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Wild Thyme Honey

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The sky in Crete was low, like it had been painted that deep blue colour and stuck on over the tops of the rocky hills. Now that the sun was setting, the air had a certain feel to it--though it was fall, the evening air was still somewhat warm and salty with the ocean. All the walls were whitewashed, and there was the constant whooshing sound of the ocean. He couldn’t look at any of it though. In any case it was night and he was walking through the town square, strings of electric bulbs, like fairy lights, providing the only unreal illumination.

Harry kept his head down, barely watching where he was going. He was completely focused on the compass inside the now-open sphere of the astrolabe. The globe was beautiful when it was closed, what a magical device should look like. But it had been open for days now. Harry was afraid to close it, afraid he’d never get it open again.

He was getting closer now. The needle was moving instead of staying in one direction as it had in the days preceding. Harry stopped, moved his hand back and forth slowly, and then continued on.

There were some Greek men sitting in front of a tavern playing backgammon, the dice clicking and falling. One sat a little straighter, a little taller than the rest, wearing a black shirt like the rest of them, and a jacket. He pushed his black hair out of his eyes.

It was Severus Snape.

Harry’s throat was clogged and his eyes burned. He realized with a kind of stark clarity that he had no idea what to do now. He’d been searching, following the compass, not knowing where it would lead him, only knowing he had to press on. Now he stood, his legs made of lead, staring at Snape from across the way.

When Snape’s body had disappeared after the battle, no one had seemed to care, except Harry and Professor McGonagall. Harry cared because he’d seen Snape’s memories. He supposed Professor McGonagall was demonstrating, again, the scrupulous fairness that made her who she was.

Seven months after all the funerals, he’d received an owl from his former head of house, requesting a meeting in wizarding London. Harry had finally left the Weasley's house and was trying to clean up 12 Grimmauld Place, and was glad for the distraction. He'd craved normal life, but normal life was lonely.

They met at Fortescue’s, where Harry would surely receive free ice creams until he was 80.

As soon as they'd shaken hands and sat down, McGonagall handed him a package across the table.

“This was addressed to you, Mr. Potter,” she said with her habitual formality. “We checked it for all possible curses. It was in Albus Dumbledore’s own handwriting. You seem surprised.”

“He left me something in his will,” Harry said. “I didn’t think there was anything else.”

“Yes, well,” she said, briskly. “We didn’t have access to the Headmaster’s office for long after Albus died. I suspect this object been magically hidden. The instructions were to give it to you if Severus didn’t come back from the battle, and to him if you didn’t come back.”

Harry pulled off the wrapping and found a beautiful small globe of some shiny metal, perhaps brass. It was surrounded by bands of a lighter metal that were engraved with strange letters. There were two outer rings, like the rings of Saturn, and an inner globe.

“Is that Arabic?" Harry asked. He held it to his ear. Was it a clock as well as some sort of astrolabe? It was ticking.

McGonagall sat quietly. “Eat your ice cream,” she said, and smiled like a cat. “Albus’s note said this would put the heart into you, and it has.”

Harry put the fascinating object on the table and dug into his ice cream. He felt lucky, like he’d had a dose of Felix Felices. Perhaps it was just having a mystery to solve.

One of the men nudged Snape, and he looked over. The other men began to beckon to Harry from across the road. They were jolly and drinking some clear liquor, while Snape sat absolutely still. He looked at Harry as he had at Nagini--paralyzed by his inevitable fate, his face drawn and pale. Someone pulled out a chair for Harry and greeted him in heavily-accented English.

“One of your friends from home, eh?” they said to Snape kindly, and someone put up a finger for the waiter to bring them another glass.

Harry sat. He ignored the others, not out of rudeness but because it seemed he could do nothing but look at Snape. Snape, who looked the same and yet different. His hair was still long and shiny with oil, his eyes still dark and fathomless. He looked more relaxed, the lines around his eyes softer somehow. Harry figured cheating death and running away to Crete might take a bit of stress off.

“Have a drink, Potter,” Snape said in an undertone. He passed the bottle and Harry took it and set it down. Another man reached over and filled his glass.

“Afaristo,” Snape said, when Harry still hadn’t opened his mouth.

“What?” Harry said. “Thank you,” he said to the man who poured his drink.

“It’s all Greek to you,” Snape said, downing his own glass.

“Hello,” said the man next to Harry, “I’m Nikos.”

“Harry,” he said, shaking hands. They went around the table, smiling and shaking hands.

“Ameriki?” someone asked, and Harry said, “Angleterre.”

Snape looked scornful. He was going to rise from his seat, but another man put a hand on his arm. “Johnny is bringing his guitar,” he said. “I buy you limonade.”

A young man a little older than Harry came stepping across the square, carrying his guitar by the neck. He greeted the others and then sat down in a low chair not far from them. A few warm exchanges later, he began to play.

The way the man’s fingers plucked and slapped at the strings made music that was undeniably Mediterranean. It was interesting and pretty without words, but when Johnny added his voice to the tune, it was even more beautiful. Harry listened and pretended his attention was fully on the music, but he kept glancing at Snape. It wouldn’t do to allow him to cast a notice-me-not charm or to Disapparate.

After a few songs in Greek and some other language, they all started asking for songs in English. Harry thought he recognized a few from TV adverts he’d heard from his room when the Dursleys were watching downstairs. He wasn’t sure.

For some reason, the man beside him kept filling his glass with drink. Harry was accustomed to having a drink. Hermione had told him he was drinking too much, but he thought that was mainly because he saw her at the weekend parties, the post-war parties. He never wanted to go the parties, so a few drinks seemed like a good idea.

Raki was stronger than beer, and Harry’s head was a little fuzzy when he realized that Snape was singing. Harry thought he'd never be astonished by anything again after he learned Snape was alive, but hearing Snape sing was a close second. Snape's voice had a buzz to it, or maybe that was just Harry. It was deep and pleasant.

Harry realized he was swaying a bit and tried to correct this. He managed to bump into the man seated to his left.

“Sing,” the man told him. Harry shook his head. No, he most definitely did not sing, except for Quidditch chants and the occasional pub song. But now Johnny was playing a song everyone knew, and Snape was singing the lines clearly.

...Take a sad song and make it better... Remember to let her into your heart... And you can start to make it better...” Snape sang.

Somehow Harry started to sing along on the chorus of na na nas, and Snape got up and came toward him. “You’ve had enough,” he said in a low voice, taking Harry by the forearm. “Na na na,” Harry said in a sort of shout, “Na na na, hey you.”

There was general laughter. He was staggering a bit.

“I’ll take him home,” Snape said.

Knowing there was something inside the sphere made it uncomfortably like the Snitch Dumbledore had left him. There was no way Dumbledore would want one of them to die if the other did. Was there? The war was over.

His main feeling about the object was excitement. He had something to do again, another magical object with secrets he had to uncover, and it might even have something to do with the mystery of Snape. Watching the dead man’s memories over and over for a glimpse of his mother was killing him inside. He went to Hogwarts to use the Pensieve to look at his mum, but each time he watched the changes in Snape's face, the gradual hardening of his expression, until he was a mask. He wanted to lie on the floor after each viewing as much as he did the first time.

It took two weeks before Harry figured out how to get the globe to open, or rather before Hermione did. There had been another of the horrible “eighth year” parties, all the people from their year and the one behind them meeting at a Muggle pub in a back room. Harry couldn’t stand to relive any of the year that had passed. Even seeing Neville made him think of Colin Creevey and of the snake.

At this party, Neville was pouring Harry another shot with an understanding smile, while the line between Hermione's eyebrows seemed to indent more deeply into her face.

"Have you called about the—you know—someone to talk to, Harry?" Hermione asked.

Subtle as a brick—she'd told him twice she thought he ought to see a psychotherapist. She just wanted what was best for him. He lifted his glass to toast her, and smiled, and took another drink.

He loved Hermione, he really did. He ought to tell her. He ought to tell them all, how much he loved them. "You know," he said, a little louder than he meant to, "you know…"

"Oh no," Ron said. "You're about to start telling everyone you love them again, aren't you."

"I like it," Luna said.

Hermione grabbed his arm. "Come over here a moment," she said. He let her pull him into a corner. "I know Professor McGonagall gave you something—can I have a look at it?"

"You're my best friend, you know that," he said.

"Yes, Harry, I know."

"You and Ron. I really love you both, so much." She smiled but he could feel her impatience behind it. He dug into the pocket of his denims and brought out the astrolabe.

It took her two days of thinking after that to read the runes off the rings around the globe and get it open. Inside each shell of the globe was a map of the night sky in each of the two hemispheres, and at the center, a watch with his name and Snape’s name on each of the two hands.

Snape’s hand pointed to “Recovering from snakebite.”

“Do you live here now?” Harry asked, a little louder than he meant to, as they swayed up the street of the little Greek town. Snape hushed him. “I’m sorry I’m not a good singer, Professor.”

The main street was paved with bricks, which was nice but required putting his feet down very carefully. He held on to Snape’s arm.

“I could probably walk without holding on to you,” he said, “but then you might go somewhere without me and that wouldn’t be good.”

“You’re drunk, Potter.”

“You’re right!” Harry chuckled. “Sir. You’re right, sir.”

“You’re going to regret this in the morning,” Snape said.

“Don’t have to sound so happy about it,” Harry mumbled. “Hey, where’re we going, anyway?”

“Somewhere you can sleep it off, Potter,” Snape said.

‘Somewhere’ wasn’t far. The air smelled good, like flowers and ocean. Probably Harry made it smell better by careening into the various bushes, crushing their leaves and liberating more of their herbal scent. He stumbled into Snape, too, apologizing each time. Finally, in the light of a electric lamp overhead, Snape jingled a key and unlocked a blue door right off the street. When the door opened, Harry had to blink at how Muggle the interior seemed. The room was cool and dark until Snape turned on a light--no Lumos.

“Do you feel a need to vomit, Potter?” Snape asked.

“Oh, no, no.” Harry said. “No. I haven’t really had very much, and I didn’t mix drinks, you know. Mixing is bad because... it’s bad.” His voice felt very loud in the sudden brightness.

“There’s a sofa here,” Snape said, “and the loo is here.” He gestured and then waited expectantly, so Harry went to urinate and wash his hands. When he emerged, Snape was standing in the living room with his arms crossed over his chest, a visible line forming between his eyebrows. “How did you find me?”

“Professor McGonagall,” Harry began. “Um.”

“Did Professor McGonagall tell you where I was?”

“She didn’t--no, she didn’t know. She doesn’t know you’re alive.”

“How did you know?”

“She gave me something that Professor Dumbledore left for me,” he said. He wasn’t going to show it to Snape or anything, because he’d take it. He realized the sofa was at the back of his knees, and sat down suddenly.

“Go to sleep, Potter,” Snape said. He looked tired and pale.

“You were amazing,” Harry blurted. “I would never have been able to do the things you did. You’re the bravest man I’ve ever met.”

“All right, thank you,” Snape said. “Come on, lie down.” He gave Harry a gentle shove, and Harry stretched out on the sofa.

“I just wanted to tell you,” Harry said. “I’m really--I’m sorry because--” Snape pulled a green plaid blanket out from under Harry and covered him up with it. “I’m really glad you didn’t die.”

“As am I, Potter.” Even though Snape was frowning, Harry got the impression he was somehow laughing at him.

“Well, you would, wouldn’t you?” Harry said, mostly to himself. The blanket wasn’t very heavy but his eyelids were, and the room was swaying gently in a familiar way.

“Sleep,” Snape said, still standing over him, as if he could make Harry do as he said by will alone. Harry felt … safe. Which was probably just a by-product of the raki.

At some point near dawn Harry woke because Snape was going out the front door. Harry got up quickly to follow him, but by the time he reached the door, Snape was out of sight.

It was only what he’d expected, really. Harry sat back down on the sofa. Was Snape gone for good? He got up and began to look around. There was a small kitchen with a box of tea bags in it and a single mug. The printing on everything was in Greek.

It wasn’t clear from Snape’s bedroom whether he’d fled or just gone out. There was no suitcase or trunk in the room, but perhaps Snape had shrunken his things. Harry picked up a book sitting on the table next to the bed. He expected it to be something magical, but it was just a novel by John Le Carré. He opened it, hoping Snape still had the habit of making notes in his reading, and an envelope fell out. It was addressed to Sirius Black, and inside was the fragment of the letter and the photograph Snape had taken from 12 Grimmauld Place.

It was true, then, what Harry had seen in the Pensieve. Snape had loved Harry’s mother so much that he cried over her signature. It was hard to believe Snape had done all those things. Harry remembered how he’d looked with the light going out in his eyes, and felt like there was something in his throat, something too painful to swallow. It hurt to think about it: Snape dying unloved and unmourned. He knew he hadn’t died, but somehow that made it easier to feel the loss and the horror.

Carefully, Harry returned the envelope to its place. He turned and found he had to hold on to himself, fearing he might fall apart. He had to sit; his legs were weak. A sob made its way up and out through his mouth and he bit his lip hard to keep from making another sound. It did no good. Harry wept from the terrible unfairness of it all, his shoulders jerking almost violently with each heave. He covered his wet face with his hands, giving in to the tears.

He hadn’t been at it for long when a light hand settled on his shoulder. Harry picked his head up, taking a hiccupy breath, and looked into Snape’s eyes. They were so much brighter than in Harry’s memory, shining black and still as inscrutable as ever.

Harry covered the hand on his shoulder with his own and, after a moment, gave it a squeeze. Snape looked discomfited, but he didn’t move his hand. For a long moment they stayed just like that, eyes locked. Harry thought of Legilimency, of how easy it would be for Snape to read his thoughts and memories, but Harry had nothing to hide from the man. He felt no probing, though, no familiar Snapeish presence in his mind. Snape was just looking into his eyes, a small frown between his brows.

“Let’s have a cup of tea,” he said, getting up.

Harry nodded. “Thanks.” He felt grateful Snape hadn’t mocked or yelled at him for sitting in his bedroom weeping. He followed Snape into the kitchen. “I didn’t think you survived that.”

“I didn’t mean to,” Snape said. “Fortunately I passed out before I actually bled out.”

“Did you take a potion after we left?”

Snape didn’t dignify this with a response.

“I’m sorry,” Harry said.

“For what, precisely, are you sorry?” Snape asked. “You weren’t supposed to understand what I was doing. No one was. Bad enough Dumbledore asked so much of you...”

“It was war. And I’m not the only one he asked a lot of,” Harry said pointedly.

“If I did not know it to be profoundly improbable I would say you’ve acquired some insight,” Snape said.

Harry’s face heated. If he didn’t know better, he’d say Snape had just offered him a compliment.

“Are you going to live here from now on?” Harry asked.

“I’d hardly tell you that,” Snape said.

“I won’t tell anyone,” Harry said quickly.

“You won’t,” Snape said. Harry realized it was an assessment, not a threat. Snape paused and began to take his packages out of the mesh shopping bag on the kitchen table. “I don’t have plans,” he said.

“Are you on holiday?”

Snape did his weird little ironic partial smile. “We can eat on the terrace,” he said, and took out a wand to cast a spell on the plates and cups. It didn't look like the one he'd used at Hogwarts; Harry noticed those things now. Snape opened a door off the kitchen to reveal a little table with two metal chairs on a balcony. Everywhere they looked was sparkling blue sea.

“I can see why you chose this place,” Harry murmured. It was about as far from the aftermath of war as he could see. This blue was a far cry from smoke gray or charred black.

“I’d always wanted to come here,” Snape said.

“I think it’s something we have in common,” Harry said. “Never having a proper holiday.”

“I suppose Petunia didn’t take you on holiday,” Snape said.

Harry snorted. Snape poured out tea for them both from a brown teapot and leaned back.

“You seem remarkably unfussed that I’m here,” Harry said.

“I knew if you ever found out I survived, you’d have questions,” Snape said. “Better to get them out of the way now.”

“You’re going to answer my questions?”

Snape looked at him. “I make no promises. You’ve had enough of my life so far.”

They ate for a bit in silence. The food was glorious and foreign. The yogurt was thick and sour, and Snape ate it plain. Harry had his with honey, and dripped a little honey in his tea. There were little apricots and strawberries, and crusty bread with butter.

“So how did you do it? Live, I mean,” Harry clarified.

“Mostly through pure stubborn will,” Snape said, and Harry could definitely see that. When Harry thought he would say no more, Snape went on. “I had a heart monitor, of sorts. When I neared death, a Portkey took me away to a safehouse. Dumbledore’s idea, actually.”

“But you were bleeding,” Harry said, the food he had swallowed sticking in his throat. “I thought--”

Snape looked impatient. “I thought you would die, as well. That was the plan.”

“I was ready. I pretended not to be afraid and faced--” Harry stopped, unable to put those moments into words. He tried not to think about it. Coming face to face with death, being so certain of it, feeling its presence envelop him like a Dementor’s cloak -- it had left its mark. Harry had spent the last year trying to erase it from existence.

Snape took a sip of tea and looked out over the sea. Harry could see the scar at his neck peeking out from beneath his collar. “I’ve found living to be uncomfortable after such an event.” Snape said to the ocean.

Harry swallowed hard, a great sense of relief and understanding crashing over him. It helped that Snape wasn’t looking at him.

“Those men from the village are nice,” Harry said. “Friendly.”

Snape nodded. “They like guests. No one has been here to recognize me. There are some witches in the next town, but they’re German.”

“So what do you do here?”

Snape held his thin lips over his teeth, like he was going to laugh. “I go to the beach and bathe, I read novels and I drink raki with the locals.”

“It tastes like allsorts.”

“I happen to enjoy allsorts.” He rose and with a very subtle wand motion sent the breakfast dishes into the kitchen. “I suppose I will have to find you a pair of swim trunks.”

It was hard for Harry to imagine Snape swimming. Part of him expected Snape to wear a long black bathing costume from the old days, the kind that covered you from end to end. But this was a new Snape, one Harry had never known before. He probably wore trunks like any other man.

“Is the water nice?” Harry asked.

“Have you ever had a swim in the ocean?” Snape asked, going into his room.

“No,” Harry said, following. "I've had to swim a lot in the past few years—in the lake at Hogwarts, and other places—but I never properly learned how."

Snape nodded. "Your education had many 'sink or swim' experiences," he said.

He reached into the bottom of the chest of drawers, and threw Harry a pair of shorts. “You can wear these.” He began to strip down right there in front of Harry, taking off the jeans he was wearing and folding them up, and then shucking his underpants right there. He put both into his mesh bag. Harry could see his pubic hair and his surprisingly large penis bobbing between his hairy thighs as he quickly pulled up his swimsuit.

Harry excused himself and went into the bathroom to change.

The wind blew from the land to the warm sea, the opposite of what Harry expected. It wasn’t extraordinarily gusty, just a gentle breeze that tickled the hairs on his arms as they waded into the water.

“It’s almost like a bath,” Harry said. The lake at Hogwarts had never been so warm.

Snape muttered something and seemed to be on an invisible raft on the surface of the waves.

“Did you do that wandless?” Harry asked.

Snape exhaled. “It’s not magic, I’m just floating.”

“Oh. Oh, right,” Harry said, and lay on his back, and sank, and sputtered. They were still in shallow water. It was a bit ridiculous. Outside of a life and death situation, he didn't really know what to do in the water. "I don't really float—I usually just thrash around to keep my head up, you know."

Snape stood up. “I’ll show you how to do it,” he said. He put a hand on the small of Harry’s back and the other on his shoulder. “Lean back,” he said, and Harry shut his eyes tight, and did. Snape's murmuring voice reached him through the water around his ears. Finally Harry made out that he was suppose to lift more from the hips--Snape had a hand right above his buttocks and was pushing suggestively.

Then, just when Harry was starting to get hard, Snape moved his hand so that he just had a single finger under Harry’s back. “You’re doing it,” he said, and Harry was floating. He opened his eyes and grinned into Snape’s upside-down face and monumental nostrils.

“It’s like flying,” Harry said. “Except flying is a bit easier.”

“It’s just physics,” Snape said.

“Which we didn’t learn at Hogwarts.”

Snape floated next to him. Harry shut his eyes again and watched the sunlight filtered through his lids, pink.

After they’d floated for some time, Snape got up and wrung out his hair. “Let’s go back and eat that watermelon,” he said.

The sand sucked at their feet, and Harry looked down and saw beautiful shells as the water got shallower. They drifted on the diagonal until they found the blanket and blue striped umbrella Snape had set up.

Snape knew a spell for removing sand, and you really needed magic to do it. Harry didn’t think the watermelon would have been as good all full of sand. They had it with feta cheese, which shouldn’t have been delicious, but it was.

“Are you using a sunburn charm?” Snape asked abruptly.

“Um,” Harry said. Snape’s usually sallow sickly skin tone had darkened in the sun. Harry hadn’t remembered about the sun. Harry’s skin was pale.

“You’re going to burn,” Snape said. “You'll need a sunburn charm, and Muggle suntan oil.”

He pulled a bottle of oil out of his bag and tossed it to Harry, then pulled his wand out of his swim trunks again and cast something at Harry, who was struggling with the bottlecap.

The cool sensation of the spell spread over Harry, giving him gooseflesh despite the heat of the sun. Harry had smoothed aloe vera on himself once when he’d burned his hand on the stove making dinner for the Dursleys; the spell felt like that, cold and thick and soothing. The feeling only lasted a few moments, long enough for Snape to take the unopened bottle of lotion from his hand.

Harry wasn’t expecting the first warm, slick contact of Snape’s capable hands on his shoulders. He took a quick breath in, surprised. Snape’s touch was both gentle and firm as his hands traveled down his back. Harry hadn’t been touched like this since- Well, he couldn’t think of when, but he knew he wanted to squirm under the attention. He held himself perfectly still, though, his eyes closed, listening to the sound of the waves sloshing up on the shore and the steady breathing of Snape behind him.

“I believe you can finish,” Snape said evenly, handing the open bottle over Harry’s shoulder.

“Thank you,” Harry said. He took the lotion, rubbed it on his chest and face, then turned his head to look at Snape. “Want me to do you?”

Snape quirked his lips and reached out with a single finger, spreading an excess of lotion from Harry’s forehead down to his nose. “You missed a spot.”

Harry grinned, suddenly happier than he’d been in an age. “Your turn.” He supposed this was what one did at the beach.

Snape didn’t really need the lotion, since he’d already tanned, but his shoulders were slightly dry and peeling. Harry poured a small puddle of the white fragrant stuff into his palm, and slicked it over the broad wings of Snape’s shoulder blades. His deltoids were round and firm--his back was generally muscular, and Harry rubbed a little more firmly. He wasn’t massaging so much as acknowledging the tension this back had borne, the way the muscles around his spine were firm and hard, and the shoulders tight.

“That’s enough,” Snape said softly. He turned around. They were standing very close together, face to face, as if they might kiss.

Awareness made Harry’s breath come quicker, and as they looked at each other, he recognized that same awareness in Snape’s eyes.

For a long moment, Harry waited for Snape to take a step away. Harry realized that he could do the same, but he found himself unwilling to break the moment. In fact, he wanted to move forward, to press his lips against Snape’s. He braced himself, took a deep breath and got ready to jump right in, but then Snape was there already, leaning down and capturing Harry’s mouth with his own.

Once he’d opened the globe and found the clock and the map inside, Harry had a task before him. Even without the imperative of danger, it felt familiar and good to work on something. At first he had some help from Hermione and Ron, but after a little while they seemed to lose interest.

It was one thing to conduct a suicidal mission to save all of wizarding Britain, and quite another to undertake one for the sake of a single, ill-tempered wizard of dubious loyalties. Harry didn’t mind; he wanted to do it.

He wanted to understand Snape in order to know where he’d gone. He looked at Snape’s memories in the Pensieve; repeated viewings did not become less painful. He read Snape’s notes in the old Potions textbook, retrieved with some difficulty from the Room of Requirement. (Ron and Neville had helped with that, standing ready in case the Fiendfyre revived and went for him.)

It took two weeks before Harry figured out that he could use his wand to point to the part of the sky Snape was seeing.

Snape kept moving, and there didn’t seem to be much logic to it. First he was in Paris, but it took Harry too long to figure out his location using the chart he’d worked out with Hermione. Then Harry tried to follow him to Prague, and missed him by an hour.

He wondered whether Snape knew he was coming.

All those hours opening the globe and the building excitement of realizing that Snape was alive were somehow realer than splashing in the Libyan Sea. Certainly they were realer than that bizarre kiss.

Snape looked at him from under his surprising eyelashes. Just looked. Harry wondered what exactly he saw.

“Wasn’t expecting that,” Harry said to break the silence and wondered when Snape’s talent for understatement had become contagious.

Snape nodded and turned toward the ocean. “Come on,” he said, and broke into a run. Harry gave chase, as he’d been doing for months, only this time he ran into the gentle waves, droplets arcing up shining in the sunlight. Snape dove under water for a moment, and then surfaced, whipping his black hair back. Harry tried it too, remembering to shut his eyes against the salt, and when he stood in the water and opened his eyes, the droplets on his lashes made prisms.

Harry grinned and found his smile echoed on Snape’s face. They were carefree, playing in the water, just like boys.

“We’d better get back,” Snape said, catching his breath. “It gets very hot here in the afternoons, and everyone has a long nap. We’ll have something to eat and get into the shade.”

They put on their shirts and walked slowly up the road from the beach.

“So what do we do next?” Harry asked. This was the best and only holiday he’d ever had, and he wanted to make it count.

“Lunch,” Snape said.

They ambled into another sort of café and Snape ordered. “My treat,” he said.

“I can pay for--”

“They don’t do that in Greece,” Snape said, giving his old, haughty, scornful look down his nose. “The host orders for the table and pays, here.”

“Oh.” Harry said. “I suppose you’re being very ‘when in Rome.’”

Snape guffawed, and Harry felt like he’d been given a prize.

They sat down at a table outside under an awning and Snape ordered them grilled lamb chops, Greek-style chips and a carafe of wine. Harry had been afraid it would be something peculiar, but it was delicious. The potatoes tasted of lemon. There were olives and cucumbers as well. Harry had to eat slowly because of the wine.

“Don’t drink it so fast,” Snape said. Harry felt slightly flushed and very relaxed. Snape ordered two black coffees, which came in little cups with a sweet on the side. “Beware,” Snape said. “It could be baby aubergines.”

They were laughing when they got up from the table.

It seemed natural to slip an arm around Snape’s waist, and Snape reciprocated with an arm around Harry’s shoulder. They walked back to Snape’s place that way.

At the door, Harry blurted out, “This is a bit weird.”

“What?” Snape dropped his arm and they pulled apart.

“Are you being kind to me because you can’t remember the memories you gave me when you were dying? I mean, when you were bleeding.”

“I was dying, that’s accurate to say,” Snape said quietly.

“Do you not remember all the reasons you hated me?” Harry felt Snape pulling in on himself.

“It wasn’t like that,” he said.

“It wasn’t like this, either,” Harry said. “Do you remember at all?”

Snape nodded, his lips pressed into each other. “Putting memories in a Pensieve doesn’t mean you can’t remember them,” he said.

“You resented me for living when my--when Lily died,” Harry said. It felt cruel; he could see the tiny, tiny flinch on Snape’s face. “You were angry with me, I thought.”

“Yes,” Snape said, “But --” he stopped, his hand in the air, describing the pause his voice made as he froze.

“It’s like you’re another person now,” Harry said. “Like you’re having a do-over.”

Snape’s face was blanched of color again, like he used to be when Harry saw him during the war. He hugged his own elbows and said, “Am I not allowed that?” and then Harry saw the old rage gather in his face, “Can’t I do that? Are you the only one who is permitted to purge the evil out of your head? Can I never have that?” His voice was loud in the stillness, the wind off the cliffs and the bees.

“You’re running away,” Harry said.

“You’re bloody well right I am! I gave up my life for those people, and you did too! That we lived through it is completely accidental. We might be dead right now, and no one would--” he choked on his rage.

“No one would ever have known what you did,” Harry said. “You deserve credit. It’s only right.”

“I don’t know what I deserve,” Snape said. “I don’t want what I deserve, any longer, I want to have a life. But do what you want, Potter, do what you think is right. Tell them all I’m alive.”

“It’s just--it seems irresponsible--not to go back. For either of us.”

“Irresponsible,” Snape choked. He stepped forward as though he was ready to strike, and then, bizarrely, hurled his wand at the front door, where it embedded itself like a knife.

“If you want to go, then go,” Snape said.

“No,” Harry said, and reached his hand out to touch the angry man, who seemed to crumple.

“No?” Snape echoed, allowing Harry to take his hand. Maybe he was too shocked to stop him, or maybe what he really needed was to be touched.

Harry shook his head. “Let’s go in.” Snape unlocked the door and Harry was the one to lead him inside, through the small living area, into the bedroom. “Let’s have a bit of a lie down.”

“Shouldn’t you be going?” Snape said, this time quietly and sadly.

“And miss all this?” Harry tried to say it like he was joking, but it didn’t come out that way. “The holiday of a lifetime.”

“Is it?” Snape asked curiously.

Harry smiled and slid his hand up around the back of Snape’s neck to draw him closer. This time there was no surprise and Harry knew exactly what he wanted. “Kiss me again.”

Snape’s eyes darted from Harry’s gaze to focus on his mouth. “You’re certain.” It wasn’t a question, though Harry thought it was meant to be.

Harry was already kissing him before he thought, “Certain of what?” but by then, he wasn’t going to ask.

Snape kissed thoroughly. Perhaps Harry had dreamed of it, one of the nights he was sleeping at Hogwarts. A dream in which Snape was still Snape, and was still filled with mysterious feeling for Harry, but through the dream it had been changed from hate to love. It was strange that Snape smelled good, strange that his embrace was so comfortable, strange to feel a luxurious melting in every part of his body except his cock.

Harry pressed himself close against Snape’s body. Snape was giving off heat, more than Harry would’ve thought. It felt good to be close to it, and Harry only wanted more. It was like lying in the sun on the beach, soaking up warmth after days of rain.

Harry stuck his nose into the join between Snape’s neck and shoulder and inhaled the smell of his body: sea water, sweat, suntan lotion. He licked and felt the edges of the livid scar under his tongue. Snape drew a sharp breath.

“Sorry,” Harry whispered, pulling back. “Does it still hurt?”

“No,” Snape said. “It’s all right, you can’ can’t catch evil from it.” He leaned forward and put his lips to the scar on Harry’s forehead.

Harry’s fingers brushed against the buttons on Snape’s black shirt, and he realized his hands were shaking. Snape took Harry’s hands in his own, brought them to his thin lips and kissed his palms.

“Allow me,” Snape said, and Harry let his hands fall back to his sides as Snape unbuttoned his shirt, which was open partway anyway, and slid it off his shoulders.

Harry fisted his hands to keep from reaching out and interrupting. He watched avidly, eyes darting to every bit of exposed skin.

“I could use a shower,” Snape said, “Want to join me?”

Harry followed him into the bathroom, eagerly shucking his clothing.

“You can’t really get the salt off properly without soap,” Snape said, turning on the shower. It was a small one, and they both just fit--but Snape pulled Harry close to kiss him under the water. The spray was just warm enough not to shock, so Snape’s mouth felt hot on his.

Then Snape turned him, so that Harry’s head fell on his shoulder. They were nearly the same height. Snape started to soap the front of Harry’s body, stopping at his nipples to circle them against his chest. Harry looped his arms up around Snape’s neck and tipped his head up so that they could kiss some more.

Harry ground his buttocks against Snape’s erection, loving the feel of it. Were they going to fuck right here? Harry had never done it, but he supposed Snape knew what he was doing, though he’d never have thought Snape fancied men.

He felt the hard cock sliding between his cheeks and a little moaning sound escaped him as he writhed against it. Snape slung one arm across his chest and the other around his hip so he could grasp Harry’s prick.

Snape’s hand slid up and down Harry’s cock as he pushed between his cheeks. “Are you going to fuck me?” Harry asked in a thick voice.

“Not here, love,” Snape said, close to his ear.

“I’m--I might come,” Harry said, and Snape said, “Oh yes, oh, yes, I want to see you come, Harry,” and Harry imagined what it would be like to have that large cock inside him, and he leaned back and gasped and came in Snape’s hand.

The water washed away the evidence, along with the soap, leaving nothing but wet skin. Harry would have sagged down, but Snape kept him up, holding him with surprisingly strong arms.

Eventually, Harry lost the feeling of lassitude and turned in Snape’s arms to face him. Before Harry could reach for Snape’s cock or say, ‘You, I want to see you come, too,’ Snape said, “Let’s get out.”

Harry was confused and a bit let down, but he did as Snape said and toweled off with the man. Snape’s cock was still hard, but Harry bit his tongue against his questions.

“I wanted you in bed with me,” Snape explained when they were on the bed on their sides, face to face.

Harry smiled, feeling confident again. “Now you have me where you want me, then. What are you going to do?” It seemed like just the right thing to say, and Snape’s nostrils flared a little and his eyes narrowed like he was honestly considering doing something utterly dirty.

Which Harry was fine with, he discovered.

Snape pushed him over on his back and rolled on top of him, then kissed him, exploring Harry’s mouth with his tongue. Harry moaned at the good of it, and his cock twitched like it might get hard again.

Harry could have kissed him for days. Snape reached behind him and grabbed his arse in both hands, and Harry was hard. The air hit his arsehole and he squirmed.

“Have you done this before?” Snape asked.

“No,” Harry said. “Have you?”

Snape was silent. “Not this, no.”

Harry kissed him again, chasing his delicious tongue, but Snape stopped again. “Do you want to do this with me?” he asked.

“Yes,” Harry said. “Please.” He opened his eyes, shut for kissing, and looked at Snape, whose face was oddly tender.

“Why?” Snape asked.

“It feels like the right thing to do,” Harry said.

“Letting your former teacher fuck you in the arse feels like the right thing to do?”

Harry laughed, and then couldn’t stop. “Damn, you’re funny.” He pulled Snape back into a hug, so that their bodies were tight together.

“What feels so right about it?” Snape persisted.

“It’s making love,” Harry said, “and that feels right to me.” Snape kissed him then, lip on lip, and then tongue on tongue, liquid fire. He stopped only to kiss down Harry’s jaw to his earlobe, which he worried with his teeth. Snape put a finger to Harry’s lips, and murmured, “Suck,” and Harry did.

When Snape’s fingers were wet, he parted Harry’s cheeks again and dragged the wet finger over his hole. “Wait,” he said. “I think we need lubricant to do this properly.”

“Do you have any?” Harry asked.

“I have cocoa butter,” Snape said.

“Accio cocoa butter,” Harry said. The container flew out of the bathroom into Harry’s hand.

“Did you do that without a wand?”

“I really wanted it, Professor.”

Snape, who had been caressing Harry’s buttocks and feeling his hole, stopped, looking shocked. Then he started to laugh. “You can’t call me ‘Professor’ in bed!”

“You’re the professor of love,” Harry joked, and Snape fell back onto his knees, laughing. Harry sat up. “Can I call you Severus?”

“You are awfully formal,” Snape said.

“Right, right, this is meant to be casual sex. Hence the nudity.”

“Stop making me laugh, Potter.”

Harry kissed him again. “I’m going to get your cock up my arse if it kills me.”

“We’ve already done 'if it kills me.'”

“Is it stupid that I’m having a good time?” Harry wondered. He kissed Snape again. “Don’t answer that.”

Snape pushed him onto all fours and stroked his back. Then he squirted some of the cocoa butter onto his finger and stuck it right into Harry’s hole, which felt incredibly weird.

“Is this like, a test?” Harry said. “If I like it with fingers, then I get cock?”

“Precisely,” Snape said. Then he got quiet. Harry wiggled his hips to work the fingers deeper in. He felt aroused, even though he was red in the face and making embarrassing noises.

“Can I do it now?” Snape asked, pulling his fingers out one last time.

“Yes,” Harry gasped. Snape got to his knees behind Harry and Harry could hear him slicking up with the cocoa butter. The whole room smelled of chocolate. There would be no Dementors in this bedroom, Harry thought. Then Snape started to work his cock into Harry’s hole, slowly. The universe seemed to be contracted to the point where their bodies touched.

Snape grasped Harry’s hips with his still-greasy fingers, and Harry felt each hot fingerprint. Finally Snape had pushed in partway, and Harry impatiently pushed back, so that they both drew breath. It did burn, but Harry wasn’t going to let that stop him.

Snape leaned forward. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he said, nuzzling Harry’s face and kissing his temple.

“It’s all right,” Harry said. “It’s fine.” He could feel the heat of the cock buried inside him. Snape began to play with Harry’s cock, stroking it until Harry was very hard again. Then he started to move.

At first it hurt and Harry was just waiting for it to be over, but then, as Snape couldn’t restrain his small grunts, that changed. He could feel it inside his cock and balls, each thrust.

“I might,” Harry said, “Oh, wow, I think I’m going to come.”

“Oh,” Snape said, “Oh, you’re so tight, oh,” and he leaned down and kissed Harry’s neck, one hand on his cock and one pulling him close across the collar bone. His hand tightened and slid in no rhythm, just faster, until Harry tumbled over the edge again. He could feel his arse tighten around Snape’s cock as he spunked.

He didn’t precisely feel Snape come inside him, as he’d thought he might, but Snape thrust faster and trembled and groaned very loudly, and his weight sagged on top of Harry for a moment.

He pulled out slowly.

“I guess we’ll need to shower again,” Harry said, and Snape exhaled a sort of laugh but didn’t speak for a moment. “That was brilliant,” Harry said.

“It wasn’t casual,” Snape said quietly.

“I know.”

Snape got up and got them a wet flannel to clean up, and then lay down next to Harry.

“When can we do it again?” Harry asked with a grin. He was only half joking.

The cloth was warm and slid between his cheeks, cleaning away a mix of lotion and spunk. Snape was thorough and gentle. Harry had never thought of what came after sex. This was intimate and tender, and made Harry catch his breath.

They lay down together and Harry wrapped his arms around Snape.

“Severus,” Harry said.


Harry sat up suddenly. “Is your wand still stuck into the front door?”

Snape nodded, “Yes.”

“Is that safe?”

“It is if I don’t plan to do magic with it any longer.”

“But--what if someone comes after you?”

“Someone did.”

“I mean, what if someone comes after you to kill you.”

“You might have done that. I believe I’ve rather disarmed you,” he said.

“You need to have a wand.”

“Don’t summon it for me. I’ll have to pay a fee for the front door if you break it.”

“I’m not joking!”

“Why does it matter so much to you?” Snape asked, looking at him curiously. “It’s my own decision, isn’t it?”

“Why would you decide now?” Harry asked. “I don’t understand.”

“Do you plan to make me a better offer?” Snape looked at him fondly.

“Come back home with me,” Harry said, feeling bold.

“Harry,” Snape said, and Harry’s heart rose a little at the sound of his given name in that voice, “I can’t go back there. I was a double agent. There’s no one who doesn’t have a reason to hate me. You did.”

“Don’t use the same methods of persuading them to change their minds you used on me,” Harry said. “Just a moment.”

He got out of bed and went to the door. When he opened it, he checked to see there was no one on the street, and then stood, naked, in front of Snape’s house for a moment, working the tip of the wand from where it had been magically embedded in the wood.

He had a sudden premonition of danger—was someone coming?--and regretted not having dressed, but the wand came to him, and he re-entered the house.

The bed was made, Harry’s clothing was folded on it, and every trace of Snape was gone.

Harry squeezed his eyes shut tight and then looked again. “Snape!” he called. Surely the man was having him on.

But there was no answer, only the quiet stillness of the mundane room and the bare fact that Snape was really gone--disappeared too quickly to have been anything but magic. He must have had another wand.

Harry dug through his jeans pockets and pulled out the astrolabe. It opened easily, no complicated mechanism this time.

The one hand was pointing to Lost while the other spun slowly round and round. Something -- or someone -- was interfering with the reading.

“Damn it, Snape!” Harry said, sitting down heavily on the bed.

“I wonder why it’s doing that,” Hermione said, peering into the astrolabe. “It’s too bad we can’t ask Mrs. Weasley for help. She did the enchantments on that clock, you know.” They were sitting in the kitchen at the Burrow, but Molly’s clock hand was safely pointing to “Hogwarts, advocating for Ginny’s education,” so they didn’t have to worry about being interrupted.

Harry pushed his hair out of his eyes. “I can’t let her know he’s alive,” he said. “He doesn’t want anyone to know.”

“Too late for that, then, innit,” Ron said.

“Why do you want to find him when he doesn’t want to be found?” Hermione asked.

“It’s not a ‘saving people thing,’” Harry said impatiently.

“It’s like with Sirius,” Hermione said. “Sirius was close to your dad, Snape was close to your mother...” She made a gesture that was supposed to explain this.

Harry realized he’d never asked any questions about his mother. He was an idiot. Now he’d never get a chance. He put his head in his hands.

“It’s not that, though,” Harry said. “It’s different.”

Hermione looked as though she were listening hard to what Harry wasn’t saying, too. “Different how, Harry?”

Harry sighed. He wasn’t ashamed of what had happened in Crete, but he didn’t want to share. “That’s between me and Snape.” He remembered the tender look in Snape’s eyes and the gentle way he’d called him ‘Harry’. There was definitely a lot more to this than Hermione could understand.

He hoped.

Apparently, he hoped in vain, because her gaze was shrewd. “Really, Harry.”

“What?” Ron said, looking at their faces as though they were a tennis match.

“Nothing,” Harry said.

“I just hope you know what you’re doing,” Hermione said. “He’s a good person, and a hero, but he’s not a nice man.”

“Was that a question?” Ron wondered.

“Who’s not a nice man?” Molly Weasley asked. “Oh, I’ve got the Prophet. You’re never going to believe who’s in it.”

“Snape,” Ron said, and his mother looked suspicious.

“How did you know?” she asked. “He’s alive, and he’s been acquitted by the Wizengamot for all use of Unforgivables.”

“What?” Harry yelled.

“Apparently the Malfoy boy testified for him,” Molly said. She looked slightly disapproving, but Harry didn’t care.

“May I?” Harry asked, and took the Prophet from Molly’s hands. His eyes scanned every word, trying to pick up what the reporter wasn’t saying, as if the black on white print would somehow tell him exactly how Snape was faring, where he was, and whether or not he was thinking of Harry.

The photo showed Draco and Narcissa, both looking impeccably dressed and slightly nervous, standing in the Ministry foyer. Narcissa’s hand moved to rest on the back of Draco’s neck, as if to remind him to stand straighter.

He could see a figure in black whom he took to be Snape in the background, stalking out of the frame. It had to be him--the distinctive walk. The text of the article told very little: “In spite of Harry Potter’s public defense of Severus Snape at his battle with Voldemort, the former Hogwarts Headmaster requested a private session with the Wizengamot to clear him in the matter of Albus Dumbledore’s death. Draco Malfoy and his mother, Ms. Narcissa Black, testified as eyewitnesses to the professor’s conduct.”

Harry handed the article back to Molly. Why was he disappointed that Snape hadn’t asked him to testify? Everyone knew what Harry thought.

Harry walked out to the back garden and opened the astrolabe when he was out of the line of sight of anyone in the Burrow. The arrow still read, “Severus Snape--Lost.”

He was lost. Harry had lost him.

He walked slowly back into the house with a heavy heart. The warm lighting and cheerful talk did nothing to lift his mood. He didn’t know what to do. Crete had been like a jeweled dream, and now he had to learn to live in the waking world. He was happy for Snape, almost unbearably relieved that the man had been exonerated. But that didn’t ease his sense of loss for something he’d only had for a few hours in the Mediterranean.

Ginny popped up from around a corner, took one look at his face, and dragged him into the kitchen.

“What happened while you were away, Harry?” she asked. “And don’t tell me ‘nothing.’”

Harry hesitated. He couldn’t lie to Ginny; she saw through him when he tried to lie, and was almost as shrewd as Hermione.

Ginny tilted her head, as if to say she’d wait him out.

“I spent time with Snape,” Harry said simply. He didn’t want to give any details. His private life -- and Snape’s -- should stay private. He was sure Snape would have urged him to use discretion if he were there.

“How was that?” Ginny asked.

Harry looked away and smiled, remembering the contentment and easy way he and Snape got on. He thought of Snape’s hands and cock and the pleasure they both brought. “It was brilliant.”

Ginny put her hand on Harry’s shoulder and squeezed. “Oh, Harry.”

“What?” Harry asked. “He didn’t want me to find him. He used a spell to hide from me.”

“Maybe he has a reason for that, and not the one you expect,” Ginny said. “Since when does Professor Snape do anything for the reasons you think?”

She did have a point about him. Snape was unpredictable and enigmatic.

“So what do I do? I don’t know where he is. Do you think he’s staying with the Malfoys?” Harry asked.

Ginny laughed. “I don’t know, but I’m sure an owl would reach him.”

An owl. Of course he could just send an owl.

What would he say?

Ginny smacked him on the shoulder. “Don’t tell me you didn’t think of that! Were you going to try to sneak up on him?”

“It worked before,” Harry said. “Stop laughing. You know the main reason we won the war was pure luck, don’t you?”

“Yes,” Ginny said, and she smiled, and kissed his cheek. “You flew a dragon out of Gringotts, why not attempt to sneak up on Professor Snape? I’m going to get some sandwiches from the kitchen, do you want one?”

“No--I’ll be along in a minute.”

He sat down in a corner of the living room and summoned a parchment and quill. But what would he say? It would be so much easier if he could just go there and wing it. If Snape didn’t want to see him, he could always get angry and throw things.

July 29, 1998

Dear Severus,

I see you are back in Britain. I’d like to invite you to dinner on Friday.

Oh no, now he’d have to come up with a restaurant that Snape would like where they should meet, where he might have to sit all evening when Snape stood him up.

Please let me know where you’d like to meet.



He couldn’t write “love” because that was just not on.

“Ron? Can I borrow your owl?”

Snape’s response came on the wings of a disgruntled looking spectacled owl. Harry feared the owl would peck him, but it hopped over to a chair back and waited for Harry to open the letter.

Harry’s fingers fumbled open the envelope, which was sealed with a dark green wax. The parchment was crisp under his fingers, and when he saw the elegant script he had to trace the lines and loops of it with a fingertip.

July 29, 1998

Dear Harry,

Thank you for your invitation. I would be delighted to see you, but I am afraid I cannot allow you to treat me to a meal on your birthday. I have made a reservation for us at Lemonia, a Greek restaurant in London, at 7:30.

Yours most sincerely,


His birthday! He’d forgotten again. He hoped no one had planned another Dumbledore’s Army reunion night. He had a good reason not to go, but it wasn’t as though he could tell them all, “No, sorry, Professor Snape is taking me out for dinner.”

Was that “most sincerely” a tease?

Harry read the words over and over again, with a building sense of triumph. He scrawled a quick note back—thank you, yes, I will be there—and rolled it up, hoping Snape wasn't annoyed by his handwriting. The owl took it haughtily, hopped twice, and flew away.


Harry arrived and Snape was waiting for him, sitting as straight as always, a glass in his hand. It wasn’t a taverna; there were lines out the door on a Friday evening. The place reminded Harry a little of the Great Hall at Hogwarts--high ceilings and full of chatting people. Still, Snape stood out there as he would anywhere. Where everyone else was in constant motion, he was disciplined into stillness. In repose he’d always look wary and ready for trouble.

When his eyes fell on Harry, his face softened, like he’d seen a long-lost friend.

Harry smiled reflexively. “You look good,” he said, and then kicked himself. That wasn’t the right thing to say to Severus Snape, was it.

There wasn’t a right thing to say to Snape.

But Snape didn’t take offense or snap the way Harry expected him to.

Snape ordered wine for Harry, and Harry thought he saw Snape sniff his own before he took a sip.

“Why did you leave the way you did?” Harry asked, leaning in close over the table. Maybe it was too soon to jump right in to the subject, but Harry wanted to know. The question had been on his mind from the moment he’d realized Snape was gone.

Snape sipped his wine. “I can’t have you defending me,” he said.

“Why not? You did it for me.”

“I protected you.” Snape corrected him. “I don’t want to have that kind of relationship with you anymore.”

“So this is it, then?” Harry said. “You’ve come to dinner to say goodbye?”

“No,” Snape said impatiently.

“I’m not much good at this sort of thing,” Harry said.

“No you aren’t,” Snape agreed, scowling.

“I mean, it’s better than when I thought you were dead,” Harry said.

“Potter,” Snape said. “That’s not what I meant.” He took a long swallow of wine.

“Now I’m driving you to drink,” Harry said.

“Always,” Snape said. He took a breath. “I do want to start over, to be another person.”

“I liked the person you were on Crete,” Harry said.

“So did I,” Snape said.

Harry took a deep breath. “Do you want to be that person with me?”

Snape smiled all crooked. It looked beautiful on him, that ugly smile.
The waiter came with plates of mezze.

“That was delicious,” Harry said. “Thank you! I want to take you out the next time.” It was the first time he’d drunk wine and not got thoroughly pissed--he was just happy, and feeling good from all the spicy food.

Snape nodded. “I have something for you,” he said abruptly.

“You do?”

“It’s your birthday,” Snape said. Harry heard the unspoken “You idiot” Snape had clearly repressed, and laughed.

“It’s at my house,” Snape said.

“Oho,” Harry said. “Just the kind of present I like!”

“I can give you some of that, too,” Snape said, leaning in.

Harry grinned. Snape took his arm and they Apparated to a street somewhere else in London, in front of a very ordinary-looking block of flats. It was really quiet.

“There’s not a lot of night life here,” Snape said, “but it’s cosmopolitan enough.” Harry supposed he meant, “for me to kiss you in the vestibule,” because once they had walked through the door, Snape did. It was a gentle kiss, not devouring, but it was Severus Snape kissing Harry Potter, so it left Harry feeling a little drunk again.

They took a lift up to the fourth floor and Snape opened the door with a key. “This is where Dumbledore portkeyed me,” he said. “To London. I have no idea how I wasn’t found.”

It was a beautiful place. The walls were pale, with some sort of texture underneath, and the furniture was dark soft shapes in the streetlight coming in from the picture windows. “Albus had Hogwarts elves clean and decorate in here,” Snape said. “They took care of me.”

He moved quickly into the kitchen before Harry could touch him. “This is the present I made you. It’s small--I didn’t think I could compete with all the magical objects you’ve handled in the past year.”

Inside the box was a tiny ceramic jar. Harry opened it, and it was full of thick, pale honey. A little horn spoon stood up in it.

“This is the honey from Crete!” Harry said. “I thought it was magical at the time.”

“It’s just honey--well. It’s wild thyme honey from those windy cliffs facing the ocean. The jar will never run out.”

Harry moved close enough to take the spoon and drip a little of the honey on Snape’s lower lip. He leaned forward and licked it off, and then they kissed, slowly. Harry leaned back languidly in Snape’s arms.

“Now what happens?”

“If you like, we go to bed.”

“Yes, I like,” Harry said, and they kissed more. “But what happens to you and me?”

“We live happily ever after,” Snape said.

“With each other?”

“Perhaps,” Snape said, running his fingers through Harry’s hair in a vain attempt to get it off Harry’s face. “Perhaps.”