Invasum (Like Father, Like Son)
Chapter 1. Sanctuary
Harry knocked, then waited restlessly for a response, gazing up the street at the small, dilapidated houses on either side. The door, worn down to bare wood in patches, with what was left of its old gray paint flaking off the rest, opened a minute crack, and a dark suspicious eye peered through the opening.
A gruff voice asked in a thick Northern accent, “What d’ you want?”
What do I want? Harry asked himself. He’d been asking himself that same question for weeks.
“I don’t get it, what do you want?” Ron asked plaintively.
“Ron, I don’t know what I want, but I do know what I don’t want. I don’t want to be an Auror, I don’t want to work for the Ministry, I don’t want to be a party-hopping socialite, and I don’t want to keep trying to explain myself to people!” Harry answered hotly.
Ron reared back, stung. “Well, I’m sorry that I care if you’re throwing away your one chance! Look, Harry, we never finished Hogwarts, or took our N.E.W.T.s. But because of our service, we were accepted in the Auror program anyway.”
Harry rolled his eyes in disgust. “Well, we may have been accepted into the Auror program, but we are not accepted by the Aurors, trainers, or other cadets. You know as well as I that they have been throwing obstacles at me at every turn, sabotaging my exercises and lab work, not just waiting for me to fail but trying to engineer it! It’s like being in Potions with Snape and his Slytherins again!”
“I know they seem to be harder on you, but that’s just because you’re the Boy Who Lived—” Ron began.
“Right, and I’m sick of it. I was sick of it in Potions, I was sick of it when students who were supposedly my friends thought I was the Heir of Slytherin, when many of those same people thought I’d entered my name for the Tri Wizard Tournament,” he continued, ignoring Ron’s guilty expression, “And I was sick of it when people said I was insane fifth year. People are going to be suspicious of me, no matter what I do, so I may as well do what I want.” Harry paused thoughtfully. “Well, when I figure out what that is.”
“But Harry, we were going to be Aurors together!” Ron said desperately. “The only reason I was accepted so easily was because we were a package deal.”
Harry softened, looking at his first school friend. “I know, Ron, but now that you are in the program, you can prove yourself worthy of being here. It will probably be easier for you without me around, and if you’re honest with yourself, you will admit that is true.”
Ron gazed back, and said grudgingly, “But Harry, if I’m being honest, I would have to say that I’ve never had to push myself without you are Hermione around to help. I don’t know if I can—”
“You can, Ron,” Harry rushed to say, if only to end this painful discussion. He didn’t need to be reminded how Hermione was going to respond to his leaving Auror training. And Ginny, she was going to hit the roof! He sighed, gathering himself for the coming storm.
“Hullo, Mr. Snape. I am sorry to bother you, but I was hoping that you might be able to give me some information about your son.”
“Who wants to know,” the voice growled, “An’ why should I know owt?”
“I am a former student of Professor Snape, my name is Harry Potter. His—he has disappeared, and I hired people to investigate any leads. They discovered that you were his father and were now living here. Up ‘til now, we didn’t even know where his home was.”
“Well, this were it, but he don’t live here.” The door began to close. “I have things to do, so if you’ll just shove off—”
Harry quickly put his foot in the door, gamely ignoring the anger flaring in that eye. “I’m afraid that I will have to take just a few minutes more of your time, sir. You see, I’ve been searching for your son for over two years and you’re the first and only real lead I’ve had.”
“Well, I’m sure that’s no fun, but as I says—”
“Please, sir, just a couple minutes of your time, and I won’t disturb you any further,” Harry interrupted again, desperately. “I promise.”
With a doubtful glance, the door open a bit more, but still barely wide enough for Harry to slip in sideways. Once inside, he got a better look at the man in the late-dusk gloom of the dark house.
The tall, dark-haired man, with a broad forehead, strong hooked nose, and dark beetle eyes was familiar. He was just an older version of the figure Harry had glimpsed when he’d intruded on Snape’s memories during Occlumency lessons. Even the threadbare woolen sweater and heavy trousers looked the same.
The door led right into a rather cluttered, but surprisingly clean sitting room. Harry took in the shelves crammed with books, as well as the piles of books, paper, and parchment scrolls on every surface and in every corner. Seeing his glance, Tobias said distrustfully, “Everythin’s just as I found it.”
“Really?” Harry asked, disbelieving, “It looks pretty well lived in.” As he saw another flare of anger he realized how accusatory his statement might have come across. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that the way it came out. I simply meant that you’ve managed to keep it so well.”
“Well, I’m livin’ here, aren’t I? It’s no good to let it go just because he’s not here.” The man took a deep breath. “So, let’s hear your questions.”
“Of course, thank you. My information is that you’ve been here since April 1997, is that correct?”
After a guarded nod from Tobias, Harry continued, “In that time did anyone ever come here looking for your son?”
This time, there was a head shake, “No.”
“In that time, did you notice anything strange in or around the house?” Harry asked cautiously. He knew the Muggle families of magical children were often sensitive about magic—the Dursleys’ reaction may have been extreme, but their concern about appearing normal to neighbors and friends seemed to have been universal among the families of the Muggleborn. Remembering the violence he’d glimpsed in Snape’s memories, Harry was wary of getting Tobias any more hostile than he already was.
“D’you mean, did I notice any magic?” Tobias, seeing Harry’s surprise, shrugged. “Well, it don’t frighten me much anymore. No, nowt strange, magical or otherwise.”
Considering his apparently surly nature, Tobias was surprisingly forthcoming with answers to Harry’s questions—though his answers were often short and brusque—and they talked for quite some time. The older man seemed surprised at how much Harry respected Severus Snape, and was incredulous when Harry mentioned the Merlin, First Class (“a very high wizarding award,” he’d said). The man seemed to think that Severus would have been poorly treated at the end of the war, and that it was “good riddance” that he was not around. It was only when Harry moved towards the bookshelves for any sign that Snape may have left some indication of his whereabouts that Tobias moved to stop him, his visage darkening warningly.
“Oh, I am not going to touch your son’s belongings. If he ever found out, he’d kill me.” At the raised eyebrow, Harry continued, chuckling, “Though I suppose it’s my curiosity that most drives him mad about me. At any rate, thanks for your time.”
“I—you’re welcome, Mr. Potter—” At Harry’s grimace, the man stopped, looking inquiringly over at his guest.
“Oh, it’s nothing. For a moment there, when you said my name, you sounded very much like your son when he was about to assign a really nasty detention. If you don’t mind, please, just call me Harry. And I really appreciate—”
“Tobias,” the man said.
“You can call me Tobias. It’s only fair, isn’t it?” Tobias asked. “You said summat about detentions. Your memories of my son can’t be all that good, can they?”
“Tobias, your son was a complicated, but good man.” Harry’s watch beeped. “I wish I had time to tell you more, but I need to be on my way.” He caught a flash of something on the other man’s face. Was the man lonely perhaps, living among the vestiges of his estranged son’s life? “Perhaps, if you’d like, I could return and tell you more. You were very generous with your time and information, so I’d really like to repay the favor.”
Watching curiosity war with wariness on the elder Snape’s face, Harry waited patiently. He was sorely disappointed with the results of this afternoon. This was not only the best lead he’d had, but the two-up, two-down was the closest he’d ever gotten to actual contact with the elusive spy. If Severus Snape could not be found after all this time, Harry knew the possibilities of tracking him down would dwindle exponentially with each passing month.
Still, even if his hopes were dashed, the least he could do was give this poor old man some sense of what his magical son had been like. Harry looked around at what was essentially a shrine to Severus Snape. Though the house was obviously connected to the city electric utility, the house was lit by candles which softly sputtered in the quiet room. Potions journals were stacked neatly on a table, while the shelves covering the walls were jammed with books and rolls of parchment.
“When can you come back?” Tobias finally bit out, his curiosity winning the battle.
Harry smiled as he began to move towards the door. “How about in the next couple of days?”
“Fine, then.” Harry was ushered out swiftly, and when he turned to say goodbye, he found the door already shut, and heard the bolt slide. Well, at least he now knew where the son had gotten his antisocial behavior, Harry thought ruefully as he looked for an unnoticeable spot to Disapparate.
Chapter 2. Will I Answer?
“Security is knowing all your lines.” ~Charlie Brown
“That was a great night,” Ginny said, dropping her cloak on a chair.
“Mmm,” Harry hummed, noncommittally, as he poured them each a drink, a sweet wine for her and a brandy—he’d grown to love the hidden bottles stashed in all sorts of unexpected places at Grimmauld Place—for himself. Ginny continued to waft around the room, dreamily dancing to her memories of the band from that evening. As Harry seated himself before the fire, he watched her fondly.
“Though, I couldn’t figure out what Luna was wearing. Was her dress made out of parchment?” She giggled, “Well, at least we’ve convinced her to leave the butterbeer cork necklace at home.”
She picked up her glass, and started out the door, tossing over her shoulder, “Come on, lover, I’m heading up to your bedroom. Care to join me?”
Harry sighed, tossed back his drink, and slowly followed her up the stairs.
Ginny moaned, her head tossing as she bucked in the bed. Wisps of hair were plastered against her sweaty brow, and her eyes were closed. One hand grasped the linen sheets, the other opened and clenched as she quivered.
Harry lapped teasingly at her nipples, his fingers sliding in her slippery folds as he fingered her. When she began to pant his name, he muttered a contraceptive spell and slid quickly into her hot wetness. Hips snapping, he plunged deeply into the beautiful young woman writhing beneath him.
Later, he held her while she calmed down. She was often euphoric but overwhelmed by the experience. It amazed him. Sure, he enjoyed pleasing her, and the sex was fun, but it didn’t seem to affect him the same way; he sometimes felt a little distanced from it all. He stared up at the ceiling.
“What are you thinking?” she murmured.
“Oh, nothing, really.” He was shocked to realize that he’d told the truth.
“Silly, no one thinks of nothing. There have to be some thoughts floating through your head!”
As she rolled over to look at him better, a snowy breast slipped out from the bed linens. He brushed it lightly with his lips before replying, a little tartly, “Well, I was. There was a big, blank screen in my head, and I was staring at it.”
“Oh!” She paused a moment, startled, then her eyes became dreamy again. “Well, I was thinking about us, and when we’d be together forever.”
Harry flinched, then released his breath slowly as he relaxed his muscles, hoping she wouldn’t notice. Her sharp eyes never missed a thing, unfortunately, and she was in the process of asking again what was wrong with him when he sat up and threw his legs over the side of the bed. He sat there a moment with his elbows resting gently on his knees, head and hands hanging down. “I just remembered something. It was on my mind earlier, and I just need to look something up. I’ll be back up in a few minutes.”
He went downstairs and poured himself another drink. Tossing it back, he quickly poured and drank another before grabbing a book on location spells. Making himself comfortable, he listened to Ginny moving around upstairs.
“Harry, I’d better go,” she said, as she came into the room, pulling on her jumper. “Mum has been really understanding about my coming over here, but I don’t want to push it. Besides I have try-outs the day after tomorrow for the Harpies, so I want to get some flying in tomorrow afternoon. I would invite you to scrimmage with me—you’re really great to fly against—but I know you have training—”
“Ginny, I’m leaving the Auror academy.” Harry gritted out.
“What? You’re doing what?” She stopped, and turned to him, confused.
“I hate the program. It’s not what I want to do. I don’t yet know what that is,” he said quickly, as she opened her mouth to comment, “But I want to take some time to figure it out.”
“Harry, don’t be stupid. I know that you have plenty of money, but you’ll have to do something. Besides, you’ve always wanted to be an Auror. What’s changed?” She asked, her eyes narrowed and her hands on her hips. She looked uncomfortably like Molly Weasley just before she was about to blow her top, and Harry wanted desperately to forestall the explosion.
“I don’t think that I ever really wanted to be an Auror; it was more of a snap decision. Then, everyone was so pleased that it was just easier to go along with it.”
He paused to take a slow breath. This was really important to him. “Listen, Ginny, I spent most of my life running away from or hunting down dark wizards. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing it, too. There’s got to be something else!” Harry was pleading with Ginny to understand.
“Harry, that’s ridiculous,” she snapped, snatching up her cloak. “It’s something that you’re good at, you had a personal invitation from the Ministry to join the program, and it’s exciting and glamorous. What’s wrong with it?”
“I don’t think it’s glamorous in the slightest. And even if it was, it’s still not what I want to do,” Harry replied stubbornly. They’d had arguments like this many times over the past two years. Faced with Ginny’s fury in the past, he’d generally backed down. The few times he’d held out after their initial fight, however, she had still worn him down by pointedly ignoring or avoiding him—he’d once remarked to Hermione that she was either channeling her mother or Ron.
This time, he just didn’t care enough to try to convince her of his position. He’d told her how he felt, and if she couldn’t accept it—if she couldn’t accept it, what? He winced as she slammed the door as she left to Apparate home. Then he sunk back into his chair, staring up at the ceiling. After a few more glasses of brandy, he realized that he was again thinking of nothing.
Chapter 3. Harry, Huntsman and Hero
After a surprisingly businesslike visit to the Auror Training Academy Office the next day, Harry returned to Spinner’s End. At Tobias’s disbelieving, “Back so soon, Po—Harry?” Harry quickly assured the older man that he was at slightly loose ends, at least for the next few days. Grudgingly, the man ushered Harry into the kitchen, where shopping bags attested to a recent trip to the grocer.
As Harry helped put away tins and boxes, he regaled Tobias with tales of meeting Snape in the dark Hogwarts halls after curfew, of evenings in the Great Hall, of meetings at Grimmauld Place. He was honest about the on-going battles between himself and his former professor, but he only lightly touched about the emotional turmoil, and tried to emphasize Snape’s laudable efforts as a spy and teacher.
Tobias was an accommodating audience. While very much like his son in his undemonstrative manner, he listened well, asking terse, but pertinent questions, acknowledging Harry’s dramatic gestures with a long-suffering air, and nodding at all of the right times. After the last few painful talks with Ron and Ginny, Harry found the man’s undemanding attitude a balm for his tattered ego.
He also told Tobias about his efforts over the past two years to find out what had happened to Snape. He tried to express his excitement when he’d gotten a tip from one of his informants that not only had he discovered the Snape household, there was activity there. He detailed how he’d instructed them to investigate further and found that Tobias had moved in just a month before the Battle of Hogwarts.
Harry also explained how he become quite an expert over the years at locator spells, and had even used some of his prestige as the vanquisher of Voldemort to convince the Unspeakables to utilize some of their more esoteric enchantments to find the missing potions master. All of them were inconclusive.
“Why d’you keep searchin’ when it were obvious he were dead?” Tobias asked, his gruff manner subsumed by his curiosity.
“Well, see that’s what’s so curious,” Harry explained, leaning forward, “I only learned this because I did extensive research in the subject, not even a lot of wizards know this. Locator spells used for objects or Muggles,” he shrugged apologetically as he glanced as the other man, “Focus on their physical characteristics to find them. Spells used for wizards focus on the magic of the wizard.
“If Severus was dead, the spells would either lead us to his body, or if most of his magic had dissipated, would not show any response at all. Every single spell we used showed some reaction. The results would change from day to day, or would be diametrically opposite the indications from a previous incantation, but they all showed some interaction between the spell and Severus’s magic. Even if we can’t find him, some part of Severus Snape exists out there.” He sat back, watching the other man carefully.
Tobias was stunned. His face had paled, and his eyes blinked slowly. That hooked nose that looked so much like the son’s was flaring at the nostrils. His voice, when he’d found it, was almost inaudible. He looked over at Harry. “You know.”
Harry knew he’d won a concession, but had no idea what was being conceded. His instincts had rarely steered him wrong, though. “No, Tobias, I don’t know anything, but I suspect that there is more going on here than you’ve told me so far.”
Wordlessly, the older man stood up, and Harry mirrored his motion. He was led up the narrow, steep staircase to an upper bedroom, and his heart began pounding madly. As Tobias opened the bedroom door, Harry could barely breathe, but any air in his lungs left in huge gasp as he saw the form of Severus Snape on the bed. It did not appear to be breathing, and with its waxy complexion, and arms crossed ceremoniously across his chest, it looked to be quite dead.
He’d found him. After two years of searching, of his friends thinking him obsessed, of disappointing failure after failure, he’d finally found Severus Snape.
Chapter 4 Harry visits the Snapes
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” ~Robert Frost
“I’m goin’ to start takin’ rent from you,” was Tobias’s greeting when Harry returned the next morning. The previous day, he tried every diagnostic spell he could think of then had gone home for several books, and tried more. Tobias had been as helpful as the rather misanthropic man (At least Snape came by it honestly, Harry thought) could be, but Harry knew he had been imposing upon the man’s already reluctant hospitality. When Harry had looked over, and saw Tobias growing agitated, he’d left for the day.
Now, Harry listened with horror to the full story from the elder Snape. Apparently, the man had been going through a rough patch and as a last resort, had decided to return to the home he’d lived in with Eileen and young Severus. He had only been there a month when Severus had shown up late one night, with blood pouring from his neck, near death.
Severus had directed his father down to a basement that Tobias knew had not existed when he’d lived in the house before, and to a magically protected cabinet that held a great number of tiny bottles. Following his son’s directions Tobias had cleaned, sealed, and bandaged the wound, which, upon the application of a potion Severus had created specifically to counteract Nagini’s unique venom, began to heal immediately.
Unfortunately, Severus had traveled so far suffering from almost inconceivable physical trauma that he slipped into shock, and then into a coma from which he had yet to emerge. His last words were to extract a promise from his father that he would not, under any circumstances, call in the authorities. Tobias had been taking care of his son for over two years, using the potions that apparently Severus had stockpiled over the course of many years.
Tobias sat back, drained. Harry guessed that the man had talked more in the past two days than he had in the previous two years. There were some inconsistencies in the story that could either be chalked up to the stress of those days or to Tobias deliberately leaving information out, but Harry decided that he could worry about that later.
He had never really allowed himself to doubt that he would find Severus Snape, but with the passage of time, particularly with the constant disparagement of the search by his friends, Harry’s faith had begun to wane. As the leads grew fewer and ever more improbable, he had allowed his conviction that Snape was still alive to fall into the general pool of apathy that had begun to overtake his attitude and general outlook.
Now, he could feel his self-assurance and buoyancy returning. It was true that Snape was no nearer to being able to enjoy the fruits of his hard-won freedom than he had been that night in the Shrieking Shack. They would be unable to call upon any of the more brilliant minds in the wizarding world because of Tobias’s vow to his son. But Harry’s optimism would not allow him to feel anything but hope.
Over the next couple of days, while he thumbed through medical tomes, Harry watched Tobias take care of Snape. The older man was surprisingly gentle as he got a basin and cloth, cleaned his son’s body thoroughly, then rubbed a moisturizing lotion into the invalid’s skin. As Harry read various medical descriptions, he would ask Tobias questions about Snape’s condition.
Over the years, Harry had discovered that his most efficient way of solving problems was to think aloud, asking questions of himself. Even during Auror training, if he had study mates he would question them as well, less to get their input than to use them as sounding board to work through thorny issues. Harry’s questions about Snape began to highlight a curious pattern in Tobias’s responses. Often, when asked, the older man would respond simply with a quiet “Dunno,” before continuing his chores. Harry, noted, however, that as he was tossing about observations and possible solutions aloud, Tobias would react strangely.
Several times, Harry caught Tobias opening his mouth, as if to respond to Harry’s musings, only to quickly slam it shut. Other times, the other man would stand clenching and unclenching his fists then quickly exit the room, leaving Harry to finish his deliberations alone. Shrugging—If he’s half as compulsive as Professor Snape, it has to be driving him crazy having another person around the house, he thought—he turned back to his books.
Chapter 5 No Hero Without a Wound
Harry was growing frustrated. He had been searching now for three days, and had come no closer to a solution. When he tried to express his irritation to Tobias, the older man chuckled darkly. “Well, now, he’s been like this for two years, hasn’t he? Why d’you think you could reverse that in a few short days?”
Harry huffed. The least the old git could do was show that he understood why Harry was upset!
“Oh, ho, now you’re in a state, aren’t you?” Tobias teased. “Here hand me that bottle, no, th’ wee green one.”
As Harry passed it over, the older man said, “So… this party you went to last night. Pretty posh, weren’t it?”
“Yeah,” Harry answered, “It was pretty posh. I generally don’t like such affairs, because usually everyone is trying to talk to me, shake my hand, get me to meet their daughters, and what not. I am invited to dozens of such things every month, but I try to keep my attendance to only about one in ten. Since Ginny loves them, I let her choose which we’ll attend. Oh, wait, I meant to show this to you, I brought a picture of her.”
The photo, snipped from the Daily Prophet, illustrated the article reporting Ginny accepting a position on the reserve team of the Holyhead Harpies. She was smiling widely, tossing her hair so that it caught the sunlight, and standing with pride. She was so excited about the news that she’d forgotten that she was angry at Harry.
It didn’t hurt that there was a benefit dance for St. Mungo’s that she’d been dying to attend. Since they’d just gone to a function earlier in the week, Harry had originally vetoed this last ball. However, he’d decided to celebrate her victory, and try to get back into her good books, so he’d sent the invitation over to the Burrow, as well as an offer to get new dress robes from Madam Malkin’s. She’d been ecstatic. She was gorgeous in her new butter-cream robes, and spent the whole evening hanging on his arm, laughing delightedly at his comments, and looking at him warmly.
She’d wanted to come back to Grimmauld Place with him, but he’d begged off, claiming he had a great deal of work to do the next day. At her confused, “What work?” he’d simply kissed her deeply then moved swiftly back to the Apparition point. He no longer tried to puzzle out why he couldn’t seem to return her passion. He just knew that he didn’t, and realized their relationship was becoming another thing that he ‘didn’t want.’
Lost in his thoughts, Harry hadn’t noticed the silence. Curious, he looked at Tobias. The man was looking between Harry and the photo, his expression unreadable.
Guardedly, the man began, “She looks a bit like a girl young Severus used to play with. They used to meet over in Alexandra Park during the day, it were half way between Spinner’s End and her house on the nicer part of town.”
“Really?” Harry asked, excitedly, “Then you would have met her? She was my mum!”
The man seemed unsurprised. “You have her eyes, haven’t you? Your mum, eh? Isn’t there a Yank song about marrying the girl ‘just like the one that married dear old dad?’”
Harry’s excitement disintegrated, leaving a moment of emptiness before he grew angry. “You think I like Ginny because she looks like my mum? Well, that’s ridiculous! Ginny’s the sister of my best friend. I was around her a lot, that’s all.”
“So, she was just nearby, was she?” Tobias’s gruff voice was soft.
“No, you’re just twisting my words! What do you know about it anyway? What’s your point?” Harry burst out.
Tobias shrugged. “Nowt. No point. Grab your coat.”
“What?” Harry was confused with the change of subject. “Where are we going?” He asked, following the man to the door.
“We’re goin’ to the park. It’s been years since I were there.”
Harry felt suspiciously like he had when visiting Godric’s Hollow during that snowy winter night years ago. Instead of seeing a shrine to his parents, he looked at the swings that young Lily Evans had played on with her sister Petunia. He saw the shrubs behind which young Severus Snape stared eagerly at another magical person. He revisited all of the childhood memories he’d been given by Snape that night in the Shrieking Shack.
Harry had told Tobias how Snape, in what was seemingly his last moments, had given Harry the memories that had shown the teen what he’d needed to do. Now he said, “I know those memories were important to demonstrate that Snape was loyal, that he’d been working for Dumbledore all of those years. But right now, I appreciate them more because they are the only images I have of my mum when she was alive and laughing, untainted by the war.”
The other man grunted, his eyes fixed on the greenery, but Harry could tell he was listening intently. He continued, “One of the reasons I wanted to find Snape was to return the memories. He’d had so few happy ones, I could tell. I wanted him to have these back. I’ve had them, enjoyed them for the most part, but they need to go back to where they belong.”
They walked back to Spinner’s End, their faces red from the whipping wind, but laughing and joking. Harry relished Tobias’s brusque but honest conversation. The man would barely speak two words to Harry’s ten, but those few were shrewd and incisive, challenging him to keep up his end of the discussion. He thought it ironic that Severus Snape, who was known for his erudition and expansive vocabulary, had been raised by such a laconic man.
An owl arrived just as they got back to Snape’s house. Harry absently fished an owl treat from his pocket while he read the message it carried. It was from Ginny, wondering where he was, and making sure that Harry knew that Molly had invited him for Sunday dinner. She wrote, ‘Both Bill and Charlie are in town, and they would love to see you.’
Harry sighed, but jotted a quick assent for the waiting owl to return. A part of his conversation with Tobias at the park had revolved around his relationship with Ginny. Actually, it had been more of a monologue, with Harry working through his feelings, while Tobias listened, every once in a while tossing in a word, grunt, or nod. Harry showed the message to Tobias, who shrugged, saying matter-of-factly, “Don’t look at me. I’m the arse who’d get drunk and bang up his wife and his kid. All know is what not to do.”
Harry inwardly disagreed. Tobias may have been a right bastard when Severus was a boy, but clearly his years of struggle had strengthened the man. Harry saw someone who was calmly focused and comfortable with himself. While presenting a gruff, misanthropic façade, Tobias was a caring individual.
Later that evening, Harry returned to Grimmauld Place, threw his coat down, and poured himself a drink. Sighing, he decided to just get it over with, and moved over to the fireplace to make a Floo call to Ginny.
Chapter 6 Shedding the Mask
“Is devotion to others a cover for the hungers and the needs of the self, of which one is ashamed? I was always ashamed to take. So I gave. it was not a virtue. It was a disguise.” ~Anaïs Nin
Harry sat in the darkened room. Ginny had just left, after hours of screaming and tears. Their row had been ugly, far-reaching, and strangely cathartic for Harry. He’d learned how little Ginny really knew him, and how little she cared that she barely knew him. He’d also learned how little he cared for her, mistaking fondness, a shared past, and desperation for a family like the Weasleys, for love. He’d realized that his ennui of the past few months had not only been linked with his growing disillusion with the Auror corps, but with her as well.
Harry could see that he had hurt her, and that was the last thing he’d wanted. She had entered his imagination after that disastrous crush on Cho Chang during his fifth year. While they had separated during his search for the Horcruxes, he had daydreamed about her constantly. The thought that he had held dear was that a normal girl and a potentially normal life awaited him if he could survive and triumph over Voldemort. It had been one of the things that had kept him going during the fear, desperation, and betrayals of that interminable year. However, he had only begun to realize that it had been the thought of Ginny, rather than the girl herself, that he treasured.
What was he going to do now? More importantly, what was Ron and the rest of the Weasleys going to do? He snorted, thinking, I guess that means Sunday dinner is out.
“So you let him punch you in th’ mouth,” Tobias asked disbelievingly.
“Well, he came through the Floo swinging,” Harry said, sprawling on the threadbare sofa.
He had finally convinced Tobias to allow him to carefully move several of the towering mountains of parchment rolls to a side table under the man’s wary, unblinking gaze. Harry had assured the older man that Snape would still be able to find his papers if he were to miraculously wake up in the next couple of hours. Ignoring the faint, amused snort from his companion, Harry had exaggeratedly placed them gently on the table, dramatically held his breath while he waited to see if they would stay in their new pile, and then tried to recline elegantly before chuckling and lying back.
“And you know of no means—magical or otherwise—of protecting yourself?” Instincts screaming, Harry sat up abruptly, staring at the man across the room. For a moment there, he’d sounded just like—
A wary expression descended on Tobias’s face, and Harry, realizing that he must seem ridiculous, sat back. Relaxing, he shook his head. He really needed some sleep. Or perhaps….
“Well, I was feeling a bit guilty. I’d dated her for two years, now, and even though I began to recognize I didn’t love her, I didn’t say anything. I just kept hoping that it would resolve itself, and unintentionally strung her along. So maybe I deserved it.”
Tobias rolled his eyes. “And the rest of th’Weasleys,” he asked, obviously curious in spite of himself, “They’ll want to be swingin’ at you, too, won’t they?”
Harry shook his head ruefully, and took a sip of tea. “Actually, by the morning, I had gotten a letter from Ginny’s parents. They said that I will always be their other son, and after things began to quiet down, I would still be welcome in their house.”
“Well, that’s fine, then,” the older man said, returning to his jigsaw puzzle. It was half-completed, a monstrosity with what Harry discerned had to have been a thousand pieces. The picture was of some temple in Cambodia. When Harry had first asked about it, Tobias had shrugged and said it was cheap at the Oxfam shop, and it was something to do.
“Yes, that’s fine.” Harry leaned back, deciding to listen to his instincts and probe a bit further into the mystery of Tobias Snape and his history with his son. “At any rate, with Ginny out of the picture, I’ll have more time to study for my exams and to help you with Snape.”
“Help me?” Tobias grunted. “I’ve done alright on my own without you, haven’t I?”
“Not with taking care of him, with trying to get him to awaken. You do want him to wake up, don’t you, Tobias?”
“Well sure, why wouldn’t I?” The guarded expression was back as the older man began to clear away the tea cups.
Harry pulled out his wand, and said, with overdone courtesy, “Oh, please, Tobias, let me.” With several deft wand strokes, the teapot, cups, plates, and napkins flew to the kitchen, several sweeping rather closely past Tobias’s nose.
The man’s eyes narrowed in his rapidly darkening face. “What the devil’s with you, … Ha—”
“Mr. Potter.” Harry interrupted, speaking slowly and deliberately.
“Even when you don’t say it, you do, Snape.” Harry paused. “Perhaps I should be more specific. After seven years, it’s not easy to keep it from slipping, and you’ve only managed it with difficulty. You can’t help yourself, you want to call me Potter, don’t you, Severus?”
Harry smiled knowingly in the ensuing silence.
Chapter 7 Invasum
“We often find comfort in telling what is painful in actual experience.” ~St. Basil
Harry watched the man he’d known as Tobias Snape wearily pinch the bridge of his nose, and then rub the heels of his hands into his eye sockets. “I never thought I’d ever say this to you, Potter, but well done.”
It was rather disconcerting to hear Severus Snape’s expansive vocabulary and plummy enunciation emanating from Tobias Snape’s mouth. Harry hadn’t realized how much he’d become used to the Northern dialect and accent that Severus had used in his portrayal of his father. The speech patterns had probably been the first to go in the young Severus’s attempts to fit in with his Slytherin schoolmates.
They’d been sitting up in the bedroom, watching the still body of Severus Snape while Harry had listened to the ghastly story of how Severus had possessed the body of his father. As he’d said when pretending to be Tobias, when Severus had returned to Spinner’s End, bruised, bloody, and dying, he’d found a squatter in the house. Apparently, his extensive layers of wards could keep out everyone but the head of the house, whom, unbelievably, the house still regarded as Tobias.
Tobias, who had spent most of his waking time drinking, had been on his last legs. His liver was shot, he had a heart condition, and was suffering from several other health problems. He had nowhere else to turn, and thinking the old house had been abandoned, decided that he wanted to die in his own bed.
When Severus had arrived, as he’d told Harry earlier, Tobias helped to get his son stabilized, but Severus was very weak. Tobias himself knew that he was dying, and apparently decided to die with a clear conscience. He told Severus that he regretted all of the things that he’d done to his wife and son. He wished he had the strength to tell his son how sorry he was, and how he would have liked to make amends.
Severus, almost delirious, informed his father that he had the ability to see another person’s memories and emotions. Tobias, desperate to make amends, begged Severus for the procedure. “It was a measure of how feverish I was,” Severus shook his head wryly, “That I actually agreed to perform Legilimency in my condition.
“I went into the disorganization that was Tobias Snape’s self-serving, loutish mental state, and saw nothing but a rather nebulous regret on his part. It infuriated me. He thought that this deathbed confession would make up for a little ‘strictness’ as he put it. I decided that if he was going to confess and repent, he would know exactly, with the cruelty of clear, unvarnished truth, that of which he was repenting.
“I began to call up every memory I had of his interactions with my mother and me. To say it was a shock is sheer understatement. He had never once admitted to himself what he’d done to us, never once given any thought to the results of his actions. He not only saw it all, but also experienced my emotional reactions to the brutality he’d visited upon his family.
“As I’d said, he had a liver that had stopped functioning months before, and he was drowning in his own poisons. He had high blood pressure, a bad heart, and various glandular conditions. Apparently the emotional turmoil was the last straw, and he died, with me caught up in the maelstrom of his mind. Under normal circumstances, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but with me in the poor physical shape I was in, I found I couldn’t return to my own body.”
Harry was aghast. “So you were literally stuck in Tobias’s body? But wait, it looks healthy now, what happened?”
Severus, whose head had been down while he muttered his story in a monotone, looked up for a moment. In his own body, the man had been able to monitor his facial expressions well enough to fool Voldemort and his followers. His ability was not so complete with Tobias’s face. Harry could see the eyes begging for him to understand, to realize that it was not his intent to take his father’s body.
“You had not studied much magical theory during the time I’d known you, Potter. Please pardon me if this is rather insulting, but I want to ensure that my explanation is understandable. Magic is present in most living beings, whether Muggle or wizard. Wizards have a large enough magical core that they are able to train their magic, to exercise and develop it. However, as the Dark Lord discovered, very little magic is attached to one’s spirit or soul.
“When I was caught in my father’s body, there was a little magic that I’d pulled along with me from the Legilimency spell. I dragged myself down to my Potions lab, and used that bit of magic to power the creation of a potion that would cure Tobias’s liver condition. After that magic was expended, that was it. I had no magic of my own left.
“I was trapped in the body of Tobias Snape, a Muggle, with no recourse to my magic. I decided that I would live out my days in this house in a Muggle neighborhood. And when my body wore out, I would die.” Severus sat back, his intelligence peering out of the dark beetle eyes of his father, waiting for Harry’s reaction.
“Well, first of all, I’m glad you’re alive, in whatever form,” Harry began slowly. “I suppose I have a couple of —”
“You’re saying it doesn’t bother you that I’ve possessed my father?” Severus demanded.
“Well, it’s obvious that you didn’t do it on purpose! Or maybe you did,” Harry snapped, “I can see why the attraction of giving up your magic forever to live in the body of a Muggle that you hated makes a lot of sense.”
Over Severus’s sputtering, Harry continued, teasing. “Besides, since when does Severus Snape care about Harry Potter’s opinion?” He cast a quick glance, only to see Tobias’s face pale, while two spots of color appeared high on his cheeks.
“You do care,” Harry whispered as the other man looked anywhere but at him. “You care what I think about,” he flung out his hand, “all of this.”
“Your arrogance truly is boundless, Potter, if you think that a few days in your presence—”
“Severus.” Harry held his hand up. “Don’t lie. And don’t deny it to yourself. If it helps, I value your opinion, too. I think I did even when I was a student and couldn’t possibly expect you to think favorably of me.”
He ignored the shock on Tobias’s face while he thought. “I do have some questions. Why didn’t you just contact someone to help you return to your own body? There are many who know of your sacrifices for the Order who would have, you know.”
“Potter, I may have expected to die as a spy, but when I got the opportunity to live, I took it. Once one person learned I was alive, it would just be a matter of time before others learned of it. I could not take that risk. Without my magic, I had no protection from even the smallest wizarding child. To the wizarding world, I am still the spy, Death Eater, and killer of Albus Dumbledore. I would have been vulnerable not only to vengeful Death Eaters, but to anyone who may have lost a loved one to Death Eaters, or for that matter, to any former student who just felt traumatized by my teaching.
“Life here may not be ideal, but it is untroubled, and I have been relatively content. People here mind their own business, and know me as a rather dim-witted oaf who has managed to pull himself together. I have peace and quiet. That is not such a bad thing.”
“OK, another question: you’d said that Tobias had all of these physical ailments, but you look pretty good,” Harry said, smiling, “How did you cure your other ailments without your magic?”
“It’s called exercise, Potter. The extent of Tobias’s physical fitness regime had been lifting a large lager to his mouth every five minutes. I had known of some Muggle remedies, but when I got trapped in this body, I did more extensive reading. I reversed the high blood pressure and glandular problems with exercise and fresh air, starting out small, just walking around the block. I now average about 5-6 miles a day.”
“Wow, that’s why you are so fit for a man your age—erm, ages?” Harry asked, smiling sheepishly. “I have a couple more questions. Did Tobias really want to make amends?”
Severus, in the act of answering, stopped and thought for a moment, his eyes distant. Harry was strangely warmed to see that his former teacher/adversary/compatriot would take such care in their conversation.
“My father was a miserable old sod. In his younger years he was selfish and cruel. In his old age, he was selfish and regretful. He’d abused his wife and child, he’d abused his liver, and at the end, he’d abused my good intentions so that he could die with a clear conscience. The unfortunate truth was that even at the end he was never truly repentant. He was afraid of dying with all of that on his soul, but he never really regretted the actions themselves.
“I have one more question,” Harry raised his hand to cut off what he was sure would be his companion’s snide remark, “for right now. Even if you decided to remain here, wouldn’t you rather have your own body and magic back?”
Shocked, Severus closed his eyes, saying softly, “More than anything, Potter.”
“Then, let me help you.” He got up and moved to kneel beside the still figure. Severus turned Tobias’s eyes towards him incredulously. For the second time that day, Severus Snape was speechless.
“Severus, will you let me help you?” Harry waited patiently. The old Severus would never accept help from a former student, and would cut off an arm before accepting help from Harry Potter. But this Severus, living without his magic, having to take care of his own, unconscious body while trapped in that of his father, had been tempered and refined by his experiences.
Harry waited. He’d searched for Severus for years, he’d paid investigators, he’d found Tobias, and he’d figured out—without Hermione’s help, he thought with a surprised grin—that there was more to Tobias than met the eye. He was now participating in a changed relationship with Severus Snape, and part of it was the fact that Harry had learned when to act and when to wait.
Now, the ball was in Severus’s court. Harry had done all he could. Harry waited, and was rewarded by a small nod that reflected a big change in the two men who had both finally grown up.
Chapter 8 The Sound of Breaking Boundaries
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Several days later, Harry was sitting at the kitchen table with Severus (or Tobias/Severus as he called them in his head). They were discussing various spells or potions that could potentially reverse Severus’s transfer to Tobias’s body.
“Potter, I am not a Horcrux! You can’t just destroy the vessel and watch me flit back to my own body.” Severus shook Tobias’s head in disgust.
“I know that! But you know that we need to discuss what will happen with his body when you leave it. Will it just die?”
“Quite right, Potter,” Severus said soberly. “At present, I am maintaining its life force. When my spirit returns to my rightful body, there will be nothing to keep it alive, and it will eventually fall into death.”
“If that’s the case, why isn’t your body dead?” Harry asked, even more confused.
“My body is not dead because it is in a coma and my magic is maintaining it. My soul is not residing in it, but it is a healthy body with an intact magical core. The closest analogy I can think of is a body that has been Kissed by a Dementor.”
“Yecchhh!” Harry said, making a moue of distaste.
“I never cease to be amazed at the far-reaching implications of your vast vocabulary, Potter.” Severus retorted, turning back to his potions book. “Ah, this is what I remembered!” He got up and moved to Harry’s side of the table, placing the book in front of the youth.
“This is a series of potions that I believe will meet our requirements. This first, the Signa scoporum (1) will be painted in the form of a number of significant runes on my body to make it receptive to the transfer. Then I will drink this second potion, Deictus Spiritus (2) to expel my spirit from my father’s body. It will be drawn to the runic potion and my body, where it will hopefully lodge. I then drink this third potion Iuncti Spiritus Corpusque (3) to maintain the connection while I reconstruct my Occlumency layers.”
Harry looked carefully at the directions for the first potion. There was the base, then four rather involved, timed steps for the potion proper before it needed to be aged in a rotation of environments. The second potion was rather dark, but looked much easier, and turning the page, Harry saw the third potion needed only a few ingredients and steps.
“They look pretty standard for you, Severus,” he said, “You should be able to knock the second and third off in an afternoon.”
Severus stared at him in disbelief. “Potter, I am not going to brew these, you are.”
Harry’s breath dried and caught in his throat. If ever there was a situation fraught with terror, humiliation, and resentment, it was Harry Potter brewing potions with Severus Snape. Up to this point, the two had been getting along beautifully.
At first, it was because Severus had been pretending to be Tobias, with no history of interactions with Harry. Then, once Severus had revealed himself, they had tacitly agreed to let sleeping dogs lie, and not bring up the past. That agreement had been quite successful. Having both grown up quite a bit over the past two years, having been released from the horror of life with Voldemort, and having come to recognize that their priorities had changed dramatically in light of the first two set of circumstances, they were both ready to give each other the chances that had been denied during their Hogwarts years.
Trying to brew potions together, however, was just an emotional disaster waiting in the wings. Severus would accept no disregard of his beloved craft, and Harry would be too nervous to do anything properly. Their new-found amity would disintegrate in fits of rage.
“Erm, Severus, I don’t think that is a good idea.” Harry started to stand, but was stilled suddenly by Tobias’s hand. A pleasant warmth spread from that point of contact.
“Don’t be silly, Potter. You won’t have to do it by yourself, I will be there every step of the process,” Severus said dismissively.
“That’s exactly what I’m concerned about!” Trying to stand again, Harry was held firmly in place by Severus standing behind Harry’s chair. Relishing the contact, Harry wanted to close his eyes—just for a moment, he told himself—and lean back against the other man. What is wrong with me? He thought, furiously. “Why do I need to brew the potions? Can’t I just prepare the ingredients for you?”
Severus released Harry’s shoulders to pace around the kitchen, and though slightly relieved, the youth felt the loss keenly. “Potter, if I could brew, do you think I would leave it to your only minimally better than incapable hands?”
“Oi! No need for that!” Harry said, slightly insulted. Seeing Severus’s smirk on Tobias’s face was disconcerting, Harry thought.
Severus continued, “Haven’t you ever wondered how potions work, about the magic behind potions, Potter? Oh, I forgot with whom I was speaking, of course you haven’t. Let me explain.” Harry rolled his eyes as the former professor assumed his lecturing voice, or rather, tried to in Tobias’s body.
“If you were a Muggle and you were to combine the ingredients of a potion, it wouldn’t matter how perfectly you had prepared them, how much you stirred counterclockwise, or what words you uttered over them, all you would get would be a poor-tasting fluid that at best would do nothing, and at worst could probably kill you. With magic, as you stir, or chop, or prepare the ingredients, your magic stimulates the inherent magical properties of these ingredients. Therefore, when they are combined a certain way, the result is a—” his lips quirked, “poor-tasting fluid that has efficacious qualities. Basically, only magical people can make potions. I don’t have my magic, so you will have to brew it for me.” He added grudgingly.
“Can’t we get someone else to brew it? Hermione’s good, and she’s really discreet.” Harry cast about frantically for a way out of this impending catastrophe.
“And she’s betrothed to Mr. Fly-from-the-Floo-Fighting, is she not? The one who shouts first, apologizes later? You may feel confident with them holding your secrets, Potter, but I do not.”
Harry was becoming distracted watching Severus’s trademark sweeping pace effected by Tobias’s stockier, shorter body. Blinking, he stood up to block the other man’s path. “Alright, I’ll umph—”
Severus, not having seen the youth until too late, crashed into Harry. They grabbed onto each other to stabilize themselves then stood for a moment in each other’s space. Harry grew half hard as he felt the older man’s hands tighten around his hips for a moment before deliberately setting him back a step. With a little more room between them, Severus gazed at him with an unreadable expression.
“Potter—Harry, I assure you that I will not allow you to make a mistake.” Severus hesitated. “I also assure you that I will conduct our sessions with the utmost respect and professionalism.”
“I know,” Harry said, wondering, “As long as you don’t think I will totally muck it up, it would be an honor to brew with you.” Watching Severus’s pleasure suffuse Tobias’s face, Harry hesitated also, though for a different reason.
He had no idea what he was doing, but when it came to this older, more laid-back Severus Snape, his instincts hadn’t been wrong yet. He took a step forward, again closing the distance between them, watched those beetle eyes widen in surprise, and brought his arms up around Tobias’s sturdy back. He smiled inwardly as his semi-erection met a similarly growing hardness in the other man’s groin, and he tucked his head in the crux between Tobias’s shoulder and neck, nuzzling and breathing in the other’s fragrance of sandalwood soap and rosemary massage oil.
“Potter, what do you think you’re doing?” Though his voice was sharp, Severus made no move to shift Tobias’s body away.
“Just standing here, with you,” Harry murmured. He shivered as he felt Severus’ breath puff his hair.
A smile in his voice, Severus said, “You are not just standing there.”
And indeed, Harry’s hips had begun a slow, teasing, slide against that of the other man’s. He gasped as he felt an answering grind while he felt a hand rubbing slow, caressing circles on his back. He closed his eyes and felt another hand lift his chin. Sensing the mouth so near his own, he turned towards it slightly, and was rewarded by thin lips nibbling on his, and a tentative tongue seeking entry into his mouth.
Harry’s head was swimming. Part of it was from lack of air, to be sure, but a greater part was delight and wonder. This is what he’d been missing with Ginny! This is what caused that expression of ecstasy on her face when they’d made love. Quickly dismissing the thought of his ex-girlfriend while he was plundering the mouth of another man, Harry leaned back against the table, pulling Severus close.
This was another thing that seemed so perfect, sweet, and right. Severus was responding to him in ways he would never have imagined. OK, well, up until about a day or so ago, he would have never even imagined snogging a man, let alone his potions professor, so that was not too great of a stretch. However, it was staggering to hear how much Severus himself was affected. The older man was panting, hands carding through Harry’s hair, little moans escaping when a particularly felicitous combination of frotting, nuzzling lips, and battling tongues occurred.
Harry tossed his head back with a scream, when after a few minutes, he felt a hand snake down to his groin, open the front of his trousers, and slip in. The feeling of skin on his heated, highly sensitized skin, was too much and with a keening cry, he came.
Hearing a cleaning spell, and gradually coming back to himself, he realized he was being held, gently, reassuringly, by Severus Snape. His mind began to boggle, unable to encompass such an unbelievable notion. Deciding to think about that later, he brought his mouth back up to be greeted with a punishing, blazing kiss. Mindful of his manners and his Gryffindor sense of fair play, he had reached to open those worn woolen trousers when he was stopped by a hand on his.
“Potter, I would rather you didn’t.” Severus said regretfully.
“Oh,” Harry said, embarrassed, “Look, I know I am not really experienced in—”
“No!” Severus interjected. “No,” he said, more calmly, with a self-deprecating smirk. “It has nothing to do with you. I just would rather not, not while I’m in Tobias’s body.
“Unless you prefer—” Severus stopped, his eyes narrowing.
“Prefer what?” Harry asked, confused.
“Unless you prefer me as Tobias,” Severus hissed, his body jerking away.
“What? Are you mad?” Harry demanded.
“Potter, you hated me. Now, all of a sudden, you want your greasy potions professor. But it’s not me, is it? It’s really this body that you want,” Severus said, gesturing to his crotch.
“You’re daft, you know that?” Harry moved back, waving his arms. “I didn’t even know Tobias when I spent years looking for you, hiring investigators, and throwing my weight around in the Department of Mysteries to get them to search as well. I had only seen his body before in your memories, and Merlin knows those weren’t the most favorable images. Why the hell would I search for you if I hated you?” Harry was shouting at this point.
“I don’t know, Potter, enlighten me,” Severus asked, slowly and quietly.
Harry forced himself to calm down. “I realized that I had misjudged you all of those years. The night I thought you’d died, when I was walking back to get your body, I recognized that I had chosen to believe your words—and my juvenile reactions to them—rather than your deeds. You had done more to protect me than anyone, including Albus Dumbledore, you had dedicated your life, and even given up your life, to fight Voldemort, and I was devastated that I couldn’t tell you that it wasn’t in vain, that we’d won, and only because of your efforts.
“When I saw your body was gone, my first reaction was elation. I thought that you were alive and would be able to enjoy a life free of Dark Lords, Death Eaters, and students.” Severus snorted, and Harry smiled that the older man’s mood was improving.
“It was only recently that I had begun to realize that there may be more to my obsessive search than met the eye. When I began to question what I had with Ginny, I realized that I was more alive, more involved with Tobias than with my friends. But—” he hurriedly continued, forestalling Severus objections before they began, “It wasn’t his body, it was his personality, his conversation, the way he listened to me intently, that I liked. It was you, Severus.”
“I—” Severus was seemingly taken aback by the open honesty of that statement. His curiosity was quickly piqued, trademark eyebrow raised, as Harry made an expression of distaste.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” said Harry, “I was just trying to imagine having sex whilst trapped in James Pot—”
“That doesn’t bear contemplating, Harry,” Severus said hastily.
“Erm, yeah, I can see that,” Harry said, looking up, his eyes earnest. “But don’t you want me?”
“I most certainly do, Harry, and when I can, I will prove how much I want you. Until then, though….” Severus voice trailed off as he stared intently. It seemed to Harry that the other man was willing him to understand.
And miraculously, he did. It was amazing that after seven years of enmity, two years of no contact whatsoever, and a few weeks of this new—well, whatever their relationship was—Harry did understand Severus Snape.
Chapter 9 Signa Scoporum
“Is that right, then?” Harry asked looking at the last rune. Severus had chosen seven runes, to be painted in potion in groups of seven all over Severus’s nude body. Harry had to paint each one in a certain order, saying the name of the rune in a clear voice. With each addition, he could feel his magic gathering more and more within him, building a layer of tension that was causing the hairs on his arms to rise.
Severus was unable to feel the magic, but apparently he could see the reaction, because he stared hungrily at Harry before answering. With no signal they moved toward each other, their mouths eager, nibbling and nuzzling each other's lips, necks, ears, whatever parts they could reach.
“Enough!” Severus said firmly, pushing Harry gently away. “I want to do this in my body, if you please.”
“Ok,” Harry responded, breathing heavily. “Let’s do this.” He spoke the incantation slowly and clearly. There was a slight glowing of the runes, then all was still again.
Going to the dresser, Severus picked up the first vial and sat down on the bed beside his body. Looking up, he said, “Harry, I cannot say how much I appreciate what you have done for me over the last few weeks. Thank you.” He slowly downed the contents of the vial as he lay down.
Harry grinned as he said, “You make it sound like you’re going somewhere. I promise you, when you’re all back in that delicious piece of male pulchritude,” he gestured to the long expanse of rune-painted white skin on the bed, “You will be showing me your appreciation over and over.”
Severus almost spurted his potion. “Male pulchritude? You have to stop reading those Victorian bodice rippers. But I do approve of the rest of your statement” He closed his eyes as he began to twitch.
“Severus?” Harry said anxiously, moving to take up the Tobias’s hand. “Severus, are you all right?” He tried to tamp down his panic as Tobias’s body began jerking, accompanied by guttural groans, with huge drops of sweat beading up on the skin.
Harry could see nothing that indicated a transfer, but he sighed in relief when Severus’s body gasped loudly, then began to breathe visibly. Tobias’s body quieted, his breath barely making a sound. After several minutes, during which he put Tobias’s hand down gently, then took up Severus’s, Harry could see movement under Severus’s eyelids. He moved to pick up the third potion, and held it. He was apprehensive, but he was confident that he had brewed the potions successfully under Severus’s direction.
A moment later, Severus opened his eyes then opened and closed his mouth without making a sound. Harry handed him the third potion, which he drank slowly. His face relaxed, eyes warm, Severus whispered, “Thank you,” then turned and fell asleep.
Chapter 10 And Thus Trod We All
“Potter, if have nothing better to do, chop up those mallow roots,” Severus snapped, before adding, softly, “If you please.”
Grinning, Harry ducked his head as he picked up a knife and moved to the other side of the long counter. He had finally convinced Severus to transfer his potions work to the dungeons of Grimmauld Place. Severus had balked for days, but due to the complex layer of wards Severus’s mother Eileen, then Severus, then Harry, had cast on Spinner’s End, it no longer took expansion charms well. They would be applied, then at some extremely inopportune time, the charm would fail, leaving pots, furniture, and ingredients flung over the room. After Harry had barked his shin on Severus’s large pewter cauldron for the fourth time, he had declared enough, and told Severus that they could either move the whole set-up to Grimmauld Place, or Severus would have to do his own ingredient preparation.
It had been moved by that evening.
Harry was ecstatic; he and Severus were growing closer, learning more about each other every day. Severus had actually been helping Harry prepare for his exams, which he would sit next June with the current N.E.W.T.s class at Hogwarts. Harry had always known that he would do well in Defense and Charms, but with the work to transfer Severus back to body, he’d delved deeply into Runes and Arithmancy, and would also sit the exams in those subjects. Needless to say, he had been drilled so much in Potions that Severus would hex him senseless if he didn’t get an Outstanding.
What excited him the most was that Severus had become Harry’s biggest supporter, encouraging him to explore all of the options open to him. “You’ve become as bad as your public, Potter,” Severus had chastened him. “You don’t define yourself as a living, breathing human being. Just like them, you only think of yourself as the Chosen One. Once that was lost to you, you tried to pull on another ‘safe’ persona deemed acceptable by the wizarding society of Great Britain. Will you ever think for yourself, and make a decision based solely on what you want and need?”
He’d told Harry that the younger man had made a step in the right direction by leaving the Auror training program. “But there is no rush, surely? After you take your exams, the Ministry will toss several positions at you, I’m sure, but of more interest are the trade bulletins that indicate trade, occupational, and employment data. You might get ideas about your life’s work from there. Better yet, you could travel, and just live for a while. Now there’s a thought!” The potions master had become impassioned, waving his stirring rod about while he talked. Harry loved watching him, and that gave rise to a delightful thought.
“I like the idea of travelling a bit. I’ve never been outside of Britain. What about you, do you like travelling?” He continued to chop, holding his breath to hear the other man’s response.
“I haven’t done it much, but what little I did was highly enjoyable.” It seemed that Severus was as intent on stirring as Harry was on chopping.
“Well, perhaps you’d consider—What’s wrong?” He asked, as Severus paled, and casting a preservation charm over the cauldron, began to take his apron off.
“My monitor charm is going off. I think that it’s Tobias’s time.” Grabbing Harry’s arm, he Apparated to Spinner’s End.
Chapter 11 The End of a Spinner
“We taste and feel and see the truth. We do not reason ourselves into it.” ~W. B. Yeats
It was a cold, gray December day. From the back of the small huddle of people, Harry watched Severus, standing proud and tall in the Muggle suit Harry had Transfigured from dress robes. They had both been surprised when several people showed up at the graveside service.
Harry had insisted, over Severus’s initial objections, that they post death notices, and had sent information to the Stockport Express and the Manchester Evening News. He had been heartened that Severus had listened to his argument—Severus, the fact that man was a bastard to you doesn’t rule out him having had other family and friends—and saw some value in his reasons. Harry knew the old Severus would have jeered at anything said by Harry Potter, and was encouraged that the man was willing to work at allowing Harry to be a true partner in their relationship.
And in fact, an aged cousin, brought to the service by her son and son’s wife, as well as an old co-worker from the closed mill had also attended. None of them had seen Tobias in over two decades, but they told Severus that they appreciated knowing what had happened to him and having some closure about the man’s life. In a rather startling fit of cordiality, Severus had invited them, as well as the vicar who had officiated at the service, back to the house for drinks.
It was a surprisingly convivial couple of hours. While no one in their right mind had ever thought Tobias a nice man, there were enough amusing stories and tales of workplace mishaps that kept the atmosphere light. After a hastily-prepared, but hearty lunch, washed down by some strong ale that Harry had Apparated to a nearby off-license to purchase, their guests left. Severus’s cousins had given him their address and phone number. They had begged him to ‘not be a stranger,’ and to visit them up in Burnley ‘come summer.’ They had even quietly invited Severus to ‘bring that nice young man’ with him when he visited, smiling gently when he shot them a sharp, curious glance.
At the end of the long day, after setting cleaning spells on the kitchen and dishes, Harry searched the small house, looking for Severus. He found the man standing in the small bedroom in which first Severus’s body, then that of Tobias, had been tended. Severus’s normally impassive face had a lost, confused expression as he gazed out of the small window.
“Hey, you,” Harry called softly from the door. “How are you doing?”
“I don’t know what to think,” was Severus’s muted reply. “A few weeks ago, it seemed that I knew how the rest of my life was going to transpire, but so much has changed.” He turned away from the window, looking at Harry intently. “I’ve changed so much over the past few weeks.”
“Yeah,” Harry said, moving closer. He took Severus’s hand, and they sat on the bed. “Do you want to talk about it? Would you rather not go with me to the Weasleys’ tomorrow?”
Harry had been invited to join them for Christmas, as he had for the past couple of years. In light of his break-up with Ginny, he thought it would be best to avoid Christmas Day itself, but had offered to come for lunch on Christmas Eve. He had informed the Weasleys, members of the Order, and several Ministry officials that Severus had been found, but had fobbed them off with stories of the man slowly returning to health. On Christmas Eve, he would bring Severus ‘back to the wizarding world,’ as he put it. To forestall any heated interchanges with Severus, who hated ‘overly-inquisitive busybodies,’ he’d told everyone that the former spy was sensitive about his life after the Shrieking Shack, and that they were not to ask him about it.
They had tacitly agreed that Tobias, the possession, and Spinner’s End would remain between the two of them. The ethical considerations were too thorny to address with others, and neither saw any need to add to Severus’s already problematic reputation. They had also decided that their relationship would also not be mentioned during the visit, as there were already plenty of issues that would arise without adding that.
“No, I—” Severus took a shuddering breath.
“Hey, don’t try to stop it.” Harry rubbed encouraging circles on Severus’s back. He then scooted back against the headboard, and pulled Severus up to lie next to him. Turning his head to nuzzle that long, pale neck, he murmured, “You don’t have to know what you’re feeling. Just let it happen.”
They lay there for a few minutes, Harry’s arms around Severus, when the energy in the room changed. Looking intently in Harry’s eyes for a moment, Severus pulled back, then slowly began to unbutton the Muggle shirt he had been wearing under the suit.
As Harry grasped what was happening, he asked hoarsely, “Are you sure about this?” He felt as if he’d been waiting for ages for this moment. He had never had sex with a man, but he’d read a lot about it in the past few weeks, and the thought of doing those things with Severus had sparked quite a few forceful wanking sessions.
Severus snorted. “I’ve been sure for weeks, I was just afraid.”
Harry tossed his own shirt aside, “Don’t be afraid, I’ll take care of you.”
“That’s what I was afraid of,” Severus replied, eyes glinting. He stood to step out of his trousers, then lay on top of Harry, who gasped when their quickly hardening erections met.
“Oi, I’ve not gotten complaints before! This may be—ohhhh!—new to me, but I am—oh, yesssss—an eager student, ready to apply myself to learning this subject completely.” Harry moaned into Severus’s mouth, his hips pulsing, grinding, slamming upwards.
One of Severus’s hands restlessly stroked Harry’s arm, flank, back, whatever it could reach. The other slid into Harry’s hair, clenching it desperately, pulling back his head so that Severus could nip, lick, and suck the younger man’s neck.
“Had I known this was the way to make you focus on your studies, I would have used it years ago, Mr. Potter,” Severus growled. He worked his way down Harry’s chest biting a nipple, taking delight in the squeals and pants pouring from Harry’s mouth. Nibbling at it roughly, Severus soothed it with delicate laps with the tip of his tongue before moving to the other nipple.
At the same time, Harry felt a long-fingered hand on the tent in his shorts, caressing him through the cotton. In seconds, they were filled with warm, wet fluid, and Harry was groaning, “Unghhh, oh Severus…..” Frenziedly, Severus stripped off Harry’s soiled shorts, threw them aside, and summoned a jar of lube from the main bedroom to coat his fingers with the spicy salve. Harry turned over onto his hands and knees, looked over his shoulder, and moaned. The incredible feeling of those fingers caused him to harden again as he was hurriedly prepared, but he bit the inside of his cheek and prayed that he would last long enough for Severus to enter him properly. For one brief, moment, he remembered wondering why Ginny had seemed to euphoric. Now he knew.
He looked away, hoping that would give him some element of self-control, but he could still hear—Oh, God, he thought, that sounds so dirty and good! —Severus slicking the lube generously on his erection. And then he felt the older man line himself up, and slowly slide in, and stilled.
Harry groaned, “Ohhhhh, yesss, Severus, yessss!” It was so big, he felt for a moment that he was being split wide open. Even so, it was the most incredible feeling he’d ever experienced. Once he’d adjusted, though, the man began to move, and Harry quickly amended his earlier statement. This was the most incredible feeling he’d ever experienced!
Severus had waited until he felt the muscle relax around him, then pulled almost all of the way out, and swiftly plunged back in. He set a punishing pace, and Harry began to thrust back against his lover, grunting and whispering all sorts of nonsense. He could feel the waves of sensation intensifying around him, and his body began to shiver in desperate anticipation of his climax.
Tears welling in his eyes, Harry knew one thing he wanted. He wanted Severus Snape. He wasn’t sure what type of relationship he wanted, he wasn’t even sure that he himself was gay, though weeping in joy while your ass was being plundered by another man could be considered a good sign that he was. He—Harry’s thinking ability plummeted when Severus reached around to stroke the teen’s dripping length. He responded with a howl, a body that quaked uncontrollably, and long, hot, pulsing ropes of cream. A few moments later, Severus’s body froze, then he whispered, “Harry,” as he came.
Yes, Harry was pretty sure that he wanted Severus Snape.
Chapter 12 Iuncti Spiritus Corpusque
“No man remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself.” ~Thomas Mann
It had been an exhausting day for both Severus and Harry. The Weasley home had been packed, as usual, but on this Christmas Eve, the customarily densely-populated household had been augmented by members of the Order of the Phoenix. Harry, after consulting with Severus, Molly, and Arthur had also invited a few select former Slytherin students.
“Potter, I really want to thank you for your invitation,” Draco Malfoy said as he prepared to leave with his fiancée, Astoria Greengrass.
“No problem, Draco, I’m glad you could come and welcome Severus back.” Harry was leaning back against the wall, his hands in his pockets. He was feeling quite expansive, with the day having gone brilliantly.
Ginny had brought her new beau, a positively breathtaking young man about whom Severus had whispered, “Mr. I-Don’t-Need-You, Harry Potter,” causing Harry to sputter into his mulled cider. Unfortunately, it had become quite clear from the man’s smiles across the room, her sharp glances, their whispered exchanges, and her worsening temper that the man was more interested in meeting Harry than in spending the holidays with Ginny. Harry knew that she wouldn’t be too heartbroken, as apparently this man was another in a series of men that had squired Ginny around over the past couple of months.
Harry had known that the other Slytherins invited, Millicent Bulstrode, Blaise Zabini, and Gregory Goyle, would be happy to see Severus return; over the years they had helped track down the many potential leads to his whereabouts. Harry had even begun to think of them and Malfoy as friends. But even Harry and Severus were taken aback when Millicent burst into tears and Zabini and Goyle shook the hand of their former head of house effusively, declaring their pleasure to see him again. Severus would never say it, but Harry could see he had been really moved by their display.
“Well, Harry, ” Draco made a point of saying, in response to Harry’s address, “If anyone could have found him, it was you. Well done.” He moved off to tender his thanks to Molly and Arthur.
“Thanks,” was all Harry could say. It was certainly a day for surprises.
Another surprise had occurred earlier in the day when Hermione had been helping Harry put the pudding on plates in the kitchen.
“Professor Snape looks really good, Harry. Congratulations on finding him,” she murmured, gazing at him.
Harry could never understand why it always felt like she was seeing through him. He hummed, not sure what kind of answer she was expecting. Licking the excess frosting from his thumb, he moved to wash his hands.
“I mean, with your history, it must have tough helping him to recuperate.” She said, still looking closely at him.
“It wasn’t too bad. I’m revising for my exams, and he helped a bit when he was able.” Harry moved to lift the tray, but was stopped by Hermione’s hand on his arm. “Hermione, just spit out what you want to say. You know I’ll never figure it out.”
She sighed, then said, “Professor Snape and you seem very close.”
Oh, that’s where she’s going, he thought. Well, she may think she knows, but she will not get a confirmation from me. He said nothing, waiting patiently. In the past, he would have spilled his guts, but now he let her spell it out. Besides, he was only going to deny it. When, and only when, they were ready, he and Severus would share it; first they had to figure out what ‘it’ was.
“Harry, what’s going on between you two?” She asked, exasperated
“What do you mean? I told you, I helped him recover, and he helped me with my revising.” Harry smiled inwardly. Hermione was one of the most astute witches he’d ever met. Her intelligence was only surpassed by her curiosity. He wasn’t surprised that she’d figured it out.
“Harry,” she said warningly. He sighed as he took pity on her.
“First of all, Hermione, there is nothing going on between us. If there was, and it was only my secret to keep, ” he added significantly, “You would be among the first to know. As it is, there is nothing to tell, and certainly nothing to tell Ron or anyone else.”
“Oh,” she gasped, her mouth frozen in that position for a moment before she shook herself. “Wow, Harry! I know that there is nothing to tell, but if there was, I would be so happy for you!”
Harry was stunned. “What? You wouldn’t be scandalized by me consorting, first of all, with a man, and second of all, with a former professor old enough to be my father?”
“Oh, Harry,” Hermione sighed. She embraced him gently then rested her forehead against his. “You deserve to be happy. You were growing more and more miserable before you left Auror training and broke up with Ginny. But now, you look so different! I have been watching you all afternoon, and I can see a glow in you that I haven’t seen since fourth year. At this point, I don’t care if you’ve taken up with mountain trolls, I would still be happy for you.”
“Well, fortunately, I have not taken up with mountain trolls, they’re a bitch to clean up after,” Harry snorted, “But thanks. Your approval means a lot.”
“Well, we’d better get this out before someone accuses us of eating it all ourselves!” Hermione said gaily.
“You go ahead, I’ll be right out,” Harry said. After she left, staggering under the weight of the sweet-laden tray, Harry turned to one of the dark corners in the kitchen.
“You see? I told you that not everyone will be appalled at—” he motioned between himself and Severus, who detached himself from the shadows in which he’d secreted himself, “this.”
“I know, Potter, that your friends have a disposition to support you regardless of whatever hair-brained scheme in which you are involved. You will allow me, still, to decide when we reveal our relationship to the wizarding world?”
“Of course,” Harry said, pleased. Severus had said, ‘our relationship.’ Harry shouted, inwardly, Yes! Unable to contain himself, he moved abruptly towards the back door. “Grab your coat.”
“What?” Severus asked. “Where are we going?”
“We’re going to Mr. Weasley’s shed. There is something I want you to see.”
“And why do I want to see Arthur’s shed of broken Muggle appliances?” Severus asked, looking around the dusty shack with distaste.
“Because of this,” Harry answered, throwing up a host of privacy, locking, and aversion spells. He then pushed Severus back against a wall, the potions master falling back with a thud. Swiftly, he dropped to his knees, and holding the older man’s hips firmly against the wall, he began nuzzling against the bulge rapidly hardening there.
“Potter, what in Merlin’s name do you—” Severus’s breath caught when Harry looked up. Harry was hoping that the idea of him sucking Severus off in such unlikely circumstances would be exciting, because he knew next to nothing about what he was actually supposed to do. Fortunately, Severus seemed so taken with the picture Harry must have made kneeling before him, that the man flung his head back and moaned just from the image.
Harry unfastened Severus’s trousers, and using his tongue and lips, began to search for the overheated flesh that he could feel just beyond the thin layer of cotton. He delighted in the gasps and sighs that were pouring from his lover’s—I like the sound of that! —mouth.
Finally, pushing Severus’s shorts down to his ankles, Harry leaned in and took Severus’s erection as far into his mouth as he could. He could actually feel the short, wiry curls of Severus’s groin at his lips as he sucked and tried to swallow around the tip that was firmly lodged in his throat. Severus’s, “Harry!” told him that he should repeat that later, but he started a fast-paced rhythm in his efforts, slurping down Severus’s length, pulling back to tongue the tip, then taking it all into his mouth again.
He could feel Severus’s potion-stained fingers clutching his hair, and as they began to tighten, he quickened his pace. Severus’s hips began to thrust, almost of their own volition, and Harry’s hand drifted further back between Severus’s legs, further…. and further….
The hand in Harry’s hair sprung open, almost as if Severus was afraid of pulling the boy’s hair out. Harry had been afraid that he wouldn’t like this, would do it all wrong, but closing his eyes, he allowed himself to be carried away by the excitement and sensuality of the moment. He concentrated on the sensation of hard flesh pounding into his mouth, the delicious scents of sweat, musk and sex, and the sounds of Severus moving closer and closer to completion.
Looking up, he saw dark, burning eyes staring down at him in wonder. He felt a hand on his cheek, and sensed Severus trying to pull away, but he held on tight, and opened his throat just in time, as a cascade of hot, pungent fluid poured into his mouth. He swallowed convulsively, but apparently some trickled out, because a long finger swept the side of his mouth, then moved to be licked by Severus.
Leaning his head against his lover’s thighs, he could hear Severus’s breathing return to normal. When the older man could confidently stand unsupported, he lifted Harry up. Encircled by Severus’s arms, Harry pulled his head back slightly, and looked into the eyes of his lover, drowning in that dark gaze. Harry exulted in the faith that he finally knew what he wanted.
It was to be held, desired, and possessed by Severus Snape.
1. Latin: ‘Signs of the Target’
2. Latin: ‘Ousted Spirit’
3. Latin: ‘Joined Spirit and Flesh’