Actions

Work Header

Potterzine

Work Text:

If there’s one thing that makes Severus wish that blasted snake had finished the job, it’s Friday afternoon Potions with the sixth years. Not only are they utterly unable to concentrate – no doubt making inane weekend plans which involve wasting their money on Weasley products – but one group in particular keep giggling. Severus is not a man who tolerates giggling in his classroom. There is nothing remotely comical about Shrivelfigs. There is definitely nothing amusing about the homework Severus plans to assign. He rubs his hands together gleefully, but nobody seems to notice the trouble brewing. They’re all too busy studying a textbook with an eagerness that would make Hermione Granger proud.

Severus glares and flicks his wand in a swift motion which closes the textbook and sends it into his outstretched hand.

“Miss Patil, would you care to share which bit of Levithan’s research you find so entertaining?” Severus opens the book with slow precision. “Do enlighten the rest of the class.”

“Really, Professor. You don’t want to—”

A leaflet of some sort falls out of the book and Severus bends to pick it up, placing the book on his desk. It looks like a small, amateur-made magazine. The name Potterzine is in lurid Gryffindor colours, and the ‘z’ appears to have been fashioned into some sort of lightning bolt. Severus’ frown deepens as he takes in the content of the front cover. The picture is a colourful drawing which features Potter in a sinfully tight Muggle t-shirt, gazing longingly at none other than Draco bloody Malfoy. The picture cuts off mercifully just below the crotch area, but the image of Malfoy’s hand on Potter’s belt and the tantalising bulge which Severus is quite sure gives Potter more credit than he deserves is hardly subtle. With a scowl, Severus approaches the girls and two boys gathered around the spot where the textbook sat.

“What is the meaning of this?”

Patil looks at Longbottom for encouragement, and she pipes up in support of her friend. “It’s just fanfiction and some fanart, Professor. About Harry Potter – I mean Professor Potter.” Longbottom clears her throat, her cheeks pink. “We call ourselves Harry’s Army. Because of all that work he did with Dumbledore’s Army. We think he’s brilliant, Sir. Honestly. We don’t mean any harm.”

Severus is getting more irritated by the second. This is undoubtedly something Potter has encouraged, arrogant little twerp that he is. He waves the magazine again. “You are aware Draco Malfoy is married? To a woman?”

“So he says,” Patil replies, cryptically.

“He could be bisexual,” Longbottom pipes up.

“Or perhaps they’re polyamorous,” Smith offers. Severus glares at him.

“Ten points from Gryffindor for being an ignoramus, Smith.”

“Why?” Outraged, Smith folds his arms and glares at Severus. “There’s nothing wrong with it.”

“I’m aware of that.” Severus speaks through gritted teeth, barely resisting the urge to thwack Longbottom on the head with Potterzine. “I called you an ignoramus because Mr Malfoy could be engaging in extra-marital relationships with people of all genders and hippogriffs to boot and you still wouldn’t find him in flagrante with Pot-Professor Potter.”

“That’s probably because Harry broke his heart,” Patil murmurs to Longbottom. “Proximity is difficult for them both now. Poor Draco.”

Severus makes a strangled sound. “How many copies of this thing are there?”

The witches and wizards look at one another until finally Alice Terrence pipes up. “Of that issue?”

Severus glares at Terrence and peruses the cover again, noticing the small 27 in the corner. “Never mind. I will speak to Professor Potter about this directly. In the meantime, ten points from each of you. Class dismissed!”

Severus is so busy pointedly ignoring the wails of but Sir and waving the class out of his rooms, it’s only when he’s marching towards Potter’s classroom that he realises he forgot to assign the weekend-ruining homework he had been so looking forward to.

Scowl deepening, Severus picks up his pace.

Potter is going to pay for that, too.

*

“Professor Snape.” Potter looks up from his desk as Severus yanks open the door to Potter’s classroom and closes it with a slam. He pushes his glasses up his nose, sitting back in his chair and pushing his marking to one side. “What an unexpected pleasure.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Severus doesn’t miss the way Potter’s lips twitch into a barely suppressed smile and his fury mounts. He slaps Potterzine on Potter’s desk and stands back with his arms folded. “Well? Do you care to explain this?”

“Is that me?” Potter snorts with laughter as he studies the cover. “Oh, Merlin. I’ve heard about Haco, but I’ve never seen any of it first-hand.”

“Excuse me?” Severus narrows his eyes at Potter.

“Haco.” Potter speaks slowly and patiently as if it’s Severus that’s the idiot in the room. “That’s what they call me and Malfoy. It’s the names Harry and Draco, sort of smushed together.” He waves his hand, clearly unconcerned. “Hermione told me about it because she found some stuff – fanfic I think it’s called – when she was doing some research. It’s a whole thing.”

“What research was Miss Granger conducting that would lead her to stumble upon that?” Severus snarls out the word and waves towards the document which Potter seems to find quite amusing.

“I don’t know, actually.” Potter frowns, looking thoughtful. “She never really said.”

“Humph.” Severus folds his arms. “It must be stopped, immediately.”

“Why?” Potter laughs, looking up at Snape. “I don’t care. It’s not causing any harm, is it?”

“Besmirching Draco’s good name—”

“Oh, give over.” Potter snorts. “Malfoy’s good name? Come on. Besides, it’s quite complimentary about him.” He brandishes an open page, revealing rather more of Draco than Severus ever cared to see.

“Potter!”

“It’s just a bit of fun.” Potter turns back to the magazine. “Quite creative, really. I don’t think we should get too bent out of shape about it. Besides, it could do some good.”

“How on earth could someone drawing a picture of your naked arse serve any useful purpose?”

Potter’s cheeks turn a light pink. “Well, the kids clearly don’t care about seeing pictures of two men together. Neville’s son, Archie, came out to me a month or two ago. He spoke to me about it. He’s been quite worried he might be bullied.”

“Why on earth would he speak to you?” Severus doesn’t even bother holding back his sneer.

“Because his dad probably told him I might be sympathetic.” Potter studies Severus quizzically. “Being gay myself.”

“Of course,” Severus replies. A bolt of unexpected arousal takes him by surprise. How on earth did he miss that particular nugget of information? He had assumed Potter was as straight as an arrow and thought it a sinful waste.

Potter pauses on a page, skimming something quickly before stifling a laugh. “Oh lord.”

“What’s the matter now?” Severus advances and Potter closes the magazine quickly.

“Nothing. Nothing at all.”

“I demand that you show me immediately.” Severus holds out his hand and Potter turns his eyes to the ceiling.

“Fine. But you’re not allowed to take house points off people and start kicking up a stink. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“I’m sure I can contain myself, Potter. Attractive as you no doubt imagine yourself to be.”

“It’s not that.” Potter sounds like he’s trying not to laugh.

“What, then?” Severus flicks slowly through the magazine. “I’m quite sure there’s nothing a Hufflepuff can come up with that I haven’t already experienced. After all, it may surprise you to learn that—” Severus stops.

“Cat got your tongue, Professor?” Potter’s definitely laughing, damn him. It leaves him in a wheeze.

“What is the meaning of this?” Severus advances towards Potter. Potter stands, completely unruffled.

“I think they call us Snotter.” Potter looks far too placid for his own good. “Funny what people come up with, isn’t it?”

“Oh, absolutely bloody hilarious,” Severus snarls. He looks at the picture of himself gazing at Potter. He’s glaring but the artist has made him look almost fond, as if he’d ever allow himself the indignity of going moon-eyed over Potter. The artist has also been kind to Severus’ nose which is a little less prominent than usual, and they actually look rather striking together. Not that Severus would ever wear a white, practically see-through shirt or allow it to billow artfully whilst Potter stroked his naked torso. He swallows. Potter is still rather close.

“There’s a story, too.” Potter flips over the page, helpful soul that he is. “It’s a bit saucy.”

Severus rolls his eyes. “I’m not sure where you developed the notion that I’m some kind of blushing virgin.” He takes the magazine from Potter’s hand and skims the story, the room getting warmer.

“I don’t think anything of the sort.” Potter’s voice is a little croaky. “Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with it even if you are. Some people take a while to find the right person.”

Severus huffs. “Some people had no desire to wait to find the right person if it meant they might get a shag sooner rather than later.”

“Oh.” Potter sounds put out. “You’ve had a lot of sex, then?”

“A reasonable amount.” Severus leans against the desk, reading the story. “Enough to know this isn’t how I would go about seducing you.”

“No?” Potter sounds curious. “How would you go about doing that?”

Severus looks up. Potter’s cheeks are even pinker now. He arches an eyebrow at Potter. “Excuse me?”

Potter clears his throat. “I said, how would you go about it?”

Severus scowls. “If this is a joke—”

“Do I look as though I’m laughing?” Potter is smiling, certainly, but he doesn’t appear to be making fun of Severus. If anything, he looks hopeful. He shifts close to Severus, plucking the magazine from his hands and running his finger over the first paragraph. When did Potter get quite so handsome? “It says here that Severus – can I call you Severus?”

Severus makes a noncommittal sound. “If you must.”

Potter smiles. “It says here that Severus runs his finger along Harry’s – that’s me – along Harry’s jaw. Says Severus tips Harry’s head back and leans in.”

“Does it, indeed?” Severus swallows. The room is definitely hotter than it was when he arrived. Potter must have cast a heating charm. He tugs at the neck of his robes. “How touching.”

“Well I don’t see what’s wrong with it.” Potter looks disgruntled. “It sounds nice.”

“Hmm.” Severus eyes the magazine with a sniff. “What else does this tawdry publication suggest we do?”

Potter clears his throat. “Well, it all progresses quite quickly from there. It’s been a while.”

“Speak for yourself,” Severus mutters.

“I actually think I prefer this Severus.” Potter closes the magazine and folds his arms, glaring at Severus. “At least he’s nice to me.”

“He’s also several years younger with a blemish free chest and facial features which are decidedly better proportioned.”

“I don’t know.” Potter shrugs. “I like the real-life proportions.”

Severus pushes himself off the desk and rolls his eyes. “Ridiculous child.”

Potter looks as if he’s trying to hide a smile. He places Potterzine back into Severus’ hands. “Why don’t we discuss putting a stop to this over dinner?”

Severus narrows his eyes at Potter. “I thought you said it was harmless.”

“I think we should discuss it, nevertheless. We wouldn’t want things to get out of hand. Luciano’s at seven? I’ll book a table.”

“Very well.” Severus glares at Potter and waves the magazine at him. “I hope your mind has not been addled by over-indulging in these appalling romances.”

“Appalling?” Potter’s lips are definitely twitching. He composes himself and pushes his glasses higher on his nose. He looks far too innocent and Severus doesn’t trust him one bit. “It’s a purely professional meeting between two colleagues, Severus.” Potter gives Severus an odd salute. “See you at seven.”

Bemused, Severus stares after Potter’s retreating form. When he’s quite certain Potter is long gone, Severus sits at his desk, opens Potterzine and begins to read.

*

It’s a perfect British summer evening. The air has cooled enough to be pleasant without being chilly, and Severus decides to take a stroll to the restaurant which is nestled deep in the heart of Hogsmeade. Severus is familiar with the restaurant Potter suggested, although it’s been a long while since he ate out, and longer still with company. He refused to fuss over his outfit for the evening, settling on a plain black jumper with charcoal trousers. The long robes he so often wears remind him too much of school and other situations he would rather forget. He showered and spent a good fifteen minutes glaring at himself in the mirror for being such an insufferable romantic. It’s hardly a date, after all. He and Potter have business to discuss. There will be no romantic frippery, footsie under the table or enacting scenes from Potterzine on Severus’ watch. Absolutely not.

When Severus arrives at the restaurant, he’s pleasantly surprised to see Potter already at the table. He’s toying with a vase which has a single pink carnation in it and his half-finished pint of lager indicates he’s been waiting for a little while. Severus takes a moment to appreciate the view, surprised at the unexpected thrill Potter’s appearance sends through him. He looks as comfortable and confident as ever, but a little smarter than usual. A deep green cashmere V-neck brings out the colour of his eyes. His eyes flick upwards, the vase in his hand nearly toppling before he mutters an incantation which quickly pulls it back from its precarious teeter.

“Surprisingly punctual,” Severus notes. He waves away the hovering waiter after ordering a glass of Merlot and shakes out his napkin.

“You’re ten minutes late.” Potter glances at the watch on his wrist. The cogs on the face whir and spin against a midnight blue background. “I thought you might stand me up.”

Severus rolls his eyes. “I’m sure you did. Did you imagine I would take some pleasure from doing so?”

Potter contemplates Severus and for once his expression is unreadable. “Perhaps.”

Severus humphs in response. “Incorrect.”

“I’m glad.” Potter’s lips tilt into a smile and his eyes do a quick up and down as he looks at Severus. “You look nice.”

“Thank you.” Severus takes a large gulp of his wine. It helps.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you out of robes before.”

“I imagine not.” Severus brushes a bit of dust from his sleeve. “Is it only your generation that can wear Muggle garments to supper?”

“Of course not.” Potter shakes his head. His gaze lingers on Severus’ fingers for a beat too long. “You could be naked for all I care.” He winces and rubs his forehead. “I mean, you probably don’t want to be.”

“No, I probably don’t wish to be naked in the middle of a busy restaurant in Hogsmeade. How astute of you.” Severus scowls at Potter. “I suggest we discuss the matter of the wretched pornography I discovered my students indulging in before you become preoccupied with inane comments about my attire – or lack thereof.”

Potter rolls his eyes. “I was only trying to give you a compliment.”

“Please refrain from doing so in future.” Severus takes another sip of his wine. “I spent the entire afternoon reading the back issues of Potterzine and I can assure you, number twenty-seven is only the tip of the iceberg.”

“You’ve been reading Potterzine all afternoon?” Potter grins.

“You don’t have to look so bloody pleased about it.” Damn Potter and his infernal impertinence. “I would have appreciated some assistance.”

Potter’s eyebrows shoot up and he coughs into his napkin. “Don’t you think that might have been awkward?”

Severus glares. “I wasn’t enjoying myself, Potter.”

“Pity,” Potter mutters under his breath, so quietly that Severus almost thinks he imagined it. He studies the menu and then leans back, pushing it to one side. “I hear the carbonara is excellent.”

Severus reaches for his menu and scrutinises it briefly. “I prefer puttanesca.”

Potter gestures for the waiter. “I hear that’s good too.” He gives the waiter their food order and asks for a bottle of the Merlot and a basket of bread. He glances at Severus. “I love garlic bread, but I thought maybe best to avoid that.”

Severus stares at Potter, wondering if the lager has gone to his head. “Because?”

“Well, you know.” Potter munches thoughtfully on a piece of bread after the waiter deposits a generous basket in the middle of the table. “I wouldn’t want to put you off in case you fancy a kiss at the end of the night.”

Severus nearly spits out his mouthful of wine, barely avoiding choking on the bloody thing. “I can assure you I will fancy no such thing.” He’s tempted to call the waiter back and order the garlic bread just out of spite, but the thought of kissing Potter evokes a small kernel of interest, so he doesn’t.

“Okay.” Unfazed, Potter drains his lager and pours himself a small glass of wine. “It sounds as though you’ve been doing a lot of research.”

“Too much research.” Severus shudders. “I have half a mind to show Draco what people are writing about him.”

Potter pulls a face. “Please don’t. The last thing I need is Malfoy on my case.”

“Not according to Potterzine,” Severus mutters. “I think you could shut down the publication on ethical grounds.”

“Why on earth would I do that?”

Severus grits his teeth. “Because it’s tawdry and an appalling waste of creative energy.”

“Is it?” Potter doesn’t look so sure. “Rita Skeeter’s been writing fiction about me for years and she gets paid for it. I think I’d prefer to read Potterzine than the Prophet. Besides, I’d have thought Malfoy would be quite happy with anything that paints him in a sympathetic light.”

Severus huffs because, irritatingly, there is probably some truth in that. “I suppose you imagine I too should be grateful to be considered worthy of a buggering by the Chosen One over my desk after an energetic bout of Quidditch?”

Potter laughs. “That’s very…specific.”

“That was one of the less outlandish scenarios.”

“For the record, I’m not saying you should be grateful.” Potter’s expression turns serious. “Just that I don’t think it does any harm. I know you value your privacy, as do I, but it really is only fiction.” Potter pauses and then his lips curve into another smile. “More’s the pity.”

Severus curses Potter’s name under his breath. “Turning up at my rooms yammering on about the Gryffindor Seeker’s Wronski Feint is more likely to get you hexed, than deflowered.”

“Deflowered?” Potter splutters on his wine and clutches his stomach as he laughs. Severus doesn’t see what’s so amusing. “I, err, don’t think I have one of those anymore.”

“I imagine not, being such a popular celebrity.” Severus tops up his wine, pleased to note there is still ample alcohol left. “I’m sure you have no end of suitors lining up to take a tumble with you. The idea that you might fixate on your former professor must be quite entertaining.”

Potter tops up his own glass. “Not particularly. It’s not that farfetched, is it?”

“It’s idiotic in the extreme.” Severus glares at Potter. “Issue twelve has us cavorting around the place in a time machine.”

“It’s a good job the Ministry got rid of the Time Turners then, isn’t it?” Potter cranes his neck and lets out a hum of contentment, clearly having spotted the waiter approaching with their food. “In case we find ourselves tempted to…cavort.”

“The whole thing is preposterous.” As Potter tips his chair back a little, Severus can’t resist taking the opportunity to enjoy Potter’s physique under the guise of a scathing look. Despite what Potterzine might suggest, Potter doesn’t really have too many muscles. He’s fit, wiry and his magic has a pleasing undercurrent of strength to it, but he’s not exactly Michelangelo’s David. If anything, he is even more pleasing to the eye because of it.

Potter waits for the waiter to put two piping hot plates of pasta on the table before speaking. “What else did you pick up during your research?”

Severus takes a bite of sinfully good puttanesca. “You have a tendency to be dominant.”

“Oh?” Potter takes a mouthful of food and swallows. “With you too?”

“On occasion.” Severus eyes Potter as he eats, before returning to his pasta.

“You can just ask, you know.”

Severus looks up, frowning at Potter. “Ask what?”

Potter dabs at his mouth with a napkin. “If I prefer to top or bottom.”

The remark sends Severus into a coughing fit and the way the dinner is going he’ll be lucky if he makes it to dessert alive. He takes a steadying sip of his water. “I hardly see why it is any concern of mine.” He pauses, eating another forkful of food and managing to avoid any further coughing related indignities. “However, as you are clearly determined to turn an evening between two work colleagues into issue seventeen of Potterzine, I suppose you may as well tell me.”

Potter has another mouthful of his food, taking a painfully long time to answer. When he finally does, he holds Severus’ gaze with an intensity which makes Severus infuriatingly hot under the collar. Damn Potter, Potterzine and those infernal images of Potter flaunting his nauseatingly attractive body. “I’m flexible. I enjoy giving a partner pleasure and appreciate that far more than the specifics of who puts what where.”

Severus mulls over that for a moment, trying not to let a series of delicious mental images distract him from the conversation. “Imagine – hypothetically – your partner’s pleasure was contrary to your own. What then?”

“Ah.” Potter has a sip of his wine. “I would be surprised if that happened often. It hasn’t yet. I’m fairly open-minded.”

“Bondage?” Severus arches an eyebrow at Potter. He can’t quite imagine him in leathers, but that’s largely because he suspects Potter is more vanilla than he imagines himself to be.

Potter coughs into his napkin. “S and M over dinner, Severus?”

Severus makes an irritated cluck in the back of his throat. “I believe you started this line of conversation with your earlier remark.”

“That’s true.” Potter flexes his fingers and studies his wrist, his forehead furrowing. “I’m not overly fond of being bound.” He drops his hand and looks up, meeting Severus’ gaze. “That’s not to say I’m not happy to experiment with that sort of thing. I just don’t like being restrained.”

Severus studies Potter. “You don’t like the idea, or you have some experience with it and found it not to your liking?”

“I’ve been bound before, but there was nothing sexy about it. I think it would make me panic.” Potter shrugs. “I’d be prepared to give it a go with the right partner, I suppose.” He sounds distinctly unenthused.

Severus rolls his eyes. “Are you always such an infernal Gryffindor?”

Potter gives Severus a lopsided smile. “You tell me.”

“If any partner requires you to do something which makes you uneasy, they do not deserve to have you in their bed in the first place.” Severus returns to his food, pointedly not looking at Potter.

“Is that what you like, then?” Potter’s voice is soft and curious.

“No.” Severus daps his lips with his napkin, meeting Potter’s gaze once more. “I have my own history with bondage, little of it pleasant.” He wonders how much to elaborate and then decides to throw caution to the wind, letting himself drink in Potter’s pleasing appearance. “A number of my encounters have been fleeting. It is a rare pleasure, to take one’s time.

Potter looks intrigued and takes another slice of bread, pulling it apart. “What’s so good about issue seventeen?”

Severus snorts under his breath. “Very little, I assure you.” He presses his lips together. “The Snotter Special, I believe they called it.”

“Oh.” Potter laughs quietly. “It really doesn’t appeal to you in the slightest, does it?”

Severus picks his words carefully, not wanting to expose himself to humiliation but also not wanting to shut down the unfortunate and unfamiliar flicker of hope that flares in his chest. “I have learned not to allow myself to get swept away by fantasy.”

“I see.” Potter sounds thoughtful. “And what of the reality?”

Severus swirls his wine in his glass, thinking the question through. “I’m not sure what that would look like. It seems foolish to place hope in something so abstract. That may as well be – what did you call it – a fanfiction.”

Potter leans forward, lowering his voice. “I think you have to be a fan to write fanfiction, Severus.”

Severus huffs. “Are you always this desirous of compliments, Potter?”

Potter laughs, the sound rich, deep and pleasant. “I’m not looking for anything of the sort. I’m just saying I would hardly describe you as a fan.”

Severus can’t help but feel as though they are playing a particularly tricky game of chess. Fortunately, he has always been a proficient player and far better at the quick thinking required for a spot of verbal sparring than he is with matters of the heart. “Then how would you describe me?”

Potter looks momentarily flummoxed. He rubs his jaw as he contemplates Severus. “I have absolutely no idea.”

There’s a refreshing honesty in the way Potter confronts the question. Severus can’t resist teasing him, the lighthearted intimacy of the moment unexpected but not unwelcome. “Your superior, perhaps?”

Potter mutters something rude under his breath. “Yeah, right.”

Severus can’t resist a smirk. “I was your professor, once.”

Potter rolls his eyes. “As if I could forget.” He has the audacity to wink, his tongue briefly wetting his lips. “Is that the sort of thing you like?” He looks around and then leans forward, lowering his voice to a sinful timbre. “Professor.”

Severus tries to look unruffled, which is somewhat difficult as he is becoming increasingly more inclined to haul Potter across the table for a thorough kissing. “Are you asking whether I would find it enjoyable to take you over my knee on occasion?”

Potter’s eyes widen a fraction and he nods. His voice is a little breathless when he speaks. “Well now you come to mention it…”

Severus gives Potter a critical look up and down. He’s shorter than Severus, although not by a great deal. He’s also a powerful, confident so-and-so who gets under Severus’ skin unlike anybody else. Severus finds the idea of Potter submitting in one manner or another compelling, but it’s not the first place his mind goes. He can’t quite picture Potter over his knee with his legs kicking all over the place. On his lap, is another matter. Severus takes a moment to enjoy the thought of Potter’s thighs, firm and hard, bracketing Severus. He imagines how Potter might look, bare-chested, well kissed and restless.

Severus shakes himself, realising Potter is still waiting for an answer with an amused smile on his face. “Perhaps. It wouldn’t be my first choice of activity, although I would hate to rule it out.”

“Consider it on the table.” Potter sits back and takes a breath, pushing his hair back from his forehead. It sticks up in a haywire fashion, refusing to be tamed into place. Severus rather likes it, although he plans to blame that on the fine Merlot and an afternoon with the back issues of Potterzine. “What would be your first choice of activity?” He takes a sip of his wine. “Reading romantic poetry together?”

Severus tries not to wince. “Potter, I would sooner recite Gambit’s essay on the varying consistencies of minced flobberworms to you than poetry.”

“Thought as much.” Potter pushes his plate away, having made short work of his pasta. “Well?”

Severus taps his finger to his lips, contemplating Potter for a moment before speaking. “As I said earlier, there is an appeal in taking my time with someone.” He deposits his cutlery in his empty bowl and leans forward just a little, not missing the way Potter’s breathing hitches or the flash of interest in his eyes. “Foreplay, Potter, can be quite exquisite with the right partner.”

Potter pushes his glasses onto his nose and his hand inches across the table, his fingertips just brushing Severus’ hand before he withdraws. “I have plenty of time.”

Severus gives Potter the quick once over again. “The Headmistress clearly isn’t keeping you busy enough in that case.”

Potter laughs. “I’m allowed a personal life.” He pauses before continuing, his voice lowering. “So are you.”

“Perhaps.” Severus makes a show of looking at the menu when the waiter returns. He orders a double espresso and bites back a scathing comment when Potter orders an ice-cream sundae. They sit in companionable silence until the coffee and dessert arrive. He watches Potter take a spoonful of ice-cream piled high with warm chocolate, caramel and a healthy sprinkling of chopped nuts.

“Want some?” Potter holds out a spoon, as if Severus is going to be fed in public by former-Auror Harry Potter.

Severus rolls his eyes. “No. Thank you.”

“You’re the one that’s missing out.” Potter takes another bite of his ice-cream. He looks content and in that moment Severus is reminded of the scrawny boy tucking into treacle tart and gazing around the Great Hall with obvious awe. It makes his chest tight and he returns to his coffee, the taste of it hot and pleasingly bitter on his tongue.

“I seem to recall you having something of a sweet tooth.”

“A bit.” Potter swallows his mouthful of ice-cream and dabs his lips before speaking. “I didn’t really get to have any of the pudding at home. Coming to Hogwarts was amazing. Not to mention trying Molly’s treacle sponge for the first time.”

“Indeed. How is Molly?”

“Okay.” Potter’s nose wrinkles as he looks away, a shadow crossing his face. “I don’t think any of it has been easy for her. George is in America, now. He opened a store in New York.”

“I heard.” Severus doesn’t elaborate, giving Potter room to speak.

“It’s like losing them both, in a way.” Potter returns to his ice-cream, looking morose. “The house feels quieter now.”

“I’m sure.” Severus clears his throat. “I see Arthur on occasion.”

“You do?” Potter’s head shoots up and his neck takes on an odd pink colour. He rubs his hand to the nape of it and Severus can almost see his mind whirring. “I didn’t know that.”

“Yet it is true, nevertheless.” Severus wonders what has Potter so on edge. “Is there a problem?”

“No.” Potter shakes his head, but the denial isn’t exactly convincing. “Does he ever mention me?”

“Sometimes. A little.” Severus unwraps the after-dinner mint served with his coffee and takes his time eating it before continuing. “He wouldn’t share your private business with me if that’s what you’re concerned about.”

Potter pulls a face. He dips his spoon into the ice-cream which has now fully melted, before pushing the dessert away. “After I left the Ministry to take the job at Hogwarts, I told him I was hoping for a reconciliation with you.”

“Ah.” Severus keeps his gaze trained on Potter. “Are we not fully reconciled?”

“Perhaps.” Potter shakes his head. “I thought we might speak more when I started at Hogwarts.”

Severus raises his eyebrows. “Did you imagine we might take midnight strolls and share our stories of battle?”

“Is it such a daft idea?” Potter’s jaw clenches and his chin has a mutinous tilt. “I reckon we’ve got more in common than you want to believe.”

“How have you reached that conclusion?”

“You had a difficult homelife, too—”

Severus glares at Potter. “You know nothing of my upbringing.”

Fine.” Potter sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “We’re both gay.”

Severus huffs under his breath. “As are many people. My associations are not governed by sexual preferences. It tends not to come up in polite conversation.”

Potter’s lips tip into a smile. “It came up in ours.”

“Because you are exceedingly impolite.”

“I am not.” Potter looks disgruntled. He stares at the ceiling for a moment. “We’re both lonely.”

“Speak for yourself,” Severus says. “I savour my rare moments of solitude.”

“We were both forced to do things neither of us wanted to do.” Potter takes a breath and his voice is low and sombre. “I expect we both have bad dreams.”

“There’s the rub.” Severus runs his hand over his jaw. He rolls his eyes when Potter gives him a curious look. “Shakespeare, Potter.”

“Poetry, of a sort.” Potter’s smiling.

“A tragedy, not a romance.”

“I might have known.” Potter holds Severus’ gaze for a beat. “Why do you never call me Harry?”

“I’m not sure you will ever be Harry to me,” Severus says.

Potter’s face constricts, and a wave of emotion crosses his handsome features. He is so expressive. So utterly unable to hide his feelings. Severus pities and envies him that in equal measure. A fierce, possessive heat coils in his belly as he imagines Potter sitting by candlelight with another man. He imagines the richness of Potter’s laugh echoing in another man’s room and allows himself to think of Potter in his rooms, damp from a shower with a broad, easy smile on his face. The fantasy slips from him like sand through fingers. He shuts his eyes briefly as the images fade away to darkness.

“Maybe one day,” Potter replies. There’s the air of something wistful in it.

“Perhaps.” Severus folds his napkin and places it neatly to one side. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

“Very well.” There’s something defeated about Potter’s tone and he gestures to the waiter asking for the bill. When the waiter disappears, Potter turns back to Severus. His smile doesn’t quite meet his eyes. “Perhaps one day we might be friends, at least. I would like that. Very much.”

Severus shakes his head. His voice is rougher than usual when he speaks, and he curses himself for such a perilous display of emotion. “You and I will never be friends.”

Potter’s cheek flexes. “I see.”

Severus gives Potter a look. “Come, Potter. There is too much history. Too much heat. Do you imagine we would ever be content to sit and share casual observations about the weather or the potent new type of gillyweed as I do with Arthur Weasley?”

“I’m not sure.” Potter sits back in his chair, his head tilting to one side. “There’s heat?”

Severus nods. “Undoubtedly.”

“For me too.” Potter leans forward, his voice low. “I’d let you take your time. I don’t think I’d ever want it to end.”

Severus tries to keep his expression smooth, unprepared for the way Potter’s tone takes on an urgent quality. He is quite certain Potter isn’t making a protracted joke at his expense now, but at the same time it is unclear to him how he should proceed from here. Severus is interested in Potter, certainly. He simply doesn’t know if he’s prepared to offer someone the things he suspects a man like Harry Potter might desire. Children have never been something Severus has yearned for and he is set in his irascible ways. He has isolated himself all his life – first out of teenage anger and pain, then, as an adult, out of necessity and now out of a desire for a simple life. He isn’t quite ready to fall into Potter’s arms and, despite his base urges, the more rational part of Severus has little desire to add his name to the long list of people Potter has lost. He keeps his guard up and reaches for his wallet, handing Potter his share of the bill. “Take this.”

“It was supposed to be my treat.” Potter takes the money nevertheless and pockets it. Severus doesn’t miss the small, battered wallet that looks older than Potter himself or the initials S.B. etched onto the leather. It makes him melancholy, thinking of Potter carrying around his tokens of the dead.

“Another time, perhaps.” Severus stands and pushes his seat under the table. “I believe I may take a stroll back to the castle.”

Potter pulls on his jacket – a smart blazer which is unlike his usual style. “Do you fancy company?”

Severus takes in the way Potter moves. Confident, restless and uncertain all at once. He inclines his head. Que sera, sera. “If you wish.”

Their shoulders brush as they walk together and make their way out into the balmy night.

*

“I like walking at night.” Potter tips his head back to look at the stars, the silence in the air around them broken only by the crunch of their feet on the stone path.

The woods are thick but the trees part enough to let the silvery moonlight filter through and the leaves whisper as slender branches dance in the wind. It’s the kind of place that makes Severus feel both peaceful and lost. The depths of the forest bring back bitter memories but the scent of summer in the air and the warm breeze against his neck remind him that he’s alive. Severus has always been stubborn, clinging onto a life he no longer valued with a tenacity that surprised him. He had always expected to go quietly when his work was done. He spent a long time thinking death held better prospects than living.

“I have always preferred night to day.”

“Of course you have.” Potter nudges Severus. “My third-year class asked if you were a vampire. I’ve just done a lesson on them.”

Severus glares at Potter. “I hope you dissuaded them of that foolish notion.”

“Where’s the fun in that.” Potter leans close, lowering his voice to a whisper. He smells like the summer, the heat of his breath sending a pleasant tingle through Severus’ skin. “I told them they probably shouldn’t take any chances.”

Severus snorts under his breath. “I suppose I have you to thank for an unexpected display of obedience in that case.”

“You do indeed.” Potter pushes his hands into his pocket, studying his feet as he walks. “I really would prefer you call me Harry, you know.”

Severus glances at Potter. “I hardly see why it matters, but if you insist I will do my best.”

“Thanks.” Potter - Harry - stops in a clearing and studies the sky. “I bet you know all sorts about stars.” He points, his finger stretched towards the unmistakable bright spot in the dark night. “That’s the Dog Star.”

“I am aware.” The same melancholy air from before settles over Severus, Harry’s words causing his stomach to wrench. He puts his hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Come, Harry.”

Harry’s face flushes with surprise and Severus can’t help but feel curmudgeonly for his earlier refusal to use Potter’s first name. “Okay.” Harry extracts his wand from his pocket and casts a quiet Lumos. “I come here, sometimes.” He moves from the path towards a large tree and appears to be searching for something. “See this?”

Severus peers at the faded etching of a dog and a wolf in the bark. “Lupin and Black.”

“Yeah.” Harry laughs, but it sounds a bit choked. “Must have been, don’t you think?”

“I imagine so.” Severus watches as Harry leans against the bark. The air is thick around them and the gentle breeze makes him shiver. He drinks in the sight of Harry, with his open, expressive features and the hopeful smile he gives Severus. “This is…unexpected.” Severus allows his fingers to brush against the lapel of Harry’s jacket, not sure if he’s referring to the clothing or the situation.

“The jacket?” Harry hums under his breath. “I wanted to look nice.”

“Why?” Severus doesn’t pull his gaze from Harry’s.

“Because I dress up for dates.” Harry grins. “Even when the other person doesn’t know they’re on one.”

“I may have had some idea.” Severus arches his eyebrow at Harry. “The nature of our conversation was hardly professional.”

Harry looks away, the moonlight and shadows making his face look more sculpted than usual. “Did you mind?”

“Not particularly.” Severus looks at his fingers, still lingering on the coarse fabric of Harry’s jacket. “Do you date frequently?”

“Not a lot.” Harry turns back to look at Severus. He gives him a small smile. “I’ve had my sights somewhere else for a while. I had a relationship with a Muggle after the war, shortly after things went to pot with Gin.”

“Oh?” Severus is surprised not to have heard any of this and the clutch of jealousy which grips his insides takes him by surprise. Naturally, Potter has had relationships. He talks of intimacy with the easy confidence of someone who is familiar with it, and the deft way he instigated their evening together was not lost on Severus.

“Yeah.” Harry rubs his forehead. “I wasn’t ready to come out then and I didn’t really trust many people after everything. Being with a Muggle made sense. He helped me work a few things out.”

“I see.” Severus gives Harry a questioning look. “He was older?”

Harry nods, his smile wry. “About your age, I reckon.”

“Ah.” Jealousy spikes through Severus again but he keeps his expression carefully neutral. “Why did it end?”

Harry looks at Severus. “Why do you think?”

“He didn’t know anything of your past, I imagine.”

“Not a bit of it.” Harry rubs his wrist with his hand, looking down. “He didn’t even know about magic.”

Severus takes Harry’s wrist in his hand, rubbing his thumb lightly over the spot where Harry’s pulse beats. “Does this Muggle of yours have anything to do with your reaction to being bound?”

Harry swallows, his throat working. He doesn’t meet Severus’ gaze. “We thought it would be fun. I didn’t think for one minute I would react the way I did.”

Severus keeps his voice carefully measured. “Which was?”

“I couldn’t control it.” Harry pulls his hand away from Severus and rubs his eyes with his knuckles. “I lost control of my magic. Nearly knocked him out as I tried to get away. It just…triggered something.”

Severus knows as well as anyone how experiences of war resurface unexpectedly. The overwhelming nausea at a potions conference with a lavish dinner in a setting eerily reminiscent to the Manor. Being on his knees on the floor of a putrid Muggle bathroom, retching up his insides after an unexpected reaction to the lighting which brought dozens of Avada Kedavras back to him in a rush. He hasn’t flown since the war. His school robes may look remarkably similar to the ones from before, but they have minor details which differentiate them from the robes he turned to ash after half a bottle of scotch. No amount of cleaning charms or Muggle products could wash the memory of the blood and singed fabric out. Severus swallows back the memories and pushes them to the dark recesses of his mind.

Harry breathes out, unsteady. “The Ministry had to Obliviate him. All of it, wiped away just like that. I saw him in a bar once after that. He didn’t even remember my name.”

“You were in love with him?” Severus isn’t sure he’s ready for the answer.

Harry shrugs. “In a way. I was getting there. I’m not sure it’s possible to be properly in love with someone if they don’t really know you.”

“Maybe not.” Severus wouldn’t know. He isn’t sure he’s come close to anything resembling true intimacy, despite his years of experience. “And since then?”

Harry looks up. “A few dinners here and there. Some attempts at relationships that never quite stuck. Friends with benefits.”

Severus makes a mental note to hex every single one of the Weasley boys on the off chance any one of them might be one of those friends with benefits. “I see.”

“Severus…” Harry trails off. He says Severus’ name like a question, his tongue flicking over his lips and his eyes bright. Severus is sure it’s utter madness going down this road with Harry, but for the first time in a long time a tentative warmth unfurls in his stomach. There’s a flicker of possibility – a dull, steady beat of hope that he doesn’t dare to let become too frenzied, so accustomed is he to expecting disappointment. And yet. There’s a vibrancy in the way Harry looks at him. An honesty that is almost painful to confront head on; a reminder that perhaps not all is lost.

Severus slides his finger along Harry’s jaw and tips his head back, just as he did in the story Harry read to him in the classroom earlier that day. It feels like a hazy memory, like the warmth of the earlier sun. In truth, the height difference between them isn’t vast, but it’s enough that Harry has to move his head a little in response to the touch of Severus’ fingers beneath his chin. Severus leans in, wrapping his other arm around Harry’s waist. The kiss is somewhat chaste, at first. The initial touch of unfamiliar lips against his own. The first parting of mouths, the taste of vanilla ice-cream and chocolate. Severus doesn’t expect the sudden, eager clutch of Harry’s hands in his hair. He doesn’t expect the kiss to deepen the way it does when Harry lets out a sinful groan which goes straight to Severus’ cock.

After years of suppressed emotion, something inside Severus snaps. Harry fits as perfectly against his body as any man he’s ever touched. There’s a fiery heat to his kisses, an urgency which makes Severus feel desired in a way nobody else has fully managed. This is a man who knows – or suspects – the darkest parts of Severus’ past and kisses him anyway, clutching onto him like a lifeline. Severus bites on the exposed skin of Harry’s neck, pushes him back against the rough bark. He brackets him in place as Harry’s hips push forward and connect with his own, rubbing and grinding in a way which sends sparks of pleasure through Severus’ entire body. He tightens his hand in Harry’s hair and brings their lips together again, deepening the kiss. He swallows back a growl of desire and moves them away from the path into a denser part of the woods. There’s something so illicit about being outdoors. The way the trees part for them and close their boughs to offer protection. The rustle of hands against clothes and the clink of the metal on Harry’s belt which sounds loud in the still night.

Severus turns Harry to face the tree, burying his face in Harry’s neck and finishing the task of opening his trousers, moving Harry’s hands away. “Harry?” Severus pulls himself from his dizzying pleasure for one moment, his voice rough and coarse. He is not that man. He has never been that man. Of all the terrible, wretched things he might have done and endured, he wants to be abundantly clear that Harry wants this as much as Severus does because part of him still can’t believe it’s happening.

“Yeah—” Harry’s voice breaks and he presses his palms flat against the bark, hissing as it scratches his palms. “Fuck me. I—I want you to fuck me.”

Severus groans, pushing his hand into Harry’s hair and holding his hip with his free hand. He wants to drop to his knees and work Harry open with his fingers and tongue but the slim possibility of being discovered is enough to dissuade him from that notion. He unbuckles his belt with one hand, opening his trousers and pressing damp, desperate kisses on the line of Harry’s jaw and over his throat. He never does this. He never loses control in such a fashion, but the undercurrent of energy building between them all night reaches a crescendo. It sparks and cracks between them, their magic mingling and crashing over them in waves. Severus murmurs a spell and slides his hand over Harry’s backside. It makes Harry hiss again and he arches, the masculine lines of his body flexing beneath Severus’ hand.

Severus slides his hands to Harry’s hips and parts the cheeks of his backside. He brushes his finger along the crease between Harry’s buttocks to check the lubrication spell has worked sufficiently. He presses his lips to Harry’s ear and his voice is rough. “Enough?”

“Mmm.” Harry presses back against Severus. “No stretching, I’m good. Just…please.”

Severus takes his cues from Harry and frees his aching cock from the confines of his trousers. He presses against Harry and with one firm thrust he slides inside Harry’s clenching body. He bites back a gasp at the hot, tight sensation of it and the way Harry pulls him in. He noses at the back of Harry’s neck, breathing in the perspiration on Harry’s skin and the warm, familiar heat of him. He pulls almost all the way out before slamming back into Harry again and runs his fingers down Harry’s throat as it works beneath his hand. There’s something primal and unexpectedly freeing about it all. The way Harry moves against him and the furious slap of Potter’s hand moving over his own cock. The grunts and groans and the restless ache of desire that burns through Severus. Severus lets his white-hot need take over him, biting, squeezing, tasting. He uses the tight channel of Harry’s body to extend the blissful feeling for as long as he can before he lets himself fall. His climax takes him by surprise, forceful and desperate, and he presses his lips into Harry’s shoulder to muffle the sounds of his pleasure.

It takes Severus a moment to realise Harry’s hand is still working over his own cock and he pushes it away, turning Harry so his back is against the tree. He drops to his knees, not caring about the mud or the leaves. He takes Harry into his mouth, the heavy weight and salty taste sending another wave of pleasure through Severus. He digs his fingers into Harry’s thighs and sucks him quickly to completion, sitting back on his heels when Harry finishes. He wipes his lips with the back of his hand and takes Potter’s outstretched hand, getting to his feet and bracing himself for Harry to laugh or dismiss him. Harry doesn’t do either of those things. Instead, he pulls Severus tightly against his body and kisses him as thoroughly as the first time.

When they break apart, Harry mutters a cleaning charm and tidies himself up with a smile on his face. He glances at Severus, who isn’t quite sure what to say. “Fancy coming back to mine for coffee?”

Severus looks at the clouds, moving across the moon, and laughs under his breath. “We’re both going back to the same place, you twit.”

Harry laughs too, and it sounds airy and bright. “Back to my quarters, I mean.”

Severus is typically more used to leaving after finishing his business, but the hopeful look in Harry’s eyes sways him. “I suppose that would be acceptable.”

“Come on, then.” Harry gives Severus a wink and then starts walking again, whistling as he goes.

*

Severus flicks through a copy of Potterzine as Harry makes them both a coffee. “The elusive issue fourteen.”

“Yeah.” Harry grins at Severus. “I confiscated it from one of the third year Hufflepuffs earlier today, shortly after you came barging into my classroom.”

“I do not barge.” Severus studies one of the pictures of Harry with his hair wild and his eyes bright, intense green. He’s holding out a wand and he’s dressed in exquisite Auror robes. He refuses to admit out loud that some of the art is actually rather good. He does have a reputation to uphold, after all. He stands and approaches Harry, who leans back against his desk and offers Severus a cup of coffee. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Harry takes a sip of his coffee and winces. “Careful, it’s hot.”

“Thank you for the warning.” Severus takes a careful sip and then places the coffee on the desk. He brushes his fingers along Harry’s side. “Doesn’t having sex in the woods rather defeat the purpose of asking someone in for coffee?”

Harry laughs, putting his own coffee down and pressing against Severus. He buries his head in the crook of Severus’ neck, breathing him in. “Not if you want to have sex again. Your way, this time.”

Severus slides his fingers through Harry’s hair, his lips twitching into a smile. “I had no complaints about the previous time.”

“Nor me.” Harry pulls back, looking up at Severus. “But I hate using spells if there’s no need. I like what you said at Luciano’s.”

“I see.” Severus moves his hand down Harry’s back and takes in the way he flexes and shivers under the touch. He’s so responsive. Severus is already looking forward to taking his time. He slides his thumb over Harry’s wrist and looks at his palm. It’s scratched from the bark. Severus glances at Harry with a frown. “You didn’t tell me about this.”

“It’s just a graze.” Harry curls his fingers and extends them again. “Doesn’t matter.”

“It does.” Severus extracts his wand and murmurs a number of quiet, intricate spells until the scratches have disappeared completely. “There.”

“Mmm.” Harry slides his hands over Severus’ chest and places them flat on his torso. “God, that’s good.”

Severus rolls his eyes. “Having your grazes healed like a first year falling off his broom?”

“No.” Harry laughs under his breath. “Your magic. I love how it feels.”

“Oh?” Severus contemplates Harry. People have commented on his magic before. They tend to use words like strong, cold and dark. There’s an anger to so many spells he has created and cast over the years. A futile desperation. He can’t imagine how Harry gets anything good from that kind of energy.

“It’s warm.” Harry slides his glasses off his face and puts them on the desk. “Familiar. It feels like coming back to Hogwarts. Like it fits.”

Severus swallows. He’s not entirely sure how to respond to something like that. He settles for kissing Harry, slow and deep. It’s about as much as he can manage after the ups and downs of the evening. He doesn’t deal well with putting his emotions into words and if he says anything at all it risks being the kind of churlish comment that might bring everything toppling down.

“There’s another story about us in that magazine.” Harry sounds a bit breathless, taking Severus by the hand and leading him into his sleeping quarters. “I think it’s quite a good one.”

“Do you, indeed?” Severus lets Harry slip his hands under his jumper and pulls it off, pushing his own hands under Harry’s jumper and over his skin. His body is hot, and Severus can feel the faint pulse of Harry’s heart beneath his palm.

“Yeah.” Harry flicks his wand, catching the magazine in one hand and flipping through it. “Do you want to know how it goes?”

“I’m sure you’re going to tell me.” Severus moves behind Harry, kissing his neck which Harry helpfully exposes to him as he tips his head to the side. “As you seem so fond of this fictional version of me, I think perhaps I should learn more about his methods.”

Harry swallows, his voice breathless. “Not just the fictional version.”

“Mmhm.” Severus spreads his fingers over Harry’s stomach and slides his hands down to slowly unbuckle Harry’s belt. It’s the lightest of touches yet it’s almost as if Potter’s going to burst out of his skin. As if he really does want this as much as Severus. “What happens in this story of yours.”

“You undress me.” Harry leans his head back on Severus’ shoulder and closes his eyes. His breath leaves his parted lips, ragged and low. “Slowly.”

“Like this?” Severus murmurs. He unplucks the button on Harry’s jeans, lowering the zip slowly, allowing his knuckles to run along the outline of Harry’s prick, which is already thickening in his jeans.

“Yeah, just like that.” Potterzine flutters to the floor and Severus slides his hands underneath the now slack waistband of Harry’s jeans.

“It may be difficult to follow the story without the magazine.”

A breathless huff of laughter leaves Harry’s lips. “I’m improvising.”

“Ah.” The corner of Severus’ mouth tugs into a smile as he turns Harry in his arms, moving him back towards the bed. “I didn’t know you were so creative.”

“I can be creative. Do you want to hear my story or not?”

“Oh yes. Most decidedly. Although I think we should move to the bed if it’s a slow seduction you’re after as opposed to a quick buggering against the wardrobe with that wretched Potterzine and Draco’s nipples staring at us.”

Harry nods, getting himself on the bed with eager readiness. He stretches out, the insolent line of his cock now clear through his cotton boxers and open jeans. “Like this?” He pillows his head in his hands, giving Severus a pleasing view.

Severus flicks his wand and murmurs a spell to lock the main door. The last thing he needs is for a wandering student to barge in to find him and Harry behaving like their Potterzine counterparts. He closes Potter’s bedroom door behind them just for good measure and deposits his wand on the bedside table. He removes his shoes and socks but he doesn’t remove his trousers. He’s in no rush, after all. He turns back to Harry, who’s watching him with a strange expression on his face.

“I believe you were being creative.”

“Was I?” Harry slides his hand down his belly, arching into it with a low moan of appreciation. “That’s right. You were going to undress me.”

“I was.” Severus joins Harry on the bed and brushes his lips to Harry’s. He sits back on his heels and slides Harry’s jeans from his body until he’s just in his boxers. He takes his time stripping Harry out of those too, until he’s finally naked in front of Severus and this time there’s plenty of opportunity for Severus to take his fill.

“Can I touch you, too?” Harry props himself up on his elbows and Severus thinks of the image that flashed through his mind of Harry in his lap. “I want to see you. Can I?”

“I think we’re past any false modesties now.” Severus flicks his wand to undress himself completely and he moves to lean back against the headboard, reaching for Harry. “You were…most distracting this evening.”

“Was I?” Harry sounds delighted. “Did you think about doing this?” He settles just as Severus hoped he might, straddling Severus and leaning in for a kiss which leaves them both breathless.

“I was trying to focus on my pasta,” Severus replies. He slides his hands up Harry’s thighs and drinks in the delicious sight of him.

“Liar.” Harry reaches across to the bedside cabinet and hands Severus a small, glass phial.

“Are you always this subtle?” Severus uncorks the phial as Harry wriggles in his lap in a thoroughly distracting fashion.

“Always.” Harry positions himself to allow Severus relatively easy access and groans as Severus slides slick fingers between his buttocks. “I want you to fuck me again.”

“You may have overestimated my abilities.” Even as he says it, Severus knows it’s not strictly true. He’s been getting steadily more aroused ever since he started undressing Potter, inch by glorious inch.

“We’ll see.” Harry sucks in a breath as Severus slips two fingers easily inside him. He’s still a little stretched from earlier and his eyes close for a minute as he catches his breath. “Do you like this, too?”

“With the right partner.” Severus slides his fingers from Harry and pushes them in again with aching slowness. “I like most things, with the right partner.”

“Am I the right partner?” Harry opens his eyes again, focusing on Severus. He sounds hopeful.

“You are certainly the closest I have had in some time,” Severus admits. It’s not quite a yes but it’s not a no either, and Harry seems content with the answer.

Severus nudges Harry onto the bed when he starts begging Severus for more. He takes his time, just as he promised he would. He allows his teeth to graze against Harry’s skin. He licks, sucks and tastes every intimate part of him, until Harry’s pleas get louder and more insistent. He begins to learn the unexpected parts of Harry’s body that elicit the loudest reactions and he focuses on taking Harry apart with his mouth, his fingers and his tongue. Eventually, he slicks his cock and slides into Harry again. This time there’s none of the frenzied urgency or the desperate, frantic pace of before. Harry moves with him, touches the parts of Severus’ skin that are mottled with scars and doesn’t so much as flinch. If anything he looks angry and fierce, which causes an unexpected surge of affection to pulse through Severus. He hopes that it is simply the very fine sex addling his mind and he can return to giving Potter scathing looks after a good night’s rest. He loses himself in Harry’s body and savours the cool air as they both lie side by side to catch their breath afterwards.

“You’ll stay, won’t you?” Harry yawns and slings an arm over Severus.

He’s like a furnace and Severus hates feeling overheated at night. It’s been years since he shared a bed with another person and sleeping together – as in physically sharing the same bed space – is something Severus rarely misses. Nevertheless, there’s something comforting about Harry’s proximity and he can’t deny the jolt of pleasure he gets from being asked to stay.

“Very well.” Severus strokes his hand through Harry’s hair. “I’ll stay.”

Harry mumbles something incoherent and moves closer. Despite the heat, the stickiness of their bodies and the light rumble of Harry’s snores, Severus is asleep within moments.

*

Severus looks up from his book to see Samantha Carpenter looking far too engrossed in Advanced Potions Making. Rolling his eyes, he stands and moves around the classroom as if he’s stalking prey. He keeps his movements quiet enough that he’s standing behind Carpenter before she can close the book she’s pretending to read.

“Well, well.” Severus reaches over Carpenter’s head and plucks Potterzine from between the pages. “If it isn’t issue twenty-eight of the illustrious Potterzine. Ten points from Hufflepuff for not concentrating, Miss Carpenter.”

“But Sir.”

“I don’t make the rules.” Severus smirks, because he does actually. He rather enjoys it. He moves back to his desk and flicks idly through Potterzine. There’s the usual stuff and nonsense about Draco which Severus ignores, skimming through the other stories whilst taking care to glare at any students without their noses in a book. When the class is finally over, he makes his way to the dungeons. He’s looking forward to a strong pot of coffee from the kitchens and he plans to ask for a ham and mustard sandwich on granary bread. Perhaps he might even have one of those excellent damson jam tarts with his—

“Afternoon, Severus.”

Severus slams the door to his quarters before any of the Slytherins catch sight of Potter. He pinches the bridge of his nose. “Potter. What is the meaning of this?”

“Issue seven.” Harry leans against his broom. “I’m here to – how did you put it – yammer on about the Gryffindor Seeker’s Wronski Feint.”

Severus takes in the Quidditch boots, Harry’s robes and the impertinent grin on his face. He raises his eyebrow. “If you think this display is going to result in any kind of desk fucking, you are sorely mistaken.”

“Bugger.” Harry frowns and sends his broom spiralling off into the corner of the room. “I thought it was worth a shot.” He sits on the sofa and begins to unlace his boots.

Severus clears his throat. “Not quite so fast.”

“No?” Harry looks up.

“No.” Severus rolls his eyes. He supposes the jam tarts can wait for a little while. “Issue twenty-eight is out.”

Harry holds out his hand as Severus sits next to him on the sofa. He flicks through it and reads the story quickly, his mouth curving into a smile. “Oh.”

“Yes. Oh.”

“Well I think we can do that,” Harry says, cheerfully. He extracts his wand and makes a few alterations to his outfit, standing and winking at Severus. “Better?”

Severus changes his own outfit with a quick flick of his wand. “Acceptable.”

“I’ll say.” Harry leans in to give Severus a brief kiss before stepping back and assuming what Severus can only assume is his more official countenance.

Severus gives Harry what he hopes is a sufficiently nasty smile, the luxurious midnight blue velvet of his robes rich and unfamiliar against his skin. “Auror Potter. What an unpleasant surprise.”

Harry hides his smile behind a cough before composing himself. “I’m here to conduct a thorough investigation, Snape. There better not be any funny business.”

“Certainly not, Potter.” Severus slides his wand between his fingertips and smirks.

Harry crosses his arms and frowns. “I haven’t got all day. Are you going to show me the…err…object, or not?”

Severus leads Harry towards his room. “I think you’ll find what you’re looking for in there.”

He doesn’t think he imagines it when Potter – insufferable romantic that he is – murmurs I think I already have.