The Things You Discover Over Dinner
Harry felt the tingle of magic fade. He pushed himself up slightly, resting his weight on his elbows. Twisting his head to the side, he focused his gaze on the specialist his team mediwitch had called to look at his injury.
“What’s the prognosis?”
The mediwizard snapped his chart shut and set it down on the table. “It seems, Mr Potter, that you have sustained some damage to your right psiatic nerve. That would explain the shooting pains that you felt down your leg.”
Harry tried to move said leg and had to bite back a grunt. “Didn’t you fix it? Why didn’t the mediwitch fix it when she was tending to me after the fall?”
“Nerves are tricky things, Mr Potter.” Clasping his hands behind his back, the mediwizard shifted his weight to his other foot. “In all honesty, she most likely didn’t catch the damage; after all, it is slight.”
“So what are you going to do? I have another match at the end of the week.”
“There isn’t anything that I can do. What you can do is stay off that leg until the nerve heals itself. Magic would only make the problem worse, I’m afraid. Three to four weeks on crutches and you’ll be good as new.”
“Three to four weeks! The season will be over by then.”
“I’m sorry, Mr Potter. I assume you have someone you can stay with. I’d advise you not to live alone. It could prove difficult.”
“I’ll find someone.”
A month ago he wouldn’t have had to find anyone.
“It’s really nice of you to put me up, Remus. Especially on such short notice.”
Remus moved around the living room straightening up. “No problem, Harry. You’ll have to forgive the mess. Living alone, I always seem to clutter up the place.”
Harry looked around, now his flat was cluttered. Remus's was quite neat. “No problem. No where near the disaster that my flat is.”
“You haven’t cleaned up his mess yet?”
“More likely Draco just rubbed off on me.”
Remus turned and smirked. “Such details about your sex life I do not need.”
Harry tossed a pillow at him. “Very funny, Remus.”
“…And I thought since Harry had done fairly well on his Potions N.E.W.T. that you wouldn’t mind the extra help in class.”
Severus swallowed his mouthful of tea with difficulty. “Forgive me, Headmaster, but I don’t think I heard you correctly. Did you just suggest that we put Potter in a room full of students so that he can help them destroy the dungeons? I know that you have been attempting to get me to move to one of the rooms where the sun reaches, but I hardly think that annihilating the lower portions of the castle will solve the matter.”
“Now, Severus, that is not necessary. I just felt that Mr Potter could use the distraction. I’d have him help Remus, but with his limited mobility I don’t think it’s a good idea. Surely you understand.”
“I’m afraid not, Headmaster. What’s wrong with what he’s been doing the last two days? Surely Irma hasn’t run out of things he can do in the library?”
“Well, it seems that there really isn’t anything for him to do in the library. Most of the books sort themselves, and Harry can’t really move those that will be damaged by magic.”
“What about Longbottom? Send Potter to the greenhouses.”
“We already tried that, Severus. The Devil’s Snare grabbed one of his crutches and the poor boy fell to the ground. I understand that he spent the rest of the day in bed.”
Severus had to keep himself from laughing out loud. “Remind me, Headmaster, why is it so important to keep Potter entertained?”
Albus folded his hands on top of his desk and gave Severus that look; the look that always said that Severus should have already known. “When I went to visit him, he seemed down, Severus. He felt guilty about imposing on Remus as he had. And I’m sure that he’s contemplating the rather bad break up from last month. Draco and Harry had been together for quite a while, I understand.”
Severus pressed a finger against the bridge of his nose. Breathing in, he glanced at Albus. “And I suppose that you felt horribly for poor, lovelorn Potter and just immediately decided that the best way to deal with it would be to put him to work.”
“Quite right.” The laugh lines around Albus’ eyes deepened when he smiled. “So you’ll do this little favor for me, Severus?”
“I don’t suppose you’ll leave me alone until I do?”
“I have no idea what you could possibly mean by that, Severus.”
“I thought not.”
“Well come in, Professor. There’s no need for you to stand out in the hallway.” Harry moved back so Severus could enter. “Remus isn’t here right now. He’s usually in his office at this time of day just in case any of his students have questions.”
“I know perfectly well where he is, Potter.”
“Oh.” Harry moved over to the couch and settled himself down, propping his legs up on the ottoman. “Have a seat.” He waved his arm at the armchair across from him.
Sweeping his robes out of the way, Severus sat down, his back ramrod straight.
“Is there anything that I can do for you?”
“The Headmaster seems to think that, in your utter boredom, you would enjoy helping me with my Potions class.”
Harry groaned. “Not again. I think you’re the last of the teachers. I went through four different professors my first day back.” Harry ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m sorry, Professor, but Albus has gotten it into his head that I’m moping over Draco. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
“So I gathered.”
“In fact, I’ll save you from the bother of having me in your potions classroom.”
Severus released a deep breath.
“On one condition.”
“And what is that,” Severus snapped.
“The only thing that Albus got right was that I’m bored. I don’t want to constantly bother Remus for company. He’s been really good about spending time talking to me, but I don’t want to take up all of his time, I mean, I’m imposing enough. I was wondering, since I can’t get to the Great Hall to eat, if you wouldn’t mind coming here to eat supper every other day. That gives Remus time to eat with the staff.”
Severus had known it was too good to be true. Although, at least this way he wouldn’t have to worry about his potions classroom blowing up. It wasn’t like he would actually have to talk to Potter. All he had to do was eat with Potter. That, he was sure, he could handle.
“Fine. I will start tomorrow.”
“I was shocked when Hermione actually suggested that she steal something from your supply cupboard. And then she wanted us to cause a distraction. I had finally realized how bad an example Ron and I were.”
“You expect me to believe that Ms Granger -- excuse me, Mrs Weasley -- stole from my private stores?”
“Did you actually think that I was smart enough to get past you, Professor? I think I’ll have to take that as a compliment.”
“Take it however you will, Potter. I did not mean it as such.”
“My name’s Harry.”
“I am well aware of that.”
“The mediwizard said that it’s nerve damage?”
“Nothing too bad. I mean it’s already feeling a little better. I can even walk without the crutches from time to time.”
“I think that I have something that might help.”
“No magic. He said it would only complicate things.”
“Not all potions are solely based in magic, Mr Potter. In fact, some of those ‘herbal remedies’ that muggles use have a basis in wizarding potions.”
“I never thought of that. Which ones?”
“Over half, I’m sure. But the one that I was thinking of is actually an anti-inflammatory. I don’t know if it will work, but it might. I can go and see if Poppy has any in stock after supper.”
“That would be most appreciated, Professor.”
“I thought you said that Madam Pomfrey didn’t have any?”
“Then where… Oh. Thank you, Professor.”
“I suppose that you can call me Severus. I get enough of being called Professor throughout the day.”
“Then thank you, Severus. I believe you were telling me about some of the muggle old wives' tales.”
“Yes, quite a few about warding away evil spirits also have a solid basis…”
“You don’t look that bad.”
Harry shut the door and hobbled over to the small kitchenette. “You aren’t looking too shabby yourself. Not that you have ever looked bad.” Harry glanced quickly at Draco before turning to take a couple of glasses down. “Want something to drink? I’m afraid that Remus's collection isn’t that extensive.”
“Just some water.”
“All right.” He glanced over his shoulder. Draco was moving around the room, picking things up and setting them down again. “So what have you been doing lately?”
Turning to look at him, Draco sighed. “Go and sit. I didn’t come here to see you make your back worse.” Taking the glasses out of his hands, Draco finished pouring the water and walked over to the couch. He handed one glass to Harry before sitting down next to him. “Why didn’t you let me know you’d been hurt, Harry?”
“Didn’t see the reason. It’s not like you would have been interested.” He looked down into his glass. “Besides, it’s not that bad.”
Draco raised one perfect eyebrow. “Not that bad? For some reason I don’t believe you. And what do you mean that I wouldn’t be interested? Of course I’d care if you had been hurt, you prat.”
“Draco, we ended our relationship over a month ago. You moved out. Why would I tell you?”
Draco sat down next to him and put his hand on his thigh. “Harry, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about what happened. I’ve been trying to get in touch, but I suppose that you forgot to tell anyone that you went to go live with Remus.”
“I told people.”
“But not me.”
“I know. It’s just that I think I might have made a mistake. Like the time you mistook that guy for me in Rome.” Draco smiled. “You turned him around and kissed him before you even realized.”
Harry brushed Draco’s hand off of him. “I don’t think you packing and moving to France with some catamite is quite the same as me accidentally thinking someone else was you.”
“Harry, I just-“
“You know, I’m feeling a little tired right now. I think you should go. I need to lie down.”
Draco looked at him, his mouth parted as if he was going to say something. He snapped it shut. After a minute, he spoke, “All right, I’ll go. But I’ll see you later, okay?"
Draco leaned over, and pressed his lips to the corner of Harry’s mouth before standing and showing himself out of the room.
At the sound of the door shutting, Harry leaned back and buried his head in his hands.
“I heard that Draco has arrived. I suppose that you’ll be leaving to return to your flat at any moment.”
“I wish it was that simple, Severus. I just don’t know. I was with Draco for two years before he just packed up and left. I loved him. I still do. I just… don’t know.”
“So you’ve said.” Severus picked up his wine glass and swirled the dark burgundy liquid.
Harry propped one hand up and rested his cheek against it. “Do you have any idea about what I should do? I’m all ears.”
“I don’t know what you expect me to tell you. I never thought that Draco was a particularly good match for you, but it’s not my place to say.”
He straightened. “I never knew that you thought that. You could have said something, you know. Yours is one of the few opinions that I actually value.”
“Rubbish.” Severus sipped at his wine. When he lowered the glass, Harry noticed that the dark wine had stained his pale lips.
He lowered his eyes. “Well it’s true. You might have been a complete and utter git most of the time, but you tend to tell people exactly what they need to hear.” He paused, biting his lower lip before continuing. “Whether or not they want to hear it.”
Snape didn’t respond, just leaned back in his chair and looked at Harry while he finished off his wine.
“I think that’s one of the reasons I hated you so much growing up. You always said the things that I didn’t want to hear. Granted they were usually… always negative, but I suppose they were true.”
Harry narrowed his eyes. “Really?”
Severus set his glass down, his fingers still holding onto the stem. Harry watched as he twirled the glass, his eyes glued to those fingers, and he couldn’t look away.
“You weren’t nearly as similar to your father as I said you were. He had a streak of viciousness that you never displayed.”
Severus’s voice had been so quiet that Harry was surprised he actually heard him. Tearing his gaze away from the rhythmic movement of those fingers, he looked into Severus’s inscrutable black eyes. “Thank you. Though I have to admit that I did some truly horrid things.”
Severus nodded. The silence stretched between them until, finally, Severus stood.
Severus raised an eyebrow, and for a moment Harry swore that it was blond and not black.
“What do you think I should do?”
Lips pressed into a thin line, Severus didn’t say anything for a time, just looked at Harry through narrowed eyes. Harry had the impression that he was being sized up. Severus coughed discreetly, clearing his throat. “Don’t ask me that, Potter.”
“I thought we had agreed that you’d call me Harry.”
One black clad shoulder raised slightly in a shrug. “Have a nice night.”
“Good night, Severus.” And before Harry could move or say anything else, Severus was at the door opening it. And Draco Malfoy was standing there.
“Oh. Hello, Professor Snape. You were the last person that I expected to see. Is it that time of the month for Lupin already?”
“Draco.” Severus swept past him and exited into the corridor.
Draco made his way into the room over to Harry, who was still sitting at the small table, and wrapped his arms around Harry's shoulders. Harry could feel that cold gaze looking at the table setting across from him.
“I wondered why you didn’t eat supper in the Great Hall.”
“Remus’s rooms are really removed from the entrance hall; I find that I tire out when I have to go that distance, and Severus just keeps me company sometimes, so that Remus can eat with the staff.” He managed to say it all in one breath, wondering why he felt he had to explain things to Draco. He shrugged Draco's arms off.
“Care for some dessert?” Before Harry could say no, a house-elf appeared with a plate of strawberries. “This was always your favorite.” Draco lifted one plump berry and brought it to his lips, sucking on it before taking a bite. When his hand moved away Harry saw that his lips were stained red with the juice. For some reason, he couldn’t get the thought of wine stained lips out of his mind.
“You know, I’m not really hungry for dessert, Draco.” Harry hastily pushed out his chair and stumbled when he tried to step away from the table. Draco caught his arm to help him stay upright.
“All right, no dessert.” Draco flung Harry’s arm over his shoulder and Harry caught a whiff of cologne.
Within a minute, Harry found himself being helped onto the couch. Sighing, he leaned back into the cushions. This thing with Draco was tiring him out. At least with Severus… Where had that thought come from?
He closed his eyes and tried to pretend that Draco had left, that he could think about what to do without his enticing ex-lover distracting him. His eyes sprung open when he felt cool hands massaging his thigh through his jeans. “What are you doing?”
“Well I thought that your muscles must be tense from all the strain…”
“I don’t do anything.” Harry lifted Draco’s hand off of his leg. “Really.” Harry shifted until he had put some distance between them. “Mostly I just sit around and read.”
“Don’t you get bored?”
“That’s why Remus and Severus take turns eating supper with me.”
Draco hummed his understanding as he stood. Harry made a conscious effort not to follow with his eyes and not to jump when he felt Draco’s hands on his shoulders. “You’re tense.” And those fingers started to press into his muscles, releasing pressure with sweet pain. Harry sighed and leaned into the touch. Neither said anything.
He didn’t know when Draco stopped, but was wakened by the press of warm lips against his, a tongue swiping at his bottom lip, and he just reacted, his lips opening to the pressure. He breathed in and could smell the cloying cologne, and underneath was that smell that was pure Draco, which he imagined was a mix of stubbornness and conceit. And for a moment Harry found himself wishing for the smell of sulfur and burnt wood, and stability and vitriol. Snape. He squeezed his eyes shut and kissed Draco back. And it was strawberries, not wine, he tasted.
“So he packed, then?”
“No. Draco said that he wanted to make sure that the flat was habitable. And that he needed to go shopping, since Harry’s been living here the last couple of weeks.”
“Charming.” Severus swept the unusable parts of the roots he was chopping off the table. “I never would have thought that Draco was the domestic type.”
“Neither did Harry, apparently. He’s been sitting on the couch in my living room staring at the fireplace. One moment he looks flummoxed and the next depressed. And he isn’t saying a word.” Remus shifted, crossing his arms over his chest as he watched Snape shred the next ingredient with uneven cuts. Very un-Severus like indeed.
“This is Potter that you’re talking about. His mental faculties might not be able to function at such a level to make coherent sentences.”
“Shove it, Snape. I’m telling you this because I know you’ve become closer to Harry since he's been here. You’ve even made him a potion that wasn’t necessary. He considers you a friend.”
Severus dropped the knife and looked up, his ever present glare in place and harsher than usual. “Well I don’t consider him one, Lupin. So if you’ll just remove yourself from my lab…”
Immediately, Remus lifted his hands in front of him. “Of course, Severus. You’ll tell me when the Wolfbane’s ready?”
“Don’t I always?”
“Did you pack?”
Harry shook his head.
“Why not? I thought we’d agreed that we would go back to the flat.”
“You agreed.” Harry stood and made his way over to the kitchenette. Without his crutches.
“Have you gone barmy, Potter?”
“The mediwizard came and checked me out this morning. He said that the salve Severus made for me was taking the pressure off the nerve, letting it heal faster. I don’t need the crutches, and as long as I’m careful, I’ll be as good as new in a week.” Harry finished making his cup of tea and headed back out to the living room. “The water’s still hot if you want a cup.”
Draco crossed his arms over his chest and glared. It reminded Harry of Severus and he shook his head to rid himself of the thought. “I would have been there while you were examined if you had told me.”
Harry put his cup down, the saucer rattling with the force. “I am not a child. Stop treating me as one, Draco.” He stood and headed toward the door. “I’m going for a walk.”
Draco was quicker though and beat him there. “You’re right. I just would like things to go back to the way they were.” He grabbed Harry’s shoulders and dragged him into a rough embrace.
Harry pushed him away. “Well, it can’t go back to that. I don’t want that anymore.” He stormed out, the door slamming behind him.
“Are you done destroying those shrivelfigs, Potter?”
Harry looked up from the work table he was at. He was supposed to be finely chopping. Looking down, he saw that Severus’s analysis had been correct; the shrivelfigs looked like a blob of pulpy fruit. “Sorry, Severus. My mind was elsewhere.”
“Well then, would you mind putting the knife down while your mind wanders?”
Harry nodded, not taking his eyes off of what was left of the figs. He thought he felt Severus's hand brush his shoulder. He was turning around to look when an owl swooped in landing neatly in front of him. Harry sighed and untied the scroll.
As he unrolled it, two smaller pieces of parchment fell out. Harry picked one up and read it. A ticket to the Quidditch semi-finals. Front row seats. Shaking his head, he read the scroll.
//I think we need to sort things out. Your team made it to semi-finals, how about we see how well they do without you, before dinner? - Draco//
Harry looked over his shoulder. Severus was bent over a cauldron, his hair falling into his face. “I’m not telling you again, it’s Harry. And Draco would never send me poetry, it just isn’t him.” Harry held up the two tickets. “He invited me to see a Quidditch game.”
“Don’t you have season passes?”
“Yeah. He probably forgot. The tickets are to the semi-finals. We made it.” Harry dropped the tickets and watched them flutter down to land on top of the note. He knew Draco was trying; it was just so… frustrating. As he watched, Severus stirred for a moment, shaking the hair out of his face in annoyance. Harry walked around the table and stood behind him. With his hands he gathered Severus hair back; holding it with one hand, he took out his wand and conjured a tie to hold it back.
“No problem.” Harry leaned over the cauldron, looking at the swirling silver liquid. “What are you making?”
“Lupin’s Wolfsbane. I have to add some chopped shrivelfigs in a minute.” Severus looked over at the table. “I could have sworn I had someone chop some for me, but all I see is a mutilated mess.”
Harry grinned. “Point taken.” As he fetched some more figs to cut, he felt Severus eyes boring into him. He kept his face averted as he worked; his cheeks felt unnaturally hot.
“What are you doing?”
Severus sighed and put down the quill he was using to grade papers. “Why are you here?”
Harry shrugged. “Draco’s sleeping, and I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I would go for a walk.” He stepped into the room. “I’m doing a lot better because of you. That potion you made really helped.”
Severus tried to get the sneer off his face at the mention of Draco’s name. “I noticed.”
Harry cocked his head to one side. “What’s wrong?”
“What makes you think something is wrong, Potter?” Severus picked up his quill, intending to go back to work.
“Stop it!” Harry was glaring at him. “You weren't this cold before Draco came back.”
Severus narrowed his eyes.
“Just tell me what’s bothering you.”
“You are, Mr Potter, and I would much appreciate it if you would just go.”
Harry turned on his heel and left. Severus could still feel his anger minutes later when he stopped staring at the place that Harry had been standing.
“Severus, I was just about to go to the Great Hall for supper. What brings you here?”
Severus looked over Lupin’s shoulder into the living room. There was no sign of Harry. “I believe that I agreed to eat supper with Potter every other night. I am here to fulfill my part of the bargain.”
Remus bit his lip. “Harry left. He and Draco went back to the flat yesterday. They left a note telling me.” At Severus's raised eyebrow he explained. “The full moon.”
“Of course.” Severus stepped back from the door.
“You could always join me in the Great Hall.”
“That’s quite all right, Lupin. I was in the middle of something.” Severus turned and went back down the hall.
“You haven’t said much.” Draco put down his fork and stared at Harry who was pushing his peas around his plate.
“I’m thinking. Now that the season’s over I need to come up with something to do.”
“You could always travel with me. It’s what you had always done before.”
Harry shrugged. “Watching you do Arthimancy all day gets tedious, Draco.”
Draco rested his chin on his fist. “What would you like to do then?” He shifted his head a bit so that a lock of hair fell into his face. Harry had always liked that.
But Harry wasn’t looking at him; he was looking out the window. “I was thinking about doing some research, actually. Severus had told me some interesting stories about myths and wives tales and herbal remedies.”
He breathed in deeply, his hand clenching into a fist. “So?”
“So, it made me wonder, since Muggles can do these things, and they work perfectly fine, there must be some innate magic there, either in the rituals or in the herbs. I’d like to know.”
“And would Severus be helping you on this?”
“Does it matter?”
Harry looked away from him and stood. “Get over yourself, Draco. Severus is my friend. And just because you don’t want him to be isn’t going to change anything. The world does not revolve around you.”
“I never said it did.”
But Harry had already left.
“Hullo.” Harry swallowed hard. He hadn’t said goodbye to Severus, had just packed up and left as quickly as possible. He hoped he hadn’t been mistaken when he had told Draco that Severus was his friend.
Harry sighed; he should just give him up for a lost cause. “Draco’s off in Australia, calculating some numbers for a client.”
“I’m staying with Remus for a couple of weeks. I wanted to use the library.”
“Are you implying that you know how to read?”
“Funny, Sev, really funny.” Harry didn’t even realize what he had said until Severus looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “Sorry-“
“If that is what you are going to call me because I refuse to use your given name, then it appears that I have no choice. I must resort to calling you Harry in order to save my dignity.”
“Then it’s a deal. I won’t call you anything other than Severus and you’ll call me Harry.” Harry grinned.
“I do retain the right to revert to Potter when you show proof that you really are a dunderhead.”
The grin didn’t leave his face, but Harry couldn’t think of anything to say. He rocked back on his heels.
“What do you need the library for, Harry?”
“So I gathered. Would you care to explain?” Severus waved him into the room before bending over his cauldron again.
“I was thinking of looking into those herbal remedies and rituals. I mean there must be a way to measure innate magic, right?”
Severus looked up. “Measure?”
“Yeah, like Muggles. They measure things like how much oxygen is in water, and how far photons move. I’m sure there must be a way to measure magic.”
“Not that I’m aware of. Most wizards don’t think in such terms. Usually by the time they leave school, those that were muggle-born have ceased thinking like them. I see that you have once again decided to go against tradition.”
Harry swallowed. “You mean that I’d have to figure out a way to measure magic.”
“Well then, I guess I have a little more work than I expected.”
“I might be able to help.”
Harry grinned. “I would appreciate that, Severus.”
Severus looked up from the scroll and rubbed his eyes. After seven years he still had trouble reading the scribbles Harry called writing. “I can’t say anything about the charms, but as far as the potions go, I see one or two things that could be clearer.”
Harry was leaning against the corner of his desk, arms folded across his chest. As usual, he looked as if he had just rolled out of bed. It was the hair, Severus decided. It was always tousled, but it looked right on Harry.
“Are you going to point me in the right direction or just sit there all day?”
Severus shook his head to clear it. “There are other things too. Did you find a way to test that theory of yours yet?”
Harry shook his head, sending his hair further into disarray. Neat hair would not look good on him. “No. Can’t do it at Hogwarts, there’s too much magic around.” Harry glowered. “And I’ve been expressly forbidden to test it at home."
Severus kept himself from thinking who had forbidden Harry. This irrational loathing of Draco he had developed was unlike him. So much for not thinking about him. The muscles in his back tensed, and Severus had to consciously relax them. “There is a small lab that a colleague of mine keeps in Edinburgh.”
“Will it work?”
The enthusiasm in Harry’s voice was infectious, not that Severus would let it show. “It should be sufficient.” Severus purposely glanced at the pile of scrolls he had set aside when Harry had entered his office. “On Friday, after classes, I will take you there. After you have tested the premise you have developed for measuring innate magic, we will discuss what is amiss with your assumptions as far as potions go over supper.” He looked up. “Does this schedule meet with your approval?”
“Sounds good. I’ll see you at supper in the Great Hall.”
Severus nodded. He was halfway through grading a particularly horrid third year essay when it occurred to him that his suggestion sounded suspiciously like a date. At least to him. Growling low in his throat, he clenched his fist, crushing the quill he was holding. Looking down at the essay he noticed that it was covered in a puddle of red ink. He tossed it in the small waste bin near his desk. He’d tell Llewellyn that he had failed for not turning it in. It wasn’t as though he was going to do well anyway.
“It worked!” Harry grinned. “Goes to show you that I’m not as much of a dunderhead as you thought, right, Severus?”
The corner or his mouth quirked upward and Severus had to concentrate in order to get his expression under control again. “One success proves nothing, Potter.”
“Then I suppose that the changes you made to the Wolfsbane Potion only worked because of a fluke?”
“Hardly. I have always succeeded. But then again, those of higher intelligence rarely fail.”
“I think that I have just been maligned.”
“That’s an awfully large word for you.”
“Very funny. As much as you’d like to believe otherwise, Severus, I am not an idiot.”
He smirked. “Perhaps someday you’ll prove that statement to me, Harry.”
Their conversation grew quiet and stilted as their supper arrived. Over coffee, they discussed the known errors Harry had made. One ingredient in particular Severus knew had no magical properties, and was, in fact, used for stabilizing potions by suppressing their magical properties.
They were just finishing their discussion when a shadow crossed their table. Severus looked up wondering who could be so impertinent as to stand there staring.
“Draco! What are you doing here, love?”
Severus watched as he leaned over to place a lingering kiss on Harry’s cheek.
“I was wondering the same thing.” His gray eyes glinted coldly in Severus's direction. “You two are looking awfully cozy.”
Harry either didn’t notice the look or was ignoring it. “We were just about to return to Hogwarts, but if you’d like to join us for another cup of coffee…” Harry waved his hand vaguely at one of the empty chairs.
Trust the Gryffindor to do the proper thing.
“I’m having dinner with a client.”
Harry nodded. “All right.”
“Since I’m home, I trust you’ll be back at the flat tonight.” Draco rested one hand on the back of Harry’s chair before leaning over it. “I missed you.”
The intimacy of the situation annoyed Severus to no end. He quickly stood and placed some notes on the table. “I will wait for you outside, Harry.” He could feel Draco glaring at him all the way out the door.
Harry was shrugging into his coat when he joined Severus outside. “Sorry about that. Damn, it’s gotten cold lately.”
Severus just nodded. He didn’t quite trust himself not to say something horrible about Draco.
“I’m going to go and join Draco. He’s really upset about something and I don’t know what. I think he might have lost a client while in Australia or something. His branch of Arithmancy isn’t in high demand.”
Severus nodded again.
“Are you going to say anything?”
He looked at him. Harry looked upset. His face was red, his eyes were shining, and a small crease was forming in the middle of his forehead. “I was just thinking, Harry.” He was oddly relieved when the crease disappeared.
“All right, then. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Of course, we will continue our discussion then.” Severus apparated away before he had to see that blond ignoramus again.
They were drunk, no question about that. Never again was Severus going to let Harry convince him to celebrate with large proportions of alcohol again. It wasn’t a situation that he wanted to be in. The room was too hot, he found the company too attractive, and… Severus didn’t want to think about what else was going on with his physiology.
Harry had finally managed a major break through in his research, and had come bursting into his office that night after supper brandishing a bottle of Ogden’s finest. Severus hadn’t intended to have more than one drink with him, but one had turned into two, two had turned into more…
And with each consecutive drink his situation with Harry became clearer.
“No more, Potter. I would like to not be unconscious for the entirety of the weekend.”
Harry staggered to his feet and fell onto the couch next to Severus. “Un… under…” He took a deep breath. “Understandable.” And then Harry kissed him.
He didn’t move, couldn’t move for a moment, as if everything was stopped. And then his senses started working again. Rough, chapped lips, pressing and sliding against his. A warm tongue licking at his bottom lip, demanding that he open his mouth to its invasion. A hot, whiskey and chocolate flavored mouth he mapped with his tongue, reminding him of those candies Albus would only bring out on holidays for the teachers. The only ones he liked.
Strong hands slid up his arms and rested on his shoulders, tightening their grip and pulling him closer. His hands snaked around Harry’s waist, holding him pressed against him. Because it could only be Harry. That’s the only person he wanted to-
Severus pulled away before standing and moving across the room. Away from Harry, and his lips and whiskey and chocolate.
Then Harry stood, and Severus felt more than saw his shocked realization before he hurried to the door, and then through it.
“Aren’t you going to research that… whatever you’ve been working on, today?”
Harry shook his head. He hadn’t set foot onto Hogwarts grounds since ‘that’ had happened. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back. For the umpteenth time he wondered if he should tell Draco that he… kissed Severus.
For the umpteenth time he talked himself out of it. Draco had done worse. He had left. ‘That’ was just payback. Or something.
“You’re awfully quiet, Harry.”
Harry didn’t respond, just stayed perfectly still trying to keep the thought of lips and tongue flavored with whiskey and thin arms wrapped around him out of his head.
“Usually you’re babbling away about that stuff you’ve been looking into at Hogwarts.” Draco’s voice seemed closer and yet further away at the same time. It was a distinctly strange sound to Harry’s ears.
“Just tired, I guess.”
“You guess?” Draco’s breath moved the hair by his ear, but he still sounded distant.
The lack of distance between them became immediately apparent to Harry when Draco’s mouth landed on the side of his neck, and his tongue licked at his pulse point. A point that was always guaranteed to make Harry stop thinking.
Draco’s hands ran down his sides, stopping at his waist. Neither had ever been overly tall; Harry remained short, and Draco remained average. He thought that if it had been Severus leaning over the couch, however, his hands would have made it to land on his hips, his long, thin fingers pressing into the bone-
Not Severus. Draco. And his hands were rubbing along the bottom of his ribs, in that way that almost hurt but not quite and that made Harry squirm, and Draco always did it because he thought he liked it, but he had never actually told him he didn’t, and it wasn’t that big of a deal, anyways. And as always, just when he was about to tell him to stop, Draco moved his hands under his shirt, and his fingers pinched at his nipples, and Harry forgot about his sides and whose hands were touching him, and he just thought about the touch and the lips that were now moving down toward his collarbone licking and biting and sucking…
“Se-“ Not right. “Draco.”
The complete absence of touch.
“What did you just say?”
Harry twisted around so he could look over the back of the couch at Draco. “Draco.”
His eyes were narrowed, and he reminded Harry more of his father at that moment then the man he had lived with for two years. “Before that.”
“Ssss… ssso good. I was going to say 'so good', but then your name was there and it came out ‘se-Draco?” Harry wished he wasn’t so flustered, because then he would have been able to control the slight rise at the end.
“You aren’t sure?”
“You what? Have been cheating on me? With... with Severus?”
“No!” Harry took a deep breath. “Nothing’s happened between Severus and me.” It was basically true. “I don’t even think of him that way, we’re just friends.” Yeah right.
Draco crossed his arms and stared at Harry. It occurred to Harry that it was the equivalent to Severus's arched eyebrow. The latter was certainly more imposing than the former.
“Draco, you have my word of honor that I’m telling you the truth.” Draco’s expression didn’t change, and Harry could feel his heart drop a bit. “Okay, mixed in with a little fiction.” Not even a twitch of muscle. “All right, I’m lying my arse off.”
“This is payback, isn’t it?”
“For Dominic, you’re getting back at me for going off with him to France.”
“Was that his name? What ever happened to your piece of arse anyway?”
Draco looked away. “He decided to stay in Paris. But we aren’t talking about him, Harry. You slept with Severus!”
“I did no such thing! I kissed him. Last week. That’s all.”
Draco didn’t say anything.
“And I didn’t do it to get back at you. I swear.”
Draco was silent after that. He moved to the large picture window and just looked out. Not knowing what to expect, Harry fidgeted in his seat, uncomfortable with the tangible tension in the room. When Draco did start talking, he had to strain his ears to catch each word.
“He used me. He was in some trouble with the British Muggle government. I didn’t know. I was his way out of England. A week later he was gone.” Draco looked back at him. “I realized then what I had done, what I had given up, so I came back. To you. But you wouldn’t have come back to me if Severus hadn’t yelled at you that night. Am I right?”
Harry didn’t know the answer to that, so he said nothing.
"Are you sure it's all right?"
"I've said as much haven't I?"
Harry nodded, but still shifted his weight from foot to foot. "It'll only be until I find a new flat."
Severus nodded and turned the page of his book. "So you've said."
"Stop this instant. Go and put your things down in there." He pointed toward a door set off to the side.
Harry nodded again and headed toward it, pushing it open and stepping inside. Once Severus had opened the door to his incessant banging and ushered him inside his rooms it hadn't seemed too bad. Now he was trying to remember why he had decided to try Severus first. He should have just gone back to Remus. He didn't make him feel uncomfortable.
Harry tugged at his trousers, trying to make a wrinkle disappear before heading back out into the sitting room. "It's a nice room."
Severus hummed his acknowledgement.
Harry licked his lips and moved to the nearby chair. There was no way that he was going to sit next to Severus on the couch. Even if it was much more comfortable, and warmer since it was situated in front of the fire. "Good book?"
Severus glanced up at him before turning his attention back to the book. He turned a page, the sound unnaturally loud to Harry's ears.
"You never did ask why I showed up at your door."
"I assumed that you didn't want to impose on Lupin while he was... entertaining."
"Entertaining? As in a woman?"
"As far as I'm aware of, yes." Snape snapped the book shut. "You didn't know?"
Harry shook his head. "I came straight here; didn't even think of going to Remus's."
Severus lifted an eyebrow in a graceful arch. "And why is that?"
"Your falling out with Mr Malfoy was large enough to precipitate your moving to a new flat."
It wasn't quite a question, but Harry felt inclined to answer as if it was one anyway. In a way telling this to Severus was the reason he had come here. "It wasn't a falling out, exactly. It was an ending -- closure. What I didn't have when he left me for Dominic."
Harry nodded. "I didn't really want to go back to him in the first place, and I don't know why I did, but in the end, I'm glad. It felt like freedom this time, at least for me."
"But not for Mr Malfoy?"
"I don't know. He seemed resigned when I started packing my bags, like he had been expecting it for some time." Harry caught Severus's gaze and held it. "He thinks that I'm falling in love with you."
"Utter rubbish." Severus shifted in his seat and he turned to look toward the mantle of the fireplace.
"Do you think so?"
"You can't possibly be suggesting what I think you are."
Harry leaned forward. "Well, I'm not in love with you, if that's what you were thinking."
Severus's gaze snapped back to him. "Of course you're not. That would be ridiculous."
"But I don't think that Draco's wrong either."
Severus narrowed his eyes. "What exactly are you saying, Potter?"
"It will be 'get out', if you don't answer the question."
Harry swallowed. He had gotten so far, his confidence building with each exchange, but now it was hard for him to say. He enjoyed his friendship with Severus, and didn't want to give that up, but at the same time he was curious if it could be more -- better -- than what they had now. He stood and slowly approached the couch. The last time he had sat next to Severus on it they had kissed. Did he have enough Gryffindor courage to do so again?
"I'd like to see if there could be something between us, Severus. But if you'd rather that we just remain friends, I can accept that."
The silence between them lengthened and the tension strengthened until Harry couldn't take it anymore. Severus wasn't doing, saying anything; he was just sitting there staring at his hands.
"Say something, please."
"I don't know what you expect me to say."
"I don't know. Maybe nothing." Harry shifted off the couch until he was on his knees in front of Severus. He leaned up and pressed his lips against Severus's. His hands were resting on Severus's knees and his back was already slightly arched. Severus's arms swept around him and pressed him against his torso, their tongues running over each other, rough and wet and so hot. He couldn't breathe, didn't want to. That kiss was everything that the last one had been and more. There was no guilt, no panic, nothing that could stop this. He knew that.
He bit and nibbled on Severus's bottom lip, and then chin, and then neck. One of Severus's hands was tangled in his hair pulling it and twisting it while the other traced the curve of his spine, and Harry shivered. This was what he wanted. It was a passion that had long ago left his relationship with Draco, a spontaneity that he hadn't experienced since Hogwarts, an understanding that he'd never really felt with someone before. It was addicting.
Pulling away, he pressed his forehead against Severus's and looked into his eyes. "Shall we give it a go?"
"It seems that you've finally come into your own, Harry."
Smiling, he nodded. "And just in time for the next Quidditch season."
"You have no idea how glad I am about that, mate. I was worried that you'd be leaving the sport in favor of burying yourself in moldy, old books."
Hermione rounded on her husband. "I can't believe that you said that, Ron. I think it's grand that Harry's been able to do such groundbreaking research." She turned back to Harry. "I wish you had contacted me; I would have been more than happy to help. I've read the whole paper, and it's fascinating. You really did a wonderful job, Harry."
"Well coming from someone on the board for its publication, I'll take that as a compliment. Though I did have help."
"Who helped you anyway? Hermione was ecstatic when she saw your acknowledgements."
"I was not. It was just pleasing to see that Harry has made his peace with certain individuals."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "I don't think it's all that surprising." At the look Hermione gave him, he reconsidered. "All right, perhaps a bit." From over her shoulder he caught a glimpse of Severus entering the small reception that Remus had set up in congratulation for his first publication in a magical theory journal.
Ron must have followed his gaze. "Good god, does Remus have no sense? I can't believe he invited that git."
"Of course, Professor Snape would be invited, Ron. He's the one that helped Harry."
Harry smiled at the shocked look on Ron's face. "Actually, he's the one that got me interested in the subject matter in the first place."
"And how did he do that? Lecture you while you were laid up?"
"Give it up, Hermione."
"Has the Golden Trio fallen into a squabble already?"
"Hello, Professor Snape." Hermione held out one hand and Severus gingerly shook it. "My felicitations on the success of the Wolfsbane Potion adjustments you've made. And on inspiring Harry to actually doing something useful with his life."
She had the gall to wink at him.
Ron just bent his head a bit in acknowledgement of the man's presence. "Professor."
"Thank you, Ms... Mrs Weasley. Mr Weasley."
"I trust that everything's been going fine, Severus?"
He nodded. "In fact, everything has been going much more smoothly without you cluttering up my living space, Potter."
"Then I suppose I'll have to stop by sometime this week to bother you. Maybe Tuesday after practice."
Ron and Hermione were staring at them, and Harry could care less. It had always bothered him when they'd stared at him and Draco, but now...
"Thursday would be better."
"I have a game."
"Then I suppose that Tuesday will have to suffice." Severus lifted his glass of wine. "Congratulations, Harry."
He nodded. "Thank you, Severus."
All three of them watched as Severus walked over to where the Headmaster was talking with Longbottom.
"Care to explain that, mate?"
"Nothing that a conversation over supper wouldn't make clear. Since I'm engaged on Tuesday, how about Monday night?"