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Lavatories and Lace

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Severus is patrolling the third-floor corridor when he feels it. The wash of magic—subtle, powerful, and absolutely not supposed to be there.

He pauses, looks around. There is no one about. Severus casts a quick detection spell and there, cloaking the door to the eighth-year boys’ lavatory, is both a privacy charm and a complex—if hastily thrown up—protective enchantment.

Severus could break the warding. Or he could bang on the door until the guilty parties decide to emerge. But, truthfully, he has no desire to see or even break up whatever tryst is taking place in there.

He does not, however, have any objection to waiting them out. So, he sets his own charm and, approximately fifteen minutes later, feels a shiver of magic before Harry bloody Potter steps out of into the hall.

“Mr. Potter,” Severus says, emerging from the shadows. He enjoys the way the boy jumps.

“I, oh—” Severus thinks he sees Potter’s cheeks pink. “I was just…” he looks back behind him, but no one else is there. “Sorry, I didn’t mean—” And then Potter simply steps around him and, without so much as another word, disappears down the corridor towards the eighth-year dorm.

Severus should follow him. He should take points. Instead, he stands there, open mouthed, wondering at what’s just happened. But Potter appears to have been alone. And, when no one else comes out, he pushes the lave door open and steps inside.

The castle has outdone itself.

Severus was not a prefect, but he has been in that ridiculously outlandish bathroom a handful of times over the years and this…this is worse.

There is a line of toilet cubicles along the back wall and a row of private shower stalls down one side. The large mirror behind the basins is flanked by sconces and overhung with floating lights. And the centre of the room is dominated by a large, sunken tub with no less than one hundred different taps.

Severus considers the small, cramped bathroom in his quarters and thinks he understands now why Filius is constantly bringing up proposals for a faculty bath at staff meetings.

Severus casts a few quick spells, but there is no residual magic here, no concealment or disillusionment charms. Potter was alone.

***

In class, Potter is…competent.

More often than not, Severus has his seventh and eighth-years work independently. After all, despite what traditional potions education might suggest, brewing is a solitary art. And Severus believes his students should be able to manage on their own.

He knows Potter had his old book, clearly absorbed whatever tripe his teenaged self wrote in the margins. But this is different, and Severus does not credit Horace—though he is a perfectly adequate teacher. This type of skill does not come from one year of formal training.

The boy is able to produce healing draughts and antivenin potions from memory. He knows the bases for blood replenishers, pain potions, and calming draughts by rote. And he has clearly, undeniably, been brewing routinely since Severus last had him in class.

Severus is not entirely sure what Potter and his friends were doing during their year away from school. The year they somehow managed to find and destroy Horcruxes, to weaken the Dark Lord and return to kill him once and for all.

Regardless, Potter’s power, his abilities have increased tenfold, and it is difficult for Severus to find any fault.

***

Exactly one week later, Severus, once again, finds Harry Potter alone in the eighth-year boys’ lavatory.

Severus enjoys patrolling the corridors. He has always loved Hogwarts at night—the hum of familiar magic, of well-known spells all around him. They settle over his skin as he walks past portraits, tapestries he knows as well as the ingredients in his lab.

Potter’s magic has always been distinctive, and now that he’s saved the bloody world? Of course Severus would notice, would be able to pick it out from the magic all around him. In the same way Severus can recognise Minerva and Filius’s. Shacklebolt’s too, coursing beneath the castle’s stone in certain places because he—like Potter, like so many others—helped with reconstruction.

In those weeks, months after the final battle, so many worked around the clock rebuilding, making Hogwarts whole again. Making sure it was ready to welcome students back come start of term. Potter was here throughout the summer, working quietly, diligently, unobtrusively. And, when the work was finally done, he simply left. No demand for thanks, for recognition, for…anything. And Severus was certain he’d gone on to pursue a career of heroics with the Aurors or to occupy some cushy post at the Ministry.

But, instead, he’d returned on the first of September as an eighth-year to complete his schooling properly.

Severus was, admittedly, surprised. After all, Potter could do anything he wanted. Yet, here he was, back at Hogwarts, attending classes and not at all acting as though he was the Saviour of the bloody world.

There is other magic around. Some older, timeless. Severus feels Albus as one might feel a phantom limb. His magic runs deep in some places; it echoes in the walls. And there is dark magic, too. They did all they could to rid the castle of that taint, but it lingers—will likely linger for years.

And now, here in the third-floor corridor, Severus feels a swath of Potter’s magic—cutting across everything else, and warding that damned lavatory door.

Ten minutes later, Potter emerges. He’s flushed and damp, as though from a shower, but fully dressed and, like the last time, he’s entirely alone.

“Mr. Potter,” Severus says and Potter stops, turns.

“Good evening, Professor. It’s not after curfew already, is it?”

“No.”

“Then is everything all right?” he asks innocently. He even has the gall to smile.

Severus scowls. “Mr. Potter,” he repeats. “Surely you are not this obtuse. There are…reasons students are not allowed to ward themselves in the lavatories.”

“I was alone, sir, and no one needed the lave.”

“That’s not the point,” Severus says. Then: “Your bed has hangings. You can cast a privacy charm.”

Potter flushes, but he does not look away. “I could, but that’s not quite the same, now, is it?”

***

Severus used to enjoy picking on Gryffindors, picking on Potter. He liked taking points, assigning detentions. But now…

Perhaps Severus is growing soft in his old age, or, perhaps, they’ve all just changed.

The students are quieter, more subdued. Severus understands. His sixth, seventh, eighth-years are not children anymore—and he knows now that some never were. They are soldiers and survivors, back at school trying to regain some semblance of normalcy, to pick up the pieces, move on with their lives.

His younger students, too, are different.

They’ve lived through a war. They’ve lost parents, siblings, friends.

When Potter enters the classroom the following day, he looks Severus straight in the eyes. He nods once, then sits down, takes his textbook out, and waits for instruction.

When the lesson is over, Potter packs up his things, says ‘thank you’ in an entirely genuine and not-at-all ironic way, and leaves the room.

His potion is perfect.

***

When Severus next feels Potter’s magic in that third-floor corridor, he stops in front of the lavatory door and presses his palm to its smooth surface.

Potter’s magic pulses all around him. It reminds him of the way it thrummed in his veins for weeks after the final battle, after Harry Potter saved his life, somehow kept him from bleeding out on the floor of that goddamned shack.

The boy’s magic is like a drug. It is soothing, intoxicating, and tinged with dark.

Severus has saved Potter’s life before but never with magic anything like what Potter used on him. And he wonders how long he’ll be able to feel the aftereffects, the reverberations.

Perhaps forever.

Potter’s protective enchantments shimmer before him and, for just a moment, Severus presses his own magic out against them. The wards don’t fail—not exactly—but they give slightly, and Severus opens the door.

He shouldn’t. He knows this. Despite catching Potter for now the third time locked in the eighth-year boys’ lave alone, Severus does not actually need to know what he’s doing in there. Still, he casts a quick disillusionment charm and slips inside—and almost turns around and leaves again.

Severus’s feet, however, do not seem to want to cooperate with his brain.

Potter is here. He is alone.

And he’s wearing a skirt.

Severus blinks, blinks again. But, when he opens his eyes again, Potter is still there, standing before the large mirror, in a Gryffindor Quidditch t-shirt and…a skirt.

It’s the standard-issue, pleated uniform skirt the girls wear under their robes. The red piping indicates he got it from a Gryffindor classmate or the dormitory laundry.

Severus stands, rooted to the spot, as Potter tilts his head, regarding himself in the mirror for a long moment. He smooths his hands over his hips, down his thighs.

The drab grey wool does nothing for his complexion, but the skirt accentuates the flatness of his stomach, the slender curve of his narrow waist, and—if Severus were positively insane—he might say it suits him.

Severus turns and flees.

Before his disillusionment charm falters. Before Potter notices him watching. Before he opens his mouth. Before—

Fuck. Severus needs to get back to the dungeons.

***

Severus manages to avoid the third-floor corridor for two entire weeks.

He teaches his lessons; collects ingredients in the Forbidden Forest; brews batches of fever reducer, pain draughts, and contraceptive potions for Poppy; reluctantly attends required staff meetings; and patrols other areas of the castle.

But then, on a Friday the week before Hallowe’en, he finds himself outside the eighth-year boys’ lavatory and, once again, knows Potter is in there alone. And, once again, when Severus presses his magic to Potter’s wards, they allow him through.

This time, Potter is wearing a dress, and it’s red. Of course, it’s red. Sodding Gryffindors.

Potter stands awkwardly.

Severus watches as he turns slowly, side-to-side, looking at himself. His lips are pursed, brow furrowed.

The dress, Severus thinks, is all wrong. The shape, the fabric, the colour.

It’s not that Potter couldn’t look good in red—he can. But this shade is too warm, with an orangey, almost garish undertone that does nothing for Potter’s pale skin.

He needs a darker red—something cooler, deeper—that would complement his brown black hair and not clash with his rosy cheeks.

Still, the neckline of the dress sweeps just low enough to hint at the flatness of his chest beneath and, despite the boxy cut, the fabric stills tucks in at Potter’s perfect waist.

Fuck, this is wrong. Severus should not be here, playing voyeur to whatever identity crises Harry Potter is currently undergoing. And he certainly shouldn’t be…intrigued by it.

Severus slips out of the room, careful not to let the door make a sound behind him, careful to leave Potter’s wards intact.

Severus escapes back to the quiet of his dungeons, his rooms. He needs a cigarette. And a drink.

***

Severus starts…noticing Potter.

His eyes find him in perfectly normal places that are decidedly not the boys’ lave. In the Great Hall at meal times. In the hallways between classes. In the library, before curfew sends students back to their dorms.

To be fair, Severus has always watched Potter. Someone had to keep the brat alive all those years, protect him from himself. Albus, certainly, didn’t do it. And Potter always seemed to find himself in more trouble than all of his Slytherins combined—save, perhaps, Draco.

But this—this is different.

Potter is arguably the most powerful wizard alive. And, while he has returned to school as a student to complete his education formally—to sit for his NEWTs, to, presumably, decide what he wants to do with his life—Severus can no longer conceive of a situation where he could need Severus’s magic—need anyone’s magic—to save him.

So now Severus watches Potter while he eats. He is quiet but always surrounded by friends, by acquaintances, by onlookers. The youngest Weasley boy took up Shacklebolt’s offer and joined the Auror force, but Granger is here. Others, too—Dean Thomas and Neville Longbottom, Hannah Abbott and Terry Boot, Anthony Goldstein and Ernie MacMillan. And, regardless of House, they all seem to gravitate to Potter. But, despite Severus’s preconceived notions and assumptions, Potter is quick to deflect attention. He is modest. And, while many of the younger students are clearly star-struck, Potter does not—as Severus would have previously expected—revel in his celebrity. Rather, he is kind and encouraging, but he is reserved. And, when he can, he keeps to himself.

In class, Potter is patient and thoughtful, as he quietly, unassumingly continues to excel.

According to Minerva, the rest of his marks are equally impressive. Yet he does not expect praise or seek recognition.

He does not fly. Eighth-years are not eligible for House Quidditch teams and Potter does not join in on the weekly pickup games other students flock to every Saturday morning.

He does run, however.

Severus has seen him out early, when he’s up before sunrise to collect particular ingredients. He has seen Potter in joggers and a Gryffindor hoodie, sprinting across the grounds towards the edge of the castle’s wards. Severus knows it’s approximately three miles to Hogsmeade and back. Or, if you skirt the edge of the lake to where the shore meets the treeline of the forest, it’s just under two—there and back again.

Potter is always back in time for breakfast, pink-cheeked and damp-haired from the showers, and looking absolutely lovely.

Severus thinks there must be something wrong with himself.

He doesn’t want Potter.

Of course not. That would be absurd.

But he wants to watch Potter. And he wants to know why he likes to ward himself in the boys’ lavatory and put on girls’ clothing when he thinks no one is looking.

***

The colour of the next dress is better. But that’s really all Severus can say about it.

Still, Potter looks…good. And, Severus thinks—if he looks good now—he will always look good. And he’s not entirely sure what to do with that realisation.

But the skirt of this cream-coloured dress is still too baggy and it does nothing to accentuate the narrowness of Potter’s hips. The bodice gapes slightly, and Severus thinks, if it were only tighter—if it fit properly—it would perfectly show off Potter’s very flat, muscled chest.

And, fuck, but Severus has lost his bloody mind.

***

Severus is not one for relationships.

He is a solitary, a private person, and his life has never been conducive to such…social extravagances, anyway. But Severus is not celibate; he has been with men. A few women too. But nothing serious and never for very long. The majority of his sexual encounters, his intimate experiences consist of one-offs in the loos of Muggle pubs or in seedy hotels. Severus can count on one hand the number of times he’s gone home with another man, or brought someone home with him. Still, he knows the places men go to pick up other men. Severus has seen street corners where men and boys linger. Some in skinny jeans and tight t-shirts. Others clad in leather, mesh, and lace. And then there were the boys in girls’ dresses. Some, even, all tarted up—with heels and makeup on.

They never appealed to Severus.

He knows, objectively, that it’s a thing, men in women’s clothes. But it’s certainly never been his thing. Until, that is, Severus saw Harry bloody Potter in that fucking bathroom.

Now, he can think of little else.

***

The next time Severus finds Potter in the lavatory, he is not in front of the mirror or wearing a dress. He is in the bath, and he’s not wearing anything at all.

He’s seated on the bench that runs along one side of the sunken tub, eyes closed, head leaning back against the side. The water comes up to his chest and is filled with enough soapy suds that Severus—thankfully—cannot see below its surface.

But Potter’s arm is moving beneath the bubbles, sloshing water back and forth in a gentle, rhythmic motion.

And Severus knows his hand is on his cock. Knows from the way Potter’s lips are parted. From the pinkness of his cheeks that spills down his throat. From the soft sounds he makes as he touches himself.

Severus must bite back his groan. The sight makes his stomach tighten, sends a rush of heat to his groin.

Harry Potter flushed and naked and so clearly aroused.

Severus turns and nearly tumbles through the door in his haste the get out of there.

Because Severus has seen a great many things, but he cannot, will not see what Harry Potter looks like when he comes.

***

Severus does not masturbate often, but that night he’s barely made it back to his rooms before he’s tugging at his flies. He collapses into the chair by the fireplace, pulling his trousers apart just enough to get his cock out. The mere thought of Potter naked in that bath, touching himself has Severus so hard he’s leaking before he’s even managed to wrap a hand around his prick.

He’s lost his bloody mind.

He thinks he can blame the war and the…after.

After all, Severus was supposed to be dead. He never expected to survive, and he wouldn’t have done were it not for Potter and his extraordinary magic.

But to be here, now, dealing with life without the Dark Lord. Life where he is not a spy, where far too many people know his secrets. Not all his secrets, thankfully, his mind supplies, as he begins stroking himself. Because who knew they would now entail bathrooms and dresses, voyeuristic fantasies and inappropriate infatuations? Yes, Severus has clearly gone mad.

But fuck if he doesn’t want Potter, if he can’t get that image out of his brain—Potter, hand moving below the water, cheeks flushed, lips parted—

Severus comes suddenly, hips flexing as he thrusts up through the tight loop of his fingers.

He stares up at the ceiling, waiting for his pulse, his breathing to calm. He slides his thumb, slowly now, along his come-slick, softening prick, and thinks about Harry Potter, a pleated skirt, and what he would give to touch the boy.

Yes, mad indeed.

***

Severus does not return to the third-floor corridor. He tells himself he will not go back again. But, as he sits in his rooms drinking his whisky or wine—he has drank too much since the war—desire churns like nausea in his gut and he can’t get the images of Potter out of his head. Potter in that garish red dress. Potter in the uniform skirt—too short for his height. Potter in the tub, stroking himself off.

Fuck. Severus wants to throw the glass across the room. It’s reprehensible, to be sure. And Severus has lived a life of reprehensible acts. But this...Severus feels as though he’s sinking into the worst sort of depravity. Not being about to deny that he is attracted to, that he wants Harry Potter. Harry Potter, Saviour of the world, and the student who Severus has now, on three separate occasions, spied on in the boys’ lave.

He did not end up in Azkaban for his crimes during the war, but Severus thinks he might belong there now.

***

Severus feels Potter’s magic before he steps foot outside. But, when Potter emerges into the cool night air atop the Astronomy Tower, Severus does not turn to look at him, does not move from where he’s leaning against the parapet.

“Tonight, it is after curfew, Mr. Potter,” Severus says after a moment when Potter has done nothing more than stand there just outside the stairwell.

“Oh, right, I—I didn’t realise you were up here. I don’t mean to intrude.” And with that, Potter turns to head down again.

For some reason, though, Severus stops him. “It’s all right. You can stay.”

Potter stills, clearly considering, then ventures out to stand beside Severus. They are quiet for a while. It’s a clear night. The moon is just a thin slash in the dark sky, but the stars are brilliant up here. A million pinpricks of light, reflected on the glassy surface of the lake below. There’s a chill to the air, too. They can’t be far from the first winter freeze. Potter’s not wearing his robes, but his worn jumper looks thick and warm. Still, he stands, back straight, arms wrapped around his chest as though against the cold.

“It’s nice up here,” Potter says then, softly. “It’s quiet, calm.”

“Yes,” Severus agrees.

Potter’s not looking at him; he’s staring out across the grounds. “I used to come up here a lot, you know…before. I like the quiet, being alone. I like being able to think. When there’s not a class, that is. Or if, well,” Potter bites at his lip and Severus thinks he sees him flush. “Sometimes students come up here, not to be alone, yeah?”

Severus can’t help the laugh. “I am aware, Mr. Potter.”

“Oh, yeah, of course you are. I mean, I’m sure you find students, er, together all the time.”

Severus should not respond; this is not a conversation he should be having with Potter, but he finds himself saying anyway: “Despite rumours to the contrary, I do not actually enjoy finding students engaged in any sort of misbehaviour. Particularly not that type of misbehaviour.”

Potter snorts; a slight smile twists his lips. “But you do like assigning detentions, yeah?”

Severus glares, but it’s not terribly convincing. “Possibly.”

At that, Potter throws his dark head back and laughs, a clear, bell-like sound that cuts across the stillness of the night. “Knew it.”

Severus pulls a crumpled pack of cigarettes from his pocket. He shakes one free and, holding it to his lips, lights it with the tip of his wand. He breathes in, feeling the smoke fill his mouth, his lungs. He exhales.

Potter is looking at him curiously. It’s unnerving. Severus takes another long drag, flicks ash off the end of the fag.

“That can’t be good for you,” Potter says finally.

Severus looks down at the cigarette, at the smoke curling through his fingers. “No, I don’t suppose it is. Though, as my throat has assuredly endured far worse, I can’t find it in me to care.”

“Fair.” Potter laughs again. Then: “It took me a while, at first, to be able to come up here again. I had flashbacks. The memories of…that night were difficult to process. Or, maybe, I just didn’t want to. But now—it’s better now. And it’s always been beautiful here.”

“Yes,” Severus says, bringing the cigarette to his lips once again.

“Does it—” Potter stops, swallows. “Does it bother you, too, being up here?”

Severus thinks about that for a long moment. If he’s bothered by being in this place, if the memories here are any worse or any different than the memories that haunt him at every other time. “I will think about Albus and about what I did until the day I die. It does not matter whether I am here or if I am in my rooms or my lab, in the Great Hall or in class.”

Potter nods. “But you’re not teaching Defence.”

“No.”

“And you’re not Headmaster.”

“No.”

Potter doesn’t say anything else, but Severus thinks he understands, thinks he knows far more than he’s letting on. He passes him the half-smoked cigarette, and Potter takes it. Severus watches him bring it to his mouth, watches pink lips curl around the filter.

Severus ignores the warmth that twists round his hips at the sight.

Potter hands the cigarette back. Their fingers brush.

“So,” Potter says after a few more minutes, after Severus has taken a final drag and ground the butt of the fag against the stone ledge. “I might have lied. I might have known you were up here.”

“Oh?” Severus says carefully. He’s not sure what Potter means. Why he’s telling him this and he feels off balance, out of focus.

“Yeah. So, I can actually read magic pretty well.”

Something cold pools in Severus’s gut but he says nothing, cannot say anything.

“I know that you’ve been in the bathroom.” Potter stares down at his hands, picks at a thumbnail. “You’ve been in there a few times.” He turns his head again, looks sideways at Severus. “You were in there the other day.”

He does not elaborate to say which day, or to suggest what Severus might have seen.

He doesn’t need to; the implication is clear. Severus is a master Occlumens, but even so he cannot help the images that seep to the forefront of his brain. Like blood. Like sickness.

Potter in the bath, water sloshing against the side as he strokes himself beneath the sudsy surface. The colour of his cheeks. The way his mouth is parted just so…

Severus feels sick. He feels ashamed. He feels as though he’s falling apart, as though everything is unravelling around him, and he’s been so, so foolish.

“But it’s all right.” Potter reaches out, touches Severus’s hand. His fingers are warm despite the night air. “I knew you were there and I...” Potter stops, swallows, and “I knew.”

As if that makes any of this better.

Potter knew Severus was watching him. Knew he returned to watch him again, and he did nothing to stop him because he was too embarrassed, perhaps? That would make sense. Or maybe he felt powerless. After all, despite Potter’s sheer magical ability and status as Boy Hero, Severus is and always has been in a position of authority. Not to mention, someone with a past rife with reprehensible, criminal deeds. And were Potter to have said something, then and there, Severus could have done any of a number of things. But first Potter would have had to acknowledge, out loud, a secret to someone he still, purportedly, hates. To a man capable of worse things than blackmail. Who has made Potter’s life miserable for far less…

And while, yes, Potter could have gone to Minerva, doing so would mean revealing that he has, on multiple separate occasions, warded himself in the eighth-year boys’ lave alone. And what teenager—regardless of anything else—would want to do that?

Severus’s mind reels. “Potter, I—what I’ve done—I’ll go to Minerva immediately and resign. You—you have every right to press charges, I—” Severus feels as though he might vomit. How could he? What he’s done is beyond the pale.

But Potter is shaking his head. “No, Professor. Just no. Don’t you understand? I knew you were there, and I could have done something, stopped you, said something—but I didn’t.”

“I broke through your enchantments,” Severus says, thoughts still spinning.

“Did you break them? Or did they bend to let you in?”

“I…”

Sir,” he says, emphasising the word, “I was on the run from Voldemort for nearly a year. You’re an exceptionally powerful wizard—one of the most powerful, surely. But my wards are excellent.”

Severus doesn’t know what to say. He cannot deny Potter’s power, his skill. And the wards did seem to let him in. But that doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t excuse what he’s done.

“My privacy spells are top-notch, too,” Potter says. “Voldemort wasn’t the only one looking for us. We never would have made it so long—done what we needed to do—had my protective and cloaking magic not been sound.”

“I already knew where the bathroom was,” Severus tries. “And I knew you were in there.”

“Sure you did,” Potter says, and there’s something in Potter’s voice that Severus doesn’t understand, that tightens in Severus’s stomach. “But you wouldn’t have thought to look there, yeah? Not if I hadn’t told the wards that it was all right for you to notice them. That’s how privacy and cloaking magic works.”

Severus takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. The way Potter talks about magic… He wants another cigarette. “Why?” Severus has many things he wants to say, but he needs to know why.

Potter laughs again, but this time there’s no humour there. “I’m not sure, actually. And I know that’s insane. But I knew you were there, and I think you—I think you liked what you saw. So you came back and I—” Potter ducks his head, dark hair falling over his face. “Fuck, Snape,” he says then, voice almost too soft to hear, “I wanted you to see. I wanted you to watch me.”

Severus has never felt so out of sorts.

“I think,” Potter is saying, slowly, carefully, “I think you and I have a lot in common. Not the dresses, of course—I didn’t mean…” he flushes prettily, “that’s not—” Potter stops, bites at his lip. “Though, with your bone structure, I think—”

“Mr. Potter,” Severus says because he can’t allow this conversation to continue.

“Right,” Potter says. “I’m sorry. That was inappropriate.” Still, Severus thinks he sees the corners of Potter’s mouth curve.

“Inappropriate like a professor watching a student in the bath?” Severus knows he shouldn’t say the words, but he can’t help himself.

“Well, when you put it like that. But I’m eighteen. I fought in a war. I died and came back to kill Voldemort. And, had I joined the Aurors, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because I wouldn’t be your student.” He looks at Severus. “I am of age. I am really bloody powerful. And I am fully capable of consent.”

“If you had joined the Aurors, we would not be having this conversation because you would not have been in the eighth-year boys’ lavatory.”

Potter snorts. “Right. But that’s hardly the point. Because even though I didn’t join the Aurors, I could as well have done. And, those reasons you’ve been ready to throw yourself before the Wizengamot—or, at the very least, the Board of Governors for?—they’re wrong.”

“What reasons?”

“One,” Potter holds up a finger. “You believe your actions were unwanted or non-consensual.” The glare Potter gives is impressive. “And they weren’t. And two: I’m your student so you think some heightened and seemingly arbitrary standard of propriety applies.”

“It does,” Severus tries. “I am in a position of—”

But Potter stops him. “I think we both know I’m not a typical student. And we’ve already established that I’m good at magic.” He exhales, presses his palms to the stone ledge of the parapet. “This entire conversation feels surreal, Snape. Believe me, I get that. And, if you’d asked me six months or even six weeks ago if I’d be standing here saying what I’m about to say to you? I would have thought—well, I still think it’s crazy, but it’s true. I don’t want to wear dresses for you or let you watch me wank or…” he breathes out again, “or do any of quite a few inappropriate things I’ve been thinking about doing with you for a goddamned grade. I’m decent enough at Potions already and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to pass my NEWT.” He pushes back from the wall and walks to the stairwell and back again.

Far down below, a giant tentacle breaks the surface of the lake. Severus watches as it sinks below again, ripples spreading out across the water.

“I’ve lived my entire life doing what other people expected of me—what other people wanted me to do,” Potter says. “And I’m not going to do that anymore.”

“So, you’re considering engaging in…an affair with a professor, with a Death Eater, with a—” Severus closes his eyes, presses his fingers to the bridge of his nose, because that is what Potter is suggesting, isn’t it?

“You’re not a Death Eater, Snape. Haven’t been in quite some time.”

That’s hardly the point, of course. “I don’t understand,” Severus says.

Potter sighs. “I’m not sure I do either.”

He’s quiet for a minute, and Severus resists the impulse to light another cigarette.

“You know,” Potter says finally, “I knew by the time I was fifteen that I didn’t want to be an Auror.”

“Oh?” This surprises Severus, though, perhaps, it shouldn’t.

“Yeah. After Sirius died. After facing Voldemort in the Ministry, I knew—I knew I wanted to kill him and end the war and then—and then I wanted to be finished. No more fighting. No more death. No more dark magic. But despite knowing that I didn’t want to be an Auror, I almost took Kingsley up on his offer. I almost joined the training programme.”

“I thought it was what you meant to do.”

“Yeah, you and everyone else. Merlin, you should have seen how angry Ron was when I told him. But I realised I was never going to be the person everyone expected me to be. So, I might as well try to make myself happy.”

“And you think…this could make you happy?” Severus does not know what this is. He does not know what Potter thinks he wants, what Potter is looking for.

Potter shrugs. “I know I don’t want to be the Ministry’s poster boy. I know I’m tired of playing the hero. And I’m gay, Snape. I’m never going to marry the girl and settle down to a life of galas and crime fighting.”

“You are a hero,” Severus says because it’s true.

“And so are you. Doesn’t mean we have to do what they want.”

***

Potter begins staying behind after class.

The first time he sits, quietly transcribing the last of the day’s lecture notes, though Severus is sure he’s already mastered the material.

The next lesson, he remains, diligently cleaning his workspace after the rest of his classmates have filed out. Finally, when he’s wiped down the tabletop for the third time and picked up an already gleaming stirring rod, Severus clears his throat. “I believe that’s satisfactory, Mr. Potter,” he says.

Potter looks up, sets the rod down again. “Oh, right.” But he does not move to collect his things.

Severus takes a steadying breath. Potter sets him on edge, makes his skin feel too tight. And he doesn’t trust himself around him. “Was there something you needed?” Severus asks, trying to keep his voice neutral. He needs to get Potter out of the room.

“Yes, well, no. It’s just that you haven’t been back.”

It’s all Severus can do not to shut himself in his supply cupboard. Or turn and dash from the room to disappear down the hall.

“To the bathroom,” Potter adds as though Severus could possibly not know what he’s talking about.

Severus groans, massages his temples with his forefingers. “Mr. Potter, surely even you understand why we cannot be having this conversation.”

Potter waves a hand, locking the classroom door; a privacy and protective charm shimmer into existence. “No one can hear us now. They can’t even tell we’re in here.”

“That’s not the point—” Severus takes another deep breath, sits down at his desk. “Potter—Harry, despite what you may believe, what I did was wrong. It was reprehensible, truly. And, were I a stronger man, I would have already gone to Minerva.”

“No.” Potter is on his feet at that. “No. I am eighteen. And as I said, I wanted you there.”

Severus closes his eyes. His hands are shaking. “It doesn’t matter. You are at Hogwarts.”

“And I killed Voldemort.”

“That’s not—I am your professor,” he tries. “I—”

“And I’m arguably the most powerful wizard alive.”

Well, yes, there is that.

“I told you, I set the wards to allow you in. Do you honestly believe—had I not wanted you to see—that you could have gotten through the door?”

Severus does not know how to respond, does not know how he lost control of the situation—assuming he ever had any control to begin with. But Potter picks up his bag and walks over to Severus’s desk. “I got some new things. I’d like to try them on for you.” And with that, he turns and leaves the room, wards falling behind him.

Fuck, but Severus is well and truly fucked.

***

This dress... Christ, Severus will dream of Potter in this dress.

It’s black, with thin little insubstantial straps and a neckline that sweeps low on Potter’s flat chest. Severus imagines smooth skin beneath the slinky, stretchy fabric that clings to Potter’s figure just right. The dress tucks in at his waist and outlines the shape of his thighs and Severus is going to hell.

It took less than one week after Potter confronted him after Potions to find himself—to find Potter—in the boys’ lavatory again.

“What do you wear underneath?” The words are out before Severus can stop himself. But then he realises what he’s said to a student—to Harry bloody Potter—and he feels physically ill. “I’m sorry. That was horridly inappropriate. I—” Fuck, he’s going to get sacked. He’s going to Azkaban. And he deserves it.

“Professor,” Potter says, mouth quirked in a half smile, “you’re in the loo watching me try on girls’ clothes.” The lilting sound to his voice tightens in Severus’s stomach. “I’d say we reached the point of inappropriateness a while ago, yeah?” He runs a hand over his hip, smoothing the dress. Severus can’t look away. “I think seeing me in dresses turns you on.”

Severus should say no. He should tell Potter that this—that what Severus is doing, has done—is wrong. He should go back to his rooms and try to forget what Potter’s hips, his legs look like in that dress. He should—

“And I know,” Potter continues, “that having you here, watching me turns me on.”

Christ.

Yes, Severus needs to get the fuck out of this bathroom before he does something truly and irreversibly stupid.

But Potter takes a step forwards, licks his lips. They shimmer like the silky fabric of the dress. He’s slicked them with something, the faintest hint of pink gloss. And Severus can’t say anything, can’t do anything at all.

Potter smiles. His perfect skin is so pale against the sleek, dark fabric. “You want to see what I’m wearing underneath, don’t you?”

Severus swallows. His mouth is dry. The room is too warm. “Yes.”

“Nothing,” Potter says softly. “There’s nothing underneath. Pants would ruin the line of the dress.”

Oh my god.

Potter takes a step closer. “You can look, if you want. I’d like that.”

Severus groans but somehow manages to shake his head. “I…no. I can’t—we can’t.”

Potter frowns. “Why not? We both clearly want to be here.” He brings a hand to his shoulder, fingers the thin strap of the dress. Severus’s eyes follow the motion. “Do you want to touch?”

Severus does.

His hand only shakes a little as he reaches out, traces the line of Potter’s collarbone, follows the soft curve of the dress’s neckline with his fingers.

Potter’s eyes fall closed; his lashes are impossibly long against his cheeks.

Slowly, Severus runs a hand down Potter’s arm, back up again. Potter’s skin is soft and warm, and Severus watches the gooseflesh rise after his touch. He brings his hand down again, slides his thumb along Potter’s wrist bone, the lines of his palm.

Potter exhales, and his breath shakes.

Severus’s pulse is pounding in his ears. “Can I?” he asks, hand hovering lower. He wants to touch more of Potter. He wants to know what that dress feels like under his fingertips. He wants…

“Yes,” Potter says, voice low, rough. “Fuck yes, just—”

The dress is silky smooth, almost slippery beneath his palm as Severus skates his hand over Potter’s hip, across his flat belly. His stomach muscles tense beneath his touch, beneath the fabric of the black dress.

Potter breathes out as Severus moves his hand up Potter’s side, fingers feather-light over his ribcage to his chest. Severus drags his thumb over the peak of one hard nipple. Potter curses as Severus rubs it back and forth, feels it tighten further.

“So much for not ruining the line of the dress,” Potter says with a soft laugh. And Severus’s eyes fall to the jut between his thighs where his cock is starting to swell, to prod the slinky fabric.

“Fuck,” Severus says under his breath, only a little embarrassed by how wrecked he sounds.

“I know, yeah?” And Potter laughs again, breathless and shaky and clearly as far gone as Severus is.

Severus brings his hand down again, over the ridge of Potter’s hipbone, fingers itching to drop lower, to pull the dress up above his cock, to take him into his hand and see what sounds he would make as he stroked him off.

“You can touch, you know,” Potter says then, voice low. “I think you’d like that.”

Severus swallows. He can’t answer, afraid his mouth would betray him—that he might say yes.

“I think I’m going to make a mess of myself regardless.”

Severus thinks he’s right. There’s already a small wet spot darkening the front of Potter’s dress. Severus wants to put his mouth on it. He wants to sink to his knees and suck on Potter’s cock through the fabric of the black dress. But he can’t, won’t.

He steps back.

Potter sighs. “I—if you won’t, I’m just going to—” He turns, walks to the toilet cubicle, shutting the door behind. “You—you should stay,” Potter says then, and Severus can’t move, can’t even breathe.

But he hears the rustle of fabric, a muffled groan. Then the sounds of skin on skin, and he knows he’s got his hand on his cock.

Severus is aching. But he forces himself to take a breath, exhale slowly through his teeth, and not press his palm to his prick or push that stall door open and take Potter into his arms, replace Potter’s hand with his own.

Potter’s breath is quick, ragged now, and Severus imagines what he must look like. Flushed, aroused, and so close—with one hand braced against the wall, the other tugging his cock faster now.

Christ. Severus thinks he might come in his trousers without ever touching himself.

But then Potter stills, and Severus hears the quiet curse as he spends himself into the toilet.

Severus should leave. He should get the bloody fuck out of that bathroom, but he is not a coward.

He is an idiot. And evidently a pervert. But he is not a coward.

So, when Potter emerges from the stall a few moments later, cheeks flushed, black dress rumpled, and so incredibly gorgeous, Severus is standing there. His heart is pounding in his chest and he is achingly, painfully aroused. But he is there.

Potter smiles, runs a hand through already dishevelled hair. “Fuck, that was good. It would have been better if you’d touched me, though.”

“Another time.”

“Yeah?”

Severus realises what he’s said. Still, he nods. “Yes.”

***

Potter comes back to Hogwarts one Hogsmeade weekend with several prettily wrapped parcels.

Severus only knows this because Minerva assigned him to chaperon duty.

Severus hates chaperon duty, and he hates that his eyes seek out Potter in the crowd of returning students. Some carry boxes from Honeydukes or packages from Zonko’s, from the other shops in town. And they are laughing and joking with one another, boisterous after a day away from the castle. But Potter just glances at Severus, cheeks pinking slightly as he walks past and through the main doors.

And Severus finds he desperately wants to know what Potter has purchased.

***

Once again, Potter takes far too long to clean his supplies, to wipe down his table. Then waits until the lab is nearly empty before closing his textbook, slipping it into his bag. He’s not subtle; it’s the type of thing Severus worries even Longbottom will notice.

“Mr. Potter,” Severus says once the last of the students are gone and Potter, alone, remains in the room, fiddling with the nib of his quill. “Harry, what are you doing?”

Potter smiles. “I like that, you know. You calling me Harry.” Only then does he shoulder his bookbag and walk to the front of the room. Severus turns towards the blackboard; he must update the instructions for his next lesson. But he feels Potter standing there. Knows he’s watching him.

“So, your question last week got me thinking,” he says.

“Oh?” Severus does not turn around, will not look at Potter. “And which question would that be?” he asks, although he is certain he does not want to know.

“The one about what you wear underneath.”

Merlin help him. No, he did not want to know. Severus puts the chalk down on the ledge and takes a deep breath. Then he takes another breath and turns around. Potter is standing opposite Severus’s desk. Were anyone to walk past the open classroom, to look inside, they would not see anything out of the ordinary, nothing inappropriate or untoward. But Potter is looking at Severus, a half-smile twisting his lips, and he’s holding something. At first he can’t tell what it is—the small scrap of satin, of lace—but then Potter sets it on the corner of his desk and Severus knows.

He feels his cheeks warm. The back of his neck prickles.

“At first, I wasn’t sure how it could possibly be comfortable,” Potter says. “What with the way it doesn’t even cover your arse and then—” he picks the item back up again and stretches it between his fingers. “Well, there’s just not much material and I, er, a bloke’s got a tad more to cover than a girl, and—”

“Mr. Potter.”

Potter looks up from the undergarment in question and has the decency to flush. “Oh, yeah, right. Well, I was pleasantly surprised, anyhow. It’s quite comfortable.” With that declaration, he turns and strides from the room.

Severus’s third year Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws have already starting filing in, taking their seats when he realises Potter’s left the damned pair of knickers on his desk. Talk about incriminating…

He snatches them up and shoves them in his pocket, glaring at his students for good measure.

Harry Potter is going to be the death of him.

***

“If I were to, er, get in the bath again, would you stay this time?” Potter’s cheeks pink, but his eyes are fixed on Severus, and he does not look away.

Severus swallows thickly, forces himself not to tug at his collar. Instead, he nods. “Yes.”

“Good. That’s good.” Potter begins turning taps. The tub, despite its depth, its size, fills quickly. But of course it does, bloody magical castle.

“Lots of bubbles,” Severus manages and Potter laughs but twists a few more taps.

The air is hazy with steam; the fresh scents of sage, of lemongrass fill the room. Severus wonders if he could disappear. Retreat back to his dungeons and hide out for the remainder of term. He’d tell Minerva he’s ill—some sort of lingering ailment resulting from Nagini’s bite. He’d have to do something about Poppy, of course. And Potter… He’d notice a memory charm, or—

“Professor,” Potter says, voice cutting through his thoughts, and Severus is sure the panic must be writ across his face.

His heart is pounding.

“It’s all right,” he says. “This is all right.”

Severus is sure he doesn’t agree, but he still turns his back as Potter takes off his clothes.

There’d been no dress this time. Severus arrived in the bathroom to find Potter in jeans, trainers, and a faded Sex Pistols t-shirt. And Severus realises that this must have been Potter’s intention from the start—another act of exhibitionism, carefully contrived, for Severus to play voyeur to.

He hears Potter moving behind him, then a splash. “I—you can turn around now.”

Severus does.

Potter is in the bath, water waist high.

Severus takes a deep breath, eyes taking in Potter’s broad shoulders; the sweep of his collarbones; lovely, brown nipples; his flat, muscled chest; and all that flushed, pale skin. He has seen as much before, but not like this. Not so openly, deliberately.

Potter sinks below the water’s surface for a moment before coming up again, dripping. And Severus has never wanted to touch so badly. Potter runs a hand through wet hair, water droplets scattering around him.

“Water feels good,” he says, green eyes, slightly unfocussed without glasses, fixed on Severus.

“Mmm…” Severus feels drunk, though he has not had a drop of alcohol. This is wrong, and yet he doesn’t care. He sits down on one of the low stone benches against the wall facing the tub, facing Potter. His thoughts are muddled, already heady with arousal, with the thought of seeing Potter like this. Of Potter wanting him to see.

“I’m not sure what you’re thinking right now, but it’s all right—watching me is all right. I want you here, and I want to do this…for you.”

Something twists in Severus’s gut because nothing about this, about being alone in the boys’ lavatory with a naked student—with a naked Harry Potter—is all right. “Potter, there is nothing remotely appropriate about this situation.”

Potter laughs, then he shrugs. “No, I suppose not. Yet here we are. We both made it through the war when neither of us should have done. We did everything they ever asked of us, and if I want to jerk off in the bath while someone watches? Well, I think I should be able to do so.”

“Fuck,” Severus says, shifting slightly. His cock already aches, and he can’t help but wonder if Potter is as aroused as he is.

“You know, hearing you say things like that shouldn’t turn me on as much as it does,” Potter says, running a hand over his chest. He pinches his nipple between thumb and forefinger. It tightens under his touch.

“Are you hard?” Severus asks.

“I’ve been hard since the moment you walked through that door.”

Severus exhales. He’s going to hell. “I’ll lose my job.”

Potter is still fingering his nipple. “No one will know. Check my wards if you want, but they’re good.”

They are.

“Touch yourself then. I want to see you.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes.” Severus leans back against the wall. He lets his legs fall open, reaching down to cup his erection.

“Oh,” Potter says, “oh.”

Severus decides he doesn’t care that Potter can see the effect he has on him. He parts his legs wider. “Go on then.”

Potter’s hand drops below the water and Severus hears the soft intake of breath as he takes himself in hand.

“Yes, like that,” Severus says but forces himself to move his own hand from where it rests on his prick. He presses his palms flat to the smooth surface of the bench and breathes out slowly, watching Potter.

His arm is moving now, pumping steadily. Water sloshes around him, laps at his stomach. And, fuck, he’s gorgeous.

Severus thinks he must be drunk off Potter and it’s clearly driving him mad. The warmth in his stomach, his groin, isn’t only because of the heat of the room, or even how turned on he is, but that he’s being offered this side of Potter he’s certain not many people—if any—have seen before. That Potter wants to be here with him now is enough to send shivers down Severus’s spine. It’s been a while since he could deny that he wants Potter, but that want is spiralling out of control, and it terrifies him.

He wants Potter out of that tub. He wants Potter in his rooms and in his bed. He wants to strip him naked and put his mouth on him and slick him open until he’s gasping and begging. He desperately wants to press his palm against his aching prick.

“Oh, fuck”, Potter groans and he’s still watching Severus with those damned green eyes that see too much. Potter licks his lips. He moves his arm slower now—almost lazily—as though he is only teasing himself, as though he’s trying to prolong this. “You could touch yourself, you know,” he says, and his voice is rough. “I’d like that.”

Circe, it would be so easy. He’s half-there already, the head of his cock pushing against his zip. It’d only take a moment, he knows, for him to get off, to come right here, staining his trousers. “No,” he manages with a slight shake of his head. “Not now.” He sounds breathless, strung-out.

And Potter shrugs, arm still moving under the water. “Suit yourself.”

“But I want to see you. I want you to get yourself off.”

Fuck,” Potter’s voice is thick, raw with want and he leans forwards, bracing his left arm on the side of the tub. Severus sees his fingers clench against the tile and he strokes himself faster. The bubbles are thinning and, for a moment, Severus hopes he’ll be able to see below the surface of the water, to see Potter’s hand on his cock. But he closes his eyes against the thought because, no—

But Potter groans again, and Severus looks again. “Snape—shit—I’m going to come.”

“Yes, do it.”

“Yeah?” Potter says, fingers clenching against the side again, arm pumping harder, faster.

“Yes.”

And Potter does. Severus sees him tense, stomach muscles tightening as he cries out, head falling forwards, lips parting, and oh—oh fuck.

Severus’s own prick pulses. He is achingly hard and so, so close to coming all over himself. And that—that… “You are absolutely perfect,” he says. At least, his voice doesn’t shake.

Potter is still trembling, breath coming in ragged gasps and, fuck, he’s beautiful.

“That was—that was good,” Potter says after a moment. “Really good.”

“Yes,” Severus agrees because it was.

***

The school year passes as it’s always done. Severus teaches lessons and marks essay after mediocre essay. He gathers ingredients in the Forbidden Forest and he spends hours in his lab brewing. He reluctantly attends staff meetings and occasionally has a drink at the Hog’s Head with Argus and Filius, Rubeus and sometimes Pomona. His Mark does not burn. He does not have to worry about fellow teachers casting Cruciatus on students for sport—the Carrows deserved far worse than Azkaban, but Severus can’t do anything about that—and he still believes meals in the Great Hall are akin to their own kind of torture.

He also spends an exorbitant amount of time in the eighth-year boys’ lavatory, watching Harry Potter try on girls’ clothes.

Severus’s mind catalogues the colours of Potter’s dresses, the skirts. The blacks and mauves, ivories and jewel tones. Different fabrics too. Satins and silks, lace and wools. There are sweaters and blouses and, one time, a pair of stockings that Severus watched as Potter rolled slowly over foot and ankle, up his calf to his knee, and then to his thigh.

Sometimes he puts on makeup. Pink lips, khol-rimmed eyes, rouge on his cheeks, and Severus thinks he’s lovely all dolled up, but he doesn’t need any of that. He’s gorgeous either way.

Potter has also worn high heels for Severus on two—no three—occasions. Black strappy things that accentuate the arch of his foot, the muscle of his calf, and bring Potter to equal height with Severus.

Severus wonders where he keeps it all—his girls’ things. But, then again, Potter is very good at magic; he can no doubt perform concealment spells in his sleep.

***

Winter hols arrive.

Potter leaves with the rest of the students. Eighth-years are afforded the privilege of Apparating or taking the Floo to their destinations, rather than boarding the Hogwarts Express with the younger students. But he does not know where Potter goes.

He returns to the castle early, though—two days after Boxing Day, and a week before start of term.

Severus feels him the moment he sets foot in the dungeons. Feels the press of his magic, the subtle thrum of his power. His office door is unlocked, unwarded, but Potter knocks, waits for Severus to admit him.

“How was your Christmas, sir?” he asks, perching on the arm of the worn leather sofa.

“Fine,” Severus says, looking at Potter. His cheeks are pink, his dark hair sticking up more than usual. “The same.”

“Did you go anywhere?”

“No. I am…accustomed to spending the holidays at the castle.”

Potter nods. “It’s nice here at Christmas. Peaceful.” He’s quiet for a while as though expecting Severus to say something, but when he doesn’t, he says: “Though, it’s also nice to have someplace to go.”

“And where did you go?”

“Grimmauld Place at first. That house is a nightmare, but Kreacher likes it when I’m home and—”

“Kreacher?”

“The Black family house-elf. He’s a miserable old elf. Has some interesting views on blood purity. But aside from that?” Potter shrugs. “He’s not half bad. And he’s lonely. Then, a few days at the Burrow, but I’m back now, if you—” He looks down, but Severus understands. Of course he does.

***

The following day, Severus watches while Potter shaves his legs. He sits off to the side while Potter stands on the ledge in the tub, one foot propped on the side. He’s wearing a pair of plaid boxer shorts and a horridly orange t-shirt with the Chudley Cannons logo printed on the front. Even so, Severus thinks this is one of the singularly most erotic things he’s ever seen.

Fuck, the boy is gorgeous. He wants to run his hands from ankle bone to knee, to slide them between his thighs.

Severus isn’t hard, but there’s a pleasant ache in his groin. The low thrum of arousal, a persistent yet subdued undercurrent—like the steam that hangs in the air about them, hazy and insubstantial, but hovering all around.

He imagines how that now smooth skin gives way to dark hair at the top of his thighs, his groin, around his cock. Severus closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and forces the thought away or he will be hard. And one day he’s not going to be able to stop himself from touching.

***

“You are not going to be an Auror,” Severus says. “Have you decided what you’d like to do after you finish your schooling?” It isn’t late. Still an hour or so before curfew. Severus was returning from the library when he saw the soft glow of a Lumos and found Potter seated in an alcove beside a suit of armour. Against his better judgment—he seems to be lacking quite a bit of late—he sat down beside Potter. The suit of armour is between them, but the space is small. Severus pulls his knees up to his chest and does not think about touching Potter.

Potter closes the Charms text he’s reading, looks at Severus. “I think I’d like to be a Healer. I don’t want to be an Auror. Not anymore. But I’d like to help people.” He chews on the end of his quill. “And I think I’d be good at it—if I got into the programme, that is.”

Severus remembers the feeling of Potter’s healing magic pulsing through his veins, staunching the flow of blood, saving his life. “Medi-wizardry would suit you.”

Potter regards him for a moment longer. The pale light from his wand casts a golden halo around his head. “Do you think so?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Do you know what else I want?”

“No.”

“I want to kiss you.”

Severus’s breath catches. His cheeks, the back of his neck feel warm. Severus has watched Potter dress. He has seen him in the bath, watched while he stroked himself to orgasm. But he has never kissed him.

He wants to desperately.

He swallows thickly. “All right.”

“Yeah?” Severus hears the surprise in Potter’s voice but he’s already learning forwards.

Somehow Severus manages to stop him. “No,” he says. He holds Potter by the arms, pushing him back gently. “Not here,” because he still has a modicum of sense. Potter looks as though he might argue, but nods. “Where?”

Severus makes a decision. “Wait ten minutes, then come to my office.” He stands, smoothing the creases of his trousers with his hands. He can hear his heart pounding in his ears over the sound of his footsteps. He doesn’t look back, but can feel Potter’s eyes on him as he walks away.

Ten minutes later, there’s a knock at his door. Severus’s stomach is in knots, his heart in his throat. It’s absurd. Potter’s been to his office many times, and it’s still before curfew. But this—having him come down deliberately for— There’s a second knock. He takes a deep breath, folds his hands together atop his desk. “Come in.”

Potter’s wearing jeans and a Gryffindor t-shirt, scuffed trainers. His face is bare, his eyelashes are still ridiculously, impossibly—naturally—long behind his glasses, but his lips are chapped and dry. Severus sees a faint shadow of stubble along his jaw. It’s a stark difference from Potter in the boys’ lave in his girls’ dresses, but Severus likes it just as much.

“What?” Potter says, when he sees Severus staring. And he looks down as though self-conscious. “Is this...? I know it’s not—and you, I’m—am I all right?”

Severus nods, throat dry. “God yes.” His voice is rough.

Potter’s cheeks pink and he ducks his head.

“Come here.”

Potter does, stepping around Severus’s desk to stand before him. He looks nervous, unsure, lacking the confidence he has in the bathroom, in his dresses. It’s... endearing. “I like you just like this, too, you know.” Severus reaches up to cup Potter’s cheek in his hand. He drags his thumb down his jawline, it’s rough under his touch.

“Yeah?” Potter says, voice soft, unsure.

“Yes.” Then he pulls him close and kisses him, slips his tongue along Potter’s lips, slides it into his mouth against his tongue. And Potter gasps, opens his mouth against his, and kisses back. It’s awkward and stilted and absolutely perfect.

It’s exactly what Severus has been missing these past months.

Potter groans and Severus wraps his arm around his waist, pulls him into his lap, Potter’s thighs spread across his, and fuck Potter is already hard. So hard. He groans again, louder, teeth scraping against Severus’s lip as his hips jerk forwards, hard line of his cock pressing against Severus’s stomach, and he slides his hand down Potter’s back to rest at his waist. His fingers slip below the waistband of his jeans to brush against the curve of his arse.

“Shit,” Potter says into his mouth. His fingers clench against Severus’s shoulders. “Can you—I want you to touch me.”

And Severus thinks, perhaps, he should be pleased that they’ve been dancing around this for months and he hasn’t actually touched him…yet. But now—now he can’t stop himself. He cups Potter’s arse with both hands, rocks him closer, feels his erection against him and it makes him ache.

Severus has wanted this.

“God, you’re so hard for me. That’s good.”

Potter shifts atop him, arse pressing against Severus’s own arousal and, oh— “So good. I’d like to put my mouth on your cock, suck you off. Is that all right?”

Potter shudders. “Oh, god, yes.”

He eases him off his lap and up onto his desk. Then leans in, kisses him slow and careful, letting his tongue swipe along his lower lip before pulling back. Severus breathes out, hands shaking a bit as his presses his palms to Potter’s thighs, feels him part his legs under his touch. “I want you,” he says, voice thick. “I’ve wanted you for so long.”

“Then have me.” Potter is breathless, pupils blown, and Severus knows—knows he wants this as badly as he does.

“Lie back, spread your legs for me.”

Potter does, leaning back to rest on his elbows on Severus’s desk. On top of a stack of sixth-year essays. Jesus. He runs his hand from Potter’s knee up along the inside of his thigh and back down again, tracing the inseam of his jeans. Potter breathes out a slow, shaky breath.

He’s beautiful like this, green eyes dark behind his glasses, and Severus can’t remember why he waited so long. He moves his hand up again, this time stopping just below the swell of Potter’s cock, hot and hard and clearly outlined by the denim stretched tight across his crotch. He drags his thumb beneath Potter’s bollocks, along the ridge of his prick.

“Fuck, Professor,” Potter says, voice strained, “if you don’t want me to come all over myself before you’ve even touched me, you better get started.” His stomach muscles are tensed, thighs quivering.

Severus’s own cock is so hard he can barely think straight. “You are close.” It’s not a question.

“Fuck,” Potter says again, through gritted teeth. “Fuck, yes.”

Severus’s hands are shaking as he undoes the button on Potter’s jeans, pulls at the zip. Potter lifts his hips just enough for Severus to tug them down.

He’s wearing plain, grey y-fronts, and there’s a dark, wet spot where Potter’s prick is pressed against the fabric. Severus leans forwards, sucks him through the damp material and Potter’s hips buck up, his elbow skidding back on the desktop. The ink pot overturns.

Severus puts his hands on Potter’s hips, holding him still, and mouths along the line of his prick.

He’s shaking. “Oh—oh god, please.”

Severus reaches through the slit of Potter’s underwear and pulls his cock out. Fuck, it’s gorgeous. Heavy and hard and slick with pre-come.

“You’re perfect,” he breathes, mouth close but not touching. “Such a pretty cock.” Potter’s head falls back, exposing the long arch of his throat. Severus wants to lick a line from his jaw to his collarbone, but he wants Potter in his mouth when he comes and he’s already so, so close.

Potter’s skin is hot and smooth as he runs his lips over the length of his shaft, and Potter gasps, hips jerking again when Severus pushes his foreskin back with his thumb to expose the pink, shiny curve of cockhead, his fingers slipping across Potter’s leaking slit.

Potter is watching him; Severus can feel his eyes on him as he flicks his tongue over the swollen head before taking him into his mouth, tightening his lips around him, pressing his tongue against his length as Potter curses and cries out. He’s shaking.

Severus can’t remember the last time he’s done this, and he knows it’s never been this good. He wants Potter’s spunk in his mouth, wants to suck and swallow until he’s gasping and spent.

Severus presses a hand between his thighs against his own cock and he sucks Potter down again, moving faster, taking him all in. Potter isn’t going to last. If he’s not careful, he’s not going to last. Potter’s breathing hard. He spreads his thighs wider, fingers clenching the edge of his desk. “Fuck, Snape, I’m—I’m—”

“Yes…” Severus breathes out through his nose, throat and tongue working and then Potter is panting, cock pulsing and filling Severus’s mouth with salty sweet fluid.

Potter collapses back on the desk, as Severus licks down the length of his prick once more.

His own cock is throbbing. He straightens up, reaching down to adjust himself, and Potter’s eyes follow the movement. He sits up, reaching for Severus’s belt. “Can I?”

And Severus doesn’t stop him as he undoes his flies, pulls his trousers open. And then Potter’s hand is on his cock; his palm is calloused and warm, and he’s rougher than Severus is when he touches himself as he strokes him off, wrist twisting, hand moving in short, quick tugs. Oh god.

Severus’s entire body shudders and he groans, trembling beneath Potter’s hands. His spunk spills between Potter’s fingers, splatters against Potter’s jeans, the desktop. And fuck but Severus doesn’t think anything has felt that good in a long time. He leans forwards, pulling Potter close, kissing him, open mouth, knowing he can taste himself on Severus’s tongue.

***

“It’s something you like then, men in dresses?”

Potter is sitting cross-legged on the end of Severus’s sofa, trainers off, one of Severus’s Potions texts open in his lap. He hadn’t left. After Severus kissed him for the first time. After he pushed Potter back against his desk and sucked him off. After Potter had taken Severus’s cock out and made him come all over himself. He’d simply taken a book from Severus’s shelf and...stayed.

Severus looks up. Potter’s watching him, expression…kind, and Severus finds himself answering honestly. “I—no. Not until you, that is.”

Potter frowns. “Really?”

“Yes.” Severus wants to forget his marking. He wants to forget that this is wrong, that he cannot, should not have Potter here. Or at all. It’s after curfew by now, but that’s a minor transgression, considering. “It’s not—” Severus thinks about his words carefully, “not something that ever appealed to me before. But the first time I saw you, in the lavatory, in the grey skirt, I realised…”

“That you liked it?”

“That I liked you.” The words are a confession, but it doesn’t matter because it’s important that Potter knows this now.

“Oh.” His eyes are wide. “That’s—that’s good.”

“Yes.”

“When did you know, that you were gay?” Potter asks, and Severus frowns. Despite the conversation they’re having, it’s not a question he was expecting, but he answers.

“When I was thirteen, fourteen, perhaps, I realised I was different. That I wasn’t obsessing over the same things my dormmates were.”

Potter laughs softly. “Yeah, I think I knew by then too, but I wasn’t about to admit it.” He chews on his lip. “I mean, all I ever wanted was to be normal. And there wasn’t much for that, of course, what with Voldemort trying to kill me all the time and being the,” he holds up his fingers, “Chosen One.” He shakes his head. “You’d think, at least, I could fantasise about nice, normal things like tits and getting into a girl’s knickers.”

“I loved your mother,” Severus blurts. “And she was so beautiful. But I never wanted her.”

“Made it pretty obvious, huh?”

“Yes.”

Potter is quiet for a moment. He closes the book, sets it off to the side. “The clothes turn me on, yeah? I mean, there’s something erotic about the genderplay and about the aesthetic aspect of it all. But it’s also the…expectations—defying them. For most of my life, I did what everyone asked of me. And now? Well, it’s more than not wanting to be an Auror, not wanting to settle down with Ginny Weasley and have two-to-three kids and be exactly what everyone expects me to be. So the wearing dresses—even if I’m not sure I want to wear them for…anyone else yet—or ever—” His eyes meet Severus’s and there’s something there that twists like warmth in Severus’s chest. “But the rebellion—the twisting of straight ideals—of what people think of masculine presentation, and conflating that with what’s traditionally feminine?” He shrugs. “Honestly it feels more adventurous, more rebellious than half the shit I did in school or during the war.”

Severus is no longer surprised by Potter’s thoughtfulness, by his introspection. But something about his thought-process here, his explanation makes Severus want to take him into his arms, strip him naked on his office sofa and— “If I could, I would take you to bed with me right now.”

“But you won’t?”

“Not tonight, no.”

“But you want to?”

“Yes.”

Potter smiles.

***

Potter has truly come into his own in the boys’ lavatory.

He turns around in front of Severus. He’s taller now, wearing the heels again. And Severus thinks he’s gotten better at walking in them. “Christ,” Severus says out loud. He walks around Potter, circling him, just…looking. And Potter stands still, allowing Severus to look. There’s a bit of pink on his lips, his cheekbones, and a light touch of mascara on his long lashes. Severus watched, after all, as he made himself up, and, Merlin, does it suit him.

“Do your friends know?” Severus asks. “About the clothes I mean,” he adds quickly “not—”

“Yeah, I figured that,” Potter says with a quirk of his painted lips. “I mean, perhaps, yeah—maybe? Gin does—I think. It was, well, it was her skirt, you know?” Then: “We had sex.”

Severus raises an eyebrow. This surprises him. Though he’s not sure why. After all, Potter is the fucking Boy Hero. He’s beyond desirable—he could have anyone he ever wanted.

“Did you know that?”

“No.” Severus doesn’t think it’s something he needs, wanted to know.

“Well, we did. But it was months ago before—before I thought I might have a chance with you.” He bites at his lip. “And I knew, of course, I knew I preferred men, but Gin’s always been my friend and it’s what everyone expects me to want.”

“Did you...enjoy it?” Severus is not sure why he’s asking these questions. It was sex. Of course he enjoyed it. What the bloody hell does Severus want to hear? Still...

“I think so, maybe?” Potter looks unsure. It would be endearing, if this conversation weren’t entirely inappropriate.

“Did you come?”

At that, Potter’s cheeks flush—a lovely rosy pink. “Yeah, I did. But I probably shouldn’t tell you what I was thinking about to get off.”

“Fuck.”

Harry laughs, reaches to take Severus’s hand in his. “I know, yeah?”

And Severus backs him against the wall then, and kisses him until he’s moaning, tongue in his mouth, erection pressing against Severus’s thigh. And Severus slips a hand down between them, rubs at Potter’s prick over the fabric of his dress.

He should not be so turned on by how quickly Potter comes.

After, they sit side-by-side on the stone bench.

Potter turns his head to look at Severus. His ridiculous hair catches on the stone of the wall behind them. His forehead, his temples are damp with sweat, his cheeks are flushed pink. He looks gorgeous.

Potter’s gaze falls to Severus’s lap, to his erection noticeably tenting his trousers.

“If I were to ask you to wank for me, would you?”

The question sends a shiver of want through Severus, makes his cock twitch.

“Yes.”

Potter smiles. “Then you should do that.” And Severus doesn’t stop him as he reaches out, traces the hard line of Severus’s swollen prick through the fabric. Doesn’t stop him as he slides Severus’s zip down.

***

“I have books on medi-wizardry, Mr. Potter, if you’d like to come to my office this evening? During office hours.” Severus has lost his mind, but it’s been nearly a week since the last time they were together and he does have several texts he knows Potter would appreciate.

Besides, Potter’s stayed after class again. Severus can’t help but worry about what his friends must think, but he doesn’t really care, either.

“Yeah?” Potter says, lips quirking, and Severus wants to ward the door now, to bend Potter over his desk and—

“If you’d like to, that is.”

“I would. But I think you should start calling me Harry. When we’re not in class, that is.”

***

Potter—Harry sits on the end of his sofa, Severus’s text open in his lap, taking notes, and asking the occasional question for nearly two hours. The door is open. Other students come and go. Harry smiles, makes brief small talk, but it’s normal for students to work in professors’ offices during office hours. And no one seems to think anything of Harry being here. After all, it’s well known, now, that they don’t hate each other—at least not as much, not any more—that they…helped each other, during the war.

Severus gets very little done.

Finally, Harry closes the book, sets it aside. “Is it over? Your office hours?”

“Yes.”

Harry waves a hand; the door shuts. With a snap of his fingers, he wards it. “Good.” He stands, begins unbuttoning his robe. “I’ve been very patient.”

“Oh?” Severus says, throat suddenly dry.

“Yeah.” Harry opens his robes and Severus’s breath catches. He’s wearing the same pleated, uniform skirt he was the first time Severus found him in the bathroom.

Oh.

“You like this, yeah?” Harry says, walking around Severus’s desk to stand before him. Severus can make out the jut of sharp hipbones, the bulge of Harry’s prick beneath the grey fabric, and Severus does like it. “I thought you did.” Harry’s fingers play with the hem of the skirt, pulling it up ever so slightly. “And now—now that you’ll touch me.” Harry leans forwards, kisses him, and Severus can’t help but bring his hands to Harry’s waist, to smooth them over his hips, over the skirt, but Harry pulls away again, mouth wet. “I’ve been hard for nearly an hour, now, and I’d really like you to do something about it.”

And, Christ, the thought of Harry sitting on the sofa, wearing that skirt beneath his robes and hard while Severus went about his office hours is enough to make his own cock twitch, to send a rush of warmth to his groin. He pulls Harry towards him, has him straddle his lap, knees pressed to the arms of the chair on either side of Severus’s hips. Then he runs his hands up Harry’s thighs, feeling smooth skin, the play of firm muscles beneath his palms, as he slowly pushes the skirt up.

The knickers are white today. Simple and cotton, thin fabric stretched taut over his cock and balls. The wet, swollen head of Harry’s prick is pushing out above the waistband, leaving a slick smear on Harry’s belly. Severus exhales, once again overcome by how much he wants Harry, by the fact that Harry wants him too. He slides the pad of his thumb over the pink curve of cockhead, presses against the slit, and Harry sways forwards groaning, hands clutching at Severus’s shoulders.

Severus tugs the knickers down just enough to get Harry’s cock out. He trails his fingers over his length, enjoying the way Harry hisses, the way his thighs tense. Then Severus curls his hand around him, encourages him to rock forwards, thrust through the tight loop of Severus’s fingers. “Shit,” Harry says, breath already ragged. “I had a dream the other night, about you touching me again.”

“Yeah?” Severus says, twisting his wrist, stroking faster as Harry fucks into his fist.

“Yeah. I woke up just in time to come in my pants. It’s been ages since I’ve done that—oh” he groans as Severus tightens his grip. “God, that feels good.”

Severus can’t help but move his other hand up under the skirt to cup Harry’s arse, fingers toying with the elastic edge of the underwear.

“Fuck—that’s—oh—” Harry squeezes his eyes shut as his hips stutter once more, and then he’s coming, spunk streaking through Severus’s fingers to splatter against his shirt, his trousers.

Harry slumps against him, arse pressing against Severus’s erection; he can’t bite back the moan.

“Merlin, I want you,” he breathes into Harry’s hair, come-slick hand still trailing gently over Harry’s prick.

“You can have me. You can have anything you like.”

And fuck, that’s tempting. Severus is so bloody hard now and his cock throbs at the thought of slicking Harry open, sinking into wet heat, seeing if he could make him come again. But he likes to think he still has some restraint left. “Here, stand up,” he says instead, helping Harry to his feet. He turns him around, has Harry bend over his desk, rest on his elbows as Severus runs a hand down Harry’s spine, over the curve of his waist. Then he pulls the grey skirt up, over his perfect arse. Christ, Harry is gorgeous like this.

Tentatively, he trails a fingertip along the narrow crotch of the white underwear, along Harry’s crease, and feels Harry shudder under the touch. He pulls it aside just to look, and Merlin, Severus has never wanted anything more in his life. His hands only shake a little as he undoes his belt, his flies. Severus’s cock is hot and heavy in his palm. He tugs at his foreskin, drags his thumb across the slit, smearing the pre-come already gathering there. Then he begins to stroke himself, smoothing his other hand over Harry’s arse as he begins to move his hips, thrust into his fist. This won’t take long.

Harry turns his head, looks back at Severus. His cheeks are flushed. “You’re thinking about it, aren’t you? About what it would be like to fuck me?”

“Yes.” There’s no reason to deny it. Harry would know the lie.

“Shit…” Harry shifts on the balls of his feet, angling his hips as though offering himself and, Circe, it’s obscene—the picture he makes.

Severus comes hard, spunk splattering across Harry’s perfect arse, the rumpled uniform skirt.

Severus takes a shuddering breath, drags the tip of his cock across Harry’s skin, smearing the come there.

“Can we do it sometime?” Harry asks, voice thin, raw. “Have sex.”

“I think we have done.” Severus sighs. After all, he’s just come all over Harry Potter’s arse.

“You know what I mean.” Harry pushes himself up, turning over. He sits on the edge of the desk, smearing Severus’s come there.

“You are still my student.”

“But as you just said—look what we’ve already done.”

He’s right, of course, and Severus has never been a selfless man.

“I think, possibly, I could be convinced.”

Harry grins and kisses him.

***

This particular dress is spectacular.

It’s short and black. Severus thinks Harry should always wear black. And this dress—lace with a sheer layer overtop—leaves very little to Severus’s imagination. The hem of the dress barely hits mid-thigh. Harry’s skin is still hairless, smooth. He’s shaved again. Or used a charm. Beneath, he can just make out the little vee of what looks like black silk between his legs. And then there’s the swell of his prick under the confining layers of lace that makes Severus’s mouth water.

The heels serve to accentuate the length of Harry’s legs, the line of his calves in a way Severus never knew could…affect him the way it does. But he imagines Harry on his back, those shoes in the air, and—Jesus.

Harry shifts, runs a hand through his hair. It’s messy as always and, like everything else, absolutely perfect. In the golden light of the room, Harry’s skin looks absolutely luminous.

“I would fuck you right now,” Severus says, “if it wouldn’t be beyond inappropriate.”

Harry laughs, a breathy sound. “We’ve warded the door. And haven’t we already established that…this—” he raises an eyebrow, casts a meaningful look between them, “is already inappropriate.”

“Yes,” Severus agrees. “But our first time I’d like to have you in my bed. I want to make you come more than once. And I want to wake up beside you the next day.”

***

Easter hols approach.

Harry’s marks remain excellent. Severus knows he spends hours in the library. He spends hours in Severus’s office, too. Curled at the end of Severus’s sofa, reading Severus’s books.

Harry has applied to the Healer training programme at St. Mungo’s, and Severus has no doubt he’ll be accepted. He is a superior candidate, and he is also Harry Potter.

And Severus thinks he must be falling in love.

But, as the end of term approaches, Harry is quieter, more withdrawn. There are still dresses. And Severus wonders if, maybe, Harry would like to go out sometime. They could disappear into Muggle London, and he could wear the black lace dress. Or the cream one. Or even the red. But Severus isn’t sure if Harry is ready for that. Or if Severus wants to share.

“Will you—can we go out to Dumbledore’s tomb?”

Severus looks up from his marking. It’s well after curfew. Harry is sitting on the end of his sofa, legs tucked beneath him. “I’ve been thinking about it, yeah? I haven’t been out there—not since the funeral last year. And I think I’d like to go.”

There’s a chill to the air as they trudge across the grounds. Though spring has brought milder weather, it still gets cold at dark, and it is past midnight now. Wet grass crunches beneath their feet as they head towards the lake. Harry reaches out, places a hand on the small of Severus’s back and he thinks he can feel the warmth of his touch through layers of cloth.

They sit there quietly for a long time.

Severus does not want to intrude on Harry’s thoughts and he, of course, has demons of his own to deal with. At some point, Harry casts a warming charm and they sit for a while longer. Severus is not sure how long—an hour, maybe two? The ground is hard and damp, and he will be stiff, but he doesn’t care. This is…important to Harry. And Harry rests his head on Severus’s shoulder, lets him wrap an arm around his waist, so Severus listens to the steady sound of his breathing, feels the inhalation, exhalation of air from his chest, and thinks about all the things that brought him here, sitting beside Albus’s white tomb in the middle of the night with Harry Potter.

Finally, Harry says, “all right,” and stands, brushing the dirt from the back of his robes. “Let’s go back now.”

And because Severus cannot remember what he’s waiting for, and because they are alive when they should be dead—because they both survived the war and should, now, actually live—Severus asks Harry if he will go to bed with him.

Harry looks at him for a moment, head tilted, moonlight reflecting off his glasses. Then he nods. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

Together, they walk down to the dungeons. Severus’s heart pounds as he unlocks his office door, leads Harry through to his rooms, but he knows this is right, that he wants to be with Harry here now.

Inside his small sitting room, the fire burns low in the hearth, casting a soft, orange glow. Harry stands there, eyes taking in the worn sofa, the bookshelves lining the wall. Severus’s desk is off to one side, piled high with parchments and texts, littered with half-drunk cups of tea. And Severus realises that, despite the hours Harry has spent in his office, he’s never brought him in here before. “This way,” he says, indicating the small hallway that leads to his bedroom.

Severus doesn’t bother with the lights; the room is a mess, anyhow. But the sheets are clean and his bed is comfortable, so he sits on the edge to unlace his boots, then pulls Harry towards him, into space between his legs, and kisses him.

The kiss is soft, gentle, but undercut with emotion. Severus feels it roiling beneath the surface—there is want there, a thick twist of lust that takes Severus’s breath away, but also uncertainty. It’s not hesitation or regret. Nothing like that. Just trepidation of the unknown, and also of the...affection that threatens to overwhelm.

Severus pulls back, puts his hands on Harry’s shoulders. His jumper is soft under his palms.

“I can feel when you do that, you know?” Harry says, voice low. “When you touch my thoughts with your magic.”

“It’s not—I wouldn’t—” because Legilimency without consent is a violation.

“No, no,” Harry stops him. “I know you’re not reading my mind. It’s not like that. You can just feel my emotions, yeah?”

Severus nods, now trying to decipher the expression on Harry’s face. “We don’t have to do anything tonight. Nothing we haven’t done. Or anything at all, if you’re not comfortable, not ready. We can just sleep, or—”

“Severus, stop,” he says gently, reaching out to trace the line of Severus’s jaw with his thumb. And Severus can’t remember, but he thinks perhaps that is the first time Harry has used his given name out loud. And that feels important. “It’s all right. Everything is all right.” Then Harry pulls his jumper and t-shirt over his head before leaning down to kiss Severus once more.

Together they undo the buttons on Severus’s shirt, Harry’s fingers trailing feather-light after his own, and Harry slips the shirt off his shoulders. Then he pushes Severus back onto the bed and crawls on top of him, straddling him, leaning forwards, arms braced on either side of his head. Harry rocks his hips slowly, groin pressed to Severus’s, and Severus’s prick begins to swell at the pressure. He puts a hand on Harry’s waist, fingertips slipping beneath the waistband of his trousers.

“I think,” Harry says, “we should take off the rest of our clothes.” His lips brush the scars on Severus’s neck. The skin is sensitive there; it’s erotic.

“Yes.”

Harry sits back on his knees, thumb popping the button of his jeans. They’re already tented, and he grimaces as he eases the zip down. Then his jeans are open, prick hard in his pants, its slick head pressing through the slit. And Harry reaches down between them, thumb stroking along the line of Severus’s cock, sliding his trousers with it.

Severus exhales, and Harry leans forwards, dragging his tongue over the corner of Severus’s mouth, while his fingers work deftly to unhook his belt, undo his zip.

Severus slides his hands up Harry’s sides, tracing the lines of his hipbones, fingers clenching when Harry slips his hand into Severus’s pants, pulls his cock free.

“Christ, you’re already so hard for me,” he says, voice rough, breathless. He curls his fingers loosely around his shaft, strokes his hand up once before pressing his palm to the wet head of Severus’s prick. “Mmm, and leaking.” Severus’s hisses as Harry strokes him once more, squeezing his fingers tight around him, but then he pulls away again. He pushes his own jeans down, wriggling a bit to get them off his legs, kick them onto the floor.

He leans forwards again, legs straddling Severus’s, as he presses their bare chests together, lines their cocks up. And Severus groans, turning his head to breathe in the smell of him—of warmth and arousal and clean sweat. It’s dizzying and familiar and makes Severus even harder than he already is. He sucks at a spot on Harry’s neck, teeth scraping the tendon there, and Harry’s hips stutter. Severus grabs his arse, pulling him closer, encouraging him to rock and rock against him.

Severus’s trousers are still on, and the zip rasps against sensitive skin, but Severus doesn’t care.

He has touched Harry. He has had his cock in his mouth, and they have stroked each other off. But he’s never felt his cock sliding against his.

It’s exquisite.

Severus strokes a fingertip along the base of Harry’s spine, lets it dip just into his crease, and Harry curses under his breath, grinds his hips down harder against Severus’s. Severus feels a smear of pre-come slick between them, and he slips his hand between them to take both their cocks in his hand.

“Oh—oh—fuck. If you don’t want me to come all over us before we even—”

“You can come,” Severus says, tightening his grip, rocking up under Harry so their pricks slide through his fist. His wrist bumps against Harry’s stomach and the angle is awkward. The button on his trousers rubs against the back of his hand, and there isn’t enough room to move. But Harry is making desperate little noises as he strokes them—as though he’s trying to be quiet, as though he’s trying to hold back.

“I want you to come,” Severus says, hand moving faster, teeth grazing Harry’s neck again. “So I can make you come again when I’m inside you.”

“Shit—” Harry’s hips jerk, his stomach muscles tensing, and Severus feels his cock pulse, the splash of come between them. “So good,” he says, as Harry shudders through his orgasm. “That was so good.”

He kisses Harry, wiping his hand on his trouser leg—they’ll need to be cleaned anyway—and together, they manage to get them off.

And then they are naked and together in Severus’s bed for the first time.

“Here,” Severus says, easing Harry off his lap. He reaches over to the bedside drawer for the phial of lubricant he stashed there. Harry’s eyes widen when he sees it. “Do you want to do this?” he asks. He puts a hand on Harry’s knee, slides it down the inside of his thigh, feeling Harry shiver at the touch.

“Yeah. God, yeah.”

“Then lie back. Let me get you ready.”

Harry does, letting his legs fall open. For a moment, Severus just allows himself to look because, fuck, he will never get over how beautiful Harry is.

Harry’s spent prick twitches as Severus stares, and Harry laughs. “Keep looking at me like that and I’ll be hard again in no time.”

“I’m counting on it.” He smears his fingers through the spunk on Harry’s stomach, and encourages him to part his knees wider. Then Severus slides the finger down his crease to press at his hole.

“Oh,” Harry says, “fuck.”

Severus uncaps the phial, pours lubricant into his palm. It’s smooth and slippery and warms at his touch.

Severus will dream about the noise Harry makes when he slides one finger in.

He’s careful, gentle, as he presses it in and out. The lube is slick and Harry is so, so tight.

He adds another finger, spreading them slowly. Harry’s cock is starting to stiffen again and, for a moment, Severus imagines taking him in his mouth. He wonders if he sucked him off with his fingers in his arse if he could then make him come a third time. But Severus’s own cock is already dripping and he is almost certain he wouldn’t last for that. And he wants to come inside Harry.

So he strokes Harry’s thigh with his other hand and continues to stretch him. By the time he gets a third finger in, Harry is fully hard again, pushing back into the slide of Severus’s fingers inside him.

“I think I’m ready now, if you want to?”

Severus does.

He slips his fingers out, pours a bit more oil into his hand to slick his cock. And even the feeling of his own hand around him is nearly too much. He breathes out, gripping the base of his prick tightly until the urgency passes. Then he rolls Harry onto his stomach, positions himself between his legs, smoothing his hand over the curve of Harry’s hip. “You’re gorgeous like this,” Severus says, aware and not caring how positively gone he sounds. “Wanting me.” Even though he has started to come to terms with being…involved with Harry Potter, it is still unbelievable, after all, that Harry wishes to be involved with him.

He pulls Harry up onto his knees and lines himself up, sliding the blunt head of his cock up and down Harry’s slick crease, feels Harry shudder and gasp. He is trembling. Then Severus starts to press in. The stretch of Harry’s body around him is incredible. It’s all he can do to go slow, to be careful, to not thrust all the way in at once. But Harry shifts on his knees, rocks back into the press of Severus’s cock, and breathes out. “Oh—that’s—oh my god.”

Harry is so tight around him as he slides in. Severus grips his hips, unsure if he’s steadying Harry or himself, as he pulls back a fraction of an inch to thrust back in, slowly, smoothly, deeper than before. Harry’s head is turned, cheek pressed against Severus’s pillow, lip caught between his teeth, and he is beautiful. “You are all right?” Severus manages, voice thin and taut.

“Yeah, just—more.”

They’re both breathing hard and Severus needs to get closer, to feel more of Harry. He thrusts his hips, still trying to go slow, but it’s so good, and he sinks all the way in, hips against Harry’s arse, cock aching, and fuck he is close. But he begins moving, arm around Harry’s waist, holding him up, pulling his closer, as he moves faster.

Severus has had sex with men before but this…this is beyond anything he has ever imagined. Harry is panting, and Severus watches his arm pumping beneath him, can see the head of his cock slipping through his fist as he tugs himself in time with Severus’s thrusts. His skin is warm, sweaty beneath him, and Severus wonders once again how they got here. Everything that led them to this moment, together in the way. But then Harry clenches around him, pushes his hips back hard, and Severus can’t think of anything save for the ache of his cock, the pleasure building at the base of his spine.

He could do this forever, wants to do this forever. Be in Harry, holding him, fucking him, but he is about to come and Harry is already shaking.

He sees Harry start to come, spunk spilling between his fingers, onto Severus’s sheets.

Fuck. “I—I’m going to come in you,” Severus says. His voice is not his voice. “Can I?”

“Yes,” Harry says. “Fuck, yes.”

Severus does. The orgasm hits hard, as pleasure spirals through him and his cock throbs in Harry’s perfect arse. He thrusts in one more time before they collapse together onto Severus’s bed, breathless and sweaty and spent. He lies on top of Harry for a few minutes, softening prick still inside, feeling the rise and fall of Harry’s chest, and waiting for his own heartrate to slow to a normal rhythm.

Finally, Harry groans, turns slightly, and Severus’s prick slips out. Harry shifts out from under him, kisses his neck, his chest.

“That was—that was good,” Harry says, and Severus agrees.

His knees ache. His throat is dry. And, god yes, that was good.

After, Severus goes to the bathroom for a flannel, runs it under warm water. He feels shaky, unsteady, as he returns to the bed. Harry takes the cloth, wipes at his stomach and thighs. Severus sits down on the edge of the bed, unsure of what to do now. With previous partners, this is the point when he would walk away. He would go home or outside for a smoke. He would go back to the bar—alone—for another drink. But Harry is not his previous partners. And Severus has never felt this way before.

Harry is lying on his side, propped on one elbow, looking at him. When he smiles, his face is open, relaxed, and beautiful. “You okay?” he asks.

And, despite how truly…surreal this moment is, Severus nods because he does not think he has ever been more “okay” than he is now.

“Good,” Harry says simply. “Now come to bed with me.”

So Severus flicks off the light in the bathroom and gets under the covers. Harry’s skin is soft and warm against Severus’s, and he snuggles close, head on Severus’s shoulder.

Severus threads his fingers through Harry’s hair and thinks he could get used to this—to having Harry in his bed…to having Harry.

“I can stay, yeah?” Harry’s voice is soft, slurred by sex, by sleep.

“Yes.” Because Minerva could Floo into Severus’s rooms right now, find a naked Saviour in his bed and he would not care, would not send Harry away. “You can stay.”

“Good.”

***

After dinner the night of the one-year anniversary of the final battle—the anniversary of the night Severus and Harry both died, the night Harry killed the Dark Lord—Severus walks by the eighth-year table, as Harry is finishing up his meal.

His friends are all around him. They are talking, smiling. Some have books open or notes out—NEWTs begin in a week. But there is still a tension here. Something unspoken, hovering around the edges. The week, days leading up to this night have weighed heavily on everyone, and Severus knows it’s not only himself, Harry who are battling memories tonight.

But it’s Harry he’s concerned about. “Mr. Potter, I’d like to see you in my office this evening. Nine o’clock.”

Harry looks up, and Severus sees the flash of something in his eyes. Harry is still shit at neuromancy, but Severus doesn’t need to feel the press of his magic to know the emotions there. “All right, sir,” he says. He does not smile. He expertly keeps his expression blank, but he turns in his seat just enough that his knee brushes Severus’s robes.

“Rough luck, mate,” Severus hears Terry Boot say as he walks away. “What do you think he’s on about now?”

“Oh, it’s nothing. Probably just my essay or something.”

And Severus wishes—not for the first time—that it wasn’t a secret. That the entire school could know what Harry Potter means to him, what he thinks he means to Harry Potter.

Severus knows he shouldn’t, but he can’t help but stop when he reaches the door to the Great Hall. He glances back for just a second. Harry is not looking at him—on occasion, he can be discreet. But Granger is. Her eyes meet Severus’s briefly, then she nods her head before turning back to her textbook. She’s always been perceptive, and Severus is sure she suspects something. But he is also sure he does not care.

When Harry arrives at his office later that evening, Severus takes his coat. “Come with me,” he says, locking, warding the door. Harry doesn’t question as they walk from the dungeons to the main doors and out into the grounds. It’s only once they are past the castle’s wards and on the path towards Hogsmeade that Harry asks where they are going.

“To the Hog’s Head. I thought we could use a drink.”

“Sounds good.” Harry shoves his hands into his pockets and does not say anything else as they make their way towards the village. But he keeps pace with Severus’s strides and, when their arms brush, Severus rests a hand on the small of Harry’s back.

Hogsmeade is busy, even for a Sunday, and Severus thinks others must be out for the anniversary. After all, the effects of the war extended well beyond the walls of Hogwarts. Music spills out of the Three Broomsticks. Severus smells grease—fried pub food—as they walk past. There’s a crowd gathered out front, people laughing, smoking cigarettes. But even so, Severus can feel the grief in the air. Some days he hates being a Legilimens.

Harry slips his hand into his and Severus glances between them. “I can feel it too,” Harry says. “People are sad, but it’s good too, yeah? And part of moving on is remembering.”

It’s not as crowded at the Hog’s Head but, then again, it never is. Aberforth works hard to make his pub as unappealing as possible—which is precisely why it appeals to a certain type of patron. All by Aberforth’s design, of course. And, if Severus were pressed, he would have to admit that the Hog’s Head is also his favourite pub for exactly this reason.

There’s a group of old men playing cards at one of the long tables and a couple seated off to one side. The girl’s a Muggle, which is odd but not unheard of, even in a wizarding village like Hogsmeade. Harry raises an eyebrow as they walk by. Of course, he can feel it too. But with a subtle press of his magic, Severus can tell she’s comfortable here, that she’s aware—at the very least—that her partner is different, and there will not be a scene.

No one even glances their way, as they take two seats at the end of the bar. Yet another thing Severus appreciates about Aberforth’s pub. He cannot think of another place in the wizarding world that he could arrive with Harry fucking Potter and not elicit some attention—to put things mildly.

As if to emphasise the fact, Aberforth merely grunts when he sees them. “What brings you two out of the castle tonight?”

“Alcohol,” Severus says.

“Right.” Aberforth bends down to pull a bottle of whisky from below the counter. “Your usual then?”

Severus nods.

“And you, Potter?” Aberforth asks.

“I’ll have the same.”

Aberforth grunts again and takes a second glass from the shelf. “Can’t imagine this is an approved outing.” He pours their drinks.

“Undoubtedly,” Severus says. “But he did save the fucking world a year ago, so I think we can afford him some liberties.”

“No objections, here,” Aberforth says, turning to check on another customer.

“Well,” Harry holds up his glass, “here’s to us. For surviving and,” Harry actually winks, “saving the fucking world.”

Severus can drink to that.

They also drink to Fred Weasley and Remus Lupin. To Nymphadora Tonks and Lavender Brown. Alastor Moody, Colin Creevey, and Harry’s owl Hedwig. Severus will not drink to Black, but Harry will not drink to Lucius, so they consider themselves even.

“You were friends, then, with Malfoy?”

Severus nods. “I was and I am—insofar as a man like Lucius Malfoy can even have friends.”

“Did you ever sleep with him?”

For a moment, Severus considers not answering, but then he says, “Yes, years ago.”

“Lucius Malfoy is gay?”

Severus laughs, “Lucius is whatever he thinks benefits him at the moment.”

“And Draco?”

“Draco couldn’t be more heterosexual if he tried.”

Harry laughs, drains the rest of his drink. Aberforth comes to pour them another glass. Then he stays to drink to his brother, to his exceptionally convenient tunnel, and to all the Galleons he spent feeding Severus’s missing students before he figured out what the fuck was going on, before he instructed the house-elves to start sending food into the Room of Requirement.

“Wait a minute,” Harry says. His cheeks are flushed, green eyes wide. He’s drunk and why does he have to be so goddamned gorgeous? Severus takes another sip of his drink and ignores the entirely too pointed look Aberforth sends his way before disappearing back into the kitchen.

“So, all that time, you had no idea where they’d gone? You just thought half of your student body had disappeared?”

“It’s not as though anyone thought to bloody well tell me,” Severus says with as much indignation as he can muster. “I was a Death Eater, remember? They were hiding from me.”

At that, Harry laughs and he laughs. He laughs so hard his eyes water. Severus is not amused. He glares. But Harry only grins, laughs some more.

“I’m sorry. I really am, but that must have been horrid. Students just…gone, and you had no idea. What did you do?”

“I fucking looked for them,” Severus says. “I knew they hadn’t managed to break the anti-Apparition wards or access a Floo. Minerva was particularly alarmed. After all, she’d lost practically her entire house. And most of Ravenclaw—even some bloody Hufflepuffs—had up and disappeared. But there wasn’t much I could actually do about it.” He takes another sip of whisky. “I was, if you recall, a spy. And I was working to appease the Dark Lord and find a way to kill him at the same time. All the while trying to avoid getting eaten by his giant snake.”

“Which, in the end, you failed at miserably,” Harry says, eyes bright, warm.

“Well, in my defence, I was terribly overworked.”

Harry laughs again and, when he looks at Severus, his expression is so…fond that it clenches in Severus’s chest. He is not sure he will ever get used to Harry Potter looking at him with affection, yet, here they are.

Then Harry reaches out, rests his hand on Severus’s knee, and says softly, “Fuck, I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Severus’s hand only shakes a little as he sets his glass down again. “I know.”

Later, as they walk back to the castle, Harry stumbles but does not fall. And Severus catches him in his arms, pulls him close, and kisses him. Then, he digs in his pocket for the sobering potion he brought because it’s one thing to get a student drunk, but quite another to bring him back to Hogwarts that way. Especially if you want him to come to bed with you.

Harry grins and kisses Severus once more before downing the contents of the phial. “God, you make the best potions,” he says, and Severus snorts because this—this is everything he’s ever wanted.

They’ve barely set foot in the castle, however, when Severus hears the footsteps coming towards them.

Harry tenses, sucks in a quiet breath and Severus stops, puts an arm out and Harry stills behind him. He could cast a disillusionment charm, but realises that would be a mistake. After all, he is a professor. He has every right to be in the halls at this hour. And Harry? Well, Harry has never met a rule he didn’t flout. Attempting to conceal their presence would only make them look guilty.

So, he straightens his back and steps around the corner. “Ah, Minerva,” he says, and she startles, raising her wand for a moment before lowering it again. “It’s rather late for you to be up and about.”

“I could say the same, Severus—and Mr. Potter?”

Well, it’s not as though Harry had his blasted cloak with him or had anywhere to hide, not without looking really bloody suspicious.

“Hullo, Professor,” he says far too cheerily, stepping beside Severus. “How are you tonight?”

Minerva’s sharp eyes narrow. “Currently, I am wondering what you and Professor Snape were doing out of the castle at near two in the morning.”

And yes, Severus supposes it’s obvious that, not only have they been up together, but they’ve been out somewhere. “That’s none of your concern, Minerva,” he says curtly, trying to inject an appropriate level of finality in his statement.

It doesn’t work. Minerva only raises an eyebrow. “Actually, Severus, I believe you’ll find it very much my concern. While you, of course, are free to spend your personal time however and wherever you wish, Mr. Potter, on the other hand—despite his age and magical abilities—is still a student at Hogwarts and, therefore, my responsibility. We have rules for a reason, and he does not have permission to be off grounds or out of his dormitory.” She looks at Severus. “I am not sure, Professor Snape, why you would feel otherwise?”

“It’s my fault, Professor,” Harry says quickly. And—while he’s clearly doing his best to look innocent, demure, and decidedly not intoxicated—he meets her gaze straight on, expression carefully, perfectly unreadable. “You see, with the anniversary tonight and, well, with everything, I needed some...time.” At this, he does look down, bites at his lip. Severus thinks it’s expertly contrived. “And Professor Snape knew I was struggling, and he took me out for a bit of fresh air.”

“In the middle of the night?”

“Well, that’s when I can’t sleep—and the dreams—I just—” At that Harry stops and looks down again, as though he can’t continue.

It’s perfect.

“I’m sorry Minerva,” Severus says quickly. “I should have sent you a message, but Potter’s well-being seemed paramount. Next time I will certainly send word.”

She looks at them both then for a long moment and, though Severus knows she is not a Legilimens, he can’t help but slip an Occlumency shield into place. But then she nods once. “See that you do.” And she turns to walk away.

“Well, that was—” Harry starts after Minerva is well out of hearing distance.

“Not ideal,” Severus says. “It was definitely not ideal.”

“Do you think she suspects anything?”

“Obviously. But I don’t think there’s anything she can do about it...yet.”

And, with that, Harry merely shrugs and follows Severus down to the dungeons and to his rooms.

Severus wouldn’t dream of stopping him.

***

Harry gets accepted into the Healer programme and, because he thinks it’s hilarious, they celebrate in the eighth-year boys’ lave.

Severus has long since stopped caring about what the other students must think when the bathroom periodically seems to vanish from the third-floor corridor.

“Most everyone uses the lave in the dorm,” Harry once assured him. “It’s bigger, if you can believe that. And there’s plenty of regular loos about if you just need to have a slash between lessons. It’s not as though anyone needs to use that obscenely large tub away from the dormitory—I can’t imagine what the castle was thinking.”

Severus agrees and, frankly, he thinks that—if anyone deserves unrestricted access to their own private bathroom?—well, it would be Harry Potter. And if it also benefits him? Severus is not one to complain.

But Harry’s NEWT results were, as expected, excellent. He is set to begin training at St. Mungo’s come July. And, tonight, he has managed to procure a bottle of champagne from the kitchens. So, together, they drink to his continued life-saving theatrics.

“Worked out good for us, in the end, didn’t it?” Harry says, upending his glass and reaching for the bottle. Severus pours him another glass. “I saved your life.”

“You did.”

“And you’d saved mine a dozen times before, so I think we’re even.”

“Yes,” Severus says, sipping his champagne. “Yes.”

***

Term ends, and Harry just…stays.

There’s nothing official about it. Merlin knows, Severus can’t move a former student—who is also Harry Potter—into his rooms the moment the school year ends. Even if he thinks he might want to. And that realisation alone could be enough to make Severus completely re-evaluate his life choices—if he cared about such things any more. If he hadn’t decided months ago that, of all of his questionable acts, falling in love with Harry Potter is not one of them.

And Harry does go into London. He has kept Black’s old family home.

He Floos directly to Grimmauld Place a week after school lets out. He only says that he has some things to take care of, and Severus doesn’t ask questions. It’s not his business—what Harry does.

He later finds out—from Albus’s portrait, no less—that it is the anniversary of Black’s death. But Harry returns to the castle in four days and says nothing about his dog father. Instead, he pushes Severus against the wall, sinks to his knees, and sucks him off.

After, he kisses Severus once, then goes to the hearth to Firecall the kitchens for some sandwiches, some pumpkin juice, and a bottle of red wine.

***

The first staff meeting of the new term is finally winding down. Severus is just about to make a quick exit, get back to the solitude of his dungeons, his lab, when Minerva stops him. “Severus, can I have a moment, if you don’t mind?”

Severus does indeed mind, but he knows he doesn’t actually have a choice, so he sits down again, hunching his shoulders and folding his arms across his chest. He’s aware that he looks the part of a petulant school boy, but he doesn’t care. Minerva knows he detests faculty meetings.

He waits impatiently while the rest of his colleagues file out, Pomona and Rubeus engaged in a positively mind-numbing conversation about the latest batch of Mandrakes.

Finally, the door shuts and Minerva turns to Severus.

“Minerva, if you don’t mind, I have several pertinent things to attend to—”

“Of course, Severus,” she says, “But I wanted to talk to you about Harry.”

“Harry?” Severus says. He doesn’t miss the knowing look Minerva gives him at his use of Harry’s name, and no doubt his apparent concern. But Harry was fine that morning when he Floo’d from Severus’s rooms to St. Mungo’s. Surely, he would have let Severus know if something was wrong. Though, if something happened—if he were injured—obviously no one would know to contact Severus...

“Severus,” Minerva says, pulling him from his thoughts, “I am sure Harry is fine. He is doing well in the Healer programme I take it?”

“He is excelling as expected,” Severus says, unsure now as to where this conversation is going. “Was there something, in particular, you needed Minerva? Because I really don’t have time to sit around discussing Potter’s no doubt scintillating activities—”

“Yes, actually—” Severus swears he sees her cheeks colour. “It’s just, he’s been staying with you, hasn’t he?”

Oh. So, it’s that conversation.

Severus looks at Minerva, but her face gives nothing away.

“I might not be Albus, Severus, but I do have a general idea of what takes place in this castle, and I know when there are...guests on the premises.”

“You have been monitoring Floo use in my quarters?” His voice is harsh but he thinks, perhaps, Cruciatus would be preferable to this conversation, and such a violation of his privacy cannot be tolerated.

“Of course not, Severus,” she says quickly. “Even if the castle’s wards allowed for that level of surveillance, I would never intrude upon your...personal life in such a way.”

Severus glares. “Then what are we talking about?”

Minerva looks rather put out, which Severus thinks is rich, considering he’s the one being subjected to this discussion.

“You two are…involved?”

“I hardly think that’s any of your concern.”

She sighs. “No, perhaps not. But it’s customary for staff to inform me should their partners begin residing on campus or, if they plan on entertaining guests for an extended period.”

Severus takes a steadying breath, exhales slowly through his nose. She’s right, of course. It’s only common curtesy. But Severus is not sure whom Harry has told about their…relationship. They have kept things quiet for good reason, and Severus knows how Harry detests public scrutiny—detests it nearly as much as Severus. And, if word got out that the Boy Hero was sleeping with Severus Snape? He takes another deep breath and stands. He is tired of this conversation. “Harry Potter is not living with me,” he says. That is, after all, technically true.

“Severus,” Minerva says gently. “Harry is here far too often to just be visiting with Rubeus or taking a turn about the Quidditch pitch with Rolanda. Irma sees him occasionally in the library and I know he’s popped in see Poppy once or twice but—”

“What is it you want me to say, Minerva?”

She looks at him again, pale eyes sharp, assessing. “When?” She finally asks. “How long has it been going on?”

Severus stares back at her. “In all honesty, I don’t think that’s a question you want me to answer.”

She presses her lips together but offers no other rebuke. “I see.” Then: “You are old enough to be his father.”

“I am aware.”

“He is also Harry Potter.”

Severus does not roll his eyes. “Yes. I can assure you that I am also aware of that particular detail.”

“There are people who will not approve, who will—”

“Minerva, Harry is an adult. Regardless of what others might think of his...choices, they are his to make. Now, I’m sorry, but I must see to a potion.” He walks past her to the door.

“I think you misunderstand me, Severus,” she says. He stops, hand on the doorknob. “I am not worried about Harry. Merlin knows, that boy has never been one to be bothered by a bit of controversy.”

“Then what is it?”

“I am worried about you.”

He frowns. That is not what he expected her to say.

“Harry was your student. Obviously, I cannot condone the fact that you entered into a relationship with him while he was still in school, but you are both consenting adults. You can be with whomever you choose. And I—” Her smile is sad but genuine. “You deserve to be happy. You both deserve to be happy.”

He nods, opens the door to leave.

“Oh, and Severus? See that Harry joins us for dinner in the Great Hall the next time comes for a visit.”

***

“I think I see why Filius is always going on about a faculty bathroom,” Severus says, rummaging through the tiny cabinet in his own, admittedly, lacklustre and cramped bath. Harry’s perched on the side of the tub watching. “Ah, here it is.” He takes a small jar from the back of the shelf.

“Thanks.” Harry scoops a bit of the salve out with his finger. He smears it over the burn on his forearm. “God, that feels good.”

Severus rolls his eyes.

They’re working on burn remedies and healing magic this week and, apparently, the Healer-in-training partnered with Harry needs considerably more practice with his casting. “Yes, well, next time you’re asked to inflict injuries upon your own person, see to it that your partner is more competent than the imbecile who treated that burn.”

Harry laughs. “Jacobs is all right.” He looks down at his arm; it’s no longer blistered. The now-healed skin is pink and smooth. “But yeah, burns don’t appear to be his forte.”

“Obviously.” Severus puts the salve back in the cabinet.

“So, Flitwick is still holding out hope?”

“Every staff meeting without fail,” Severus says. “I keep thinking Minerva will give in just to save us from having to hear yet another proposal.”

Harry laughs.

“But then,” Severus continues, “I think of the types of things that take place in the community baths in this castle and realise that Minerva might be on to something.”

“Hey,” Harry grins, “it’s been ages since we’ve done anything inappropriate in a lave.”

Severus gives him a pointed look and Harry laughs again. “Well, a common lave that is.”

“Obviously.”

“And now I’ve got absolutely horrid images in my head. So, thanks for that.”

“Filius in a dress?”

Harry shudders dramatically. “Among other things.” He stands, moves beside Severus to wash his hands. “I haven’t checked. Do you think the eighth-year lave is still there, now that there are no eighth-years?”

“I’m not sure,” Severus says. “But I think I could be convinced to go investigate. After dinner, perhaps?” It’s two weeks into fall term, but they have not been to the third floor lave since the end of Harry’s eighth year—since they celebrated his acceptance into the Healer programme with champagne and... other things. Once Severus stopped pretending it made any difference whatsoever whether Harry slept in his rooms at night, they no longer had as much need of the eighth-year bath. After all—despite Harry’s admittedly excellent wards—Severus’s rooms afford far more privacy.

“After dinner then,” Harry says, following Severus out of the bathroom. “I am hungry. Didn’t have much time for lunch today.” He sits down on the floor in front of the fire place. “Should I order you something or—”

“Actually,” Severus says, “about dinner. Minerva has asked that you join me tonight. In the Great Hall.”

Harry looks up. “In the Great Hall? For dinner?”

“Yes.”

“With you?”

He nods.

“Oh,” Harry says. He frowns. “So she knows I’m, um, here.”

“Yes.”

“And she knows we’re together.”

“Apparently, you are in my rooms far too often for there to be any other reasonable explanation.”

“Huh.” Harry chews on his lip, looks up at Severus. “And do you think she, er, knows that we might have been together last year as well?”

“She might suspect that our...relationship wasn’t entirely appropriate for a teacher and student.”

“No. Not entirely.” Then Harry says: “My friends know—just Hermione and Ron. But I, well, Hermione knew last year I think. And she’s friends with Gin, of course, and I’m pretty sure she knew that that wasn’t going to work out even before I did. And then Ron—we’d talked about getting a place, yeah? When I finished school and started my programme. But I knew he wanted Hermione to move in with him instead and, well, I told him that was all right. That I was seeing someone.”

“Oh?” Severus says, trying to keep his voice flat, neutral.

“Yeah,” Harry says simply. “And it’s all right. They know I’m happy. We’re happy.”

Severus looks at him for a long moment—at the man he knows he loves. “We are.”

“Good,” Harry says, as though that settles it. “So, for dinner, I might need to borrow a robe. I brought something to wear for you, but I doubt Minerva would think it appropriate.”

“Likely not.” Severus goes back into his bedroom to find a robe for Harry. “Here,” he says, tossing it over to him. “What did you bring? The black lace?”

“Maybe.” Harry grins. And, fuck, but just the thought sends a rush of warmth to Severus’s groin.

“Later,” Severus says. “You can wear it later.” Then he makes a decision. “And, as long as Minerva and your friends know—I think you should move in here with me.” Severus is already thinking of Harry’s clothes sharing space in the bureau with his own—and not just the dresses, but Harry’s faded jeans and ridiculous assortment of Quidditch t-shirts and—

“Move in? Here with you?”

“Yes. Or, at least have some of your things. You can keep Black’s home, of course, but—”

“You want me to have my things here?” Harry says, disbelief clear in his voice.

“And you,” Severus says. “I want you here. If you want to be, that is.”

Harry practically jumps into Severus’s arms. He kisses him, clumsily, eagerly, perfectly. “Yes. Absolutely, yes.”