This story is rated NC-17 (adults only). It includes explicit male/male sex. If this is what you came for, scroll down. If it isn't, hit the Back button.
After the war, of course, the first thing the Ministry of Magic needed was someone to blame. And Harry Potter, that disturbed young man, with his lifelong links to Lord Voldemort, was perfect for the role.
When the fifth Daily Prophet interview turned his words inside-out to make insinuations about his past, Harry started leaving the interviews to McGonagall, and to Deputy Headmaster Snape, who unaccountably had become the press's darling and the hero of the war. When the third Weasley was suspended from a Ministry job for associating with him, he stopped seeking out his old friends.
After the tenth time he spent the morning flinging cleaning charms at the words "Riddle's Lapdog" scrawled across the door to his flat, he sent Hedwig to Hogwarts with instructions not to come back, made some minor magical changes to his appearance, fixed his eyes with a semi-functional Lux Acuere charm, and moved to Swinthwaite.
"Absolutely not," Snape said to the fireplace without turning away from his cauldron. Then, remembering Minerva's latest admonition, he added through his teeth, "That is, I-and-the-staff-of-Hogwarts-have-no-further-comment-at-this-time."
"Oh, but Sir Severus," simpered [reporter]. "Witch Weekly doesn't want a statement from Hogwarts. I've told you that. We want a glimpse into the bold heart of the hero of the War. We want soul-stirring, inspiring tales of courage in the face of --"
"Balderdash," Snape said wearily. "You know perfectly well I'm not going to pour out my heart for cow-eyed semtimentalists to wallow in, and the reason you know this is because I told you so last week, and the week before, and the week before that." He laid down his stirrer and rubbed his temple.
"Could you at least share a favorite recipe?"
He rounded on her with the sort of snarl that he rarely had the energy for these days. "Out!"
Harry's vault at Gringott's was neither confiscated nor frozen, but it seemed that it was watched. Each time he made a withdrawal, he could count on opening the Prophet next day and seeing his current alias, description, and whereabouts on the front page, along with dark speculations as to why he might feel the need to disguise his identity.
No one ever wanted to be the one to sack Harry Potter -- after all, he was still the Boy Who Lived. Besides, who knew what he might do if he took it into his head to hold a grudge against one?
So he never exactly lost his job when his identity was revealed. He'd simply notice that no one would eat lunch with him, that his desk was inching further from the rest of the room, that he was being quietly reassigned to duties that kept him out of contact with children and the weak.
Usually it only took a few days of this before he'd leave of his own free will. Sometimes his former co-workers would wait until the door shut behind him before they began whispering.
"Absolutely not," Snape said, aiming a weary glare at Cornelius Fudge over the gelatinous remains of a [potion] that hadn't got the split-second attention it needed. He rubbed his temples. "That is, I regret that my busy schedule does not permit me to attend."
"But, Sir Severus," Fudge said in an ingratiating tone. "The youth of Britain will all be assembled at the first postwar World Cup. A few words from their hero would mean so much to them."
"Depends on which words," Snape muttered.
"You aren't aware, perhaps, of the esteem and love felt for you by children all over the world," Fudge went on, ignoring him. "Why, in the last week alone, the Ministry has supplied autographed photographs of you to more than three thousand young people, including a little girl in St. Mungo's who lost both arms to a misdirected [curse]. The Healers say that when the owl arrived, she --"
"Autographed?" Snape looked up from the hopelessly begrimed cauldron. "Surely I would remember if I had autographed any photographs, as this would require moments I can hardly spare from my very important duties, as you see ..."
"Oh, certainly, certainly, which is precisely why we've employed a very ingenious young wizard. He's been able to enchant a quill not only to match your handwriting, but to imitate your diction in the way it words its good wishes and greetings."
From under his cloak, Fudge drew a photograph of Snape, with his Order of Merlin pinned to his cloak, giving a very grudging nod and wave. Scrawled across the bottom in green ink were the words, Keep smiling, Acacia! All my love, Severus.
"But nothing can take the place of a personal appearance," Fudge went on. "It would be the thrill of a lifetime for these young people to have the opportunity to hear you speak and see you sign photographs in person ..."
With his second most unpleasant smile lifting his upper lip, Snape advanced toward Fudge, still carrying the cauldron.
"I'll, er, I'll see if perhaps Minerva is free, shall I?" Fudge squeaked, and dived for the fireplace.
When he was forced to resign as file clerk for the Withdrawn and Lost Books department of the [*****] Junior School Library -- a position he had held for four days and six hours -- Harry went to Gringott's at four-fifty on the Friday before a holiday weekend and withdrew all his gold at once, fleeing in a conflagration of magical flashbulbs.
He chose yet another disguise and settled himself in Hoggardstowe, eking out a living as a private flying instructor. He turned away all owls, found a flat with no Floo connection, and told his neighbors and the fellow at the newsagents that his name was Rhadamanthus Schilinglaw, which apparently passed for a perfectly inconspicuous name among wizards.
"It's becoming intolerable." Snape slammed down a cauldron on the Headmistress's desk. Inside was a smooth, solid lump of clear glass that would have been a [potion] if it had been removed from the heat half a minute sooner. "I haven't had an uninterrupted hour's work in nine days."
McGonagall sat forward in alarm for a moment, but it was obvious that nothing in the cauldron retained enough liquidity to splash onto her desk, so she relaxed back into her armchair. "Perhaps we need to add some slightly more aggressive boundary protection spells," she conceded.
"Boundary protection spells?" McGonagall's hat rotated slowly as she turned to watch him pace to the far end of her office, where a retired Cleansweep, autographed by the legendary Gryffindor squad of '82, hung on the wall."Minerva, this month's issue of Charmed! includes a photograph of me in the bath. And my bath, I assure you, is surrounded by boundary protection spells whose sophistication is equalled only by their illegality."
"Perhaps we could hire an assistant for you? Someone who could deal with the public on your behalf?"
Snape dismissed that idea nonverbally, but not silently. "Where the devil is Potter?" McGonagall turned her head again to watch him as he pivoted on one foot and headed back across the room. "He's the designated hero. It's his job."
Harry kept up with his old friends as best he could. Predictably, Lupin and Shacklebolt kept a low profile and Luna Lovegood kept a comically high one; her quavery voice could be heard on [Art Bell]'s show on the wireless at least every other week. The news writers occasionally consulted Hermione on matters of muggle relations, and once Ron had snarled, "No ... goblin-snatching ... comment!" when a reporter had asked him one question too many about the current whereabouts of Harry Potter.
At first, Harry wrote letters to Hermione and Ron and Lupin and a few others, even though he knew he couldn't send them. After a while he gave that up, too.
Snape was in the Prophet nearly every week, as imperious and short-tempered in fame as he had been in obscurity.
During the war, there'd been a time when an observer might have described Harry and Snape as close, though he'd have been unlikely to do so where either of them could overhear. It was a measure of the oddness of their relationship that writing to Snape never crossed Harry's mind.
When Snape returned to his quarters, there were four bright golden Plaudits floating delicately in front of his door. He ran to snatch the liveliest of them before it could explode and shower him with an indelible charmed cascade of flowers and glitter.
A swell of violins echoed down the dungeon passageway, and a woman's voice, amplified to an unbearable pitch, trilled, "Sir Severus, Sir Severus, a Seer of great renown has told me that you and I are soulmates, destined to spend our lives together in matchless bliss! I have four astronomically auspicious wedding dates for us to choose from. Please, please owl me immediately!"
The rest of the Plaudits thronged him hopefully. With the expertise he had developed in the war, he incinerated them all with a single curse and stomped back up to McGonagall's office.
"I'm taking a leave of absence," he said, and shook a singed rosebud out of his hair onto her immaculate carpet.
When Harry opened his door one Thursday -- worn and frustrated after wasting all the time he should have devoted to flying lessons in reattaching limbs to both of the daredevil Cayley sisters -- there was a long-forgotten figure looming over his room. He flinched; the floor was mounded with washing, and he hadn't bothered even to make his bed that morning, much less to transfigure it back into an armchair.
"Potter," the figure said.
"Snape," he replied, hanging his Simoom on the broom rack.
"I see that the Prophet's speculations about your palatial exile in the south of France were, as usual, exaggerated."
"I've got a Customer Appreciation punchcard from La Parisienne Bakery -- that count?"
Snape looked at the crumbs on Harry's coffee table. His nostrils flared. "I see."
Snape's deadpan, so familiar from their days defending Hogwarts together, made Harry desperately homesick. "Let me get you whatever you came for fast so you can get out of here before the Prophet gets wind of where you are," he said.
"Do you imagine that I care?"
"Maybe you don't, but I do. I've had enough of getting people sacked on my account." He undid the hook at his neck and flung his cloak at the bed. "What can I do for you?"
Snape was suddenly standing very close. He smelled all wrong, like coffee and fresh air, not dirt and healing potions. "Remove the illusion spells, Potter," he said in a soft voice. "I already know what you look like."
"If you want to risk being on the front page with me, that's your problem." Harry flipped his wand and felt his hair get longer and his nose get shorter. He couldn't feel the scar coming back, but after a moment he felt Snape's cool fingers on it. He closed his eyes, suddenly on the verge of swaying, weak and dizzy.
"I don't give a damn what the Prophet sees," Snape said. His hands were on either side of Harry's face now, but Harry couldn't make himself look up. It had been so very many months since anyone had touched him.
"Come now," Snape said. "You never did master the art of letting others choose whether or not to avail themselves of your protection." And his thumbs lifted Harry's chin, and his mouth was on Harry's.
His hands were cool, but his mouth was hot, and it moved over Harry's so gently, as though he was hurt and Snape was soothing him. Without any input from his mind, Harry's hands came up to grip Snape's black robe, and when his mouth opened it was as much to let a sigh out as to let Snape's tongue in.
Snape tasted him delicately, carefully, with a finesse that hadn't even been hinted at before, when they'd shared so many stolen half-hours of soldier's comfort. One of his hands remained on Harry's face, and the other went to the small of his back to press him closer, and then suddenly Snape took a step forward and lowered him to the bed, half on and half off the discarded cloak. Snape stretched out on top of him, fully dressed, still kissing him, until he was surrounded by the taste and smell and feel of home in the unwieldy person of Severus Snape.
When he pulled his mouth free to speak, Snape applied the same exploration to his throat, so that he could only get out, "Is this --" before trailing off in a whine as he felt Snape's teeth in the side of his neck.
"Later," Snape said against his skin, "ask me later, Potter," and Harry couldn't even tell if it was a spell or a rip that allowed Snape to get Harry's flying robe open all the way down with one pull.
A moment later, when Snape had divested himself of his own robe and underthings with equal speed, Harry was almost sure it was a spell, but it was possible that he was losing track of time, and the first shock of Snape's skin on his drove the whole question out of his mind. "God," he sighed as his pants went in some unknown direction, and then Snape's mouth was on his cock, and Snape's fingers were opening him expertly, and he lost the power of human speech.
Snape himself was muttering something against his skin -- Harry caught the names of the last two towns he'd lived in, a couple of his recent aliases, his landlady's name -- and then Snape reared up over him and glared down at him, all glowering intensity, and growled, "But here you are at last."
"Yes," Harry sighed, answering more than the verbal question, and then Snape's cock was slowly making a place for itself in Harry's body. The pain and pleasure were familiar, clean, much simpler than Snape's eyes pinning his and demanding God knew what.
But Harry opened for him, eyes and body, and Snape pierced him with a groan, his own eyes falling shut.
They hadn't done this before, of course. It took too long. You couldn't be naked and entangled like this, with your guard down, in the middle of a war zone. Wasn't safe.
Harry had done it since then, but it had never felt like this -- as though time had stopped and everything had fled away, leaving only Snape's heart pounding against his chest, Snape's cock an indescribably sweet stretch inside him, Snape's hands holding tightly to his.
And now Snape's breathless haste gave way, and he moved in Harry with exquisite slowness, watching Harry's face, bending in now and then to kiss his eyes, his mouth, his temples, unbearably gently, until Harry actually felt there was a danger that he might cry. It was his face, not Rhad Schilinglaw's, growing solid under the brush of Snape's lips. Harry Potter's face coming back again.
"The places I've looked for you. You have no -- idea --" Snape's voice was deep and gritty with sex, and he punctuated the sentence with two deep fast thrusts before going back to the slow, smooth slide that was making Harry melt like wax. "You've an unexpected talent for escaping notice when you choose."
Harry almost smiled at that. "My teacher was a spy," he whispered, and Snape kissed him hard, almost angrily.
It felt as if it weren't sex at all but something else altogether. Normally Harry would have come by now, but Snape had his hands pinned, and he didn't know what to do with this intensity that kept building without ever resolving. He felt as though his toes were a hundred miles away, as though he were growing, stretching, held to earth only where he was tethered by Snape's mouth and Snape's hands and Snape's cock.
"Please," he gasped, "please," and Snape let go his hands to cup his face and stare into his eyes. Snape's mouth was open, swollen and shiny with kisses, and his eyes, though still sharp, were glazed, and he looked like a wholly different person from Harry's old ally and adversary.
And Harry knew that if he wanted to he could shut his eyes and will himself to come, but instead he kept them open and let Snape push him closer, one tiny increment at a time, until at last his whole body was thrumming with tension -- and Snape said, so softly he could barely hear it over his own panting breaths, "Now."
And he clenched and convulsed and came so hard he shook from head to toe.
When he opened his eyes, ripples of pleasure still shuddering through his body, Snape was propped on his elbows, watching him, still in him, with a fine tremble in his muscles betraying what an effort it was costing him to be still. Harry lifted his hand, full of amazement at seeing Snape's face so open, and the moment his fingers touched Snape's cheek he felt the throbbing inside him as Snape came.
"You'll be wanting to know how I found you, I suppose." Snape lay back on Harry's pillow, still looking disconcertingly lush and relaxed, and spoke to the ceiling.
"What I want to know is why."
Snape turned his head and raised an eyebrow. "To put an end to this foolish self-imposed exile of yours, of course, and to bring you back to where your talents can serve some higher purpose than keeping wealthy young wizards out of an early grave."
Harry began to object to that, but was derailed in mid-scowl by the unexpected sensation of Snape's hand sliding into his own hand and their fingers interlacing, so that when he did reply it was with less fury and more uncertainty than he intended, and he was surprised by the plaintive note in his own voice: "I can't go back. Since the Ministry decided I was a traitor, I do more harm than good."
"I'm not aware of your having done any good since the Ministry declared you a traitor," Snape said. "But then your group efforts have always been more successful than your individual endeavors." With the hand that wasn't clasped in Harry's, he cupped Harry's neck, fingertips stroking his nape so gently the short hair there stood up. "So the headmistress dispatched me to return you to the fold."
Harry stared. "You can't mean to bring me back to Hogwarts," he said. "The Prophet uses 'to Potter' as a verb for 'to betray' now, did you know that?"
Snape's smile turned rather unpleasant. "Do you truly believe that Minerva and I are not more than a match for the Ministry and the Prophet?"
Of course they were, but that was no reason to come back and make things more difficult for them. "I'm the last ally you need," he said stubbornly, feeling as though Snape's fingers on the back of his neck were an argument that he ought to have a counter to.
"Kindly let us be the judge of that," Snape said. "The question is: Do you, Harry Potter -- speaking only for yourself for once -- wish to return to Hogwarts?"
Harry's throat closed up, and he looked away.
"Right, then," Snape said, sitting up, as though he'd got the answer he wanted, and putting his clothes back on just as quickly as he'd taken them off. "Pack your things and we'll port back." And as Harry gaped at him, he drew a small lavender teddy bear from his cloak. "Well, get on with it, Potter. The portkey isn't open forever."
It took less than fifteen minutes to charm his few possessions into his duffel bag -- it wasn't as though he hadn't had enough practice. As he shouldered the bag, Snape put a finger under his chin and stunned him with a long, soft, possessive kiss.
When he released him, Harry put a hand on his shoulder to stop him turning back to the portkey. "Why did you come and find me?"
"Due to your childish irresponsibility," Snape said, "vital matters of public relations have fallen into neglect. In consequence, my own work has been irreparably damaged as I attempted to do yours."
Harry reached under Snape's cloak and took his arm. "Yeah, you old vulture," he said, smiling. "I missed you, too."
Back to in medias Res
July 17, 2007