"That was delicious!" Harry sat back with smile as he laid his folded serviette on the table.
Severus arched an eyebrow at him, dabbing delicately at the corner of his mouth with his serviette. "It was adequate. Besides, if you'd stop for something to eat sometime during your fifteen-hour work day, you wouldn't be quite so famished by dinner time."
Feeling his cheeks heat, Harry gave him a sheepish grin. "I suppose I had that coming, but you can only blame yourself, Severus! You're the one who discovered this particular use for venom from the Brazilian Lancehead!"
Severus pinned him with a piercing look and Harry quickly made sure his Occlumency shields were in place. "You were the one who dragged me to the steaming jungles of Peru!"
Grinning, Harry pushed his chair back. "And you loved prowling through those Incan ruins, admit it!"
"I admit to nothing! Especially when that was where you found the nest of those lovely vipers!"
Harry grinned at Severus' indignant expression, knowing those particular snakes had led to an amazing breakthrough in a potion for the treatment of patients suffering the aftereffect of being cursed by Dark magic. Severus' expertise in brewing and Harry's Parseltoungue abilities had led to an unconventional but very productive partnership. As a trained healer, Harry was also able to watch over the clinical trials and adjust the dosing requirements. However, as challenging as their work was, Harry was feeling oddly restless and only being in Severus' company seemed to ease the sensation.
"Well, perhaps we should retire to mine and begin to plan for the trip to Rarotonga—"
"Severus? Is that you?"
A melodious voice came from behind Harry and there was no mistaking the expression of delight which lit Severus' face as he saw whomever it was walking towards them.
Someone brushed by Harry, elbowing him out of the way as they threw themselves at Severus. Annoyed, Harry turned to see a handsome man about Severus' age kissing his friend noisily on each cheek before he wrapped his arms around Severus and hugged him. A hard knot formed in Harry's chest as he watched the two men hold each other at arm's length before embracing again. As Severus turned towards him, Harry's watched as Jean-Paul's hand lingered familiarly on Severus' arm.
"Jean-Paul, I'd like to present Lord Harry Potter, my collaborator," Severus said, his lips curved upward. "Harry, I believe I've mentioned the other apprentice going through his mastery when I did, Jean-Paul Bordeur."
"Pleasure, Lord Potter." Jean-Paul nodded his head, before turning back to exclaim over Severus.
Harry tapped down his irritation at the man's fawning over his friend, recognizing the dismissal for what it was. "I'll let you two catch-up, then," Harry announced and Severus' gave him a wave of his hand.
Turning with all the grace he could summon, Harry strode quickly to the door and saw himself out, resisting the urge to look back.
ss/hp ~**~ ss/hp
Hermione's voice had a touch of the same beseeching tone it used to get when he hadn't taken his studying seriously enough during their Hogwarts days. Using the heel of his hand, Harry pressed it against the throbbing knot in his chest as he sat hunched over the conference table in his office. Despite her tone, a gentle hand settled on his shoulder and Harry looked up into concerned brown eyes. Shifting, Harry attempted to mask the pain he felt.
Hermione sighed and shook her head, settling into the chair across from Harry. "You look like shite!"
Harry shrugged and sat up straight in his chair. "Just having a bit of trouble sleeping the last few nights."
"Does this have anything to do with the incredibly attractive man who was brewing with Severus this morning in his lab?"
"What?" The knot in Harry's chest tightened even more. "We were supposed to have a meeting this morning."
"Which Severus apparently missed, as I didn't have any new information on the reactions to the serum." Hermione folded her arms across her chest. "Harry, I know you've always told Ron and me that you and Severus were just friends, but are you sure—"
Harry interrupted her with a derisive snort. "I can assure you, while Severus is fond of me, he would never think of me in that way. I'm neither intelligent enough nor good-looking."
Hermione gave him a look Harry was also very familiar with, one she usually reserved for when he was being an idiot. "That was a nice dodge, especially for a man who never dates and has no social life. Besides, Mister Harry Potter, I know you better. You've only ever been obsessed with two men in your life, both starting in our sixth year: Draco Malfoy and the Half-blood Prince. And I know you haven't seen Malfoy in months." She narrowed her eyes at him. "Was this morning's meeting official or just a habit?"
"Well," Harry responded, squirming, "more like a habit. I bring the coffee and Severus brings the scones."
Rolling her eyes, Hermione uncrossed her arms and leaned towards him. "Harry, you have to recognize you have no claim on Severus and he is free to see anyone he wants to." She held up a hand as Harry started to retort. "No, you have never let on that you are interested in Severus in a romantic sense, so you'll just have to shut it or have to make some kind of bold statement so he knows how you feel."
Harry sighed; bold statement, his arse! He still hated it when Hermione was spot on. He dropped his head into his hands and groaned. Hermione patted his shoulder on her way out of the room.
"Get me some new stats at your next official meeting!" she threw back at him. "And remember, both of you are expected at St Mungo's Yule Gala next week!"
ss/hp ~**~ ss/hp
A couple stepped out of an alley ahead of Harry and his footsteps faltered as he watched the shorter, golden-haired individual turn suddenly and wrapped their arms around their dark-haired companion, stretching up to kiss him. Watching the kiss turn passionate, the two entwined in a tight embrace, Harry's heart lodged in his throat as his eyes superimposed Severus' features on the taller person. His whole world shifted on its axis as Harry contemplated what his life would be like without Severus, without him ever kissing Harry like that. The warm looks he shared with Severus, the small smile he only gave Harry, the quiet rightness of an evening spent together…
His breath hitched, trapped in his chest as Harry stumbled, flailing until his hand grasped the closest wall. A decidedly female laugh broke the spell and Harry sucked in a lungful of air. He watched the couple walk away, taking several deep breaths, before he took an unsteady step only to lean back against the wall, his thoughts swirling as Harry honestly evaluated his feelings
Bloody hell, he was in love with Severus!
And he was about to lose his object of his affections without even putting up a fight. A bold statement Hermione had said and Harry pondered what he could do to convince Severus he was serious. Moving on instinct, Harry turned back into the Alley and headed towards Gringotts. They had a meeting scheduled in the morning and then the Yule Gala tomorrow evening. The Gala would be the perfect place to ask – Severus wouldn't know what hit him.
That night, Harry's long-time dream lover, whom he had refused to identify, stepped out of the shadows and smirked at him as Harry stroked himself to completion.
ss/hp ~**~ ss/hp
Stalking to the Floo in his office, Harry threw in a handful of powder. "House of Prince, London!"
Harry stepped out into Severus' office, pausing long enough to hear a loud murmur of voices coming from the direction on his lab. With renewed determination, Harry stepped into the hallway, shamelessly eavesdropping as he walked toward a partially open door.
"—you don't need to meet with that man, dearest! You can simply owl your findings."
"I am not your dearest, Jean-Paul and I am attending this meeting!" Severus used his most cutting tone. "You have conspired to keep me away from Harry for days now and I'm—"
Something fell and shattered.
"You don't need him, Severus!" Jean-Paul snapped. "You need a real man as a partner—"
"You aren't half the man Harry is! Now, unhand me—"
Harry burst through the door and saw that Jean-Paul had Severus backed up against the worktable, pressing against him. Seeing red, Harry used a swatting gesture with his hand, wandlessly slapping the man away from Severus and pinning him against the wall. Severus straightened his robes with a snap of his fingers as Harry looked him over,
"Are you all right?"
Severus nodded, glaring at Jean-Paul. "Brodeur has outstayed his welcome."
"Kreacher!" Harry called, his eyes never leaving Severus.
The ancient elf arrived with a crack, bowing low. "Master calls."
Harry jerked his head toward the now whimpering man. "Please collect Mr. Brodeur's belongings and move them, and him, to Grimmauld Place until he can find his own accommodations."
"Yes, Master Harry."
Not waiting to watch Kreacher carry out his assignment, Harry turned his full attention back to a now smirking Severus and marched determinately towards him. Severus took a step back, coming up against his workstation once again with Harry stopping half a step away. Reaching out, Harry wrapped his hands around Severus' forearms, feeling his magic reach out as Severus stared impassively. Harry drew Severus to him, giving him plenty of time to object, before slanting his mouth over Severus' and kissing him. Severus' magic entwined with his, skating up his arms and heating his flesh as Harry pressed closer, arousal exploding through his body as he deepened the kiss.
"About bloody time!" Severus murmured against his lips.
Harry was suddenly propelled back until his back collided with the wall. Severus molded himself to Harry's front and kissed him hungrily, hands roaming down Harry's sides. Twining his arms around Severus' neck, Harry arched into the hard body, its warmth threatening to scorch him with a different kind of heat. Harry gasped as his erection met an answering hardness beneath Severus' robes and he pressed closer with a whimper. Rocking his hips, Harry frotted against Severus, meeting Severus' tongue as it mapped the interior of his mouth. He'd never imagined a kiss could arouse him to such a desperate pitch.
Severus ripped his lips from Harry's and a tingle of magic washed over him.
"Put your legs around my waist," Severus gasped, pushing Harry against the wall and sliding his hands under Harry's thighs.
Harry lifted his legs and wrapped them around Severus' waist just as his clothing vanished. He was pretty sure he whimpered as he felt his skin prickle every place Severus touched him. A finger brushed across his hole and it was all Harry could do not to climax right then. Concentrating on responding to Severus' kiss, Harry slid his fingers into the silky fall of hair and chased Severus' tongue with his. Absently, Harry could feel several spells tingling in his abdomen and lower, leaving him feeling warm and loose. The circling finger slid inside him and Harry gasped at the strange sensation, hands slipping out of Severus' hair to wrap around his neck. Another finger joined the first and began to twist inside him, one brushing against something inside Harry that made him gasp as arousal exploded through him.
Severus ripped his mouth away from Harry's lips, breathing heavily as he slid his fingers out of him and moved both hands down to cup Harry's arse. "Up!"
Severus lifted him against the wall, his breath tiny gasps of air on against Harry's ear. Harry felt the head of Severus' cock nudge against his hole and, using Severus' shoulders as leverage, sank down on it. With a funny hiccupping moan, Harry felt Severus slide into him slowly, filling and stretching him. Taking a few shallow breaths, Harry lifted up slightly and pushed down again, until Severus was fully sheathed inside him. The burn dissipated until all Harry could feel was an incredible fullness and Severus' magic encircling him.
"Severus," Harry breathed, trying to move rock forward. "Move!"
"Impatient brat," Severus rumbled as he gave a tentative thrust.
Harry moved to meet him, clenching his muscles experimentally. Severus groaned as he drew back and plunged deep. It was Harry's turn to groan and tighten his grip on Severus' shoulders. It was awkward at first, but he quickly caught Severus' rhythm. He whimpered every time Severus hit that spot inside him, making his whole body shake with pleasure. Severus' teeth tugged at his earlobe and Harry felt his body tensing as his arousal coiled tight in his belly.
"Oh, fuck!" Harry cried, his body moving on its own. "Harder! Severus! So big…feels so good! Fuck!"
Each word seemed to make Severus plunge deeper, turning his head to catch Harry's lips in a searing kiss. His cock was caught between their bellies, the friction pushing Harry over the edge as Severus' thrusts became frantic. Dragging his mouth away, Harry felt his body stiffen and he was sure his eyes rolled back in his head as his body shattered. He could only hold on as Severus grabbed his hips with a bruising grasp and buried himself inside deep. Harry felt Severus shudder before warmth flooded his arse and Severus slumped against him.
Giving in to his first impulse, Harry pressed a kiss to Severus' temple. "Bloody hell, Severus, that was fucking brilliant!" he gasped, his body still humming. "Now I know what all the fuss was about!"
Severus' head lifts slowly and gave Harry a strange look. "Are you telling me you've never—"
Harry smiled, his mouth twitching up on one side as he shrugged, face growing warm. "Didn't really find time to do much of anything while I was on the run, hunting Horcruxes or training to be a healer."
Severus stared at him for a long moment and dropped his head to Harry's shoulder. "I've despoiled the Boy Who Lived against a wall in my bloody lab!" he groaned, his voice muffled.
Harry shivered as he felt Severus' hot breath on his skin. "Does this mean we get to do this in a bed next?"
Lifting his head, Severus sneered as him as he moved to disentangle them. Harry lowered his legs while Severus canceled the Feather-Light charm, surprised to find himself a little wobbly. Severus held him up and Harry took advantage of it by pressing close.
"Surely you don't think we will be immediately moving to the bedroom," Severus said with an arched brow. "I was thinking a bit of a snack while we discuss our progress on the potions, and then we could carry on with your new education in the bedroom."
Harry leaned in, kissing along Severus jaw and moving up to kiss the corner of Severus' mouth. Turning his head slightly, Severus captured the teasing lips and devoured Harry's mouth. His knees threatened to give out just as Severus lifted his head, tilting his head as if to judge Harry's reaction.
"Now, as I was saying," Severus said, straightening up. "A couple of dressing gowns and some tea, then we will compare our notes. The last thing I want is a frustrated Granger stepping out of my Floo, especially when I have plans for the rest of my afternoon."
ss/hp ~**~ ss/hp
A wave of his hand brought up the torches in his room and another lit a fire in the fireplace as Harry began to strip off his wrinkled robes. His hand hit the small box in his pocket just as the flames in the fireplace flared green.
"Harry James Potter!! Where the bloody hell are you?!"
Harry spun around at the irritated sounded of Hermione's voice, blinking as he saw her face in the fire – and there was no mistaking the fire in her eyes.
"The Gala starts in thirty minutes!" she hissed, "and you haven't even started to get ready!"
Groaning, Harry felt like smacking his forehead. He'd completely forgotten about the Yule Gala!
"I'm going to get ready now—"
"You better be," Hermione snapped. "For Merlin's sake, I found Severus in his lab, in a dressing gown no less!"
Harry felt his cheeks heat up. "Oh, he isn't ready either?"
Hermione eyed him suspiciously. "Thirty minutes or I'm coming through to dress you myself!"
Setting the box on his bedside table, Harry Banished the rest of his clothes with a snap of his fingers and all but Apparated into the shower. Twenty-six minutes later, he was still struggling with his tie as he stepped through the Floo into Severus' office.
"Severus!" Harry called, hoping he'd caught him.
"In the sitting room!"
Harry hurried down the hallway, only to stop in the doorway as he caught sight of Severus standing beside a tall Christmas tree trimmed in silver. Severus looked elegant and amazing in black formal robes with a dark green cummerbund and tie. He stepped closer as Severus raked him with a heated gaze from his unruly hair to the tips of his polished dragon hide boots. Giving him a smile, Harry walked over and leaned in to kiss him, without messing up his robes. The box in Harry's hand fell as he reached towards Severus.
"What is this?" Severus bent down and picked up the small black box with the Gringotts' logo, his face a neutral mask.
"I—," Harry stuttered, his face flaming as he tried to take a step back. "I was going to wait until later, when we were in front of the fire…"
"Wait? Why would you want to speak to me about what appears to be goblin-wrought wedding rings? "
There was no expression on Severus' face and Harry panicked. "Because I love you, git!"
For a moment, time stood still as Harry realized what he'd said and held his breath as he waited for Severus' reaction. He did not expect the arched eyebrow or the smirk, and disappointment started churning in his stomach. Severus brought his left hand up and held it out towards Harry.
"Perhaps you are more perceptive than I have given you credit for," he said as he handed the flat rectangle box to Harry.
Harry didn't recognize the name inscribed on the top, but could feel the magic the box held. Carefully opening it up, Harry saw a matched pair of bracelets, gleaming silver with runes, etched in gold, decorating them. He looked up at Severus, who was looking at the platinum and diamond rings in his box.
"The Potter wedding rings," Harry said quietly.
"The Prince Bonding bracelets." Severus stepped closer. "We could wear both."
Harry tilted his head as sheer joy surged through him. "I've been a fool, haven't I?"
"Utterly," Severus said, his lips twitching upward. "I suppose I will allow you to make up for the time we have lost, somehow."
Harry closed the lid and pressed against Severus. "I love you," he said softly, sliding his free hand up to cup the back of Severus' neck.
"And I reciprocate the sentiment," Severus murmured against his lips, gathering him close to kiss him deeply.
Putting all his emotion into the kiss, Harry's heart sang as he felt Severus' love surround him.
"Severus! Is Harry with you?" Hermione's furious voice burst from the Floo.
Severus just pulled Harry closer and kept on kissing him, while stepping into full view of the fireplace.
"Ohhhh!" Hermione's voice was almost a screech as she caught sight of them. "About bloody time! Come through when you're done, gentlemen. I'll give you five minutes before I come after you."
Severus pulled back slowly and Harry reluctantly let him go. "She's getting soft in her older years."
Harry snorted. "Don't let her hear you all her old, but that was generous of her."
"Indeed." Severus reached over to place the box with the Potter rings on top of the Prince bracelets, covering Harry's hand with his. "Does this mean we are in accord?"
Grinning, Harry set both boxes down on the table. "Absolutely! How about a New Year's Eve ceremony?"
"You believe you can have a bonding arranged and in place in ten days?" Severus caught his hand as they stepped toward the Floo.
"Absolutely!" Harry grinned. "I am the Chosen one!"
"Ahh," Severus said as he held the pot of Floo powder towards him. "You going to let it slip to Molly Weasley and that elf of yours, aren't you?"
Harry laughed as he threw in the powder and stepped into the Floo, knowing Hermione was on the other end. All he had to do was tell her and she'd immediately find Molly to pass on the news. No one knew how to organize an event like the matriarch of the Weasley family and she'd be thrilled, after all these years, that he was getting married. Harry could see Hermione bearing down on him from across the ballroom, looking lovely in a dusky pink gown, and he smiled broadly while he waited for Severus to Floo in behind him.
Harry had no doubt their wedding would be turn out to be amazing.