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West of Stockholm

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1980

He'd agreed to do it as a favour to Albus Dumbledore.

Nobody else could have convinced him to take a Death Eater into his home, no matter what kind of sob story they'd spun about suspected interrogation improprieties.

Improprieties?

Alastor snorted.

The trouble with civilians - even ones like Albus who'd seen, close up, the kind of dangers that Aurors faced every week - was that not a damned one of them really understood what was required to keep the rest of the population safe from Dark Wizards. They got to go back to their tidy little homes at the end of each day with hands clean and souls intact, but for the men and women Alastor trained, more often than not, being safe at home was just a rumour. And as for keeping their hands clean...no, a soft Auror was a dead Auror, and if things got a little rough sometimes, well, that was just the price of keeping dangerous wizards and witches off the streets.

Albus, though, could be damned persuasive when he set his mind to it - just slightly more persuasive than the Imperius Curse - and quicker than you could say Faris "Spout-Hole" Spavin, presumed Death Eater Severus Snape had been brought through the wards to take up temporary residence in Alastor's spare room.

***

"Well, he's here," Alastor growled late that night to his old friend. "But I'm telling you, this is a mistake. And don't try to tell me he's not really a Death Eater. We've all seen the Dark Mark on his arm."

"It is true he wears Tom's mark, although I believe if you had encountered Severus Snape in a different manner, you might be surprised by how much the two of you had in common."

Alastor snorted in disbelief.

"The time is fast approaching, my friend," said Albus quietly, "when we shall have need of allies from many quarters, and I believe it will be to the benefit of the greater good if Severus Snape is amongst our number - heart and mind still intact."

"Are you telling me he's so valuable to our cause that we should let him walk away scot-free?"

"No, but I fear that if our young man had been left much longer to the tender mercies of his interrogation team, any chance we might have had of bringing him into the fold would have vanished faster than a snail in a fifth year Transfiguration class."

Alastor bristled. "My Aurors have been trained to...."

"Your Aurors are human, Alastor," Albus said, looking at him over the top of his half-moon glasses. "And many of them have recently lost loved ones in altercations with Death Eaters. It would not be entirely out of the realm of possibility if some of them were looking for an outlet for their quite understandable anger."

The conversation came to an end in short order and Alastor closed the Floo, still grumbling, but for the rest of the evening, he couldn't help wondering if the old man might actually have been right. Snape was never going to win any beauty prizes, but each time Alastor had paid a visit to the interrogation room, Snape had looked worse.

At the time, Alastor had put the man's sickly expression down to Snape's guilty conscience and the occasional presence of Dementors, but if he were completely honest, Snape had looked a little like a none-too-distant cousin to an Inferius when he'd been brought to Alastor's home earlier that day. It might not be a bad idea to take a quick look in the spare room, just to make sure his unwelcome guest was still in the land of the living.

***

Alastor canceled the locking spell, then opened the door. Instead of waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, he cast a quick Lumos charm and stepped into the room.

Snape was sitting on the edge of the bed, exactly where he'd been left six hours earlier, his arms crossed over his narrow chest. He glanced in Alastor's direction and his eyes narrowed, just for a moment, then without a word, yanked his Ministry-issued grey robes off and - bending his head so that his greasy, lank hair covered most of his face - knelt on the floor at Alastor's feet.

"What the hell do you think you're doing, Snape?" snapped Alastor. "Well? Speak up, boy!"

Snape remained silent, head still bent, but he reached out and placed the flat of his hand on Alastor's robed thigh, then so slowly as to be almost imperceptible, started to slide his hand up towards his cock.

"Oh, no...there'll be none of that," Alastor snarled as he grabbed Snape's bony wrist and pulled it away from his thigh. "You're not in the Slytherin common room now."

"I apologize," Snape muttered, sounding about as unapologetic as it was possible for someone on their knees to sound. "My hand seemed to have been sufficient for your colleagues, but you outrank them, don't you? I should have known that the same rules wouldn't apply to you. I'm afraid you'll have to tell me what you want from me."

Alastor released Snape's wrist, then took hold of his chin and jerked it up so that Snape was facing him. "Explain yourself," he said.

Snape frowned. "What is there to explain? It's not as if I didn't know what to expect if I was taken in for questioning by the MLE. Everybody knows."

Everybody knew except Alastor, apparently - and just what in the hell was it that everybody knew? Was Snape suggesting that some of the most experienced of Alastor's Aurors were a bunch of buggering bastards?

Almost as quickly as that line of inquiry started, Alastor brought it to a close. For the love of Circe, what was he thinking, giving credence to anything that came out of Snape's mouth, even for a minute? Snape was a Death Eater; you couldn't trust a word that came out of the lying mouths of any of them.

But then he thought back to what Albus had said earlier that evening. No, dammit, it wasn't completely impossible - and damn that old man for making him wonder about things that he knew couldn't possibly be true.

"...least you're different."

"Eh? What was that?"

Snape looked up and met Alastor's gaze, his dark eyes deep and piercing, and Alastor felt an odd sensation, almost a vibration somewhere deep down at the very heart of his soul. If his Occlumency shields weren't always so firmly in place, he might have suspected that Snape was trying to use Legilimency on him.

Ridiculous.

"I said, at least you're different. A hard man, anyone can see that, but you're not brutal, not like them. And the Headmaster said...."

But Snape didn't finish his sentence; he just looked back down at the floor, his hands clenched into fists.

Alastor narrowed his eyes; he couldn't let things rest there. "Tell me what Dumbledore said."

For a moment, Snape didn't answer, but Alastor could see a vein in his neck pulsing and sensed the man's growing agitation. Then Snape took a deep breath. "He said that you could be trusted, that you'd never abuse your position or your power."

"True enough," Alastor said, "but you'd have answered quicker if that's all he said. What is it you're not telling me?"

Snape glanced up at Alastor, then shook his head. "It's not important."

"I'll decide what's important and what isn't, boy. Or would you rather I bring out the Veritaserum?

"That won't be necessary," Snape muttered.

"Good. Now start talking."

Again Snape dropped his gaze. "The Headmaster is aware that I have certain...interests."

"What sort of interests?"

"The kind," Snape said, a flush starting to appear on his face, "that require a...hard man."

Oh, for the love of...was that what Albus meant by Snape and him having so much in common?

"Are you trying to tell me," Alastor snarled, "that Albus Dumbledore would ever suggest that I'm the kind of person who'd have his way with an unwilling man in a Ministry holding cell?"

Snape licked his thin, bloodless lips, then sat back on his heels and looked up at Alastor. "No, the Headmaster suggested nothing of the sort. But we're not currently in a Ministry holding cell, are we? And as the Headmaster knows, where men like you are concerned, I am not...unwilling."

Ah.

So he finally had an explanation for Albus's inexplicable eagerness to have Snape transferred out of the Ministry and into Alastor's more...personal custodianship. Oh, no doubt keeping Snape safe (and not so coincidentally in debt to the forces of Light) was a factor, but the old pandering goat knew how long it had been since there'd been somebody who was "not unwilling," damn him!

No wonder Albus had never bothered to stand for Minister of Magic. Why bother when it would be a step down in terms of playing with people's lives?

He was about to refuse, knew he ought to refuse, but then Alastor took a long look at the man kneeling at his feet, eyes intense and gleaming with what could only be lust, his long, thick cock already hard with arousal. It was impossible for Snape to be faking his interest, unless...no, he couldn't possibly be that talented an actor.

Who knew how long Snape would be staying - Alastor wouldn't put it past the old man to make sure Snape's official release didn't take place until Alastor had a (rather less official, but far more satisfying) 'release' of his own - and in the interim, whose damned business was it what two consenting adults got up to?

"Not unwilling?" Alastor said, starting to unbutton his robes. "Well then, let's have at it, boy."


1994

The two men stood on the front stoop of the small, heavily-warded house under a starlit August night sky. Few neighbours lived nearby and those few had long since gone to bed. The only sound that could be heard was the muffled scurrying of tiny feet in the vicinity of the dustbins, and a quick scan from Alastor's single magical eye reassured him that the uninvited visitor was only a small rat, against which the house and garden had not, of course, been warded.

"Once more, my friend," said Albus, " I wish to thank you for agreeing to come out of retirement and take on the role of Defense against the Dark Arts instructor at such short notice. I cannot think of anyone I'd rather have at my side during the coming year, particularly given Hogwarts' soon-arriving guests."

Alastor tapped his staff against the side of his wooden foot and shook his head. "I can't believe you're letting Karkaroff inside the wards at Hogwarts. He can't be trusted, fellow headmaster or no fellow headmaster...a kappa doesn't change its scales."

"I think you'll find Igor quite a changed man from you saw him last, Alastor. He has come to recognize the wisdom of keeping himself far from all groups with...let us say with a political bent."

"If that's true," Alastor grumbled, "it has nothing to do with a change of heart and everything to do with wanting to save his own skin."

"Perhaps," said Albus. "However, it is often said that self preservation can be a very powerful motivator."

"Maybe, but I'll still be keeping my eye on him this year. Both of my eyes."

Albus glanced inside and saw Alastor's Sneakoscope, Secrecy Senser, and Foe-Glass, all polished and ready for transport to Hogwarts. "Of that I have no doubt, my friend. Just remember that you once had doubts about Severus, and yet I believe the two of you eventually came to co-exist in harmony during his stay in your home?"

Harmony?

Was that what Dumbledore was calling the single greatest fortnight's worth of fucking in Alastor's life? And to say it with that ubiquitous twinkle in his eye? He'd be damned if he'd react; he wouldn't give Albus the satisfaction.

"Ah," said Albus with a smile. "I believe that scowl on your face is my cue to leave. Come, Alastor, walk me to your back garden gate, and say good night."

The two men walked to the edge of Alastor's wards, and after saying their farewells, Albus Disapparated, but Alastor lingered, looking up into the night sky, hoping to see whatever particular configuration of stars might mean "about to become reacquainted with an old friend." Although...Snape was no old friend, and what Alastor was hoping for was a damned sight more than just getting 'reacquainted."

Damn Albus anyway for making him think about Snape after all this time. Fourteen years had passed without a word from the man and he still couldn't get Snape out of his head. It was worse than if he'd been dosed with Amortentia.

***

He was still leaning against the gate, eyes closed and fantasizing idly about what a year sharing the same castle with Snape might bring, when the row of dustbins suddenly crashed to the ground and Alastor heard the too-familiar voice of Barty Crouch's son calling out Petrificus Totalus!