Pairing: Read the darn thing. All I'm saying is that it contains the usual
Beta: Lena Jess, with thanks.
Rating: Pretty much PG-13.
One morning, Severus Snape decided to remain in bed.
Now this would not have been a problem had it been a weekend. But it was, in fact, a weekday. A school day (a Monday, actually).
No one noticed right away. Snape often missed breakfast at the head table. His first class wasn't surprised to find him not there waiting for them: they were used to his charging into the class in hopes (so they all believed, and not just the younger students) of catching them doing something that they oughtn't.
So they unpacked their books, their scrolls and their quills in preparation and waited. And waited. And waited.
It was a double period and the third year Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs fidgeted and muttered until, after an hour, one brave soul dared to look out into the hallway (fully expecting to find their Potions professor was out there, waiting to spring on them).
There was no one there.
With more courage and audacity one would expect from a Hufflepuff (whose courage and audacity are much underestimated), the student cautiously made her way up the dungeon hallway, into the main hallway and finally, not knowing what else to do, found her way to the Library and Madam Pince.
"Peasbottom! Why aren't you in class? Potions, isn't it?"
Sighing with relief, Peasbottom informed Madam Pince of the abnormal situation she and her classmates found themselves in.
With an expression that made it obvious Madam Pince did not actually believe Peasbottom (Hufflepuff though she might be), the Librarian charged down to the dungeon classroom, the student rushing to keep up with her, and pushed open the door fully expecting to find Severus Snape tearing a strip off his students.
Instead there were sighs of relief and one or two audible "Thank Merlin!"
"Well, that's never happened," muttered Pince as she took it upon herself to dismiss the students to the Library where they were to occupy themselves with some work from another course (though she expected that gossip would be the first matter dealt with).
Slightly worried, she checked Snape's office to find it minus one Potions instructor. She cautiously approached his personal lab, wary of interrupting some delicate work (and awakening his temper). That, if anything, would explain his absence from the classroom.
Just a spotless lab that was begging to be used.
Heart beating rapidly, Madam Pince quickly made her way to the gargoyle at the foot of the stairs to the Headmaster's office.
"He's probably in the supply room. Did you check there?" asked Dumbledore. He wasn't worried as he felt no reason to be. Since the end of Voldemort through the combined efforts of the Order of the Phoenix and a team made up of Gryffindors and Slytherins, Snape had experienced no more summonses via the Dark Mark.
"All this time? He was supposed to have been in class over an hour ago."
Dumbledore frowned. He usually knew if one of his staff was in any kind of trouble (which fact was known to very few as the Headmaster was a firm believer in privacy, unless it was his Potions instructor). He wasn't picking up any such feelings about Severus Snape.
Still, with Madam Pince at his side, he went down to the supply room, hoping that they wouldn't find his Potions instructor lying unconscious on the floor. There were some spells that, if performed by some student, Dumbledore might not have picked up. The War was over, but not all feelings had been of gratitude. Snape's role as a spy for the Order was now well-known.
The Headmaster waved "Lumos!" with some wariness but once more there was nothing out of the ordinary to be found.
"Where could he be?" murmured Madam Pince, now seriously worried about her colleague.
"Did you check his rooms?"
Madam Pince allowed her eyebrows to answer for her. One did not intrude on the Potion Master's personal quarters. And if one tried, the wards he'd set up would see to it that there would be no second attempt.
"Yes, of course," muttered Dumbledore. "Damn the man and his paranoia!"
Madam Pince didn't dignify that with a comment (but mentally she thanked the wizard's paranoia: it was what had finally allowed them to clue into Voldemort's weakness and find a way to employ it against the Dark Lord).
It took Dumbledore some time to unward the entrance to Snape's rooms. In spite of repeated requests and even warnings, Snape never gave out the words which permitted him easy access in and out of his rooms.
Meanwhile, the whole school had learnt of Snape's disappearance. The third year Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs had (as Madam Pince had thought) told the fifth year Gryffindors, who were in the Library, researching material for their upcoming Transfiguration O.W.L. They in turn had mentioned it to Professor McGonagall (who, on making her way down to the dungeons, mentioned it to Professor Binns, who was more than pleased to have some news to report to the other members of the staff, who were in the Staff Room taking mid- morning tea).
Meanwhile the students' own communication network had spread it through the school until even the house elves knew something was up.
By the time the last ward was down, Dumbledore had an audience made up of some of his staff, a variety of the braver seventh years (McGonagall's glare had very little effect on students who had survived battle), and even a house elf (Dobby, of course), who was hiding behind a pillar.
Dumbledore opened the door to Snape's sitting room and, when some of the others indicated they were following him, he quietly yet <i/>firmly</i> shut the door in their faces. If there was something wrong with Snape, Dumbledore knew him well enough to know that, though Snape might forgive this invasion of his quarters, he would never forgive an audience greater than one.
No one in the sitting room. There was a book open on the table next to Snape's favourite armchair. There was a glass that had held, if Dumbledore's nose wasn't mistaken, an excellent cognac not more than some twelve hours previously.
But no Potions Master.
Cautiously (now more worried than he cared to admit, even to himself), Dumbledore, wand in hand ready to be used, made his way to the bedchamber door on silent, slippered feet.
With exaggerated care, he turned the handle and slowly pushed the door open, thankful for house elves who were forever maintaining the hinges of all doors in Hogwarts.
Though the room was dark, there was a soft light coming from the open door of the adjoining bathroom. Dumbledore shook his head to think that his powerful Potions Master needed a night light. All things considered, keeping in mind all that they had seen and done during the last months of the War, a night light was a pretty innocuous method of dealing with nightmares. (Merlin knew, there were some students who still could not sleep with the lights off.)
Again, very carefully, Dumbledore opened the bathroom door a little more, allowing more light to spill out into the bedroom, gradually casting long shadows that led Dumbledore to the bed.
With a slight release of air, Dumbledore noted the lump in the bed that could only be, he hoped, Severus Snape.
Having located the wizard, it was now time to see what had prevented him from holding morning class. Even with the War raging around them, Snape had supported Dumbledore in maintaining as normal a schedule in the school as possible. He had reluctantly agreed that new combatants could not replace those lost if training did not continue. (Moreover, Dumbledore had kept pointing out, a regular schedule helped the younger students deal with what was going on beyond Hogwarts' walls and wards.) When Snape himself had not been available to conduct his classes, either Granger or Malfoy had taken over for him, were they themselves not required elsewhere.
Wand ready for action, the Headmaster gingerly grabbed the top of the bedclothes and slowly began revealing what they hid.
It took him several moments to come to the conclusion that his Potions instructor was asleep, a small snore revealing that he was breathing regularly. Still, Dumbledore needed to know what was wrong with Snape. After all, in the sixteen years the wizard had been a member of the staff, he had never ever once slept in.
"Severus." Dumbledore began in a quiet voice, speaking more loudly with each repetition of the Potions instructor's name. "Severus. Severus!"
He reached over and shook a boney shoulder and his only reward was a series of snores interspersed with snorts.
"Severus! Wake up!" Dumbledore was now seriously worried. The Snape he knew was a light sleeper.
Finally! Dumbledore smiled happily at the man who turned to face him, eyes heavy with sleep.
"Albus?" But Snape said no more as his face was split with a large yawn.
"Are you all right, Severus?"
The man grimaced, a hand coming out from under the nightclothes to rub at his face. "Why shouldn't I be?"
"Well, it <i/>is</i> late. You've missed your first class. We've been worried about you."
Snape's hand dropped and he squinted up at the Headmaster. "Tired. Decided to sleep in this morning," he muttered, pulling the bedclothes out of the Headmaster's hand and back over him. "Tell Granger to take over. Or if she can't, Draco."
And with that, Snape nestled into his cocoon of bedclothes and went back to sleep.
Mouth open, Dumbledore stood by the bed and listened to the once more rhythmic snores emanating from his Potions instructor. Stunned by Snape's behaviour, he could do nothing more than leave the room, closing the door behind him. In the sitting room, he did just that: sat in Snape's chair and took the time to think.
The War had been hard on them: the long hours, the additional worry about maintaining protection for the students. The need to find Voldemort's soft underbelly. Far too much had depended on two men: Potter and Snape.
After it was over, Potter had had wind-down time. The Weasleys had spirited him off to the Burrow where Molly had fussed over him, held him when he'd needed to weep and had fed him when he'd had no appetite. A month of Molly's love and attention, and Potter had been back at school, maybe changed forever, but able to deal with the everyday requirements of a student in his seventh year.
Snape, on the other hand, had gone from spying to fighting to bearing witness at the many trials of the Death Eaters who had survived. And he'd continued teaching during that time, if not in the classroom himself, then organizing Granger and Malfoy to replace him at any moment's notice. There had been no Molly in his life, even had he permitted her or anyone to play that role.
Dumbledore nodded to himself. If his Potions instructor needed a day to himself, well, so be it! He'd assign a house elf to check up on him, to see to it that there was a meal waiting for him when Severus did wake up.
The problem resolved, Dumbledore went out to face those waiting to find out what was going on.
And that might have been the end of it, except that the next morning, one of the first year Gryffindors, accompanied by a Slytherin classmate, knocked on the Transfiguration classroom, interrupting Professor McGonagall's first class of the day, with the news that, once more, their Potions instructor had not shown up.
"And he didn't appear in the common room last evening. He always does," explained the worried Slytherin, "since the end of the War. Just to see that we're all right."
McGonagall sent the two students back to their classmates with orders for them to stop by Professor Flitwick's classroom and ask if either Granger or Malfoy could fill in for the absent Snape.
It was a measure of the students' worry that she heard no squabbling as to which one of the older students should be asked as they rushed off to Charms.
"Severus!" Dumbledore used his most authoritative tones as he once more woke his Potions instructor.
Snape rolled over slowly, yawning and, this time, not bothering to cover up his mouth. He blinked up at the Headmaster, as if he had to think about who the wizard was.
"Oh. Albus," he yawned a second time, this time his hand nearly making it to his mouth before dropping back onto the counterpane. " Is it important?"
(Dumbledore admitted much later to Minerva McGonagall that he had been rather taken aback by the disinterest in Snape's voice.)
"Is it important?" Dumbledore repeated. "Severus! This is the second morning that you've missed your first class." Concerned, the Headmaster sat on the edge of the bed.
Now, such a liberty should have garnered some kind of response from Snape. The man had almost a phobia about having his personal space invaded. But, apart from another yawn, quickly caught, nothing. Not a grimace, not a pointed look, not even a single hint of recoil.
"Severus, dear boy, what is the matter?" Dumbledore was now truly worried.
Snape managed a shrug, less elegant than his usual as he was lying back against the pillows. "Nothing," he muttered, obviously fighting yet another yawn. "Just need some sleep." He opened an eye and glared at the Headmaster. "Surely I am entitled to that at the very least."
"Certainly, dear boy." Dumbledore didn't quite believe Snape (but was more than willing to grasp at any straw handed him). "Not a problem. In fact," he rose to his feet, "why don't you just take the rest of the week off. Miss Granger and Mr. Malfoy seem to be having no great difficulties handling your classes as well as their own work. Yes, that's it. Take the rest of the week..."
But he might as well have saved his breath: Snape had rolled over once more and was already softly snoring.
"I tell you, Minerva," Poppy Pomfrey confided to her over tea that evening, "I was as nervous as though I were checking out the condition of some injured mountain troll. Albus, in the sitting room, as though he thought I might need back-up in case of attack. Me, tip-toeing into Severus's holy of holies, ready to run out if he woke."
"But he's all right, isn't he?" Minerva asked, more worried about Snape than she had ever been for him during the War. There were so many who were only now permitting themselves to admit to how damaged they had been by war wounds.
"Yes. Nothing out of the norm. In fact, his heartbeat is slower than it's ever been when I examined him in the past. No, Minerva, if I had to judge, I would say that all those many years – if not decades! – of sleeping badly have finally caught up with Severus Snape."
She leaned forward to confide, "I've given the house elves a tonic to slip into his food. They tell me that they leave the food trays by his bedside and that, when they go collect, the dishes are usually cleaned off. So he's eating."
And that, everyone thought, was that. Severus Snape would catch up on his sleep and return to his classes come the next week.
But he didn't.
Draco found Hermione weeping silently in the small alcove in the Library she had long ago claimed as her own.
He dropped into the chair that had become his since the start of the War. (Then, whenever Snape had been needed elsewhere, thereby requiring a replacement, Draco and Hermione would meet to go over Snape's notes for teaching those particular classes.) "What's wrong? Has Timmons blown up another cauldron? Merlin, if Severus thought Longbottom stupid..."
Hermione only sobbed a little louder.
Draco leaned forward and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Hermione?"
She blew her nose in an overlarge handkerchief and wiped her eyes before lifting her head to look at the Slytherin who had denied his heritage to become an ally and then a friend.
"I went down to see Professor Snape, this morning, before breakfast, to bring him up to date on what we've covered and..."
"And?" Draco squeezed her hand and was surprised (and oh! so pleased!) when she turned up her hand to grasp his.
"And he was still in bed, Draco."
Draco nodded. He'd been called out of History to deal with the second year classes that morning.
"And...and when I told him I was there to..." Her handkerchief was called into duty once more as Hermione tried to find the words she needed. Draco had never seen her so emotional. Keeping her hand tightly clasped in his, he came around the table to kneel at her feet, looking up into her reddened eyes.
"Hermione, was he mean to you?" There were limits to his tolerance for his Head of House. It didn't bother him that Snape had been a Death Eater, that he had once happily fulfilled the functions of the role. All that was in the past. So much so that his example had served as the model that Draco had followed, denying his parents' wishes that he join them and fight on the side of the Dark. He cared more for the man than for his own family but if he had hurt his Hermione...(not that she was his, but...)
Hermione sniffed and leaned forward, resting her forehead against his. "Oh, Draco, he told me he...<i/>didn't care</i>! Not a <i/>fig</i> about <i/>Potions</i> or what we were doing in his classes! That all he wanted was to be left alone so that he could get some decent, <i/>uninterrupted</i> sleep! And then he did just that, went back to sleep. <i/>Oh, Draco!</i>"
And she slipped her head off his to rest it against his shoulder where she wept almost unconsolably. Except that Draco did think it his duty to console her, which he finally did, resting against a lower stack, Hermione in his arms, his lips wiping the tears off her face. Off her cheeks and, yes, even off her lips. For which Hermione seemed very appreciative and even thankful as her lips responded, with a certain hesitancy at first, and then with much more enthusiasm.
(Eventually, they named their first son Draconis Severus.)
Dumbledore had been less sympathetic when Miss Granger had reported what Snape had said. One week off in the middle of an important term was one thing, but now it seemed as though given an inch (or 2.5 centimeters, if preferred), his Potions instructor was trying to take a mile (or 1.6 kilometres).
He went down into the dungeons, ready to deal with this insubordination when he discovered that Snape had indeed gotten out of bed: long enough to change the wards on his doors. (All of his doors. And windows, too.)
Only the house elves had the ability to enter Snape's quarters via house elf magic and there was no way, Dumbledore knew, that Snape would reveal the new passwords to them.
Minerva McGonagall looked shocked to hear such language coming out of the Headmaster's mouth, especially since they had an audience composed of anyone daring enough to follow the obviously irritated Headmaster. (Mind, since the War, there were more than not among the older students who had the wherewithal to dare.) She turned and glared, rather effectively, at the titters that quickly died out.
Dumbledore actually stamped his foot. "He's put up wards against <i/>me, specifically</i>."
Oh, dear, thought Minerva. This was not good. There was no place in the Castle that was denied its headmaster. Albus had allowed Severus his wards because he understood the paranoia of the man (and who could not, all things considered) and his desire for protection and security. And though it was a time-consuming affair for Albus to deward Severus's doors, he had always been able to do so.
Now it seemed not.
And Albus was not taking it well.
"I slipped a calming potion into his tea," Poppy sighed. Those convened for a special meeting of staff and selected concerned students (Well, it was hard to keep them out and, besides, the Twins' ‘Extendable Ears' were best sellers in the school, in spite of Filch's attempts to confiscate them. Better to have a few representatives the Deputy Headmistress could trust than...) nodded and sighed along with her.
"I'm surprised the Castle has allowed Severus to do such a thing," Professor Binns said, in a voice that was actually non-monotonal (much to the students' surprise, who had never heard so much emotion from the ghostly professor).
"Do we then assume that it must agree with him?" Draco (representing Slytherin) was sitting next to Hermione (Gryffindor), their knees touching, surreptitiously holding hands under the protection of their robes.
Professor Sprout scoffed. "Wouldn't be surprised. Both Severus and the Castle can be quite cantankerous when it pleases them."
Felicia Diggory (cousin to Cedric and eyes and ears of Hufflepuff at the meeting) snickered. Muireall Raudri (Ravenclaw) glared at her. Which only made Felicia giggle a little louder. Once a quiet non-entity, the War had given the Hufflepuff a daring insouciance that had not been the hallmark of the House pre-War.
Before wands were pulled out (which happened far too often these days), Minerva took control of the meeting. "Well, we have a Potions instructor who refuses to come out of his rooms, let alone his bed. A Headmaster who is at this moment sleeping off a calming cup of tea. We have classes to cover..." Here she looked at Draco and Hermione who had been staring into each other's eyes, obviously unaware of where they were and who was watching them.
Harry Potter (representing himself) leaned over and kicked the two chairs apart. Draco's wand was out in a blink as was Hermione's. Harry only rolled his eyes and gestured, with his head, to the rest of the room. Getting the message, Hermione, blushing, slipped her wand back in her sleeve and tugged at Draco's, getting him to sit down once more.
"Will the two of you be able to continue covering Severus's classes for however long this goes on?" the Deputy Headmistress inquired, in her most Headmistress voice.
There was a quick, silent exchange between the two and Draco turned to address the issue. "First to sixth years are no problem. Sevenths need to be supervised as they work on their N.E.W.T.s project and, since we have to participate in that ourselves, we will need someone to take that on."
Vector, who had once thought of Potions as a profession, was happy to do just that, on the condition that it did not conflict with her seventh years' projects. (There followed several minutes of hectic wrangling of the schedule but soon it had been modified so that, should Severus Snape decide to spend the rest of his life in his rooms, Hogwarts would still function as it should.)
"That still leaves the problem of Albus and the wards," reminded Professor Flitwick.
"Leave the wards to me," said Harry. "I've got more free time than the others."
Hermione frowned. She still didn't think that ridding the wizarding world of Voldemort should have excused Harry from taking his N.E.W.T.s. Handing him his Wizard Accreditations just like that...well, one never appreciated things one hadn't worked for, she thought. Draco squeezed her hand in silent sympathy.
Which is how Harry came to be sitting in a very comfortable armchair, staring at the Potions instructor's door. Dobby had found him both the chair and a good-sized table upon which were piled several stacks of books, all dealing with spells, charms and (or) wards.
Every hour or so, Dobby appeared with a snack or a drink to help Harry in his studies. Every morning and afternoon, either Flitwick or Madam Pince would appear to remove the books that had proven unhelpful and to deposit others they thought might be. Harry always smiled his thanks to them as he picked up yet another tome to work his way through the index of possible spells a man with Snape's ability (and thought processes) might use.
"Is he still sleeping?" Harry asked Dobby one day, about two weeks into his particular studies.
Dobby wrung his hands, unsure of what to say. "Well, Professor eats and takes baths, but otherwise, he is in bed, usually sleeping when Dobby or other house elves go in."
Harry nodded and smiled reassuringly at Dobby, who was always nervous when asked to reveal anything house elves considered to be sacrosanct information (which was why Harry had waited two weeks to ask him).
Those first days, the Headmaster had also appeared several times a day to inquire how Harry's research was coming along. It had taken a rather pointed comment from Harry (the duel with Voldemort had destroyed whatever fear of authority Harry had harboured) to make the Headmaster understand that these constant interruptions were not helping. Being in the vicinity at that particular moment, Minerva McGonagall found it politic to happen upon several matters that required Albus's presence and attention elsewhere.
Having blasted one powerful wizard into another dimension, she didn't think that Harry might baulk at doing it to another.
(In fact, she was quite wrong about that. Harry did have some kind feelings for the Headmaster. Now, the Minister for Magic was a quite different case. If Cornelius Fudge had had his way – which he hadn't as Dumbledore had insisted that, official Wizard or not, Harry still had studies to complete – Harry would be doing the circuit, Fudge at his right hand, associating himself with the Boy Who Killed What's His Name in time for the next election.)
So Harry arrived at his post every morning after a hearty breakfast, having caught up on the gossip of the day both in Hogwarts (Ron had been caught with Susan Bones in the rose bushes by Dumbledore, who had not hesitated in the least to blow said rose bush to smithereens) and without (according to the <i/>Daily Prophet</i>, Harry Potter was spending his time in Hogwarts having his every little desire catered to by the females of, depending on the day, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, or even those on staff. "If only," Harry moaned as Ginny tossed a roll at his head).
He read the latest tome (more and more arcane as the days went by) that had been put on the table and would occasionally (and rather disparagingly) try out a few of the spells. Never with any success.
"I never knew you were capable of such patience," admitted Ron, one evening, as he sat on a couch in the Gryffindor common room, Miss Bones curled up in his lap, her tongue mapping out the contours of his ear. (Their first child, a girl, was to be called Henrietta (for Harry) Lorna. None of their five daughters ever bore the name Hermione, for obvious reasons.)
"It's amazing what war teaches one," agreed Harry. What it had taught Harry was that often solutions existed right under one's nose, overlooked because of their simplicity. All it had taken was one "Abracadabra", a cliché in so many fairy tales, to rid this world of Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
"After all," Snape had scoffed, "the Killing Curse had to come from somewhere. Makes sense that some modification had to occur over time. So, instead of making the recipient disappear into Merlin knows where, the new version simply killed him."
("Or <i/>her</i>," had chirped in Hermione, ever politically correct, ignoring the resulting glare.)
So now, Harry sat in his chair and tried hard to think of something that was all too obvious and simple to one Severus Snape that he would have used as his password.
He had quickly concluded that the books were, of course, of no help. Their contents were far too sophisticated for Snape to have used. But they did make it seem that he was hard at work. Which he was (well, they were interesting to read), but not as the others thought him to be.
Oh, he had an idea but, frankly, was afraid to try it out for fear of being wrong.
"Is the professor still sleeping his time away?" he asked Dobby one day, about three weeks into his supposed studies.
Dobby hopped from one foot to the other. He sighed, wrung his hands, tugged at his ears. Harry pretended to be engrossed by his reading, not to be watching as he knew Dobby was obviously conflicted (a sure sign that he had been given clothes as unfreed house elves would never have been so bothered in answering a direct question).
"Harry Potter knows the Professor is tired."
Harry smiled to himself: Dobby was still enough of a house elf to try and produce an acceptable answer.
"Yes, Dobby," he turned the page, seemingly taken by some new discovery, "but surely after five weeks, the professor must be doing something other than sleeping, eating and taking baths."
"They be <i/>long</i> baths, Harry Potter, sir."
Harry smiled at the nervous elf. "I'm sure they are, Dobby. But even in a bathtub, one can read, or sometimes write."
Dobby thought a moment then nodded. Harry guessed this was safe grounds in the elf's mind. "Oh, yes, Harry Potter. The professor is reading journals all the time in the bath. He has Dobby bring him pile after pile from his shelves."
Harry nodded encouragingly, but Dobby must have felt he'd revealed enough for he disappeared.
Harry sat back in his chair. So Severus was catching up on years of back- reading. Warded safely away in his rooms, no classes to hold, no essays to correct, no detentions to supervise, no meetings to attend, no school potions to brew, no longer needing to spy, to put his life on the line, no...
He dawdled another week, pretending to work on the wards. In fact, he was accumulating a wealth of useful information vis-à-vis spells, charms and wards that he otherwise would never have acquired. He did think that this knowledge might well be a good addition to his résumé, supplementing the rather successful teaching experiences he'd had with the DA (aka Dumbledore's Army). After all, there were no more Dark Wizards that he knew of that needed dealing with. (And if there were, well, that would be some other poor sap's problem, not his.)
Still, there came the day when he spoke the obvious and simple and watched as the door to Snape's quarters clicked open as the ward and lock released. Slipping his wand into his sleeve, he checked to make certain he was truly alone. Other than Dobby (who would not go squealing on him), he no longer had any visitors while he worked.
He pushed the door open and, for the first time in his life, entered the Potions Master's private rooms. His sanctuary against the world.
With great care, Harry closed the door behind him, listening for the small sound that would indicate both latch and ward had caught.
He walked on quiet yet sure feet to the partially opened door that, when he pushed it aside, revealed a large canopied bed with bed curtains not in Slytherin green or silver, nor vampiric black, but a fairly cheerful (all things considered, keeping this particular man in mind) deep red-brown (not a Gryffindor red) that gave the room a certain warmth.
Harry walked over to the bedpost where the curtains were draped back and leaned a shoulder on it (trying for sophisticated non-chalance) as he perused the man lying in the bed.
Snape was on his back, arms crossed under his head, staring up at the canopy. He was wearing a plain, white nightshirt.
Harry cocked his head and smiled, hoping that would hide his nervousness. "Caught up on your reading, have you?"
The black eyes never left the fold they were staring at. "Pretty much."
"Decided what you're going to do?"
The eyes didn't move. "What makes you think I'm going to do anything other than what I've been doing?"
Harry sat on the edge of the bed, his hand playing with the folded counterpane. "Well, you told Hermione that you didn't care a fig about Potions. So I'm assuming that you've had enough of teaching that."
The eyes didn't move to him. "Ten points for Gryffindor."
Harry choked on his laughter. "And definitely not remaining at Hogwarts."
The eyes moved to him.
"You've just assigned points to Gryffindor. I thought you'd prefer to die than do that."
Snape scoffed and went back to staring at the canopy.
"Are you enjoying your time in bed?" Harry asked, very casually, as his hand began to unclasp the frogs on his wizard's robe.
Snape shrugged. "I was tired."
"I understand." Harry's sympathy was sincere. He stood and allowed the robe to slip to the floor. He caught Snape's eyes as they flickered his way and held them as he placed his wand on the night table, next to Snape's. His hand went to the top of his shirt and slowly, but not all that teasingly (because he really wasn't that certain of himself) , he undid the buttons. He tossed the shirt onto a nearby stack of Dark Arts journals.
He looked at them for a moment then cocked his head, a small smile on his face. "Durmstrang?"
Snape shook his head. "Milano."
Harry thought aloud as his hands went to the placket on his trousers. "Warm there." He undid the first button. "Good red wine," the second, "I understand from Zabini." The third. "Good food." The fourth. "Milano sounds like a good choice." The last.
He pushed the trousers down and stepped out of them at the same time as he toed off his trainers. He walked out of the pile, leaned over and pulled off his socks, putting a little extra wiggle into his arse as he did so.
He straightened and tugged down the knit boxers he'd stolen from Ron. (Susan Bones was not fond of y-fronts.) The movement wasn't all that smooth as his hardening cock interfered with the gesture.
Not that Harry expected Snape minded all that much: his eyes were fixed on his groin and, from the expression on his face, the Potions (soon to be DADA) instructor didn't seem to be all that disappointed.
As Harry went to turn down the counterpane so that he could join Snape in bed, a hand stopped him.
"What makes you think that I like having my space invaded this way, Mr. Potter?"
Harry smiled, stooped and claimed his lover's mouth. When he was certain that it was well kissed, he mouthed his way to Snape's ear.
"In that case, you shouldn't have used the passwords you did." He slipped into the bed and rummaged under the covers until he had a good grip on Snape's nightshirt. He pulled it off the man as he laughed. "<i/>Severus Snape loves Harry Potter.</i>" Between kisses he added, "Tends to give one ideas, you know."
But Snape was much too busy to comment on that.
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