Title: Great Liars, Great Magicians
Author: Ed Wood (yeah, that’s right, the guy that wrote Plan 9 From Outer Space /wishful thinking)
Word Count: 24k +/-
Rating: (hard) R
Genre(s): AU/AR (AR, I think), Forced-bonding, Humour, Angst (mild)
Warnings: *chan (15-16), mpreg, BDSM, cross-dressing, humiliation, toe-licking*
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Dumbledore forces Harry to bond with Snape, who demands an heir, but when Harry announces his pregnancy, Snape doesn't believe him. The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but the path to love is strewn with sex, lies, and manipulations.
Author's Notes: inoru_no_hoshi, you requested genderbending, cross-dressing, BDSM, plot, smut, snarky!Snape, chan, forced-bonding, AU/AR, mpreg, and creature!fic. I never thought I’d write mpreg or cross-dressing, but I wanted to hit as many of your kinks/likes as I could (alas, creature!fic was sacrificed to the gods of [marginally] coherent plot.) I hope I’ve done justice to your requests.
Huge thanks to my betas, A, R, and Hairy-nosed Wombat. Also *deep bow* much thanks to the mods for your great patience.
Great Liars, Great
Great liars are also great magicians. - Adolf Hitler
"You know my terms."
"No. That I cannot agree to."
"Then you will lose both of us. I was quite serious, Albus. Regardless what you think of me, I am not a child threatening to hold my breath until my face turns blue."
Dumbledore’s shoulders slumped; he bowed his head. "He will lose all faith in me."
"He has no more faith to lose. Not after the events at the Ministry. He blames everyone but himself, and of all of us, he blames you most of all, because he thought he and his were safe with you. You led him down the garden path and–"
Behind his half-moon spectacles, Dumbledore's blue eyes turned icy. "You go too far."
"Do I? Somehow, I don't think I've gone far enough. Face facts, Albus. With my cooperation, there's a chance, however slim. Without it, what chance have you, any of you, any of us got?"
Whoosh! Harry swung the garden gnome over his head three times and then released it with a practised snap of his wrist. The gnome sailed over the fence, the muffled thud of its landing followed by a high-pitched squeak of indignation.
"It's not fair. In my whole life I've never been anywhere except Little Whinging and Hogwarts. I was looking forward to this."
"You've been to Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, and here," Ron pointed out.
"Oh, sod off," Harry said. He clenched his fists and looked as if he was about to punch Ron's nose. He deflated suddenly. "You know what I mean. You've been to
"I know, mate," Ron said for possibly the twentieth time that day. He was beginning to sound a little peevish.
"It's not as bad as all that, Harry," Hermione said. She was sitting with her back against the shed, a big book balanced on her knees. De-gnoming the garden was against her principles. "You'll have loads of time to study."
Harry glared at her. "Right. I can spend all summer swotting over mouldy old books. That'll be so much more fun than going to
Ron flopped down on the ground next to Hermione, mopping his face with a large, paisley pocket-handkerchief. "Charlie says they have seven hatchlings. Norbert's a daddy three times over. Charlie says he's a horny little bugger."
"Yeah, I heard," Harry said irritably. "And he's excited because one of the hatchlings is a Peruvian Vipertooth, the first one bred in captivity. I know. I was here when the letter came, remember? I was going with you, remember? And now I can't. Remember?" He stretched out six feet away from Ron and Hermione and began pulling up large clumps of grass.
"Read me your letter again." Ron looked guilty.
"Why? You know what it says."
"Read it," Ron said encouragingly. "I'm looking for clues."
Harry pulled a crumpled piece of parchment from his pocket. "Dear Harry...He's got a lot of damn nerve calling me 'dear' after everything that's happened."
"He's hardly going to start with Sir, Harry."
"'He's hardly going to start with Sir," Harry mimicked. "Look, do you want me to read it or not? Dear Harry, after the events of this week past, we feel it – I wonder who he means by 'we' – inadvisable for you to remain with your family – hah, some family! – in Little Whinging. It was only with great difficulty that I convinced the Minister you should not be expelled and remanded into custody. Bloody bastard! He has reluctantly agreed that an early return to Hogwarts will be an acceptable alternative. There is no situation that will afford you the same level of protection as your aunt's home – fuck-all protection there, if you ask me – but after extensive research I have discovered something that may serve. There is a certain level of discretion advisable, so I won't discuss my discoveries here. That will have to wait until you are back at Hogwarts. I'm very sorry to interfere with your holiday, but your safety is of paramount importance. I trust you will agree. I remain, affectionately yours, Albus Dumbledore. 'Affectionately yours' my red Gryffindor arse! So, know any more than you did? Any brilliant insight?"
Ron said, "He's a cagy old fart, I'll grant you that."
(_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_)
The gargoyle moved aside before Harry even made an attempt at guessing the password. That was odd, but then the Headmaster must've known that he'd be arriving momentarily. Harry took the stairs two at a time, mentally girding his loins for the battle ahead. He raised his fist to knock on the door and then froze in mid-motion; Dumbledore was talking to somebody, and it didn't sound friendly. Harry pressed his ear to the door.
"He cannot stay in Little Whinging any longer. Not after the Dementors, and what he did to his uncle."
Harry grinned. Giving Uncle Vernon a letch for lampposts, pillar boxes, and other inanimate objects had been entirely accidental, but very amusing. The local plod hadn't been amused, but it wasn't Harry's fault if PC Bristol had no sense of humour.
"But a bonding! And with me! The whole idea is preposterous!"
Harry choked. Dumbledore was talking to Snape, who didn't sound half pleased. What was a bonding, anyway? And why would Snape object so vehemently?
Dumbledore sighed heavily. "You know there is no other choice, Severus. Without the blood protection of his family, the risk to Harry is too great. We must afford him some other form of protection and bonding will provide the greatest surety. It's not the same, of course, but...And, as Harry's obviously homosexual ..."
Harry choked again. What? Where does he...
"...needs to be someone at Hogwarts, and you are the only male homosexual member of the faculty apart–"
This didn't sound good. It really didn't sound good at all. Harry was beginning to suspect what bonding meant.
"Be that as it may, there's no reason on earth you'd believe I'd find this acceptable. He's my student. And a fourth-rate, arrogant twit."
"I have one reason to believe you'll agree," Dumbledore said mildly.
"Of all the dirty–" Snape was, of course, as appalled at the idea as Harry himself. Bastard. He should be so lucky!
"Do it for Lily's son, Severus."
There was a muffled oath and then shuffling of feet. Harry only just had time to dart around the corner before the door banged open and Snape stalked out, an angry whirlwind in black robes. Harry counted to fifty, and then fifty again for good measure, before cautiously approaching Dumbledore's office and knocking gingerly on the door.
"Ah, Harry. You've arrived safely. Come in, dear boy. Come in. Tea?"
(_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_)
Halfway down the winding staircase, Snape turned and walked quietly back to the Headmaster's office, stopping when he heard voices. An uncharacteristically broad smile creased his face. The door to the Headmaster's office was slightly ajar, and of course Potter would storm and stomp and shout like the arrogant, disrespectful little beast he was. For once, Snape couldn't complain about the boy's spoiled behaviour; it did, after all, afford him the ability to easily hear every word without the indignity of listening at the keyhole.
"I WON'T DO IT!"
"You must, Harry."
"BUT HE HATES ME! AND I HATE HIM! NO, I WON'T DO IT! I WON'T DO IT! IT'S DISGUSTING! HE'S DISGUSTING!"
"That's enough, Harry!" Dumbledore said, his voice whip-like. "I know you find it upsetting," he continued, his voice resuming its usual kindly tone, "but you must be protected. After the events of earlier this summer we cannot leave you in Little Whinging. This is our best option."
"Your best option is–"
"Your best option," Dumbledore interrupted.
"Your best option, that's what I said. If this is your best option, that means you've thought of others. I want to know what they are, because this one isn't acceptable. I won't do it."
"You will do it. There is no other choice, no other options." Dumbledore sighed deeply, his sharp blue eyes looking suddenly pale and watery. "It's for the best, Harry. Trust me."
"This is my LIFE!" Harry yelled.
"A life we are trying to save, Harry!" The words were at odds with Albus's tone, which conveyed a very clear warning. His patience was obviously at an end.
Potter had better wise up in a hurry, Snape thought.
And it seemed as if perhaps he had; his decibel level dropped by a factor of ten. "Look, I don't even know for sure that I'm gay, and if I am, I'm certainly not interested in Snape!"
Well, well. The boy had doubts about his sexuality. That was very useful information. It was very odd that Snape hadn't recognized that before. He usually had an instinct for these things, often knowing years before his students figured it out for themselves, and it wasn't as if he hadn't been paying attention to Potter all these years. Snape rubbed his hands together gleefully. In spite of the boy's venom, this was already working out better than expected. With a start, Snape brought his attention back to the voices behind the door, irritated to realize he had missed part of the conversation.
"... the prophecy, Harry. The risk is too great, as I said before. We are out of alternatives."
Snape could hear Potter pacing – it must be Potter, Albus would, of course, be sitting behind his desk in that irritatingly serene manner he had – but nothing else for a moment. At last the silence was broken.
"Why did you tell him to 'do it for Lily'?"
So, the brazen brat had been eavesdropping. Predictable.
"Professor Snape and your mother were very dear friends."
"That's a lie! They never were!"
The Headmaster sighed deeply. Snape could imagine the corners of his mouth turning down and the twinkle fading from his eyes. "I know you don't trust me the way you once did, Harry, and I understand at least some of the reasons why, but there is no other choice. You're going to have to trust me one more time. I am only concerned for your welfare. You must be protected at all costs. If you won't do it for me, or for yourself, do it for your mother who died trying to save you."
Snape didn't know whether to vomit or applaud; the old man was even better at manipulation than he was at magic. Unable to hear anything, Snape pressed his ear to the door. He could feel the silence that filled the room on the other side of the door almost pulsing against his ear. He knew that silence intimately. One, two, three, he counted silently. Four, and now Potter would break. If he didn't, Albus would threaten him with the Ministry; he'd have no choice.
In the event it didn't matter whether Potter and the Headmaster were speaking or not, Snape had heard enough. He turned and once again descended the spiral staircase, quietly this time, but no less swiftly. He had preparations to attend to in the dungeons.
(_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_)
Harry tied the letter to Hedwig's leg and gave her a lint-covered owl treat from his pocket. "Wait for a reply, will you? Don't leave until you get one. Hermione must know what all this means."
Hedwig gave Harry an affectionate nip on the ear, hooted softly, then spread her great wings and soared out the window. After staring after her long past the point she had disappeared into the twilit sky, Harry at last shrugged, turned, and began the long trek from the top of the West Tower to Snape's office in the dungeons.
"Come in," Snape said tensely as he opened the door wide and stepped aside, gesturing with the hand that wasn't tightly clenched around his wand.
"Scared?" Harry sneered, brushing roughly past and casting a derisive glance at the white-knuckle-wrapped wand at Snape's side. He wasn't a bit happy about being there; he had decided to go along with things for now, until he had a better idea, but he was not going to go along quietly. His eyes narrowed as Snape's wand hand jerked and then settled stiffly back to his side.
Snape cut right to the chase. "I will need to create a potion–"
"I know, Dumbledore told me so you can skip–"
Harry's back suddenly slammed against the wall. Snape had lunged forward, his wand pressed garrote-like across Harry's neck. "Mind your tongue, Potter," he said, managing to hiss a sentence without sibilants. "You are not my equal, no matter what your inflated ego would have you believe. I have complete authority here. The Headmaster will not interfere. So unless you think you can take me in a duel, I suggest you adjust your attitude."
Finally noticing that Harry's face was turning purple, Snape dropped his hands and stepped back. "You will show some respect, boy, or you will suffer the consequences." He walked across the room and when he turned back to face Harry, his expression, if not exactly pleasant, was at least no longer a twisted mask of rage.
"The ritual involves a potion and a spell. Do not interrupt me again; I don't care what the Headmaster told you. You will hear it again from me." Snape began to pace. "Creating the potion and casting the spell will both require bodily fluids from each of us."
Harry goggled. He shook his head and twisted his finger in his ear as if he hadn't heard right. Surely not! The idea was...repugnant. Not a word he'd ever used before, or heard anyone else use; he couldn't even remember having read it, but he knew what it meant and it was perfect.
"The whole idea is repugnant," Harry said, trying to keep the nervousness out of his voice.
"Spell that," Snape commanded mockingly.
"R - E – P–" Harry began.
Snape silenced him with a grimace and a wave of his hand. "If we've any hope of coexisting peacefully, you'll have to learn to recognise, appreciate and distinguish between sarcasm, irony, wit and snark. I wouldn't have expected the great Harry Potter to be so squeamish. Repugnant or not, it is required."
"Fine," Harry said, suddenly jerking his robe over his head and fumbling at the buttons of his flies. "Let's just get it over with then!" He was very nearly shouting. He knew it wasn't a good idea, but he couldn't seem to help it.
Assuming one of his patented unreadable looks, Snape leant against the wall, folded his arms across his chest, and watched Harry strip.
"Well?" Harry challenged. He jerked his head at Snape. "Get on with it!"
Snape waited until Harry was down to pants and socks then slowly let his gaze travel up and down Harry's near naked and embarrassingly skinny frame. "What precisely do you think you're doing?" He sounded almost regretful.
"You said bodily fluids were required. I know what that means. Look, Snape–"
"Show some respect, you little worm."
"Professor," Harry said with exaggerated, if somewhat snarling courtesy. "Can we just get this over with so I can spend the rest of what remains of my life trying to pretend it never happened?"
"From precisely where were you expecting me to draw blood? Not your penis, surely? Judging from what I can see, or more exactly can't see, I sincerely doubt I'd be able to get enough of a grip to raise a vein."
Harry ignored the insult as horrified realization dawned. "Blood?" He curled his hands protectively across his y-fronts.
"A prick of the finger is all that's required, however, if you'd prefer I finger your prick..."
"You bastard! You could have explained that bit before I stripped down!"
"And miss a golden opportunity?"
Snarling, Harry got dressed again and offered up his arm. After he'd sacrificed what seemed like at least twelve pints of blood, Snape pushed him roughly down into a chair. The Potions master leant in and jabbed Harry's chest with a menacing finger. "The potion is a simple one and takes precisely forty-seven minutes to brew. You will sit there. You will not move. You will not wander around the room. You will not look at my papers or the potions supplies or in my desk. You will not fidget. The potion is simple, yet delicate. If you distract me at any point I will have to start over from the beginning. The sooner I'm done, the sooner we 'can get this over with so you can spend the rest of what remains of your life–'"
"I get the picture," Harry interrupted angrily. "I won't move. Can I at least have something to read?"
Snape shook his head. "The turning of pages would annoy me and I haven't got anything simple enough. You would have to sound out the words, and if there is anything I find more annoying than your inability to sit still, it's proof of your intellectual incapacity. So no, you may not have something to read. Now, be silent!"
Things were not going well at all – not that Harry had exactly been expecting them to, Snape was, after all, Snape and no less a bastard than usual, but Harry was, at core, an optimist. Here, in the silence and the damp stone chill of the dungeon, the flame of optimism guttered. Sitting still for an hour without fidgeting was agony. His throat hurt from the force of Snape's violent lesson, and his pride even more. Harry couldn't even allow himself to fall asleep, actually afraid that he might start snoring. Not that he could have slept in any case; it was fucking freezing in the dungeons. He should have put his robe back on when he'd had the chance. Did shivering count as fidgeting? Probably. Harry wrapped his arms around himself and hunkered down in the chair, earning a black look from Snape.
Snape awakened Harry by thrusting a bottle into his hands and commanding, "Drink that. One long, continuous draught. Do not spill a drop."
"What's in it?" Harry asked groggily.
"Your blood and my semen," Snape sneered. "Now drink it!"
"What now? Don't I even get a chance to–"
"Once again, I give you your own words: the sooner we get this over with..."
"This is the rest of my life though, isn't it?" Harry asked morosely as the enormity of the situation truly hit him for the first time.
"Beat you over the head repeatedly with a fact and apparently it can sink in. Wonders never cease. Now drink."
"Don't we need witnesses, or something?" He was not ready for this and no escape plan was presenting itself.
"I sincerely doubt even someone with your exhibitionist tendencies would want a witness to this, Potter."
Another in the growing list of things that weren't reassuring. Sighing, Harry uncorked the bottle Snape had given him and tipped it back, trying not to think of the alleged ingredients; he wasn't sure whether or not Snape had been joking. He grimaced as he swallowed, more out of habit than anything – the potion was mostly tasteless, leaving only a slight sourness on the back of his tongue. He watched carefully as Snape drank his own bottle, making sure that the level of liquid actually diminished; he wouldn't put it past the bastard to fake his part.
"Now what?" Harry asked cautiously. The potion seemed to turn hot once it hit his stomach and it sent an unfamiliar fire racing through his veins. He blinked once, twice, and then the fire was gone.
"Now I cast the spell, we recite the requisite words, and we're done." Snape moved behind him and pressed close, fingers digging clawlike into Harry's shoulders as he involuntarily jerked away.
"Yes. Our energies must combine, our magics must entwine until they flow through us as a single, continuous stream of power." From behind, Snape captured Harry's hands. Pressing his thumbs lightly into the centre of Harry's palms and his middle fingers against the veins in Harry's wrists, he shifted his position and moved in closer until a sheet of parchment could not have squeezed between their bodies.
"Do you have to–"
"Yes!" Snape hissed. "Be silent until I give you your oath to repeat."
Harry scowled, but didn't speak again. He could feel what was unmistakably Snape's erection digging into his back. Pervy old sod. Snape radiated heat and, cold deep into his bones, Harry could not keep from pressing back, trying to warm himself. He was frankly relieved that nerves kept his own cock from getting hard; if it had, he was sure Snape would never let him live it down.
(_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_)
Pressing firmly against Potter had felt...very nice indeed. It was a pity Potter hadn't seemed to enjoy it. Was it possible Albus had been wrong about the boy's sexual preferences? That would make things more difficult. A little hesitance in the beginning was to be expected, but Snape's penis wasn't going to tolerate a long siege. Relaxing in the cool, dark comfort of his quarters, Snape replayed the events of earlier in the evening.
"I don't feel any different," Harry said as the flaring light died. "Shouldn't I feel different? It seems like I should feel different."
Really, it was a pity the boy had ever learned to speak. Snape released Harry's hands and stepped back.
"Regardless of how you feel, for better or worse we are now bonded. There are, of course, rules by which you will be expected to abide, proper behaviour as befits your new status as my bondmate." The word tasted odd in Snape's mouth and it was hard to keep from rolling his eyes. "I am the senior partner in this pairing, the power and authority for the relationship is in my hands. Ah!" Snape smiled nastily. "Something the Headmaster didn't tell you. Professor Dumbledore is many things, but no one's fool. No doubt he was utterly sick of your childish behaviour and decided to leave well enough alone before your threw a fit on his office floor."
Potter made a rude gesture and Snape's smile got nastier.
"You will do as I say. Of course you will retain some measure of self-determination, but trust me when I say: what the magic does not demand, I will. You will obey me. You will be polite and respectful. In return, I will treat you reasonably well. Responsibility for your food, your clothing–" Snape cast a disparaging eye over Harry's jeans and T-shirt, "–you will retain control over whatever is in your vault, and I will take care of the needs of daily living. In exchange, you will treat me with the respect owed as your teacher, your senior, and your better. At such time as I deem appropriate, you will provide me with an heir."
"What?" Harry was pretending to ignore Snape, idly examining the bookshelves and dragging his finger over the few odd things Snape had lying about, but this last statement drew his attention and his head snapped around violently.
"You will provide me with an heir when I decide it's time."
"If you think I'm going to kidnap some poor kid–"
"Don't be ridiculous!" Snape said, baring his crooked, yellow teeth in an unpleasant smile. "I expect an heir of my body, and yours, of course."
Harry laughed out loud and then stopped suddenly as dawned on him that Snape was not joking. "That's not possible," he said flatly.
Snape rubbed his eyelid with his finger, pressing firmly on the eyeball behind it in a way that should have brought relief for his nascent headache, but didn't, and asked, "Are you completely ignorant of the basic facts of wizarding life? You do know how children are made, don't you?"
"Yes, I do," Harry retorted. "And I bloody well haven't got a cun- er, a vag- uh, the necessary equipment."
"You little idiot. Sex will occur in the usual way it does between men."
"I do know something about basic biology, you know. I can't get pregnant just because you–" Harry stopped short and took several deep breaths, a slow flush creeping across his cheeks, "–just because you stick it up my bum."
Snape stretched his legs in front of the fire and Summoned a bottle and glass. Potter's innocence was amusing. Snape was going to enjoy taking it.
"Will wonders never cease? You do know something after all. No, Potter, you cannot get pregnant simply from me buggering you, but there's a little something we call magic. You've heard of it, I suppose?"
Eyes wide, Harry searched Snape's face, desperately seeking something that would give lie to the man's words. "You're serious, aren't you? Oh god, I feel sick." He stumbled over to a chair and sank heavily into it.
"You've had a shock," Snape said, managing a tone that was not unkind. "Take some time for yourself. We can have this discussion later."
Eyes glazed, Harry rose heavily to his feet and staggered blindly towards the door.
"Potter!" Snape called just as Harry touched the door handle. "Be back by nine o'clock tonight. We can't delay things forever." It didn't seem possible the boy could turn any paler, but his face was white as milk as he dumbly nodded. Snape waved him through the door, giving his retreating back a farewell smirk.
Glancing at the clock, Snape smiled. The evening should prove entertaining if nothing else.
(_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_) (_|_)
Outside it was much warmer than it had been in the dungeons. Harry walked aimlessly about the school grounds. He thought about visiting Hagrid, but the groundskeeper was preparing for a summer holiday away, and Harry decided he wouldn't be able pretend there was nothing wrong. What he really wanted was to talk to Hermione and Ron. Even if they didn't have any ideas, at least they would understand and sympathise with his horror – Dumbledore had given Harry permission to tell them, although he had stressed that they must be sworn to secrecy and no one else could know – but Hedwig wouldn't even have arrived in Transylvania yet.
Harry stopped at the lake, watching ripples spread as the squid lazily pirouetted through the calm waters. He had no idea what to do with himself. Snape had given him a reprieve, which was unexpected, but the hours between now and nine o'clock were going to be hard to fill. It was odd really, when you thought about it. Normally he never lacked for something to do while he was at Hogwarts. On the other hand, he had never been there when all of the students and most of the staff were gone. What did the teachers do to keep themselves entertained? Other than destroying the lives of sixteen year old orphans?
The common room was cold and empty, his dorm room equally unwelcoming. The library was boring, the Great Hall abandoned. Even the kitchen was unusually quiet, empty except for two house-elves furiously scrubbing an enormous pile of pots and pans to a brilliant shine; Dobby was nowhere to be seen. Sighing, Harry helped himself to a couple of apples from a bowl and morosely shambled back outside and down to the lake.
The sun was low on the horizon when Harry woke up. He grunted and wiped a string of drool from his chin as he rolled onto his stomach.
"Hello, Harry. It's been a lovely day, hasn't it? Perfect for a long nap in the sun."
Harry looked up, shading his eyes from the glare. "Hullo, Headmaster." It was somehow disconcerting to see Dumbledore outside the castle walls and even more so to find him sitting comfortably on the grass less than a foot away.
"I'm surprised you're not with Severus. I would have thought–"
"Yeah, well he gave me a few hours reprieve," Harry responded angrily. "I suppose you'd rather I'd spent the whole day freezing my arse off in the dungeons and mooning over him."
"I will admit I would be happier to find you reconciled to your situation."
"Sorry to disappoint you then," Harry said, not sounding in the least sorry. "I'd better go," he continued, rolling to his feet. "My lord and master only gave me my freedom until nine o'clock. It must be near that now." He walked a few paces away and then turned back. "He says I'm to give him an heir. Do you see what you've done to my life?" And with that, he stalked away.
"Harry–" Dumbledore called after him, sounding somewhat agitated, but Harry did not look back.
Whatever dim hope he’d had that Snape would have forgotten or been called away died when the door swung open. Harry's determination to act as if he wasn't worried faded into confusion as he realised that Snape had not exactly answered the door himself. It wasn't possible to brush unconcernedly past the smug bastard when the smug bastard was sitting behind his desk, chin resting in his hand, apparently engrossed in a book.
"Um, Professor, I'm here. Right on time."
Snape marked his place with a thin ribbon of silk and closed his book. He looked up at Harry, his expression bland.
"So you are. I trust you had a pleasant afternoon."
It was not posed as a question and Snape's tone did not invite conversation, so Harry simply nodded.
"Are you a virgin?"
Obviously small talk was a skill Snape had never bothered to acquire, or a skill he wasn't going to waste on Harry.
Harry squirmed. His first instinct was to lie, but he figured Snape would know if he did, at least eventually. Snape was old and even as ugly as he was, he'd probably still had a lot of sex; he would have had to at his age. Not that Snape' would have ever had a girlfriend – no matter what Dumbledore had implied about Harry's mother - that was just stupid – but Death Eater orgies were a favourite after-hours topic in the Gryffindor common room, so there was that. If the rumours of orgies weren't true, there would have been whores. It was easy to imagine Snape disdainfully throwing coins on a stained mattress in a dingy room. Ugly or not, the man had to know what he was about. And Harry'd heard Dumbledore say Snape was gay, hadn't he? Of course he'd also said Harry was gay and there was no way he could know that, since Harry himself wasn't sure, so maybe Dumbledore was wrong about Snape.
Or maybe he wasn't. It would be interesting, to say the least, to have sex with someone who knew what they were doing. Fooling around with other students was all hurried fumbling and too many elbows and no clear idea of what best went where, at least in Harry's extremely limited experience. There were probably those who got some regularly, but they certainly weren't looking Harry's way. It was funny how he could look exactly like his dad but still not be good-looking whereas James had definitely been handsome. Unfair that. His dad had probably got loads. Well, maybe not, because that would mean Harry's mother had, and she wouldn't have, Harry knew that. Of course she might have had loads with James, but that wasn't something Harry was going to think about. In fact, it made him feel a little sick to consider it. It was just gross, although not as gross as the idea of her and Snape. Where did Dumbledore get off, suggesting something like that, anyway?
"I asked you a question, Potter," Snape said impatiently, snapping Harry out of his reverie.
"Yes, uh, no." Harry didn't meet Snape's eyes. The grouchy old bugger's temper had risen quickly and Harry didn't want to end up with a wand at his throat again; it was best to feign docility and humiliation as long as he could. "Not as such."
Snape made a noise like a fly trapped in a fold of old parchment. It might have been repressed laughter, if Snape laughed, which of course he didn't. "Not as such. I see." He muttered something under his breath. Harry caught the words Albus and owe me.
"I didn't ask for this, you know," Harry said gloomily, feeling deeply offended and not exactly knowing why.
"Neither did I. Well, it's too late to worry about minor details now and it's not as if I'm any more enthusiastic than you. There's a minimum that's required, of course, but there's no particular hurry." Snape turned and began to walk towards his office door. "Don't just stand there, you dolt. Follow me."
"Where?" Harry asked, still hanging back, his voice full of suspicion.
Snape gave him a withering look. "My quarters, unless you'd rather we move into your dormitory. I'm sure that will go over well with your cohort when they return."
"Right, I'll just follow you then, shall I?"
The path from Snape's office to his quarters was convoluted. They walked up stairs and down stairs and along corridors and down more stairs and up more stairs until Harry had no idea at all where in the castle they were. Finally, they stopped in front of a narrow wooden door. Snape took Harry by the shoulders and faced him to the wall opposite. "When you have proven yourself trustworthy, if you ever do, I shall grant you free access, but for now, you will not come here unless you are in my company."
"Not as if I could find my way. Where are we?"
Harry just shook his head in annoyance. He knew that Snape knew what he was asking.
A loud screech, like fingernails on a blackboard, rent the silence. Snape said, "Come," and Harry turned to see the narrow door grind open.
Snape's rooms were not as gloomy as Harry expected. Fewer cobwebs. Less dust. No bats. And no implements of torture. At least none out in plain sight.
Snape stood in the middle of the room and pointed. "Kitchen. Bathroom. Library. Bedroom. There's no point in beating about the bush. Come with me." He strode across the front room towards the one he had indicated as the bedroom. "Don't dawdle. I have a potion brewing in my private lab and I have to attend to it before we retire."
"You're quite the romantic bloke, aren't you?" Harry said, trying for flippancy and not completely able to hide a small grin as he followed Snape. He turned slowly around the surprisingly large room, and took in the single, narrow bed. "Where do I sleep?"
"With me," Snape said shortly, "unless you prefer a blanket on the floor."
"Blanket on the floor, I reckon," Harry said, looking askance at the small mattress.
"Very well. Just remember, you asked for it." Snape grabbed Harry's arm, spun him and pushed him down to the floor next to the bed. He stalked across to a large wardrobe.
"Oi! That was completely unnecessary." Harry gingerly rubbed his elbow.
"Enough, Potter!" Snape snapped. "I've had quite enough of your smart mouth and arrogant attitude." He turned back towards Harry. The torchlight gleamed off of something in his hands.
Before Harry could identify the shiny objects, Snape was kneeling on the floor next to him and fastening a collar around his neck. "What–" Harry objected.
"The floor was your choice. You wish to behave like a dog rather than a civilised person, you will be treated as a dog. I will not have you roaming my rooms at will." He fastened heavy metal bands to Harry's left wrist and ankle. "You will sleep on the floor, chained, tonight and every night until you apologize. You will not use the furniture, you will eat you food out of a bowl on the floor."
"If you say one more word before I expressly invite you to, you will be forbidden use of the bathroom. I will escort you outside three times a day, on leash, and you may do your business outside as any other dog would do. Do not, Mr Potter, make the mistake of thinking I will give in before you. You are entirely too young, too skinny, too stupid, and too ordinary for me to have any interest in you, had the Headmaster not forced me into this arrangement. I will not allow you to make it worse for me than it already is. Do not," Snape said, his tone deadly now as Harry opened his mouth to protest again, "speak until you have permission, or it will not go well with you. After five years as my student, and with a collar around your neck, I think even you must realise there is ample evidence I will do as I promise."
Snape turned his back on Harry. Pulling a folded blanket from the end of the bed he threw it at Harry. "If you need another, bark."
Harry's lips tightened. He toed off his shoes, curled up where he was and pulled the blanket over him.
"If you need to use the toilet during the night, bark. Nox!"
The room went black as the bottom of a mineshaft and the ambient temperature plunged. Harry pulled the thin blanket tighter around his shoulders. Bastard could have at least given me a pillow. Snape moved surely through the dark room and closed the door behind him.
Testing his collar, Harry found it smooth. In spite of the fact that Snape had buckled it on him, there was now no fastening to be felt. Huddling miserably in his blanket, Harry thought that perhaps he should have agreed to share the bed; the floor was cold as the grave, and there was no way he was going to bark like a dog.
It was only a few minutes before he heard Snape's footsteps again. Small sounds sounded unnaturally loud as he listened to Snape move competently through the pitch black. A drawer squeaked, a cupboard door groaned, the bedsprings creaked, there was the sound of a pillow being punched up, then Snape yawned deeply and all was silent. Harry curled up into a tight ball to conserve heat and eventually drifted to sleep.
It seemed only a few minutes later he felt Snape's foot digging into his ribs.
"You have ten minutes in the bathroom. Ten minutes. Use them wisely."
The collar fell away with a thud and a tinkle. Harry rubbed his neck and then struggled to his feet. His muscles ached from the cold and all his limbs were stiff as he stumbled to the bathroom. There was no hot water, and without his wand, Harry couldn't do anything about it. He filled the basin with cold and plunged his head into it. Eyes closes, water streaming from his hair, he fumbled for a flannel from a shelf of towels. Shivering, he wet it and scrubbed himself down as best he could. Washing his hair with a bar of soap left it lank and greasy as Snape's. Sighing, Harry dressed himself, then cleaned the basin, taking time to wipe the tap, and hung his towel on a hook. Looking around, knowing Snape would be angry if he didn't leave the room as neat as he'd found it, Harry saw he had spilled water on the floor. There was nothing but his towel to mop it up with. Great. He'd put money on it that Snape wouldn't allow him another one.
"Fifteen minutes, Potter. Five minutes over your allotted time. One stroke per minute. Assume the position."
"What? What position?"
"Drop your trousers, bend over, grab your ankles."
"I will not!"
"Oh, but you will," Snape said calmly. His wand flicked through the air and Harry's clothes puddled on the floor. A curve was described in the air and Harry doubled over, his hands gripping his ankles against his will. Ropes burst from the tip of Snape's wand and bound him tightly in position. In a voice dripping with satisfaction, Snape called, "Accio birch!". There was an evil whooshing sound and then something smacked into Snape's hand. Turning Harry's head to one side with the toe of his boot, Snape held a long, thin rod of polished white wood in front of his eyes. "You will learn to obey me. Some lessons will come harder than others. As a reward for your insolence, you have earned another two stripes, seven in total. You're lucky I'm in a good mood, or it would have been fifteen. Your instinct will be to hold your breath, but it will go easier if you grab a deep lungful between strokes. Because it is your first time – I trust it is your first time? – I will not insist on you keeping count."
Snape stepped away and that was all the warning Harry got before the birch rod whistled through the air and blazed a long stripe into his naked flesh. Harry screamed and then promptly clamped his mouth shut. He would not give Snape the satisfaction. Again the rod whistled. He would not give Snape the satisfaction. He would not. He would NOT! He would not. He would not.
It was over. The ropes disappeared and Harry collapsed, groaning softly, onto the floor. His arse cheeks burned fiercely, but even through his haze of pain he realised with surprise that Snape had actually gone easy on him.
"Stand up, Potter. No, leave your clothes where they are. Come here."
Harry had only been bound for a few minutes but his legs felt numb, clumsy. He stumbled across the room to where Snape was calmly sitting in a chair. "I hate you," he said hoarsely, wiping a speck of blood from his bottom lip; he had bitten down to hard in his efforts to keep from screaming.
"And I you. Come closer. That's good, now turn around."
Long fingers smeared something cool into Harry's flaming flesh, soothing it. It felt so good he almost didn't notice Snape's other hand slipping around his hip and taking his hardening cock in hand.
"NO!" Harry tried to jerk out of Snape's grasp.
"Shhh, Potter. Be still. I'm not going to hurt you. Believe me when I say it will make things easier." Snape stroked Harry's cock gently, his fingers slick with the same cool gel he continued to work into Harry's bum. "Consider it another lesson," he said. "A more pleasant lesson."
Harry wanted to resist, to fight Snape's caresses, but the stroking fingers did make things easier, distracting him from the pain of his flayed buttocks. Suddenly the grip on his cock tightened, and the fingers on his arse dug in deeper. With a moan he couldn't hold back, even though his teeth were sinking into his torn lip again, Harry spurted into Snape's hand.
"Bit quick off the mark, aren't you? Well, perhaps it's just a sign of latent tendencies." Snape wiped his hand clean on Harry's hip and then pressed a small pot into his hand. "Rub this into your buttocks twice more today. Now," he continued, pushing Harry away and standing up, "I'm hungry. I suppose you are as well?"
Harry nodded. He hadn't eaten anything since the pilfered apples the day before. Walking across the room, he stooped to pick up his clothes, but they vanished before his fingers touched them.
"No. Your punishment is not over. You still owe me an apology for last night."
Harry's mouth opened, then closed again. He couldn't. He hadn't done anything wrong, and he'd just been caned for taking fifteen minutes in the bathroom instead of ten. If anyone owed an apology, it was Snape.
"Very well. Accio collar!"
Harry had to lie on the kitchen floor as Snape cooked a small pot of porridge, then made and consumed a full breakfast and read his mail. When Snape was done, he scooped the porridge, now a cold, sodden lump, into a bowl and placed the bowl on the floor. Nudging it with his booted foot towards Harry, he said, "You can refuse to eat, but you won't be given anything else until you've eaten that. The option is yours."
Harry glared at him, but his stomach was pinched with hunger and he knew Snape would be as good as his word. He hunched over the bowl and tentatively stuck a finger into the gelatinous mass. Snape's boot connected with his wrist.
"Like a dog, boy. Lap it up."
Snape stood over Harry until the bowl was empty, then picked it up and stacked it with the rest of the breakfast dishes. "I will be in my lab. You don't deserve it, but you may lie on the rug in front of the fire. I haven't time to coddle you if you get sick." He fastened a rope through Harry's collar and led him to the sitting room. Tying the free end of the rope to a bolt in the wall, he checked the slack and then nodded. "That should keep you out of trouble. You will learn, Potter. You will learn."
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The hospital wing felt strange and forbidding in a way it never had before. The wards had an abandoned look – not that they had usually been occupied by more than a student or two in Harry's all too frequent sojourns there – and the corners seemed to be full of ominous shadows. Everything seemed shadowy these days.
Harry wasn't sure he wanted to be here – his stomach was in knots about it – but he had to talk to somebody. A week had passed since the bonding with Snape. A week of sleeping on the cold floor. A week of eating from a bowl like a dog. When, on the third day, Snape had released him from his chains and told him to make himself scarce, he had immediately gone to see if Hedwig was back – she wasn't – and then tried to find the Headmaster, but Dumbledore had refused to talk to him, saying he was too busy at the moment.
In their first meeting Dumbledore had said he would not forbid Harry to tell Hermione and Ron everything, but until Hedwig returned there was nothing Harry could do. Maybe it took longer to get to Transylvania than he'd thought. Whatever the case, surely Dumbledore couldn't object to him talking to the school nurse, especially as the man himself now seemed to be avoiding Harry like the plague.
"Madam Pomfrey?" Harry called out tentatively. He didn't even know if she was at Hogwarts this summer; he hadn't seen her at meals and this was the first time he'd ventured into the hospital wing since he'd arrived. "Madam Pomfrey?" he tried again, a little louder this time.
Harry jumped. He hadn't heard the nurse come up behind him.
"You look fit enough. I trust there isn't something wrong? It's very late for a visit, not that I'm not delighted to see you."
"It's not that late, is it?" Harry asked sheepishly, taking in her nightdress and sensible slippers. "I mean, it's not quite nine o'clock yet. I didn't think it would be too late. I'm sorry if I'm bothering you. Maybe I should just come back in the morning." Harry was edging his way towards the door, suddenly feeling as if he'd made a terrible mistake.
"Nonsense!" Madam Pomfrey said briskly. "I was just surprised. No harm done. Shall we have some tea?" She waved her wand and a jolly, round, bright red teapot appeared out of thin air. It winked at Harry and then tipped itself to fill two cups that had appeared just as suddenly, full of gently steaming tea. Madam Pomfrey sat on the edge of a bed and patted the spot next to her. "Sit down, my dear. Have some tea and tell me what's on your mind."
Harry clutched his teacup as if it were a lifeline. "I...um...well...you see...this is really awkward."
Madam Pomfrey made comforting noises and patted his knee. Finally, he managed to get it all out: Snape, the bonding, the expectations of an heir. Well, not all of it. In the event he found he didn't really want to talk about the handjob and how much he’d liked it. Madam Pomfrey looked concerned, aghast, and indomitable in turns, but she held her tongue until he finished, then gave him some very practical advice.
Harry listened avidly, feeling much cheered by what she had to say. Perhaps things would be all right after all.
"You won't tell anyone, will you? Only Professor Dumbledore said I mustn't tell anyone and I think he's already angry with me, because of what I did to my uncle, and having to bring me away from Little Whinging."
"It will be very hard to keep from giving Albus Dumbledore a piece of my mind. I don't know what he was thinking, a young lad like you! But no, Harry. Everything we've said here today is just between the two of us."
Patting his knee again, Madam Pomfrey smiled, rose from the bed, and disappeared into her office. Harry could hear her talking to herself. "Now, let me see. I haven't had call for it in donkey's years but, ah, yes! Here it is!" She came back into the room carrying a dusty blue bottle and held it out to Harry. "Whenever you decide the time has come, you can begin taking this twice a day. It would be best if you come to me immediately. We'll want to make sure everything is as it should be before you share your news.
"Thanks, Madam Pomfrey," Harry said with a relieved smile. "I'm really glad I came to you."
"Me too, Harry. Me too. Now, scoot off to bed, young man. You need your strength for everything that lies ahead. Remember, for the first month after you start taking the potion, I'll want to check up on you every week or so." She smiled at him and rested a strong, comforting hand on his shoulder. "Don't you worry, Harry. I promise you, everything will be all right, or my name isn't Poppy Pomfrey."
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"What were you thinking?" Albus stared down his nose at Snape, wearing a weary, disappointed expression. It was a look that once upon a time had made Snape writhe uncomfortably; now it had no effect whatsoever.
"It's merely an added way of controlling him until he gets used to the idea. You know how recalcitrant he can be. I simply gave him something to chew on. He'll figure it out soon enough. After all, this whole thing was your idea." Snape was enjoying himself thoroughly – Potter under his thumb and the Headmaster in checkmate. "You will just have to trust that I know what I'm doing."
"Mark my words, Severus. You're playing a very dangerous game. Do not discount Harry's extraordinary way of shifting the landscape. You'll end up regretting this." Dumbledore shook his head sadly. "Well, what's done is done. Do you have any news for me?"
Snape shook his head. "He's been unusually quiet. I don't expect it will last much longer."
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Hedwig's continued absence was beginning to be worrisome. She should have been back by now. What if something had happened to her? He'd never know. Or maybe something was wrong with the Weasleys. Harry shook his head angrily. He was just being stupid. It was his own fault for telling Hedwig to wait. Ron and Hermione were probably having too much fun with the dragons to write. He'd just have to send another owl.
Fumbling in his pocket, Harry pulled out a scrap of parchment and a biro. I know you're busy, he wrote, but I really need your help. Snape says I'm to bear his child. I can't find any books about it in the library. Write back, please. Harry. He rolled the scrap and tied it to the leg of a school owl. "Fast as you can, boy. Fast as you possibly can. You needn't wait for an answer. Hedwig'll bring it." He cradled the big brown owl in his hands for a minute before thrusting it out the window and letting go. The owl tumbled in the air briefly, then hooting irritably, spread its wings and sailed away.
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"It's about time you showed up, Potter. It was foolish of you to stay out so late."
Startled, Harry jumped. He turned around and his jaw dropped as Snape emerged from the bathroom. Now that was just unfair! A man as ugly as Snape from the neck up had no business having that build and that cock. Obviously the universe was an unjust place. A bastard like that should be hung like a house-elf, not a thestral. Without even being aware of it, Harry had taken a step forward and his hand seemed to be rising and stretching out to touch completely independent of his will. And it wasn't just his hand rising and stretching either. Damn it. It suddenly occurred to him he could probably stop wondering if he was really queer.
Would apologising really be such a bad thing? Night after night after night, Harry had lain on the cold floor and listened to Snape breathe. His resolve not to apologise had been strengthened when Snape had, completely out of the blue, provided him with a thin mattress – true, it was filled with something crunchy and covered with fabric that scratched, but after the hard stone it had felt like heaven under Harry's aching bones – but his determination had also been weakened by occasionally hearing Snape masturbating. And now, seeing exactly what it was that Snape had so assiduously been working...well, it was almost more than a man could bear.
"Bedtime, boy," Snape said, yawning widely as he disappeared into the bedroom.
Heart pounding in his chest, Harry followed. He was disappointed to see Snape slip the usual grey nightshirt over his head. Harry wasn't quite sure what he felt when he saw his thin mattress adorned with an extra blanket folded neatly atop a pillow. Stupid fucking bastard! What did he want to go and do a thing like that for? Did Snape think Harry so weak he would cave in because of a pillow and extra blanket? Did he expect Harry to grovel for a little comfort? If that's what he thought, he had another think coming.
"It seems colder than usual. I don't want you getting sick. You're little enough use to me as it is," Snape said as he crawled under his own duvet and sighed luxuriously. "Nox!"
Snarling inside, Harry flopped down on his pallet and crawled under his original threadbare blanket. He stripped off under cover as, being unwilling to give Snape a floorshow, had become his habit. As usual, the temperature in the room plunged as soon as the light was extinguished. Even knowing it was just a trick Snape used to get under his skin, Harry had to admit it was pretty good magic. He wasn't going to fall for it though. He was not going to be bought off. Thrusting the offending pillow and extra blanket to one side, Harry rolled over onto his stomach. Shivering, unable to get comfortable, he rolled back. It was then that it dawned on him: Snape had gone to bed without binding Harry into his cuffs and collar!
What was he up to? Was it possible that he was simply being kind? Harry snorted with amusement at the thought of Snape being kind. Without thinking he pulled the new pillow over his head to stifle his laughter. When he had calmed himself it suddenly seemed pointless not to use the gifts, no matter what the reason they'd been given.
It was much warmer with two blankets, much more comfortable with a pillow. Relaxing the first time since he'd returned to Hogwarts, Harry folded his arms under his head. Above him he could hear Snape's quiet, steady breathing; through the open bedroom door, he could hear the soft ticking of the clock centred on the mantel over the hearth. It really wasn't so bad, was it? Snape had been a right berk when they'd started, but lately the man was almost pleasant, or less snappish, at any rate. It was true that he still made Harry sleep on the floor, but that had been Harry's choice, hadn't it? Eating out of a dog's dish had been humiliating, but Snape had said Harry would have to do that until he apologised, and Harry hadn't apologised yet, had he? And the last few weeks he'd eaten at the table, and eaten the same food Snape ate. It was confusing. It wasn't like Snape to give in so easily. Harry now had the freedom of the castle and its grounds, if not of Snape's quarters. Although...he was free now, wasn't he? He could get up and prowl around if he wanted, see what things Snape was hiding.
Harry yawned and stretched. He didn't really want to get up, it was warm under his blankets. Snape probably didn't keep anything in his quarters worth snooping into; he wouldn't have left Harry unbound if he had. In a lot of ways, it was better here than it had been in Little Whinging. Even with the canings.
Three times Snape had brought out the birch rod. Three times five strokes, plus the two extra he'd earned the first time. Three times Snape had rubbed salve into Harry's arse and then stroked him off. It wasn't as unpleasant as it should have been. Snape had actually spared him, always carefully limiting the force of his blows. It stung like the devil, but the third time Harry was caned, knowing what would follow, he had been hard as anything before the last blow fell. If Snape had noticed – and it was impossible to imagine he hadn't – he didn't comment, but simply massaged in the salve and brought Harry to completion in record time.
Every once in awhile, alone in their shared bathroom or hanging about in the empty boys' dorm in Gryffindor Tower, Harry toyed with himself and with the idea of deliberately earning another caning. He was thinking about it now, if it came to that. Still, he'd never acted on it. Who knew what Snape would do if really provoked? Harry's cock twitched and he quietly adjusted himself. No good thinking about it now when he couldn't do anything about it. He'd best think of something else. He settled his head a little deeper into his pillow and let his mind wander. It didn't wander very far. You saw Snape naked, it said. You saw Snape's cock.
And wow! Who would have thought Snape had a body under those robes? Seeing him naked, that had been a right shock. Harry hadn't really had time to get a good look, so it was surprising how perfect his recall was. Shoulders that would have been wide if they hadn't rolled in. Good chest, well-defined with only a smattering of coarse black hairs around his dark nipples. And Merlin's tits! That cock! Nobody had a cock like that. Hagrid couldn't have a cock like that. OK, ick. Not thinking of Hagrid's cock. Not thinking of Hagrid's cock. Thinking about Snape's cock. Snape's big fat cock. How strange was that? Thinking of Snape's big fat cock. Flaccid it was bigger than Harry's was erect. Harry wondered what Snape's cock would be like hard. No, that was too weird. He was not getting hard thinking of Snape's cock. Not Snape's cock. Not Snape. Surprising he'd have so little hair on his chest and such thick hair down there. Wonder if it's greasy too?
Merriment welled up inside him and Harry turned over again, biting his pillow to keep from laughing out loud. His cock surged as it made firm contact with the mattress. Still trying not to laugh, Harry experimented with grinding his hips, then stopped immediately as the straw-filled mattress made crackling noises under him.
There was a deep sigh from above. Suddenly Snape's legs swung over the edge of the bed, nearly cracking Harry's head open. "Potter," he said in a tone of deep disgust. "I don't know what's got into you, but if you don't cease immediately, I won't be responsible for my actions."
That did not help matters at all. It seemed Harry's cock quite liked the idea of Snape not being responsible for his actions. With a silent groan, Harry rolled to his side, facing away from Snape. He didn't think Snape could see in the dark, but he wouldn't put it past him.
"Sorry," said Harry. "I think I need to use the toilet."
"Then do so, and make haste, wretched beast! The sooner you settle down, the sooner I can go back to sleep."
Wrapping one of his blankets carefully around him, Harry sped off to the bathroom. His cock was nearly screaming for attention. Surprised Snape can't hear that, Harry thought. Grabbing a flannel, Harry pumped once, twice, three times and came, biting his lip to keep from shouting out. Panting, he rested one hand against the wall over the toilet and tried to pee, but even though he had just come, he was still too hard.
"Time's up, boy!" Snape snapped from the other side of the closed door. "Get your insignificant arse back in here and explain yourself!"
Harry's eyes shuttered. Fuck! How am I supposed to explain this? He picked up his blanket from where it had fallen and wrapped himself in it again. Harry took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, made sure he was decently covered, and stepped out into the room.
Snape had lit the bedside candles. He was sitting up in bed, bare-chested, with an inscrutable look on his face. Harry suddenly couldn't breathe. His pallet on the floor was gone, pillow and blankets nowhere to be seen. He took a tentative step forward, felt his legs wobbling and stopped. Snape smirked.
"Feeling a bit unsteady, are we? Well, if you can't walk, you'll just have to crawl."
Summoning up all his courage, Harry said calmly, "No. I won't. That's just sad, that you'd even want me to. You're just a sad old pervert." It was sad. But, a little voice in Harry's head said, you have to admit, it's kind of hot, too. Under its protective covering, Harry's cock jerked.
"No so old, and not a bit sad. Pervert I'll grant you." Snape thin lips curved in an infuriating, superior smirk. "But I'll let you in on something I've learned over the course of the last month. You're a pervert too, boy."
"I am not," Harry said, his face flushing.
"Are you challenging me, boy?"
"Stop calling me 'boy'!" Harry really didn't mind – it was better than being called a worm or a cretin – he just didn't like Snape thinking he'd got the upper hand.
"On your knees, boy!" Snape's voice cut through the air like a whip. "If you make me Summon the cane, I won't go as easy on you as I have in the past, and there will be no salve," he waved his hand negligently, "or anything else."
He didn't like being dominated. He didn't! And you, Harry thought at his cock, stop that! Settle down! But his cock didn't settle down, and much to his surprise, Harry found himself slowly sinking to his knees.
I'm going to have sex. I am. I'm going to have sex. Oh boy. OK, breathe, Harry. I'm going to have sex.
"That's right. That's good. Let the blanket fall. Let it fall away as you lower yourself to your hands. Good. You're doing fine." Snape's voice was soft, rhythmic, encouraging.
"Good boy. Good dog."
Oh, now that was just going too far! And yet Harry kept moving forward. It was as if Snape's voice was a leash tugging him onward.
Once again, Snape swung his legs over the edge of the bed, putting his bare feet on the ground. Nearly hypnotised, without thinking about it, Harry lowered his head and licked Snape's toes. It seemed so stupid, and yet somehow completely right.
I'm licking Snape's feet and I'm going to have sex and nothing has ever been as weird as this. Ever. I'm going to have sex!
"Such a good little dog." With his foot under Harry's chin, Snape lifted his head until they were looking at each other. Snape smiled. "See, Potter? You're a pervert too. Now, it's late and I'm tired. Into bed with you."
Confused, upset, Harry backed away and curled up on the bare floor.
"Idiot child. Even a dog knows when it's being allowed on its master’s bed. Get up here, you moron."
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When Harry awoke, Snape was gone. The rumpled sheets on his side of the bed were cold. I didn't have sex. Damn it! Why not? No! Stop it, Harry. This isn't normal. You do not want to have sex with Snape. You don't even want to sleep with Snape. Last night was, was just an aberration. He's drugging you, or something. Maybe it was a curse. Imperio or something. It must have been. He ignored the voice that reminded him he could resist the Imperius curse. He would never have willingly crawled to Snape.
With Snape nowhere to be found, Harry treated himself to a long, hot bath. Willing his mind to be silent, he luxuriated in the heat, refusing to think anymore. Afterwards, he padded to the kitchen and found an enormous breakfast under a warming charm. Still refusing to think, he ate it, then, in something of a blank haze, dressed himself and left their...no...left Snape's rooms.
He had no idea where he was going until he found himself standing in front of the gargoyle guarding the staircase to the Headmaster's office. "Cockroach Clusters. Sugar Quills. Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. Sherbet Lemons. Ice Mice. Damn it! Let me in."
"I assume you're look for me, Harry." Dumbledore had come up silently behind him.
"I'm very sorry, I'm afraid I don't have any time just now. Why don't you come see me tomorrow?" Dumbledore was not meeting his eyes. "Open Sesame." The gargoyle sprang to one side and the wall behind it split open, revealing the moving spiral staircase.
"Really, I must dash. I'm late already."
"Headmaster, I haven't hear from Ron and Hermione and Hedwig hasn't come back and I'm afraid something's wrong with the Weasleys and I think Snape's drugging me!" Harry spoke in a rush, determined to not let Dumbledore escape him this time, as he had so often in recent days.
"Nonsense, Harry. Professor Snape wouldn't do something like that. I heard from Arthur this morning, they're having a lovely time. You're clearly tired and overwrought. You should go to the kitchen and have a nice cup of tea. I'd suggest chamomile, it's very calming. And now, I really must be off." Very spry for such an old man, Dumbledore disappeared up the spiralling staircase.
"Bugger it!" Harry said, not making any effort to lower his voice. "I am not overwrought! Why won't you talk to me? Why are you avoiding me?" The two halves of the wall slid back together and the ugly gargoyle resumed his position in front.
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"He thinks you're drugging him." Albus raised a questioning eyebrow.
"That's ridiculous. The boy doesn't have half the sense of a pickled Billywig."
"You are evading the question." As usual the half-moon spectacles did nothing to hide the damnable twinkle in the Headmaster's blue eyes.
"You didn't ask a question." Sighing irritably, Snape continued, "And no, I am not drugging him. The idiot is simply shocked beyond reason to find he enjoys sex."
Albus snorted in a completely undignified fashion. "He's young."
"If youth were an impediment to enjoying sex, there would be no teen-aged pregnancies, but perhaps I should have said he's dumbfounded to discover he enjoys sex with me."
"Yes, well," Albus chuckled. "I think it's safe to say very few of the students imagine you love's dream."
"There's no need to be insulting."
"Oh yes, because you yourself so rarely are. So am I to understand the two of you are getting along better?"
Snape smirked. "I think it's safe to say that. Potter has a submissive streak a mile wide. Oh yes, surprising isn't it? Do you know I made him–"
The Headmaster cut Snape off with a raised hand. "I believe this conversation has strayed into territory in which I am most uncomfortable. You needn't give me details."
"We must protect the decencies, is that it?" Snape asked acidly. "You'll connive at getting him into this situation, but I must spare your tender sensibilities?"
"I know you believe you have me over a barrel, Severus – curious expression that – but don't push me too far. You will end up regretting it, I promise you." The twinkle was gone.
Snape covered his mouth and coughed, a sound suspiciously like kelpieshit!. Dumbledore frowned.
"You need to talk to him, you know. He's starting to get suspicious. Even a dimwit such as he can eventually put two and two together. What have you done with his owl, by the way?"
"She's safe. Owl post in Manchester."
"You can't hide them all. There will be no birds left in the owlery by the start of term. I believe he's sent off at least a half-dozen of them. He's going to have trouble convincing himself that the Weasleys are well."
"My goodness, Severus! Could it be that you're starting to care?"
"Don't be rude. It's caring got me into this situation," said Snape with some heat. "In any case, I don't like it when he frets. It makes him intractable. I'm not doing this for my health, as you well know. If he takes it into his mind to go after them, well, I can't keep him chained to the bed all the time."
"And that is far more information than I am comfortable with. Very well. I will devise something, but you know as well as I that we dare not allow him to communicate with Miss Granger."
"Then what are your plans for September? It's not as if you can keep them out of school without some explanation."
Once again, the Headmaster chuckled. "I am relying utterly on your powers of persuasion. You'll just have to make sure he's tractable by that time. Until then, as I said, I will put my mind to devising some reason for their continued silence. When I do, you shall be the one to tell him. I find myself completely unable to face the lad."
"I never thought I'd see the day when you succumbed to cowardice, Albus."
"I have no trouble facing you, dear boy, and it takes a very brave man indeed to do that. Now, what news?"
"I've heard from Lucius Malfoy. The Dark Lord is aware of Potter's whereabouts. He's plotting."
Dumbledore sighed deeply. "I had hoped we'd have a little more time. He has not summoned you?"
"No, but if he knows Potter is here, it won't be long."
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"You shouldn't go," Harry said vehemently.
"Why Potter, I didn't know you cared," Snape responded languidly. "I must go. Both my masters require it. If you had an ounce of self-preservation in your bones, you'd want me to go."
"Why? What's it to do with me?" Harry was slowly shredding a piece of parchment into tiny flakes.
"Don't be a bigger idiot than you must, Potter. Everything about the Dark Lord has something to do with you. After all, it is your fault he's returned."
"IT'S NOT MY BLOODY FAULT!" Harry screamed. "I DIDN'T ASK TO BE THE CENTRE OF HIS TWISTED UNIVERSE! I DIDN'T VOLUNTEER MY BLOOD!"
"Potter!" Snape snapped, rising to his feet and towering over Harry. "That's enough! You will not speak to me that way."
"You know what? I think I will speak to you any bloody way I want! You don't bloody well own me!"
An utterly evil smile creased Snape's face. "Don't I? Stand up, whelp."
"No," said Harry, crossing his arms over his chest.
Snape's voice got low and silky. "No? Not even if I do this?" He bent over and cupped his hand firmly over Harry's crotch, kneading gently.
"I don't want to." Harry's voice trembled slightly.
"Would you send me off to the Dark Lord's foul embrace without giving me some measure of solace to carry me through? Are you truly that heartless?" Snape's hand continued to work Harry's cock through the thick fabric of his jeans. "What about if I do this?" His lips ghosted across Harry's ear, his tongue dipping inside and retreating quickly.
Harry gulped. "That's playing dirty."
"Oh, but you like it dirty, don't you, boy? Obviously by sparing the rod, I have been spoiling the child. Continue to fight me and I'll take the birch to your tender young buttocks."
"Like that's a threat," Harry said, and then clapped his hand over his mouth. He hadn't intended to say that aloud. Snape loosed a low approving laugh and Harry blushed scarlet.
"Dirty boy. Come to bed. I'll beat you black and blue and let you lick my feet as your reward."
"You're disgusting! I don't actually enjoy that, you know."
Once again, Snape laughed. "So you say, but it matters not a whit whether you do or don't, because I enjoy it."
"Filthy bugger." No matter what his body said, Harry was not going to admit that Snape was turning him on.
"At last," Snape said. "If that's what you want, my little pet, far be it from me to deny you."
At last. Harry thought. He said, 'at last'. Oh god, I really am going to have sex this time. Swallowing around the thick lump in his throat, Harry allowed Snape to take his hand and pull him to his feet. "You'll use something. Right? Because I don't want...I'm still not ready to get pregnant." Just saying the words made him feel sick. Unfortunately, not sick enough to really try to stop Snape from taking what he wanted. Because yeah, Harry thought, I want it too. And isn't that a disturbing thought?
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Snape's quarters were dark when Harry came in. A single candle provided only just enough light to show Snape slumped in his chair in front of the cold hearth.
"Snape? Uh, Professor...Severus, are you all right?" Harry stumbled over the name; he simply could not get used to calling Snape anything but Snape. "Did something happen?" Harry was finally becoming accustomed to the fact that he actually worried about the greasy git.
"Hmm?" Snape said, looking up. His face was gray and more deeply lined than usual. "Yes, I'm fine."
"You said 'yes'. What happened? Something did."
"No – at least nothing like what you're imagining. The Dark Lord is in high spirits these days. He did not harm me." Snape paused, an expression of surprise crossing his face. "Thank you," he said awkwardly, "for being concerned. I am fine."
Rising stiffly, Snape walked to the drinks cabinet and selected a bottle. He held it up to Harry, cocking an eyebrow. When Harry shook his head, Snape poured himself a large measure and sat down again.
"We're going out in two nights' time," Snape said after taking a long pull at his drink. "You will, of course, have to be disguised. I'll leave it to you to arrange something appropriate. It's not formal. You may wear Muggle-style clothes if you like, but not jeans and a T-shirt."
"We are?" Harry asked excitedly, distracted from his concern by the novel idea of actually leaving Hogwarts' grounds. "Going out where?"
"Ministry function. Discussing the status of Hogwarts during these times of uncertainty."
"I won't go there," Harry said, his excitement disappearing at the thought of returning to the site of Sirius's death.
"I don't think it's a good idea either, but the Headmaster has insisted. He can't make it himself, for reasons he refuses to discuss. Normally it would fall to Minerva to replace him, but as she's not back from holiday ..."
"No," said Harry, his jaw set. "I'm not going to the Ministry, not even to get out for a bit."
"Don't argue, Potter," Snape said tiredly. "The Headmaster thinks you're looking peaked and that it would be a good idea for you get out of the castle for a change. A Ministry function will be as safe as anything else we could devise. You're going and that's the end of it."
"You can't make me, you know."
A great bloody row ensued, of course. Harry slept on the floor that night, by his own choice.
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Harry looked at himself in the mirror, simultaneously feeling stupid and gleeful. He'd finally hit on a way to get Snape to leave him behind. Awkwardly smoothing the unfamiliar fabric, he thought, By the time he gets here, there won't be time for me to change. He'd briefly thought about pretending to be sick, but he'd tried that once before and Snape had made him stay in bed for a full week, with no books or amusements of any kind. The bastard had even insisted Harry was too weak to get up and use the loo, providing a bedpan instead. Harry wasn't keen to try that again.
But this, this was brilliant. Snape would never let Harry go out looking like this. Once again, Harry smoothed the slinky fabric of the skirt and camisole top he'd transfigured from a pair of bath towels. He hadn't quite got the hang of it. The clothes looked all right, but they were a little tight on him, and that was the part that made him feel stupid. Well, the tightness and just being dressed in girl's clothes. It was hard to be objective, but Harry thought he didn't actually look too bad. He'd also owl-ordered some Sleakeasy's Hair Potion and had managed to tame his wild hair into a reasonable facsimile of a posh girl's gamin hairstyle. Applying make-up hadn't gone nearly so well, the mascara had smudged and the lipstick smeared, but he reckoned it just added to the slutty look created by the too-tight, too-short skirt, and bettered his chances that Snape wouldn't be seen in the corridor with him, let alone a Ministry dinner.
Harry was walking across the bedroom for the hundredth time, still trying to get used to balancing on the unfamiliar heels he was wearing – he didn't really know why he was bothering, it wasn't as if he would still be wearing them five minutes after Snape left without him – when he heard Snape close the entry door and stride across the lounge. Harry plopped down in a chair only barely in time to rise casually as Snape entered the bedroom.
Snape's eyes narrowed, but rather than the wild expostulations Harry expected, simply commented, "You'll regret those shoes before the evening's out."
Harry stared at him, dumbfounded, as Snape waved his wand and continued, "If you're going to do this, you may as well do it right."
Harry almost staggered forward, unbalanced in the high heels and suddenly weighted differently by the acquisition of rather large breasts that strained the fabric of his top to near bursting. "I can't go out looking like this!"
"It was your idea, Potter. And for once it was a good one. No one will suspect that behind such a voluptuous exterior lurks that puffed-up little toad, Harry Potter. Turn around. Now, I think ..." Snape waved his wand again and Harry gasped as his private bits were suddenly encased in too-tight silk. "The outline of your y-fronts was visible through the fabric of your dress. If you're going to bother wearing a disguise, you'll find you carry it off better if you learn to make it consistent to the tiniest detail."
"I'm not wearing girl’s knickers!"
"Yes, you are. Better add a brassiere, or you'll pop out of your dress before the evening's over."
Harry's new, over-large endowment rose uncomfortably and pointed due west. "You bastard!"
"Quite," Snape agreed nastily. "Now, if you will–" he took Harry's arm and folded it over his own, "–we're going to be late."
The Ministry event seemed interminable. It was true that no one recognized Harry, but to his utter amazement he had been subjected to an obscene number of groping hands, and he was sure his bum was a mass of bruises from all the pinching. Snape had disappeared from his side within minutes of their arrival, and once the banquet was over it seemed as if every other man in the place had made it their mission to get Harry alone in a shadowed alcove. To make things worse, Snape seemed to be enjoying himself immensely whenever Harry caught sight of him, and they were among the very last to leave.
Back in Snape's dungeon rooms, Harry rounded on him. "You son of a bitch! How could you leave me alone like that?"
"I was there on the Headmaster's behalf, Potter. I had business to attend to. And you do keep insisting you're able to take care of yourself. Don't be angry with me when I take you at your word."
Not being able to think of an answer to that deflated Harry's righteous anger a little. "Why didn't you warn me there wouldn't be any women there? Are all men are such filthy lechers when they're alone in a group?"
"As a rule, not far from it, but I helped matters along by putting it about that you are the by-blow of some distant relative and no better than you ought to be."
Harry shook his head in reluctant admiration at Snape's ability to wring punishment out of every situation. Groaning as he sank in a chair and toed off the torturous high-heels, he complained, "My feet are in agony. I may be crippled for life. And I've been pinched and groped so much my bruises have bruises. It's not funny, you sadistic bastard!"
Standing up, Harry winced as blisters met rough stone floor. He began to wiggle out of his skirt and top, both articles much the worse for wear. He was just beginning to unfasten the stocking suspenders when Snape said, "Leave the stockings. And the knickers."
"I will not!" Harry said stoutly.
"No?" Snape inquired, moving in close and running his hands over the tight silk covering Harry's groin. "What a pity." He dropped his hands just as Harry was starting to enjoy himself and walked towards the bedroom, unfastening the buttons at his cuff. "Well, it's not as if I haven't enjoyed the luxury of having the bed to myself for the last two nights. You know the penalty for disobedience. You'll be more sensitive than usual as it has only been two nights since the last time. I suspect you'll enjoy that."
Harry squirmed a little. In spite of the fact that he was livid about Snape's behaviour at the Ministry dinner, the brief caress had aroused him and, since there was no point in not being honest with himself, not only did caning not hold the horrors it once had, he actually quite enjoyed it. A brief image of himself bent over Snape's desk wearing nothing but the silk knickers and stockings flashed through his head. On the other hand, he'd suffered enough discomfort over the course of the evening; he really didn't want to sleep on the floor. But on the other hand, his arse was probably already black and blue from the multitude of lecherous hands earlier in the evening.
He sneered at Snape's retreating back. "Is there no depravity you'd baulk at?"
Turning in the doorway, Snape looked at Harry, a knowing smirk on his lips. He had somehow in his short walk to the bedroom, managed to undo all the buttons on his robe, which now hung open, framing his narrow chest and prominent hard-on. "I find the idea of necrophilia distasteful, but if you like, I can kill you and see if that changes my mind."
Although slightly shocked, Harry laughed. "You're disgusting."
"But we already knew that. Come to bed, boy, and let me reclaim what's rightfully mine."
"Open Sesame," Harry said, crossing his fingers and hoping the Headmaster hadn't changed his password. The stone gargoyle made a face at him and reluctantly sprang aside. The wall parted, once again revealing the spiral staircase. Pleased, Harry bounded up the steps two at a time. Heknew Professor Dumbledore was in his office; he'd been lurking around the corner from the hidden stairwell almost all day, waiting for the Headmaster to return. Dumbledore was not going to avoid him this time.
At the top of the stairs, Harry slowed down. Sneaking up still seemed like the best option. He didn't want the Headmaster to have time to prepare an excuse not to see him. Slipping silently towards the office door, Harry pressed his ear to it. He could hear muffled voices. Wishing he had a pair of the twins' Extendable Ears, he pressed his cheek more firmly to the door.
"... not our agreement, Albus."
That was Snape. Of all the bad luck. Harry didn't dare stay around lest Snape catch him. Dumbledore said something Harry couldn't make out and then Harry saw the knob turning. Quickly, Harry darted into an alcove a few feet from the door and made himself as small as possible.
He didn't dare stick his head out to see, but he heard the door open and two sets of footsteps. He caught a brief glimpse of black robes and gold-star-patterned purple ones. Holding his breath for a count of fifty, Harry waited until he heard the footsteps fade away down the stairs before daring to peek out of his hiding place. There was no one in sight. He pulled his head back and counted to fifty twice more, making sure that neither man had returned immediately.
Cautiously, he stepped out into the corridor. He was just about to go past Dumbledore's office door when he saw that it was slightly ajar. Grinning, Harry pushed it open with one finger. Since Dumbledore wouldn't talk to him, wouldn't even make eye-contact with him, perhaps he could find something out in a quick search of the office. He hesitated, listening, and then slipped through the open door, closing it gently behind him.
Two tea cups sat empty on the Headmaster's desk, next to a plate of apparently untouched biscuits, but that wasn't what snagged Harry's attention. In the centre of the desk, amid the crockery, stood an ornately carved stone bowl. Dumbledore's Pensieve!
Harry knew it was a very bad idea. Looking in other people's Pensieves had never worked out well, but the cool silvery surface of the bowl's contents seemed to call out to him. As ever, Harry was unable to resist. He plunged his head into the bowl and felt the familiar sensation of free-falling before landing on his feet, still in the Headmaster's office. He was no longer alone.
Dumbledore sat in his usual place behind his desk, a very unhappy expression on his face. The usually warm blue eyes looked steely and hard. Harry turned; in front of the desk, in one of the very familiar squashy armchairs that Dumbledore favoured, sat Snape, an equally hard expression on his face. The two men were having a heated discussion.
Harry listened, turning his head back and forth as each men spoke. Gradually, a sick feeling rose up inside him; he couldn't believe what he was hearing. Finally, unable to bear it any longer, fighting for breath, Harry essentially clawed his way back into the present time.
Uncaring whether he was seen or not, he fled Dumbledore's office. He clattered down the stairs and when he hit bottom, kept running, not stopping until he was safe inside the Gryffindor common room. Breathing heavily, he sank into a chair, staring blindly out until he regained his wind and ability to think. In his head, he replayed bits of the conversation.
"You know my terms, Albus."
"No. That I cannot agree to."
"Then you will lose both of us. I was serious, Albus. Regardless what you think of me, I am not a child threatening to hold my breath until my face turns blue."
Dumbledore's shoulders slumped; he bowed his head. "He will lose all faith in me."
"He has no more faith to lose. Not after the events at the Ministry. He blames everyone but himself, and of all of us, he blames you most of all, because he thought he and his were safe with you. You led him down the garden path and–"
Behind the half-moon spectacles, Dumbledore's eyes turned icy blue. "You go too far."
"Do I? Somehow, I don't think I've gone far enough. Face facts, Albus. With my cooperation, there's a chance, however slim. Without it, what chance have you, any of you, any of us got?"
Fawkes trilled sadly and Snape turned to look at him. "What's his problem?"
"Fawkes doesn't approve, I'm afraid," Dumbledore responded mildly, "but as he has not offered any helpful suggestions, I do not think he is in position to complain." He peered over his spectacles at the phoenix, who promptly turned his back and began fluffing his breast feathers.
"You actually seek his advi– Never mind. We have an agreement then?" Snape asked sourly.
"Yes," said Dumbledore. "And may god have mercy on our souls."
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"Spit it out, Potter!" Snape hissed irritably.
Harry took a deep breath and shuffled his feet some more. Hunching his shoulders, he shoved his hands in his pockets. His fingers folded around the tiny bottle Madam Pomfrey had given him and he clutched it tightly. It's going to be all right, he thought. It will be all right. "I'm pregnant," he blurted.
"No you're not," Snape responded instantly. "Not possible."
Harry's eyes narrowed. "It bloody well is possible! Because I am."
"Don't be ridiculous! What's really bothering you?"
"I'm pregnant," Harry repeated.
"You can't be."
"Because wiz–" Snape shouted and then stopped suddenly. He was uncomfortably flustered. Harry waited, his lips pursed in an almost-but-not-quite pout. "Because," Snape began again, speaking slowly, choosing his words carefully, " as a wizard of above average intelligence, I made sure I took precautions. Various spells and–"
"Well, Mister I-Am-A-Better-Wizard-Than-You'll-Ever-Be,
"–of course, condoms," Snape finished angrily.
Harry snorted. "You'd best invest in a new box of sheaths. I expect twenty years is probably past the limit of their usefulness, don't you?"
"You ungrateful little worm! After all I've done for you! ALL I'VE TAUGHT YOU!" Snape knew his face was turning an unhealthy shade of red and that spittle sprayed from his lips, but he couldn't seem to stop yelling. "THIS IS HOW YOU REPAY ME? I GAVE YOU MY PROTECTION, MY CONCERN, MY AFFECTIONS–" He pulled himself up short. That was not what he meant to say at all.
"That's right," Harry snapped, not waiting to see if Snape had anything else to say. "Blame the victim!"
Snape's fists clenched. He ground his teeth so firmly that even Potter had to hear. "YOU ARE NOT PREGNANT! AND IF ANYONE IN THIS SITUATION IS A VICTIM, IT IS I!"
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Pacing had Snape well on his way to wearing a hole in Albus's carpet. Pregnant! It was ridiculous! Potter had got it wrong, as usual. Wizards couldn't get pregnant. Snape no longer had any doubts that Harry actually believed it; the boy had shouted and raged and jabbed his finger into Snape's chest before dissolving in a puddle of sulky, and obviously hormonal, tears. No one was that good an actor, and besides, what could he hope to gain from such a ridiculous tale?
"I did tell you to be careful. Did I not say that Harry has a knack for coming out on top of any situation?"
Snape snorted irritably. "Believe me when I say he was never on top in this particular situation. Need I remind you that wizards can't get pregnant?"
"Wizards can't survive the killing curse either, but you know how well that rule worked out when confronted by Harry Potter." Albus wiped tears of laughter from his eyes. "I've yet to encounter a rule that Harry cannot break."
"Well, he bloody well hasn't broken this rule. It's not possible! You know that as well as I. He hasn't, as he reminded me himself, got the equipment!"
Albus snorted and once again shook with laughter.
"Don't you dare laugh at me," Snape said through gritted teeth. "This is as much your problem as mine. The insufferable brat believes it's true. What does that say about his mental stability? And of what possible use to you is an insane hero?"
"Calm youself, Severus. Harry is not insane, he's merely...overwrought. He'll find out soon enough that he's not pregnant, and things will return to normal."
"Your foolish optimism never ceases to astound me. Have you not been listening? He believes he's pregnant! And angry as he is, I have every reason to think he actually wants the child he thinks he's going to have. What's that going to do to his already fragile emotional state?"
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Nothing is served by panicking in advance of the facts. Take him to Madam Pomfrey. Let her be the one to break the news to him; she's a far more calming influence than you could ever be, and she'll know how to deal with any outbursts. We'll assess the situation again afterwards." Albus shook his head and looked stern. "I did tell you the whole heir idea was a bad one."
"I've had enough of your 'I told you sos' to last a lifetime!" Snape whirled and stalked to the door.
"And yet you still haven't learned anything, have you?"
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"Well, Severus, Harry. I don't know how it's possible, it shouldn't be possible and yet it is. Harry is indeed pregnant." Madam Pomfrey turned to Harry and winked. "You really are the most remarkable boy, Harry." She smiled at him fondly and Harry nervously smiled back.
"Preposterous!" Snape spat. "Do the tests again. You know as well as I it's impossible!"
"Apparently, it is possible," Madam Promfrey said with a disapproving look at Snape. "You may as well start to accept facts, Severus. You're going to be a father."
"RUN THE BLOODY TESTS AGAIN! I AM NOT GOING TO BE A FATHER!"
"Sucks to be you, doesn't it?" Harry snarled. "I don't know why you're complaining. You're the one who wanted an heir! You're the one who said you'd control when it happened. I didn't want to do it, REMEMBER? THIS IS YOUR FAULT!"
"IT IS NOT MY FAULT BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT PREGNANT!"
"Boys! Boys!" Pomfrey scolded. "This is no way to behave. Bringing a child into the world should be a happy event. Harry, it's not good for the baby if you get too upset. Severus! It's not good for the baby if he gets upset. Do you understand me? He'll need all your love and support to get through this. The implications for his health are quite serious. Men are not designed to carry a child."
"THEN IT'S A BLOODY GOOD THING HE'S NOT CARRYING ONE, ISN'T IT?" Snape was beginning to hyperventilate.
"Severus Tobias Snape! You stop yelling this instant! I will not allow you to behave this way, to browbeat this poor child." Madam Pomfrey's voice could have sliced through cold steel. "Harry's right. If anyone is to blame, it's yourself. The idea! Subjecting a sixteen year old child to this! If you weren't the father of this child, I'd insist Albus have you sacked!" She patted Harry's arm comfortingly. "Take your shirt off, Harry."
"No," Harry said, folding his arms protectively over his chest.
"Harry, it will convince him in a way nothing else I could possibly say would."
"I don't want to. I don't care if he's convinced. He doesn't want the baby! He doesn't want me! I don't care! I don't want him either!" To Snape's complete horror and utter disbelief, Harry burst into tears.
"Oh my poor lamb," Madam Pomfrey cooed, hugging Harry to her expansive bosom and stroking his wild hair. "That's just the hormones rampaging through your system. It's hard enough for women to withstand. You simply aren't equipped." She turned her head and gave Snape a chilly look. "He should be in Saint Mungo's. Don't scowl at me, young man! I'm fully aware it's not a possibility, but that simply adds to Harry's danger. He needs more help than I know how to give."
"He. Is. Not. Pregnant," Snape reiterated.
"Harry dear, take off your shirt. No, no. Don't argue with me. Show him."
Sullenly, Harry pulled away from the nurse and yanked his t-shirt over his head. He turned and looked defiantly at his bondmate. Snape stared in shock, his stomach threatening to escape via his mouth. Potter's chest sported swollen nipples and the beginnings of two fleshy mounds where hard pectoral muscles should have been.
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Snape grimaced as the sound of violent retching assailed his ears. Potter was sick again and huddled over the toilet, expelling his breakfast with terrible force into the porcelain bowl. Some small part of Snape felt sympathy, but the larger part of him wanted to bang the boy's head against the wall. He sighed and mopped his face with his hands as he sank deeper into his chair.
Why did his life always turn towards the horrible and ridiculous? It wasn't enough that he was slave to two masters? Never mind that he had temporarily had the advantage of Albus Dumbledore. The memory of that brief victory was nothing but a torment now, and only underscored the hideousness of Snape's damnable luck.
Pregnant! Of course it wasn't true. Snape knew that. No matter the evidence of his eyes, wizards did not, could not get pregnant. Potter was not pregnant, Snape was not going to be a father, and yet here he was, trapped all the same.
The sound of spitting and then the rush of water from the tap warned Snape of Harry's imminent presence. Pale and shaking, clutching his stomach, Harry stumbled from the bathroom and fled blindly into the bedroom. Snape sighed again and heaved himself from his chair. Pregnant or not, the boy was certainly ill, and both Albus and Poppy had warned Snape what they would do to him if he did not take good care of the brat.
"I'm sorry," Harry said weakly as Snape entered the room. "I know it must be horrible listening to me puke repeatedly. I can't help it." A tear trembled on his lash and then fell, trickling slowly down his cheek. "I am sorry, Severus. You must hate me."
I should, Snape thought. I really should. "I don't hate you, Potter." The next words seemed to stick in his throat; he had to force them out. "I should be apologizing to you. After all, I am the cause of your present sickness." Snape sat on the edge of the bed and awkwardly patted Harry's shoulder. To his surprise, Harry, who had not once touched him voluntarily since announcing his pregnancy, threw his arms around Snape's waist and burrowed his head under Snape's chin. Snape gave him a brief squeeze and then disengaged his arms, pushing Harry back down onto the bed and pulling the blanket up around his neck.
"Do you think you can hold down some tea? Well, whether you can or not, you should drink some. If you're going to continue vomiting, it's generally easier if there is something to vomit."
Harry smiled bravely. Snape fought to keep from grinding his teeth and rolling his eyes.
"Yes, please. You're being awfully good about this."
"Stop it, Potter! I am not being 'good about this'." Snape wanted to shake him. "I am angry and frustrated and bewildered, but I would have thought you'd know by now that I am not a monster. You are sick. I offered to make you tea. Don't fawn over me simply because I'm being civilised."
The kettle was just beginning to steam when Snape heard a knock on the door. "Do not get up," he called out to Harry. "I will answer it."
"Good morning, Severus," Albus said cheerfully.
"Headmaster," Snape responded coldly.
"I have just come to check on our young mother-to-be."
"Father-to-be!" Harry called out from the bedroom, his voice sounding much stronger than it had a few minutes before. "I'm not a girl, so I can't be a mother."
"You can't be pregnant, either," Snape said repressively as he led Albus into the bedroom.
"Sod off," Harry responded cheerfully. The way his moods turned on a knut was truly astounding.
Albus made his way to the bedside and put his hand lightly on Harry's shoulder. "How are you feeling?" He did not make eye contact. Still feeling guilty then, as well he should. Snape wondered if Harry noticed.
"All right now. It's always a bit rough first thing in the morning."
"And second thing in the morning, and first thing in the afternoon, and last thing at night," Snape amended acerbically. "It's a wonder the brat has any insides left at all."
Albus had moved away from Harry rather quickly and was now idly examining the various items atop the chest of drawers. "I have good news for you, Harry. I know you have been quite concerned that you are unable to communicate with your friends–"
"Has Hedwig returned with a letter?" Harry asked excitedly. "Why didn't she bring it to me? Oh, I suppose the protections you have in place on Snape's rooms?"
"Professor Snape," Albus reproved, his back still to them.
Snape choked out a laugh. "You needn't demand respect on my behalf, Headmaster. Harry and I have an agreement. He will limit himself to calling me by my surname, foregoing his usual epithets of 'greasy git' and "bastard', as well as refraining from subjecting me to the indignity of being addressed as 'Severus' by my complete social and intellectual inferior, and I call him Harry, and save the occasional 'twit' or 'insufferable moron' for when it's truly deserved."
"Never mind that," Harry commanded. "Where's my letter?"
Albus turned, giving Snape a brief glance before turning his attention to Harry. He still didn't make eye-contact, however. "No letter, I'm afraid. Hedwig has not returned. My news comes via an associate of Charlie's who is just back from the reserve. Apparently they're having a bit of difficulty with a young dragon that has become a bit temperamental. I believe you will remember Norbert? Yes, well, apparently he's feeling his oats. He escaped the compound and is flying free. Hasn't strayed very far from home, but he's wreaking havoc with owl post; no owls can get through his self-determined 'fly zone' I believe Charlie has labelled it."
"But Hedwig?" Harry asked anxiously.
"Do not worry, Hedwig is fine. Roger, that being Charlie's associate, reported that the Weasleys seem to have adopted a snowy owl who arrived shortly before Norbert broke free. They will, of course, take good care of her and not allow her to attempt a return before Norbert is recaptured. The Weasleys and Hermione are all fine and send their best."
"Well, that's all right then," Harry said, sinking back into his pillows. "As long as every one is OK. I just wish Ron and Hermione had thought to send a letter with Charlie's friend."
Snape glanced sharply at Dumbledore, who, as usual, looked imperturbable. "Yes, it is a pity that they didn't, but at least you know that they, and Hedwig, are doing well."
"Headmaster, I'm sure Harry has enjoyed your visit, but Madam Pomfrey insists he get plenty of rest. Perhaps we should leave him to his nap?"
"You were going to get me some tea, weren't you?" Harry asked, sounded rather pathetic.
Catching Snape's eye, Dumbledore smiled and raised an eyebrow. Snape gave him a sour look in return. "Yes, Harry. I'll bring it as soon as I say good-bye to the Headmaster.
"I see you're keeping your end of the bargain, Severus. I must confess, I had my doubts," Dumbledore said when they were out of Harry's earshot.
"The sooner he gets over his morning sickness, the sooner my life can return to some meagre semblance of normalcy." Snape's look dared Dumbledore to laugh.
"Beware, my friend," Dumbledore cautioned, "lest you be ensnared in your own web. Well, I'll leave the two of you alone."
Snape sighed and grimaced, his eyes closing briefly in the universal sign of a request for patience. "Thank you for your concern, Albus."
When Snape returned to the bedroom with tea and a slice of dry toast, Harry tipped a little of Madam Pomfrey's potion into his cup.
"What's that?" Snape asked, holding his hand out for the tiny bottle.
Harry shrugged. "Something Madam Pomfrey gave me, to help with the pregnancy."
Uncorking it, Snape wetted his finger against the rim and then tasted it. "Nettle. Knotweed. Lamb's quarters. Some kind of bone extract, Chimaera, if I'm not mistaken. A few other things. Nothing terribly unusual, nor especially useful, but it shouldn't harm you." He recorked the vial and handed it back.
"Bone extract? Blargh. Do you know why Dumbledore won't look at me properly?" Harry asked, pocketing his bottle.
"Guilt, I expect," Snape said, surprising himself with his own honesty.
"What's he got to be guilty about? He didn't get me pregnant."
"Very witty, Potter. Neither did I. No, he's not directly responsible for your current condition, but he certainly had a hand in the events that led up to it."
"I don't know why you refuse to believe I'm pregnant," Harry said shortly, pulling up his pyjama top and exposing his swollen belly.
"That's not a baby. That's simply puppy fat."
Harry's face fell and once again his eyes dampened. "You think I'm fat," he said sadly. That's why you never touch me anymore."
"Do try not to whinge, boy. It's tedious. I do touch you. If you recall, I patted your shoulder and allowed you to hug me just before the Headmaster arrived." Snape wasn't sure he liked the direction the conversation was taking. It was true they hadn't had sex since Harry announced his pregnancy, but it wasn't as if Snape didn't spend an inordinate amount of time in the shower these days. The whole point, as far as he was concerned, of taking Potter on in the first place had been the promise of easy and frequent sex, something that had been missing from his life for far too many years. This ridiculous hysterical pregnancy was an unwelcome impediment.
"That's not what I meant and you know it. You used to think I was attractive. I know you did. But now you just see me as a fat lump." The tears that had been threatening made good on their promise, spilling freely from Harry's eyes and dripping onto his pyjamas.
"It's rather difficult to become aroused by the sight of you heaving into the toilet. Forgive me if seeing you sick has dampened my libido," Snape said acidly. "It's not as if I particularly enjoy solo activities."
"Really," Harry said, wiping his face with his sleeve. "You still think I'm attractive?"
"Well, the breasts are a bit off-putting. Oh stop! I was joking. Yes, you insufferable twit, I still find you attractive. I'm just not sure what to do about it."
Harry sniffed and wiped his nose. Snape grimaced in distaste.
"Madam Pomfrey said there was no reason we couldn't have sex, as long as I felt up to it and we were careful."
"I cannot believe you're discussing our sex life with Poppy Pomfrey! Have you no sense of discretion whatsoever?" Now Snape was feeling a bit sick.
"Get over it," Harry snapped. "It's not as if she didn't already know we were having sex. She does know where babies come from."
"Nonetheless, I would prefer you didn't blab every detail of our personal lives–"
"I didn't! She brought it up to me. It was just part of the information about being pregnant. It's not as if I had any great idea what to expect, never having expected to be expecting." Harry grinned, obviously absurdly pleased with what passed for witty repartee in his feeble little mind.
"What exactly did she mean about being careful?" Snape asked, repressing a smile and the pathetic sense of hopefulness that blossomed in his chest.
"Well, she said the easiest thing would be if I topped," Harry gave Snape a sly look, "but I told her you wouldn't put up with that."
Snape buried his face in his hands.
"So she said it would probably be all right as long as you didn't put any weight on my stomach, or make me put any weight on it. She said we could do with both of us on our sides."
"Oh god," Snape moaned through his fingers. "I am never going to recover from this."
"Severus!" Harry suddenly gasped. "The baby moved!"
Startled, Snape looked up. "Harry, you've been pregnant...you think you've been pregnant for four weeks. Oh don't give me that look! Fine, even allowing for the idea that you might be pregnant, there isn't even a foetus this early in a pregnancy. There's simply a cluster of cells. The baby, for lack of a better word, did not kick."
"You haven't talked to Madam Pomfrey, have you? You promised you would! I understand if you don't care enough about me to find things out, but this is your baby, your heir. I think you'd care enough about that to at least talk to her!" Harry was getting hysterical.
Unwilling to be subjected to a tantrum, and unsure of what else to do, Snape slid into bed with Harry and pulled the boy into his arms. "Hush, Harry. You're upsetting yourself needlessly." Harry looked up at him, his big green eyes barely visible behind tear-spotted glasses. A completely unfamiliar, utter unidentifiable feeling swept over Snape, and without thinking, he tilted his head to kiss Potter's lips. Pulling back, feeling his heart beating wildly against the cage of his ribs, Snape said quietly, "Tell me what she's said to you."
Gulping, Harry tried to calm himself. "She... she said she's never seen anything like it. She said, she said I'm progressing at least four," he took another big gulp, "four times as fast as a normal pregnancy. She doesn't know what to make of it, but then there's no record of a wizard ever getting pregnant before. Madam Pomfrey says maybe the same thing that allowed me to get pregnant is accelerating the pregnancy."
"Oh shit," Snape said. "I am not ready for this."
"You're starting to believe me, aren't you? It's about time." Harry bumped the top of his head against Snape's chin. "Put your hand here."
Snape reluctantly allowed Harry to guide his hand to the small mound of his belly.
"Wait for it. There! Did you feel that? Did you?"
"Oh shit," Snape repeated, moving his hand a little higher, a little closer to where the tiny jolt had seemed to emanate from. "Harry. Harry."
"Told you I was pregnant, you big wanker."
Snape straightened abruptly, spilling Harry from his lap, and then practically leapt from the bed. He began pacing furiously back and forth. "You're pregnant."
"Yes," Harry said smugly.
"You're really pregnant." Snape shook his head in disbelief.
"I'm going to be a father." He was saying the words, but it really wasn't sinking in at all.
Harry smiled. There was something indefinable in his expression. Snape noticed, but completely lost in wonderment, he filed the look away for later consideration. "I'm going to be a father," he repeated stupidly.
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Harry's feelings flashed back and forth between satisfaction and guilt. It was irritating. The satisfaction totally made sense, but the guilt didn't. It wasn't as if he hadn't been justified. It wasn't as if Snape didn't deserve...
Snape. Severus bloody fucking Snape. The greasy git, the bane of Harry's existence, and apparently – god damn it! – the love of Harry's fucking stupid life. That wasn't supposed to happen. Severus Snape. The source of the intense pleasure and equally intense discomfort that squirmed inside Harry's gut. He couldn't do anything about the guilt. Not yet. It wasn't time yet. Harry did his best to put it aside. Examining the source of his satisfaction was so much more pleasurable.
The realisation of impending fatherhood had done something strange to the man. Something wholly unexpected.
"I'm going to be a father," Snape had said, sounding astoundingly young and stupid, rather like Harry himself most days.
Guilt lurched inside Harry's stomach again, and he mentally hit fast-forward.
Snape had approached the bed hesitantly, gingerly sitting on the edge as if he expected Harry to physically lash out at him. Cautiously, he had put his hand back on Harry's belly.
"I don't know what kind of father I'll make, Harry. Not a very good one, I'm afraid, but I'll do my best. I will. By both you and him, her, whatever. Oh my god!" He stared at his hand on Harry's belly for a moment before looking up and meeting Harry's eyes. "Poppy said we could–?"
"Finally getting tired of your right hand then? Yeah. Yeah, we can," Harry said. The thread of guilt that had sprouted with Snape's acceptance grew thicker, but Harry pushed it away. Really, hormonal or whatever, he'd been horny as hell for weeks and at last it looked as if Snape was going to do something about it.
"On our sides, she said?"
"I'm not going to break, Severus," Harry said, sliding out from under Snape's hand and off the bed. "But I have to pee first."
Snape huffed a laugh. Harry could feel the man's eyes follow him across the room.
Closing the bathroom door behind him, Harry sagged against the wall. He did not need to feel guilty. There was nothing to feel guilty about. Snape had brought this on himself. None of this was Harry's fault. And guilt or no guilt, just the thought of having sex again was making Harry hard. He really did have to pee and he'd better get to it before his erection made it impossible. Afterwards, he washed his face and hands, staring at himself for a moment in the mirror. He rubbed his hands over the watermelon his stomach had become. "You've nothing to feel guilty for," he said, nodding at his reflection. For one brief instant he imagined his reflection had smirked and winked at him. "Nothing," he repeated, and turned away.
Snape was still sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at his feet, a bewildered expression on his face. His head jerked up when he heard Harry, and his dumbfounded expression as he watched Harry sink to his knees, made Harry laugh out loud.
"Potter, I don't think–"
"Shut it, Snape. It's been weeks. I want this." Harry lowered himself to his hands. Crawling felt strange; his heavy belly swayed beneath him, making him feel off-balance. But it was good, it felt good to do this, the tug of gravity on his stomach felt strangely satisfying. Feeling slightly stupid, very bloated, and oddly sexy, Harry moved across the floor, head up, eyes on Snape.
"Good dog," Snape said, his voice shaky. "Good little bitch. Fuck, Potter, I'm not sure I can do this. Not just now."
"Yes you can," Harry encouraged, his own voice trembling slightly. "For me, if not for yourself. It's been too damn long. Please?" His voice took on a beseeching tone.
"Can't we just–"
"This first," said Harry, raising himself up to his knees as he began to take Snape's boots off. He smiled, let his tongue loll out of his mouth and panted heavily, wiggling his whole body like an excited puppy. He lowered his head to Snape's feet, smiling again when he heard a gasp.
Snape moved the foot Harry had been licking and offered his other one. With a happy little yip, Harry laved it thoroughly in turn. Putting his hand on Harry's head, Snape petted him.
"That's my good little bitch. Hump my leg, you horny little bitch. Hump my leg like the dog you are. Only, be careful, Harry. I don't want you to–"
"Severus. Shut. Up. You're ruining it. I won't hurt myself."
With his distended belly, it was hard straddling Snape's leg, difficult to arrange his limbs into the posture of a humping dog, but Harry was determined. He wiggled until he had himself properly wedged against Snape's shin, his stiff cock grinding against the hard bone.
"You have three minutes. Faster!" Snape commanded, having regained control of his voice. "You've seen a dog go at it. Fast and mindless! Hump my leg!"
Wrapping his arms tightly around Snape's thigh, Harry growled, then let his head fall back, mouth open, as his hips thrust forward.
"That's better," Snape encouraged, "but faster. Grind those hips, boy! Bring yourself off on my leg!"
Harry yipped and tried to move faster. It was extremely awkward with his big stomach, but it was exciting to feel Snape's hard leg pressed firmly against him, to feel the scratchy wool robes against his naked skin. Harry was panting for real now, finding it hard to get a full breath, his lungs squeezed between belly and shin.
"One minute left," Snape said.
Harry felt free in a way he only ever did when flying. This was such a stupid little game, one that should humiliate him, one that he'd always resisted before, but he didn't care about that now. Whatever twist in Snape's psyche caused him to want Harry to act like a dog, had infected Harry's psyche as well. With Snape, strangely free of shame and embarrassment, he could let go of all the expectations that usually weighed so heavily on his shoulders. And it was exciting that Snape would reveal himself this way. The man had always been domineering, but Harry suspected few if any had been allowed to see Snape with the lid well and truly off.
"Speak, boy!" Snape's fingers entwined in Harry's hair and jerked his head back.
With a loud bark, Harry gave a final thrust and came all over Snape's leg. Fingers still entangled in Harry's hair, Snape stared intently down at him, waiting until Harry had caught his breath to say, "You've made a mess. Clean it up, boy."
For himself, Harry never really liked this part, licking his spunk up from wherever it had spilt, but it always seemed to coax an even greater level of arousal from Snape, and that was enough to make it bearable. The black wool felt odd against Harry's lips and tasted even odder on his tongue – spunk and smoke, bitter herbs and laundry powder. Harry hid his grin in the folds of Snape's robe.
Before he was done, Snape slid from the bed to the floor. "Well, that's you accounted for, you greedy thing, but what about me?"
Groaning, Harry asked, "Can't we do this on the bed? It's cold down here."
"I don't allow dogs on my bed as you well know," Snape said firmly, but he pulled his wand from its pocket and conjured Harry's old straw-filled mattress. "We'll just pretend you're the dog in the manger," he said with a smirk, sprawling on his side and pulling Harry over with him.
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"YOU CONNIVING OLD BITCH!" Snape's face was twisted with rage, his beetled brow dark as a thundercloud.
Although completely familiar with the man's capacity for rage and knowing full well Snape's bark was worse than his bite, Harry cringed.
Madam Pomfrey, on the other hand, didn't even flinch. "Don't you dare take that tone with me, Severus Snape! And don't you dare say a word to me about conniving. Did you expect me to sit idly by while you tortured this poor boy? Callously terrorizing him? Is there nothing you and Albus will stick at? You should be ashamed of yourselves! Both of you!"
"Poppy," Dumbledore said, holding a hand up in an attempt to silence her.
Pomfrey whirled on him. "And don't you 'Poppy' me, Albus Dumbledore! I have never, in my entire life, seen two men behave worse. He's a child, Headmaster. A child in your care! Tchah! You disgust me, the pair of you!"
"THERE WERE VERY GOOD REASONS FOR WHAT WE DID," Snape screamed. Harry marvelled at the large veins bulging at temple and forehead; if Snape didn't calm down, one of them was sure to burst.
"There is no reason on earth good enough to explain your actions!" Pomfrey shot back, completely undaunted. "Actions worthy of He Who Must Not Be Named!"
Glancing quickly at the Headmaster, Harry was smugly pleased to see him look ashamed.
"Of course I connived against you!" Pomfrey continued. "What right-thinking person wouldn't do whatever she could to help Harry get a little of his own back? Did your feelings get hurt, Severus? How do you think he felt? Or do you not care? Wizard bonding! Male pregnancy! Poor ignorant boy."
"Oi!" Harry protested feebly.
"What I did was the very least of what I wished to do to you. It was either connive at this small measure of revenge, or stick a knife in your gut!"
Harry looked at her in admiration. He'd had no idea she was capable of such anger. Even when they'd hatched their plan, she had seemed little more than mildly irritated.
"Then you got both your wishes," Snape said through clenched teeth. "You've ripped a hole in my gut a mile wide! I wanted that baby." And suddenly, Snape seemed to sag, all his anger gone. "I wanted it. My baby with Harry."
Both Dumbledore and Pomfrey opened their mouths to speak, but Harry decided it was time he faced the music alone. The lost look on Snape's face was heartbreaking. "Madam Pomfrey, Headmaster, let me talk to Severus alone. Please? There's nothing either one of you can do now except make things worse. Please. Just go."
"Harry," Albus said, concern wreathing his brow.
"Don't, Headmaster. This is as much your fault as anyone's. Maybe even more so. Please, Madam Pomfrey?" Harry said, turning to the school nurse, begging her to comply.
"I don't like to leave you alone with him, Harry," Pomfrey said, taking Harry's hand. "It's not safe."
"It's OK. It is. He won't hurt me. Really, he can't hurt me any more than he's already done. Just go! I can handle this.
The silence after they reluctantly left seemed to stretch on and on. It was hard, but Harry kept his mouth shut. At this point it was up to Snape to speak first.
"How could you?" Snape asked bitterly after five minutes or more had passed.
"Well, let's see," Harry said, determined to have this out. He counted on his fingers as he spoke. "You tell me I have to bond with you for my own safety. You tell me I'm to bear an heir for you. You bamboozle me into believing there’re such things as bonding and male pregnancy. You keep me from going on a trip with my friends, for no reason other than your own perverse desires to bugger a sixteen year old boy. You blackmail the Headmaster into allowing it by refusing to spy any longer if he doesn’t. You cut me off from my friends, from the closest thing I have to a family, for an entire summer. How could I? Honestly, deep down inside, don't you think you deserve everything you got?"
"But a child, Harry. Our child. When you saw how much I wanted it, how could you continue? How does someone so young become so cruel?"
"You can ask that? After what you did to me? If I’m cruel, Severus, who do you think made me that way?"
Snape stood and began to pace furiously back and forth across the ward floor. "What exactly did I do to you, Potter?" he hissed. "Yes, I wanted you. Is that a crime? Was it so awful to be desired?"
"Yes, it is a crime, but that's not the point! You used me!"
"I gave you pleasure, boy! I taught you things about yourself!"
"You stole my fucking life! I was cut off from everyone! I was led to believe that this was it. Confined to Hogwarts. Turned into a brood mare! Forced to serve at your pleasure!"
"You enjoyed that," Snape snarled.
"So what if I did? You started this. You and Dumbledore between you! You got a pet, he kept his spy. Don't blame me because you got caught in your own trap. Did you honestly think I'd sit idly by when I found out?"
"I DIDN'T THINK YOU WOULD FIND OUT!" Snape bellowed.
"No, you didn't, did you? You've always underestimated me, Snape. And now you've paid for it. You hurt me, I hurt you back. I think we're even."’
"We're not even. We're not even close. What did I take from you? One summer. One summer in which I taught you about yourself, strengthened you, better prepared you for what lies ahead. Do you have any idea what you took from me? DO YOU?" Snape towered over Harry, his face once again dark with rage, his fists tightly clenched at his side.
"No. I guess I don't," Harry said quietly, refusing to flinch back or look away. "What the hell did I take from you?"
"Hope, you little prick! For the first time in my life, I hoped for something good, for something other than power. Hope. I'd never really felt that before. Not in all the long, sordid years of my life. I had a glimpse of it when the Dark Lord took me under his wing, but it was snatched away almost immediately when he caused me to lose the only real friend I'd ever have. Another glimpse when Albus allowed me to return, snatched away again in an instant when he sent me back to do his dirty work."
"Dumbledore says we are the choices we make. Those were your choices, Snape, and I'm not responsible for them. What choices did I ever have, you selfish bastard?"
"Spare me," Snape sneered. "Always poor little put-upon Potter. You had the same choice I had, to make the best of a bad situation. I offered you love. Even you, thick-headed as you are, had to have seen that."
"You didn't love me, you loved the idea of the baby. You never loved me, only what you thought I could give you. You didn't give a damn about me!"
Snape stared at him for a long minute, then turned on his heel and walked away. He stopped at the door and turned back. "You're wrong, boy." And with that, he walked away.
For another long minute, shock kept Harry frozen in place. Suddenly, a fire seemed to flare up inside him. "Severus, wait!" He ran from the hospital wing, and after Snape, as fast as his legs could carry him.
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"Harry," Snape paused, his face in a near scowl. "You can't speak of this to anyone."
Deflated, Harry answered, "I know. But it isn't fair."
Snape snorted. "You still expect things to be fair?" He shook his head. "You really must get over the illusion that anything ever is. One is born, lives a difficult life, and dies."
"Oh stop! You'll have me throwing myself off the nearest tower." Harry shook his head and smiled. "You're so melodramatic."
"I'm nothing of the sort. I'm a realist." Snape folded his arms across his chest. "You cannot tell your friends."
"So you've said. Repeatedly. But you haven't–"
"Twice is hardly repeatedly," Snape protested.
"If you repeat yourself, that's repeatedly. You haven't said why. We're married. Bonded, anyway."
"In case the fact has become lost in the dim recesses of your mind, you're sixteen and I'm your teacher."
"Ha!" Harry snorted. "Considering I was fifteen when you blackmailed the Headmaster, you can't really expect that argument to work with me."
Snape shifted uncomfortably as if he didn't like being reminded of the facts. "We're talking of perception, not reality. Even if they believe this, this…liaison was necessary for your safety, people will not approve. The Ministry will not approve. Making no mention of the fact that we are not bonded because there’s no such thing."
"Maybe you're not bonded," Harry said sulkily. "Fine. I said I knew I couldn't say anything." Harry crossed his own arms and frowned. "But I'm coming down here frequently. And I expect a lot of detentions."
"What? We agree that I'm greedy, or you agree I'm down here every chance I get and then some?"
Smiling slightly, Snape pulled Harry to him and rested his chin on the mess of black hair. "Both. But–"
"There's always a but."
Snape smacked Harry lightly on the arse. "But we must be discreet."
"I know. I know. No snogging in the classroom."
"Well, certainly not while classes are in session."
"People will find out."
"No. They will not. Harry." Snape's voice was threatening.
"Stop arguing and kiss me good-bye. They'll be arriving soon. I've got to get back to my dormitory."
"Harry!" Hermione called. She ran across the common room and gave Harry a big hug from behind.
Harry turned, an enormous smile on his face. "Hi! God, I was beginning to think I'd never see you again!"
"We missed you, mate," Ron said as he joined them and flung an arm over Harry’s shoulder.
"Yeah, me too you," said Harry, feeling a worm of guilt. He hadn't thought of them half as much as he should have the last few weeks.
"How was it? It wasn't too terrible?" Hermione sounded as guilty as Harry felt.
"No. It was...OK."
"How was it spending the summer with the greasy git?"
"Prat," Harry said amiably, smacking Ron's arm. "Snape was as big a prick as I guess he's always been," Harry fought to hide his smile, "but I didn't see as much of him as you'd expect." This was the strict truth. Most of their encounters involved Harry face down on the mattress. Or floor. Or desk. Tables. Chairs. Harry renewed his efforts to not smile. "It was OK, really. I just made sure to always do exactly what he told me to do, without arguing. I don't think he quite knew what to make of it."
Hermione and Ron stared at him.
Shrugging, Harry said, "What do they say? Any port in a storm. There was nobody else here. Dumbledore was always busy, and Snape was the only person around, other than Filch and Madam Pomfrey. I just found myself, uh, helping him out occasionally. But enough about him," said Harry, linking his arms in theirs. "I have really missed both of you. I can't believe you got trapped in Transylvania! I want to hear all about it. Dracula's castle, Norbert, Charlie's dragons. It's loads more interesting than my summer, I'm sure."
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Unable to bear it any longer, Harry slipped his invisibility cloak over his head and climbed through the portrait hole. Discretion be damned. Snape should have returned by mid-day, but dinner in the Great Hall had come and gone with no sight of him. The prickly bastard shouldn't have gone to begin with, but even Harry's most forceful arguments hadn't swayed him. Well, if worry was going to make Harry gnaw his fingers to the quick, he was bloody well going to spit his fingernails out on the stupid git's carpet.
He had no sooner shed his cloak and closed Snape's door behind him when it opened again.
"Potter, good. I was hoping you'd be here. Come with me." Snape grabbed his hand and started to pull him out the door.
"Wait just a damn minute!" Harry yelled. "Of all the bloody nerve! Where have you been?"
"Be quiet!" Snape hissed. "You know where I've been. For once in your life, try not to be pig-headed. Put your cloak back on and come. This won't keep, but Albus needs to hear it as well." He refused to say another word, but hurried away, forcing Harry into a near run to keep up.
"Severus? What's happened? And you may as well drop your cloak, Harry. It's not as if I don't know you're there. I take it the two of you have some kind of news. I trust you aren't disturbing my sleep to tell me you're expecting again." Dumbledore chuckled. He waved them to chairs and took his usual position behind his desk.
Snape didn't sit down. He stood in front of Albus, leaning over the desk, his hands tightly gripping the edge. "He's dead."
"Who's dead?" Harry asked.
The Headmaster, quicker on the uptake, asked, "How?"
"We don't know. He just," Snape waved his hand, "fell over. Some kind of brain seizure, possibly. There was blood leaking from his ears."
"Who's dead?" Harry asked.
"And you're sure? There's no question?" Albus's face was pale, but his blue eyes were merry as usual.
"WHO'S DEAD?" Harry yelled, jumping up from his chair.
Snape mopped his face with his hands. "Good lord, you are an imbecile. The Dark Lord is dead. Do try to keep up."
Harry opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it again, but no words would come out.
The Headmaster pursed his lips, then asked, "How many people were there?"
"Just three of us. Bellatrix, of course, and Pettigrew. I pointed out that chaos would ensue as soon as the rest of the Death Eaters knew. I believe they won't be in a hurry to spread the news, for obvious reasons, so we have that on our side."
"What 'obvious reasons' and what do you mean 'we have that on our side'?" Harry asked.
Snape ignored him. "They're going to be scrambling, trying to figure out their next move."
"As we must figure out ours. Well, well. Tom's dead. And 'not with a bang, but a whimper.' What irony."
"Look," Harry said, glaring at Snape. "I know I'm just the village idiot, but you did bring me here, so you might as well explain things, or what was the point?"
Snape rolled his eyes and started to speak, but Albus shook his head at him. "Do sit down, Severus. Yelling at Harry isn't going to help matters, and wearing a hole in my carpet won't either." Dumbledore steepled his fingers, and lightly bounced the tips of them against his lips. Snape beat an impatient tattoo on the arms of his chair. Confused, gobsmacked, and afraid to say anything else lest they make him leave, Harry just looked back and forth at the two of them and waited.
Finally, Dumbledore smiled and looked at Harry. "You're unusually restrained. Very commendable. I'm proud of you, Harry. Tom's death has left a vacuum that both Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy will want to fill. They will each try to use their privileged knowledge to gain the upper hand before chaos descends. The fact that they won't be anxious to let word get out allows us some time to decide how we can best use this information."
"But shouldn't we be telling people? I mean, he's dead! This is huge!"
Dumbledore's smile broadened. "Yes, it is indeed 'huge'. What do you think, Severus? Days or weeks?"
"That depends, doesn't it?" Snape asked, an utterly evil smile creasing his face.
"Ah," said Dumbledore, his own smile replaced with a look of disapproval. "Perhaps we shouldn't discuss this in front of the boy, after all."
"Oh no," said Harry. "I'm not leaving."
"Harry, there are some things I think you'd prefer not to know," Snape said, still smiling evilly.
As Harry looked intently at his lover and then at the Headmaster, the Knut suddenly dropped. "We're going to kill them, or something. I'm right, aren't I? If you don't want them to spread the news, they have to be neutralised."
Snape raised his eyebrows. "That doesn't bother you?"
"Don't be any stupider than you have to be, Snape. Bellatrix Lestrange killed Sirius, and Wormtail betrayed my parents."
"I suspect," Dumbledore said slowly, "that we needn't concern ourselves with Peter Pettigrew."
"Why not?" an outraged Harry demanded.
"Think, boy. Power vacuum." Snape laughed nastily and ruffled Harry's hair.
"Oh. Bellatrix will take care of him. You're right, I should have thought of that straight off."
"Well done again, Harry." Dumbledore beamed at him.
"But then she'll come after you, won't she?" Harry looked anxiously at Snape.
"Not if I go after her first. It's possible I should have taken care of her immediately, but Pettigrew would have certainly taken her side. I thought it best to wait until the odds were slightly more in my favour. I must say, there are few things in life that will give me greater pleasure than ridding the world of that madwoman."
"I'm going with you. No, don't argue with me. It'll be two to one the other way." Harry grinned. "And you know I'll stick at nothing when it comes to revenge. So, we kill her and then we tell the rest of the wizarding world?"
"Perhaps not immediately." Dumbledore sighed deeply. "I've grown rather tired of the Ministry scrutinizing every move I make, and their attempts to interfere at Hogwarts are most annoying."
"But with Fudge gone—"
"Don't let Scrimgeour fool you, Harry. He's smarter than Cornelius, certainly, but no less power hungry, although he's better able to disguise it."
"So we kill him too?"
Snape snorted. "Bloodthirsty little monster, aren't you?"
"No, Harry. Human life is precious. We are not Death Eaters."
Once again, Harry's mouth opened and closed like a fish struggling to breathe out of water.
Smirking, Snape sat back in his chair and crossed his legs. "So, Albus, when do you plan to let the rest of the world know?"
"Oh, I don't think we need keep our secret so very long. We need only wait until Scrimgeour does something stupid, and he will – he's not half so smart as he thinks he is. When he does we'll be able to have him replaced. I was thinking of Arthur. Completely incorruptible, of course, but amiable to a fault, and therefore quite malleable."
"I know we need to keep it a secret for now, but can I—"
"No, Harry. Do you think it reasonable to expect young Mr Weasley, or Miss Granger for that matter, to keep something so momentous from the other Weasleys? That would, I fear, be more than is fair to ask of him."
Harry sighed and sank back in his chair. "I suppose you're right. Still, I'd love to see Ron's face. He'd laugh, you know."
"Laugh?" Snape asked incredulously. "Well, perhaps I can see that. Giddy from relief–"
"No, not because of that. Well, yeah, that too, but don't you see how funny it all is? All this time we've been steeling ourselves for the big battle, readying ourselves to sacrifice our lives if necessary. Readying ourselves to kill," Harry glanced at Snape, "if need be? All that effort and worry and preparation–" He stopped, suddenly convulsed with laughter. "And then Voldemort just drops dead? And I know I can never tell Ron this bit, but the great Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter, the Chosen One, conspiring to use news of Voldemort's death to our own advantage? Come on, it's funny."
Snape rolled his eyes and looked at Albus, who smiled, then laughed. Harry watched Snape's lips twitch, then twitch again, and that sent him over the edge. In an instant, he was doubled over, gasping for breath, and in another, the Headmaster had joined him in hysteria.
"We'll have to arrange a different death." Snape said as the other two finally recovered their senses. "I suppose nothing less than the Boy Who Lived besting him single-handed will satisfy the Daily Prophet. Whatever it is, it can't be small. A thing of such moment, the death of the greatest Dark Lord of his age, requires spectacle. It should probably be grisly as well. The more spectacular his death, the fewer questions will be asked."
"Oh dear me," Dumbledore said, wiping tears from his eyes. Harry was still clutching his stomach. "I haven't laughed that hard since...a very long time, anyway. Tea, gentlemen? No? Perhaps something stronger is called for under the circumstances. Harry, would you do the honours?"
Pleased to be so easily included in what felt like a very grown-up ritual, Harry stood. He Summoned a bottle from the drinks cupboard in the alcove. It flew through the air, followed as ducklings after their mother by three crystal glasses. He poured and passed a glass to each of the older men before taking one for himself and returning to his chair.
The three of them looked at each other and raised their glasses, but did not toast as Dumbledore began to speak. "A spectacle will not be hard to arrange, I think. We are, after all, three great magicians, are we not?" He raised his glass to his lips and drank.
Snape looked at Harry who was still giggling, shook his head, rolled his eyes and said, "Two and a quarter at best, Albus."