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.




















by Resonant

There was music in the streets in those days. Dancing and laughing and the occasional act of vandalism or sexual assault springing from excess of high spirits. Most of the wizarding world had been intoxicated more or less continually since the word went out that young Harry Potter had destroyed Lord Voldemort, permanently this time, in mental combat; that there would be no war; that the nightmare was over at last.

Drunk and happy, maudlin and violent, in the glorious days after the War That Wasn't. It was hell, and Remus Lupin wasn't sure how much longer he could stand it.

He sat in his grimy room at Grimmauld Place, rubbing at his eyes and staring, unseeing, at the window that overlooked the front garden. It was a mild night in early October, and there was, as usual, a mob of some sort milling about Cater Corner, setting off Combustion Charms and singing (there was a new, deeply obscene version of "The Rambling Wizard," which used Harry's name and attributed to him amazing feats, mostly involving the erotic conquest of famous dark witches) until Remus had been forced to shut the windows to keep out the noise.

What the hell was he still doing in this moldering dungheap of a house, wasting his life? Harry didn't need him; Harry had long since emerged from his magical sleep and was doing nothing but slouching about Grimmauld Place, all unbarbered hair and unwashed clothes, giving Remus enraging knowing looks. Severus didn't need him; Severus hadn't returned to Hogwarts but had chosen to lurk about in the attics here like an oversized bat, filling the place with foul smells and bad humor and refusing to give Remus the slightest glance. Lovely to be alternately ignored and snarled at by dark-haired wizards filled with self-destructive energy. It was almost as if Sirius were still alive.

The singers outside lurched closer,howling something about Bellatrix Lestrange and an enchanted saddle. Remus slapped a muffling charm on the window with such force that all sound vanished, including his own breathing. Damn it, he thought as he undid it and cast another one with more precision. Severus would glide down to the kitchen at dinnertime and smirk at him for this. The excesses of the postwar population had no effect on Severus; he went on as always, surly and unpleasant and desperately, hopelessly desirable, just as he'd been since they were at school, and curse Remus' own cowardice for keeping him here surrounded by reminders of what he couldn't have, Severus sneering and Harry smirking and reminders of Sirius in every room --

At first Remus had stayed here to coordinate the Order in case the leaderless and desperate Death Eaters should mount a last attack. When the leaderless and desperate Death Eaters preferred to vanish into the general population and pretend it had all been a bad dream, he had stayed on to look after Harry, who after his battle had lain unconscious, not even twitching, for the perfect magical period of forty days. Severus Snape had attempted Legilimency on him once during this period, but had been immediately flung to the floor by some mental force; afterwards he had drunk a great deal of Bertwald's Old Idiosyncratic in utter silence, and could never be induced to speak of it again.

When Harry had regained consciousness, his magic had been as chaotic as a ten-year-old's. Objects still had a tendency to behave unpredictably around him. Even the weather seemed to react to his emotions.

What was worse was the expression on his face. He had a way of looking at Remus that reminded him, somehow, of his own father. Not simply as though he knew all Remus' most carefully hidden weaknesses, but as though even what were quite literally mortal failings could look like mere foibles to him.

Something he had seen or experienced during his battle with Voldemort had left him ... changed. He made Remus uncomfortable, and Remus avoided him.

He wasn't the only one. Interactions between Harry and Ron Weasley hardly went beyond cordial. His friendship with Hermione Granger had been cut off entirely. Oddly, he had become closer to Neville Longbottom, but he seemed constrained in Neville's presence, as though he feared some favor would be withdrawn if he pressed too hard.

But he was conscious and seemingly healthy and deriving no benefit at all from Remus' presence, as Remus tended to avoid him as much as the proddings of his conscience allowed. So Remus really had no good reason for staying in a place he hated, except that he hated the outside world even more.

The singers outside lurched closer,

Remus was gazing at the window, considering whether he would be opening myself up for Severus' mockery if he cast a muffling charm over the entire building.

He forced himself to relax his white-knuckled grip on the windowsill, to refrain from throwing anything or putting his hand through the glass -- no sense in acting like an animal except at the times when he had no choice. To turn around slowly --

He nearly jumped out of his skin at the apparition in his armchair. Black hair curling over the collar of a negligently buttoned white dress shirt, elbows propped on one arm and long legs flung over the other -- Sirius at nineteen, king of the world, larking about and posing in James' glasses --


"Hullo, Remus." Harry didn't raise his head where it rested against the wing of the chair, just smirked lazily up at him. "Not enjoying the musical entertainment?"

When Remus had first met Harry, the boy's emotions had been visible in every move he made. Lonely, restless, desperately eager to prove his mettle -- he had broadcast all that to the world. Since his battle with Voldemort, though, he'd been as blank as a mannequin without an animation spell. Dumbledore had once told Remus that one of the primary skills of Occlumency was to lock away one's emotions, because a skilled opponent could use them to obtain consent for attacks of the darkest sort. Sometimes Remus thought Harry had forgotten to let his emotions back out, after.

Not that he was in any position to give lessons in emotional openness. That had been Sirius' department.

"Me, I rather like it," Harry went on, and it took a moment for Remus to remember he was still talking about the music. "At least somebody's having a good time, even if it's not the real me.", when Harry himself appeared in the doorway.

He seemed preoccupied, looking around restlessly, putting his hands in the pockets of his oversized jeans and then taking them out again. "Harry," Remus said in the pleasantest tone he could muster, considering that his sudden appearance had flooded he with a poisonous mixture of guilt and resentment. "What can I do for you?"

He hadn't been looking at Remus, but his eyes flashed up briefly. To Remus' admittedly rather oversensitive conscience, it seemed as though he read Remus' thought and found it so predictable as to be almost amusing, like bad weather on a holiday. Then he looked away again -- at the closed window, at the books piled beside the chair, through the open door to the bedroom, and back again. His hands came out of his pockets and went back in again, but not before Remus noticed that his fingertips were grayish. He wondered what the lad been getting into.

At first Remus thought Harry was drunk, too. It wouldn't be any surprise; in all the wizarding world, Harry had both the most to celebrate and the most to forget. But though he was clearly not quite in a normal mental state -- or even in what passed for normal with Harry these days -- he didn't quite give the impression of drunkenness.

[small talk]

Remus catalogued his symptoms. In addition to the gray fingertips, his face was flushed. His hands were restless. He swallowed over and over, as if he were nervous, or as if his mouth were watering. His movements were slow and dreamy; his speech, while perfectly coherent, was slow and dreamy, too, as though his mind were elsewhere.

And -- the more he put his hands in his jeans pockets and took them out again, the more difficult this was to ignore -- he was visibly aroused.

That combination of symptoms was naggingly familiar. He was certain he'd seen them on another black-haired boy, back when he'd been a boy himself. Not on James or Sirius; he was sure he'd have remembered that, unless it had been the day of a full moon, when his human memories sometimes got tangled up with the nonverbal impressions of the wolf. That might account for the strong association of shame that came along with the ungraspable memory.

Or perhaps the shame was simply a result of looking at Harry pushing back his shaggy hair with one long-fingered hand, half his age and clearly impaired and bearing a remarkable resemblance to no fewer than three of the objects of Remus' hopeless boyhood longings, and thinking increasingly urgent thoughts about taking him to bed.

"Harry," he said, "You've taken something, haven't you?"

"Good of you to take a fatherly interest," Harry said agreeably. He smelled of some plant that one didn't smell outside a sick ward, and what was it he was remembering? There'd been something hidden under James' bed that had smelt like that, and Peter had mentioned Lily's name, and there had been a row, and someone had said Snivellus might --

[and now, an interlude from an alternate beginning]

He was, in short, lonely. And I was aware of it, but every day I postponed until the morrow the effort of reaching out to him, attempting to forge a connection. It was so painful to look into his aged eyes. I was so weary.

And, to be honest, my will to make the sacrifices necessary to change things, never strong to begin with, was weakening day by day. It's always easiest to go on as one is, isn't it?

Severus has always worked tirelessly for Harry's safety, but he certainly can't be said to have shown much concern for Harry's happiness. The man has never moved one step out of his path to develop a relationship with anyone at all. So it's not surprising that, beyond keeping Harry supplied with healing potions and giving him the occasional sharp instruction on getting his magic under control, he did not interfere.

[and yet another alternate beginning]

Many people once believed that Harry Potter had died defeating Lord Voldemort. In fact, they aren't entirely wrong about that. But I was there the day he brought himself back to life.

Some of the events of that spring are well known. How, in the final Quidditch match of his final year, Harry toppled from his broom, missing the Snitch by inches, and fell, unconscious, forty feet into the lap of Severus Snape (while above him Draco Malfoy captured the Snitch and won Slytherin the House Cup by four points, an achievement upon which he continues to dine out to this day). How, at that moment, the Dark Mark vanished from every arm; dark artifacts, including a number of wands, crumbled to dust; and the portrait of Mrs. Black at Grimmauld Place gave a great howl of grief and fell silent forever.

It appeared that Harry had fought an agonizing days-long mental battle during that split-second while he was reaching for the Snitch, and thus the war for which everyone had been preparing was averted. This was, of course, a good thing. And yet there were disadvantages. Almost immediately the token speeches urging soul-searching and a new honesty were drowned out by a wizarding world intent on celebrating Harry's victory as though it had been the Quidditch World Cup, complete with good-natured sporting riots and good-natured sporting vandalism. (And magic allows considerable creativity to be applied to vandalism.)

To avoid the high spirits, I spent most of that summer behind closed doors at Grimmauld Place. From being a maze of danger and dark magic, it had become a mere catacomb of dead wizards and dead wizardry. Considering everyone and everything that I had lost, it suited my mood very well. Severus Snape holed up there, too, so the place must have matched his spirits even better than the dungeons under Hogwarts. He stank up the kitchen with esoteric preparations, handed me my monthly wolfsbane wordlessly, and stalked the halls in silence.

Severus is the most tightly wound human being I've ever met, and has been so since he was a boy. But from the moment of Voldemort's death, he had approached normal behavior for the first time -- by which I mean that he had become merely surly and unpleasant, rather than as vicious and unpredictable as a wounded dragon. I was gratified to see the improvement in his character, though I will admit that it galled my pride that, while I still needed wolfsbane from him, he needed from me nothing whatever.

There was one other full-time resident at Grimmauld Place: Harry,

I don't know how long we would have remained like that -- three separate solitudes, moving about the lightless halls of Grimmauld Place without speaking -- if Harry had not taken matters into his own hands.

[and now we're back to Remus and Stoned!Harry, though in first person now because it's an older bit of the draft and I hadn't gotten around to changing it]

"Well, that depends," he said, stepping further into the room, and I recognized the scent at last. Hartstongue.

My gut clenched. I hadn't smelled that since -- since I was at school. It was an ingredient in the most notorious potion --

My mind desperately sought for some other explanation. Hartstongue is used in the treatment of certain magical skin disorders, to prevent pregnancy-related nausea, to preserve old-fashioned kinds of parchment ...

Even as I went over the mental list, though, Harry stood, nostrils flaring, breath quickening. moving to my side with no apparent awareness of personal space. The erection still visible through his jeans confirmed all my worst expectations.

His mouth was soft, and he swallowed over and over under the influence of the potion. Swelling of the mucus membranes, blood drawn to the skin surface, excess production of saliva -- I'm no Healer, but anyone over the age of thirty can spot someone who's been dosed with Aestiferum.

They called it the Slytherin Icebreaker when I was at school. A very popular recreational drug in the seventies, and not just among Slytherins, as I knew very well. I hadn't seen it in years, but one doesn't forget.

I took a step back. "I'll get Severus," I said hastily; Severus was an expert on Aestiferum, and it looked as though I was going to be forced, at last, to face up to the reason why. "Don't be afraid, Harry, someone has given you a potion, but I believe there's a simple antidote --"

"I made it myself," he said, stepping close to me again. "It's interesting."

It's a bit of an oversimplification to call Aestiferum an aphrodisiac. It causes a slight increase in skin sensitivity and a certain blurring of the line between pleasure and pain; it was first developed to ease the discomfort of magical healing.

It also reduces inhibitions and causes a marked, extended craving for skin contact.

A person who has taken Aestiferum is an eager, if demanding, sexual partner, and within a relationship of mutual trust, it can be quite amazing. It's popular as a slightly naughty wedding gift.

The unscrupulous also use it to convert a reluctant partner to a willing one. Or to humiliate an enemy.

"You made it yourself." And only now did it occur to me why he'd come to me. Not for an antidote. For a partner.

I was shocked by the sheer number and variety of images that flashed into my mind. I had been only vaguely aware of finding Harry desirable; considering how I had felt about James, it was perhaps not surprising, but that itself was one of the many good reasons for repressing whatever attraction I might have felt.

I looked at him, at his lips that were slightly puffy as though he'd already been kissing someone, at his hands clenching and unclenching on his jeans. He had taken Aestiferum. He would be in pain, soon, without skin contact, and he'd continue to need it for some twelve hours. Saying no was tantamount to sending him off into the arms of Severus Snape.

"Harry, why?" I tried to keep my voice gentle, and by that effort I understood that I was angry. He had gifted me with his need, whether I liked it or not.

The Aestiferum suppresses shame, embarrassment, inhibition. Whether this makes it more or less of a horror, I do not know. But he was utterly beyond any emotional discomfort. If I rejected him, he would feel no hurt; if I humiliated him, he would feel no shame.

Today, at any rate. The Aestiferum does not suppress memory.

"Just wanted to feel something," he muttered. "Not to be trapped in my own head for a change."

He wasn't the first person I'd seen on Aestiferum, to my shame. But he was different, and I didn't know whether to attribute the difference to his personality or to the fact that he had put himself in that state voluntarily.

Whatever the reason, he seemed somehow self-contained -- not with the usual shamelessness of Aestiferum, but as though, paradoxically, his physical vulnerability were having a protective effect on his emotions.

It was ironic, really, since I gathered his intention was the opposite. "And do you?" I asked him. "Feel anything?"

There was a wry edge to his grin, and it squeezed my heart, because for a moment he looked like himself again. "Nothing real," he said. "But I don't care, so long as someone touches me, so that's something."

He took my hand in his own -- it wasn't a lascivious touch, but the look of satisfaction on his face sent a shiver of desire through me all the same. "See," he said -- sighed, really, and his eyes fell half-shut. "Now I feel as though you understand me, as though we've really connected." He dropped my hand. "Even though it's not true."

"I'm fond of you, Harry," I said. "I had hoped that we might come to this point without magical interference." I gave myself a moment to regret that this would now probably never happen. Harry would remember this conversation in detail tomorrow, and even maintaining a cordial relationship would be difficult.

"What difference does it make why I asked you?"

"I don't care to be used."

If I had hoped he would be conscience-stricken, I was disappointed. "All right," he said cheerfully. "I'll find someone else. I chose you because -- well, because I thought it would feel good, feeling connected to you. Because even though you won't take the risk of getting to know me, I've a feeling you love me."

I flinched inwardly. He went on in the same tone. "But I could be at the Burrow in five minutes -- don't think I could Apparate, but I'm certain I could fly. Or Kingsley might be about, if I went looking for him. Nothing between us, but he's probably about the best-looking bloke in the Order."

For some time I'd been hearing footsteps, and as they came closer and I recognized them, I cursed myself (figuratively) for not using this time to get him out of my rooms. Harry's face lit up.

"Or Snape," he said happily. "Talking of reconciliation. Severus!" he called out into the hallway, heedless of the way his voice traveled. "Come and fuck me. I know you want to."

In other circumstances the expression on Severus' face would have made me laugh. I didn't know if he was more astonished at the invitation or at hearing Harry address him by his first name, as though they were old school chums, rather than allies whose mutual dependency had only strengthened their mutual antagonism.

When he got all the way into the room, Severus' nostrils flared, which was quite a sight given their size. "Aestiferum?" he said sharply. "Have you at last despaired of finding a partner without your favorite illegal potion, Lupin?"

Even as he said it, his eyes were on the telltale discoloration of Harry's fingers. Clearly he didn't really suspect me this time; it was simply reflex to taunt me.

Normally Harry would have snapped at the bait even if I didn't. But Aestiferum, like impending death, focuses the mind beautifully. He held out his right hand for Severus to examine, and I saw him shiver as their skin touched. "You should be pleased," Harry said, sounding almost cheerful. "It's a N.E.W.T.-level potion."

"Skill without intelligence is far worse than incompetence."

"Come on, Professor," he said; apparently he couldn't quite maintain the use of Severus' first name in the face of such obvious disapproval, but he didn't back down on anything else. "Remus is pleading scruples, but I know you've none. Come and get me back. Anything you do to me will feel good tonight."

Severus smiled a cruel smile. "Anything but this," he said, and released Harry's hand. "A simple tisane of throatwort will moderate the effects, leaving the victim merely mildly amorous rather than uncontrollable," he went on, and if it were possible, my heart leapt and sank at the same time. "I have an ample supply of throatwort in my room. Come along, Potter, and we'll return you to what passes for your right mind."

Harry took Severus' hand again, swiftly unbuttoning the cuff and sliding his fingertips inside the sleeve, and Severus teeth came together with a click that was clearly audible to me. Not for the first time, I wondered whether the rage between those two could be resolved to mere sex. It was almost a pity I wouldn't get to find out.

"Think I chopped all that monkshood for nothing? I'll go find someone else if you're sure you don't want to take advantage. I'll bet tonight I'd come if you caned me. Or Cruciated me."

Severus' eyelids drooped, either because of the words or because Harry's hand had reached the spot where the Mark had been. "Gryffindor that you are," he said. "I imagine that statement will be its own punishment when you recall it tomorrow." His voice had gone husky. It excited me against my will -- not a new sensation with Severus.

[this was some sort of branch-off, I think]

"However," he said, and pulled his hand free from Harry's grip. Harry let out something between a grunt and a sigh, and looked up at Severus' face with a disappointment that was almost comical.

"If conscience compels me to assist you --" Severus' expression suggested that not even he could seriously propose that he had a conscience, but he went on, "then I will offer my assistance in a way that offends no one's dignity but yours."

He took Harry firmly by the upper arm. I've seen him haul recalcitrant first-years to justice with much the same hold, but never with such results: Harry shivered all over, nostrils flaring, mouth falling open --

He looked exactly as though Severus' grip had been on his cock rather than his arm. I felt filthy for the way it excited me.

Severus looked for a moment at the place where his yellow fingers touched the sleeve of Harry's red shirt. His face was so devoid of expression that I was sure he must be feeling some profound emotion, but I could not have said what.

Then he released his hold.

Harry's gasp expressed shock and dismay, but in the middle of it, Severus said, "Mobilicorpus."

"What? Put me down!" Harry's whole body jerked as his feet left the floor. "Let me down, you bastard, or I'll --"

He patted for his wand, looking about frantically until Severus, who had somehow got it in his hand, poked him with it. "Careless, Potter," he sneered. "Overconfidence has always been one of your greatest faults." And without looking behind him, he stalked out of my rooms, with Harry trailing behind.

Harry, not having been petrified beforehand, was able to flail about most alarmingly. He grabbed the door frame as he passed through, and his feet trailed out into the hall while his fingers gripped. "Snape, so help me, I will eviscerate you with your own fingernails --" His grip came loose and I heard his body hit the opposite wall before bumping down the corridor after Severus.

Even so, I believe that it crossed my mind for a moment that I could return to my work and leave Harry to Severus' dubious mercy. But only for a moment. Of course I followed.

Harry was swearing continually when I caught up, and kicking and flailing so hard that more than once he was on the verge of turning himself head-downward before managing to grasp a passing wall or door to right himself. It struck me that this was as much emotion as I'd seen him display since before he defeated Voldemort. "Remus, are you going to let him haul me about like baggage? I thought I could trust you." His voice was cut off as he was drawn up the attic stairs. Severus was not over-careful of Harry's head as they ascended.

Rather than take one of the bedrooms like the rest of us, Severus had claimed for himself the entire attic, a cavernous, chilly, dusty, bare-floored space with the peak of the roof overhead and light entering through large, filthy windows at either end. An ordinary person would have added partitions for comfort -- there were beams overhead that could easily have been transfigured into partial walls to separate sleeping, sitting, and work areas -- but either Severus was indifferent to ordinary comforts or else he actually found it pleasant to be able to look up from his armchair and see a half-dismembered _____ lying on the table or a jar of writhing _____ larvae on the shelf.

A long worktable spanned the back wall from end to end, under windows that, had they been clean, would have looked out over the back garden, had there been one.

The chimney stack came right up through the center of the room, and though it was [month], the small fire on the hearth did very little to dispel a chill that felt centuries old, a chill that felt as much emotional as physical, as though the house, like Severus himself, had spent years brooding over old wrongs and resentments.

To this table Severus stalked, trailing a furious Harry negligently behind him into a position near the chimney stack and a foot or so off the ground, and began slapping ingredients smartly on the tabletop -- a jar of _____, a rustling sheaf of _____, a dead and oozing _____, an incongruously appetizing green apple. "I can have the actual brewing done in less than a half-hour," he said under his breath, ignoring the litany of insults Harry was flinging at him, and then, "Lupin, you've always been rather sloppy at chopping, but naturally your dissection skills are superior. Open the _____'s thoracic cavity and locate the secondary heart; it's about this big, and greenish."

"You'll regret that you were ever born. You'll regret that your parents were ever born," Harry muttered. Sharing a house with Mrs. Black's portrait had given me the skills to tune him out, or nearly. I took the _____ from Severus and laid it on the table before me.

Given their diet, it's perhaps unsurprising that the flesh of _____s has a dreadful sewer smell. I pierced the thick flesh of the belly carefully, but not carefully enough to prevent a nauseous gush of fluid, which added a sweetish note to the collection of odors emerging from the little body. Wishing I shared the creature's ability to flatten the nostrils, I began to widen the opening.

My hands stopped abruptly when Harry's words trailed off into a sound of distress -- not a whimper or a groan, but a sort of voiced panting which was somehow more piercing than an intentional sound would have been.

"The effect resembles hunger," Severus said in a conversational tone. "A pleasurable desire, at first, an appetite, and there's pleasure in the satisfaction of it. But if the satisfaction is too long delayed, the need turns to pain."

"Either of you could solve my problem in about thirty seconds." I confess I jumped when Harry spoke; it had been easier, for my own peace of mind, to block out his presence. "And I can't imagine it would be any worse to touch me than to be wrist-deep in _____ guts."

"We could relieve your immediate discomfort in thirty seconds, yes," Severus said. "And we would be forced to repeat the service, at intervals of two to ten minutes, until the Aestiferum wears off and your need for skin contact dissipates."

"How long will that take?" I genuinely didn't know, but the glance Severus shot me suggested that he thought I was being disingenuous.

"Twelve hours or so, I should think. Unless Potter has made some beginner's mistake, such as not double-distilling the _____, in which case he might have ingested a stronger dosage than he intended." He tossed the _____ leaves into the cauldron and brought it to a simmer with a tap of his wand. "You have perhaps failed to consider, Mr. Potter, that those of us who are more selective than yourself might find such forced intimacy ... unpleasant. Invasive. Assaultive, even. Though I suppose you would do the gentlemanly thing, after, and offer to compensate us, or perhaps to Obliviate us."

Gods and fishes, I would rather have been flogged than to have to hear this recitation now. I still had to restrain myself from whingeing that it had been Sirius and James, mostly, that Peter and I had only gone along the way we always did, that I'd done my best to -- well. How Harry could laugh at such an accusation I don't know; but laugh he did, if a little bitterly. "Sex that traumatic for you, Snape? That would explain your charming disposition. I happen to know, though, that Remus isn't averse to the company of a younger man from time to time."

A new anger flushed me from face to belly, but Severus kicked my booted foot, not gently, as I drew breath to reply. "There's no need to engage him, you fool. He's only trying to delay our work."

Accepting the implied rebuke, I bent to my work, opening the _____'s belly and neatly splitting its ribcage to give me more space to go through its internal organs. A small whine entered Harry's panting breaths. Both the primary heart and the secondary one were greenish, and after staring at them for a moment, I decided, not without difficulty, that it would be less unpleasant to ask for Severus' help now than to endure his scorn if I sliced the wrong one.

He didn't bother to chastise me with words; indeed, his snort suggested that my ignorance was less surprising than competence would have been. He wordlessly indicated the shapeless lump on the right, and I carefully severed it from its net of blood vessels, returned the other heart to the chest cavity, and cast a preservative charm over the small corpse before I began slicing from the point upward in the prescribed fashion -- conscious as I did so that I was trying to make Severus impressed with me, but unable to stop myself, however foolish the effort might be.

I wasn't conscious of any intrusion into my mind -- would one be, if it were done with skill? I've no experience with such things -- but Harry behind me spoke my thought in a low voice. "It's no good, Remus," he said, sounding amused. "You'll wait till your dying day for a word of approval from Snape. It's not even anything to do with you personally. One can risk one's life and never get so much as a good-morning from him. Believe me, I know."

I could see, as Harry could not, that Severus' hands fell still for a moment -- long enough for me to forget my own discomfort at the revelation in my wonder that Harry had just admitted he wanted Severus' good opinion. It was only a momentary pause, though, after which Severus went right back to weighing out grain by precise grain of _____. "I wasn't aware you cared for anyone else's opinion," he said, "as you seem to consider your own infallible."

"Now you're lying," Harry said. "You knew I wanted your approval. Otherwise you wouldn't have got so much satisfaction out of not giving it to me."

Severus was stirring the grains of _____ into the cauldron now, and his strokes didn't falter -- I imagine he could stir a cauldron under Cruciatus by now. But his lips tightened.

"But then I'm sure you like it when people want something from you. Gives you power over them." That one was apparently off target; Severus sneered wordlessly and began to peel the apple. I was wondering how Harry could fail to know how to needle Severus, given that he apparently had access to the man's mind, when Harry abruptly switched targets.

"Now, Remus -- he can't bear to be needed." I stiffened but went on slicing. "He thinks he likes it -- he's all nostalgic for the days when Sirius needed him -- but he hated it at the time. Except for the pleasure of having one of the old ringleaders dependent on him instead of the reverse, he thought the whole thing was just one big inconvenience. He was relieved when it was over."

It was rather like having one of my own internal organs removed and cut into neat slices. His impassivity was the worst thing. The old Harry would have raged at me at the slightest hint that I had done less than my utmost for his beloved godfather -- as I railed at myself, still, whenever I couldn't manage to keep my mind away from that dangerous subject -- but Harry rifled through my secret with no more emotion than he would have shown in going through my wardrobe.

"Of course, he wanted Sirius, and Sirius knew it -- that's something you two have in common, really, this hopeless longing for Sirius, and knowing he knew and didn't care. At least, with Remus, there was always the chance that Sirius would shag him on a whim one day, because he was bored or because he wanted something or just because in the end it might be the only way to get Remus to pay attention to him --"

My hands were shaking. I took a firmer grip on the knife and tried to ignore him.

"I don't suppose he ever knew how you felt about Snape, Remus. Though maybe he did, at that. It would explain a lot. Just because Sirius didn't want something for himself doesn't mean he was willing to let his enemy have it. It's funny, when you think about it. Without Sirius, you two might have got together at school. That might've been enough to keep Snape away from Voldemort, and Sirius and my dad would still be alive today, and Snape wouldn't have me strung up like a floating tureen on a feast day."

The knife rolled in my sweaty grip, pulverizing one slice of _____ heart and narrowly missing my own fingertip, and I wiped my hand on my robe and stared, unseeing, at the grimy windowpane, because if I looked at Severus I'd see him sneering at me, but if I looked at Harry I was terribly afraid I would hex him where he stood, or even throw the knife at him.

"Oh, don't be upset, Remus. It's much worse for Snape, because Sirius was never even tempted to take him on. Even when they were small, Sirius never had much interest in Snape, except that he was easy to torment, and this was just another secret. He never told a soul, you know, Snape -- knowing the secret and knowing he could tell was too delicious to give up. I could tell you all the things he imagined, all the ways he thought of using it to humiliate you, all the times he pictured saying, 'My cousin wanks over me, do you know that, my filthy greasy cousin with the blood under his nails --"

The stirring rod clattered to the floor, and I turned to see Severus staring at Harry with an expression of furious concentration, looking rather as he does when he's trying to summon a Patronus.

Harry laughed again. "Don't bother," he said. "You can't keep me out of your head because I'm not in your head."

"How do you know these things?" Every word came out separately like a bead on a string.

"As the Prophet would say, I learned them from a source close to you. Though I'm not sure even the Prophet could call him a reliable source. Still, it seems the information is accurate enough. I could rifle about in your head a bit if you like," he went on, and it struck me that this was a pleasure for him. And the immediately I corrected myself. It wasn't a pleasure to hurt us, though I don't think he was capable of caring much whether he did or not. It was a pleasure to tell what he knew. I'd no notion how he'd come to have all our guilty secrets in his head, but it was a relief to him to share them.

He was freeing himself of pain by passing the pain on to us. How Slytherin of him.

"Ah. As I expected, no surprises here. You're angry with me, you'd like to hurt me, you want me -- nothing new there, you've done that for years. Oh, but this is interesting -- Remus, did you know that Snape had no idea you'd a pash for him? Not so clever as he looks -- I've no idea how he missed your trailing about after him for the past twenty years -- though I see it's only recently that he's been able to think of you as human at all, so perhaps that accounts for it --"

It was like being flayed. I had long since stopped slicing the _____ heart -- in my current condition I didn't trust myself with a blade. Severus was trembling; he still hadn't picked up the stirring rod, and his lips were pulled back into a snarl so savage I wondered that Harry didn't quail at the sight of it.

But Harry was unmoved. He was, in fact, showing more pleasure than I'd seen him display in months. He made a strange picture, picking us apart with words like blades, cheeks flushed and eyes glittering as though he'd just been dosed with Pepper-up, his cock distending the front of his jeans and his nipples plainly visible under his shirt.

"It's a pity for you, Remus, but if it weren't for me, he'd never have looked twice at you. Of course the biggest problem standing in your way is that he's completely obsessed -- every step he's taken since he was five years old has been designed to get Sirius' attention, and since Sirius has been dead he hasn't known what to do with himself --"

The word ended on a grunt, because Severus had at last broken free of his paralysis. Shrieking a garbled, incomprehensible litany of fury in a voice that barely sounded human, he had actually run at Harry, shoving him back against the side of the chimney stack, and was flailing at him as though he'd forgotten he was a wizard and meant to fight him with his fists.

As I watched, too stunned to move, three things happened at once. Severus' fist connected with Harry's face with a loud crack, knocking Harry's head back against the bricks. The cauldron Severus had left behind belched out a cloud of steam and boiled over, trailing viscous streams of green liquid hissing down the sides. And Harry cried out, not in pain, and heaved his hips forward against Severus' chest, and subsided, panting, against the brick.

There was a moment of silence, punctuated only by all three of us panting and the hiss of the overflowing cauldron. Harry's left eye was already beginning to swell. Severus reached up, face slack with horror, to touch the reddening skin, and Harry jerked his head away as well as he could with his feet dangling and Severus' weight pinning him against the bricks. Severus stepped jerkily backward and raised his wand, and at last my paralysis broke and I sprinted forward to put myself between them.

"Finite incantatem," Severus said hoarsely, and Harry hit the floor and pitched forward into my arms.

[and at this critical juncture in the narrative, I gave up and moved on to the easier stuff]

with a crooked smile that I hadn't seen on him for at least five years. "I'm pretty sure," he said, "that I want this more than you want to stop me."


closed his rapidly blackening eye


I crossed the space between us and took Harry's face in my hands and kissed him.

I fancied I could taste the bitterness of hartstongue in his mouth. His kiss was gentle but not tentative -- I thought he was trying not to spook me, and the irony of that threatened to push all my mixed emotions into hysteria. I kissed him back instead, pressing him back into Severus' arms, pressing him tightly between us, and he panted into my mouth and began to squirm. If he got enough contact he'd come -- and as I thought it, Severus' hand slid down between us, pressing Harry's cock through his jeans, and incidentally knuckling mine until he moved decorously away.

When Harry came, he sagged between us for a moment and then found his feet and opened his eyes, beaming at me. "This is going to be brilliant," he said, and began tugging up my jumper.

Severus took a step backwards and let his robe slide from his shoulders. In his shirt and boots, looking equal parts ridiculous and seductive, he stalked across the room and fastened the door with methods both magical and mechanical. Then, passing behind us, he pulled back my bedclothes and began expanding the bed. These impersonal preparations were so strange -- as though our situation were anything but aberrant, inexplicable -- "Come on, Remus," Harry said, and I looked down to see him actually smiling at me. "You must be pretty distracted if a fellow can't get your full attention with his hand down your pants." The hand he referred to gave my cock a practiced tug and I gasped and closed my eyes.

"That's better," he said, and began to strip off his jeans and T-shirt. When we turned, both naked, Severus was standing by the bed in his shirt, watching us with unreadable eyes. It was easier, somehow, to watch Harry as he looked from one of us to the other as though weighing which he most craved.


Harry went to his knees again, sliding his hands up Severus' bare legs, raising the shirt. Still Harry, despite the Aestiferum, impetuous and unafraid. I gathered from Severus' closed eyes and hissing breath that Harry was nuzzling his cock through the linen, though all I could see was a glimpse of his pale flank under Harry's slightly pinker hand.

"Stop," he said, and held Harry off by the hair; Harry made a protesting noise, half muffled in his shirt, but turned his head aside and panted against Severus' hip. His own hips moved restlessly, thrusting into the air, and without raising his head he said, pleadingly, "Remus."

"Stand up," Snape said, and when Harry obeyed, "Lie down." He looked at me, and I hastened to lie down on the bed before he could speak, so as to spare myself the indignity of obeying his orders.

Severus had created half an acre of bed, and I lay down beside Harry but not touching him. But my pains were for nothing, for immediately he rolled over into my arms, pressing as much of his skin to mine as he could. I was filled with anger and ambivalence and guilts both new and old, but the mix had the odd effect of making me more aroused and not less. I rolled him to his back, intending nothing more than kissing, but he shoved his cock wetly against my hip and came again.

"No, don't," he said when I began to withdraw. "It builds." And he shivered and ground up into the wetness he'd left on me, sighing.

Severus came and sat on the bed on the other side of Harry. He watched us for quite a while, and I waited for a gibe, but he said nothing. At last he laid his hand low on Harry's back, pressing quite hard -- I could feel the increase in pressure as he pushed Harry down against me -- and at the touch Harry whimpered and came again.

Severus frowned and raised his hand. "No," Harry murmured into my neck, and then he rolled off me toward Severus. "No, don't stop touching me. Please." He didn't put his hands on Severus at all; it was as though he were waiting for permission. Severus gave him a long look, and some message passed between them -- perhaps literally, for all I know; I haven't the mind skill that the two of them have. Whatever it was, it satisfied Severus. He lay down and took Harry in his arms, pressing him back against me, and Harry gave a little sigh of pure pleasure. I wondered how many years it had been since any lover came to Severus with so much sweetness. Even at school, he had not seemed to invite innocent pleasure. And then I wondered how jaded I had become, that this qualified as innocent pleasure.

For a time Harry's attention was all on Severus, and I was more or less alone with my thoughts. Harry's spine was knobby against me -- the three of us combined didn't have enough flesh to make one Kingsley Shacklebolt. And many of the things that had once most appealed to me in Harry had faded over the years of conflict, so that his quickness, his joy in motion, the strange sort of purity that had once clung to him, seemed only memories. But he was, just for this moment, happy. It was difficult not to respond to that.

And Severus -- he looked just as he always did, as Harry thrust and shuddered against him: as though he were disgusted with the world and everything in it, particularly himself. There were two vertical lines between his sparse eyebrows, from years of pain or from decades of resentment. I reached out to touch them and he drew his head back irritably. I dropped my hand to Harry's side, and he said, "Oh!" and shoved back hard against me, trembling.

When his climax passed, he turned on his back and beamed at me -- still hard, of course, still panting, but filled with that physical contentment that makes Aestiferum, heartbreakingly, resemble love. I felt a corresponding warmth and leaned over to kiss him, and he pulled me on top of him and ran one hand down my back.

Thus far the potion hadn't left him any concentration for touching either of us, but he appeared, now, to be gathering confidence in our presence. With Severus beside him, pressing up against his side (and performing contortions to avoid touching me at all), he could relax enough to begin to try to give me pleasure.

Below shoulder level, my back is relatively free of scars, and thus it's one of the places where I can always enjoy being touched without remembering anything unpleasant. I sighed as Harry touched me, and I lowered my head to his neck. He said, "Ah," very softly, and began to explore more deliberately, looking for just the right combination of speed and pressure.

He worked his way from my shoulder blades down over my spine to my arse. I had the thought that if the three of us were here from genuinely mutual desire, Severus' mouth would have been following his fingers, and the idea made me catch my breath. Harry stroked down my leg, tugged my knee forward, and curled his hand inward so he could run his fingertips up my inner thigh to where I was open for him.

He approached with caution, apparently observing me for any sign that this sort of touch was unacceptable. But when I gave none -- when, in fact, I pushed back against his circling fingers -- I heard him gasp. "Oh," he said, "oh, can I?"

It had been a very long time, and I doubted one so young would have the patience not to hurt me, especially under the influence of Aestiferum. But there were always spells I could perform on my own body, if necessary.

"Yes," I said, and his whole face lit up, and I was ashamed of my stinginess in even considering saying no.

He came almost the instant he got inside, gasping, head thrown back. I ran my hands up his chest, feeling his heart hammering under my palm, and his whole body flowed into my touch, and he began to move again.

The gap in urgency between us was unlike anything else in my experience. Harry came four times as he moved in me, while I felt easy pleasure and no hurry. And then Severus, who had been doing I know not what, rose up behind Harry like the outsize shadow a candle casts, enfolding him, pressing his face around for a ravenous kiss, and my pulse kicked up at the sight.

Severus slid one stained hand down Harry's torso, skimming with what even I could see was the merest shadow of a touch, dipping briefly into his navel before continuing downward to grip his hips, shift his position -- the new angle made me gasp, or maybe it was the sight of Severus' hands on Harry's hips, occasionally brushing the backs of my thighs and just inches from my sac -- the sight of him looming over Harry, devouring him with kisses that showed a hunger I never would have suspected in him --

He murmured something into Harry's ear, too low for me to hear, but whatever he said made Harry convulse in me again. My slow, unhurried pleasure evaporated into desperation, and two pairs of eyes followed me as I came.

"God, you looked incredible," Harry said when I returned to myself. Severus' hands were still roaming over his body, and when they plucked his nipples, he hissed, "Fuck, yes," and moved in me involuntarily. I dropped my legs from his shoulders to get a less direct angle -- what had been intensely pleasurable a moment before was now beginning to hurt a bit -- and he hissed and squirmed as he I moved around him. "Just one more, Remus, let me come one more time, then I'll let you rest, I promise, I just need --"

"Yes," I said, and he came almost immediately, bending me double so he could kiss me.

He kept his promise, disengaging from me gently, lifting his weight off me. I turned on my side, drawing my knees up to stretch the stiffness out of my lower back. Behind me I heard a rustle, and the murmur of a cleaning spell, and a cry of surprise, and I turned to find Harry on his back with his head bent back, making a lovely curve of his upper body, as Severus sucked him. He was already on the upward slope again, making a melody of sounds on a rising pitch -- "Ah! Ah! Ah!" -- and Severus' throat worked as he swallowed, but he didn't release Harry's cock from his mouth.

Harry's body was displayed so enticingly that I couldn't resist touching him, and then tasting him. His reaction was so violent that Severus raised his head and looked at me irritably.

"Sorry," I said. Severus' normally pinched mouth looked soft, and I wanted so badly to kiss him. I most have moved to complete the thought, because he hastily took Harry's cock back in his mouth.

I kissed Harry instead, kissed his mouth and his neck and his nipples, and edged closer so that I could feel Severus' hair brushing against my leg.

For a time I watched them. Neither of them was handsome, but they were lovely together. Harry let Severus suck him for a bit, and then tugged him off. Severus looked up in evident annoyance -- the movement of his hips against the bed attested to his enjoyment of what he'd been doing -- and Harry said, "Kiss me. Please."

Their kisses had lost none of their hunger, and Severus shivered at every touch of Harry's hands until Harry drew his mouth free with a gasp and said, "Yes -- do it --"

Perhaps one of them used a spell to ease the way, or perhaps the Aestiferum made matters sufficiently urgent that Harry didn't care. Whatever the reason, Severus pushed Harry's knees back and shoved into him as easily as if he'd been a woman, and Harry made a long, low noise that raised the hair on my nape, and came in a beautiful arc onto his own chest.

Severus didn't slow down at all, but continued thrusting into him, lips drawn back in a snarl, until he collapsed forward into Harry's chest, panting.

Harry stroked his stringy hair and murmured to him, and Severus astonished me by permitting it. They lay there for a long moment, and then Harry's breath began to speed up again. He turned his head and whispered, "You now. Please."

I laid him out face-down and speared him with two fingers, and his entire body rose and fell like a wave.

At this point, he couldn't possibly have needed any more preparation than he had already had. So I was doing this for my own pleasure, the thrill of his body opening for me, the beauty of his tensing back muscles, the dirty forbidden knowledge that it was Severus' come I was dragging my fingers through.

The awareness, though I didn't raise my head, of Severus' black and glittering eyes on me.

I slept for a while before morning, coming partly awake at one point to find Harry lazily frotting against my hip; I smiled at him and sank back down into slumber.

When I woke again, the head on the pillow beside me wasn't Harry's but Severus'. Harry was fucking him from behind, and Severus was on his side, braced with one hand and one knee so as not to get shoved right into me. His eyes were shut, his lip caught in his teeth -- he was uglier than ever in his pleasure, and yet at the sight of him I was instantly hard.

I watched him as Harry's slow, even strokes took him closer to orgasm, watched his mouth open, watched shivers course over him and leave his nipples tight. His hand clenched a fistful of sheets between us, and Harry's hand dug into his shoulder from behind, but neither of them touched his cock, and it swayed with the movement of his body, almost hidden in the shadow of his bent leg.

Something made me look back up at his face. Moments later, his eyes slitted open, and when he saw me looking at him, he lunged forward and kissed me.

God, god, he tasted just the same. I licked eagerly into his mouth, expecting at every moment to be slapped away, pressing as close as I could get in this awkward position.

Harry had seen us. "Fuck," he said drunkenly, and his strokes became deeper, harder, shaking Severus' body between us. "Oh, you -- Remus, give him -- fuck --" His rhythm went irregular, and I knew he was coming, though he wasn't touching me at all.

Severus was so close to orgasm that it was agony for him when Harry stopped moving in him, so close that he couldn't even draw breath to ask for the stimulation he needed. His kiss became desperate, and without thinking I reached down to grip his cock, awkward, left-handed, and he bit my mouth and came, and behind him Harry hissed, "Shit," so that I knew he was still inside.

Astonishingly, Severus didn't push me away when his urgency ended. He went on kissing me, still with little finesse, rolling back slightly so that I could rub my cock against his softening one.

"Don't waste that," Harry said, gripping my hip to stop me moving; I had momentarily forgotten his presence, but now he grinned at me over Severus' sleepy, sated face and said, "I want you to fuck me again."

He braced up on hands and knees over Severus' limp form. "Going to come all over you this time," he said as I knelt up behind him.

"Again?" Severus said, feigning boredom, but his eyes glittered. He murmured a cleaning spell, which I gathered from Harry's grunt was aimed at Harry's cock, and I pictured Snape's long-fingered hand wanking him as I pressed forward into his heat and he let out a groan.

Severus was murmuring low, something either seductive or insulting, I thought, but when I bent closer to listen, I heard: " ... indulge your desire to dirty me, but if you collapse on me after, I will hex you, make no mistake." So querulous, even in bed -- I wanted to laugh, and Harry did laugh, shimmying back against me as he did so.

I pulled Harry upright, until he was almost in my lap. "There, Severus, you're safe from the danger of being crushed," I said, and now I could see Severus' face, watching the two of us hungrily, and Harry had both hands working his cock now, so that seconds after I came in him, he spattered Severus' belly and chest.

As the Aestiferum peaks, it inspires a desire to confide and confess -- rather like alcohol, without the accompanying fuzziness of mind and tendency to fall into unconsciousness. I've read that this is often more painful to remember than the rutting that has come before.

So Harry arranged himself with his head on Severus' shoulder, and reached back to pull me over his back as though I were a blanket, and he said, drowsily, "He showed me things."

Severus gave an interrogative rumble, and Harry clarified: "Voldemort. He showed me things. He let me into everyone's heads."

I was still puzzling over this when Severus said, "Ah." I turned my head to look at him, but he was looking down on the top of Harry's untidy hair. "The minds of one's friends are territory best left unexplored."

"Did he do that to you?" he asked Severus hesitantly. "Is that how ..."

Severus made a soft, dismissive sound that was only slightly more genteel than a snort. "Such subtleties weren't necessary in my case. A few hints of revenge and unlimited power were all that was required. Not even promises."

"Well," Harry said. "I was older than you were."

Severus took this attempted reassurance with better grace than one might have expected, simply uttering a soft "Hmph."

Now I understood Harry's knowing eyes, his new distance. At the start of this evening, I would have reacted out of self-protection, but now the protectiveness I felt was all for Harry, and I wrapped myself more closely around him. He sighed and relaxed back against me.

"What did you do?" I asked him. "To escape that trap, I mean -- those minds --"

"I had to say yes," he said. "All that -- I had to remember that Hagrid was foolish and impulsive, and still remember what it felt like when he came to the Dursleys and saved me -- and then he threw them all at me, Sirius half mad and my mum and dad cowering behind the Fidelius and -- well, it felt like making a Patronus, there in my head -- he kept throwing them at me, all these people with their fear and their selfishness, and after a bit I saw them all the way they'd been to me, offering whatever little love they had in them, and it was as though I gathered it up, all that, and I threw it at him, and he drew back the way a Dementor does but it wrapped around him, and he shriveled up and wrinkled up and puffed out.

"But then I came back, and I knew everybody the way I know myself, all the pathetic petty selfish frightened creatures they are. And I'd said yes to all that, I didn't mind it, but they could see I knew, and they were afraid of me. You were afraid of me, Remus, and Severus was ready to hex me into the next century sooner than let on that I knew his secrets, and nobody would talk to me but Neville, and Neville was so good, secretly, that I figured if he really knew me he'd want nothing to do with me ..."

"It isn't easy to be known like that," I said, as quietly as I could.

"I know," he said, and he craned his neck back to look at me, and I could think of no better way to express my acceptance, now, than to kiss him.

Around daylight, Harry's refractory period went from seconds to minutes and he began to yawn, and I gathered that the Aestiferum was beginning to run its course. Rather a relief: a forty-year-old wizard can of course outdistance a forty-year-old muggle (being, proportionally, barely out of adolescence), but there are limits.

He wanked himself to his final orgasm while leaning back in Severus' arms and watching me, sleepy-eyed, as I watched him and thumbed his nipples for him. When he was done, he began to drift off immediately, and complained when I woke him and forced about a quart of water on him, and continued to complain, eyes shut, until he dropped off in mid-word.

Severus looked down on him for a while with expressionless eyes, then looked at me. "You might have let him sleep," he said. "Pepper-up is effective against the withdrawal headache."

I bear some of the responsibility for his knowing that, and it sat cold in my belly. That he had long since had his revenge on James and Sirius was no comfort to me. All those months of taking the wolfsbane from his hand had been, in a way, a gift to him, an offer of vulnerability; but he had always preferred a weakness he found himself to one that was offered to him. Suspicious, Severus, always, even as a boy. Dangerous as a half-tamed dog.

He looked at me blandly across Harry's sleeping body. I'd no doubt he knew my thoughts and despised me for them.

A reckless impulse took shape in my mind, and feeling that he could hardly hate me more, I rose.

"Really, Lupin," he said, "I expected even a Gryffindor to be able to hold off regret for more than --" And then he fell silent, because I'd come round to his side of the bed and lain down beside him, wrapping my arms around his naked form, taking what I wanted at last.

He was stiff for a moment, from outrage or disbelief, and then he turned in my arms to kiss me, and it was my turn to go still in shock.

What luxury to kiss like that, deeply, spent as we were feeling arousal without urgency, luxuriantly pressing our softened cocks together. He kissed me until all the knots in my chest came undone, and I wrapped my fingers in his hair, which was even more disgraceful than usual, and held him still, and took kiss after kiss from his too-familiar mouth. And then his hands touched my neck and cupped my shoulders and flattened down my back, and a new tension began to grow, one that I didn't know what to do with.

Erection would have given me a vector for the things I felt, as a wand gives a vector for magic; lacking that, the emotions welled up in me as magic sometimes can, plumping my skin, raising the hair on my arms and the back of my neck, spilling into my mouth so that I could lick it into Severus' over and over. I am unaccustomed to intense emotion, and it frightens me; I began to feel a certain desperation in my kisses, and then I felt Severus whispering against my lips. "Remus. Remus."

The sound of my name on his tongue was surprising enough to make me raise my head.

"They are dead," he said.

Who did he mean? I thought of all the people of whom he could have been speaking -- James and Sirius, Peter and Voldemort, Dumbledore, Lily. All the people whose choices deprived us of choice.

"All dead," he said. And after a long while, we slept.

It was full afternoon by the time I woke -- not too sore, considering, but rather itchy and desperately thirsty. Harry was still sleeping on the far side of the enlarged bed, making a slight snuffling noise. Severus was already awake, if he had ever slept. For a moment I watched him watch Harry, expressionless, guarded even though he might as well have been alone in the room; then need got the better of curiosity and I staggered off to the toilet.

Harry was stirring when I came back; he rolled over, groaning, and rubbed viciously at his eyes. When he put out his hand, his glasses floated into it. His hair was standing up on top like the crest of some exotic reptile.

"Good," he said. "You haven't hexed me or each other. Better start than I'd hoped for, really." He sat up and stretched enormously, making a range of groans and squeaks.

I watched his muscles moving under his skin with something like astonishment -- it hardly seemed real that I'd been on him and in him and under him in every possible variation, tasted every part of him. My tactile memory warred with my sense of reality.

And had I really been exchanging kisses and confidences with Severus Snape?

Severus was still reclining on a pillow. Harry looked down at him -- neither of them had bothered with modesty, and there wasn't even a sheet thrown over Severus' long, pale body -- and then Harry put out his finger to touch the side of Severus' neck, just below his ear. "I put a mark on you," he said wonderingly, and when he bent to kiss the spot, Severus' eyes fell shut and his whole body yearned toward Harry's.

"How do you know," he said in a voice that might have been hoarse either from sleep or from desire, "that it was you and not Lupin?"

Harry looked up sharply at that, studying me over Severus' body, and after a moment the grin came back, wider than ever. "Doesn't matter," he said. "My idea, either way." And he clambered over Severus and flung himself into my arms.

This was not at all the way I'd expected us to negotiate the results of our night together, but I couldn't very well complain about being given kisses rather than shouts or cold silence. Severus' body was still perfectly oriented to Harry's -- and now that I'd noticed, I realized it always had been -- and he rolled quickly to clasp Harry from behind as Harry kissed me dartingly, playfully, with only a little of last night's hunger and none of last evening's strange thick-walled self-containment. His hands gripped my face, turning it this way and that as the kiss got more involved, and Severus' free hand came to rest on my arse, making me grunt into Harry's mouth.

"Shower," Harry said when he broke the kiss, "and then lunch and lots of it, and then a nice long fly. And after that I want to watch Snape fuck you, Remus." It took my breath away, and he grinned at me knowingly and then craned his head around to look at Severus. "All right?"

"I've no particular plans," Severus said grudgingly, not looking at me.

"Me either. I've no particular plans for the rest of my life, actually," Harry said, not sounding too upset by this.

"You surely don't intend to spend the whole of it fucking," Severus said. He'd gone up on his elbow, and his body loomed over Harry in an attitude that was protective and threatening at the same time. His hand had left the meaty part of my buttock and was traveling up my side; to make room for it, I raised my arm and threaded my fingers into Harry's hair, feeling him shiver in response.

"Not all of it," he said. "Just this part."

[I think this doesn't want to be the same story, but it's the same universe.]

Leaving our bed somehow made it possible for Harry to leave Grimmauld Place, after. Leave behind the cocoon he had been living in, the darkness and the silence, and embark on the travels that he later became known for.

In his absence, we found our own way.

Perhaps he will soon weary of us, but I think not; there's a fascination here that will draw him back to us, however far he may roam. In our separate ways, we served the powers that formed him, and all our old hatreds are transformed in him.

Severus says that sort of talk will end in my deifying him, and perhaps he's right. But Harry set us alight, and he comes back still to bask in our warmth.

We keep burning for him while he's away.


[and some bits of the other branch]

Harry bent over Severus' hand, kissing his palm, his wrist, the inner side of his forearm. It was oddly moving to watch, as much worshipful as sensual. Perhaps Severus would like seeing Harry so lowered before him.

I looked up and discovered Severus looking, not at Harry, but at me. "A Gryffindor such as Lupin, Potter, will only give you what he wishes to have," he said, his eyes never leaving mine. "A Slytherin, on the other hand, will give you anything you ask for, provided you can pay for it in such coin as he values."

I felt anger, still. Arousal, still. Regret, and sorrow. The jealousy was new.

"And what coin would you demand from him, Severus?" I said, and all of it trembled in my voice.

"Perhaps what he's offering will be rewarding in itself," Severus said. "Or perhaps I am looking forward to seeing his chagrin tomorrow, when the Aestiferum wears off and he remembers what he's begging me to do now."

Harry had pushed Severus' sleeve up, and his face rested against the pale, unmarred skin. Severus' other hand came to rest on Harry's head, oddly gentle. Harry sighed happily and kissed Severus' forearm, and then he stood and began undoing Severus' collar buttons.

Severus kept a hand on Harry's skin at all times, just what the Aestiferum demanded, as he well knew. His eyes never left mine as Harry went to his knees, following the row of buttons down.

Under Severus' robe he wore, as many tradition-bound wizards do, the old-fashioned long shirt. Probably nothing underneath -- that's traditional as well -- but the tails were long enough to make that a matter for mere supposition.

I was all but shaking with anger -- at Harry, at Severus, at James and Sirius, at myself. I would not leave them to -- do this -- in my rooms. In my bed.

"No," I said.

Harry didn't look at me. He was still on his knees with his face pressed to Severus' belly. I could see him in profile, his eyes shut, looking overwhelmed with pleasure merely at being allowed to be this close to Severus Snape, whose hand stroked his hair, the side of his face. " 's all right, Remus," he said without opening his eyes. "Looks as though Snape's got a soft side after all."

Under the long shirt, Severus' legs were the same as always -- skinny and pale and thickly covered with black hair.

It would have been a just punishment, I thought, to have to watch this happen. But I could not bear it.

"You cannot prevent it, Lupin," Severus said, as if he had read my mind. "Unless you wish to cram the antidote down Potter's throat, so as to spare him humiliation."

"Don't be like that, Remus," Harry added. "Come and kiss me. Bet it'll take two of you to keep up with me, anyway."

He stood, and leaned back against Severus -- and it was shocking to see Severus' arms come around him, pressing bare arm to bare arm, preventing the desperation that would come over an Aestiferum victim without direct skin contact. Perhaps it was this small kindness that undid me.

-and that's all I've got-










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July 18, 2007