"Fine. The damn position is yours."
Harry bit back a smirk, knowing the Headmaster wouldn't appreciate it. "Language, Professor," he whispered quietly as the rest of the Board of Governors filed out of the room. Severus Snape merely sneered at him and Harry sighed. "Oh, come on, Snape. You know I’m the most qualified."
"Why," the man growled as his eyes roamed over Harry, sending a thrill down the younger man's spine, "because you defeated the Dark Lord?"
Harry shrugged. "Or maybe because I've been an Auror for the last ten years."
"Seven, Potter," the man corrected. "You took a year off to help rebuild the castle, and the Auror training program is two years long."
Harry shrugged and wondered how he was going to put up with this man for the next several years. Snape stood and turned his back on Harry and Harry sighed mentally. Oh, yes. That was how. He bit his lip to hold back the groan as his eyes eagerly soaked up the retreating figure. As if those billowing robes could erase the memory of what was underneath. Harry shuddered at the memory of seeing Severus Snape in muggle clothes, the tight black jeans that had hugged the firm arse and button down that showed off the wide shoulders and hinted at defined abs. He'd been down to Hogsmeade to visit Neville two summers back when the Headmaster had returned from a meeting with a muggle-born's family, and the sight had fed Harry's fantasies ever since. Harry had long been thinking he'd had enough of chasing dark wizards, so when the position for D.A.D.A. professor came open he had submitted his résumé and crossed his fingers.
"See you in two weeks for the first staff meeting, Professor Potter."
Harry smiled up at his old head of house. "I look forward to it, Professor."
Her cat-like eyes twinkled, "You're one of us now, Harry. It's Minerva."
He bowed his head politely. "I look forward to working with you, Minerva."
"Again," she added.
He nodded, remembering how well she had protected him and the other students that night, so many years ago, when they'd still thought Snape was a traitor. "Again," he agreed.
"So, you'll help with training the team, Harry?"
Harry looked up into hopeful blue eyes, "Well, I'm not really head of Gryffindor, Nev. But I will come give some pointers as long as you understand I'll have to do the same for the other houses, if they ask."
A broad smile crossed Neville's face. "If they ask, huh? You're starting to sound a little Slytherin there, Harry."
Harry shrugged as he stood up and let the long king snake slide over his shoulders. He levitated the now empty terrarium onto the long cabinet behind his new desk and rubbed the small head nestling against his neck. "Shall we go check out our new home, Albus?" The snake answered with an indeterminate hiss and Harry turned to Neville. "I'm always a little Slytherin, Nev," he told his longtime friend with a wink. "Albus and I are going to check out our new rooms. You coming?"
Neville shook his head. "Nah, I got a new batch of Mimbletonia coming in for my fifth years, and if I'm not there to accept the order they might try to leave me the half dead ones."
Harry chuckled. "Alright. See you at the mandatory staff dinner then."
Neville gave him a quick wave before heading off in the opposite direction. Harry turned to go up to his new quarters and waved merrily as he passed Sir Cadogan having tea with Damara Dodderidge in a painting of a heavily laden banquet table. He reached the room Minerva had shown him to less than an hour ago and pressed his hand to the newly warded door. It swung open, and Harry saw the familiar house elf leisurely unpacking books from a trunk. He turned slowly as Harry entered and closed the door behind him.
"Master Harry brung the snake," the elf said drolly.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Of course I brought Albus, Kreacher. You didn't expect me to leave him at Grimmauld Place to rot did you?"
"One has hope, Master Harry," the elf intoned. Albus hissed his displeasure at the tiny non-human.
"Stop it. Both of you." He eyed Kreacher as well, knowing the elf had long since learned Parseltongue.
Kreacher turned back to the bookshelf and continued filling it with Harry's books. Harry sighed, hoping the two wouldn't have another turf war like they'd engaged in the previous summer. He headed to his new bedroom, anxious to get his things unpacked and settled in. He stepped into the dark room and with a soft whisper the fire roared to life and the sconces flared. He wrinkled his nose; he was definitely going have to do something about the awful chartreuse walls.
"What do you think, Albus? A nice blue to match your coloring?"
The snake nodded his head in agreement and Harry flicked his wrist. The colors changed instantly to the soft blue that had drawn Harry to the snake in the first place. He glanced over at the bed and watched as the curtains shimmered and turned a deep ebony. He sighed in contentment and crossed over to pull the curtains open.
"Now this I can live-" He paused at the sight of a single red rose on the now black duvet. His wand slid into his hand and he carefully waved it over the flower and single white envelope that rested beneath it. When the scan came back clean he reached for the envelope and flower, allowing Albus to slither onto the bed. He pulled the small card from the envelope and flipped it over to see three gold words shimmering on the white cardstock. "Welcome home, Harry."
Harry felt a rush of warmth flow through him, much the same as when he'd received his yearly letters inviting him to return to Hogwarts all those years ago. He sat down on the edge of the bed and studied the words. One look told him the words were written by a dicta-quill, but why would someone wish to hide their handwriting? Harry glanced at the rose. Wait. Weren't roses usually reserved for lovers? He remembered the time he'd received a dozen red roses at the office and the guys had teased him for weeks, telling him it meant someone intended to propose. He wondered if this was another courtship ritual thing. Damn. He needed to speak with Hermione. He checked the clock and told Albus not to slither away. With barely a pop, Harry was gone from his room.
"Dammit don't do that, Harry James," Hermione screeched when she nearly jabbed herself with the knitting needle.
He blushed. "Sorry, love."
Ron walked into the living room, munching on an apple. "Hey, mate. What are you doing here? I thought you were moving into Hogwarts today."
Harry's blush deepened. "Oh, Harry. Tell me you didn't Disapparate through Hogwart's wards?"
He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Umm…"
She sighed. "At least tell me no one saw you."
"Oh, yeah. I was in my rooms. But it's really important, Hermione."
She sighed, "What did you do now?"
He smiled at his best friend, she had changed so very little in the last ten years, despite being Head of the Creature Division and fast on her way to Minister. "I need to know if there's any significance to a single red rose."
"Well, for muggles it means I love you. For wizards it's a sign of friendship or desire to form a friendship."
Harry relaxed at her words.
"Unless it came with a white card or was placed on your bed," Ron said as he bit into the apple.
Harry swallowed. "What if it was both?"
Ron stopped chewing, his mouth gaping open and Hermione squeaked and threw her hands up to cover her mouth. Harry looked back and forth between his friends. He really should get a book on Wizarding customs. Ron closed his mouth and swallowed the apple.
"What part of the bed was it on?"
Harry furrowed his brows. "The blanket."
Ron rolled his eyes. "The pillow or the middle of the bed?"
Harry thought back to when he had found the rose. "Definitely the middle."
Hermione squeaked behind her hands, and Harry turned to see her eyes glistening with glee. He lowered himself to the couch and dropped his head into his hands. "Okay. What have I gotten myself into now?"
"Well, the good thing is he wants to court you," Ron said in his best consoling tone, which with Ron wasn't much different from his I Am Definitely Laughing At Your Discomfort voice.
Harry looked up at his friend in shock. "What? And how do you know it's a guy?"
"Because," Hermione said, cutting her husband off, "if it had been a witch interested in courtship, she would have had a mutual friend approach you with a suitable gift, not flowers. Probably a pen knife or some such. But the rose indicates it's a male gifter and the white card indicates the desire for courtship."
Harry's eyes widened. "That's why you had Ginny give Ron that chess set."
Hermione smiled smugly. "Yes. I wasn't about to wait another five years for him to decide to formally court me."
"Oi," Ron said around another bite of apple. "I was going to offer you a rose on our anniversary. Know-it-all spoil sport," he mumbled as he plopped down beside Harry on the couch.
"Okay, so what does the rose being on my bed mean?"
Hermione blushed and averted her eyes but turned to glare at her husband's giggle. "It means he wants to court you but he also wants to-" it was Ron's turn to falter for a lack of words, "share your bed," he finished lamely.
Harry processed his words. "So he wants to court me which could possible lead to marriage but he's okay with just fucking?"
"God, Harry. Blunt much?" Hermione gasped.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Okay, but why does it matter where on the bed the rose was?"
Both his friends were bright red, but it was Hermione who spoke. "If you were a woman being courted by a man, the rose would be on the pillow, at the head of the bed."
"But I'm not. So because I'm gay, being courted by a man the rose goes in the middle?"
Hermione sighed in frustration. "No, Harry. Listen to me. When the person doing the courting wishes to- make love to his- desired mate the rose goes at the top of the bed. If he wished his desired mate to make love to him the rose goes in the middle or near the bottom of the bed."
Harry's eyes widen in comprehension. "Oh, my god. I'm being courted by a bottom?" A smile bloomed across his face. "Sweet Merlin's beard that's fucking awesome. A bottom that's not afraid to take control. Do you know how hot that is?"
Hermione's face hadn't been this red since she'd caught Harry in bed with his ex-lover.
"I have an idea," Ron mumbled and Hermione gasped at her husband's wink.
Harry laughed, suddenly feeling a hundred times better.
"So who was the rose from?"
Harry blinked at Hermione. "Umm, the card didn't say."
She gaped at him. "A secret admirer? Nice, Harry."
"Well, this ought to be fun to watch," Ron chuckled, and Harry turned to glare at him, his eye catching the clock on their mantle.
"Crap! Is that the time? I gotta go. I'm due for the welcome back staff diner in a quarter hour."
"Well, at least try to figure out who sent the rose," Hermione demanded.
"How am I supposed to do that? It could have been anyone."
"Well, obviously it's a professor," Ron snorted, "as they're the only ones that know you've been hired, and it has to be someone with access to the castle. I bet someone had a house elf deliver it."
"You're right, Ron." Hermione turned to Harry. "Look around the staff tonight and see who it could be, and we'll try to narrow down the possibilities when you come by for tea next Saturday."
Harry nodded. "Right. I'll see you then. I really need to go."
"Harry, the wards," Hermione called in a reminder, but he was already gone.
"Kreacher," Harry called as he pulled a robe from his wardrobe.
"Yes, Master Harry," the little elf said as he appeared in the doorway.
"Do you know who left that on my bed?" Harry asked pointing to the rose and card he'd left on the bedside table.
Kreacher eyed the flower and turned a knowing gaze on his master. "No, Master Harry. Which part of the bed, Master Harry?"
Harry held his arm out for Albus and the snake slithered up it. "None of your business," Harry said as he pushed past the elf and made his way out of his room and down the corridor towards the Great Hall. He ran into Neville just outside the doors and smiled. "Get your Mimbletonia?"
Neville reached over and scratched Albus under his jaw and the snake gave an appreciative hiss as they entered the Great Hall. "Oh, yes. Perfect specimens, all of them."
"Well, good," Harry said as they moved up to the long table set up in the middle of the hall, reminding Harry of the many Christmases he'd spent here.
"Nice of you to join us, Potter, Longbottom."
Harry looked up at the silky voice and grinned, knowing it would irritate the man. "Headmaster. Lovely to see you in such a chipper mood."
There was a choked snort and Harry glanced over to see a tall good-looking black man standing near the Headmaster. "This ought to be an interesting year," the man said in a smooth baritone that had Harry taking notice.
Snape turned to the man. "I do not believe your input is necessary, Mr. Zabini."
Harry's eyes widened in recognition, "Zabini?"
The dark man smiled at him and stepped forward. "Of course. I wasn't sure if you would remember me or not, Potter."
Harry beamed back and held his hand out. "Please, call me Harry. Of course I remember you. I almost didn't recognize you," he noticed the warmth of the man's smooth skin as they shook hands, and Harry eyed the lean man. His eyes rose to meet assessing brown.
"Blaise, please. And may I welcome you to the staff, Harry?"
Harry liked the way his name sounded in that smooth tone. "You are a professor?"
"Yes. Yes," Snape said irritably as he pushed through the linked hands. "Zabini has been our potions professor for the last five years. Do stay up, Potter. If no one objects, could we get this blasted dinner over with?"
He pulled out a chair and sat down and the others followed suit.
"The students aren't even here, Severus," Minerva admonished the headmaster. "Do try to relax a bit longer."
He growled at her and turned to the other professors as they settled in around the table. "Welcome back. Hope you all enjoyed your vacation from the brats and their annoying parents." There were a few titters but Snape ignored them. "In case you haven't been made aware of such, Potter has graciously decided to bless the school with his continued existence by becoming our new D.A.D.A. professor."
"Oh, Harry. Hello dear." He waved politely to the mediwitch.
Snape growled at him. "I'm sure you'll all get a chance to lavish him with welcoming praise over the next two weeks. And then we'll get to watch the children drool in adolescent adulation for the remainder of the year. Enjoy your dinners."
Harry felt his face heat up as he watched his plate fill with food.
"I think Blaise is right," Neville said softly beside him and Harry turned questioning eyes on his friend. Blue eyes twinkled back, "It's going to be an interesting year."
"Harry," he turned at the smooth voice and noticed Blaise's eyes were on his neck. "I couldn't help but notice your, um, friend."
Harry smiled, “Oh, you mean Albus?”
There was a choked sound and Harry turned to see Snape covering his mouth with a napkin.
“Um, Albus?” Minerva asked hesitantly.
Harry shrugged. “Well, there’s no denying Dumbledore could be a bit Slytherin sometimes, and he always had interesting fashion choices.”
The other professors laughed at Harry’s truths.
“I trust your friend will remain in quarters at the opening feast?” Snape drawled. “No sense in scaring the children off before they’ve had a decent night’s sleep.”
Harry bit his lip at Minerva’s soft snort. “Er, yes, Headmaster. He’ll remain in my rooms, but the terrarium hasn’t been warded yet.”
“Warded,” Blaise said in alarm. “But, he’s not poisonous is he?”
Snape snorted. “He is a common Thamnophis sirtalis, Mr. Zabini.”
Brown eyes darted from the headmaster to Harry, and Harry chuckled softly and shook his head. “He is harmless.”
“And quite friendly,” Neville added as he tickled Albus’s “chin”
“Then why does his terrarium need warding?”
Harry felt the heat rise in his cheeks at the memory of Kreacher trying to fill the tank with water last summer. “He and, um, my house elf don’t really get along.”
“You brought your house elf?”
Harry looked over at the man next to Professor Flitwick. He was several years older than Harry but his blond locks hung around his face giving him a youthful appearance. “Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.”
“Harry, this is the Michael Purvis, our Magical Theory professor,” Minerva volunteered.
Harry nodded politely, “Nice to meet you. Purvis. The name sounds familiar.”
“I think there was a Hufflepuff a few years below us,” Neville said.
The man nodded, blond curls bobbing. “My younger sister. I am also head of Hufflepuff.”
Harry smiled. “Splendid. I wondered who took over after Sprout retired. Oh, and no I did not bring my house elf. He works here during the school year.”
“Interesting,” the man said disinterestedly.
Harry shrugged and turned back to Neville to ask about the Venomous Tentacula Harry wanted to borrow for his deadly plants review.
“Harry,” Minerva cornered him on his way up to his rooms later. He turned to see her coming towards him, a thin muscular brunette by her side.
He smiled brightly, “Minerva. Is there something I can do for you?”
“I wanted to introduce you to our Muggle Studies professor. Harry, this is Andrew Martin, he joined the staff last year. Andrew, this is Harry Potter.”
Harry’s smile faltered as the man’s hazel eyes flashed to his forehead. It was nearly imperceptible, but Harry was trained to notice the small movement. “Lovely to meet you, Professor Martin.”
The man shook his hand with an overly bright smile. “Please call me Andy. I can’t help but admire your familiar, Mr. Potter.”
“You can call me Harry. His name is Albus. Did you want to pet him?”
Something flashed in the man’s eyes but he covered it quickly. “Oh, yes. That would be lovely.” He reached a hand out and slid a finger tentatively over the space between the snake’s eyes. The snake’s tongue flashed out and Andy pulled his hand back. “Wonderful creatures, snakes.”
“This one wants to mate with you, snaketalker.”
Harry felt his cheeks heat up. “Yes, Albus. I got that. Go back to sleep.” He looked up at the other two and saw Andy’s eyes wide. “Sorry, he can be a bit rude.”
“W-what did he say? What did you say?” Andy asked eagerly.
“Oh, just that he was too tired to meet new people and I told him to go to sleep.” Harry waved his hand “Snakes aren’t very good conversationalists.”
“So you don’t talk to them much?” The man asked with a tone of disappointment.
Harry shrugged. “Depends.” Albus rubbed his head against Harry’s neck with a soft hiss. “I should really get him home and get his terrarium ready. It was nice meeting you, Andy. I’ll see you around.”
The brunette smiled and Harry turned to continue on to his quarters.
Harry sighed. He’d barely settled in with his tea before Hermione looked eagerly at him. “So, what?”
She glared at him and he had to bite back a grin. “Harry James.”
Harry noticed Ron quickly stuff a biscuit in his mouth and snickered. “Fine.” He held his fingers up and started ticking off names. “There are actually a few professors here under the age of fifty. I figured that was a good cut off age since that’s still considered the Prime of Youth,” Harry said with air quotes, “for wizards. Plus I figure anything more than twenty years age difference is a bit much for me.”
Ron rolled his eyes. “My grandparents were nearly thirty years apart.”
“Yes, well. I have standards,” Harry said and glared at Hermione as she snorted. He held up one finger, “He was one mistake, Hermione.”
“Not to mention you were pissed off your arse,” Ron mumbled around the biscuit.
It was Harry’s turn to glare at the red head. “Anyway! There’s Neville, Blaise Zabini, and the new Muggle Studies teacher Andy Martin.”
“Zabini,” Ron exclaimed. "He teaches here?”
Harry nodded, “Potions. And if the way he was checking me out is any indication, I’m pretty sure he’s gay.”
“And the Muggle Studies guy?” Hermione asked taking a sip of her tea.
Harry wrinkled his nose. “Albus smelled pheromones on him and informed me the man wanted to mate.”
Ron spit his tea out as he guffawed. Harry glared at him and Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Do you think it could be Nev?" Ron asked, grabbing a biscuit with strawberry jam in the middle.
Harry shrugged. "I don't know. I doubt it."
"But you guys dated," Hermione argued.
"That was one time several years ago," Harry pointed out. "We never even had sex."
"Maybe he's decided he wants to give it a go again," Ron said.
Harry only shrugged and took a sip of his tea. "We really didn't suit all that well. I hope it's not him, I much prefer just being friends."
"You just like someone to go to the bar with," Hermione snorted.
"What's wrong with that? I'm still single and Neville doesn't mind the muggle clubs. And I am not about to go trolling at a wizarding club." He shuddered at the memory of the one time he had attempted an evening at a wizarding club. No thanks. Ron chuckled at the memory and Harry glared at him. He was beginning to think he needed new friends.
"Okay, so it could actually be any of the three of them," Ron said
"What about Snape?" Hermione cut in.
Ron gaped at his wife. "Snape?"
Harry's ears perked up. "Snape? Is he even gay?" Please say yes. Please say yes. Wait! How would she know?
Hermione swallowed guiltily and shifted her eyes away from her two best friends. "Oh, um, never mind."
"Hermione," Harry said warningly.
She blushed and huffed. "Fine. Devon from the Vamp Division may have mentioned running into an ex-boyfriend of a certain ex-potions professor but I was sworn to not say a word. Apparently said Slytherin is very private about his personal relationships."
A thrill of excitement shot through Harry and he leaned forward. "So what I hear you saying is that there is a slight possibility that some of my fantasies could come true?"
A loud moan issued from the chair across from Harry, and he glanced over to see his best mate's head resting in his open palms. "Merlin's beard, Hermione, you had to go and give him hope. Isn't it bad enough I have to listen to him dissertate on the man every time he gets drunk? Now I'll have to hear about every little thing Harry perceives as gay and what it could possibly mean."
"Shut it," Harry told his best friend with no avarice, as he knew the man was right. He couldn't help it if he was totally infatuated with the tall, sexy Slytherin.
Hermione chuckled. "So I guess we can add him to the list of possibilities."
"Oh yes, please," Harry said eagerly.
"Oh," Hermione said, her face falling slightly.
"What?" Harry asked cautiously.
"Well, we're assuming it's someone in the school. What if it's someone that knows someone in the school who is willing to help them?"
Harry groaned and tossed his head back against his couch. "Hermione, have I told you lately how much I hate you and your logic?"
Her snort was lost in the sound of the knock coming from the door. Harry waved his hand and the door swung open.
"Enter," he called and looked up as a petite blonde woman stepped inside cautiously. Harry smiled welcomingly at her. "Amanda, welcome. What brings you down to the third floor?"
She gave him a soft smile. "I have a small problem and the headmaster said you might be of help."
Harry stood and the others followed suit. He motioned for her to enter as the door closed behind her. "Come in. Come in. Let me introduce you to my two best friends. This is Hermione Granger-Weasley and her husband Ron."
The blonde smiled politely and nodded her head. "Hello, Minister. Mr. Weasley."
The three friends gave her an odd look. "Minister?" Hermione asked.
The woman closed her eyes a second. "Sorry. It's not 2015 yet. So sorry."
Harry chuckled at the look on Hermione's face. "Guys, this is Amanda Cayce our Divinations Professor."
Hermione's face turned stony, and Harry turned to the blonde. "You'll have to forgive Hermione; she's not one for Divination."
The blonde waved her hand. "It's fine. I know some people just don't care for it. To each their own."
Harry smirked at Hermione's gaping jaw, remembering how condescending Trelawney had been to those who didn’t "have the gift". "So what did you need, Amanda?"
"There is a small mouse residing in my classroom and I was hoping you could persuade your snake to have a small snack. I have tried to humanely capture it to set it free but he eludes the traps."
"Sure. No problem. I'll just go get him for you." Harry headed to his room and tapped on Albus's terrarium. "Albus. Time to wake up. I have a treat for you."
"A treat, Snaketalker?"
"Yes, there is a small mouse in one of the classrooms. Would you like him?"
The snake's tongue shot out excitedly. "Yes. I miss the chase sometimes."
"I'm going to let you go with one of the professors. When you are done she will bring you back."
The red head bobbed its understanding and Harry headed back to the sitting area.
"So you're a Seer?" He heard Hermione ask snidely.
"If you mean do I have visions the answer is no, I just know things. But I have studied many muggle divination techniques such as tea leaves, tarot cards, and Astrology."
"What? No crystal ball gazing?" Harry rolled his eyes at her snooty tone.
"Oh no. There are so few with the power of prophesy I don't like to waste class time on it. I usually spend about a week in class but I do offer independent study for those that wish to pursue it further. But it's mostly a matter of interpretation isn't it?" Amanda said softly, unperturbed by Hermione's coldness. "I mean I can sit here and say I see children in your future, but what does that really mean? Does that mean you will have many children? Or will you become a teacher? Or maybe it simply means Mr. Weasley's brothers and sister will have several children and you will spend Christmas morning with them. Then again, if I were to say the child you are carrying is a girl, that's very precise."
Hermione clutched her stomach. "I- I don't-" Her eyes looked around the room frantically. "What about Harry? Who will he marry?" She asked desperately as if trying to change the subject or stump the woman.
Amanda smiled vaguely, reminding Harry of Luna. "Ah, well, Mr. Potter makes his own destiny, doesn't he?"
Hermione crossed her arms and smiled smugly. "So you don't know?"
The blonde shook her head. "Not even the Oracle of Delphi herself would be able to determine Mr. Potter's fate. His magic blinds us to his future. I suspect fifteen years ago I would not have been able to discern even your fate, future minister, so entwined with Harry's as it was."
Harry could tell by the slightly widening of Hermione's eyes that the woman had thrown her off. She narrowed her eyes then bit her bottom lip as if trying to decide on something. The Divination professor turned her smiling eyes on Harry.
"Ah, this must be the infamous Albus." Harry held the snake out and she took it easily, not even jumping when the thin tongue flickered out. "Come along, Mr. Albus. I have a treat for you." She thanked Harry and nodded her goodbye to the other two before heading out.
"Is it?" Hermione called as Amanda reached the door. The teacher turned and gazed at Hermione.
"Is it what, future Minister?"
Hermione blushed and glanced at Ron. "Is the baby a girl?"
Harry felt the smile light his face and held back a chuckle at Ron's gaping mouth.
"No. And before you ask, he's very healthy." She turned and left the room, muttering sweetly to the snake.
Harry crossed the room to his friend and wrapped her in a hug. "Congratulations, 'Mione. Rose will be excited."
She pulled back and turned hesitantly to her husband. "I didn't want to say anything until I'd seen a mediwitch."
Her words broke the spell over Ron and he reached out and pulled her into a desperate hug. Harry watched happily as his two friends hugged, forgetting for the moment about being courted by an anonymous stranger.
At least until the following Sunday when Harry was putting the finishing touches on his classroom and a small elf popped in holding a small brown package. Harry smiled at the elf warmly.
Her eyes widened at the welcoming tone and Harry chuckled. "L-Lolly must deliver this to Mister Professor Potter sir."
Harry nodded sagely. "And you are Lolly?" She nodded vigorously, her large ears flapping. "And I am Professor Potter." He held out his hand and she placed the package in it. He noticed the familiar white envelope tucked under the dark brown parcel string tied around the brown package. "Lolly, do you work for Hogwarts or are you a personal elf?"
"Lolly bes a Hogwarts elf, Professor Sir."
Harry nodded. "And who told you to bring this to me?"
Her eyes widened and he noticed the unmistakable signs of elf-distress. "Lolly isn't allowed to be saying Professor Sir."
Harry held a soothing hand up. "I understand, Lolly. It's okay. I was just curious. You may go now, I'm sure you and the other elves are quite busy preparing for tomorrow."
Her large eyes filled with tears. "Professor Sir is so kind. Lolly and the other elves are being happy that Kreacher's master has come back."
Harry smiled kindly at the elf and placed the package on his desk. He sat down and stared at the package for several minutes before finally pulling his wand out and running a scan on it. He wasn't surprised that nothing showed up, still, one couldn't be too careful. He slid the card out and pulled it from the envelope. It was the same white cardstock with the same gold lettering. For the late nights and the student-induced headaches. Good luck on your first year, Harry. I know you can do this. Harry was touched by the note and quickly untied the string to reveal a small wooden box. He lifted the lid to reveal vials of potions tucked in lined slots. He pulled several out and noticed they were either Pepper-up or Headache relief. So did this mean his secret admirer was Blaise? Although, the bottles didn't look like the standard vials he remembered from his school days. Not that that meant anything. He supposed anyone could have gone and bought potions and had them delivered. Only these didn't look like the standard store bought potions either. Harry sighed. He was no closer to figuring out who the man was and it was giving him a headache. He smirked, well, he did happen to have plenty of headache cure at the moment. He pulled a blue vial out and pulled the cork and tossed it back. He blinked at the slightly sweet taste of the potion. No this was definitely not store bought. He eyed the bottle, wondering who could have made the potion. Perhaps Hermione would like a little side project.
"It will not refill itself no matter how much you stare at it, Potter."
Harry jerked at the sneered words. "Headmaster." He placed the vial back in its slot and closed the box before sliding the small card in his shirt pocket. He stood and looked back up at the man. "Was there something you needed?"
The man was eyeing the box on Harry's desk. "Is there something wrong with the standard school potions, Potter? I seem to recall you having an affinity for them when you were here before."
Harry felt his cheeks warm. "Ah, no, sir. Just a good luck gift from a friend."
One dark brow rose. "And which friend had the shrewd foresight to gift you with headache cure?"
Harry wasn't quite sure he was ready to reveal his secret courtship to Snape. "I don't think that's any of your business, sir. Was there a reason you sought me out?"
Snape had opened his mouth to say something but snapped it shut. He glared at Harry for a moment. "There is a mandatory staff meeting in twenty minutes. Apparently Minerva forgot to inform you."
With that, Snape turned on his heels and swept from the room. Harry sighed in frustration. The man was so infuriating. Sometimes Harry wanted to crush their bodies together and kiss the man senseless. Other times, like now, he wanted to throw the man against the wall and rip his clothes off and drive him mad with lust. Harry groaned and dropped into his chair. Merlin he was pathetic. He had twenty minutes to calm his roiling blood and get to- Crap! Where was he supposed to go? Harry jumped out of his chair and raced after the man, hoping to catch him or another teacher on the way to the meeting.