Title: Visit To A Weird Dungeon
Author: The Ghost of Christmas Past
Word Count: approx 14,000
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Severus Snape and Harry Potter end up in the last place they ever expected.
Author's Notes: I sincerely hope my recipient enjoys this! It was a challenge and a pleasure to write for you! Many, many thanks to my always helpful, beta reader, whom I will shower with kisses once the reveals are up!
The author has been reminded that not everyone will be familiar with the original source material, both fannish and otherwise, that inspired this story. The title and the premise come from a classic Star Trek, The Original Series story, called "Visit to a Weird Planet", which in turn was based on a Gore Vidal play called, "Visit to a Small Planet." The author apologizes for any confusion.
"What are you doing here, Potter?"
The snarl in the voice could only have belonged to one person, but Harry turned around anyway. He'd stepped outside onto the balcony overlooking the Great Hall to get some air and clear his head. He might have known the guest of honor wouldn't allow that to happen.
"I was invited," Harry said, taking his time about turning round. Severus Snape had shut the balcony doors behind him, cutting off most of the noise and the lights from the party welcoming him back to Hogwarts. Harry didn't need the floating candle lights to see how fit the man looked for having been all but dead less than six months ago.
"Of course you were invited," Snape sneered. "You're invited to everything, including, presumably, christenings and Bar Mitzvahs. I meant, why did you accept?"
Harry pushed away from the balcony railing. There was a tiny sliver of moon overhead and clouds scuttling over it. "Why shouldn't I have?" he asked, perfectly aware that he hadn't answered Snape's question.
Snape strode across the small space, close enough now that Harry could see that his fists were balled by his sides. "Because you should bloody well leave me alone," Snape replied, leaning over closer as if the sight of his looming face was as much of a deterrent as it had been in school.
But Harry wasn't in school any longer. "I did leave you alone and it almost killed you," Harry said, straightening to his full height. It didn't matter that he would never be as tall as Snape; it only meant he wasn't afraid any more.
"It did kill me," Snape said, his voice a soft hiss. Then he rolled his eyes. "I just decided that I wasn't quite ready to strum a harp for the rest of eternity." He wheeled around to go back inside. Before he could take a step, Harry grabbed his sleeve.
"You know why I came," he said in an urgent tone. Snape glared down at his fingers, trying to shake him off. Harry released them but he didn't move away.
"That ridiculous scene in the hospital?" Snape said, and his hands were balled up by his sides again.
"It wasn't a scene," Harry said, looking away. "Not unless you mean letting me kiss you constitutes a scene. I wanted to show you how I...how I felt. When I found out you were alive--" He hadn't been able to explain the joy that had gripped his heart then or the need to make peace with someone he'd once considered an enemy. Only that the need had led him to Snape's hospital bed.
"No thanks to you," Snape said, his voice dangerously low. "You just left me there in the dirt to die."
"I came back." Harry knew the defense was useless. He hadn't forgiven himself; there wasn't any way he could expect Snape to forgive him. Something cold brushed against his leg and he shivered.
"Well, you can bloody well go away again because you aren't wanted here," Snape said. "It might have escaped your notice, but I'm perfectly capable of saving myself."
The air seemed to thicken around them. Harry could smell the wine Snape had had with his dinner, could feel the rising anger rolling off the other man, boiling into heat. "I don't want to save you," he said, feeling the same desperation he'd felt when he'd first learned Snape hadn't died. He grabbed Snape's sleeve again before he could think through what he was going to do, just that he needed to feel Snape closer.
"I want you to save me," Harry said. Somehow he pulled himself so that his mouth was level with Snape's. He saw Snape's lips making a moue of protest just before he pressed a kiss into them. There was a sputter of protest, then another sort of sound--softer--that filtered into Harry's mouth through the kiss.
Then Snape jerked away, his wand in his hand, the tip of it pressing into Harry's throat. Harry tried to yelp but the hard point only dug in deeper. "I am not--" Snape began, but before he could finish Harry started to feel very strange. From the surprise in Snape's eyes, he was aware of it too. Something shimmered around the edges of his vision, like heat rising from the desert in an old western film. Only the shimmer or wave or whatever is was kept rising around them, encompassing them both. Harry's eyes must have gone as wide as Snape's when something that felt like Apparition grabbed them. Harry felt a jerk and the balcony vanished. He could still feel Snape's wand pressing against his skin, still feel their bodies very close as all the light winked out around them, replaced by, what felt like rolling clouds of darkness.
This was worse than Apparition, a hundred times worse. Harry only Apparated when he had to because he didn't like the feeling of being jerked through his navel from the inside. This felt like he was being jerked by his bollocks. And unlike Apparition, they didn't seem to be arriving anywhere. Clouds seemed to coalesce and form around them, then swirl away into a dark nothingness, a nothingness that howled around them like a storm. Snape's wand scratched at his throat though he could still feel one sleeve in his hand, still feel the tug of something pulling them through this vortex--to somewhere else.
Then suddenly the elsewhere wrapped around him and he felt solid again Just as importantly Snape was equally solid. But he still looked just as angry, like Harry had been responsible for--for whatever this was. Bright lights all appeared all around them and Harry sensed at once that they were not alone.
Harry shook his head at the words, squinting at the piercing lights overhead, peering over Snape's shoulder at the odd assortment of people that seemed to have appeared out of the elsewhere. The room around them felt large, and crowded and hot. Harry started sweating beneath his robes at once. He still couldn't see who had spoken.
"Really...er, intense, Alan," a voice was saying, as a rather harried looking balding man came over and clapped a hand on Snape's shoulder. Snape himself hadn't moved, his wand still at the pulse point in Harry's throat, his hand still fisted in Harry's robes. "Brilliant really, interesting choice with the er, wand and everything, but I thought we discussed a bit more, er, subtlety in this scene."
"Where...are...we?" Snape said, his breath warm against Harry's mouth, so close were they still. Harry's glasses had slipped. When he righted them he saw stone walls, and dead things pickling in jars and Snape's desk. But where there were several hundred tons of castle over Snape's office, overhead this dungeon were lights and cables. And there was no door to Snape's 'office', just a large space with cameras and knots of people in jeans and t-shirts and baseball caps.
"Where--well--" The harried looking man slid a pair of glasses up onto his nose, looking between them as if he knew them. He signaled to someone out of Harry's line of vision.
A young woman slid up beside the harried man, flipping a thick stack of pages. Most of the pages were different colors--lots of pinks and yellows, a few green ones and still fewer white ones. "Page 129, sir, the Occlumency scene." She held it up, showing it around. Snape's grip actually loosened as he tried to see what she was holding. Harry saw that it looked like some sort of play, only instead of "Polonius" or "Mercutio", the names said, "Snape" and "Harry."
"Dan," the harried looking man said, darting worried looks at Snape before turning to Harry. "Good job, really great--" He frowned as he noticed Harry's robes. "What the--" The harried look vanished, replace by a rather stern face now as he called out, without looking away from whatever had offended him about Harry's robes. "Wardrobe!"
Snape's wand finally left Harry's throat and swung toward the hapless man. Seemingly unaware of the mortal peril he was in, still frowning, the man pushed it out of his way impatiently. Snape looked murderous, a muscle in his jaw working. Before he could spew whatever spell he was formulating, another woman, this one older than the first one, joined the group, obviously confused as she too fingered Harry's robes.
"What is Dan doing in dress robes?" the man said, his soft voice still very stern. "There are no dress robes in this scene. In fact, there are no dress robes in this film. There were dress robes in the last film, which makes me wonder what on earth the star of this film is doing in the wrong costume!" His voice had risen steadily, and beyond the bright lights, Harry could hear whispering and movement, as if others feared being similarly called to the carpet. Wherever this carpet was.
"I'm sorry Mr. Yates," the second woman said. "He was in the proper clothes this morning after make-up, I swear!" She looked again at Harry, the robes between her fingers. "We don't even have costumes like this!"
"Apparently we do now," the man, Mr. Yates, replied.
"Where the bloody hell--" Snape began again, to no one in particular, "are we?"
Three pairs of eyes turned back toward him, both women and Mr. Yates. "Alan, are you all right?" Yates said with concern, peering at him. "You're looking yellow. Or is it this monstrous light?" He looked around, obviously about to bellow again. Unfortunately Snape looked like he was going to do the same thing until Harry clapped his hand over Snape's mouth.
"Sn--er, Alan isn't feeling well," he said, feeling Snape's lips tightening below his fingers. He let out a rather unconvincing cough. "And neither am I. Could we, er, have a...recess or something?"
"Of course, Dan," Yates said, looking like he hoped their mutual malaise had mysteriously changed Harry--er, Dan's costume. "Take all the time you need." Without warning, he was bellowing again. "You lot take ten then back here for relighting. This--" He cast a gaze heavenward, squinting against the artificial glare of the heavy arrays of lights. "Is making my leads sick. Do I like it when two very highly paid actors are ill?" He strode away to a chorus of nervous, "No, Mr. Yates's".
Harry leaned in closer to Snape, wrinkling his nose at the breaths huffing, bull-like, between his fingers. "No hexing until we know what's going on, all right?"
Snape's eyes were dangerously black, something Harry remembered vividly from classes when he'd always thought Snape was thinking about poisoning someone. Unlike being in class, Harry thought he might know what was going on. "Let's just get someplace we can talk without anyone overhearing," he said, slowly sliding his fingers away.
Snape made a face as fresh air hit his nostrils but nodded his head. Harry took a step and saw that there were indeed dozens of people just beyond the range of the lights, most digging for cigarettes, several holding clipboards and thick sheaves of script pages. There was a concerned knot of people around the woman Yates had consulted about his dress robes, several of whom glanced at him when he was caught staring. He tried to smile reassuringly at them but they were immediately drawn back into their low-voiced conference.
"That hero charm not working here?" Snape sneered, tugging down his own robes and straightening up.
"Look, I keep telling you--" he began, but a young man came over, looking nearly as harassed as Mr. Yates.
"Mr. Rickman, may I have that wand?" He held out one hand expectantly.
Snape stared at the extended hand, then at the young man's face. The young man went pale. "It's Birch, sir, from Continuity. We think you've got the wrong one," he explained. "In fact, I'm not even sure why you've got a wand in this scene at all," he murmured.
"I'm not surrendering my wand," Snape said and Birch seemed to go a little paler.
"We'll, uh, get it back to you as soon as we can," Harry promised, tugging on Snape's sleeve.
"But--" Birch called after them.
"No hexing," Harry hissed, ignoring the odd looks he was getting tugging Snape through the knots of people. There were miles of thick cable on the floors and heavy cameras positioned all around them, confirming Harry's guess that they'd somehow been transported onto a film set.
"Get your hands off me," Snape said and Harry let him go, coming to a stop just beyond the fringe of people to where the corridors of faux stone ended and there was just concrete floor filled with bits and bobs of scenery.
"Where the bloody--" Snape said as if just noticing the faux dungeon for the first time. It was probably Harry's imagination that he seemed to go as pale as Birch had just a moment ago.
"Wait till we get out of here," Harry said. He'd been in such a hurry to get Snape out of there, he hadn't realized that he had no more idea where to go than Snape did. He turned quickly and called out. "Mr. um, Birch!"
The young man stopped his dejected saunter toward the opposite corridor and headed back toward Harry. "Yes, Mr. Radcliffe, sir?"
Harry felt very weird about being called 'sir' when he was a few years younger than this man. "Um, I was wondering," he began, then smiled in his best self-depreciating manner. "I'm a bit turned around, with all the, um, script?hings. Is my dressing room around here?"
Birch looked confused and like he'd rather be anywhere than under Snape's glare. "You mean your trailer?" Harry nodded enthusiastically. "It's just across the lot, sir, right out that door. First one in the row." He pointed to a sliver of light beyond the expanse of dull concrete from whence a haze of cigarette fumes leaked through even from this distance.
"Right, got it, thanks!" Harry chirped and headed toward the door hoping Snape had sense enough to follow him. They emerged into a cloud of smoke, but the knot of people parted for them, going quiet as they passed. Harry hoped he looked more confident than he felt striding across the lot. Somehow the presence of Snape just beside him made him feel less alone, though what that said for the oddness of his predicament, he had no idea.
"This one," he murmured, though he had no idea why he was trying to keep his voice low when they were in the middle of a huge lot.
Snape, his wand still in his hand, eyed it with suspicion. "How do you know?"
"Birch said it was the first one," Harry said, "and besides, it's got that bloke Dan Radcliffe's name right here." He stepped back to show Snape before swinging open the door. "Everyone has been calling me--"
"Dan!" A voice from inside the trailer called out. Both men on the landing leaped back, Harry right into Snape's chest. He felt something rigid pressing against his back and realized Snape was trying to get his wand free.
"No hexing!" he hissed, peering into the trailer as his eyes adjusted to the dim interior. "Ron?" he called out, when he spotted the shock of ginger hair. A young man shot to his feet, grinning, until Harry spoke.
"Don't be daft, Danny, it's me, Rupert. Come on, you aren't that good of an actor." Suddenly his eyes went very round as Snape came up behind Harry in the doorway. "Er, sorry, just popped round to see if you were finished filming that stupid Occlumency, I mean the ah..." He scooped up several discarded magazines and cans of soda, dropping one of the magazines on the sofa. "Well, you know, your trailer is bigger than mine and you always have the best--" He dropped another magazine in the process of trying not to spill one of the cans of soda. Harry's face--or someone who looked like him, sans glasses--beamed out from the cover. Behind him Snape snorted.
"Oh, oh of course," Harry said, crossing over to take some of the pile from this Rupert's hands. "You're always welcome, of course. It's just A-Alan wasn't feeling well and--" He tapered off, realizing Rupert was looking at him very oddly.
Rupert neatened the stack of magazines in his hand then set them down on the coffee table, looking between Harry and Snape with open curiosity. "Could I, er, see you outside, Dan?"
Harry didn't see any way out of it. He stood aside and let Snape enter the trailer, then followed Rupert back out. Rupert reached up and closed the lightweight door, then rounded on Harry. "Since when are you so chummy with him?," he asked. "Calling him 'Alan'? What's going on?" He looked around, then lowered his voice conspiratorially. "Is this some gag James and Oliver have got going?"
Harry had no idea who James and Oliver were but from the glint in Rupert's eye, he gathered they were quite the cut-ups. "No, oh no, Alan, er--" He struggled to remember what the script girl had called Snape. "Mr. Rickman and I just need to um, go over our lines."
Rupert looked quite disappointed but he just shrugged. "He'd probably kill them anyway if they do to him what they did to Gambon. You up for the pub this weekend?"
"Sure," Harry said, hoping to be back in his own place long before then. Rupert brightened then made a face, peering at his glasses. "You really do look like a dork in those," he said, laughing. Harry climbed the metal stairs back into the trailer. When he got inside, Snape was nowhere to be found.
"Bastard!" he said out loud, resisting the urge to stamp one foot. He checked the rest of the trailer to make sure Snape hadn't just popped into the loo or something and swore again. He'd thought at the very least they were in this together. He picked up the magazine with his doppelganger's face on it to try to learn more about him and where they were. He was absorbed in it when Snape Apparated back in.
"We're in trouble," Snape said without preamble, flinging himself into the armchair.
"Where have you been?" Harry demanded, flinging the magazine back onto the coffee table. Snape's hair was mussed. "It looks to me like we're on a film set and get this--"
"A film set?" Snape said, voice oozing sarcasm. "It may surprise you, Potter, that even I, as young and hopelessly naive as I am, am aware of what a film set looks like."
"It's a film about us," Harry went on, ignoring the sting of Snape's sarcasm. "Well, about me--"
"Of course it's about you," Snape grumbled.
"Well, you're in it, Professor Snape, I mean, only you're played by this bloke Alan Rickman. And I'm played by him." He pointed to the magazine. "Daniel Radcliffe. He's got really weird taste in music." He gestured toward the elaborate sound system on one end table. "Do not touch 'play'." He shuddered. "Where have you been?" he asked again. He had never been so glad to see Snape in his life, including the first sight of him in hospital with a huge bandage around his neck, glaring at Harry, but alive.
"Obviously I tried to go back to our world, to Diagon Alley, to the Leaky Cauldron."
"Tried?" Harry didn't like the sound of that.
"It's a dry cleaning establishment," Snape said. "Then I tried my house up north. The entire wretched neighborhood appears to have been razed to the ground some time ago."
That information tied in with what Harry had been thinking. The date on the magazine was several years after their time. It wouldn't be hard to get a Time Turner and-- Before he could suggest this, Snape held up one hand.
"Then I traveled to Hogwarts," Snape said. Harry didn't like the expression on his face. "It's not there."
"It's been destroyed?" He went still, unable to image a world without the beloved school in it.
Snape, however, was shaking his head. "It's never been there. There's just a meadow on the site. With sheep."
"We're in trouble," Harry said, dropping his head into his hands with a moan. "Have you ever heard of anything like this happening?" he asked from between his fingers.
"You mean exchanging places with actors in a series of films about the boy hero of the wizarding world?" Snape asked and Harry's head shot up. "Not recently."
"You think they--" He pointed toward the magazine. "Went to our world?" Snape was nodding. "Then someone will be looking for us!" Harry exclaimed, feeling hopeful again. "They'll just explain what happened and someone--Ron or Hermione--will find us!"
Snape had pushed back into the armchair, staring at him as though he'd grown another head. "Don't be daft, Potter. Two Muggles, with no idea that the people they portray are real, with no concept of our world at all, no magic, and no idea how they got there? At least we know of the existence of their world and can fit in."
With each word, Harry felt more dejected. "Oh."
"Oh, indeed," Snape said, and it seemed to Harry that the more depressing their own situation looked to Harry, the happier Snape was about it.
"So, how do we get back?" Harry asked, hoping Snape had more of a clue than he did. "Have you tried any spells?"
An inelegant snort emerged from the depths of the armchair. "Like what? Returnus OwnDimensionus? Switcheroo Maximus?
"I don't know," Harry huffed, tired of being the made fun of. "I don't understand how we even got here," Harry said, feeling the echo of that uncomfortable jerk behind his groin. It hadn't felt like Apparating, or using a Portkey or even using the Floo. Strangely enough, though, it had felt like something Harry had done before, but he couldn't remember when. If he really had, he'd certainly never landed in an alternate dimension or whatever this was. Snape still hadn't said anything. "We were just standing there...kissing when--"
"Is that what you call it?" Snape retorted, getting to his feet, striding away from Harry. "I thought you were searching for anti-venom capsules in my teeth." He paced a few steps in the small space. "Though that's not exactly what we were doing when we were jerked away. I drew my wand on you." He looked like he very much wanted to do it again. Harry ignored the crack about his kissing technique--a sarcastic Snape was better than a silent Snape any day in his book.
"Could you have accidentally--" Harry began but Snape whirled on him. "No, I suppose not." He brightened. "Perhaps if we, er--" He glanced down at Snape's mouth, which, just at the moment, didn't look remotely kissable. "No, I suppose not on that as well."
At least Snape didn't look murderous. "Kissing never solves anything," he said, crossing his arms over his chest. Privately Harry thought it really couldn't hurt anything and it might make them both feel better but he kept his opinions to himself, especially since Snape had started pacing again. "Why did you--" he began just as someone knocked on the door.
Harry jumped up and opened it. It was Birch, looking apologetic. "Mr. Yates would like you both back on the set," he said. Harry tried to think of an excuse not to go, but Snape was heading toward the door. "Oh, and I'll have that wand back, Mr. Rickman," Birch added, trying too hard to sound conversational.
"Only over my reanimated corpse," Snape said, waiting for Harry at the foot of the metal steps.
Birch sighed expressively and looked beseechingly at Harry. "They've been turning up on Ebay," he explained in an undertone. Harry tried to look as if he understood the dire import of that. "Not that he would ever--" He bit his lip and slumped, leading them back to the big hangar-like studio.
They made their way to the now buzzing set, the break apparently long over. Mr. Yates bustled up to them. "Let's get you back under the lights, Alan," he said, running a hand through the thinning strands of his hair. Harry stuck with them, uncertain what else to do.
Yates led them back to the spot where they'd materialized. A thin man with a clipboard dogged their steps, making notes as Yates mumbled something about arc lights. "No, no, no, it's still wrong." He reached out and cupped Snape's chin. Harry braced himself for the outburst, as Yates turned Snape's face from right to left, then up and down, studying the light from different angles. Snape's lips had thinned to a bare line, eyes snapping with displeasure, but he remained silent as Yates released his chin. "Useless," he said, turning to the man with the clipboard. "Utterly useless. We'll have to relight the entire scene."
Clipboard man turned and passed the command down the rank and file. There was a flurry of activity, most of which seemed to involve huge lengths of cable. "So sorry, Alan, Dan," Yates said, looking genuinely apologetic. "We'll make this as quick as we can. I'll send your P.A.'s over."
"What's a P.A?" Harry whispered to Snape as Mr. Yates barked a command to clipboard man. They both disappeared into the huddle of people.
"No idea," Snape admitted, patting his wand. "Be ready for anything."
What Harry wasn't ready for was a woman, about ten years older than himself, carrying some sort of handheld electronic device. "Good, you've got a break," she said, in a breezy
"Um, no?" Harry replied, hoping he didn't. The answer seemed to satisfy the woman who looked down at her handheld. Harry peered at the name tag she had hanging from a lanyard around her neck. It looked like 'Noelle'.
"Let's see, your dad called and said your mum wasn't feeling well and could you get a ride tonight from one of the studio drivers," Noelle said, "Oh, and he said absolutely under no circumstances are you to let Rupert bring you home in the ice cream van."
Snape cleared his throat. "I can see him home," he said, making, to Harry, an obvious effort to be polite.
Noelle smiled, bringing out a dimple on her cheek. "Dreadfully sorry, Mr. Rickman, but you're on the Only Under Dire Circumstances list."
Snape looked thunderous, as though he, and not this Rickman character, had been found wanting. Noelle went on. "After that..." She lowered her voice, though with all the chatter and shouting around them as scenery and lights were repositioned no one could have heard her but them. "Incident with the catering tent when you were learning to drive." She went on to tell Harry about several interviews that had either been scheduled or rescheduled, though Harry wasn't paying much attention. He thought Snape might make a cutting remark about how many interviews his counterpart had to do, but Snape seemed to be still be smarting over the catering tent incident.
While she was briefing Harry, another young woman came up, asking if they'd like tea, then yet another woman, older this time, came up and began giving Snape the same sort of information Noelle had for Harry.
"Miss Horton has been calling you," the older woman, Meredith, from her name tag, was telling Snape. "I'm fairly certain it's about your new suit at the tailor's for the benefit this weekend. Shall I pick it up for you?"
"Fine, fine," Snape said, making a face as yet another person, a young man this time, approached him with a styling brush.
"Just a touch up," the young man said cheerfully, moving behind him and starting to work on his hair. Harry could see a muscle working in his jaw at this indignity but Snape managed to hold onto his temper.
Tea arrived via the same young woman who'd offered, carrying a tray with two cups, the paper sort, not the china sort. There were lids on them both and small openings cut out to drink through. Snape was eying his critically when the young woman cooed at him. "I fixed it just the way you like it, Mr. Rickman."
Was she--she was! She was flirting with Snape! Harry smirked, watching her insinuate herself between the P.A, Meredith, and the man brushing Snape's hair.
"There, that's got it," the young man said, stepping back to assess his efforts.
"Oh, ever so nice," flirty girl cooed, reaching out to adjust a stray black strand. She pulled her hand back with a start when Snape growled at her. She went scarlet and stammered, "I'll just...just..." She fled without completing her sentence.
"Right then, I'll bring those photos over when the delivery arrives," Meredith was saying, suppressing a grin as flirty girl took flight. She and Noelle left, both dodging dragging cables with practiced eased as they punched things into their handhelds.
Just as suddenly, Snape and Harry were alone, well, as alone as they could be with men overhead on scaffolding adjusting heavy lights over their heads and people moving large consoles around them.
"We aren't going to be able to pull this off, are we?" Harry asked. "I wonder what they do here to wizards who impersonate film actors?"
"Of course we're going to be able to pull it off," Snape replied, taking a sip of his tea. For a moment, his face froze in a rictus of some emotion, disbelief or pain, Harry couldn't quite tell. "God, this is disgusting," he said, after taking a painful swallow. He peered at the paper cup as if it had performed a particularly revolting spell in his hand.
"It's just the way you like it," Harry parroted, earning himself a glare. He tasted his own and, though he didn't have the urge to spit it out, shared Snape's opinion.
"This can't be the way anyone likes it," Snape said, setting the cup down on a passing console.
"Look, we've got to figure out a way to avoid going home tonight," Harry said, leaning in close. "I might be able to fool these people but there isn't any way I can fool Dan's father and mother."
Snape was nodding. "You might have made a tolerable spy, Potter. We'll have to have those P.A. persons call your parents--" Harry knew Snape meant this Dan's parents but it still sounded weird. "And this Horton person and tell them we'll be elsewhere tonight. We can sleep in that trailer of yours and try to sort this out further."
It seemed like a good plan until Snape got dragged away for make up tests and Harry found himself in the wardrobe department, fighting to keep from surrendering his dress robes to a very nice looking woman with a cigarette dangling from her mouth. "Come on love, give it over." Harry unbuttoned the robes. He was wearing his best shirt and slacks underneath, but still felt oddly exposed with his robes open.
The woman scooted her rolling chair over closer. Unfortunately she wasn't wearing one of the handy name tags. Harry crossed his arms over his chest while she reached over to slide the cloth of his sleeve through two fingers. She made an appreciative noise, cooing over the fabric. "Oh, now, isn't this nice," she said, rubbing her fingers over the stitching. "Doesn't look like one of ours, now does it?" Harry tried to think of something to say to that, but she didn't seem to require a response. "Wrong, of course, all wrong for this scene." She consulted a thick sheaf of papers, held together with several brightly colored clips. "Jeans and a t-shirt," she said, taking her fag from her mouth and pointing it toward the script. "Says so right here."
They studied each other across the crowded wardrobe room, the thin curl of cigarette smoke dissipating over her head. "So where did they go?"
Harry shrugged. "This is, um, what they gave me this morning." He slid his hand into his pocket where his own wand was still hidden.
The woman took another slow drag from her cigarette. "Right," she said slowly, looking back at the script as though the information had changed.
Something cold brushed against his leg and he looked down. Just then he heard an outraged bellow. A very Snape-sounding outraged bellow. "Was that--" He pushed his way past a rack of Quidditch uniforms, out of the wardrobe room, heading down the hallway toward the noise. He heard another bellow just as he pushed open the door. "What's going on?" he demanded.
Snape had his wand out again, aiming it at a young woman with an enormous powder puff in her hand. Half of his face looked like he'd been scorched by a baby dragon, sun-brown and smooth. The other half was his usual sallow pallor. Snape flicked his wand at Harry before recognition sank in. "Take that...thing away from her," he instructed, pointing his wand at the powder puff.
Harry crossed the room, smiling at the clearly confused woman. "He's not feeling well," he explained, taking the powder puff from her unresisting fingers.
"I am feeling fine," Snape gritted out, only lowering his wand when Harry held out the offending puff before setting it on the lighted dressing table. He gestured toward the unmoving woman with the wand, giving her a wide berth as he made for the door. He grabbed Harry's arm, tucking away his wand as they made their escape, er, exit.
"You're going to get us in trouble," Harry said, not minding that Snape kept his fingers gripped around his arm as they strode down the corridor.
"I am willing, for the sake of returning the boy hero back to his rightful place, to endure any number of indignities, but I will not be powdered!"
"Wait, what?" Harry said, jerking his own arm away and pulling Snape to a halt though he didn't think either of them had any idea where they were going. He pushed them into a room bursting with broomsticks and the front half of a turquoise Ford Anglia. "You're doing this for me?" he demanded.
"Do you think I have any objection to being here in a world that has never heard of Severus Snape except as some sort of villain in a children's melodrama?" Snape whirled on him. "Or that I couldn't lose myself here and never give a moment's thought to the world where the only reason I'm alive and free is because of you?" He caught sight of himself in one of the room's mirrors, half brown, half sallow and pointed his wand at himself. "Scourgify!"
Harry stared open mouthed at him. He thought about never returning to his own world, to his friends and to the places he loved. Snape seemed to follow the path of his thoughts. He tucked his wand away and straightened his robes. "You, however, have got to go back," he said.
"Not without you!" Harry insisted.
Snape's hand shot out, grabbing the front of Harry's shirt and yanking him forward. They were kissing before Harry even realized they were close enough to touch. He pushed his arms into Snape's robes and around his waist, leaning them both against the closed door. Kissing Snape was much nicer when he knew there wouldn't be a wand drawn on him right after. Snape made a noise and turned his face away but Harry didn't let him go.
"Is this one of the indignities you're willing to endure?" Harry asked.
"One of the most atrocious," Snape replied, but it was all right. The venom had leeched out of his voice. He pulled his wand back out and Harry stepped back in alarm.
"What are you doing?" Harry yelped.
Snape peered out into the corridor as though a basilisk lurked outside. "We need time to figure this out," he said, looking grim. "I'm going to buy us some time."
"What are you going to do?" Harry said, hurrying along behind him as he strode purposefully down the corridor.
"They want lights," Snape replied, brandishing the smirk that had fooled Voldemort, "I'll give them lights."
There was a lot of shouting when they returned to the set, but it calmed down at once when they appeared. "There you are," said Birch, wiping some sweat off his forehead. "Imelda in make up said you were--" He glanced at Snape's face, "well, never mind." He led them back to the passable imitation of Snape's office, though compared to the real thing, this one, even with the walls lined with pickled specimens, was bright and airy.
Mr. Yates came bustling over, a slightly too bright smile on his mouth. "Ah there you are," he said looking at Birch as though he'd tracked them down himself. "I heard about the little, er, fracas in make up." He cupped Snape's chin again and peered at him with a critical eye. "Well, no matter, we're just testing the new lighting now and we'll start shooting this scene again tomorrow."
He arranged them back near the desk, then consulted with the clipboard woman, turning his back away from them. Harry was seated on a stool with Snape looming over him. he had a clear view when Snape reached into his robe pocket.
The first light exploded over one of the heavy dollies, thankfully vacant at the moment, sending glass and metal fragments cascading down. There were outraged shouts and a few screams as hands flew over heads. Harry was watching the better show, Snape's face, as it turned slightly, his lips mouthing an incantation as a row of smaller lights, just to the left of the first, exploded one after the other with the sort of timing usually found in shows involving high-stepping chorus girls.
Someone ran past them, shielding a clipboard, and several burly men ran over to the cameras and started pulling them back away from the ring ruined of lights.
"Too much?" Snape murmured.
Harry cupped his hand in his chin, as he saw Birch trying to shield Mr. Yates from debris that wasn't falling anywhere remotely near him. "Something big for the finish," he suggested and Snape nodded. His face tilted up at the glaring light directly over their heads. The light started turning colors, blue, then purple, then red, then yellow before it shattered in a burst of rainbow colored shards. Amazingly enough every one of the shards missed their heads, falling in a tidy Protego-sized circle around them.
There was a moment of stunned silence as people braced for another explosion, starting to move slowly when more moments ticked by with only smoke and the odd sputter of glass drifting to the floor.
There were still people running to and fro, as Mr. Yates made his way over to them, kicking glass out of his way. "Well, that's a wrap," he said, his voice quite controlled despite the fact that his thinning hair was sticking straight up.
Snape had his arms crossed over his chest, all attention as though he'd not just been casting explosive spells. "This sort of thing happen often?" he asked conversationally as several push brooms swept around them sending glass and metal shards crunching together into the rubbish bin.
"Cuaron told me there'd be days like this," Yates muttered, peering overhead at the gutted light. "Of course he told me to sacrifice a sheep when there were." He scrubbed his face with his hand as a small fleet of people bustled up, each holding a clipboard. Yates looked Harry and Snape over. "You two all right?"
Harry nodded, as Snape did the same. Luckily the glass shards around them had been dispersed enough that the lack of glass around their feet was no longer noticeable. "I'm going to look at the dailies and see if there's anything at all useful from today and we'll try this scene tomorrow." Someone with an inevitable clipboard handed him a phone and he walked off muttering about sheep.
"Everyone knows a badger makes a much better sacrifice," Snape said, looking after him before turning back to Harry.
"What--never mind," Harry said, grabbing Snape's sleeve. "Look, did you hear what he said?" Snape turned his full attention back on Harry as if expecting him to let go of his arm but Harry held on. "These daily things, I've heard about them. They look over the film they've shot each day."
"Very nice, I'm sure," Snape said, frowning at him as if he'd suggested a human sacrifice.
"Don't you see? We should try to get a look too, to see if anything about what happened to us shows up on the film." Finally he released Snape's arm. As one they scrambled to follow Yates away from the sound stage, heels crunching on glass.
Only to find their way blocked by the over-eager Birch. He looked very confident as he held out his hand. "I can take that wand now, sir," he said, his confidence collapsing the moment Snape glared at him.
"Pot--Daniel and I are going to rehearse more this evening," Snape said, tempering the glare into a smug look. "I need it to--to stay in character."
"They'll need your costume down in Wardrobe to get it clean for tomorrow," Birch protested, giving Harry a slightly panicked look.
"We'll make sure it gets down there," Harry said, trying to sound consoling as he was herding Snape away before he found another use for his wand aside from rehearsing. He thought he could still see Mr. Yates disappearing down one of the endless corridors leading away from the sound stage.
Before he and Snape could take two steps, someone else materialized in front of them. It was Meredith, Snape, er, Alan's assistant. She was holding one mobile phone, while talking into another. "Right, I've got him right here," she was saying as she signaled to get their attention. "Miss Horton's flight has been delayed," she said to them, keeping the mobile pressed to her ear. "She says not to worry about meeting her at the airport tomorrow, she'll just take a cab."
Snape looked like he understood about one word in five but nodded authoritatively. "And you'll pick up my suit from the cleaners," he said, as though he had every intention of wearing it. Meredith beamed and handed him the phone.
For a moment he just stared at it while Harry held his breath, trying to think of a reason, any reason, why he would want to talk to Alan Rickman's girlfriend. He'd read in the magazine that they had lived together many years, but he had no idea if Dan had ever visited them, or indeed, if Rima and he had ever met.
Slowly Snape put the mobile phone up to his ear, shook it, then realized it was upside down and turned it the right way around. He listened for a moment. Harry heard the soft voice coming from the phone since he was so close to Snape but couldn't make out the words.
Then Snape said, very slowly, "Right," then he nodded. "I'll see you tomorrow." Another nod and Harry started to release his breath, when Snape said, "Yes, I love you too."
Harry nearly applauded when he handed the phone back. Snape looked like he'd gone through a particularly grueling session of Legilimency with Voldemort but at least they were free to follow Yates to the dailies. Only of course there was no sign of him, mumbling or not.
"Now what?" Harry said in frustration. Snape pulled him close to a twist in the corridor and slid his hand into his pocket.
"Accio Yates's pen," Snape said. The next thing Harry knew a ballpoint pen zoomed around the opposite corner into Snape's hand.
"That way," he said, palming the pen. There were only three doors on this branch of the corridor or Snape might have had to Summon something Yates might miss more, like his shirt. Their search was made easier when Mr. Yates, mouth agape, skidded out into the corridor.
"Have you seen a ballpoint--" He looked distressed, as though his mouth was having trouble enunciating what his brain was telling him to.
Snape opened his hand to reveal the pen. "This was, er, rolling down the hallway," he said, presenting it. The man looked at it, then back inside the room and ambled off without replying.
"I believe this is the place," Snape said, entering the darkened room. They were not the only ones in attendance. Aside from Yates and the ever-present Birch, there were several others milling around making whooshing motions with their hands and looking toward the door. Snape and Harry stood in the back. There was a large projection screen in the front of the room and a small electronics set up just beside it.
"Can we see the footage from today?" Yates asked the tech beside the electronics. "I know it's just the digital but I need to see the lighting tests and whether anything is usable from today."
The tech nodded and, after a bit more hubbubbing, Yates scrubbed his face and took a seat. Everyone else followed suit.
Harry found himself interested in the assorted images though most were just odd flashes of scenes. There were several close-ups of a face that was so close to his own that Harry had to think a moment to remember it was this Dan person. Next the camera panned over Snape's face. Harry noticed at once that this version looked older than the one he was used to, as though he was looking into Snape's future. Even more startling, someone off camera said something that must have been funny for Alan broke into a huge smile and laughed. Oddly enough, when he did this, Dan looked a bit nervous. Beside him, he heard Snape sniff in disgust.
Finally the single shots seemed to be over and there were several longer ones, all of Snape and Harry standing very close. Dan--portraying Harry--looked frightened and exhausted as Snape loomed over him. Suddenly the film went blurry. From the knot of men up front, Harry heard several excited calls as the film seemed to slow. The images on it shifted then sped up. When it returned to normal speed, Snape, the man beside him, had replaced the other man--Alan--and was now holding his wand to Harry's throat.
"What the bloody hell was that?" Yates demanded. He made an impatient gesture toward the tech. "Let's have that again." They watched the fluttering shift again. Two actors standing very close just seemed to wink out and be replaced by their very real counterparts. Fortunately for their masquerade, but unfortunately for figuring out what had happened, there was no clear moment on film showing the actual switch.
"Let's go," Snape said into his ear as the others in the room started tossing around confused questions. They slipped back out into the corridor, closing the door behind them lest anyone get the idea to ask them about what they had just seen on film. For want of other options, Harry headed back toward the trailer they'd been to before. Once inside he collapsed onto the couch. Snape followed more slowly, taking the opposite seat. For a moment they just stared at each other.
"What the hell was that?" Harry said at last. "Have you ever seen anything that would explain it?"
Snape shook his head. "Some sort of switching spell or displacement charm perhaps," he said, obviously thinking aloud.
"Are we certain it's something from--well, that we're sure it was something magical and not something technological?"
Snape stroked his chin. "We must hope that, for we have no expertise in their non-magical technology and they, wherever they are, have no access to the magical."
"So it's up to us to figure out what happened?" Harry said, feeling a bit dispirited. Just once he would have liked to be the one rescued instead of the other way around.
"Well, up to one of us," Snape said. Before Harry worked out that he'd most likely been insulted, Snape was on his feet, pacing. They discussed what they'd seen on the brief glimpse of film over and over as well as the odd yanking feeling as they'd dissolved off the balcony and onto wherever this was. As many times as they chased ideas around, nothing fit exactly what had happened to them.
Harry started to ask if maybe they shouldn't try aiming random spells at each other when a knock sounded at the trailer door.
Snape had his wand out before Harry could get to his feet. "Put that thing away," he scolded, going to the door. "They have security here and everything."
"I suppose you think that would keep out anyone powerful enough to bring us here," Snape mumbled, but he tucked the wand back into his sleeve before Harry opened the door.
It was Meredith, Alan's personal assistant. Her head was tilted at an odd angle and Harry realized she had a mobile phone pressed to it. "Never mind," she said, smiling up at him from the rickety metal steps, "I've got him." She clicked the phone shut. "Terribly sorry to bother you, but I've been looking everywhere for Alan and Birch said you two might still be rehearsing--"
Harry felt Snape looming over his shoulder. Meredith nearly lost her footing on the step in her haste to back up. "You are rehearsing?" she said, in an odd tone of voice. Then her face colored and she looked down at the envelope she was carrying. "Never mind, sorry," she went on. "I've got those photos for you to sign," she said, holding out the thick envelope. When neither Harry nor Snape reached out to take it, she went on. "For the benefit." Slowly Snape's hand reached past Harry to take the envelope. For a moment no one spoke, though Meredith was looking between them oddly.
She took another step back off the metal steps and patted her hair as though a wind had blown through it. "Just, er, leave them in your trailer?" she said, her voice unsteady.
"I have a trailer?" Snape said. Harry elbowed him and he glared back. "I mean, of course I have a trailer. And I'm sure it's every bit as nice as this one."
Harry thought fast and followed Meredith down the stairs. Before Snape could try to Accio the trailer, he said, in a bright voice, "That's right, I've never been there. Er, which one is it?"
Meredith looked positively confused now. "That one there," she said, pointing with the phone, perhaps in a bid not to use it at once to call the nearest loony bin. Harry spotted it among the row of nearly identical trailers and nodded.
"Well, we should probably rehearse some more," Harry continued, still in an over-bright tone.
"Right," Snape said, making a visible effort to loom a bit less, though he still looked rather formidable in the doorway.
"I'll just, er, leave you to it, then," Meredith said. "To rehearse I mean."
Once she was gone, Harry bounded back up the stairs. "Close one," he said.
"Not even remotely. She believes we are engaging in sexual acts as our characters." Snape shut the door behind him.
Harry grinned. "Just as long as she doesn't suspect the truth." Snape shot him a glare before sliding the flap of the envelope open. He pulled out one of the photos. The photo showed an elegantly aging man with short light brown hair. He looked very dashing in a tuxedo, smiling just as he'd done in the short film clip they'd seen earlier.
"Well, he's got your nose," Harry said, looking at it upside down.
"A bit older than I am. I'm surprised no one has noticed."
Harry shrugged. He thought of all the really bad impersonations of people he and Ron and Hermione had done during the Horcrux hunt. "People see what they expect." He gestured toward the magazine cover with Dan's face on it. "Have you looked at that?"
Snape made a disgusted noise. "Not any more than I could help."
Harry rolled his eyes. "I mean, looked at the face. Dan has blue eyes." He shrugged again when Snape peered at the photo more closely, then back at Harry's face. "And no scar." He brushed his fringe down over his forehead.
"At least you can pass for Dan if you have to," Snape said, sliding the photo of Alan back into the envelope. "I may have to Polyjuice into Alan if we're here long enough."
"What? Polyjuice takes a month to brew and--" Harry began but Snape had pulled a vial out of his robes.
"Not if you aren't a rule-breaking second year student," Snape said, shaking the sludge-filled vial once before tucking it away.
"Or a paranoid ex-spy," Harry murmured.
Snape ignored him. "We just need some of Alan's hair." He started back toward the door of the trailer.
"Wait, what?" Harry yelped, grabbing Snape's arm. "You aren't really going over to his trailer?" Snape had looming down cold. Harry released his sleeve.
"Well, it isn't as though he's in any position to discover me there," Snape pointed out.
"But it's, I don't know, private," Harry tried, rewarded by one of Snape's snorts.
"Good thing you haven't made yourself at home in Dan's living room then," he said, managing to get the door open before Harry could object again. Snape was striding across the lot to the trailer Meredith had pointed out. He had already tried the door when Harry caught up to him. "Locked," he said, unnecessarily.
Harry looked around nervously but there wasn't anyone else nearby. Apparently the cessation of filming meant the lot cleared out fairly quickly. He heard the quiet whisper of Snape's unlocking spell and the clink of the door as it gave way. Harry followed him inside, more to get out of sight than anything else.
"Make yourself useful and give me some light," Snape said, his eyes sweeping the trailer. It was nearly exactly like Dan's down to the hideous upholstery on the furniture. But where Dan's was a messy hodgepodge of magazines and books, empty cd cases and various electronic gadgets to listen to them on, Alan's was the opposite. His cds were all neatly stacked beside the stereo. Harry glanced at them--alphabetized.
"Well?" Snape snapped impatiently and Harry reached for a lamp that was in the same place as the one is his trailer. The place looked even less like Dan's in the light. Snape was looking around, giving the outer room a cursory glance before heading into the bedroom. Harry squawked and followed.
The trailer bedrooms were decently sized with room for a bed and dresser. Alan's looked like it had never been slept in, as impersonal as a hotel bed. Dan's had several pillows that had obviously been gifts from ardent fans strewn about, as well as a stereo system on the bureau with yet another stack of cds piled haphazardly beside it. "We shouldn't be in here," Harry said, keeping his voice low.
"We are not likely to find what we require anywhere else," Snape said, frowning at him.
"Why are you whispering?"
"I--" Harry thought about it and looked chagrined. "It still feels like breaking and entering."
"Distasteful but necessary for our survival here, if we are to pull off this masquerade." He slid past Harry and opened the bathroom door. He made a triumphant noise and emerged with a slender hairbrush. Extracting several light colored hairs, he produced an empty vial from his robes and tucked them away. "There, that ought to be enough." He straightened and tucked the vial away, his gaze still sweeping the room. Since Harry hadn't moved since they'd entered the bedroom, Snape had to squeeze past him again as he started opening drawers.
"Now what are you looking for?" Harry said.
"I can't go round in robes if I'm a Muggle, now can I?" Snape said, pulling out a shirt, a pair of trousers and the bottoms of a track suit.
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were looking forward to impersonating this Alan character," Harry said, thinking of that "I love you too" on the phone.
Snape closed the drawer with a snap of finality. "Let's hope I don't have to."
They made their way back to Dan's trailer. Harry went straight to the tiny kitchen and started pulling bags of crisps from the cabinet--his stomach had started rumbling some time ago. He thought longingly of the long table stuffed with food back on the set but reckoned it had been cleared away when the day's filming had come to an end. Snape came back from the bedroom after putting away the purloined clothing and eyed the repast skeptically.
"Crisps and fruit?" he asked, but Harry noticed he opened the closest bag and sidled up onto one of the stools.
Harry peered into the fridge. "We have soft drinks and juice."
"Don't suppose there's any tea?" There was something almost--wistful--in his tone that made Harry turn around.
"I daresay there is," Harry said, opening the cabinet beside the fridge and pulling out a kettle. "I mean Alan and Dan may be Muggles but they're still British." Harry got out juice anyway while the water was heating and if dinner wasn't quite a feast from their Hogwarts days, it was filling and had the added bonus of ice lollies tucked in the freezer with a note from Rupert.
Snape had taken off his coat at last and rolled up his sleeves, offering to wash the few dishes since Harry had fixed the tea. He accepted the Popsicle almost absently, running water in the small sink. Harry turned around to ask if he could help just as Snape's tongue darted along the frozen concoction. Only Harry felt like the one frozen to the spot, watching.
Perhaps it was nerves, the adrenalin that had never quite leeched out of his system from their encounter on the balcony, or the shared danger that had swirled around them throughout the day. Perhaps it was just being so close to Snape, or seeing him in those bloody sexy shirtsleeves. But suddenly Harry was achingly, powerfully hard. He turned away, thrusting his own ice lolly between his lips, letting the cold seep over his tongue.
It didn't help. Snape from the back, with the line of his braces bisecting his shoulders,
was just as appallingly appealing as he'd been from the front. Harry felt a drip and realized his Popsicle had melted enough to run down his chin. He swabbed the sticky spot and licked the impending mess from his cherry lolly. Leaving the pop in his mouth, he put clips back on several of the crisp bags and tucked them away.
Snape had turned off the water in the sink but hadn't reached for the teacups yet. Harry looked over and nearly whimpered as Snape slowly twirled the grape ice lolly in his mouth, working his lips down slowly to catch the condensed purple drops. Harry knew he should look away, but the erection throbbing in his pants was giving his brain all sorts of bad advice. Harry ignored all of it--barely--but still couldn't take his eyes off the section of purple ice slowly sliding in and out of Snape's mouth.
His own Popsicle broke off in his mouth, and he crunched it to small pieces, letting it melt inside his mouth. He had to cover up the whimper that slipped out when Snape's head dipped, the hair brushing away from his shoulders, eyes closed in a simple pleasure that was sensual and alluring. Some noise must have slipped out for Snape turned sharply.
"What are you staring at?" he asked sharply, the hair falling in front of his face the way he did whenever a scowl wasn't enough to frighten off anyone who got too close.
"Er, nothing," Harry said, deliberately letting his Popsicle drip onto his chin so he could distract himself wiping it up. "Just making a mess here." He laughed self-deprecatingly and twirled the stained stick to get the last chunk into his mouth.
"Your mouth is red," Snape said just as his gaze flicked away from Harry's mouth.
"Well, yours is purple," Harry said, still grinning, mostly pleased that the sudden taut arousal was easing.
"Silly Muggle sweet," Snape grumbled, but Harry noticed he finished licking it until only the stained stick remained.
It was just evening here, but they had been swept back several hours earlier and the long day was catching up to Harry. Snape had settled into the chair with one of Dan's books--there was a surprisingly varied assortment--but Harry wasn't sure he could keep his eyes open long enough to read anything.
"I'm going to have a shower and go to bed," he said, stretching. As his arms arched over his head he noticed just the barest flicker of Snape's gaze toward the strip of uncovered skin above his trousers while he stretched. Perhaps not as indifferent as he appeared, Harry thought, not daring to grin.
"I'll make up the couch out here," Snape said, appearing to be buried in a play with a stylized horse on the cover.
Harry had been bracing for that ever since he'd seen Snape nick Alan's track suit. "I don't think we should sleep apart," he said, trying to sound business-like.
"Why ever not?" Snape said, lowering his book to his lap. He still had his shirt sleeves rolled up and Harry took a swallow.
"What if whatever it was that brought us here, comes back to return us in the middle of the night? If you're out here on the couch, you'll miss it. Or I will, if it gets you."
Snape studied him a moment. "Conversely, if it comes back to kill us and finds us together, we'll both die."
Harry opened his mouth then shut it again. "God, you're morbid."
Snape shrugged and picked up the book with the horse on it again.
"I mean it," Harry said, planting his legs and leaning against the kitchen counter as if bracing for a battle. "I don't think we should stay apart that long."
"If you wish," Snape said, without looking up.
Harry had long ago learned not to question any good luck that came his way. He darted into the tiny loo before pumping his fist in the air. And as much as he hoped his luck would stay with him as he slipped into bed after his shower, he was asleep long before Snape ever climbed into the bed beside him.
It was only because he woke up with Snape sprawled over his chest that he realized they'd ever shared the bed at all. He was lying flat on his back, a spray of black hair over half his chest. Their combined heat made it much too warm under the covers but Harry dared not move, lest he awaken Snape. Or reveal what effect their proximity was having on his cock.
There was a bit of light coming through the blinds, enough to see that it was still early. Hair hid most of Snape's face, only the nose sticking out as he shifted, lips parting.
"Harry," Snape sighed softly.
For a moment Harry froze. Then his eyes narrowed and he shoved Snape off his chest. "You faker!" His voice was rough with desire and anger.
Grunting, Snape shifted around, a smug smirk on his face. "Too much? I didn't think anything was beyond the limit after that transparent ploy to get me into bed with you."
Fierce anger rose up in Harry's chest. He kicked out, not caring if he connected with anything vital as he sat up, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. "You might at least wait until we're out of this mess before you throw my feelings back in my face," he retorted. He ran a shaking hand through his hair and fumbled for his glasses on the nightstand. He'd slept in his boxers and t-shirt, his cock still uncomfortably aware that he'd just spent the night with a man he found compelling. Right now he didn't care if he never saw the horrid git again. If only he could convince his prick.
Behind him, he heard Snape moving, felt the covers drawn away from his back. When the bed didn't dip, he looked over. Snape had shifted up to sit with his back against the headboard, openly staring at Harry. "What?" he asked angrily, fitting his glasses over his nose.
Snape lifted his knees, dragging the covers further up the bed. "I don't know what you expect from me," he said, lowering his head so that the hair flopped down on either side of his face.
"Nothing," Harry said, jerking his head away. "I'm just another little indignity, remember?" His anger felt too active to be sitting down so he got to his feet. "Go on and lose yourself here," he said, staring at the blank wall. "I'll find my way back myself."
"Don't be ridiculous," Snape said. "You're making a scene."
Harry whirled around. "There isn't anyone here to see it but us. At least I've let you know how I feel. I don't have any idea if you even like me or--" Something rose up in his throat, choking off his next words. He sat down hard on the bed, presenting his back to Snape. "You don't care about anything."
"I care that I'm alive," Snape said, speaking slowly, "though I never expected to be."
Harry braced for another crack about Harry's own lack of rescue efforts on his behalf but Snape fell silent again. "Well, you can be alive here, without anyone bothering you about being grateful you looked out for them all those years, or for showing them that being good doesn't always mean doing exactly what everyone expects from you." He sighed heavily and ran his hand through his hair again. It was just as much as he'd said in the hospital and Snape had all but laughed at him.
"Why did you go to the dinner in my honor yesterday?" Snape asked. Harry twisted around, not having expected anything but more laughter.
"I don't know," Harry admitted. "Just to give you another chance to laugh at me, I suppose."
"You shouldn't feel guilty," Snape said, looking up from the knot of his fingers in his upraised lap. "Guilt will...taint you."
Harry's anger, never more than the misplaced guilt Snape accused him of, fled. "I don't know what you expect from me either," he said, trying not to feel hope that there might be a way past their mingled guilt.
"I expect you to be your mother's son," Snape said, dropping his gaze again.
"And push you away?" Harry said, scooting further up on the bed. "I won't. You can laugh at me all you want, I suppose, but I'll just go on accepting those invitations."
Harry got the feeling Snape hadn't meant to use his name. He looked like his mouth was having an argument with his brain but Harry wasn't sure which he wanted to win. He reached over into Snape's upraised knees and laid one hand over Snape's. "You kissed me before," he said, "that wasn't just me that time in the wardrobe department." Snape's hand seemed to tense. Harry rubbed it slowly. "You could kiss me again."
Snape jerked his hand away from beneath Harry's. "We haven't time for this nonsense."
Harry let his hand drop onto one uplifted leg. "We could have all the time in the world. We could slip away, now, today. We wouldn't have to be Harry and Severus or even Dan and Alan. We could be just anyone here." Harry wasn't sure what made him say it. He hadn't even really considered not going back, even when Snape had first proposed it. All at once he could see the allure of it, to be someone else, not just for a little while, not someone who had parents waiting for him and friends who went round to pubs, but someone completely different. Someone no one had ever heard of.
"You've got to go back," Snape said, as if reading Harry's thoughts. "Our world still needs you."
"Not without you," Harry said, pushing aside the tantalizing vision for one that he had never really abandoned. He stroked Snape's cheek. "I told you."
Harry had never wanted to look away from Snape's eyes, not when he'd thought the life had faded out of them forever, not when they were full of scorn and especially not now when Snape looked like he wanted to kiss Harry quite as much as Harry wanted to kiss Snape. "I want to kiss you," he said.
"I thought you might," Snape said, letting his knees sink back to the bed. Harry climbed over his lap, settling his own legs on either side.
"I do," he replied, enjoying being just a bit taller like this just before he dipped down to rub his mouth over Snape's. It wasn't quite a kiss, but it felt good, like licking a cherry Popsicle though the taste had long since faded. Harry slid his arms around Snape's neck and tilted his face for a better angle. He'd never kissed anyone this way, from on top of their lap, much less anyone he'd wanted to kiss so badly.
He tried not to hold his breath when he pressed his lips more firmly over Snape's, feeling him tilting his face, pushing up against Harry's mouth. With two mouths pressing, the tentative nuzzle became a real kiss, lips sliding against one another until Snape's tongue flicked against Harry. With a shudder, Harry's lips parted, no longer holding his breath, no longer holding back anything. He surged against Snape, moaning, until his chest was pressing into his, his arms tight around his neck.
He pulled back only so he could see what Snape looked like kissed, admired the look of kisses on that usually thin mouth, and made sure Snape wasn't going to throw him off before going back for another. Arms slid around his back, working under his loose t-shirt. Harry shivered, as all of the longings he'd felt ever since discovering Snape was alive flooded back into his system. He was getting very hard, very fast but even that didn't matter to the easing of the ache of finally being in Snape's arms.
It was Snape who pulled away. Harry couldn't quash the frisson of anxiety that a kiss was all he would be allowed. Snape's hands were still under his shirt as they slowly lifted it over Harry's head. "Let me look at you."
Harry sat back, self conscious even in the soft morning light. Self conscious at least until Snape's hands settled on his shoulders, fingers splayed as they slid down his chest, stopping just short of his boxers. Thumbs feathered just below his nipples, fingers slipping around his waist. Harry swayed and dipped down for another kiss, more intimate than all the others now that his shirt was somewhere on the floor. Snape's mouth opened eagerly for his, kisses flowing between them like non-verbal spells.
"Want--" he began, tugging at the t-shirt Snape had worn to bed with the track suit
bottoms. Snape's eyes darkened as Harry peeled the shirt away. He could still see the faint scars on his neck that had almost ended his life. Without thinking, he leaned down to kiss around the faded marks. Snape moaned, his head lolling against the headboard. Taking that as an invitation to continue, Harry kissed lower.
Snape's nipples were not as flat as Harry's were, the hair sparser where his tongue dragged through it. He kissed Snape again on his way to the other nipple, marveling at the high color on Snape's cheeks. His only previous experiences with intimacy had been with girls, though he'd known something--this--had been lacking. He'd never realized how much had been missing until he felt an answering hardness against his cock.
"You can't really--really want--" Snape began.
"I do," Harry said quickly, kissing back the unspoken 'me'. "You must know I do." He shook his head, pulling back so Snape could see his face. "I tried to tell you in the hospital. When I realized you weren't--weren't--" He shook his head, unwilling to bring death, however temporary, into the room.
Two fingers pressed against Harry's lips. Harry swallowed and slid his mouth away, kissing Snape's fingertips. "You want me," he said, uncertain enough to brace for the denial he half-expected. No denials came. "Just tell me how."
"Like this," Snape said, undulating against him. Harry felt the evidence of his desire again, marveling that he'd been able to do this. "Just like this." A crease appeared between Snape's eyes.
Harry grinned his agreement, sliding down Snape's legs. He got up onto his knees and wiggled out of his boxers. His cock sprang up, slender and hard, from the V of his legs. Leaning over, he grasped the waistband of Snape's makeshift pyjamas, aided as Snape lifted and stretched for him until the bottoms peeled away. Harry had been half afraid Snape wouldn't be hard after this, but he saw at once that he needn't have worried. Snape stretched out his legs, leaning over to the side of the bed he'd been sleeping on and retrieved his wand from the nightstand.
"We'll need to use the spell," he said, "I doubt there's anything in young Radcliffe's bathroom that will do."
Harry scrambled back over Snape's lap, lifting while Snape performed the slicking spell on him. He took his time settling back down, getting used to the extraordinary feeling of being slick and ready. His cock dragged down Snape's chest as they kissed again. The headboard creaked as Harry pushed Snape back into it, groaning with each flick of their tongues against each other. They swayed together several times like this, Harry's hands pressed flat against the flimsy headboard just above Snape's shoulders.
"Never thought," he whispered, the slight breath of it warm this close to Snape's mouth.
"That has always been one of your difficulties," Snape said, pushing up for another kiss.
Grinning, Harry pulled back. "Never thought you'd let me want you like this," he said, finding it much easier to think when Snape wasn't kissing him.
"I believe the wisdom of it is still in question," Snape replied. His hands were bracketed around Harry's waist. Harry felt the heat of his cock against his own and moaned. Then Snape was guiding him up onto his knees, shifting to bring Harry down slowly on his prick. "But I have never been known to be wise," he added softly as the tip rubbed between Harry's cheeks. Harry managed to stay still while Snape pushed himself up, lowering down slowly, equal parts uncertain and eager.
His erection faltered. Not from pain--not precisely--for the spell seemed to be helping with that. But from oddness and anxiety and wanting everything all at once. Then Snape thrust up and Harry wanted one very specific thing as his cock swelled again. "Fuck," he swore softly, trying not to sound like a first year just seeing Hogwarts for the first time.
"That's it," Snape said, eyes closed as his head arched back. Harry dove forward to lick along the underside of his jaw, reveling in the slight motions. Snape must have liked that because he pushed forward slightly, his fingers digging into Harry's hip. Instinctively Harry began to move, discovering just exactly how to lift himself on the prick inside him, angling so that the barest brush of it sent liquid pleasure flowing through his veins.
"God, harder!" Snape moaned, hips jerking, catching Harry's rhythm, blending them into one entity, a new thing of heat and lust and oh god, tight sweet pleasure. Harry grabbed one of Snape's hands and wrapped it around his cock, humping each finger as it settled around him. Knees digging into the mattress, the sheets bunched around his legs, Harry rocked over and over on Snape's prick, lifting and slamming back down. He felt everything as if magnified through the exquisite sensations rocketing through him--the silken slide of Snape's fingers, the dew of sweat dampening his back, the wet heat of Snape's tongue and it dragged along his jaw.
There was a moment when he was certain he could stay just like this forever if need be, and in the next moment his body surrendered for him, shuddering out his release. Snape cried out something below him, arching hard inside him then going still. The only sound was hard breathing, then the shifting of bodies. Harry knew what to do next, though he'd never done it with a man. He leaned against Snape and held on, fingers flat against his chest.
"You might have told me," Snape said at last. Harry looked up sheepishly.
Snape was looking at him when Harry sat back. "That bad, huh?" he said, shifting to separate them but not leaving Snape's lap.
"Bravado only gets you so far," Snape said. He wasn't pulling away and he didn't exactly seem displeased.
"But it was all right?" he asked, leaning his head against Snape's chest.
One hand came up to rest on the back of his head. "Yes," Snape said into his hair. "It was all right."
Harry opened his mouth to say something further when Snape's hand jerked suddenly against his back.
"What the--"he said, fingers digging into Harry's neck, preventing him from seeing who Snape was talking to.
Then a small, familiar voice said, "Dobby is sorry, Harry Potter."
Harry whirled around. He heard Snape oof as though he'd squashed something vital in his haste. "Oh my God! Dobby?"
Seated, half-transparent at the end of the bed, sat the ghost of Harry's old friend, Dobby the house elf.
"Dobby did not mean to bring you here, Harry Potter," the ghost elf said, dipping its
large head in shame. "But Dobby cannot iron his hands in punishment now that he is a ghost." He held out his long fingers and wiggled them woefully.
Harry was sliding down Snape's legs, peering at the ghost before realizing he'd left his glasses beside the bed. He grabbed them then slid back down. "Is it really you?"
Dobby nodded. There was a tiny rip in his old tea towel, where Bellatrix's silver knife had gone in.
Harry looked over his shoulder, and grinned. "This is Dobby. I'd know him anywhere. I buried--" He swallowed hard and looked back at the elf. "I thought you'd be at peace, Dobby. Not--not like this."
The ghost rocked back and forth on the bedpost. Harry felt Snape shifting behind him. "Harry, no ghost has the power to do whatever was done to us to send us here," he said, drawing up beside him.
"Dobby did not actually do this, Master Severus," the ghost said, but he looked so distressed that Harry knew he'd had some part in it.
"But you said you didn't mean to do it," Harry pointed out.
"Dobby didn't, Dobby didn't send you elsewhere," he said, still rocking slightly, though the bedpost didn't give a creak.
"Where is elsewhere?" Snape asked, peering at the elf sharply.
Ghostly fingers fluttered to either side. "Here is elsewhere," Dobby said. "The place where house elves are not."
Harry and Snape looked at each other in confusion. "But you're--" Harry began but Snape waved him silent.
"Who sent us here?" Snape said, with more patience than Harry had ever heard him use with any of his students, Harry included.
The little ghost perked up. "Dobby's friend--Dobby's friend who is still living at Hogwarts." The transparent lips turned up in a smile. "Winky!"
As if called, a second figure joined Dobby's ghostly one on the foot of the bed. Her already huge eyes widened and she covered her mouth and tittered. Harry remembered that he and Snape were both still naked. Snape seemed to reach the same conclusion, pulling the sheets over the lower halves of their bodies.
"They is ready, Dobby," she said, lowering her hand from her mouth. Her cheeks were still faintly pink.
"They? Us or--or Alan and Dan?" Harry asked. He could feel Snape leaning forward, as keen as Harry to know what was going on.
"The others," Winky replied. She looked much better than the last time Harry had seen her. Her tea towel was clean and pressed and there was a tiny pink bow in her hair. "They is not liking Hogwarts very much."
"I'll just bet," Harry replied under his breath, trying to imagine navigating the castle without magic. Muggles weren't even supposed to be able to see it but he supposed whatever magic had sent them there-- A thought struck him. "You mean you're the ones who sent us here? Using house elf magic?"
Dobby nodded, looking only marginally like he wanted to use a steam appliance on his hands. "House elves are not here so they can come and go as they please."
"No Apparating in and out of Hogwarts," Snape said, rubbing his hand on his chin. "I never thought how they get around with the anti-Apparition wards in place. They come here--shift through dimensions--and reappear wherever they need to be."
"But if they aren't supposed to be here," Harry said, still confused.
"Not supposed to be--aren't," Snape concluded. "So they can come and go freely. However since we have--apparently--counterparts here and can't exist in the same dimension--"
"We traded places," Harry finished. They both turned toward the elves. Dobby took one look at them and seemed to go a little paler. "Which still doesn't explain why."
"Dobby saw what Harry Potter did for him," the ghost said, "Planting him like a proper wizard." The little elf took out a bit of his transparent tea towel and blew his nose on it.
Snape was looking at him quizzically. "You didn't--" He drew a line across his throat with one finger and made a chopped off head sort of noise.
"God, no!" Harry said with a shudder.
"Dobby wanted to do something for Harry Potter," the ghost went on. "and Harry Potter wanted Master Severus, Dobby saw them in hospital." Harry recalled the cold brushes against his leg, grateful at least that he hadn't felt any when he and Snape had been making love. "He thought if he brought you here where you could be alone you would kiss again. Dobby did not count on sending the others back in your place."
Snape looked thunderous but at least he was sitting back and not looking like he wanted to see if it was possible to strangle a ghost. "I'll say one thing for you, Potter, your friends are loyal beyond death."
"This is not my fault," Harry protested. "I mean yes, I wanted you--" He stopped when Winky tittered again from the foot of the bed.
Snape cleared his throat. "Yes, well, the key question here is, can this be reversed?"
They both turned back toward Dobby and Winky. Dobby's wispy face nodded. "Yes, Harry Potter!"
"I has got the other ones locked up," Winky said proudly.
Harry started to protest, stopped only by Snape's hand on his arm. "We don't want to know," he said.
"Can we at least Obliviate them?" he asked, briefly sorry that Snape's hand lifted but not minding since Snape was handing him his clothes.
Dobby shook his head. "House elves cannot do wizard spells. You and Master Severus must go back at the same time and the others must come here." He made a sort of swooshing noise and flung his fingers out explosively. Harry decided Snape was right--he really didn't want to know.
He was secretly glad that Snape made both elves turn round so they could get dressed. Once they were done Winky stood between them. "You must be touching," she instructed. Harry took Snape's hand then looked down at his wispy friend.
"Will this put you at peace?" he asked. "If Master Severus and I, um, make a go of it?" He felt Snape's fingers jerk convulsively in his but he held on tight. The last thing he saw was Dobby's beaming, if transparent smile, as they winked out of sight. The sensation was still unpleasant, like someone was trying to pull his balls out through his navel.. Wind seemed to swirl around them, buffeting them but Snape's hand remained gripped in his. It was like being immersed in an endlessly bubbling cauldron, then being dumped out--
--on Snape's bed. Or at least Harry assumed it was Snape's bed. The walls around them were the same stone of the dungeon at Hogwarts and there were no cameras positioned around them or lights--exploding or otherwise--overhead.
"Are we really back?" Harry asked. They'd landed side by side in the four-poster, Snape's hand in his.
"It would appear so," Snape said. Harry noticed that he didn't try to take his hand back.
Since it looked like neither of them was in a hurry to get out of the bed Harry scooted over a little closer, duplicating horizontally what they'd been interrupted doing upright, though he was certain Snape--Severus--would never call it snuggling. "Do you think they found our world as strange as we found theirs?" he asked, loosening the top button of Snape's shirt. When no reply came right away, he loosened another.
"More so," Snape said at last and he seemed to relax against Harry. "At least we knew film sets exist in our world, while they had no idea magical castles were real."
"I wish we could have met them," Harry said, as another button surrendered to his fingers.
"I wish we could have Obliviated them," Snape retorted. Harry slid his fingers inside Snape's shirt.
"I'm sorry about what happened, but I'm not sorry about what happened because of it. I meant what I said to Dobby. I'd like to try to make a go of it." He righted his glasses, which had gone askew during their endless tumble through elsewhere. "Though if you'd given in when I asked the first time, none of this would have happened."
Snape's gaze was liquid. "If I'd just given in the first time, I wouldn't be worth having."
When Snape leaned over to kiss him, Harry spared one final thought for Dobby, hoping that wherever he was, that he'd found peace.