Title: A True Match

Author: A Shadowy Figure

Giftee: oni_butterfly

Word Count: 11,000 (give or take a few)

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Severus/Harry

Warnings: completely AU (no HBP, no DH), bonding, graphic sex, Dominant!Snape, Flustered!Harry, language, light angst with happy resolution

Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.

Summary: Harry suffers silently from a hidden love for Snape. He's prepared to take his secret to the grave, but a mysterious Christmas gift changes everything.

Author's Notes: Harry suffers silently from a hidden love for Snape. He's prepared to take his secret to the grave, but a mysterious Christmas gift changes everything.
Author's Notes: My attempt at humor with a touch of romance. I hope you like it, oni_butterfly! I tried to tone down my Snape but he kept being a bastard, so I just let him do whatever he wanted. I have the sinking feeling that he would enjoy making Harry cry (only to kiss his tears away afterwards, of course). My eternal gratitude goes to Sarah, my beta, for putting up with my foolishness, and to the mods for their patience. ^_^




A True Match




Minerva McGonagall faced down a row of excitable first years who had turned up missing right before the train was due to deliver them back to their homes for the Christmas break. What she'd discovered them doing had led her to conduct an impromptu lecture, just in case the impressionable youngsters decided to recreate the experience in their own backyards.


“First years are not to attempt a hands-free triple loop on their broomsticks, whether at school or at home. Just because something is possible doesn't mean you should try to do it yourself. Is that understood?”


“Yes, ma'am,” the children answered her glumly.


She paused at the end of the line, hands on hips, fixing a stern glare on the penitent flyer who stood at least twice as tall as the fresh-faced first years.


“Have I made myself clear, Professor Potter?”


Harry grinned boyishly, running one hand through his unkempt hair while the other kept his broomstick half-hidden behind his back. “I don't imagine you could make it any clearer, Professor McGonagall.”


“It isn't for lack of trying,” she said in an exasperated but affectionate tone, favoring him with a rare, indulgent smile before tucking it away again behind a disapproving frown. She gave the first years another intimidating glance and ordered them all to hurry and gather their things together so they would be ready for departure.


Harry winked at them once McGonagall’s back was turned then shooed them off, wishing them all a good holiday and promising them another flying demonstration once they got back.


Only two years had passed since Harry was a student himself. At nineteen, he was the youngest professor ever appointed at the school, taking over for Madam Hooch after a war injury had forced her into retirement. Besides instructing students in the fine art of flight, Harry also taught some special classes on Defense for the advanced students. Instead of becoming an Auror after the war, Harry had looked back on his fifth year at Hogwarts and decided he genuinely enjoyed teaching others the skills and abilities that had become second nature to him over the years. Killing Voldemort had cured him of any wish to hunt down wayward wizards. Teaching felt ... right to him, and it also helped that his students adored him.


“I hear you've added a third loop to your favorite stunt,” Dumbledore said as he and Harry crossed paths in front of the school. “The first years can talk of little else.”


Harry laughed. “They're so easy to impress when they're this young. I have to perform it blindfolded to get a cheer out of the fifth years.”


“You had better be joking about that, young man!” Professor McGonagall admonished him as she led a troupe of Gryffindors past them on their way to the train.


“Yes, ma’am,” Harry answered readily, his lips quivering from the effort it took not to grin at her. He turned back to Dumbledore. “I’d better go before I get myself into more trouble.”


“You always did have a talent for it.” Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled merrily. “By the way, you have visitors waiting for you in your rooms.”


Harry tensed. “They’re here already? Thanks for letting me know, Headmaster.”


He took off at a run, determined to get to his rooms before too much meddling could occur. The ‘visitors’ could only be his two best friends in the world, come to discuss a charity ball Harry was throwing at Hogwarts on Christmas Eve. Hermione was prone to rearranging Harry’s furniture and redecorating his bathroom with fuzzy pink towels and a matching bathmat when left to her own devices. Her nesting instincts had gone into overdrive since becoming engaged to Ron, and no room was safe from her feminine touch.


Harry jogged around a corner and nearly tripped on an overturned chair in the middle of the hallway.


“Watch your step, Potty!” Peeves said with a high-pitched cackle before vanishing into the wall.


“Some things never change,” Harry grumbled. He banished the chair to an empty classroom with a flick of his wand and turned back in the direction he was heading, only to smack straight into a warm, hard body, dropping his broomstick to the floor with a loud clatter.


Oomph.” He put out his hands to steady himself, inadvertently feeling up the chest of the person in front of him.


“My sentiments exactly,” was the velvet-voiced response to his surprised grunt.


Harry's breath caught in his throat. Oh gods, not again.


“I was wondering when you'd get around to accosting me. The day isn’t complete without your wandering hands ending up somewhere on my person.”


Harry looked up with a sheepish smile. The snarky object of his secret affections glared down at him impatiently.


“Ahh, Professor Snape. I didn't see you there.”


“Didn't you? I'm beginning to wonder ...”


Snape’s dark hair hung lank and greasy around his face, harshly framing his pale skin and a thin, pink scar that ran the length of his right cheekbone. He’d earned that badge of honor protecting Harry from a stray curse during the final battle of the war. Harry always had the strongest urge to trace it with his tongue.


He'd come to admire Snape during the worst of the war; admiration turned to attraction, attraction to affection ... and before he knew it, Harry was in love. There was no logic to it, no one moment that explained it or hidden virtue that justified it. Snape was still a grouchy bastard, for the most part. Harry's heart just didn't care.


Why does this keep happening? Harry agonized over his inexplicable tendency to run into Snape on a daily basis – literally run into the man. He continually collided with him due to distraction or clumsiness, until Harry had memorized the breadth of his back and the lean muscle of his upper arms. Once, he'd been forced to grab onto the man's hips to prevent a complete fall, achieving three heavenly seconds of contact between their lower halves before Snape had shoved him away. He could still remember the heat that radiated off Snape's body, urgent and pulsing even through his clothes, so unexpected from someone that Harry had always imagined would be as ice-cold as his patent glares.


“Are you checking for injuries?”


“What?” Harry asked breathlessly, shaken out of his memories by Snape’s voice. He looked down at his hands that were still pressed against Snape’s chest. “Oh! No, sorry, I just …”


He pretended to dust some lint off of Snape’s robes. “You had something … there … on your … but it’s gone, now. All better.”


Snape gave Harry a hard look before continuing past him down the hallway.


Smooth, Potter, he berated himself as he picked up his fallen broomstick. It was hard to reconcile the hero-worship he got from his students with the cold indifference he got from Snape, and being so hopelessly in love with his once-teacher, now-colleague made the disparity that much harder to take.








“... and then I pretended I was wiping something off his robes. I don't think he bought it. He had that 'I want to throttle you' look in his eyes.”


“I don't know what you see in Snape, anyway.” Ron currently had his head buried in an issue of the Daily Prophet and his feet kicked up on Harry's coffee table. He was the perfect picture of ease and relaxation. “He's still a greasy-haired git; his idea of fun is to subject his students to their own failed potions; and frankly, he hasn't got much of an arse to speak of.”


“Why were you looking at his arse?” Harry asked with a grin.


Hermione folded her arms over her chest. “Yes, Ronald, why were you?”


“Hey, nothing about this ring says I can't look,” Ron said, flashing her his ring-finger, his face still buried in the paper. “But as for Snape, he was always bending over people's cauldrons during class – how could I not look? He was practically shaking it right in my face.”


Harry cursed softly under his breath at the mental image that produced. Damn his fertile imagination.


“Well, I think the attraction is perfectly reasonable,” Hermione said, patting Harry's knee. “All that tension between you two, all those heated glances and passionate arguments ... The air would positively crackle whenever you and Snape faced off in class or during Order meetings. The chemistry was always there, you just needed to grow up a little before you could understand your own feelings.”


Ron snorted. “What's to understand? Harry wants to play 'naughty schoolboy' with Snape. Does it really go any deeper than that?”


Harry laughed it off. He told his friends long ago that he fancied Snape, but he never confessed the deeper feelings behind it. It was the one secret he kept from them. “Right, it's just about sex. Must be the whole 'untouchable' aura he gives off. It always feels like he's distancing himself from me, and you know how I love a challenge.”


Hermione rolled her eyes, not fooled for a minute by Harry's casual demeanor. “I want some cider. Anyone else?”


“None for me, thanks,” Harry said.


“Ron? Do you want – eeek!”


Hermione shrieked as a house-elf popped out of thin air directly in front of her, a large package clutched in its tiny arms.


“Present for Professor Potter, sir,” the elf squeaked, toddling over to Harry and placing the package beside him on the sofa. It gave a low, formal bow then popped out of the room.


“You wouldn't happen to have anything stronger to go with that cider, would you?” Hermione asked weakly as she continued on her way into the small kitchenette.


Ron turned down the top corner of his paper to look at what the house-elf had brought. “Does that have air holes in it?”


Harry poked a finger through one of the round holes venting the box and felt something warm and wet flick against his fingertip. He quickly jerked his hand away.


“This has Hagrid written all over it,” he said with a sinking feeling.


“Nah, Hagrid would have brought it to you himself, right?” Ron's curiosity didn't last for long and he soon went back to his paper.


Harry gingerly lifted the lid. A set of furry, silvery-white ears appeared, followed by two big gray eyes that peered over the edge of the box at Harry. A soft yip was the only warning the creature gave before it leapt out of the box and into Harry's lap.


It looked like a fox, only slightly smaller. Its bushy tail was as long and prehensile as a monkey's, silky-smooth to the touch and incredibly strong as it curled around Harry's neck and pulled him closer. Harry found himself being thoroughly inspected by those slate-gray eyes that held as much intelligence as could be found in the brightest of humans. The tail manipulated his head this way and that, turning it first to the left and then to the right, tilted his chin upward then downward, and then finally drew his face in close again, at which point the creature licked the tip of his nose as if giving him a benediction.


“Glad to meet you, too,” Harry muttered. Hagrid was looking more and more like the culprit of this bizarre Christmas gift.


The creature gently retracted its tail from around Harry's neck, the furry tip of it trailing across his cheek in a caress that felt almost like a greeting.


“What are you?” Harry asked softly, surprised when the creature reached its tail into the box it came from and retrieved a small card, handing it to Harry with the somber mien of a businessman meeting a new client.


Harry gingerly accepted the offered card, not sure what to make of this 'present' and its strange mannerisms.


The elegant script on the card read:


This creature is called a tokala. His name is Nikolai. He also answers to Niko. He is very rare, so please take good care of him. He will only bite you once.


Harry blinked. Did he read that right? He squinted and slowly read the last sentence out loud. “He will only bite you – ouch!”


The now-identified tokala named Niko bit down hard on Harry's hand, drawing a small trickle of blood that he quickly lapped up with his soft, pink tongue. As he ministered to the wound, the silver of his fur darkened to a deep black and his eyes brightened to a clear, emerald green, mimicking the natural coloring of his new caregiver.


“So, what is it?” Hermione walked back into the room with a steaming mug of cider.


“A vicious, bloodthirsty animal,” he answered dryly, reluctantly allowing Niko to carry on bathing his hand. “You know, the perfect Christmas present.”


“I knew there was something I left off my list,” Ron said. He folded the newspaper and tossed it onto the coffee table. When he looked over at the creature now curled up in Harry's lap and nipping at his fingers, his eyebrows shot up in surprise. “A tokala? Who sent you that?”


“A real tokala?” Hermione sat down next to Harry, studying Niko with a curious smile. “It's cuter than I imagined it would be.”


Harry chuckled when Niko preened and posed for Hermione. “His name is Niko, and I think he knows exactly how cute he is ...”


“There's nothing cute about it,” Ron said indignantly. “The whole point of having a tokala is to force your kids to get married! Mum always says she wishes our family had inherited one so she could find someone for Charlie.”


“Wait, hold on. What is a tokala and what does it have to do with getting married?” Harry tried to pull his hand away from Niko's tongue, but the tokala merely latched onto his wrist with that freakishly-strong tail and held him in place.


“Witches tend to think of a tokala as some sort of romantic, match-making fairy godmother with cute ears and a cuddly personality, but let me tell you, Harry, that creature is evil.”


Niko paused in the middle of grooming Harry to growl menacingly at Ron.


“Don’t listen to him,” Hermione said, scratching Niko under his chin and giggling when he purred contentedly. “I think you’re adorable.”


“I can't see him doing much damage,” Harry added.


“That's where you're wrong. It bit you, right? Well, now its ultimate goal is to bite someone else, someone it thinks is suitable for you, and when it does ...”


Ron paused for dramatic flair, but the other two were so busy fawning over Niko that they weren't paying him much attention. He made a sound of disgust and tossed the newspaper at Harry's head, smacking him in the forehead.


“Listen to me, Harry, this is your future we're talking about!”


Harry rubbed his forehead. “That better not have left a paper-cut.”


“Do the words 'arranged marriage' mean anything to you?”


“Well, of course they mean something to me, Ron, but I don't see what – ” Harry froze. “Wait, do you mean that the next person Niko bites will be my ...”


“... partner for life? Yeah, something like that.”


Harry looked down at the tokala with an expression of dawning horror. “What sort of sick present is that?”


Hermione examined the box. “Hmm, well, you can't ask whoever sent it to you because there's no name anywhere. Strange, I thought that a tokala was an inherited animal. It belongs to one family, much like a house-elf. It's not the kind of creature someone would just give away.”


Niko used his tail to direct Harry's hand to his back, arching into the touch and giving a soft yip of encouragement.


“Umm, I think he wants you to pet him,” Hermione whispered to a confused Harry.


“Oh.” Harry gently stroked the tokala's silky fur. Why would someone send him a creature whose sole purpose in life was to marry him off? He was only nineteen, and even though Dumbledore had hinted that Harry should entertain the idea of a social life now and then, most people just figured Harry was too busy teaching to give dating much thought. Nobody but Ron and Hermione knew the real reason he didn't play the field. Then again, if Niko served as a match-maker, then maybe ...


“Do I get any say in who Niko picks?” he asked hopefully.


“None.” Ron crushed that small hope with a single word.


“Just keep him in your rooms and everything will be fine,” Hermione said. “He hasn't tried to bite me or Ron, which shows he has a good sense of who would be best for you. He won't bite just anyone – it has to be someone who would make you a good husband.”


Harry shuddered. “It's so ... impersonal.”


“It's a tradition in some pureblood families,” Ron said. “Anyway, I'm sure Hermione's right. Just keep Niko locked away and you should be fine. At least now you have someone to curl up with on these  cold, winter nights.”


“Want to trade?” Hermione asked Harry with as straight a face as she could manage.


“No way. I slept in the same room with him for seven years, and that was more than enough for me.”


“Ha ha, sooo amusing. Aren't we supposed to be discussing this charity ball?” Ron changed the subject with a disgruntled frown.


“Right.” Harry continued petting Niko as he discussed the details of the Christmas Eve celebration. The plan was to throw a lavish charity ball at Hogwarts in order to raise money for war orphans, a cause that was very close to Harry's heart. Dumbledore had approved the idea, but it was up to the Trio to see that everything ran smoothly.


“Have you written your speech?” Hermione looked up from her notes. When Harry avoided her gaze, she sighed and tore off a sheet of paper from her notebook. “Just a few words, Harry. Nothing too grandiose, just a 'thank you for coming, here's the way I feel about this cause, now give us your money' sort of speech.”


“No matter what you say, the crowd will eat it up,” Ron chimed in supportively.


“Yes, yes, I'm their precious Golden Boy. Too bad not everyone feels that way,” Harry grumbled, thinking of Snape. He didn't notice the speculative glance that Niko gave him, nor the way the tokala's tail twitched every time the Christmas Ball was mentioned. If he had noticed, he might have had an inkling of what was to come ...








The next day, Harry divided his time between working on his speech and searching the library for books on the tokala. He woke up that morning to find Niko curled up beside him in the bed, his long tail twined around Harry’s right arm. It had taken several minutes of cajoling for Harry to convince Niko to release him so he could fetch them both some breakfast. He didn’t dare go eat with the rest of the staff and the few students who had remained at the school over break. He doubted his ability to choke down even a morsel of food with Snape so close by. Usually, they sat at opposite ends of the head table, so mealtimes had never been a problem. However, meals during the Christmas holiday were too intimate. He resigned himself to sharing his meals with Niko, instead.


He left the library with a self-described tokala owner’s guide and a stack of RSVPs for the Christmas Ball that needed to be checked against the invitation list. Normally, he’d leave such insignificant details to Hermione, but Harry welcomed the distraction. He walked down the silent corridors with the RSVPs balanced precariously in his arms. The library book floated alongside him, charmed to read itself aloud to Harry as he headed back to his rooms.


... the second bite is considered a proposal, and the recipient can either accept or reject the offer of marriage. If the offer is accepted and consummated, the marriage contract is complete. If the offer is rejected, the tokala will return to its charge and begin the process all over again until its services are no longer needed.”


So only the one being proposed to has the option of saying no, Harry thought. It sounded awful. How many pureblood sons and daughters had lost their right to choose a partner they loved due to their parents’ wish to see them ‘suitably matched’ by a tokala? What did ‘suitable’ mean anyway? Was it about personality? Or magic? Or something else altogether?


He half-listened as the book droned on about the history of this strange mating ritual, though a few tidbits caught his attention. For one thing, the tokala lived very long lives, so a single tokala could serve multiple generations of the same family. Also, the longer a tokala lived, the more powerful it became. The oldest ones could even shapeshift, much like their kitsune cousins, though very few wizarding bloodlines claimed to have a tokala strong enough to disguise itself as a human.


The highest match a tokala can make is called a True Match, though this phenomenon is rare and remains largely undocumented in the majority of tokala research.”


Harry just couldn’t understand who would take the risk of letting a magical creature decide their love life for them.


Of course, maybe they’re like me and they don’t realize what they’re getting into until it’s too late. He had yet to hear the book say anything about how to prevent a tokala from carrying out its match-making mission. He was starting to think it couldn’t be done. The thought was depressing – not only for himself, but for Niko as well, since Harry couldn’t take the chance of letting the tokala roam free. Even Mrs. Norris got to take a walk around the castle while patrolling with Filch; poor Niko would be forced to spend every day cooped up in Harry’s rooms ...  at least until Harry died.


Harry carefully climbed a set of stairs only to quicken his steps as he rounded the corner, plowing straight into the black-cloaked back of Severus Snape. His papers went flying in every direction, his flailing arms knocking the tokala book out of the air where it bounced against the wall and tumbled to the ground. The fall must have scrambled its magic because it kept repeating the words ‘a master and his pet’ over and over again. Harry’s lack of balance forced him to grab Snape by the shoulders and sent them both crashing into the wall, though a last-minute change in direction, a skill from his days as a Seeker, allowed Harry to absorb the brunt of the blow. He rested there, pinned against the hard stone by Snape's body, his hands slowly sliding down Snape’s back as he caught his breath. The book kept spouting its five words like a broken record until Snape kicked it and it fell silent.


“Interesting choice of reading material,” he stated with icy calm, the muscles of his back tense beneath Harry’s fingers.


Harry closed his eyes and enjoyed the close proximity, surprised that Snape hadn’t pulled away already. It wasn’t until he realized that his trousers were in danger of becoming uncomfortably tight that he reluctantly removed his hands from Snape’s back and inched out from beneath the older man’s weight. He bent down and picked up the book, while Snape helped him retrieve the RSVPs with an expert wave of his wand, adding paper after paper to the pile in Harry’s arms.


When he next spoke to Harry, there was something warm and husky in his tone, as if all the ice in his voice had melted away.


“Why do I get the impression that you want to explore me, Potter? Yesterday your hands took a tour of my chest, and now they've mapped out my back. I hope you aren't planning to plant a flag in me.”


“Sorry, I didn't mean to ... ”


“ ... molest me in the hallway?” Here, a hint of laughter.


“ ... bump into you like that,” Harry clarified between clenched teeth.


Snape directed the last fallen paper onto the top of the stack in Harry's arms. “Is that so? What a pity.”


Harry blinked. “A pity?”


“Yes, I thought you were trying to tempt me into playing 'explorers' with you. I must say, I rather enjoy the idea of staking my claim on virgin territory.”


A variety of lewd images inspired by Snape's words paraded through Harry's mind, each one more depraved than the last. When his cock twitched eagerly at the thought of being impaled on Snape's 'flag,' Harry knew it was time to get the hell out of there before he gave Snape yet another reason to ridicule him.


“Excuse me, I have work to do,” he snapped, his cheeks burning with embarrassment. He walked quickly towards his rooms, forcing away all thoughts of straddling Snape's hips. He pictured a naked Filch instead, desperate to keep his erection at bay.


Snape's voice chased him down the corridor. “No? Don't want to play? Maybe next time, then ...”


What was that about? Harry wondered furiously. Did Snape know? Was he finally aware of Harry’s not-so-innocent infatuation with him?


He slammed into his rooms half-erect and mad as hell. He dropped the book and papers onto his coffee table and slumped down on the sofa, flinging one arm across his face as if to block out the harsh reality of what had just happened. If Snape did know how Harry felt, he would never let Harry live it down. He would taunt him and mock him, and damned if Harry wouldn’t secretly love every minute of it. He’d fallen so hard for the git that even his cruelty made Harry’s mouth water in anticipation.


“Oh, this is bad. This is very bad.”


A soft mewling sound interrupted Harry’s analysis of the situation. He peeked from underneath his arm to see Niko sitting prim and proper on arm of the sofa. His emerald eyes, perfectly reflecting Harry’s own green gaze, studied Harry with what appeared to be pity ... or indigestion, it was hard to tell.


“If you’ve come to cheer me up, don’t bother,” Harry said. “I just made a complete fool of myself, and I’ve learned from experience that the only thing that makes me feel better after that is a bottle of Firewhiskey.”


Niko padded lightly over the sofa and crawled into Harry’s lap, gazing up at him from time to time with a narrowed, calculating gaze. He made no effort to comfort Harry, nor did he seek comfort for himself, but something in his eyes when he looked up at Harry gave the impression that he understood the ache in Harry’s heart. Harry found himself stroking the tokala’s soft fur, finding solace in the act of caring for another creature.


“Maybe I should just let you loose,” Harry said with a sigh.


Niko’s ears perked up. Harry kept right on talking, unaware of Niko’s sudden interest in the conversation.


“Maybe if you find someone else for me, it will be easier to forget him.”


As Harry rambled on about Snape, Niko silently planned.








Harry became something of a recluse over the next few days. He rarely left his room, content to spend his time working on his speech and playing with Niko. The tokala had a fascinating knack for knowing just when Harry needed a break. Niko would trot over to where Harry was working and lasso Harry’s wrist with his tail. He would then drag him over to the couch and demand to be pampered with another firm tug of his tail. He often curled up on Harry’s chest during afternoon naps, and he included Harry in his beauty regimen, grooming his owner after he’d groomed himself.


While Harry enjoyed spending time with his new pet, he knew he was just being cowardly by hiding in his rooms all the time. Where had all his Gryffindor courage gone? He wanted to think that this wasn’t really like him, that he was stronger than this, but the truth was that the mere thought of Snape filled Harry with equal parts desire and terror. He wanted to see him, touch him, fight with him if that’s all he could get, but that desperate need made him vulnerable, and he wasn’t used to feeling that way. 


“In fact, he’s the only person who makes me feel like that,” he confessed to Niko as he put on his dress robes. It was the night of the Christmas Ball and Harry had picked out his best black robes for the occasion. His green robes were fancier, and perhaps more suited to a festive event like this, but Harry had picked the black ones automatically. Snape liked black, if his own wardrobe proved anything, so Harry would be wearing the black robes.


“I sound pretty pathetic, right?”


Niko yipped once in agreement and rested his head on his front paws, his green eyes glinting with amusement as he watched Harry getting ready.


“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Harry sighed and gave up trying to tame his hair. The ball would be starting soon, and he needed to start mingling with the guests as soon as possible. Most of the time, being the Harry Potter was a pain and a burden, but his celebrity status came in handy when he was trying to raise a few Galleons for a good cause.


“Wish me luck,” he said to Niko as he walked to the door. “And behave yourself while I’m gone.”


Niko mewed softly, almost sadly. Harry wondered if the tokala was finally starting to tire of being trapped in Harry’s rooms. He gave his pet one last look before he left, closing the door firmly behind him.


He looked sharply to his left. Then to his right. Nobody, all clear. Continuing on, he never once let down his guard as he made his way towards the ballroom, ducking into an empty classroom if he heard footsteps and cautiously peering around every corner. He was determined to end his clumsy streak. No bumping into Snape’s back, chest, or any other readily available body part. If he couldn’t control himself around the man, he’d just have to avoid him.


So far, so good, he thought as he approached the magically-constructed ballroom that Dumbledore designed specifically for that night. Already, a sizeable crowd of people could be glimpsed sitting at tables just inside the entrance or twirling on the dance floor.


As he got closer, Harry spotted Lucius Malfoy lingering outside the ballroom. He decided to hang back in the shadows until the wizard went inside. The Malfoy name had been tarnished quite a bit by Lucius’s involvement in the war, but he had escaped any major repercussions aside from a loss of prestige and influence. Lucius and Narcissa had divorced over a year ago, and ever since then Lucius had been uncommonly friendly to Harry. What he wanted from Harry was uncertain. An ally? A lover? Harry could tell that when Lucius looked at him, he wasn’t really seeing Harry, he was seeing Harry’s position in society. It bothered him, but he put up with it since Lucius always contributed generously to Harry’s causes.


Might as well put Malfoy’s dirty money to good use, Harry reasoned. He leaned back against the stone wall, crossing one foot over the other as he waited for Lucius to leave. He closed his eyes, breathing deeply of the sweet scent of honeycomb candles and greenhouse roses. Hermione had outdone herself this time, arranging every detail perfectly. All Harry had to do now was show up, flirt and flatter for a bit, and the Galleons should come pouring in. As much as he hated ingratiating himself to some of these wizards, he had to admit he was exceptionally good at it. He could be as gregarious and eloquent as Lucius Malfoy himself, and despite his half-blood status, he held a lot of sway in the wizarding community. Of course, that beguiling charm deserted him whenever a certain Potions professor so much as glanced his way …


Is Lucius gone yet? Harry wondered, impatient to get inside and away from his own depressing thoughts. He opened his eyes and pushed off from the wall, only to walk straight into the path of someone else, tripping over the other person’s feet and sending them both tumbling to the floor. He ended up on top of a black-robed man, straddling his thighs, and instead of preventing the fall with his outstretched hands, he’d managed to plant his left hand on the man’s hip and his right one directly over the man’s groin. Even worse, Harry could feel the man’s cock responding to the unintentional grope.


“I’m so sorry, I – ” he stopped short, stricken dumb by the sight of Severus Snape sprawled beneath him.


“Congratulations, Potter, you finally discovered my crotch. Is the expedition complete now?” Snape grabbed Harry's wrist before he could snatch his hand away. “Was it everything you dreamed it would be?”


Harry’s arm shook with the effort of keeping his fingers absolutely still. He was touching Snape ... there, and Snape was getting harder by the second.


“Let go,” he hissed, disguising his panic with anger. He wasn’t sure if he was talking to Snape or himself.


“Not ready to confess?” Snape released Harry’s hand. His dark eyes narrowed when Harry scrambled off of him. “It would save us both a lot of trouble if you did.”


“It was an accident,” Harry insisted, clenching the oh-so-lucky hand into a fist, as if to hold on to the sensation of that forbidden touch, “and if I’m causing you trouble, I’ll do my best to stay away from now on.”


He spun on his heel and walked away, graceful and confident once more, not that it mattered after such a spectacular humiliation. He couldn’t even fathom the magnitude of what had just happened. One thing was clear: Snape definitely knew how he felt, and he sounded determined to make Harry admit it.


Thankfully, he could temporarily lose himself in the sea of people that filled the ballroom. There was no time to replay the mortifying experience over and over in his mind. He had guests to greet and wealthy wizards to charm. If he could make this evening a success, at least it would salvage a fraction of his pride.


The first hour went by in a whirl. Harry’s hand was stiff and cramped from shaking so many hands, and all the champagne he’d been drinking had gone straight to his head, leaving a slight wobble in his walk as he approached Ron and Hermione’s table.


“I need a break,” he said as he took the chair opposite Ron. He pulled out his speech cards and sorted through them, too tipsy to realize he was putting them in the wrong order.


Ron squinted at him in concern. “How much did you have to drink?”


“A couple of glasses of champagne,” Harry said dismissively. It had been five, but who was counting?


“Our Harry’s such a lush,” Hermione said, taking a sip of her own champagne. “Better sober up now, or those reporters you invited will have an interesting tale to tell in the morning. Do you really want tomorrow’s headline to read Harry Potter Stumbles Drunkenly Off Podium During Charity Benefit?”


“I’d read that story,” Ron said with a grin.


Harry scowled, but when the waiter came round with his tray, Harry declined a sixth glass. Hermione was right. He couldn’t afford to bring bad publicity to this event. Yet, the champagne helped to block the memory of how it felt to have his hand pressed against the bulge in Snape’s trousers. His fingers flexed involuntarily as he relived the moment, his mouth going dry as he imagined what might have happened if he’d surrendered to the urge to squeeze ...


“Oh no.” Hermione set her drink down on the table. “Harry, did you forget to close the door when you left your rooms?”


“Hmm?” Harry roused himself from his fantasy and followed Hermione's gaze. When he saw what she was looking at, his eyes widened and his fingers clenched around his speech notes.


Niko padded into the ballroom as if he owned the place, his tail twitching now and then as he sniffed at someone's shoes or rubbed his head against someone's leg. Most of the guests ignored his presence, believing him to be the pet of some wealthy wizard, but the few who recognized Niko for what he was followed his progress through the room with curious glances.


“I've got to catch him before he bites someone,” Harry said, dropping his note cards on the floor as he stood up, completely sober now.


“It looks like he's heading towards ...” Ron trailed off, his face turning pale.


“Where? Where?” Harry frantically looked around, having lost sight of Niko in the crowd.


“... towards Lucius Malfoy,” Ron finished, pointing at the far corner of the room where the elegant blond wizard conversed with someone half-hidden by shadows. A long, black tail bobbed in and out of sight, making a beeline for that particular corner, as if Niko knew exactly where he was going.


“Harry, you've got to stop him!” Hermione said. “If he bites Lucius and Lucius agrees to marry you, you're stuck!”


Happy Christmas to me, Harry thought as he pushed and shoved his way through the throng of party-goers. He kept his eyes trained on Lucius, determined to reach him before Niko did – or at least before Niko had a chance to sink his teeth into anything fleshy.


“Pardon me, excuse me,” he wheezed to anyone whose elbow he jostled or whose foot he stepped on. He was only a few feet away from where Lucius stood when he got a glimpse of the haughty wizard's companion: a dour-faced Snape.


“Ahh, here's the man of the hour,” Lucius said when he spotted Harry. He managed to sound congenial and condescending all at the same time as he turned to the brooding man next to him. “Come now, Severus, don't you think Potter looks quite dashing tonight? One would never know he was raised by Muggles ...”


Harry glared at Lucius, his lips parting to let loose some scathing retort, but before he could utter a single syllable a black, furry body ran between his legs and barrelled towards Lucius and Snape. Of the two men, only Snape looked surprised by the animal charging towards them. Lucius just smirked.


“Niko, don't!” Harry shouted.


Lucius knelt down and held out his hand towards the tokala ... but Niko sped right past Lucius and pounced on Snape instead.


Harry watched in disbelief as Niko clamped down on Snape's leg with his sharp teeth. The black of his fur faded to silver again, and the green of his eyes turned back to a stormy shade of gray, erasing all traces of Harry from his appearance. It happened so quickly that it was over before Harry could even make a sound of protest. His mission accomplished, Niko released Snape's leg and happily scampered back to Harry's side.


For once, Snape looked completely at a loss for words.


Lucius stood up slowly, recovering from his apparent disappointment with a stiff smile. He raised his voice so the entire room could hear him as he remarked casually, “My, my. It looks like Potter has made you an offer, Severus. You really shouldn't keep him waiting for an answer.”


The ballroom was eerily silent as all eyes turned to watch the drama unfold. Only the scritch-scratch of the reporters' quills broke the silence as they seized onto the wizarding world's latest sensational story. Harry didn't even want to imagine the headline of tomorrow's Daily Prophet. Harry Potter proposing to anybody would make a huge story – but Harry proposing, even accidentally, to Snape? He'd never hear the end of it.


Oh, gods, he thought. He's going to tell me no in front of all these people.


Harry wasn't about to let Snape reject him in public. There was only so much humiliation he would endure before enough was enough. He plastered on his trademark defiant glare, the one that said 'Yes, I kicked Voldemort's arse, and I'll do the same to you if you aren't careful.' It was usually enough to send lesser wizards scurrying away, but Snape merely arched one dark brow in silent expectation.


“I don't need an answer right now,” Harry said, his voice firm and self-assured, though his inner self was curled into a fetal position, sucking its thumb. Being a Gryffindor had its advantages – he could act brave even when he didn't particularly feel brave. A cocky, confident attitude just seemed to come naturally. He scooped Niko up into his arms. “Just don't keep me waiting too long, Snape. There are plenty of men who'd kill for the chance to be with me.”


A ripple of hushed voices disturbed the stillness of the room as everyone reacted to Harry's brash statement.


“And you can quote me on that,” Harry quipped to the reporters, flashing them his most charming 'Golden Boy' smile.


The reporters leapt into action, closing in around Harry as they bombarded him with questions.


“Does this confirm the rumors that you're gay?”


“Are you in love with Professor Snape? Is that why you took the position at Hogwarts?”


“Why did you choose an arranged marriage?”


“Did you inherit the tokala from your parents? Was their marriage arranged as well?”


Harry's smile never wavered as he politely declined to comment further. The spotlight had shifted to focus solely on him, which was exactly what he wanted. He only spared a quick glance at Snape to verify that no one had approached him yet before he started to make his excuses and inched towards the doors of the ballroom. He needed a minute to collect himself before he could come back and make his speech. Once that was done, he would be free to leave the party and return to the privacy of his rooms, where he could fall to pieces without worrying that it would become front-page news.


Hermione and Ron took the hint and ran interference for him, fending off the reporters while Harry and Niko made their getaway. He walked briskly down the long, silent corridors of the school until he reached his classroom. Once there, he sat down at his desk and sighed heavily. He didn’t bother lighting a lamp, relying on the soft glow cast by the torches in the hallway and shafts of moonlight shining through the classroom’s two windows to see. Niko's tail curled around his wrist and squeezed, as close to a hug as the tokala could give him.


“In a way, I'm relieved,” Harry said quietly. “It's out in the open now.”


Niko placed his front paws on Harry's chest and stretched up to give him a lick on the cheek.


“No, don't even try to butter me up,” Harry said, though he couldn't work up the energy to be truly angry with him. “Just because I'm glad I don't have to hide it anymore doesn't mean I've forgiven you. Why did you have to bite him? He'll probably put out a full-page ad in the Daily Prophet listing the hundreds of reasons why he'd rather kiss a Dementor than marry me. This isn't the type of man to be kind and gentle when he rejects someone. If he hates me – which I'm sure he does – he's going to let the whole world know it.”


Niko yawned, unconcerned with Harry's plight. He nudged his head against Harry's hand, indicating his wish for Harry to pet him, and very vocal in his delight when Harry obliged him.


Harry couldn't help chuckling at Niko's self-satisfied purr. Scratching behind the tokala's ears, he warned him, “No more biting after this. Once Snape says no, that's it. No more match-making.”


“Aren't you getting ahead of yourself, Potter?”


Startled, Harry looked up to see Snape standing in the doorway.


“It's very presumptuous of you to think you can see into my mind, especially considering my superior skills as an Occlumens.”


Niko squirmed out of Harry's arms and ran off to play with the feathery end of an abandoned quill, leaving Harry alone and vulnerable to the dark, penetrating stare of his would-be spouse. He slowly pushed himself to his feet. This was it. Snape would say no, Harry would have to accept it, and life would go on. It wouldn’t be the first time Harry lost someone he loved. His mouth twisted in a bitter smile.


“I know better than to go poking around in your brain. That said, if you're here to give me your answer, do it quickly. I have a speech to make.” Harry’s bravado would have fooled anyone else; Snape, of course, saw right through him. He closed the door, cutting off Harry's escape route.


“I'm not letting you run away this time.”


“What do you mean by that?” Harry asked with a glare that masked his nervous excitement. He was alone in a dark room with Snape. How many times had he imagined just such a scenario while banging one out in his bedroom? A dizzying rush of adrenaline pumped through his body.


“You're always scurrying off just when I think I finally have you in my grasp. When you tackled me earlier this evening, I thought maybe you had come to your senses.”


“I told you, that was an accident.”


“So you keep saying ... but you were never this awkward as a student. There has to be some deeper reason behind it all – the way you can never walk past me without touching me in some small, insignificant way, or the way you turn red when I tease you.”


Snape grabbed Harry by the hips and tugged him forward, pressing their bodies together so that Harry could feel, for the second time that night, the hard evidence of Snape's arousal.


“I've been restraining myself for so long, convinced that I could never have you. You were so blissfully ignorant of the effect your clumsy touches and panicked blushes were having on me, so I kept my distance, but I've wanted to do this since the first day you came back to Hogwarts.”


Snape crushed his lips against Harry's in a bruising kiss, obliterating any qualms Harry had about his sincerity. Surely even Snape wouldn't go this far just to make fun of Harry, right? He submitted to Snape's aggression with a mind too dizzied by lust to properly process what was happening to him. That he would find himself in this situation, Snape's fingers digging into his hips, Snape's tongue plundering his mouth – it all seemed too good to be true. Harry balled his hands into fists to stop himself from tangling them in Snape's hair and pulling him closer. He still felt like he had to be cautious. He didn't dare let himself go.


His passive, if not unwilling, response didn't sit well with Snape, and he drew back from the kiss with a frustrated groan.


“You can’t tell me you don’t want this,” Snape growled, his hands circling Harry’s waist as he backed him up against the desk. “You’re trembling from just one kiss. Be honest. I want to hear you confess what your body is already confirming ...”


Snape cleared Harry’s desk with a sweep of his arm then pushed him down onto the wooden surface. He took Harry’s legs that dangled over the edge of the desk and spread them wide, slipping in between and nudging his cock against Harry’s.


“Tell me,” he said, flexing his hips, lightly humping Harry at first and then with increasing pressure as Harry stubbornly stayed silent. “Tell me.”


Nngh. I w-want you.”


Snape placed his hands on the desk, one on each side of Harry's head, as he continued to leisurely grind their crotches together. Every torturous thrust of Snape's cock against his own sent a spike of heat through Harry's body, tearing needy whimpers from his kiss-swollen lips.


“Is that all?” Snape rubbed against him harder, faster, his voice ragged with desire as he interrogated Harry.  “Nothing else you'd like to tell me? No deep, dark secret you want to whisper in my ear? Or will I have to fuck it out of you?”


Harry gasped and came suddenly, his hands clawing for purchase on Snape's shoulders as his body arched in release. The obscene suggestion – and its accompanying mental image – had sent Harry over the edge, unable to control his climax. A wet warmth seeped into his boxers.


Snape slowed his movements to a gentle rocking, kissing and biting at Harry's lips and swallowing all of his soft moans. Once Harry had calmed down, Snape pulled back to stare down at his flushed cheeks and passion-drugged eyes. He eased off of Harry’s body and stood at the end of the desk between Harry’s spread legs, a hand on each thigh.


“Lucius was right. You look absolutely edible tonight, but I think it's time we got rid of these clothes.”


Harry instantly felt cool air rush over his heated skin, his robes, trousers, and dress shirt all magicked away with a single silent spell. Only his boxers remained. They clung to his crotch and thighs, splotches of come darkening the silky green material.


Snape held Harry’s robes up to his face and breathed deeply of Harry’s scent before he tossed them aside. He eyed the green boxers with the rapacious smile of a wolf sizing up its next meal.


“I like you in black, but green suits you, too.” He made a tsk'ing sound as he peeled the sticky boxers down Harry's legs. “Look at the mess you made, Potter. I suppose you expect me to clean it up?”


Harry raised himself up on his elbows just in time to see Snape's head descend towards his semen-smeared thighs.


“No! Wait, you don’t have to – ohhh.” Harry never finished protesting as he felt Snape’s tongue licking his inner thighs, lapping up his come like a cat savoring its first saucer of cream. Harry laid back, holding tight to the sides of the desk and digging his heels into the wood as he arched his hips. Snape chuckled and held him down with one hand.


“You say no, but look how eager you are.” His hot breath bathed Harry’s cock, stirring it back to life. “Your body can’t get enough of me. How did you manage to be without me all this time, Potter? How often did you have to touch yourself? How many times did you bring yourself off with my name on your lips?”


Harry blushed. How could Snape ask him that?


“These aren’t rhetorical questions. I expect an answer.” He sucked just the tip of Harry’s cock into his mouth, giving him one brief moment of bliss before releasing him. “How many times? I won’t go on until you tell me.”


“H-hundreds,” Harry choked out, desperate for more of Snape’s mouth and tongue. “Hundreds of times. Sometimes I even had to do it between classes. I’d bump into you in the hallway and I’d get so hard.”


Snape’s eyes smoldered as he looked at Harry. No doubt he was imagining Harry ducking into one of the bathrooms to jerk off before going on to teach his class as if nothing ever happened.


“No wonder all those blasted twits want to shag you,” Snape said, his eyes narrowing in displeasure. “Don’t you think they can tell? Don’t you realize it’s written all over your face after you’ve come? Looking so sexy in front of your students ... not very professional, Potter. Did you know there’s an ongoing bet among the Slytherins to see who can fuck you first?”


“W-what?” Harry sat up, horrified.


Snape smirked and yanked Harry forward, pulling him off the desk and turning him around. “Hands flat on the desk and bend over.”


“But that bet ...”


“Don’t worry.” Snape knelt down behind Harry and spread his cheeks, his breath tickling over Harry’s sensitive skin. “I’ve always had every intention of winning it.”


“That’s not the point,” Harry snapped. He felt the tingle of a cleansing charm right before Snape’s tongue traced the rim of his quivering hole, teasing Harry by circling and circling but never delving inside. His hand reached around to grasp Harry’s cock in his long, slender fingers, rubbing his thumb over the slick head in the same motion as his tongue. Harry didn’t know which sensation to focus on, trying to buck his hips against Snape’s hand while at the same time pushing back against his tongue.


“Ah! Please ... please ...”


That clever tongue answered Harry’s pleading by delving past the ring of muscle, darting in and out in immitation of the way Snape would be fucking him later. Harry whimpered and begged, wanting more, his legs shaking with the effort to hold himself up in the face of all that bone-melting pleasure. Snape continued to play with his stiffening cock, lightly running his fingernails down the shaft then giving it a few playful tugs.


When he had Harry babbling incoherently, Snape whispered a lubrication spell and started preparing Harry for the main event, sliding one finger, then two into that slick channel. He rubbed a fingertip against Harry’s prostrate and smirked at the surprised shout he wrenched from Harry’s lips. He refused to listen to Harry’s breathless requests of “hurry” and “more” as he stretched him, as meticulous in his preparation of his lover’s body as he was in the crafting of a difficult potion. Once he was satisfied that Harry was ready (and nearly mindless from the wait), he stood up and leaned over him, his cock rubbing up against Harry’s arse.


Though he had never wanted anything more in his life, Harry suffered a moment of self-doubt. “If you do this ...”


Snape stroked his hand over Harry’s stomach while nuzzling his neck. “Hmm?”


“If you do this, you’re completing the marriage contract. Is that what you want?”


Harry steeled himself for the answer, positive that Snape would change his mind once he thought about the consequences, but he never heard a yes or a no. Instead, he felt the head of Snape’s cock press against his tight opening, piercing him ever-so-slowly until the entire length was buried inside him. Harry lowered himself to his forearms, panting softly as he tried to relax his muscles. The discomfort couldn’t compete with the euphoria Harry felt over finally having Snape inside him, and he wiggled his arse impatiently.




Snape growled and pulled all the way out, only to follow with a series of shallow thrusts, still holding back as he opened Harry up. He kept one arm wrapped around Harry’s stomach while the other fondled his cock.


“Last chance to back out,” he whispered in Harry’s ear.


Harry glared at him over his shoulder. Why the hell would he back out? He was in love with the git, for Merlin’s sake. His frustration helped him overcome his usual shyness, and he hissed, “Just fuck me.”


Snape smirked as if he’d won another victory over Harry. He dug his fingers into Harry’s hips and set a brutal pace. The wet sounds of his cock slamming into Harry’s well-lubed arse again and again turned Harry on as much as the pleasure of the act itself, and he contributed his own moans and wanton cries to the lewd music of their lovemaking, forgetting all about his earlier embarrassment.


Snape proved to be an insatiable lover with frightening endurance. Every time Harry came close to coming Snape would pull out and change positions, abandoning the desk to fuck Harry up against the wall, then moving to Harry’s chair. At some point, they ended up on the floor, Harry straddling Snape's hips as he rode the older man's cock, his dark hair plastered to his forehead with sweat.


Their joining was fierce and primal and tainted with the magic from Niko’s bite. Harry felt like each thrust of Snape’s cock branded him, marking him irrevocably and binding them closer and closer together. Having all of Harry’s body wasn’t enough for Snape, though. As he sensed Harry’s approaching climax, he took Harry’s cock in his hand and squeezed the base, preventing him from coming.


“I want to hear you say it now. I want you to tell me that deep, dark secret you’ve been hiding.”


Harry grunted and bowed his head, never stopping his frantic rocking as he struggled between wanting to come and wanting to cling to his last safety net. If he told Snape the truth, he would be completely vulnerable. Nothing terrified him more than that.


“Tell me, Harry,” Snape whispered, and the sound of his first name on those lips gave Harry the courage to be honest.


“I love … love you,” he cried out between moans.


Snape’s eyes blazed like hellfire as he angled his thrusts to go deeper. His hand loosened around Harry’s cock as he jerked him off, a roughness marring his black-velvet voice as he said, “I don’t care how many men would kill to be with you, they can’t have you. You’re mine, Harry. Do you understand? I’m telling you yes. Yes to everything.”


Harry groaned, his cock spurting with his second release of the night. An answering rush of wet heat filled his arse as he bounced a few more times on Snape’s pulsing dick then collapsed on his chest, completely spent. Snape grabbed his hips and lazily thrust two more times into Harry’s clenching depths, expelling every drop of seed before rolling Harry over onto his side and pulling out.


They lay that way for several minutes, catching their breath as they came back down to earth. Harry dozed off for a bit, done in by the stresses of the day and the vigorous sex he’d just enjoyed. When he next opened his eyes, Snape was watching him with a hint of wonder in his jet-black eyes, as if he couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing.


“This marriage business isn’t so bad after all,” Snape muttered dryly, shaking off his unguarded expression in favor of the usual smirk. “I say we get married at least once a day.”


Harry laughed and smoothed Snape's damp hair away from his face. The scar along his cheekbone caught Harry's eye, and he finally gave in to the urge to touch it, first with his fingertips, then with the tip of his tongue, savoring the taste of sweat mixed with something darker, something purely Snape.


“I have plenty of other scars,” Snape said in a wicked purr. “Do you want to lick them all?”


Not even a thorough shagging had cured Harry of his bashful reactions to Snape's teasing. He ducked his head against Snape's chest, too embarrassed to meet his lover's gaze, but Snape wouldn't let him hide. He gently tilted Harry's chin, forcing him to look up.


“Never show this side of yourself to anyone but me,” he said, brushing his thumb over Harry’s bottom lip. “The wizarding world can have its Savior. I want the clumsy, flustered you, the one that blushes and stammers when he’s nervous and moans so sweetly at the slightest touch.”


His fingers plucked at one rosy nipple, coaxing another throaty cry from Harry’s lips. Snape smiled and bent down to flick his tongue over the taut nub. Harry arched and moaned, his fingers sliding into Snape’s long, lank hair.


“You’re so sensitive,” Snape murmured between teasing licks. “Ready for another go?”


“Dirty old man,” Harry accused even as he hooked one leg over Snape’s hip and rubbed up against him.


“Is that any way to talk to your husband?”


“Then shut me up.”


“My pleasure.” Snape prevented any further insolence with a kiss, sucking on Harry’s tongue as he wrapped his arms around the younger man’s body.


The sound of approaching footsteps interrupted the heated moment. Harry broke off the kiss and tried to escape Snape's embrace, but the man refused to let him go.


“Just keep quiet,” he whispered in Harry's ear. “I took precautions. They'll never know we're here.”


“Harry? Are you in there?” Hermione opened the door and peered into the classroom. Thanks to a cloaking spell, she saw only darkness and empty desks. She turned around and left without shutting the door. Harry overheard her telling Ron, “No, he's not there, either. Let's check his rooms again.”


Harry kept his face buried against Snape's chest until he couldn't hear their footsteps anymore. When he was certain they'd gone, he started to pull away so he could get dressed, only to be yanked back against Snape's body.


“You're not going anywhere.”


“Hey! I have a speech to make, remember?”


Snape kept one hand clasped possessively on Harry's hip. “Skip it.”


“But this whole charity ball was my idea. What will people think when I don't come back ... when you don't come back?”


“They'll think that you're getting a proper answer to your proposal. In fact, I'm not entirely sure you heard me the first time around, so let me make my answer perfectly clear.” Snape pushed Harry onto his back, knelt between his spread legs, and smoothly entered him in one solid thrust.


It didn't take long to convince Harry that one missed speech wasn't going to matter much in the long run. He wrapped his legs around Snape's waist and urged him on, kissing his lover to muffle his own moans as Snape thoroughly 'staked his claim' on Harry's body.


They were so consumed by each other that neither of them noticed when Niko crept over and snatched up Harry's forgotten black robe with his teeth, quietly dragging it out of the room.








The ballroom buzzed with speculation over what could have happened to their host and the Potions professor, everyone waiting on a speech that never came. Caught up in the excitement of a new scandal, no one paid any attention to the silver-haired young man in the wrinkled, black dress robes who worked his way along the edges of the room. He effortlessly weaved a path through the crowd until he reached the doors leading out to the balcony. Slipping outside, he shivered in the cold, night air and took a deep breath, happy to be free of the overwhelming scent of hundreds of humans, and pleased to catch the pleasant scent of one human in particular. His master ...


He walked over to the railing where the blond wizard stood looking up at the star-speckled sky.


“They have joined,” he said, smiling at the way his master groaned in frustration upon hearing the news. He sidled in close to the warm body beside him, hoping to be petted though he knew he didn't deserve such a reward. “Really, it is for the best.”


“Niko, you naughty minx,” Lucius scolded him quietly, reaching up to stroke his hand over the tokala's moonlit hair. “You were supposed to bite me, not Severus. Now you've gone and spoiled everything. An arranged marriage to Potter could have restored the Malfoy name to its former glory.”


Niko leaned into his master's gentle touch and purred softly. He cared little for politics and prestige. With Narcissa gone, he finally had his master all to himself. Why would he give him to another? Harry had been so obviously in love with the Potions professor. He considered it a parting gift, a token of his gratitude towards Harry for taking such good care of him. He had never made a True Match in all his long centuries of living, until now. He felt strangely honored to be the catalyst for finally bringing Harry and Severus together, even though it went against his master's wishes. The ancient magic that drove him to unite one soul to another proved too powerful to resist, and in the end, he managed to rid himself of a rival at the same time. Surely his master would forgive him for this one selfish, disobedient act?


“We tokalas have our instincts, Master. Some are too strong to be denied ...”


Lucius smirked and drew Niko into his arms. “Not even apologizing for it? Perhaps I've rubbed off on you more than I thought I would.”


“You should take responsibility, then.”


“Hmm ... I just might, Niko. I just might.”