Jack O'Neill remembered the first time he saw them. Even then, there was something about the pair that was special… and he'd just known they'd be trouble.
Before he'd met them, he had had the weirdest conversation with the President.
"Jack," President Henry Hayes welcomed him with a grin. "Thanks for coming by."
"Just in the neighborhood." Jack's tone was airy. Even saving the world a couple of times didn't get you out of a command performance meeting with the Commander-in-Chief. "Thought I'd see if you've redecorated or anything."
Hayes laughed as he walked over to a cabinet and poured them both a stiff drink, even if it was only ten o'clock in the morning. He handed one to Jack. "Sit, and take this, you'll need it."
More than faintly alarmed, Jack did as he was told and found himself sipping some very nice bourbon. "So, not about redecorating?" he offered.
"Remember when you briefed me the first time on the SGC, and how we had allies and enemies from other worlds?" Hayes asked with a glint of – was that glee? – in his eyes.
Jack nodded cautiously. "Yeah, that part's not always fun." He had learned quickly that briefing politicians about the Stargate program for the first time wasn't half the fun you would think it should be. After several disastrous briefings, he finally had gotten Daniel to make him a Power Point presentation – once he had that, it seemed to go better.
"Well, I'm about to return the favor," Hayes grinned, taking a sip of his drink.
"Not sure how you can do that," Jack commented. "Seeing we've pretty much covered aliens, space ships, time travel, ascended beings, little gray men, travel to other galaxies and all. Not much left, I wouldn't think."
Hayes laughed. "You wouldn't think so, would you?" He leaned in and asked, "Okay then, how about if I tell you that magic is real?"
Jack bit back his first response because he could see Hayes was serious. He took a sip of his bourbon to buy himself the chance to think.
"As in advanced technology real, or hocus-pocus real?" Jack finally asked.
"Only you," Hayes grinned. He went over to his desk and pressed the intercom. "Send in Mr. Greene."
The door to the Oval Office opened. Jack estimated Greene was a little younger than he was, sandy haired, of average height and dressed in a nice suit not too different from the President's. He looked like any number of the people Jack had passed on his way to the Oval Office.
"General Jack O'Neill, meet Seth Greene. Jack, Seth is the American Minister for Magic." Hayes performed the introductions. "Seth is already cleared on the Stargate program."
"General." Greene held out a hand to Jack.
"Mr. Greene." Jack shook the hand. Greene sat down in an identical armchair next to Jack's seat.
"Minister for Magic?" Jack asked. "How do I get a cool title like that? Even the Goa'uld didn't have anything half as good."
Greene gave a small laugh. "It's a political position, similar to your President. I had to run for office and be elected."
"There's politics in magic?" Jack asked in horror.
"Afraid so," Greene said with a rueful grin. "Although here it's changed to be closer to American politics, there is a fundamental element that's similar to the British system. In addition to elected positions such I have, there is, for lack of a better phrase, a House of Lords that has a great deal of influence upon the political system. That body is somewhat like the Supreme Court but instead of being appointed, members inherit positions."
"Okay, there isn't much that's worth dealing with that, magic or not," Jack declared.
Greene laughed. "In the end, it's no different than Congress. There's all sorts: good, bad, greedy, generous, brilliant and stupid among the group. The only difference is that someone usually has to die before we get a new face."
"Okay, that makes sense," Jack agreed.
"You believe that I can do magic?" Greene asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I deal with spaceships, snakes that can take over your brain and aliens from other planets," Jack replied. "What's not to believe about magic?" He grinned. "Although I'd love to see what you can do."
Greene shook his right arm slightly and Jack saw a stick appear in his hand.
Jack raised an eyebrow. "Magic wand?"
"Of course," Greene answered. He tilted his head and considered. Then a glint Jack knew meant trouble appeared in his eyes as he pointed the stick at Jack and said, "Allazo gataki."
The drink in Jack's hand suddenly changed shape and Jack had a handful of kitten. Sharp claws and all.
"Ow! Fuck!" Jack exclaimed as the kitten dropped from his hand to his lap. He stuck the clawed finger in his mouth before he remembered where he was. "Umm… sorry?"
Hayes laughed. "I said pretty much the same thing at one point, although I got a puppy instead," he explained. "It peed on the carpet."
The kitten settled on Jack's lap and started to wash itself. He watched it for a moment and asked, "Now what do I do with it?"
"Well, you could keep it if you wanted," Greene answered. At Jack's flinch, Greene held up the wand again and suggested, "Put it on the table, if you would." Jack eased the kitten, who mewed at him at being disturbed, onto the table. It sat and looked at him with big blue eyes. Green pointed the wand at the kitten and said, "Finite Incantatem."
The kitten changed back to a glass of bourbon.
"Okay, that's way cooler than… well, anything I've seen in a long time," Jack admitted. He picked up the drink and took a cautious sip. It tasted the same and still had ice in it.
"I suspect there's a reason for all this?" Jack asked, looking at the other men.
"The Wizarding world – primarily the Brits – have just resolved what I would best describe as a terrorist attack. A group of extremists had been working to take down the British magical government but were stopped by a combination of inside intelligence, dedicated Aurors – police, to you -- and, well, luck," Greene summarized. "The inside man barely survived and just about everyone doubts that he really was working for the side of Light. Sorry, working for the good guys."
"I assume everyone knows his double role in the attack?" Jack asked.
"Yes. He was in the leader's command council, so it's impossible to hide his role in the attack and even harder to convince the public of his innocence," Greene went on. "And, truth be told, no one on our side really wants to examine what he did to maintain his cover. We know some of it wasn't pretty but without his work, more people – wizards and non-wizards alike – would have died."
"You want me to take him in," Jack guessed.
"Not just him but also the young man who killed the leader of the terrorist group," Greene elaborated. "While he is young, he's outspoken in his defense of the spy, and it's not winning him any popularity contests. He's tired of it all and has appealed to the British Ministry of Magic for a solution. My counterpart there has appealed to me for help."
"When Seth brought his problem to me," Hayes put in, "I immediately thought of you."
"Thanks," Jack replied, with a level of sarcasm that he pretty much meant. "And what do I do with them? There are just two, umm... wizards, right?"
"Just the two," Greene affirmed. "They're both interested in a fresh start and are willing to leave both friends and foe behind for it. They don't want to be separated for the time being, but may be willing to consider it once they have their feet under them."
Jack swirled the ice in the bottom of his glass. He looked at Hayes. "Do I have a choice?"
Hayes grinned at him. "Not really," he admitted. "Give it six months. If it's not working at all, they'll speak up for themselves and let you off the hook."
"What about the magic?" Jack asked. "I suspect that's still a secret?"
"Pretty much," Greene replied. "You have dispensation for you and your… SG-1. After that, your guests will have a certain amount of discretion to talk about it on a need-to-know basis."
"Not too different from any number of things we do," Jack said. "When do I get to meet them?"
"They're finishing up some business in Britain," Greene answered. "I'd say a week, ten days at the outside."
"Do they need new identities or anything?" Jack asked, thinking through what he'd need to do to hide a couple of new people.
"That will already be done, if they want it," Greene assured him. "We'll make sure they have all the proper identification papers for both our governments."
"Thought you could pass them off as British observers from the IOA," Hayes suggested. "They're obviously Brits, you can't hide that. And while they've fought in battle, they aren't soldiers… at least not in the way you're used to soldiers. Making them observers gives you -- and them -- some latitude as you decide what to do next."
"And it lets me see what they can do while I figure out what to do with them," Jack replied.
"Yes, and many thanks," Greene told him sincerely.
"I am not sure this is a good idea," Severus Snape repeated for what Harry thought was the millionth time.
"If you have any better ideas," Harry snapped, and then reined in his temper. "Sorry. I'm open to suggestions."
Severus grunted, knowing there really were no good suggestions he could make. A year after the Final Battle, Severus was still physically recuperating from Nagini's attack, and Harry wasn't going to leave his side. It had been Harry and Kingsley Shacklebolt who had come up with the idea of leaving Britain and Europe entirely, and moving to America. Well, it really had been Shacklebolt's off-the-cuff suggestion. They had been brainstorming options for dealing with the growing discontent in the general Wizarding population that Severus Snape was not going to be sent to Azkaban for his – real or imagined – actions while in Voldemort's service.
Harry's eyes had lit up at the thought of going away from magical England. The Ministry had already tried to trot him out as the Hero who saved them all from He-Who-Still-Would-Not-Be-Named and showed no sign of admitting he was not the only person who fought at the Final Battle. Severus knew Harry had turned down a number of invitations to different types of gatherings, and only appeared at Ministry events Shacklebolt personally recommended. Even then, Harry would insist Severus attend alongside him, and frequently used Severus' frail health as a not-so-subtle excuse to escape as soon as they could.
Having no better ideas or options, Severus had finally given in to Harry's enthusiasm to move out of England, and allowed himself to be pulled into the mad plan to travel to the Americas. He didn't want to know what had been done to make all this possible; he had to trust that Harry and Shacklebolt had made the best arrangements they could. It was both exhilarating and terrifying, not being in control.
There had been one night Severus had not been able to sleep and was wandering around 12 Grimmauld Place in search of an acceptable book he had not yet read. Interestingly, the Black library had a surprising number of badly written books. In his wandering, he came across Harry, also awake, in front of the fireplace.
"Ron," Harry said firmly to the face in the fire. "I have to do this. I'm sorry, mate, but there's nothing here for me and, well, I need to get Sev- Snape out of the country."
Severus had stood still at hearing his own name.
"Harry," Ron pleaded. "Don't leave us. You know my mum and dad would take you in. And Ginny…"
Harry snorted. "Ginny has made it clear that she's not interested in dealing with Snape and, well, we've broken up."
Ha! The Weasley chit finally came to her senses, Severus thought. Harry's not willing to take her opinions without question. Where did she think his determination to finish the Dark Lord off came from?
"Harry!" Ron's dismay was clear. "Mum'll be disappointed."
Harry shrugged. "Ginny broke up with me, not the other way around. Just wanted you to know that."
"Keep in touch?" Ron pleaded.
Harry hesitated. "Not sure it'll be safe at first," he replied. "But I'll write when I can."
"If we don't hear from you, I'll set Hermione looking," Ron threatened.
"I'll write, I'll write!" Harry laughed.
Severus withdrew at that point to let the two friends continue their talk in private.
Travel to the United States in preparation for going to some unknown final location was also both exhilarating and frightening. Shacklebolt had arranged for Muggle military transport across the ocean. "Might as well get used to it," he had pointed out.
Severus had packed everything he could think of in several trunks. Books -- he helped himself to some of the more rare books that were in the Black library -- the few personal trinkets he had from his mother, some rare potion ingredients that would survive being shrunken, and, at Harry's insistence, a variety of Muggle clothing in addition to his robes.
"We need to blend in," Harry had reminded him patiently.
"I am certainly capable of being circumspect," Severus had sneered.
Harry had rolled his eyes. "Soldiers. Muggle soldiers," Harry enunciated. "How are wizard robes circumspect?"
Since Severus didn't have a good answer to that, he gave in to the Muggle clothing. He'd never admit to Harry how comfortable some of it really was. While Severus would have preferred something a bit more formal, Harry had talked him into a polo shirt and chinos for traveling, along with several more outfits that included a suit – "the Muggle equivalent of robes," Harry explained. Severus drew the line at a "hoodie" and opted for something the saleswoman had called a "windbreaker" that had a warm lining and multiple pockets. He also refused trainers but did find some walking shoes with rubber soles that he could have used in his spying days. Dragon-hide boots had their place, but only the very expensive ones approached comfortable.
The starkness of the military transport plane had actually made it easier. There was no attempt at comfort, and Severus had fallen asleep soon after the plane had taken to the air. Getting to the airfield had taken most of his limited strength and the fascination of flying in an airplane wasn't enough to keep him awake.
Disconcerted when he first woke, Severus quickly remembered where he was and remained still to pay attention to his surroundings. The noise of the craft had moved to the background but Severus didn't hear anything untoward. He looked over at his seatmate.
Harry also had fallen asleep, and looked faintly uncomfortable. His head drooped to one side, and he hadn't tilted his seat back at all, so he was sleeping sitting up. Severus knew if he had fallen asleep in that position, he would have some aching muscles to show for it.
In sleep, Harry lost some of the haunted look he usually wore. Some of that was general worry, and no one could convince Harry that there were many things outside of his control. Both Weasley and Granger had tried to convince their friend that he didn't need to be responsible for everyone, but Severus knew that being away from them all was the only way Harry could give up being responsible for others.
Harry shifted slightly, and Severus held his breath lightly to allow the young man to sleep on. In his own way, Harry was as wounded as Severus. While the wounds were not outwardly physical, the Wizarding world had not treated its Savior well and Harry took that to heart.
He also looked so damned young. Eyelashes fluttered before cracking open slightly.
A sleepy, shy smile greeted Severus. Good thing the boy didn't know how charming that look was – it was devastating and, irrationally, Severus wanted it to be just for him.
"Hey…" Harry said softly.
"I doubt that is an appropriate greeting," Severus replied mildly.
Harry shrugged and winced as he moved. "Since I have no idea if it is day or night, I have no idea what would be appropriate," he retorted with a small grin. He stretched, reaching up toward the ceiling, and Severus certainly did not look as the t-shirt Harry wore rode up to reveal a strip of pale skin.
"While that may be true, I am not certain that Hey is ever appropriate," Severus replied.
"What would you suggest, then?" Harry asked, eyes dancing.
"I would think hello would be sufficient," Severus replied gravely.
"I'll remember that the next time we sleep together." Harry grinned unexpectedly.
Something about the next time made Severus' stomach clench. He didn't know if he wanted Harry to mean that or not.
"I gotta…" Harry gestured toward the back seating area of the plane where they had been told the loo was. "Excuse me?" The dozen rows of seats around them were empty; the major portion of the craft seemed to be dedicated to cargo.
Severus stood to allow Harry to climb out of the seats. He remained standing to stretch out his own legs, with a hand firmly on the back of the seat to steady himself, while Harry used the facilities. When Harry returned, Severus took a turn to relieve himself in the minuscule space.
The soldier who had showed them to their seats came back with two cardboard boxes. "Not elegant," he shrugged, handing them over, "but we'll be landing in about an hour and a half and you'll want to eat if you can. And drink the water, otherwise dehydration is a concern."
"Thank you." Severus took the boxes and handed one to Harry. Opening it, he found an apple, a bag of crisps and a sandwich. There was bottled water at the bottom. Severus unwrapped the sandwich to find ham and cheese.
Harry had dug around and held up two small packets. "Mustard and mayo."
Severus examined his sandwich and it was fine the way it was. The bread was reasonably fresh and there was enough meat and cheese to make it substantial. He ate carefully and sipped at the water. He put the trash in the box, keeping the apple for later.
Harry munched his way through all of it, juice from the apple running down his chin.
"Really, Potter, where did you learn table manners?" Severus rescued his slightly used napkin from the box and handed it over.
"Thanks," he muttered. "Didn't expect it to be so juicy." He wiped his face and hands on the damp napkin and then held them up. "Umm, sorry. Need to wash up. Unless you want me to stick to everything."
Wishing he could use his wand to perform a Scourgify, Severus sighed as he stood back up to allow Harry to move to the loo again. Harry gathered up the trash from both their meals and took it with him, to dispose of somewhere.
After they had been settled back in their seats for a while, the soldier came back to announce, "On final approach. Shouldn’t be too long before we're on the ground." He helped them straighten their seats and checked their seat belts before wandering off.
Severus thought the landing was almost as scary as the Dark Lord on a bad day. Harry had his nose glued to the window and Severus hoped that Harry didn't see the death-grip he had on the arms of his seat.
The plane finally stopped and the soldier came back to them, "You can get up now. Someone's here to meet you." Harry grabbed the knapsack he had brought that held their shrunken luggage and they followed the soldier out to the exit.
Looking up as he exited the plane, Severus noted they seemed to be in a large building. At the bottom of the stairway, a man that Severus suspected might be a Squib greeted them. "Welcome to the United States, sirs. If you'll come with me, there's a limo waiting."
A dizzying array of corridors, doors and stairways later, they were ushered without further instruction into a large vehicle. Harry bounced on the seat as Severus sat down gingerly. The door closed behind him and the vehicle set off.
It was dusk at that point, lights coming on along the streets and on the buildings. The buildings were newer than in Britain, so the architecture was interesting and the lights made everything look attractive. It wasn't long before the vehicle went through a gate into a courtyard and drew up to a building. A different man, but definitely a wizard, despite his Muggle clothing, opened the vehicle door. "Welcome. If you'd come with me?" he asked politely.
Severus felt the wards as they went through them. Anti-apparition and a serious level of security to go with it. They itched the palms of his hands.
"Welcome to the British Embassy," a woman with a soft London accent greeted them. In spite of her Muggle clothing, she was a witch. "We deal with both wizards and Muggles in the same building," she explained. "The Muggles just can't see the wizard parts of the building unless they're brought through the wards."
That explained a lot, Severus realized. "Thank you," Severus replied.
"We hope you had a good trip," she went on. "It was easier to ask the RAF to bring you over the pond rather than arranging an International Portkey. That helps establish your credentials with the Americans."
Knowing that Shacklebolt had worked something out with the American government, Severus waited for more information. Harry had also had learned patience somewhere and didn't ask questions.
She ushered them into a richly decorated room. "Minister Greene will see you shortly. Would you like anything while you're waiting?"
"No, thank you," Harry answered with a shake of his head.
"Would tea be possible?" Severus asked. The so-called meal on the airplane was just long enough ago and unfamiliar enough to not be satisfying. A proper tea would help.
"Certainly," the woman replied. "I'll have some brought. Make yourselves comfortable."
Harry wandered to the window and reached out a hand toward the glass. "Lots of wards," he commented.
"Ministry building," Severus replied easily. "To be expected."
Harry held his hand up and closed his eyes. 'Reading' wards was something he had gotten good at during the war. Severus had figured Harry might have gone into security of some sort if he had stayed in Britain. He knew that Harry had talked to Bill Weasley about his curse-breaking work with Gringotts, but the goblins were probably not eager to hire someone who had broken through their ancient security measures.
There was a soft tap on a door as it opened, and a cart with tea service was wheeled in. The same woman was guiding the cart and pointed to a low table between two facing couches. "Is there all right, sir?"
Severus nodded. "Yes, please."
Tea was efficiently set out and she asked, "Anything else?"
"I think this will do," Severus answered. "Thank you."
"Just let us know if you need anything else," she replied, taking the cart out of the room.
Severus sat on one of the couches and, letting the tea steep for a moment, filled a plate with sandwiches and biscuits. While the food looked delicate and was cut up into small portions, he was glad to see that the fillings were substantial and the sweets were not too fussy. Setting his plate aside for a moment, he poured a cup of tea into the china cup provided and inhaled the aroma.
"Come and have something to drink, at least," Severus directed at Harry. "I don't think there's pumpkin juice but there's something that looks like lemonade."
"Tea is fine," Harry murmured over his shoulder as he concentrated on what he was doing.
"Try not to break anything," a voice said from the door.
Severus looked up to see a sandy-haired man of approximately middle age in the doorway watching Harry in some… alarm? amusement? Severus wasn't quite sure which. Both were equally applicable when it came to Harry.
"You have some… dark layers in your wards, you know," Harry observed, moving away from the windows.
"Yes, we're aware, although it's interesting that you can tell that from your short examination," the man replied.
Harry shrugged. "Something I seem to have a talent for," he replied, sitting down next to Severus on the couch. Severus handed him a cup of tea and enjoyed Harry's brief flash of dismay at the fussy thin-handled cup and tiny saucer.
"Eat up," the man said, sitting across from them. He fixed a cup of tea with lemon and took a couple of sandwiches. "Seth Greene, American Minister for Magic. Glad to meet you both."
Severus was interested in the fact that the man came to them, and that they didn't have to pass through more minions.
Minister Greene continued, "I don't always get a break when it's meal time, so I'm glad you asked for tea."
Too tired and unsettled for idle chat, Severus got right to the point. "What sort of … arrangements did you have in mind?"
The Minister washed down a bite of sandwich with a swallow of tea. "Kingsley and I discussed a number of options, have narrowed it down to what we think are the best two. The final choice is yours."
"That's appreciated," Severus replied. Harry was eating but Severus knew he was paying attention.
"The simple option is to relocate you within the States and to give you new identities," Greene stated. "That's relatively simple and should be relatively safe. The Stateside branches of Gringotts will help build you new identities. We'd help you as best we can to gain employment but I suspect that between you you'd be able to come up with something."
"And the not simple option?" Severus asked.
"There's a branch of our armed service that we'd assign you to as 'observers'," Greene said, and Severus could hear the emphasis on the word observers. "It's a real position, work that would benefit both sides. I have to ask you to sign non-disclosure agreements before anyone can tell you much at all."
"Non-disclosure agreements?" Harry asked with a frown.
"It's a purely Muggle operation and they don't have memory charms," Greene explained. "You sign an agreement to not talk about whatever you're told. But I suspect this one is like a Binding Oath -- if you break it, some nasty things will happen."
"Interesting," Harry replied.
"Is it a safe option?" Severus asked.
A wriggle of shoulders told Severus enough. "Pretty much," Greene said with a small grin.
Not safe at all, Severus thought to himself, but he was intrigued.
"If we sign and then decide not to do it," Harry asked, "what would happen?"
"Nothing," Greene admitted. "Well, someone would check on you more regularly to make sure you don't say anything inappropriate." He grimaced at them. "But I suspect that wouldn't be much of a problem. And we'd probably have to step in and do some minor memory work, to keep the government happy."
Severus was glad Harry was interested in the… more interesting option. While the thought of living somewhere peacefully – and anonymously – sounded good, he knew that inside of a year they'd both be unhappy. Neither of them were good at doing nothing.
"Then we'll sign your paperwork and see," Severus agreed for both of them.
Greene went to the desk and brought out prepared documents for them to sign. "Figured you'd at least want to know," he said, setting the sheaf of papers in front of each of them.
Severus didn't like the Muggle pen as much as a quill and ink but had learned to deal with it. Harry didn't seem to be bothered by it either, which reminded Severus that Harry had spent his early years thinking he was a Muggle.
"I'm going to let you read and talk about it," Greene announced. "It's fairly obvious where to sign and I will send someone here in a bit to answer any questions you may have. Is that satisfactory?"
Severus nodded and he heard a rustle that indicated a shrug from Harry.
"If you need anything, ring the bell on the desk." He pointed to a small handbell. "Less obvious than flying memos and owls. Someone will hear it and check up on you. Rather not have you wander around quite yet, if you don't mind."
"The loo?" Harry asked.
"Through the door there." Greene pointed to a discreet door that blended in with the woodwork. "Anything else?"
Severus looked at Harry, who shrugged. "I don't think so," he said. "Thank you for all your help."
"Thank you for what you've done for the Wizarding world," Greene replied seriously. "I'm sorry to be meeting you this way but glad you've decided to throw your lot in with us."
Harry shifted slightly next to him and Severus knew he was uncomfortable with the thanks. Only the fact that it was obviously sincere and understated kept Harry from his usual protest.
After Greene left, Severus was glad to see Harry set his own ward about the edges of the room. It wasn't enough to interfere with the building wards, but enough to let them know if anyone tried to enter the room or attempted to observe them from a distance.
Harry picked up the sheaf of papers that had been left for him. "Are we really supposed to read all this?" he demanded, dismayed at the sheer bulk.
"Similar to never trusting a magical object that you do not know the properties of, one never signs an agreement without reading it," Severus pointed out, dryly.
"Can we at least divvy it up?" Harry asked with a faint whine. "Otherwise, we'll be here for days!"
"That's a sensible approach," Severus agreed. "You start at the top, I'll start from the bottom and we should meet in the middle." Severus was guessing that the papers at the end were more important, that it was anticipated that the signer would become tired of reading at some earlier point and simply sign the last documents to get it over with.
"Sure," Harry agreed. He flicked his wand at the china cup and turned it into a sturdy mug. "Easier to handle and stays warmer longer."
Severus settled in to read but found himself struggling with some of the Muggle terminology. As he finally decided that the document was mostly what it was supposed to be, he glanced at Harry to see him still working on the first document and frowning in concentration.
Harry looked up and admitted, "We'll be here for days, anyway. I can get the basics but I don't know enough about this to know if there's any hidden meanings that I'm missing!"
"I agree," Severus replied. "While the document is English, I'm not sure the language is."
Harry looked at him, then laughed out loud. "Did you just make a joke?" he giggled.
Severus gave a small smile, "I think I did at that." He thought for a moment. "Let me try something, then."
"What?" Harry demanded.
"There is a spell that can give an indication whether something that is clearly both inanimate and non-magical might be harmless," Severus explained. "It's not a guarantee but it can't be any worse than working our way through these documents."
"Sounds useful," Harry commented.
"We'll see," Severus replied. He took his wand from his inner pocket and held it over the stack of paper. "Dokimi prothesi ablabis!"
The sheaf of papers stirred, as if someone riffled the edges. The pages flickered green, then gold, back and forth rapidly, with one flash of pink in the middle. The flickering finally settled on a green-gold color.
"As one would think, no overall malicious intent, but not all benign. Totally benign would be pure green. And the light red color is a warning. A darker red would have a more malicious intent." Another wave of the wand, "Deichno blaberos."
A single page shifted slightly to become more prominent. "This, we need to read very carefully," Severus decided. "There is something possibly harmful in this document."
Harry searched through his packet to find the same page and sat back to focus on it.
"Obliviate would be so much easier than these threats," Harry muttered.
"If that means what I think it does," a voice came from the doorway, "I suspect you're right."
A tall, silver-haired man in a soldier's uniform stood there, literally at the edge of the ward that Harry had set. Severus stood and was glad to hear Harry stand behind him. Harry would have his wand readily available, too, in case this unannounced person was a threat.
The soldier looked at the wand in Severus' hand, more curious than concerned.
"I'm, ah... your briefing on all of that," the man said, not moving from the doorway but waving a hand at the paper on the table. Severus felt Harry take down their own ward.
Recognizes that something he doesn't know might be a threat, Severus thought. A Muggle but… more… maybe a Squib?
"General Jack O'Neill," the man offered, moving into the room and holding out a hand. "United States Air Force, if that's important to you."
Severus shifted his wand to his other hand to shake hands. "Severus Snape," he said.
Harry reached around and held out his hand. "Harry Potter."
"Glad to meet you both," he replied. Looking at the tea service, he asked wistfully, "I don't suppose there's coffee?"
"No, but I suspect we can get some," Harry offered. He went to the desk and gently rang the bell. A soft, tinkling sound came out of it.
A moment later, the same woman came to the door. "Yes, sirs, what can I help you with?"
"Some coffee for the general and perhaps some more substantial sandwiches," Harry requested. With a quick glance at Severus, he added, "And perhaps some ice cream?"
"Chocolate, if you have it," General O'Neill put in, eyes dancing.
Severus knew Harry had a sweet tooth and would eat ice cream all day long if he could.
"Certainly," she replied. "Anything else?"
"Might we have some fresh tea?" Severus asked.
"Not a bother at all," she replied. "Give me ten minutes and I'll have everything brought in."
O'Neill sat on the couch across from them and loosened his tie. "Been a long day, hope you don't mind," he apologized.
"Please, be comfortable," Severus said, feeling faintly uncomfortable without his robes, something he knew he'd have to get used to.
Picking up a biscuit, O'Neill waved it around. "I wish Daniel was here," he said. "Dr. Daniel Jackson, an anthropologist. A historian," he amended when he saw the blank looks they were giving him. "He's much better at explanations than I am."
"Start somewhere and we will work out what we need to work out," Severus offered.
"Let's wait for the food," O'Neill suggested. "That way we won't be interrupted and there are things I have to tell you that others shouldn't hear."
"Let us start with something simpler, then," Severus offered. "Where would we be going from here?"
"Colorado," O'Neill replied. "Colorado Springs, if that's not too redundant," he grinned.
Severus could see Harry recalling the map of the United States they had pored over. "Rocky Mountains," Harry replied.
"Yes," O'Neill agreed. "Beautiful country, although, well, you'll mostly be living on our base, especially at first. Not sure what other options are appropriate so it's easier to keep you on the site."
Harry shrugged, "Good security?"
"Among the best," O'Neill said. "Although… now that I know more about what wizards can do, not sure it's as secure as I'd like to think."
"Apparition," Harry put in.
"Exactly!" O'Neill exclaimed. "How do we protect for that?"
Severus felt Harry stir. "We may be able to help with that," he offered cautiously. "No promises."
O'Neill grinned at them. "I'll take what I can get."
Just then the woman pushed a cart into the room. "Coffee, sirs. And more food," she explained.
Severus saw Harry reach for one of the dishes of ice cream. "What?" he asked, innocent-eyed. "Shouldn't let it melt."
Severus rolled his eyes but didn't say anything as he reached for his own dish. "Ha!" Harry grinned around a mouthful.
After the woman left, Severus felt Harry put up a privacy ward in addition to the warning if anyone came close to them. "We have our privacy, General," Severus announced.
O'Neill put down his dish of ice cream and – to Severus' horror – made the sweetest possible drink of coffee by putting several spoons of sugar and an amazing amount of milk into the mug. He took a sip and announced, "Good coffee!"
"How can you tell?" Severus was forced to ask. Harry snickered.
"I do need you to sign those," O'Neill pointed at the papers in front of them. "Sorry."
"Professor?" Harry asked softly.
Severus turned to face him. "What do you want to do?" He held up a hand. "Not what you think you should do. Not what you think I want to do. What do you want to do?"
Harry sat back for a moment, then shrugged. "I don't see myself settling down to do… nothing," he admitted. "Until I do know what I want, this is probably as good as anything."
"If you're sure," Severus pressed.
"Yes," Harry replied, looking at Severus seriously.
Severus turned, "All right then. Anything we really should know before we sign all this?"
O'Neill shrugged easily. "It's to protect you as much as us," he admitted. "I'll wait while you finish up."
Severus picked up the stack and started signing, as did Harry. It took them several minutes and O'Neill drank another cup of the beverage he called coffee.
O'Neill took the papers from them and stuck them in a folder. "Now that that's out of the way," he grinned, "we can get to the good stuff."
Harry leaned forward a bit, in anticipation.
"So, what do you know about aliens, outer space and life on other planets?" O'Neill asked.
"Nothing," Severus replied.
"It's real?" Harry breathed, eyes wide.
O'Neill's grin would out-sparkle Dumbledore's best twinkle, Severus swore. "All real, and we're right in the middle of it all," O'Neill told them.
"Doctor Who is real?" Harry demanded, bouncing slightly.
O'Neill laughed. "Sorry, Time Lords aren't real. Well, we haven't run into them, anyway, but there are enough other things out there that are real."
"Dudley will be so disappointed," Harry murmured.
O'Neill shot him a quizzical look that Harry waved off. "Nothing important," he said. "Go ahead."
Inside fifteen minutes, Severus was lost but he hung in as O'Neill went on to explain about the Stargate, other planets, Asgard, something that sounded like Goold that were snakes that could take over your brain, and spaceships. O'Neill's stories made his response to Severus' wand earlier much clearer – he'd run into plenty of odd things in his time.
"What would we do?" Severus asked when O'Neill seemed to finally wind down.
"Damned if I know," he replied cheerfully. "Officially, you'd be Observers for your government, so you'll be given a lot of leeway and won't be expected to know a lot. Really? I'd like to see what your magic can do for us."
"Training for us, for our own protection," Severus bargained. "And we'll work with your people to see what we can do."
"Sounds reasonable," O'Neill agreed readily.
"When do we start?" Harry asked.
O'Neill looked at his watch and said, "Gather up your things."
Harry grabbed his knapsack and stood. "Don't have much."
O'Neill looked at the small bag doubtfully.
Severus took pity on him. "Shrinking charms."
"Damn, that's useful," O'Neill's face lit up in understanding and thought. He reached into his pocket and handed them each a plastic card not too different from the credit cards the goblins had given them to be able to access Harry's vault. "Hold on to these for the moment." He put a device in his ear and said, "Daedalus? Three for the Mountain."
Severus had a moment of disorientation as a white light surrounded him and he could see a similar light around Harry and O'Neill. Then everything went black before they came back into view.
"A spaceship!" Harry enthused. "We're in space!" His face lit up in a way Severus had seen only when the boy had played Quidditch.
Severus turned in place and looked through a large wall-to-ceiling window. "That's…" He looked at O'Neill.
"Earth," O'Neill confirmed. "Amazing, isn't it?"
"It’s beautiful," Severus agreed.
"Ready, sirs?" the soldier at the console in the room asked.
"Go," O'Neill confirmed.
Another bout of disorientation and they were in a small, nondescript room.
"That's way better than a Portkey," Harry announced. "Almost better than Apparition."
"You can tell me more later," O'Neill put in. A soldier entered the room. "Perfect! Colonel, would you take care of our visitors?"
"Colonel Paul Davis," the man introduced himself.
"Severus Snape and Harry Potter," O'Neill introduced them.
"Mr. Snape," Davis said as they shook hands.
Harry snickered. "Sorry, just sounds odd," he explained. "He's always been Professor to me."
"Professor?" O'Neill asked.
"I was a teacher at the… boarding school where Mr. Potter and I met," Severus explained. "I am what you would consider a Chemistry expert."
"Doctor Snape?" Davis tried.
"Not the way you are probably familiar with," Severus granted. "'Professor' will do, if you must."
"Brilliant!" Harry put in.
"We can sort all of that out later," O'Neill decided firmly. "They need to get settled and we can start working out what they are to do tomorrow." He turned to them. "It's late at night, local time."
Severus shrugged. He and Harry had moved beyond London time a long time ago and he'd have to adjust.
"No problem," Davis agreed. "Come with me and I'll get your ID cards finished up now that we can take pictures."
Severus inwardly groaned. Wizard pictures were never kind to him; he suspected a Muggle picture would be worse.
Davis made the bureaucratic process as painless as possible, Severus decided in the end. The ID card was as horrid as he suspected it would be, but Harry's card turned out as good-looking as its owner. "Don't lose those," Davis said as he handed them their cards. "You need them to move around some places."
He led them through another array of confusing corridors, and those they passed only glanced in faint interest but two more new people did not raise any questions. Severus was glad Harry had talked him into Muggle clothes at that moment.
They stopped in front of a door. "You use your ID card to open the door," he instructed. When they both looked back at him in total confusion, he added, "Like a hotel room key?" At their continued blank looks, he finally understood they had no idea what he was talking about.
"Take your ID card." He guided Harry through the steps. "See the arrow here?" He pointed to the card. Severus noted the arrow on his card. "Slide it into this slot," he continued. "Wait a moment for the green light and the door will open."
Harry tried once but didn't wait long enough to try the doorknob. He tried it again and opened the door. "All set?" Davis asked.
They went into the room and Severus was mildly disconcerted to see two beds in the one room. "Sorry, I should have warned you that you'd need to share," Davis apologized. "We have limited space and we're close to full up at the moment. You at least have a private bathroom, so you don't have to use the community showers."
Severus held back a shiver at the thought. He hadn't had to bathe in a community shower since his Hogwarts days and had vowed then to never do it again. It hadn't been easy, as he had gone between Voldemort's Death Eaters and Dumbledore's services, but he had gone without rather than bathe in a community bathroom.
"We'll manage," Severus said with a false calm.
Harry had an odd look on his face for a moment, then shrugged, "No problem."
"Once we get everything sorted out," Davis offered, "we'll see what options we have for you."
"I appreciate that," Severus replied.
Davis pointed to a device on the wall. "When you're interested in a meal, call 4736 and someone will come and get you. That's easier than getting lost here. The number is also on a list that should be in the room."
"Thanks," Harry replied. "We'll do that."
"Yes," Severus agreed. "Thank you."
Davis waved and closed the door behind him as he left.
Harry dropped on one bed and bounced slightly. "Not as good as Hogwarts but way better than the dungeon in Malfoy Manor," he observed.
Severus sat gingerly on the other bed. "I have slept on worse," he agreed.
Harry dug into his knapsack and pulled out a shrunken bag, which he handed to Severus. "Yours, I think," Harry said. He pulled out another and set it on the bed. "Finite Incantatem." The bag became a larger suitcase and Harry opened it, rooting through haphazardly. Clutching a handful of clothes, he stopped and offered, "If you want to go first…" He pointed at the door that had to lead to the facilities.
"No, go ahead," Severus allowed. "I'll be fine for the moment."
Severus unshrank his own bag and brought out a bathrobe and sleeping clothes. Sleep pants were comfortable and Severus had decided they were much easier to sleep in than a nightshirt, especially in an unfamiliar environment. He'd rather be rousted out of bed in these than in a nightshirt. He took out a book he had been reading and settled on the bed to continue.
Harry came out of the bathroom using a towel to rub the water out of his hair. "Usually a lost cause," he grinned, commenting on his messy hair. He wore only a pair of silky sleep pants that rode low on his hips. Severus took what he hoped was a discreet deep breath. The sight of all that tanned skin gave him an immediate erection.
"All yours," Harry offered.
"Going to finish this bit first," Severus replied, barely seeing the words on the page.
Breathe, you old fool, Severus silently berated himself. The boy isn't parading around half-naked for your benefit.
Severus watched out of the corner of his eye as Harry pulled a t-shirt out of his bag and shimmied into it. He lay down on the bed and asked, "Still reading that boring book?"
Starting slightly, Severus looked at the book in his hands, "If it was boring, I would not read it. I have read enough boring books in my life that I do not plan to do so ever again."
Harry gave a small snicker. "It's all relative, I guess," he said.
Hoping he had himself under control, Severus put his bookmark in place and laid the book down on the bedside table. "I will make use of the bathroom now."
Harry grinned, "Water's really hot, so be careful."
"Thank you." Severus gathered up his things and went into the bathroom.
A very small, intimate bathroom. A shower in a stall barely large enough for one person, a small sink and the toilet. The room was steamy from Harry's shower, although it was neater than Severus had expected, given Harry's haphazard packing arrangements.
Stripping off his own clothing and stacking it all in a pile, Severus was about to step in the shower when he remembered Harry's warning. He reached in to turn on the water and it came out much warmer than he had expected. Harry's use had warmed up the pipes and he had to turn the temperature down to make it more comfortable.
Soaping up, Severus was struck by the thought that Harry had just been in here, doing the same thing. Naked. Severus' cock, which had just settled down, came immediately back to attention.
A small groan escaped, which he hoped was swallowed by the noise of the water. Nothing for it, he thought. He reached a soapy hand to himself, stroking slowly, deliberately. He tried to drag out the sensation – if he was going to do this, he was going to enjoy it – but the flash of Harry's skin in his memory had him coming long before he thought he'd be ready.
The shower washed away the evidence of his orgasm, and hopefully the scent of the soap and shampoo covered the scent of what he had just done. He washed his hair again, both because it felt good and to add to the mingled scents in the small room.
Severus turned off the water and grabbed the towel that had been left for him. He dried himself roughly and dressed quickly. He put the bathrobe on, although he didn't need it for warmth, and exited the room.
Harry had turned down the lights while Severus was in the shower, and was sound asleep on his bed. A blanket covered his legs and hips and he was sprawled out on the single bed. For an otherwise skinny person, he could take up a lot of room, Severus observed.
The same peace he saw on the plane was there on Harry's face. The small tensions and worries of being in a new place had smoothed away, making Harry look younger than the nineteen years old that he was.
Severus made himself comfortable on his own bed, leaving on the small light. He didn't remember falling asleep.
It took Severus a moment to realize where he was. America. Colorado. Sharing a room with Harry. He cracked an eye to see Harry moving about, starting to dress. Severus watched as Harry put on jeans and a t-shirt.
Sitting on the bed, Harry noticed that Severus was awake. "Sorry, hope I didn't disturb you," he said.
"Not really," Severus replied. "I've had more sleep in the past year than I think I've had in my entire life. Now that I seem to be caught up, I wake easily."
"I know what you mean," Harry grinned. "It's felt good to have a lie-in regularly but now I need to do something."
Severus sat up. "Let me get dressed and we can get our guide to take us to…" he considered. "What meal is next?"
Casting a Tempus, Harry whistled. "Lunch! We slept longer than I thought."
"Lunch then," Severus agreed. "I'll be ready shortly." He grabbed fresh clothing and went into the bathroom. A quick wash-up, a breath freshening charm and a change of clothes later, he emerged, "Ready."
Harry picked up the receiver on the telephone to request their guide. Harry had become something of a Muggle Studies scholar when they had decided that the Americas were their best option, although Severus had found it interesting that there were a number of things Harry was not familiar with.
"Five minutes," Harry announced when he was finished with the call.
A tap on the door in less than the promised time announced their guide. Harry cautiously opened the door, Severus was glad to see, not assuming the person on the other side was a friend.
"Daniel Jackson," the man cheerfully introduced himself. "Jack, umm, General O'Neill told me you were here and I volunteered to take you to the mess. And I've been cleared to talk about your ability to use magic." He looked eager at that last statement.
"Mess?" Harry asked, with a small frown. "Food?"
"Cafeteria, lunchroom, dining room," Daniel said airily. "You'll get used to it."
"I suspect we will," Severus said dryly.
"Harry Potter, but call me Harry," Harry introduced himself. "And this is Professor Snape."
"I really am not your Professor, Potter," Severus felt obligated to say.
"It's just easier," Harry grinned.
"Harry, Professor," Daniel said. "Glad to meet you. Come with me and we can get some food. Make sure you have your ID cards so you can get back in the room."
Severus had already placed the card in his pocket but Harry needed to dig through the pile that was on the end of his bed to retrieve it from the clothes he had been wearing the night before. "Got it!" he said. "Thanks for the reminder."
They followed Daniel down corridors that Severus was sure were different from the ones they had taken the previous night. Daniel babbled on about colors and arrows but it was a chaotic explanation and Severus didn't understand it all.
They ended up in a large room with a number of men and women in uniform, and people he hoped were civilians. "Since you are guests, you have an open tab to eat whenever you need," Daniel told them.
"Payment is required?" Severus asked.
"There is another mess for the military that doesn't cost the soldiers anything, but the food's better here," Daniel told them. "Here, take a tray, and we can go through the line."
"I suspect you should lead," Harry pointed out. "Tell us what we're looking at."
"Ah! Gotcha!" Daniel replied. "Okay then. There are beverages on the end, as well as desserts. There is usually a heavier, hot meal in the middle of the day and then sandwiches and lighter foods at dinnertime. The Mountain is up and running twenty four-seven, so there's food almost any time but something that is close to a real meal at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Snacks, beverages, sandwiches and desserts in between."
"We can work with that," Severus acknowledged. "Since you are our guide, I hope we can treat you today."
Daniel gave a quick grin. "Was hoping you'd offer."
Harry gave a grin and handed Severus a tray before taking one for himself and they proceeded down the 'line'. Severus took his time selecting his meal. There were a couple of items he wasn't familiar with and he made a mental note to ask Daniel later. He proffered his ID card at the end and the person swiped it without a second glance at them.
Daniel selected a four-person table off to one side. "Jack may join us, but I'm not going to hold my breath."
They ate in silence for a few minutes, Harry putting mayo on his sandwich and Severus fixing his coffee. He had taken one look at the tea in paper pouches and passed completely.
"I have a proper tea service, if you're interested," Daniel said.
"I may take you up on that," Severus replied, the bitter taste of the coffee on his tongue.
"Tell me something about yourselves," Daniel prompted.
Severus let Harry take the lead.
"Professor Snape is actually a professor at a school I attended. He taught… " Harry searched for a description.
"Chemistry," Severus supplied.
Harry rolled his shoulders in a shrug. "More than that, but that's good," Harry agreed. "I'm pants at it, but had no incentive to pay attention, either."
"You have some potential," Severus admitted. He was surprised at the pleased look on Harry's face.
"My parents died when I was about a year old and I was raised by an aunt and uncle," Harry went on. "Ended up in a…" he looked around to see if anyone was listening and must have decided that discretion was needed, "school for talented students. I was pretty average at some things but I learned… security. Some of it was necessary because I was being stalked by a madman. Besides taking over our area of Britain, one of his primary goals was to kill me."
Severus winced internally at that bald statement.
Daniel put in, "I've been chased by madmen. It gets old, doesn’t it?"
Harry grinned. "It messed up my education, that's for sure," he agreed. "Met my godfather at one point but he was killed in a battle." A flicker of sadness went across Harry's face. "Fled the Aunt and Uncle as soon as I could since my godfather left me an inheritance that included some money and a house. By then I was old enough to appreciate Professor Snape's role in the war and we worked together to defeat the madman."
"And you, Professor?" Daniel asked.
"I went to what you know as secondary school with Harry's parents," Severus started. "Not that we were friends, but we were schoolmates. I got mixed up with a bad crowd after I finished my schooling… that's a long story that I'm going to skip over. But I ended up being a spy against Potter's madman."
"Chemistry?" Daniel asked.
"More of… what you would call pharmaceuticals," Severus explained.
"We'll have time to discuss that later, then," Daniel decided. Seeing that they were done eating, he gathered up his things. "Take your trays there." Daniel pointed to an opening in the wall. "You don't have to do more than leave the tray, so don't worry about it."
They dropped their trays in the window, and Severus noted the options for waste in the area.
"A tour is in order, I think," Daniel offered. "And it will help orient you to the base."
"That would be appreciated," Severus said.
"And Jack wants you outfitted with uniforms and the like," Daniel announced. "Tomorrow, you need to check out on the shooting range and do some basic fitness testing."
"Shooting?" Severus asked quizzically.
"Handguns and automatic weapons," Daniel replied.
"Ah!" Harry said. Severus wondered how much Harry understood what Daniel was talking about. He made a mental note to keep track of things like that so that when they were back in their room, they could have a private discussion.
"This floor is mostly living quarters and food service," Daniel explained. "I'll take you to the labs so you can see some of the fun things we're working on."
Daniel took them to the lifts. "Your cards should let you into most areas," he reiterated. "If there's something in particular you're looking for, let me know. It's all a bit confusing at the beginning, but you get used to it."
"I would be interested in the infirmary," Harry said. He glanced sideways at Severus. "I've spent a lot of time in one and it's always interesting to see how they work."
"Sure," Daniel replied easily.
They got off the lift and went down a long corridor. "When in doubt, don't go into a lab unannounced," Daniel warned them.
"Don't want to disturb an experiment in progress," Severus completed for him.
"Exactly!" Daniel tapped on a doorframe. "Sam? You decent?"
"Daniel!" an exasperated female voice replied. "Do you have to?"
Daniel just grinned. He introduced the woman who came to the door. "Colonel Samantha Carter – also Dr. Samantha Carter, doctor of astrophysics. She's been part of our team from the beginning. Sam, this is Professor Severus Snape and Harry Potter, our guests from England."
"Ma'am," Severus nodded his head in greeting.
"Call me Sam," Carter said genially. She reached out and shook hands with Severus and then Harry. "Glad to meet you!"
"Doing a basic tour and orientation," Daniel explained.
"If you're interested in wormhole theory or building a ZPM, you've come to the right place," she invited them. At their blank looks, she laughed. "I guess not. Okay, but do feel free to stop by and visit."
"Thank you!" Harry replied.
They were walking down another corridor which happened to be empty of other personnel at the moment, Daniel babbling happily about the labs and some of the work they were doing, when Harry stopped suddenly and put up his hands.
"Huh," he grunted. "Wards."
Severus stopped. He hadn't felt them, but then, wards had been Harry's special talent.
"What for?" Severus asked.
"They're very good," Harry commented, obviously still working through the wards. "Lots of layers."
"What kind of layers?" Severus persisted. When Harry focused on deciphering wards, he'd get overly involved and Severus worked to make sure Harry didn't get too far in without someone to ground him. And some wards could be nasty and the fool boy would frequently take on too much.
"Protection, mostly," Harry reported. "Although some are to keep something in, rather than to keep things out. They focus…" Harry moved down the corridor, "… here." He stood in front of a closed door.
Severus stood behind Harry and looked closely at the door and the paneling surrounding it. "Runes, also," he announced. "More protection and, interesting, something I'll have to work on. They're very old style, although it's a relatively new application."
"How long?" Harry asked.
"Three, four years, at most," Severus replied.
"That matches the wards," Harry said. "Heavy duty but not too old."
"What will happen if we cross them?" Severus asked.
Harry considered. "They're mostly an alert right now, I think," Harry decided. "There's nothing inside that I can detect and they won't keep us out."
"Umm… okay, that all makes about as much sense to me as Sam's offer did to you," Daniel broke in. "What's going on?"
"There are magical wards," Severus explained. "Wards are… barriers that can serve multiple purposes. They can keep things in or out, or simply serve as a warning. They can be as simple as a warning that someone has crossed them or very specific to only allow certain people across."
"Not too different from our key card system," Daniel mused. "The permissions on the card determine where you can go."
"Close enough," Severus allowed. "More complex wards can actually hide the existence of something. Dark layers in wards can cause… nasty things to happen to anyone who tries to take the wards down or even simply cross them."
"Nothing Dark, although… shades of gray, I think," Harry reported.
"Harry's developed a talent in reading wards," Severus went on, for Daniel's benefit. "The advantage of that is that once you know what makes up the wards, it's possible to try to take them down. Depends on what you want to do."
"No need to take these down, I don't think," Harry stood back and looked at them. "There's a sophisticated touch to them but the active ones are simple alerts. If one is keyed to the wards, it serves as an alert that someone has entered the room. But there's also a layer that can be triggered, from the inside, to act as sort of a Notice Me Not Charm to keep everyone away." Harry shrugged. "Safe enough now, anyways."
"Let's take a look then," Daniel proposed, "and see if anything special happens."
They went into the empty lab. Severus stood in the center of the room and contemplated.
"More runes, some incredibly old," he observed. "Like those outside, they are old-style runes, but mostly applied within the last few years. But some of these runes look like they are as old as the facility. I would like a chance to study them, if that would be permitted."
"Jack shouldn't have any problem with that," Daniel agreed.
"Professor?" Harry tilted his head to the door.
"Patience," Severus replied. He, too, had noticed the arrival of someone who was standing in the corridor. When the person gave no sign of entering, Severus called, "You might as well come in."
A short man dressed in a uniform came into the room.
"Walter?" Daniel was puzzled. He turned to Severus and Harry. "Sergeant Harriman works in the… well, he works in a special area of the SGC."
Severus looked the nondescript man over, but on second glance noted bright eyes and received a shrewd look in return.
"Protection or warning?" Harry asked.
The man sighed. "Warning," he admitted.
"Walter!" Daniel asked again.
"If I am not mistaken," Severus said, "the sergeant is also a wizard."
Walter blushed slightly. "No one has been aware of my status since…" he mouthed some more words but nothing came out. "Sorry, cannot say."
Severus asked, "An Unbreakable Vow?"
Walter shrugged. "Something like that."
"Understood." Severus nodded. He turned to Daniel. "It's not a problem for us," Severus explained. "Someone has placed protections on this space and has… tied the sergeant to them. It's not harmful, just precautionary."
Walter looked relieved.
"What's up?" Jack asked.
They turned to see Jack standing in the doorway.
Severus looked around and, while he could neither see nor feel any obvious lurkers, he suspected this wasn't a conversation to be had in public.
"Perhaps inside?" He invited Jack into the room.
"Certainly," Jack agreed, stepping inside and closing the door.
Once they had settled in seats around a work table, Jack repeated his question. "What's up?"
Looking at Harriman, who nodded acceptance back at him, Severus launched into an explanation. He ended with, "But in accessing this area, the sergeant was summoned and it turns out he is also a wizard."
Jack had perked up at the word Ancient and then looked at the sergeant. "Walter!" Jack exclaimed. "Really?"
Harriman shrugged, embarrassed. "Yes."
"The wards are tied to the sergeant, but he is under a spell that prohibits him from telling us who set the wards and the warnings," Severus went on. "It's a protection for both parties."
"That kind of power would be a useful thing to be able to do in a lot of places," Jack mused. "Go on."
"Not much more to tell," Severus replied. "I would like to study the runes. It would be interesting to see what kinds of wizards have been through this area."
Jack sat back and considered. "Didn't the Atlantis folk use this space before they left?" he asked Daniel.
"Now that you mention it, I think so," Daniel agreed. "Sam would know for sure."
"Check on that," Jack directed. "Professor, go ahead and study your runes. I'd appreciate a report on that, if you don't mind." He noticed Severus' hesitation. "Only for me, not anything official."
"That's acceptable," Severus agreed.
"Now, as part of your 'observer' status, I'll be sending you out on Gate missions," Jack stated. "To that end, I need you both to go through some basic skills assessments. You'll need to protect yourselves and not get your team killed," he said bluntly. "Even with your wizard..." he wiggled his fingers, "skills, there are physical aspects of protection that we should check out."
"Like what?" Harry asked, interested.
"Weapons, at a minimum, although some self-defense training will probably be useful," Jack said.
"That would be acceptable," Severus said. "I have some rudimentary familiarity with projectile weapons but would definitely need more experience."
"I've never handled a gun," Harry admitted.
"Let me show you, then," Daniel offered.
Severus felt a shiver of something he couldn't identify.
"Appreciated, Daniel," O'Neill stated. "I think Mitchell is around here somewhere and can train Severus."
"We can start now, if you want," Daniel said to Harry.
Harry shrugged and looked at Severus.
"Go," Severus directed. "You need to learn the basics as soon as possible."
Daniel and Harry went off together.
"Walter, you might as well find Mitchell and get him to check Severus out on weapons," Jack ordered.
"Yes, sir," Harriman said.
Jack looked at Severus and said, "Someday, you and I will have time to talk. I truly understand the need to be careful with shiny new things like Ancient runes."
Severus made a note to add that talk to his growing list of things to do.
Colonel Cameron Mitchell was a puzzle to Severus. One that, in other circumstances, he might have worked harder to solve. Mitchell played the fool well, but Severus could see the intelligence in his eyes.
Mitchell took Severus to the firing range. He could see Harry and Daniel working together at the other end.
"Professor!" Mitchell drew Severus' attention. "Ignore them. Besides, Daniel's spoken for."
"I suspected," Severus admitted. "But…"
"But nothing," Mitchell said. "Nothing's going to happen there that isn't supposed to happen."
A deep breath. "Yes, I know that…"
"But nothing," Mitchell said firmly. "You need to pay attention for the next hour. Divided attention and automatic weapons will get someone killed, and I'd rather it not be me."
Severus knew he was slipping if a complete stranger like Mitchell picked up on his… interest in Harry. He deliberately turned his back on Harry and Daniel, and looked Mitchell in the eye. "I'm all yours."
"Better," Mitchell allowed. "Now, tell me what you know."
Severus admitted his inadequate knowledge of projectile weapons, remembering to call them "guns" instead of "projectile weapons." Mitchell took in what he said and gave Severus a basic overview of the weapons used by individuals at the SGC. He reviewed what Severus had told him and added more information to that.
Mitchell had Severus handle both a handgun and an automatic weapon called a "P-90" before they were done. Severus could see the attraction in the automatic weapon and was even more grateful that a madman like Voldemort hated Muggles so much that he looked down on any weapons they designed. The war would have gone very differently if Voldemort had given his followers even basic handguns, much less automatic weapons.
"You need some practice," Mitchell said bluntly. "You're half a step above being a liability and probably won't shoot yourself. But if you were going through the gate with me today, I'm not so sure I'd even give you a weapon."
"I appreciate your honesty," Severus replied solemnly. "I will endeavor to become more proficient."
"You have decent instincts and a steady aim," Mitchell replied. "You have potential to become a pretty good shot. You do need to focus and spend some time on it."
Harry came over at that point and offered, "That was interesting. I'm not awful and, according to Daniel, he was pretty bad when he started. So there's hope."
"Good news," Severus replied, dryly.
The next week found both Harry and Severus spending time at the firing range and in various training exercises. It turned out that Harry was better at hand-to-hand combat, to be expected given his youth, but Severus was better at survival skills.
They took one day to work with SG-1 in private and show them what magic could do. He and Harry dueled as a demonstration of some of the basic offensive and defensive spells. Severus organized a 'sparring' session where he and Harry used magic against the physical tactics that the SG-1 team could offer. It was instructive on both sides – they quickly learned, although Severus found he was not surprised, that magic wasn't necessarily the best option in some situations.
Samantha Carter demanded some time with either Severus or Harry to study the magic they had performed. She had a gleam in her eye that Severus understood. Magic was something new that was both a challenge and that explained things that had never before made sense.
Daniel ate most of his meals with them, the rest of SG-1 joining them on an occasional basis. Jack would meet up with them less occasionally, but Jack's proprietary air over Daniel – and Daniel's reciprocal looks – mollified Severus' (unreasonable, he knew) concern about letting Harry spend too much time with Daniel.
One night at dinner, Jack announced, "The final part, a trip through the gate."
Harry's face lit up. "Really? Will we meet aliens?" With a sly glance at Vala, he added, "More aliens?"
"Not the first time," Jack replied. "Just a boring excursion to a boring planet with something that Daniel and Sam get all geek-happy about."
"Now Jack," Daniel shot back. "You know it's important that we find…" He stopped as Jack held up a hand.
"Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," Jack rattled off. "I know it's important… just want to make sure we take our guests someplace safe for their first visit off-world."
"Okay, those are the words of doom," Mitchell put in. He laughed, then shrugged when Jack glared at him. "You know it's true."
"Yeah." Jack turned to Severus. "I'm going to apologize now when things go FUBAR."
Harry's head shot up. "FUBAR?"
"Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition," Vala gleefully translated. Severus was amused by Vala's apparent lack of inhibitions, although she seemed to keep her private life private. She was a source of amusement and insight to the others. Severus often felt like an 'alien' in this Muggle world and Vala had turned into an interesting ally in learning how to cope inside the SGC.
"Got it!" Harry grinned.
It was two more days before they actually went through the Stargate. As he stepped into the wormhole, Severus analyzed the feeling – much less annoying than a Portkey but not as tight as Apparating.
He stepped out into broad daylight and it was then that he realized they had not been outside since they had arrived at the Mountain. The sunlight felt good on his face and, seeing Harry look up, he realized he wasn’t the only one.
"The Mountain does get old, doesn't it?" Daniel asked. "I'll have to remind Jack that you need to get out more."
"That would be appreciated," Severus replied. They sorted themselves out and a rough camp was set up. The plan was to spend two nights, so that Daniel could spend some time doing some research without rushing. Daniel admitted blithely that, while there were weeks' worth of work that could be done, he was glad to get two full days.
Severus thought it was a mistake to allow Harry to go off alone with Daniel Jackson. In spite of Jack's assurance that Daniel could take care of both of them, Severus worried. Well, if he was honest with himself, he was worried about Harry.
It was nearly two hours after they had left the two men working in a cave – Daniel was working, Harry was mostly watching – that Severus got a faint mental message from Harry.
"O'Neill," Severus rapped out. "There has been a cave-in."
Jack's face paled.
"Harry is alive, I need to go to him." Severus took precious time to let Jack know what he was going to do. At Jack's terse nod, he turned and Apparated, following Harry's mental trail.
Harry was on the floor of the cavern, bruised, bleeding, and in pain. He had been caught in the rockfall, although Daniel also looked dirty and shaken.
"You are hurt," Severus stated the obvious.
"Yeah," Harry grimaced. "Sorry. Leg's broken."
Severus sighed. "Daniel, if you can assist me in getting Harry up, I can take him out of here," he said.
Daniel helped Harry stand and Severus directed, "Put your arms around my neck. Hold on tight." Severus put an arm around Harry's waist and held Harry close. "Daniel, move against the wall… over there." He ordered Daniel to a niche that looked like it might be clear of the rocks. He cast a shield over Daniel to protect him from any further harm. "I will be back momentarily."
"I'll be fine," Daniel waved him off. "Take Harry back."
"Harry," Severus warned. "Deep breath for me."
Harry snuggled in close and took a deep breath that Severus could tell had a note of pain.
Another Apparition and, when they came back to the camp, Harry had passed out and was a limp, awkward bundle in his arms.
"Medic!" Jack called.
Two soldiers must have been on standby and came over instantly, taking Harry from Severus. They gently laid him on the ground.
"He has at least a broken leg," Severus briefed them. He looked up at Jack. "I need to get Daniel."
"Go!" Jack commanded. Severus stepped away from the group treating Harry in an attempt to be discreet about using magic.
Severus returned to the cave, to find more debris and a cloud of dust in the air. He took down the shield that had protected Daniel from the additional rockfall.
"Let me," Severus directed. He put an arm around Daniel's waist to hold him steady. He turned and Apparated them both back to the camp.
By the time they got back, the medics had Harry on a stretcher and ready to go back to the SGC.
"We're ready!" Jack commanded. "IDC's been sent and they'll be waiting for you on the other side. Take Daniel with you and make sure he gets checked out."
Severus nodded, not letting go of Daniel. At this point, he wasn't sure who was holding whom up. They went through the Gate, where there was a small army of medics waiting for them. Harry was whisked off and a nurse came over to them.
"Can you walk or do you need help?" she asked.
"I think we can make it," Daniel answered for them. He guided Severus to the infirmary.
"Sit here." The nurse from the gate pointed to a bed. "Dr. Jackson, over here. Dr. Lam is checking out Mr. Potter and we'll have some information in a bit. Let's check you out." She drew a curtain around Severus' bed.
In just a few minutes, a petite, good-looking woman came into the curtained space. "I'm Dr. Keller, let's get you checked out."
"I'm fine," Severus protested. "I wasn't hurt at all."
"It's routine, then, for anyone coming back through the Gate," Keller assured him. "I just need to check you over and take some blood."
Severus was reluctant but cooperated with the doctor. He knew the request for blood was standard Muggle medical procedure, not a precursor to some dark ritual.
"Can you tell me how Harry Potter is doing?" Severus asked her. "I understood a Dr. Lam is taking care of him."
"I don't know but I can check, if you want," Keller replied.
"Yes, please," Severus said, trying to keep his worry from radiating out.
"Stay here until your test results come back," she directed. "I'll see what I can find out about your friend."
Severus waited patiently for the doctor to return. Nearly half an hour later, Severus was starting to fret. He knew he wasn't showing anything other than patience. Long years of working for both Voldemort and Albus Dumbledore had given him practice in waiting under unpleasant circumstances.
The nurse that had brought Severus to the cubicle came by. "Mr. Potter is doing fine," she said cheerily. "Would you like to visit him?"
"Yes," Severus agreed readily.
"Come along, then," she said. She led him through the infirmary to another room, where Harry lay sleeping on a bed.
"He has a broken leg, which has been set. We've cleaned up the contusions and he'll be sore but fine. Don't wake him," she warned. "He should sleep through the night at this point."
"No problem," Severus said. He settled in the chair next to the bed.
In the middle of the night, Severus moved the chair closer to the bed and took Harry's hand in his. "Silly boy," he said softly. "If it's not one thing, it's another."
It was approaching morning before Harry stirred. Harry opened his eyes but they didn't really focus. He moved around for a bit and then fell back asleep.
A nurse came in and Severus reported, "He was just awake briefly."
"Right on schedule," she said, making notes on a chart. "If he wakes up, you can offer him some water but just a couple of sips. Call if you need anything."
It was another couple of hours before Harry stirred again. This time when Harry's eyes opened, he focused immediately on Severus.
"Sev-," Harry said weakly.
"Wait a moment," Severus admonished. "You can have some water." He held the cup and guided the straw to Harry's mouth. Harry took a couple of long drinks.
"Not too much," Severus advised.
Harry lay back and sighed. "What happened?"
"Cave-in. You seem to forget that you're a wizard and, although you protected Daniel, you were evidently struck by some rocks," Severus told him. "You have a broken leg and contusions."
"Daniel okay?" Harry asked anxiously.
"He's fine, some minor bruising," Severus assured him. "You suffered the worst of it."
Severus took Harry's hand again and he saw Harry glance down. A small smile from Harry was Severus' answer to this new development.
Once he knew Harry was on the mend, Severus allowed himself to relax. He went back to their room, took a long shower and got some sound sleep before he returned to the infirmary.
"When can I get out of here?" Harry asked when Severus came back to visit.
"What has Dr. Lam told you?" Severus retorted. "I would have thought with all your experience in staying in an infirmary that you would know almost as much as the doctors."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Most of the time I had no idea what was being done to me," he admitted. "And usually I was sick enough or badly hurt enough to not care. Madam Pomfrey would do spell work and I'd take whatever potions she'd give to me. Muggle medicine is different enough that I don't know what to expect."
"That is true," Severus admitted. Muggle medications were as effective as Wizarding potions, in very different ways. Each had strengths and weaknesses and, given time, Severus would like to investigate ways to blend the two.
"If we wait, Dr. Lam should be coming around and we can ask when you can leave," Severus proposed.
"I am bored," Harry admitted.
"Cards, then?" Severus offered.
Harry's face brightened at the prospect and Severus brought out the deck he had thought to put in a pocket when he left their room.
It was a couple of hours before Dr. Lam came around. She examined Harry, with special care taken while looking at Harry's broken leg.
"You're doing fine," she said. "We need to check you out on crutches and then you can be discharged to your room. We'll set up a PT schedule and you should be out of this cast in three to four weeks."
"PT?" Harry asked, puzzled.
"Physical Therapy," she elaborated. "To make sure you don't lose strength in your leg. Exercises for both strength and mobility."
"Okay, that makes sense," Harry replied.
"Crutches?" Severus asked.
"Harry needs to keep his weight off the broken leg as much as possible, especially for the next week," Dr. Lam explained. "He's young and will heal rapidly but we need to be careful that the break heals completely."
Severus kept silent about that, knowing he'd be handing Harry a dose of Skele-Gro as soon as Harry got out of the infirmary. The physical therapy would be useful in disguising the speed at which Harry's broken leg healed.
Fortunately, Harry quickly learned how to use the crutches to Dr. Lam's satisfaction. She handed Severus a tube containing pills and said, "This is a minor pain pill, if Harry has any discomfort. He can take two every four hours. If there's any significant pain, he needs to come back."
"I will see that he does so," Severus promised.
Harry used the crutches to get back to their room. "These are dead handy!" he enthused. "Why doesn't the Wizarding world have something like this?" He sat on the bed and took off the aircast Dr. Lam had insisted he wear when not resting in bed.
"I do not know," Severus replied. "If you would sit down, I'd like to give you a couple of potions."
"Okay," Harry said happily. "Skele-Gro? What else?"
"A pain potion," Severus said, going over to his bags to get the potions. Fortunately, these particular potions did not suffer from shrinking and expanding, so he had a reasonable supply. He handed the two potions to Harry, who took them with no protest.
"Blecch," Harry said. "Can I get some water? Why do potions always taste so nasty?"
"Ingredients that would change the taste would change the efficacy of the potion," Severus replied, getting Harry his requested drink of water.
"Sit with me," Harry said softly, patting the space next to him on the bed.
Severus wanted to. Badly. But that would be how it would all end.
"You're dithering because you want to," Harry sighed. "And you're worrying about what's going to happen… someday." He looked up at Severus. "Am I right?"
"I…" Severus hesitated. "You are correct."
"Severus," Harry said. "If I may?" Harry had been scrupulous about calling him "Professor" until now.
"You may," he allowed.
"Severus," Harry started firmly. "Several things you need to take into consideration. First of all, and most important, I am here, with you, and not going anyplace else. Well, we may be going other places, but we'll do it together. We've certainly learned a lot about each other, both during the war and after."
"This is true," Severus replied, cautiously.
"And, well, you're honorable, loyal and steadfast," Harry enumerated. "Yes, that may sound boring, but you're scarily smart, willing to give up everything you know to travel with me and you can be funny. Took me a bit to get that last part and I don't always understand it, but I'm getting there."
"Funny? It's not on purpose," Severus protested.
"See?" Harry grinned. Then sobered. "And, outside of Ron and Hermione, you're the one person who sees me. Harry. You see Harry and I think you like me. At least a bit."
"I'm old enough to be your father," Severus stated. "I'm not a good person."
"But you like me," Harry persisted.
Severus sighed. "God help me, but I do."
Harry's smile was brilliant. "Then that's where we'll start. Now come and sit with me."
Severus gingerly sat next to Harry on the bed. "Lie back and we'll nap," Harry directed. "Sleeping in an infirmary isn't restful and now that you've dosed me with potions, I need some sleep. That Skele-Gro is nasty and I'd rather sleep through the worst of the side effects. And I've gotten used to your snoring."
"I do not snore," Severus protested automatically.
Harry patted his arm. "Trust me, you do. Just a bit," he grinned. "Now budge over and make room. These beds are too small."
"You forget you're a wizard," Severus replied patiently. He used an Enlarging Charm to make the bed wider so they would be in less danger of falling out of it.
"See? Told you you're smart," Harry said cheekily. He snuggled into Severus' embrace. "This is going to be brilliant."
Severus woke warm and more rested than he would have expected after sharing a bed with Harry. Even if they hadn't had sex. Yet. He knew that was coming and it was enough to make him nervous. But he'd face that when the time came.
Harry stirred. "You're thinking," he murmured.
Severus dropped a kiss on the top of Harry's head. "It's hard not to," he admitted.
Harry eased himself over, to better look Severus in the eye. "You're thinking too much, about us," Harry said. "For once, don't think about it."
"I… I will try that," Severus replied. He leaned in to close the gap between them and kissed Harry. Harry pressed in and kissed him back, giving as good as he got. Careful of Harry's broken leg, Severus found himself on his side, Harry next to him, warm and obviously aroused.
Harry shifted, deliberately. Severus let himself give in to the moan that came from somewhere near his toes. It had been too long since someone he actually cared for was with him. Harry lifted his head and said, "Too many clothes." He Vanished all their clothes and Severus felt Harry's warm skin against his.
Harry wriggled with intent this time, their cocks hard against each other. The friction was just shy of painful and Severus put his hands on Harry's arse and moved his hips. Severus held Harry firm against him and it wasn't long before he found himself coming hard. He held himself against Harry and, after a few more thrusts, felt Harry stiffen against him.
Collapsing together, they were both breathing hard. Harry moved so he could kiss Severus, impossibly soft kisses.
Harry cast a wandless, wordless Cleaning Charm, to remove the spunk from between them.
"You've been practicing," Severus observed.
Harry shrugged. "Seemed like a practical thing to work on," he admitted with a wry grin. "I can only do it at a close distance."
"We'll have to work on that," Severus said.
"Only if it includes some close-up and personal practice," Harry replied.
"I suspect that can be arranged," Severus admitted. He held Harry close to him.
Harry stifled a yawn. "Between the potions and the pills, I need to sleep again," he replied. "Can I sleep here?"
"Not going anywhere." Severus wrapped his arms around Harry to hold him in place.
Severus dozed as Harry slept. Harry was a curiously still sleeper, not moving from his position on top of Severus' arm. The dead weight was uncomfortable but Severus let Harry sleep on.
It was another couple of hours before Harry woke again. He slithered, to move off of Severus.
"You should have moved me," Harry murmured.
"It was… nice," Severus admitted fondly.
"See? I knew you liked me," Harry teased softly.
Severus kissed Harry gently. "But I would like to move," he said. "You can sleep."
"Awake now," Harry said but yawned again.
"Just relax and have a lie-in," Severus directed. "I will get us some food if you'd like."
"That would be brilliant," Harry agreed. "I could eat."
"Then you stay here and I'll bring us back a meal," Severus said. "Would you like anything in particular?"
"Nah." Harry yawned again. "Sorry. No, anything is fine."
Severus tucked the blanket around Harry and put a hand on his bare shoulder. "Rest," he directed.
Harry's eyes fluttered closed.
Severus cleaned up in the bathroom before going to the mess for some food. He got sandwiches, cold drinks and biscuits. He added a couple packets of the crisps that Harry had developed an addiction to and some coffee for himself.
Casting a small Stability Spell, Severus took the loaded tray back to their room.
Harry was sitting up as Severus entered the room. "Bathroom," he muttered as he pulled on the aircast. Severus watched him walk naked across their room in appreciation.
"Take a shower if you want," Severus called. "Dr. Lam says your cast is waterproof, and you should be almost healed at this point."
"Hungry!" Harry said.
"Take a shower," Severus repeated. "You'll feel better."
"Join me?" Harry said.
"In that minuscule space?" Severus snorted. "I think not. And, no, it's not worth enlarging."
"Shame." Harry's voice carried a note of laughter.
Severus pulled chairs up to the desk to use it as a table. He put a warming charm on the coffee and a cooling charm on Harry's drink, then sat back to wait for Harry.
Harry came out of the bathroom with a towel around his hips. He rooted through his clothes for sleep pants that would slip over the cast.
"Okay, that felt good," he admitted. "What did you get?"
"Sandwiches and biscuits," Severus answered. "And the crisps you like. Take what you want, I'll get more if we need it."
Harry ate most of the food, leaving a biscuit and a sandwich for Severus. Seeing Harry eye him speculatively, Severus ate also. They left the tray on the desk to take back later.
"Another dose of Skele-Gro, I think," Severus announced. At Harry's groan he added, "Unless you really want to hobble around on crutches for the next month."
"No," Harry agreed. "Just makes me sleepy. And it itches from the inside."
"The rest is always good for you," Severus countered. "You're making up for years of poor sleeping."
"You should be, too," Harry replied. "You can keep me company."
"If I must." Severus gave a sigh.
Harry leaned in and gave Severus a small kiss. "I could provide some encouragement," he leered.
"After your potion," Severus replied, but gave a small grin back.
"Spoilsport." Harry pouted for a moment.
Severus got the potion and handed Harry the dose. Harry downed it quickly and handed the vial back to Severus.
"Can I get some water? Please?" Harry asked.
"Certainly," Severus said, bringing Harry a glass of water to chase the potion.
Harry wriggled on the bed. "Damn pins and needles. I can feel it all over, not just in my leg," he complained.
Severus got into the bed and took Harry into his arms. "Sleep," he commanded. "By tomorrow you should be better."
"Good to know," Harry said with a sigh. "Don't want to take that again if I don't have to."
"You'll still have to endure Dr. Lam's course of physical therapy," Severus warned him.
"That shouldn't be a problem," Harry yawned. "Good thing I'll sleep through the worst of this." He twisted slightly to give Severus a kiss. "Night."
Harry fell asleep quickly. Severus held on to him for a while, then eased out of the bed. He cast a Monitoring Charm on Harry in case he woke and first went to take a hot shower. He dressed and went out of the room, in search of Vala.
"Professor! What can I do for you?" Vala asked when Severus tracked her down in her rooms. Vala continued to refer to Severus as 'Professor' in spite of his invitation to use his first name. She seemed amused by the title, so different from the various forms of 'Doctor' used around the SGC.
"Would you have time for coffee?" he asked. "I find myself in need of some advice."
"Ooh, sounds serious," she grinned.
Severus gave a small, rueful grin. "It is… personal."
She grabbed her key card and closed the door to her room, looping her arm through Severus'. "Oh, my, that is serious," she said with a small frown. "Certainly."
Severus took her to the mess where he and Harry ate regularly. Since it was off-hours, it was nearly empty and it was simple enough to find a private corner where they should not be overheard. Severus cast a discreet Muffliato to make sure.
They had picked up coffee and dessert. Vala dug into hers but Severus had taken it to have something on the table in case anyone was watching.
"So, what's wrong?" Vala asked.
"I…" Severus stalled, taking a sip of his coffee.
Vala waved her fork at him. "You men are all silly," she grinned. "Harry finally made a move on you and now you're all confused. You think you should turn him down but you don't want to."
If Severus didn't know she was a Muggle, he would have suspected she was a Legilimens.
"Don't look so constipated about it," she said. "You think you're being all sly and honorable when you're both dying to get each other into bed and have your wicked ways with each other."
"Wicked ways?" Severus latched onto the phrase.
Vala looked at him. "Oh, you have it bad, don't you?"
Severus could only nod.
"What does Harry say?" Vala asked.
"He thinks I'm funny!" Severus said.
"Well, you are!" she replied.
"I am not!" Severus protested.
She patted his arm. "Trust me, you are," Vala said. "It's a nice kind of funny. You don't pretend to be dumb, like O'Neill does, and your intelligence makes you very sexy."
Severus frowned. "Sexy? I'm not…"
"Oh, yes you are!" Vala interrupted him. "That dark, brooding and moody thing you do is very sexy. Okay, you aren't classically handsome, but you have a lot going for you."
"I…" Severus swallowed. "Thank you. I think."
"And you're concerned because you think Harry could do much better," she went on. "Am I right?"
"Harry is young enough to be my son and…" Severus started.
"Harry has been through some of the same traumatic things you have," she interrupted, again pointing her fork at him. "He has old eyes. And an old soul. Give him credit for that."
Severus sighed. "I do. He should have a chance at a normal life," Severus grumbled. "Instead of throwing in with a battered, old, Potions teacher. I'm old enough to be his father."
Vala leaned forward and patted his hand gently. "I know enough to tell you to grab it with both hands and enjoy it. You've earned this."
"I don't know if I can," Severus said softly.
"Then don't fight it," Vala advised. "You both have plenty of time."
"Thank you," Severus replied.
Harry's physical therapy took place over the next month, limiting their training somewhat. Severus spent the time working with Daniel, studying the runes they had found in the lab.
In turn, Daniel explained about "Ancients" and why he was interested in studying the runes. He quickly found major overlap between the Ancient language he was already familiar with and the magical runes that Severus was familiar with.
Sam Carter took advantage of their downtime to work with Harry, exploring how wards worked and explaining shielding technology, in turn. Harry would come back from a session with Sam either dazed from the information overload or excited at learning how closely some of the alien technology matched his knowledge of magic.
Harry accumulated a serious number of books from Sam on science and maths; he had started to study maths before attending Hogwarts but this was at a level he confessed to Severus that he doubted he'd ever achieve.
"You're essentially taking a Mastery in 'Science' as a first year," Severus made the analogy for him. "It won't be easy but if Samantha thinks you have the capability, then you just need to give it your best effort."
Harry had been mostly mollified by that only to look faintly panicked when Sam gave him another armful of books and a computer that contained even more information.
Severus was instantly fascinated by the computer. Harry must have said something about it and Severus found himself in possession of his own unit. Severus sought out Vala as a guide in using the computer, hoping she had come to them similarly, without the intuitive experience both Samantha and Daniel seemed to have.
Interestingly enough, Vala referred him to Cameron Mitchell as a tutor. Evidently, Cameron had taught Vala how to use a computer and she believed that Cameron would be a better tutor. Cameron willingly spent time with Severus, asking leading questions about how one might use magic in military situations. The exchange of information was riveting to both of them.
Once Harry was released from physical therapy, Severus and Harry went through the Gate on more missions, primarily with SG-1 but also with other SG teams in order to understand more of what the SGC did. Fortunately, none of the missions were as exciting as their first trip but they did expose Harry and Severus to military protocols as well as alien worlds.
"Ready for something really different?" O'Neill asked cheerfully one day over dinner. They had been at the SGC for almost six months at that point.
Daniel rolled his eyes and snickered. Severus assumed that this was another cultural reference that he did not understand.
"What did you have in mind?" Severus asked cautiously.
"How'd you like to go to Atlantis?" O'Neill asked.
Daniel sat up straighter and protested, "Hey! I wanted to go to Atlantis and you wouldn't let me!"
O'Neill waved a dismissive hand at him. "Yeah, yeah, we've had that discussion," he sighed and turned back to Severus and Harry. "But, well, you're looking for a change of scenery. Atlantis would certainly be a change."
"And you'd be out of reach of anyone on Earth," Daniel added.
"You'd officially be 'observers,' to continue what you've been doing here," O'Neill put in. "Although I'd give you the discretion to talk to Colonel Sheppard and fill him in as you think appropriate. I suspect he'll be able to find something for you to do."
Severus glanced at Harry. "We'll get back to you once we discuss it," he answered. Harry gave a small shrug
O'Neill shrugged. "Sure, no hurry," he admitted. "And talk to the rest of SG-1. They've been there and can tell you something about it."
"Thank you," Severus answered.
That night, Severus wrapped Harry in his arms and asked, "What do you think?"
Harry leaned up and gave Severus a kiss. "I am interested," he admitted. "But I won't go without you."
"Brat," Severus said fondly. He turned toward Harry, so they were looking each other. "Seriously. We don't have to go, if you don't want to."
Harry nodded. "But.. I think that's where we've been headed in that direction all this time," he replied. "It feels… right."
"Then we'll tell Jack that we'll go," Severus said easily.
Harry leaned in for another kiss, one that lasted longer. And one that led to other things…
A month later, Severus watched as Walter dialed the Stargate for their trip to Atlantis. Even with his recent experience in traveling to other worlds, the creation of the wormhole was still fascinating and amazing.
"Ready?" Jack asked them.
"Ready!" Harry confirmed with a small grin at Severus.
"Don't break anything at Midway," Jack warned, shaking a finger at them. "Carter's fond of it."
"I suspect we will find something to keep us busy," Severus said dryly. He was amused when the tips of Harry's ears turned red and hoped Jack didn't notice. But the sly grin Jack gave him told him that it hadn't escaped his notice.
"Good luck," Jack said. "Keep in touch."
"I'm sure we will," Severus replied. "And thank you for helping us."
"Part of the package." Jack waved a hand carelessly. He looked at the Gate. "You have a go."
Harry led the way up the ramp to the Stargate and took Severus' hand as he stepped through.
The Midway space station was as unusual as Severus had come to expect technology to be. One of the soldiers watching the Gate, with a name tag reading "Bending," escorted them to a teeny room with a warning not to wander around. He explained that their room was airtight in an emergency, that there was a communicator built into the wall next to the door, and there were emergency rations in a storage locker.
"Is this necessary?" Severus asked.
Bending shrugged. "It's a space station," he replied. "You never know. There's a mini-fridge with drinks and some granola bars for snacks." He pointed out the small cooling device built into the wall.
"Can we look outside?" Harry asked eagerly.
"Sorry, no windows," he told them. "Safer that way."
"Oh, okay." Harry was obviously disappointed.
"When you get to Atlantis, ask someone to take you up in a Jumper," he told them. "You can see everything from one of those."
Harry grinned, "Thanks for the advice."
"Dinner's in about two hours," Bending said. "Not special, but filling. I'll come and get you."
"That will be satisfactory," Severus said. "Thank you."
Severus closed the door of the room. "Top or bottom?" he asked. When Harry grinned at him, he rolled his eyes and sighed. "Bunk. Top or bottom bunk?"
In addition to the bunk beds, there was a small table and two chairs bolted to the opposite wall. The chairs didn't look particularly comfortable but Severus suspected they would do for the short time they would be on the station.
Harry rolled his eyes. "You're no fun," he complained.
"I think we need to maintain a level of decorum," Severus explained. "This is too small a place and it is not as private as I would like."
"All right, all right," Harry agreed, good-naturedly. "Point taken." He glanced up at the corner of the room. "Cameras everywhere, probably even in the loo."
"To be expected," Severus agreed. "Some sleep would be welcome, I think."
The months spent in the SGC had helped both Harry and Severus regain their strength and lessen the nightmares. Severus had found Vala to be a friend, and someone who understood how bad decisions can sometimes lead to good things. But there had been an extended 'going away' party the night before and they were traveling to Atlantis on very few hours' sleep.
"Good idea," Harry replied with a yawn. "I'll take the top bunk." He easily crawled up to the top bunk and lay down.
Severus lay on the bottom bunk and fell asleep to the sound of Harry breathing above him.
The tap on the door woke him. "Dinner in fifteen!" a voice called.
"Thank you," Severus answered sleepily. He heard Harry stir but figured he could get into the loo first. He pissed and washed his face before stepping back into the room. Harry was sitting up, rubbing his face. When he saw Severus come out of the bathroom, he jumped down from the bunk.
Harry didn't take long in the bathroom and was ready when Bending came back.
"This way." He led them through the corridors of the station. It was similar to being under the Mountain, Severus thought: anonymous corridors that could lead almost anywhere.
"In here," Bending pointed.
Dinner was mostly cold food: sandwiches, salads and dessert, although there was hot coffee. Jack had explained before they left that the designers – he had cast a significant look at Samantha, who stared up at the ceiling at the comment -- hadn't considered that anyone might need to live on the station long term. There had been no consideration given to the concept of quarantine, so there were no real cooking facilities. Cold storage was easy, but cooking with anything more sophisticated than a microwave oven wasn't going to happen. As advertised, the meal was not special but it was filling. There was a group of scientists talking among themselves in one corner and soldiers scattered about the room.
Harry and Severus ate slowly, mostly to help pass the time.
"Finished?" Bending came over to them. "It's not bad for the two days of quarantine but after a week, you'd kill for a hot meal. Luckily, we only have a ten-day rotation here so by the time it gets really old, we get to go back to Earth or some of us rotate to Atlantis."
"Yes, we seem to be finished," Severus replied. He noticed Harry taking a packet of crisps, probably for later.
Bending escorted them back to their room and left them there. "Not tired," Harry announced.
"We could play chess," Severus said.
"That's too depressing," Harry grinned. "You always win."
"Cards, then?" Severus offered.
Harry shrugged. "Sure, it'll pass the time," he agreed.
They had both learned both gin rummy and poker from Vala. Poker wasn't as much fun without something to bet on or a slightly larger group. But they had both become addicted to Gin Rummy. "Gin?" Severus asked.
"Sure," Harry replied.
They had an ongoing game they played, being pretty evenly matched. The luck of the cards would allow one of them to pull ahead of the other, but the lead would change when the other would get a good string of cards.
Harry shared his crisps at one point, getting drinks from the fridge for each of them. Severus thought of the tea set he had packed in his shrunken bags, courtesy of Daniel, but figured he should make do with the canned soda for now. It quenched his thirst but it was somewhat unsatisfying.
They had another cold meal before their isolation time was up. The station doctor gave them a cursory going-over to quadruple check that they weren't carrying any harmful illnesses to the Pegasus galaxy.
"Okay, you're good to go," the doctor announced.
"Thank you," Severus said solemnly.
Bending escorted them back to their room to pick up their knapsacks, and then he escorted them to the Pegasus gate.
"Good luck," Bending said to them as the Gate was dialed.
Severus and Harry stepped through the Stargate and walked onto Atlantis.
"It's beautiful!" Harry breathed, as he stepped away from the Gate to allow room for the pallets and boxes that were being sent through at the same time. Soldiers from Atlantis deftly moved everything away from the Gate in what looked like long-practiced organization.
"Welcome to Atlantis!" a tall, balding man said to them. "I'm Richard Woolsey, the chief administrator for the Atlantis Expedition."
"Severus Snape," Severus introduced himself.
"Harry Potter," Harry said.
"General O'Neill let me know you were coming," Woolsey said genially, shaking their hands in turn. "We're glad to have you."
"Thank you, sir," Harry said.
"Please, call me Richard," he invited them.
"Then please call me Severus," Severus felt obligated to reply. The casual use of first names was a custom he was reluctantly becoming used to.
Richard turned to greet a man who was coming up to them. "Ah! Colonel Sheppard! Please meet Severus Snape and Harry Potter. They are the observers sent to us by the British."
Sheppard was tall and lean, and his hair had a remarkable resemblance to Harry's – as much of it stood up as lay down, and Severus wondered if it was as soft as Harry's. Green eyes that looked more like Lily's than Harry's made Severus curious to learn if there was any familial connection between the two men.
Sheppard leaned in and shook hands with each of them. "Welcome to Atlantis."
Richard said, "Once you're settled, I'd be pleased if you'd both have dinner with me tonight."
"Certainly," Severus agreed easily. "We look forward to it."
"If you'll come with me," Sheppard offered, "I'll take you to your rooms."
"See you later!" Harry said to Woolsey as they followed Sheppard.
"O'Neill suggested we find you a two-bedroom apartment," Sheppard said. "That okay with you?"
Severus was surprised but appreciative. "That will certainly be sufficient," he agreed.
"Since neither of you are ATA positive," Sheppard said, "there will be some things that will work… differently. But if you're agreeable, we can see if the gene-therapy will work for either of you."
"It's safe?" Severus asked.
"Never saw a bad reaction; it either works or it doesn't." Sheppard shrugged. He looked them over carefully, "Something tells me it should work on you."
"Something?" Harry asked.
Sheppard gave a more elaborate shrug. "Just… a hunch."
"We certainly will consider that option," Severus allowed.
Sheppard kept up a running commentary as they moved through the city. He pointed out some of the landmarks they would need to know to not get lost. The transporter system was less disorienting than Apparition and evidently would take them pretty much wherever they wanted to go in the city.
"Some basic rules: Don't wander around by yourselves; don't touch anything that you don't know what it is, no matter how nicely it asks; and assume everything is dangerous and can kill you," Sheppard said. "No offense, but you can’t wander anywhere without a guide until we check you out more."
"No offense taken," Severus nodded.
Out of the corner of Severus' eye, he saw Harry's head jerk slightly. He waited for another signal that something was wrong, but when it didn't come, he allowed Sheppard to guide them to their apartment.
"There's a couple of empty apartments on this floor," Sheppard explained as he guided them down the corridor. "My place is just back there." Around another corner, and he indicated, "This one is yours." He waved his hand in front of a section of the doorframe. "You can set security on this to keep everyone out, but at this point, you don't have to worry too much. We're a small group and everyone pretty much knows what's going on."
Harry went into the apartment and looked around. They stood in what was a common room, one end of which seemed to be something of a kitchen space. There were multiple doors off the common room. An expanse of large windows made up one wall of the common room and looked out over the city. Severus wondered how tall this building was; he had never been up this high.
"Bedrooms back that way." Sheppard pointed. "A bathroom in each bedroom, and closets for storage. I'll get someone to bring your things up as soon as reasonably possible."
Jack and Daniel had talked them into taking a couple of packing boxes each, since they couldn't very well expect to stay on Atlantis for any extended period of time without bringing any belongings. Severus knew that Daniel had assisted Harry in finding more things that would be useful to them – books, computers and extra decks of cards -- and Jack had provided them both with fatigues, boots and personal weapons. Their truly personal belongings were still in Harry's backpack.
"It was kind of you to take the time to show us around," Harry said.
Sheppard shrugged, hesitated, and then admitted, "You aren't like most of the 'observers' we get around here."
"General O'Neill has suggested that we provide you with information that we cannot tell your Mr. Woolsey," Severus replied.
"There's someone else that should be here," Harry put in. He tilted his head in consideration. "You have a… colleague?"
Sheppard looked closely at Harry before suggesting, "Perhaps after your dinner with Mr. Woolsey tonight?"
"We'd be pleased to do so," Severus agreed.
"I'll have someone take you to your dinner," Sheppard said. "Couple of hours. Okay with you?"
"That would be fine," Severus replied.
"See you later," Sheppard said as he left.
Severus waited to make sure Sheppard was gone before he turned to Harry. He raised an eyebrow as a question.
"Wards," Harry said. "Around his room."
"Interesting," Severus said.
"Not Sheppard but someone… someone he's close to," Harry decided. "And Sheppard's not quite a Muggle."
"Agreed," Severus said. "But he has whatever it is under tight control. We will have to wait and see."
Two soldiers brought the crates that had their names on them, and he and Harry took some time to start to settle in.
The first thing Harry did was set up his own wards. He limited himself to basic wards, more of a warning than actual protection at this point. Anything stronger would take some time and preparation and, until he was sure they were going to stay, he wasn't going to take the time.
Severus wanted to ask Harry to check the wards around Sheppard's rooms but decided to wait. They were still guests at this point, after all.
They unshrank their own belongings and put clothing away and toiletries in the bathroom.
"Shame not to try it out," Harry observed as he stood in the room. "It's about as close to the prefects' bathroom as I've ever seen outside of Hogwarts!"
The bathroom was as large as the bedroom. There was a bathtub that was big enough for four people and sun streamed in through stained glass to make the space light and airy in a way that Hogwarts never had been. There was a separate shower with a seating area and multiple shower heads. Two sinks and an extended countertop area completed the space. There were multiple sets of towels on the rack.
Harry started taking off his clothes and said, "Going to try that shower."
"If we must, although it's something of a cliché," Severus said drolly but gave a small smile. He disrobed and followed Harry into the shower.
"Wow," Harry enthused. "This is amazing." He spun around, letting water from the multiple showerheads hit his body.
Severus put out his hands to hold Harry in place. "Steady. Don't get dizzy in here."
Harry moved closer to Severus. "You'll catch me!"
"Always," Severus admitted.
Harry turned so they were face to face and put his face up for a kiss. Severus complied, leaning down slightly. Harry wriggled against him, bringing their cocks together.
Severus reached down and took both their cocks in his hand. Harry placed his hand over Severus' as a guide, not forcing anything but just touching. Harry leaned his head against Severus' chest, planting a kiss above his heart. The simple move had Severus coming; a couple more strokes had Harry coming also.
"Brilliant!" Harry breathed.
"I will agree," Severus replied, holding Harry against him.
They finished up the shower, making use of the towels. Harry ran the towel over his hair, making it messier than usual. Severus would never admit it, but it was faintly endearing.
"When do you think dinner is?" Harry asked.
"Probably not too much longer," Severus replied.
It was another hour before there was a chime from the doorway. One of the soldiers who brought their things was there. "If you're ready, I can take you to dinner with Mr. Woolsey," the man said. His nametag said "Matias."
"Thank you, Sergeant Matias," Severus agreed. Daniel had made sure they understood the insignia that indicated rank and when to use the rank as an honorific.
Harry kept up polite chatter about their surroundings as they walked through the city. Severus was content to listen. The sergeant left them with Mr. Woolsey.
Dinner was interesting in many ways. Woolsey did his best to try to figure out why they were on Atlantis, and what they were there to 'observe.' Severus wanted to wait until he and Harry had their conversation with Sheppard and his colleague later before he let Woolsey know they were not there to observe him.
Harry asked good questions about the classical music that played in the background during the dinner. Severus knew Harry's education had vast holes in it, between his patchy schooling and the war with Voldemort, but it was interesting that he knew so little about music. He would have to encourage Richard – the first names came easily by the end of the meal – to spend some time expanding Harry's musical palette.
The same sergeant escorted them back to their rooms.
They didn't have long to wait before the door chimed again. Severus opened it to see Sheppard there, another man just behind him. Blue eyes watched him cautiously.
"Come in," Severus invited them.
Harry was on his feet waiting for them. Severus could see Harry had his wand at hand, ready to protect himself and Severus. Severus was glad to see Harry had not let down his guard completely. Harry nodded significantly at Sheppard's companion.
As they came in, the second man said gleefully, "You really are Harry Potter!"
"Oh, Merlin protect me. Not here, too!" Harry protested, rolling his eyes.
"Rodney McKay, our chief science officer," Sheppard introduced the man.
"Severus Snape," Severus introduced himself. McKay nodded at him and did not offer to shake hands.
"You're a wizard!" Harry said. Severus knew the wards had told Harry that.
"So are you!" McKay shot back. He looked at Severus, "Both of you."
"Okay, as the non-wizard in the room," Sheppard said, exasperated, "what now?"
"We all sit down and talk," Severus decided. "Harry and I tell you our stories; we'd like to hear some of yours, and we decide what to do next."
"That's the most reasonable thing I've heard all day," McKay grinned. "They leave you anything to drink?"
Severus grinned. "No, but I think I have something you'll appreciate." He went to their closet and got out a bottle of bourbon that had been part of their shipment. "Courtesy of General O'Neill."
"I love that man!" Sheppard sighed.
Severus poured everyone a good dose of the drink and then sat next to Harry on the couch in the living area. McKay and Sheppard took chairs opposite them.
"What do you know about the war against Voldemort?" Severus asked the two men.
Sheppard said, "Nothing, really."
McKay shrugged. "Second-hand information through the American Wizarding press. Dark Lord, hated Muggles, died and come back through some Dark practice. Harry here finally took care of him. But no details."
"That's pretty accurate," Severus replied. "There's more to it, of course, but that's for another time. In the end, the British Ministry of Magic was getting too… let's say, possessive about Harry. And because I worked for both sides, they also didn’t look too favorably at me. We know there are a number of wizards from both sides that would like to see us dead, for any number of reasons. We had contacts that reached out to the Americans about getting us out of Britain, and somewhere along the line your General O'Neill got involved." Severus took a sip of his drink. "He's not really a Muggle, is he?"
"Not sure what he is," McKay admitted. "But, no, not a Muggle. Maybe something like a hedgewitch… Definitely not trained."
"Thought so," Severus agreed. "I think he had the idea to send us here all along."
"So you're pretty much here to stay?" Sheppard asked cautiously.
"That's the plan," Severus replied.
Sheppard and McKay looked at each other with what Severus interpreted as a "we'll talk later" sort of look.
"You've figured out that Rodney is a wizard and I'm not," Sheppard started. "There are a couple of Squibs here but no other wizards."
"I'm assuming Richard has no idea," Severus said.
"No, and at this point we'd like to keep it that way," Rodney answered. "While he's a good administrator, he has multiple masters and we don't want to put him in an awkward position of having to keep his story straight. What he doesn't know, he doesn’t have to report."
"That makes sense," Severus replied. "We don't have a problem with that."
"You'll have to pretty much live as Muggles," Sheppard said. "Are you up to that?"
"We did okay in the SGC," Harry said with a shrug. "We were there for six months without too much difficulty."
"Atlantis will be different," Rodney said. "For one thing, I'm convinced that there were wizards among the Ancients. There are references in the city database that make me pretty sure of that. Not sure what good that will do us, but it's something we're working on."
Severus looked at Sheppard. "Which is why you think the ATA gene therapy will work for us," he realized. "How did you…"
"Know you were wizards?" Sheppard grinned. "I am ATA positive but I'm definitely not a wizard. Rodney thinks there are wizards in my family, so technically I'd be a squib. The ATA gene gives me a sense of… intuition, you'd call it, about other people."
"He's usually right, if it helps," Rodney added.
"That makes as much sense as anything," Harry said.
"Now what?" Sheppard asked, looking around at the group.
"We figure out what they can do and put them to work," McKay said. "Then we get O'Neill to 'assign' them to Atlantis permanently."
"Thank you," Harry said softly. Severus could feel a sense of relief from the young man, a release of tension that he didn't realize was there.
"Sorry, you still can't wander about yet," Sheppard directed. "Especially with your skills, it's dangerous."
"Bottom line, the Ancients were assholes," McKay said, with a tinge of bitterness. "They left a lot of dangerous things lying about, and it's too easy to kill yourself before you realize what you've done."
"Understandable," Severus agreed.
"Either of you into running?" Sheppard asked hopefully. At the blank looks, he shrugged. "Maybe down the road. We'll swing by about…" he glanced at McKay, "7:30 local time and take you to breakfast."
"That will be fine," Severus replied.
They said their good nights, and McKay and Sheppard left.
"They are… interesting," Severus said.
Harry grinned. "That, they are!"
"Running?" Severus asked.
"It's what it sounds like," Harry offered. "Another form of exercise, something that Sheppard seems to be fond of."
"Worth looking into," Severus decided. "Later. Tonight we can use some sleep."
Harry wrapped himself around Severus and, while Severus did not always do well in new places, he found that the sounds of the city lulled him to sleep.
Sheppard and McKay were prompt the next morning. Sheppard took them directly to the mess so they'd be able to get there and back on their own without getting lost. He pointed out more landmarks and McKay explained more about how the transporters worked.
Severus realized it was very like living in the Mountain. Once they got their bearings in the city, they would feel more comfortable.
There were a number of people at breakfast. Sheppard and McKay helped them through the meal line that wasn't terribly different from the mess at the SGC. Although the food certainly was different.
"Don't eat anything purple," McKay confided. "It's supposed to be good for us but it tastes like crap."
"Good to know," Harry replied. He followed McKay's lead in taking some of almost everything.
"Don't suppose you brought bacon?" McKay asked suddenly.
"Were we supposed to?" Harry asked in surprise.
"No, no," McKay replied quickly. "Just that whatever we get runs out too quickly and there's nothing that tastes quite like it here in Pegasus. So it's a delicacy." He looked at Sheppard. "It really should be on the 'things everyone has to bring' list."
Sheppard grinned. "Good luck with that."
They met Ronon Dex and Teyla Emmagen at breakfast. Ronon didn't say much but eyed them speculatively. Teyla asked general questions but Severus could see her taking in everything and remembering it, possibly for discussion with her team later.
"We have a mission tomorrow," Sheppard informed them. "But we can give you a tour of the city today and see if Carson can try the gene therapy on you."
Rodney caught Severus' eye. "I had it," he said, anticipating Severus' concerns. "It's safe. And you need to meet Carson at some point anyway."
"Carson Beckett is our doctor," Teyla explained. "If you will be going on missions at all in the future, you will need to have an examination when you return. It is a safety precaution."
"We underwent such at the SGC," Severus reassured her. "We are used to that."
"You went on missions?" Teyla asked, but Severus could see everyone else paying attention.
"While they were theoretically simple missions, Harry did manage to fall victim to a cave-in while assisting Daniel Jackson," Severus said.
McKay snorted. "Daniel's a trouble magnet," he said. "If something's going to go wrong, it will go wrong around Daniel."
"The others with us indicated that was true," Severus agreed.
"Hey! No one knew the ceiling was going to fall in!" Harry protested. "And it wasn't that bad."
"A broken leg," Severus recounted. "I think the most painful part was listening to you complain about physical therapy."
"PT's a pain," Harry protested.
"It is," Sheppard agreed with a grin. He looked around. "Teyla, could you escort Harry and Severus to the infirmary?"
She agreed easily.
In the infirmary, a doctor with a warm Scottish accent greeted them. "Welcome to Atlantis," he said in his gentle brogue that sounded like music to Severus' ears. A piece of home in this strange place.
"Let's get you situated," Carson Beckett started. He directed Harry to go to one bed and pointed to the next bed for Severus.
"Let's start with some data for my records," Beckett said. "I have your files from the SGC, but want to add my own notes."
Severus suffered through yet another physical, bloodletting and all.
"Colonel Sheppard said we should be candidates for the ATA gene therapy," Severus prompted.
"Aye," Beckett agreed. "Once we have all the results back, I'll be glad to do that."
"How long will it take?" Severus asked, resigned to waiting for something to happen yet again. Every organization had its own version of "hurry up and wait."
"Oh, only tomorrow," Beckett replied. "We just want to make sure there aren't any problems we should know about."
Severus knew that was a reasonable approach, but he was feeling somewhat impatient. He wanted to investigate this city, see where he and Harry would fit in.
When they were finished, Teyla was waiting for them and offered to take them on an extended tour, which Harry accepted happily. Learning to move about the city would be helpful to them.
Teyla took them through the inhabited parts of the city, showing them the living and eating areas, the recreation areas and some of the military areas. "The soldiers are… jumpy, if you are not supposed to be in their areas. You should wait until you are invited before you go in there."
"We can do that," Severus agreed. There had been similar areas in the Mountain.
"The labs are similar," she told them. "Never enter a lab without making sure it is safe. If the door is closed, do not open it. If someone is working, wait to be acknowledged. Interrupting an experiment that is underway can be dangerous."
Knowing the same things were important in a potions laboratory, Severus appreciated the caution.
"I will take you to the main laboratory next," Teyla said. "Rodney has indicated that he would be willing to show you both around the labs."
"We certainly are interested," Severus said. Harry murmured agreement.
Rodney looked up as they came into the lab. "Come over here and see this," he directed.
"I need to see to Torren," Teyla said. "I will leave you in good hands." She brought each of them close and leaned in to touch her forehead to Harry's. Harry didn't quite flail and Severus knew what to expect as Teyla turned to him.
They went over to Rodney's station in the labs. "Didn't get to ask last night. What were you a professor of?" Rodney asked.
"Potions," Severus replied.
"Huh. Maybe we can do something with that," he said. "We'll have to see if you want to focus on pure chemistry, but we can always use help with medicines. There's a huge trade potential in simple medicines, although we could use some more advanced things for ourselves."
"What sorts of things?" Severus asked.
"Pain management, anything that will support the surgery Carson has to do – Skele-Gro comes to mind," Rodney said. "Also, something that will help deal with the aftereffects. We have a lot of PTSD around here that no one really wants to talk about. Some form of Calming Draught that's non-addictive might be useful."
"PTSD?" Harry asked.
"Post-traumatic stress disorder," Rodney explained softly. "The aftereffects of stressful situations. Battling the Wraith can be traumatic and Pegasus is pretty fucked up. There's a lot of not-sleeping that goes on, emotions that run high, and physical illness that has no physical cause."
Harry looked at Severus, knowing this was the exact thing they had gone through – and still did, if they were honest – after the war with Voldemort.
"How do we pass off magical potions as Muggle medicines?" Severus asked.
"The inverse of Clarke's Third Law," Rodney grinned. Then looked at them in amazement at their blank looks. "You don't know Clarke's Third Law?"
"Sorry, no," Severus said, shaking his head.
Rodney rubbed his forehead. "Arthur C Clarke?" he asked hopefully.
Harry shrugged. "I got nothing," he said honestly.
"I hate that phrase," Rodney moaned. "Okay," he pointed a finger at Harry, "you have a lot to learn. I'm going to take over your life. You have potential that you're going to waste otherwise."
"Good luck," Severus smirked.
"Hey! Right here!" Harry protested. But Severus could tell he was intrigued.
"Arthur C Clarke wrote science fiction; you're going to read some of that," Rodney said. "Anyway, his Third Law is Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
"And the inverse?" Harry asked.
Rodney smirked, "Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology."
"Ah! Hiding in plain sight!" Severus said.
"What about that living like Muggles speech you gave last night?" Harry asked.
Rodney shrugged. "Staying alive is the first rule. Whatever it takes," he admitted. "Although you do have to be discreet."
"Discretion, I can do," Severus promised.
Carson gave them both the ATA treatment the next day and, as Sheppard predicted, they both became functional gene users.
Harry had a more difficult time with 'listening' to the city. Severus' ability to Occlude made it easier to manage the information coming at him.
John, interestingly enough, was able to get Harry to manage the flow of information. It was something that he said about 'shields' that triggered Harry's memory of the conversation with Samantha Carter. Likening shields to wards gave Harry the clue he needed to finally be able to Occlude properly.
"Oh!" Harry sighed when he was able to block the feed. "That's so much better!"
"Good job," John praised him. "Now think about something specific. Like how to get back to your room from here. Let the city show you that."
Harry thought carefully about that single request. He thought about it as thinning a ward… to let one thing through it. Suddenly, he had three different routes to their apartment in his head… and nothing else.
"Yes!" Harry crowed.
"Good job," John agreed. "Practice and you'll be fine."
"Thanks!" Harry grinned.
With Harry's activated ATA gene, Rodney took a serious interest in Harry's education. Rodney also wasn't bashful about including Severus in Harry's education. Rodney assigned 'reading' assignments to both of them regularly.
"What is this?" Severus looked at the computer screen in some bafflement.
"What did you get this time?" Harry asked with a thread of amusement in his voice.
Severus peered at the screen. "Something called To Kill a Mockingbird," Severus read the title to Harry.
Harry shrugged. "It's not on my list," Harry said. "I just got Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Rodney says it's faintly ironic but won't explain any more than that."
"I suspect we will find out," Severus replied.
"How was your day?" Harry asked.
Severus rubbed his forehead. "I understand Rodney's concern with some of his so-called scientists," he replied. "Some of them are worse than first-years, needing constant supervision with any task that isn't obvious and simple."
"You thought your teaching days were behind you," Harry sympathized.
"I don't mind teaching those who can appreciate what they are learning," Severus sighed. "But this group seems to consider the potions I am attempting to teach them to brew as 'herbal remedies' that have no basis in science."
"What were you working on," Harry asked.
"A version of Skele-Gro. Something that speeds up bone regeneration but takes a couple of days. Mostly so the side effects are reduced," Severus reported.
"Why not try something they can relate to more?" Harry asked. "Like a pain potion or… a Calming Draught?"
"Dr. Becket was interested in the Skele-Gro, and Rodney did not disagree," Severus reported.
"Rodney's usually reasonable," Harry suggested. Then laughed. "Well, sometimes. Talk to him and see what he thinks."
"And I can ask him why he gave me this blasted book to read," Severus agreed.
"Well, that you might not get a good answer to," Harry said with a grin. "But you can ask!"
"What sorts of things did you do today?" Severus turned Harry's question back at him.
"Rodney and I are studying a depleted ZedPM," Harry replied eagerly. "He and I are looking to see if there's a way they could be recharged magically."
"Replenishing a power source?" Severus asked. When Harry nodded, he went on, "What sorts of things are you looking at?"
"We're looking at a variation of Ennervate, for inanimate objects, obviously," Harry said. "Rodney wants some tight wards to help contain the energy."
"I'd be glad to help," Severus offered.
Harry grinned, "I was going to ask. That was actually next on my list. There's… designs that almost look like runes. Rodney's not so sure but I told him I'd ask you to take a look at them."
"I would have thought Rodney was the one that inscribed the runes on the lab in the Mountain," Severus frowned.
"No, he says they were there when he arrived," Harry replied. "He has a basic knowledge of Runes but you know more than he does."
"Don't let him hear you say that, brat." Severus gave a small smile.
"Oh, never!" Harry promised.
"Harry," Severus had to ask. "Are you happy?"
Harry looked up from his reading. "Severus?" Harry frowned.
"I mean... you left your friends, everyone you knew, to come here," Severus forged on. Now that he started, he needed to say this. "You could go back..."
"Not without you!" Harry protested. "And you left everything you know, too."
"There wasn't much to leave," Severus said baldly. He tried to keep the bitterness out, but wasn't sure he succeeded when he saw the understanding in Harry's eyes.
Harry pushed aside his computer and sat next to Severus. "While this isn't anything I ever imagined, it's more than I ever hoped for," Harry said softly. "I'd never get to do what I wanted, I would be living up to everyone else's expectations."
"There are others... someone nearer your own age..." Severus felt obligated to suggest.
Harry deftly moved Severus' computer away and settled into his lap. "Never," Harry said. "Stop thinking that way." Harry leaned in for a sweet kiss.
Taking advantage, Severus pulled Harry in close and Vanished their clothes. Harry smirked. "See? You have the best ideas!"
In bed, while Harry slept wrapped around him, Severus dropped a small kiss on the top of Harry's head.
Atlantis was also more than he had expected. There were mysteries to investigate, a city with endless treasure, work worth doing and... Harry. For someone who had not expected to live through the war with Voldemort, he had not only survived, he had a life well worth living.
He closed his eyes to sleep. Tomorrow was something he looked forward to.