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The Icing on the Cake

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Title: The Icing on the Cake
Author: [info]emynn
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Four months after joining Harry Potter in both his bed and his business at The Cupcakery, Severus feels some old insecurities rise up again.
Word Count: ~6K
Warnings: Food sex, outdoor sex, brooding Slytherins
A/N: Written as a belated birthday present for my darling [info]alisanne. May you have ALL the cupcakes for life, bb! Written as a follow-up to my Thon story Love and (Cupcake) War and makes much more sense if you've read that, but can more or less stand on its own. Not beta read.
Disclaimer: The characters in the world of HP are, like many other things, not mine.

Severus returned the cupcake tray he had just finished cleaning to its rightful place in the cupboard, suppressing a smile as he felt strong arms circle around his waist. The day had been busy – too busy. Severus and Harry hadn’t even managed to find five minutes to themselves, much less the usual thirty minute snog break they typically allowed themselves. After a long day at The Cupcakery, Severus was ready to collapse in bed with Harry … after participating in some other activities to make them even more exhausted, of course.

“I haven’t seen you all day,” Harry said, untying the leather thong that held Severus’ hair back and running his fingers through the long strands. “How are you doing?”

Severus shut the cupboard door, careful not to jerk his head away from Harry’s gentle grasp. He would never admit it to him, of course, but he loved the way Harry played with his hair. Harry worked out the knots and tangles with the ultimate care, making Severus feel rather like a spoiled Persian cat lounging in the sun. “Ready to turn the place over to Margot,” he said. “I wouldn’t be opposed to a bath.”

Harry laughed and tucked his head into Severus’ shoulder. “Well, perhaps if you’re lucky I’ll draw one for you when you’re done here.”

Severus frowned and turned around to face Harry. “What do you mean, when I’m done here? My apron is off, Potter. The day is done.”

“Don’t you remember? You’re interviewing the potential new employees today.”

Severus groaned. Merlin, the day had been long. It was just that morning he had scheduled eight interviews for the evening. That morning. It had been such a lovely, innocent time, back before he knew he’d be spending the day running around like a Diricawl with its head cut off, scarcely able to make enough frosting to keep up with all the cupcakes they were churning out. “Damn. Perhaps I can reschedule them for tomorrow.”

“Oh, no you don’t,” Harry said. “I can’t put up with another day understaffed like this. We needed somebody to start yesterday.” He reached for Severus’ hands. “And where’s the fun in working together if I don’t even get to see you?”

Severus sighed. “Fine. I don’t suppose I can persuade you to suffer through the interviews with me?”

“You’re the one who insisting on firing Violet,” Harry said. “You’re in charge of replacing her.”

“She insisted on calling me ‘honey!’” Severus exclaimed. “The only honey I’ll stand for is the one that’s in our lemon honey cupcake.”

Harry snorted. “She called everybody ‘honey,’ Severus.”

“And the way she pranced around the shop, acting like the resident expert of cupcakes and we were all lucky to be in her presence. ‘Oh, honey, the oven should be hotter. Oh, honey, that’s why I always use another stick of butter. Oh, honey – ‘’”

“I get it,” Harry interrupted. “Merlin, between you and Margot …”

“Margot is a fine judge of character,” Severus said. It had taken Severus precious little time to convince Harry’s right-hand woman that Violet needed to go. Just a few subtle hints that Violet thought she was better qualified than Margot was for her role and was trying to convince Harry of the fact had Margot slamming bowls and cupcake trays all over the kitchen. And once the two of them were in agreement, Harry had no choice but to give in.

“And I agreed to it,” Harry said. He reached over to the counter and handed Severus a thick stack of parchment. “So long as you stuck to your promise to find her replacement.” He lightly smacked Severus’ arse. “Now get to it. The sooner you finish these interviews, the sooner I can spoil you when you come back to my place.”

Harry leaned up to kiss him. Severus tried to pull him close, knowing full well how Harry could easily be persuaded to spend a few more minutes snogging. He was certain that once there, Severus could keep him in his arms until the first candidate arrived and Harry would have no choice but to help with the interviews. But unfortunately for Severus, Harry appeared to be onto his ways, and darted out of his embrace before Severus could so much as cup his arse.

“Later,” Harry said, and with a final peck to Severus’ nose, turned to leave.

“I want that bath!” Severus shouted after him. Harry only laughed.

Severus sighed and picked up the first application. It was going to be a long night.

~*~

Severus stepped out of the Floo and into Harry’s living room. Most of the lights in the house were out, and Severus saw no sign of Harry downstairs. He was just beginning to wonder how he would deal with Harry once he managed to track him down (more than likely at the pub down the street), when he heard Harry’s voice coming from up the stairs.

And he was singing.

“Merlin, help me,” Severus muttered, and made his was up the stairs.

“So believe that magic works! Don’t be afraid of being hurt. Don’t let this magic dieeee!”

“The Weird Sisters, Harry? That song was awful when it came out a decade ago, and time has definitely not done it any favours.”

Harry whirled around, causing the towel that had been dangling around his hips to drop to the floor. “Severus! I was just starting to worry about you. Did you hire somebody?”

“Yes,” Severus said, moving forward to cup Harry’s arse. “Three, in fact.”

“Three?” Harry asked, leaning into Severus’ embrace and wrapping his arms around his shoulders. “We only talked about replacing Violet.”

“The more help we have, the more we can sneak away to do this,” Severus said, reaching down to grab Harry’s hardening prick. “And I won’t spend the day going entirely mad thinking of it.”

Harry laughed. “Margot already teases us enough for acting like a pair of randy teenagers. Are you sure you want to give her more material to work with?”

Severus stilled. This was still fairly new, what he and Harry had. It had only been four months since he had given in and admitted that he wanted to pursue a relationship with him. But Severus had a feeling that even if, miracle of miracles, they spent a century together, he still wouldn’t understand what somebody such as Harry was doing with the likes of him. It was rather intimidating, having your lover be the handsome hero of the Wizarding world. Severus knew he would never be the young and exciting lover that Harry deserved, but he tried his damndest. But was he trying too hard? Was he coming across as desperate, a pathetic old fool who was eager to have anybody suck his cock?

“Do you mind?” he asked stiffly.

Harry kissed Severus. It was strange how such an unbelievably gentle kiss could also feel so possessive. “Not at all,” he said when they pulled apart. “I’d be an idiot to mind. I’d say I’m pretty damn lucky.”

Severus sighed, feeling the tension ease out of his shoulders. “Good.”

“I did draw you a bath,” Harry said, tugging him further into the room. “And I put a Stasis Spell on it, so it’ll still be hot.”

“Later,” Severus said, and pulled Harry to the bed. “I have more pressing matters to attend to first.”

There really was nothing like fucking Harry. The way he moved beneath, as though he were desperate to have as much of his body touch Severus as possible. The way his breath hitched in his throat before he gave in and moaned. The way his eyes, blazing and wild, stared up at Severus as though he were the only thing in the world.

The way he cried out Severus’ name when he came.

It was unreal, Severus thought as he thrust deeper into Harry’s tight entrance, his own climax rapidly approaching, that he had once thought he could pass this up. That fear that Harry would reject him had paralysed him. Thank Merlin Harry was stubborn. Severus couldn’t imagine ever having enough of this.

“Harry,” he gasped. Harry pulled his face down to his, kissing him through his release. A moment later, Severus shuddered and collapsed on Harry’s chest.

“Brilliant,” Harry murmured, running his fingers through Severus’ hair. “Although I suppose now we both need a bath.”

“In a minute,” Severus said. He wanted another moment to stay like this, blissful and boneless in Harry’s arms. He still couldn’t shake the feeling that each time would be the last time, and he needed to soak every last drop of Harry up. He pressed his lips to Harry’s shoulder.

“Severus?” Harry whispered, sounding uncharacteristically hesitant.

On guard, Severus lifted his head. Harry had frown lines etched into his forehead. No, not now. Not so soon. “Yes?”

Harry opened his mouth, but then shook his head and smiled. It didn’t quite meet his eyes. “We can talk about it later.”

Severus nodded, but the feeling of peace and contentment had vanished. In its place was only a reminder that Severus was too old, too ugly, too bitter. And Harry was entirely too kind to tell him.

“I think I’ll have that bath now,” he said, and rose from the bed.

He pretended he didn’t hear Harry call after him as he shut the door behind him.

~*~

Severus was still in a mood the next morning. After his bath the night before, he had gotten into bed, kissed Harry’s forehead, and rolled over in the covers. He could tell Harry didn’t believe him when he said he was exhausted and just wanted to go to sleep, but at least he didn’t question him.

But at the moment he had three new employees to train. He was already beginning to regret two of them; Agatha Adams took every excuse she could to stare out the window and swoon at Landon Kelly strutting across the street, and Beatrice Belton couldn’t stop sticking her finger in the frosting to eat. At least Michael Campbell seemed to be a fairly reliable sort. Dull, but reliable. Apparently he had actually attended a baking class with Harry years ago. That he actually knew how to bake was certainly a plus in Severus’ book.

“Hey, you.”

Severus turned around to see Harry grinning at him, holding an obscenely long banana in one hand. “Just what do you think you’re doing with that banana?”

“Thought I’d try out a bananas foster cupcake,” Harry said, waggling the banana in front of Severus’ face. “Something new and delicious.”

“I loathe bananas,” Severus said, looking away.

“You love bananas,” Harry corrected. “Or at least, you love what I can do with bananas.” With that, he exaggeratedly licked the full length of the banana.

Severus couldn’t help it. He snorted.

Harry let out a relieved sigh. “There you are. You’ve been inside your head all day.” He set down the banana and took both of Severus’ hands. “I was rather hoping I’d see more of you today since we have some extra help.”

“I’ve been busy,” Severus said, looked steadfastly down at their hands.

“You’ve been brooding,” Harry corrected. “Hell if I know why.”

“It’s nothing,” Severus said. “I’m merely tired.”

Harry tugged on one of Severus’ hand and wrapped it around his waist. “You know you can tell me, right?” he asked, holding Severus close.

Severus closed his eyes, silently committing to memory the feeling of holding Harry in his arms. He realised he was being neurotic. Harry had given quite literally no indication he had any interest in ending their relationship. Severus’ fears were based entirely on a teasing remark and an unsaid statement. To say the evidence was weak would be the understatement of, if not the century, at least a decade.

Not that he’d ever tell Harry that. If he weren’t already seeking a reason to end their relationship, knowing that Severus hosted the same irrational fears that a virgin maiden would about her first boyfriend would surely push him over the edge.

But still, Severus couldn’t help but wonder how far this could go. As it was, the only thing he was certain would keep them together was The Cupcakery. So long as they were business partners, they were attached in some form. But how was he to hold the interest of Harry himself in the long term? He had nothing of value to offer.

But perhaps he could go on fooling Harry for a little while longer.

“Yes,” he said. “I know.”

~*~

By the end of the day, Severus was starting to feel slightly more secure. Harry went out of his way to casually brush against him whenever he could, and seemed to make it his personal mission to kiss him every time they were alone. It felt rather like when they first got together, when Severus was so wrapped up in the pure delight and wonderment that was Harry wanting to be with him, and before he remembered that he was Severus Snape and nothing wonderful could last.

Resigning himself to continue taking it one day at a time, Severus hung up his apron and went to find Harry. Perhaps he could make up for his churlishness by taking him out to dinner. Harry always seemed to enjoy going out with him, and he had mentioned wanting to try the new Thai place in Hogsmeade.

He found him sitting at a table by the front window with Campbell. At first Severus thought Harry was simply assisting him with filling out his timesheets for the first day, but then he realised Campbell’s hand was resting on Harry’s arm, and he was gazing at him in an all-too-familiar way.

Severus’ eyes narrowed. His fingers twitched around his wand, ready to hex Campbell seven ways past Sunday if he moved even a fraction of a hair closer to Harry.

“How would you say we got some dinner after this?” Campbell said, a seductive smile playing at his lips. “For old times’ sake.”

Ire boiled in Severus’ belly. “I’m leaving, Potter,” he announced loudly.

Harry turned in his chair, startled. “Severus! Are you? Give me one second and I’ll come with you.”

“Don’t bother,” he hissed, and stalked out of the shop, taking extra care to slam the door behind him.

He didn’t even realise Harry had followed him until he felt his hand on his arm. He shrugged it off immediately; the feeling was too reminiscent of the sight that had greeted him in the shop. It made him burn, and not in the way that Harry’s touch usually did.

“What’s going on with you?” Harry asked. “You’ve been in a sulk all day, and then you just storm out like that?”

“He had his hands on you!” Severus didn’t mean to yell, but he found once he started, it was impossible to stop. “He had his hands on you, and you were just going to let him have his way with you?”

Harry shook his head, looking stunned. “Severus, it was nothing.”

“Do you deny he was asking you out?” Severus asked. His heart was beating so loudly in his chest he could barely hear his own voice above it.

“Well, he was, but I wasn’t going to agree to it,” Harry said, running his fingers through his hair agitatedly. “He didn’t realise we were together. Merlin, Severus, you can’t possibly think I would cheat on you in our own shop, could you?”

“I don’t know what to think,” Severus snapped. “What with all with this history I didn’t even realise you had. I would have thought you would inform me that you had a romantic history with one of our employees.”

“Yeah, I should have, but I didn’t know until he showed up this morning,” Harry said. “Do you know how many Michael Campbells there are in the world?”

“And you knew all day and still didn’t say anything?”

“Well, I couldn’t quite say anything with you being in the mood you were in!” Harry exclaimed. “Besides, it wasn’t anything serious. We went on maybe three dates.”

“Did you fuck him?”

Damn it, damn it, damn it. He hadn’t meant to say that. The question had just been whirling through his mind, and he found himself powerless from letting it escape through his lips. And looking at Harry’s stony expression, he knew he would pay dearly for his mistake.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Severus,” Harry said coldly. “But you come find me when you’ve figured it out.” With that, he Disapparated.

Severus felt his knees grow weak. So this is how it all would end. And, as most unpleasant events in his life, it was his fault.

He looked back at The Cupcakery. Strange that one building that he had known about for less than a year could carry so much meaning for him. But at The Cupcakery, Severus had been happy. He had a job that played upon his old skills but was different enough to keep him constantly on his toes. And, more importantly, he had Harry.

He doubted he’d ever be able to replicate that happiness elsewhere.

Damn it.

~*~

As he had done for four years while trying to forget about Harry, Severus wandered. He stopped by Harry’s house, briefly thinking he’d be able to muster the courage to speak to him. He stood on Harry’s front step, fist poised at the door, for three minutes before turning away.

He went to his own flat, but having spent so little time there the last three months, it didn’t even feel like home. He had chosen the flat for its architectural simplicity and small size, but now it only seemed to emphasise his solitude.

He found himself several hours later on the Hogwarts grounds. He should have realised earlier he would end up there; old habits were hard to break.

How many times as a student had he walked around the Great Lake, pausing to sit under this very towering yew tree, when he needed time to grab a hold of his thoughts that were dashing about madly in his head? A gangly bundle of hormones, angst, fear, and hope, he was certain he came to know every blade of grass in the vicinity.

And then as a professor, dealing with obnoxious twits who could never be arsed to expend any more effort than taking out a cauldron and placing it right-side-up (and sometimes not even that), never thinking that perhaps one day that, best case, their livelihoods could depend on it, and worst case, their lives would, Severus spent many an hour walking that same path. By that point the grass was worn under the tree from where he had sat there so often as a teenager, leaving behind only a patch of dirt. Severus didn’t allow him to sit there any longer, for fear of some fool of a student passing by and accuse him of being some brooding Byronic hero with a soul, but he still stood there beneath the branches.

It was where he had been standing on his 40th birthday. He hadn’t intended on returning to Hogwarts after the war. Hell, he hadn’t planned on surviving the war. It took several years of intense rehabilitation to be able to be able to walk about and live entirely on his own. Two weeks after he had been released from St. Mungo’s for good, Minerva had contacted him about filling in for a professor who was expecting her first child and experiencing a difficult pregnancy. He had agreed, mainly because he had no other options and St. Mungo’s wasn’t cheap, even for heroes. But he never planned on staying.

So when the time had come to say good bye, he had no idea where to turn. His stint at Hogwarts had only delayed the inevitable – he needed to face the world on his own, ideally with a career that invigorated him and perhaps with somebody by his side. Neither were very likely.

Such had been the state of his mind on his birthday, and he had once again ventured out to stand beneath the tree. Then, lo and behold, Harry Potter had arrived, face flushed from the cold but his eyes as vibrant as ever, to offer him a way.

Well, it wasn’t as clear-cut as all that. Harry had asked him what his plans were and, unwilling to admit that he had none, Severus blurted out that he planned to travel the world to collect potions ingredients. Once he said the words aloud, he realised it was something he always wanted to do, that now he could do, and, what’s more, he was going to do.

And then, after hours of conversation, Harry had learned it was his birthday, and insisted on rushing home to bring him back a vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing as a present. Severus still remembered the way he blushed, insisting it wasn’t much and probably didn’t taste all that great, but that he needed to do something to mark the occasion.

It was the best thing Severus had ever eaten.

It was absurd, of course, but that memory of Harry and the cupcake had stayed with Severus all throughout his travels. He may not have had a physical person with him by his side like he had fantasised, but as far as he was concerned, Harry might as well have been there with him. They never kissed that night, only occasionally brushed against each other unnecessarily, but the sparks between them were so brilliant that at times, Severus thought it must have happened and some malevolent fiend had Obliviated him, so he could remember all the emotions of an embrace without the sweetness of the sensation.

He had also been standing beneath the tree when he learned there was a storefront available at a reasonable cost, and that he could open his own business. His first thought had been to open an apothecary; it was what anybody would have expected for him, after all.

But then, underneath that tree, he decided that for him, a cupcake shop would make far more sense.

He never expected his shop would be right across from Harry’s own cupcake shop, and, what’s more, that Harry would insist on being in his life.

Severus leaned against the tree, feeling suddenly exhausted. He only wished he knew where to go from here. But somehow he doubted Harry would show up again to offer him his epiphany.

“Hey.”

Severus turned.

There was Harry, as strong and soothing as always, standing before him, appearing slightly nervous but with a small smile upon his face, and holding a vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing. Severus felt his knees buckle beneath him and slid down the length of the tree until he was sitting on the dirt.

Harry knelt down next to him, alarmed. “Severus! Are you okay?”

Ah, if only the question could be answered with a simple yes or no. “What are you doing here?” he managed to rasp out.

Harry settled down next to him and wrapped an arm around his waist. “To give you a cupcake,” he said, handing it to him. “But also to say I’m sorry.”

Severus stared at him in disbelief. “Why are you apologising? I’m the one who’s been acting like an obsessive troll.”

Harry chuckled. “Well, perhaps. But I certainly wasn’t helping the matter any. I should have asked you what was bothering you, and I definitely should have told you about Michael as soon as I realised who he was.”

Severus shook his head. “You had no need to. If it truly was only a few dates…” He glanced over at Harry, who nodded. “I should not have reacted the way I did.”

“No, you shouldn’t have, but I know why,” Harry said. “I know you still don’t believe I could ever want you, that you don’t deserve me. It’s bollocks, of course, and I’m doing all that I can to change that, but I know that’s how you are right now. I should have known how it would affect you.”

“I don’t need your pity, Potter,” Severus snapped. “I’m not some swooning virgin.”

“Don’t I know it,” Harry snorted. “And it’s not pity. It’s … understanding, I suppose.” He carefully tucked some of Severus’ hair behind his ear. “Now, I’m going to ask what I should have asked much earlier: why have you been so out of sorts lately?”

Severus looked down at the cupcake in his hands. Now, with Harry by his side being so annoyingly empathetic, it seemed utterly ridiculous. He couldn’t even think of a way to say it without sounding pathetic.

Damn it, is this what love does to a person?

He froze. Love. He had never considered that. Hell.

“Severus?”

“Your silence,” Severus admitted. “I had been feeling … inadequate, and when we were in bed and you stopped yourself from saying something that seemed to carry some import, I convinced myself you wished to end our association.” For the first time since Harry arrived, he turned to face him, feeling rather bold and defiant. “And I do not wish for that to happen.”

Harry’s face appeared to melt. It appeared softer than usual, his eyes more tender, his lips curved at the corners just a bit. “Oh, Severus,” he said. “I don’t want this to end either. If I had known that’s what you were thinking …”

“I realise it was probably something entirely mundane, such as a cupcake flavour you wanted to try or a restaurant you wanted to go to,” Severus interjected. “I do not expect you to forgive me for leaping to such conclusion.”

“It wasn’t something mundane at all,” Harry said softly. “Quite the opposite, in fact. I just wanted to save it for the right occasion, and I was afraid you wouldn’t believe me if I told you after having such an explosive orgasm.”

Severus’ heart pounded violently in his chest. He felt like he might be sick. He tried to dampen the traitorous hope rising within him, but it was entirely overpowering.

“I love you, Severus,” Harry said.

Severus closed his eyes. He couldn’t even remember the last time he had heard those words. Certainly not since Lily was alive. But even she had never uttered them with the same conviction that Harry did. With Lily, the words were fleeting, a happy phrase she was accustomed to uttering. But Harry might as well have been swearing an oath.

At that moment, Severus had no doubt of Harry’s feelings for him.

“Of course, I rather hope you feel the same way,” Harry continued. “However, you don’t need to feel obligated – ”

“I do,” Severus said, opening his eyes. “Very much so.”

Harry’s face broke into a wide grin. “Brilliant,” he said, and leaned in to kiss Severus. Somehow, his mouth taster sweeter than usual, which was quite saying something given that the man typically had hints of cupcake frosting on his lips.

Speaking of cupcakes, somehow, in the dizziness of the kiss, Severus realised he was still holding one in his hand, and it was in danger of becoming a crumbly, sticky mess in about twenty seconds. Not wanting to break the kiss, he tried to set it down on the ground beside him.

“No, wait,” Harry breathed, pulling away and reaching for the cupcake. Severus tried to convince himself that whimper he heard didn’t come from him. “We can’t let a perfectly good cupcake go to waste.”

“I’d rather have you than the cupcake,” Severus murmured, moving back in for another kiss.

“Who says you can only have one or the other?” Harry asked with a grin. “Don’t get me wrong, I’d always choose you over a cupcake. But as long as a cupcake is involved as well …” Harry swiped the frosting with his finger and traced Severus’ mouth with it. Severus instinctively wrapped his lips around Harry’s finger and sucked gently at the sweet chocolate. “Well, that’s just the icing on the cake.”

“Are you calling me your cake, Mister Potter?” Severus asked, taking care to lick Harry’s finger clean.

“I guess I am,” Harry said, his voice a bit breathless. “It makes sense, doesn’t it? You’re comforting, delicious, and I love having you in my mouth.”

Severus snorted. “Well, if that’s your only criteria …”

“Mmm,” Harry said happily. He dipped his finger in the frosting once more and waggled it at Severus. Immediately Severus felt his robes melt away. “I have very refined taste in both cakes and men.”

“It never ceases to amaze me how you’re so quick to learn wandless, wordless magic when it leads to sex,” Severus said drily.

Harry shrugged and held up both the cupcake and the chocolate-coated finger. “My hands were full.” He gently traced the line of Severus’ erection, covering it with frosting. When his finger was bare once again, he dipped it back into the frosting and this time focused his attention on spreading it over Severus’ balls. “And I wanted to make sure I could do this.”

Severus gripped his hands into the grass. Harry’s light, teasing touch was unbearable at this moment, when all he wanted was to throw Harry to the ground and fuck him. “And what is it precisely that you’re doing?”

Harry continued spreading the chocolate frosting over Severus’ prick and bollocks. When the cupcake looked more like a moist muffin, Harry set it aside and smiled up at Severus. “Well, for one, I know how much you love my chocolate icing. But since this is mostly for my benefit, I believe I’d call this having my cake and eating it too.” With that, he knelt between Severus’ legs and slowly licked up the length of his cock.

It was the most exquisite of tortures, having Harry carefully licking up every last trace of chocolate, lining his erection with kisses but never concentrating too much attention on any one spot. Severus ripped out handfuls of grass in his efforts not to buck his hips.

“Fuck, Harry,” he groaned. “Your mouth. Please.”

Harry swirled his tongue around the head of Severus’ cock. “Patience, Severus.”

Severus growled. “Fuck patience,” he said. If Harry could perform wordless, wandless magic to divest him of his clothing he could certainly do the same. He smiled at the shocked look on Harry’s face when he realised he was nude. Then, not one to waste an opportunity, he pounded, covering Harry’s body with his own and kissing him with all the fire and passion that had been boiling inside of him.

“Fuck, Severus,” Harry groaned, thrusting his hard prick against Severus’. “I need you.”

“My, how the tides have turned,” Severus said, “It would serve you right for me to just continue to this, rubbing my cock against yours, bringing you right to the edge and then pulling away the second you grow too close to orgasm.”

“Severus,” Harry whinged.

“Fortunately, I am a merciful man,” Severus said. Normally he relished stretching Harry and preparing him for his cock – the gasps and moans Harry made while Severus worked his fingers was not something to be missed – but tonight Severus’ need to be inside him was far more pressing. After an afternoon of thinking he had destroyed any chance he had for a future with Harry, there was nothing he wanted more than to bury himself in Harry’s arse, to feel totally enveloped by him. A whispered spell and a deliberate thrust later, and he was.

“Oh, fuck, Severus,” Harry breathed.

Severus captured Harry’s mouth in a bruising kiss. There was nothing like this in the world. Slamming in and out of Harry, hearing him moan his name every time Severus hit his prostate, seeing his flushed face and bright eyes beneath him, feeling the clench of his cheeks against his cock … damn it all if Severus was ever going to let this go.

“I love you,” he gasped. “Harry. Love you.”

Harry froze, forcing Severus to cease his thrusts as well. Panic was just starting to rise in his chest when Harry pulled his face down to his and kissed him on the lips. It was a slow, tender kiss, out of pace from their earlier frantic lovemaking. Severus felt he would melt into him.

“I love you, too,” Harry whispered.

Severus drew a deep breath. If the first three words were ones he never expected to hear, the addition of the fourth was absolutely unfathomable. But now was not the time to ponder the extraordinariness of the moment. Not when he had Harry Potter writhing underneath him and fisting his cock.

With renewed vigour, he slammed into Harry once more. “Fuck, Severus,” Harry shouted.

It was over all too soon. A moment later Harry came with a shuddering groan, and Severus found himself incapable of resisting his own climax after that. Utterly spent, he collapsed onto Harry’s chest. It was sweaty, sticky, and covered with Harry’s come, but Severus couldn’t think of a single place he’d rather rest his head.

Harry’s hand came up to stroke his hair. Severus curled up closer against Harry, taking comfort in the familiar simple sign of affection.

“Feeling better?” Harry asked a long while later.

Severus sat up and started reaching for his clothing. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was perfectly fine.”

Harry snorted and threw his shirt at him. “Liar,” he said, simultaneously casting a cleaning charm over both of them.

Severus tugged on his shirt and began doing up the buttons. He and Harry may have resolved their issues of the day, and had also taken a significant step in their relationship. But Severus knew himself. He was a jealous man with a vicious temper who was prone to storming off when distressed. This couldn’t possibly bode well for a serious long-term relationship.

“Hey,” Harry said, grabbing Severus’ wrists and pausing them in their movement. “Look at me.”

Severus reluctantly met Harry’s eyes, hoping they displayed a confidence he didn’t feel.

“Before we got together, I went on a lot of dates,” Harry said. “A lot.”

“This certainly isn’t helping anything,” Severus snapped, attempting to pull his wrists from Harry’s grasp.

Harry held on. “Stop, this is important for you to hear. I went on a lot of dates, with a lot of really great men. Some, like Michael, were very talented. Others quite fit, some incredibly intelligent.”

Severus once again felt he was going to be sick. “Harry …”

“But I never got past a few dates with any of them,” Harry continued on. “No matter how wonderful they may have seemed, there was just something that wasn’t right. Something that didn’t click, that made me wonder what was missing.”

Severus looked down at Harry’s hands covering his. “Harry …”

“As soon as you came back here, I knew what it was. I was looking for, waiting for, you. When I’m with you, I never wonder what’s missing. I only wonder when I’ll get to touch you again, what I’ll learn about you next, and what the rest of our lives will be like together.” Harry slowly began to do up the rest of Severus’ buttons. “As far as I’m concerned, no other man could ever hold a candle to you, Severus. Remember that.” Having reached Severus’ top button, he crooked a finger under his chin and pulled him into a tender kiss.

“You’re an exceptional man, Harry,” Severus said when they parted.

Harry smiled. “No more so than you,” he said, pulling on his own shirt and trousers. “Come on, let’s go. I told Margot we were taking a week off and I’d like to spend at least some of that time in bed.”

Severus’ eyebrows shot up as he pulled on his trousers and robe. “An entire week? What were you thinking? We have a new staff to train.”

Harry took Severus’ hand. “I was thinking I have a lover I need to thoroughly convince is the most important thing in my life. Margot can train the new staff just fine.”

“The most imp – more than …”

Harry squeezed Severus’ hand. “Yes.”

Feeling lighter than he had in ages, Severus allowed Harry to lead him to just outside the gates where they could Apparate. He had achieved more in this life than he could have ever hoped. Acquitted of his crimes, travelled the world, had a successful business that he enjoyed conducting every day …

And Harry.

Yes, that was just the icing on the cake.

And the icing had always been his favourite part.