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Jealousy Is the Best Policy

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Harry didn’t know when it had begun.

He knew what it was, now, but he didn’t know when it had begun.

*

He hadn’t lasted long in Auror training. There were too many bloody rules, for one thing. And Harry never wanted to do homework again. And he had too many “bad habits” that had to be trained out of him, his instructors had said decisively for the first week of classes. Bad habits like using defensive charms instead of countercurses—although Harry didn’t really understand the difference—and a tendency to talk to the other trainees playing his enemies instead of bringing them down.

So Harry had woken up after the first fortnight and decided that he might as well not go back. He knew Ron would be disappointed, and probably Hermione, too. But what mattered was that he would find a more honest life for himself—emotionally honest—and that would content him. 

He sent off his resignation letter to the program, and set about finding out what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

*

Being a Dragon-Keeper also involved too many rules, and too many fires. He’d tried to get work at the bank, but the goblins wouldn’t even speak to him. (He supposed they had a point). He’d thought about asking if he could be caretaker at Hogwarts now that Hagrid was going to live in France permanently, but that felt like a road to long lonely nights drinking too much and weeping about the past.

In the end, he settled on opening a comprehensive Defensive Magic for the Home business, since defensive charms were what he was best at. He took a few lessons from Bill in breaking curses, and a few more in setting up wards and other enchantments that would protect windows from being broken and doors busted down. There were a few visits from the Aurors to warn him gently against making the wards too good.

Harry’s business, based in Florean Fortescue’s old shop in Diagon Alley, grew and grew. Soon Harry had an addition to the building, and then another building. There were small rooms for lessons, and a budget for artifacts. There was a waiting list.

But there were also requests that Harry couldn’t supply himself, like the day that Augusta Longbottom walked into his shop—dead vulture hat and all, Harry had to bite his lips furiously to keep from giggling—and asked for a potion she could pour along her windowsills that would keep banshees away from the house.

Harry gaped at her, a little foolishly, and then shook his head. “I only do magic here, Mrs. Longbottom. Not potions.”

“You defend the home.” Augusta made it sound like they had different definitions of that. “Potions are magic enough to be included in that.” 

“Yeah, but I don’t have the brewing skills for that,” Harry said. He thought that should have been obvious, given that he’d had no idea home defense potions existed, but the unimpressed look Augusta gave him said she still thought poorly of him for it.

“Then contract with someone who does.” Augusta swiveled around and walked out of the shop, her high-heeled boots clicking. “I wish to give you my business, Mr. Potter,” she added over her shoulder, “but you must carry potions! You have a week to find a supplier.”

Harry spent a moment sighing mournfully, and an hour figuring out who he would even owl to put together a list of people who could supply the potions.

*

That was how Harry found out Severus Snape was alive again. In fact, his name was sitting, bold as you please, in the middle of the list of potions brewers that the Ministry sent Harry when he got around to asking them.

Harry stared at it. Then he Flooed the Ministry sub-Department—Records, Births, and Deaths—that had supplied him the list. The stern-looking witch who frowned at him out of the flames reminded him of Augusta, although she had a dead swan on her head instead of a dead vulture.

“Excuse me,” Harry said, as politely as he could. “Could you tell me whether there are possibly two men named Severus Snape who would be good enough brewers to be on the list that you sent me?”

“What list was that again?” But the woman snapped her fingers and shook her head before he could respond. “No, there’s only one Severus Snape. The one they thought was murdered during the war.”

Thought was murdered?” Harry shook his head back. “I attended his funeral!”

“Ah, but that’s what he wanted you to think, wasn’t it,” said the woman placidly. “He escaped. He has a shop in London now if you want to look. Thank you and good day, Mr. Potter.” And the Floo connection closed, forcing Harry out of it.

Harry knelt there on the floor and swore for a few minutes. Then he stood up and reached for his traveling cloak.

He had a few things that he needed to settle with Mr. Severus Snape They Thought Was Murdered.

*

The front door of Snape’s shop was painted a bright green. Harry blinked at it for a long moment before he raised his hand and knocked firmly.

The door opened of its own accord. Harry stepped inside, wondering whether the Muggles thought that was creepy, or if the wards on Snape’s shop kept out all but magical visitors.

Inside, the shop was wide and cool and dim with a counter on the side, much like Harry’s own business. There weren’t that many ways to set things up if you wanted customers to be able to find them. However, the barrels of squirming bugs and salamanders and snakes were something Harry didn’t have, along with the shelves and shelves of vials and cauldrons. Harry was glad he had lost Parseltongue with Voldemort’s death and couldn’t understand the complaints of the snakes as they were jostled by the salamanders.

Snape walked out of a door in the back of the shop.

Harry blinked. Somehow, he had never realized how tall Snape was. He decided that the school professorial robes must have made Snape appear hunched, although it was hard to discern how. And Snape’s skin was a kind of bronze now, not tanned but healthier than the deathly pale color it used to have, and his hair was pulled back from his face with a tight dark ribbon.

The ribbon had a bow in it.

Harry was still looking at the bow when Snape nodded and said, “Yes, I am alive. No, I have no desire to appear on the front page of the Prophet. The moment you stepped through the door, you engaged a spell that will curse you with incurable boils if you reveal that I am alive to any of your friends. And I am not going to tell you how I survived.”

Harry looked Snape in the eye, decided to ignore the weird distracting way that pale green robes made him appear, and said, “All right. I run a business that sells magic to defend people’s homes, and I need potions that could help people with that. Augusta Longbottom came to talk to me and was extremely upset that I didn’t have a potion that would keep banshees away from her house. Can I contract with you to supply potions?”

Snape looked back at him. Harry blinked again and again. It was simply disconcerting to have those dark eyes watch him with no trace of spite, he finally admitted. That and nothing else was the reason he found it hard to keep his gaze away from Snape.

“I want to know why I shouldn’t simply sell the defensive potions out of my own shop,” Snape said finally.

Harry shrugged. “Exposure. Some people buy things from me just because of my name. Sell to me, and your potions will fetch higher prices than you can get by selling them from a place that has to have curses on the door.”

“The curse was just for you,” Snape said, but his face was contemplative. “You’ve finally learned to use the power of your name, then?”

Harry nodded. “Took me long enough.”

And then…and then…

Snape smiled.

Mostly, Harry thought it was just weird, but that didn’t explain the rushing feeling in his chest, as though someone had immersed him in deep water and sent an electric current through it. He swallowed back the response he wanted to give and waited. He and Snape could negotiate terms once Snape accepted the bargain, but he wasn’t going to hurry Snape by proposing them now.

It was strange, Harry decided later, that he’d never thought, for one moment, that Snape wouldn’t accept the bargain, even if he drove a hard one.

Snape finally said, slowly and softly, as if discussing a textbook, “Sixty percent of profit on all potions sold.”

Harry was about to agree when he noticed Snape’s wording, and snorted a little. “No. I might want to sell potions that you didn’t make for me someday. You’re not making a profit from someone else’s work.”

Snape watched him eagerly for a moment, then frowned and said, “You were supposed to say, ‘The way you have all along.’”

Harry laughed, and wondered if that seemed as strange to Snape as Snape’s smile had to Harry. “I don’t think I want to say that anymore. What would you say to fifty percent of the profits from the potions you make?’

“For that, I might as well sell them here.” Snape crossed the shop to wave his wand and seal the door shut, then turned to Harry. “Sixty percent of the profits from my potions, ten percent from the other things you sell.”

Harry protested, and they started arguing.

But it was different from the past, Harry had to admit that. No matter how much they might argue, there was a bitterness that had been purged, a coldness that had passed into a sort of living warmth. Slowly, inevitably, the way that the world might turn or the seasons ripen into spring, things had changed.

In the end, they made a bargain over tea for Snape to have fifty percent of the profits from his potions and a ten percent share in the profits of Harry’s shop, in return for him teaching Harry some basic brewing skills of his own, ensuring safe delivery of the potions, and giving Harry some raw Potions ingredients that people wanted as good luck charms.

Watching Snape as he held out his teacup with a sharp gleam in his eye to toast the deal, Harry was suddenly, fiercely glad for those changes.

*

Yes, Harry thought, as he put away the last jar of Potions ingredients he would probably ever receive from Severus, that was the beginning.

*

“You two know each other, of course.”

Severus’s voice was demure, his eyes fastened on the jars in front of him as though nothing was more important than the proper sorting of salamander tails. Harry watched him for a moment, and then looked away. It was probably a good thing that he didn’t come to Severus’s shop more often to watch him actually touching the ingredients, picking them up, turning them around, and depositing them in jars; he would get distracted.

Even if he really shouldn’t get distracted. Even if he knew it was the wrong thing to have happen, a betrayal of—well, a lot in the past.

But they weren’t in the past anymore. That was the excuse he gave himself when he needed one.

“I believe we’re familiar with each other’s manners, too.”

Harry winced and turned to greet Malfoy, ducking his head. He hadn’t meant to ignore him, not really. Severus was that powerful a distraction factor. “Hey, Malfoy. Sorry for not speaking to you when I came in.”

“An apology?” Malfoy touched one hand lightly to the middle of his chest, a mocking expression on his face more powerful than any words.

Harry flushed, and knew he was flushing, and knew, even worse, that Severus was watching in distinct entertainment. He turned back to Severus. “Well, I didn’t mean to interrupt your reunion. The order of those powdered butterfly wings is on schedule?”

“Of course it is.” Severus inclined his head so that his hair swished around his face with a soft noise. “But you know that this reunion includes you and Draco as well, Harry.” He didn’t usually use Harry’s first name, and Harry put his hand on the counter to steady himself. “After all, you haven’t seen Draco since you left school, have you?”

Harry winced, but for a different reason this time. “Well, there were the trials.”

Severus paused for a moment. Then he said, “Quite so,” and there was something in his voice that Harry would have taken for a note of apology if he had been a fool, or if this had been anyone except Severus. “You’ll stay and have a cup of tea with us, at least?”

“I really do need to be getting back to the shop, and I really don’t want to interrupt your meeting.” Harry made his voice firm. If he was bad at resisting entreaties from Severus, that was his problem, no one else’s. Severus had certainly never offered him encouragement to daydream about his hands, or sanctioned the way Harry was beginning to enjoy his humor. “Enjoy your afternoon.”

“But I would enjoy the chance to catch up, Potter,” said Malfoy, and angled himself so he was in the way of the door. Subtly, so that Harry would seem stupid if he complained about it, but there. “Stay.”

“Yes, stay.”

Harry hoped that he looked sufficiently gracious as he nodded to Severus, and sufficiently ungracious as he ignored Malfoy. “All right.”

Severus lived above the shop, in a flat that was much bigger than it looked from the outside. Harry knew he had expanded it with wizardspace, and suspected the existence of at least one secret exit. But the vast interior of the space was devoted to a single sitting room, with false windows that looked across a rippling, placid lake. The walls were wood, light and beautiful white oak. Harry took a seat in the chair nearest the fire while Severus disappeared into the kitchen, intent on tea.

“So. Harry Potter.” Malfoy had taken the chair across from him, and slung his legs together with a casual grace that would have made Harry hate him instantly if he didn’t already have reason to hate him. “Not a place that someone like you belongs, don’t you agree?” There was the slightest emphasis on the word “belongs,” an emphasis that Malfoy could plausibly deny, just like he could deny having stood in Harry’s way.

Harry wanted to let loose the contents of his temper on Malfoy. But he was Severus’s guest, and out of the room or not, Severus wouldn’t be ignorant of what happened here. “It’s true that I don’t visit very often,” he replied temperately. “I don’t understand much about Potions.”

“Not surprising, when Severus couldn’t instruct you in school.” Malfoy balanced one hand on his knee as though he already had an invisible teacup. “Although this time, since I know you’re taking lessons, I would have thought the teacher was the attraction.”

Harry flushed again, and Severus came out of the kitchen then, real, steaming teacups on a tray, neatly sliced triangles of toast beside them. “You’ll excuse the lack of butter, I hope,” he said. “All I have is marmalade.”

“That’s fine,” said Malfoy, with a smile at Severus that Harry suddenly understood as seductive. Harry kept his eyes on the teacup he was holding now and not Severus’s face. “I would like anything you chose to offer me.”

Harry took a determined sip, and nearly choked from the thickness and heat of the tea. Malfoy helpfully hit him on the back with a clenched fist, and the rest of the tea leaped out of the cup and onto the floor.

“That’s our Potter,” said Malfoy, and sighed sadly as he drew his wand and cleaned it up. “Clumsy except on a broom.”

The rest of the afternoon certainly made Harry feel that way. He wasn’t skilled with flirtation, with making every touch of the fingers and every movement of the hands and lips into a game. He sat back in the chair and mumbled answers when Severus asked him questions. 

Well, most of the time. When Severus got into the territory of the potions they had studied together, he demanded clear answers, and Harry was able to lean forwards and give them.

“You’ll tell me why you can’t add powdered crystal to the Draught of Lion’s Blood,” said Severus, and his face was cruel and pointed and waiting the way it had been when Harry was at Hogwarts, but there was a shadow missing that made it different.

“Because,” said Harry, using the single powerful word to disguise the uncertainty thrumming in his veins, “the powdered crystal would dilute the thickness of the potion, and the effectiveness of the potion depends on the thickness of its base.”

Severus looked him dead in the eye, and Harry expected to hear a snicker from the side. Already, the flush was mounting to his cheeks again in the chill silence.

“Correct,” said Severus, and pointed the hand holding the teacup at Harry. “Did you find that answer in the book of the Half-Blood Prince?”

Harry flushed completely. He didn’t know how much Malfoy knew about that book, but he would probably ask Severus later, and that reference brought up memories Harry would never be proud of. “No. I wondered why the recipe had all those notations on it about never adding powdered crystal, so I looked it up.”

“You are finding my notes useful, then,” said Severus, and his voice descended and was quiet in a pleased way. “I thought you would.”

“I would cherish any book you gifted to me,” Malfoy interjected, and it was the first time in the conversation Harry had heard Malfoy sound awkward.

But Severus turned to answer him, and Harry had time to sit back and watch the similarities between them. How their eyes glowed with a similar kind of passion. How they both knew where the door was at all times. (Well, so did Harry, but it wasn’t for the same reasons). How they lost track of Harry when they got into a debate, their voices flying and flinging around Potions terms that Harry had never heard of, and Harry would have only sounded stupid if he tried to join in.

Severus was recalled to Harry’s presence when his cup half-tilted and Harry reached out a hand to catch it. “Thank you, Harry,” he said, and then glanced up at the golden clock that hung above the mantel and shook his head. “I must get back to chopping up those bats’ wings, or I’ll be at it all night.”

Harry nodded quickly and stood. “I should go home, too. The shop was only supposed to be closed for an hour.”

“Such an abrogation of responsibility,” said Malfoy, with a gently chiding tone—well, it probably sounded gently chiding to Severus—and rose with him. “I should also be going, Severus. Thank you for a wonderful afternoon.”

Any compliment Harry gave after that would only sound childish and like it was riding on the coattails of Malfoy’s, so he mumbled good-bye and left. To his surprise, Malfoy walked down the stairs beside him.

He stopped Harry with a light hand on his shoulder—light as a spiderweb—before they could get out the door. Harry flinched back before he could stop himself.

Malfoy seemed pleased at that, rather than the reverse, and smiled like a fox about to break a chicken’s neck. “I think we understand each other, don’t we, Potter?’

“No,” said Harry, because this was Malfoy and that was what he did.

Malfoy sighed and shook his head. “You don’t stand a chance of capturing Severus’s heart. I’m the one he protected during the war, the one who can debate Potions with him.” He paused, but Harry stood there and folded his arms, so he added, “I know how he survived Nagini’s bite.”

And that was one thing Severus would never tell Harry. Harry had learned never to hint about asking, lest Severus’s face grow cool and he retreat into the man he had once been.

Harry understood, after that. He did. No matter the thick taste at the back of his throat and the dusty feel of his hands. It was an issue of trust. Whether or not Malfoy ever succeeded in sleeping with Severus, he was succeeding in flirting with him and getting Severus to confide secrets in him.

It was silly, in the end. Severus might look on Harry more kindly now, but in the end, he and Harry were business partners. Harry didn’t have any of the shared history with him that Malfoy did.

“Yeah,” said Harry, and coughed on the thick taste. “We do.”

“I’m so glad we had this little talk,” Malfoy cooed, and brushed past him and out the door. Harry stood there for a second, head bowed, accepting a defeat that tasted far more bitter than the tea had, and then followed him out.

*

After that, Malfoy was a regular visitor. It became easier and easier for Harry to stay away from Severus’s shop, to owl back his answers to the lessons Severus sent him instead of meeting to discuss them, to ask questions by Floo if he absolutely couldn’t find a way to set them in writing. And when he firecalled, Malfoy’s light, quick voice always came from behind Severus, and Severus always seemed impatient to get back to his interrupted conversation.

It hurt more than Harry had expected. It hurt more than it should. But he couldn’t win every victory, and perhaps the most valuable lesson he had learned when he walked into the Forbidden Forest was how to let go.

*

“You are growing distant from me.”

It took Harry a long moment to abstract his mind from the discussion of wards in the book in front of him, which had new things to say about them that Harry hadn’t often considered. He blinked and turned around, and found Severus’s head hovering in his fireplace.

No, Snape, Harry told himself. That’s the way you have to think about him now. He wasn’t about to think of someone else’s lover intimately, past invitations or not. That had been then, and this was another turn of the spiral.

“I don’t know what you mean,” Harry told him. It was unusual for Snape to be the one who firecalled first, but not unprecedented. He crossed over so that he could sit on the low footstool in front of the fire, and not stretch his neck. “I’ve been replying to your letters and selling your potions as briskly as ever. Did I tell you that the latest version of your Ward-Strengthening Potion is the most popular one yet? I sold—”

“You do not visit.” Severus’s voice (Harry still had to think of him like that) sounded like acid dipped in ashes.

Harry straightened his back. So it had come to an open confrontation. Well, if that was the way Severus wanted to play it… Harry doubted he was ignorant, could be ignorant, of the tension between Harry and Malfoy. “I don’t find the company congenial.”

Severus stared at him. “And when did that happen?”

“Don’t play naïve, it’s never suited you,” Harry said irritably. “I don’t want to intrude on the private time you and Malfoy have.”

“You feel left behind in our Potions debates?” Severus sounded different again, but his face had gone blank. Harry wondered if he thought that Harry was the ignorant one here, and didn’t know about his relationship with Malfoy. If he’d wanted to hide it.

Too bloody bad, Harry thought. All the irritation and jealousy he had suppressed, telling himself it was unworthy to feel them, bubbled to the surface now, and he snapped, “I know that you and Malfoy are lovers. Malfoy made that clear to me. He knows your most profound secrets. You want him. You were closer in the war. Fine. Don’t let me intrude where I’m not wanted.”

Severus went still. Harry didn’t know how he could be sure of that when he could see only Severus’s face instead of the rest of his body, but that was the way it was.

“Fine,” Severus echoed. “You are jealous?”

“Like I’ve been set on fire,” Harry said flatly. He thought it was all right to say that. It wasn’t like he would ever talk to Severus about it again, after all. 

“You showed no sign of it before now.”

Harry let Severus see him rolling his eyes. “What good would that do? I know you can’t change the choice of your heart.” I know it by long and bitter experience. If he could have changed it, he would be happy with Ginny right now, and have the kind of simple life he hadexpected to have after the war.

Severus narrowed his eyes some more, and then his face in the fire winked out.

Harry was left staring at an empty fireplace, and swallowing ashes of his own. Fine. So this was the end of it. He didn’t want to have a different kind of end, he told himself. Not if Severus didn’t want it.

That still left him sitting there, unable to delve back into the ward book, for the next hour.

*

Harry finally looked up when someone knocked on the door of the shop. “Go away, we’re closed,” he called tiredly, and rubbed his eyes. He hadn’t actually set up the small sign and stinging spell that said the shop was shut, but he should have. He wasn’t up to dealing with any clients today.

But the door opened, and Severus’s voice said, “Do you know how hard it is to get rid of company that is convinced you want him?”

Harry blinked, and found the words he had to speak. “I imagine as hard as it is to get rid of someone who you’ve already explained the situation to.”

Severus came to a stop in front of the counter. He looked pleased with himself. “That was a weak comeback, unworthy of you.”

“I could never keep up with you when it came to insults.” Harry slid off his stool. He felt dirty, sticky, tired, as though he had worked in his garden for hours instead of staring sightlessly at words. “Are you here to taunt me about how I can’t get along with Malfoy, or how I should have known he was your choice from the beginning? Go away.”

Severus smiled now, and crossed the distance between them. He took Harry’s wrist and turned it back and forth, then examined Harry’s eyes. Harry hated how the closeness made him stand still and allow that. “No swelling in the joints,” Severus said at last. “No sign of a concussion or infection. It must be something other than suffering or a heated brain that makes you think I would reject you for Draco.”

He didn’t speak Malfoy’s name with contempt, but Harry didn’t understand what he did speak it with, and he didn’t want to be toyed with. He reached up and started to bend Severus’s fingers back. “Let go of me.”

“No.” Now Severus was all but smiling. “I don’t want to.”

“You’ve never been childish since we met up again.” Harry leaned forwards until Severus’s breath steamed up his glasses. “Let me go. You have me as a business partner and a student. Be content with that. I’m not going to be friends with your lover, and I’m not going to try to take you away from him.”

“I hope not,” said Severus, and his voice dropped. “It would be hard to take yourself away from me.”

“Huh?” Harry stared at him.

Severus bent and kissed him, with enough violence that Harry shuddered through most of his limbs and rested his hands on Severus’s shoulders. “I am not Draco’s lover,” Severus said, when he pulled away. “He wants to be mine, but he suffers from the irremediable deficiency of not being the person want.”

“What—but I thought—”

“You thought I wanted someone who could discuss Potions with me? Someone who knows all my secrets?” Severus sneered lightly as he pressed Harry back against the counter. “I am not that vain.”

It took Harry even longer to translate that than it had to recover from the kiss. “You want someone different from you,” he whispered. 

“He can learn,” Severus said, and sucked on Harry’s neck.

That brought Harry painfully to life, and he moaned and grabbed Severus, feeling the swooping wing of his shoulder blades, the bony ridge of his spine. But he managed to say, “If you—if you wanted me, why did you spend so much time with Draco? Why—why not make a move earlier?”

“I had no hint that you resented any of the time I spent with Draco,” Severus said, pulling back and studying him. “And then, there was your jealousy.” He almost purred his words.

Harry blinked and said the first thing that came into his head. “You don’t think it’s horribly unattractive?”

Severus’s eyes were deeper than normal, more focused. It was almost frightening, or would have been if Harry hadn’t known what it indicated. Severus looked almost greedily happy.

“A man who has lived through what I have,” Severus said, and this time it was purred, “who has been the unwilling servant of multiple masters, enjoys being fought over.”

“You bastard,” Harry said, but his tone, which was wondering, wasn’t enough to keep Severus from kissing him again.

Then Severus turned him around, and Harry found himself pinned chest-down on the counter, his heart pounding so hard it seemed to shake the wood. Severus positioned Harry carefully, and then wound an arm around his waist and took his cock in one hand. At the same time, he rested his own cock firmly against Harry’s arse.

Harry closed his eyes. He hadn’t dreamed about this. He had dreamed about an intimate meal, sharing secrets, followed by a session in bed.

But he hadn’t dreamed about Severus laughing in his ear and whispering, “Do you know what you looked like? That expression of frustrated desire on your face? You are to blame for the delay.” He pressed his erection lightly against Harry’s arse, and then slipped in between his legs, frotting. “If Draco had not thought this was for him, I would have been able to leave sooner.”

Harry’s glasses were slipping down his face, his arm twisted behind his back, his eyes soaked with sweat, but he managed to speak. “He doesn’t believe it now?”

“And never will again,” Severus said. “Since the next time he firecalls, I intend to be fucking you on the couch right in front of the Floo.”

Harry moaned, not intending it, and Severus began to rock against him, almost forcing his face into the counter.

It was indescribably exciting to Harry, doing this at the counter where he spent so much time sitting during the day, where he might never be able to sit again without remembering this, behind the door that he didn’t think he’d remembered to lock, with Severus’s hands on his hips, his breath rasping in Harry’s ear, the way that he sought both their pleasure with such a single-minded focus that Harry came more from that than the squeezing and stroking on his cock.

Feeling Severus spurt against his arse was much the same way, in fact. Which Harry supposed meant that he wouldn’t mind if Severus did fuck him on the couch in front of the fireplace, in fact. 

Severus pulled back at last, and spun Harry around to kiss him again. “Now, I’m going to take you to a bed and fuck you again,” he said.

Harry did have to laugh, and then pause and catch his glasses before they fell off. “Don’t you need to wait a while?”

“There are certain potions that I intend to carry with me from now on,” said Severus, and led him firmly up the stairs. “And others that you may wish to consume, such as the Wit-Sharpening Potion. If you truly thought you were shut out of my life because I did not tell you certain things, if you thought my patience in teaching you over the months and in agreeing to our business contract in the first place is something I would do for everyone, you need your brain as well as your eyes examined.”

Harry had to laugh again. That he would one day take such words as a mark of affection from Severus Snape was not something he could ever have anticipated, which made it all the more important and exciting. “Thank you. I think.”

Severus gave him a deeply self-satisfied look, and escorted him to his bedroom over the shop, shooting the spell that would close the door at it as he did so.

*

The look on Malfoy’s face when he caught them fucking on the couch in front of the Floo was entirely worth it.

And so was the way that Severus shut the Floo in his face without pausing once in his stroke.

Harry relaxed beneath Severus afterwards, and buried giggles that Severus wouldn’t understand in the pillows. He had never given up so easily before, not when it came to Voldemort and not when it came to annoying Severus. Why should he have surrendered merely because Malfoy told him in a snotty voice that he would never have Severus?

Then Severus covered the back of his neck in a demanding kiss that meant he had taken another of his special potions, and Harry turned around and dismissed the question as completely unworthy to occupy his time, much like the person it concerned.

After all, he had someone in front of him who occupied all his time.

The End.