The Hungarian Horntail reeled back, mighty wings flapping once, and sent a jet of fire towards Harry. Cursing under his breath, he dodged, the heat grazing his shoulder. The thestral underneath him neighed loudly but did not hesitate when Harry urged it forward.
In one swift motion, Harry raised the sword of Gryffindor and attempted to stab the dragon’s neck, but the blade only grazed the black scales with a scraping sound.
“Fuck.” Harry hastily directed this thestral down, holding for dear life to its sleek back. With each failed attempt, the Horntail got angrier, and it was harder and harder to get close enough to chance a blow.
Of course, the running commentary did not help.
“Aren’t you famous, among other things, for your encounters with dragons, Potter? Not once but twice?” An unimpressed Severus Snape tsked. “I suppose fame isn’t everything.”
Despite standing on a tiny ledge, chained to a rock, in a bold red ball gown with its train flowing down into the abyss, he managed to appear as if overseeing a particularly uneventful Potions class. Harry stared at him, still unable to believe his eyes after half an hour, and almost missed another rush of fire.
“I’d like to see you try it yourself,” he grumbled.
“I prefer to leave recklessly charging into danger and slaying dragons to Gryffindors,” Snape said. The dragon’s tail swished dangerously close to him, but he did not react to it other than follow it with his eyes. “If I found myself in such a need, however, I would aim for an eye as it’s the only relatively vulnerable spot in this species.”
“Couldn’t you have mentioned it somewhere before the fifth time I tried to stab it?”
Snape shrugged, the chains clanging. “You didn’t ask.”
“I’m trying to save you here, you know.”
“My hero,” he drawled mockingly. “You should have taken a white Abraxan to complete the look.”
“Well, you aren’t exactly a fair maiden yourself.”
Snape flinched, lips disappearing into a thin line for a moment, and Harry suddenly felt guilty.
“Not that you don’t look amazing in this dress,” he added hastily. It hugged Snape’s curveless shape perfectly, the red silk striking against milky-white skin and black shoulder-length hair. It should not have but worked, and Harry’s mind was filled with the things he wanted to do to Snape in that delectable dress. Maybe even still chained to that suspiciously shaped piece of rock. “I never thought... Who knew Gryffindor colours suited you so well?”
Now Snape looked murderous. Without waiting to hear the words forming in his mouth, for they would surely be deadlier than the Horntail’s fire, Harry turned his thestral sharply up. True, thestrals were not much to look at and bony enough for his arse to turn into one single bruise, but Harry would trust them to fly against a fifty-foot tall, fire-breathing dragon over tetchy and easily spooked Abraxans any day.
Manoeuvring between the jets of fire and smoke, Harry raised high into the beautiful sunset before directing the thestral almost vertically down, knuckles white in its mane. On the last second, he plunged the sword into the yellow eye. The creature let out a piercing shriek and fell into the dark abyss below.
Harry flew over to Snape just in time for the chains to fall and retreat like fearful snakes. This close, Harry could see the scars Nagini had left. He traced them with his eyes to the exposed collarbone, feeling his cheeks heat. When he snapped his gaze up, there was a rather predatory half-smile on Snape’s lips. Lips painted with red, red lipstick. Harry shifted on his thestral. It seemed that even the world’s most uncomfortable seating could not prevent his dick from getting excited.
Feeling bold, he asked, “Do I get a kiss for saving my prin—”
“Don’t finish the word, or you’ll be wishing the dragon ate you after all.”
“I was going to say ‘prince’. You’re a Half-Blood Prince, after all. I had an enormous crush on him in my sixth year, you know.”
Snape huffed, hiding a pleased expression. He grabbed a fistful of Harry’s T-shirt and drew him closer, making Harry wish he wore something more fitting for dragon slaying, at least until those red lips descended on his.
All other thoughts fled his mind as he melted into the kiss and...
...and woke up in his teacher’s quarters in Hogwarts, an empty vial of WWW’s Dreamland: Dragons & Damsels potion clutched in his hand.
How was he supposed to look Snape in the eyes today?
“—and then Harris brazenly attacked Pucey. It seems that your Gryffindor is an even bigger disgrace in Transfiguration than he is in Potions... Are you even listening to me, Potter?”
Harry found himself staring at the thin lips and remembering their colour in his dream, the way they kissed him so eagerly. He shook his head. The staffroom was not the place for this. “Yes, of course. But human Transfiguration is way above the third years’ curriculum. It’s rather impressive that he managed to turn Pucey even into a half-lizard.”
It was precisely the wrong thing to say. Snape went into a well-worn speech about Gryffindor bullies, his hands flying in agitation.
“Maybe Pucey shouldn’t’ve written that Quidditch chant for the entire Slytherin to sing,” Harry said when he paused for air.
Forgetting his rant, Snape smirked. “Harris does resemble a sloth on a broom, don’t you think? I was even considering awarding Gryffindor ten pity points after he failed to catch the Quaffle for the third time and secured the Cup for Slytherin.”
“You were not.”
“I was not.”
Despite himself, Harry snorted. If he was being honest, Leo Harris was a hopeless case on a broom, and his rivalry with Peter Pucey got very old very quickly. “How do you deal with all this nonsense as the Head of House?” he asked Snape. “The little sh—students are more destructive than Hungarian Horntails during mating season.”
Snape’s face shut down. “Are you asking me for pedagogical advice, Potter? Weren’t you shouting on your first day here what a great teacher you were going to be just by looking at me and doing the opposite?”
Harry felt his ears heat up. “Only after you told me I wouldn’t last a month on the job.”
Something like regret flickered across Snape’s face, quickly replaced by a sneer. “Let’s see if you stick around for another year.”
With that, he turned and stalked dramatically out of the staffroom, his black robe billowing behind him in a vivid reminder of the dress in yesterday’s dream.
“Believe me, I will,” Harry said as the door closed.
When he accepted Headmistress McGonagall’s offer to teach Defence and become the Head of Gryffindor, he resolved to be cordial to Snape. Maybe even become friends. After six years as an Auror, he felt that he changed enough as a person, and they had gone through so much during the war together that keeping up their childish antagonism seemed silly.
It turned out, however, that Snape had no such intentions, and only an hour in at his very first staff meeting, Harry’s newfound maturity had abandoned him as well. Since that day, Snape never failed to get a rise out of him every time. As an adult, Harry could admit that Snape was smart and witty, and while not exactly easy on the eye—after all, nothing about him was easy—his looks were certainly captivating. If only he did not insist on reverting to old patterns as soon as they started a civil conversation. Sometimes he even forgot himself for long enough to exchange a few flirty lines—or maybe Harry was simply deluding himself, because invariably, something switched, and Snape suddenly was his bastard self again. For every step forward, they were taking two steps back.
It had been hard enough to ignore a budding crush on the man who clearly showed again and again that he was not interested, and now Harry had to deal with the images George’s dream potions conjured in his mind. Unbidden, its Snape appeared before his eyes: black hair windswept, so openly seductive in that gorgeous gown. Harry wondered if he had any other silky items of clothing underneath it. Maybe even a bit of lace... Oh God, he was truly fucked.
George and Ron gave him Dreamland to check out the ‘improved user experience’ after he had talked a bit too much during his visit to their new shop in Hogsmeade, and they got the wrong impression about the nature of his ‘Snape troubles’. Or the right impression. Perhaps the Snape in the dream was a prank on their part? But deep down, Harry knew that even if it was, his demented mind—and libido—were all for it. He was going to throw the rest of the box away and never touch the damn potion again.
Harry’s resolve wavered after a mindnumbing grading session (the third years managed to come up with five alternative spellings for Hinkypunks, with one particularly hapless Ravenclaw cramming all of them in one essay) followed by Mnemosyne ‘call me Mimi’ Atkins, their Transfiguration Professor, waylaying him on his way to the Great Hall at dinner. Half way through his pudding, she had yet to shut up even for a second.
“They still complain about their N.E.W.T.s!” she said, leaning in uncomfortably close for his liking. “This generation of students just doesn’t know what real exam struggle is, don’t you think, Harry?” It was obviously a rhetorical question, since she continued without giving him time to reply. “In my N.E.W.T. year, they were threatening to close down the school because of the whole Chamber of Secrets debacle. All those horrible petrifications! You’ve no idea how stressful it was.”
“None at all,” Harry muttered.
“But of course, we all knew you’d save us from the heir of Slytherin, Harry!”
“Really? I mostly remember the whole school being convinced that I was the heir of Slytherin.”
“Well, I believed in you from the start. Even at twelve, you looked like a true lion!”
This statement was so outrageous that Harry finally raised his eyes from his treacle tart to stare at Atkins.
From her other side, Snape snorted. “At twelve, Potter looked like a scruffy yorkie with an attitude.”
“Aww, it’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said about me.”
“It was not a compliment.”
“Of course not. I’m not delusional enough to expect compliments from you.”
Atkins turned her head between them, magically-enhanced eye-lashes fluttering in confusion. “Whatever the others thought about you at the time,” she said finally, “you did defeat Slytherin’s monster. Was it really a basilisk? There were all sorts of rumours.”
“Yes,” Harry said. He wanted to stop at that, but some things needed to be repeated again and again. “But I really was just a kid then, not much more prepared for what happened than your average second year. Maybe less. It was a combination of luck and desperation.”
“Always so humble, Harry! You should tell me all about your heroic adventures sometime.” And yet again, they fell onto deaf ears.
A cup clanked against a plate. Snape rose from his seat and strode out of the Great Hall.
Harry excused himself and escaped the clutches of the Transfiguration Professor, his mood completely soured. Did Snape still think he was an arrogant attention seeker soaking up empty praises? Those were his words when Harry had given a front-page interview about the man’s role in the war. That was the only time Harry was grateful for the Prophet’s embellishments: they were the one thing that could sway public opinion and keep Snape from being unfairly thrown into Azkaban, despite Harry’s testimony.
If Snape ever appreciated the efforts, he did not show it, unless a howler insulting Harry in increasingly creative—and slurred—ways for half an hour counted. Harry did not begrudge him that much, even though Ron still quoted that thing on occasion. Snape was a prideful man, and being saved by Harry together with the resulting media circus had to sting. Coming to Hogwarts, Harry had hoped that things between them would be different now that Snape had the time to cool off. It was a foolish thought, of course. Nobody could hold a grudge quite like Severus Snape.
Back in his quarters, Harry took out the package of Dreamland. On the colourful box, a blond princess in a cake-like dress was screaming in terror as a knight flew his white winged horse towards a cartoon dragon. He added a purple bean into one of the two remaining vials, making the milky-white potion darken to the same colour. There were two with each potion: a purple bean to play for the knight and a green one, for the princess. Harry didn’t for a moment consider the second option. He had spent way too much of his life feeling helpless and out of control to enjoy it in his fantasy. Yesterday he went into the dream for the dragon, and now he simply wanted to flex his (non-existent in real life) sword skills in front of Snape again. Preferably Snape in a dress. Oh God, Hermione would psychoanalyse him for hours if only she knew. After teasing him mercilessly, because while more tactful than Ron, even she had her limits.
Well, they never needed to know. Harry settled on his bed and downed the potion.
Instead of hovering over the abyss, Harry found himself standing in the entrance to a rocky valley, the sword of Gryffindor in his hand.
“I see your thestral abandoned you?” the snide voice shouted from the other side.
Once again Severus Snape stood chained to a rock, decidedly phallic in shape. A flash of pink puffiness flickered and melted into a long black dress that could almost be called severe if not for a thigh-high split. Harry moved to walk over cautiously. He wanted to see that glimpse of a toned leg up close, but George would not be so sloppy as to forget including the dragon part of the dream altogether.
“I suppose dragon slaying isn’t for everyone.” Harry flashed him a grin.
“But you’re loving every second of it?”
“Not exactly. I’m just here to save my prince.”
Snape harrumphed. “The only danger here so far is that sharp stick in your hand. Are you sure that is the right way to hold it?”
“Don’t worry, I know how to hold a—” Harry cut himself off. A low rustling sound was coming from a crevice in the rocks, getting closer and closer. Harry had only heard it once before, but the years did not dim the memory. “Oh no. I’ll kill George.”
“George?” Snape furrowed his brow.
“The package promised a dragon. I didn’t sign up for a bloody—” The rustling was just a few feet away now. “Close your eyes, Snape! Now!”
Harry kept his head down as the basilisk slithered towards them. “Stop!” he hissed, hoping that it came off in Parseltongue. Without Voldemort’s horcrux in his head, he had half-expected to lose the ability, but it was still there. He got to appreciate it again when he had still been with the Aurors after talking to snakes had helped him solve several smuggling cases.
Unsurprisingly, this particular snake did not listen to him. “Kill... tear... rip...” it muttered in the deranged voice he had heard last during his second year. At least this let Harry know where its head was at any time.
“It’s enormous,” Snape said, awe clear in his voice. Slytherins and their snakes, really. “I wonder if it’s anything like the one from the Chamber.”
“Don’t look at it!” Despite his own advice, Harry chanced a peek, looking opposite to where the hissing was coming from. The setting sun added a soft glow to the dark green scales of the massive, sixty-feet-long creature. Were he to turn his head just a little bit further, Harry was sure he would see a red plume on its head. “It’s probably the same one, straight out of my memory.”
For a moment, Snape was silent, but Harry was afraid to look in his direction.
“How did you defeat it that time?” he asked finally. His voice held an odd, cautious note Harry could not decipher.
“Fawkes pecked out its eyes, and I stuck this into its mouth.” Harry raised the sword of Gryffindor, rubies reflecting the crimson sky above. “Even without its eyes, it got to me, and I would’ve died if not for Fawkes healing the bite.” Self-consciously, he moved the shoulder the fang had once sank in.
The hissing was suddenly so much closer, and Harry made a couple of blind thrusts with his sword in its general direction.
“Ugh, it isn’t going to work,” he said. “Wish I had my wand. I don’t actually know anything about swords beyond poking with the pointy end.”
He dodged the next few attacks and managed to graze the creature’s nose, only making it angrier. Right. He learned this lesson with the Horntail already. Shouldn’t try to stick it in unless you’re really sure.
“Take this, Potter!” Snape shouted.
Harry turned to look at him now that he was in a safe line of vision again. Eyes closed, Snape wore an expression of an utmost concentration Harry had only seen him use with a difficult potion or his morning tea. A wand shimmered into existence in his chained hand, and he awkwardly threw it at Harry.
As soon as the wand touched the ground next to him, it disappeared.
“Damn,” he said. “I guess it’d be too easy.”
“You guess too much,” Snape said irritably. “Let’s try again.” He conjured another wand but did not throw it this time. Instead, he pointed it at the boulder between them and transfigured it into a shiny shield. The wand disappeared again, but the shield stayed.
It took Harry a few tries to get to it, and once the basilisk’s tail sent him flying to the ground, but in the end, he gripped it firmly, looking into his own reflection.
“Don’t look into it yourself, you idiot!”
“Got it!” Harry put the mirror shield in front of him and stood up. “Come here, you great blockhead. Size isn’t everything, you know. I knew a boa constrictor so much more intelligent than you are.”
The basilisk hissed in unintelligible anger and struck, freezing mid-motion when its gaze connected with its own reflection. Harry scrambled to get out of the falling tower of its head and stared at it, avoiding the yellow eyes.
“Do you think it’s dead or simply petrified?”
“Poke it with the pointy end to make sure.”
Never looking away from Snape, Harry did just that, hitting the eye on the first attempt. The chains holding Snape fell down, clanking.
“Thank you.” Harry gave him a bashful smile. “I was supposed to be the hero, but as always, it turned out to be our teamwork.”
“As long as you recognise it,” Snape said, looking rather smug.
At that proclamation, Snape got very interested in the fallen basilisk, striding over to study it closer. He seemed utterly unbothered by wearing a dress without acting feminine, and something about that combination made it hard for Harry to not jump Snape’s bones right then and there. Only the thought that the kiss would end the dream helped his restraint. Finally, he got a closer look at that leg showing so mesmerizingly out of the slit. Was that a stocking? His mouth dried up.
Snape was staring at the foot-long fangs with an inscrutable expression. “What an impressive feat, to defeat such a creature as a mere child,” he said musingly. “I knew, of course, but never quite realised.”
Harry winced. “Don’t. You—the real you—would never say that.” It was stupid to complain about a fantasy delivering exactly what he wished for, but hearing it now was just too much.
Harry shrugged noncommittally. He was not going to let a figment of his own imagination get his hopes up. Instead, he seized on the safer part of the conversation. “As I said to Mimi,” he explained, making a face at the clingy Transfiguration Professor’s nickname, “it was luck and desperation. We didn’t go there for some ‘heroic adventure’ as she put it. Ginny was down there, so we had no choice.”
“Why didn’t you go to a teacher?”
“We did. We brought Lockhart with us.”
“Lockhart,” Snape spat contemptuously. “Did you really think that buffoon would be up to battling a basilisk?
“We knew he was a fraud, of course. Ron and I had to force him to get into the Chamber at wandpoint, for Merlin sake.” Harry snorted at the memory. “Perhaps we still had some subconscious trust in adults left at that point. We didn’t expect him to attack us, that’s for sure. He seemed harmless enough. So silly of us, after Quirrell.”
“You three were so sure I was the villain of the story that first year,” Snape said, the corner of his mouth twisting up a little before dropping back. “Afterwards, too, but it was much less amusing by then.”
“I’ve never thanked you for saving me from Quirrell’s hexes on that very first match.”
“Any member of the staff would have done the same.”
“But no one else actually did. Then again, you’d probably call me a pernicious pillock and tell me to get out.”
Harry grinned. “I need to borrow the Pensieve from the Headmistress’s office and refresh that howler in my memory. There were some real gems there.”
Snape’s eyes filled with horror. “Don’t tell me I actually sent that wretched thing?”
“I’m afraid you did. Really hurt my feelings.” Harry meant to say it flippantly but was not sure he succeeded. He would never admit it, but the howler had cut him deeper than he had ever shown, even if he could laugh about it now.
“I apologise,” Snape said softly. “I was ridiculously drunk that night, not that it’s any kind of excuse. Few people have ever shown me kindness, and I hurt every last one of them.”
Harry’s heart ached. “Stop it,” he pleaded. “Please stop it. Let’s have that kiss and finish the dream, or I wouldn’t be able to take it when the real you sneers at me like I’m a flobberworm at the bottom of your shoe tomorrow. It’s hard enough already.”
Snape stepped closer, cupping Harry’s cheek. “I didn’t know it bothered you so much. You’ve always given as good as you got.”
Harry leaned into the touch. “This potion is the best and cruellest thing,” he whispered.
Slowly, their lips met. Unlike the first dream, the kiss stayed light and tender, never deepening or turning frenzied. It felt like a confession, a confession of something bigger than the angry crush Harry grudgingly admitted to himself he nursed. He resented every second of its confusing realness, this brief taste of something he could never have. Resented and couldn’t get enough.
The next day, Snape wasn’t at breakfast, and Harry was not sure if he was relieved or disappointed. Maybe having a few insults flung at him would set things straight in his head.
This was a Hogsmeade weekend, which meant Harry could keep the man out of his mind for a while. Supervising the students in the village was like herding kneazles on a moonless night. Worse, considering that kneazles could not apparate out to Diagon Alley, splinching themselves in the process and forcing Harry to run around the shopping district with a detached hand under a stasis charm. As if Poppy did not have her hands full with third years who still stuffed themselves sick with sweets every Hogsmeade trip and seventh years deciding to spice up their contraband muggle pot with dried gillyweed. Over the last year, Harry realised he had missed awfully much during his school years, what with constantly dodging murder attempts and thwarting evil plots.
Having made sure every last student returned to the castle safely—only half-hour after they were supposed to, the earliest in his memory—Harry set out to the new Hogsmeade branch of the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.
“We are closed already!” Ron stuck his head out of the backroom door. “Oh, it’s you, Harry.”
A mop was gliding through raided aisles, erasing the traces of the better part of the student body packing the shop throughout the day.
“I’m going to hate you for the entire next week, aren’t I?” Harry asked with a sigh.
“Purchases are confidential.” Ron grinned, pointing at the sign at the cash desk saying just that. “But here is a heads-up as your best mate: we sold out our whole stock of dungbombs today, from both shops.”
George came out of the backroom to join them. “And that’s the only intel you’re going to get, Professor Potter.” He wagged his finger at Harry.
Harry picked up a Dreamland box from a colourful display.
“Did you enjoy the experience?” George asked, eyes twinkling mischievously.
“It was an experience all right.” Harry tapped at the 12+ sticker. “Aren’t that a bit young? That Horntail felt just like the real one. And what’s the deal with the basilisk?”
“Basilisk?” Ron asked, startled. “You got a basilisk from one of these?”
“Harry,” George said. “How many people do you think saw a Horntail up close, let alone a basilisk? How many have the experience of battling them? Most kids get their ideas from Drusilla the Drowsy Dragon.”
“From Martin Miggs comics,” Ron explained at Harry’s confused expression before turning to George. “I sure hope the little buggers aren’t stabbing poor Drusilla there! If so, I’m rooting for her.”
“Ronniekins’s favourite toy was a Drusilla plushy when he was a wee kid,” George said conspiratorially. “He even abandoned his teddy bear for her.”
“I abandoned my teddy because you and Fred turned him into a spider!” Ron exclaimed, indignant, and winced, looking at George carefully. Fred would always be a sore subject, especially now, a week before the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts.
George, however, smiled. “We did, didn’t we?” He took one of the colourful boxes. “What I’m trying to say, Harry, is that the level of detail and realism depends on your imagination. The potion just provides the basic scenario.”
“And the... princess part?” Harry asked cautiously.
“That too, of course. Although I’d expect it to be a prince for you,” George winked. Harry came out as gay years ago, although the Prophet questioned his sexuality every time he was photographed having a conversation with a witch.
Ron laughed. “If your rants this year are anything to go by, maybe even the Prince.”
“Shut up, Ron.” Harry felt his ears heat up. “So the potion can show you real people?” He aimed for a casual tone, but from the looks he was getting, he did not entirely succeed.
“I suppose that can happen,” George said thoughtfully. “We tweaked the potion to have more room for personalised interactions within the script. There’s a synchronisation bug I’m still working on, but it’s one in a million chance. Oh, and alcohol can have an unpredictable effect.”
“Seriously, mate, don’t mix it with booze,” Ron said. “We print the warning in big letters and still get complaints.”
“And if you get certain dungeon beasts sober, I can only imagine what you’ll be facing when sozzled.”
Harry glared at them.
“I mean the basilisk, of course!” George said innocently. “Now tell us why you were running around Hogsmeade with a severed hand dripping blood today?”
The week got increasingly tense as the days trickled by. Snape rarely appeared in the Great Hall and the staffroom, and when he did, he never once looked in Harry’s direction. Harry chalked his behaviour to the impending anniversary of Voldemort’s defeat, but it still rankled. He would prefer their familiar antagonism to this cold disinterest.
Harry usually spent 2nd of May with Ron and Hermione, but they had their hands full with baby Rose now, so he did not want to intrude. This meant he stayed for the memorial service at Hogwarts. The students were too young to be here for the Battle, but old enough to remember that miserable year. Some had lost their parents, their siblings, their homes. Harry had got used to making speeches that first year after the war, but now, looking at their solemn little faces, he felt terrified anew.
Snape stood at the very back, blending in the shadows. His back was rigid, and his head was held high over the tight collar hiding Nagini’s scars. Harry wondered whether they looked anything like in his dream.
Despite trying to approach Snape all evening, Harry got intercepted by everyone, from the Headmistress and Hagrid to Ministry officials weaselling their way in. Everyone wanted a piece of him, and Harry wasted precious time dodging them all. When he finally reached Snape, the man already moved to leave.
“I have a bottle of Firewhiskey in my quarters,” Harry said. “Join me?”
For a moment, Snape looked as if he was considering the offer, but then he shook his head. “I’m sure you’ll find more fitting company to reminisce.”
Harry watched him disappear with a frown. Some Gryffindor fifth-years muttered ‘Death Eater’ after him, and Harry took the time out to give them a talking-to. Judging by their put-out expressions, they did not expect their usually lenient Professor to take an almost Snape-like tone with them.
Spotting Mimi Atkins making her way through the crowd to him, Harry decided to make his escape as well. He hated to be alone with his ghosts on this day, but it was better than to be alone in a room full of people who would never understand what he had gone through.
The Firewhiskey, an overpriced vintage Kinsley had got him for his early retirement, burned his throat but unsurprisingly did nothing to make him feel better. After the first glass, Harry looked longingly at the Dreamland box with its remaining vial. He should have drunk that one instead. If only he had a sobering potion.
After the third glass, Harry didn’t care. He uncorked the vial, added the purple bean and gulped the potion down.
Instead of the beautiful sunset, Harry was greeted with the blood moon over the ruins of Hogwarts. He swore under his breath. Was one little moment of escapism too much to ask? He should have listened to Ron and George.
The sword in his hand felt cold and heavy, the shine of steel dulled with dried blood. There was a battle raging in the distance, but Harry’s eyes fastened on a figure huddled in chains under the remains of the Astronomy Tower. Tangled black hair fell over the shadowed face, and the angry wound on his neck gushed red.
“Snape!” he shouted. “Severus!”
Snape raised his head. “Came to save me, Potter? You can’t. Not from this.”
“I always regretted not helping you in the Shack,” Harry said, shuddering at the memory. “I’d never have forgiven myself if you had died then.”
Before Snape could answer, smoke coming from the battle coalesced into a shadowy figure between them. Emerging snakelike features betrayed not a dragon or a basilisk but a much worse creature.
“No!” Harry shouted. “You’re dead!”
High-pitched laughter resounded amidst the ruins. “Harry Potter,” Voldemort said. “I’m always living in your head.”
Harry clutched his scar. It had not hurt since this day seven years ago, but he would still sometimes wake up in cold sweat after a particularly bad nightmare, waiting for the familiar pain to kick in.
“Don’t listen to him!” Snape rasped, words turning into a cough. The collar of his robe was soaked with blood now.
Voldemort turned his head. “Oh, Severus. You didn’t think you’d get rid of me that easily either? You’ll always be mine. Did you hear the whispers behind your back today? They all know it, too.”
Once again, Harry had no wand. Well then, a sword should do. He ran up to him and struck, but the blade passed through empty air. Voldemort turned back into smoke that swivelled and reformed into another figure.
Aunt Petunia, in her Sunday floral dress and neatly waved hair, stood in his place, giving him her best thin-lipped expression. It was the one she reserved for particularly stubborn stains, poor people in the news and, of course, him.
“Fancy yourself as some kind of hero, do you, boy?” she spat. “So pathetic, hoping that by saving him, you’d earn his love? Well, you will not. Nobody will ever love a good for nothing freak like you!”
Harry took a step back.
Snape let out another wheezing cough. “You’ve always been nothing but a vile, jealous cow, Tuney.”
Aunt Petunia turned to him, her hair lengthening and darkening to auburn, features changing subtly into similar but much younger, more attractive ones. The derisive expression, however, stayed the same.
“And you, Severus, could there be a more pathetic man?” Harry’s mother sneered, very Petunia-like. While aware, of course, that they were sisters, Harry had somehow never imagined her to share any traits with his aunt. “You’ve always been a disgusting deviant. Do you think I don’t know it was you and not my sister who stole my dress in the summer before our fifth year? And look at you now. Drinking your students’ potion to relive your perverted fantasies about my son. Dreaming of being saved. Do you really think you deserve saving?”
Snape shook his head, opening his mouth and failing to say anything.
“Damn right you don’t.”
Harry had never imagined her to sound so cold either.
His sword fell to the ground; he would not be able to use it even if he thought it would do any good. Instead, he concentrated on conjuring his wand as Snape had done in the last dream.
Sensing its appearance, Lily turned to him, morphing into Sirius. “First you let me die, and now drooling over Snivellus. Disgusting.”
It was time to stop this. Harry raised his wand. “Expecto Patronum!”
The smoke around them thickened, forming countless people: his mother and Aunt Petunia; Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy, looking at Snape with haughty disgust; Cedric, eyes open and glassy, and a black-haired man with a crooked nose, wearing old-fashioned muggle clothes. They all sneered and talked at once, but Harry’s glowing stag chased them away relentlessly, one by one.
A moment later, a white doe joined him, and together, they dispelled the phantoms before galloping away towards the battle.
Harry ran over to Snape. The chains, rusty and thick, weren’t as quick to disappear this time, lingering as the man feebly attempted to shrug them off. Harry moved to help, but Snape batted his hand away.
“Those are my chains, Potter.” With a grunt, he threw them clanking on the ground.
“Let me at least close your wound.” Harry kneeled next to him and gently put his left hand on the back of Snape’s neck, muttering incantations.
“Your regret over not helping me in the Shack is preposterous. You were not supposed to know. That was the point,” said Snape. “And don’t bother now. It’s not real anyway.” Belying his words, he leaned into Harry’s touch, allowing him access to heal his neck.
“But you’re real, aren’t you? Not just a product of my imagination,” Harry said, thinking back to his mother and Voldemort, and half of the shadowy figures. They could not have been created by his own mind.
Snape tensed. “You can start laughing now, Potter.”
“I would never laugh at you. Remember what I told you last time? It was also the real you then, right?”
He gave a grudging nod. “If I did not confiscate that blasted box from an especially dim Hufflepuff second year, I’d suspect it was the Weasleys’ prank. Only this last one is too morbid for them.”
“Well, Ron said that mixing it with alcohol is a bad idea.”
“So it’s your mind to thank for this... performance?”
“Sorry.” Harry felt his cheeks heating up.
Glowing white light illuminated Snape’s pale face. The two Patronuses came back, Harry’s stag prancing around the doe who watched him warily with her head tilted to the side.
“They fit, don’t they?” he mused.
“It’s just a coincidence.” Snape hid his eyes, moving away from Harry’s hand that still rested on his nape, even though the wound had long been healed.
The doe gave him a reproachful look and nuzzled the stag.
“Traitor,” Snape muttered.
Harry gave him a tentative smile, something like hope bubbling inside his chest. “Look, can we continue this conversation at Hogwarts, the real one? This landscape isn’t very romantic.”
“We should leave this foolishness here and never speak of it again,” Snape said, trying for conviction. His eyes were riveted on their Patronuses.
But Harry had already realised that to decipher what Snape meant, he had to disregard half of what he actually was saying. If only he knew which half. Hopefully, Snape would let him close enough to learn. “I’ll come down to your quarters. Is that all right?”
Snape sighed. “I’ll open the fireplace for you.”
Elated, Harry placed a chaste kiss on his lips. It felt like a promise.
When he opened his eyes again, he was on his couch in Hogwarts, still in his formal robe, now crumpled and sweaty. He sprang to his feet, regretting it instantly—his head felt like it was chewed up and spat out by the Horntail from his first dream.
He shed the robe and his itchy starched shirt, hit himself with a freshening charm and summoned the nice olive green jumper he had in the back of his closet. Raking his fingers through his hair that he had tried to tame before the ceremony, he felt it returning to its usual wild state, but that would have to do. The more time he wasted, the higher was the chance that Snape would come to his senses and revert to his usual self.
With trepidation, he took a scoop of the floo powder and threw it in the fireplace. “Severus Snape’s quarters!”
For a second, Harry was sure that the fireplace would bounce him back, but the castle network spat him into a living room very different from his own. Where after almost a full school year, Harry still treated his quarters as barely more than a hotel room, content to bringing in things from Grimmauld Place as he needed them and putting a few photographs on the mantelpiece for decoration, this room felt like home. The walls were lined with bookshelves, a potted plant with dark, shimmery leaves stood in the corner, and the couch held a permanent indentation next to a coffee table. A coffee table that had a half-empty bottle of muggle scotch and the Dreamland vial on it.
He was not the only one who had gone against instructions, it seemed.
Snape appeared from one of the doors, a goblet in his hand. He had dispensed of his robe as well, looking surprisingly casual for a man still wearing a formal dress shirt.
Harry took the goblet, their fingers meeting for a brief moment. The feeling of Snape’s magic was heady and electrifying, or maybe it was just Harry’s reaction to the touch. Never looking away from those bottomless dark eyes, he downed the content of the goblet, some sharp liquid tasting of acidic coffee and tear-inducing pepper. His vision swam for a moment, and all traces of headache vanished.
“Do you always drink unknown potions without question?” Snape asked.
Putting the empty goblet on the table, Harry flashed him a smile. “I trust you.”
“How foolish of you.”
“I want to kiss you without fear of waking up,” Harry said, taking the plunge and stepping forward. “Or of a basilisk slithering out of some cave. Unless it’s a basilisk in—”
“If you finish that sentence, I'll reconsider whatever this is and hex your tongue off.” Belying his words, Snape glanced at Harry’s lips.
“You don't want to get rid of my tongue, believe me. It has many talents.”
“Potter.” Probably to shut him up, Snape closed the last inches between them and covered Harry’s lips with his own.
Winding his arms around Snape to hold him tighter, Harry marvelled at how much better the real thing was. Snape’s lips were a bit chapped and tasted of the same potion: bitter and spicy. To get a better taste, Harry sucked on the intruding tongue. He wanted to both savour every moment and take this fast, devouring every inch of Severus after months of pent-up desire and pining that he could finally admit to himself.
“It’s Harry,” he corrected as they paused, lips mere inches from each other.
He discovered that as they were kissing, his hand had somehow freed some of Snape’s shirt and found its way underneath. Snape—Severus, Harry probably should start calling him by his given name too, at least in his head—visibly shivered as Harry’s hand splayed against his bare skin, and Harry felt giddy at being able to elicit such a reaction from this usually controlled man with just a touch.
Emboldened, he manoeuvred Severus to the couch, pushing him lightly to sit and kneeling between his legs. The stone floor felt almost warm underneath him; living underground had its occasional benefit over a drafty tower.
Watching Harry with a slightly more guarded expression in his half-lidded eyes, Severus slowly undid his belt buckle. A glimpse of black lace appeared as he opened his trousers, making Harry wet his lips.
“Jesus,” he breathed out. “So that part wasn’t just my fantasy. I want to see it all.”
He did not know whether he was commanding this with his own magic, or Severus obliged him, but the trousers vanished. Harry put his hands on the pale thighs, directing them upwards, where Severus’s cock was long and hard inside his lace panties.
Severus’s thighs trembled as Harry breathed on the clothed cock and then followed its length with his mouth. Dragging his tongue over the lace-covered cockhead, he raised his eyes to see Severus loosening his collar with a wild expression, his usually sallow cheeks flushed. Harry was dimly aware that he himself was still fully dressed, but pulling away even for a moment from that obscene tableau was an impossible task. He sneaked one of his hands to press a palm to his crotch.
“This turns you on,” Severus purred above him.
“Yes. God, yes.”
“Such a sinful picture you make.”
Harry fastened his lips to his cock again, sucking through the lace, wet and all but ruined now with saliva and pre-come. His fingers dipped inside to massage Severus’s balls, fit snugly inside the panties.
Severus buckled up, spreading his legs wider. “Will you stop tormenting me, you insolent tease?”
Harry winked, feeling insolent indeed. “How about a magic word?”
“I’ll let you fuck me later.”
He did not think he could get any harder than he already was, but somehow he did. The words were truly magical.
Without wasting any more time, he pulled the panties down, Severus raising his hips to help him, and finally took the throbbing cock into his mouth, enjoying its weight against his tongue before engulfing it even deeper. His experience with deepthroating was very limited, but with Severus, he wanted to pull out all the stops.
Severus moaned a string of obscenities, visibly fighting not to thrust up into Harry's mouth. “You’ll be the death of me, Potter.”
Harry swallowed around his cock in response.
“Harry. Fuck, Harry. I’m so close.”
Undaunted, Harry sucked him harder. Giving up, he opened his own trousers and fisted his cock just as hot come filled his mouth.
Severus looked thoroughly debauched. Breathing ragged and heavy, he grasped Harry’s chin gently, dragging his thumb along Harry’s puffy lower lip. Harry caught it between his teeth, and sucked on it, the magic between them crackling dizzyingly.
“Come up here,” Severus said, his voice satisfied and sluggish after his orgasm.
Harry, for his part, was going to explode unless something was done, and fast. Hurriedly tugging off his jumper, he all but sprang onto the couch next to Severus to let him taste himself on his lips. He took Severus’s hand and directed it between his legs. “Please. I don’t need much.”
“Wait.” Severus pushed him to lie on the couch and stood up, carelessly stepping out of his panties. “Don’t touch yourself,” he commanded when Harry’s hand moved back to his cock at the sight.
A wand flew into Severus’s waiting hand. He muttered a few quick spells at himself and made the wand squirt some oily liquid into his palm. Knees on both sides of Harry, he reached to slick Harry’s cock and lined it up with his entrance.
Harry felt his mouth go slack as Severus sank onto his cock, eyes never leaving Harry’s. His shirt, half-undone, was down his shoulder, revealing a scar that reached the sharp collarbone. A strand of dark hair that curtained his face clung to his forehead, damp with exertion. This was the hottest, most wanton thing Harry had ever seen in his life, but when he tried to tell Severus that, he only managed a moan.
Pinned under Severus’s fierce stare, Harry reached up to put his hands on the man’s hips as Severus raised himself up and slammed down at a brutal pace. Harry desperately tried to prolong it just a little bit more, but he didn’t stand a chance; vision swimming, he felt the world explode in white-hot bliss as Severus rode him out.
“Severus!” he cried, grasping at Severus’s hips.
Harry was only dimly aware of Severus moving to sit next to him and hitting them both with cleaning charms.
“Hm. I might regret it tomorrow,” Severus said thoughtfully.
“What?” Harry felt his stomach drop.
“My... zeal right now. Next time we’re at least doing it on the bed. I have a perfectly serviceable one in my bedroom just a few feet away.”
Harry’s buoyant smile was enough to light the fireplace all by itself.
The students safely boarded on the Hogwarts Express, Harry headed to the dungeons, whistling a cheerful tune. The teaching staff had their annual party to celebrate the end of the school year and the long-awaited peace and quiet in the castle, and Harry wondered if Severus reconsidered his decision not to join after all. Harry had booked a table for their own private celebration later in the evening, but they had plenty of time to mingle with colleagues before leaving on holiday.
“Severus?” he asked as the portrait of Paracelsus let him into the empty living room.
“Harry? I require your assistance,” Severus’s voice called from the closed bedroom door, sounding somewhat strained.
Wand out, Harry rushed inside. Never once had Severus asked for his help so far, even when Gryffindor’s Leo Harris had blown up his practical Potions exam—literally—and Severus had to spend two full days in the Hospital Wing with both hands immobilised.
Harry was not sure what he expected to see, but it was certainly not Severus Snape in a familiar black dress, the indecently deep slip revealing a stocking-clad leg, lounging on their four-poster bed with his wrists tied to the frame.
Through the blood rushing to his ears—and other, lower regions—Harry dimly heard a clattering sound: his wand falling on the stone floor. He licked his lips, almost unconsciously.
Severus gave him a challenging look through his sooty eye-lashes. “It appears I find myself trapped,” he said in a low, smooth voice. “What ever would an honest hero do?”
Oh, Harry had many ideas.