The Paradox of Existence
by DragonLight

Chapter Five:  Detentions

*The Past*

Severus stared straight ahead, not paying attention to anything or anyone.  He needed a plan of some sort.  Professor Tyler had rebuffed every one of his attempts to get to know him, and had caught on to his constant question-asking in his office when Severus had mistakenly asked a question that he had already answered that day during class.  After that, Tyler hadn't been nearly as patient with him.

So Severus thought up other ways that he could spend time with his professor.  Tyler never needed help, avoided dinner in the Great Hall more often then not, and was terse whenever Severus asked him any sort of question in his office or bumped into him in the hallway.

This latest plan was not one of his best, he'd admit, but it might work.  Severus had been trying to get detention with Tyler for the last two weeks.  The only one he did manage was with Black and Lupin.  It had been just his luck that Black had decided to pass notes.  And not just any notes, but ones that had to zip across the length of the room.  Professor Tyler had not been amused.

Black was an idiot.  He should know by now that Tyler never tolerated misbehaviour in his class.  It was why Severus was trying so hard to misbehave, but it was almost as if Tyler didn't want to give him detention.

This was his last chance before Christmas holidays.  There wasn't a teacher in the school that would hand out a detention to be served over holidays.  Not even Tyler.  It didn't matter.  He wasn't allowed to stay at Hogwarts over Christmas anyway.

"Mr Snape, I asked you a question."  Tyler's sharp voice penetrated Severus's little bubble of distraction.  "Do you have an answer for me?"

Severus looked down at his book, then at the board.

"Apparently not.  It seems that the grounds outside the window are more interesting than this lecture.  Pity that the grounds won't be covered on your end-of-term test."

"Sorry, sir."

Tyler nodded.  "Five points, Mr Snape.  Do pay attention."

"Yes, sir."

But Severus didn't pay attention.  It only took a moment for him to fall back into his thoughts about what to do.   Besides, if he did manage a detention for not paying attention, then so be it.  Sighing, Severus stared out toward the Great Lake.  Being a giant squid would be easier.  Much easier.  Then he wouldn't be trying to get a professor's attention.

Severus nearly jumped when a book slammed down onto the top of his desk.  "Mr Snape!  Ten points from Slytherin."  Tyler left Severus's book on the desk and folded his arms across his chest.  "Paying attention now?"

"Yes, Professor Tyler."  Perhaps angering the professor into giving him a detention wasn't a good idea at all, in any way.

"Good.  I shall tell you this once.  If I have to reprimand you one more time during this class period, you will be serving detention this evening.  Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, sir."  Severus swallowed uneasily.  Excitement and anxiousness warred in the pit of his stomach.  This was it.  Any little step out of line would land him in detention even if it would normally only get points deducted.  If he wanted this, he had to do it.

Severus stared at Professor Tyler as he walked down the row of desks in the middle.  The way he talked, the way he moved, the passion he taught with -- like the class really was about life or death -- all of it made Severus want to push the limit of his relationship with him.  Tyler wasn't classically beautiful with his scars and messy hair and his lack of imposing height, but he was something, and Severus wanted to know what.

One more disruption.  Severus began tearing little pieces off the corner of his parchment and crumpled them.  Lining them all up in a neat row, he started to flick them at Black.  One hit his cheek, and then his hand, another one landed in his ear.  Each time one hit him, Black would turn and glare at him, but it didn't stop Severus.  One even landed in his mouth, and started Black coughing.

Tyler turned and looked at them, but didn't say anything before returning to teaching.  He had not, unfortunately, seen what was going on.

He didn't see Black push the pile of books off Severus's desk, and for that Severus was grateful.  He certainly didn't want Black to be sharing a detention with him.

"What do you think you're doing, you useless, idiotic Gryffindor?!"

Severus could hear Professor Tyler's sharp intake of breath from across the room.  And braced himself for a very angry professor to come bearing down on him.  He wasn't disappointed.

"Mr Snape.  I don't know how many times that I've mentioned the fact that I will not, under any circumstances, tolerate House prejudices in my class, but I do know that I've told you that if you strayed out of line once more this lesson you'd be receiving detention--"


"No.  Be quiet.  I will see you here promptly at eight this evening.  Any further disobedience and I shall be turning you over to your Head of House to deal with."

"Yes, sir."


Severus clenched his fists as he made his way down the corridor to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom to keep his hands from shaking.  He could feel the muscles in the back of his neck squeezing tight with tension, and, not for the first time, wondered if this had been a good idea at all.

That Lucius ribbed him the entire afternoon and evening didn't help.  Stupid prat.  And he'd stolen Severus's pudding at dinner since, as prefect, he decided that "naughty children" shouldn't be given sweets.

Not that Severus thought he could have eaten it, but still.

Lifting his hand, he knocked once, and heard Tyler beckoning him into the room.

The classroom looked nothing like it had that afternoon.  All the desks were piled up in the centre and the walls from floor to ceiling had been turned into tall blackboards.  Severus could feel his hands cramping up already.

"Professor, I'm sorry--"

"A minute or two tardy is not anything to concern yourself over, Mr Snape."  Tyler was sitting at his desk in the corner, marking and not looking at him.  "As you can see the room has been transfigured a bit for your detention.  If you'd please place your wand on my desk, you can get started.  The sentence for your lines is at the top left-hand corner of the back wall."

"My wand?"

"Yes, to guarantee that you do not take the quick way out.  Come on.  I doubt you want to stay here writing lines all night.  And don't write too large, and make sure that it's legible."

Severus nodded, and dropped his wand on the desk when he went to pick up the piece of chalk.  There were quite a few pieces, all a putrid shade of pink except one.  Severus hated pink.  He took the white.  It was an extremely small piece.

Severus had a feeling it wasn't magicked to work forever either.  With a longing glance at his wand, Severus moved to the back of the room where there was a small ladder waiting for him and the words "I will not insult Sirius Black during class" in crisp writing at the top of the wall.


"That was the final infraction of the day, Mr Snape.  In addition, you know my feelings on House prejudice.  I thought it was fitting."

It disturbed him that Tyler hadn't even looked at him to know what he was going to ask.  A sigh escaped as he set chalk to board and started writing - and then quickly stopped.  The chalk had let out an awful sound.

He tried again.  A horrid high-pitched squeak was made no matter how lightly he pressed on the board with the chalk.  Severus glared at it, and then glared at Tyler.  He went to switch to one of the putrid pink pieces.

Half a wall of glaring pink that seemed to shimmer with sparkles later, Severus decided that he had most certainly learned his lesson.  Maybe.  Somewhat.  But regardless, he had had enough of the pink chalk.  Of course his detention wasn't over until Tyler said it was over, and he had only been writing the line for a half hour.  

This wasn't how he had thought his detention would go.  He couldn't even see Tyler at his desk since Tyler had his back to Severus , and he was on the other side of the room, and that didn't really didn't help them have a conversation.

Even when Severus had to switch pieces of chalk -- which he had to do quite often -- Tyler stayed bent over his papers marking.  The one time that Severus tried to say something, Tyler had shushed him and motioned him back to the board.

It wasn't fair.

And the sentence was irritating him.

"I will not kiss Sirius Black during class."  At least that was something that Severus could guarantee wouldn't happen.  Besides, Tyler would probably not even look at what he'd written anyway.  Just send him off.

Changing words was addictive though, and by the time he'd made headway onto the third wall the sentence wasn't anywhere near what it had once been.


Setting down his quill, Harry stretched in his seat before standing.  He hated marking essays; students often didn't have much of an imagination when writing, but just regurgitated facts that he already knew inside and out.

At least for the most part Snape had been quiet and did his lines without complaint.  And in pink chalk as well.  Harry hid his smile behind his hand.  Severus detested pink.  Always had since he was a lad of four, if Harry remembered right, and Harry knew he had.

Maybe this detention would… Harry shook his head.  No force found in the natural world would make Severus Snape and Sirius Black get along.  Not even threats from Harry had made them behave.

"All right, Mr Snape, let us see how you did, shall we?"

He heard Snape's sharp intake of breath behind him, but ignored it.  He'd probably slacked off in the middle and let his handwriting sink to the lower depths of legibility that Harry knew it could.  Even if Severus denied it every chance he had.

It became apparent that wasn't the case.  With a sinking feeling in his stomach, Harry skimmed over the rest of the sentences.  By the end, Harry wanted nothing more than to send Severus away and hold his head in his hands, but he would not give in to that.

Unfortunate for Severus.

"Public displays of affection would not be tolerated in this classroom, so it's a good thing that you wouldn't kiss Mr Black."

Harry heard the groan and the uncomfortable shuffling behind him.  Setting his jaw, he continued his ridicule.  It never set as well with him as it did with Severus, who at times revelled in it.

"Mr Snape, I do not recall Mr Black becoming a professor.  He'd make for a rather horrible professor, I'd think."  And it was true.  Sirius spent more time yelling at his students when he was a professor than teaching them.  "As for kissing Professors, I find that a highly inappropriate action.  "As for your latest change--"

"I want to.  I'd like it very much."

"Getting… buggered by a professor is an even more inappro--"

"I don't care."

A grim smile in place, Harry stared at Snape.  "I think that you should leave, Mr Snape.  I'm docking Slytherin twenty points for this."

"I don't want to go.  I don't care.  Professor--"

"Please leave."


"Then I have no recourse other than to remove myself.  If, when I return in an hour, you are still here, I shall bring this matter to your Head of House."


Harry didn't wait.  He turned on his heel and fled.  And felt a fool for doing so.


*Future:  Harry's sixth year*

Tightly clasping the dictionary that threatened to slide out of his sweaty hands, Harry stopped in front of Professor Snape's office.  He was being ridiculous.  He had served detention with Snape plenty of times.  And he knew his professor better now then he had any of those other times.

Then again, that was what was making him so nervous.  He had every intention of taking advantage of this detention.

He only hoped that Snape wouldn't kill him.  It was a distinct possibility, though.  Harry swallowed and opened the door.

The door ajar, Harry could see Snape bent over some scrolls, his finger tracing the words as he jotted something down on a sheaf of parchment next to him.  Research, was Harry's guess.  Snape had been doing the same thing when Dumbledore had sent him down to the dungeons over Christmas holidays so they could leave on a "favour" for the Headmaster together.

Harry shuddered.  Snape had been completely different on that trip.  Had kept Harry in check, even, and had managed to save Remus's life when Harry couldn't.

Remus said he didn't begrudge the life-debt he owed to Snape.  That there could be worse people to owe his life to.

Thinking about it, Harry realised that he was right.  Maybe.  Snape did take life-debts very seriously.  Not that he'd ask Remus for anything.  Harry was sure that Snape would rather poison himself than ask anyone for anything.

These weren't new thoughts.  Harry had been thinking about them off and on since they had gotten back from the holidays.  And about what Snape had said to him over their dinner the night he saved Remus because Harry had been too upset to do anything.

"Letting your emotions get the better of you, Harry, will never lead to anything good.  When you lose control of them, you will make idiotic mistakes, and then the consequences you're left with will be more than you can handle.  Pay attention to the task at hand.  It's even more important in life than in Potions class."

It'd been the first time he'd called him Harry too.  That alone had been enough to confuse Harry thoroughly.  The rest, Harry was still trying to work out, but it sounded almost like good advice.  And he'd called Harry 'Harry', and that was what kept going around in Harry's head. As well as the fact that he had liked the way it sounded.

Harry knew he half fancied himself in love with Snape, and if not in love at least in lust.  The first time the sound of Snape's voice entered his head when he was wanking in the shower, it had shocked him.  And had made him come harder than he had before.  Disturbing at first, but eventually…

Snape's hands, even stained with potions; Harry saw them in his dreams curling around his cock, with Snape's voice whispering in his ear.  Just his name.  The nicest Snape had ever been.  Once he'd seen Snape above him, his face calm, like it was now when he was researching, and his eyes intense.  That had been a pleasant dream.

Harry had never thought a dream starring Snape could be pleasant.

Licking his lips, he pushed the door open a little more, and stepped inside.  If he was lucky, he'd be able to stand there for a minute and watch Snape work.  More features that Harry would memorise and add to his dream repertoire.  He was most definitely in lust.

Though the first signs of affection for the snarky bastard were there too.

Harry had made a habit out of watching Snape.  In class.  At meetings.  During detention.  During private tuition.  He never stopped.  And while he was adding things to dream about, he was slowly learning things too.

Remus, while not a friend per se, was a close comrade in arms.  Albus was always treated with the added layer of respect, and to a point caring, that Harry would think of treating a grandfather with.  Malfoy was, as Harry always figured, treated as a favoured nephew.  Even if Malfoy wasn't all that bad -- he had, after all, blocked that curse from hitting him -- he still shouldn't be favoured.

Sirius… Snape hated Sirius.  Made that perfectly clear, but in some instances he did listen to what Sirius had to say.  Even if, more often then not, he immediately refuted it - and then told him what an idiot he was.

Snape was a confusing, fascinating man.  A puzzle.  And he was someone Harry shouldn't get to know.  So Harry decided that he'd like to get to know him.

"Potter, do stop staring off into space.  I trust you've brought the dictionary I requested?"

Harry nodded.

"Well then, I'm sure you have heard what this detention consists of.  I do not care what words you use, I assure you that I have heard them all before.  Begin."

"Yes, Professor."

His fingers clutched around the fat spine, Harry moved to stand in front of Snape's desk.  He only hoped that Hermione's charm for marking the pages in order worked.  She'd probably given him a faulty charm when he told her that he was going to pick his words ahead of time so he could bother Snape.

Ron had thought his plan brilliant.  But then Ron would, as long as he thought the words chosen were to embarrass and ridicule.  Not quite the case.  Harry grimaced.

"Tabby:  a cat with a striped or brindled coat.  I had a babysitter growing up who had lots of cats, some of which were tabbies.  Sun:  the star that is the central body of the solar system, around which the planets revolve."  Harry sighed.  He bet that Snape liked this detention so much because it had the potential to bore his students to death.  "Quidditch becomes increasingly difficult to play when the sun is shining in your eyes."

Snape wasn't even listening.  He was scratching at his parchment with his quill, ignoring Harry.

"Private:  belonging to some particular person or persons."  Harry shrugged.  "I always wondered what it'd be like to be someone's private property."

Snape's eyes flickered up from the table for a brief moment, and Harry couldn't help but smile.

"Taste:  to have a particular flavour.  I bet you taste like the potions you brew."  

Snape was ignoring him again.

"Lick:  to pass the tongue over the surface of.  It is always wise to start with licking--"

Snape glared.

"--when eating ice cream, Professor."  Harry smirked in return.  "Study:  application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge, as by reading, investigation, or reflection.   It's much more important to study potions than to think about snogging."

Snape snorted, but didn't look up.  Probably thought Harry was being smart, which he was.

"Homework:  schoolwork assigned to be done outside the classroom.  Potions would be more interesting if my homework consisted of studying you."  Harry drew in a deep breath and held it, waiting for a reaction, any reaction.

Snape didn't look up at him, but his quill paused for a moment.  That could possibly be a good sign.

"Habiliments:  clothes worn in a particular profession, way of life.  Hermione said that your robes are the standard habiliments for school masters.  I think you'd look better without them on at all."

Snape snapped his quill down.  "Potter, that was two sentences and the word wasn't even used in the second."  His eyes only flickered to Harry once.

"Sorry, professor, won't happen again.  Kiss:  to join lips as in affection or love.  I've always wondered what it would be like to be kissed by someone who sees the real me."  Harry turned his face down and flipped to the next word without looking up.  He could feel his face getting hot and thought that maybe this idea of his had been rather stupid.

But he didn't want to give up.  The worst that could happen was that Snape would laugh at him and send him off to the Tower with less points than Gryffindor had had at the beginning of his detention.

"Seduction:  the act or an instance of seducing, especially sexually.  Seduction is a tricky business."  Without pausing he flipped to the next definition.  "Process:  a systematic series of actions directed to some end.  "It's a process that I'm sure I've screwed up tonight."

Licking his dry lips, Harry glanced at Snape.  He wasn't writing anymore, but his head was still bent over the scroll.  His finger wasn't moving over the words, however.

"Show:  to prove or demonstrate.  Sometimes an individual will do something stupid to show someone their feelings.  Live:  to remain alive.  I guess I'll just have to live the rest of my life without knowing your taste."

Harry knew he was being an idiot, but couldn't stop himself.  He couldn't even look at Snape to see if he was even listening.  Or if he even cared.

This whole plan of his was going to backfire.

"Habile:  skilful or dexterous.  I've noticed how habile your hands are, and I think this is a bloody awful sentence, but it fits the definition."

"It is a bloody awful sentence, Potter."

Blanching, Harry turned the page harder then he should have, ripping it.  "Lust."  Snape was going to kill him.  "To have a passionate yearning or desire.  I, uh, I…"

"Let me guess.  You lust after some Quidditch professional."

Harry looked up.  Snape was staring at him through lidded eyes.  The only time he stared at Harry like that was when he was in trouble.  Though the rest of Snape's body language didn't scream trouble.  Maybe…

No.  "No!  I, uh, I lust after the professor who haunts my dreams."  Not quite what he had originally intended, but it worked.

"I see."

Before Snape could stop him, Harry continued with the next word.  "Sincere:  without pretence or deceit.  My words have been sincere."

"Stop, Potter."


The night had been an unmitigated disaster.  Pouring himself a snifter of brandy, Severus collapsed into his chair, and stared at the fire in the grate.  There was always a fire in his rooms.

His dungeons were a cold place.  Lonely as well, if he had to be honest with himself.

That must have been why he'd been tempted by Potter-- Harry-- Potter.

He should have made sure the boy had left when dismissed.  He shouldn't have let him circle his desk.  And he most definitely shouldn't have let him kiss him.

As much as Severus would like to think that he hadn't known what was going on with Potter during that detention, he did know.  There were signs.  How nervous he was, how he couldn't meet his eyes, how he looked completely determined after Severus had told him to leave…

How he didn't leave.

Potter had gone around the desk and fallen to his knees in front of Snape before he had a chance to move and pull the brat out by his ear.  Looking down at Harry's upturned face, he saw something he wanted, but knew he was too old to have.

He wondered…

Severus hadn't thought of Tyler for years.  It was ironic that this boy with the same scar and the same eyes had cornered him in the same position he'd cornered his professor all those years ago.

The scar and the eyes were the extent of the similarities though.  Tyler had been a man, not a boy.  Harry, however, wasn't really a boy.  He was at that awkward stage between boy and man that Severus remembered so well.  He'd made a fool of himself enough that year.

And he hadn't just thought of Potter as Harry.

He sighed and covered his eyes with one hand.  The too-sweet taste of Potter's chocolate-and-pumpkin-juice flavoured kiss was still there.  Reminding him that he hadn't pushed the boy away, but had instead grabbed his arms and pulled him closer until a semblance of common sense reappeared and he pushed Potter as far away as he could.

Severus was damned.

At least Potter wasn't foolish enough to utter platitudes of eternal devotion and love.  Love doesn't exist at sixteen.

Severus had discovered that the hard way. ♦

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