was left to wonder whether it was because of Snape's feelings about James Potter or Snape's own origins... from what Harry knew, he had tried to hide his half-blood birth much as Voldemort had done. "Well, I've had enough of discussing bloodlines. I'm going to fetch breakfast," said Draco, climbing off the bed again. But he looked thoughtful, and Harry wondered if he was plotting his next discussion with Lucius.

Snape was staring into his cup, swirling the dregs of it. "You're not planning to try to read the tea leaves, are you, to see what Draco will do?" Harry asked.

"Certainly not." Snape sniffed. "Divination is a questionable discipline at best, as I'm sure you would agree. And Draco has never been entirely predictable."

"But..." Harry only dared to say it because Draco was not there. "You saw him at the worst time of his life, when he'd failed to kill Dumbledore and was wanted by both sides. I'd think you might have more of an idea than I have just what he might choose to do if he felt trapped beyond any escape. He doesn't talk about his feelings much to me, except as a joke, or when he can't get out of it. And I'd bet that you know Lucius even better. Why is he so stuck on Draco having children? If he's so keen on perpetuating pureblood lines, why did he have only the one son himself? I can see why you might not want to discuss his father with Draco, but if you know anything useful, you could at least tell me."

"You know perfectly well that Draco has been indoctrinated since he was a small child to accept his responsibility to his inheritance, just as Lucius was before him," Snape said with a hint of warning in his voice. "You must also understand that what he wants at this young age may have changed significantly by the time he is his father's age. Lucius is wise to believe that he can wait and continue to exert this pressure; evidently it is already having some effect."

Harry had not even been certain that he would live to see twenty, knowing the role for which he had been singled out as a baby. Forty remained inaccessible to him, off in a future he could not imagine. "You're saying Draco might change his mind about what he wants," he said dully.

"I am also saying that you might change your mind."

The thought made Harry uncomfortable. "You think I don't really love Draco," he accused.

Snape sighed. "Potter, it would be helpful if you would listen to what I actually say. People do change. As I recall, it's not so long since you loathed Draco... and myself too, for that matter."

"If people change, though, why does it seem that Lucius won't?" demanded Harry. "Don't give me all that about indoctrination. As you pointed out, Draco had it, too, but he's resisting it. So why not his father?" He wasn't sure why he was harping on Lucius so much, except that he felt Snape was evading saying anything definite or useful when he must have known something. He thought that Snape was about to answer when Draco reappeared in the doorway.

"I think I want a substantial breakfast after all that exercise," he declared. "How about you two?"

"Sounds good to me," Harry said, and Snape nodded. "If you don't mind the bother, that thing you make with the eggs and mushrooms is delicious."

"Omelets?" Draco raised an eyebrow. "No, quiche. It'll take a little while, but if that's what you want..." He vanished again, calling back, "You two could shower in the meantime. I'll be in when it's in the oven -- twenty minutes, maybe."

"Come on then," said Harry eagerly, drawing a smirk from Draco and a startled, though not displeased, look from Snape. He blushed a little; he had the ulterior motive of thinking that Snape might open up more with the water running, where there was no risk of being overheard by Draco, but although Harry tried to broach the subject of Snape's own investment in the matter of Lucius, Draco, and himself, he found himself being very quickly distracted by Snape's hands pinning him against the tile wall and Snape's mouth hungrily tasting his skin.

By the time he managed to catch his breath, Draco was stepping in, laughing. "You're both more of a mess than when I sent you in here!" He was holding a new bar of soap in his hand. Glancing at the ceramic holder in the wall, Harry discovered that in fact they had none left; he and Snape hadn't even noticed.

Handing the soap to Snape, Draco stepped between him and Harry. "Wash me. I do the cooking, you do the cleaning, isn't that right?"

It had always seemed a fair arrangement to Harry, but he was beginning to wonder whether there weren't some messes too old and persistent for him to make them go away.

Chapter Text

Harry paused for a few moments outside Snape's door to straighten his hair and take a few deep breaths. He had planned his timing carefully, having left work early on an afternoon when he knew Draco had plans to meet Blaise for drinks. Since Harry and Blaise had never warmed up to one another, Draco hadn't been at all surprised when Harry begged off joining them.

He wasn't supposed to arrive at Snape's until later. He'd claimed he wanted to stop by only for a moment on the way home from work, to borrow that book on poison inks; an epidemic of hives had broken out at the Ministry among Aurors who had studied a particular parchment. Snape likely believed the request to be a transparent excuse to visit -- which it was -- but for that very reason, he would likely have come home early to prepare.

Harry's real motive was to ask Snape the questions he doubted Snape would answer with Draco nearby. He was determined to learn what his onetime Potions professor knew about Lucius Malfoy, but Snape had made it clear that he wouldn't say anything too negative or too personal about Lucius in his son's presence. Of course, Snape might be more likely to talk if Harry applied a bit of... persuasion, hence Harry's agitation as he prepared to knock on the door.

Perhaps it was somewhat dishonest not to have told Draco where he was planning to go, since Draco would very likely have ditched Zabini to accompany Harry to Snape's. But Harry considered this meeting to be for Draco's benefit. He needed to know what Snape knew, and if that required both privacy and bribery, so be it.

As he raised his hand to the knocker, he became aware of voices coming from inside Snape's flat. "...only going to succeed in alienating him," Harry heard Snape say. "If you truly came here for my advice and not to try to involve me, I advise you to back off before he does something irrevocable."

"That was your advice when I did not interfere with his plan to live with Potter!" Involuntarily Harry took a step back. That was Lucius speaking! He stepped close to the door again, but the sounds were indistinct; the men inside had lowered their voices. Quickly he dug into the pocket where he kept a recent gift from Fred and George, their latest improvement on Extendable Ears: a tiny device that looked like a fashionable ear clip and broadcast directly into the listener's ear. The Ministry was considering purchasing dozens of them for Aurors on undercover assignment. "...not about a broom, and don't think I don't know that you've been spending time with Draco as well. I've always believed that I could trust you, Severus, but I cannot fathom your plan this time."

"Must I have a plan?" Snape's voice was almost a growl.

A brittle laugh from Lucius. "Let's not lie to each other after so many years. I know you too well to think you would not have something in mind. I assume that you've shagged Potter by now?" Harry gasped at that. Had Lucius known, or was it simply a lucky guess from decades of familiarity with what Snape liked? Distracted, his mind whirling, he missed some of what Lucius said next. "...asked you more than once."

"I told you then that it was impossible, and nothing has changed in the interval," Snape sounded as uncompromising as he ever had. "I cannot do as you ask."

What could Lucius be asking for? For Snape to do something to arrange Draco's cooperation, perhaps through Harry -- seducing him away from Draco, for instance? That seemed a reasonable possibility. Or perhaps something worse? A potion to ensure Draco's compliance? Harry frowned. Snape's response indicated that he was unwilling to accede to Lucius' demands.

"Severus." Lucius' tone was low and seductive, and hearing it, Harry felt his stomach do funny things. Was Lucius touching Snape? Did Snape want him to be? Then how could he and Draco... Harry didn't even want to think about that. "You know that I'm going to win. Draco may be very clever and charming, but he's no match for me. With your help, I can make this as painless as possible for everyone involved. I can't fathom what you see in Potter but you're welcome to him if you want. I only want him out of the way."

"Potter is not in the way. You seem to believe that Draco is refusing you because that is what his lover wishes, but this isn't a question of sexual exclusivity. Having been a part of a war based on pureblood dogma -- which his side lost, I might remind you -- Draco does not want to perpetuate the line you offer him, biologically or ideologically."

"He's distracted. As I was once distracted, as I'm certain you recall. But do you really believe that either of us would have been happy, Severus, living as outcasts? You'd gone to so much trouble to fit in. And I would not have this child who means everything to me now. Once Potter is out of the way..."

"If it weren't Potter, it might be Zabini or someone even less suitable. Potter, at least, has no interest in your money -- what would you say if you convinced Draco to marry a pureblood and he chose the Weasley girl? Do you want that family to have their hands all over the Malfoy estate?"

Harry couldn't stand another moment of listening, trying to guess how much of this Snape meant or what Draco's father would say next. He pounded on the door. There was a pause, then footsteps along the hallway. At the last moment he slipped off the Listening Ear and tucked it into his pocket; being around the Ministry frequently, Lucius might recognize it, and Harry didn't want it obvious that he had been eavesdropping.

"Potter," said Snape flatly, holding the door open only a crack and with his own body blocking Harry from entering. "This is not a good time. I have a business client."

But behind him Lucius said in a silky voice, "Is that Harry? What a surprise. Ask him in, Severus." With a grimace Snape let the door swing wider and let Harry inside, motioning him towards the sitting room. "Come for a visit, have you?" Lucius was standing in the center of the room, dominating it as always, his hands clasped on the head of his walking stick and his mouth curled into a condescending smile. "I wouldn't want to interfere with you and Severus having a nice chat, so I shall simply go on my way."

"Actually, I came here to borrow a book," Harry said as evenly as possible. "I'm sure you've heard about the poisoned parchment causing all the problems for the Aurors. Snape told me he had a book on poison inks that might help."

"Discussing Auror business outside the office?" Lucius inquired just as smoothly. "You should be careful, Harry -- the Ministry frowns on that, as I'm sure you know."

"Yes -- I'm sure I'll get in at least as much trouble as Dolores Umbridge did for releasing a list of known and suspected werewolves to the Daily Prophet." Umbridge, of course, had not even received a formal reprimand. "I'll tell Draco you said hello. He and Blaise went to check out a new Muggle gay club that Blaise discovered, but he knows I hate dancing."

Lucius looked like his face might crack in his effort to keep the unruffled smile in place, but Snape -- who had stepped around as if he thought he might need to put himself between them to prevent a fight -- twitched his nose once and Harry knew that he had very nearly made Snape laugh. "We'll talk again soon, Severus," said Lucius, eyes still fixed on Harry. "Please do consider what I said."

"I might say the same to you." Lucius' glare shot over to Snape, but after a moment it had softened into a sort of calculated study, and Harry felt nervous again. Whether or not Snape had admitted to Lucius that there was something going on between them, Lucius seemed quite certain of the fact. He would probably owl Draco about this chance meeting at Snape's flat before Harry had even returned home. At least it was unlikely Draco would get the message until later; an owl to him right now would go to their flat, it would be too well-trained to make a delivery in a crowded Muggle business. Lucius gave a curt nod that included them both and stalked out. The front door slammed behind him.

"You came to borrow a book?" Snape's voice was skeptical.

"I did, actually. I thought that information on how to make some of those inks might help us to determine what is causing the problems." Harry stepped over to the bookshelves and started to run his finger along the row of leather-bound tomes, searching for the one he had seen on his first visit to Snape's flat. Snape stepped up behind him.

"It's on the second shelf from the floor, far left."

Harry squatted down and looked. "Oh yes." He pulled it out. "Gloves, you said, when reading?" He leaned back just slightly and turned his head, looking up at Snape with his mouth only a few inches from Snape's groin and placing a hand on his leg, making a show of needing to balance himself. Snape reached down and touched his hair.

"Harry..." "Maybe I didn't just come to borrow a book." Harry smiled a little, letting Snape reach down and draw him to his feet. But when he leaned in, expecting Snape to kiss him and more than ready for it to overwhelm him -- to make him forget everything that was bothering him -- Snape stepped back.

"How much of that conversation did you overhear?"

"What makes you think I overheard any of it?"

"Draco and Blaise went to 'check out a new Muggle gay club'?" Snape's lips twitched again.

"He really is with Blaise! Having drinks somewhere. Not at a club, I don't think, but I could have come up with that on my own. It's just coincidence you mentioned Zabini." Blushing faintly, Harry admitted, "All right, I did overhear some of it. Starting with you telling him you couldn't do what he asked, and then the whole business about me not being his problem. What did he mean, Draco is distracted as Lucius was once distracted?"

Snape looked hard at him and sighed. "You're not going to give up on this."

Harry should have known it would be difficult to fool Snape. "No, I'm not." He tried to reach into Snape's thoughts, but they were tightly shut against him.

"Persistent little skrewt," Snape muttered. He gestured to Harry to sit down, which Harry did, carefully placing the book on a table. He had chosen Snape's rather battered sofa, but Snape did not seat himself next to Harry. Instead he settled onto an uncomfortable-looking chair across from him, grimacing. "Some of it you've already guessed, I'm sure. Lucius and I have ties that go back to our school days. We were both in Slytherin, as you know, and although he was already a prefect when I started at Hogwarts, we eventually became very close friends."

"You were lovers." Harry stated it baldly, waiting for Snape's acknowledging nod.

"Not then. While I was young when... there is no need to retread any of that. What was equally important was that, although he knew about my background, Lucius never treated me the way certain others did." Harry cringed inwardly, knowing that Snape was speaking of Sirius and his father. "I'm certain you must have noticed while you were a student at Hogwarts that what is dismissed as a prank by a Gryffindor may be treated as worthy of expulsion for a Slytherin. Lucius gave me an education on the politics of what are considered Dark Arts versus what are considered mere wizard wheezes. He loaned me books from his family library that I could never have tracked down on my own. As I am sure you are aware, his generosity toward family and friends is as notable as his lack of charity toward those with whom he disagrees."

Something was trying to surface in Harry's mind, something about Lucius' family that someone unexpected had said... Slughorn, that was it! "How did his father die?" he interrupted Snape.

Snape stared, and for a moment Harry could read the shock in his eyes before the mask of Occlumency came down. "Dragon pox," he said shortly. "Surely Draco has told you?"

"That's what Draco thinks," Harry replied. "But I remember from back at school, Draco was furious he wasn't part of the Slug Club. He asked whether Slughorn had known Abraxas, and Slughorn said something about how strange it was to die of dragon pox at his advanced age."

Snape shrugged. "Unusual does not mean impossible. In any case, it is irrelevant to the present purpose."

Harry was not so sure of that, but he let it go for the moment. "So Lucius was kind to you."

"Kind? I suppose so. I was never popular at school, but when Lucius was there I was tolerated. After he had taken his N.E.W.T.s and left, he remained in touch. He made my life bearable." Snape's face was rigid as he spoke and Harry wondered if he had ever admitted it in so many words before. "He sent for me during school holidays and had me stay at Malfoy Manor with him. During those summers he suggested that I might be interested in achieving more than seemed likely if I followed a traditional path after school. Of course I listened to him, and he introduced me to several people, among them Bellatrix Black, his fiancée's sister."

Harry had jumped to his feet without realizing it. "She killed Sirius! She's a..."

"Sit down," said Snape loudly. "I am very well aware of what she is, and your feelings about her. Nevertheless, she was considered quite a catch at the time Malfoy introduced us. And she was prominent among the Dark Lord's followers."

If Snape had had any sort of relationship with Bellatrix Black Lestrange, Harry fervently did not want to know. "Fine. Lucius helped you," he said coldly, sitting back on the sofa. "What was he asking you to do, before, that you kept saying you wouldn't?"

"Lucius has given me many favors over the years." Snape's gaze brushed over Harry's face, his eyes opaque. "He has asked me to do one for him now in return, but there are a number of reasons why I have demurred."

"I got that, but what is it he wants?" Anger was growing in Harry's gut at Snape's evasion.

"You know what he wants," Snape said.

"A Malfoy heir, but what are you supposed to do about it? Slip Draco some sort of potion to make him more tractable?" Harry threw out one of the ideas that he had had earlier.

"Yes."

The word hung in the air between them. Harry swallowed. He hadn't wanted to acknowledge that Lucius would go quite so far as to coerce his son through magical means. Perhaps the man thought that would be more humane than locking Draco up in Malfoy Manor until he agreed to marry, but if so he was wrong. "But... but... that's illegal," Harry sputtered.

The look Snape gave Harry was not so much surprised as contemptuous. "The man was a Death Eater, Potter; entirely of his own choice, unlike some. He considers this a matter of his family's survival. As you know very well, it is his wish to bend Draco to his will in this matter without destroying the close relationship they have always shared."

"Then why haven't you warned Draco?" Harry demanded.

Snape sighed in frustration. "Because he would not believe me. And if you attempt to tell him that his father would resort to coercion to sway him, you might find that he will choose to believe his father over you as well." Harry didn't like that idea, but he had to admit it was probably true.

"But you've refused to make such a potion for Lucius." Harry squinted at Snape. "Why? Because if it were somehow discovered you would be at risk of prosecution by the Wizengamot?"

"That is one reason. I have no wish to be examined by them again." Snape shifted in his chair. "Nor do I think that Lucius' plan is viable. The Docility Draught ensures amenability in the one who drinks it, but only on a temporary basis -- twenty-four hours at most. He would have to arrange for Draco to be dosed daily for months, perhaps years, until an heir was born. Not impossible, but the longer a potion needs to be administered, the greater the chance of it being discovered. However, I am concerned about the other alternatives Lucius might consider if I continue to resist his present requests."

"Could you fake it?" asked Harry. "Like you did for me with Umbridge and the Veritaserum? Make one that wouldn't work?"

"How long would Lucius be fooled? He would discover the deception and any influence I had with him would be destroyed. He would likely set out to ruin me along with Draco."

Harry was beginning to think that Draco's plan of leaving the country might make sense. Would he have to move away from everyone who mattered to him? "There must be something Lucius has done that we could use against him -- some threat," he said aloud. "Do you think he killed his father?" Snape's expression froze. "Come on, Severus, you admitted yourself that dragon pox is an unusual disease to strike an adult, and Slughorn made it sound suspicious. The real question is why Lucius would have done it. There would have to have been some overwhelming reason, but I think I have an idea what it might be."

"Oh?"

Taking a deep breath, Harry said, "You pointed out the other day that the pureblood family lines are mostly losing strength, and you said that some of those families have used artificial means to ensure their continuation. When Draco dragged me off to visit his parents the first time, I saw the row of family portraits and there were some interesting differences in the faces. What if Abraxas Malfoy was not Lucius' father?" Snape's face hardly seemed to move a muscle, which might have been because he found Harry's suggestion so completely without merit that he would not even dignify it with a frown, but Harry suspected otherwise.

"Lucius was the only son and heir to Abraxas, just as Draco is to Lucius," Snape said calmly at last. "Even if one were to speculate -- assuming that what you propose is true -- why would Lucius have perceived Abraxas as such a threat that he would have taken his life? He stood to inherit everything Abraxas had, whereas if he had been convicted of parricide, the consequences not only for himself but for all purebloods would have been disastrous."

Harry's heart was racing. Not only had Snape not said no, he'd handed him the reason. "Just like Draco -- that's what you said. And I heard what he said, before I knocked -- Lucius thinks Draco is distracted as he was once distracted. If the child Abraxas had accepted of necessity as his son and heir was refusing to perform his proper role in the family..."

Snape's face abruptly closed off. "You are making very dangerous suppositions. Lucius has left you alone thus far at least in part because he does not perceive you as a threat. He might want you removed from Draco's thoughts, but he has acknowledged that Draco's refusal to consent to marry has more complicated causes than his relationship with you. You do realize that a challenge to Lucius' legitimacy constitutes a challenge to Draco's as well? Do you think he will stand by you if you call his father a fraud and a murderer?"

"His father is a fraud and a murderer, whether I'm right about this or not." Harry tried to force calm into his voice that he didn't feel. Snape was right; if Harry said any of what he was thinking to Draco, it would more likely trigger a furious argument than give them a weapon to use against Lucius. Getting up, he began to pace. "Severus, I know you know more than you're saying and I can't figure out who you're protecting. It isn't as if it would be devastating to you if Draco and I broke up. You'd just have us separately instead of together. And you don't want to do what Lucius asks, but you're hiding whatever he's done..."

Harry stopped. If Abraxas Malfoy had not died of dragon pox but of something that mimicked its symptoms, then it was likely that he had been poisoned... by someone who knew a potion that could mimic the symptoms. And there was a book on poison inks sitting right on the table. What easier, more innocent-appearing way than to send a letter written in deadly ink? If the poison didn't act immediately, no one would have any cause to suspect that simply handling the letter had caused Abraxas to become ill.

He looked at Snape, hoping desperately to be wrong. "Lucius asked for your help then, too, and you gave it to him. Didn't you? It's yourself as well as him that you're protecting." Even as he spoke, he realized that it could be dangerous to make this accusation, but he did not believe that Snape would do him any harm.

"I played no role in the death of Abraxas Malfoy." Snape sounded composed, but Harry could see the skin of his knuckles white as he clenched the arm of his chair.

"Then why does this conversation upset you so much?"

Snape pressed his lips together, flexed his fingers and appeared to come to a decision. "Lucius and I had what I believed to be a hypothetical discussion of the poisons in question," he said. "I have no proof that he obtained one. I certainly did not make it for him. The only 'help' I gave him was in never mentioning that conversation to anyone. As you guessed from that comment of Slughorn's, there were rumors of foul play when Abraxas died so unexpectedly, but few suspected Lucius. He was the Malfoy heir and would have come into that fortune soon enough. When he married Narcissa Black less than a year later, it ended any gossip. Only a handful of people with reasons to dislike him -- like his former Head of House -- remembered that there had been questions."

Little of this made sense to Harry, though his primary emotion, surprisingly, was relief that Snape had not been involved in the murder of Draco's grandfather. "If Lucius intended to marry Narcissa, I'd expect his father to have been thrilled! Even if he'd disliked the Blacks, they had old money and ties to Slytherin. Why would Lucius have needed Abraxas out of the way?"

"Because Lucius had no intention of marrying Narcissa," Snape explained irritably. "Abraxas treated him very much the way he is treating Draco now, except that Lucius was never as close to his father as he is to his son. Draco's grandfather was a cold man. He changed his will and the terms of the entailment of Malfoy Manor to make it conditional on the birth of an heir. Lucius was unaware of that change until after his father's death."

Had Abraxas been so concerned about Lucius being distracted by Snape that he had imposed this condition on all future generations? Harry thought that might make Draco's grandfather even more despicable than Draco's father. But there still might be more. "If Lucius was his offspring. There must be ways to find out. Even the Muggles can test for..."

"Even if Lucius was not the child of Abraxas Malfoy, he inherited the bloodlines of the ancient and noble houses through his mother. Draco is right to think that such an inheritance comes with a price. His parents had a difficult time producing a child. Lucius knows that he cannot be certain of having another, with Narcissa or anyone else. It is imperative to Lucius that Draco become the man he has raised him to be."

Harry's breath caught in his throat. "There has to be a way we can stop him."

"As you overheard, I have been doing what little I can to persuade Lucius to let events take their course. You may not be happy to acknowledge it, but it's by no means impossible that Draco will choose to do as his father wants. Lucius knows this -- it is, after all, what he did himself." Snape looked pensive. "I can refuse to make a Docility Draught for him, but that is no guarantee that he will not find someone more willing. To block Lucius altogether... he is my oldest friend, and I know that he is doing what he thinks right and necessary for his family and his son, though I do not agree with his methods."

There was a warning in Snape's tone, making Harry realize that Snape would never allow him or Draco to harm Lucius, though he had not really considered it. He swore hopelessly. "Leaving Britain may be Draco's best choice. Though he hasn't really thought it through and realized what he'll give up if he does. And I'd be giving up my friends, too. We'd only have each other."

"What is Draco worth to you, Harry?" Snape's eyes were intent on his.

Harry didn't even know how to begin to answer that question. "He's... he's the first..." He shook his head slightly, afraid that Snape would laugh at him as Draco often did and tell him he was confusing sex and love, though Snape looked entirely serious. "When Ginny and I broke up, I felt worse than I did when Dumbledore told me I'd either have to kill Voldemort or he'd kill me. She came with an entire family, and I wanted that, all the brothers and cousins and maybe my own children. Even after I knew I wanted to be with a man, I just wanted a normal life and a normal family, but I thought I never would because I was the Chosen One. Until Draco. I suppose he had something of the same problem, being a Malfoy. We fit together, you know?"

"Well," said Snape. "That would seem to answer the..."

"Wait." Harry sat down again heavily. "Draco thinks I'm hopelessly naïve. So do Ron and Hermione, where he's concerned. I was never really sure I'd live this long, and I hated him for a long time. How am I supposed to know what I'll want when I'm forty, or what Draco will want? A few weeks ago I would have said I didn't want anything to do with you either, and now..." He shrugged helplessly. "Draco thinks it's just sex and I'm being stupid if I think it's anything else. But how do I know I haven't got confused with him, too? If we wake up one day in France or America or Australia and decide it wasn't really meant to be, after we've given up everything else..."

"There is no point in second-guessing yourself." Snape's voice was oddly gentle. "That may be what Draco is trying, in his way, to say when he suggests that sex and love should be thought of separately. Enjoy each while you have the opportunity. Make your choices and live with them. Which is not to say that you should never consider the consequences; simply that you cannot live in fear of making a wrong decision."

"No..." Harry dragged out the word, thinking. His mind was racing around in circles and none of them seemed to lead anywhere. He guessed that that was what Snape meant. Looking up, he managed a weak grin. "Can I make a choice now not to worry about any of it for a little while? Will you help me?" Deliberately he left his thoughts open to allow Snape to see what he had in mind.

Snape held his gaze, but he did not come over to him right away. "Is this an attempt to differentiate between sex for pleasure and sex for emotional satisfaction? Or are you using me to try to provoke Draco, to see how easily he will be dissuaded?"

"Neither." Harry gulped. "I don't know what it is." He was more nervous talking about why he came here -- why he wanted this -- than he was asking Snape whether Lucius had murdered his own father. "It's different with you than with Draco or anyone else, and if I want it, and you want it, and Draco doesn't mind, and Lucius doesn't know..." Then he remembered that Lucius did know. "Did you tell him?"

"Of course not." But Snape broke eye contact. "Lucius somehow got the idea that I might help him disentangle Draco from you if I thought you would be my... prize."

Even though Harry had known it, it felt strange to hear Snape say the words aloud. "I'm not a good enough prize?" he joked, then lowered his eyes when Snape shot him a withering look. Toeing the carpet, he asked, "Would you try to disentangle me from Draco if you thought it was a real possibility?"

"If you 'disentangle' yourself from Draco," Snape spat, "it should be because you and he have concluded that that is what you both want -- no other reason. And I want no 'prizes' from Lucius Malfoy or anyone else."

"But you do want me?"

"Potter..." Snape shut his eyes and shook his head, then opened them again and lowered his mental barriers. Harry felt his cheeks grow hot at what he perceived there. He stood up and crossed the threadbare carpet to kneel in front of Snape.

"I want you," he said. "Any way you want, tonight. Without worrying about the why of it." He waited, staring at the row of buttons fastening Snape's robe.

Snape's hand tilted his chin up and then Harry was being kissed, greedily and without finesse; but the kiss lasted only a few moments before Snape broke away and said, "Not like this."

"What?" Harry fought to control the hurt that spiked through him. He had been so sure that Snape wanted him.

"My back," Snape explained. "You may be young, but I am not. This chair is too high for you to be on the floor and me comfortable." He rose, pulling Harry with him, and Harry felt a wash of relief that quickly turned to craving as Snape's lips found his again, bruisingly.

"Bed," Snape muttered when they came up for air, nudging him in that direction. It took them awhile to get there, for Snape did not stop kissing him and Harry's hands were first around his back, then tugging at his clothing, so that they were tripping over half-dropped trousers and catching loose sleeves on the bedroom doorknob. But at last they made it inside, tossing the rest of their clothes in careless heaps at the foot of the bed, where Harry found himself flattened with Snape's fingers linked through his own, pinning his hands beside his head, and Snape's foot stroking along his calf as he licked and sucked and bit at Harry's jaw and earlobe.

"I want to fuck you," Snape murmured directly into Harry's ear, making Harry groan and thrust up mindlessly, "but first I want you in my mouth." After a moment, he released Harry's hands and crawled to the side, turning around, so that his legs were above Harry's head as he reached for Harry's cock. Sliding his hands around Snape's bum to pull him closer, Harry extended his tongue and licked the side of the stiff shaft protruding between Snape's legs. He had to take one of his hands off Snape's arse to push the foreskin out of the way, then wrapped it around the lower part of Snape's cock, knowing he would never be able to take as much into his mouth as Snape could swallow of Harry's.

Snape had started slowly, licking the wetness leaking from the slit and sucking only the head of Harry's cock, but by the time Harry had established a rhythm of sucking and stroking, he had angled his head to take Harry partway into his throat. They both discovered quickly that in this position, thrusting only led to gagging and the threat of teeth, so their hips were still as their hands and mouths moved on one another.

One of Snape's hands was fondling Harry's balls as they pulled up tighter against his body, stretching the skin gently and then teasing behind, dipping down to flirt with his arsehole. Harry groaned over his mouthful and felt Snape's cock quiver under his tongue. He lapped at it greedily, tasting sweat and salt and musk, and was pleased when he heard Snape moaning as well.

Too soon for Harry's liking -- although he acknowledged that it was probably prudent -- Snape let his cock go, and Harry rather reluctantly did the same. Snape swung around once more to kiss him hungrily, rubbing their cocks together. "Legs up, Potter." Harry lifted his knees and held onto his thighs, opening himself wide. He expected Snape would repeat the lubrication charm he had used once before, but instead Snape reached for a jar and dipped into it. "I think you'll like this," he said in a voice like velvet over stone, and nudged one finger into Harry, leaning over him and gazing into his eyes.

The balm felt almost effervescent, tingling cool and pleasant as Snape entered his arse, adding a second finger quickly, then a third. Harry tried to squirm further down, and Snape chuckled. "Perhaps another time." A flash of an image of Harry with Snape's hand in him past the wrist, and Harry whimpered. But that was not what Snape wanted now. Releasing Harry, he started to reach again for the jar.

"No -- let me," objected Harry, sitting halfway up to take the container from Snape, who looked at him with hungry dark eyes.

Slicking his fingers, Harry wrapped his hand around Snape's rigid cock and stroked slowly down and up, down and up, spreading the sweet-smelling balm and drawing a quiet moan from Snape. "Harry..." he murmured. As if it were a signal, Harry released Snape and lay back, spreading himself as widely as possible as Snape's welcome warm weight dove over him. They exchanged one more sloppy, fevered kiss as one of Snape's hands slid possessively around his arse while the other moved the thick cock-head to rub against his hole.

"Want you," Harry heard himself whisper again, and Snape trembled against him as he nodded and began to push inside. It felt different from when Draco fucked him -- neither better nor worse, Harry decided, just different. Maybe it was the intensity in Snape's expression, although Draco could sometimes be just as demandingly passionate. Maybe it was the way that Snape had seen his thoughts and knew his secret desires, but again, Draco seemed to be quite good at guessing what Harry wanted and wasn't saying, even if he didn't use Legilimency to find out.

He put aside comparisons for the moment and raised his legs, hooking them over Snape's back and wordlessly urging him deeper. Snape's hair was falling into his face and Harry lifted a hand to brush it back, tucking it behind his ears though he knew it wouldn't stay, not with the way that Snape was rocking in and out of him. His own cock was aching, hard against his stomach. Sliding his hand between their bodies, he began to stroke it in time with Snape's thrusts.

"Fuck -- Severus," he panted. "So good -- oh fuck yes!" He hissed the last word as Snape changed angles slightly and brushed his prostate, sending little shocks thrilling through all his nerves.

"Wait for me, Harry," Snape grunted and repeated the movement until Harry was writhing underneath him, frantic to come.

"Please," he whispered. The word Sir hung on his lips but he did not say it; they were not playing those roles now, even though Harry knew Draco was right that Snape made him want to bottom in a way he never did for anyone else. He still didn't know what it meant: why the treatment he had despised so much as a student, being condescended to and given orders, was so arousing in an erotic context. Was it because it was done with... affection, was that the word?

It would do, Harry thought hazily, focused on Snape's face to stop himself from ejaculating, wondering where Snape had diverted this intensity for so many years, if he hadn't secretly been shagging someone else. "Harry," Snape muttered again, and their gazes tangled and knotted, nothing in Snape's thoughts now but fucking Harry in dozens of different positions and scenarios, and some of these were not new, Harry realized, some of them went back years -- that was him kneeling on the floor of Snape's office during Occlumency lessons, and that was him on a broom, possibly even younger, body taut as he reached for the Golden Snitch...

He felt Snape go rigid at the same moment he did, felt Snape's climax in his mind at the same moment his fingers grew wet with the hot liquid jetting out of his cock. "Severus," he choked out as the world quivered back into stability around him.

His legs were still clamped tight around Snape's back, and carefully he let them fall away so that Snape could pull out when he was ready to do so. But Snape stayed pressed close against him for a little while, partly supporting himself on his elbows yet still a pleasant weight against Harry's chest, seemingly either not noticing or not minding the stickiness of Harry's spunk rubbing between them.

"Severus," Harry whispered against the dark fall of Snape's hair. He wanted to say something more -- something to acknowledge the connection he felt and couldn't identify. But everything he could think of sounded far too feeble or far too dangerous, so he contented himself with running his hands over Snape's sides and back, the skin slightly damp with sweat now and quivering as he touched it. Sliding to the side, Snape raised himself up on an elbow and looked down at Harry, moving his fingers down Harry's chest into the whitish puddle streaking his belly and dripping down one side. His expression was slightly wary and his smile almost wistful as he asked, "Is this really worth risking what you have with Draco? He may not mind now, but Lucius will try to convince him that you aren't involved for the long term."

"I don't see how Lucius expects his son to make decisions now that he might regret forever. How can he claim that he does this out of love? Doesn't he understand anything about being sorry?"

For a moment Snape looked pained. "Lucius has always believed in putting mistakes in the past and never considering them again," he murmured. "Have you seen any true remorse about his role in the Death Eaters? He firmly believes that the future will redeem the past. Whatever might have happened with Abraxas, a grandchild will guarantee his immortality... the continuation of his line."

"What about you?" Harry asked quietly. "What do you want?"

"I want nothing that I cannot have." The muscles in Snape's throat worked for a moment, and he added with apparent irrelevance, "You're older, now, than your parents ever were."

"Yes, and older than I ever thought I'd be," replied Harry, puzzled. "What do you mean, you want nothing you can't have? That's rubbish. How can you keep yourself from wanting something? Or someone?" He thought back to when he and Draco had first begun to see each other. Neither of them had really wanted to admit the attraction between them, but it had become impossible to deny. Rather as Harry had recently begun feeling about Snape, except that that hadn't in any way changed or lessened his emotions towards Draco, which confused the hell out of Harry when he thought about it.

Snape looked somber as he spoke. "Surely there must be things you've desired that you realized were too dangerous to dwell upon." Then Harry remembered when he had first discovered the Mirror of Erised, and the only thing he had wanted was to remain there, looking at the image of his parents alive and standing at his side. He nodded shortly. Though he had not believed it at the time, he knew now that Voldemort had indeed possessed the power to bring his parents back from the dead... and that the price would have been far too high.

He looked at Snape's fingers, tracing idle patterns on the skin of Harry's belly. "Do you want Lucius?" he asked, surprising himself. "I mean -- not on his terms. If he was willing to put aside his pureblood obsessions..."

Snape sounded just as startled. "No," he said. "I have not thought... what you are suggesting has not been a possibility for a very long time."

"But you still want him in your life."

"He has been a part of my life since I was a child. It would be foolish to cause an irrevocable break unless I had an extremely compelling reason to do so."

If the Death Eaters hadn't been reason enough, Harry thought, maybe nothing ever would be. "If you had to choose between him and Draco, what would you do?"

"What do you think I've been doing?" Snape's voice was strained, and Harry looked away from the fingers stroking over his skin to meet Snape's eyes. What he saw in them startled him even more. I chose you, you fool. A pang went through Harry and his throat constricted. What had been perhaps an idiosyncracy, a sexual quirk on Harry's part aided and abetted by Draco, something that seemed safe enough to indulge, had suddenly transformed into an altogether different affair.

You're mine. Severus had better realize that. Draco's voice echoed in Harry's head, and he realized that Snape must have picked up on the memory. Belatedly he turned his eyes away, trying to practice the Occlumency that he had never completely mastered. "I'm sorry," he whispered, though he was not sure what for.

Snape drew in a long, shuddering breath, his fingers stilling. "No. I apologize. That was unconscionable of me."

"It was not," Harry argued, perversely defending Snape from himself. "I asked you what you wanted. I can hardly object if you make it clear."

"You are presuming a great deal." The fingers on Harry's belly were curling slowly into a fist, and the voice was condescending if rather forced. "To begin with, I am not looking for someone to share my life. I prefer to live alone. I have no expectation..."

"Severus." Reaching up, Harry began to work his fingers between Snape's, forcing the tense hand to relax. He had rarely thought about what Snape's life must have been like, working as a double agent and waiting all those years knowing that sooner or later, Voldemort would come back and he would have to do it all again... lie to Lucius, find reasons to hate Dumbledore that Voldemort would believe when he saw them in Snape's mind... he had had to hate Harry too. "I haven't forgotten what I owe you. And what everyone does, really."

Snape tried to pull his hand away. "I am not attempting to collect on a debt, as Lucius believes."

"I know that!" One moment they were staring at each other, and the next, they were kissing again, as hot and hungry as if they hadn't just made each other come. This could become an addiction, Harry realized hazily as Snape's arms wound about him tightly. He gave himself up to it, matching Snape kiss for kiss, caress for caress, the excitement building in him once more. Snape's cock was hot and hard against his thigh, and Harry whimpered when Snape drew back, panting.

"You had better go." His face was shuttered again. "You wouldn't want another row with Draco over having come here alone." "Severus, please," begged Harry. He knew that Snape was right; unless Blaise had convinced Draco to go out clubbing, Draco would be home soon, might be already, and he would guess where Harry was likely to have gone. And Harry had broken his agreement to tell Draco beforehand if he saw Snape alone -- for good reasons, but since they involved Lucius he couldn't explain them and doubted Draco would agree anyhow. Nonetheless he didn't want to leave quite yet. He touched Snape's cheek, traced the line of his jaw. "Please."

Snape did not try to argue again. Moving down on the bed, he kissed Harry's belly as if he had been waiting for an excuse to do so, long hair dragging in the drying puddle of semen there. Shivering softly, Harry moved his hands into the heavy curtain of hair that blocked Snape's gaze. Somewhere he had crossed a barrier; as much as he had once resented Snape's ability to push effortlessly into his mind and share his thoughts, he now welcomed it. He had never known it was possible to be so known to anyone else, and rather than being horrified at what was buried in Harry's fantasies, Snape welcomed them.

"Don't stop," he whispered, then felt Snape's lips ghost over his cock, less the beginning of something than a promise of what was to come, for Snape wasn't finished tasting his skin. The warm mouth dropped to Harry's thigh, sucking. Leaving a mark. Harry quivered as Snape staked his claim. There would be no way to hide this from Draco now, not that Harry had intended to, even if it meant Draco being pissed off at him again.

His fingers brushed along the edge of Snape's ears, all he could reach. Snape murmured, and Harry tucked that bit of knowledge away for the future; there was nothing he could do with it just now, for Snape was turning him over, spreading his legs apart, and tracing a wet line with his tongue from Harry's thigh to his perineum. Harry pushed his cock hard against the mattress as Snape's hands gripped his hips and held him open.

That hot mouth sealed against him, sucking -- Snape was tasting himself in Harry, his tongue pushing through the ring of muscle to lick at the walls inside. Harry let out a shrill, helpless wail; the feeling was so intense and Snape was teasing that sensitive inner flesh with tiny licks and strokes of his tongue, hands gripping Harry's hips to keep him still when he tried to writhe. All he could do was cry out, which he did, loud and long.

When Snape finally lifted his head, Harry thought that he would move up and thrust into him again, and he lifted his hips in eager anticipation. But Snape muttered, "No." His weight shifted off of Harry's lower body. "Turn over. It's your turn." Rolling quickly onto his back, Harry looked up into opaque dark eyes as Snape straddled him, reaching out for the little jar of that wonderful effervescent potion. He felt paralyzed, watching passively as Snape reached to spread the balm on Harry's eagerly twitching cock and moved to press himself down against it, using Harry to open himself. As he moved, eyes locked on Harry's, his thoughts opened as well.

The tangled skein of sexual images shifted and changed as Harry tried to make sense of what he saw. Many included all three of them -- Draco, Snape, and Harry himself -- but gradually Harry realized that the common thread was that regardless of the combination or activities, even when Harry was in a completely submissive position, for Snape it was Harry who was central to his fantasies. Snape rocked against him, Harry's cock now fully seated in that tight embracing arse, and groaned softly. He reached out for Harry's hand and guided it to his own prick, slick with balm and pulsing hotly.

Almost shyly, then, Harry let Snape read his own fantasies. He knew that Snape had seen some of them years before, but that had been illicit; now he was offering them freely. "You do like to feel restrained, don't you," murmured Snape, pressing his knees in against Harry's hips. "Is it lack of responsibility you want? Or does it make you feel safe?"

It was hard to breathe with Snape squeezing his cock deep in the heat of his body and staring so intently at him. "It's... I don't know, both," he gasped out, gripping Snape's cock more firmly. "Don't stop..."

"I have no intention of stopping," Snape promised. He contracted the muscles of his arse rhythmically around Harry's cock and Harry gasped again. "Not until you no longer want it." Harry knew that Snape meant not just right now, tonight, but that as long as Harry wanted Snape in bed, he would be there -- that Snape would not disappear from his life as too many had in the past. Everyone who should have been there for him... there was an ironic fittingness in the idea that it was Snape who stayed.

"The idea of being tied down, told when you can come -- that turns you on so much I don't even need to do it." Snape pinched one of Harry's nipples, and Harry reacted with a jolt of his hips.

There was a distant pounding distracting Harry, driving him on. "Don't want to stop," he panted. He couldn't have said himself whether he meant right now or ever. Was that fair to Snape? Wasn't it exactly what Lucius had done, having his family and keeping Snape as well?

"You are nothing like him." It was strange to hear a spoken response to what had been a private thought. "But you are not like Draco, either. You're stronger than he is..." Snape's voice was ragged, urgent, as Harry arched beneath him, closing his fingers more tightly. "He may not always..."

Harry never heard what Snape intended to say. In rapid succession, he drowned out the words with his own cry, closing his eyes against the overwhelming images from Snape's mind; he felt Snape buck into his hand, tossing his head back; and he heard, incongruously, Draco's voice, "Severus, I know you're here, I need to talk to..."

He blinked, turning his head to see Draco fuzzily outlined against the doorway to Snape's bedroom. Oh, fuck.

"Malfoy." Harry couldn't believe that Snape was able to say it in such coolly chastening tones, under the circumstances. Naked, sweaty, sitting there with Harry's rapidly-softening cock still up his arse. "I will be with you shortly. Make yourself a cup of tea if you like."

"It looks as if I'd better make three cups, hadn't I? But I'll bring them here." There was muted laughter in Draco's voice, to Harry's relief. Perhaps there wouldn't be a row after all. The door banged shut behind him, and Snape looked back down at Harry, brushing the hair from his eyes and reaching to hand Harry his glasses.

"Make tea?" Harry laughed weakly. "We're always sending him off to fetch the food."

"If he refuses to acknowledge a locked door, I refuse to feel any guilt about that." But Snape did, in fact, look guilty.

"What did you mean, I'm stronger than him?"

"You know exactly what I mean." Just then Draco knocked loudly on the bedroom door, and Snape slid off Harry, magically summoning a blanket to cover himself and Harry both. "Come in."

Draco came in wearing a smirk, though he also looked tired and troubled. "I'm surprised at the two of you. No ropes, no paddle..." He handed Harry a cup of tea. "I knew Harry liked the soppy stuff, but you, Severus, are going soft."

Snape raised an eyebrow as he accepted a cup from Draco. "Sometimes such things are more trouble than they are worth, as you must recognize."

"Oh, come on. Plain vanilla sex? It's all right for a quiet evening at home, maybe, but if you're screwing someone else's boyfriend, you might as well do it with gusto," Draco said, neither rancor nor accusation in his voice. "Severus, if Harry were a girl I bet you'd do it in missionary position."

At that Harry choked on his tea. Several minutes of coughing and a quick spell to clean up the spilt liquid -- and a few other incidental messes as well -- later, his intended objection was lost when Snape asked Draco, "Just what was it you needed to discuss so urgently that you barged into my flat uninvited?"

"Oh. That." Draco blushed a bit, and not, Harry thought, about his poor manners. "Well. I wanted to ask -- before I walked in on the two of you making love..."

"Get to the point," Snape growled.

"Yes. Um, I wanted advice. Harry, remember the first time you came home from here hours late, and I asked how you'd feel if I'd done that to you, and you said 'fair was fair'?"

"Sure I remember." For a moment Harry couldn't figure out what that might have to do with their current situation, given that once again he was the one who'd shagged Snape without letting Draco know. Then his jaw dropped. "Did you sleep with Blaise?"

"No, of course I didn't sleep with Blaise!" Draco looked appalled at the notion, while Snape appeared to be trying not to snort. "Blaise had to leave early. And, um." Now Draco looked scared -- miserable, even.

"Fuck. What did you do?" A few weeks ago, Harry thought, the direction in which this conversation was headed would have felt like a nightmare. Now Snape was squeezing his hand beneath the blanket where Draco couldn't see, and Harry had the vague urge to laugh and hug them both.

"Um." This tentativeness did not belong to the Draco Harry was used to at all. "Well, when Blaise left, I hadn't finished my drink, so I thought I'd stay on for a bit."

"Right, okay," said Harry. "Nothing wrong with that. Go on."

Draco's eyes shifted from Harry to Snape and then to his teacup, where he was running a finger along the rim. "Ouch. Severus, your cups are chipped."

"Reparo," Snape said wearily. "You're trying my patience. Either say whatever it is you have to say, or I'm tossing both of you out and going to bed. To sleep." But his hand still held Harry's.

"There was this girl." Draco swallowed.

Harry dug his fingernails into the back of Snape's hand. "A girl? Someone you knew?" he asked automatically, at the same moment he heard Snape speak beside him:

"A pureblood?"

Harry and Draco both looked at him. "What's that got to do with anything!" demanded Harry, perturbed by the question.

"I think we all know it has everything to do with 'anything.' And no, she's not. And yes, I know her a little. From Hogwarts. Though it's not like we were friends -- not even that attractive really. I mean, not my type. I had too much to drink and I kept thinking about what my father wanted and everything you said and... you know I do stupid things when I panic!"

"You fucked someone because you panicked?" Harry asked incredulously, his voice rising. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever..."

"Potter," Snape cut him off. "That is not a particularly helpful observation. Draco, please tell me that you remembered the contraceptive spell I taught every Slytherin sixth-year who passed through Hogwarts while I was Head of House."

Draco shook his head miserably. "I haven't had to use it in years, and I was so distracted that I forgot. I know it was completely idiotic and irresponsible."

He had just preempted exactly what Harry was intending to say. "You..." he spluttered. "I mean, to go out and screw some random girl? What if she gets pregnant? What will you do then?" His voice rose as he spoke.

"I know, Harry. Don't yell at me. It won't do any good, now." Draco put his head in his hands.

"The chance that she would become pregnant from a single encounter is not great, though it is of course possible," Snape mused. "What would be the worst that could happen?"

"She could come demand that I marry her," said Draco in muffled tones. "Ask for child support. Tell her story to the Daily Prophet, or worse, my father. Blackmail me. I don't know."

"Nobody can force you to marry her," Harry snapped. "If she's not a pureblood, you can be sure that your father will give her a fortune to disappear... provided of course that he doesn't have her killed before she can tell her story to the Prophet."

"Would you stop it! My father is not having anyone killed! I know you think he's the most evil man who ever lived, next to Voldemort, but it isn't as if he's used the Imperius curse to make me do his bidding! This isn't..." He caught sight of Harry's expression, then looked at Snape, and his face changed. "You don't really think my father would do that to me," he faltered.

Harry glanced at Snape. "Would you believe me if I told you that I did?" Snape asked.

"Why should I believe you? I walk in on you in bed with my boyfriend, and then you try to tell me..."

"That is precisely what I expected you to say."

"Draco," interrupted Harry. "He was here... your father. I saw him. And I overheard him."

"Oh, you did? And was he talking about his plan to trick me into marrying some pureblood while Severus kept you distracted?" Harry flushed guiltily. "That isn't news to me. I know what he wants. But he's not sneaking a Docility Draught into my wine!"

"That is exactly what he plans to do," Harry retorted. "And you're avoiding the subject of your total stupidity with this girl!"

"Like you've never done anything stupid," flared Draco, his voice dripping with irony.

"I've never slept with a girl without using a contraceptive spell!" Harry glared back.

"Are you angry because I was careless, or because it was a girl, or because I fucked someone else at all?" Draco demanded.

"All three! I know, I said 'fair is fair' and that if you went out and slept with someone without my knowing, I'd accept it since I'd done it too, but it does bother me," Harry had to admit. "I guess I'm less hurt that it was a girl, and more that you can be so careless of your life -- our lives and future." He was calming down a bit now as the news sank in. "Lucius would disinherit you so fast... and you'd still be responsible, Draco."

"I know that. Why do you think I came to ask Severus for advice?"

Snape cleared his throat. "I'm hardly the one to ask for guidance on such a matter." His thumb stroked against Harry's wrist, where Draco couldn't see. "Can I presume that this is the only time you have been so... lax?"

"Yes! Well, I was a little careless with Pansy, but that was forever ago when I thought we'd probably end up getting married. And there was never -- maybe Severus is right and the oldest pureblood families can't reproduce together anymore." Harry had to bite down on his lip before he blurted out what he suspected about Draco's own inheritance. "Maybe this half-blood girl I hardly know will end up being my one chance to have a child and I should be grateful! Do you think my father would really try to harm his own grandchild?"

Draco was getting agitated again and there was no point in answering that question honestly. "I thought you weren't even sure you wanted children," Harry reminded him quietly. "Look. I assume you know how to get in contact with her, or can find out. Maybe you should. Maybe she was smarter than you were and did something to make sure she wouldn't get pregnant. Or maybe she will, once she finds out you didn't use the spell -- there are potions you can use the first couple of days, aren't there?" he asked Snape, who nodded. "Look, I have to ask. Was this really just being stupid, or were you -- I don't know, trying to see what would happen? With me and your father both? Was this like a dare?"

"Would I do that?" Draco couldn't quite manage his usual look of innocence.

"Yes," answered Harry and Snape at the same time. "Although if you want to test me, there would be a lot more effective ways to do that," Harry continued. "Or you could just ask."

"And what purpose would there be in producing an illegitimate, half-blood grandchild for your father?" Snape inquired.

"If that's the only chance at a grandchild he has, he might be more reasonable," argued Draco. "The girl's not a pureblood, but she's not a Mudblood either. Sorry," he apologized when Harry opened his mouth to object. "Not a Muggle-born. Muggle blood two generations back, I think."

"You've given this rather a lot of thought," observed Snape sourly. "It very nearly sounds intentional rather than accidental."

Spreading his hands, Draco said, "I didn't deliberately do it. That's all I can say. Severus, you know my father. If he had the choice -- illegitimate, not-quite-pureblood grandchild, or else none at all, maybe..."

Harry interrupted. "Or forcing you to marry against your will, Draco. A Docility Draught, a love potion, Imperius -- it sounded as if he would really do something along those lines."

"My father would not curse me," said Draco with a certainty Harry wished he could share. "And there's no potion. He didn't honestly think you'd give me up for a broom, did he?" Draco looked sharply at Snape. Then he glanced at Harry. "Oh, that's right," he added slowly. "The broom was for you." The eyes moved warily back to Snape. "A love potion's not as easy to detect as Imperius, is it? Who was the lucky girl going to be, do you know? And you get Harry. Was that the deal?"

"There was never any deal," said Snape in weary anger. "You know me better than that. I find it offensive that your father, yourself, and Harry all believe that my services might have been for sale for such prices."

"But I'm right about the rest, aren't I," said Draco, looking utterly dejected. "And I played right to his plans. I practically shoved Harry at you and now you have this thing going. Don't either of you argue," he added when both Harry and Snape began to object. "I may be stupid but I'm not blind. I know both of you and I know what I walked in and saw tonight. I don't know what you're calling it but that's not just fucking. I've never known either of you to fuck anyone just for the sake of fucking, anyway." Unexpectedly, he grinned. "It's kind of sweet, in a pathetic way."

Harry thought Snape would protest the word "sweet." He said nothing about it, however, instead returning to Draco's earlier question. "I do not know if Lucius has any particular girl in mind. Miss Parkinson is still unmarried, I believe, but there are other pureblood girls of a suitable age as well."

"At least you can be certain your father has no schemes to pair you off with Ginny Weasley," Harry put in.

"That's true." Draco actually managed a chuckle. "He'd probably rather have a bastard half-blood grandchild or none at all than have the Weasleys for in-laws."

The notion broke the tension a little, and Harry gave Snape's hand one final squeeze before saying, "I guess we should go home, Draco. You can't get in touch with this girl, whoever she is, before tomorrow. Maybe it'll turn out that she had better sense than you and there's nothing to be concerned over at all... for now."

"You're leaving?" asked Snape -- disappointed, Harry realized. He and Draco exchanged a look. "If you wish to stay..."

"Only if you make breakfast," said Draco.

Harry expected Snape to object, but he only said, "I do have some manners, Malfoy."

"You are going soft. I knew it," sighed Draco, though he didn't sound particularly distressed. "Maybe if my parents disown me, you can adopt me. We just won't mention the shagging to the Wizengamot."

Snickering, he threw off his shoes and trousers and crawled up between Harry and Snape.

Chapter Text

Harry was vaguely aware of Draco getting up and moving about at what seemed an absurdly early hour, but he didn't really wake until he heard Snape's front door open and then lock again. By the time Harry had jumped out of bed and raced to a window, Draco was already partway down the street and Harry would have had to shout to get his attention... and since he was naked, attracting stares from the public seemed unwise.

Snape was sitting up when Harry walked back toward the bed, trying not to worry. Draco had said that he planned to track down the girl from the night before as early as he could; he probably wanted to get home and get his clothes changed first. And maybe Draco had thought he was doing Snape and Harry a favor by not waking them up to say goodbye, leaving them alone together to enjoy the morning, as if to make up for his stupidity the night before.

"Give him some time to do what he needs to do." Harry sat down heavily on the bed, feeling Snape shift toward him, not quite touching.

"I can't really blame him for going out and screwing someone else, can I?" Harry was talking to himself more than to Snape. "We never promised to be exclusive. I just thought, after we moved in together, that we would be." He sneaked a sidelong look at the older man. "But that he was so careless, that bothers me. He said he hadn't done that before, but I'm not sure if I believe him."

"Do you have any cause to disbelieve him?" Snape interjected.

"Nothing specific. And I suppose given the way he came running to talk to you after last night, he wouldn't have been able to keep any other -- indiscretions -- a secret either." Harry wriggled his shoulders uncomfortably. "I guess I feel if he's done it once, he might have done it before, too. I hope he finds this girl, whoever she is, and that she had enough sense to have used a contraceptive spell. I wonder who it was? Someone from Hogwarts, and not a pureblood. Maybe he'll tell me later."

Snape was looking at him curiously. After a moment his hand came up to rub between Harry's shoulder blades. "You never discussed exclusivity?" he asked, his voice betraying his surprise.

"It isn't like we've been out shagging all over town," said Harry defensively. "Since Draco and I have been together I haven't ever wanted to be with anyone else, besides you, and I didn't think he had either. One time we got to talking and I said, we're very young and coming out of a war, and that's been known to make people act reckless. We agreed we didn't want to break up over just sex if one or the other of us did something selfish." He glanced at Snape. "From what you've said, it sounds like there's a lot of that going on among even married purebloods."

"Certainly there is. Though I suppose I had assumed that you considered this..." Snape gestured at his own bed. "...an extreme anomaly."

Harry had no idea how to interpret the expression on Snape's face; he couldn't tell whether he was relieved that it was unlikely to change the nature of Harry and Draco's relationship or whether he was disappointed. "Like I said, I've never done anything like this. I thought, when we started, it would be all of us just messing around and having fun. Maybe Draco's right and I can't do sex without being soppy about it."

"That's nothing to be ashamed of." Snape's nostrils flared slightly, and Harry wondered of what in his past Snape was thinking. Lucius Malfoy, very likely. His fingers trailed over Harry's neck, making Harry inhale sharply. "Perhaps I should be flattered."

"If you mean am I getting soppy over you... well, yes." Harry's face burned as he admitted aloud for the first time that there was more to how he felt about Snape than just sheer lust. "I don't know if that's flattering to you or not."

"It's not something that's happened to me very often," Snape said quietly. "Why shouldn't I find it flattering?"

"It's very confusing." Harry was flushed with embarrassment, but it was also a relief to be able to talk about this with someone. "For a long time, I thought I wanted to get married. To Ginny Weasley. It wasn't that I was wildly in love with her exactly -- I knew there was something missing even before I understood that I was attracted to men. I spent a whole year following Draco around, telling myself it was because he was up to something, and it took a long time for me to realize what that was all about. But breaking up with Ginny was really hard because I didn't know what would happen with her whole family. I loved thinking I was going to get all those brothers and her parents in the bargain. With Draco, we can't get married, his parents hate me, I don't even know if we're good for each other sometimes..."

Snape had turned Harry so that both his hands were on Harry's back, not massaging exactly but rubbing his neck and shoulders so that they had no choice but to relax. "I expected you both to have a difficult time of it after the war. You have experienced things that no one else ever has. And of course there are the expected sycophants and political interests, people offering and demanding a great deal... you were very wise to choose someone with no such agenda. As for Draco," he mused, "despite the expected difficulties with his parents, you have had a greater impact on him than you might imagine. You've altered long-held perspectives on what makes a wizard powerful and how to choose one's friends based not on expediency but common values."

Harry had to bite his lip and close his eyes. Relaxing was also making him feel things more strongly than he had let himself the night before, and for a minute he thought he might cry, which he didn't want to do in front of Snape even now. He had forgotten just how deeply Snape had seen into his mind. Even without eye contact, the older man seemed to know what he must be thinking, because Snape's arms were suddenly wrapped around him, holding him close, and Snape's voice was murmuring his name. "Harry... it'll be all right."

"I hope so," said Harry, although he didn't feel especially hopeful just at the moment. He leaned against Snape, the wiry hair of Snape's chest tickling a little, and breathed in the same spicy scent that he had smelled the first time he'd come to Snape's flat; it reminded him of that evening. His morning erection returned with a vengeance at the memory and he twisted in Snape's arms, tilting his head to kiss Snape's mouth.

"Draco has been good for you too," said Snape after he had returned the kiss thoroughly. Harry could feel Snape's cock pressing against his arse and sneaked a hand down to touch him. "Not because I seem to be a beneficiary... but because being with him has made you think about what it is that's most important to you, and why."

In some absurd way, realized Harry, Draco had been right; Snape was the only person of Sirius' generation he could discuss these things with, and he supposed that did make him a father figure of a very perverse sort. He blushed hard at the thought. "Listen," he said urgently, before his cock and Snape's distracted him entirely. "I don't know what's going to happen... if Draco's going to ask for this to stop, between me and you. I don't want us to stop talking even if I can't keep coming over and doing this."

Snape's expression was very peculiar. "I am not going to dismiss you from my life if you no longer wish to share my bed." Harry thought he might choke up again; he squeezed his eyes shut and grabbed blindly for Snape, pulling him closer, kissing him so he wouldn't have to say anything. Warm hands were cupping Harry's face at first as they kissed; then one of Snape's arms slid down Harry's back, down to his arse, lifting and shifting him so that he was sitting on Snape's lap and could wrap his legs around Snape's waist.

Harry kept his eyes closed. There was something comforting about not being able to see, about being embraced in this way. He nestled even closer, his cock pressed against Snape's belly, feeling Snape's nudging against his bum. Usually their kisses had been hungry, greedy, but these were tender. Harry realized hazily that in confessing that he felt close to Snape, he had given the other man the freedom to admit the same, even if only in his touch. He didn't want to think about it any further just now. Draco might consider it a betrayal, though he had been the one to encourage Harry to do this to begin with.

And Harry loved Draco... so why did kissing Snape make him feel so much? Broad hands stroked down Harry's back, soothing. Harry was sure that if he stopped kissing, opened his eyes and looked at Snape, he wouldn't be able to block these thoughts from view, and he shivered at the idea of them being seen. This was much more than just a few sexual fantasies. This was serious. Ducking his head, he put his mouth on Snape's throat, kissing his way to the spot below Snape's ear where the long dark hair covered his own face. "I do wish to share your bed," he whispered.

"I have no intention of dismissing you from here, either." Snape's voice was hoarse. His hand worked between them, finding Harry's cock and stroking it against his own belly. Harry could feel the prickly hair on Snape's lower body rubbing against him and Snape's cock nudging persistently at his arse. He was a little afraid to let Snape fuck him now; it was overwhelming enough just to be held like this.

But after a few minutes of being stroked, he wanted more; he couldn't help it. If he and Draco were going to have a screaming argument later, if Draco was going to tell him that the girl wouldn't listen to reason or he'd decided he liked her after all, Harry wanted this to remember: Snape had said he wasn't going to kick him out no matter what. Lifting his head, he looked directly at Snape. In the garish light coming through the curtains, his skin looked blotchy and his hair as greasy as ever. Somehow it was absurdly seductive, and Harry moaned softly. "I want you in me."

"I want to be there." Snape's voice... how was he going to be able to give up the eroticism of that growling voice? It sent shivers down Harry's spine as Snape reached to pluck the pot of salve from the bedstand. "Lift up for a moment." Harry somewhat reluctantly unwound himself from around Snape, who lay back, half-propped against the pillows, and slicked his cock liberally with the ointment. "Do you want me to prepare you?"

Harry considered it. He was still a bit sore from the past night; while the idea of just sinking down slowly onto Snape's cock, letting gravity and his own weight open him to the penetration, held a certain appeal, he was afraid that it might be too painful this morning... and if this might be the last time, he didn't want that to be his memory of it. So he nodded, and turned so that Snape could reach his bum. "Yes, please, Severus."

Snape's fingers moved carefully, teasing the pucker, coaxing until it opened easily for his fingertip, then an entire finger. He was clearly in no hurry, and he twisted around so he could bend his head and brush his lips against Harry's balls. Harry didn't try to hold back his whimpers and groans; he loved the way Snape hesitated when he was afraid he might be hurting him, loved the way he moved his fingers in the same way every time Harry made a noise of pleasure.

Sitting back at last, Snape withdrew two fingers from within Harry and caught him by the hip. His eyes were on Harry's as Harry climbed back over him, rubbing his cock against Snape's chest before he sat back and let Snape put his erection where his fingers had just been. They moved together very slowly, with Snape stopping the slow roll of his hips every time Harry's breath caught. The stretch was a little uncomfortable, but his tension was more from the fear of discomfort than any real pain. He leaned forward and brushed his lips against Snape's, putting his arms around Snape's neck as he gradually rocked himself down until he was settled with his weight on his knees.

"All right?" Harry nodded in reply. He wanted to let Snape as deeply into his mind as he into his body, but he was fearful about that, too. Last night the thoughts they had shared were mostly their sexual fantasies, but this morning was different. He looked down, focusing on Snape's chest and fondling one nipple that peeped through the curls of dark hair. "Harry..." Snape's voice dragged his gaze back. "I promise I will not spy into your mind."

Shaking his head, Harry said, "Don't promise that. I want you to." Now Snape looked uneasy, almost frightened -- something Harry didn't think he had ever seen before, and it made him more determined. "You know I was never very good at Occlumency..." He bit his lip, and Snape shook his head slightly at him. Harry had been able to block Voldemort when he had needed to; it was Snape he had never been able to shut out. "I just don't know what you might see." One moment he was gazing into Snape's impenetrable black eyes, clenching around his cock and wishing Snape would touch him again; the next, he was suddenly overwhelmed with images, some erotic but some not. He was asleep in this bed, a sheet barely covering one thigh and hip... he was standing before the Wizengamot insisting that Snape had been acting on Dumbledore's orders all along... he was glaring furiously at Snape as a memory of a corridor he should never have seen faded from both their minds. And there was Draco, too, sitting huddled in a room Harry had never seen before, sobbing as Harry had never heard him sob... Draco again, sitting in a chair in a dirty house that was also unfamiliar, wearing a look Harry knew only too well, debauched and inviting... himself and Draco together in their bathroom, both waiting for Snape to command them.

"Don't!" he choked out, and the flood of images diminished to a more manageable trickle. He tried to focus on the erotic ones, particularly those with Draco as well, and managed to narrow it down to one that he knew was a fantasy, not a memory, with himself and Draco each naked and tied to a bedpost while Snape stood before them. That was something he could hope might happen one day... he knew that it would be something that all three of them would enjoy. He moaned a little, imagining it, and felt Snape's hand close around his cock here and now.

How much Snape saw in his own mind, Harry had no idea. Evidently it did not trouble him, because he kept his eyes fixed on Harry's as he stroked Harry's cock, urging Harry to move on him. Harry rocked up and down, up and down, sparks of pleasure shooting through him as the prick up his arse brushed repeatedly over his prostate. "Severus," he whispered.

"Harry." Snape's head tilted, bringing his face closer to Harry's. The tone of his voice was so different from when he called him Potter. Suddenly Harry was in the midst of one of his own memories, in bed with Draco, and he knew Snape was seeing it too. Draco was asking whether Harry would like to serve a detention for old time's sake, imitating Snape's severest tone, and Harry was convulsing, untouched, from the distorted conjuring of that voice...

"Harry," Snape moaned again, thrusting up hard, hand tugging on Harry's cock, and the rush of orgasm shot through Harry in memory and in the present, making him cry out as he covered Snape's fist and belly with white streaks. Snape held him close when he was finished, still capturing Harry's gaze with his own, thrusting again and again and twice more, pulling Harry down onto himself as he shuddered and spent, sharing with Harry a memory from during the war, of Harry tired and filthy and discouraged and still desirable in Snape's eyes, Snape wanting him and knowing that he would be rejected. That he should be.

"I'm sorry..." Harry swallowed. He bent his head sideways to kiss Snape on the temple, then carefully eased up and over to sit next to him, leaning against his shoulder and taking his hand.

"Don't be. I had no expectations of you, ever, in this way," said Snape quietly. "When Draco asked me over for dessert that night, I anticipated that if you even bothered to be present, you would be polite at best. I had no idea that you found anything about me pleasing."

"I could say the same. I thought you always hated me and I couldn't figure out what I could have done, or even what my father could have done, to make you hate me so much." Hate was exhausting, Harry had realized during the war; the energy he expended loathing Snape had simply drained him.

"Don't you think the Headmaster would have known if I had truly despised you? I had to convince others that I hated you; a great deal depended on it. And I had to be certain that you would be strong enough to fight, no matter the personal cost or how cruel you found me. The Headmaster would have coddled you."

Harry understood something then that he had never quite grasped before. "He loved me. Not because of who I was, exactly; because love makes you stronger." He looked at Snape, who was staring far off in the distance. "He loved you, too. Before, when we... I saw something in your memories. Draco, crying. That was right after Dumbledore died, wasn't it? Draco won't talk about that night at all except to say you saved his life."

"I would prefer not to discuss it as well." Snape was refusing to look at him. "But you are correct: Dumbledore was determined not to make the mistake with you that he made with Tom Riddle. He thought you had an extraordinary capacity for love -- that should be nurtured."

"Then would he think this was wrong? What we're doing?"

"Would you make a dead man the keeper of your conscience, or mine?" Snape countered. "I do not know what he would think. I rarely did."

"I suppose I've spent a lot of my life trying to behave in ways that I thought he would approve of," confessed Harry. "I know he wasn't perfect, but he was good."

"'Good.'" Snape winced. "He wanted you to defeat Voldemort and you did." His breathing was quick and shallow, and Harry wondered how it must have felt to have had to kill someone you admired, respected, perhaps loved, for a cause that you both had decided was worth more than any one individual's life. Harry had been forced to make some terrible decisions himself; he had had to make choices that were certain to bring death to someone on his side, but he had never had to kill a friend.

He wanted to say more -- he was sure that Dumbledore must have loved Snape too, to have trusted him so completely, to the point of having known that he could ask Snape to take his life if necessary -- but he had never seen so much pain on Snape's face, at least not since the night Snape had fled Hogwarts, when Harry had called him a coward and Snape had been so furious. "Let's not talk about Dumbledore," he said, burrowing closer. "Can I ask you about Draco?"

"I'm certain you now know him better than I do."

"Maybe, but you knew him when things were awful. You warned me that I was stronger than him. I don't know what I'm supposed to do now. I don't know how much he meant when he said those things about how maybe he should just have a child and try to make peace with his parents. He knows they won't stop, maybe ever, trying to make him be who they think he should be. And I don't want to be the reason they cut him off or he cuts them off."

Snape sighed, his arm tightening around Harry. "You cannot be responsible for his decisions. He is the one who will have to choose what is right and best for him to do. If you try to persuade him one way or the other, it's very likely to rebound on you if later he decides he made a mistake."

"What if he asks me my opinion, though?" What Snape was saying made sense, but it still didn't help.

"Tell him the truth. If your love for him is unconditional," there was an almost unnoticeable hitch in Snape's voice as he said the words, "then tell him so. If your feelings would change if he decided to marry to have a child, however much it might be a marriage in name only, then tell him that. But don't tell him what to do; that is how Lucius operates."

Harry did not want to admit -- to Snape, or even to himself really -- that he no longer knew his own feelings. Yes, he loved Draco. No, he didn't want Draco to marry and have a child with some woman Harry couldn't even imagine... and he wasn't sure which would be worse, if Draco did it with a woman he did not love or if he found a woman he could. But Harry also did not want to have to stop seeing Snape, whether Draco agreed to be with him or not. Did that mean he didn't love Draco as much as he had thought?

"I can't tell him what to do because I don't know," he told Snape miserably. "What Lucius is doing is wrong. Draco already knows I think that. But what you told me, about how Lucius ended up choosing the pureblood marriage and the mansion and... I don't see how I can ask Draco to give those things up for me."

Snape's fingers on his chin turned Harry's head to look at him. "You cannot ask him to give those things up. You cannot tell him not to, either. He has to choose. There are no guarantees that your relationship with him will last forever. You know that."

Yes, he did. Even his mother's love -- it had protected him for many years, but not forever. Harry exhaled deeply and pressed his forehead against Snape's neck, saying in a muffled voice, "I want there to be an easy solution, or at least a possible one. But I guess there isn't."

Snape stroked his back. "The situation is... complex... for all of us. Lucius has been my good friend since school; Draco is his son, but also was one of my charges as Head of Slytherin. And you..." he trailed off.

Harry waited, but Snape seemed disinclined to finish the sentence. "I what?" he asked.

Something shifted in Snape's demeanor. Though he did not physically push Harry away, it was as if a curtain had slipped between them. "You need to decide what you want," the onetime professor said in his teaching voice. "Will you accept ultimatums from Draco? I know that family is very important to both of you -- will what you can build together be enough?" Would it? Or would Harry end up like Snape -- clinging to friendship with a Malfoy who was attempting to create the same scenario a generation later? It was all too easy to imagine Draco becoming more like his father as he got older, even given how much their world had changed since the fall of Voldemort. Suddenly Harry could see himself just as isolated as Snape... the war hero who was an object of curiosity and patronage but set apart.

He laughed weakly. "I don't know. I love Draco, but maybe I should have married Ginny after all. Even if things didn't work out in the long run, if we had had kids together then I would have some family. I guess that's why people want to have children, to make sure they won't be alone, but it seems awfully selfish if that's the only reason."

"Having a child is a tie to the future, and to the community," said Snape. "Lucius has often told me of his joy in his son, though it can also be a burden. I doubt that for many people there are simple reasons why they might want a child... or not. And whether they want one or no, sometimes they leave themselves little choice in the matter of raising one."

Which reminded Harry of the current problem once again -- had Draco made that girl pregnant? He could feel Snape's heartbeat against his own chest and wondered if perhaps Snape had once wanted children, or even still did. He wasn't sure if he did, himself; he and Draco had discussed adoption once or twice, in a theoretical sort of way as neither of them had felt ready to make such a commitment. What if Harry couldn't love it as much as his own mother had loved him?

"I should go," he said. "I need to find out whatever he found out. And what he wants to do now." Nodding, Snape withdrew his hands, pulling the bed sheet circumspectly up to his neck. Now that Harry was nervous again -- and sated -- he found that he did not respond as strongly to Snape sexually, but there was still a powerful draw, an urge to maintain contact. "I'll owl you," he said. "I'd say just to come over later, but I don't know what's going to happen."

"You and Draco need to work this out yourselves," Snape replied rather formally before his eyes shifted away. "You are welcome to return here if you wish. As is he."

Harry reminded himself to find out from Draco exactly what had happened between him and Snape after they both fled Hogwarts. Even though Draco hated talking about it, Harry knew that that time must have been critical to the person Draco had become, and Snape as well. "Thank you," he said. "For everything really. We'll talk soon?"

"If you wish," Snape repeated as Harry found his trousers at the foot of the bed and began to put them on, muttering a quick cleaning spell first. Snape sounded distant, tired, and had turned his head to gaze out the window. When Harry had dressed, he went over to him.

"I mean it. Thank you." He kissed Snape, softly, without urgency.

"Go." Snape's voice was curt, but Harry was certain that it was to conceal emotions that he did not want to share.

Harry hesitated, then nodded, wrapped up the book on poisons and hurried out before he could change his mind and stay longer. He did want to talk to Draco, who by now should have had time to contact the girl from last night.

For the second time in as many days, Harry heard voices through the door from outside a flat, but this time he did not wait to listen; he could hear Draco and what he was certain was a female voice, and he was not about to stand outside his own home eavesdropping on what might be the most important conversation of both their lives. But when he burst through the door, racing into the parlor, he found Draco not with some unknown girl but with his mother.

"Harry," Narcissa Malfoy said curtly, glancing away. He thought she was showing him her usual disdain until he noticed the makeup streaked on her face and realized that she had been crying. "Draco and I are having a private conversation. Would you mind..."

"Mother. He has a right to hear this too." Draco came over to Harry, speaking rapidly and in a low voice. "I found my, ah, date. She said she's safe. Told me I'm an arse and she wouldn't marry me for an alchemy stone." Draco's grin was halfhearted but Harry could see how relieved he was. In a louder voice, he added, "Mother stopped by, as you can see. It seems that Father has been telling her stories about you and Snape, can you imagine?"

"I can imagine," said Harry, cold rage sweeping through him at the thought of Lucius Malfoy discussing him and Snape with Narcissa. "Just what has he been saying?"

Narcissa kept her face averted and refused to answer. "Apparently, you've been cheating on me with Snape," said Draco calmly. "Isn't that right, Mother?"

She gave a quick nod. "Lucius saw you there last night. And where were you this morning?" Now she turned on Harry, her usual bland, if somewhat disdainful expression dissolved into outrage. "Can you deny that you spent the night there?"

"I was at Snape's last night, yes." Harry looked at Draco and raised his eyebrows, telegraphing, Do you want to tell her?

"And as I was just trying to explain, I was too," said Draco just as evenly. "I told her that the two of us have been having perverted, disgusting sex with Snape regularly, but she refuses to believe me."

"I refuse to listen to you mock me so you can defend this... this!" Narcissa exclaimed, pointing at Harry. "I know that Severus would never harm you, Draco. When I learned what the Dark Lord had planned for you, I went to him and..."

"Yes, Mother, we've all heard this story," Draco said irritably. "You can't have it both ways. If Snape would never harm me, he wouldn't shag my boyfriend, would he? Unless, of course, Father had asked him to do so for my own good, so that you could then come to me with evidence that Harry is cheating and insist that I break up with him and marry a pureblood girl before it's too late."

Narcissa looked as if she would dissolve into tears again. "Your father did see Harry there," she insisted. "What was he doing there?"

"Borrowing a book." Harry unwrapped it, holding back his anger at being referred to as if he weren't present. "As I told Lucius." Draco waggled an eyebrow at Harry. "A book on poison inks -- some research for the Ministry. But do you know, I'm sorry I didn't talk to your husband a bit about that subject before he left. I understand that Lucius may know something about poison inks."

Draco's expression had turned puzzled, his nose wrinkling slightly. But Narcissa's glare was sharp and fierce. She knows, Harry realized. He doubted that she had had anything to do with Abraxas Malfoy's death -- not given Snape's statement that Lucius had only married her afterward because he had no choice under the terms of the inheritance -- but somehow, either Lucius had told her or she had found out. He met her gaze coolly, and it was Narcissa who first looked away.

"A minor hobby your father once had," she said to Draco.

"I didn't know that." Draco sounded nonplused.

Harry was tired of standing. He threw himself onto the sofa and Draco sat down next to him. "It was before you were born, Snape told me. Before your parents were married, and before your grandfather died." Harry wanted to make it absolutely clear to Narcissa that Harry was aware that there was a secret, and that he would not balk at telling Draco so if necessary.

"Right." Draco shook his head. "Whatever. At any rate, Harry had a perfectly legitimate reason to go visit -- and as I've said, I was there as well, so it's not as if he was cheating on me. Everything that has happened between Harry and Snape in bed has been with my knowledge and consent, and usually my participation."

"I can see that I need to go have a talk with Severus. Whom your father has always trusted so much." It was hard to tell from Narcissa's voice whether she was devastated or livid.

"He didn't say anything terrible to me about Lucius, if that's what you think." Too late Harry realized that Narcissa and Lucius both might think Snape had told Harry something specific about Abraxas Malfoy's death. He didn't want to put Snape in any danger. "I heard rumors and I asked him. He kept changing the subject." This was mostly true, though Harry didn't quite meet Narcissa's eyes this time, which appeared to be fine with her since she didn't like to look at him anyway.

"You mean about him trying to use potions to make me behave?" demanded Draco. Of course that wasn't what Harry had meant at all, and Narcissa knew it, but when she caught his eye, Harry decided that there was no point right now in telling Draco his suspicions either about how Abraxas had died or about his embittered relationship with his son. "I can't believe you'd let him do that to me, Mother. After everything that happened during the war!"

Harry had been wondering how much Narcissa knew about the estrangement between Lucius and Abraxas. She must have learned at some point that Lucius and Severus were more than good friends... when she had gone to Severus to beg for his help protecting Draco, she must have counted on that relationship to help sway him. And he was a halfblood like Harry. Almost certainly she resented him.

Filing that thought away for use later, he listened as Narcissa said, "He feels that you have left him no alternatives, Draco. If you will not sire a child..."

"What if I told you," Draco said evenly, "that I'd got a girl pregnant who wasn't a pureblood?"

Narcissa gasped. "You haven't!"

"I'm asking hypothetically, Mother." Draco leaned back, crossing his legs casually, but Harry could see the tension in him.

She eyed him fiercely, but her voice was uncertain. "Not a pureblood? How many generations of wizarding blood are in her family? Surely you wouldn't have touched a Mudblood?"

"What if I did? Is Father's concern simply that I sire a child, or does his obsession with the family bloodline mean that only a child from another 'ancient and noble house' would satisfy him?"

"I -- don't know." Narcissa's mouth twisted. "There is something to do with the estate, with your grandfather's will, that might... I don't know."

"And how would you feel about it?" Draco asked then. "Would you rather recognize a half-blood grandchild than have none at all?"

Harry had been watching Draco, an uneasy feeling growing. Draco had assured him that the girl from last night would not be a problem, but was there some other incident, further in the past, that he had neglected to mention to Harry -- or was he contemplating future possibilities? Perhaps he was simply trying to pin his mother down so that he knew where his parents stood; Lucius' manipulations might then be easier to resist.

"I have a sister to whom I have not spoken in many years because she married filth." Narcissa's voice was low and intense. "She has a child to whom I have never been introduced. How do you think I feel when I see her? Besides you, Draco, she is the last of the Blacks! But her blood is mixed with that of dirty Muggles..."

"You know that Nymphadora Tonks is an Auror," interrupted Harry angrily. "She's probably as powerful a witch as you -- the only person I ever saw take her down was your other sister." He did not mention Bellatrix by name; they all knew precisely where her madness had led her. "There's nothing wrong with Tonks' blood."

"I do not want a half-blood grandchild." Narcissa's nostrils flared as she spoke, ignoring Harry's comment. "You're a grown man -- you understand the consequences of your actions. Your father will have his heir, and you can't be certain that he won't push both of us aside if necessary."

"If he can." Draco crossed his arms. "I know you don't want a scandal, Mother, so you've been keeping all this quiet. But if he tried something like that, I'd fight him and so would you if you wanted to save yourself. Maybe Harry and Severus, too. And we might win. In trying to preserve the family line, he'd be destroying it. This whole pureblood obsession has to end."

Narcissa's face was white. "You would destroy the family just as effectively if you brought in Muggle blood."

"How?" Draco argued. "The purebloods are breeding themselves out of existence. Maybe once I would have agreed with you, but not any more." He looked at Harry. "Harry's not a pureblood. Severus isn't one. Half the Ministry, even more, aren't. The two of you don't even approve of all the pureblood families, anyway -- think of the Weasleys and the Longbottoms. Mother... if this was such a concern, why didn't you and Father have more children years ago? Tell me if I'm wrong to think that you couldn't. Doesn't that suggest that the only hope is to marry outside of the old families?"

Biting her lip, Narcissa sat silent. "I think you might take that as a 'yes,' Draco," said Harry wryly, when it became clear that she would not acknowledge the question.

"You be still," blazed Narcissa. "I hold you responsible for Draco's perversion, his refusal to carry out his duties to his family."

"My perversion?" asked Draco incredulously. "That I like to fuck men? I did that for years before I had any interest in fucking Harry, so you can't really blame him." Harry held his breath; he expected Narcissa to explode at that, but she only sat very still, face pinched and eyes narrowed. "Are you going to look me in the eye, Mother, and tell me that I am the only pureblood wizard you know with this perversion?"

"Where you want to stick your prick is your own business," Narcissa hissed. Harry wasn't sure who was more shocked by her language, himself or Draco. "If you enjoy lying with filth, that is your choice. Your perversion lies in your refusal to accept your responsibilities, marry and father a child!"

While Harry was wondering whether Narcissa had talked to Draco like this when he was younger -- and if perhaps that was why he got so turned on being told he was naughty in bed -- Draco threw back his head and laughed. "I see. It's less perverted to marry for convenience, continue to fuck men and ignore my wife except when I need her on my arm at a social gathering. What should I do if I have trouble having children -- should I ask Harry to fuck my wife for me? No, wait -- he's not a pureblood, and I couldn't ask my wife to lie down with filth." Pausing, Draco looked at Harry. "D'you suppose Krum would impregnate my wife for me? Women swoon over him, don't they? The next time he's in England, we should have him come by for drinks."

Harry couldn't help it; he laughed. But Narcissa rose to her feet. "You go too far, Draco." Her voice trembled slightly, although Harry could not tell if it was with anguish or outrage. It steadied as she went on, "You have benefited from the Malfoy name and fortune for your entire life -- you have had advantages that you may not even have been aware of. You owe a debt to your family, and it is more than time that you settled it." She picked up her handbag. "Goodbye."

"Moth-" Draco's half-hearted protestation at her departure ended with the bang of the door. He turned to Harry and shrugged. "That didn't go so well, did it?"

"Not really, no." Harry was still chuckling at the idea of Viktor Krum being the father of Lucius Malfoy's putative grandchild. "I don't think she'd go so far as to try to put a love potion in your tea to get you to do what she wants, but she's definitely not happy with you." He turned his head to look squarely at Draco. "Were you really asking hypothetically about having a child?"

"Hypothetically?" Draco looked confused. "I'm not going to... oh! The girl from yesterday." Harry frowned. It was typical of Draco to assume that, with that particular problem solved, the underlying issues would be dismissed as well. "I'm pretty sure she was telling the truth -- seems she thinks I'm passably attractive but hardly marriage material. She hadn't only used a contraceptive spell, she took a potion against possible diseases." He grinned halfheartedly. "Besides, she knows about me and you. I think everyone who was ever at Hogwarts with us has heard about me and you, and the only reason The Daily Prophet hasn't done an exposé on our love nest is that my father would destroy every writer involved and bankrupt the paper. I hadn't thought about this before, but if I married any witch in England, at least I wouldn't have to lie to her about us."

"Then you are still thinking about getting married."

"That's not what I meant! Just that, you know, when I was growing up, I thought my parents had a very proper marriage. Then I started to realize at some point they did not. They didn't often have shouting matches, but they were almost formal with each other. Only went out to public social occasions together; otherwise they had separate lives. I never really saw them laughing together, or acting as if they were friends."

"They did sometimes have shouting matches?" Harry couldn't imagine Lucius holding his temper at home when he did such a poor job of restraining it at times in public.

"It was more my father snapping and my mother crying. They argued about things like whether I should go to Durmstrang or Hogwarts. He did most of his yelling at the house elves, and she was more the sort to shut her door and disappear." Draco smiled faintly. "Once they were quarreling about something to do with the Ministry, and he raised his cane the way he does, to make a point, like he was going to prod her with it, and suddenly the chandelier exploded over his head -- shattered crystal everywhere. They were pretty well matched that way."

Harry tried not to let his horrified reaction show on his face. He had heard Mrs. Weasley screaming at Mr. Weasley, but he did not think either of them doubted for a moment that the other was completely devoted. Draco's parents reminded him more of... well, the Dursleys. Wouldn't they hate to know that!

"Anyway, I don't want a marriage like theirs. I feel like telling my mother, if I am perverted, maybe it's because I'd rather live like this than the way she and Father do. But I also know they love me. They told me all the time how special I was. She's right... maybe I am ungrateful."

"Hardly. If it weren't for you, your father would still be in Azkaban and your mother might be dead. They know that as well as you do -- they're trying to make you feel guilty so that you'll do what they want," said Harry firmly. "I know they love you, but I don't think that gives them the right to dictate your life. I love you, but you wouldn't want me to tell you what you should do. And I wouldn't tell your mother that as an explanation for what she so charmingly terms your 'perversion' -- after all, you wouldn't have to have a marriage like theirs, even if you were with a girl, so it's not much of an excuse."

"I did, though. Not a marriage," Draco corrected quickly when Harry's jaw dropped. "But at Hogwarts, with Pansy -- I could see myself starting to act like my father, and her like my mother. I didn't really care about her all that much, but she's from a good pureblood family and it just seemed like the right thing to get together, but there wasn't... I'm not sure how to put it. There wasn't a connection between us. And I didn't like that at all. I didn't want to be bored and lonely all my life, married to her. I don't think it's like that with us... it's not for me, anyhow. Is it for you?" His expression was vulnerable as he looked at Harry.

"No," Harry reassured him. "You drive me crazy, sometimes, but I certainly don't feel lonely or bored. I'd rather fight with you, knowing that we love each other, than have a placid existence with someone I was indifferent to." He took a breath. "But this with your parents' demands... it's getting hard to cope with, I have to admit. Especially because I don't feel like I can really do anything to improve the situation, I can only make it worse, since in their minds I'm the problem, not you."

"They're only blaming you because they don't want to accept that this is who I am. I think my father sees it as a flaw in his parenting skills. It's funny, because my father hated his father -- I have never heard him say a kind word about him. But somehow his father managed to convince him that he should live exactly the same way. I don't understand it."

Harry wondered how to bring up what he had learned from Snape, if indeed it was worth the risk of mentioning it at all. "Your mother said something about the terms of the inheritance," he reminded Draco. "I asked Snape about that, too. He thinks that your grandfather might have changed his will to make your father do what he wanted."

He expected Draco to consider the implications regarding his parents' marriage and his own birth, but Draco said, "Wait. If that's so, then my father might be able to change it back. Go before the court and object that the..."

"But why would he want to?" Harry's interruption drew a blank look. "Draco... do you remember when you asked Slughorn whether he knew your grandfather, that day when he had the contest for the Felix Felicis? He said something I thought was strange. Considering how much he always sucked up to students who had the money to buy him gifts, I expected him to be especially nice to you, but he just said that it was strange for a man your grandfather's age to have died of dragon pox."

Draco's face had darkened. "Of course I remember. Slughorn was my father's Head of House when he was a student -- I guess Sluggy didn't feel that the Malfoys had done enough to curry favor with him after leaving Hogwarts. Though it was an odd thing to say. You'd think he thought it was a character flaw in my grandfather, having died of dragon pox."

"That wasn't what I thought he meant," Harry said slowly. "I thought maybe he was implying that your grandfather didn't die of dragon pox."

Draco wrinkled his nose in a familiar, endearing fashion and Harry felt terrible about what he was suggesting. "You think Slughorn thought someone bumped him off? And maybe that had something to do with his will? That would have been daft. My father was his only son and heir, and stood to inherit everything, unless..." His expression suddenly flattened out. "Unless my grandfather was trying to do to my father what my father's trying to do to me." Harry nodded, wincing inwardly. "But if that was the case..." Harry could see horror settling like a mask on Draco's face. "You think my father killed his father? I know you hate him, and I can't say I'm very happy with him myself just now, but that's going awfully far."

"Believe me, Draco, I wouldn't say it if I didn't consider it worth worrying about," Harry said, his voice low and intense. "I don't have any proof, obviously, but let's look at the facts." He ticked them off on his fingers. "Abraxas Malfoy died, supposedly of dragon pox, but he was awfully old to catch that, as even people like Slughorn noticed. Your parents married within a year of your grandfather's death, but they don't exactly have a close and warm relationship, which argues that maybe one or both of them married out of obligation. Your father and Snape have had something ongoing since Snape was still in school -- I know you probably don't want to think about it, but it's true -- you know you've joked about it, and when I overheard them talking last night it pretty much confirmed things. Then there's the question of the terms of your grandfather's will that your mum hinted about. If we could check on that, I'd bet you Galleons to Knuts that we'll find that there's a provision that your father would only inherit the full estate if he married and had an heir."

He closed his fist. "Put it all together. Say your dad was like you. Liked men better than women, he was involved with Snape and didn't want to get married. Your grandfather pressured him until he couldn't see any other way out -- and somehow, Lucius arranged Abraxas' death, made it look like dragon pox. But he didn't know that the will had already been changed, so it didn't do him any good, and he ended up having to marry your mother anyway. It makes sense, Draco. Maybe there's another possible explanation, but this certainly adds up."

Draco was shaking his head. "No. I can't believe that. He wouldn't."

"You love your father, Draco, but did he love his father? Abraxas sounds like one of the biggest bastards in the wizarding world, to be honest. I've heard Lucius mention him maybe twice, and not fondly. And you said the same, not fifteen minutes ago."

"Exactly. If my father had killed someone close to him, wouldn't you think he'd make a show of missing him? It's just too farfetched, even if I thought he would do such a thing. Why don't we ask Severus? I'll bet the..."

"I did."

Harry avoided Draco's eyes, but Draco moved over and grabbed his wrist. His expression was unreadable. "Severus told you that my father killed his father?" he asked in a strange, flat voice.

"No. Severus told me that there are poisons that can mimic the effects of dragon pox, and that he personally had nothing to do with Abraxas Malfoy's death."

Very slowly, Draco loosened his fingers, releasing Harry's arm. He rose and walked over to the nearest window, staring out. "In the past day, you and Severus have told me that my father is trying to use a potion to force me to do what he wants. You've told me that you think my father killed the man from whom he inherited everything. From a perfectly objective standpoint, it seems to me like the two of you are doing everything in your power to turn me against my family."

"We're trying to protect you!" Harry felt a spike of anger rise in his gorge and pushed it down. "Do you think this is some kind of conspiracy? For what?"

"I don't know!" Draco laughed mirthlessly. "So you can run off with Severus?"

"If I wanted to run off with Severus -- or, for that matter, if Severus wanted to run off with me -- we'd be encouraging you to marry whatever girl your parents picked out for you, move into the big house and lie low for awhile, not to stay with me and fight for what matters to you."

"I think maybe he hates my father." Draco's voice was low and discouraged. "I knew there had been something between them, but I thought it was over a long time ago. When he took care of me after we left Hogwarts..." Another mirthless snort. "I guess I should tell you all of it. After that time with Snape at Hogwarts, when I caught him watching me, I pursued him. I wanted him to teach me things. And he resisted for awhile, but eventually he stopped. I don't care what kind of vow he made to my mother or what he promised Dumbledore. When we were alone, he didn't just protect me, he let me share his bed. I really thought he did most of what he did for me." Harry felt a momentary stab of jealousy, but it also made things simpler. If Snape wanted both of them, and they both wanted Snape, then really no one was being left out or deceived. "Draco..." Harry went to stand behind him, putting his arms around Draco's waist and leaning his head against Draco's shoulder. "I think he did do all that for you. I don't know what he feels about your father now, but I'm sure it's not as simple and straightforward as hatred. And he cares about you a lot."

"Except he thinks I'm an idiot."

"Look, there are things we can do to find out if there's any truth to our suspicions, right? We could check into Abraxas' will, for one. If there's nothing in it that would have forced your father to marry, maybe I'm just paranoid and Snape was imagining things and Slughorn is a nasty old gossip. And you could ask Snape for yourself what he thinks." Harry mulled it over. "He just might be willing to give you some Veritaserum to slip into your father's wine and ask him if he did in Abraxas."

"And what do you expect me to do if he did? Pay him back in kind? That would make things simpler for you, wouldn't it?"

Harry's patience was fraying; he took a deep breath to calm himself. "Draco, honestly, I don't want you to be estranged from your parents. I'd give anything to have mine still alive. How could I want you not to be close to yours, whether I like them or they like me or not?"

"I know." Draco sighed and finally relaxed a little against Harry. "I know that, really, but it does seem just a little fortuitous that you and Snape would come up with these suspicions about my father when the two of you are shagging without me."

"What I've done with Severus has nothing to do with how I feel about you. For that matter, what Severus has done with me has nothing to do with how he feels about you. We both... neither of us can resist you." Harry whispered the words into Draco's ear, and Draco shivered.

"You're not going to get all sentimental on me, are you?"

"You know me: can't think about sex without getting soppy."

Snorting softly, Draco turned in Harry's arms until they were facing each other, and Draco leaned his forehead down against Harry's. "What're you doing thinking about sex at a time like this?"

"You brought it up. You said you pursued Snape. I saw something, in his mind, with Legilimency -- I think you were at his house. You were sitting in a big old dirty chair, naked. With that look."

"This one?" Draco parted his lips a bit and licked the corner, staring hungrily, pressing closer against Harry, who moaned softly. "I'm tired of thinking about all this stuff. Let's go to bed."

"Depraved. It isn't even lunchtime." Harry put two fingers through one of the belt loops on Draco's trousers and tugged. "Come on."

In their bedroom, as they were undressing, Draco said, "You were using Legilimency with Severus again? During sex?"

Harry's face went hot, remembering. "Yeah. It's... pretty amazing, really. Did you never do it with him?"

"I don't really like the idea of someone rummaging through my thoughts... and he never tried, not that I noticed." Draco looked at Harry curiously. "Is it that good? I'd think it would be distracting." He crawled up on the bed and lay there on his elbow, watching Harry finish taking off his clothes, stroking himself idly.

"There was something -- you know how you said you never felt connected with Pansy? You always seem to know pretty much what I'll like and want, but we've been together for awhile; Legilimency was like a shortcut to that. Seeing all kinds of fantasies and memories in his mind. Most of them were of me or you or both of us, you know, and some of them were..."

"Creative?" Draco supplied as Harry faltered. "That's promising. We should invite him over later."

"You want to?" Harry hoped his relief was not too obvious. "Fine with me."

Not fooled in the least, Draco smirked at him. "Did you think I was going to demand that you never see him again or something?"

"Maybe not demand, exactly... just that you might not want me to. And if that was the case, I wouldn't, I think." Draco stopped touching himself and sat up to move toward Harry, reaching out and catching his hand. "I know how much you might have to give up, and I know it isn't all for me, exactly, but if you think it's unfair, me being with him, I could understand it."

Draco pulled Harry down on the edge of the bed. "It's not that I think it's unfair," he said slowly. "I knew you wanted me, and I knew he used to want me, and I thought you sort of wanted each other, and I thought if we all got together, it'd be the way it is with you and the way it was with him and it would be great. And it was great. But the two of you have some whole separate thing. It's not like I'm jealous exactly -- you've been more creative too since it all started and it's not like either of you is neglecting me. It's just different."

"Snape said he was surprised -- he thought we were exclusive."

"We are exclusive!" Draco looked startled, then burst out laughing at what Harry knew must have been his own doubtful expression. "All right, last night was a lapse. But we both knew it was a lapse. I haven't slept with anyone else since we've been living together. I thought Severus wouldn't count -- it's not like he hasn't had me before. All this stuff with my parents just has me crazy." He ran a hand through his hair. "I do not want anybody else," he said firmly. "Well, except sometimes him, so if you want him, and he wants you, and he has never said no to me even when he expected my father to hex his balls off... then fuck whatever my parents would say."

"I'd rather fuck you." Harry could feel the grin tugging at his mouth. He was going to get to have both of them -- Draco and Severus. It was going to work out all right. "I don't care what your parents say. And I am not giving you up because of them."

"Good. Am I forgiven for being stupid, then?" Harry nodded. "Then get over here," Draco grinned back, "and let me make it up to you."

Chapter Text

Later in the afternoon, Draco had suggested inviting Snape over for a most satisfying couple of hours in which Snape demonstrated once again that he was a far more effective teacher in their bedroom than he had ever been -- for Harry, at least -- back at Hogwarts. They were lying satiated and pleasantly entangled on the bed when Harry's stomach gave a loud rumble.

"Frighten children with that, do you?" Draco elbowed him and smirked..

"Hey, I'm hungry," Harry protested.

"Poor Harry," Draco mocked softly. "Don't worry, I'll get up in a minute and make us some dinner -- a fry-up or something quick like that, we never had breakfast today anyhow. Severus, would you like to stay?"

"For the meal?" Snape's breath ghosted across Harry's skin.

"Of course," Draco answered, and Harry said at the same time, "At least." Draco raised his eyebrows.

Harry went on firmly, "I think we all three need to talk. Lucius told Narcissa that I was over at your flat last night, Severus. She came over here to 'discuss the matter' with Draco this morning, and Draco told her that in fact we'd both been with you. She didn't take it very well."

Snape raised his eyebrows. "Malfoy, are you deliberately trying to make my life difficult? You do realize that now I will have both of your parents pressuring me to elicit your solicitation? That you've given them both cause and information with which to threaten me?"

"You aren't afraid of my father," Draco scoffed. "I know he's your old friend, but don't tell me some nonsense about how he tosses work your way. You could be the most famous potion-maker in Europe if you wanted to be, and without his help. You don't owe him anything."

Wide-eyed, Harry stared at Draco as he felt Snape slowly sit up. "What precisely are you suggesting?"

"I think you know. I may very well have to make a choice between what my parents want and everything else I want. But you do too, Severus. You can't sit on the fence here. If you care about what happens to me, you know you're going to have to stand up to my father. I guess you're trying to figure out whether I'm worth the trouble."

"It's not just you," said Snape, his voice quiet.

"No." Draco glanced at Harry. "Of course not."

Snape sighed. "Before you owled, I spent several hours today considering the situation. You don't quite realize the extent of my... ties... to your father, which are neither simple nor superficial, and which I am not prepared to discuss with you now in any case. I am concerned about what will happen to you, as you should know. You've grown to become someone to be proud of -- as a former student, a Slytherin, and a wizard. You are, as you put it, 'worth the trouble.'"

Harry watched Draco flush at the words; Snape rarely gave such compliments. "Thank you," Draco muttered thickly.

"However, I cannot break outright with your father without grave consequences. If he becomes angry with me, there will no chance I can continue to influence him in your favor -- and I have been doing that to the best of my ability, if not always with as much success as I would like."

"Severus, he's not listening to you. He's never going to listen to you, and you know why. No matter how close you and he once were, or what he might have promised you... you must realize by now that he's not just trying to protect the family fortune and position, he actually believes that purebloods are better than everyone else. It doesn't matter if you're smarter and Harry's more powerful than he'll ever be. He'll always find reasons to tell himself you're not as good as he is."

Harry could have applauded. He had never been sure that Draco saw his father clearly -- Draco loved Lucius too much -- but obviously Draco wasn't blind to the beliefs that had led Lucius into the Death Eaters, and Severus after him. The only thing that stopped Harry from beaming and thanking Draco for understanding that was the look on Snape's face.

"Draco's right," he said to Snape, sitting up next to him. "Whatever you might have owed Lucius, you don't anymore. And whatever information he may have to hold over your head, you have plenty on him as well." He didn't want to bring up Abraxas now, but he hoped Snape would understand what he meant.

"I have..." Snape began, then he stopped and shook his head, a look of bemusement painting his face. "I've been living too much in the past. Whatever debts I had to Lucius, of gratitude or otherwise, have long since been repaid."

"Yes," Harry nodded vigorously, again feeling an urge to cheer.

"You taught me -- by example, rather than by lecturing -- that it really doesn't matter if someone is pureblood or not." Draco looked thoughtful. "What you do matters far more than who your parents were."

"And why you do it," Harry added. He wanted to say that something done with love meant more -- that was what Dumbledore had tried to do, even if he hadn't always succeeded -- but the late Headmaster was still a sensitive topic for both Snape and Draco, so he stayed quiet.

"All of which may be scant consolation once your father realizes that neither of us intends to obey his wishes," said Snape to Draco. "He will, at the very least, cut us both out of his circle of acquaintances, which is very wide." His eyes dropped to the floor. "It is not impossible that he will try to have charges brought against me. He would not need to be involved, personally; if any teacher at Hogwarts who resented me, or any student who resented you, were convinced that we were sexually intimate while you were a student..."

"I'll deny it, and there won't be a case." Draco shrugged. "It isn't like you're still teaching there and could get fired for it." Then his brow creased slightly. "You didn't mess around with any other students, did you?"

"Of course not!" Snape looked aghast at the suggestion. "My interest in you was, shall we say, unique. Your father had made an appeal to me to take care of your education personally in every aspect. I believe he had some..." Snape lifted a hand and pressed between his eyebrows. "...some notion that boys should be educated in the manner of the ancient Greeks, with an erotic component underscoring the intellectual bond." Well, thought Harry, that explained a lot -- it was probably how Lucius had approached Severus himself when they were younger. "You are not, however, an extension of your father. As you are now proving."

"Of course I'm not." Draco's tone was slightly offended.

"There's no 'of course' about it," Snape said. "You always reminded me of him a great deal until just recently." Which suggested to Harry another motive for Snape's acquiescence to Lucius' request regarding Draco's education -- it would have given him the opportunity to have a younger, perhaps more pliable version of Lucius in his control. Though Snape had not, it would seem, abused that position as another man might have done. From what Draco had told Harry it had been he who had first approached Snape sexually, rather than the other way around, regardless of Lucius' instructions. Not until after the two of them had fled from the school, in fact; so Snape ought to have nothing to worry about.

"It sounds as if Lucius probably wouldn't get far if he tried to have a case filed against you, Severus." Harry's stomach rumbled again, more loudly than before. "I'm sorry," he apologized when both the others looked at him. "Maybe we could keep talking while we eat?"

"Then you go and find us something to eat. I want to talk to Draco about what he said to his mother." Harry started to object, then remembered what he had said to Snape about how they were always sending Draco to get the food. Snape hadn't been there when Harry had told Lucius Malfoy that he'd had to cook for Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia; he was only making a reasonable request. Shrugging, Harry slid off the bed and went to get a robe -- if he had to cook, he didn't want any of his more sensitive parts exposed.

Draco used magic to cook -- he was a menace with a Muggle stove -- but on the occasions when Harry did it, he stuck to the way he knew, which was the way he had cooked at number four, Privet Drive. While he was scrambling the eggs, he smiled to think about how Draco and Snape both seemed determined to resist Lucius. For themselves... and for Harry. He felt very warm and happy.

Eggs, sausages, tomatoes, beans, toast, tea -- far too much, Harry decided, to eat cross-legged on the bed. Not to mention the high potential for toast crumbs in the sheets, and Draco's complaints about those later. He set the plates on the dining table.

"Draco! Severus!" They came into the room with Snape's arm over Draco's shoulder. Snape was wearing Draco's fancy robe again, but Draco had just pulled on a loose tracksuit.

"Thanks, Harry," said Draco, sitting down and shoving a forkful of egg into his mouth. Snape pulled out a chair and sat too, reaching for the butter, nodding his thanks as he took a sip of tea.

"You're welcome." In watching them Harry almost forgot to eat his own food, despite his hunger. It seemed so right, the three of them here like this. Together they would work out a way to persevere against all Draco's father's manipulations... and stay together. He hoped. "I was thinking," he said after he'd had a few bites. "We're all close..."

"You might say that," Draco interrupted, snickering.

Harry threw a piece of toast at him, which Draco caught easily and bit into. "Git. We're all too close to what's going on, I mean. I think maybe another perspective would be helpful and I thought I'd see if Hermione might have any advice."

"She was one of the more level-headed students in your year, and more discreet than most." Harry felt warmed through at Snape's approving nod.

"As long as you're the one who's going to talk to her," said Draco.

"Of course," Harry replied, already mentally composing a note to Hermione. He'd ask her to have lunch with him before explaining.

That decision proved wise, as Harry's explanation of the situation did not result in quite the reaction he intended.

"I don't believe this!"

Harry winced as Hermione's glass slipped between her fingers, hit the edge of the table and shattered on the floor.

"Reparo," she said absently and picked it up, casting a Drought Charm that dried up the widening puddle of mineral water. It was a good thing that they were in a wizarding restaurant, although Hermione was always careful about using magic in Muggle places. "I really don't believe it."

"Which part don't you believe?"

"Any of it, really. I'm not sure which I find a more bizarre notion -- that you think Lucius Malfoy," she looked around and lowered her voice, "might have killed his father, or that you're shagging Snape. Willingly. Enthusiastically, from what you say. I suppose the second actually seems more preposterous. You've always hated Snape." Hermione cocked her head at him and stabbed at a piece of tomato. "I cannot believe this. I go off to India for a few weeks to negotiate about improving local conditions for house-elves, and you...! I need a drink."

She waved down their waiter and ordered a whisky, neat, not asking if Harry wanted anything too. Her tone was slightly suspicious as she added, "He doesn't have you under the Imperius Curse, does he?"

"I doubt it, since it was Draco's idea in the first place." Harry smiled, and Hermione rolled her eyes.

"Well, maybe Draco cursed you, then. Does he know about this theory of yours that Lucius is both a murderer and an illegitimate child?"

"No. It was hard enough for him to accept that his father might have resorted to a Docility Draught to get him to marry a pureblood and produce an heir. I don't want to bring up the family history unless Lu..." The woman at the next table glanced over at them, and Harry coughed. "Unless that pompous bastard gives me no choice."

With a sigh of exasperation, Hermione asked, "And you learned all of this from Snape? Suddenly you've decided not only that you can trust him, but that... what, you're attracted to him? And Draco thought it would be a good idea to encourage this. Why on earth?"

Hearing it put that way made Harry feel embarrassed. "I know it doesn't sound very proper, but all three of us have been happy. Draco's been attached to Snape for a long time -- longer than I've been with him. And I guess I never thought about..." He stopped. He couldn't tell Hermione that it had never occurred to him that Snape might have a really nice prick.

She raised her eyebrows. "Thought about what?"

"Thought that maybe he wasn't so bad after all," Harry said lamely. "He did help defeat Voldemort."

"That was years ago, and you've only just changed your mind this past month." Hermione eyed him skeptically and took a healthy swallow of her drink, visibly deciding not to ask any further on that point for the moment. "So you're not breaking up with Draco, then -- the three of you are together?"

"Well, yeah." Harry fiddled with a piece of bread, tearing the crust into bits. "But look, that wasn't what I need advice on. That was just context. The thing is, if his father does start putting public pressure on any of us, I would like to have something more concrete than just these suspicions and rumors to block him with. I thought maybe you might have some suggestions."

"Well, I should think it's obvious. Powerful people always make enemies. You said yourself that you got the idea about the dragon pox from Slughorn -- he might be a good place to start. I hear that since he retired, he holds court a couple of days a week with former Slug Club members, and I'm sure that the Chosen One would always be welcome. If you could get him to tell the truth about Tom Riddle..."

"Muffliato," interrupted Harry quickly, which earned him a glare from Hermione. "What? It's one of Snape's! I'm allowed to use it nowadays."

"Fine," she replied, still looking suspicious of the spell Harry had first discovered in the Half-Blood Prince's Potions textbook. "As I was saying, if you persuaded Slughorn to give you that memory, I'm sure getting him to talk about Lucius won't be all that difficult. Find out exactly what he knows."

"The thing is, as you know, Slughorn has a tendency to brag," Harry sighed, popping a chip in his mouth and chewing while he thought. "If I visit him, he'll tell people, and if it gets around that I've been asking questions about Lucius, it'll just cause more trouble. Maybe a more dangerous kind of trouble."

"Mm. There is that." Hermione tapped a finger against her mouth thoughtfully. "Perhaps another angle would be better. You said that Snape thinks that Abraxas Malfoy might have changed his will, right?"

Harry nodded. "He was pretty sure that must have been the case or Lucius wouldn't have married Narcissa."

"I see. We'd have to look into it, but it's possible that there is still a copy of an earlier will on file at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, as well as the one that was actually proved and executed at Abraxas' death. It's quite appalling, the lack of organization in their records," she said in a disapproving voice. "But it might work to your advantage in this case. The difficulty would be in checking it out discreetly."

"So that Lucius doesn't hear that I'm nosing about in the old records and try to intervene. I agree. Maybe you could look at it? Lucius wouldn't think anything if you were in there, but he would if I were. I think he's having me followed."

"Just how do you expect someone from the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to explain that she needs access to those records?" Hermione demanded.

"I don't know -- you're the clever one! Can't you tell them you're studying inheritance law for werewolves or something? Lupin would back you up." Guiltily Harry realized that he hadn't spoken to Remus in weeks. Of course, Remus had been very busy since he, Bill, and Charlie had started that program to distribute Wolfsbane to werewolves who couldn't afford it -- Charlie was in charge of distribution, Bill was handling the financial end, but Remus had taken on the task of assuring werewolves convinced that all wizards wanted to kill them that it was in their best interests to take the potion, and that was requiring a lot of travel.

Hermione shook her head. "I'll try. But as you know, I don't have a lot of free time."

"I know," said Harry, feeling guilty. "I really do appreciate it, Hermione."

She sighed and smiled and reached across the table to squeeze his hand. "I've been helping you out of your sticky situations for so long... what else are friends for?"

"If there's anything I can ever do for you or Ron, you know, you just have to ask. How is Ron? I haven't seen him in weeks. We were supposed to meet up at the Leaky a week last Thursday, and he owled and canceled on me."

"He's fine. They had a crisis at St. Mungo's -- there's a scrofungulus epidemic, you must have read about it in the Daily Prophet? Anyhow, all the personnel who were qualified to cope with it were called up, and Ron ended up temporarily in charge of two entire wards." Hermione smiled proudly. "He managed rather well, apparently, and says that they're talking about promoting him."

Again Harry felt slightly ashamed. He didn't talk to Ron nearly as often as he used to, in part because Ron and Draco still had trouble being civil to one another; they'd once nearly had a fistfight over a dispute about the Wimbourne Wasps' chances of winning on a particular weekend. Harry usually saw his own friends when Draco was with Crabbe or Zabini, neither of whom was ever going to be one of Harry's favorite people; he didn't mind Nott so much. But lately when Draco had been busy with his friends, Harry had been with... well, Snape.

"That's great," he said. "Mrs. Weasley must be very proud."

Hermione rolled her eyes a bit. "She's still after us to get married. She told Ron that we were setting a bad example for Ginny, can you believe that? Ron is terrified that she'll expect him to wear those same awful robes from Bill and Fleur's wedding. And you know she won't be happy until Ron gives her a grandchild. You'd think Bill's noisy little boys would be enough."

"It's funny to think that Molly Weasley and Lucius Malfoy have something in common," grinned Harry.

"That's probably the only thing they have in common. But Draco's father only has one chance at grandchildren, unlike Molly. So do mine, for that matter." Hermione laughed. "Now that would peeve Mister Malfoy no end, wouldn't it, if he thought he had anything at all in common with a Muggle. Far worse than with a Weasley, even."

"Are you and Ron thinking about having children?" Harry asked curiously. "Whether or not you get married?"

"We've talked about it a few times." Hermione flipped her hand in a dismissive gesture. "We're all still quite young. There's no rush... and I wouldn't be able to do my present job, not with all the travel it requires. Someday, I expect. But I'm not going to try to equal Ron's mother. One, perhaps two, is all I'd want." She looked at him. "How about you?" Her voice was serious again. "It sounds like Draco is pretty adamant about not wanting to get married as his father wishes... but there might be ways to have children anyway. Muggles use artificial insemination and host mothers, and there's always adoption, although I can't imagine that adoption would satisfy Lucius Malfoy. Or maybe you're quite happy just as you are?"

"I don't know," Harry groaned. He felt much younger than he had a few months ago, when things had seemed so routine with Draco that perhaps they were in danger of becoming... boring. "Before all this with Snape, I thought I'd figured out what I wanted -- to be with Draco. But now everything's completely unpredictable, and I'm definitely not ready to even think about children, however acquired, under these circumstances."

The waiter stopped by the table to hand them dessert menus and Harry and Hermione both paused to peruse them, though Hermione quickly put hers down. "As good as all these look, I don't think I can manage another bite. Harry, are you happy at work?"

"I guess." It wasn't something to which Harry had given much thought. Work was work -- you did it until it was time to leave and enjoy your real life.

"You haven't seemed really excited about it. For awhile I thought it was taking you some time to settle in, and then I thought maybe it was difficult for you to be on the bottom rung after everything... don't look at me like that, you were never good at putting up with teachers you were smarter than, either. Have you thought at all about making a change?"

"A change?" said Harry blankly. "Like what? I mean, working for the Department of Mysteries is something I'm at least qualified to do. There's no way I'd want to work somewhere more public -- I've been in the spotlight more than enough for one lifetime." He glanced over the list of desserts and shook his head at the waiter. "Nothing, thanks."

"Well, teaching might be a possibility." Hermione rummaged through her handbag and started counting out Sickles. "I ran into Professor McGonagall yesterday -- she was at the Ministry for a meeting of the Wizengamot, I think -- and she mentioned that Madam Hooch had been offered a managing position with the Holyhead Harpies and was inclined to take it. You've always loved Quidditch -- my first thought was that you might really enjoy teaching it at Hogwarts."

Such a thing had never occurred to Harry. He had done rather well at teaching his friends in the D.A., and even enjoyed that, and teaching Quidditch... it was something to think about. But there was Draco to consider. Most of his friends lived in wizarding London, his family was close, and Harry had never had the impression that Draco was particularly attached to Hogwarts. He'd bragged more than once about almost having gone to Durmstrang.

And what about Snape? Harry had heard that McGonagall had asked him to return to Hogwarts shortly after the war but Snape had refused. At the time he had thought Snape wanted to avoid being the center of controversy -- there were many students at the school who had been there when Dumbledore was Headmaster, who had hated Snape for his death -- but years had passed since then. Maybe it was simply too painful for Snape to consider being at Hogwarts. As miserable as both Snape and Draco had made his life when he was a student, he could not imagine being back at Hogwarts now without them.

"I'd have to talk it over with Draco." And Snape too, he didn't bother adding. "But it would be more fun to teach flying, and coach Quidditch, than working on the Veil and some of the other things I've been doing lately... it's not that I hate it, but I can't really discuss much of what I do in any detail with anyone outside the department, which gets irritating after a while."

"Owl Professor McGonagall," Hermione advised, snapping her bag closed. Hastily Harry fished out his own money and tossed some on the table. "I think she'd be delighted to be able to lure you back to Hogwarts. Who knows? Maybe there'd be something for Draco too. Or, well, you'd probably have to live on the grounds, but he could always Floo in to London if he wanted to keep working for Gringotts." She glanced at her watch. "I must dash, I've a meeting in twenty minutes. But now that things are calmed down for Ron, we're talking about having a party of some sort -- with a lot of people there, I think both he and Draco would be able to ignore each other as much as they wished." They shared a resigned smile at the foibles of their partners.

"That would be great," Harry said. "Let me know. And thanks again for being willing to try to find Abraxas' will."

"I'll owl you if there's anything to be found," she smiled, rising and leaning over to kiss him on the cheek. "Don't be a stranger, all right?"

"I'm not the one who's always off to India and Africa and who-knows-where," Harry grinned. He watched her dash out, taking his time getting up and heading out himself. Teaching Quidditch... the more he thought about it, the more it sounded like a dream. He'd be able to go flying whenever he wanted on the Thunderbolt, over the lochs, far away from cities where precautions had to be taken to ensure that no Muggles would see. And if Draco did agree to come to Hogwarts, they would both be far away physically from his parents. Getting Howlers objecting to Draco's behavior was quite different from having them turn up to talk to him. Plus it would be much harder for them to try to manipulate him with potions or anything else.

Now that it wasn't necessary for survival, Harry didn't particularly want to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, but he bet Draco would be very good at it; that had always been one of his best subjects, and he also knew enough now about the insidious ways Dark wizards worked, he could talk about things that no previous teacher had been willing to share, not even Snape. But what about Snape? Harry discovered that his feet had turned in the direction of the older man's flat without any conscious thought on his part, even though he was due back at work in a few minutes.

Even years after Voldemort's defeat, there were still certain advantages to being Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived; as long as he didn't abuse it, he could generally get away with being late once in a while. Today there was nothing urgent to be done and probably no one would even notice if his lunch hour extended to two. If Snape was at home, rather than out buying ingredients or meeting with a client elsewhere... Harry hurried along, nearly knocking into a wizard muffled up in a drab olive cloak as he turned into Dorse Alley and rang the bell of number eight. "Please be in, Severus," he muttered, and pressed the button a second time.

After waiting several minutes, it seemed clear that he was out of luck. He was walking dejectedly back along Knockturn Alley when he looked up and saw Snape coming out of a tiny shop. Harry darted over.

"Mister Potter." Snape's expression was wary. "Did we have an appointment?" His eyes darted over Harry's shoulder and he gave an almost imperceptible nod.

"Not until later this afternoon, but I really need to consult you about a Mandrake Draught," Harry said loudly. "It's urgent. I need those ingredients now."

"And I suppose you expected me to be carrying Mandrake roots screaming through the streets," said Snape in his haughtiest voice. "You'll have to come to my flat." Without waiting for Harry he swept down the street, and after a moment Harry made a show of shrugging irritably and following.

Once through his doorway, Snape dropped the disgusted demeanor though he still frowned. "What has happened? Is there a problem with the Malfoys?"

"Nothing like that. I had lunch with Hermione, and she told me something interesting -- she said that Hogwarts might be looking for a Quidditch instructor."

"What of it?" Snape put his parcel down on the table.

"I thought... I've never really enjoyed working for the Department of Mysteries," said Harry in a rush. "It's been all right, but if I had to do it for the rest of my life? You know I've always loved Quidditch. I couldn't have played it professionally, there was no way I was going to put myself that much in the public eye any more, and you can't really coach the professionals if you haven't played at that level, but if I could teach it at Hogwarts... I can't think of anything I'd like more."

"So why consult me? Surely it is Draco to whom you should speak, if you are thinking of changing jobs."

Harry stepped over to Snape and grabbed him above the elbows. "Come on, Severus. You know better than that. Of course I'll talk to Draco, but what you think matters to me as well. You must realize that I'd hope for both of you to be willing to go there. At that distance, what Lucius Malfoy could do would be a lot more limited, and that would be better for all of us. But you've actually taught at Hogwarts yourself; you could tell me if there's some reason I shouldn't even consider it." Snape glanced at his package and Harry wondered exactly what he had interrupted him in the midst of doing. Did he work in that shop he had been leaving, or was he making a delivery, or a trade? He'd half-hoped that Snape would grab him back and they'd be distracted from talking for awhile, but Snape still looked serious. "I suppose it depends on whether you enjoy working with children and how much patience you have with uncooperative students. I understand that you taught rather advanced magic to your little group of followers the year we were afflicted with Dolores Umbridge as an instructor, so I suppose you have some aptitude for it. However, you would be surprised at how much influence Lucius Malfoy can wield even at a distance -- surely you remember that he had Dumbledore removed as Headmaster, briefly, before the Board of Governors rebelled? And... I had my reasons for not returning."

The black eyes were eyes were inscrutable; Harry could not read any memories there and was not certain he dared even ask. "Does that mean you wouldn't even visit?" he asked in a low voice. "I don't want to bring it up with Draco if there'd be no chance to see you."

That, at least, provoked a visible reaction from Snape. "Do you mean to tell me that you would decline to pursue a desirable opportunity merely because it would limit our proximity? I did manage to escape from Hogwarts to Hogsmeade and London while I taught there, as you certainly know. It isn't as if..."

"Severus. If you can't stand the idea of visiting the place, you aren't going to want to come see me there, or watch Quidditch matches, or listen to me talk about the students. I need to know. Is it something you would think about?"

Sighing, Snape stepped away, turning to look out the window. "I wouldn't dismiss the possibility out of hand, but I must confess that it would not be my first inclination. However, I repeat that you should not make any decisions based on mine. If you don't enjoy what you are doing, in terms of your career, you should change. It would be a shame simply to work at something because you felt you ought to, disliking it more and more as time went on."

That was evidently as far as Snape was likely to go in supporting the idea just now, Harry realized. Perhaps it was more than he had any right to expect, but it was a little disappointing. "Do you like what you're doing?"

The black-clad shoulders in front of him shrugged. "It supports me. Unlike yourself or Draco, I'm wholly dependent on my own efforts to make a living, and my options for employment are limited. My services as a potion-maker are sufficiently in demand that I have some choice of whom to accommodate, at least."

"I know McGonagall would take you back." Snape stiffened, but Harry continued. "That ex-Auror she has teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts wasn't even involved during the war -- he's not a trained teacher and he doesn't know half as much about the subject as you or even me. And that kid teaching Potions was Slughorn's recommendation when he left; I don't think he was ever meant to stay for long. She'd give you either post for the asking, I know it."

"What makes you think I have any wish to teach?" Snape asked sharply, turning to glare. "Did I ever seem particularly enthusiastic to you about the position of Potions Master?"

"Actually, yes. The first day, when you were talking about all the things potions could do if you made them right." Snape looked startled. "How they could ensnare the mind and bewitch the senses and all that. Maybe McGonagall would let you split the position with someone else -- you could teach only upper-level Potions and Defense. Or..."

"There is little point in continuing this hypothetical discussion until you have, at the very least, spoken to Draco about his own interests and inclinations."

Snape was trying to put an end to the subject, Harry understood, perhaps hoping that Draco would render it moot one way or another. "But would you come to stay with us, at least? Or think about relocating to Hogsmeade?"

"If you were to go to Hogwarts, I would visit." Snape's voice sounded uncompromising. "If you asked me to. Occasionally, at least. But right now I don't have time to discuss this any further. I have a potion to finish for a client by this evening."

"Oh." Harry looked down. "All right. I'm sorry to have interrupted you, Severus."

"I'm flattered that you wished to consult me." Snape touched Harry rather awkwardly on the shoulder. "I should give you something to take away with you, even if it's not actually a Mandrake Draught... you realize that we are both being watched, now?"

Harry hadn't been certain of that, but if Snape thought it was the case, it probably was. "Lucius?"

"I imagine so. Just a moment." Snape hurried out of the room, coming back shortly with a small jar, wrapping a piece of cloth around it. "Take this."

"What is it?" Harry asked, reaching out.

"It doesn't matter," said Snape brusquely. "It will serve to show that you were here on legitimate business."

"Will you be in tonight? If Draco and I need to talk with you?" Harry had his suspicions about just what might be in that jar.

"After I have delivered the potion, yes. However, if both of you wish to speak with me, I suggest that you let me come to you."

"All right," agreed Harry, still unnerved by the matter-of-fact way that Snape had said that he was being watched. He had assumed that he would be able to tell if someone was following him. "I don't have to be anywhere tonight and I'll ask Draco to stay in."

"Then I will speak to you later." Snape's voice was brusque. Again Harry wondered if it was because Snape was busy or if he had upset him with the talk of Hogwarts.

He arrived home before Draco and took a minute to examine the potion Snape had given him. Why had he concealed it? Sniffing, Harry recognized anise and eucalyptus, and he wrinkled his nose. But both of those were used to keep a clear head... often in antidotes to potions meant to muddle the drinker. Was Snape trying to warn him, or had Lucius moved forward with his plan to use such a potion on Draco?

While Harry was considering this, the door banged open. "Work is shite," Draco announced irritably. "If you can believe it, they asked me to... what in Merlin's name is that awful smell?" Coming over, he glanced into the jar. "Have you and Severus been playing with Susceptibility Serum? Not very safe. I didn't think he had to give you a potion to get you to obey his orders, anyway." Grinning, Draco added, "And the antidote doesn't always work."

"I think he intended it for you." Harry let out a deep breath. "In case your father tries to take more direct action and have something slipped into your drink. In fact... maybe he already has? Maybe that's why you went off with that girl, last week?"

Draco's eyes widened. "Did Snape say that?"

"No, he didn't. I only spoke with him for a few minutes, after I had lunch with Hermione; he had to finish something for a client. But Hermione had an intriguing piece of news."

"Oh yes? She convinced the house-elves of India to unionize?" Draco went into the kitchen and called back, "Want some beer? I think we can be sure these are safe. I bought them at a Muggle shop after my father's last visit."

"Yes, please." Harry took a long swig when Draco returned. "Nothing about elves. Hermione told me that Professor McGonagall had mentioned that Hogwarts might need a new Quidditch instructor -- I guess Madam Hooch is thinking of taking a position coaching the Harpies. So Hermione suggested that maybe I'd be interested. And I think I might be. Work hasn't been that wonderful lately."

"You'd go off to Hogwarts without me?" Draco looked stunned.

"No, of course not! I was thinking maybe McGonagall might hire us both. The current Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor is practically worthless -- better than Umbridge, I suppose, but that's not saying much. You'd be far better than he is -- you actually have experience from the war," said Harry eagerly. "Or maybe you could teach Potions. I've heard that Slughorn only recommended Fitzsimmons on a temporary basis."

"McGonagall? Hire me?" Draco snorted softly. "Even if I had been one of her favorite students, which I most decidedly was not, there's the small matter of my having been mixed up with the Death Eaters while I was a student there. If I hadn't run away, I'd have been expelled for sure. You know what I did to Katie, and to..."

"Yes, and Ron may never forgive you for almost poisoning him, but McGonagall isn't like that. She testified on Snape's behalf and agreed to let you finish your last year and graduate, didn't she?"

"That's different from inviting me to teach!" Draco flopped into a chair and fiddled with the rim of his bottle. "Why would she trust me? Who'd recommend me?"

"Severus would, and she trusts him," Harry said promptly. "And it's because of what you did during the war that you'd be ideally suited to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. It's not just knowing how to banish a boggart or being able to conjure a Patronus -- which I am going to teach you as soon as we finish this conversation, so that if your father tries anything else, you can summon me or Snape. It's recognizing how Dark wizards work. How they recruit. You have a kind of credibility that no one else does -- not even me. You're the perfect person to teach it, if you want to."

"Even supposing hypothetically that I'm interested, what about Severus? Would you pack us off to Hogsmeade and forget him?"

"I, ah." Harry put down his bottle and fidgeted. "I hoped he'd think about going back as well."

"Did you ask him? Is that why you went to talk to him? How did he react?" Draco looked skeptical.

"Well, he didn't absolutely say no. He did say he would at least visit us, if we were there, although he seemed pretty unenthusiastic. But he's not the sort to get keyed up about anything, so that doesn't necessarily mean he wouldn't consider the possibility... especially if we were both there. I pointed out that maybe your father would be less likely to bother all of us from that distance, too." Harry didn't mention that Snape had been less sanguine about that being the case.

"Hm." Draco tilted the bottle to his lips, then lowered it, frowning. "Want another?"

"I'll get them." Harry picked up both bottles and took them out to the kitchen, coming back with fresh drinks. "So hypothetically, would you be interested? Maybe there won't be an opening in either Defense Against the Dark Arts or Potions after all, maybe Madam Hooch isn't even really leaving, but should I owl McGonagall and inquire? You sounded pretty irritated with your job when you walked in tonight... maybe a change is what you need, too."

"All right, it's silly to discuss this any further until we know whether it's a real possibility. Go ahead and owl McGonagall if you want... though I think it might be a better idea to visit and bring it up in person. You were Gryffindor's golden boy. Tell her we're going to be in Hogsmeade, we'd like to take her to out for a drink... that is, out for tea." Harry couldn't quite wipe the smirk off his face as Draco kept talking, waving his beer as he spoke. "But I have to tell you, I don't think Snape will go back, even for you. I wrote to him from Hogwarts when I went back to finish -- invited him to Quidditch games, that sort of thing. He wanted nothing to do with the place. I don't think he's even been to Hogsmeade since we left."

"Maybe he wouldn't go back for you or for me, but he'd go back for both of us," argued Harry. "I caught him at a bad time today. I don't think he's thrilled to be at the beck and call of wealthy wizards who need difficult potions. I get that he wasn't ready to return while there were still so many students there who thought of him as a Death Eater, but a lot of time has passed. It isn't as if he ever cared about popularity."

"I think you're going to have an easier time teaching me to conjure a Patronus," Draco said skeptically. "Speaking of which. Do I get any control about this animal business? If my Patronus turns out to be a ferret or something, I am never conjuring it again."

Laughing, Harry shook his head. "No, sorry, you don't get to choose. Your Patronus takes the shape of an animal that suits something in your personality, I think. Ron's is a terrier, and Hermione's is an otter. But they do sometimes change; Tonks's did at one point. The only way to find out what it will be is to try. Want to give it a go?"

"Oh, I suppose," Draco allowed. "Explain to me again how it works?"

"The incantation is Expecto Patronum, but the real key is to have the happiest thought you can in mind while you're casting the spell. Don't worry if you don't get more than a kind of silvery mist the first few times, that's what happened to me. Try some different happy memories and see what works best."

"What, right now?"

"No time like the present." Harry reached over and took Draco's half-finished beer from his hand. "Go on, stand up and try it."

"I feel like an idiot," Draco complained, but he pulled out his wand and rose, his face screwed up in concentration. "Expecto Patronum."

The air at the tip of Draco's wand turned a bit white, but that was all that happened, and after a moment Draco's shoulders slumped. "No one is going to hire me to teach anything if I can't even..."

"I told you, happy thoughts." Harry grinned as he interrupted him. "Stop concentrating so much." He began to unbutton his shirt.

"What's that for? Does it work better naked?"

"No, but I was hoping that if I was naked, it might make you think happy thoughts." Diving forward, he tickled Draco, who started to object, then dissolved helplessly into laughter. "Now," said Harry, putting his shirt aside. "Do it again. Only happy thoughts. I know, pretend your wand's your prick."

"Oh, is that how it works! Expecto Patronum!" This time a bright light burst from the tip of Draco's wand, though it didn't coalesce into a shape.

"See? You're getting it!" Harry had paused in his undressing to watch, and now he began to unfasten his trousers. "One more time, and then I'll suck you off. Just think of..."

They were interrupted by a knock at the door. "I had better get that," Draco announced as Harry quickly ducked down the hall and into the bedroom. A moment later he heard Snape's voice, then Draco's as they came toward the room. "...giving me a lesson in how to conjure a Patronus. He seems to think getting undressed will help -- I haven't the heart to tell him that my happiest memory is beating him to the Golden Snitch in the alumni Quidditch tournament." They came through the bedroom door. "Oh, hello, Harry." Draco gave him a wide, innocent smile. "Imagine finding you here, practically naked."

"You didn't beat me to the Snitch, I was knocked off my broom by that imbecile McLaggen and he was disqualified. Now stop stalling and do the charm again," Harry said sternly. "Evening, Severus."

"Potter." Snape looked distinctly entertained.

Harry's cock gave a twitch, but he ignored it. "Come on, Draco, once more," he encouraged. "You were nearly there last time."

"Pretend my wand's my prick, right?" Draco smirked. "Expecto Patronum." He pronounced the words emphatically, and a shining silvery shape emerged from his wand, dissolving quickly into mist. "What was it?" he asked Harry and Snape. "Could you tell?"

Snape shook his head. "I wasn't sure. Something four-legged and good-sized, though." He glanced at Harry, his expression amused. "You told him to pretend his wand was his prick to conjure his Patronus?"

"It worked, didn't it? Or nearly." Harry wasn't sure why he felt defensive about it. "Isn't that what a good teacher should do, try different techniques to get a student to achieve the desired outcome?"

"You have me there," said Snape, raising his hands in acknowledgment of Harry's point. "Though I wouldn't necessarily recommend that particular method in a Hogwarts classroom."

"Anyhow I think you promised me something if I gave it another try." Draco prodded Harry's shoulder. "Could you tell what my Patronus was?"

"I think it might have been a Komodo dragon."

"What in Merlin's name is a Komodo dragon?" Draco didn't look displeased, just mystified.

"Didn't you ever see the one at the London Zoo?" But of course Draco wouldn't have visited a Muggle zoo as a child, and Harry had never taken him there; thinking about animals, even non-magical ones, made him think of Hagrid, and remembering Hagrid made him sad. "It's a huge reptile. From Asia, I think. Poisonous. And pretty fast, but a bit lazy -- the one I saw was lying around sunning itself."

Now Draco looked exceedingly pleased with himself, as if he had personally chosen the form for his Patronus. "All right -- wait," he said, holding his hand up to keep Harry and Snape at a distance. Closing his eyes, he shouted, "Expecto Patronum!"

This time there was no doubt; the large, fierce-looking creature raced across the room before disappearing into mist. "You did it!" Harry exulted.

"I did!" But Draco's smile transformed into a look of puzzlement. "How could my Patronus take the form of an animal I've never even seen? And non-magical."

"You are aware of the meaning of your first name?" asked Snape with a kind of satisfaction. "It seems appropriate to me that you should have your Patronus take the form of a dragon."

Privately Harry thought that it also seemed very Slytherin. "I think magical creatures are pretty rare for Patronuses, anyway," he said. "Though Dumbledore's was a phoenix." All the pleasure that had been on Snape's face vanished. Harry could have kicked himself. Bringing up Dumbledore was always uncertain, since Snape was understandably sensitive about that topic. "But most of us have much more ordinary animals," he added hastily. "Not always even dangerous ones, or anything. You know mine's a stag. Luna Lovegood has a hare and Professor McGonagall's is an owl of some sort, isn't it?"

Snape nodded, expressionless.

"So a Patronus doesn't take the same form as the animal you become if you're an Animagus? I was never sure about that," commented Draco.

"Only very rarely," Snape replied. "They seem to relate to different parts of the wizard's personality."

"I see." Draco sprawled on the bed. "So now that I can conjure my Patronus..."

"Although you'll want to practice a lot more," Harry interjected.

"Yes, yes." Draco waved that away. "How do you get it to carry messages for you, the way you summoned Severus that one time?"

"Wait till you can conjure it reliably first. It's a lot easier to figure out how to handle a Patronus when it's there. We can see if we can get a Boggart for you to practice on -- that's what Remus had me do, to begin with." Harry rolled closer to Draco and took his hand. "One step at a time, okay?"

"Lupin didn't tell you to think of your wand as your prick?" Draco raised his eyebrows in question, and Harry stared at him in horror until he heard Snape snort and realized that that comment had been for Snape's benefit, to entertain him, rather than anything Draco seriously thought.

"No, of course he didn't! He's never said anything of that sort to me. He's practically an uncle -- he was my godfather's best friend!" Again Snape snorted, and Harry glanced up, wondering exactly what sort of stories about Remus and Sirius had come to Snape's attention.

"I'm precisely the same age he is," Snape pointed out. "Which makes me the same age as your fath--"

"Don't get him out of the mood," Draco warned Snape, waggling his eyebrows at Harry as he reached for the zip on his trousers. "You owe me, Potter... and Severus, what are you doing standing over there with your buttons up to your chin? Get over here and find some suitable way to congratulate me."

"Just what do you consider suitable, Mister Malfoy?" Snape drawled, but his hands moved to his buttons and began undoing them.

"Harry promised to suck me off if I tried three times to conjure my Patronus." Draco wriggled out of his trousers, his cock poking stiffly from under the hem of his shirt. "I think having actually achieved it demands something more extensive, don't you?"

"That seems reasonable." Harry was quite willing to go along with whatever Draco had in mind as his reward, and hastily pulled off his pants and socks, all he was still wearing. "But shall I start with what I promised?" He ducked his head down to Draco's lap and ran his tongue over the head of Draco's cock. He did love the way Draco responded to being sucked -- he was so verbally appreciative, and tonight was no exception, at least for the first few minutes. Then Harry felt the bed shift, and Draco fell quiet; Harry deduced that Snape was kissing him, an assumption confirmed when Snape's hand started teasing Harry's balls. He was sure it was Snape doing so because Draco was holding him by the shoulders already.

Lifting his head, he said, "Your turn to be in the middle, Draco," but Draco broke away from Snape's mouth and shook his head.

"No, it's Severus' turn. We may both need letters of reference from him soon." Draco cast a wicked smile at Snape, who narrowed his eyes but did not protest in the least when Draco climbed over him. "Let Harry suck you." Snape's hand slid away from his balls as Harry grinned and repositioned himself, feeling the bed shift as Draco reached to open the bedside table.

Harry was certain Draco wasn't worried about what sort of recommendation Snape would give him -- he had written Draco a glowing one when he applied to work as a cursebreaker -- but maybe he was trying to make Snape think about the advantages of keeping the two of them around. Sliding his hands around the backs of Snape's thighs, he bent his head to the cock that was becoming as familiar to him as Draco's. When he glanced up, he could see Snape watching him intently.

Rather to his surprise, however, Snape was using Occlumency to keep his thoughts private. Harry wondered what it was that Snape didn't want to share... or was it perhaps that he found it almost addictive, as Harry did, and preferred to refrain this time as a measure of control? A little wistfully, Harry nuzzled at the base of Snape's cock and then took the ball sac into his mouth, sucking at it gently. Snape lifted his upper leg and bent it to give both Harry and Draco better access, and groaned when Draco's fingers penetrated him from behind.

With his free hand, Draco was stroking Snape's perineum, and Harry sucked briefly on his fingers before moving back to Snape's cock, hot and smooth and pulsing eagerly under his tongue. Snape was caressing Harry's head, stroking his cheeks in a way that Harry interpreted as a request to take in as much as he could of Snape's prick, and he did his best. When Draco's motions caused the head of it to nudge the back of his throat, though, he found himself having to suppress his gag reflex and backed off. Harry's own cock was feeling neglected -- rubbing against the sheets wasn't quite enough -- and he wriggled around until he had managed to reverse himself, putting his hips near Snape's face.

A hand pulled Harry in close, and he felt one lick, then another along the other side of his cock, and then two at once. Draco was leaning over Snape's shoulder to taste Harry as well. For a moment he held still, simply groaning and enjoying it, before he once again turned his attention to the thick shaft twitching against his cheek. He felt Draco pull back, and then Snape thrust forcefully again as he was penetrated from behind by Draco's cock.

"You wouldn't really give this up, would you, Severus?" breathed Draco.

Snape spared himself from having to answer by taking Harry's cock further into his mouth and sucking quite steadily for someone who was also being sucked and fucked at the same time. Harry tried to keep pace with him, but as always, Snape's skill had him close to the edge very quickly and it took all his concentration just to keep from coming too soon. He was, however, aware of Draco's continued monologue, punctuated by grunts and gasps:

"Fuck you're tight. I don't want to stop this and neither do you. Aah... if we were all at Hogwarts we wouldn't have to. Father couldn't do a thing. C'mon, Severus, think about it... aaagh..."

Harry let out a happy whimper. Draco hadn't seemed completely convinced about going to Hogwarts himself earlier, but evidently Harry had been more persuasive than he had thought. Getting at Snape when he was most... distracted... was a very clever strategy, and it might even work. He smiled to himself around Snape's prick and sucked harder at the head, rubbing his fingers over the length of it. Snape moaned, sending quite amazing vibrations through Harry's cock, and he could hold back no longer. He released Snape lest he bite down by accident, and cried out as he spurted into Snape's mouth, his whole body shaking.

Snape stroked over his arse as he came, then licked him clean with soft swipes of his tongue. Sighing with pleasure, Harry leaned in and took Snape's cock in his mouth again.

"See, Severus... aah... how good it is? You know it's what you want. And I want. And Harry too. Fuck, come for us, come on..." Draco was almost babbling, his thrusts were coming faster and pushing Snape deep into Harry's throat, he couldn't breathe, and then Snape seized his hips and groaned deeply as thick bitter fluid spilled into Harry's mouth.

He heard Draco cry out as he swallowed, trying to inhale through his nose without choking, and then Snape's whole body shoved forward as Draco thrust in deep and stayed, convulsing.

Releasing Snape, Harry turned on the bed so that his head was up near the others'. Draco was lying on his side, still buried inside Severus' body, with his eyes closed and a blissful look on his face. Snape's eyes were closed as well, but his expression was strained, and Harry wondered at first whether Draco was hurting him. "You're very persistent, Mister Malfoy," he said wearily. "However, there is something to be said for making a fresh start. It would be reasonable for you and Harry to go to Hogwarts, but it will be difficult enough for the two of you to be discreet about your relationship without additional complications."

"Are you saying you don't even want to try?" Harry asked, stung. Snape opened his eyes, glanced briefly at him and then studied a spot on the bed.

"Severus," said Draco in outraged tones, "that's ridiculous." He withdrew and sat up, leaning over Snape. "You are not a complication."

Which wasn't true, of course, but Harry nodded even as Snape shook his head. "Don't be childish, Mister Malfoy. I would be, and you know it."

"Then suppose we don't care?" demanded Draco. Snape tensed and kept his lips tightly shut. Draco grabbed his hand. "You don't want to go back there. I know. Believe me. You know how hard it was for me to go for my last year of school, I wrote you about it over and over. And I had to tough it out alone. But it's been years now. Please. Don't let this go because you're afraid."

"I am not afraid," growled Snape, and the expression on his face reminded Harry of the night Dumbledore had died, it was so full of pain and rage. "Does it never occur to you that I might be protecting you?"

"Then isn't it our decision what to risk, too?" Harry took Snape's other hand, and reached out to Draco as well. "What we have, the three of us... I never expected this. But the idea of losing it..." he bit his lip.

"Potter, you need to make a decision between living in the past and living in the future," Snape snapped irritably. He was refusing to meet Harry's eyes. "I see no point whatsoever in continuing this discussion at the moment. Unless one of you has spoken to Professor McGonagall, there is no reason to assume a return to Hogwarts is even a possibility."

"Then let's owl her. Right now," Harry said defiantly. Rising, he pulled a piece of parchment and a quill from the desk. "I'm going to tell her that we'll all be in Hogsmeade tomorrow and we would like to take her to tea at the Three Broomsticks at three o'clock."

"It will not be possible for me to travel with you tomorrow. I have an urgent..."

"Stop making excuses, Severus. At least come with us to talk to her -- she may offer me the Quidditch position if Madam Hooch is really leaving, but it's going to take some persuasion to get her to consider Draco for any position and I don't suppose my telling her it's both of us or none will really help matters."

Snape's fingers were stiff in Harry's and looked no less comfortable where Draco was holding his other hand. Nonetheless, after a few moments, he nodded just as stiffly. "Very well. I will speak to her about the two of you. But I have no intention of bringing up any interest in returning to Hogwarts myself."

"That's fine, Severus." Glancing at the quill, Harry smiled. He had no intention of showing Snape the letter he was going to write to McGonagall... and he had no intention of telling Snape that he was going to urge her to ask the onetime Potions Master to return, either.

Chapter Text

Professor McGonagall was already waiting when Harry and Draco came through the door of the Three Broomsticks, sitting in the far corner, away from any other patrons. She had a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits in front of her, though her hands were folded primly in her lap as if she intended to wait even until the tea grew cold. But the restrained smile of her greeting turned into a frown of puzzlement as she looked past them: "Where is Severus?"

Draco exchanged a glance with Harry before speaking. "He said he had to make a delivery to a client and might be a bit delayed." Privately, Harry had his doubts about whether Snape would turn up at all, but one bridge at a time; they might as well find out whether what they were proposing was even a possibility before pressuring him to discuss it. "We didn't want to keep you waiting, so... here we are."

"Yes, I can see that, Mister Malfoy. Please sit down." Meekly Harry and Draco sank into chairs on either side of her. "I had the impression from your letter that this would not be merely a social call. If Severus agreed to set foot in Hogsmeade, it must be of some importance. What precisely did you wish to discuss?"

"I heard a rumor that Madam Hooch might be leaving Hogwarts to coach the Harpies." McGonagall's lips pressed tightly together, but she did not attempt to refute the statement. "You may consider this rather forward of me, but if you're going to be looking for a new flying instructor, I'd like to apply for the position. I know my background is a bit unconventional, but you know I can coach Quidditch and I think I did a pretty good job teaching my friends while I was a student. I haven't been happy working at the Ministry, and Hermione Granger made me realize that the things I enjoy more than anything are teaching and flying... and those also might be what I'm best at."

McGonagall stared at Harry as he spoke. When he fell silent, she lifted her teacup and took a sip before replying, giving Madam Rosmerta time to swoop in and ask what she could get for Harry; she pointedly ignored Draco, who shuffled his feet and looked at the floor. Draco might have been legally exonerated for having put her under the Imperius Curse during his sixth year at Hogwarts, but Rosmerta hadn't forgiven him and Draco remained ashamed of himself.

"There are a few staff members and members of the Board of Governors to whom I will need to speak, as a formality," McGonagall said when they were alone again. "Though I daresay, Potter, that the job is yours if you want it. I'd have asked you myself if I thought there was any likelihood that you would say yes. I assume that there is more, however, since you specifically mentioned that you were bringing Mister Malfoy and Professor Snape with you to speak to me."

"Yes, Headmistress." Harry added the title automatically, as he had never done even for Dumbledore. "I was wondering... hoping actually..." He cleared his throat as she raised a grey eyebrow. "I've heard that your present Defense Against the Dark Arts and Potions instructors might not be ideal choices for their positions, that Mister Fitzsimmons for instance had only intended to hold the post on a temporary basis anyway. So I thought that perhaps you might be interested in having Draco take on Defense. And I know that you wanted to rehire Professor Snape. I think that if you tried again, he might be more persuadable."

"Mister Malfoy?" McGonagall cocked her head at Draco. "Are you genuinely interested in teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts? I seem to recall that you once thought it would be more useful to study the Dark Arts themselves."

That was a bit of a foul blow, thought Harry, given what Draco had done to prove himself in the last months before Voldemort's fall, but Draco rose to the challenge. "I've been working as a cursebreaker at Gringotts for the last several years alongside Bill Weasley. It's been all right, but some of what we do, people ought to be able to manage for themselves. I'd like to teach young wizards and witches to be more independent, trained to handle their own magical problems most of the time -- and that means Defense Against the Dark Arts. It was always one of my best subjects, and I had a good deal of experience in it during the war. For that matter, I wouldn't be averse to teaching Potions, either; I earned an O on my N.E.W.T.s in both of those subjects, as you may remember." Draco paused when Rosmerta came back with Harry's tea.

"Another cup, please, Rosmerta," Harry asked firmly, pushing his own over to Draco. She glared, but nodded a grudging agreement. As the proprietor walked away, he added, "In some ways Draco's the perfect person to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. He'll have credibility with students -- none of us really believed that Quirrell or Umbridge knew what they were talking about, but Draco's role in the war was written up in the Daily Prophet. He knows how Dark wizards recruit better than anyone, too. He'll be able to get through to Slytherins whose relatives have been telling them that they have a right to pretend the laws don't apply to them. There'll be another like Voldemort sooner or later if we can't teach young wizards how to recognize that sort of abuse of power when they see it."

McGonagall was nodding; Harry knew that she had made some of these very arguments to the Ministry after the war. "If I hire a Malfoy, there may be trouble with some of the parents. Although that has been true of nearly everyone to hold that position, save Gilderoy Lockhart," she said wryly, glancing from Harry to Draco and back. "I assume you are suggesting that the two of you come as a package. There are parents who would object as well to having two male professors known to be intimately involved with one another living in the castle. If there is any hint of indiscretion..."

"We're used to being extremely discreet. If anyone had ever seen the two of us doing anything at all improper, don't you think there would have been a photo in the Prophet?" asked Draco.

"No matter what has or has not been printed in the papers, your relationship is an open secret in much of the wizarding world," McGonagall pointed out. "I'm afraid that your father's efforts to keep it hidden have backfired, Malfoy. I will not be bullied into sharing the prejudices against wizards or witches who couple with others of the same gender, but your public behavior will need to be irreproachable or that may become a bigger problem than your actions during your student years at Hogwarts." "I know that." Harry had thought Draco might argue or protest that it was an unfair standard, but he was nodding. "We won't let you down, Professor. We both want these positions very much."

"Well, then. What about Severus? As you are apparently aware, I asked him to return to Hogwarts as an instructor shortly after the war and he refused point blank. But your letter suggested that he has changed his mind. For what reason?"

"He hasn't exactly changed his mind," Harry said slowly. McGonagall might be willing to accept himself and Draco as a couple -- as long as they were a very discreet one -- but he was doubtful that she would be as tolerant of the idea that Snape made three in their relationship. "Draco asked him over for drinks a little while back, and so he was there when we were discussing the possibility of both of us taking positions at Hogwarts. He gave a strong impression that he missed teaching. I'm not sure he'd be keen to admit it, and I know that he also has good reasons to be reluctant to return."

McGonagall was nodding, her mouth set grimly, and Harry went on, "If you asked him, though, perhaps as a favor, I think he would at least consider teaching the N.E.W.T.-level classes. He's wasted, working as an independent potion-maker. He's making a living at it, but..."

There was an odd expression on McGonagall's face. "You never got on with Severus when he was your teacher, Mister Potter. Why do you now think that I should endeavor to convince him to become one again?"

"I don't know why it would surprise you that Harry would want him teaching again." Draco shot Harry a look telling him to keep quiet and let him talk. "He saved both our lives. We owe him, and we can see that he isn't happy doing what he's doing. He is being wasted making potions for people like my father who can afford it -- can you imagine some of the things he probably gets asked to do?"

"I know he was pretty awful as a teacher to me," Harry cut in, disregarding Draco. "I think he had some notion that I had to be tough to face Voldemort. All the Gryffindors...Neville Longbottom, too." He shrugged. "Maybe Snape overdid the animosity, and it would be easy to second-guess him now, but... it worked, and in the end I've been grateful for it."

Tapping one finger on her teacup, McGonagall pushed the plate of biscuits across the table with the other just as Rosmerta finally returned with the second cup of tea for Harry. "Take one," the Headmistress directed. Harry picked out a biscuit with chocolate, and Draco reached for one with candied ginger. "I would very much like to have Severus teaching at Hogwarts again," she continued as they each bit down. "The last several years' showing for both O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s has not been up to our expected standard at all. If you genuinely believe that he might be willing to take up a position, then it is worth my while to ask. Mister Malfoy, if he prefers to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, would you be willing to teach Potions?"

Draco nodded. "I'd be happy to teach either. I'd even be willing to take on both through fourth year, if Professor Snape were only interested in teaching the advanced students." McGonagall looked surprised. "Traditionally staff at Hogwarts have always taught a single subject, from first years through seventh. Severus knows this. I doubt he would ask for any alteration."

"I know, but I'm hardly a traditional teaching appointment." Draco grinned a little. "I do understand what I'm asking of you. I think we can all see the Prophet headline: 'Hogwarts Staff To Include Two Ex-Death Eaters.'"

McGonagall waved her hand dismissively. "It isn't as if it's the first time the newspaper would have tried to sensationalize a story about Hogwarts. The school has survived such scandals before. I am more concerned about your commitment. You've led a public social life -- that much has also appeared on occasion in the Prophet. As a member of the staff, it will not be possible for you to attend fundraisers with your parents or appear at the opening of this new shop or that new club."

"I promise you, Professor, I have no intention or interest in doing anything of that sort." The grin had vanished; Draco looked as serious as Harry had ever seen him. "I've been playing a role for my family for a long time. I don't want to do that any more. When I was a student, there was never anyone I felt like I could talk to about what it meant to be a Slytherin, or a pureblood... all these things that are maybe too political to teach, but that doesn't mean students don't have questions outside what their parents tell them. We all know that the world is changing... Slytherin House is going to have to change as well, and the students coming out of it. Not the things they learn in class, but the things they learn in the common room and the Quidditch locker rooms and the dormitories. The things that probably make me look like a bad risk are also the things that make me uniquely valuable."

"You're right." McGonagall was nodding, looking as impressed with Draco as Harry had ever seen her. "I will tell you, then, that I would prefer that you teach Defense if Professor Snape can be convinced to teach Potions; he has few peers when it comes to that subject, and I believe you are correct that the Defense curriculum should be revamped at the school if not the Ministry itself." Her head tilted, and Harry followed her gaze toward the door. Snape had come in.

Harry stood up and waved to catch his eye, and Snape strode over to the table, sitting down in a swirl of dark robes. "You are looking well, Minerva."

"Severus." Was that a catch in McGonagall's voice? "It's been far too long since you've been here."

Madam Rosmerta appeared quickly, bringing a cup of tea for Snape. However long it had been since he had been in Hogsmeade, evidently once he had been enough of a regular customer that she knew exactly what he would want. "Thank you, Rosmerta," he acknowledged, and took a sip.

"Have you been well?" McGonagall leaned forward slightly.

"Well enough." Snape set down his teacup with a rattle and crossed his arms. "Business has been fair, and I have had the opportunity to develop some variations on older potions. Wolfsbane, for one. I believe Remus Lupin's efforts to fund distribution of my formula have been relatively successful." He waved away the plate she offered. "No biscuits for me, thank you."

"Are you enjoying the work of an independent contractor, then?" McGonagall's eyes were shrewd. "No trouble with clients asking you for potions that might be frowned upon by the Ministry, or failing to pay their bills?"

"As you know very well, there are always clients seeking illicit potions and trying to weasel out of paying. And as you should also realize, I am quite adept at dealing with both sorts. It isn't as if I'm working in some Nocturne Alley apothecary," Snape said haughtily. When Harry had last seen him, he had had the impression that that was exactly what Snape was doing, but he kept his mouth shut.

"Well. I expect you know why Potter and Malfoy requested that you be included in this meeting," nodded McGonagall, pausing to take another sip of tea.

"They have told me of their plans." Shifting, Snape reached into a pocket and pulled out two small rolled parchments sealed with wax. "Here are letters of reference for each of them, though I hardly imagine that you need my recommendation where Potter is concerned -- he was a student in your House and an asset to your Quidditch team, as I recall." Harry smiled a little, blushing; McGonagall had once told him that Snape had lost many Galleons to her, betting against Gryffindor. "As for Malfoy, I don't believe that his record as a student accurately reflects either his abilities or his loyalties. I imagine you still have the reference I sent when he applied for reinstatement as a student; I said very much the same here, pointing out that he did, in fact, graduate with outstanding marks and has been respected by his colleagues since."

"I am familiar with his work as a cursebreaker." Draco flashed a glance at Harry, who shrugged very slightly; it did not surprise him that the Headmistress had kept up with her more notorious students. "But Severus... what about you? Would you consider returning to Hogwarts as well?"

Harry half-expected to see Snape choke on his tea, but instead he simply sipped, very deliberately, and then said, "What would it profit me to return? I do not mean monetary arrangements, as you well know." With an effort Harry kept his mouth shut, and kicked Draco under the table when it looked as if he would say something. Snape knew perfectly well that both of them wanted him, if that was "profit" in the sense he intended.

"You would be able to hold your head up, Severus," snapped McGonagall, her voice a muted whiplash. "You were the finest Potions instructor Hogwarts has ever had. You should not have let shame become cowardice."

Snape's knuckles whitened around the handle of the cup. "You would have had me put the school at risk? Even after my exoneration, do you know how many threats I received? I doubt that the parents of most present students will have forgotten." He spoke equally low. Harry, next to him, could see that he was trembling very slightly. But not with rage. Harry was almost certain that it was with anguish so deep that Snape had never acknowledged it.

"You have never been afraid of those people." To Harry's surprise, McGonagall appeared not sympathetic but angry. "Yes, I would have had you return! Do you really believe your absence is in the best interest of Hogwarts or its students? With Slughorn retired and Fitzsimmons leaving, the staff is spread far too thin. Don't you think I've received threats myself, not to mention questions about my competence, hiring such teachers as stopgaps because there was no one else? Is this what you think Albus would have wanted? For you to..."

"The Headmaster never gave me any hint of what he wanted beyond Potter's victory and the Dark Lord's defeat," Snape replied just as bitterly, setting the cup down so firmly that Harry half-expected it to shatter. "I did everything that he asked, achieved the results he wanted, and now I am free to make my own choices."

"So you are choosing to hide, rather than returning to a position for which you are uniquely qualified. This isn't about what anyone else might say about you, Severus."

"No, Minerva, it is about wishing to live on my own terms after living most of it on the terms of others." Snape was breathing rapidly and his eyes glittered. "I am uniquely disqualified from returning to Hogwarts, regardless of anyone else's opinion on the matter."

"No, you're not," Draco broke in. "Any more than I am." There were spots of red on his cheeks. "After the war was over, you told me that I had to go back to Hogwarts. My parents insisted on it too, but their concern was that I take my N.E.W.T.s and pass them so I could sustain the family honor and tradition. You said that I needed to go back and face my past before I could go on. Don't you think the same applies to you?"

"Mister Malfoy..." McGonagall began, but Snape cut across her.

"What you needed to do in your teens is not necessarily what I require for myself at my age." He and Draco stared at one another. Harry wondered if they were using Legilimency; he knew that he would have wanted to try to remind Snape of all the advantages that being back at Hogwarts would have.

"I disagree," McGonagall said icily. "And under any circumstances, you will not know unless you try."

Were it anyone but McGonagall speaking, Harry would have expected Snape to get up and leave; he took it as a sign of Snape's esteem for the Headmistress that he bothered to reply at all. "Whatever you may think, this is not about Albus. I suffered through a great many years of unpleasantness at Hogwarts, beginning as a student, then with Quirrell, Lockhart, Karkaroff..."

"We've all lost people, Severus. Every one of us here at this table -- likely everyone in this building. And we've all made choices we are not proud of. If I had known that Rubeus Hagrid would..." McGonagall fell silent abruptly, her mouth twisting. "I sent him back to the giants. You might as well blame me for his death as you blame yourself for Dumbledore's. Every one of us sitting here has been responsible for the death of another, directly or indirectly."

"I was pretty angry with him when I realized," Harry said quietly. All the others turned to look at him. "Dumbledore, I mean. After I understood he planned for you to kill him. He could have warned me -- not that you were working for him, I know he couldn't have risked that, but that he knew he was going to die. He was already dead by the time I saw the whole picture. It wasn't fair, what he did, to any of us."

Snape's glance grazed over Harry's, dark eyes dully opaque. If he had let Draco see into his thoughts, he was blocking them again now. "Albus was not known for being fair. You had every right to be angry with him."

"The same goes for you," said McGonagall. "Be as angry with him as you like. Do you want to come up to my office and yell at his portrait? You are welcome to, if it would make a difference. Don't subject yourself to a dead man. Hogwarts needs you far more than any of your present clients -- and I think you might not find it so unpleasant as memory suggests."

"What is it you want from me, Minerva?" Snape's voice was weary.

"I want you teaching Potions again. As I have said." She signaled to Rosmerta to bring a fresh pot of tea. "And I want you to be at peace."

"Is it not apparent that peace is more elusive than a change in scenery?" Snape sounded more bored than irritated. "Do you think Malfoy would wish to return to Hogwarts if he did not find himself trapped by exactly the same constraints that have kept our world at the mercy of wizards like Voldemort since before he was born? How lovely if my life could be transformed by a change of venue."

"Sir," Harry said. Snape looked up sharply. Harry had almost never called him that willingly outside of the bedroom. "If things are going to change, it has to start with people who saw the war -- your generation, and Draco's and mine. Those kids at Hogwarts now will be graduating and getting jobs at the Ministry and running St. Mungo's and all that in a few years. If we want to change things, isn't it with them where it has to start? Didn't you say that yourself?"

"C'mon, Snape -- you're a better person to personify Slytherin House than I am, anyway." Draco forced a weak grin. "And no matter how impartial Potter promises to be, you know he'll favor Gryffindor in Quidditch. Just like certain other people sitting at this table. There has to be some balance."

"Balance." Snape seemed to be mulling over the word as he poured himself another cup of tea and blew on the steaming surface. "Would you want me to become head of Slytherin House again?" he suddenly shot at McGonagall, who spread her hands.

"Someone would need to take it over with Mister Fitzsimmons departing. Either you or Mister Malfoy. Gryffindor, however, is in the capable hands of Aurora Sinistra at this time, so Mister Potter is out of luck -- or perhaps off the hook."

Draco's face was pleading, and Harry knew his own expression to be similar. He didn't care if Snape was head of Slytherin or not, as long as he would take up the post of Potions instructor. The corners of Snape's mouth twitched. " Give me a few days to think this over," he growled. "I shall owl you." He shot a withering look at each of the younger men in turn, then pushed back his chair, abandoning his undrunk tea. "I have another appointment to keep. Headmistress. Malfoy. Potter."

Yes. It looked as if they might have succeeded.

"Well." McGonagall seemed slightly stunned as she watched Snape leave. "You were apparently correct, Mister Potter."

Harry felt himself blushing. He felt quite sure that, if Snape agreed to return to Hogwarts, it would have at least as much to do with the things they weren't telling McGonagall as with the things they were. The Headmistress was looking at him quizzically and he glanced away; so far as he knew, McGonagall was not a Legilimens, but she was awfully shrewd and if she guessed what was going on, Harry didn't even want to think about what she might say.

"I knew we could bring him around." Draco, who had no such inhibitions, was smiling broadly and grabbed another biscuit.

"He hasn't said yes yet." McGonagall smiled more circumspectly. "I know that you and he were close, Mister Malfoy. If you believe that you can persuade him..."

"I'll do what I can. I will not disappoint you, Professor. In anything." Again Draco looked very earnest, and older than he was. "I really appreciate this. Thank you."

"The Board of Governors will have to approve, remember," warned McGonagall. She didn't say it, but Harry was certain that she was thinking of the fact that Lucius Malfoy was no longer on the Board. "I do assume that although you feel that Severus would make a fine addition to staff, your own interests in the posts are not contingent upon his acceptance."

It would be stupid to say yes. Even if Snape decided in the end to decline -- and Harry still wasn't quite sure whether he might choose to do that -- they could perhaps still persuade him to come to Hogsmeade. "No," he said, and Draco chimed in, "Of course not."

"Very well. I shall owl the Board this evening, and be in touch with you once they have given formal permission for your appointments." Rising from the table, she looked as pleased as Harry had ever seen her, including when Gryffindor had won the Quidditch Cup. "But for now, I, like Severus, have other matters to which I must attend. Thank you, gentlemen."

Harry leaned across the table and discreetly gave Draco's hand a squeeze as McGonagall left. "I think this just might work out."

Draco nodded, but his forehead was slightly wrinkled as if he were worried about something. "As soon as she brings our names up to the Board of Governors, you realize that someone will tell my father. He's still pulling strings at Hogwarts even if he's no longer on the board. He'll know what we're trying to do."

"I don't see how he can get them to stop the appointments. From what I understand, the Board of Governors put Lupin and then Moody on the faculty because Dumbledore told them to -- nobody found out that Lupin was a werewolf or complained that an ex-Auror wasn't necessarily qualified to be a teacher."

"I'm not worried about being stopped that way. I just think, once he knows I'm planning to do this, and without telling him I was thinking about it or anything..." Draco sighed, rubbing his forehead. "He's going to consider it running away, for one. He wants a son who wants to be Minister of Magic or pulling the Muggle Prime Minister's strings -- not a professor."

At least Draco was taking seriously the idea that his father represented a real threat. Harry squeezed his hand again. "We're going to have to move quickly, and get some friends to help. Even the ones you don't like very much like the Weasleys," he added as Draco made a face. "Listen, maybe there's a way to work around your parents for the time being. If this goes through, we'll have to give up the flat, I suppose -- maybe you could stay with Severus, and Hermione and Ron would let me stay with them, and if your parents thought we were thinking about separating, they'd back off a bit."

"They'll know we both applied to teach." But Draco looked like he was considering the idea. "Sooner or later my father is going to figure out that Severus is never going to do what he wants. And things might get ugly."

"Severus is used to taking care of himself," said Harry, although with more hope than confidence.

"Not going against my father," Draco pointed out. "Even when he was really working for Dumbledore and the Order, he stayed on good terms with my father. And afterward, it was largely because of Severus that my parents didn't lose everything. Now..." He bit his lip, looking around, and spoke in a low voice. "If you're right about what happened to my grandfather, who knows what Father might do?" Draco blinked rapidly. "I'd prefer to think that he would have some loyalty to Severus after all these years, but I just don't know."

"I think Lucius might not feel much loyalty because to him, Severus supporting you is a betrayal. Your father has never been exactly good about seeing anyone's perspective but his own, has he?" Harry sighed. "This isn't the best place to have a conversation about your father. Shall we go home?"

"Mm." Draco was fidgeting with his teacup. "You suggested that we could stay with other people, make it look like we might be thinking about separating." "Yes... but we don't have to do it if you don't want to. We can just hang onto our flat until and unless we actually do both come up to live at the school."

"Why did you say I should stay with Severus?" Draco's expression was troubled.

"Two reasons. For one, he can protect you. He's not going to let your father come barging in uninvited, under the circumstances. And for another, if you stayed with Theo or someone like that whose parents are friendly with yours, you know your father would try to use them to get at you and it would be bad for everyone involved. Besides, if you were staying with Severus I could come see you whenever I wanted. It wouldn't be like if you were at Blaise's and he was looking down his nose at me all the time." Harry almost said he didn't think he could spank Draco at Blaise's, or at Ron's for that matter, but Madam Rosmerta was standing at the next table over and he decided this wasn't the best place for that conversation either.

"Maybe McGonagall will let us move in before term starts, you think? We'll have to get ready... lessons to prepare, we could use the library, and I imagine you'd need to inventory all the brooms and Quidditch equipment and replace whatever's falling apart." Draco's fingers were still tracing the rim of his cup. "You really think my father might... I don't know, try to lock me away and force me to change my mind?"

"Can you really say that you're certain he won't?" Draco did not answer, but his nostrils flared and he glared at the teacup. "You don't want to take that chance. Listen, I do think he'll come round eventually. I think he cares about you too much not to." At least, Harry fervently hoped that was the case. "But until we're sure... the safest thing to do, I think, is to play at avoidance."

"I guess you're right." In a sudden shift of mood, Draco grinned at Harry. "Should we tell Severus tonight about your little idea? Surprise him?"

"I think we should leave him be, tonight... we pushed him pretty hard. Maybe it would be better to let him think things over alone. Miss us." Harry winked back. "Besides, I wouldn't mind being alone with you for a change."

"We were alone last night," Draco objected.

"But we were both exhausted by then. All we did was go to sleep." Nudging his foot against Draco's, Harry added, "Besides, we might lose this kind of opportunity for a while, if we 'split up' and I'm at Ron and Hermione's and you're with Severus. I don't fancy never having you to myself."

"And here I thought I was being replaced in your affections." Harry started to protest, but realized that Draco was joking. "Tell you what. I know we don't have these positions yet, but we can celebrate that it looks probable. Let's go have a really smashing meal and then go home," Draco lowered his voice, "and fuck each other's brains out."

"You get it," muttered Harry the next morning, when an insistent tapping on the window at what seemed far too early an hour roused them both. "'m too sleepy."

"And I'm too sore," Draco groaned, but he stretched, grinning, then got up and tugged the curtain back. A moment later a small brown owl had flown inside and settled next to Hedwig on the perch where she sat puffed and sleepy-looking after what Harry presumed was a successful night of hunting. The brown owl had a message tied to its leg, and Draco fumbled with the cord before he successfully untied it.

"That from McGonagall?" Harry asked hopefully, sitting up.

"Who else would be up so early?" grumbled Draco, but he was smiling. "Apparently Hogwarts will be delighted to have you as its new flying instructor. She doesn't say 'delighted' about me -- sounds like she had to do some maneuvering -- but she does say the post is open. We have to submit formal credentials and all that. No letters; she has Snape's and says she'll provide the others herself."

"YES!" Harry had leapt out of bed and now he hugged Draco exuberantly. "Though even if it hadn't happened, I'm not sorry we had that victory party."

Draco was grinning widely. "Do you know, this is the first job I've ever had where I felt like my name was working against me. It's kind of nice to get one which I'm sure was on my own merits. Should we owl Severus and tell him?"

Harry kept his arms around Draco. "We could just go over there."

"Not this morning... you know we'd be late for work. And I don't especially want to get fired before I resign even if I have another job lined up already, do you? But we could meet at five and surprise Severus then."

"All right," agreed Harry with a touch of regret. He hoped that McGonagall wouldn't have let Snape know anything in the meantime. Although if she did owl him, she probably would have done it at the same time as she sent the letter to Draco and Harry so it would already be too late. "Guess we'll have to put in our resignations, huh?"

"Soon, if not today." Draco moved over to the wardrobe and started pulling out clothes. "Fall term doesn't start for over a month."

They went through their usual morning routines, a bit more leisurely than most days since they'd been awakened early. Harry had to leave first, and kissed Draco goodbye. "I'll stop by Gringotts this afternoon, shall I?"

"I'll duck out at lunchtime and get champagne." Draco grinned at him, and Harry smiled back -- a smile that stayed with him as he ducked through hidden alleys on his walk to work. He was composing his letter of resignation in his head when he was surprised by a hooting noise from above. An unfamiliar owl was approaching with a note tied to its leg. Must meet with you as soon as possible. I have something for you. The handwriting was familiar even if the owl was not. Maybe Hermione had found something out about Abraxas Malfoy's will, Harry thought excitedly, wondering what pretext he could possibly use to walk into the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and ask to speak to her during work hours. The Ministry of Magic probably wasn't the safest place for such a conversation, anyway.

Turning the note over, he wrote on the back, Hope it's an overdue party invitation, in case the owl should be intercepted. Lunch? Will stop by at noon. The owl flew off ahead of him, and by the time Harry reached the Ministry, his heart was pounding. If Hermione had found Abraxas' will, maybe Harry and Draco could use it finally to make Draco's parents leave them alone...

"Good morning, Potter." Harry jumped. Had he somehow conjured Lucius Malfoy out of thin air just by thinking about him? Not that Lucius wasn't often in the Ministry, though he never seemed to be working, exactly. "You're running late this morning. Is Draco not well? Or have you been visiting Severus again?"

"Draco is fine, thank you," Harry replied, as calmly as he could. "We went out to dinner last night and got home late. In fact, I really need to get up to my office now."

"I'll walk there with you." Lucius fell into step beside him. "I hear that you spoke to Minerva McGonagall yesterday."

Harry swallowed. Just how much did Lucius know? He decided to say as little as possible. "Yes, I did."

"About a job, I understand. Coaching Quidditch?" Lucius smiled unpleasantly. "Not a very ambitious position for someone of your reputed talents."

Shrugging, Harry waited for the elevator doors to open. A hand fell on his arm and he turned to see Arthur Weasley. "Harry. Mafalda Hopkirk wants to see you straightaway. She's left a message at your desk, but since I've run into you here..."

"Thanks, Arthur," said Harry, grateful for the excuse to get away. He wasn't to manage it so easily, though.

"Keep a place open in your schedule today, Potter. I'll be in to see you later," Lucius told him as Harry stepped into the elevator.

"I hope we'll be seeing you at the meeting this morning, Lucius," he heard Arthur say as the doors closed.

The morning dragged interminably, as Harry found himself shuffling old notes and rethinking the wording of his resignation letter at least a dozen times. Finally it was nearly noon. He took the elevator to the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to find Hermione, who had an office filled with house elves in hideous oversized jumpers all trying to speak at once. By the time she had them all sorted out, Harry was as interested in actually getting food as he was in hearing what she had to say.

"Let's go out. I don't want to speak in this building," she said in a low voice, grabbing Harry's arm and pulling him toward the elevator to the street. Hermione had regular access to one of the Ministry cars, and she took him to a Muggle fast food restaurant in a part of London where Harry seriously doubted any respectable Ministry employee would be seen. While Harry picked up a handful of chips so greasy they left oil streaks on his fingers, she pulled out a document from her case.

"This is Abraxas Malfoy's will. I left a false copy in the records office but I need to return this as soon as possible. Look, here and here... you can see that it's been altered. Snape might be able to tell you how to date the ink. It's perfectly clear, however: the Malfoy heir must produce a legitimate pureblood offspring within five years of marrying, or the estate reverts to the nearest pureblood relative. The family tree is somewhat convoluted -- lots of only children -- but as near as I can tell, the two best claimants would have been descendants of Sirius' mother or Arthur's father."

"You're kidding me." Harry's jaw dropped. "You mean that if Draco doesn't have a child, the entire Malfoy estate could go to..."

"The Weasleys," she nodded. "Though if you were a pureblood, it might well have been you. I don't know very much about inheritance law, but since your father and Sirius were distant cousins, and Sirius left his estate to you... but it doesn't matter. The Weasleys may be considered blood traitors but they are technically purebloods." She smiled grimly. "Fleur's a pureblood, isn't she? If Draco does not have a child according to the terms of this will, it's possible that the Malfoy estate could go to Arthur, and then Bill and his children after him."

"I don't think Fleur counts as a pureblood, actually. Her grandmother was a veela, and people like Umbridge would say that makes her part-chimera," said Harry absently. "But Charlie's wife is, isn't she? The Malfoy estate could end up going to their daughter! No wonder Lucius is so insistent that Draco marry a pureblood girl and have a child." He looked up from the parchment. "Do you have to return this today? Could I take it to Snape tonight, see if the ink is dateable?"

Hermione looked nervous. "If you're sure that you can keep it safe and get it back to me first thing tomorrow morning."

"Absolutely," Harry promised. "I'll come early if you like. Or I could even bring it by your place tonight, perhaps."

"Tomorrow morning will do." She frowned thoughtfully and nibbled on her sandwich. "Assuming that Abraxas altered it before his death -- and I can't see why Lucius would have done it afterward -- presumably Lucius could change the terms as well, if he wanted. So he doesn't have to make Draco get married. It seems like he's doing it almost just because that's what he had to do, which is petty in the last degree."

"No kidding." Harry licked the grease off his fingers and rolled up the parchment, stashing it carefully in an inner pocket. "If we can date those alterations and connect them with the time of Abraxas Malfoy's death... Oh, I hope. Draco will be so in your debt. We both will."

"Again." Hermione smiled at him. "I hope that you can. Glad to have brought some good news."

"There's other good news too," Harry told her. If he was going to put in his resignation letter sometime this week, he could tell Hermione today. It was her idea to begin with anyhow. "We talked to McGonagall yesterday, and it looks as if both Draco and I will be teaching at Hogwarts beginning this fall."

"Oh, Harry! That's wonderful!" She jumped up and came around the table to hug him.

"Yeah," he said, hugging her back. "So thank you for that as well. I never thought I'd say this, but I can't wait to be back at Hogwarts," he continued. "I keep running into Lucius Malfoy and it's hard for me even to look at him. I'm just afraid he's going to try something before Draco and I can get away. And he's causing trouble with Snape too. Listen, Draco and I had an idea -- we thought that maybe, if you were willing, I could stay with you for a few days. If his father thought he and I were thinking about separating, maybe he'd leave Draco alone long enough for us to get things organized..."

Hermione was shaking her head. "You know you're welcome to stay with us, but don't you think Draco's parents will swoop in the moment he's alone and try to drag him home? A farewell visit, they'll say, or something like that."

"And then he'd never leave again," Harry agreed glumly. "We were talking about having him stay with Severus. If Severus agrees. It's all such a mess... I can't wait to be rid of it."

"Is Snape definitely going back to Hogwarts, then?" she asked.

"Not 'definitely' at all. McGonagall asked him to return to teach Potions, and we were going to go see him tonight to try to persuade him. I know he wants to, but I think he feels like he doesn't deserve to after what he had to do. The thing is, I know how he feels. I put a lot of people in danger just by being at Hogwarts. I only wish I knew what to say to persuade him."

"What have you said so far that he's even thinking about it?"

"That Hogwarts needs him, the students need him -- they've not done well in Potions ever since he left, and that's a real disadvantage to them. McGonagall implied that he was afraid to return... so did I, actually. And, well," Harry's face went hot, "having Draco and me there ought to be an incentive too."

"Snape's done an awful lot for the wizarding world already, though. He taught at Hogwarts all those years, he endured a lot of suspicion as an ex-Death Eater but fought in the war anyhow, risked his life, risked his freedom when he used an Unforgivable -- yes, I know you did the same, but you were both lucky to have been exonerated. I'm not sure you can appeal to him that way. If I were Snape I'd feel I'd done enough. The way to spin that might be to remind him that he enjoyed teaching. I assume he did." Hermione frowned a little. "He certainly loved his subject, even if not always his students."

"That's probably a good idea," nodded Harry.

"I wouldn't say anything else about him being afraid to return, though. He won't forget you did. Let it sit in the back of his mind. As for the last..." now it was Hermione's turn to blush, "I can't help you there. Maybe if Draco does go to stay with him he can be convincing."

"Hope so." Harry glanced at the time. "We'd better be getting back. I hope Lucius doesn't show up at my office... I ran into him this morning and he said he was going to stop by, but he hadn't yet when I left to meet you. Maybe he won't, maybe he just wanted to make me nervous."

"Keep that will hidden," Hermione warned.

"I know." Harry patted the pocket he had put it in.

Chapter Text

By three in the afternoon, Harry thought that perhaps luck was with him; he'd seen no sign of Lucius Malfoy, and Shacklebolt had sent a note thanking Harry for checking into poisoned parchment possibilities with Snape -- of course Harry had written up a report for the Aurors, in a feeble attempt to prove to Lucius both that he had legitimate business with Severus and that he knew something about poison inks. Shacklebolt had asked him to stop by and chat with himself and Tonks about what he had discovered, and Harry was about to make his escape when an imposing figure positioned itself in the doorway of his office.

"Harry," smiled Lucius as if they were old friends, stepping inside and pushing the door firmly shut with the head of his walking stick. "I'm so glad that we finally have a moment alone to speak."

"Actually, a moment is all I have -- I was just on my way to see Kingsley Shacklebolt," Harry said. "He hopes the..."

"Kingsley can wait. I'll make apologies for you, if necessary." Lucius' smile became less pleasant. "I've been thinking about your plans to teach at Hogwarts, and I've come to the conclusion that it's a fine idea. I imagine it must be uncomfortable for you in London, being gawked at as a celebrity, having your picture taken and your private life made public..."

"Sir, is there a point?" asked Harry impatiently.

The facade of politeness dropped away. "Of course there is. Go to Hogwarts; take Severus with you, if you wish. But you can't really imagine that my son would be happy as a teacher. Surely you noticed how restless he was as a student, waiting to see the wider world? He has a wide social circle and he has always been ambitious. Term doesn't begin for several weeks; give him those weeks to explore on his own and remember the things he has always wanted for himself."

Harry bit back a curse. That morning it had seemed as if Lucius might not have learned that Draco, too, was being hired by Hogwarts; evidently it was too much to hope that they would be able to keep it quiet. "Surely you don't think that I am keeping him from having whatever he wants? Draco is quite capable of making his own decisions. So is Severus." Deliberately he used Snape's first name. "I could hardly force either of them to go with me if they preferred to stay in London and at their present jobs. I am not the one putting pressure on Draco to act as I want him to."

Lucius' expression was set; the handsome features that Draco's so closely resembled were no longer very attractive with the mouth twisted in anger. "If it weren't for you, my son would be living a traditional life -- he would have married already and fathered an heir."

"You think so? Would you have done it if you had any options? Didn't you once think of making a life with someone you loved instead of someone your father chose for you?" Harry was so angry that he nearly accused Lucius of murder outright, but the faint crackle of parchment inside his robes reminded him to be careful. "I can't see why you need to deny Draco what he has told you over and over that he wants -- except that you'd be jealous of your own son, if he might be able to have what you couldn't." He reached into another pocket and grasped his wand, holding it at his side where Lucius could see it; not threatening, but prepared. He stepped around Lucius and put his hand on the doorknob. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I really must go and see Shacklebolt. He's expecting me and I'm already late."

"This is not over, Potter," Lucius hissed from behind him as he opened the door.

Harry's pleasure at Kingsley's gratitude was tempered by the knowledge that he needed to let everyone at the Ministry know that he was leaving as soon as he could get his resignation written. As he returned to his office, he realized that it really needed to be that very day; Lucius knew his plans, and he would certainly tell as many people as possible if he thought it would make life more difficult for Harry. He supposed it was cowardly not to tell people personally, but by the time he had worked out what he wanted to say, it was already late in the afternoon.

Harry charmed a quill to write several copies of his letter and sent them flying through the Ministry's halls as he departed to find Draco. His mood was somewhat flattened -- in part because of Lucius' threat, but in part because any major change was intimidating. He liked many of the people he worked with, if not always the work itself. The Ministry was the heart of the Wizarding world, while Hogwarts was on the periphery. Maybe he would miss it more than he expected.

Draco, on the other hand, was waiting with a wide grin. "I can't say I'm going to miss this all that much," he said, jerking a thumb over his shoulder at Gringotts. "I mean, I've met lots of financiers and people whom my parents insist will be excellent contacts when I'm ready to diversify my investments, but I don't think it's healthy to be cooped up thinking about money all day. Look, I picked up two bottles of very good champagne during my lunch hour and put a cooling charm on them. Should we let Severus know we're on the way or surprise him?"

"Let's just go. I want to get there before your father does." As Draco glanced at him in surprise, Harry went on, "He threatened me. And lectured me. But I do have one piece of interesting news, by way of Hermione -- come on, I'll tell you about it on the way."

"Good news, or bad?" Draco asked.

Keeping his voice low, Harry said, "I'm not sure. We'll need Snape's help to figure it out. But Hermione managed to sneak your grandfather's will out of the records office -- I have it here," he patted his chest, "though I have to get it back to her as quickly as possible. It's definitely been altered, and I'm hoping that Snape can help us date the ink of the changes."

"What does it say?"

"Assuming you don't marry, or don't have children if you do, then the entire estate reverts to the nearest pureblood relative -- apparently, Arthur Weasley." Harry glanced around. "Let's not talk about that here, all right? I'm pretty sure that the last time I went to Snape's, your father was having me followed. I think he's getting desperate."

"He must be, if he threatened you." Draco wasn't looking at Harry; his head was turned away to the side, as if he were checking for spies.

"That's hardly surprising, is it? He's going to push you to come visit them, you know. Or at least to go off without me for a few weeks... he was implying that you'd only take a post at Hogwarts because of my undue influence, and that if you had a chance to think it over without me there, you'd come to your senses." Harry bit his lip. For all his trust in Draco's good intentions, there was still a tiny thread of doubt; what if Lucius and Narcissa did somehow change Draco's mind?

"If I go stay with Severus, and you go to Ron and Hermione's, that would satisfy my father, don't you think?" Draco reached out and squeezed Harry's hand.

"Either that or he'll be certain that Snape has betrayed him and go after you both," said Harry gloomily. Draco hadn't been there, hadn't seen Lucius' face. With an effort, he shook off his doubts. They had arrived at Snape's.

Harry started to knock, but Draco reached out a hand to stop him. "I know his locking spells. Let's surprise him." Furrowing his brow, he concentrated and tapped the lock with his wand. A moment later, after a series of clicks, the door cracked open.

For the first time it occurred to Harry to wonder whether Draco had seen Snape privately since he and Draco had been together, but before Draco suggested inviting Snape to the flat. He doubted it, but it would explain why Draco was accepting Harry and Snape being alone together as his due. Likely he hadn't done it but perhaps he had wanted to, and that had made him more accepting of this unconventional arrangement than Harry would have expected.

Draco must have seen something of those thoughts on Harry's face as they stepped inside and shut the door behind them, because he said, "He won't mind. It isn't like I sneak in regularly but he kept me hidden after we fled Hogwarts -- I don't think he's tried to lock me out since." He looked around. "Severus?" Then, turning back to Harry with a wicked smile, "I don't think he's here yet. Let's take the champagne and wait for him in bed."

Though Harry wasn't entirely sure it was a good idea to ambush Snape like that, he grinned and followed Draco into the bedroom. Draco had already removed his shoes and tie, untucked his shirt and flopped across Snape's bed, and Harry was halfway toward doing the same when he heard the outer door open again. And voices. Not only Snape's, but another one as well.

"...understand your disappointment in me, but it is not my place to interfere."

"But he listens to you." That was Narcissa Malfoy's voice! Draco sat partway up, holding up a hand as if he thought Harry might be able to speak. "He certainly isn't listening to me. What will Lucius do, Severus? If Potter knows..."

"Knows what?" Draco mouthed at Harry, and it was Harry's turn to hold up his hand as he strained to listen.

"How can Potter possibly know anything? He's made some guesses that perhaps are close to the truth of the matter, but he can have no proof. What proof could there be, now, in any case?" Snape sounded caught between impatience and an attempt to be soothing. "Lucius ought simply to ignore the matter... unless he knows of some evidence that I do not. But you would have to ask him about that."

"He won't tell me. All he'll say is that one way or another, Draco will be made to see what he must do." Narcissa's voice rose almost to a shriek. "I'm afraid of what Lucius is planning. I want the best for our son, I want him married to a suitable pureblood girl, fathering children -- but I don't want Lucius to risk everything to make it happen! He's already been in Azkaban once. If he's caught involved in something illegal, whatever his good intentions, he won't get out again."

"No, and under the circumstances, I can't imagine that either Draco or Harry would lift a finger to help him out another time," said Snape. Harry imagined that he might be suppressing a smile, despite the flatness of his tones. "What do you imagine I could possibly do? Lucius did not listen to me when I suggested that he might do better simply to wait until Draco changes his mind again. He's still very young, and the young often grow bored."

Draco made a sudden movement, his mouth opening indignantly. "Shhh," hissed Harry, as low as possible.

"Lucius does not intend to wait much longer. You know what he's like -- he is plotting against Draco, so naturally he assumes that Draco may be plotting against him. There must be something that we can do!"

"I have done what little I can for Draco; I've given him an antidote that may protect him in the not-unlikely circumstance that his father might try to slip Susceptibility Serum, or another such potion, into his food or drink -- an approach that we both know has had proven results for Lucius in the past. You may have to make a choice. If Lucius is not listening to reason, you have the power to stop him, Narcissa, or at least to delay him. You could tell Draco what you know. I believe that Potter may already have told him his suspicions, but that is something quite different than hearing it from a family member."

Beside Harry, Draco had gone very still again, his face white. He hadn't wanted to believe that there was any possibility his father might have done what Harry had suggested, but what else could Snape be speaking about?

"If I threaten Lucius, my life will be in danger as well as Draco's. And yours -- you are the one other person with enough evidence to have him put away. There is no statute of limitations on the crime of which we are speaking. But beyond that, there is nothing I can do. Abraxas made certain in his will that..."

"You can do what I suggested many years ago when Lucius first discovered that Abraxas had changed his will. You can issue a legal challenge to the terms of the entailment. There are other Blacks in the Malfoy family line. You knew when you married that consolidating your families was a compelling passion for Lucius."

"There certainly was little other passion in the affair," said Narcissa bitterly. "As you well know."

"I fail to understand why you have continued to be so reluctant to challenge the entailment." Snape changed the subject in a tone of annoyance. "There was, perhaps, reason when Draco was young. But now -- to break Abraxas' will, or rather to return it to its previous provisions, would be for the best for everyone. Or so it seems to me."

"I would think so as well, but Lucius refuses to discuss it! It's as if he is afraid of something, but I cannot imagine what."

Harry bit hard on his lip. He could imagine -- if Lucius were not Abraxas' son, or suspected it, he would hardly want any kind of investigation into his inheritance rights. He suspected it, and Snape, but evidently Narcissa had no knowledge or even suspicion of that possibility. And he'd never mentioned it to Draco, either, who was looking agitated. Harry put his hand on Draco's arm comfortingly, willing him to stay still.

"Perhaps you should look at the terms of the will carefully, and the previous version, if Lucius has it. That might indicate the problems Lucius foresees in a challenge."

No! Then Harry calmed down. Narcissa could hardly get to those records this very evening, even with the Malfoy connections to expedite the process; the Ministry was closed for the night. He would have time to get it back to Hermione and she could replace the parchment first thing in the morning. Thinking of that, he missed Narcissa's reply, but heard Snape bid her farewell and shut the door, and then the clink of glass on glass.

Leaping off the bed, he opened the bedroom door. Snape stood with his drink in his hand, eyes narrowing. "Mister Potter... and Mister Malfoy," he called, though Draco was not yet visible in the doorway. "Has it never been pointed out to either of you that it is not polite to barge into someone's home with neither an invitation nor a warning?"

"I figured that when you stopped wanting me, you'd change your locking spells," said Draco. "My father threatened Harry at work." Snape's acerbic expression darkened. "Though that isn't why we're here... actually, we came to celebrate our return to Hogwarts. How'd you know we were here?"

"I did not survive as a spy without being able to tell when someone had preceded me into my home," Snape retorted. "I imagine you overheard that conversation with your mother. Harry, what did Lucius say?"

"That he thinks I should go to Hogwarts. He said to take you with me if I wanted, but not Draco. I suppose he found out from one of his cronies on the Board of Governors that we talked to McGonagall, and he's planning to do everything in his power to stop Draco from going with us. And there's something else. Hermione dug this out for me." Harry presented the will to Severus.

Snape took the roll of parchment, glanced at it, then moved into his kitchen to sit at the tiny table, the will spread out before him. Draco leaned over one shoulder and Harry over the other as he read through the spidery writing of the lengthy document.

"Hermione noted that the ink seems different at certain critical places... like where it's required of any heir that he or she marry another pureblood and have children within five years of receiving the estate, or everything reverts to the next closest pureblood kin." Harry tapped his finger on the margin next to that spot. "I was wondering if there's any way to date the changes; the date at the end is far too early, Abraxas must have drawn up the original when Lucius was still a child. It seemed funny to me that he wouldn't have either added a dated codicil or else simply rewritten the thing altogether."

"Not if he didn't want to go through having it rewitnessed," said Snape absently, still reading. "If he'd done that, Lucius might have caught wind that he was altering his will and tried to do something to stop him. Safer just to use magic to alter a few crucial phrases. Miss Granger has a keen eye."

"So is there some way to determine from the ink when the will was changed?" Draco asked.

Shaking his head, Snape said, "I know of nothing precise enough; there's a potion that would indicate it, but only within two years. However," he added when Draco's shoulders slumped, "the simple fact that the will has been altered should be sufficient to contest it. The Wizengamot would certainly look into the matter."

"I'll do it." Draco smacked his open palm down on the table. "I'll talk Mother around. I don't know what Father could be worried about either, and frankly I don't really care anymore. He's being an idiot, thinking that pressuring me to visit them before going to Hogwarts is going to change my mind."

"I have to get this back to the Ministry tomorrow. If Hermione managed to take it for me, your father might try to have someone take it for him, or your mother might be writing as we speak to tell some connection or other that she's coming in to see it." Harry glanced from Draco to Snape. "What would happen if the will went missing? If Lucius had it destroyed, would he then be able to restructure the inheritance any way he wanted? Is there another copy somewhere?"

"Abraxas was not a man to entrust his future to a single sheet of parchment. I would guess that there is another copy in a Malfoy family vault, either at Gringotts or at the mansion," said Snape thoughtfully. "Then maybe I should go home. If I could find that..."

"No," said Harry and Severus simultaneously. "It's too dangerous," Harry continued.

"Do you understand, Draco, that if the Wizengamot should investigate this will, it might reopen questions about how your grandfather died and the legitimacy of your father's inheritance? Your entire family could lose everything."

"It isn't going to go that far. My mother must have had plenty of money when she married my father -- as she is so fond of pointing out, she and I are the last of the pureblood Blacks. Harry reminded me once that if my father was going to act like a bully, the only thing to be done for it was to stand up to him. He doesn't want this to become a matter for the Ministry. All we have to do is make it seem as if it might, and he'll have no choice but to back down."

"Perhaps," but Snape sounded dubious, and Harry too was unsure. Lucius Malfoy might not want his family dirty laundry aired in public, but neither was he the sort to let something as important as his son's future go without fighting for what he believed was right.

"If you really want to do this, you had better start the wheels turning first thing in the morning. I'll get Hermione to replace the will, but someone official -- and not under your father's influence -- will have to pull it from the files again and keep it safe."

"I know. I'll go to Tiberius Ogden; he may not be Chief Warlock but he's been on the Wizengamot for years. He'll know what to do." Draco stretched up from the stoop he'd been in to read over Snape's shoulder. "Can we leave this be for a couple of hours?" he suggested in rather plaintive tones. "Harry and I came here to tell you that we've both been appointed at Hogwarts... McGonagall sounded much more enthusiastic about Harry, of course, but it's worth celebrating. And we wanted to celebrate with you, Severus."

"Trying to be persuasive again, Mister Malfoy?"

"I could try to be practical instead. If my father found out so quickly that Harry and I are planning to go to Hogwarts, you can bet he found out who wrote us those letters of reference. Probably that you talked to McGonagall, too. He's going to try to make your life miserable if you stay here. No matter what's been between you, you know he won't forgive you for meddling in pureblood family business."

Snape's lips were pressed tightly together and he was still staring at the will. He had managed to preserve his friendship with Lucius through the war and its aftermath... no matter how clearly he saw his old friend's faults and no matter what he blamed him for, it couldn't have been easy for Snape to acknowledge that he'd alienated someone who had been a part of his life for so long.

"That's not why you should come with us, though," Harry said. "You should come because you love Potions. You want the students taught properly even if you have to do it yourself -- you were figuring out shortcuts and improvements when you were younger than most of them. And I think you love Slytherin House too, if you're still arguing Quidditch with McGonagall." Snape showed no outward sign of reaction. Cautiously Harry touched his shoulder. "If you managed to live at Hogwarts that year you taught Defense, so you could do what Dumbledore wanted, you must care enough what happens to his school to go back, even if you think you'll hate it. And we'll be better teachers with you there. And McGonagall will be a better Headmistress. So say you'll do it."

A sigh escaped from Snape's lips. "I'm too old for this," he muttered, barely loud enough for Harry to hear. "Wiping the noses of little boys and girls and keeping the older ones in line at the same time."

"McGonagall was head of Gryffindor until she became Headmistress... are you saying that you haven't as much to give to your house as she did?" Draco demanded. "You know that Slytherin never gets a fair break. I'll be head if I have to, but you'd do a far better job of it. We need you. All of us."

That was what worried Snape, Harry suspected. The same sort of thing that Harry had experienced during the war -- the pressure of being the one that everyone looked to, relied on, could be tremendous. He backpedaled. "We'd love to have you there... but we'll manage without you, if we have to. I don't want you to agree out of some misplaced sense of guilt. Only weigh the good and the bad together, and think that we'd be there to help you just as much as the reverse."

Snape reached up and took Harry's hand in his own, turning to face Draco and grasping his hand as well. "All right," he said, a touch sourly. "Am I permitted to say 'I told you so' when things go wrong, as they inevitably will?"

"Of course." Harry felt a laugh bubbling up inside him. "Of course."

He threw his arms around Snape, who let out a soft grunt of protest, though Harry wasn't really buying it, particularly since Snape's hand slid around his side after a moment. "Just let me put the will away, and we can get the champagne."

"What champagne?" The voice was as irritable as ever, but the dark grumble made Harry feel warm all through these days, rather than making him cold with apprehension.

"The champagne I left in your bedroom in case you decided not to be a git," said Draco cheerfully, elbowing Snape in the shoulder as he turned to get it.

Releasing Snape, Harry moved to the table and began, very carefully, to roll the will carefully inside the waterproof vellum that had been wrapped around it. "Thank you," he said, twisting to look at him. Snape rose as well, leaning in to meet Harry's mouth before going to a cabinet and removing three glasses as Draco came back in with a bottle, already peeling back the wax seal.

"What shall we toast? Oh, I know -- my cousins, the Weasleys. You realize that Charlie and that Czech dragon whisperer he married will probably end up turning Malfoy Manor into a refuge for magical creatures?" "Charlie Weasley?" asked Snape.

"Seems Hermione figured out that with most of the Malfoys and the Blacks dead or disqualified, Arthur Weasley may be my nearest relative eligible to inherit under the terms of my grandfather's will. And Charlie's the oldest of his children who married a pureblood, even if she is foreign. Can you imagine what my father will say?"

He untwisted the wire and eased out the cork with a soft pop. Harry had always thought that champagne corks were supposed to fly across the room and the wine foam out, but Draco had told him once that was a sign of lack of skill in opening the bottle. Draco paused before pouring. "When's the last time you used these glasses, Severus?"

Snape turned red and failed to answer, instead reverting to Draco's previous question. "I imagine that the possibility of a Weasley taking over the Malfoy estates is precisely why Lucius is so anxious for you to marry."

"You'd think he'd want to change the provisions of the will, if only to forestall any such outcome." Draco shook his head. "I don't understand him at all. Cheers." He set down the bottle on the table and raised his glass. "To us, to the three of us together at Hogwarts."

"Cheers," Harry echoed, and touched his glass to Draco's and then Snape's before taking a healthy swig. As usual, Draco's choice was outstanding -- dry and crisp, with just a hint of underlying fruitiness. The effervescence going down his throat was matched by the joy bubbling up that Snape had agreed to go to Hogwarts with the two of them. He drank again and then pulled Draco in for a lengthy kiss. He felt Snape's eyes on them when he paused for breath, and turned to make just as extended an exploration of Snape's mouth.

Then he withdrew and watched as Draco kissed Snape. He was pretty sure they kissed each other differently from the way either of them kissed him -- there was a rather competitive struggle for dominance, but it was also affectionate -- Harry thought Snape was indulging Draco, letting him win.

All the kissing had made Harry get hard. He moved around behind Snape, reaching across his body to find Draco's arms as he pressed close and nosed Snape's hair aside. "Have you got an erection already?" Snape groaned softly, pushing back against when Draco released his mouth, but it wasn't an unhappy groan in the least.

"I say we take the champagne into the tub and drink it there," said Draco.

"My tub isn't really large enough for three," Snape pointed out.

"Unless one of us is sitting on top of the other two. Or standing over the other two. Which can be arranged. Though if you'd rather just get Chinese takeaway and discuss our teaching plans..."

Snape had heard enough. "Get in the bathroom, Malfoy. You too, Potter." Harry grabbed the champagne and Draco made a slight detour into Snape's bedroom to pick up the second bottle. Snape seemed to be waiting until they were there and undressed, which they both did quickly, shucking off their clothes; Draco folded and piled them on the loo seat while Harry called out, "Did you want the water on?"

With no reply, he decided that kissing Draco in the meantime sounded like a rather good idea. Draco was warm and the air was chilly, the tile under his feet cold and hard. They had scarcely begun a little cock-rubbing and arse-fondling, though, when Snape entered. He had already stripped down and was carrying a small pot of lubricant -- the deliciously tingly one he'd used before, Harry hoped -- which he set down on the side of the tub. To someone else, he might have looked worn and middle-aged, and certainly there were grey hairs among the black at his groin, where his cock hung heavy and beginning to swell, but Harry felt a shiver down his spine as Snape spoke.

"Given that you did both secure new positions today on the basis of your own merits instead of personal or family reputation," Snape frowned as Draco chuckled, "it seems only right that I take into account what you would like to do with regard to celebrating the fact. I will therefore hear your suggestions although I do not promise to follow them."

Before Harry could say a word, Draco had darted around him and was whispering in Snape's ear. "He'll like that, sir," Harry heard as Draco stepped back.

"Don't I get to make any suggestions?" Harry asked plaintively.

Draco grinned, shaking his head, and Snape said sternly, "Don't you want to know what Mister Malfoy had in mind? You will have your turn later -- you always do." Blushing, Harry nodded, and Snape continued, "Lie down."

"In the tub?" That made Draco smirk and Snape roll his eyes, and Harry quickly said, "Right." The bottom of the empty tub was quite cold and he had to bend his knees to fit his legs inside. No sooner had he done so than Snape tugged one of his legs over the side, letting it dangle and further exposing Harry's stiff cock.

"Now, hold on to the spout and don't release it." Harry reached up and did so, again feeling chilly as he grasped the cold metal. Goosebumps broke out over his chest and he felt his nipples growing tight. "I suppose we should warm you up," Snape drawled.

In a flash Harry realized just how Snape intended him to be warmed up, but he only managed to squeak out, "Yes, please," before he looked up to see both Draco and Snape stroking themselves, standing over him wanking. Harry whimpered. Draco knew him so well, knew how he had grown to love this, and to have them both at once... he bit down on his lip, quivering, wanting to reach down and touch his own cock but afraid that Snape would insist that they stop if he disobeyed.

With a groan Draco arched forward, splattering Harry's chest with warm semen as he spurted over his own hand. Again Harry whimpered and Draco bent down over the tub, saying with a grin, "Fun to be properly filthy before you get clean, isn't it?" He ran his hand over Harry's chest, rubbing the come in and pinching Harry's nipples in passing before he began to stroke Harry's cock. "Come on, Severus, show him how you..."

There was another loud grunt from above, then Harry felt hot splashes striking his groin just above Draco's moving hand. Snape's expression in orgasm was always fierce and intense, and it made Harry ache with desire to see him like that, so shamelessly taking his pleasure. "Oh, fuck -- yeah," Harry groaned. Having his arms stretched overhead made it awkward to move his hips as he wanted to, thrusting into Draco's hand. He was aware of Snape leaning over to watch as Draco jacked Harry off, then Draco was kissing him and he felt Snape's hand holding Draco back, leaving Harry stone hard and helpless to do anything about it. "Oh please," he wailed.

Smirking, Snape reached behind his head, drew him out from under the spigot and then turned on the water. "Clean him off, Malfoy, before he gets both of us as filthy as he is."

Grabbing the soap, Draco lathered his hands and washed Harry everywhere except the places he most wanted to be touched. "Draco -- oh god -- please," Harry gasped again.

"As charming as you sound while begging, Potter, we aren't quite ready for you to come yet." Snape was smirking down at the two of them, and he leaned past Harry to push the plug into the drain, hands and hair brushing along Harry's side. "Neither of us has fucked you yet."

He turned toward Draco and said abruptly, "Wash his cock, too." Draco did so, sliding one well-soaped hand along Harry's length and then splashing water over it, all too quickly for Harry to do more than gasp.

The tub really wasn't very big; Harry could tell that Snape was pondering, and he ventured to suggest, "Sir, if you sat with your back against the tub wall, and I knelt over you?" He had in mind that Snape could fuck him that way.

"Ah. Yes." Snape snagged two towels from the rack and folded them. "Stand up, Harry." Harry hastened to obey, and Snape stepped into the tub, putting the towels down on the floor of it under his legs. "On your knees and facing me, Potter. No, here." He indicated that Harry was to straddle his hips. Picking up the pot, he handed it to Draco, saying, "You know what to do, Malfoy," as he slid down a little against the back of the tub to adjust his height, and then ran his tongue over the head of Harry's cock. "Don't even think about coming without permission," he growled, pulling away.

"No, sir," said Harry, bracing his hands on either side of Snape's head as Draco's finger slithered down the crack of his bum. The water was high enough that only the tip of Snape's prick floated above it now, being caressed by the lapping surface.

Snape was sucking eagerly, the angle awkward but no less arousing for that, and Draco tugged up on Harry's hips to keep his bottom out of the rapidly filling tub. One of Snape's hands settled on his hip and the other stroked up his chest, finding and idly playing with a nipple. Harry let his own fingers slide into Snape's hair, the ends already damp from the rising water, stroking it back over his ear and along his neck.

When Draco had three fingers inside him and Harry was whimpering helplessly, no longer touching Snape, all his concentration focused on not ejaculating in Snape's mouth, Snape raised his head, slapped his hip lightly and said, "Get up and turn around."

"Turn around?" asked Harry. Draco had shut off the taps, so the water was no longer rising, but Snape's lower body was submerged.

"Turn..." Pushing him up, aided by Draco's hands, Snape tugged on Harry until he was facing Draco, quite hard and rather confused. He could feel Snape shifting behind him. "Now, sit." Just as suddenly, he was being tugged downward, knees pushed until they bent, and he let out a groan of surprise as he felt Snape's cock prodding at his now-stretched entrance. Harry wondered if perhaps Snape had taken something when he'd gone to fetch the lubricant, he'd grown hard again so soon.

Meanwhile Draco, who had caught on more quickly than Harry, scooted forward, knees braced against the sides of the narrow tub. "This way you can suck me," he said smugly.

Harry was quite willing to try, although he hoped both that he'd be able to avoid biting Draco by accident, and that he would be allowed to come himself soon, after being teased so long. He opened his mouth and let Draco push in, just as Snape's prick began to slide inside him. Moaning around Draco's cock, he grabbed at Draco's hips for balance. Snape's arms were around him, lifting him with the aid of the water, then tugging him back down.

It was hard to focus on Draco with the lovely distracting sensation of having Snape's cock up his arse. Harry hung onto Draco with one hand and used the other to play with his balls and lower shaft, running his tongue over the foreskin and head and lapping up the moisture that was seeping there. "Fuck, Harry, don't tease," growled Draco when Harry let a finger drift back under his balls towards his hole. "Here." He let go of the tub with one hand to pick up the lube and hold it down so that Harry could dip his fingers in. "Yeah -- there -- oh fuck yes," Draco began to babble when Harry slipped two fingers past the tight muscle and started wriggling them, all the while lapping at Draco's cock as best he could with Snape moving him.

"Oh fuck, oh fuck -- fuck him harder, Severus," Draco was panting, and Harry felt Snape quicken his pace, though the water prevented the kind of force that would have been possible on a bed and might have made Harry lose control of his teeth. With his cock deep inside Harry, Snape's hands were free to wander over his chest, pinching his nipples, and they finally began to move downward as Draco shifted his weight so that he could stroke himself while Harry fingered his arse. Straightening, he looked down at Harry and groaned, "Don't stop, going to come on your face this time, fuck yes Severus make him too..."

One of Snape's hands had wrapped around Harry's cock and was stroking firmly while the other continued to touch his chest, toying with his nipples, urging Harry's free arm up behind Snape's head so that Snape could stroke the muscle above the armpit. Twisting his neck, Harry tried to capture Snape's mouth. "Oh fuck, that's hot, I'm coming!" wailed Draco, hand moving loudly and frantically on his cock, and a moment later a spurt of something warm and slippery splattered Harry's cheek.

Snape's lips brushed across the corner of his mouth and Harry caught his gaze, Snape's thoughts open to him, images flickering so that Harry could not discern which were memories and which fantasies, all of them focused on the rictus of gratification on Harry's face as he cried out in orgasm, and he was coming now in Snape's hand, the pearly strings of semen floating and fraying in the water as he tasted Draco's spunk dripping down his cheek.

He rocked back against Snape, pressing down as he clenched his arse. Snape groaned and his fingernails scraped Harry's skin. "Harry," he gulped, and Harry felt one last quiver himself at the sound of his name on Snape's lips.

"Fuck me, Severus." Harry gasped as Snape seemed to push impossibly far into him, crying out wordlessly. Then his grip around Harry relaxed, urging him back into a gentler embrace, and Draco sank down with them, his arms around both Harry and Snape together, nuzzling at Harry's neck. Harry wondered, in a distant part of his mind, whether it would always be this good, because if it was all of his nerves were going to short-circuit with pleasure.

"Up, Potter. Malfoy. I'm too old for this," Snape finally moaned after several minutes of the three of them rocking in a wordless embrace. Draco rose, tugging Harry up with him, and then the two of them reached out to help Snape to his feet. Releasing the drain plug, Draco asked, "Do we all need a shower, now?"

He was grinning wickedly, and Harry smiled back. "I thought the evening was just getting started. We can clean up later... much later."

"You realize this won't be so easy to manage at Hogwarts." That was Snape, ever the optimist. "It isn't so simple to sneak around..."

"Actually, it is. I have a map of the castle that not only shows all the secret corridors and passages -- it shows when anyone is coming."

"Did I not confiscate that very map from you, Mister Potter?" Snape demanded.

"You did. But it, ah, somehow got loose again. I let Ginny have it the year after I left, but she's given it back." Harry decided that it was perhaps best not to mention that he had a sentimental attachment to the Marauders' Map; his father, his godfather, and Remus had all had a hand in writing it. As had Peter Pettigrew, though Harry preferred not to dwell on that. "It's going to be better than you've imagined, Severus. You're actually going to be happy for once."

"We can redecorate that dungeon of yours, even." Draco sounded thoughtful. "Track lighting and perhaps Harry can find some more of those nice engraved pictures he put up in our flat." Snape scowled. "I will not have you..." Draco had started snickering, evidently making Snape realize that he was being teased. It was clear that he was unaccustomed to having anyone chaff him that way, because he grumbled and grimaced as he reached for a dry towel. Harry snatched it out of his hand and began rubbing it over Snape's back.

"If I remember correctly, there are still some of the old installations in those dungeons... shackles on the walls, that sort of thing." Draco had dried himself off briskly and was pouring another round of champagne. "Could be a lot of fun."

"Minerva expects you to be discreet." Snape looked a bit nervous; the reality of their future situation must be setting in.

"We will be," Harry assured him, and Draco handed him a glass. "Here's to you -- the best damned Potions instructor that Hogwarts has ever had."

"And to us," Draco added, "for getting you to return."

Chapter Text

"There's a big charity luncheon tomorrow, I read about it in the Daily Prophet, and my mother is sure to be there. Exactly the kind of event she loves to attend. It'll be the perfect time to look around and see if my father has a copy of the original will hidden someplace. I managed to check the family vault at Gringotts, and no luck -- if there is still a copy, it has to be at the house."

Draco was sitting in Ron and Hermione's living room, his voice persuasive. Harry had come to stay four nights ago, and Draco had gone to Snape's flat at the same time. They were all worried about what Lucius Malfoy might do, and though it seemed safest for Draco to stay with Snape, Harry had to make an effort not to be jealous that Draco was doubtless getting shagged nightly. Meanwhile Harry's evening entertainment consisted of getting to hear gory details about St. Mungo's from Ron, who was at present in the kitchen washing up that morning's breakfast dishes, Hermione having had a last-minute dinner engagement with Remus Lupin and a deputation from Albania to discuss werewolf rights.

"I'm not sure. It's bound to take more than just one lunch hour," Harry said doubtfully. "And we both have to work."

"We can call in sick. This is important -- and we probably won't ever have a better chance. Besides," Draco looked Harry up and down, grinning, "if we both take the day off, you could drop in at Snape's for an hour or two first. Mother won't be out of the house till late morning anyhow, and if I know her, she'll go to the luncheon and then spend the rest of the afternoon at Twillfit and Tatting's."

It was tempting -- that was to say, tempting to drop in at Snape's. Four days had seemed like an eternity without seeing him, which was absurd, really, since he'd gone longer than that even since they'd all been involved. He and Draco had met for lunch twice and Draco had been owling him several times daily with messages that were rather less than urgent. Missing work wasn't really a big problem, since they had both notified their superiors that they would be leaving two weeks from the dates of their letters.

But sneaking around the Malfoy mansion seemed like an invitation to trouble. "Did you tell Snape about this plan?" Harry asked skeptically, unable to imagine that Snape would think it was a good idea for Draco to take such a risk. Maybe, if Snape was home, he'd insist on going with them... or maybe he'd help Harry distract Draco into not leaving at all.

Before Draco could answer, Ron came in, visibly not delighted to see a Malfoy in his home. Harry hadn't exactly explained about himself, Draco, and Severus to his best friend, though he was pretty sure Hermione must have told him something, from the way Ron went red and shook his head whenever Snape's name came up. Right now, he looked a bit sullen and embarrassed. "Get you anything?"

Draco glanced at Harry, then at Ron. "Why don't we bring in some food? Fancy some tandoori, Weasley? It's on me."

"Yeah, all right." Ron's face brightened a little; he was very fond of Indian food, and Harry was rather pleased that Draco had suggested it. "There's a good place a couple of streets over and they do takeaway. There's a tandoori paneer on the menu that's pretty good."

"I'll go, then." Draco stood up and stretched. "Harry, want to go with me?"

Harry hesitated. He did, but it seemed rude to Ron.

"Oh, go on," Ron said. "You know where the place is and Draco doesn't. I'll pop down to the off-license and get some lager." He smiled conspiratorially at Harry. "Hermione doesn't like it much, so we don't generally keep any on hand."

When Harry and Draco returned, laden with fragrant bags, Ron was already on his second bottle, which worried Harry a little. Ron drunk could be either sentimental or belligerent, and it was never certain which would prevail.

"Never thought I'd hear that you were going back to Hogwarts willingly, Malfoy. And teaching Defense? It'd make more sense for Harry to teach that and you to teach Quidditch, wouldn't it?"

Draco, for once, refused to rise to the bait. "Harry loves flying more than anything. And I never minded all those assignments about safety that you and Potter breezed through the first couple of years." He shrugged, pulling out a steaming container of rice. "Besides, with Snape there..."

Just hearing Snape's name made Ron blush. "Is he teaching you some special tricks, now that you're shacked up with him?"

"Not really. I think he'd rather wait for Harry." Draco winked, and it was Harry's turn to blush while Ron covered his face with his hands.

"Stop it! Don't make me think about Snape and Harry." He grabbed the chicken tikka and shoveled a spoonful into his mouth, washing it down with another swallow of beer. "I thought you'd both gone mental when Harry told me he was moving in with you a couple of years ago, but this stuff with Snape is worse than mental."

"It's what we all want," said Draco calmly. "Just like you want to live with Granger and not get married, right? I can't imagine your mother approves of that."

"You can't compare..." Ron sputtered, waving his spoon.

"Of course he can." Harry handed Ron the paneer to give him something to do with his spoon. "Nobody's doing anything in public, Ron. Professor McGonagall stipulated that Draco and I would have to be discreet."

"So she doesn't know about Snape, then."

"It's not really her business. As long as we don't ruin the reputation of Hogwarts, and don't frighten the students, ghosts, Thestrals, or anything else on the grounds, at least." Smirking, Draco tore off a piece of naan and ate it, licking his fingers. "Not really any of your business either, is it?"

"Harry's my best friend. Of course I worry if he's doing something... something..." Clearly Ron was having trouble coming up with a suitable but non-insulting word. He took another long drink instead. "Just be careful if you do anything in the prefects' bathroom, yeah? I was in there once and Moaning Myrtle got a bit too inquisitive, if you know what I mean."

"Not to worry, everyone knows about Moaning Myrtle. And I think the professors all get their own bathrooms. You were a prefect too -- you know professors don't use that bath." Again Draco winked at Harry. "I'm surprised at you, Weasley. I'm sure Fred and George get up to all sorts of things more scandalous than anything we've done."

"Not with anyone old enough to be... Snape!" Ron spluttered, making Harry start snickering. "Doesn't it bother you that he's old enough to have had sex with your mother?"

"I think you mean my father," Draco said, and Harry had to wipe his eyes; between the spicy food and Ron's expression of pure horror, he couldn't stop laughing. "Speaking of whom, it would be very useful if your father moved up that meeting about confiscation of Dark Artifacts a couple of days -- my father's been ranting about it, there's no way he's going to miss it so he can tell Arthur what he thinks of his proposal. Harry and I need to go to my parents' house and if that meeting were held tomorrow, we could be positive my father wouldn't come home early."

"Do you think your dad would do that for me?" Harry asked Ron, rubbing his face.

"Dad would probably do whatever you asked him if you told him it was important. Though he isn't very happy about you leaving the Ministry. What are you and Draco up to at the Malfoy house that you don't want to get caught doing, or is it too perverted to talk about?"

"Nothing perverted, Ron." Harry swallowed his grin. "We wouldn't need to go to the Malfoys' for that, you know. We're looking for something, that's all, something that will give us a little leverage against Lucius. He's trying to force Draco to get married to a nice girl...any girl, apparently, so long as she's a pureblood." Explaining just what they were looking for didn't seem like a good idea -- it was Ron's family, after all, who would benefit if Abraxas' will stood unchanged, and Draco continued to resist his father's pressure.

"Yeah, I can see that," said Ron, and reached over to punch Draco on the shoulder. "My mum does that too, but she has seven of us... and Bill and Charlie are already married and having kids. Prob'ly much worse for you, only child and all." He was going to be sloppy drunk, tonight, clearly. "What're you looking for? Something for blackmail?" He looked gleeful at the idea.

"Not sure." Draco tossed it off lightly. "I know most of the keep-out spells my father uses. We'll just have to look and see what he has around. I don't really want to blackmail him, only to make him leave me alone."

"That's a good thing, to be left alone." Ron was nodding. "Yeah. D'you want to owl my dad then, Harry? Pigwidgeon's on his perch, you can send him if you like."

"Thanks," Harry said gratefully. He still hadn't had an answer from Draco about what Snape thought about this plan. "I don't suppose Lucius can have me locked in Azkaban for stealing from his home if I'm with Draco, can he?"

"You'd think that after everything you did during the war, that ungrateful bastard would..." Ron paused, looking at Draco. "Sorry. That ungrateful, um..."

"Be pretty funny if he was a bastard. Do you realize that you and your brothers and sister might be my nearest living pureblood cousins?" Draco asked. Harry shot him an astonished look and mouthed, What are you doing? "If I never had any children, Weasley, and the whole of the Malfoy estate eventually went to one of you lot, what do you suppose you'd do with it?"

Ron, who had no idea that there might be any reality behind this speculation, smiled dreamily as he took another drink. "That mansion is big enough that none of us ever would have had to share a room," he said. "Course, if Bill got it, he'd probably turn it into a posh werewolf containment facility, and Charlie would probably raise dragons on the grounds, and Merlin only knows what Fred and George would do... and, I mean, if it was me, Hermione would probably insist on turning it into a refuge for freed house-elves or something. Still be nice, though. I wouldn't marry a pureblood just to get it, though, if that's what you're asking."

"Somehow I didn't think you would," said Draco, lifting his own bottle and saluting Ron with it. "Just curious, you know? Cheers."

The conversation turned then to more general matters, with Ron and Draco getting on rather better than Harry had ever seen before. Perhaps time was all that was really needed... and more than a little alcohol. Harry sent off Pigwidgeon with his message to Arthur Weasley; he wouldn't hear back until the morning post, given the hour, but Ron insisted that they should assume his father would agree to move up the meeting.

When Hermione returned, quite late, Draco had just left after reminding Harry to get to Snape's early in the morning. Ron was sprawled on the sofa with his sixth beer, and Harry was tidying up the litter of takeaway cartons.

"Will you boys ever grow up?" she asked, her lips pursed. Harry waved her into the kitchen and followed her in.

"Don't nag, Hermione... Draco was here, and he and Ron were actually talking and being friendly. If a little mess is the result, it's worth it." "Friendly?" she asked skeptically. "What were the three of you talking about... how bad the Chudley Catapults are this year?"

"It's the Cannons, and Quidditch hardly came up. Draco and I are going to see whether there's an original copy of his grandfather's will hidden away at Malfoy Manor, or, short of that, some other piece of evidence we can use to keep his father quiet. Ron wrote to ask Arthur if he'd mind moving up the meeting on Dark Artifacts in private homes; I think we all know there's no chance Lucius will miss that."

Hermione shot a quick look at the entrance to the kitchen. "Did you and Draco tell Ron that his father might be in line to inherit, depending on what that will says?" she whispered.

"No, and neither will you," Harry whispered back. "Since when has Arthur ever cared about that kind of money? I think you can be sure that if Draco inherits, he won't be spending it on the sorts of things Lucius did. And still does. But there's no way Draco's turning his cursed chess set over to the Ministry -- it's not going to harm anyone even if it is technically illegal -- and you know Arthur would insist on going through every bottle in the wine cellar at the mansion to see if any of them contained poisons."

"If Lucius hasn't already sold them all in Knockturn Alley," Hermione retorted. "Harry, it sounds dangerous. Are you taking Snape with you?"

"I'm not sure," admitted Harry. "I hope so. I'm supposed to meet Draco over at Snape's early tomorrow morning -- I want to at least make sure Snape knows what we're doing, and persuade him to come along if possible."

"Good. Not that you can't take care of yourself." Hermione's eyes grew distant and Harry knew she was remembering some of the last days of the war. "But I'll feel a lot better if there's another person there too, someone that the Malfoys trust, just in case." She cocked her head. "I'd better persuade Ron to get up and come to bed before he falls asleep out there."

It was too late for that. Ron snored away softly, the empty bottle rolling on the floor under his dangling hand. So Harry levitated him up and along the hallway to their bedroom, and Hermione maneuvered him into bed, tucking the covers around him with gentle hands.

"You really love him, don't you?"

"Ever since about third year." Hermione's expression was pensive. "I know some people think it's odd, but don't ask me to explain why, because I can't. He's just part of me now, you understand?"

"I'd never ask anyone to explain why they want who they want, except possibly Madam Pince." Harry grinned a little. "Just keep this in mind the next time you're going on about how you can't believe it about me and Snape, all right?"

Hermione shook her head slightly, but she was smiling now. "You mean Snape actually admits to loving anyone? You know, Harry, that could almost make a person believe in magic."

Though Harry blushed hard, he was laughing with her as he headed toward the bedroom door. "I doubt he'd say it out loud. Even Draco complains that it's a soppy word and we've been together for ages -- he should expect it. Don't tell either of them I said it, all right?"

"I'll try to remember not to mention it the next time I talk to Snape." She had followed him to the doorway and stood with her arms crossed, leaning against the frame. "Speaking of whom, Harry, if you haven't come back here or sent a message by suppertime tomorrow, I am going to owl him and ask if he knows where you are. I don't trust Draco's parents even with Draco around."

Harry considered this. "That might be a good idea. Listen, I have to be up and out very early, so if I don't see you in the morning, thanks."

"You're welcome. See you tomorrow night, then." Hermione kissed him quickly on the cheek before shutting the door.

In the morning Harry showered and left before either Hermione or Ron had stirred. Snape's flat was several miles away, but he decided to walk; he hadn't been getting in much exercise and was feeling that he was on the way to becoming soft, flabby even. By the time he reached Dorse Alley, his feet hurt slightly but the rest of him was invigorated. Snape had given him the entry charms for the door, so he simply went inside.

"Any chance for breakfast, or at least tea?" he called out cheerfully.

"Kettle's in the kitchen." That was Draco, sounding sleepy... or maybe satiated. Harry privately -- and selfishly, he knew -- hoped it was the former rather than the latter.

Snape's rumble added, "Or you could join us here."

"I'll bring you some tea," Harry decided, rather thirsty after the long walk. He went into the kitchen and rummaged through the cupboard. After a bit of thought he rejected all of the more obscure sorts and stuck with a standard breakfast blend. Balancing the teapot, milk and sugar, and three cups on a tray, he carried it into Snape's bedroom.

Draco had a pillow over his head, blocking out the light, but Snape was sitting up against his own pillow, looking expectantly at the door. "What brings you here so bright and early?"

"We could've slept in, you know," Draco said wearily. "We're not going to work and my mum's not leaving the house for hours!"

"Then go back to sleep," said Harry, grinning at Snape and putting the tray down on the table by the bed. "I'm sure Severus and I can keep each other occupied." As soon as he'd settled the cups, he found himself being pulled over and kissed hungrily. "Did you miss me?" he asked when Snape let him up for air. "It's only been a few days," Snape scoffed, though his indignation was clearly a pretense, as Draco pulled back the pillow to look at them.

"He moans your name in his sleep. Makes it impossible for a bloke to get a night's rest around here."

"It's impossible for a bloke to get a night's rest around here because you toss and turn all night!"

"That's because this is a bloody awful mattress! Especially for two people. When we're at Hogwarts I expect you to get a proper bed for me and Harry to shag you on."

Harry couldn't help laughing. His jealousy at Snape and Draco being together without him dissipated, and he reached for a swallow of tea before rolling over Snape's thighs into the middle of the bed. "Doesn't seem so bad to me."

"You're not sleeping here," Draco grumbled, but he snaked an arm around Harry and started unbuttoning his shirt. "However, I think Severus and I agreed that you're not supposed to be dressed while in bed."

"You mean just me, or anyone?" asked Harry, as Snape unzipped his trousers.

"You may notice, Potter, that neither of us is wearing clothes, and therefore deduce that the rule applies to everyone." Snape sighed dramatically. "I do hope that you will think before you speak when you're teaching." It was difficult for Harry to take the criticism very seriously when Snape's hand was fondling his prick, however. He used his feet to help push his trousers down and away as Draco leaned closer to lick along the back of his neck and bite his ear, making Harry shiver pleasurably.

Harry could feel both Snape's cock and Draco's pressing against him, one from either side. His own had hardened quickly under Snape's touch, aided by the fact that it had been several days since he'd had more than a few stolen kisses from Draco.

"Since you've been deprived, I think you should get to decide who you want to fuck first," Draco suggested.

"You stay there and do me," Harry replied promptly. There couldn't possibly be anything better than to come with Draco inside him and himself inside Snape, could there? Except possibly the reverse, but they were already lined up this way so nicely. "Severus, roll over."

"You're letting Malfoy top both of us? He'll be insufferable," Snape announced, but he obeyed, reaching over the side of the bed to get the lube and knocking a teacup to the floor in the process.

"You mean to tell me you haven't let him top once this week?" demanded Harry as he slicked his fingers, then passed the potion to Draco, who was snorting.

"Only when I woke him up and stuck it in before he could protest. He's erotically obsessed with you, you know. We had a conversation about how you were probably wanking that got him all bothered." Draco's fingers began to tease the backs of Harry's balls and along his bottom. "I said I figured you were probably doing it in the loo instead of risking getting caught on Weasley's furniture, and Severus came all over me when I wondered aloud whether you got on all fours and..."

"Malfoy," Snape groaned, as Harry felt his face growing pleasantly warm. He had one finger inside Snape and the other hand stroking his cock, a task in which Snape was assisting with his fingers over Harry's.

"Did you get on all fours, Harry?" Draco snickered lightly, teasing Harry's pucker. "Did you fuck your own arse with your fingers?" Harry felt Snape's prick leap under his hand at the question.

"What do you think?"

"I think you did." Teeth nipped at Harry's shoulder. "I think that you wanked in the bathtub, your bum in the air, imagining that you were sucking my cock and that Severus was fucking you. Come on, tell the truth."

Harry shivered as Draco's cock nudged against him. If he weren't facing away he would have thought that Draco was using Legilimency, because he had indeed done very nearly that the day before yesterday, when he had returned from work before both Ron and Hermione and taken advantage of their absence. "Yes," he admitted in a hiss.

"Pity we weren't there -- I know Severus would enjoy watching you do that." Severus made an inarticulate muffled noise -- he was biting the pillow as Harry pressed deep inside him, trying to grab his other wrist to slow him down.

Oh yes, Snape did like that idea. "Didn't the two of you talk about anything besides me while I wasn't here?" Harry asked smugly, then cried out as he felt Draco pop the head of his cock inside him, withdraw it and push it back in slowly.

"Patronus," Snape groaned, pushing back against Harry who withdrew his fingers and teased the well-stretched opening with his cock. "I gave Malfoy lessons."

"He was strict about it, too." As always, Draco was quite capable of talking and fucking at the same time; he continued to open Harry with slow shallow strokes as he explained. "Wouldn't go for the do-it-right-and-I'll-get-naked technique. Said to stop thinking of my wand as my prick and learn to concentrate. Hypocrite -- I bet he's been picturing you wanking to conjure his Patronus ever since the war ended."

"That true, Severus?" panted Harry, the most he could say with Snape's buttocks clenching around his cock. Snape was shoving greedily back against him, pushing Harry's hand down to make him cup his balls.

"Not exactly," Snape groaned. "Quiet, both of you!"

For the minute or so that Harry and Draco obeyed, the only noises in the room were the wet sounds of cocks pumping in and out of well-lubed arses and Harry's hand rubbing up and down on Snape. But it couldn't last -- or, rather, Harry couldn't. Draco was pressing inside him at the perfect angle, and Snape was tight around him, and it had been days... he wailed as he felt his balls tightening, clutching at Snape's hip to keep him close.

When it had just been himself and Draco together, they had never made a fetish of trying to come at the same time; it was nice when it happened, but not worth the trouble of it, Harry had always thought. With three it was exponentially more complicated. This morning, however, seemed to be the exception to the rule, since Draco shoved deep inside him, crying out, and Snape's cock pulsed hot and sticky into his hand just as Harry came into Snape's arse.

"Oh, fuck that was good." Draco's voice was lazy and he reached over Harry to stroke Snape's chest as well. "Worth the wait, Harry?"

"Mm." Harry nodded, blowing stray hair out of his eyes. "I'd rather not wait, but I've no complaints, although I'm not sure it was quite Patronus-worthy." He chuckled. "What do you use as your memory to conjure your Patronus, anyway, Severus? If it's not an image of me wanking?"

Snape wriggled to help Harry's prick slide out of him and then rolled over to face the two of them, with a dour expression slightly belied by the quirk of his mouth. "Why all this prurient curiosity, Potter? Does it really matter to you how I achieve a Patronus?"

"It doesn't matter. I was just curious." If Harry moved his head just a bit, he would be able to kiss Snape. He did so, tasting the remnants of tea, then pulled back, opening his eyes and pushing his thoughts out to see if Snape would let him in.

Snape did not. "Some things are private, Potter," he warned. And then, unexpectedly, he sat up, swung his legs off the bed and headed off toward the bathroom without another word.

Draco was looking at Harry in utter astonishment. "What was that all about?"

"I don't know." Harry was still staring after Snape, slightly stung and more than slightly ashamed of himself. "I guess we're not at the tell-each-other-everything point."

"You don't honestly think Severus is ever going to tell anyone everything?" Draco shook his head slightly. "You should know him better than that."

"I was optimistic, I suppose," said Harry, biting his lip. He hoped that this wasn't going to make Snape rethink his decision to go with Harry and Draco to Hogwarts... sometimes he had the feeling that Snape might be looking for an excuse to get out. Draco picked up Snape's teacup and refilled it, casting a heating charm on the cooled liquid and handing the cup to Harry.

"Take this to him."

"Why me?" Harry asked plaintively. Draco raised an eyebrow.

"You're the one who made him run out of here, and you're the one he obsesses about."

The floor was cold under Harry's feet as he stood in the hallway and tapped at the bathroom door. "Severus? I'm sorry." He thought about saying "I didn't mean to upset you" but decided that Snape was likely to take offense at the suggestion that he was not in control of his emotions, so instead he just added, "I've brought you a cup of tea."

"Bring it in, Potter." Snape's voice was weary, and when Harry entered he was standing with his back to the door, gripping the basin and staring into the greenish mirror above it. Harry put an arm around his waist and held out the tea, catching Snape's reflected gaze. "I've lived alone," Snape said. "I'm not used to..." He broke off and turned. Harry tilted his head back to look up at him, and this time Snape did not block him entirely, though all Harry caught was a glimpse of himself.

He hadn't meant to try to force things again, and looked away quickly. "It's my fault. I shouldn't have pushed like that. I guess I want..." He shrugged a little. "Draco doesn't let me in that way. There are still things I'm embarrassed to tell him, and he won't tell me, or he turns them into jokes. You've already seen so many of my... but I used to hate it, when you went digging in my thoughts. I should have known better."

Snape was looking at him oddly. "Have you never thought," he began slowly, "that you might prefer not to see what's inside my mind? It's one thing for you to know intellectually that I was a Death Eater, that Lucius Malfoy and I had a... past, that I've killed... It would be something else to witness those experiences firsthand. There's a reason that it's difficult to go digging in someone's thoughts, as you put it. Some things are best not shared."

"You're right that I shouldn't be trying to pry. But, Severus, it wouldn't make me hate you or anything if I did see those things. I'm not an innocent."

Then Snape gave him a rare, genuine smile. "You are an innocent. The Headmaster believed you had an extraordinary capacity for goodness, and I never believed him, but in some ways you are remarkably untainted by the people and events that have touched your life. I prefer that you not..."

There was a knock at the door and Draco stuck his head inside. "Did you kiss and make up?" he asked.

Sometimes Draco said exactly the right thing... and sometimes not. It was frustrating not to have had the chance to finish this conversation, but there was nothing to be done about it. "Not quite," said Harry. He stretched up and gave Snape a quick peck on the cheek. "I guess we have now, though."

"Good. Because Severus probably needs to leave soon."

"So do we." Harry looked pointedly at Draco. If Draco could interrupt at an inconvenient moment, Harry felt no qualms about ensuring that Snape knew what their plans were. "When do you think your parents will be gone?" he asked, adding for Snape's benefit, "And where exactly were you planning to search in their house?"

Snape had just gone to turn on the shower, and now he turned it off again. "What are you two up to?"

Harry turned on the water once more. "We can talk meanwhile. I think Draco's the one who should explain."

"We're going to look and see if my father has a copy of my grandfather's will, the original one, somewhere about. Or possibly something else that might be useful as leverage to get him to stop pressuring me into marriage. Mother has some sort of luncheon today, and Harry asked Arthur Weasley to move up the conference on ownership of Dark Artifacts to this morning, so neither of my parents will be home and we ought to have a good five or six hours. The house-elves won't interfere with me -- it's the perfect opportunity." Draco took the soap from Harry and started washing, his elbow bumping into Snape and his bum into Harry in the crowded space.

"Malfoy, have you lost your mind? If your father has the will in the mansion, it will be warded with curses, and if by some chance there is another copy hidden away that he has never discovered, you and Potter aren't going to find it in the course of an afternoon! You won't even get through searching the chamber under the dining room floor and the room in the dungeon." Draco's eyes widened; apparently he had not expected Snape to know about the hidden room beneath the ground, but Harry had a feeling Snape knew many of Lucius' secrets that the older wizard had not shared with his son. "If you get caught, they'll have Potter arrested for trespassing and you may find yourself a prisoner in your own parents' home."

"We're not going to get caught! I know that house as well as my parents do and I know places to hide where they never caught me when I was younger. Father's not going to stop until we make him stop -- you told me that yourself. If I can find the proof that the will was altered..."

"Suppose you don't?" Snape yanked the soap from Draco's hand and began to wash himself vehemently. "Suppose you discover that the terms of the will are both valid and legal? They may very well be, you know, even if your grandfather did have it changed. You're taking a very great risk for what might be nothing."

"Or it might be freedom for all of us." Reaching out, Harry began to rub at the suds on Snape's chest, wishing he'd calm down. "I think it's worth the risk." Shaking his head, Snape looked frustrated. "You're going to do this regardless of my best advice, I can tell."

"Yes, we are," said Draco in a voice of forced calm. "Because I want to settle this once and for all. Going to Hogwarts will help, but you've said yourself that Father will doubtless keep harassing me there, even if not quite as regularly as he's been able to do while I'm living in London and working for Gringotts."

The sigh that Snape exhaled vibrated through Harry's arm. "I'll tell you what I know of the wards and passwords. It's possible that Lucius has mentioned some to me of which you are unaware. If you insist on doing this... I'd rather not see either of you in any more trouble than you've already had."

"Could you go to that meeting today as well?" Harry asked. "Make sure that Lucius is occupied there and doesn't go home early? I think it's supposed to begin at eleven. I know it's an imposition, but..."

"Please, Severus," Draco chimed in, turning his most charming and persuasive smile on Snape -- a smile that Harry always found impossible to resist, and it seemed the same was true for the older man.

"Very well," Snape growled. "I have to meet a client at ten, and after that I will go to the Ministry. The original date was inconvenient for me and I declined, but I was invited to participate. If I attend no one will be suspicious."

"Good," said Harry. "Then tonight we can all meet back here..."

"I will stay at the meeting only for as long as I can keep Lucius in sight," Snape added as if Harry had not spoken. "If he leaves early, or if I have reason to believe that either of you is in danger, I will come to the mansion to get you. Please consider that before you do anything foolish, rash, or dangerous."

"I'll be safe in my own house," Draco said, rolling his eyes a bit. "They aren't expecting me, so they can't have any special traps waiting for me. I haven't been disinherited so the house elves still take my orders. It'll be fine, Severus."

"I have searched that house before, you know," Snape said, frowning, his voice begrudging. "During the war. The Headmaster thought it possible that if your father had had one of the Dark Lord's Horcruxes, his diary, then he might have had another such object without understanding what Voldemort had done to it. I found no evidence of your grandfather's will but I did find many cursed objects. Don't touch anything."

Reaching past Snape, Draco rinsed his hands and turned off the water. "My father's been getting rid of that stuff -- he knew today's meeting was coming, even if he doesn't approve of the Ministry telling wizards what heirlooms they can keep in their own homes." "There are places that Lucius may believe are safe from inspection, and that is where you could be in real danger. Don't treat this lightly, Draco," cautioned Snape again. "It is not yet your house, even if you are the Malfoy heir." Stepping out, he wrapped a towel around his hips.

"We can't exactly avoid touching anything," Harry pointed out. "We'll have to open drawers and so forth, I'm sure. But we will be careful. Won't we?" He poked Draco.

"Yeah, of course. Don't worry so much, Severus; I know what I'm doing, really." Draco ran a comb through his damp hair, peering in the steamy mirror to see that he had it straight.

Snape sighed again and shook his head, but said nothing more about his concerns. As they ate toast and marmalade in the kitchen, he went over the various wards and hexes that he knew of that Lucius Malfoy had used to protect his belongings, some of which Draco was already aware of but some of which he had not known. "He may have changed these," Snape warned. "Your father is nothing if not careful, and he knows that I am familiar with his precautions. Now that he no longer trusts me fully, he could well have set up different spells."

"Harry managed to get through all of Voldemort's spells," said Draco. "We can do this."

"I had Snape's help then, though," Harry pointed out.

Draco looked at him sharply. "Do you not want to do this?" He darted a glance at Snape, and Harry wondered whether he still suspected that the two of them were manipulating him somehow.

"I think we should do it," Harry said. "But I don't think it's going to be a nostalgic trip home for you. Are you sure you really want to know what skeletons your father might have hidden in his closets?"

"One way or another, I'm going to have to live with them anyway." Wiping his mouth, Draco threw down his napkin and went to get his things.

Harry glanced at Severus. "Do you really think this is a terrible idea?"

"Yes," said Snape, waving the dishes toward the sink, which began to wash them. "Unfortunately I have no less-dangerous proposal to offer instead. I will do what I can to keep Lucius distracted at the Ministry, but if he becomes suspicious, there will be very little I can do other than to warn you."

"Thanks," said Harry. "I hope that it doesn't come to that."

"So do I." Snape's mouth was a thin line as he pulled on his formal outer robes. "If anything untoward happens, you both know how to reach me."

Chapter Text

It was gone ten o'clock by the time Harry and Draco Apparated to Malfoy Manor, arriving just outside the front entrance. "The house-elves will let us in," said Draco confidently.

"But won't they tell your parents that you were here?" Harry was less sanguine about the entire expedition.

"I still have a few things in my old room. I can take one or two of the dress robes away with me; that'll be sufficient excuse to have dropped by. Or maybe use a memory charm on the elves. It won't hurt them, Harry." Draco's voice was impatient. "You've been talking with Hermione too much. Honestly. Besides, it'll be safer to arrive openly if by chance my mother hasn't left yet." He twirled the front doorbell. "See? Nobody home." Unlocking the complicated bolts and removing the wards, Draco pushed open the front door. "And Father hasn't even changed the locks."

"That might just mean he was hoping to lure you home and into a trap," muttered Harry. He wondered whether Lucius Malfoy would really try to shut Draco out of his life if they couldn't find a way to bring this absurd standoff to an end. It was very quiet inside the house; no elves in evidence, no shrieking portraits as Harry had half-expected. A few of the paintings offered polite greetings to Draco and even recognized Harry from his previous visits -- "Potter" was evidently a surname that met with their approval, though what they would have said if they knew Harry was a half-blood, he suspected he did not want to know.

"This way." They went first to the dining room, where Harry had known for a long time that there was a hidden chamber beneath the floor. An elf stuck its head out, started to ask whether they wished any food and quickly withdrew with a small squeaking noise when it saw what they were doing. "They know better than to come in when anyone's under here. My father made that very clear years ago."

"And they won't tell him?"

"Not if I order them not to. I'm the Malfoy heir -- they have to do my bidding. And there's a reason there are no photos within view of the floor." Draco had finished rolling back the rug and spoke a phrase that made a trap door suddenly appear in the wood beneath. Grinning, he pulled it up. "Come on."

"Lumos." Holding his wand in front of him, Harry followed Draco down into the dark chamber. At first glance, it appeared completely empty, and Harry waited for Draco to do whatever was necessary to make the invisible objects appear.

But in the dim light from their wands, Draco was gaping in surprise. "It's all gone!"

"Gone?" Harry looked around, and shivered. The air felt close and cold.

"Everything. There were shelves full of... things. I never even knew what all of them were for. Dark Magic, mostly, but Father only showed me a few of them. Now even the cabinets are missing. See?" Draco pointed at the floor, and Harry held his wand closer to see the marks where something heavy had clearly stood, making dents in the old wood.

"If they were Dark Artifacts, I'm not surprised that Lucius has removed them -- got rid of them altogether, maybe, or perhaps just hidden them better. You knew they were here, your mother and Severus probably did too, and who knows who else? With the Ministry talking about a crackdown... I mean, Lucius is at a meeting about it, today," Harry rationalized. "Aren't there other hiding places he might have in the manor? I mean, you'd even mentioned this one to me."

"There are others, yes, but this was the largest." Draco frowned. "We'll have to check the dungeon, and Snape's right -- there are things down there with wards older than I am. I'm not sure even my father knows everything in the secret room."

"Then it would seem like that might be where we'd be most likely to find an unaltered copy of your grandfather's will. If your father had one, wouldn't he have had it destroyed by now?"

Draco shook his head, scowling. "I don't know. Come on. Let me go first -- it's possible that the inner chamber has some spell that will only allow a Malfoy to pass."

Or someone with a Dark Mark, Harry thought silently. He did not know whether Abraxas had actually been a follower of the Dark Lord or, like Sirius' parents, merely a sympathizer. Would Lucius have dared to threaten his father if Abraxas had been an ally of Voldemort's? Or would Voldemort have admired a man who had killed his sire the way Voldemort himself had murdered his own?

The dungeons were cold and forbidding; while those in Hogwarts where Slytherin House was located had been largely cleansed of their antique torture chambers, here the nearly black stone corridors below the wine cellar and storage rooms were still studded with the occasional manacle or set of bars holding bones. "This is it," Draco whispered, stopping before what appeared to be an entirely blank wall. "It's not very big. Maybe you'd better let me go inside first while you stand watch."

Harry gripped his wand as Draco cast the spell to open the chamber. The stones appeared to turn into mist, hazy but still there. Draco stepped through it with no visible hesitation and Harry could see him waveringly on the other side.

"Seems to be all right." Draco's voice was relieved. "And most of what I remember is still here. A few things gone, and some I don't recognize, but it's been years since Father brought me down and I might have simply forgotten. It's actually bigger than I recalled, there's enough room for you to come in too if you like."

"Do you think it's safe?" asked Harry a little doubtfully. "I think so." But Draco didn't sound entirely sure. "You're better than I am at dealing with the sort of wards and hexes that might be on some of the stuff in here, after Voldemort's Horcruxes. I don't know if I can manage this by myself, not quickly enough."

Taking a deep breath and reminding himself that the entire expedition was for his benefit as well as Draco's, Harry walked through the mist into the tiny room.

Immediately he heard a creaking noise and turned his head; the statue of a knight in the corner was raising his sword. "Immobilus!" Harry shouted more loudly than necessary, jerking his wand upward, and the effigy froze.

He and Draco both stood defensively, back to back, circling, but nothing else in the room appeared to react to Harry's presence. "That was odd," said Draco. "Any wizard could have disarmed that, not just a Malfoy."

"The room knows we're here." Harry glanced around, feeling the malevolence of the place in his bones. Some of the objects on the shelves he recognized -- grisly-looking restraints and implements of torture, snakeskins and Erumpent horns, a great deal of jewelry -- while some, like a silver plate with a raised blade in the center, he couldn't guess the purpose of at all.

"There." Draco was pointing at a small brass chest, resting innocuously behind a gold chessboard. Harry sincerely hoped that they would not have to play a game to open the chest, since he'd never fully mastered the strategies of wizarding chess. He let Draco approach first, sliding the game to the side. "Lock looks straightforward enough. "Alohomora!"

The room illuminated so suddenly that Harry had to shield his eyes. Where the wall that they had entered through had been, there was suddenly an enormous portrait of an imposing, elderly man with pale hair and skin and a cane in his hand with a serpent's head very like Lucius' walking stick. "What Malfoy are you?" the portrait demanded.

"I am Draco, son of Lucius, son of Abraxas," said Draco, drawing himself up and drawling in his most arrogant tone. "The Malfoy heir."

"And that one?" The cane swiveled to point at Harry, and the silver serpent opened its jaws in a silent hiss.

"He does not bear the Malfoy name," admitted Draco. "But he is a relative, and my own chosen companion."

Harry stood silent as the portrait examined him. It was true that he was a relative -- very distant, but all the purebloods were related. Draco had worked it out at one point, deciding that he and Harry were sixth cousins twice removed on the Black side and something similar on the Malfoy side. Of course, if Lucius were not really Abraxas' son, then it would be a different matter.

Cold blue eyes bored into him. They might be merely enchanted paint, but it was nearly as bad as being hauled up before Professor McGonagall to be given detention, back in school. Harry kept himself from squirming with an effort.

"If his name is not Malfoy, he has no right to be here," was the portrait's conclusion. Suddenly Harry found himself being pulled back against the stone wall, cold metal clamps fastening themselves around his wrists and ankles.

"Hey!" objected Draco as Harry struggled with the uncomfortable shackles. Striding toward the portrait, he put on a face that made him look so much like his father that Harry found it uncanny. "He is here to assist me. Release him!"

"His name is not Malfoy," the portrait announced again.

"So what? My mother's name wasn't Malfoy either until she married my father, and you can't tell me she's never been in here. Who put you in charge, anyway?"

"Phoebus Malfoy," said the portrait promptly, as Harry tried whispering unlocking spells to make the clamps release him; Alohomora had no effect, and Refigo actually made them tighten more.

Hissing softly, he said, "Draco, let's just see if you can find what we came here for." Addressing the portrait, Harry asked, "How familiar are you with the contents of this room?"

For a moment he thought the portrait would ignore him entirely, since he was not a Malfoy. But then it spoke, though it addressed Draco: "I am the curator. What is it that you seek?"

"Let Harry out of those shackles and I'll tell you," snarled Draco, raising his wand. "I am Phoebus Malfoy's grandson's great-grandson, and you must obey me!"

The sneer that graced the portrait's face after that statement matched anything that Harry had ever seen on Lucius himself. "You are the heir to Malfoy only, and my obedience is to the possessor of the estate. The intruder will remain bound."

"Just ask about what we need," urged Harry in an undertone. "Then we can see about getting me out."

Draco's face was tight. "I seek the will of my grandfather Abraxas, that I may ascertain his wishes accurately. Is it hidden in this chest," he pointed at it, "or elsewhere in this chamber?"

"Many are the records and deeds that are preserved here, but they are for true hands only." The portrait smirked, and Harry held back a gasp, biting his lip. Surely that didn't mean...? The pale-haired figure continued, "If you do not have the authority, the knowledge of the spells to keep you safe, you will never see them."

"Where?" gritted Draco, his wand hand hovering over the chest. "In here?" "Loose the lock and more will be set free than you may wish." How kind of the portrait to warn them, thought Harry.

Draco bent over to study the lock on the chest. "No keyhole," he said, turning it around in his hands. "This has to be unlocked magically. I assume the usual spells won't work, if they didn't work on those shackles. And I don't dare risk blasting it open; if a curse didn't kill me, my father might." He glanced back at Harry. "Any suggestions?"

"It'd be triggered by something specific to your family," Harry said. "A word or a phrase only a legitimate Malfoy would know. Can you think of anything like that?"

"My grandfather was fond of 'Abracadabra,' I'm told - it comes from the same root as his name." Nodding, Draco straightened, aimed his wand at the chest and said, "Abracadabra!" Harry braced himself for anything from an explosion to the room dissolving around them, but nothing happened. "Maybe it has to be used nonverbally, to stop an enemy from overhearing the incantation." He stared at the chest, face red with concentration, but the room remained entirely still.

"Maybe each Malfoy who inherits it can change the spell. Your grandfather and your father didn't get along very well, remember? I'm guessing Abraxas might not have told your father how to get at anything in this room; Lucius had to be the possessor of the estate, like the portrait said. What would your father have chosen as his secret password?"

Frowning, Draco said, "I'm not sure. I know he's used mutatis mutandis sometimes, but I don't think that's the only magical phrase he uses for such things."

"Go ahead and try it anyway." Harry grimaced slightly. "These shackles are not exactly comfortable and I'd really like to get out of here."

Draco touched Harry's shoulder. "I know." He faced the chest again and raised his wand. "Mutatis mutandis!" Nothing happened. "True hands, the picture said. I wonder..."

"Draco, don't!" Harry shouted, but too late. Draco had put down his wand to place his hands on the lid, repeating the incantation. The chest began to shake, rattling against the table and causing several of the chessmen to tumble over.

Then the lid popped open. Draco exulted, "It worked!" He leaned over to look inside, and his face went white. "There's nothing there except..."

"Don't touch it!" yelled Harry as Draco reached out. "Remember what Severus said, don't touch anything. What's in the chest?"

"It's disgusting." Draco shuddered and backed away. "There's a little doll of some sort in there... it looks like it's made out of human skin and bone and hair."

"I bet it's a bit of some ancestral Malfoy," Harry said, his stomach turning. Why would Lucius, or any Malfoy, have preserved such a thing? Oh... was it possible that it was some part of Abraxas, saved by Lucius as a trophy, or because possessing it gave him some power against any possible haunting? Harry didn't know very much about ghosts, but even growing up among Muggles, he had heard stories about vengeful ones coming back to wreak revenge on those who had killed them, giving up whatever afterlife they were meant to have so that they could haunt their killers. Harry wouldn't have wished that sort of existence on anyone -- he had learned to be glad that Sirius had not returned as a ghost, as much as he had once wanted him to -- but oh, if only Abraxas Malfoy could speak to them!

"Well, if I can't touch it, what do you suppose I should do with it? Ask it whether it is pure of blood?"

Then Harry realized something else. If that was a part of Abraxas Malfoy in the chest, and if Lucius was not Abraxas' son, that little doll contained the proof. Could anything be more dangerous to a dynasty than physical evidence that its heirs were illegitimate? "Try a levitation charm," he said. "See if you can make it move without touching it."

Draco pointed his wand towards the chest, his hand shaking as he recited the appropriate words. "Merlin," he gasped.

"What's wrong?"

"It's heavy. It's like trying to lift a giant." Sweat had broken out on Draco's forehead. "But... yeah... here it comes."

Very slowly, the bone figure appeared above the rim of the chest; when Harry saw it he understood why Draco had looked like he might be sick. Shreds of dried skin and hair clung to it, giving the doll a kind of mockery of life, especially as it moved and turned slightly in the air as Draco guided it out of the chest and onto the table.

"Who disturbs me?" The voice was faint and rasping, but arrogant -- exactly what Harry expected of a Malfoy, Draco excepted.

"Draco Malfoy, son of Lucius. Who are you?"

"Kiss me, and if you are a true scion of the Malfoy house, you will know all the secrets," was the sibilant reply.

"Don't!" Harry ordered, though there was no need; Draco had stepped back with an expression of utmost disgust. Even forgetting the question of the purity of the Malfoy blood that flowed in Lucius' veins and Draco's, there were a hundred enchantments tied to kissing; Harry had been surprised in History of Magic to learn that some of the Muggle fairy tales involving sleeping princesses and transformed frogs were based on real spells. It was one of the very few times that he hadn't needed to borrow Hermione's notes to write his essay. Like the portrait, the thing ignored Harry. "I am the guardian," it rasped. "There are many secrets here, but you must prove your worth. Kiss me."

The thing turned in the air, hissing, and Harry saw that a snake was emerging from its mouth like a Dark Mark. Morsmordre -- the bite of death. Harry had never thought that the phrase might have a literal meaning. He swallowed. "I think," he faltered, speaking to Draco. "I think maybe if it bites you, the venom might be the sort that makes people see visions or predict things."

"You're saying I might have to let it bite me to find the will?" Draco demanded.

"I'm saying that might be one way. There must be a way to replicate that, a potion... if only Severus were here!"

"Do you think he'd help if he were? He didn't think this was a good idea to begin with," frowned Draco.

"I'm sure he would. But he's not going to leave that meeting until your father does -- that was the whole point, to make certain that Lucius didn't come back and find us unexpectedly." Harry grimaced. "Can you imagine what your father would do if he walked in now? I'd be up before the Wizengamot for breaking and entering, and you'd be whisked off someplace to be 'persuaded' to change your mind about teaching at Hogwarts, and probably forced to marry."

"Hang on, though. If we could just get a message to Severus, he could decide if it was safe to assume that my father would be occupied long enough this afternoon; by now it must be clear how long the meeting is likely to last." Draco looked at Harry. "How do you send a message by your Patronus? How complicated can it be?"

"You have to conjure it, first. Then think very clearly about what you need to communicate, and who the message is supposed to go to. The problem with that, though, is that everyone in that meeting will know that Severus has been summoned, if your Patronus shows up and then he leaves. Including your father."

"But he won't know it's my Patronus," said Draco reasonably. "Father doesn't even know I can conjure one, much less what animal it is. And I'm not sure how much he knows about how the Order used the Patronus, anyway. It's not at all a common way of communicating -- isn't that why Dumbledore taught it to Order members?"

It was true, Harry thought. If a large, ghostly komodo dragon appeared to Snape and said Come, even in company, anyone not already knowledgeable about the Patronus might believe that Snape was being summoned by a demanding sorcerer who liked showy tricks like Lockhart's. "We need an outrageous message," he said slowly. "Something to let Snape know that it's us and we need his expertise, but that wouldn't give anyone else a clue."

"Yeah, well, it better be a short message or I'm not sure I'll be able to pull it off," Draco said. "Felix Felicis," replied Harry at once. "Anyone could want that, for a variety of reasons that Snape would be able to make up on the spot if anyone overhears. And, you know, if he brought some with him, it might help us out a lot."

"Fine. I'll try." Draco held out his wand, then made a face at the thing on the table. "It's hard to think happy thoughts around... that." His eyes shut tight. Several long seconds passed as both the portrait and the corpselike doll stared skeptically at Draco. If Lucius didn't know about the Patronus already, thought Harry, he'd know after his next trip to the cellar; that painting would probably tell him everything that had transpired here.

"Expecto Patronum!" There was a sudden burst of light, and the large reptile coalesced, slithering straight through the portrait and out of sight.

"Now I suppose we wait," said Harry, a little wryly as he tried to ease his wrists in the shackles.

Draco nodded. "I'm going to put this back in the chest where we don't have to look at it. But I think we should start trying to figure out how to free you from those... just in case Severus is unable to come." He levitated the doll once again; it moved as slowly as before. Harry wondered just why that was the case. It was almost as if the doll bore the weight of the entire original person from whom it had been made, although clearly it hadn't been simply shrunken. He supposed it didn't really matter as long as Draco could move it.

"Don't close the lid, though," he suggested.

"Of course not." Draco lowered the doll, looking relieved to have it out of sight, and then turned back to examine the clamps around Harry's wrists. "They look quite ordinary."

"What does that mean?" Harry couldn't quite see either the shackles that held his hands securely down near his waist, nor those at his ankles.

"They seem to be simply iron, nothing unusual in the metal, and there's a keyhole. I wonder..." Draco tapped his wand against one, and it tightened slightly.

"I already tried Alohomora and Refigo," Harry told him. "No luck." He forced a grin. "Maybe what we need is a Muggle-style key, or a lockpick."

Draco looked pleased. "Fortunately, when I was trying to repair that cabinet sixth year, I had a lot of practice locking and unlocking things. I can pick a lock, I just need..." He looked around, moving toward the shelves with the ancient, hideous implements of torture. "...something sharp. Like this."

A moment later Draco was back at Harry's side, working something sharp and nasty-looking into the restraints. There was an awful scraping noise, then the shackles opened, freeing Harry's by-now-numb wrist. "If it can't be opened by magic, then it doesn't matter what your breeding is: you can't break in or out of this room by yourself," Harry said, shaking out his hand while Draco went to work on the other one, then bent to free Harry's ankles. "Rather clever, really, though I'm surprised whatever Malfoy put this in place was willing to use something devised by Muggles."

Draco was studying the vicious-looking tool in his hands. Harry didn't even want to think about what its previous use might have been. "Muggles used to torture witches and even suspected wizards with things like these. I bet it pleased my ancestor to put them to his own uses. Listen, Harry... I think I should kiss that thing. I don't see how else we're going to know what it can tell us. Those papers are in this room, I'm sure of it. We just have to figure out how to get them."

His expression was determined, and Harry knew that there would be no use arguing, even though he worried that things could go a lot more wrong than Draco would probably be willing to admit. "At least wait for Severus. If that thing is poisoned..."

"That portrait isn't going to let Severus into this room with us." Draco set the piece of pointed metal back on its shelf and reached into the chest again. "And we may not have much time. We need to find that will. If that thing can help us -- I am a Malfoy -- it is my birthright."

"Go ahead, if you feel you have to," said Harry in his most resigned voice, and took as firm a grip on his wand as he could with his sore wrist.

"I guess I might as well simply pick it up." He lifted the bone figure, hesitating a moment before bringing it to his lips. Harry saw the snake emerging once again from the doll's head; it bit Draco just as he made as if to kiss it.

"Ouch!" Dropping the doll back into the chest, Draco clutched at his mouth and swayed slightly. His eyes glazed over and he spoke in a voice very unlike his own -- a shrill whine. "Within my resting place lies what you seek and more besides." The final words were almost gasped. Draco's hands grasped for the edge of the table, but slipped off, and he collapsed in a heap on the floor.

"Draco!" Harry wasn't sure what to do first. The lid of the chest was slowly swinging shut; if he didn't look in it quickly, they might lose all chance of finding the papers.

He had only an instant to make a decision. With a fervent wish that Snape was on his way, he thrust his hand into the chest, pushing it open. Something sharp bit into the side of his wrist. There was a small decoration in the shape of a serpent inside the upper part of the hinged lid, with teeth as sharp as the ones in Lucius' walking stick. As he twisted his hand, he felt it move. There was a false panel set in the lid!

Quickly, he set to work trying to figure out how it opened, speaking to Draco all the while. "Just hold on, Snape's on his way, there's something hidden in here, I can feel it, if I can just get this thing open..." He turned the little snake-head, first one way, then the other, but the panel did not give way. Nor would it pull out, push in or unzip along a seam. In frustration, Harry shouted, "Move!"

It was not until the little snake hissed, Yessssss, and began to slither along the edge of the panel, unsealing it, that Harry realized he had spoken in Parseltongue. Had Abraxas been a Parselmouth? That was a mystery for another time. "Draco, it's opening! It worked!" The inner lid fell free and a rolled parchment fell into Harry's hands, along with something else -- a photograph.

"What in Merlin's name are you doing!" It was Snape's voice, furious, but Harry had never been so happy to hear it. He was standing just beyond the misty wall, half-visible beyond the portrait.

"Severus, Draco's hurt, please!" Harry could have cried with relief as Snape stepped through. He wasn't sure if the entrance had remained unsealed somehow or if Snape knew the spell to enter; it didn't really matter now that he was here.

The chamber was uncomfortably crowded with three people in it. Snape quickly knelt down by Draco and began examining the wound on his lip, muttering. "What bit him?"

"Doll. In the chest." Harry gestured weakly towards it, and sank to his knees. "Snake bit me." The snake's venom seemed to be less potent than the doll's, since he was still conscious, if rather unsteady. "Got the will, though. I think." He fumbled with the scroll, opening it far enough to see that yes, it bore Abraxas' signature on the bottom.

Snape cursed under his breath. Draco's face was pale, almost green, and his breath was shallow. "Look in the lower left pocket of my robe, Harry -- I can't take my hands off Draco to reach it. There's a bezoar in there. Now!," he snapped.

Snape seemed to have an entire apothecary in his pocket -- Harry could feel stoppered vials and packets beneath his fingers, but finally he found the bezoar. He reached over Snape, shoving the thing into Draco's mouth. Instantly Draco's breathing grew deeper, his color returning slightly, though he did not open his eyes.

"Same pocket. Blue bottle. Drink it," Snape snapped at Harry, who was feeling quite sick. "Essence of rue, take it at once... I suspect the Malfoys' favorite poisons have not changed." Harry swallowed it down as quickly as he could and sat heavily down, waiting for the chamber to stop spinning. "I told you that this was too dangerous..."

"The message. The Patronus. Did anyone see you?" asked Harry, happy to have any reason to interrupt Snape's diatribe, though he feared it would be only a temporary respite.

Snape made a scoffing noise. "The timing could not have been more fortuitous. Lucius was at the front of the room berating some poor official from the Muggle Artifacts division about the harmlessness of keeping cursed ink pens. As if Lucius had ever owned an ink pen in his life... it was a matter of principle, he felt, that the Ministry had no right to be passing restrictions on privately owned magical objects. He never saw me leave."

Draco coughed, and Snape bent over him. "Pass me that bottle. I'm going to give him some of this, and then we are leaving immediately whether that is the will or not. Put it in your pocket." Harry did so, along with the photograph, as Snape helped Draco sit up. "You little fool," he snarled, and Harry guessed from the fury in his voice that he had been truly afraid.

As Harry leaned over to search for the bezoar that had fallen from Draco's mouth, the photograph fluttered to the floor in front of him. He recognized it as a picture of Draco's grandmother Erato, Abraxas' wife -- there was a portrait of her upstairs in the long gallery. Picking it up again, he shoved it deeper into his pocket

"'M sorry," mumbled Draco once he had drunk a few gulps of the potion. "Harry. Have to put everything back as it was."

"I think it is." Harry looked around. The chest had closed itself again, with the doll inside, and the shackles lay quiescent against the stone wall of the chamber. He assumed that the portrait of whatever ancestral Malfoy it was would return to slumber once they were gone. "It looks all right, Draco."

"We have to make sure that nothing will tip off my father." Draco's voice was stronger now, and his face was no longer pale green. "Portrait! I order you...silence..."

"Later." Snape hauled Draco to his feet, putting an arm around his waist to support him. "Potter, out. Now."

Harry went through the misty wall -- it looked solid again from the other side, and he waited half a minute in nervous apprehension before the other two emerged. Once they had Apparated back to Snape's flat, he slumped in relief. Snape steered Draco over to the sofa, settling him with a gentleness at odds with the harshness of his words. "What did you two young idiots do?"

"Don't you need to go back to the meeting before Lucius realizes you're gone?" asked Harry hopefully.

"Since the reason I was there was to ensure that he did not leave it and go home to find the two of you making an unauthorized search, no, I do not," said Snape, glaring. "What did you do?"

"It is the will, at least," Harry protested as he pulled the parchment from his pocket. From his expression, the statement did not mollify Snape at all.

"What's that?" Draco reached for the photograph which had again slipped out when Harry brought out the will.

"SIT," Snape barked at him, pushing Draco back against the cushions and bending to pick up the photo himself without looking at it. His eyes narrowed at Harry. "Start at the beginning. What happened in that room before I arrived?"

"Well... there was a portrait, it asked who we were and put me in manacles when it found out I wasn't a Malfoy but it let Draco look around. There was a chest. That... thing was in it." Harry shuddered. "It said that all secrets would be known if Draco kissed it..."

"And you just went and did what it told you?" Snape whirled on Draco, giving him a look Harry remembered only too well from having it turned on himself during Occlumency lessons years ago. "Malfoy, you irresponsible..."

"The point is, Draco did it, and managed to send his Patronus to you besides," Harry said loudly. "Now we have the will and..." He reached to tug on Snape's hand, turning the photo up so that all of them could see it. "Draco, is that who I think it is?"

"It looks like my grandmother, if that's who you're thinking it is." Draco leaned forward and peered at the woman in the photograph, who -- to Harry's surprise -- fluttered her eyelashes flirtatiously at him. "But I've never seen a picture of her looking like this before. Positively vamp-ish."

"I might draw your attention to the brooch she is wearing, Draco." Snape indicated an elaborate pin on the woman's left breast. "That is not the Malfoy crest."

"Wouldn't it be her birth family's?" Harry asked.

"You'd think it would be, but it isn't. Grandmother was a Wilkes, they use a leopard as their symbol, and that is not a leopard," said Draco absently, studying the brooch, which the portrait now unpinned and held up obligingly. Draco's jaw dropped. "It can't be..."

"What?" asked Snape and Harry simultaneously. Harry was a little surprised that Snape didn't know whose crest it was; he himself was woefully ignorant about such things, but Snape had been hanging around purebloods like the Malfoys most of his life.

"Look at the animal. It's a weasel, it has to be." An anguished note came into Draco's voice. "My grandmother is wearing the Weasley crest."

No wonder Snape hadn't recognized it. Harry was sure that the present Weasley family never paid attention to any such ancestor-worshiping symbolic twaddle. "How old is that picture?" asked Snape, taking it and looking at it closely. "She isn't wearing a wedding ring. Perhaps your grandfather was not her first suitor."

Harry couldn't help it; he started to laugh. "You don't know when your grandparents' wedding anniversary was, do you, Draco?" Still looking traumatized -- and not at having been poisoned -- Draco shook his head. "We've got to look it up. I'd bet my Invisibility Cloak that there's less than nine months between the wedding day and your father's birthday."

"You're saying that the Weasleys aren't only my distant cousins, we might have a grandparent in common?" Draco looked as if he might be about to start inspecting himself for freckles. "No. I don't believe it. My father would know if he wasn't a true Malfoy."

"Perhaps, but if he did, he would certainly never mention it to anyone, would he?" Snape looked quite satisfied, his previous rage momentarily forgotten. "I believe the Malfoy and Weasley ancestral lines have crossed several times before. On the other hand, you, Draco, are indisputably on your mother's side a Black, which is perhaps the purest of the pureblood families. It would explain a great deal about your parents' marriage -- he had great wealth and connections, but she had the most prestigious wizarding blood in Britain."

While they talked, Harry had unrolled the will and was studying it. "We've got it, Draco," he said, holding it where the others could see. "Right here. This is the part your grandfather changed. Those additions about the Malfoy heirs having to marry and sire children were to protect the fact that the entailment originally required proof of blood purity."

"That's why it was so important to my father that no one ever find this, including me," Draco nodded. "My blood might be more noble than his!" He snorted faintly.

"May I remind you that that cursed thing very nearly killed you." Snape's voice had grown angry again. "There may not be a wizard left whose blood is pure enough to survive such a test. The purebloods knew it when they began to join Voldemort: they are faced with extinction if they do not accept new blood."

"Which could be why Abraxas changed the will," said Harry throughtfully. "Maybe he knew that he couldn't sire any children of his own -- maybe he'd tried and failed -- so he was willing to pass off your grandmother's child by someone else as his, for the sake of appearances. He'd have had to alter the will to make sure that Lucius inherited, especially if he didn't know how pure the line was. But it would still be a blow to his ego, and that would explain why he and your father never got along."

"I wonder how the proof of blood was made?" Draco glanced at the parchment. "It doesn't say."

"There are several possible means," Snape told them. "One is, in fact, a potion. There are also at least two spells I know of. All of the tests are complex, but their evidence is irrefutable."

"So if I petitioned the Wizengamot to restore the original will..."

"Which they might well do, given that as Hermione discovered, the alterations appear to have been made without proper witnessing," Harry interjected.

"...and then had my own blood purity tested, I might be able to claim the estate over my father," concluded Draco. "Not that I want it. But it would be an awfully good bit of leverage to get him to leave me alone, don't you think?"

"I think it's exactly what we needed." Exhaustion had hit Harry very suddenly -- a side effect of the poison and its antidote, he supposed. Slumping back against the cushions, he leaned on Snape, who gave him a concerned once-over.

"Not much good it would have done you if you'd got yourselves killed," he grumbled. "If you intend to teach Potions, Malfoy, you need to recall my advice about carrying antidotes with you at all times! What if one of your students were splashed by Shrinking Solution or scarred by a blast-ended skrewt? And you, Potter... if you're going to encourage students new to flying to take unreasonable risks..."

"All right, Severus, we get the point," Draco interrupted. He had sat back as well and looked pale again. "The point is, we did it, and the next time we see my father, we'll have a plan. But now can we go to bed? I'm feeling a bit tired."

Harry expected Snape to express more outrage. It was barely after two o'clock, after all, though it felt as if it should be much later. But he only grabbed them each by an arm and hauled them toward the bedroom. "Get in there, both of you. I'm going to bring some more essence of rue, and I'm going to wake you in an hour to force some broth down your foolish throats."

"In an hour I might want something else down my throat," said Draco sleepily, though he let Snape steer him onto the bed and push Harry down beside him.

"Me, too," Harry agreed, although he rather thought it might take more than an hour to recover. "Oh, blast. Severus, can you owl Hermione to say we made it back all right? She insisted that I let her know."

Snape rolled his eyes. "I will owl Miss Granger. Now rest."

When Snape shook Harry awake, he felt amazingly refreshed and drank the broth eagerly. Snape was a surprisingly good cook, just as Draco had become. It had to be the practice with potions.

Draco sipped his more slowly. "What did you put in this, Severus? I taste ginseng." He grinned and licked his lips. "Harry, do you remember the properties of ginseng?"

"Er..." Harry racked his brains. "It's a stimulant, right? Come on, I was never as good at Potions as you were."

"I always thought that Miss Granger helped you more than she ought to," Snape rumbled.

"It's an aphrodisiac, you git." Draco nudged Harry's shoulder. "Severus, I'm surprised at you. Giving something like that to us after what we've been through today."

Snape's face flushed. "It has restorative properties in addition to being an aphrodisiac, and only a mild one," he announced as if they should have known this. Harry wondered whether Snape had been watching them sleep, and, if so, whether he had found it arousing. Thinking about it made Harry's cock perk up; knowing that Snape worried about them made him feel safe, and that, in some confusing way, made him want Snape's cock inside him.

"Well, I don't know about you, but I need some protein." Draco was grinning down at Harry's groin, where his cock was tenting his trousers. Reaching over, Draco's fingers unfastened them. "Nothing like fresh protein, is there, Severus? Maybe you better make sure I don't deplete Harry too much."

He slid down between Harry's legs, pulling off the trousers, as Harry looked up to meet Snape's eyes. "He's right, sir. You'd better give me some of yours," Harry grinned.

After stacking the empty bowls in a pile on the floor, Snape did the same thing with his clothing and climbed onto the bed, leaning over to kiss Harry before crawling over him. If there was anything better than having his prick in Draco's mouth and Snape's in his own, Harry couldn't think what it was at the moment. Draco seemed to agree, since he pulled off Harry long enough to request tartly that Snape should turn around and give as good as he got. Then for a little while all that could be heard were slurps and smacks and muffled moans.

The disadvantage of a daisy chain, Harry recalled eventually, is that one became... distracted. If he wanted to really savor the way that Draco's tongue was bathing his balls, he couldn't at the same time pay proper attention to his own suckling of Snape's cock. Not that he didn't enjoy trying to do both at once. Nevertheless when Draco stopped sucking him and crawled up to whisper a suggestion in Harry's ear, he was quite happy to agree that perhaps they owed it to Snape to focus on him for awhile.

So Harry kept nuzzling at Snape while Draco Accio'd the pot of Snape's special lubricant and began titillating his arsehole with it. Snape made a noise in his throat that Harry could almost call a purr, odd though that seemed, and stroked Harry's hair so that Harry tilted his head back and looked up at the older man. "Take turns," Snape said.

Harry didn't understand at first, and then, abruptly, he did, for he had seen the fantasy in Snape's mind before. With a groan Harry slid up, wrapping his hand around Snape's cock and his own and stroking slowly as Draco stretched Snape with his fingers, grinning at Harry over Snape's shoulder.

"Legs up, Severus." One of Snape's thighs came to rest high on Harry's side, and Harry felt Snape's cock throb as Draco pushed inside him. Reaching for the lube, he quickly slicked some onto himself while Draco opened Snape up, then slid out. "Your turn, Harry."

It felt very dirty to be sharing Snape this way, even though Harry was sure Snape had got himself very clean before he came into the room with the two of them asleep, hoping for this. Snape raised his legs further, allowing Harry access, and as Harry slid inside him, he felt Draco's erection prodding between their bodies, bumping his own thigh.

"Three, I think," Draco said, and Harry nodded. They would each thrust three times, then switch. It was tight and rather awkward, but exciting too, to be so close to both of them at once. When Harry withdrew he only pulled back far enough to let Draco's prick in, leaving his own where it rubbed against Snape's balls, and where Draco's balls slapped against the head at every stroke.

Snape's fingers slid over Harry's face, reaching his mouth, and as he sucked them Draco touched his leg to let him know that it was his turn again. Harry shifted his angle slightly to push back into the hot slick channel of Snape's arse. He wasn't trying to hold back, this time, but the pauses slowed him down enough to savor the sensations.

"Fuck, Severus, how do you think of these things?" Draco's voice was breathless as he nudged Harry's cock aside to plunge in. "I thought I was pretty creative..."

Harry still had his eyes on Snape's, and he caught a flicker of memory: Lucius and Severus and a man that Harry didn't recognize, with Lucius in the middle and Severus in the same position Harry was now, facing him. He swallowed and tried to push the image away, not wanting to think about Draco's father.

Instead, while Draco was thrusting into Snape, he wrapped his hand around Snape's cock and stroked it. He could tell from Snape's breathing that Snape was close to coming despite all the shifts, and selfishly Harry wanted Snape to come while he was inside him rather than Draco.

"Think you could take both of us at once, Severus?" whispered Draco, withdrawing to give Harry his turn.

"Not now," Snape groaned, but his cock twitched hard in Harry's hand and for a moment Harry thought he would come just from the suggestion. He thrust in hard, feeling Snape tight around him, unable to imagine how it would be possible without causing serious pain, but the idea of his cock and Draco's being confined together in that narrow space while Snape convulsed around them...

Snape was convulsing around him, Harry realized dimly, spurting milky liquid over his hand and belly, and Harry was past his turn, still thrusting into him. He glanced up at Draco as he reluctantly withdrew, and for the first time ever, he felt Draco touch his thoughts, pulling that erotic image from Harry's mind as he slid into Snape's body.

"Yesss..." Harry wasn't sure if he had said it, or Draco, or both of them, as they shared the fantasy. There was a lump in Harry's throat and a surge of gratitude that Draco had been willing to open his mind this way; it had been such a joy for Harry with Snape and he had regretted that Draco hadn't wanted to try.

"Now," Draco said, and Harry realized that they were waiting for him. Draco's hand found the base of his cock as Harry pressed into Snape's arse. "Go on, Harry, fuck him, I know you want it, come on..."

Harry's gaze flickered wildly between Draco's face and Snape's. He couldn't maintain the Legilimency with both of them at once, but this came close, both of them feeding him images in a kaleidoscope of sensuality, until he squeezed his eyes shut and came, groaning against Snape's neck. Reluctantly he pulled his cock out and felt Draco's pushing against it, prodding eagerly.

"Inside," Snape ordered breathlessly. Even though he had already come, he strained back toward Draco.

Lifting his head, Harry looked at Snape and really saw for the first time the dread he had pushed down when he saw them in the Malfoy dungeon, the recognition that he could have lost them both. "It's over, Severus -- we're all safe now," he murmured. Snape pulled him forward to kiss him at the same moment Draco cried out, thrashing against Snape's back.

They all lay together for a long time after, Snape turning so that he could put an arm around each of them. When Draco fell asleep, Harry supposed that he still hadn't recovered completely from the poison, but when Snape dozed off as well, he realized that they were all still recuperating from the stress of the planning and execution of their incursion.

Wrapping an arm around Snape's middle, Harry let his hand come to rest on Draco's hip and closed his eyes, smiling in satisfaction.

Chapter Text

"What is the meaning of this?" demanded Lucius Malfoy when Harry strode unannounced into his office at the Ministry of Magic. Harry did not reply at once, instead taking a moment to glance around. Though Lucius rarely put in a full day's work at the Ministry, he had a palatial workplace, with thick burgundy draperies framing the windows and a richly patterned rug beneath a wide, ornately carved mahogany desk.

Taking a seat without an invitation, Harry faced Lucius and said, "I had a few questions about pureblood inheritance and wizarding law, and I thought you might be just the person to help me." He smiled, trying to keep any appearance of triumph from his face. He knew that even as he was speaking to Lucius, Draco was compiling a list of illegal cursed items from the Malfoys' secret dungeon to be presented to Arthur Weasley if necessary. Finally, thought Harry, they had Lucius where they wanted him.

"What is this about, Potter?" Lucius had narrowed his eyes even further.

Smiling again, as benevolently as possible, Harry explained, "It's about a will that I saw." Lucius sat motionless, but his face grew increasingly pale as Harry spoke. "There was a strange provision in it. The heir could be required to be tested for purity of wizarding blood in order to inherit the estates, and if the tests indicated an unacceptably high level of Muggle ancestry, then the next in line might inherit instead, if that person proved to have suitably pure blood. A bit like the Muggle strategy of entailment to ensure that property remains in the family, except that 'family' is defined by purity of blood rather than by name or supposed descent."

"Supposed descent?" Lucius pounced on the phrase, as Harry had expected. "Surely you're not suggesting that the beneficiary of this will was actually illegitimate and not the true heir at all?"

"I really couldn't say." Harry leaned back, crossing his legs. "I only wanted your opinion on whether such a provision was legal, under wizarding law."

"If the will was properly executed and witnessed," said Lucius slowly, his gaze fixed on Harry, "there is nothing to prevent a wizard from making any stipulations he likes about who should inherit his property upon his death."

"Even if the property had been in a single family for many generations?"

For a moment Lucius looked feral. "It's the only reason that wretched criminal Sirius Black was able to leave an estate including many treasured family heirlooms to you, a half-blood distant cousin, instead of to a suitable close family member..."

"Like your wife," Harry finished for him, refusing to rise to the bait of either the comment about Sirius or the reference to his own bloodline. Harry had been granted undisputed ownership of Grimmauld Place and had been able to make use of the house to protect the Order throughout the war, which he knew had rankled Lucius and Narcissa.

"Well," he added guilelessly. "How do you suppose one would go about testing for such purity? Could one put a spell on family property so that only the true heir could claim it...a spell that would get rid of anyone else who tried?"

"Certainly a wizard is allowed under our laws to protect his own property," Lucius replied, his inflections just as innocent. "If someone else trespassed, any injury sustained would be his own responsibility." He paused. "And Potter, if I were to discover that you had been trespassing on Malfoy property..." He let the words hang menacingly.

"I assure you that I have never set foot in Malfoy Manor uninvited." Harry smiled. "The question about blood purity wasn't the only one I had for you, though. If you don't mind?" Lucius nodded coldly. "As I understand it, a wizard's will has to have a minimum of five witnesses as signatories, and be sealed and filed with the Wizengamot, with a copy to be retained by the testator. What happens if the testator wishes to change some provision of his will? Say he wants to ensure that a particular heir receives something, who otherwise might be ineligible? Does he need to rewrite the entire will, or would a codicil be sufficient -- and if a codicil is enough, what about witnesses for that?"

"It would depend on how extensive the changes were." Lucius' breath had quickened, and Harry could see the slightest gleam at his temples, as if he were sweating. "For a simple change, a codicil would suffice, with three witnesses. If the testator wished to alter many of the will's provisions, it might be ruled necessary to start afresh."

"But in any case it would be illegal to use a potion or a spell to wipe out a sentence or two and substitute something different, without having the change properly witnessed." This was the crucial point. "Wouldn't it?"

"It would not be illegal so much as unacceptably irregular." Lucius forced a very unpleasant smile to his face. "Do you know, I can't think of a single instance where such a case has come before the Wizengamot. I imagine that it might take many years to settle, while whatever fortune the family possessed was spent on legal research, court costs, and the like. It seems to me that it would be detrimental to everyone involved to file such a challenge."

Though Lucius was still wearing the smile, he was indeed sweating now, and he looked ready to murder someone. "Do you know, Narcissa and I have been meaning to invite you and Draco to the house," he said, changing the subject with a curt wave of his hand. "Bring Severus if you like. Would this evening serve?"

Harry hesitated for only an instant. "Draco, not me, is staying with Severus. You'd have to ask Draco to ask him. But I would be happy to join you; I'll let Ron and Hermione know that I won't be home for dinner." There, that would warn Lucius that any disappearance, or even delay in returning, would not go unnoticed. It seemed safest to get this settled tonight, before Lucius had time to try to figure out a way to wriggle free. "Shall I meet you here at the end of the day? I ought to be finished by half-past five." He kept a pleasant expression on his face, as if this were an invitation he were delighted to accept, and met Lucius' eyes squarely.

"Very well. Harry." Lucius added his name in an irritated tone, grudgingly acknowledging by the decision to call him "Harry" that he had been bested... for the moment, at any rate. "I shall owl my son and Severus."

As soon as Harry was outside the door, he drew a deep breath and went to find Kingsley Shacklebolt.

"Do me a favor, Kingsley?"

The tall man looked up from the stack of parchment on his desk. "Only if you'll stay on the job. No, Harry, I'm having you on. What favor do you need?"

"Can you get Lucius Malfoy trapped in a meeting all afternoon today? Anything to make sure he can't leave the Ministry offices before I do. It's important."

"We can call him in for a consultation on the cursed letter-opener that Tonks found in the Rookwood vault last week. Opens letters, all right, but the user starts opening his own veins afterward." Kingsley squinted at Harry, then shook his head. "I don't want to know why, do I?"

"No," Harry grinned at him. "But if I disappear suddenly, check the Malfoy dungeon."

"I'll see what I can do, but remember, I'll soon be short-staffed," Kingsley replied, returning the grin. Harry thanked him and went off to send owls to Snape and Draco -- he wanted to be certain that they knew he was going to the Malfoy home and that they would be there too.

Hermione was in the building, working on a resolution about magical creature reclassifications. When Harry went to find her, he was delighted to find Remus Lupin in the office. They exchanged warm greetings and Remus said, "Wonderful news about your appointment at Hogwarts. I feel certain you'll make an excellent teacher."

"Thank you. Most of what I know about it I learned from you." He hesitated; he had never been certain that Remus wholeheartedly approved of his relationship with a Malfoy, and now there was Snape, too...

But Remus was beaming at him. "I'm sure you will be very happy to be back in Hogsmeade and able to spend so much time flying. I hope that Draco finds it pleasant to be there too."

Whenever Harry had told Remus of his plans after the war, Remus had only ever wished him happiness. "You'll visit?" he asked.

"When he's back from America," Hermione interrupted. "Remus is visiting the Ministry there -- werewolves have always been classified differently by the tribal councils." "Not that they're considered social equals any more than werewolves in Europe, but their rights aren't restricted in quite the same ways. Don't worry. The visit is carefully timed; I'm leaving just after the next full moon and will be back before the one that follows. No one brews the Wolfsbane Potion as well as Severus and I wouldn't risk going without." Remus glanced at Hermione. "I gather that he'll be returning to Hogwarts as well?"

"Yes. The Headmistress was very anxious to have him back on staff, when Draco and I talked to her about working there. You know that Draco and Snape have always been close," Harry said cautiously.

"So he persuaded his old Head of House? I'm astonished, actually. I wouldn't have thought that anything would convince him to go back to teaching. Although he was always one of the best instructors there, despite your opinion of him." Remus shook his head. "He has his limitations, but no one can drill the subtleties of potion-making into careless students the way Severus can. I've been quite shocked at the gaps in knowledge demonstrated by the last several years' graduates."

Harry stared at Remus for a moment. No one had been angrier with Snape after Dumbledore's death. Harry had thought Remus might still hold the same historic grudges against Snape that Snape had held against Remus for so long, particularly since Remus depended on Snape for Wolfsbane. The ups and downs of his relationship with Tonks had evidently made Remus more charitable. Maybe it wouldn't be so awful if... no, when he found out about Harry and Snape.

Indeed, Remus was peering at him curiously. "When I get back, we should have dinner. It's been much too long." That was true, Harry knew, and flushed guiltily. He and Remus always promised to owl each other and see each other soon, but their lives kept taking them in different directions. "You'll have to tell me how you and Severus finally made peace. Perhaps I can learn something from you."

"I will," Harry promised, and turned to Hermione. "Speaking of dinner. I'll be dining at Malfoy Manor with Draco and Snape. I think this is supposed to be Lucius' idea of a congratulatory celebration."

Both Hermione and Remus had stopped smiling. "You mean don't mean that Lucius has finally come around?" Hermione asked cautiously.

"That isn't how I'd put it," Harry grinned mirthlessly. "But he does seem to realize that Draco's not going to let his parents dictate the entire course of his life without fighting back."

"So the... information I found," Hermione darted a quick look at Remus, "is going to be useful?"

"Oh yes. With a bit more documentation. But exactly because of that, I don't trust Lucius further than I can throw him, so I did want to make sure that you knew where we all were, just in case. Not that I think he would expect to be able to get away with murder; given that I am who I am, people would notice if I disappeared, but there are more subtle possibilities." Shrugging, Harry added, "He's cornered, so he's bound to be angry, but we're prepared for that."

Remus raised his eyebrows. "We definitely must have dinner when I'm back. Maybe then you can explain all of this a little more; you've piqued my interest. I'm especially curious about the connection with Severus. He always seemed more inclined to take Lucius' part than Draco's."

"Of course Harry will explain when he can," Hermione said. "But Harry, Remus and I have to go through decades of international werewolf legislation this afternoon. Do you mind?"

"No, quite all right," said Harry hastily, rising to go. "I should think I'll be back late tonight. I'll let you or Ron know if not."

Kingsley was as good as his word, and Harry was on his way out at the end of the day when he saw a very cross Lucius striding purposefully across the long, splendid hall with the fountain and its golden statues. Ever since the war, the house-elf and goblin had been spitting at one another and the centaur occasionally pawed the water so hard that anyone nearby was spattered, so people generally tried to avoid walking too close.

"Mister Malfoy!" called Harry loudly, stopping Lucius in his tracks just as the house-elf sent a jet of water at the goblin. It missed entirely and sprayed the blond wizard instead. Harry had to hide a smirk behind a hand as Lucius spluttered furiously. "Oh, no -- let me help you with that." Before Lucius had time to take out his wand, Harry was already drying his elegant robes with a spell.

Lucius glared daggers, but he could hardly hex Harry in the Ministry of Magic. "Since I've found you, perhaps we should travel together," Harry said politely. In the messages he had owled to both Snape and Draco, he had advised that they should Floo together, and if possible arrive before himself and Lucius in case Narcissa was planning to try anything. "It's our last opportunity, you know -- this is my last week of work here."

"Yes, such a shame that we never worked together more closely." Lucius' voice was pure hissed loathing. "I'm certain that there's so much we could have taught one another." He gestured toward one of the fireplaces on the right-hand side. "I'm afraid that we must use the Floo Network. Do you have everything you need?" He looked pointedly at Harry's pockets as if he could see the copy of his father's will hidden safely inside.

"I think so." Harry kept a tight hold of his wand. He might be safe at the Ministry, but once they arrived at the Manor... well, Lucius hadn't risen through the ranks of Death Eaters by being generous. "Shall I go through first?"

"You are my guest." Lucius gave the slightest of bows and stepped back to let Harry stand in front of the fireplace.

For all that he had used the network to travel hundreds of times, Harry still found it disconcerting to see the dozens of wizarding grates rushing past before he reached his destination and stepped out, a little shaken, into Malfoy Manor. Narcissa was waiting in the grand parlor. She said, "So good of you to come at such short notice, Harry. I can't imagine why we'd neglected to invite you earlier." Her tone could have sufficed to freeze over the Hogwarts lake.

"My pleasure, ma'am." Harry put his heels together and bowed, glad to see both Draco and Snape standing behind her. A bow was respectful, but it was also a way to avoid having to touch someone he disliked so intensely as Draco's mother. Draco smirked and Snape lifted his eyebrows as Harry straightened and moved away from the fireplace just in time to let Lucius step out.

He and Narcissa exchanged significant looks, then Lucius said, "Why don't we have a drink in the library until supper is on the table?" Harry wondered whether Narcissa ever did any cooking or left it all to the house-elves. It was little wonder that Draco enjoyed cooking more than he did; Harry associated it with being treated as a slave by the Dursleys, whereas Draco had probably rarely seen his kitchen in use as a child.

Glancing at Snape, who nodded fractionally, Harry thanked Lucius and followed him into the room ringed high with leather-bound books. The library was furnished with large sofas and tables topped with lamps whose light could be raised and lowered with a simple gesture of one's hand. It was not necessary to fetch books for oneself, Harry knew; if one spoke a title into the silver funnel at the corner of each table, the book would be brought on a pair of magical wings. However, Harry had the impression that the Malfoys rarely read the volumes in their vast library. The sort of information that interested Lucius was rarely found in tomes left out in the open.

"Harry and I had an interesting discussion this morning," Lucius said in a calm and pleasant voice as he lifted a decanter of liquor and began to pour for everyone present. When he glanced up, he did not look at Harry, but at Snape. "Since we have been friends for a very long time, Severus, and since you have enjoyed my hospitality many times over the years, I thought you might have an opinion on the questions he put to me."

"Harry is so fond of questions," Narcissa added in a voice that did not disguise her dislike nearly as well as her husband's did. "Are you aware of his little investigative project, Draco?"

"Which investigative project would that be?" drawled Draco. Harry was almost surprised that Narcissa didn't slap him for the insolence of his tone, but physical violence was not her style. "If it's the one I think you're talking about, then yes, I'm quite aware of it."

"If you don't mind, Narcissa." Lucius and his wife traded angry glares. "I was asking Severus for his opinion."

"What questions did Harry have?" Of them all, Snape was perhaps the most relaxed, at least to Harry's eye. He leaned back against the pale brocaded upholstery of his chair, his dark robes in stark contrast, and swirled his drink gently in the glass, sniffing at it before taking an appreciative sip. If Snape was drinking, it must be safe; Harry raised his own glass to his lips and saw Draco doing the same. They moved together to the sofa closest to Snape and sat down.

"Among other things, he was curious about how one might go about testing for blood purity, if -- as a hypothetical instance -- the provisions of a will required the heir to have no greater than a given degree of Muggle blood," said Lucius.

"Confirmatio Genus is one possibility, of course, and Sanguis Caeruleus, if you are thinking of spells, but I am most familiar with the Cognitor Cordial." Snape took another sip. "It is not easy to brew, even more difficult than the Wolfsbane Potion. But I have produced it."

"There have been problems in the past with Confirmatio Genus, have there not?" Lucius still looked unruffled, even smug. "I believe there was a case where Polyjuice enabled a half-blood to petition successfully for ownership of one of the Rosier estates before his ruse was discovered. The Wizengamot has not been sympathetic to cases built entirely upon magical testing."

"But there is really no choice, if a suit claims an illicit connection." Snape was just as calm as Lucius. "Which I imagine is why such suits are so rare among purebloods. When family ties are reduced to purity of bloodline, rather than the social connections between parents and their children, it puts so many other traditions at risk..."

"Dinner is served," said Narcissa in the same icy voice as before, indicating the doorway. Harry wondered whether she had received a signal from a house-elf or had ordered that the food be on the table at some precise moment which had now arrived. "Why don't we postpone this conversation until after we eat?"

"Yes, I'm famished." Draco looked sidelong at Narcissa. "I had a bit of a problem the other day, Mother -- someone tried to poison me. I haven't quite recovered."

"Poison you!" Narcissa's horror was unfeigned. "Draco, what happened?" She glared at Severus, as if it should have been his responsibility to keep her son safe, even now. "Who would have done such a thing?"

"Can't imagine." Draco shrugged, glancing at Lucius, who was watching with his lips pressed tightly together. "I stopped by the house to pick up a few things, and when I awoke I found myself at Snape's -- he and Harry had saved me. Father, can you think why anyone would have wanted to keep me out of my own home?"

"You've made it quite clear that this isn't your home, since you're unwilling to undertake the responsibilities that go along with the benefits of the Malfoy name," snapped Lucius, his facade of self-possession finally breaking down. "Furthermore, you must have been intruding upon something that was not yours to meddle with. There is nothing in any public place in this house that would cause you harm."

"Lucius, you would risk your son?" Narcissa's voice spiraled upward and her face was pale. A house-elf scurried to the corner of the room as she reached for her wand.

Snape stepped in between the two elder Malfoys and seized Narcissa's wrist. "No. Your son is safe. Sit down." She sank reluctantly into her chair at one end of the long table, and Lucius sat at the far end. "It is time to stop all of this equivocation," Snape continued. "Lucius, you have left Draco no choice but to intrude in his own home if he is to be true to himself. I might remind you also that without your son's choices several years ago, both you and Narcissa would be dead or permanently incarcerated in Azkaban now."

Lucius appeared to be struggling with himself. "What is it you're saying, Severus? That I must accept Draco's refusal to marry, his throwing over of a perfectly good career at Gringotts to go into virtual exile in Hogsmeade?"

"Precisely, Father," Draco broke in. Harry's hand closed automatically over his wand -- he did not trust Lucius not to attack Draco, even if Snape did -- but it was not Draco at whom Lucius was glaring. His eyes were narrowed nearly as much as his lips as he faced Snape.

"Perhaps it is time that I told Draco and Harry the full extent of your connection with this family... precisely the sort of man whose advice they have been following."

Draco looked distinctly uncomfortable, but he spoke anyway. "If you're about to tell us that you shagged him, that's hardly a surprise at this point," he began, while Narcissa sucked in a hissing breath. "And if you're about to give us a list of his crimes as a Death Eater, it isn't as if..."

"Hush, Draco," Lucius said almost amiably, without taking his eyes off Snape. Harry was sorry to see that Draco ducked his head slightly and obeyed -- he knew how painful it was, even now, for Draco to disobey his parents, and he was facing a situation that might cut him off from them completely. "If the two of you knew enough to go hunting for your grandfather's will -- that is what you've done, yes? -- then I don't imagine that I need to tell you the circumstances under which it was altered. Are you aware of what will happen to this house and everything in it if you should choose to challenge me before the Wizengamot?"

Draco squirmed slightly. "Harry seemed to think it might go to the Weasleys," he muttered.

"That is one possible outcome. However, I doubt that the Ministry will choose to remove me from the property during my lifetime -- it is not, after all, any fault of mine if my parents were unable to conceive an heir without assistance. More likely it would be my heirs who would be disinherited." Narcissa's mouth had fallen open in a rather unbecoming manner, Harry noticed, but he couldn't tell whether she was shocked at what Lucius was implying or only that he would say such a thing in front of Harry and Draco.

Lucius, however, had still not taken his eyes off Snape. "Perhaps it would be of greater interest to the Ministry to learn that a recently exonerated murderer had once produced a deadly poison for the Malfoy family. Untraceable, he assured me, and guaranteed to protect the family's secrets."

"Severus?" Draco sounded shocked and rather frightened. "What does that mean? The snake in the dungeon was venomous..."

"That was not a real snake," Snape said, his voice regretful. "No venom exists in nature with the properties of that enchantment. I did brew several poisons for your father, knowing their intended use in the defenses of his... collections."

"You see? And this is the man you trust!"

Snape overrode Lucius' triumphant shout, however. "It was more than twenty years ago that I created those poisons, as you well know. And -- more to the point -- it was not I who sent a poisoned letter to Abraxas Malfoy the week before he died." Harry nearly cheered as he looked from Snape to Lucius, whose mouth had drawn into a thin line. "If you insist upon taking off your gloves, you must expect the same in return."

"What letter to Grandfather?" Draco asked. "What's he talking about, Father?"

"I did write the letter," the elder Malfoy answered in a quiet, almost conciliatory voice. "I borrowed the quill and ink from a friend... a friend who had designs not only upon myself, but upon my family's fortune. I could not guess that he would commit such an atrocity as to give me poison ink. He was such a skilled and subtle potion-maker that I had no way of knowing until it was too late. That is what I will tell the Ministry, Severus."

"You think anyone will believe you?" Harry burst in. "A Death Eater, who regained his freedom primarily because of the efforts of the people now sitting at this table?"

Lucius ignored Harry. "Which of us do you think will be believed, Severus? The man who already stood to inherit Abraxas Malfoy's fortune, who surely had no reason to wish his own father ill? Or the poor besotted half-blood, also a Death Eater, who went on to become Albus Dumbledore's killer?"

"Stop this!" Every head at the table turned at Narcissa's cry. "Severus saved Draco's life at Hogwarts! Draco owes him a life-debt..."

"Draco owes me nothing," Snape said, sounding more grieved than angry. "His only obligations are the ones he has chosen. He remains loyal to you. Do you really want to risk that, Lucius?"

Harry's eyes moved from Narcissa to Snape to Lucius to Draco. His lover's mouth was pinched and his forehead had furrowed in sorrow. "You actually killed your own father," Draco whispered. "Harry said... I didn't believe it. But you did kill him." His voice was higher than usual, almost childlike. "Severus isn't lying. You are."

"Draco." Lucius spoke urgently. "Listen to me."

It was too late for that, Harry could tell. Draco had the same expression he had had when some of the worst reports of the war had come in: not quite vacant, but withdrawn, as if some essential part of himself were curled up in the back of his own head. Snape's warning to Lucius had come too late. Draco pushed his chair back from the table, angling away from Lucius and towards Harry, who reached out to touch his shoulder.

"You'll listen to us, now." The words came out of Harry's mouth in a rush. "Veritaserum will prove who is lying and who is not. The Wizengamot has the authority to use that potion when necessary, and if they start asking questions, they might not stop with one suspicious matter. I don't think you want to risk it, do you? Face it, Lucius -- you've lost."

Finally, Lucius' attention had turned fully to Harry. "Do you fail to understand, Potter, that you have as many enemies as friends?" he sneered. "Not everyone sees you as a savior. There are many who believe that the Dark Lord picked you out as his adversary because he saw you as his nearest competitor..."

"Father." Draco's voice sounded the way it had that awful night on the Astronomy Tower, when he realized that he either had to kill Dumbledore or risk his family's lives. "I followed you into so many things... I thought you finally understood how wrong we were." Harry swallowed. He knew how hard this was for Draco. "You know that blood purity is shite -- Harry's a better wizard than I am, and the Weasleys might be purer of blood than we are! I understand what your father did to you, but I will never understand why you started to think the way he did! Why are you doing this to me?"

Narcissa, Harry could see, was crying silently, casting imploring glances at Snape as if she believed he could save the situation. Though he hadn't forgotten any of her many cruelties, Harry felt suddenly sorry for her. She had done what was expected of her, and now she was powerless to halt events set in motion even before her marriage. But Narcissa was also a powerful witch and she was not afraid of Lucius. "I won't risk prison for you," she said in a voice thick with misery. "And I will not permit my name or Draco's to be besmirched! Whatever he chooses to do with his life, he is our son, Lucius. If you cannot accept your own son, how can you expect to end better than my miserable Black cousins whose name and House are gone?"

"The Malfoy name and House will be gone if Draco refuses to act as he should! I thought we were agreed that we must not permit that to happen." Lucius stared at Narcissa, whose face was set and who had once again pulled out her wand, pointing it at him. "But I see I was wrong, and that you are too weak to do what is right and necessary."

"No, Lucius. I was too weak before. I dislike Draco's choices as much as you do. Perhaps you could convince the Wizengamot to uphold the will, and of your innocence in Abraxas' death, but the cost would be so high that it would destroy everything we have and everything you might hope to achieve. Don't move!" she added sharply as Lucius made as if to reach for his own wand. "Severus? Please?"

Snape nodded and went to Lucius, taking the wand from his pocket. "I'm sorry," Harry heard Snape murmur, but Lucius jerked his head away, his eyes still locked on his wife's. Harry knew that even wandless, Lucius was capable of quite a bit of magic, but with a witch and three wizards prepared to stop him -- or perhaps only two wizards, since Draco might yet be reluctant -- he was unlikely to succeed.

"I have been loyal to you for nearly thirty years," said Narcissa, her wavering voice steadying as she went on. "I bore your son. I tried to bear more children for you and the House of Malfoy. Whatever support you asked me for, I gave. And all these years I have known that you did not love me. I thought you loved him." She nodded towards Snape. "But now I think I was wrong. You've never loved anyone but yourself and your precious family name."

Lucius spared her barely a single glance of contempt. "You have hardly been loyal to me," he spat. "You have been loyal to the same things that I have -- a past that is so much more significant than we are, and our child who is the culmination of the greatness of both our families! Do you think I did not realize that you married me for the name, the property, and the opportunity to enhance the dwindling Black fortunes -- your mad aunt with her two weak sons and your sister who married a Muggle? What will be left to you, Narcissa, if Draco does not produce an heir?"

"You'll both be alive," Harry cut in. "You'll both still have Draco." Draco had remained silent throughout this exchange -- Harry thought that perhaps he did not trust his voice. "Don't you realize that the only thing he wants is to be who he is without it costing him his family? Wouldn't you have done things differently, Lucius, if your own father hadn't been such a -- " Pausing, Harry tried to think of a word less significant than bastard. "If he hadn't been so obsessed with controlling you that he wrote a will to bind all future generations to the same outmoded ideas?"

"Outmoded?" Lucius slammed his fist down on the table, toppling one of the candles. A house-elf squeaked and jumped to put out the flame before fleeing back to the corner.

"Yes, outmoded!" That was Draco. "Father... the old families are dying out anyway. You know it. We're the last of the Malfoys. Most of the old pureblood lines are extinct. But the wizarding world is stronger than it has been in three generations, because of intermarriage with Muggle-borns. Harry's a perfect example of that, and Severus, too." He looked at Lucius, his expression somber but determined. "Whatever you've done in the past, I love you and Mother. But I will not let you control me, and if you make it necessary for me to expose publicly your doings, and grandfather's, then I will."

The words fell into a sudden silence. Lucius squinted at his son, assessing the depth of his resolve.

"Lucius." Snape's rumble made them all turn. "You're allowing him to win."

Harry didn't understand what Snape meant, and from his expression, neither did Lucius. "Severus, what are you talking about? Draco is clutching at..."

"Not Draco. Your father. You are conceding that Abraxas was right to bend you to his plans all those years ago -- that he was, as he always said, the better man after all."

Lucius turned an ugly mottled pink. "I am conceding no such thing! I loathed the man." He practically spat the words out.

"You are using Abraxas' logic against your own son. Thirty years after his death, you are still following his wishes. What hold does he have over you, if you do not admire him and his values?"

Harry had never before seen the silver-tongued Lucius Malfoy at such a loss for words. The irony was that every person at the table was aware of the secret Lucius wanted to hide. The picture that Harry had found in the dungeon room made it almost certain that Abraxas Malfoy had not fathered his wife's child.

"I did not think forcing you to live a lie made Abraxas a man in whose footsteps you would wish to follow." Snape's careful statement would let Lucius continue to conceal what he thought shameful, if he wished; Harry wasn't certain whether that was a good idea or not.

"You are asking me to face the death of the Malfoy line," Lucius said in a strained voice.

"The Malfoy line is already dead." Draco's voice was surprisingly flat. "It died with my gran... with Abraxas. We're arguing about his estate, not his bloodline, aren't we? Why should you let a dead man from a dead family continue to make the rules?"

"Because this is how things are DONE! For untold generations!" Lucius turned all his anger on Draco. "I must ask you what he asked me: by what right do you claim all the wealth and privilege you have always enjoyed if you refuse to be a link in that chain?"

"I've told you, you can keep your money. Take all the stuff that's mine in the flat, I don't care. I'm going to Hogwarts and I'll have enough. I just want my parents." Draco looked as defeated as Harry thought Lucius must have felt. "I just want my parents," he repeated dully.

A sob made Harry turn to look at Narcissa. Her wand had fallen to the table, and tears carried her mascara in black streaks down each cheek. Draco flinched under Harry's hand, but he kept staring at his father.

"You don't know what you're saying. You've been coddled and pampered all your life; without the wealth you have relied on, you will be nothing," said Lucius coldly.

Snape gave an ironic chuckle, and Harry said, "You're saying that because Severus works for his living, he's worthless? What a stupid idea. He's worth ten of you."

Lucius ignored them both, and Draco replied to his father, "If I were to do what you want me to do -- marry a pureblood witch I don't love, sire children I don't want, take over an estate I have no interest in, all for the sake of a family that doesn't exist -- then I would be nothing." He wasn't arguing; he simply said it as a truth that could not be contradicted. Apparently Lucius realized that too. He sat silently, infuriated frustration painted on his face.

"Lucius," Snape said again. The Malfoys all turned to look at him. "You are more intelligent than your father -- you have stronger blood. You have accomplished much more than he did, and you have retained the loyalty of your child. It is you who are the better man."

"It's a bit late for flattery," Lucius snapped. "If there was one person whose loyalty I thought I could count on, Severus, it was yours."

"I have never been disloyal to you," Snape insisted. "I kept your secrets. I told Draco nothing, even though I knew it might put him in danger. What he and Harry know, they discovered on their own. I have no wish to see either you or your son hurt; I have only tried to protect you both."

"You made my son your lover to try to protect him?"

"It was my idea, not his!" contradicted Draco.

"You asked me yourself, years ago, to take care of him in every way as you had done for me. Can you be surprised that I grew to love him?"

Harry's jaw sagged open, but before he could speak, Draco said in a small voice, "You love me?"

"Of course I do, you ridiculous boy. Why do you think I have allowed myself to be caught in all this? But your father..." Snape's knuckles were white as they clenched around the two wands he still held. "I watched you walk away into your own destruction," he said to Lucius, so intensely that Harry felt almost embarrassed at hearing the words. "I could not bear to witness that again. Not even for you."

Lucius, however, did not embarrass so easily. "You walked that path with me," he said to Snape, and then turned to Narcissa. "So did you. We all understood what we were working for -- what we were fighting for. It was never about You-Know-Who." So even now Lucius was afraid to speak Voldemort's name aloud. "It was about protecting what mattered to us, as wizards, as the real heirs of Salazar Slytherin!"

"Then why did you invite a half-blood like Severus?" Harry asked. "Why is it so much worse for Draco to be with me than it was for you to be with him?"

"Because he always understood the limitations!" Lucius sagged slightly in his chair. His face looked battered. "Until recently." He glanced at Harry with disgust written all over his features. "Until you."

Harry wasn't entirely sure what Lucius meant by "limitations." That Snape understood he would always have to come second for Lucius, simply because his father was a Muggle? His stomach twisted at the idea. Much as he had once disliked Snape, that hostility had been based on Snape's behavior towards Harry, not on something completely beyond his control. Now that he understood why Snape had acted as he did, he felt quite differently. The idea that Lucius could have regarded Snape as undeserving of the same consideration as a pureblood wizard, and that Snape would have willingly accepted such treatment, made Harry outraged and heartsick in equal parts.

And what did Lucius mean when he said that Snape had changed for Harry? Snape had been working for Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix since the end of the first war against Voldemort, an Order full of half-bloods and Muggle-borns. Harry couldn't have been the one to make Snape change his opinion of Salazar Slytherin's ideas about who was worthy in the wizarding world. Was it just that Lucius resented that Snape was no longer his lover? But Harry had thought that affair had ended long before... surely Snape had implied as much. He shook his head, confused.

"For Merlin's sake!" Draco had had enough. There was a tone in his voice now like the one Harry had heard him use with Goyle when Goyle was being particularly dense, or with Harry's own friends when Draco had had enough of them. "Would you rather Voldemort had won the war? What do you think he would have done to our family and everything you own? He wasn't planning to share the secrets of his power with you! He had his own alternative to your desperation for a bloodline -- he just planned to live forever without a soul. You know this is wrong! And Harry and Severus have never even asked that you thank them for saving your life!"

Harry looked down at the food congealing on his plate. "I never wanted anyone to thank me," he muttered. "I just wanted things to be better. I lost my parents when I was a baby -- that shouldn't happen to anyone else. I can't believe anyone would choose to have his family torn apart like that." He and Snape might have been half-bloods, but Harry thought that in many ways they were more loyal to their own than the purebloods.

"I don't choose it." Narcissa's cheeks were still streaked with mascara and tears, but her voice was surprisingly steady. "I wish that Draco had not chosen this life, but I would prefer to have no grandchildren than no son. Perhaps you will change your mind, someday, and I suppose better Harry than some Muggle woman."

It's not a choice, I doubt he'll change his mind, and you're insulting my own relatives, Harry wanted to object, but he kept silent. This was better than he had hoped for.

"Thank you, Mother," said Draco, ignoring the second part of her remark. Then he waited. They all waited, as a variety of emotions rippled across Lucius' face.

Lucius remained silent for several moments, staring down at his plate. And then, as if it had been the only topic of conversation all evening, he snapped, "These greens are wilted and there is far too much onion in the dressing. What is the matter with those house-elves!" Harry was astonished. Was Lucius simply going to leave the conversation there?

Apparently Lucius was. He glanced up at Severus, his face fixed into the polite, somewhat condescending mask with which Harry had seen him address everyone from the Minister of Magic to various Hogwarts professors. "I must apologize for the food," he said smoothly. "Ever since this nonsense began about house-elves unionizing, it is impossible to find proper servants."

A brief, barely noticeable flicker of pain crossed Severus' face. So many years of friendship with Lucius and he was now to be treated as someone to be politely dismissed... yet Harry felt sorrier for Lucius, who was turning to Draco with the same cold, superficial smile.

"If you wish to waste your talents teaching at Hogwarts, I suppose that in the end there is very little I can say to stop you. Just as there was little I could say when you decided to move in with Potter." Lucius did not even spare Harry a glance. "So we shall say no more about it."

"As you wish, Father." Draco's voice was thick but controlled, only a hint of the bitterness he must also be feeling coming through. He held onto Harry's hand, taking a bite of his now-cold fish awkwardly with the other.

Harry reached for the pepper. The parchment of Abraxas Malfoy's will crackled almost inaudibly under his robes as he began to eat, and he thought that tomorrow they should find someplace safe to put it. Just in case.

Narcissa gestured to a house-elf who came to remove her plate, replacing it with a fresh serving, but Harry shook his head when one appeared at his elbow to offer the same. Hot or cold, the food would be dust in his mouth. All he wanted was for this evening to be over quickly, for the three of them to be able to leave Lucius Malfoy to the estrangement he seemed to prefer. Only Snape and Narcissa responded naturally to Lucius' carefully casual comments about the weather, the Ministry, and the chances of the Falmouth Falcons that year. Harry managed an occasional remark, but Draco remained silent for the duration of the meal.

Harry tried to look on the bright side. It appeared that Lucius wasn't going to fight Draco any longer, and he was still speaking to him, no matter how cold and distant he seemed just then. He was even speaking to Snape. And he had never been more than superficially accepting of Harry, so little had changed there. Really, of the many possible outcomes for the evening, this was more than he had dared to expect.

But when he looked at Draco's pinched, unhappy face and the dour gloom that had settled over Severus as it had once seemed to emanate from him permanently, Harry couldn't feel pleased. There was nothing more he or anyone else could do, he suspected; either time, loneliness, and perhaps Narcissa's intervention would work on Lucius, or he would remain stubborn and self-righteous for the rest of his days. And no matter how much Harry wished that Draco could have had a good relationship with his father, he didn't want to see his lover emulate either of those qualities.

"Harry," Lucius said very pleasantly after dessert had been served, while Draco was working on excuses for leaving. "That little theoretical matter we discussed this morning at the Ministry? I trust that all your questions have been answered, and you won't need to bother anyone else with them during your last days there?"

"If the situation remains as it is, then I have more pressing things to worry about." Harry wondered whether it was, in fact, really finished -- would Lucius attempt to figure out if some loophole in the will might allow him to try to influence Draco once more? But now Lucius knew that he would risk exposing his entire family. Harry hoped the question meant that Lucius would stop his scheming if Harry and the others would remain silent.

"Come back with us," Draco said in a low voice as they were shuffling from the table. "You can owl Weasley and Granger from Snape's."

"Of course," murmured Harry. Hermione would want to be sure that nothing had happened to him at the Malfoys', and she deserved to know that all her efforts had been a great help, but there was no question but that Draco needed him tonight.

Snape, walking just in front of Draco, had heard. He nodded at Harry in approval, saying, "I appreciate your hospitality, Narcissa, but I fear that we must be on our way. A last-minute invitation -- there are other matters I must see to tonight as well. Certain important clients cannot be kept waiting, as you will understand. Lucius." He hesitated, then executed a small formal bow. "Keep well."

Harry knew that to put out a hand for Lucius to shake would be to invite a rebuff, so he did not bother, merely thanking the elder Malfoys for the meal as politely as he could manage.

Blinking rapidly, Draco gave his mother a brief and awkward embrace. When he moved towards his father, Lucius stiffened, saying, "Send an owl to let us know when you are settled in at Hogwarts."

"I will." Draco turned away, his shoulders sagging. "Come on, Harry. Severus."

How odd to think of Snape's dingy flat as a safe haven, Harry thought when they arrived, yet he associated being here with being comfortable, happy, and protected. Snape stood very close to Draco, not quite touching him but looking concerned.

"You understand that from your father, that was nearly complete concession? In the..."

"I don't want to talk about it." Draco's voice cut across Severus' words. "Let's just go to bed."

"Go on." Harry nudged Draco toward Snape until Snape reached out and steered the younger man with his hands. "I need to owl Hermione or she might send Aurors after me." He tried to speak lightly.

It took longer than Harry intended to write his note, in part because he wanted to repeat enough of Lucius' words that she might notice if there was a hidden agenda that Snape, Draco, and himself had been too emotionally involved to notice. By the time he arrived in the bedroom, Draco was mostly undressed and Snape was sitting behind him on the bed, legs wrapped over Draco's to hold him still, stroking over his body.

Harry kicked off his shoes, then glancing at Snape, picked them up and set them neatly side by side under the chair. He draped his shirt and trousers over the back of it, left his underwear and socks on the seat, and got onto the bed, the mattress dipping under his weight as he crawled up to sit close. Draco's head was bent forward and his eyes were closed as Snape's hands kneaded his shoulders, but he reached unerringly for Harry.

Leaning to kiss Draco, Harry felt the dampness that transferred itself from Draco's eyelashes to his own cheek, and stroked his thumbs across the line of Draco's jaw. Draco would hate it if Harry made any mention of his tears. He pulled back few inches and said, "Shall we just go to sleep? It's been a pretty exhausting evening."

"No." Draco drew him closer again. "I need you, both of you. Need you to love me."

"I do love you," Harry assured him, but he understood that Draco needed the physical confirmation of that too. For all that Draco talked about sex and love being separate things, he had admitted occasionally that he enjoyed sex more with Harry than he had done with any of his one-time partners in the past. "And Severus does too."

Instead of replying in words, Snape leaned forward and kissed along Draco's ear, which for him was a rather sentimental gesture. Draco's lips twitched as his face colored; he looked a bit embarrassed, but at least he was attempting to smile. "Tell us what you want," Harry whispered into his other ear.

"You on the bottom," Draco said. "And Severus on top."

"I think that can be arranged." Sliding down, he kissed the trail of fine hair below Draco's navel. Snape's fingers were stroking over Draco's collarbone and lower, and Draco moaned softly.

"Don't stop..."

"Quiet," Snape ordered in his teaching voice. "You stay still for now. We know what you want."

Draco kept making small noises of pleasure as Harry nuzzled and licked his cock until it rose into his mouth, vaguely aware of Snape's hands above his head stroking across Draco's chest and rubbing his nipples. Draco wasn't often completely passive, and it was a kind of pleasure to arouse him slowly like this.

Harry let his tongue trail down the back of Draco's cock to his balls, opening his lips to take the whole of Draco's scrotum into his mouth, suckling gently. When he heard Draco's breath quicken, he moved back and traced just the tip of his tongue along the slit, tasting the fluid welling there in bitter droplets.

A hand touched Harry's cheek, and he looked up to see Snape nodding at him and holding out a jar of his favorite lubricating salve. "While you're there?"

Unscrewing the lid, he dipped his fingers in, and returned to giving Draco quick short licks along the length of his prick as he teased just one finger into the tight pucker of his arse. Draco whimpered, hardly more than a sigh, when Harry brushed over his prostate.

"Shh. What did I say about being quiet?" Snape asked, but he sounded more soothing than stern, and by rolling his eyes up Harry could see that Snape was still playing with Draco's nipples, sweeping over them with the pads of his thumbs -- rough enough, given the damage years of potion-making had done to Snape's skin, to stimulate without any extra effort.

Draco wasn't doing a very good job of staying quiet even when words weren't coming out of his mouth; he was whimpering with increasing force, clutching his hands in Harry's hair. Harry took his mouth off Draco's cock and licked his thighs instead as he worked a second finger inside; he didn't want to make Draco come too soon.

"Enough," Draco finally moaned. "Harry, I don't want to hurt you, so get up here."

Rising, his knees grateful to have the weight of his body lifted, Harry stretched and crawled forward on the bed, feeling Draco shift behind him. Draco picked up the jar from where Harry had put it down and Harry could hear the moist sound of the potion being spread on his fingers.

Then Draco's hand was moving inside Harry's thigh, and he spread his legs as he heard Snape begin to smooth the slippery stuff on his own cock. Knowing that Snape was touching himself, and that he was going to fuck Draco, excited Harry, and he wriggled back against Draco's fingers. "Yeah -- do it!"

He didn't mind that Draco was less thorough and careful than usual; he wanted Draco's prick in him, wanted Draco to do whatever would make him feel as close to Harry as he needed to feel. When Draco nudged against him Harry spread himself as widely as he could and cried Draco's name into the muffling pillow.

"Oh fuck, Harry, oh please, yeah," Draco moaned in counterpoint, then his voice scaled up to shout, "Yes, Severus, I need you rough, now!" Harry was driven against the mattress by the force of Snape's and Draco's combined thrusts, and he was so busy trying to keep his balance that his cock throbbed unheeded against his belly until Draco's hand finally slipped around his hip and closed on it, the remnants of the salve slicking the skin.

"Want you to feel like I do, oh fuck, so hot, love your tight arse and your prick, love you, love you" -- Harry wasn't sure if Draco was talking to him, or to Snape, or to both of them, but it didn't matter really because it was the three of them together, and he couldn't imagine anything he wanted more.

He struggled to hold back, but Draco's hand was relentless and Snape was pounding Draco into him, just as hard as Draco had demanded. He knew that he was going to be sore after this, but Draco was going to be hurting more than he was. What an idiot Lucius Malfoy was to cling to a life he hadn't wanted and which brought him so little happiness... but Harry was glad in a way he had, or none of them would be here now.

"Love you too," he panted, rocking into Draco's hand, and when he heard Snape grunt, "And you, Severus." Draco let out a soft, keening cry, going still, and a moment later Harry felt the uneven pulsing thrusts that meant he was coming. Draco's breath escaped in grunts as Snape continued to thrust through his orgasm, pushing Draco into Harry, and as Draco's slippery fingers clenched around his cock, Harry felt his balls tightening.

"Draco... Harry," Snape groaned, and that was it, Harry was spurting over Draco's hand, falling onto the pillow as Snape propelled them both forward.

Long shuddering breaths from Draco made Harry wonder if the dampness on his back was only sweat, or if Draco had been crying. He wriggled a bit, feeling slightly squashed under the other two, and Snape rolled them all over. Once Draco's cock had softened and slipped from his arse, Harry turned around and kissed him, quick but deep, reaching with his free hand to Snape.

"All right?" he asked. Draco opened his eyes and looked at Harry.

"Yeah. I needed that."

"What you need now, though, is to rest," Snape said in almost his old teaching voice. It still made Harry quiver inside to hear that command, and Draco gave him the ghost of a grin.

"Yes, sir."

Harry echoed, "Yes, sir," and then added, "Do you suppose you and I will ever get used to having students address us that way, Draco?"

"I don't know. Maybe we should have Severus call each of us 'sir' occasionally, so that we don't embarrass ourselves the first few times it happens at Hogwarts." The sound of a smacked bottom and an "OW!" made Harry grin. "Not fair. You're the one who always insists that we should practice things!" Draco complained.

"Then perhaps you and Harry should call one another 'sir' occasionally, and I will evaluate the propriety of your responses."

"I'll get hard if he calls me 'sir,'" Draco said plaintively, and then, "Oh. I guess it wouldn't be a good idea to associate being called that with having a stiffy. Is that why you always wear those heavy robes, Severus? Which reminds me, I had better go buy some teaching robes. Want to come shopping with me? You can help me pick something out with a few thousand buttons..."

There was another smack, a yelp and the bed heaved as Draco rolled over to wrestle with Snape, tickling him. "I'm practically your equal now! You need to start showing me the proper respect. Calling me 'sir' is just the start..."

Harry laughed, watching them, as Snape clamped his elbows against his sides so that Draco couldn't reach his armpits. "You are planning to teach children when you are practically a child yourself. What you need is regular discipline, bent over my knee. Every evening after classes, I expect to see you in my office on your knees..."

Draco was grinning broadly now despite the lingering redness around his eyes, and Harry caught and squeezed Snape's hand. Severus was right: Lucius had very nearly capitulated, he would probably come around eventually, and in the meantime they had plenty to look forward to at Hogwarts.

Chapter Text

The pounding was loud and insistent and the bed was shaking. At first Harry thought that Draco must be fucking Severus hard enough to slam the headboard into the wall -- Severus would never have been so careless as to have done the same without using a silencing spell -- but then a hand grabbed Harry's shoulder and Severus hissed, "Up! Into the wardrobe, now!"

Harry blinked until his eyes had adjusted to the dawn light, recreated by magic in the dungeon where they slept. Draco was slipping naked from the bed, stumbling toward the large cabinet at the far side of the room, while Snape called toward the door, in a voice that only barely disguised his irritation, "A moment, please!"

He heaved Harry none too gently from the bed and muttered, "Finite incantatem," returning the mattress to a size more appropriate to one adult man than the three who had been sleeping there. Harry was about to use a similar inflation charm on the wardrobe when the knocking began again and Snape shoved him unceremoniously after Draco, pushing him into the cramped space beside several black robes and a Slytherin tie. "Stay down," he ordered, shutting the door.

"Ow!" Draco yelped as Harry landed on his foot, but the sound cut off in mid-cry; Snape must have used Silencio on the two of them. They struggled against one another to peer out through the crack in the wardrobe doors to see what was happening, as Severus flung on a dressing robe, pointed his wand at the bedcovers -- which straightened themselves -- and opened the door to the room.

"Minerva. What brings you to the dungeon so bright and early?"

The sarcasm in Snape's voice was impossible to miss, and McGonagall darted a haughty glare at him as she stepped inside, glancing about with a suspicious expression. "You know perfectly well what day it is," she snapped. "The Board of Governors will be here in little more than an hour. Lucius Malfoy is their special guest today and has specifically asked that his son accompany you to greet the Slytherin visitors. I thought I had better warn you in person." Her voice was pitched slightly louder than Harry thought necessary, and he pressed against the back of the wardrobe, wondering whether the Headmistress had guessed that Draco was in the room.

"Thank you very much. Your thoughtfulness is appreciated, as ever. Was there anything else?"

The Headmistress straightened her hat, quite unnecessarily. "Mister Malfoy will be staying for luncheon, or dinner, depending on the length of the Quidditch match. I expect you and Draco to join us. At his request, it is to be a private meal, not in the Great Hall."

Draco nudged Harry sharply in the ribs. Harry nudged right back. Why on earth would Lucius want to meet with McGonagall and Snape over lunch?

"I trust that you will hope for Slytherin to beat Gryffindor, then." Snape drawled out the words. "Lucius will be in a far better mood if they do. Is anyone else to be at this delightful collation? The school governors, perhaps?"

"None of them, only Mister Malfoy. Mister Potter's presence has also been requested." McGonagall was carefully keeping her back to the side of the room containing the bed, wardrobe, and door leading to the toilet and bath.

"As you wish, Minerva." The teeth Snape showed were less of a smile and more of a grimace than he perhaps intended. "Now, if you would excuse me? Given the significance of this command performance, I imagine I ought to take extra care with my appearance."

"That would be wise. Oh, and if you should happen to see Potter, would you tell him that I would like to have a word with him? He is nowhere to be found. I presume we will see him at breakfast, but there is something I wish to discuss with him before the governors arrive." Her voice carried so loudly that Harry knew she must have come to her own conclusions about where he might have gone at such an hour.

"If I see Potter, I will let him know," Snape said, now sounding decidedly irritated. Draco once again elbowed Harry, who could practically feel the grin he couldn't see in the darkness of the wardrobe.

"Thank you, Severus. I knew I could count on you." Rather than returning his annoyance, McGonagall sounded amused as she made her way back to the door, shoes tapping against the stone floor.

The moment they heard it shut, and Snape say, "Finite incantatem", Draco grabbed Harry. "Let's give Severus something to smile about," he hissed, and leaned forward to kiss Harry, wrapping his arms around him and teasing a nipple. Harry's eyes were shut when the wardrobe swung open, but he could not miss hearing Snape's indrawn breath as he saw the two of them tangled together.

"Stop that! We do not have time!"

"Maybe you don't have time," replied Draco sweetly, "but since Harry and I did not officially hear one word that was said..."

"OUT," Snape barked, tugging on Harry's arm, and the two of them tumbled from the wardrobe, snickering. As Draco stretched, Severus added, "I know that you are concerned about seeing your father..."

Abruptly Draco's smile vanished. "I'm not concerned," he said. "I haven't even sent him an owl in the past several months. I have nothing to say to him."

"Evidently he has something to say to you," Snape pointed out. "Some reason to want you present, in any case, and myself as well." "Draco." Harry ran his hand over the bare skin of Draco's back, down to the rounded curve of his arse. "It's only for a couple of hours, and Severus will be there, and Minerva. He probably thinks it would look odd if he came here and didn't want to see you. Lucius isn't exactly comfortable with unconventional appearances."

With a sigh, Draco said, "I know. I wonder what McGonagall needs to discuss with you? Maybe she thinks you'll have better luck dealing with whatever my father wants than I will."

Harry snorted. "That's about as likely as Dobby wearing matching socks. But I suppose I'll have to go and find out."

"I would recommend getting dressed first," said Snape in a dry voice. "I doubt that Minerva would enjoy the view as much as we do."

Winking at Draco, Harry put his arms around Snape and rubbed against him, fingers busy undoing the knot of his robe's sash. Draco stepped up to Snape's other side. "I think we can spare a few minutes before that, don't you? I'd like to be relaxed if I have to cope with my father this morning."

"In the shower," Snape said promptly. "If you are going to be 'relaxed' then you are also going to be clean."

"Yes, sir." Draco bounded away toward the bathroom, while Harry tugged Snape's robe off his arms and tossed it aside, kissing his shoulder. The faucet handle squeaked as Draco turned it on to let the water warm up. Harry could feel Severus hardening against his thigh and looked up at him with a smile.

"I think the Headmistress has her suspicions about you," he laughed softly, then paused. "What do you suppose Lucius wants with you and Draco?"

"As you said, I imagine appearances play a role in his desire to see his son," Snape replied, but he was frowning. "As for why he should request my own presence... I could not guess."

Pulling Snape's head down, Harry kissed him. Draco, at least, sometimes talked about how he felt about his father's estrangement and did not try to hide his own frustration. Snape never spoke about the end of what must have been very nearly a lifelong friendship with Lucius. "I'll go see what McGonagall has to say to me. Maybe it's something good."

"You are not going anywhere until we've finished with you," Snape murmured in a low, aroused voice, nudging against Harry and urging him toward the bathroom. Draco was waiting inside, having set the lube beside the soap on the edge of the tub. He was standing beneath the shower, wanking.

"About time you got in here," he said.

Harry grinned. "A little impatient this morning?"

"McGonagall interrupted us." Draco smirked back. "I was just about to wake you to join in when she started banging on the door."

"Don't mention McGonagall and banging in the same sentence, please," said Harry, rolling his eyes as he stepped into the tub. He reached for the soap, but Snape stopped him.

"You won't need that quite yet." He stepped close to Harry. "You should be thoroughly dirty, first."

Harry looked up the few inches it took to meet Snape's eyes and shivered at what he saw there. However many times he shared Snape's thoughts, there was always something new, something that made him feel deliciously wanton.

"You do love this, don't you?" The sensual growl, combined with the way that he was being rubbed against, front and back, by the two people he loved most, had Harry achingly hard, panting and holding on to Snape. The water from the shower was running along the inside of his thighs and calves -- it tickled. In the older man's mind he caught a fantasy of ejaculating on Harry's face and groaned.

"No more than you love doing it to me." He sounded as breathless as he felt, dizzy with lust, when Snape ran a wet hand up his chest and tugged on his nipple. Draco's hands had come around his lower body and were stroking him and Snape both, rubbing their cocks together, while Draco nudged his growing erection into the space between Harry's thighs.

"I think we should take turns fucking him." Harry could feel Draco grinning at Severus over his shoulder. "And whoever comes first has to stroke his prick until Harry comes too."

Snape's fingers tugged the nipple again and Harry groaned over his reply. "I approve; my control is superior to yours, after all. Leviosa!" Immediately Harry's feet left the bottom of the tub and Snape released his nipple to catch his hips as they rose. "You may lubricate him, Malfoy, while I prepare myself." Floating in midair, Harry could only whimper as Snape took his feet, smearing some of the potion they always left in the bathroom along the arches, and rubbed them up and down against his cock.

If he tried to touch himself, Harry knew he'd be in trouble... but he couldn't resist, not with Draco's slick fingers and tongue starting to ease him open and Snape's prick warm and eager against the soles of his feet. As he expected, he had hardly started when Snape's free hand clamped around his wrist.

"Oh, no you don't," the older man warned in a voice like velvet over steel. "We haven't time to punish you now. Later today, I think some imposed restraint is in order." He smirked. "You can think about that as you eat in the Hall."

If the quickened movement of his hand was anything to go by, Draco seemed pleased by that suggestion; Snape rarely played punishment games with one of them without the other, and Draco was an enthusiastic participant. His thumb caressed the back of Harry's scrotum, and a moment later his mouth closed over it. Only when Harry was shaking with the sensation did Draco pull back and say, "I think he's sufficiently lubricated, sir. You should let him down now."

"Whyever would I want to do that?" Snape demanded as if Draco were a slow student, grasping Harry's hips in midair at the same time and lowering and turning him so that he was facing Draco. "No. I am going to put my prick inside him..."

As good as his word, Severus pushed up, tugging Harry down against him, and Harry's well-licked arse stretched to accommodate the hard cock sliding past the ring of muscle. He and Snape both groaned. With his feet off the bottom of the tub, he had no leverage; there was little he could do but to allow this to happen to him, with very great pleasure.

Snape's hand wrapped around Harry's cock as Draco grinned at him, slathering lube onto himself. "You may tease it, if you like," said Snape, and Harry moaned again. "Then I will withdraw..." He did, making Harry whimper in protest. "And you, Draco, will put that eager prick of yours inside him, and we will take turns until Potter has an arseful of come and is begging to be allowed to come himself."

Harry clutched at Draco's shoulders as his arse was filled again. He'd wanted this ever since he and Draco had taken similar turns at Severus, months ago now, but somehow it had never happened. Draco's hand joined Snape's on his cock, resting easily and only moving the slightest fraction as Harry sank down on each of them in turn.

"Oh, fuck, that's good," Draco said, his eyes bright and cheeks flushed. "Love the way you feel around me, Harry, you're so hot..." He pinched Harry's nipple with his free hand, tilting his head to soothe the heated flesh with soft lips and moist tongue. "Never going to be tired of this."

Moaning, Harry tried to wriggle, thrust his hips, anything to provoke friction against his aching cock. Snape's arm around his waist held him too still, much to his chagrin.

"No you don't, Potter." How Snape managed to put such a whipcrack into a sensuous whisper, Harry would never understand. "You know it will be better if you wait as I told you to."

It was Snape's turn to thrust in again, and as Draco slid out with evident reluctance, reaching down to stroke himself, Harry groaned, "Thought you were saving the control games for later..."

Letting out a loud grunt, Severus pushed in savagely. "Perhaps I should," he panted. "Perhaps I should refuse to let you come at all this morning, and when we return later..."

"Oh, fuck, fuck, you can't send me to meet with the Headmistress with a stiffy!" Harry wailed. He felt Severus thrusting four or five times before he withdrew and knew the older man was aroused by his protests. "Please let me come, I'll do anything you want later!" Draco's cock replaced Snape's inside him as Snape's free hand squeezed his bum. "Remember that you said 'anything' when the time comes," he said silkily. "Draco, we should hurry. Fuck him until you come, and ease the way for me."

Shifting his hands to grab Harry's hips, Draco flashed a wicked smile and slammed into him, angling to brush over his prostate, moving fast and hard and not quite rough enough to actually hurt, just enough so that Harry cried out and flung one arm back around Snape's neck, the other hand holding onto Draco's upper arm as if he could affect what Draco was doing at all.

"Going to spill inside you, make you dirty for Severus, fill you up with spunk till you're overflowing... now," Draco panted, and with a last thrust he shuddered, his eyes closing as his head tipped back, holding onto Harry now as much to keep himself upright as for any other reason. As he pulled away, Harry could feel just the beginning of a warm trickle down his leg, thicker and slower than the water from the shower, before Snape's prick replaced Draco's.

Harry grunted, his arsehole flexing and relaxing to accommodate Snape's greater size, and leaned back against Snape's chest, feeling his breath on his neck. Draco still had his arms wrapped around Harry, reaching now to embrace Snape as well, pulling the three of them together as Snape fucked Harry. The pressure of Draco's belly against his prick made Harry whimper with the need for release. Anything, yes, he would willingly do whatever Snape asked later if he could only come soon.

"Good," Snape groaned, dropping the stern countenance and rubbing his face against Harry's shoulder. "So good to fuck you..." Draco nodded agreement, moving against Harry, and for a moment he thought he wouldn't be able to hold back his own orgasm until after Snape's.

But then Severus went rigid, grunting, and Harry felt the cock inside him jerking and thrusting as he was filled once again. He moaned, looking down at his prick, which was stiff and purple, as if all the blood in his body had rushed there. He felt so full. "Please, please, let me come," he begged, and felt two hands reach for him at once, Severus' from behind and Draco's from the front, one cupping his balls, the other stroking up and down the rigid shaft. "Oh fuck, yes, yes, please!" he wailed, twisting in their arms, grateful for the spell that kept him from collapsing, as heat seemed to rise up through his groin and explode out of him in hot bursts.

He sagged against Snape's chest, head bent forward, trying to catch his breath. As if from a distance he heard Snape say, "Finite incantatem," and his feet touched the cool slippery tile of the floor. The contact sent a thrill through his sensitized nerves, as did Snape's soapy fingers as they moved around his body. "Now we had better wash up, or we'll be late for breakfast."

After a quick rinse and a Scourgify for the tub, Harry found himself hopping on one foot, looking for a missing sock while Snape neatly fastened a long row of buttons on his robes and Draco examined himself in the mirror, wearing an elegant dark green cloak that would certainly make most of the Slytherin girls swoon. It amused Harry that Draco seemed to have a streak of Gilderoy Lockhart in him; though his clothes were more tasteful, he was by far the best-dressed teacher at Hogwarts, and smugly aware of the attention paid to him by students of both sexes.

Today, however, Harry knew that Draco was dressing to impress his father, not the eager young men and women who stayed after class with gratuitous questions about Defense Against the Dark Arts. Finally finding his sock, he tugged it on as Snape smirked at him.

"When the Headmistress demands to know why you are late, I expect you to keep my name out of your excuses."

"'I'm sorry, Professor McGonagall, Professors Snape and Malfoy were taking turns buggering me,'" Harry shot back. "I'll see you both at breakfast." Peering outside the door to be certain that the corridor was clear, he crept out of Snape's chambers and walked rapidly through the dungeon toward the upper levels of the school.

Breakfast was already underway -- he and Severus and Draco had spent too much time in the shower, Harry realized with a small smile -- but McGonagall was waiting for him in her office nonetheless. "Mister Potter, please join me," she said, offering him a seat across from her desk, where two cups of tea and a plate of shortbread were placed. "Something unusual has happened and since it will affect your position most of all, I wanted to speak to you before making an announcement. Lucius Malfoy has made a significant donation to Hogwarts. Most of it is in the form of currency and antiques to be used for improvements to Slytherin House, but he has also purchased an entirely new set of Thunderbolts for the entire student population."

"He what?" Harry dropped his shortbread on the floor, and was only thankful that it had not been the teacup. "A Thunderbolt for every student? That must have cost him..." He tried to work it out as he bent down to scoop up the crumbled bits, brushing them off his fingers onto the plate and grimacing apologetically.

"Several hundred thousand Galleons," McGonagall said, nodding. "And another five hundred thousand to Slytherin. Hogwarts has never received such a sum from a living wizard, although there have been a few bequests of entire estates in the past."

"Has he put any conditions on the gift?" asked Harry, suddenly wary. "The brooms, I mean." He took a firm grip on his teacup and lifted it to his lips, wondering why McGonagall had chosen to share this information with him before anyone else, even Draco and Severus. "A Thunderbolt for every student means that we might finally be able to produce a Quidditch player like Krum... right now, how far students advance in the sport often has to do with what sort of brooms their families can afford." His own early Quidditch career had been entirely dependent upon McGonagall's own belief that he would make an excellent Seeker for Gryffindor if she provided him with a suitable broom.

"In fact, Malfoy has placed a few conditions on the gift. For one, he believes that all first-year students should be given the opportunity to try out for teams." Since Harry himself had played during his first year, he could hardly argue with that request. "And for another, he suggested that Quidditch competition based on the school's Houses fosters resentment and bitterness. Lucius Malfoy believes that Quidditch teams should be formed of players who complement one another, regardless of the students' Houses. In fact, he suggested that perhaps it was time to retire the Sorting Hat and put an end to what he called 'a ridiculous prejudice against Slytherin students based on an enchanted hat's expectations of their character.'"

Harry's jaw had dropped open again. "Are you saying Lucius Malfoy suggested that Slytherin House should no longer be a breeding ground for pureblood ambition and dark magic? How would incoming students be divided, if not by the Hat?"

McGonagall shrugged. "Perhaps by drawing names at random. Some students are sure to have preferences -- some become claustrophobic in the dungeons, others dislike the height of the towers. But as you know, many parents are going to be upset if we propose a change of that kind. Chance would be the fairest solution. It's not only Slytherins who have House pride, as you know."

"That's true," said Harry, thinking of the Weasleys, who had all been Gryffindors for at least three generations. He was still gobsmacked by the entire notion. "I still can't believe that Lucius proposed this. He must have something in mind... some scheme."

"You may ask him yourself. He will be here today for the match and has requested that you join him for luncheon afterward. I will be there, of course, and so will Professors Snape and Malfoy. This is not optional, Mister Potter."

Though it amused Harry to hear her refer in such formal terms to the two men who had so recently taken turns fucking him in the shower, he didn't crack a smile. "Of course I will attend. Was there anything else? I'd like to have a more substantial breakfast if I have time, delicious though your shortbread is."

McGonagall opened her mouth as if she would ask him a question, then abruptly snapped it shut again and dropped her eyes. "I will see you at the match, then," she said vaguely, waving him away. Again Harry wondered whether she had known, or at least suspected, exactly where he had been when she couldn't find him in his own room.

On his way to eat, he tried to fathom what Lucius might be up to now. He wasn't foolish enough to try to donate cursed money or charmed brooms to the school, even if such a thing had occurred to him. He had always thought that Lucius was simply shallow and selfish, not that he had deeply shared Voldemort's conviction that the world should be free of Muggles, but if he was angry enough, if he felt challenged enough...

No. If Lucius represented that sort of a threat, Snape would have known. Which meant that Lucius was likely trying to save face: with his son teaching at Hogwarts, he was making a public show of approval, while at the same time trying to ingratiate himself with the faculty and staff, so that any suggestion he made would be taken more seriously than it would have otherwise.

But why get rid of the Sorting Hat? While it was certainly true that students in the other Houses tended to harbor certain concerns about Slytherin students -- even the ones who hadn't shown a tendency toward arrogance or aggression -- the declared prejudices of Slytherins against the other Houses tended to be far worse. Harry tried to remember if he had ever heard the word "Mudblood" uttered by any student who was not a Slytherin, though there were actually more non-Slytherin purebloods. Maybe Lucius felt that Salazar Slytherin's fundamental beliefs had been so corrupted by the admission to his House of people like Snape -- and Tom Riddle -- that Lucius preferred the eradication of Slytherin House as it currently existed.

Still, the more Harry thought about it, the more he had to agree that getting rid of the Sorting Hat might be a very good idea. He remembered his own terror, sitting under it, that he might be placed in a House known for dark wizardry based on something an enchanted hat saw inside his mind. How did it help the wizarding world to try to group reckless Gryffindors together or to try to isolate the cleverest in Ravenclaw? And what did all the nonsense the Hat sang about house unity mean if students continued to be judged by their House placement? He needed to talk to Draco; if anyone had experience with childhood expectations shaping a wizard's destiny, it was he.

There was no chance to do so at breakfast, however, even if Harry hadn't been so late that Flitwick had taken Harry's usual seat next to Draco. Harry barely had time to dispatch two boiled eggs and some toast before it was time to hurry out to the field for the match. He saw Draco and Snape leave before he did, no doubt to go and speak to the Board of Governors as Lucius had requested, and was thankful that he hadn't been made part of that little party. The name of Harry Potter still made some people either nervous or fawning, and "some people" included several of the governors.

Up in the staff rows, Snape had on the faintly supercilious expression that had always made Harry angry as a student; his way of trying to reconcile bored irritation with the necessity of concealing it. Draco seemed to be acting the properly dutiful new professor, shaking hands all around though they had all met before the term started. Refereeing the game was going to be far more enjoyable. Slytherin and Gryffindor were quite evenly matched this year, and Harry had seen some challenging moves at their practice sessions. As he went to fetch the balls, he thought about how he might set up teams if they were not confined to a single house. Gryffindor's Keeper was very good, but the team's Beaters were too tentative, whereas at Ravenclaw's tryouts there had been more promising Beaters than two places allowed.

It was a close match until the very end, won when Gryffindor's Seeker caught the Snitch directly over the Keeper's head where there could be no challenge from the Slytherins. The Slytherin grumbling was lessened, however, by the rumors that had already begun to spread:

"I heard that Professor Malfoy's father donated new brooms for all the students!"

"Thunderbolts, even!"

"And they're going to redecorate the Slytherin common room... new couches and lamps and our own study library!" Harry rushed to catch up with Draco, who was hanging back, apparently in no particular hurry to keep up with his father and Snape. "Good match," he said neutrally.

"If it's not the end of the Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry." Draco shot him a glance. "I assume you heard?"

"McGonagall told me. Do you think he means it?"

Glaring ahead at Lucius, who was walking beside Snape with a faint smile, Draco shook his head slightly. "It would be just like my father to decide that if he can't have things a certain way, then they're not worth having."

"You might be right," said Harry, startled. "You know, Hermione used to talk about how divisive the inter-House rivalries were, back when we were students. And the Sorting Hat mentioned the same thing. What's your opinion of getting rid of the Hat as the method of assigning Houses?"

Draco raised one shoulder and dropped it. "There's something to be said for tradition." His voice was quiet and thoughtful. "A lot of witches and wizards really identify with their Houses, and they'll be very unhappy to have a change. Even Dumbledore never tried to meddle with the Founders' intentions. On the other hand... what would have happened to me if I'd been Sorted into anything but Slytherin? My parents would have been terribly upset. There's expectations of you when you're Sorted into a particular House. Those aren't always realistic, and what if you don't live up to those assumptions? Longbottom always seemed an unlikely Gryffindor, and Granger would've made a perfect Ravenclaw. You've told me that you were nearly put into Slytherin yourself, so I wonder if maybe most people would be fine in any house." He sighed. "Then again, it's a real change from what the Founders set up."

"Hogwarts was founded a thousand years ago," Harry pointed out. "An awful lot has changed in that time... maybe it's time for the school to change too. The Houses aren't going to go away altogether, just be different. And if it works well, your father will get the credit for being a visionary." Ahead of them Snape and Lucius were entering the building. "We'd better catch up, I'm not sure where McGonagall arranged to have this meal."

As it turned out, McGonagall had had a table set up in her office, where the portraits of dozens of Headmasters and Headmistresses gazed down while she poured wine for the five of them. "I have told Mister Potter of your generous gift," she said to Lucius, who gazed warily at Harry as if he expected some challenge. Rather than ask questions yet, Harry merely nodded his head and smiled a bit.

"We are both of the opinion that changing the composition of the Hogwarts teams so that they are no longer tied to the Houses may permit more talented students the opportunity to play and allow Potter to coach better Quidditch players." An immediate muttering began among the portraits on the walls. Loudly, to be heard over their racket, the Headmistress continued, "But we have concerns about how the students and graduates alike may respond to such a change."

"I have already spoken to the school governors," Lucius said smoothly. Harry refrained from asking whether there had been threats involved. "I believe you will find that most of them agree with me that a more comprehensive Quidditch program that will produce truly competitive players should be a priority. You know that I favor tradition, but tradition in Quidditch can lead to bad habits. Having studied the rosters of the teams for the past two decades, it seems to me that many captains retain weaker players from year to year rather than actively seeking stronger recruits, and the children of well-known wizards have been shown favoritism in placement on teams regardless of their skills."

While this would have been a perfect moment to point out that Lucius' own son had likely made his House team largely because of a gift of brooms from his father, Harry held his tongue, not wishing to bring up that long-ago day when he had snatched the Golden Snitch away from Draco, who had been too busy scoffing at Harry to notice it there beside his head. He was sure his own surname had had some influence on McGonagall the day she had introduced him to Oliver Wood as a future Seeker, based on a single catch she had witnessed outside her window.

"That's all true," Harry agreed. "I have no objection to putting Quidditch teams together with the intention of developing stronger players regardless of their years or Houses. And with everyone using the same quality broom, the wealthier students won't have an unfair advantage -- even Muggle-borns who've never seen the sport will have a better chance to get up to speed."

Lucius Malfoy's lips pressed together in a tight line, but he did not challenge this statement. "I've also proposed to the Headmistress that perhaps the time has come to revisit the Sorting of students into Houses by an enchanted hat."

Now the portraits began shouting instead of muttering, though Harry noticed that Dumbledore remained silent, watching, and when he saw Harry's eyes on him, he winked. Ignoring the protests, Lucius continued loudly, "I think we can all see that there are grave problems with the current system. Every Slytherin student is treated with the suspicion that he may have vast dark powers that the ordinary wizard could never understand, while those poor fools sorted into Hufflepuff..."

"...embarrass the Slytherins when they outshine them, like Cedric Diggory." Harry nodded, satisfied.

"In any case," Lucius bared his teeth in a forced smile, "I think we can all agree that the present system has proven unsatisfactory."

"The present system has proven satisfactory for hundreds of years!" shouted Armando Dippet from his place on the wall.

"Headmistress, what do you think?" Rather to Harry's surprise, it was Draco who asked the question. "You've taught at Hogwarts for decades. If you wanted to keep to the old ways for the Sorting, I would expect the governors wouldn't insist on changing it. The Quidditch program could be strengthened regardless." "There will certainly be objections." McGonagall spoke pensively. "I suspect I will receive Howlers for weeks on end, though that is of course no reason to refrain from making the change, if it is the right thing to do." Her eyes flickered to the portraits. "And I believe that it is, for the reasons that you have noted, and for others as well."

"Professor Snape hasn't given his opinion yet," Harry pointed out.

"Just a moment, Severus. I'm sure the house elves are anxious to serve before the food grows cold," said McGonagall.

She took her place at the head of the table, gesturing to Snape to take the foot. Harry and Draco sat next to one another; Harry wanted to be there just in case Lucius said something to upset Draco, though it seemed less and less likely that that would be the case, today. Lucius leaned his silver-topped cane against the table and seated himself with a flourish.

Once the meal was underway, the elder Malfoy said, "What are your thoughts on my proposal, Severus?"

"Hmm," Snape said thoughtfully, chewing a piece of braised lamb shank for longer than Harry suspected was necessary. He swallowed, dabbed at his mouth with his napkin, and took a sip of water before speaking. "I seem to recall having made just such a suggestion in your presence many years ago, Lucius, at which time you insisted that it would destroy everything that Hogwarts represented. I believe you felt that it would 'serve the interests of the mediocre majority' while neglecting the talents of the extraordinary few who best represented what Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin had wished to cultivate."

"Malfoy was right!" called out one of the portraits. Turning, Harry saw that it was Phineas Nigellus, the relative Sirius had once described as the least popular headmaster in the long history of Hogwarts. Harry was grateful for the diversion; it gave him a chance to hide the smirk that had crossed his face when Snape spoke to Lucius.

Lucius kept his face so still that Harry wondered whether he had taken a calming potion before arriving at the school. "I did believe that, yes," he said in a strangely flat tone. "Just as I repeatedly told Albus Dumbledore that the influx of Mudbl-- Muggle-borns was a blight on the reputation of Hogwarts. But that was before the Dark Lord destroyed nearly a generation of the finest wizards and witches. It is clear that you and Potter, though half-bloods, are assets to our community." Lucius shot a calculating look at Harry. "If the Chosen One were to support a proposal that would allow more young witches and wizards to reach their full educational potential, I can't imagine that it would not receive broad popular support."

So that was Lucius' game - to pretend that the changes slowly occurring despite his best efforts to stop them were his own brilliant plan! Harry was about to tell him where he could stuff it when he caught sight of Draco's face. Draco looked hopeful, gazing directly at his father and smiling at him for the first time since that horrible dinner. Did it really matter whether Lucius Malfoy was hailed as a reformer, so long as the changes took place?

It wasn't as if Harry cared about taking credit himself. Even if he had been the only one ever to have made the suggestion, which was far from true, he had had more than enough experience with the publicity that followed Voldemort's death to want to endure additional fame. Since the changes would be a positive force for Hogwarts students and the wizarding world at large, Harry was willing to let Lucius revel in his power -- especially if it meant that Draco and his father would be reconciled. He doubted that Lucius would ever be happy about the decisions Draco had made, but as long as he accepted them and returned to treating Draco with affection, that was enough.

"I would be happy to stand behind this proposal," he said, "although I think perhaps Professor McGonagall should discuss it with the rest of the staff first. If they're all willing to accept it, then it should be presented as a joint decision by the staff and the governors, don't you think? That ought to reduce the level of outcry, if we show a united front." Harry smiled warmly. It would also mean that none of them would be singled out for either blame or adulation, though he was sure that McGonagall as Headmistress would suffer through the greatest excesses of both. "Noting that you brought the suggestion forward at this time, of course."

"Of course." Lucius sounded a touch sour, but Draco's hand slipped under the table to squeeze Harry's.

"Wisely said, Mister Potter," approved McGonagall.

"He might make a good Headmaster someday. In fifty years, perhaps," said Snape, his eyelid drooping in a bare wink at Harry and Draco. "Albus would have been pleased." The nodding and smiling going on in Dumbledore's portrait lent weight to his words, although a number of the other portraits looked distinctly disgruntled.

The glance that Lucius, too, gave Harry could hardly have been described as anything other than resentful, but he covered it quickly with a smile at his son. "Now that that's out of the way, Draco, tell me how you are enjoying teaching at Hogwarts."

"Quite a bit, actually," replied Draco, cautiously returning the smile. "It's rather pleasant to tell a roomful of students to open their textbooks and hear a chorus of, 'Yes, sir.'"

McGonagall pressed her lips together, but her amusement was plain. "Young Mister Malfoy can hardly walk down the corridor without a throng of young witches following him, talking over one another to ask him complicated questions that might take hours of private lecturing. He's extremely popular with the female students." Draco rolled his eyes, but Lucius nodded approvingly, as if he had expected nothing less.

"He is the ideal candidate to be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts," Snape added. "He is passionate about avoiding Dark wizards and he makes counter-jinxes seem attractive." In the end, Severus had decided that he would rather teach Potions; it gave him the opportunity to spot the most talented students from a young age and prevented him from having to tolerate what he deemed the foolish wand-waving and hysterical screaming of students easily frightened by a boggart or a serpent.

"The youngest Crabbe girl is in your N.E.W.T.-level class, isn't she? The only one in that family who inherited her mother's beauty." Lucius shot the comment at Draco with a calculating look. Harry had to swallow a smile; apparently Lucius wasn't completely ready to give up the idea that Draco might fall in love with a nice pureblood girl. He wondered what Lucius would say if he knew what Draco, Harry, and Severus had got up to in Severus' shower that morning.

"I didn't notice," said Draco with a kind of beleaguered distaste. "Slytherin House rumors say she's going out with whichever Creevey is a seventh-year now. Those Muggles must have more sons than the Weasleys..."

And the conversation turned easily to wizarding world gossip, as Lucius sipped his wine and Draco ate his lamb and Harry, Minerva, and Severus silently exchanged very small smiles.

Chapter Text

When the last piece of shortbread had been eaten, by Draco -- and did McGonagall always have shortbread, Harry wondered -- Harry decided that he had stayed long enough for courtesy, even if the talk was still continuing. "I should go speak to the Gryffindors," he said to excuse himself as he rose. "Mister Sawbridge seemed to be forgetting the rule against blatching, today."

"He did appear to be flying awfully close to the Slytherin Chasers," Draco agreed.

Lucius raised his eyebrows, although he said nothing. Perhaps he was surprised that Harry would call a Gryffindor down for violating regulations. If the rules weren't upheld consistently, though, there was no point in playing. Quidditch was a game, and without rules the game would become meaningless.

"Very well, Mister Potter." McGonagall nodded at him. "I shall see you at dinner this evening. We must hold a staff meeting to discuss the new arrangements early next week; I shall notify the whole staff of the precise time soon."

With some hesitation, Harry held out his hand to Draco's father. "Thank you, Mister Malfoy. The students will certainly appreciate your gift."

"You're quite welcome." Lucius shook his hand briefly, still sitting.

There was no need to say anything particular to either Draco or Snape; Harry knew that he would be going to Snape's rooms as soon as he had spoken with young Sawbridge, so he merely thanked McGonagall for the delicious meal and left. It took only a few minutes of stern interviewing for Harry to chastise Gryffindor's finest Quidditch player. Sawbridge's defiance deflated when he understood how closely Harry had been watching him and that his behavior had been noted by both the Headmistress and his Potions professor as well.

So after a quick visit to his own rooms to clean up a bit, Harry made his way to the dungeon. Since Severus and Draco had not yet arrived by the time he did, he used the password Snape had given him to lift the wards on the door and sneak inside to Snape's private rooms. Grinning, Harry noted that the teapot had been left out, spelled to keep the tea inside hot through the long afternoon. He poured himself a cup.

When the others finally returned, the hot tea had warmed him sufficiently to be more comfortable without his robes. Harry looked up innocently from his position sprawled naked in Snape's bed as the older man strode into the room and stopped short upon seeing him, causing Draco to crash into his back. "Ow," complained Draco, then looked around Severus at Harry and grinned. "Winning at Quidditch make you a bit eager?"

"Quidditch!" Harry toasted him with the teacup. "The real victory today was yours. Your father is a changed man. It's good for all of Hogwarts." "So you took the risk of having all of us discovered. Lucius might have asked to speak to us in private -- we could have walked in with him," protested Snape, but he was looking hungrily at Harry. "It was patience that you lacked this morning." He leaned to whisper in Draco's ear, then started to disrobe, his fingers deliberate on each button.

"Yes, sir," agreed Harry. He adjusted himself slightly. Neither Snape nor Draco missed that clue; the older man nodded, and Draco went to open a drawer, rummaging inside it and pulling out a handful of silk and woolen scarves. "You don't need to see in order to play, do you?" he asked, coming over to the bed with a length of heavy dark-green silk. Doubling it lengthwise, Draco wrapped the scarf around Harry's head, tying it firmly in place. Involuntarily, Harry raised his free hand to his face, and Draco gave it a gentle slap. "Leave it be," he chided. "Can you see anything?"

"No." Harry shook his head from side to side, testing. "Nothing."

"Good." That was Snape's rumble. There was movement on the mattress, and he thought that Draco was probably stripping down now too. Someone touched his leg, a touch that slid to his mid-thigh, but stopped there, brushing gentle circles across the skin.

"Tease," Harry murmured to Draco. "You know you just want him to punish you next..."

"Silence!" Snape commanded at the same moment that Harry heard Draco laugh.

"I've been very well-behaved today. After you left I even got Father to agree to donate a whole collection of books on Dark magic from the Malfoy family library to the Restricted Section." Beneath the exaggerated arrogance, Draco sounded genuinely happy, and Harry smiled to hear the lightness in his voice. "Anyway, I'm not the one who can't keep his impulses under control." The fingers on Harry's thigh moved a bit higher, making him groan and thrash as Draco's palm closed loosely about his balls. "No control whatsoever," announced Draco smugly.

"Like you wanking in the shower this morning because you couldn't wait for me and Severus to get there?"

A quiet sound like the clinking of tiny metal objects drew Harry's attention from Draco. Snape was moving closer. "Help him stand."

Draco's hands found Harry's and tugged him up, easing him to the edge of the bed and then guiding him to one of the posts at the foot of it. His hands were drawn up so that he was holding the wood. "Should I tie him?" Harry heard Draco ask.

"No. He should stand steady without needing to rely on bonds to hold him in place." Once again Harry heard the clinking sound and felt a gust of air as Snape swept in front of him on the other side of the bedpost. He felt butterfly touches along the skin of his chest left exposed. Then his nipple was seized and pinched sharply. When the ache did not let up, Harry realized that Snape was putting clips on him. "That looks very nice," Draco said approvingly from around Harry's shoulder. "The other side, too?" Harry felt a tug like a thumbscrew being tightened, then his other nipple was grasped and compressed the same way. It wasn't quite painful, but the pinching was impossible to ignore. He squirmed, took one hand off the bedpost and gingerly touched the nipple that Snape had finished with, feeling a cold metal ring held in place on his skin by a miniature clamp. His cock throbbed.

"You're not even trying to behave," announced Draco gleefully. "Can't you stand still?" A hand came down on Harry's bum, stinging. He very nearly shouted, but he gritted his teeth and kept silent as the fingers then moved without force over his buttocks and between them, wriggling into the crack and behind his balls.

"Will you at least take the blindfold off so I can see what these things look like?"

"Very well," Snape said in a low voice. "I had been saving them for a special occasion, which I suppose today must be declared."

The knot behind his head was released as Draco's fingers continued to massage Harry's arsehole. He looked down to see the small silver clips pinching his nipples, the centers angry and red while the skin around appeared stretched and pale. The clips were shaped like tiny serpent mouths, while the little screws that tightened them in place tapered off like a patterned tail. They were attractively made, Harry supposed, but he had little energy to spare for anything beyond not coming on Snape's feet.

A moment later the room darkened suddenly and Harry felt the blindfold being tied back into place. His fingers clenched around the post. "Please, sir!"

"Please, what?" Draco's fingers nudged his thighs apart. "Are you saying that you don't deserve this? Didn't you promise this morning to do anything we wanted?"

Suddenly Draco's fingers were no longer touching him. He heard no movement, either. When he opened his mouth to ask what was happening, he could not hear his own voice. Snape must have cast a nonverbal Silencio. It occurred to Harry that this was simply another way for his patience and restraint to be tested -- that waiting silently was the proper response. So he did, shifting his weight from foot to foot. Without being able to see, it was hard to tell how much time was passing, but he thought it must have been at least five minutes, perhaps ten that he stood there, anticipating at any moment a touch or a sound to release him.

Finally he felt a faint tugging, both his nipples being twisted within the clips, at the same moment a finger reinserted itself into the space between his legs, teasing the backs of his balls and just barely brushing his arsehole. Harry could hold on no longer. Thrusting forward, he rubbed his cock against the warm belly in front of him -- Snape's, some part of his mind knew, the hair was thicker and more wiry than Draco's -- and the moment the finger teasing him began to slide into him, his cock spurted hard against the taller man's skin. Snape must have released the Silencio at the same moment he had touched Harry, for Harry could hear himself shouting in pleasure. Snape's hands pulled the blindfold away, and Harry moaned as he saw the white streaks he had spattered across Snape's belly and chest.

"Ten points from Gryffindor," Draco whispered in Harry's ear. "Coming without permission. I'm afraid we may have to tie you up to teach you some restraint."

"Oh God, yes," Harry groaned, eyes on Snape's dark, maddening stare. "Tie me up and fuck me! Or make me suck you! Or both! Anything!"

That provocative gaze heated further and Harry caught a flashing image of what Snape wanted from him. He fell to his knees and took Snape's hard prick in his mouth, curling his tongue around the head and sliding the foreskin back. Instead of trying to hold it all -- he knew he couldn't -- he concentrated on the sensitive head with his tongue and lips and used both hands as well, one wrapped around the base and the other rubbing the skin over Snape's balls.

Snape's fingers threaded through Harry's hair, his thumbs sweeping across Harry's forehead to close Harry's eyes. "Draco." The spoken name was Harry's only warning before he felt Draco's cock brushing his cheek, already damp at the head, bobbing against him as Draco stroked it hard and quickly.

"Oh fuck, yeah, Severus, let me come on him, you know he loves it, he's such a dirty -- please -- " The groans and wheezing were interrupted by a throat being cleared. Harry moaned around Snape's cock. "Ahhhfuck," he heard Draco sigh. "Come on, Severus, aren't you going to share?"

Snape pulled back a little from Harry's mouth, and he whimpered, trying to follow. A finger slipped in beside Snape's prick, urging him to open his jaw further, and he complied. When the finger was replaced by Draco's cock, Harry eagerly sucked at it, careful to make sure that his teeth did not scrape too hard against either of the two tempting lengths around which his lips were now stretched.

He took his hand off Snape's balls and began to stroke Draco with it, rubbing the heads of their cocks together in his mouth, though he didn't dare move his mouth for fear of reflexively biting down to relieve the pressure on his jaw. Then he felt Snape withdraw, leaving Harry to take Draco further into his mouth. "Let's let him up," Draco said. "I'd rather come with him in me."

Harry felt something brush beneath his eyelids and opened his eyes. Glancing up, he could see that Severus approved of this suggestion, and with a loud slurp he removed his mouth from Draco's cock. "Will you fuck me while I'm fucking him?" he asked hopefully.

"Do you think you have earned that?" Snape gave him a mock-stern glare. "Given the lack of control you have exhibited today, I believe it is only fair for you to make Draco come before I touch you." Helping Harry to his feet, he reached over and turned the little silver tails on the nipple clips very slightly, and Harry whimpered at the renewed ache. He was already growing hard again, turned on by the appreciative way that the other two were looking at him.

"They suit you," said Draco appraisingly. "I think you ought to wear those more often." His lips spread in a smirk as he climbed onto the bed and rolled onto his side, pulling his upper knee forward to spread his arse open. Over his shoulder he added, "Maybe Severus would let you wear them under your robes during staff meetings? You know you have a tendency to drowse off, but I'd wager that would keep you awake."

"I'm sure it would." Harry gasped as Severus touched the clips again before handing him the pot of lubricant salve that he made to his own recipe. Unscrewing the lid, he dipped his fingers in and began to work them into Draco's wrinkled pink hole, enjoying the way that Draco wriggled to encourage him.

"I'll consider the possibility," said Snape in a repressive voice. "Mister Potter hardly needs further distraction during those meetings, however."

"You distracted me last time, Severus." Draco's voice was nearly innocent, marred only by a quick indrawn breath as Harry added a third finger to stretch him. "Or am I wrong, and that was Professor Sprout's hand on my knee and not yours?"

"It must have been Professor Sprout, because you know full well that I would do no such thing during a staff meeting." Harry caught the barest hint of a wink from Snape and smiled, then brought his hand down on Draco's arse. "That's right -- spank him. Clearly Malfoy is as undisciplined as you are, Potter."

Grinning more broadly, Harry smacked Draco a few times as Draco yelped happily. Then he rolled Draco over on the mattress and pushed his cock inside him, slapping his thighs into the backs of Draco's. Snape was watching them from narrowed eyes, his own cock dark and swollen against his belly, but he did not touch himself. "Should I keep punishing him, sir?" Harry panted.

"YES!" That was Draco, sliding forward and backward on his knees to impale himself on Harry's cock. Remembering that he was required to make Draco come before he did, Harry reached around and began to stroke him roughly as he thrust in and out, grateful that the clamps on his nipples did indeed provide some distraction. "Fuck, yes, Harry, harder, love it when you touch my prick, make Snape watch..." Already Draco was babbling, and Harry obliged him, concentrating on fucking Draco just the way he liked it until Draco cried out and started spurting onto Snape's mattress.

It took all of Harry's will to hold back with Draco's arse pulsing around his prick, but the thought of losing Snape's approbation helped. He waited until Draco stopped quivering and then looked up at Snape again. "Now? Please?"

Snape's lips quirked as if he were trying to hold back a smile. "I think you've learned your lesson for today," he said softly. "What do you think, Professor Malfoy?"

Draco twisted his head and glanced at Harry. "I agree, Professor Snape," he said, almost perfectly imitating Snape's own voice, and Harry bit his lip as Draco wriggled forward off his cock to grab the container of salve and hand it to Severus. As Snape came to kneel behind Harry, Draco curled up in front of him and touched the silver clamps once more. Harry gave a whimper of need and Draco leaned over to whisper in his ear, "You're so fucking gorgeous like this, begging Severus to fuck you. You love it, don't you?"

"Yesss..." Harry hissed it, pushing his bum back against Snape's agile tongue. His prick was like stone once more against his belly, dampness smearing across it. He focused on holding back until Snape was fucking him, looking at Draco and panting, and for an instant Draco's barriers lowered.

Draco was happy... he was a little boy riding a broom as his father shouted encouragement, he was catching the Snitch in a Hogwarts Quidditch game, he was conjuring his Patronus for the first time. He was making love with Harry, and with Snape. The images were almost too quick for Harry to grasp before each was replaced by another. But there were no Death Eater friends, no Dark Lord; in Draco's happiest memories, he was with parents who doted on him, or with Harry, or with Snape, without the mask of arrogance and superiority that was as much burden as pride.

"Draco," moaned Harry, and then, "Severus," because Snape's fingers had crept around his side and were holding the base of his cock, maddeningly refusing to move, keeping him in check as Snape grunted and sweated behind him. "Please, please give me more..."

"When I'm ready," Snape gasped, slamming in mercilessly. "After I'm finished with you. After I..."

Harry didn't learn what else Snape had in mind, because Snape's voice hitched and shattered, and he made no coherent sounds beyond groans of release as he pumped himself out inside Harry's arse. The hand restraining his cock held on. Harry whimpered and Draco soothed him with lips brushing lightly over his cheek even as he twisted the tails on the serpent clamps a fraction tighter.

"Oh, fuck, please!" begged Harry, not sure if he was pleading with Draco or Snape or both of them, but all at once Snape's prick had slipped away, leaving him empty, and Draco had rolled him over and had taken over grasping his prick from Snape.

Then it was Snape's eyes, and Snape's thoughts, that he could see, and Harry and Draco were both tied to his bed, staring up at Snape devotedly as he played them like musical instruments, hands on their cocks. The three of them were tangled together in the shower that morning, they were sitting together watching Quidditch, they were lying in the grass by the lake, they were sharing a pot of tea at breakfast...he felt Snape's embarrassment and pleasure together. It felt so good, to know that Snape would admit to him the delight he took in sharing a life with them, Snape who had been so determined to need no one. And Draco touching Harry at the same time only doubled that pleasure. Draco's hand was finally relaxing its grip, moving along Harry's overstimulated prick, which convulsed and shot thick pale spurts through Draco's fingers and onto Snape's prick and Harry's own belly.

The orgasm left him limp, unable to do more than reach to touch Snape's leg and Draco's arm. He let out a long, contented breath as Draco grinned up at Severus. "Maybe we should leave those clips on him," he said. "Remind him that he belongs to two Slytherins."

"I do like the way they look on his nipples," Snape said agreeably, "but just at the moment they need to be cleaned, or his sweat will make them tarnish." Reaching down, he released the little screws and pulled away the clips, then stroked Harry's aching nipples. Wrinkling his nose, he said, "You need a bath."

"Not my fault," Harry said lazily, still stroking Snape's leg and wiping come from Draco's fingers. "It's because I belong to two Slytherins." He yawned contentedly.

"Oh, no you don't." Snape's voice was stern. "You are not falling asleep in my bed in such a condition. Up, and into the bathroom with you." Harry let Severus and Draco pull him to a sitting position. "We're all expected this evening."

"Expected where?" Harry glanced from Snape to Draco. "What's going on?"

"That's right -- you left before my father said." Draco smiled at him. "He wants to announce the donation of the broomsticks personally, where he can get his applause and all that. So he's throwing a party. Food, enchanted decorations, all the usual. In the Great Hall at eight."

"As long as he doesn't include Dark magic party favors." Harry rolled his eyes. "Not that I don't trust your father, but..."

"You don't trust him," agreed Draco. "But I really think he means what he said today, for whatever reasons." He nudged Harry and tugged him up. "Come on, lazy. I need to clean up and check on the Slytherins before the big celebration. And you need to find something suitable to wear."

"I can wear my dress robes," Harry protested. "That's what Severus will have on, right? Those black silk ones?" He looked over at Snape, who nodded.

"Last time you wore yours you dribbled brown sauce down the front, and I'll lay Galleons to Knuts you never did get one of the house-elves to clean them," said Draco. "I mean, personally I like you naked," he continued, turning on the hot water and stepping into the shower, "but somehow I doubt that would convey the proper sense of authority that staff are supposed to maintain. You can borrow something of mine; there's a dark green satin which would suit you and I know a shortening charm if it's too long. Help me wash him, Severus."

They each washed whatever of the other two they could reach, in the end, and then Draco hurried off to the Slytherin common room to give the students dire warnings about proper behavior, promising to be back before Harry and Snape were ready. Harry found himself frowning. It was stupid, he told himself, not to want to wear Slytherin colors. Hadn't they all agreed that it was time to rid themselves of foolish House prejudices? And to be certain that the subsequent generations never formed them? "I'll wear Draco's dark green satin if he'll wear a scarlet and gold tie," he muttered rather petulantly to Snape.

Snape gazed at him seriously for a moment, then tossed a plain black necktie in his direction. Though the throw was errant, Harry dove across the bed and grabbed it, rolling to right himself. "And Potter has caught the Snitch! The crowd is screaming!" he announced, imitating Lee Jordan from years earlier. "The team is..."

"Yellow," Snape interrupted him smoothly. "And black. If you want to make Draco wear something other than Slytherin colors, yellow and black will do."

"Draco will never wear Hufflepuff colors while his father is visiting!" Harry exclaimed. "And I'm not wearing green. I know which robe he meant; it has silver serpents embroidered around the cuffs, too."

"You are hardly setting an example of magnanimity for Lucius Malfoy."

That stopped Harry. If he agreed to wear green and silver, and convinced Draco to wear yellow and black, Lucius would have to swallow any criticism on this day of all days. "Will you wear some other House's colors too, then? How about blue, if not scarlet?" He grinned at Snape's sudden discomfort.

"I never wear anything but black," said Snape in his most repressive tones. "You would not want me to startle Minerva into hysterics."

"I rather doubt that seeing you in a blue tie would send our Headmistress over the edge of reason. This was your idea, you know. Only fair that you should go along with it. Besides, if we all wear 'wrong' colors, it will send the right message."

"Regrettably, I have no tie of that color," Snape said, with a notable lack of regret.

"I have. Without any stains on it, even, I think." Smirking, Harry considered using an Accio to summon the tie from his own rooms, but decided he'd better fetch it personally since he wasn't certain where it was. "I'll be back; you get to tell Draco to wear the Hufflepuff tie if he returns before I do."

What Harry had not mentioned to Snape was that his blue tie had been a gift from Molly Weasley to wear to Percy's wedding, and -- like the ones she had given to Ron, Fred, George, Charlie, and Bill -- had a fancy right side up and upside down double letter P embroidered in the center, in honor of Percy and Penelope. The letters had elaborate curves and resembled nothing so much as a mirror image "69." It was something of a joke among the other members of the Weasley family and those who loved them, and Harry grinned at the thought of Snape's expression when he handed him the tie. He doubted it would startle Minerva into hysterics but it might do so to Draco.

Which was just as well, Harry decided when he returned to the dungeons, because he could hear Draco's protests from the corridor.

"It's not that it's Hufflepuff, it's the color! That yellow is hideous! How about I wear sky blue? It'll bring out the color of my eyes. Or purple, even. I'll look like a ponce but at least it won't be yellow!"

"You are being absurd, Malfoy," Snape said sternly as Harry stepped through the door, smirking.

"Here, Severus. I brought you this." Harry held out the tie that he had had to use a spell to track down, in a box at the back of a cabinet where he mostly kept ugly medals awarded him by the Ministry.

Snape took it from his hand, holding it up triumphantly in Draco's face. "You see?"

Draco glanced at the tie, making a slight face. Then he looked more closely. A grin split his face. He winked at Harry, still smiling broadly. "Fine. I'll wear the yellow and black tie if you're wearing that."

"Agreed. It's not an unattractive color and the..." Snape had turned the tie around. He glared at the little silver letters. Then he glared at Harry, who had already doubled over laughing.

"You can't get out of it, Severus, you already said yes," he wheezed out through howls of laughter.

"Precisely what do the initials stand for?" demanded Snape.

Draco was laughing too. "As I recall it was 'Percy and Penelope', right, Harry?"

"That's right. So you'll be memorializing a Gryffindor and a Ravenclaw, Draco gets the Hufflepuffs, and I have Slytherin colors." Harry grinned broadly at Snape's outraged face. "School unity at its best."

Grumbling, Snape flipped the tie around his neck and began to knot it, and Harry started to put on the dark green robe that Draco had brought for him. It was, as expected, on the long side, but a simple hemming charm took care of that for the time being. Draco refused to shorten the thing permanently, declaring that he would buy Harry new robes for Christmas and take his own back then.

"I think we're ready," said Draco, looking them both over. "We'd better not go all at once, though. Minerva and her insistence on discretion; not a good day to rock the boat."

"The two of you can go together," Harry said, "seeing as everyone is used to you terrorizing the dungeons in tandem. I should probably come down from the tower, though." He kissed Draco on the cheek, then Snape. "Meet you at the head table." On his way upstairs, Harry met the Headmistress, who was coming down. "Mister Potter," she said, turning and giving him an appraising look. "That is not a color I had ever expected to see you wearing."

"I got Draco to wear a Hufflepuff tie. And Severus is wearing mine from the Weasley wedding, which is Ravenclaw blue, though he did seem to believe that you might faint from the sight."

Minerva McGonagall made what could only be described as an elegant scoffing noise. "I am not so given to swooning as Professor Snape may believe. But the three of you are not trying to goad Lucius Malfoy? To see if he really believes this business about House unity?"

"Not to goad him. To make it clear right from the start that we support the idea that we're all one school. I don't think Draco wants to do anything to antagonize his father, but he wants him to mean all this."

"Well." Minerva smiled faintly. "Since I presume that you were on your way to Gryffindor Tower only to make a respectable entrance, shall we?" She gestured along the corridor.

Harry managed to keep his face straight with an effort. This was the bluntest that the Headmistress had ever been in indicating her awareness that he, Draco, and Snape were indeed all sharing a bed. But she did not seem condemnatory, rather approving that he was adhering to her request that they behave responsibly and not be blatant about their liaison. Harry knew that she was very pleased to have Snape back at Hogwarts, and more so that he seemed to be happy there.

"The pleasure is mine." He held out his arm, and with a raised eyebrow she took it.

"Well done, Mister Potter," she murmured.

"Thank you." Harry slowed his steps slightly to match hers. "It's an honor to escort the Headmistress. Besides, I still feel a certain loyalty to my House, even if those divisions are to be reconsidered in the near future."

He could hear the bustle of excitement as they approached the Great Hall. The doors were thrown wide and Harry saw the students milling about, already beginning to mingle between Houses -- not that they did not usually do so for such occasions, but they seemed more relaxed about it, with a few single-House clumps being the exception rather than the rule. The ceiling was spangled with the stars of a crisp clear night, and the walls covered in a riotous mixture of bunting in all of the Houses' colors.

At the far end of the room stood the rest of the staff, with Lucius Malfoy in the center bearing an expression of slightly annoyed resignation, no doubt due to seeing Draco's yellow tie. Draco, however, looked happy and relaxed, standing as close as possible to Snape without actually touching him. And the stern lines around Snape's mouth were softened in a faint smile, the embroidered blue tie tucked discreetly beneath his robes. Harry grinned across at the two of them. It had all come right.