Step 1: choosing your medium – or how to let your ideas flow
When Ron swallowed his last bite and put his fork down, Harry slowly counted down in his head. In 3, 2, 1…
“I still don’t understand why you quit your job for this.”
Harry sighed and pushed his own empty plate away from him. “I know.”
“No, Harry, I really don’t understand it.” Ron put his elbows in the table and leant forwards, staring intently at him as if that was what was needed to finally make his words burn into Harry’s brain.
As if his strategy of ‘daily repetition’ hadn’t succeeded in that already.
Harry clenched his jaw and gripped the sides of his chair so hard that his knuckles turned white. He counted to five in his head, then let out a deep sigh and relaxed his muscles. “I was tired of the Aurors, Ron.”
His friend looked down at the table and fidgeted with his napkin. “Because you had no time for your- you know.”
Harry rolled his eyes. For someone who spoke so easily of his own sexual escapades, his friend was still annoyingly prudish when it came to the ‘love that dare not speak its name’. “Yes, Ron, the complaints of my lovers about my lack of time played a role in my decision.”
“So now that you have more time, you are going to look for, er, a partner?”
Harry took his glass of pumpkin juice and stared down at it as he swirled the orange liquid around slowly. “I might.”
“Oh,” Ron said, and then they were both silent.
Harry kept swirling his juice around. He only needed to throw one brief glance at his friend, to see him biting his lip thoughtfully, to know there would be more. There always was. So he waited.
“I still don’t understand why you quit your job for this,” Ron finally decided on saying. Harry narrowed his eyes and opened his mouth for an angry reply, but Ron did not give him the chance. “I know I’m tiring you with this question, Harry, but please, I just want to understand. You had an awesome job, you were well respected, you would probably have been promoted to Head Auror within a few years, but then you decide to quit. And for… you know, this. I just don’t get it.”
Harry took a large gulp of his juice and put the glass back on the table. He knew Ron meant well, but that didn’t take away the fact that he could be bloody annoying sometimes. “Look, Ron,” he said with a deep sigh, “you know I’m tired of my fame, right?”
His friend nodded.
“You also know I was often distracted by ‘fans’ when I was on a case. But do you know how bad it was? Do you know how many criminals we missed, how many crime scenes were disrupted, how many lives we couldn’t save, because we were hindered by idiots who wanted to BLOODY STARE AT ME?” Harry was nearly shouting at the end of his speech. He felt his blood starting to boil when he thought back on all those failed cases, all those people he couldn’t save, just because…
“Stop it, Harry!” Ron’s voice penetrated his muddled thoughts.
Harry blinked and looked around. The table was covered in orange liquid and little shards of glass from the jug of pumpkin juice that had been standing there moments before. “Sorry.” Harry sighed and put everything back to rights with a flick of his wand.
Ron leant forwards and patted him on the shoulder. “I know it was difficult for you, Harry, and I don’t blame you. It is just that - You know, you would question me too if I decided to quit my job out of nowhere.”
“I have to say, though,” Ron continued, “that I don’t get why you have chosen this career if you hate being stared at.”
Harry shrugged. “It’s not the same.”
“I don’t see the difference.”
“It is different. People won’t be staring at me because of who I am, but because of my body.”
“Right,” Ron mumbled. “Still don’t see the difference.”
“No, I suppose you don’t.” Harry looked at his watch and scrambled to his feet. “I have to go!” He strode to the hallway to fetch his coat.
Ron followed him. “Isn’t it a bit early?”
Harry put on his coat and hung his bag around his shoulder. “Yes, but I have my exam today.”
“Of course.” Ron leaned on the doorpost and twirled his wand between his fingers. “What if they recognise you, though?”
Harry turned towards his friend and rolled his eyes. “They won’t. As I’ve told you before, they are Muggles.”
His friend frowned. “Muggles? Then why the bloody hell do you want to do this?”
Harry grinned mischievously. “Because,” he drawled, “I want someone to fall in love with my body. I heard you can earn a lot of money when that happens.” He laughed loudly when the expression on Ron’s face told him his words had sunk in and Disapparated exactly when a shouted “WHAT!” reverberated through the hallway.
Step 2: Priming the canvass – or how to choose your subject
Harry Apparated just outside the stone house where his exam would be. According to his watch, he was twenty minutes early. Perfect. He walked into the garden, rang the bell and waited. The door was opened a few moments later by a blond woman.
“Hi,” Harry said and extended his hand. “I’m Harry Potter.”
She shook it with a smile. “Ellen Brown. Head examiner. Nice to meet you.”
Harry smiled. “Likewise.”
Ellen titled her head a little to the side and regarded him. “You are new to this job, aren’t you?”
Harry nodded. “Yes, I’ve only been doing this a few times.”
“And you are already doing your exam? Marvellous! I’m looking forward to your performance.”
Harry smiled and stepped inside. “Thank you.”
“You are welcome.” Ellen closed the door behind him. “Are you familiar with the proceedings?”
“Yes.” Harry took his coat off and handed it to her. “Unless something has changed.”
Ellen hung his coat away. “No. We will follow the usual procedure. There will be six examiners and two extra artists who will pose as advisors. We will be looking at your ability to follow directions, but also your ability to come up with your own ideas.”
Harry nodded. “Sounds good to me. Is there a place where I can leave my stuff and change?”
Ellen started walking towards a door on the other end of the hallway and motioned for him to follow. “Of course. There is a secluded corner for you in our working space, but you won’t need to change yet. We will be doing some warming up exercises for the first hour. What you are wearing now will be fine for that.”
“Alright,” Harry looked down at his black leggings and shirt. “Easy for me, then.”
“Yes, I thought so.” Ellen opened the door, looked back over her shoulder and smiled. “Welcome to my studio.”
Harry stepped through the door and looked around. He was surprised to find himself in a light and spacious room. The light came from a few windows in the roof and a big window in the back, which overlooked a garden. The room itself was clean and organised. On his right was a large table flanked by a big wooden cupboard where he supposed Ellen kept her supplies. In the middle, near the back, right in front of the window, was a circular platform on which, Harry supposed, he was going to spend this day.
“Is it acceptable?” Ellen asked behind his back.
Harry turned around and smiled. “Definitely! I didn’t expect it to be so big and tidy.”
Ellen laughed softly. “Yes, you’ve probably seen much worse.”
Harry grinned as he thought back on all the places he had seen during his short ‘apprenticeship’. “You’ve no idea.”
Ellen raised an eyebrow. “You’d be surprised. I do visit my colleagues every now and then you know, but I’m very glad they usually prefer to come here, like today.”
Harry hummed. “I can imagine. This is a great place.”
Ellen smiled. “Thank you. Now, can I offer you something to drink?”
Harry nodded. “Yes, tea would be great.”
“I’ll be back in a second. Would you mind starting with setting up the room? We will need eight easels in a semi-circle around the platform. They are behind that curtain.” Ellen pointed towards a white curtain on Harry’s left.
He dropped his bag in the corner that was reserved for him and set to work. Ellen joined him with the tea a few moments later and together they set up all the easels, arranged some cushions and blankets on the stage that he could use later and discussed his previous working conditions. He was just in the middle of a story about the incredibly messy studio he had been in a few weeks earlier, when the bell rang.
“Ah.” Ellen smiled. “That’ll be my colleagues. A moment.” And she disappeared.
Harry sat down on the platform with his tea as a few different men and women walked in. Ellen introduced them all and Harry smiled, nodded, shook some hands and forgot all of their names right away. He watched as they greeted each other, laughed, exchanged some pleasantries and set to work setting up their workspaces to their own standards, using the available easels and their own supplies. A petite woman with grey hair immediately took off her shoes and sighed in contentment as her bare feet touched the floor. A blond man did some stretching exercises against the wall. Another man, in a dirty overall and a sad ponytail, studied Harry critically with one eye closed, while holding up a pencil. But Harry was used to this by now and calmly finished his tea.
“Welcome everyone.” Ellen said as she joined Harry on the platform when everyone had settled. “I’m happy you could all make it. Please welcome Harry, the model we will examine today. Isn’t he a handsome young man?”
The blond man cheered loudly and everyone laughed.
Ellen winked at Harry. “Very well. Let’s start with a couple of one-minute poses to get us all warmed up. Everyone ready? Harry?”
Harry nodded and stood up. He decided to put one hand on his head and the other on his hip. Ellen took her own place and everyone started their sketching. Harry changed his pose after one minute and again and again and again, until Ellen signalled it was enough. After that came a longer ten-minute pose. Harry lay down on the stage with his back to the artists and his arm under his head and stared at the window, listening to the sounds of charcoal on paper.
Ron was right that this had been an unconventional change of career, especially for Harry, with his dislike for being stared at. But this was different. A few months ago he had met a girl who had told him that she modelled for artists. At first he had laughed at her, but that laughter had turned into thoughtful silence when he had realised the benefits of being a model. Yes, he hated it when people stared at him, but he had accepted it as something he could not avoid. That girl, however, had made him realise it was possible to make them stare on his terms. And, as it turned out, he was good at this job. Perhaps not so surprising, considering he was used to being the centre of attention. Therefore, being in front of a room of people did not embarrass him. The artists had liked that and that was the reason he had been allowed to take the exam so quickly. And Harry was glad for it. If he passed this, he would be allowed to work as an independent model and therefore be able to choose for himself when and where he would be stared at. And that truly was liberating.
Harry did four more ten-minute poses, before Ellen proposed a break. Harry accepted it gladly, as he felt that he needed to walk around for a bit. Ellen had said she wanted him in his underwear for the next session, so he quickly undressed in his corner and put on a robe. Luckily it was a sunny day and he could easily walk into the garden from the studio, so he took a cup of tea and did just that. Ellen joined him there.
“How is it going?” she asked him.
“It is fine.” Harry smiled at her. “I feel as if I’ve mostly been lounging on stage so far. I can hardly complain.”
Ellen laughed. “Don’t worry,” she said with a wink. “The hard work will come. We are just preparing you slowly.”
Harry laughed, too, and then they were quiet to enjoy the beautiful autumn morning. After a short while, Ellen announced they would continue in a few minutes and left to arrange something. Harry sighed, downed his tea and followed her. But he hadn’t walked into the room very far when he halted.
Something in the atmosphere felt different.
Having learned to trust his highly trained senses, he fingered the familiar shape in his sleeve and looked around. There! There had been one unoccupied easel before, the one closest to his platform, but now he could definitely see a pair of legs behind it. Legs that were, in fact, slowly walking around the easel, in his direction. As larger portions of the person they belonged to came into view, Harry’s gaze slowly travelled upwards over a pair of long legs, clad in black trousers, a black coat encasing a thin frame, a pale neck, thin lips and a large crooked nose and finally locked with the black eyes that could belong to one man only. A man that appeared just as frozen as Harry was, until the lines in his face, which hadn’t seemed to be there moments ago, hardened, the already thin lips became one straight line and the black eyes narrowed and darkened, if possible, even more. Harry closed his eyes, unable to fathom the meaning of the strange appearance before him. He had to be hallucinating, since nothing else could explain the presence of one Severus Snape in a figure-drawing session for Muggles.
But when Harry opened his eyes again, the view was still the same, except that some red spots had appeared on the sallow cheeks. He felt laughter bubble up in his chest. Seeing Snape here was so surreal, that laughing was really all he could do.
Luckily a hand appeared on his shoulder before more than a chuckle had escaped his lips.
“Are you all right?” Ellen asked.
“Oh, yeah, sure,” he answered, still grinning a little.
She smiled. “Good. Since you are in your underwear now, we’d like to focus on your chest. Perhaps you could show it off for us in a couple more ten-minute positions?”
“Of course.” Harry nodded.
Ellen moved away again to help someone and Harry looked back at Snape, who was still glaring at him and appeared not to have moved at all during Harry’s short conversation. He was standing relatively close to the stage and Harry contemplated saying something. But what do you say to someone you thought was the villain for half your life, until he turned out to be the hero, when you are unexpectedly finding yourself face to face with him in a crowded room?
“Break is over. Harry, I want you to…” And Ellen saved him again.
As Harry shrugged off his robe and positioned his body in the required pose, he made sure not to face Snape. Not until he had sorted out his thoughts on the situation. He stared blankly at the opposite wall, only moving when required, and shut out everything else.
“Harry, is everything okay?” Ellen looked at him with narrowed eyes shortly after she had announced another break and most artists had left the room.
Harry blinked. “Yeah, sure, why?”
Ellen pursed her lips. “Well, you appeared very… uninspired during the last hour.”
“Indeed,” sounded from Harry’s right in a low drawl.
Ellen turned her head towards the source. “Excuse me?”
Snape moved closer, but positioned himself slightly behind Ellen, to keep some distance between himself and Harry, probably. “I do not think this model meets our standards.”
Ellen raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
Snape crossed his arms in his oh-so-familiar classroom stance. “As you said, he seems very uninspired. His poses are unoriginal and his body control is that of a 15-year-old.”
Harry glared at him, but Snape gave him no notice.
Ellen crossed her own arms, mirroring Snape. “That seems a little harsh, Severus. He was excellent during his first hour, when you were absent, if I may remind you, because you consider warming up ‘a waste of time’.”
Snape snorted. “Be that as it may, all I see at the moment is a sad pile of flesh and bone. Even a sack of potatoes is more inspiring.”
Ellen narrowed her eyes. “Nothing is keeping you here, Severus. You are only an advisor. If you don’t see anything good in Harry, you are free to leave and find yourself a nice sack of potatoes.”
Harry had to bite his lips to keep from laughing when he saw Snape’s thunderous look.
“Anyway,” Ellen turned back to Harry, who fought to keep his face straight, “Severus is right to a certain extent. You did seem ‘out of it’ during the last hour. If you tire that easily, then perhaps this is not the right job for you.”
That did the trick. Harry lost all inclination for laughing and swallowed. “I’m sorry. I’m not tired, but I think the stress finally got me. I have it under control now, though, so I promise I will do better.”
Ellen smiled. “Excellent. I thought it would be something like that and not a lack of talent on your part. However, don’t let it happen again.”
Harry nodded, and Ellen turned back to a still angry-looking Snape. “And you? Have you decided yet?”
Snape turned his head slightly to look at Harry. “I am not leaving,” he said calmly.
Harry nearly missed the slight emphasis on the word ‘I’, nearly, but he did not. And he understood. The man hated seeing him here so much, he was planning on getting him kicked out. Never one to back away from a challenge, Harry sent Snape a slight smirk. He had no intention of compromising his new career by letting himself being chased out of a room by a sulky bastard. No, he definitely wouldn’t be the one to leave. And if he wasn’t, he had better come up with a great plan to make Snape do so.
Step 3: The sketch – or how to make your subject pose as you desire
Unfortunately, coming up with a plan was harder than it seemed, so Harry decided to do what he did best: improvise.
To find inspiration, he tried to take in as much of the room as he could, without moving his head too much. Easels, people, art supplies, cushions, blankets, tea, water. That would have to do. It was a pity he couldn’t use his wand here, but he could do a little bit of wandless magic, if it wasn’t too complicated. So he concentrated and the glass of water standing on the floor underneath Snape’s easel fell over, splashing the man’s shoes.
Harry heard a soft-spoken curse and smirked. A second later he felt the slight tingle of magic being performed nearby and Snape continued working as if nothing had happened. Harry sighed. He should have known Snape could perform wordless magic, too. He would have to come up with something a lot better if he wanted to annoy the man to the point of leaving.
A few minutes later, Ellen asked him to change his pose. He turned towards Snape and lifted one leg. Not the most comfortable way of standing, but at least he could see his opponent properly now. When he noticed Snape was drawing with charcoal and had put some of his earlier work on the floor, Harry got a new idea. Charcoal didn’t adhere to the paper very well, so it was quite easy to rub off. And, Snape had a couple of tissues lying nearby. So all it took was a simple Wingardium Leviosa and one of the tissues was removing one of Snape’s drawings from existence. However, before he could give the second drawing on the pile the same treatment, he was asked to change his pose again. As he did so, Snape removed the drawing he had been working on from his easel, bent down to put it on his pile… and stiffened. He slowly raised his head to look at Harry, with narrowed eyes and the mouth set in a firm line. Harry smiled back. Snape glared at him for a bit and then made a point of spraying all of his drawings with hairspray to set the charcoal in place.
As Harry was contemplating his next move, he was suddenly hit with… a tickling hex? Bloody hell! Now it was Harry’s time to glare at a smug looking opponent. He bit his lips to keep any sounds from escaping and gathered his strength. During his Auror training he had discovered that many spells could be fought off the same way the Imperius charm could. The tickling hex was no different. So Harry concentrated and simply willed the unpleasant sensation away. It took only a few seconds. He opened his eyes again and winked at Snape, who looked slightly surprised. However, his scowl returned when his drawing fell to the floor.
Harry was hit with a dancing hex before he had had the time to smile.
He could not avoid a few strange twitches of his legs as he tried to will his body back into submission. It was the same procedure as with the tickling charm, so it didn’t take him very long, but Ellen noticed nevertheless.
“Is everything still okay, Harry?”
“Yes, of course,” he assured her with a smile. “I just have this weird tic sometimes, nothing to worry about.”
“Very well,” she said, not looking entirely convinced, but luckily continued drawing.
Snape was smirking. Harry glared back and made his easel topple over, just for good measure. Snape, however, appeared to have some quick reflexes and caught it just before it could crash to the floor. His action did not go unnoticed. Ellen came towards him immediately, to ask if everything was all right. And just as Snape was distracted, Harry moved his pile of drawings just so…. And yes! Ellen stepped on them when she walked back to her own easel. She apologised profusely, but Snape assured her it wasn’t her fault. He was right, of course, and the real culprit lost all reasons for smiling when a stinging hex hit him. Hard.
Heaving, Harry fell to his knees and doubled over, his arms pushed against his stomach. He felt as if he couldn’t breathe. Moaning, he rolled on his side, only slightly aware that spit was trailing from his lips as he did so. People came running towards him.
“Harry, Harry! What is the matter?” Ellen asked in a worried voice. “Are you ill? You look very pale.”
“Is there anything you need?” another female voice asked him, equally worried.
Harry shook his head.
“You could at least use a glass of water,” Ellen decided, and it was put in front of him only a moment later.
The pain lessened enough that Harry could sit back up, but he was still holding onto his stomach.
Ellen and the grey-haired woman with the bare feet had knelt next to him. “Here.” The glass of water was pushed into his hands. Harry took a few small sips. He blinked a few times as he tried to clear his head. The pain was still there, but it had lessened to a bearable level. Perhaps he had to rethink his strategy concerning Snape.
“What happened?” Ellen asked.
Harry looked at her. “Er…”
“Please, no one falls down out of nowhere.”
“It’s just that, er...” Harry shook his head to clear it some more. “It was just an, er… a cramp.”
“A cramp?” Ellen raised her eyebrows and looked very unconvinced.
“Yes.” Harry spoke a little louder now. “A cramp. I have those more often. Especially when I have, er…”
“Eaten gluten?” the other woman supplied helpfully.
“What?” Harry stared at her. “I mean, yes, gluten, of course. I’m very allergic to it.”
“I know how it feels, I have it, too.” The woman nodded.
“Hmm.” Ellen said, still not looking entirely convinced. “Then why did you eat it if you are allergic?”
“Oh, er, I don’t know.” Harry shrugged helplessly. “I suppose I ate it by accident.”
“That is possible,” the petite woman said with a serious expression. “Sometimes people will tell you something is gluten free, but then it turns out it isn’t the case.”
“Right.” Ellen frowned. “Tics, gluten allergy… Do you have any more surprises in store for us?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Harry said as the petite woman helped him up.
“Are you sure?” Ellen looked at him hard. “You are doing well with the poses, but in the last hour we have been interrupted twice by an unwonted movement on your part. I’m not sure you are fit to be a model if these things affect your performance so much.”
“Oh, don’t be so hard on the boy.” The older woman jumped in, with her hands planted on her hips. “I think he is doing extremely well if you consider his illness. You, bring some more water for him.”
And she pointed at Snape, who had been following the conversation with a small smirk. Ellen crossed her arms. “I’d prefer it if he had no illness at all.”
“He can’t help it!” the other woman snapped. “Besides, there is no problem as long as he doesn’t eat gluten. The problem with our society….”
Harry zoned out from the conversation. It didn’t sound as if the women would ask for his opinion anytime soon. Instead he watched as a scowling Snape made his way through the room with a glass of water for him. He grinned at the man, happy that this was pissing the man off and ready to rub it in some more. But then he got a better idea. He concentrated and, just as Snape was reaching forwards to hand him the glass…
“AAAAH!” A scream suddenly erupted from Harry’s left. All heads turned towards the scene. And what they could see was a very angry Ellen with a big wet spot on her chest. The only possible source for that wetness was an empty glass, currently residing in the hand of one Severus Snape. “Severus Snape! What is the matter with you?”
Snape stiffened. “Excuse me,” he said slowly and turned his head to send Harry a cold look. “I tripped.”
“You tripped?” Ellen lifted an eyebrow. “Then how on earth did the water end up on me? You aren’t standing that close to me.”
“I have no idea,” Snape replied.
“Oh, I don’t want to hear it.” Ellen threw her hands in the air. “I don’t know what is going on, but I’ve had enough for now. Let’s have an early lunch break.”
Harry breathed in relief. It seemed he wouldn’t be kicked out just yet. He put his bathrobe back on, grabbed his lunch and made his way to the table in the garden together with the artists. He made sure to sit as far away from Snape as possible and ended up next to the woman with the bare feet who had spoken up for him before. He discovered she was called Leah and that going barefooted made her feel more in touch with her work. She inquired politely after his modelling experiences and soon they were happily chatting away. Harry almost forgot about Snape, until Ellen appeared on his side.
“We’ve decided to give you the benefit of the doubt, Harry. But no more interruptions or you are out.”
“I understand.” Harry smiled.
“Very well. After lunch, you will be tested for your ability to hold a pose for longer. We will give you one pose that you will have to stand in for the rest of the day, with regular breaks.”
“For that you will need to be completely undressed.”
“Of course,” Harry said. “No problem.”
Following Ellen with his eyes as she walked back to her place on the table, Harry accidentally locked eyes with Snape. It was just a short moment, but it was enough to make the blood drain from his face in realisation.
Snape was here.
He had to be naked…
He felt like banging his head on the table, but instead lowered it in his hands with an inward groan. How could he have forgotten he would have to pose nude in front of Snape? SNAPE? Bloody hell! He had no problem undressing before strangers, but this was Snape. Snape, of all people! The man who was currently on a mission of humiliating him before all present to get him kicked out of his new career. The career that gave him a sense of liberty for the first time in his life. And now he had to undress before the man and… oh Merlin, he would never live this one down! Perhaps he should walk away now while he still had the chance and let Snape win, but… No, he couldn’t do that.
Harry sighed and looked up at the sky. There was no way he could avoid this, so he might as well get through with it. He could only hope Snape would be so grossed out by seeing his former student naked, that he would leave. Knowing Snape, however, it was far more likely he would find a way of turning the situation to his advantage. He could only pray it wouldn’t be something that would harm him permanently.
Step 4: The underpainting – or how to study your subject in detail
Far too soon it was time to go back to the studio. Harry undressed in his secluded corner and then sat down on the platform with his bathrobe gathered tightly around him, to preserve his dignity while he still could. He quietly watched as the artists rummaged around in their bags to collect the materials they were going to use for their final artwork, and set up their working spaces. Most of them put a small canvass on their easel, like Snape. Harry watched as he meticulously placed different coloured dots of paint on his palette, arranged his brushes from big to small and gathered a few bottles filled with a clear liquid around him. He still wondered what on earth the man was doing here. Had he taken up painting as a hobby? Was he any good at it?
“We are ready.”
Harry nodded and stood up, awaiting further instructions.
“I’d like you to put your left hand on your shoulder, turn your head slightly to the right and rest your weight on your left leg, like a statue of a Greek god.”
“Right.” Harry took a deep breath and took the strap around his waist in both hands. He slowly untied the knot and dropped the strap. Then, with another deep breath, he let the bathrobe slide to the floor. Keeping his eyes locked on the floor, he put his hand on his shoulder and turned his head, as instructed. Only when he heard the sounds of brushes on canvass did he raise his eyes, and cursed in silence. Apparently he had given Snape a full frontal view.
And the man was taking advantage of it. He took his time looking Harry up and down, his eyes lingering on certain parts. When he noticed he was being watched, he looked Harry in the eye and smirked. Harry quickly looked away and swallowed.
After a few minutes Harry started to feel more relaxed. Nothing had happened so far and the posing was getting a bit boring already. He turned his head slightly to look at Snape again. The man was painting frantically and had a look of utter concentration on his face as he switched his attention between his canvass and the model. Harry didn’t think he had ever seen the man like this. Furious, annoyed and impatient yes, but not deeply concentrated. It was quite interesting for a change.
Harry looked Snape carefully up and down, moving only his eyes. The black clothes were still pretty immaculate looking, as they always had been. That wouldn’t do for an artist, would it? Concentrating, Harry used a spell to carefully levitate one of Snape’s paint tubes and make it squeeze out some paint on the man’s robes. He levitated the tube back (Snape luckily hadn’t noticed) and admired his work. Snape’s robes were now splattered with some red paint, rather artfully, too, if he could say so himself. Perhaps he should add some white. He carefully followed the same procedure, but made sure to make the different colour mix. Within moments, Snape’s coat looked like a happy black and pink work of art. Harry chuckled softly to himself.
Unfortunately, just as Harry was smiling, Snape looked at him. Harry quickly wiped the smile of his face, but the man had already narrowed his eyes in suspicion and followed Harry’s line of sight to discover the source of his amusement. Obviously he noticed the pink stains on his coat in no time at all. Harry clenched his hand and softly mumbled the shield charm, ready for Snape’s vengeance. But he didn’t even appear to be angry. Instead, he looked back up, caught Harry’s eye and calmly took his coat off. Then went back to painting.
Harry kept his shield in place. He was certain Snape would plot his revenge when he least expected it. But the man showed no sign of plotting anything at all. He had just resumed his work and concentration and was painting as if nothing had happened. After a few minutes, Harry relaxed and released his shield. Perhaps Snape thought he had just spilt the paint on himself accidentally.
Harry let his eyes wander across the room until he became bored again and looked back at Snape. It was only now that he noticed that the man was wearing a shirt with short sleeves. Harry stared. Short sleeves! He didn’t think he had ever seen more of Snape’s skin than his hands and face, but his arms were now definitely there.
They were very white, even sallow-looking, just like his face. But they did have a bit of muscle in them. Quite a bit, in fact. They looked defined and sinewy, with the veins clearly visible on the outside, like the arms of a climber. Harry had had men in his bed with arms like that and therefore he could safely say they were his favourite type of arms to encounter. They didn’t take up too much space, but they could still take you to new heights. Quite literally. The best thing about them, however, was that they were unpredictable. They were usually much stronger than they looked, so you never quite knew what they were capable of. He always thought that created an interesting tension in the bedroom.
Harry blinked when he became aware of the fact he had been staring and turned his gaze to Leah, who was standing right next to Snape. It was then that Harry suddenly got a new idea.
“Severus, how dare you!” A female voice sounded moments later, distracting everyone in the room.
“I beg your pardon?” Snape put his brush down, turned his head towards her and frowned.
“I beg your pardon?” Leah parroted. “You know very well what I am talking about! Or would you deny that you just pinched me in my bottom?” The older woman pointed her paintbrush at Snape in agitation, sending specks of paint flying across the room.
“Pinch you in the bottom?” Snape’s eyebrows rose. “ I did no such thing.”
“I felt it!” Leah waved the brush around. “It came from my left and you are the only one there. Who else could it have been?”
“I have no idea.” Snape’s quick glance in Harry’s direction assumed otherwise. “But I assure you it was not I.”
Leah snorted. “You men are all the same. Getting your pleasure wherever you can, but not taking responsibility when things don’t go as planned.”
Snape rolled his eyes. “I will not dismiss your infinite wisdom concerning men; however, my tastes do not run towards women and therefore I have little interest in your behind.”
Harry’s mouth fell open.
“He is speaking the truth, Leah,” Ellen supplied. “Whatever you felt, I’m sure it wasn’t Severus.”
“But I felt it,” Leah stubbornly continued. “I’m sure it was him. I’m moving my easel somewhere else.”
“If you must,” Snape merely said, and returned his attention back to his work while Leah moved to the other side of the room. Harry was still gaping and only closed his mouth when Snape lifted an eyebrow in his direction.
Snape was gay? Snape? Gay? The words resonated in Harry’s mind, tumbled over each other like playing kittens. To say he hadn’t seen that one coming was the understatement of the century. If Snape was gay, then what had that thing with Harry’s mum been all about? And what kind of men would Snape prefer? Hang on, that question had no business in Harry’s mind. Just as his mouth had no business getting dry at the thought of Snape with a man. No business at all.
But holy shit, Snape gay? Harry would say his gaydar was pretty good these days, but he would never have picked up on Snape. Would he visit gay bars? Dressed in leather trousers? To his surprise, an image of Snape in leather trousers sprang up in his mind almost immediately, as if it had always been in his brain, just waiting to be called upon. Snape in leather trousers. And with those arms. Harry swallowed and let his gaze wander over Snape’s body. What more was that man hiding? Perhaps there was an amazingly toned chest underneath that shirt, with a light dusting of hair (Harry’s favourite). Perhaps he had sinewy legs, just like his arms (again, Harry’s favourite). Or perhaps he would have that amazing manly smell, of the kind that could turn Harry on in seconds just smelling it. In fact, it was turning him on just thinking about it.
Harry shook his head slightly and desperately tried to think of other things. He really couldn’t use an erection right now. His gaze returned to Snape when his head was a little more clear and his breath hitched in his throat.
The man was staring right back at him.
Not that that in itself was anything shocking. Harry was standing starkers in front of him, after all. And the man was painting him. Of course he would be looking. No, it was more the intensity in those dark eyes, the knowing smirk. Oh damn! Harry never forgot to set up his mental shields these days, but Snape was an expert Legilimens. The man was probably reading his every thought right now, just when that was not so very convenient. Harry felt his cheeks heat up and looked away. As long as Snape couldn’t see his eyes, it should be fine. He just had to look away for a while: for the rest of the day, preferably.
Obviously, Harry being who he was, he could not keep that up for very long. Within moments, he was again observing Snape, who had picked up a bottle with a clear liquid. He put some of it on his palette and mixed it with his paints. The liquid was colourless and slightly gel-like in structure. It reminded Harry a little of lubrication oil. He tilted his head slightly to get a better look at what Snape was doing. He put some of the stuff on his hand and tested it between his fingers. Then he rubbed it on his palm, as if he was warming it, like lube, and….
Harry quickly looked a way, afraid that his face had turned beetroot red. Were you even supposed to put that on your hands? Harry’s eyes locked on Snape again when he had recovered a little. The man was currently coating the handle of his brush with the lube-like stuff. Bloody hell! Harry swallowed. He was quite certain that Snape was not using the liquid the way it was intended. What was he playing at?
Snape suddenly looked up and caught Harry’s eye. Smirking, he picked up a little more of the stuff. Harry was mesmerised by the actions. Unable to look away, he had to see how Snape put his hand on the brush handle and slowly moved it up and down. And now he was moving his hand a little faster. Harry’s eyes followed every movement, his heart was racing in his chest. He could feel his blood streaming faster. And it was going down, further down and… No! It couldn’t go there! Harry tried to will his blood up again. It had no business down there, not now, definitely not now. Harry thought he had himself under control, he was very certain of it, but made the mistake of looking at Snape again. In the end it was just one smirk, and one whispered word, and a smell drifted into Harry’s nose. Snape’s smell. A very manly smell. Of Harry’s favourite kind. And his cock steadily rose to greet its source.
He had never lost from a smirk before.
Step 5: The painting – or how to capture your subject of choice
Harry’s cheeks were burning by now. He closed his eyes and turned his head away from Snape, awaiting his fate. Ellen had warned him not to interrupt the session again; surely he would be kicked out now he had done so anyway.
Surely she would kick him out now he had done so after all.
He became aware the room had become rather quiet. The soft brushing and scraping sounds of artists working had stopped completely. He opened his eyes a notch. Everyone was staring at him. Or actually, at a certain part of him.
Harry sighed and opened his eyes completely.
Ellen’s eyes shot up to his face. “Er, yes, well, this happens.”
Harry had not seen her so lost for words that day. Strangely enough, it gave him strength to notice he wasn’t the only one who wasn’t sure how to deal with the situation and he straightened his back.
“No need, Harry, this was just what my painting needed! Very inspirational, thank you!”
All heads turned towards Leah.
“Oh, you’re welcome,” Harry said.
Leah smiled widely and returned to painting with vigour.
Ellen cleared her throat and all heads whipped back towards her. “As I said, this happens. No need to fret. Just continue.”
Harry sighed in relief. It seemed he wouldn’t get kicked out for this, after all. It gave him the strength to look back at Snape and smirk. However, Snape wasn’t looking at him. Or not at his face, that is. And he was staring rather intently at ‘not at his face’. Harry’s smirk faltered. It seemed Snape was devising another plan. As if the ultimate mortification wasn’t enough already.
However, when Snape finally did look up, Harry could see no anger in his eyes. Nor annoyance. Not even amusement. Instead, his eyes looked black. Very, very black. Harry couldn’t remember ever having seen them this dark before. It made him feel slightly uneasy. But he kept watching. He kept watching as Snape stuck his finger in his glass of water, brought it to his mouth and sucked. As he then trailed the finger slowly down his own body and hooked it underneath the waistband of his trousers. As he added a finger from his other hand and pulled slightly upwards to stretch the fabric over… a very telling bulge. Now it was Harry’s turn to stare. His arms dropped to his sides and he swallowed. And again.
He looked back up at Snape’s eyes and-
Harry blinked and turned his head to look at Ellen.
“I warned you not to interrupt the session again!”
“Huh?” Harry looked down at himself and was surprised to notice that he had indeed changed his pose. He had turned his body towards Snape completely and had taken a step towards him.
“Sorry, I’ll just-” He stepped backwards to take on the pose again, his cock bouncing against his belly as he did so.
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake!” Snape suddenly exclaimed and strode forwards, took Harry by the arm and pulled him from the platform. Harry was too surprised to react.
“Severus! What are you doing?” Ellen called.
Snape pulled Harry him with him as made his way to the door. “As you see, I am taking Mr. Potter with me.”
“You can’t just take him away like that,” Ellen spluttered.
Snape paused in the doorway and turned towards her, lifting an eyebrow. “Would you prefer I bugger him here?”
Snape smirked. “I thought not. Goodbye.”
“But… I don’t… His clothes!” Ellen protested.
Snape pulled Harry through the doorway. “I assure you he will not need them,” he called over his shoulder.
Harry had just gathered his wits enough to wordlessly summon the bathrobe he had left on the platform. His wand was in it and he didn’t want to leave it here. The robe soared into his hands and, while surprised exclamations came from the room, Snape Disapparated them both.
As soon as they arrived in Snape’s bedroom (or so Harry assumed), Snape’s lips and hands were everywhere on his body. Harry enthusiastically threw himself into the action, mapping out Snape’s body as much as he could. Soon, Snape’s shirt was flying through the room and his pants halfway down his legs. Stumbling, they made their way to the bed and fell down on it in a tangle of limbs and clothes.
Kissing, they managed to kick Snape’s clothes off completely. The man rolled on top of Harry and moaned as he ground his erection into Harry’s. Harry undulated against him, kissing the man’s shoulders and chest. Snape moved down to trail kisses down Harry’s chest and belly, all the way down to his leaking cock. When he arrived there, he got up and flipped Harry around. Very soon, a slick finger entered his arse. Harry moaned and rocked back against it. A second finger followed, and then a third, until they disappeared and something larger nudged his hole. Harry eagerly thrust back as Snape’s cock slowly entered him.
And then Snape was everywhere. On him, where his weight pushed Harry into the mattress. And in him. He was in his arse, thrusting in and out and sliding across his prostate. In his nose, where the smells of sweat and sex mingled with Snape’s. And in his mouth where Snape’s tongue was thrusting against his on the rhythm of his cock. And then it was all just movement and wetness and hard planes and primal sounds. And just so very very good.
When Harry came back to reality, he was surprised to find himself curled up in the arms of his bedpartner. He untangled his limbs, lifted himself on his elbows and looked at the man.
Snape was still panting a little and had his eyes closed. “Please keep your mouth shut, Potter. I do not want to hear your voice.”
Harry hummed. “Not even in the throes of passion?”
Snape opened his eyes to glare at him. “You still don’t listen to me, do you?”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “And do you listen to me?”
The man smirked. “Point.”
Harry snorted. “Whatever. I just want to know what this,” he waved his hands between the two of them, “is exactly.”
“It is called ‘sex’ Potter. Surely you are familiar with the concept?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Fine. I want to know if this is a one-time thing or not.”
Snape sighed and sat up, too. “I did not get the impression that you particularly liked me, Potter.”
Harry looked down and fidgeted with the blanket. “I don’t know. I don’t really know you. I just wanted to get you out of the session because you were trying to get me kicked out. I suppose we both succeeded.” He sighed deeply as he realised that there was no way he had passed the exam. Perhaps he should go back to the Aurors again. Back to the staring and whispering that he hated.
“I was not trying to get you kicked out,” Snape said softly.
Harry’s mouth fell open. “What?”
Snape straightened his back and his face turned blank. “You heard me.”
“Yeah, but…” Harry looked up and focused his eyes on Snape’s face, “you hexed me!”
Snape turned his head to look at him. “You started it.”
“I know, but…” He fell silent when he realised Snape was right. He looked down again and fidgeted with the blanket some more, listening to the ticking of the clock.
“I don’t understand,” he finally decided on saying.
Snape sighed. “Very well Potter. Have you heard of Onyx?”
“Onyx?” Harry frowned. “You mean the artist? The one whose work everyone wants to have because ‘he has such a profound understanding of the darker parts of human nature’?”
“The very same.” Snape stood up from the bed. “Come with me.”
“Huh?” Harry blinked as the man walked out of the bedroom without waiting for him. Still naked, he ran out of the room and followed Snape up the staircase to the attic.
The first thing he noticed there was the amount of light in the room. The second thing was the platform in the middle, a shape he was very familiar with by now. The third thing he noticed was the paintings. There were two of them in the room. One stood on an easel and was not yet finished, the other one hung on the wall and was already framed. On it he could see a familiar man huddled in a dark corner, cradling a white lily in his hands. Frowning, Harry studied the artwork. His eyes followed the shapes and colours, taking in the scene, until they arrived at the lower right-hand corner, where the signature was. It consisted of only one word: Onyx.
“Bloody hell!” Harry exclaimed. “You are him?”
“Yes,” Snape whispered behind him.
Harry started. He had not realised the man was standing this close. “Why are you keeping your identity a secret?”
Snape laughed softly. “Who would buy art from a former Death-Eater?”
“You were freed of all charges,” Harry protested.
“For which I have you to thank, I believe.” Snape moved a little closer.
Harry could feel his breath ghosting over his neck and shivered. “Why did you hex me today?”
Snape moved even closer, until Harry could feel his body pressed up against his own. “I was testing you.”
“Testing me?” Harry said a little breathlessly, as a mouth was sucking his neck. “Why?”
“Every artist needs a muse,” Snape murmured against his skin.
“A muse,” Harry repeated with a soft moan when a hand sneaked around his body to play with his nipple.
Snape hummed into his neck. “Someone who keeps the inspiration coming. However, all models I’ve had so far bore me.”
“Right.” Harry’s breath hitched in his throat as a hand slowly moved its way downwards.
“You, on the other hand, keep me on edge, Potter. I find that inspirational.” Snape’s hand reached Harry’s dick and stroked it to hardness. “Very inspirational.”
Harry moaned when the hand moved a little further down to cup his balls. “You want me as your model?”
Snape turned Harry around and looked him in the eye. “Yes.”
“Oh, wow.” Harry breathed. He knew what an honour it was to be asked by an artist personally.
“Is that a yes?” Snape moved forwards to nib his earlobe.
Harry threw his head back to give him better access. “I’d be willing to try.”
He felt Snape smile against his neck and then they kissed.
A little later, when they had somehow made it back to the bedroom, Harry decided that Snape was right. Judging from the sounds below him as he filled the man, he did indeed inspire Snape a great deal.
Step 6: The varnishing – or how to make you hard work last forever
NEW ART EXHIBITION OPENED!
Last night was the grand opening of Onyx’s long-awaited exhibition. The exhibition, titled ‘Gemstone in the Dark’, is truly his best yet. It consists of twenty large paintings, all in his signature surrealist style. This time, however, he has chosen to work with just one model, who has been made unrecognisable. This could be a reference to his own mysterious persona, which the title of the exhibition seems to imply.
The opening was visited by a small number of specially invited people. Amongst them was Harry Potter himself, one of the sponsors of the exhibition. Mr Potter, who declares himself a ‘true art lover’, appeared very impressed by the artworks, but had currently no intention of buying one of them. Unfortunately, he still refused to elaborate on his new career, which he started more than two years ago after his sudden departure from the Auror Office.
Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt, who was another of the attendees, told us he is ‘extremely proud to have an artist of this magnitude in our community’. He himself has his eye set on a little gem in the exhibition which would ‘suit the empty wall in my living room quite nicely’.
The exhibition can be visited for the next three months. Those interested in buying can contact Onyx’s manager via owl.
“Harry! You promised me I would not have to wake up to the sight of a naked you in the Prophet!” Ron’s voice drifted from the hearth downstairs.
A loud sigh followed and then a snapping sound could be heard as the Floo network was closed abruptly.
Moments later, Severus entered the bedroom. He shrugged off his robe and joined his equally naked partner in the bed.
“That idiot won’t bother us anymore,” Severus said into his hair.
“Good,” Harry murmured. “If he can’t even handle seeing a painting of me in the paper, I don’t know what will happen if he sees me naked in your bed in real life.”
“Indeed,” Severus murmured back. “Or if he knows what we were planning to do.”
“Hmm.” Harry stretched and looked at his partner with a mischievous smile. “Are we going to make art again?”
“No.” Severus pushed his body against Harry’s and kissed him softly. “We are going to make love.”