The Paradox of Existence
by DragonLight


Chapter Seventeen:  The Gryffindor and the Slytherin.

*The Past*

“Hello, Professor.”  

“Thirty points for being out after curfew, Snape.”  The door started to swing shut, but stopped when it hit Severus's foot, which he had placed against the frame.  Professor Tyler glared at him with narrowed eyes.  Severus audibly swallowed.  “What do you want?”

“I wanted to see you.”  When that didn’t garner a response Severus tried a different tack.  “I came to apologize.  I should never have left that note.  It was rather juvenile.”

“Damn straight you shouldn’t have, Snape.”  Professor Tyler’s frown changed to an unholy grin.  “Be on your way.  You wouldn’t want to lose more points, now would you?”

“But, Professor…”

“Yes?  But what, Snape?”  Professor Tyler’s voice was cold.

Severus took a deep breath.  He would not let anyone, even Professor Tyler run roughshod over him.  “Perhaps we can discuss this inside, Professor.  You can have a drink and we’ll talk.”

A sharp bark of laughter was Professor Tyler’s response.  “It won’t work Snape.  You see, I’ve donated all of my liquor to a good cause.  I’ve sworn off alcohol for the foreseeable future.”  Professor Tyler looked at Severus with a penetrating, measuring gaze.  Severus had the feeling he had been found sorely lacking.  “Good night, Mr. Snape.”  The door slammed shut on its hinges so hard that it rattled in the frame.  Quite a feat, since the door and frame were both made out of solid oak.

Severus sighed and started to move away down the hallway.  He’d have to figure out another way to get in to see his Professor.  He had no intention of letting him go.

***

“Have you gone insane, Severus?”  Lucius stared at his friend, aghast.

“I’m in full control of my mental capabilities, Lucius.  I’m telling you that it will work.”  Severus was standing over a cauldron, stirring carefully.  There was no way that he was going to ruin this potion.

“You are going to drug Professor Tyler, and that’s not insane?”

Severus gazed at the ceiling.  That was the fifth time Lucius had repeated the information since he had told him his plan.  He wouldn’t have done so, but he needed Lucius’ help.  After all, he didn’t have access to any type of alcohol, but Lucius’ supply was rather extensive for someone that still attended the school.  “Would you be quiet?  I do not need the entire school to know what I’m planning.  I could get expelled.”

“Do you honestly think that this will work?”

“Actually, I do.”  Severus lifted some of the potion out of the cauldron with a ladle.  Lifting it to his nose, he gingerly sniffed it.  Nodding his head satisfactorily he moved the ladle under Lucius’ nose.  “You see this?”  At Lucius’ slight nod Severus continued.  “This is an Inhibeo Reducto potion.  Do you know what it does?”  Severus's voice was condescending.

Straightening up, Lucius smoothed out his shirt.  “Of course I do.  It diminishes the strength of one’s inhibitions.”  Lucius sounded affronted.  “A fourth degree dark potion since it allows someone to influence another’s actions.  They’d do something that they wouldn’t normally.”

“Correct.  It does allow one to influence another who is under its effects.”  Severus had gone back to stirring the potion.  “It stops someone from analyzing a situation too closely.  Think of it as getting drunk without the need for copious amounts of alcohol.  And since Professor Tyler has been known to get drunk on occasion…”

“I think that you are just trying to make yourself feel better about drugging a professor.”

Irritated, Severus removed his hand from the stirring rod.  He couldn’t stir the potion too fast or else it would be ruined and he’d have to start all over again.  “Would you stop saying that?  All I want to do is talk to him.  And in the mood he’s in he won’t let me do that.”

“So why don’t you just let him calm down.  It sounds like the more intelligent course of action.”

“I don’t have that long.”  Severus sighed and sat down on a stool.  The potion had to cool for fifteen minutes.  “Professor Tyler seems like he’s the type to hold a grudge.”

“I’ve noticed.”  Severus knew that Lucius was thinking about the past couple of weeks, and all the points that Severus had lost Slytherin.  “I heard a group of Ravenclaws talking the other day.  They were wondering what you had done to anger Professor Tyler.  It seems it’s just you that he’s after to destroy.”

“Don’t remind me.”  Severus's voice was quiet.

“What do you see in him, anyway?  It can’t be the sex.  No sex is worth what he’s doing to you.”

“You don’t understand, Lucius.  There’s something about him.  He has layers.”  

Lucius’ eyebrows rose in what Severus found to be a slightly mocking way.  “Don’t give me that shite about his eyes again.  It was one thing when you were infatuated with him, it’s another now that you’re sleeping with him.”

“His eyes are still fascinating.”  Severus said, and Lucius snorted.  “But that’s only one of his physical attributes that I find appealing.”

“I thought I said that it can’t be about sex.”

“It’s not.”  Severus took in a deep breath.  “It’s about power.”  It wasn’t just about power, but there was no way that he would tell Lucius that he thought he was falling for the Defense Professor, as distant and cruel as he could be at times.  Severus knew that he could change Professor Tyler.  He just needed time and the opportunity.

Lucius’ eyes widened.  “What?”

“Professor Tyler is one of the strongest wizards that I’ve ever come into close contact with.  I’d have to be insane to give him up.”

Lucius opened and closed his mouth a couple of times before finally speaking.  “What about our Lord?”

“The same,” Severus smirked.  “But Professor Tyler is much younger.  Nicer to look at too.”

“But just as sadistic.”  

Severus looked at Lucius sharply.  “What do mean by that?”

“Haven’t you seen the way that he looks at you during meals?”  Severus shook his head.  Lucius continued.  “He wants you dead.  From the looks I’ve seen, he would happily hang you from those manacles in Filch’s office while he skins and disembowels you.”

Severus swallowed.  “He… he wouldn’t.  He’s just angry.”  Although he wasn’t too sure of that.

Lucius snorted.  “It is your life.  If you want to take it into your hands and die, then far be it from me to stop you.”  Lucius was watching Severus as he went back to his potion.  “What do you need from me?”

“A bottle of your strongest firewhiskey.”

“That’s how you’re going to administer the stuff?”

“The second dose, at least.”  Severus ladled the potion into three different vials.

“The second dose?”  

Severus turned and looked at Lucius, whose mouth was hanging open.

“That’s not a good look on you at all, Lucius.”  Lucius’ mouth snapped shut.  “That is what I said.  I don’t think that one dose will work enough.”

“And how are you going to get him to take the first dose?”

Severus pocketed the vials and started to clean out his cauldron.  “I’m bribing the house elves in the kitchen to slip it into his pumpkin juice.  One dose should work enough that I can convince him to have a drink.  That’ll be the second dose.”

Lucius nodded and the two young men walked back to the Slytherin dorms.  Severus waited until Lucius had handed him a bottle of firewhiskey.  He left the dorm to stash the bottle in his trunk, when he returned to Lucius’ room, he saw him sleeping on his bed.  Taking out his wand he approached Lucius.  With the wand close to Lucius’ temple, Severus whispered the word “Obliviate.”

“Sorry, Lucius.  I really don’t want anyone finding out about my plans for tomorrow evening.”  Exiting the room, he headed down to the kitchens.  He had some house elves to bribe.

***

Severus knocked on the door again.  He had been standing outside of Professor Tyler’s room for over five minutes, and there had yet to be an answer.  Severus knocked one more time and stepped back to wait some more.

Suddenly the door was flung open.  No one was there; it just opened.  “If you are going to annoy me all night then please do so from in here.  I do not feel like having a conversation while standing in the doorway today.”  

Looking into the room, Severus saw Professor Tyler sitting in the large overstuffed chair by the fire reading the book that was his constant companion.  He quickly entered and shut the door behind him.  Grasping the bottle of firewhiskey tightly in one hand, he approached his professor.  “A drink, Professor?”

Professor Tyler looked up from his book and gave a short nod.  Severus looked around for the glasses but could not find them.  “In the cabinet to the right.”  Severus moved quickly and took out one glass.  He was about to pour when Professor Tyler interrupted him.  “First off, I have no intention of taking a shot.  Put it on the rocks.”  Severus nodded.  “Second, I’m not stupid enough to drink something from you without you drinking first.”  Severus paused for a moment before reaching for a second glass.  One dose shouldn’t affect him too badly.  The potion was fairly diluted.  He quickly went about preparing the drinks.

Severus kept one glass and handed the other to Professor Tyler.  When he didn’t lift the glass to his lips Professor Tyler just looked at him and motioned for him to take a sip.  Severus gulped down half the glass and then sputtered.  Looking at Professor Tyler he saw the corner of the older man’s lips curve up slightly.  At least he was good for entertainment.  He watched as Professor Tyler knocked back the whole glass.

“What happened to not drinking it in one shot.”

“I could smell the Inhibeo Reducto potion in it as soon as you handed me the glass.  I assume that my pumpkin juice was similarly dosed?”

“Yes, Professor.”  Severus bit his lip; he hadn’t meant to say that.

“I see.  The pumpkin juice could mask the scent, but not this.  You’ve never been under the influence of this potion have you?”  Professor Tyler seemed uncommonly relaxed.

Severus shook his head.  “No, Professor.  Have you?”

“Many times.  By the time I was eighteen, I had been subjected to this potion approximately ten times.”  Severus's eyes widened.  “I had a friend who thought it was amusing, a couple of friends actually.”  Professor Tyler’s eyes glazed over slightly.  “I don’t think that it ever turned out quite how they expected it to.”

“How so?”  Severus recognized that it was the potion that was making him more talkative.  He was sure that it was doing the same for Professor Tyler.  “What happened?”

“I disappeared most of the time, got away from them and their deranged idea of a truth game.  Usually I would try to just go to sleep.”  Professor Tyler put his glass down on a side table.  He stretched before he spoke again.  “What brings you here, Snape?”

Severus had fixated on the way that Professor Tyler’s shirt had been pulled up when he stretched.  It took him a minute to respond.  “I came to talk.”  The statement was probably belied by the way that he moistened his bottom lip with his tongue.

Professor Tyler stood and moved over to a long table that was positioned against the wall.  A large black velvet square rested on the top.  It was the only piece of furniture that seemed out of place in the whole room.  “So, talk.”  

Instead of saying anything he watched as Professor Tyler removed the dagger with its sheath from his hip and set it to the side of the velvet.  “You aren’t still mad about what happened a couple of weeks ago, are you, Professor?”

“I am.”  Professor Tyler had slipped one hand into his boot and was pulling out some small square projectiles, one by one, and laying them on the velvet.

“What are you doing?” asked Severus, intrigued enough to forget his previous topic.

“Disarming.  I have to tip some of my weapons.”  The causal way that Professor Tyler said it set Severus's teeth on edge.

Having finished with his boots, Professor Tyler was rolling up his shirtsleeve.  On his right forearm was a thick band that had five small darts stored in it.  “Do you always carry so many weapons?”

“Of course.”  Professor Tyler was now rolling up his left shirtsleeve.  On that forearm was another thick band that sheathed two stilettos.  “In the past I’ve been known to carry more.”  Professor Tyler unhooked the two arm guards and laid them out before removing the darts and stilettos.  It all seemed very methodical.

“What did you mean by ‘tip’?”

Professor Tyler looked at him as he removed his wand holster.  The holster was set aside while the wand was placed in one of his pockets.  “I tip my weapons in various poisons.  It makes my job easier.”

Severus eyes widened.  “You were an assassin before you became a teacher?”

A soft chuckle was his response.  “Hardly.  Though what I did isn’t any of your business, so I suggest you drop it, Mr. Snape.”  Professor Tyler’s hands were now at his hips as he pulled a thin cord from behind his belt.

“What’s that?”

“A garrotte.”   He laid it at the top of the cloth.  

“What’s it for?”

Professor Tyler turned and leaned against the table facing him, crossing his arms.  He looked rather dangerous.  “For strangling people.  If you do it right, you can almost take off someone’s head.”  Severus's hand unconsciously went to his throat.  Professor Tyler raised an eyebrow.  “Something the matter, Mr. Snape?”

Severus quickly shook his head.  Professor Tyler reached under the table and took out three different jars.  Opening one at a time, he placed an assortment of the projectiles into each before resealing it.  At the end he still had a couple of weapons out; these were rolled into the cloth, along with the garrote.  

“If you are constantly armed, then what do you do when your weapons are put away?”

“I always keep my dagger with me.  I sleep with two darts under my pillow, one poisoned, one not.”  Professor Tyler put everything away before going back to his chair and picking up his book again.  “Of course, I don’t need weapons.  Like I said, it just makes my job easier.”

Severus's mouth was dry.  There was something disconcerting about the way Professor Tyler had said that last sentence.  “There was a reason you did that while I was here, wasn’t there?”

“Of course.”  A page of his book was turned.  “Why don’t you tell me what it is?”

“I don’t know, sir.”  Severus mechanically lifted the glass in his hand to his mouth and took a swallow of the liquid.

“I’d be careful of that stuff if I were you.”  Severus looked down at the glass, remembering that he was dosing himself with an anti-inhibitor potion and quickly put it down on the nearest table.  “You have to understand I am not someone to be messed with.”

“I need to understand that you’re dangerous?”

“Yes.”

Severus shrugged.  “I knew that as soon as you arrived at this school.  I was on the opposite side of that dagger when you sent it flying toward Lucius.”

Professor Tyler narrowed his eyes.  “And you don’t care?”

“Not at all.  Risk can be good.  Without risk large gains are not often made.”  He thought he heard Professor Tyler mutter the word ‘Gryffindor’ under his breath.  Severus bristled.  “I am not a Gryffindor!”

“You say it as if being a Gryffindor is a bad thing.”

“It is!”

Professor Tyler laced his fingers together and leaned forward.  “One day you will discover that there is more to this world then what house you were in while in school.  Houses don’t matter.”

“What House were you in?”

Professor Tyler shook his head, “I didn’t have a House.”

“You didn’t go here?”  Professor Tyler shrugged.  He didn’t offer up any more information.  “But you have that tattoo.”

“What does my tattoo have to do with this conversation?”

“It shows the houses of Gryffindor, in the shield, and Slytherin, because of the snake.”

Professor Tyler leaned back in his chair.  “It doesn’t have so much to do with Houses as it does with the symbols that represent those houses.”

Severus narrowed his eyes in confusion.  “What do you mean?”

“The red and gold symbolize loyalty and courage.  The snake, cunning and subterfuge.”  Professor Tyler took in a deep breath.  “The mixing of those things into one symbol serves to remind me that all four are necessary in order to survive in the world I live in.  Among other things.”

“Survive in the world you live in?”  The older man wasn’t making much sense.

“As a child, you live a sheltered life, protected by home and school.”

Severus cut him off.  “I am not a child.  Nor am I sheltered.”

Professor Tyler closed his eyes for a moment.  When they reopened they seemed darker, more troubled.  “If you insist.”  Severus could have sworn he heard a whispered ‘for now’.  “That doesn’t change the fact that you are young.  You haven’t seen everything that the world has yet to offer.”  Professor Tyler took out his wand, and sent his book flying toward the bookshelf.  “You have not seen the effects of war, famine, or disease.”

Severus didn’t know what to say.  He hadn’t seen those things.  He hoped that he never would; they didn’t sound pleasant.

It was obvious that Professor Tyler wasn’t expecting an answer.  He continued.  “There are other things.  Atrocities that humans do to each other that they shouldn’t.  Torture, rape, murder…” Professor Tyler took a deep breath.  “Have you seen that?”

Severus shook his head.

Professor Tyler nodded.  “When you see all those things and more, then you will understand why some people carry such weapons as mine.”  Professor Tyler summoned his dagger; Severus closed his eyes, not wanting to see the thing fly towards him again.  When he opened his eyes the dagger was resting in Professor Tyler’s hand.  “I carry weapons to defend myself and others against certain individuals that think they have the right to commit such atrocities.  Others carry them to defend such a right.”  Professor Tyler turned his gaze to Severus.

Severus flinched at the bright green eyes.  No longer were they stunning; they were scary.  There was something shining in them.  At first Severus thought it was anger, but then he wasn’t sure.  Professor Tyler didn’t seem angry.  

“What would you carry a weapon to defend against, Mr. Snape?”

***

*The Future:  Harry Age 21*

Severus stormed into his rooms, and slammed his books and papers down onto his desk.  The stupid, insolent, juvenile delinquents.  He’d kill them all, every last one of them.

“When I get my hands on whoever put that blasted dungbomb into the strengthening solution…” The sound of the bathroom door closing cut him off.

That’s right.  Harry was supposed to drop by tonight.  Severus vaguely recalled something about going to dinner.

“Thought I heard you grumbling.”  Harry stepped out of the bedroom dressed in nothing but a towel.  “What did they blow up now?”

Severus took a deep breath.  The towel was hanging loosely from Harry’s waist, droplets of water clung to his skin and his hair.  “Three rows of worktables.”  Severus watched as water dripped from Harry’s hair to his floor.  “You’re wet.”

“That’s stating the obvious.”  Harry smirked when Severus glared at him.  “Three rows?  Quite an accomplishment since there are only six rows to begin with.”

“Accomplishment?”  Severus let out a harsh sigh and sunk down into his desk chair.  Pulling out his wand, he absentmindedly cast a drying spell on Harry.  “Do we have to go out tonight?”

“It’s just dinner, Severus.”  Harry crossed his arms.

“I’m sure that I’ve mentioned I detest the concept of the ‘date’.”

Harry smirked at him.  “Good thing it isn’t a date then.”  Harry cast a cleaning spell to clear up the water that had dripped onto the floor.  “Besides, it was your idea that we commemorate my departure from the Auror division of the Ministry.”

Severus glowered.  “I must have been momentarily out of my mind.”  

“You probably were, Severus.”  Harry turned toward the door.  “I’m going to go get dressed.”

Harry hadn’t gone two steps before Severus stopped him, his voice quiet and tense.  “What is that thing?”

Harry turned back around.  “What is what thing?”

“On your back.”

Harry reached his hand behind him and absently scratched the tattoo on his back.  “Oh, that.  Draco convinced me to get it.”

"When?”  

“A couple of weeks ago, when the Ministry ordered me to take a weekend off.”  Harry had a confused look on his face.  “Remember, Sev?  I offered to spend the weekend here, but you had too much work to do.”

Severus nodded weakly in assent.  

“Well, the only person available was Draco…”

Severus finished for him.  “And whenever you go out with Draco, you get into the most inane situations.”  Severus rubbed his eyes.  “Just go get dressed, Harry.”

“Let me guess, you don’t like it?”

“It’s not that.”  Severus drew in a deep breath, casting about for something reasonable to say.  “I just never thought you the type to have something permanently etched into your skin.”

Harry shrugged his shoulders, and entered the bedroom to go get changed.

Severus didn’t move from where he was sitting.  He couldn’t believe it.  That tattoo.  The same damn tattoo that was in the same damn place on Octavian Tyler’s damn back.

Severus had noticed many similarities between his past and present lover.  The exact same scar on their foreheads, the same color eyes, the same scar on their right bicep, the same build and height.  There were countless physical similarities; countless similarities in their personalities, too.  But Severus had always pushed them to the back of his mind.  After all, as long as there were enough things different between the two, he could deny that Octavian Tyler and Harry Potter were one and the same.  He didn’t think he could do so any longer.

When Harry had first come to school, Severus wasn’t looking for signs of Octavian in the students.  As far as he was concerned, Octavian had disappeared, just like he said he would.  Before he even knew who Harry was, Severus had looked out over the group of first years and saw forest green eyes, and a lightning bolt shaped scar hidden by a shock of black hair.

The sight had shocked him, but he had been able to brush it aside.  For a moment Severus contemplated that perhaps this was Tyler’s son, then Potter’s name was called, and he could see the resemblance between James and Harry.  For the following five and a half years he had once again pushed the memory of his relationship with Octavian Tyler out of his mind.

While Harry’s scar had ignited the spark of remembrance, it was Harry’s eyes that really reminded Severus of Octavian over the years.  He watched as Potter went through incidents, and confrontations with the Dark Lord.  And after each one Severus had seen a new shadow enter the boy’s eyes.  There had been similar shadows in Octavian’s eyes.

It wasn’t until after Harry finished Hogwarts that more substantial similarities started to emerge.  Some of the personality traits had surfaced before, but Severus had noticed more when Harry had joined the Ministry.

The personality trait that Severus remembered the most was Tyler’s sarcastic sense of humor.  It bore a striking resemblance to his own dry wit, but with a twist.  In Harry’s sense of humor, Severus found the same twist that he had associated with Tyler.  

Severus looked up as Harry exited the bedroom.  He was dressed as he always was when he wasn’t on duty with the Aurors.  A pair of fitting leather pants, a long-sleeve cuffless shirt and a pair of boots.  His dagger, of course, was strapped to his thigh; Severus was sure that Harry had a few other weapons on him, too.  His hair wasn’t quite long enough to pull back into a tie, stopping shortly before his shoulders.

The sight reminded him of Octavian Tyler, and it wasn’t the first time it had done so either.  Octavian really looked like an older Harry.  A version of Harry that was slightly more battle worn.

The evidence was becoming overwhelming, and the tattoo was the final straw.  Harry could very well be Octavian Tyler.  And that, thought Severus, was highly disturbing.

***

Dinner had been a rather uneventful affair in muggle London.  Well, it had been uneventful once Severus had convinced Harry that it was indeed necessary to leave the dagger behind at his rooms in Hogwarts.  Harry was rather attached to the blasted thing.

Yes, dinner had been reasonably ordinary.  The conversation, on the other hand, had been most troubling to Severus's peace of mind.

What had most bothered him were Harry’s future plans.  Harry had told him he was going to be taking over the Defense Against the Dark Arts position.  That, in and of itself, wasn’t overly distressing.  But Harry’s course plan reminded Severus a little too much of Professor Tyler’s classes.

Professor Octavian Tyler had engraved himself into his students’ memories.  He had been a terrific Defense professor, and fair to all the houses.  However, some of his methods had been a trifle unorthodox.  When he was in a rather bad mood, Tyler would give out surprise quizzes.  Those quizzes hadn’t always been exactly safe.

Severus's class, for example, had spent most of the year learning to defend against physical attacks and high level curses.  Tyler would attack, and if you didn’t end up in the hospital wing -- you passed.

Harry had just outlined a very similar course to Tyler’s, including the surprise quizzes.  Severus knew that Harry hadn’t heard about Professor Tyler; he never mentioned the man, and Sirius and Remus tended to not talk much about specific teachers that Harry didn’t directly know.

Severus took a deep breath and shifted very carefully, easing his shoulder from under Harry’s head.  His lover groaned and then twisted until he was lying on his stomach, one arm under his head.  Severus sat up and leaned against the headboard.  It never ceased to amaze him how Harry would start at the slightest disturbance, but if it was Severus the little brat would stay contentedly asleep.

Severus turned his thoughts inward once again.  The evidence was in no way conclusive, but Severus could see the distinct possibility that sometime in the future Harry would be sent back to the past to carry out some plan, most likely of Albus's making.  Which would mean that Harry had entered into a relationship with Severus's younger self.

He was sure that, given time, he could accept the fact that his former professor –- whom he had carried on an affair with –- and his current lover were, in all likelihood, the same person.  What he was more interested in, at the moment, was how this new information would affect his relationship with Harry.

He and Harry had their difficulties, a fair share of them.  They were both stubborn and were, at times, difficult to get along with.  But they had overcome all the problems they had to face so far.  And Severus knew that there were even more ahead.

He wasn’t too worried about Harry’s friends finding out about their relationship.  Harry had made it clear that he didn’t care what his friends’ opinion of their relationship was.  Neither did Harry have any intention of choosing between his friends and Severus.

There were only two reasons that existed for not telling anyone.  The first was to protect Severus's well-being.  It could not become common knowledge that he was involved in a relationship with anyone, let alone The-Boy-Who-Lived.  It would endanger his position as a spy for the Order of the Phoenix.  

The second was infinitely simpler.  They just never bothered to tell anyone.  They were both immensely private people, and didn’t think that it was anyone’s business.  Severus had informed Albus, and Draco had… stumbled upon the information, but other than those two people, no one knew.

Eventually those close to Harry, and therefore Severus, would discover their relationship.  Likewise, it would also come to certain people’s attention that Harry was Octavian Tyler.

There had to be a reason that Harry had been sent to the past.  As his student, Severus had never come to know why Tyler had come to teach, or to where he had so suddenly disappeared.  He had not even learned this when he’d been Tyler’s lover.  But even as lovers, they hadn’t been all that close, even though toward the end he had shared some emotionally charged moments with his professor.  He had even fooled himself into thinking that he was in love with the man.

Severus knew better now.  In recent years, Severus had come to believe that what he had had with his former professor was just lust.  The fact that Harry was Tyler didn’t change that.  But Severus had also thought that it had just been lust on both sides – and now the situation was now infinitely more complex.  

Severus quickly looked down at Harry, who hadn’t moved since Severus had shifted out of his position as the younger man’s pillow.  Severus had no way of knowing what Harry had been thinking as Tyler, why he had slept with him.  Harry hadn’t been sent back to the past yet, and until that occurred he wouldn’t have any way of knowing.

But he couldn’t waste any time thinking about that now.  It would only lead him in circles, and there were no answers to be had.  Severus would not consider these thoughts until Harry was sent back to the past.

Severus looked again in Harry’s direction.  He was still sleeping on his stomach, the sheet low enough so that the tattoo was visible.  The silver snake moved sluggishly over the red and gold shield, but it seemed content.  The few times that Severus had seen it before on Tyler, the snake was never content.

Severus shifted and traced his finger down Harry’s spine.  A pleased sigh escaped.  The corner of Severus's mouth lifted, the closest he usually ever came to a smile.

Getting out of bed, Severus pulled on a robe, and padded out of the bedroom into the living room.  The fire was dying down, but there was still enough for what he had to do.

Knowing what would happen in the future in no way helped Severus to determine what he should do in the present.  To do that, he would have to talk to the only person that knew all the details.

Taking a pinch of powder from a small container on the mantle, Severus threw it into the fire.  “Albus Dumbledore.”  

The sleepy head of the Headmaster appeared in Severus's fireplace.  “Severus?”

“Was there a reason that Octavian Tyler was teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts during my sixth year?”

A puzzled expression crossed Albus's face for a moment.  “Why do you ask, Severus?  Do you realize it’s the middle of the night?”

Severus swallowed, his mouth dry.  “Because ‘Octavian Tyler’ is sleeping in my bed at this very moment.”

Albus's puzzled expression quickly switched to a surprised one.  Severus always enjoyed talking to Albus when he first woke up; the old man had a hard time hiding his reactions.  “I don’t think that Harry would appreciate that overly much.”

“Oh, I don’t think that Harry would mind.”

The bushy eyebrows under the bright purple nightcap rose.  “You don’t?”

“I think it highly unlikely.  You see, Headmaster, Harry Potter is Octavian Tyler.”

***

“Severus?”

The sleepy voice started Severus out of his musings.  His conversation with Albus had lasted an hour. Afterwards, he sat in his reading chair pondering over the conclusion the two of them had made.

“Go back to sleep, Harry.”

Harry stretched and sat up.  “Can’t.  You think too loud.  What are you thinking about anyway?”

“The future.”

A carefree smile appeared on Harry’s face.  Severus realized it had been quite a while since he had seen that.  His own frown deepened as he thought it would probably be a while before he saw it again.  Their lives weren’t necessarily at a point where either of them could be carefree.

“Did you hear me?”

Severus shook his head before leaning his head back against the edge of the chair.  Severus hadn’t even realized that Harry had said anything.  A sigh from the younger man reached his ears.

“Stop being so sombre.  Relax.”

Severus's only response was a noncommittal grumble.  With his head back and his eyes closed, he didn’t realize that Harry had moved out of the bed until the other man was kneeling next to his chair.

The touch on his arm made Severus look down at his lover.

“What’s wrong, Sev?”

Severus looked away.  “Nothing.”  He felt Harry’s fingers settle on either side of his chin.  The younger man forcibly turned Severus head to look at him.

“Stop it.  I know that something is wrong.”  Severus still didn’t respond.  He would let Harry come to his own conclusions.  He wasn’t disappointed.  “We can either tell them, or let them figure out about our relationship on their own.”  Another one of the smiles that Severus hadn’t seen very often crossed Harry’s face.  This one was a tad mischievous.  “I’d much rather see them fumble about making excuses as to why we spend so much time together, and what possessed Albus into giving me a set of rooms in the dungeons.”

Severus couldn’t help himself, an amused grunt escaped from his throat.

Harry smiled again, and quickly pressed his lips against Severus.  “Don’t think too much.  You have final exams to administer next week.  I’m sure that you want to make them even more impossible than they are right now.”  

Harry made to move away but Severus grabbed his wrist.  He pressed his fingers against the bond mark that he knew was there.  The feel of it beneath his fingers soothed him.  He pulled on Harry’s arm and the younger man bent down to press another kiss to his lips.  Having a lover that knew him so well was a definite advantage.

Severus didn’t release Harry.  Instead he shifted in his seat and pulled Harry toward him until the younger man took the hint and straddled his thighs.  He leaned forward to press his lips against Harry’s throat.  Harry moaned, and tilted his head to the side, giving Severus better access.  Severus brushed his hands up and down Harry’s sides, his hands sliding low on his lover’s hips, never coming into contact with anything other than skin.

“Forgetting your clothes, Potter?” Severus mumbled against Harry’s throat.

“Your sleep pants are too long, I’d trip.”  Harry was untying Severus's robe.  “Didn’t think that I’d be spending the night.”  Harry slid his fingers underneath the edge of the robe.  His hands ghosted along Severus skin.

“I’m sure that you have a pair in one of my drawers.  You spend enough time here,” Severus responded, between nips along the line of Harry’s throat.  

“Not nearly enough time.”  Harry pulled away from Severus.  Severus looked up at him; Harry’s gaze was hard.  “Are you happy that I took the teaching position?”

“When have you ever known me to be happy?  I’m not sure that I understand that emotion.”

“Really?”  Harry lowered his head, and took the lobe of Severus ear between his teeth for a moment.  He ran his tongue over the shell of his ear.  “Are you sure about that?  You’ve never been happy?”  

Harry’s warm breath against his ear almost caused Severus to shiver.  He repressed it.  “Perhaps once or twice.”

Harry kissed his way down Severus's throat.  “Enlighten me.”

Severus swallowed.  Harry could always make him lose his train of thought.  “Bed.”

Harry’s had reached his collarbone, pressing small kisses and bites along it.  He stopped for a moment.  “The bed made you happy?”

Severus ran his fingers down Harry’s spine.  Harry arched his back, his hips pressing forward.  His erection pressed against Severus's own.  Severus groaned.  “Getting you into that bed over there would make me happy.”

Harry chuckled.  “I think I’m rather comfortable right here.”

Changing tactics, Severus scratched his nails across Harry’s lower back, and subsequently across the tattoo.  Harry twisted his upper body away, and stood up.  Severus raised his eyebrow.  The tattoo must be sensitive to touch, Harry had never reacted like that before.  

“Actually, the bed does look more comfortable.”  Harry turned and made his way across the room.  

With his back turned Severus had a perfect view of the tattoo.  The snake was moving faster, but didn’t seem agitated; instead it seemed rather excited.  It dawned on Severus that it might reflect Harry’s moods.  Severus smirked, and got up to follow his lover to the bed.

He pushed all other thoughts out of his head.  He would have plenty of time to think about them later.  Right now he had his Harry in his bed, and no one was going to disturb them.

There were definitely advantages to a lover that knew him so well.  He was sure Harry had started this on purpose.

Then again there were also advantages to having a lover as young and limber as Harry.  And at that moment Severus had every intention of putting those advantages to good use. ♦

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