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He stares in horrified fascination as the handlers try and at first fail to subdue the dragon. They finally manage to control her but Harry hardly notices. Too busy raging inside. They expect him to survive this? Or more likely they don’t, but they just don’t care if he dies. Well fuck them. Fuck all of them. He’s going to make them pay. 

~~~~~~

He spends all his free time feverishly searching for a spell which will do what he needs. It does not go as well as he’d hoped. He’s just heading back into the stacks to look for another possible book, the last turning out to be useless as well, when he bumps into Snape. He tries not to look guilty, staring into the man’s eyes and waiting for the usual reprimand, which doesn’t come. He blinks when the man almost smiles at him. 

“Potter.”

The man gives him a polite nod and then walks past, as if nothing out of the ordinary just happened. He stares after the man, more confused than he’s ever been before. What the fuck was that? He shakes his head, deciding the man’s probably trying to get him to let his guard down or something. He goes back to his search. 

He makes no progress that day, but when he starts to climb into bed that night his pillow crinkles, he reaches under it and pulls out a parchment, which just happens to have the exact spell he needs on it.  His heart starts pounding, who, how, and why? He has no way of knowing if he’s being set up and he’ll be arrested the moment he steps out of the arena. Or maybe the spell doesn’t actually work which means he won’t step out of the arena at all. He’ll have to test it and ensure it works. And as far as it being a trap...perhaps he gets hold of a timeturner in the next day or two? He shrugs. Even if he ends up in Azkaban...well it just might be worth it anyway. 

~~~~~~

He stays up late practicing and finds out the spell does in fact work. And it isn’t difficult to master either. He’s going to succeed. He knows it. Now he just has to wait, although not long. The first task is only two days away. 

~~~~~~

He walks into the arena with his head held high and his wand raised. He strides confidently toward the poor dragon, she doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment. She’s scared for her babies and that pisses him off even more, which is good because that will help him control the spell. He casts it on himself, making sure it’s very obvious what he’s doing, then casts the other spell with the tiniest twitch of his wand, hopefully making it look accidental. He carefully does not look at the judge’s table. 

He advances toward the dragon and she roars at him, placing her feet protectively to either side of her nest, she lowers her head and prepares to flame if he doesn’t stop. He doesn’t. He raises his hands placatingly, ignores the screaming crowd, who seem to be convinced he’s suicidal, and makes calming noises. He really doesn’t want to scare her. She narrows her eyes at him, then opens her mouth, and surrounds him with flame. He feels nothing but a gentle breeze, protected by that glorious spell, he smiles viciously now that he’s hidden from sight by the flames. He can’t wait for...the crowd begins screaming and he begins laughing. He doesn’t know if they’re screaming because they think he’s dead or if they’ve noticed what’s happening to Dumbledore yet. But they will soon enough. He stands and soaks up the dragon’s flames knowing that they’re fueling his revenge. He ensures his smile is back to being reassuring by the time the dragon stops flaming. Then he advances again. She lifts a forepaw as if she’s going to strike him and he stops moving. Trying once again to reassure her. 

“It’s alright. I don’t want to hurt your babies. You can trust me. It’s alright.”

She huffs a quick flame at him again, but when that has no effect she stops. There’s a long tense stand-off and then she backs up a step, he waits but she doesn’t move farther away, she also doesn’t seem as scared so he risks another step forward. She growls quietly, but it’s more of a grumble than a threat, then she backs up another step. He advances again, but still isn’t quite within reach of her nest and knows she isn’t going to like his attempting to touch her eggs anyway. He’s planning to wait until she’s moved farther away but the crowd begins screaming again, finally noticing Dumbledore, and the dragon turns away. He dashes forward and snatches up the egg, then makes a run for it before she can stop him. 

He’s almost to the edge of the arena when he decides it would be more suspicious if he didn’t look, and he turns toward the judge’s table. He stops, and stares open-mouthed. Fuck. He needs to thank whoever provided him with that spell. Profusely. The other school heads are arguing about how this could have happened, and whether it was an attempt on their lives as well. He ignores them, he has eyes only for the frozen statue that Dumbledore has become. That heat conversion spell is his new favorite, along with the one to transfer the resulting chill, or in this case extreme cold, to another location. There’s a cracking sound and the man’s right arm falls off, hits the ground, and shatters. He has to choke back a laugh. Holy fucking shit. They’re going to have to sweep up the bits of him in order to bury him. Fuck. He reluctantly heads out of the arena before he gives the game away by laughing. 

When he enters the tent with the other champions he has to pretend to be in shock, and horrified, but it’s worth it.

~~~~~~

There’s an inquiry of course, but when they make it obvious that he apparently caused Dumbledore’s death he’s so convincingly distraught over it they don’t actually accuse him of having done it on purpose. It helps that he has McGonagall for a head of house. She refuses to allow them to use a truth potion on him, since he’s been through enough. They declare Dumbledore’s death a tragic accident. 

~~~~~~

He’s planning to wait until the next task before he goes after the next on his list, but then he finds out he has to dance in a fucking ball. Arseholes. He has no idea who to bring to the thing. Apparently he doesn’t have a choice but to bring a date. He still wouldn’t but since it’s McGonagall asking, demanding really, well she did try to get him out of the tournament and kept him from ending up in Azkaban. So he’ll show up with a date. He just isn’t sure who...

He’s walking back into the castle, after sneaking off to greenhouse four to collect the ingredients he’ll need for his next bit of vengeance, when he finds Filch trying vainly to keep the entrance hall clean. Everyone’s tracking in mud. He himself tracks some in by accident. He scowls down at the mess, annoyed that he doesn’t know a charm to clean up after himself after all this time. Why hadn’t he thought to learn before? He knows how frustrating it is to clean up after arseholes who don’t even try not to make a mess. He’s a bit ashamed of himself right now. He summons Dobby and asks him to fetch him a book from the library on cleaning charms. 

He stands there, in the entry hall with other students wandering past, giving him odd looks, and teaches himself a new spell. Then he uses it to clean the place till it’s sparkling. Filch isn’t impressed. 

“That supposed to make me like you? You filthy little bastard.”

He shakes his head. 

“No. But I’ve been there, cleaning up after ungrateful arseholes. I have no excuse not to clean up after myself. And neither do any of the others, except maybe the first years. I don’t know why we aren’t taught cleaning spells, but it’s bullshit, and it should change.”

He places the book in his bag instead of having Dobby take it back to the library, he has a feeling he should probably learn most of the spells it contains. He’ll worry about that later though. He’s just about to walk away when something occurs to him. 

“Why don’t you use magical objects to clean?”

The man gives him a disgusted look, but since that’s his response to everything Harry doesn’t let that stop him. 

“Seriously. I could probably buy you a mop that would clean this shit up for you. They don’t require you to have magic yourself...”

A thought pops in his head and he smirks. 

“You know what, I will buy you magical items that will help with as many of your tasks as I can, if you agree to go to the ball with me.”

The man gives him an incredulous look. He quickly explains that he’s doing it to annoy the tournament people. Filch still looks incredulous. He gives him a beseeching look and the man shocks him by almost smiling. 

“Fine, you little shit. But you had better deliver on your end of the bargain.”

He holds up his hands in surrender. 

“You know where I sleep at night. I’m not about to purposely piss you off.”

The man does smile at that. 

~~~~~~

The day of the ball he sneaks down to the kitchen under the cloak, and inspects the tableware the elves have already set up prior to sending them up to the duplicate tables above. He wonders how they do that, it would be a useful ability to have. He’ll ask Dobby later. For now...he begins counting the cups trying to remember just where everyone sits, he can’t risk making a mistake. He decides he’s sure he has the right cup, hopes really fucking hard that no one switches seats tonight, and adds a tiny layer of poison to the rim. 

~~~~~~

He sighs as he gets dressed in his dress robes. He hates that he has to do this. Stupid tournament arseholes. 

He wanders downstairs to meet his date. He blinks at the sight of the man, he looks pretty damn good. He tells him that and the man snorts. 

“You want to butter me up you can do it with the things you’re going to buy. Now let’s get this over with.”

He shakes his head at the man’s attitude, takes his arm, and is lead toward the Great Hall. He laughs aloud at the look on McGonagall’s face. 

“I did say I had a date.”

She narrows her eyes dangerously and he sobers at once. He really shouldn’t piss off the new headmistress, she’s very overworked at the moment, and rather short tempered because of it. 

“Mm, I can see that. I hope you have a wonderful evening together.”

He could swear she’s actually amused and only pretending at annoyance. His date leads him into the hall and they sit down at a table to eat. He makes sure they have a good view of the relevant part of the head table. He does a quick count and breathes a sigh of relief. He’s sitting in the right spot. Good. 

The drama starts about halfway through the meal. Crouch stiffens, his face turning red, and then slowly reaches up and grabs his throat. He opens his mouth to try and speak but only manages a choked groan. Harry watches raptly as the man dies. His blood boiling within his veins and pouring from his eyes, nose, and mouth. Those around him try to help him but the poison is just fast-acting enough that they don’t manage to save him. He dies. He’s so focused on the show that he doesn’t notice he’s being observed until he hears a whisper from his left. 

“Somehow I’m under the impression that was your doing.”

He gives Filch a confused look, but the man simply looks amused in return.

“Mm, don’t say anything incriminating. I wouldn’t. I think I might just like you, Potter.”

He ignores the man and goes back to his meal, drinking in the chaos at the head table. At one point he locks eyes with Snape and the man gives him a knowing look. He ignores the man outwardly, but inwardly he’s freaking out a bit. He’s just now making the connection between his running into the man and the spell being left for him that night. How did Snape know? And what else does the man know? Shit. 

~~~~~~

He wanders out to the courtyard later that evening, his date having wondered off to deal with a couple of idiots. He’s just walking around rather bored when he comes across Snape having an intense conversation with Karkaroff. He listens, waits until Snape is alone again, and then confronts the man. 

“Why did you help me? And how did you know what I was looking for?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about Potter...”

He gets the impression the man doesn’t want to speak where anyone could wander past and listen in. Neither does he really, he simply wants the man to know that he knows. 

“Fine, but when you’re ready to talk I would appreciate an explanation.”

He walks away.

~~~~~~

The next day he treks down to Filch’s office and sets a box on his desk. He clarifies. 

“This should be a decent start, but since I don’t know exactly what you have to deal with on a daily basis I also brought along a catalog so you can pick out whatever else you think you’ll need.”

The man blinks down at the pile of magical cleaning supplies. Then smiles. 

“I asked the old fool for things like this years ago, but he said the budget wouldn’t allow it. He can pay an ungodly amount feeding an entire herd of thestrals that no one can even see, but not a single knut making my job easier. Bastard. I’m glad he’s dead.”

He nods sympathetically, wondering what thestrals are. He’ll have to look them up later. They spend the next hour chatting about the most ridiculous things the man has had to deal with and without magic to help him. Harry’s a bit shocked when he realizes he actually likes him. 

~~~~~~

Snape has him stay after his next potions class. He smirks at the man as soon as they’re alone, starts to open his mouth to speak, but Snape cuts him off. 

“Not one word until I have ensured no one is listening, you foolish boy.”

He can’t argue with the man being cautious, especially considering what they’re going to be discussing. He waits until the man has put his wand away, then waits some more, he has a feeling Snape would like to control the conversation and he’s willing to allow it so long as he gets his answers.

“I assisted you to keep you alive, although the secondary effect was not dissatisfactory. The stunt you pulled at the ball was stupidly risky. You cannot continue to target anyone associated with the tournament. You will be caught.”

“They deserve it and no I won’t. Not if I’m careful.”

“Mm. Were you trying to frame me with that poison?”

His eyes widen.

“You seemed amused at the time, if you thought I was trying to frame you why would you be amused? But, no I wasn’t. It’s not like it isn’t a plant that grows nearby. I collected it nearby. Anyone could have done it.”

“Indeed. I thought as much, but you wouldn’t be the first to attempt it. As much as I am the first suspect in cases of poisoning, it is only because I am the most obvious suspect. No one would actually believe I had done so however.”

“Because you aren’t an idiot. What happens next? You going to try and stop me from going after the others?”

The man gives him a long look before replying.  

“No. But I do not wish to see you in Azkaban, therefore whatever plans you might make, you will run them by me.”

Huh. In that case...

“The next task takes place in the lake, I was going to have the giant squid eat Bagman. Or drown him maybe. Not sure how big it’s mouth is.”

“And how are you planning to orchestrate such a thing?”

He shrugs. He grins as Snape pinches the bridge of his nose, looking pained. The man sighs. 

“It isn’t a terrible idea. It would be difficult to trace back to yourself, especially since I’ll be the one enacting it. Go, get started on that essay, I will carry out this particular murder.”

He would prefer to do it himself, but he will be a bit busy at the time, so this is probably for the best. He nods. At least he’ll still get to enjoy the show. Which gives him an idea.

“I don’t suppose you have a pensieve?”

“I do. Why?”

“I was hoping to see the first task from your perspective. You were sitting fairly close to the judge’s table, weren’t you?”

“I was, but I only saw the aftereffects.”

“You generally notice everything that happens around you, but you didn’t see that?”

“My attention was elsewhere at the time. I heard the commotion, I ignored it.”

He blinks at the man, thanks him for his help, then leaves, still bewildered by what the man just said. The only other thing he could’ve been focused on was him in the arena. He can’t believe the man was that concerned about him. When the hell did everyone begin acting mad?

~~~~~~

The day of the second task arrives and he finds himself almost bouncing with excitement. Cedric gives him a look, but he just explains it away as him being cold. 

He waits with the other champions. The weird plant Snape gave him clutched in his hand. The whistle sounds for them to enter the lake, and he’s just getting angry at the thought that Snape failed or lied, when there’s a loud splash and he turns just in time to see Bagman dragged beneath the surface of the lake. His scream of terror deafening with it’s being amplified as it was. He’s a bit disappointed with how quickly it was over, but then there’s an expanding red cloud in the water and his disappointment evaporates. Damn he hopes the man was aware for that. 

They have to postpone the task because there are so many grindylows in the area, attracted by the blood. 

Harry has a hard time not smiling. He’s only got two weeks to plan but he’s going to see to it that Karkaroff doesn’t survive the second attempt at the second task. He has a feeling Snape will approve of his idea for it too, since the man hates Karkaroff so much. 

~~~~~~

He finishes outlining his plan and waits for Snape’s reaction. The man stares straight ahead for a long moment, and then nods.

“It can be done. Although it won’t be easy to arrange and it may lead Hagrid into legal trouble. Are you sure this is what you wish to do?”

“I’m not going to argue they should all be killed, they are sentient creatures, but something needs to be done before they kill a student. This will ensure that something is done. I hate for Hagrid to get in trouble, but he should never have brought a second one here, the first was risky enough but now he’s multiplied that risk by the hundreds. He doesn’t think!”

“No, he does not. Very well, I will make the necessary arrangements. You will go nowhere near that forest or I will make you regret it.”

He knows the man is only threatening him because he cares, so he really shouldn’t risk actually pissing him off but...

“Love you too, Snape.”

The man gives him a disgusted look. Then points toward the door. He laughs and makes his way out, but before he leaves he calls back to the man one last time.

“Well maybe not love, but you are growing on me.”

He glances back to see the man looking almost fond. 

~~~~~~

The day of the second second task dawns bright and almost slightly warm. Whoever thought it was a good idea to have them swim in a lake in winter is a goddamn idiot who should be drowned before they can spread their shitty genes around. He’s not looking forward to that part of today. Giant spider attack on the other hand...

He finds himself standing beside Cedric again. He’s once again almost bouncing with excitement, Cedric looks like he feels sick. Probably remembering last time. Poor guy. 

He focuses on Karkaroff where he’s sitting at the judge’s table beside the replacement tournament people, who look very nervous. He has a hard time keeping his face straight. He wonders if any of them will agree to come back after today. He doubts it. 

There’s a scream and Cedric grips his arm, tightly. He pulls his wand, like he’s going to protect them both and Harry decides he might actually like the guy, even if he is an idiot. He seems a decent sort, and considering the way his wand wavers a bit when he sees the acromantulas, surprisingly brave too, since he quickly firms his grip and straightens his spine. Harry focuses back on the show he’s been eagerly awaiting. Karkaroff is standing and casting curses at the acromantulas along with Maxime and McGonagall. The ministry people fleeing. He watches as Karkaroff is quickly overwhelmed, his wand broken, and then one of the spiders sinks it’s fangs into his side and he quickly goes down. The spiders drag their prey off to be feasted upon later and Harry waits to see if the second task will be postponed again. It isn’t. 

He fetches his hostage easily enough, then heads for the surface. Everything goes smoothly until they get close to shore and Ron sees the few acromantulas that they managed to kill. He freaks out and refuses to swim closer to the shore’s edge. Harry sighs, hits him with a stunning spell, and drags his dead weight the rest of the way. He can’t help but feel he needs better friends. 

They give him just enough time to dry off and warm up, mostly because Pomfrey doesn’t give them a choice, and then they drag him off to question him. This time he lets them know just what he thinks of their intelligence.

“You think I waltzed into the forbidden forest and had a chat with some giant spiders, convincing them to attack him? How the hell would I arrange something like this?!”

Snape cuts in, sneering at the idea of his being able to manage such a feat. The aurors insist on checking his wand and finally have to admit that they have no real reason to suspect him. They leave and Harry finds himself watching the tournament people argue over whether the damn thing can be canceled or not. He has to bite his lip to stop himself laughing. The argument is quite heated, with most of them refusing to show up for the next task, and trying to argue there’s nothing in the rules that states they have to actually be there in person to act as judges. McGonagall brings up a point she found in the rules about the tournament being able to be canceled if no one agrees to act as judges and Harry thinks they might just decide to cancel it after all. But then Moody cuts in with an argument about it not being worth the risk of him losing his magic if it turns out they were mistaken and the arseholes agree. So there will be a third task after all. 

Harry decides Moody needs to die as well. He just isn’t sure how yet. Something truly vicious though. 

~~~~~~

A few days later Snape has him stay behind again, wards the room, then announces. 

“The next task will take place in a labyrinth, filled with deadly traps and creatures.”

He nods. Makes sense. The judges are no doubt hoping the labyrinth will protect them from harm. He doesn’t care about hurting any of them anyway, it isn’t really their fault they work for idiots. Moody on the other hand has earned some punishment. 

“Do you know where Moody is likely to be that day?”

The man narrows his eyes at him, but then sighs and shakes his head. 

“He will no doubt be in attendance but I’m not sure where exactly he will be. There will be many wards placed on the area to ensure everyone’s safely after the last few incidents so your best bet in this instance will be poison.”

“How would that work? The man is paranoid as hell...”

He trails off into silence as an idea flashes across his mind. He grins. He calls for Dobby at once and checks to see if it can be done. It can. He glances back up at Snape to find the man looking vaguely impressed. He dismisses Dobby for now so they can discuss what they’ll be putting in the man’s flask.

“What type of poison though? I want the man to suffer, so nothing that would kill him quickly.”

Snape looks thoughtful for a moment. 

“Does it have to kill him? Or would an incurable ailment suffice?”

Oh, he likes that idea. Loves it even. 

“That would be brilliant!”

Snape gives him a vicious smirk and begins describing the poison he has in mind. He listens eagerly, slightly aroused by how fucking sexy the man makes it sound with his deep voice. Then he takes those feelings and puts them to the side, determined to think about that later, or never. Never works too. The man finishes and he can’t help but ask. 

“There’s no antidote?”

“Of course there’s an antidote. You never design a spell without a counter or a poison without an antidote.”

“Wait, you invented it?” 

The man nods and fuck but he’s even more aroused now. He shakes it off, for now, and goes back to plotting. Wondering what the man finds so amusing. 

~~~~~~

The day of the third task arrives and just about everyone wishes him luck. Everyone’s been acting all weirdly grateful ever since he helped Filch, which he can’t really blame them for, the man has been in a downright cheerful mood ever since. The only ones who seem almost saddened by the change are the twins, but they’ve been sad ever since Bagman died anyway, Harry still hasn’t managed to find out why. 

He heads down to the quidditch pitch, fingering the flask in his pocket. He waits with the other champions hoping to see Moody before the task starts. The man comes walking up to them and he almost laughs aloud at how easy this is turning out to be. He casts a quick charm switching the contents of their flasks, using the same spell the house elves use every mealtime, while greeting him politely. He just hopes he doesn’t take a sip until after he’s walked away. The man walks away soon enough and he breathes a sigh of relief. 

The signal is given and they head into the maze one by one. He doesn’t bother trying to hurry, just walks along slowly, rather bored. He doesn’t come across much by way of threats but he keeps hearing movement nearby, like he’s being shadowed. He ignores it for now, it could be some charm meant to make him paranoid or something. 

He reaches the center of the maze to find he’s the first to get there. Which seems odd because he wasn’t even trying to be quick and the others were, but he shrugs and grabs the fucking cup. And is whirled away by a portkey. 

“Fucking bullshite.”

He stares around the goddamn graveyard he’s been sent to. This was not what was supposed to happen. He’s going to slaughter whatever fucker sent him here. He hears a noise and whirls around wand raised. He sees Pettigrew and doesn’t hesitate, firing off a quick cutting curse and making him drop the bundle of fabric he’s carrying. He ignores the fact the thing cried out as it fell, and fires off another and another. He slices the man to ribbons and watches him bleed out. Fuck. That felt so good, better than all the other deaths combined. He’s so hard right now. The bundle begins cursing and now he pays attention. He steps closer and nudges it with his foot. It wriggles a bit and part of the fabric moves. He aims his wand directly between the thing’s eyes. 

“Voldemort. Why shouldn’t I kill you right now?”

The ‘man’ glares up at him. 

“I’ve heard all about your little killing spree, Potter. You would make a fine death eater. Help me and you shall be first among them.”

“I bow to no one.”

He’s halfway through the first cutting curse when the thing screams, begging him to stop. He does, sighing at his own idiocy. He seriously doubts the man could say something that will change his mind, but his curiosity gets the better of him. 

“Yes..?”

“You can be my ally rather than my servant. Wouldn’t you like to have this every day? Rather than hiding who you truly are?”

Hm. He quite likes the status quo, everyone thinking he’s a good person when he isn’t. But on the other hand he wouldn’t mind having this more often, not to mention having access to the knowledge the death eaters have squirreled away. All those dark tomes at his fingertips...he lowers his wand. 

“Fine. Walk me through whatever the fuck ritual needs to be done.”

“It can’t be completed. Not without the blood of an enemy and the flesh of a servant. You are now neither of those things.”

“Well enemy should be easy enough. I’m sure Snape can collect some for us from just about anyone. But I don’t see him cutting off a bit of himself. How much flesh is needed? Could he just give you a tiny strip of skin?”

The man grumbles about cutting corners and the risk of the ritual failing but then nods. He smirks at the man’s attitude. Wanting to force one of his men to sacrifice a hand or something just to make the ritual more impressive. He’s already second guessing his decision to ally himself with the idiot. 

Another few minutes of planning and then he grabs the cup again and is taken back to Hogwarts. 

Where everything is chaos. He has a hard time keeping his face straight when he sees Moody writhing on the ground, screaming silently, someone having used a silencing charm on him. He makes himself look concerned and waits for everyone to notice his arrival. 

In the meantime Moody begins changing. Harry’s eyes widen when he realizes the man is under polyjuice. He wonders who he really is, for all of a moment, and then he knows. 

“Barty Crouch?”

Everyone’s shocked and confused, since the man had supposedly died years ago. It takes a while to get the full story out of him. He’s in too much pain for the truth potion to work very well, hard to question someone who can’t stop screaming. But also the pain makes legilimency impossible. Whatever that is. But they finally know how the man came to be here, and how he escaped, which is good because they’re sending him back to Azkaban and they want to ensure he stays there this time. Harry can’t believe his luck. He wanted the man to suffer and now he’s going to suffer even more between the poison’s effects and the dementors. He’s beginning to be glad he was entered into this fucking tournament. 

~~~~~~

He isn’t able to speak to Snape privately until late that night. He sneaks down to the man’s office under the cloak, and explains the situation to him. Snape is not exactly pleased by his decision and refuses to help. 

“Fine. Then I’ll find someone else who will. Lucius Malfoy comes to mind, I’m sure he’d be thrilled to help me.”

“You will do nothing of the sort...”

“No, I won’t. Because you’re going to help me. The man already came back once, sort of, he’s just going to keep coming back so we might as well try to get him on our side. Why fight him when we can influence him?”

“As if it is that easy...”

“I never said it would be easy, I never said it was a good idea. I’m saying it’s the least bad idea we have, Snape. Please. Help me.”

The man closes his eyes, pinches the bridge of his nose, and sighs. Then says, while gritting his teeth. 

“Fine.”

He gives him his best smile and is pleasantly surprised to receive a small smile back. 

~~~~~~

The next few days are hectic. Everyone congratulating him on his having won the tournament. The twins still seem sad and he finally corners them and demands an explanation. When he hears they can’t get the money Bagman owed them from his estate, because it simply isn’t there, he gives them his winnings. He’d never wanted the money anyway. 

It isn’t until the day before they’re set to leave that Snape pulls him aside and tells him it’s done. He shows him his mark as proof. He snorts at the sight of it. 

“That’s hideous. I’m being a bit harsh. It’s not that bad, but it could be so much better. Also it’s bloody fucking stupid to have it be that obvious when simply having it can get you thrown in Azkaban. Couldn’t it be smaller?”

The man looks amused in spite of himself. 

“I do not know. That is beside the point however. The man would like you to contact him this summer...”

“I can’t. My relatives would kill me if I tried to exchange letters with someone. Tell him that he can’t send me letters. I’m serious. I’d like to not be killed by my uncle, thanks.”

Snape blinks once, then stares intently at him. He feels like he should look away but he’s caught in the man’s gaze and he couldn’t turn away if he tried. Finally the man responds. 

“Albus is dead. No one else will, so far as I know, insist you return to an abusive household. You may spend the summer with your friend, or...”

He tries to shake off his growing attraction to the man. It’s disconcertingly difficult. 

“Yeah?”

“You could stay with me.”

He blinks. Oh fuck. He has a nasty suspicion forming. 

“You can read minds.”

Snape smirks. 

“Indeed.”

Fuck. He can’t believe...all this time the man’s known he’s been lusting after him. He feels like an idiot. But also, Snape doesn’t seem to mind the idea, judging by his invitation, perhaps even the opposite is true...he gives him a questioning look. Snape reaches out and drags a hand slowly down his arm in a teasing caress. He gulps. Well that answers that question. 

“I would like that, yeah.”