The ground shook ominously beneath Harry, who, teeth gritted, somehow managed to stay on his feet and not end up pinned under one of the many trees and rocks falling all around him. In the distance he heard the unmistakable noise of multiple Apparation cracks, and relieved, he shouted, “Look out! Ambush! Ambush!”
Of course, that gave away his location to the criminals, which meant he had to once again dart out from behind the trees that were still standing and find a new hiding spot. Not an easy task given all the woodland debris around him.
“I really need a new job,” he muttered as several hexes hit the spot he’d been in only a few seconds earlier. Weaving as he ran, he concentrated on maintaining his shield, although he knew it had to have been weakened by the previous attacks.
As he ran, his right hip began aching, reminding him of his leftover injury the previous month during another raid. He slowed, staying crouched down to make a smaller target of himself.
In retrospect, Harry should have expected the attack from behind, but he was so focussed on joining up with his fellow Aurors, that he didn’t look up until it was too late, and it was only Ron’s pale face and widening eyes that tipped him off. “Look out, mate!” Ron cried.
Harry who had been zig-zagging, tried to zag-zig, but it was to no avail. A hex hit the back of his head, throwing him forward. He had just enough time to shout a curse before his face hit the ground and exploded in searing agony. He gasped as the earth seemed to tilt, and as he heard people crying out, his world went mercifully black.
Severus decanted the last of the Dreamless Sleep potion he’d made and wiped his brow. Labelling all the phials with the appropriate names and addresses, he set them all on the table for owling later.
Then, washing his hands, he left his lab and, walking to his small kitchen, put the kettle on.
He was sitting by the fire, deeply engrossed in his book, when the Floo opened. “Severus?”
Severus frowned. “Mum?”
“You’re home. Good.” The fire flared green and seconds later his mother stepped into the room.
“Mum.” Moving forward, Severus leaned down and kissed her. “Is everything all right?”
“Yes.” Eileen shook her head. “No.”
Severus smirked. “Well that’s a helpful answer.”
Eileen swatted his arm. “Stop being clever and fix me a cup of tea.”
Shaking his head, Severus gestured to the sofa and said, “Yes, Mum. I’ll be right back.”
Once she had tea, Eileen sighed and sipped, nodding approvingly. “Adding the whisky was a nice touch.”
Severus hummed. “It seemed as if you could use it. Now what’s going on?”
“I’ve had some rather shocking news and…” Eileen shook her head. “I’m afraid that’s all I can say.”
“All right.” Severus frowned. “Is this shocking news the reason you’re visiting?”
“In a way, yes.” Eileen smiled when she saw Severus scowl. “You look a lot like your father when you do that.”
Severus huffed. “No need to be insulting.”
Eileen sighed. “He wasn’t always horrid.”
“I must have brought it out in him, then.” Severus levitated the whisky bottle over to himself, adding a splash to his own tea.
Eileen sighed. “I’ve been in contact with certain members of the Prince family.”
Severus’ hand shook and he carefully put down his cup before staring at Eileen. “Been in contact with? Does that mean you contacted them, or they you?”
“This…person contacted me.” Eileen grimaced. “I can’t say more as there’s a hex. But I only came to ask a favour.”
Severus nodded. “You know I would do anything for you, Mum.”
“Even come to Prince House when called?”
Severus blinked. “That’s hardly likely to happen.”
“It may happen sooner than you think.” Eileen smiled. “I can tell you this. I was not an only child. I have a sister, and, despite our father’s wishes, we managed to communicate on occasion.”
“I have an aunt.”
“You do,” confirmed Eileen. “And she wants to meet you.”
“No. It has to be at the right time.”
Severus shook his head. “What’s the favour you need, Mum?”
Eileen held his gaze with her eyes. “When I call you to Prince House, I need you to promise you’ll come.”
“All right, I promise.” Severus raised an eyebrow as she exhaled. “Did you think I wouldn’t?”
“I honestly wasn’t sure.” She smiled. “Right, so what experimental brewing are you doing these days?”
“Harry?” cried Ron. “You’re awake! Finally. Let me get the mediwitch.”
Opening his eyes, Harry groaned in pain and immediately closed them once more. “Bright!” he grumbled.
“Right. Lemme fix that.”
There was a whirring sound, and Harry could tell even from behind his eyelids the room was getting darker. Slowly, he opened his eyes again to see the window blinds down, and Ron by the door waving at someone. “Hospital?” he guessed, closing his eyes.
When next Harry next looked, Ron was standing over him, beaming. “Where else? It’s your home away from home these days.”
Raising his hand, Harry held up two fingers in a rude gesture.
Ron’s smile widened. “There you are. It’s good to see you awake, mate. We were beginning to get worried.”
Harry sighed, struggling to sit up in the bed. Even flipping Ron off had taken its toll on him. “How long was I out?” he asked. “And did we get the blighters?”
“Oi, you’re not supposed to move!” Ron stepped forward, helping him sit up and rearranging his pillows. The ease with which Ron manoeuvred him was a bit disconcerting. “There. Better?”
Exhaling, Harry took inventory of his body. He ached, his face really hurt, and his arms were actually shaking, but overall he was okay. And not dead. He really didn’t like being dead. “Think so. Now fill me in. What happened? I guess I’ve lost a bit of time? How long have I been here?”
Settling into a chair next to the bed, Ron sighed. “Yeah, you could say that. The raid was last week, you were out for about two days in a magically induced coma while they Healed the majority of your wounds and regrew some bones. You broke a bunch of ribs, your face was pretty scraped up, you cracked your skull, and you injured a long list of internal organs Hermione’ll have to tell you about because I’ve forgotten. Generally, you were in bad shape.”
“Fuck,” whispered Harry. “But at least we got them, right? The kidnappers?”
“Hell yeah!” Ron’s grin was fierce. “Once everyone saw you go down, those bastards didn’t stand a chance.”
Harry snorted. “Well, it’s good to be a motivating factor I suppose.”
Ron chuckled. “There’s a petition going around the department to make you our mascot.”
Harry scowled. “Fuck you,” he said, deciding to rest his hand.
Just then, door opened and a mediwitch bustled in. “Awake, are we?” she said. “Well, it’s about time.” Waving her wand, she studied Harry’s vital signs and, lips pursed, she said, “Good. Now, time for your tonics.”
“Great,” sighed Harry, making a face at Ron, who looked like he was trying hard not to laugh. “Any chance I can get something to eat?”
The mediwitch smiled. “Well, you’re clearly feeling better.” After she had set out his tonics, she said, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Once he’d swallowed his medicine, and the mediwitch had left in search of food, Harry asked, “Where’s Hermione, anyway? I thought she’d be here.”
“She would be except she has her Healer qualification exams today.” Ron beamed. “She’s on track to be top of her class.”
“Of course she is.” Harry shook his head. “I’d expect nothing less. So, tell me about the raid. We got all the kidnapped kids back, right?”
“Absolutely. None of them were hurt, thank goodness. Oh, and you’ll never guess why they had kidnapped them! They wanted a bunch of Death Eaters released from Azkaban in exchange.”
“What the hell?” Harry shook his head. “Kingsley would never agree to that.”
Ron sighed. “I dunno about that. One of the kidnapped kids was his niece.”
“Right? Anyway, we caught them and they won’t be going anywhere for a while. In fact, they found an obscure law about threatening family lines of the Sacred Twenty-Eight that’s going to allow the Ministry solicitors to throw the book at them—” As Ron continued filling Harry in on the details of the prosecution, Harry began to get sleepy, however, and mid-sentence, he was out.
When he woke, Harry was alone, but Ron had left a chocolate frog, which Harry carefully unwrapped and ate just before the mediwitch appeared with a meal. Well, it was broth, tea, and thin toast, but it tasted like the best meal he’d ever had, and Harry polished it off in short order.
By time he was done, Hermione appeared, and after lamenting all the questions she was sure she’d got wrong on her Healer qualification exams, she checked him over, whilst at the same time scolding him for getting hurt. “…believe you went ahead of everyone. Aren’t you supposed to wait for backup? Just because you have the Elder Wand doesn’t mean you’re invincible you know—”
“Hermione!” Harry glared at her. “I’d rather the entire staff of St Mungo’s not be aware I’m carrying that, thanks.”
“Right. Sorry.” Lowering her wand, she sat down on the bed beside him. “But, Harry, you really need to think about this. It doesn’t make you invincible. Plus, you’re not getting any younger, and if you keep getting hurt like this—”
Sighing, he placed a hand on her arm. “I’m way ahead of you. Once I’m out of here I’m resigning from the Aurors.”
Hermione blinked. “You’re sure?”
Harry nodded. “Positive. I thought it was for me, but I really don’t think it is anymore. Every time I turn around I get a new injury. Now I know why Moody had to have all those prosthetic body parts! And there’s also the added complication of the Elder Wand…”
Leaning in, Hermione hugged him. “You need to do what makes you happy,” she whispered. “But for what it’s worth, I think it’s a good decision.” Drawing back, she looked into his eyes. “What are you going to do instead?”
Harry laughed. “No clue. I’ve only just decided to leave.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll find something worthwhile to do.” Smiling, Hermione sat back. “In fact, you wouldn’t make a bad Healer.”
“We’ll see.” Harry stretched out his hand, watching it tremble. “I need to get better before I decide on anything.”
Hermione nodded. “Fair enough.”
Looking up at the old, crumbling building that was Prince House, Severus drew his cloak closer about himself to ward off the chill. Even Warming Charms wouldn’t help once he went inside.
Squaring his shoulders, he stepped up to the door and knocked sharply.
The door opened to reveal an ancient elf, who blinked up at him before bowing low. “Master Prince-Snape. You is expected. Please to come this way.”
Inside the house was bleak, with faded wallpaper and poorly lit hallways. As they walked, Severus glanced into several rooms, all of which were sparsely decorated with minimal furnishings.
Arriving at a door, the elf gestured him forward. “You is expected.”
Exhaling, Severus opened the door and walked in. There, in a bed, lay a wan figure, her face grey and sunken in. He had attended many a death in his life, and Severus immediately recognised that scent.
Sitting in a chair next to the bed was his mother, and the moment she saw him, she smiled in welcome. “You came,” she said, rising to her feet.
“Of course.” Severus inclined his head. “Your owl said it was urgent, and I did promise I would.”
“It is urgent and thank you.” Walking over to him, Eileen took both his hands in hers and squeezed them. “She’s not going to last much longer.”
“Your sister? My aunt?” Severus guessed.
“I hope you don’t think there’s anything I can do,” Severus murmured. “I’m no Healer, I just dabble in potions. Nature will have to take its course.”
“I know, dear.” Eileen sighed, glancing back over her shoulder at the bed. “But she is my sister, and we’re her only family, so I wanted us to be here when she passes.”
“Of course, Mum,” said Severus, leading her back to her chair. Summoning the only other chair in the room, Severus sat beside Eileen as they sat vigil.
When Eleanor opened her eyes minutes later, Eileen leaned forward. “You’re awake!” Smiling, she gestured towards Severus. “Look who came. It’s my boy, Elle, your nephew.”
Eleanor’s eyes moved over towards Severus, and despite how close she was to dying, Severus saw a fierce intelligence lurking there. Her mouth moved but nothing emerged.
“Here,” said Eileen. “Sip some water.”
Eileen had to hold the cup to Eleanor’s mouth to get her to sip, and she only took a mouthful, but when she was done, she was able to whisper. “He looks like Grandfather, don’t you think?”
“Severus, you mean?” Eileen stared at him a moment. “Yes, I suppose he does at that. Around the mouth especially.”
Severus cleared his throat.
Eleanor smiled. “Come here, boy. Let me see you properly.”
Scooting his chair closer, Severus took the hand she was reaching out towards him. “Nice to meet you, Miss Prince.”
Eleanor snorted. “I’m your aunt, boy, not some random stranger. Call me Aunt. And but for our father—” She began to cough, and Eileen again held the cup to her lips. Once she stopped coughing, she again gestured Severus close. “We would have met sooner, but for the curse.”
Severus frowned. “Curse?”
“I’ll explain it to him later, Elle,” interrupted Eileen, “now that I can. You need to say the words. If you approve of him.”
Eleanor nodded. “I know.” She smiled. “And I approve. You did well, sister.” Taking a breath, she said, “I, Eleanor Prince-Stewart, hereby bequeath to you, Severus Tobias Prince-Snape, the entirety of the Prince estate, include all titles, holdings and lands associated in perpetuity with the House of Prince.”
Mouth open, Severus stared at Eleanor.
Eileen nudged his arm. “Severus,” she hissed urgently. “You have to accept or the contract is null and void.”
“I…” Severus shook his head. “I don’t know—”
“Say yes,” snapped Eileen. “If you don’t accept, everything reverts to the Ministry.”
“I thought we didn’t have anything,” Severus said.
Eleanor’s hand tightened on his. “We have our name, lad,” she whispered. “Say yes and it shall be yours to pass on. Do not let it die.”
Severus cleared his throat. “I, Severus Tobias Snape—” Eileen nudged him again and he winced. “I mean Severus Tobias Prince-Snape, accept in its entirety the Prince estate and all its holdings.”
For a moment, Eleanor’s hand glowed, the glow spreading all the way up Severus’ hand and arm to envelop his entire body. There was a rush of energy, as if someone had doused him with Pepperup, and then it faded.
Severus looked again at Eleanor, but her eyes were closed and she was breathing unevenly. “What was that?” he asked.
Without answering, Eileen reached for Severus’ hand, gently disentangling it from Eleanor’s, and the moment he wasn’t touching her, she stopped breathing.
Tears streaming down her face, Eileen leaned over to kiss Eleanor’s cheek before straightening her body and pulling the sheet up over her face.
Feeling helpless, Severus just watched as she summoned the elf and the undertaker arrived to take the body.
Afterwards, they sat in the kitchen, sipping tea, and Severus finally felt he could ask some questions. “What just happened up there, Mum?”
Eileen sighed. “I’ll start at the beginning. You know my…our family disowned me once I chose to marry Tobias, but despite that, you are a recognised Prince. You appeared on the family tapestry in spite of Father disowning me. Which means you were in the line of succession for the Prince lordship.”
Severus raised an eyebrow. “Lordship?”
Eileen smiled. “Oh yes. Father was apoplectic, but Mother managed to calm him down. Until Eleanor kept saying she was going to see me no matter what he said. Father placed a curse on her that she would not be able to be in the same room with me until the day she died. That didn’t stop us from corresponding, however. And she even came up with a two-way mirror through which we could see and talk to each other.
“I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to introduce you to Eleanor, but of course your father then decided magic was of the devil and banned anything magical in the house. He broke my mirror. And then you went to school and, well, it seemed you’d chosen your own path.”
“A path of which you didn’t approve,” Severus murmured.
“You’re right, I didn’t.”
“And you were right, I was an idiot.” Severus touched the scars on his neck. “I was lucky to escape.” He shook his head. “Anyway, you’re saying this is the first time you’ve seen your sister since—”
“Since I left with Tobias.” Eileen nodded. “Eleanor found out she was dying a week ago and, as the last surviving recognised Prince, she contacted me, saying she wanted to pass everything on to you.”
Eileen smiled. “We’re not rich if that’s what you’re asking, not anymore, but we’re respectable. And Father made sure to keep up his seat on the Wizengamot until he died. It hasn’t been taken up in years, but it’s yours if you wish.”
“I don’t see how I can refuse,” said Severus. “When I accepted the Prince holdings, it felt like an Unbreakable Vow.”
“Yes.” Eileen exhaled. “It seems you have been accepted as heir. Eleanor and I were not sure it would take, despite you having appeared on the family tapestry. But it did. The only thing keeping her going was the fact she was heir. Once it passed to you, she was no longer being sustained, so she died.”
Severus blinked. “Being the Prince heir can keep one alive?”
“Oh yes. Being head of a House comes with power.” Eileen sighed. “Eleanor was ready to go, though. Her threads have been fading on the tapestry for a long time.”
“May I see this tapestry?” asked Severus.
“Of course.” Eileen hummed. “It’s your house.”
Severus sighed. “Why didn’t she pass it on to you? You have more of a claim than do I.”
Eileen snorted. “Because I didn’t want it.”
Eileen chuckled. “Oh, Severus. I like my life. Plus, politics is a young person’s game. Now, come along and see what you’ve inherited.”
Sighing, Severus followed.
Groaning, Harry padded towards the front door where someone had been pounding for at least five minutes. “All right, don’t get your knickers in a twist,” he muttered just before opening the door. “Oh, it’s you.”
Hermione glared at him. “What took you so long?” she asked, pushing past him. “Are you still in your pyjamas? It’s past noon!” Ron followed, shooting Harry an apologetic look as he walked in.
Eyebrow raised, Harry closed the door. “Do come in,” he said, tone dry. Scratching the back of his neck, he said, “Tea?”
“The rest of the world considers it lunchtime, actually,” snapped Hermione, marching into the kitchen.
Harry looked at Ron. “What’s going on? Why’s she so angry? What have I done now?”
Ron coughed. “I’ll let Hermione explain,” he said, scampering after her.
Harry sighed, trailing after them. “Whatever it is, it doesn’t mean we can’t have tea with lunch,” he muttered.
By the time he got there, Hermione had the kettle on and was pulling dishes from the cupboards. Ron sat at the table and didn’t say a word. Harry leaned against the door and watched as she assembled sandwiches. “Did I forget we had a plan to meet here for lunch?” he asked once the water had boiled.
Huffing, Hermione made the tea, leaving the pot to steep. She then sat and gestured towards the chair across from her. “We need to talk, Harry.”
Walking over to the chair, Harry sat. “All right. What are we talking about?”
“Your lack of ambition!” Clearly exasperated, Hermione leaned forward. “You quit the Aurors over a month ago and ever since you’ve not done anything except sleep late and go to the pub and drink!”
Harry frowned. “Okay, so I’m taking a bit of a holiday. So what? I’m entitled, am I not? I’ve never taken a holiday before.”
“What you’re doing isn’t taking a holiday, it’s moping around your house being lazy.” Hermione sighed. “And I’m worried about you. I thought you’d have found a new job by now.”
Leaning back, Harry folded his arms across his chest. “I wasn’t aware I had a deadline to decide what I want to do with my life, Hermione. I was under the impression that since I don’t actually have to work, I could take my time and make a decision, choose something I enjoy.”
“But it doesn’t even seem as if you’re looking,” said Hermione. “Unless you’re considering opening a pub.”
Harry pursed his lips. “That’s not a bad idea, actually—”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Be serious. The longer you just sit around in your pyjamas, the harder it will be for you to find a position somewhere.”
“All right,” said Harry. “What’s your suggestion?”
“Start actively looking for a position! Maybe follow Luna around at The Quibbler for a while, see if you like journalism, or hang out with me at the hospital, or with George at the shop, or—”
“Or me,” said Ron.
Harry gave him a flat look. “I know what you do. I used to do what you do, and I decided I don’t want to anymore, remember?”
“Auror isn’t the only Ministry job, Harry,” said Hermione.
Harry laughed, reaching for a sandwich. “If you think I want to be an Unspeakable—”
Hermione smiled. “You could be, but no, I was thinking Ministry solicitor or even member of the Lords’ Club or Wizengamot.”
“I can’t be a member of either of those.” Harry devoured the sandwich and reached for another. “I’m not qualified.”
“Actually, you are, mate.” Ron picked up a sandwich, too. “You’re the heir to two hereditary lordship seats. Black and Potter.”
Harry blinked. “I am?”
“You are.” Ron demolished his sandwich in two large bites. “And guess who manages those seats now?”
Harry frowned. “Who?”
Hermione smirked. “The Senior Undersecretary to the Minister.”
“Who the hell’s that?”
Ron snorted. “It was Dolores Umbridge, but she’s out, so now…who knows?”
“I’m sure whoever’s managing those seats is doing a fine job,” muttered Harry.
Hermione huffed. “Really? You want to trust your and Sirius’ family names to some random Ministry worker?”
Harry groaned. “Politics. You want me to go into politics?”
Ron shook his head. “Sorry, mate, but you’ve been in politics all your life, ever since you were made famous as a baby.”
“He’s right,” said Hermione. “With or without your consent, people are using your family name to further their own ends.”
“Pretty much.” Ron patted Harry’s shoulder. “Maybe it’s time for you to decide how your name’s going to be used, and to use it for your own ends.”
Harry laid his head on the table. “I think I hate you both.”
“You adore us,” Hermione laughed. “I’ll make some more sandwiches, shall I?”
“Salazar. See that old bat over there?” Severus muttered. “I’m told she’s seeking support for her cretin of a son to obtain a position on the Wizengamot.”
Following Severus’ gaze, Lucius cleared his throat. “That’s Lady Selwyn, and perhaps you should keep your voice down,” he advised. “You never know when you may need her assistance. And smile as she walks past us.”
Huffing, Severus nevertheless inclined his head and bared his teeth at Lady Selwyn as she swept by. Once she was gone, he growled.
Lucius sighed. “Severus, to be a success in politics you simply must cultivate the right sort. Although you despise her, and you’re quite right about her son, the Selwyns are the sort of family on whose right side you should remain.”
“I fear that ship has sailed,” muttered Severus. “I suspect I’m not as adept at hiding my true feelings as you are.”
“That may be so,” said Lucius. “But it doesn’t matter if she knows you despise her. All that matters is that others think you get along. Believe me, if you come into some power, she’s sure to start dropping your name.”
Power. Severus almost groaned. Everything here was money and power, neither of which he had. “If I hadn’t promised my mother’s sister on her deathbed that I’d take up the Prince Lordship, I’d hand it over to you right now,” Severus grumbled.
“Now, now.” Lucius tsked. “You’re only saying that because you’re grumpy and hungry. Let’s take lunch and you’ll feel better.”
“Lunch?” Severus’ stomach growled and he cleared his throat. “Yes, all right. Where?”
Lucius smirked at him. “There’s just one place to take lunch during the week, Severus. At the Wizengamot Club.”
“I…” Severus shook his head. “The what, now?”
Lucius placed his hand on Severus’ elbow to steer him down the hallway. “They don’t always tell junior lords, but those in the know all eat there. It’s free, part of being a member. And it’s where all the current members of the Wizengamot rub shoulders with the rest of us. If you really want to affect policy, this is where to do it.”
Severus sighed. “Tell me the food’s good at least.”
Lucius snorted. “Are you mad? It’s execrable. But there is some decent wine.” He steered Severus towards a set of double doors inconspicuously set into a wall. “Here we are. Now, follow my lead.”
He placed his hand on the door, and it glowed for a moment before swinging soundlessly open. Lucius dragged Severus inside and, even as quickly as he moved, the door almost caught the hem of Severus’ robes as it swung shut.
Inside it was loud, although the din softened for a moment as people all turned to look at who had entered. Once they saw Lucius, however, conversations resumed.
Severus looked around. There were small tables each able to seat four or five people, a lounge with sofas and comfortable armchairs with people dozing and chatting, another small room where people were standing around arguing and gesticulating with newspapers in their hands, and at the bar of the room there were tables laden with food, everything from sandwiches to soup to various salads and several hot plates.
“Ah but I missed this.” Lucius sighed. “Let’s get some food and then we’ll find an advantageous place to sit.”
Severus shook his head. Lucius was clearly enjoying himself far too much. He hadn’t wanted to ask for his help, but no one else had a better handle on politics than the Malfoys.
Plates filled, they walked towards the tables. Of course, Lady Selwyn had a couple of spots at hers. Lucius hummed. “Sylvia! We meet again, and so soon.”
Sylvia Selwyn smiled at Lucius. “Lucius. It’s always a pleasure.” She eyed Severus. “And I saw your…companion earlier.” She held out a hand. “Lady Sylvia Selwyn. And you are?”
Severus took her hand, bending low over it. “Severus Snape, Lord Prince,” he said. “A pleasure, Lady Selwyn.”
“Oh! You’re Severus Snape the war hero?” Sylvia’s face lit up. “What a pleasure it is to meet you. My son will be thrilled. Are you looking for a place to sit? Do join me!”
Shooting a look at Lucius, whose expression was bland, Severus released her hand and they sat.
Sylvia Selwyn proved as vacuous as Severus had predicted, but she seemed determined to befriend Severus and, by the end of lunch, Severus had fended off an invitation to tea with her and her son as well as several offers of dinner in her home.
The woman was nothing if not determined, however. It took Lucius citing an urgent meeting to get her to let them leave. “Well, I know you’re busy, Severus. May I call you Severus? But you simply have to make time for a visit to Selwyn House. We’ll discuss it again tomorrow, shall we?”
Rising to his feet, Severus again clasped her hand and bowed low over her bony fingers. “I look forward to it, Lady Selwyn.”
“Oh,” she tittered. “Sylvia, please!”
“Right. Sylvia,” Severus muttered before turning to flee.
“Well,” purred Lucius as they moved towards the door. “It looks like all sorts of opportunities are opening up for you. When was the last time you had some cunt?”
Severus almost choked. “Lucius!”
“Oops, I forgot. You’re more about the cocks and arses, aren’t you?”
Lucius laughed. “People think the Wizengamot and the lordships are serious groups who meet and have these dry and boring sessions when really, it’s all about whose cock’s getting wet with whom.” He patted Severus’ arm. “If you relax, I imagine you can have quite an exciting love life. Although you will have to give up your old-fashioned notion of monogamy. People these days are more…free with their favours.”
Severus huffed. Maybe it had been a mistake to ask for Lucius’ help. He should have invited Narcissa to accompany him. She wasn’t nearly so crude.
Edging his way into the room, Harry looked around warily. This was where the receptionist in the Lordship Management Office had directed him, but there had been no instructions as to what exactly assuming his titles would entail. Was he going to have to wander the room and mingle?
Shoving his hands in his pockets, Harry sighed. “Knew this was a bad idea,” he muttered under his breath. “‘Just see what it’s like’, they said. 'How bad can it be?’ they said.”
“Did ‘they’ also mention that talking yourself is one of the first signs of madness?”
Wincing, Harry spun, his eyes going wide when he saw who was speaking to him. “Snape?”
“Potter.” Snape, a small smirk gracing his mouth, hummed. “At least your eyes are still working, even if your brain isn’t.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “You’re as hilarious as always.” Shaking his head, he extended his hand. “Good to see a familiar face here at least.”
Snape clasped Harry’s hand briefly. “I notice you didn’t say friendly.”
“No I did not.” Harry grinned, enjoying the banter. “So, are you a member of the lordship club?”
“Indeed.” Snape’s eyes narrowed. “I take it you are here to take up the Potter and Black seats? There have been rumours about someone assuming them.” He inclined his head. “I’m pleased to see it’s you.”
“Pleased it’s me?” Harry grinned. “Are you sure you’re not the one going mad?”
Snape snorted. “You at least have a legitimate claim to those titles. Having observed this group over the past few weeks, I would not have been surprised to see someone falsely claim to speak for those Houses. Politics, I have discovered, is dangerous.”
Sobering, Harry nodded. “Yeah. That’s part of the reason I decided to take up the seats in the first place.”
Snape hummed. “You do realise it’s a full-time job, yes? Last I heard you were an Auror.”
“I was, and I gave it up. It got too…dangerous.” The back of Harry’s neck was prickling, and he surreptitiously turned his head, seeing several people staring at him. He turned back towards Snape, his senses on alert.
“A Potter cringing in the face of danger?” Snape raised an eyebrow. “Now I really am wondering if you should get assessed by a Mind Healer.”
“I have my careful moments!” Harry sighed. “If it had just been me I could have managed,” he admitted. “But as you’re aware, I carry a…special wand. What would happen if a criminal defeated me and got their hands on it?”
“You knew that when you joined the Aurors five years ago,” said Snape, eyes narrowed. “Did something else happen?” Snape looked him up and down and it was oddly intimate. “Were you injured.”
“I’ve had a lot of close shaves lately,” said Harry, looking away from Snape’s far too perceptive eyes. “It was aging me prematurely. Then, Hermione and Ron persuaded me I could still make a difference here, maybe even more of one.”
Snape nodded. “They are probably correct. As distasteful as politics can be, it does often accomplish societal change when other actions do not.”
“Yeah.” Harry sighed. “I just wish I knew more about politics.”
“You need a guide.” Snape pursed his lips. “I could be persuaded to assist you.”
“You…” Harry blinked. “Why?”
“As amusing as it would be to watch you blunder your way through, insulting everyone at every turn, politics often takes a more…practised hand. Plus, is it so difficult to believe I wish to see you succeed?”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “So you’re doing this so I won’t make a fool of myself?”
Snape smirked. “If you like.”
“Uh huh.” Harry looked around. “Well, no matter what your reasons are, I’m still going to take you up on it. I have no clue when it comes to politics. So yes, please help me.”
“You really have grown up.” Snape’s eyes narrowed. “The younger you would never have accepted assistance from anyone, much less a hated former professor.”
“Hated?” Harry blinked. “I trust you know I didn’t honestly hate you.”
“You should have.” Snape studied his nails. “I was trying quite hard to make you despise me. Anything else would have been dangerous.”
Harry nodded. “I know.” He smiled. “Let’s just say I don’t hate you now, all right? And I haven’t for a long time.”
Inclining his head, Snape said, “Very well. First, we begin with an orientation. The room we’re standing in—”
Harry listened, trying to be attentive. But all he could think was how odd help should come from so unexpected a source.
“Rumour has it you acquired a disciple today.”
Severus looked up from his book and at the Floo. “Why, good evening, Lucius. How are you this fine evening? How nice of you to Floo. How may I help you?”
Lucius snorted. “You want to play games? All right. How was your day with the lords and ladies of the Wizarding world? Did you make any new and influential friends?”
Severus huffed. “Fine. If you must know, Harry Potter showed up today. He intends to take up the ancestral Potter and Black titles. He looked a bit lost, so I…assisted him.”
“How…altruistic.” Lucius smirked. “Although since I hear Potter has matured into quite the looker, it’s probably for the best that you’ve taken him under your wing. Lady Selwyn and her ilk would gobble him up and spit him out if he’s not careful.”
Severus scowled. “You needn’t worry. I will be sure to guard him from such…people.”
“I’m sure you will.” Lucius hummed. “Anyway, that wasn’t my only reason for contacting you this evening.”
Severus raised an eyebrow. “No?”
“No.” Lucius sighed. “It’s Draco.”
Setting down his book, Severus sat forward. “What about him?”
“He’s determined to marry the Greengrass girl.” Lucius rolled his eyes. “What is it about this generation and love?” He groaned. “I’m sure our generation were not such a trial to our parents.”
“Why don’t you approve of his choice?” asked Severus quietly.
“The whole family is sickly! The mother and grandmother died young, so Narcissa is convinced there’s a hex on that House.” Lucius sighed. “I don’t want to see him hurt, Severus. His childhood was already stolen, and now he’s gone and fallen in love with a woman who’s unlikely to live that long. I wish I could just Obliviate—”
“Not a good idea.”
“I know!” Lucius huffed.
“Well, it’s clear he’s already formed an attachment with her, Lucius.” Severus pursed his lips. “Is it Daphne or Astoria?”
“Astoria. How did you—?” Lucius’ face cleared. “Ah, you taught them both, didn’t you?”
Severus nodded. “They were both Slytherin. And neither had medical problems while in school to my knowledge. Is she eighteen yet?”
“There are some hexes that—” Severus paused. “We have little time to waste. Tell him to have her contact me tomorrow.”
Lucius exhaled. “Thank you, Severus. I didn’t want to presume, but—”
“But you’re aware I still dabble in potions to treat Dark curses.” Severus nodded. “I make no guarantees, Lucius, but I can certainly examine her and see if I can help. Many familial curses only affect people once they are over eighteen, so there may yet be a chance to save her.”
“We will forever be in your debt.”
Severus smirked. “Be assured, I shall collect my payment someday.”
Lucius laughed. “Of that I’ve no doubt. And, even though you’ve not asked for my advice, I think it’s good you’re mentoring Potter.”
Severus sighed. “And why is that?”
“Because mentoring Potter may provide you an opportunity to get your cock wet.” Lucius winked.
With a flick of his wand, Severus closed the Floo in Lucius’ smug face. “Arse,” he muttered.
“Snape? He’s helping you navigate the Ministry?” Ron shook his head. “Bloody hell, now I know the world’s coming to an end.”
Harry sighed, taking another sip of the drink Ron had poured for him. “I know it sounds weird, but he’s actually being…nice about it. He’s really funny.”
“Are you sure he’s not someone else Polyjuiced?”
“Who would want to Polyjuice into Professor Snape?” asked Hermione, setting a dish of olives and cheese on the table.
“I know it’s him,” said Harry. “There’s no magic involved. And he’s being…charming.”
Ron and Hermione exchanged a look.
Harry sighed. “All right, spit it out!”
Ron smiled weakly. “Spit what out?”
“What you’re thinking! Why you exchanged that look!” Harry waved a hand between them. “I’ve seen that look before.”
Hermione leaned forward. “You saw us use that look when you were obsessed with the Half-Blood Prince.”
“I’m wasn’t obsessed then and I’m not now!” Harry shook his head. “I just think it’s nice of Snape to guide me around and help me not make a fool of myself.” He raised an eyebrow. “You’re the ones who encouraged me to do this, remember?”
“Yes we did.” Hermione smiled. “And we’re glad you’re pursuing it. I think you’re going to make a real difference.”
Mollified, Harry shook his head. “If I ever get to be on the Wizengamot, maybe. Right now all we seem to do is meet and socialise with petty people who only seem to care about their robes and their money. It doesn’t feel like a job.”
“I heard there’s werewolf legislation coming up for consideration,” said Hermione. “Have you heard anything about that?”
“Yes. People are talking about that, and I think most of them are for it.” Harry made a face. “I’ve been thinking about bringing Teddy with me when I go to the Ministry next time. Give them all a human face so they’ll see what such legislation will really mean.”
Hermione stared at him.
“What?” asked Harry.
“That is brilliant!” Standing up, she came around the table and hugged him.
Harry smiled. “It wasn’t just my idea. Snape was the one who asked if I knew anyone who could give a human face to the problem.”
Taking her seat, Hermione hummed. “You two make a good team. You’re sure there’s not…something else there?”
Harry took a sudden interest in his plate. “Something else like what?” he muttered.
Hermione snorted. “You know very well what I mean, Harry Potter!”
Startled, Harry looked up at her. “Between me and Snape, you mean? No.”
“You sound disappointed about that,” said Ron, exchanging another look with Hermione.
“I’m not…I mean I wouldn’t mind if—” Harry groaned. “I don’t know what I want.”
Hermione reached for his hand and patted it. “I think you do, actually. And once you make up your mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if Snape reciprocates.”
Harry gaped at her. “You think he could fancy me?”
“I think I’ve never heard of him treating anyone else like he treats you,” said Hermione. “So yes, I think there could be something there.”
“Oh.” Harry pursed his lips. “I’m going to have to make the first move, aren’t I?”
“I’d say so, yes.”
Ron was shaking his head. “Bloody hell, mate. You can’t ever choose the easy way, can you?”
Harry grinned ruefully. “Well, at least I’m consistent.”
Something was different. Severus couldn’t quite put his finger on what, but something was going on with Potter, that much he knew.
It was the speculative way Potter had started looking at him. As if he was contemplating something involving Severus. While he was pretty sure it wasn’t anything nefarious, Potter was hardly that sort, it was still puzzling and concerning and it set Severus’ nerves on edge.
Lucius, of course, was no help. “Maybe he’s heard about how well you wield your wand and wants a demonstration,” he said, smirking suggestively.
Severus rolled his eyes. “I doubt that’s it. I’m old enough to be his father. And he used to hate me.”
Lucius shrugged. “That just shows there’s passion in your relationship, and since when has age mattered in lust or love? The heart wants what it wants, my friend. Although, in Potter’s case, the body part that may be clamouring for you may be a bit…lower down.”
“You’re horrible,” Severus told him.
Lucius simply laughed. “Yes, I suppose I am these days, now that my standing in society is so low. It hardly matters what I do, and it’s quite freeing.” Tossing back his brandy, he rose. “And speaking of, all this talk of lust and love reminds me that Narcissa is home this afternoon.” He licked his lips. “I think I shall pay her a visit. I trust you know your way out?”
Huffing, Severus left, although he did finish his brandy first. No use letting good spirits go to waste. Then, returning to his home, to Prince House, he continued working on Astoria’s potion. At least he knew what was happening there.
And Narcissa had been right, there was definitely something wrong with the girl, something Dark lurking but not yet manifesting, that much Severus knew. It took him recalling something he’d heard about from Rabastan, back when he’d been producing potions for Voldemort, to make him contemplate a fairly risky move.
Poring over his cauldron, Severus stirred, waiting until the liquid turned clear before adding a drop of Astoria’s blood. When the liquid turned black, and sent up noxious grey smoke, he stepped back and waited. And when he looked again to see the liquid in the cauldron once again clear, he smiled.
There was a risk, of course, as he explained to both Draco and Astoria when they showed up in response to his summons. “But I think I’ve isolated the cause and I’ve come up with a potential cure.”
Draco was ecstatic, even after Severus explained there was no guarantee it would work in her just because it worked in the cauldron.
Astoria was quiet. “If I don’t try this,” she said, watching Draco as he roamed about Severus’ lab, picking up specimen bottles to inspect, “I die young and leave Draco and any children we may have. This may give me more time with him. So yes, I agree.”
Severus nodded and, after they had set a date for the administration of the potion, Draco and Astoria left hand in hand.
All in all it should have been a satisfying day, yet as Severus got ready for bed, all he could think about was Potter and the way he looked at Severus.
“I have to get to the bottom of it,” Severus muttered, punching his pillow into shape as he tried to sleep. “If only for my sanity.”
“You know,” said Harry, “I think she fancies you.” They were sitting at a table in the Wizengamot Club having lunch, and Lady Selwyn was staring at them.
Snape glanced over to see who he was talking about, and when he saw her, he snorted. “Lady Selwyn fancies anyone she thinks can get her ahead in her political ambitions. I would not advise pursuing that as a way to get ahead here.”
Harry shuddered. “Not a chance,” he declared.
“Too old?” asked Snape, tone silky.
Apparently he’d struck a nerve. Biting back a smile, Harry replied. “No. Too female. And by the way, I like…older partners.”
“Indeed.” Snape raised an eyebrow. “You’re saying you’re a homosexual? And if so, why are you telling me?”
Harry shrugged. “Just making conversation. And it seemed information you should have. You know, in case you’d wondered.”
Snape cleared his throat. “As your mentor, it would hardly be proper for me to speculate on your…proclivities.”
“Ah.” Harry looked down at his half-eaten lunch. “So I guess that makes it improper for me to ponder who you might fancy? Because I do. Ponder that I mean.”
Snape’s fork made a clatter against his dish. “You what?”
“Well, well, you two seem to be in a deep discussion, I hope all is well?” Lady Selwyn’s shrill voice made Harry cringe.
Snape smiled up at her, the smile not quite reaching his eyes. “Oh yes, Sylvia. All is quite well. I’m simply helping Potter avoid any political pitfalls.”
“Ah yes.” Lady Selwyn sighed, heaving her bosom in Snape’s general direction. “It’s so easy to fall into a political trap.” She tittered. “Not that I ever have. My dear Harry, I, too, should be happy to assist should you have need of my expertise.”
“Thanks,” said Harry. “I’ll be sure to take you up on that should it become necessary someday.”
“Please do.” Fluttering her eyelashes in what she probably thought was an appealing way, she moved off to chat with someone else, much to Harry’s relief.
“Yeah,” muttered Harry. “Don’t hold your breath.”
To Harry’s surprise, Snape actually unbent enough to smile at that. “She can be a bit much to take. Although you did get her to agree to waiting on more information before passing that werewolf legislation.”
Harry grinned. “Yes, she loved Teddy. That was a great suggestion of yours.”
Snape inclined his head. “You are most welcome. Now, if you’re done with your lunch, we should plan to attend the Wizengamot’s afternoon session since it’s about several interesting topics—”
“Wait.” Harry clasped Snape’s arm. “Can we please finish our earlier conversation?”
“About where my…romantic interests lie?” Snape sighed. “As I indicated before, I hardly think that’s a proper topic—”
Squaring his shoulders, Harry snapped, “Sod proper! I need to know if I have a chance with you, Snape. Severus. If I don’t, if I’m not your type, then fine, I won’t bring it up again. But if there’s even a small chance you could see me in that way, then…”
Snape…Severus had gone still. “You’re saying you fancy me? As a romantic partner?”
“Yes.” Harry stared into his eyes. “Look if you like. My Occlumency shields are shite anyway.”
“You need to work on that,” said Severus, looking away. “Many of the members of the Wizengamot are accomplished Legilimentes.”
“Severus!” Harry tightened his grip on Severus’ arm. “Please.”
When Severus looked up and into his eyes, Harry sucked in a breath. It was all there for him to see; longing, lust, desire. “Be sure about this,” Severus said, voice low. “Because I do not so casual ‘hookups’ or whatever it is they’re called these days. If we do this, we do it properly.”
Harry swallowed hard. “Meaning?” he whispered.
“Meaning, we are exclusive, no other lovers. And we do this to gauge our compatibility for a serious relationship.”
Without hesitation, Harry nodded. “That sounds…” He exhaled. “I didn’t know what I wanted until you just said that,” he confessed. “But yes, I’d like to try.”
“Very well.” Severus rose, pulling Harry with him.
“We’re still going to the afternoon Wizengamot session?” Harry asked when Severus steered him towards the chambers.
Severus smirked. “No, we’re going to the closest Floo exit. The Wizengamot Club has its own, much closer than those in the Atrium.”
Heart pounding in anticipation, Harry hurried along with Severus and, when he picked up the Floo powder, hauled Harry close to him, and said, “Prince House,” Harry closed his eyes and clung to him. He had no idea what he was doing, but somehow it felt right.
Severus had never been as happy that he’d asked Narcissa for decorating advice as when he and Potter - well, perhaps he should start calling him Harry now - arrived at Prince House.
Harry looked around, his expression impressed. “Nice.”
“Thank you, I’ve been renovating.”
“I look forward to the tour,” said Harry.
“Of course.” Severus tamped down his disappointment. “This is the—”
“Severus,” interrupted Harry, placing a hand on his arm. “I was joking. The tour can wait. I thought we came here for another reason.”
“We did,” agreed Severus, pulling him close. “After all, this won’t work if we’re not compatible.”
“I suspect we are,” whispered Harry.
“Time to see,” said Severus, and leaning in, he sealed their mouths together.
Things proceeded slower that Severus had imagined they would. Potter responded immediately to his kiss, pressing up against him, trying to get closer. But there was no tearing at clothes, no competition to see who could dominate the other. Instead, Potter let him lead, only pushing back when he wanted to communicate something he preferred.
“Bedroom?” Potter whispered when they stopped to breathe.
“Yes,” agreed, Severus. “This way.” And clasping Harry’s hand, he led him to his bedroom, to his bed.
Even then they took their time, not rushing as Severus had thought they might at that point, watching each other as they undressed.
Sitting on the edge of his bed, Severus drew Harry between his legs and, as Harry straddled him, they kissed and finally it became frenzied, desperate, speeding up, until they were both writhing on the bed with hands all over each other.
Even though things were moving faster, however, that didn’t mean Severus didn’t feel the pull of something slower and deeper taking place between them. Sex with Harry was, simply put, different, and Severus wanted to slow down, to take his time and enjoy it, but Harry urged him on with hands and body and it was impossible to stop.
Not even when Severus finished preparing Harry with lubricant-slick fingers did he manage to slow down, although he did take his time pressing inside him.
Harry’s reaction was certainly gratifying. Though he was on his hands and knees and Severus couldn’t see his face, he arched his back as Severus thrust in, welcoming him, trying to pull him deeper. And his whimpers and moans as Severus stroked his cock in time with his thrusting made Severus want to keep it going forever.
Of course, he couldn’t. Eventually even he had to speed up, had to come, although he did make sure Harry came first. And once Harry’s tremors subsided and he collapsed onto the bed, Severus fucked into him until he, too, spilled his seed, and came.
“Wow,” whispered Harry. “I’d say we’re compatible.”
Sighing, Severus rolled onto his back, smirking as Harry shifted to curl up beside him. “It seems so, yes.” Exhaling, he continued, “So, there’s still an afternoon Wizengamot session we can attend.”
Harry yawned, throwing his leg over Severus’ thigh. “There’s one tomorrow, too, right?”
“Then I think we’re better off staying here and making absolutely sure we’re compatible.”
Severus hummed. “As you wish.”
“Things must be going well with you and Snape.”
Harry looked up at Hermione. “Moderately well, I suppose.”
“Well enough to invite him over for dinner?” she asked.
Harry cleared his throat. “Maybe. I’ll bring it up when I see him next.”
“Good.” Hermione waved her wand once more. “All right. You’ll be happy to know everything looks fine. And I’m pleased to report I can’t even find your previous Auror-sustained injuries.”
Harry moved his leg and hip experimentally. “I noticed my joints weren’t hurting anymore.”
“Well, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it, it’s obviously good for you.”
“I’ll be sure to tell Severus.” Harry kept a straight face as she rolled her eyes. “What? We…exercise.”
Hermione snorted. “I’m sure.” Clearing her throat, she said, “It sounds like you’re serious about him.”
“I…I think I am.” Harry exhaled. “He doesn’t do casual, and before we started dating we pledged we weren’t going to see other people. So yeah, I’d say we’re serious.”
“As long as you’re happy.” Hermione smiled. “You certainly look happy.”
“Thanks.” Harry exhaled. “Right, if that’s it, I should head out. I’m supposed to be meeting Severus at Prince House and we’re attending this afternoon’s Wizengamot hearings.”
“Any word on when you may be invited to join?”
Harry shrugged. “It’s only been a couple of months. I’ve heard it can take up a year. After that apparently it’s unlikely, although people do try.”
“Well good luck,” said Hermione, pulling him into a hug. “And I’m serious about having you and Snape for dinner.”
“I know you are, but what about Ron?” Harry drew back, laughing when he saw the expression on her face.
“He’ll get used to it eventually.” Hermione steered him towards the door. “Now shoo! I have other patients waiting.”
Waving goodbye, Harry left with a spring in his step. Once he got to the Apparation point, he waited his turn and, once there, he Apparated to Prince House.
“Severus?” he cried upon walking through the wards and entering the front hallway. When he got no answer, Harry smiled. “I bet you’re in your lab again.”
Making his way to Severus’ lab, Harry heard voices.
“…brilliant, Severus! This is life changing!”
Turning the corner, Harry saw Severus and Draco Malfoy standing over a cauldron. Frowning, he moved closer, watching as Severus handed Malfoy a phial of something.
“…to take it every day for an entire year,” Severus said.
Malfoy nodded. “I’ll make sure.” And he threw his arms around Severus hugging him. “Thanks for this. It means we can finally get married!”
Harry went cold.
“Yes it does,” agreed Severus. “Now off with you, I’m expecting company.”
Shaking his head, Harry backed away, hiding behind the door, his heart racing. So much for fidelity. Apparently Severus wanted Harry to be monogamous, but had different rules for himself.
Once he heard Malfoy Floo away, Harry exhaled and, once he was calmer, walked in.
Severus looked up, smiling in welcome when he saw him. “There you are. I’m just finishing up a project and then we can go.”
“It’s all right,” said Harry, tone bland. “Take your time.”
Severus frowned. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” Harry lied. He cleared his throat. “I’ve been thinking—”
“About what?” asked Severus, levitating a cauldron up to one of his highest shelves.
“Remember when you said we should be exclusive? I was wondering if you’ve been…rethinking that.”
The cauldron crashed onto the floor. “Excuse me?” Severus’ voice was tight. It sounded as if he was speaking through clenched teeth. “Are you saying you wish to date other people?”
“It would mean you’d be free to as well,” said Harry, avoiding Severus’ eyes. “You know, if you wanted.”
“You already know my opinion on this. What are you really saying?” Severus’ voice went cold. “Are you dating someone else?”
Harry spun to face him. “Are you?”
“No.” Severus’ eyes bored into Harry’s. “And you haven’t answered my question.”
“No.” Harry shrugged. “Not yet.”
“Not yet?” Severus’ eyes narrowed. “So you plan to? Am I not enough for you? Is it the sex?”
“The sex is fine,” said Harry. Amazing. “But I haven’t had sex with that many people, so maybe—”
“So you wish to experiment with other men?” spat Severus. “Is that what this is about?”
“It’s about what’s fair!” cried Harry. “Is it fair for you to court another man while I stay monogamous to you?”
“Court another—?” Severus scowled. “I’m courting no one else but you, you idiot!”
“I heard Malfoy just now!” shouted Harry. “I heard him talking about marrying you, so when were you planning on telling me?”
Severus’ face cleared. “Draco?” he said, tone soft. “You heard my conversation with Draco earlier? That’s what this is all about?” He shook his head. “Draco wasn’t talking about marrying me.”
“Why was he hugging you, then?” hissed Harry.
Severus rolled his eyes. “Merlin knows. I suppose he was grateful.” He laughed. “I can’t believe you think I’d be interested in Draco. He’s practically my son.”
“We’re the same age,” Harry pointed out.
“You seem more mature, I suppose.” Severus regarded Harry steadily. “The larger questions is if you trust me, and it appears you do not.”
Harry bit his lip. “Before this I would have said I trust you with my life,” he whispered.
“I still trust you with my life.”
“But not your heart.” Severus’ expression cleared. “Perhaps it would be for the best if you think about whether you can trust me before we proceed any deeper into this relationship.”
Harry closed his eyes, his chest feeling as if it was exploding with pain. “Perhaps so.” Turning away, he started for the door. And Severus didn’t stop him.
“Severus, are you there?”
“What is it, Lucius?” Severus snapped, not looking up from his cauldron.
“Oh my. Someone’s in a bad mood. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m busy, so if this is a social call—”
“I’m calling to thank you for helping Astoria and to let you know we’re throwing an engagement party for Draco.” Lucius coughed. “You’ll be receiving an invitation in the next few days, and I wanted to let you know you’re welcome to bring your…Potter.”
Severus ruthlessly suppressed the pain hearing Harry’s name evoked. “Thank you for the invitation. I shall let you know if I’m attending. And I don’t have a…paramour.”
“Things not going well with Potter? Oh dear.” Lucius hummed. “Would you like to talk about it? I can come through—”
“I’d rather not,” snapped Severus. “Now, if that’s all—”
Lucius cleared his throat as if about to say something, then abruptly closed the Floo connection.
Severus huffed. “So much for my wanting to talk about it,” he muttered. Not that he did. But still.
A moment later the Floo sounded and someone came through. Heaving a sigh, Severus said, “Lucius, I honestly do not wish to discuss Potter with you.”
“I’m not Lucius,” said Narcissa. “I came instead. I thought perhaps you could use a different ear.”
Severus winced, almost dropping his stirring rod. “Narcissa, I—”
Narcissa held up a hand. “I don’t need to know details about your relationship, but it’s clear something has happened, and whatever it is has made you unhappy.” She smiled. “Is it so surprising to think we’re concerned and want to see you content, my dear?”
Severus sighed. He’d always been unable to resist Narcissa. “Har—Potter no longer trusts me, and I don’t know a way to fix that.”
Narcissa inclined her head. “What happened?”
Waving a hand, Severus put his potion under a Stasis Spell. “Come with me,” he said. “I’ll make tea.”
Over tea, he recounted what happened, Narcissa providing a receptive ear. When he got to the end of his recitation, he sighed. “I shouldn’t have let him go. I should have told him to stay so we could hash the whole thing out.”
“That would have been for the best,” agreed Narcissa. “Now it will be more difficult to persuade him.” She smiled. “Although I have no doubt you will manage.”
Severus scowled. “Why should I go to him? He’s the one who was wrong.”
Leaning across the table, Narcissa patted his arm. “Would you rather be right or happy?”
Severus huffed. “Must you be so annoyingly wise all the time?”
Humming, Narcissa rose to her feet. “I’ll see myself out. Do give Potter my best. And we’ll expect both of you for Draco’s engagement.”
Severus didn’t reply. He recognised an order when he heard one.
Groaning, Harry dragged himself to the door where someone had been pounding for at least ten minutes. “I swear to Godric, Hermione, if this is you I am not going to be responsible—” Harry opened the door and froze when he saw Hermione, Ron, and Severus. He stared at Severus.
Hermione began talking immediately. “Before you say anything, just know that we’re doing this because we love you and we want to see you happy, and we’ve never seen you happier than when you were with Snape.”
“And you have to admit, mate, you’ve been useless since the two of you broke up,” chimed in Ron.
“We did make him promise not to hurt you,” added Hermione.
“They threatened me with death and dismemberment, actually,” said Severus. “Not in that order.”
Tearing his eyes from Severus’, Harry scowled at Hermione. “You’re not going away until I let you in, are you?”
Hermione smiled. “We’re going away when you let Snape in.”
“Yeah,” said Ron. He made a face. “We don’t need to be here for the make-up sex.”
“What? Look at the way they’re eye-fucking each other.” Ron turned away. “We all know what’s going to happen as soon as Snape goes in there.”
“That’s enough, Ron.” Hermione stepped aside for Severus. “Harry, just please talk to him, okay?”
Ducking his head, Harry nodded. “Come in,” he muttered. And as Severus moved past him, Harry looked at Hermione and whispered, “Thanks.”
She smiled. “Good luck.”
Closing the door, Harry took a deep breath before spinning to face Severus. “Where do you want to do this? Sitting room? Kitchen?”
Severus inclined his head. “Tea would be nice.”
Harry nodded. “Kitchen it is.”
The familiar motions of putting the kettle on soothed Harry so that by the time he’d made the tea and placed a mug in front of Severus, he was calm.
“Thank you for seeing me.”
Harry looked up. “Thank you for coming.”
They eyed each other, tea cooling in front of them.
Finally, Harry’d had enough. “I’m sorry I doubted you, I have a thing about Malfoy—”
At the same time Severus said, “I shouldn’t have let you leave that day—”
Stopping, they both smiled. “Go ahead,” said Harry.
Severus shook his head. “No, after you.”
Harry exhaled. “Okay. So, I think I had such a strong reaction because I have a thing about Malfoy. We’ve always been rivals and the idea that he could want you made me go a bit mad.”
Reaching out, Severus clasped Harry’s hand. “I understand. Ms Granger and Mr Weasley explained he is your weak spot. I’m sorry I made you feel insecure. My relationship with Draco is that of a man with his godson. I was simply helping come up with a potion for his fiancée.”
Harry linked their fingers. “Yeah, I got that. I wish you hadn’t let me leave either.”
“Next time I won’t,” promised Severus.
“You think there’ll be a next time?”
Severus snorted. “Of course. It’s us.”
“Fair point.” Harry stared at Severus. “I know we probably have more to talk about, but can we get to the make-up sex now and do that later?”
“That,” said Severus, standing and pulling Harry to him, “sounds like an excellent idea.”
Harry pressed closer to Severus, steering him backwards until he was against the wall. Smiling, he said, “How do you feel about wall sex?”
“I feel as if I’m a bit too old for that,” Severus smirked. “Don’t you have a bed?”
“I have a fabulous bed,” said Harry, and a moment later they were in it, Harry straddling Severus, who looked content to be beneath him.
Usually they took their time with each other, but it had been too long and, waving his hand, Harry Banished their clothes and conjured lube.
Severus, his hands resting on Harry’s hips, raised an eyebrow. “Taking charge this time?”
Harry grinned. “Yes.” Leaning down, he whispered against Severus’ lips, “And I’ve decided I want to ride you. Is that all right?”
Severus smirked. “I’ll manage.”
Harry made quick work of preparing himself, and as he slicked Severus’ cock and scooted himself up to position himself, he watched Severus’ face. He looked…contented, at peace. Well, at least until Harry positioned his cock at his hole.
Throwing his head back, Harry panted as Severus’ cockhead pushed into him. The burn of penetration was just enough to ground him, and as he sat down, taking Severus’ cock deeper, they both moaned.
“Move,” Severus choked out, and Harry did. Slowly at first, making his motions languorous and sensual. Severus just watched him, his eyes dark with desire, his hands everywhere, urging Harry on.
Eventually he couldn’t keep up the slow pace, and Harry began to speed up. Severus bucked up, rotating his hips, pressing his cock against Harry’s prostate with every third thrust, sending shocks of pleasure up Harry’s back.
Harry started to get tired, and no sooner had he said, “Tired—” than Severus rolled him onto his back, plunging into him.
On the cusp of coming, Harry cried out, his cock spilling between them. And still, Severus continued, fucking into Harry with rough strokes that made Harry wrap his arms and legs around him and cling for dear life.
Soon, Severus’ strokes went ragged until, with a low cry, he, too, came, his body trembling against Harry as he emptied himself into him.
“I missed you.”
Turning his head, Severus kissed Harry’s temple. “I missed you, too.”
“I even missed the Wizengamot Club,” Harry admitted.
Severus laughed. “That can easily be solved. There’s an afternoon session today. We can always attend.”
Harry huffed, tightening his grip on Severus. “How about we finish making up first?”
“That,” said Severus, kissing him, “sounds like the best offer I’ve had in ages.”