Harry circled the pond, Hermione's wand the only source of light as he peered under the frozen chunk of ice at the glittering sword beneath. He had very little doubt that the sword was that of Godric Gryffindor's, but he didn't know who had brought it to him, and put it at the bottom of a bloody frozen pond.
Summoning the sword produced nothing, and Harry even tried a half plea to get the sword to present itself to him. Having no threat nearby however, like a giant Basilisk, the sword remained put under water.
Knowing there was nothing else for it, Harry quickly pulled off his shoes, trousers, and jumper. His shirt was tossed atop the pile, and with hesitation, his socks. Already feeling the cold air, and uneasy at the locket around his neck, Harry wrapped it around his wrist instead and jumped into the pond, before he could talk himself out of it.
Moments later, as Harry dragged himself up and onto dry land, he reflected that taking the locket off his neck had been one of his smarter ideas. It was more banged up and scuffed now, having been smashed against rock and deadwood underwater as Harry struggled to swim up. Keeping the sword close to him and the locket on a rock, Harry glared at it as he quickly got dressed. He was outside the wards, and anxious to get back to the safety of the tent. Just his shoes, and then he could return, wake Hermione up, and tell her the good news.
He'd tied one shoe up when he saw the tracks, and stilled instantly. Footprints, leading from a thatch of trees near where Harry had entered the clearing, and stopping at the edge of the pond. They paced back and forth three or four times, and one lone print had stepped into the snowy crisp surface of the ice. Whoever had been watching Harry had gone into the pond as well, but hadn't removed any clothing.
Faster than his numb fingers liked, Harry did up his other shoe and brandished the wand and the sword at the pond. He'd stuffed the locket into his pocket quickly, just in case he had to run. But a bubble of air popped at the surface of the pond before Harry could decide whether to stay or go, closely followed by a desperate gasp for air. Harry watched, horrified, as a mass of black hair surfaced, covering the man's face, except for his nose. His very recognizable nose.
"Snape!" Harry hissed, still holding the wand, but not as tightly. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Snape struggled getting out of the water, his blue-tinged hands slipping on the icy surface.
"P-p-potter," Snape rasped, trying to roll himself out of the water. Harry recognized a man in danger, and dropped the sword.
"Wingardium leviosa," Harry murmured, keeping his aim steady as he lifted Snape out of the water and toward the bank. He wasn't feeling the weight, but Harry could only guess how heavy Snape's thick wet cloak and clothing was.
"P-potter," Snape repeated, shivering as he landed on the ground. He was soaking wet from head to toe, and his hair looked like the ends were starting to freeze.
"Did you put the sword there?" Harry demanded, still unsure if Snape was there as a friend or foe.
"My doe. My doe," Snape muttered, and he closed his eyes. "You have it."
"I have the sword. What are you doing here, Snape, and how did you find me?" Harry pressed, not moving any closer.
"He was holding socks," Snape whispered, but in the silent forest, it was loud enough.
Harry froze where he stood, remembering the conversation he'd had with the headmaster's portrait, just before leaving Hogwarts for the last time.
"There will come a time, Harry, when you will need to trust someone implicitly. He will know what I told you I saw in the Mirror of Erised in your first year. Trust him, Harry. Trust him."
"What? But sir, that doesn't make any sense. Who is it?" Harry asked, watching the portrait as the painted Dumbledore settled into his chair for a nap.
"Good luck, Harry, I fear you'll need all you can get."
"Shit," Harry cursed. He looked around the forest to check for any other signs of life, and relaxed a small amount at finding none.
"Hide, Potter," Snape mumbled, drawing his wet cloak around himself in a useless attempt for warmth.
Harry pointed his wand at the ground below Snape and cast quietly, hoping that the heating charm around them would warm Snape up a little. It was frigid out, and he'd cast an impervious charm on his own body before going in the lake, so he wouldn't freeze.
Snape's head snapped up at the feeling of heat though, and his eyes flashed panic.
"N-n-no magic!" Snape said, his teeth chattering. "Go b-b-back, the wards."
Snape stood shakily, and withdrew his wand as if to disapparate. He dropped it though, and Harry noticed that his fingers looked as if they were getting frostbite. He was unsteady on his feet as he tried to summon the wand, wavering and shuddering violently as he kept his cloak tight around him for warmth.
Harry was certain he'd splinch himself to bits if he tried.
"No! You can't," Harry stammered, awake and alert. Snape's fingers were a worrying shade of pale blue, and Harry realised he'd get hypothermia soon if he wasn't warmed up. Harry stepped forward quickly, catching Snape as the older man stumbled forward. Harry had the sword in one hand, the locket in his back pocket, and a wet and slightly delirious Snape leaning on him as he traversed back to the safety of the wards, hyper alert of any potential attacks.
"Harry?" Hermione mumbled, only half awake in her bunk. She took the top bunk, always, because she said she enjoyed the feeling of sleeping above everyone.
"Go back to sleep, Hermione," Harry said, manoeuvring Snape into a camping chair they had. He didn't put Snape in a bed yet, because he wanted to get rid of the wet clothes first.
Harry concentrated as he used magic to remove Snape's clothes, keeping them undamaged as he did so. He kept his face neutral as a naked Snape was suddenly presented to him. His skin was so white it looked at some spots to be translucent; he was violently shivering, and was slow to cover his genitals.
"Who is that?" Hermione demanded, suddenly much more awake.
"Snape," Harry answered, handing Snape a clean pair of slightly enlarged underpants from his own rucksack. He helped the man put them on, before steering him to his own bunk underneath Hermione's. "He's got hypothermia. He left me the sword in a pond and I think he thought I was drowning."
As he talked, Harry set to work stripping off his own clothes again, down to his y-fronts. Hermione had only seen him shirtless before, but he didn't much care at this point because he knew that Snape would be in serious trouble if he wasn't warmed up in short order. And from Hermione's many lectures over their past few months of winter camping, he knew that magic wouldn't work to warm Snape's core body temperature up.
"That makes no sense, Harry," Hermione stated, jumping down from her bed and immediately turning to stock the fire with more wood. In short order she had it blazing, and helped Harry widen his bed. The entire time, Snape sat with his arms wrapped around himself, staring at the floor with his teeth chattering.
"I'm tired Potter. Go away," Snape said, goose flesh covering his entire body. He tried to bat away Harry's hands, but missed.
"How did he get hypothermia?" Hermione asked, crossing her arms. She uncrossed them a second later, to flick her wand at the kettle and boil some hot water for tea.
"He jumped into the pond after me," Harry said, shaking his head. "But I don't know how long he'd been waiting there."
"He can hear you," Snape irritably said. He seemed to be warming up a bit, as his feet weren't thumping on the floor as hard as they had been when he first sat down. "Bloody rotter Potter. Swimming under the pond like an otter."
"What?" Harry asked, flabbergasted.
"It's the hypothermia," Hermione answered, chewing on the side of her thumb as she studied Snape. "It can cause confusion."
"I couldn't do magic," Snape explained, rubbing his upper arms. The skin was icy pale, and Harry wondered if he'd actually do damage by rubbing it.
"We're going to have a quick kip now," Harry lightly said, climbing into the bed behind Snape. He held up all the blankets, and stared uselessly at Snape. "Don't you want a nap?"
Snape seemed unsure; as cold as he was, he realised that it was Harry in the bed. Hermione looked like she was itching to push him down under the warm covers.
"You don't like me," Snape muttered, as if he wasn't sure this was just a dream. He allowed himself to be tugged down by Harry though, and missed the pained look on Harry's face at all the contact with Snape's cold skin.
"I don't like what you've done," Harry carefully said, aware that Snape may remember the entire conversation when he next woke up.
"I don't either."
Mindful of Snape's bony elbows and shoulders, Harry worked himself in so that he was spooning Snape and had his arm tightly wrapped around Snape's scarred chest. Snape felt like an icicle, and Harry shot a pleading look at Hermione.
"Magic won't fix it," Hermione said, shrugging helplessly. "He needs to warm up naturally, or his muscles and skin could get damaged."
"I know. Warm up the bed sheets, please," Harry asked, his tone slightly begging.
A quick flick of her wand did so, and the bed warmed considerably. Snape was still clammy and cold, but he was mumbling to himself and was still almost coherent. He was also skinnier than Harry could ever remember him being, his lanky hair covering his gaunt face and tired eyes.
"I think he came to help me," Harry said, aware that due to their position, his voice projected right past Snape's ear.
"Of course, you idiot," Snape grumbled. Had it been in his normal voice, Harry was quite sure that the tone would have been harsh. But as it was, Snape was simply too tired to keep up his hatred.
Hermione still looked slightly doubtful, but she did trust Harry and took a moment to hang Snape's clothing up on a line they'd strung up on the other side of the stove. While she did so, Harry retold in a low voice how he'd seen the doe in the forest, and how it had led him to the sword.
"But why would he put it at the bottom of a frozen pond?" Hermione asked, adding another log to the fire.
"I've no idea," Harry said, staring straight at the blurry fire. He'd propped up his head with his arm, and Snape's head was tucked into the space between his shoulder and neck.
"Only you," Snape said, his eyes closed. He was still shivering, but not to the same degree as before. Harry was starting to feel warmth from him as well.
"Only me?" Harry asked. He pulled the blanket up further around them and shifted closer, surprised to find that he didn't really mind the feeling of Snape's bony back pressed against his chest. Except for the cold temperature of Snape's skin.
"Only you would be foolish enough to go after a sword in a frozen pond," Snape clarified, with a yawn.
Hermione rolled her eyes at that and rose from her seat.
"I think I can leave you with him for a few minutes," Hermione said, putting her wand in her pyjama bottom pocket. She had found Snape's wand in his outer cloak, and put it on the table.
"He knew the mercy phrase, Hermione," Harry quietly said, watching Hermione's movements. She stilled at hearing his words, and then relaxed the tension from her shoulders.
"I'll go check the perimeter then," Hermione said, pulling a jumper and coat on over her pyjamas. "Hopefully no one saw you both out there."
"I didn't hear anyone, " Harry said. He caught Hermione's quick glance to Ron's bed as s he left, but didn't say anything.
Harry watched her go, muttering about Ron. He hoped Hermione wouldn't take a long time, because they'd need another warming charm on the blankets soon.
"Don't go to sleep yet," Harry said, poking Snape in the shoulder. "Not till you're lucid."
"Fuck off," Snape said, and Harry stared at him in surprise. Snape's hair was damp against his cheek, and it was a mark of how tired the man was that he would openly swear in front of Harry. He'd usually done his best to maintain a snobby superior attitude in order to belittle Harry.
"I'm serious," Harry said, poking Snape again. The man's shoulders were tense, and Harry couldn't tell if it was from the cold, or if it was merely stress that had built up immeasurably. One dark eye cracked open and stared up at the ceiling.
"Why can't you do magic?" Harry asked, hoping the question would draw Snape out of his sleepiness.
"Because of house elves," Snape answered, after some thought. He had worry lines across his forehead, and his neck was covered in gooseflesh.
"Someone has one following you?" Harry gently asked, remembering how he'd done that very thing to track Malfoy.
"No," Snape tiredly said. "But they could."
"Yeah, they could," Harry distractedly said. "Dobby found me at Privet drive, and I was supposedly under my mother's protection then."
"Hmm," Snape hummed, closing his arms closer to his chest.
"Are you getting any warmer?"
"Hmmm," Snape said again.
Harry moved himself a little bit down the bed so he could fully lie down. Snape's shoulder was uncovered by the blanket, so Harry pulled it up to get them even warmer. Snape's skin was losing its clamminess, but the man was still stiff and his limbs still jerked once in a while, as if startling back to life.
"My toes are stabbing me," Snape said, closing his eyes again. He was silent for a few moments, and Harry figured he'd gone to sleep. He kept himself very still, as he'd once stubbed his own toe on something after his foot had fallen asleep, and the pins and needles feeling shooting up his leg was rather unforgettable.
A few minutes later Hermione was back, standing just outside the tent flaps. Harry startled as he sat up, reaching under his pillow for his broken wand. It wasn't there, but he leaned tense and protectively over Snape's body.
"Ron's back!" Hermione said, bursting into the tent. She looked odd, a mixture of excitement at seeing Ron again, and confusion over her happiness of that fact. Harry suspected Ron would shortly find himself in hot water.
"Hey Harry," Ron said, tentatively smiling as he entered the tent. "Long time."
"Yeah," Harry said, fully aware that he appeared shirtless and to be sharing a bed with Snape.
"Look, I'm sorry – what's the git doing here?"
"Ron!" Hermione chastised, standing by the bench with her hand on her wand.
"He brought the sword," Harry answered, nodding toward Gryffindor's sword. It was resting on the other bunk on the other side of the tent, and Ron's eyes widened as he saw it.
"He also has hypothermia," Hermione said, her voice huffing slightly as she added more wood to the fire. Harry suspected she was now remembering why she was mad at Ron. "He tried to save Harry from drowning."
"You were drowning?" Ron asked, his eyes flicking back to Harry. He was remaining remarkably calm about finding his best friend in bed with their hated professor.
"Not really, but he thought I was," Harry carefully replied. "Thanks for not hexing on site."
"I've been awake for two days," Ron shrugged. "Looking for you two. Figured your explanation would make more sense than me jumping to conclusions."
"That didn't stop you the last time," Hermione said, and she had her arms crossed again. She also had the stubborn set look on her face, and Harry knew that Ron wouldn't be going to bed any time soon. From the resigned look on his friend's face, it was apparent that Ron knew it as well.
"I'm really sorry, Hermione," Ron said, toeing his shoes along the planked floor of the tent. He looked dejected, but kept eye contact with Hermione. "I was wearing the locket, and I know that's no excuse, but autumn is never a good time for me. I usually do something stupid then, right Harry?"
Harry fought a smile as he remembered their past seven years of friendship. He remembered Ron's jealous anger over the tri-wizard tournament, his disastrous relationship with Lavender, and his delusion-induced deserting of them this time.
"Yeah, you really do."
Hermione didn't share the amusement. She picked her coat back up and threw it on, angrily buttoning up the large wooden buttons.
"So you just expect a free pass every autumn?"
"No, not at all," Ron said, dropping his bag on the floor. He stepped toward her, as if to placate her.
"I am going outside to guard the perimeter. Do not follow me, Ronald Weasley," Hermione warned, stomping out of the tent.
Ron watched her go, his expression a mixture of relief and wariness.
"Took her a while to remember she's angry with me. That's a good thing, right?"
"Yes," Harry said, rolling his eyes. "But you're still an arse."
"Yeah," Ron said, his voice trailing off as he looked at the tent flap. "I really missed her. Both of you. You all right with the git?"
"He's in just his pants," Harry said, "I don't think he'll try anything."
"Ugh," Ron said, before pulling his coat tighter and turning toward the door.
"Ron! Take the sword, the locket's in my jeans pocket," Harry said, pointing at his crumpled clothing pile.
"But…" Ron said, looking unsure. He seemed to remember Harry describing the way the diary horcrux had fought back.
"It'll impress her," Harry pressed.
"Right," Ron said, determined.
Once the flap had closed back up, the tent was silent and warming under the power of the wood-burning stove. Harry was staring at the door, somewhat wistfully, knowing that the dynamics of the tent had changed. Ron and Hermione would make up eventually, and Harry figured it wouldn't take long for them to grow closer.
"You can stop pretending you're asleep," Harry said, shifting a little to stop his arm from going numb.
"I am asleep," Snape countered, dipping his head slightly down so his hair covered his face.
"Of course," Harry agreed, playing along. "That's why your back and shoulder are rock solid tense."
"Quiet, Potter," Snape warned. "It's already enough that I will have to obliviate you…"
"You will not," Harry hissed, sitting up. It was obvious immediately that Snape missed the warmth, as his body curled inward on itself.
"Of course not. The great Harry Potter wants to remember sharing a bed with his professor. Tell me, Potter, were you surprised that I was the one Dumbledore wanted you to trust?"
"No," Harry evenly answered, glad that Snape couldn't see his face flushing. "Somehow I knew it would be you all along."
The answer seemed to take the wind out of Snape's sails, or perhaps he was simply too tired to continue snapping at Harry.
"Why did hypothermia set in so fast?" Harry not-quite-demanded.
Snape gave him an ugly look, but answered.
"I first had to place the sword into the pond. I only went in again after, with all my clothes, when I thought you were drowning."
"I was using a bubblehead charm," Harry admitted. He wished Snape would roll onto his back, so they could talk easier, but he didn't think Snape wanted to lose that much contact for warmth.
"With no regard for casting magic outside of your wards," Snape disapprovingly said.
"It's done," Harry interrupted, his tone strong. "But that can't be the only reason; you weren't under the water that long."
"Hypothermia doesn't take long," Snape defensively answered. "And I suspect my immune system has been weakened."
"By what?" Harry asked, staring at the side of his teacher's pale face. Snape did look worn out, but then, he'd always been pale. "A curse?"
"Nothing so obvious," Snape said, grimacing as he tried to twist in the bed and get comfortable. "The Carrows have been creative in their attempts to unseat me as headmaster. I regularly check my food for poison."
"Jesus," Harry exhaled.
Snape remained silent, and Harry noticed that his body was ceasing to shiver as much.
"This is war, Mr Potter," Snape finally said.
"Yeah," Harry agreed. "But you're all right here, for now. Ron and Hermione will keep us safe."
"Forgive me for not finding that comforting," Snape replied, his voice low. He sounded like he was tired, but that he was refusing to sleep. Almost like a child, who didn't want to nod off, lest he be moved or his parents left the room.
After staring at the back of Snape's head for a few minutes, and almost being able to hear the thoughts racing through Snape's mind, Harry propped himself up again.
"Roll over," Harry said, nudging Snape's shoulder.
"Potter?" Snape asked, his voice asking something else.
"You're too tense to sleep," Harry said, by way of explanation. "And I want to get some sleep tonight."
Snape's eyes shuttered slightly, and he rolled onto his stomach without a word. Harry did his best, straddling Snape by kneeling on the bed around the man's hips. He had never done this before, let alone even thought of giving another man a massage, so he just pictured the muscles under Snape's skin. He didn't know if muscles physically knotted, or if it was just a saying, but Harry imagined his fingers working out the knots and smoothing out the muscle. Snape had stayed completely silent as Harry had started, but he began to release small exhalations of breath as Harry worked out a particularly stubborn knot under his hairline.
"What are you going to do when the war's over?" Harry asked, focused on Snape's left shoulder where there was a jagged white scar.
"Plead with St Peter, most likely," Snape muttered.
Harry stilled, his fingers resting on Snape's rapidly cooling skin.
"You won't die," Harry firmly said.
Snape seemed to find that funny, snorting derisively before shivering again.
"Aren't you running the show now, Snape?" Harry asked, kneeling back up over Snape's hips so he could shimmy back down on his side of the bed. Whatever warmth Snape had gained from the bed, he'd lost by the sheet being lowered for the massage.
"It's dangerous to talk of things you don't know," Snape warned, though there was no malice in his tone.
Harry tugged Snape back over, in order to give the man more heat through skin-to-skin contact. He wrapped his arm around Snape's waist, noticing that Snape stiffened when Harry's arm came slightly too close to his midsection.
"There are a lot of things I don't know about in this war," Harry said staring in fascination at a small tattoo behind Snape's ear. He had a compass tattooed there, tiny, and with north facing toward the top of his head.
"Ignorance is bliss," Snape muttered, stretching his legs back against Harry's. His legs were covered in surprisingly soft hair, and Harry felt his cheeks flame as other parts of him started to enjoy Snape's presence. There was no way that Snape wouldn't have noticed, being as close as they were, but he didn't say anything. He didn't move away either, but instead, relaxed back further against Harry.
"I'm sorry," Harry said, embarrassed. He was trying to think of particularly revolting thoughts to calm his unruly erection, but it wasn't working. Even though it was Snape in the bed with him, Snape who had a distressingly good looking body hidden under his robes.
"Are you?" Snape asked, sounding very tired himself. Too tired to do anything, and it took him a while to respond to Harry's next statement.
"I think I am."
The fire burned lower, and Harry tightened his grip on Snape, his wrist nudging against the tip of Snape's own erection.
"As am I, Potter," Snape replied, before falling asleep.
When Harry next woke up it was some time in the middle of the night, as the tent was completely dark. Snape had turned in his sleep, sleeping mostly front to front with Harry. His hair was a mess, and a slight shade of stubble had appeared on his chin and cheeks. His eyelids were fluttering rapidly, as he worked his way through a dream. A particularly good dream, going by the warmth and hardness resting against Harry's own groin.
Looking up over Snape's head, Harry saw that neither Ron nor Hermione were in the tent. There looked to be a fire going on outside, and Harry suspected they were sitting together out there. The lack of arguing was a good sign, at least. It did mean though that a small, slight, but definite line was back between them, where Ron and Hermione could share small touches, and sit closely together, and give those looks; the looks that Harry knew meant that no one else in the world mattered as much to them.
Harry had those moments a long time ago, what seemed like centuries ago. It was only last year that he and Ginny had dated a little, and he remembered the warm feeling of Ginny leaning back against him in the common room. But Ginny wasn't here, he'd not seen her in several months, and now he was sharing a bed with a chilled Snape.
But that was okay, because they were both working against Voldemort, and they were sharing a bed to keep Snape warm from hypothermia. This was war, after all, and desperate measures were taken in war. The fact that it felt good to be…snuggled up to Snape, that was maybe a little odd. Wasn't it?
He knew he should feel guilty, if not for betraying his girlfriend, then for becoming aroused by a man twenty years his senior. But it wasn't like they were attached to each other, Harry reasoned. It wouldn't be awkward in the morning, like if he went to his friends for comfort. And Snape was asleep, so he didn't need to know that Harry was enjoying the bed sharing. It wasn't like Harry would wank in the bed next to Snape, and even if Snape realised that he was hard, well, Snape had a penis too. He would know that it happened sometimes, and Harry figured Snape also knew what it felt like to see other people close to each other, while he didn't have anyone.
He shifted a bit and squeezed his eyes shut at the feeling, cursing in his mind that the first time he'd felt aroused in nearly a year was with Severus bloody Snape in the bed with him. It was just the fact that there was a mostly warm body next to him, and Harry hadn't really been touched in so long. That must be it.
But then, what had Snape meant, when he'd said he was sorry too? He'd certainly felt Harry's stiffie, and apparently hadn't been repulsed by it. And wasn't that a strange thought. Harry couldn't remember having any distinct fantasies about males before, but he'd felt Snape's erection earlier and had been extremely curious to 'accidentally' brush it again.
Maybe Snape wouldn't mind, if he thought that Harry was just moving in his sleep.
And even if Snape woke up, well, Harry could pretend to be confused and Snape had somewhat said earlier that he was queer, hadn't he? Snape was alone too and at this stage of the game couldn't risk anything casual, not to mention that his particular features would make finding someone hard, though they didn't look so bad in the dark, close up...
Harry shifted again, his hips twisting slightly and cock resting against Snape's. He froze when Snape also moved, an upward movement that pressed Snape's penis strongly against Harry's.
"Shut up," Snape suddenly said, and Harry had a split second of sheer panic as he thought that he'd been speaking aloud.
Snape didn't say anything else though, and he didn't roll atop Harry, just stayed at his side as an equal.
"I'm sorry," Harry said, knowing he was leaking pre-come at the band of his pants, and that Snape could feel it because he couldn't move away in the bed.
"War comforts," Snape muttered, speaking into Harry's cheek as he reached down for Harry's arse. With a strong grip, Snape kept Harry pressed firmly against himself, giving off delicious pressure as they moved.
"Oh," Harry whispered, his muscles moving out of their own violation as he and Snape thrust against each other. There was no rush, no maddening pace to indicate the coupling of two strangers in need of release. Instead, a steady rhythm was established, and Harry buried his face in Snape's neck, taking in the scent of forest, potions, and male.
Snape never kissed him, never allowed more than a few centimetres between them as they rubbed and panted. The underpants provided a small barrier, but when Harry's cock tip escaped in the excitement, and brushed against Snape's wet head, the feeling was too much and he started to come.
Snape followed very quickly afterward, shooting warm semen between them and his thighs twitching as the last pulses of orgasm finished.
Even without his wand, Snape could perform a silent cleaning charm on them both. Harry was inordinately grateful that the tent had muffled their quiet gasps, as while he didn't feel embarrassed about what he'd done (after all, he was an adult and he chose it), he didn't feel like having a large discussion with Ron and Hermione over his frotting habits with Snape.
"Turn over," Snape muttered, and for a second Harry feared that Snape wanted full-out sex. Rubbing one off was one thing, but Harry hadn't thought about anal sex before and was of the opinion that one ought to do a lot of thinking about that before hand.
"My front is cold," Snape explained further, and Harry felt stupid. Of course, Snape would still be chilled from earlier. He turned over, careful to not yank the blankets too much in his favour, and released a contented breath when Snape's arms came around him.
In the morning, Harry felt like he'd slept like a king. Snape was gone, no one had seen him leave, but under Harry's pillow was a single, tiny, multi-coloured knit sock.
"It's over, Harry," Hermione said, unable to contain the exhausted smile on her face. They'd just left the headmaster's office and all three felt ready to sleep for more than a day.
"It's over," Harry confirmed, a small smile on his face. He held the Elder wand tightly in his hand, debating whether to return it to Dumbledore's tomb intact, or to snap it into pieces.
Ron, who hadn't moved his arm from around Hermione's shoulder since they'd left the Great Hall, nodded toward the wand.
"Break it. It's too great of a temptation."
"And maybe mention it's broken," Hermione thoughtfully said, through a yawn.
"Yeah," Harry agreed, imagining the sort of people that would come after him just for the wand.
"We're going back to Shell Cottage," Ron said, glancing at Hermione. "Get some rest without all these people around."
"Good idea. I've, err, got one more thing to do before I can go to sleep," Harry said, wondering how he'd explain why he needed to go check on Snape.
"Do you think he's alive, Harry?" Hermione asked, looking doubtful and knowing exactly what was on Harry's mind. They'd seen a lot of destruction during this war, death, torture, and Harry had seen vile events in his visions from Voldemort. But he still held on to a tiny fraction of his eleven-year-old self, that imagined that magic could fix anything.
"I hope so," Harry said, rubbing his gritty, tired eyes. "It'd be such a waste, that for all he did, he couldn't enjoy the afterwards."
"Well, if he's as good as his first day speech says he is," Ron reasoned, with a nod, "then he will. Send us a message when you find out."
Harry nodded, and remembering that the Hogwarts wards had fallen, apparated directly to the shack.
It was the same dirty, dusty shack as when Harry had left, save for the giant bloodstain on the floor, and dirty rags flung against a stack of boxes. He panicked initially, noticing that Snape's body wasn't there, but then felt an overwhelming rush of relief when he realised that Snape had likely apparated out, or someone had come to fetch him. He refused to consider any other possibility, such as another Death Eater finding Snape first.
Harry jammed the Elder wand into his coat pocket, checking twice that it was safely tucked in there, before pulling his wallet out of his jeans pocket. It was scuffed and one corner had its stitching coming somewhat loose, but Harry had had it since he was fourteen, and wasn't quite ready to replace it yet. Harry flicked his thumb between the Muggle notes he had in there, before finding the small blue, green, red, and white sock. Holding it carefully in his hands, Harry held it up and whispered.
"Take me to Snape."
The room that Harry landed in caught him completely off guard. It was by the sea, somewhere, and the walls were painted light blue, the curtains white and flowing from the wind coming through the open windows. It was cool, slightly damp, and still somewhat dark. On the bed against the wall was a lump covered in a thick white duvet, black hair the only thing contrasting on the stark white pillow.
Harry dropped the sock, his wallet, and his wand as he rushed to the bed. Snape was sleeping, his neck wrapped in bandages, and his skin just as pale as it had been all those months ago, when Harry had brought him into the tent with hypothermia.
Harry reached out to touch Snape's cheek, pausing when he saw how dirty his fingers were. He couldn't smell himself, but he imagined he likely smelled pretty rank as well.
"Are you Master Severus's Harry?"
It was a small voice from the corner, high pitched but not irritating. Harry nearly had a heart attack, spinning around and staring wildly into the shadows of the room. A small house elf hopped off a wicker chair and approached, her large eyes bright and unblinking as she stared at him.
"I'm his…what? I'm Harry," Harry answered, realising that this elf likely was the one to care for and save Snape.
She nodded, her pillowcase uniform lined with lace and looking more like a light summer pinafore than an ill-shaped case.
"Yous be wanting a shower," the elf said, taking his hand and leading him away from the bed. Harry did want one, but he also wanted to talk to Snape and verify that the man was truly alive. "Master Severus is needing sleep."
"All right," Harry said, allowing himself to be led out the room, but still keeping his eyes on the figure in the bed as long as he could.
The elf took him to a well-sized washroom, leaving him with fresh towels and soaps to use. Most house elves didn't seem to care about wizard nudity, but she politely left just as Harry had started to tug his shirt up. He showered with his eyes mostly closed, not wanting to survey whatever damage his body had suffered in the final battle. Instead he just let the soap do its magic, literally, as the bubbles seemed to race across his chest and down his legs.
By the time he'd finished, Harry was more than slightly wrinkled, and ready to pass out. There was no sign of the house elf anywhere, and it appeared that she'd taken his clothes away to launder. A fresh pair of underpants waited for him on the bed though, and the side Snape wasn't on had been turned down slightly. His spectacles, watch, wallet, and wand had all been placed on the bedside cabinet.
Needing no further invitation, Harry slid into the bed next to Snape. He groped blindly for his wand, remembering to send a simple message of 'he's alive' to Ron and Hermione through his patronus. The wand was returned to the cabinet and Harry snaked his arm around Snape's side, pulling the man back against his own chest. Snape wasn't that warm, but he uncurled with a soft sigh and seemed to melt against Harry.
"I've got you," Harry said, speaking against the back of Snape's neck and taking in the scent of Snape's shampoo.
"Mmm," Snape hummed, and Harry felt instantly asleep.
Harry did not expect to wake up with something vibrating along the back of his neck. Upon a moment's consideration, he realised that the vibration was actually a purring noise, and that it was from a cat snugged up behind him. In front of him was Snape, who was grasping Harry's hand closely to his chest.
Snape was still pressed firmly against him, and Harry's cock was happily nestled against the cleft of Snape's arse. There were two layers of material – thin underpants – between them, but they did nothing to hide Harry's hard penis.
"War comforts?" Snape asked, his voice thick and fuzzy with sleep.
Harry considered his answer, rubbing his hips slowly forward and teasing himself against Snape's backside.
"Peacetime offering," Harry replied, splaying his fingers over Snape's chest.
He couldn't see the smile on Snape's face, but he could hear it in the man's voice.
"Well done, Harry," Snape said, and if possible, Harry was even more turned on by the use of his first name. Snape tried to turn, but the cat stubbornly refused to move and Harry couldn't give Snape any more space.
"There's a cat…" Harry said, trailing off with a hitch of breath as Snape grabbed his hip for leverage.
"Mitts, go find breakfast," Snape ordered, raising his hand to push away the cat. It stalked away in a huff, and Harry imagined it likely gave Snape quite the dirty look.
"My Gran's cat," Snape explained, turning fully so he was facing Harry.
"Your Gran?" Harry asked, confused. Snape was running his hands along Harry's back, and it wasn't helping his concentration. "Is she here?"
"Yes," Snape answered, "this is her house. Fear not, she is profoundly deaf."
Any other objection Harry might have made was lost when Snape traced his finger down the hem of the underpants, around to Harry's front. He grasped Harry strongly, giving him a squeeze through the material.
"Much larger than last time," Snape commented, his voice teasing as he rubbed his palm up and down Harry's cock.
"Fuck off, it was cold last time," Harry gasped.
Snape smiled and shifted, rubbing his thumb over the damp tip that had snuck out of Harry's pants.
"I…I've never," Harry started, staring at the bandages around Snape's neck.
"I know," Snape answered, with certainty. He closed his eyes as Harry moved his own hand between them, and explored Snape's erection.
"Just like last time then?" Harry asked, stroking Snape firmly.
"No," Snape grunted. "I've waited long enough, I will have my celebratory fuck."
Harry blinked at that, and the words had just registered as Snape was turning himself over onto his stomach.
The underpants were lost in the shuffle of Snape casting preparatory spells, and Harry was slightly embarrassed to find himself leaking so much as he stared down at Snape's flat white arse.
"I'll probably suck at this," Harry said, kneeling between Snape's open legs and lining himself up.
"You can do that after," Snape said, with a happy sigh as Harry pushed forward.
Harry had a strong grip on Snape's hips as he pushed forward, breathing steadily through his mouth so he wouldn't come as soon as he got in.
"It doesn't hurt?" Harry asked, rocking back a little.
"Make it worth it," Snape challenged. Harry took up the challenge immediately, moving faster and faster as Snape rocked himself back against Harry. Unhappy with the angle, Harry paused to lean down on his forearms, getting him closer to Snape, deeper inside Snape. He knew it was the right position, as his next thrust wrought a small moan out of Snape.
"Fuck fuck fuck," Snape swore, clenching hard as he thrust his arse up in the air. The movement stole Harry's breath and he came helplessly, driving hard into Snape. It took him a minute, once the spots had faded from his eyes, to realise that Snape had come too.
"Ada will be displeased," Snape said, tipping Harry off him and stretching languorously. "She's already had to change the bed sheets once."
Harry laughed, as he reached for his wand to do a cleaning spell.
"Ada is the house elf?"
"Yes," Snape sleepily answered. "Elspeth is my grandmother. You will meet her later."
"Yeah," Harry smiled, lying on his back and holding up his arm. Snape rolled toward him, resting his head on Harry's shoulder. "Yeah, I will."