It was a routine they had both enjoyed since the end of Harry’s time at Hogwarts as a student. Voldemort had been defeated at the very end of Harry’s seventh year, and their relationship had started almost as soon as Harry had graduated.
Severus had found that Harry still needed a man with a strong hand to take care of him. The abuse he had suffered at the hands of the Dursleys still preyed on Harry’s mind and made him need not just a lover but a Master. He needed to hand control over his life to someone else.
So Severus had allowed Harry to move into his home, and Harry had taken over all the menial chores Severus hated doing.
Severus had never had someone who needed him like Harry needed him. He had been in his share of odd relationships, yes; he had possessed a slave for a short time during his long stint as a Death Eater, yes; but he’d never met anyone so perfectly satisfied with being submissive.
Part of him hated Vernon Dursley for forcing this attitude on Harry.
Part of him wanted to thank Vernon Dursley for forcing this attitude on Harry.
Harry greeted him at the door, prostrating himself in front of Severus and removing his socks and shoes.
"Is dinner prepared?" Severus said by way of greeting.
"Yes, Severus," Harry said.
Severus patted Harry’s head gently. "Good boy," he returned, and watched as Harry preened under the praise and leaned into the touch.
"Go on and put my socks in the hamper," he ordered, and headed into the dining room.
The table was set for one. Harry never presumed he would be permitted to eat with Severus.
"Put another place setting on the table, Harry. You’ve earned the privilege this evening."
"Yes, Severus," he said, and rose to set another place on the table.
"How was your day, Harry?"
"It was fine, Severus. I finished all my chores," Harry replied as he spooned string beans onto Severus’ plate.
"Would you like to visit your friends this weekend?"
"Yes, Severus." Harry cast a small Warming Charm over his chicken.
"Perhaps we will do that. Owl them tomorrow and ask if it is convenient."
"Yes, Severus," Harry said, and stood behind his chair.
"Serve yourself and have a seat, Harry."
Harry obeyed, wincing slightly as he sat on his bruised bottom, and lifted his fork, digging in to his chicken. "How was your day, Severus?"
"Same ignorant children with mush for brains as ever. Miss Cartwright, however, is proving to be quite excellent at Potions. She may yet become a Master."
Harry smiled at him.
"Draco will be coming by tomorrow. I’ve invited him for dinner, he has wanted to catch up with me."
"Yes, Severus." Harry was careful, Severus noticed, not to let his dislike of Draco into his voice.
"I expect you to be on your best behaviour. Perhaps you could make your excellent pheasant? Draco is quite fond of your cooking."
Harry smiled, although it was a bit more subdued than usual.
"Yes, your delicious pheasant, and garlic mashed potatoes, and, I think, corn."
"Yes, Severus. What would you like for dessert tomorrow evening?"
"Draco is fond of crème brulee."
"Yes, Severus. I-I made chocolate cake for tonight’s dessert."
Harry smiled tentatively.
"As you know," Severus began, "Sunday is your birthday. How would you like to spend it?"
"With you, Severus," Harry answered.
"Harry." Severus’ voice was steel. "That’s not an answer."
Harry blushed and nodded. "Yes, Severus. I’m sorry. I-there is a Quidditch match at the London arena that I would like to see."
"Perhaps we shall go. Would you like to invite your friends?"
"Yes, please, Severus."
"Excellent. You may ask them when you owl them tomorrow. What else would you like to do?"
Harry bit his lip, then looked at the floor. "I-I really just want to spend a quiet day with you, and see my friends for the match in the evening. With you. A-and—" here he broke off and shook his head.
"And what, Harry?" Severus prompted gently.
"And I don’t want to cook." Harry winced slightly.
"All right, we’ll order in for lunch and go out for dinner with your friends. Pick something up for Sunday’s breakfast when you go shopping tomorrow."
Harry relaxed visibly. "Yes, Severus. Thank you."
"And after the game is over and your friends have left, we have some talking to do."
He polished off the last of his chicken and folded his hands to wait for Severus to finish eating.
He loved Severus. Severus understood what he needed more even than Hermione, and certainly more than Ron did.
Hermione and Ron had been terribly concerned the first time they saw how Harry and Severus interacted. Harry even understood why; they thought Severus was abusing him.
But he wasn’t.
He had explained, and explained, and explained that he needed to give control to someone else, and one day Hermione had patted him on the shoulder, smiled, and promised that she understood why he felt that way. She had taken a Muggle psychology course at university and presented the situation as a hypothetical to her professor, and the woman had explained that such a relationship could indeed be healthy, and had given Hermione a list of warning signs to see if the relationship was actually abusive.
Ron had snorted and said he would never understand, but as long as Harry was happy and healthy, he could accept it.
And Ron had accepted it, and was only rude to Severus when Severus was rude to him.
Harry liked knowing that Severus cared enough for him to set rules, and to punish him when he broke those rules. Uncle Vernon had no set of specific rules, but there had been quite a lot of harsh, hurtful punishment. Professor Dumbledore had a set of specific rules, but although he cared about Harry, he had never punished Harry for breaking them. McGonagall had sometimes, but Severus was the one person in his childhood who had cared enough to punish him every time he broke a rule.
Was it any wonder that now, in adulthood, he craved a firm but loving hand to guide him? And Severus gave him just that. Severus never punished him for no reason (unlike Uncle Vernon), but also never failed to punish him when he had misbehaved (unlike Professor Dumbledore). And the day after a particularly harsh punishment, like today, was always a day of slightly relaxed rules.
Harry rose as Severus finished dinner and carried his dishes to the sink. He served Severus his piece of chocolate cake and rinsed off the dinner dishes. By the time he had spelled them clean and dry, and put them away, it was time to pour Severus his customary glass of brandy and retrieve the book he had been reading from the shelves.
Harry had broken three rules on Tuesday. He had dropped a dish at breakfast, causing it to shatter; forgotten to make Severus’ bed; and he had slept through his alarm. All three instances had been accidents, but he had been on punishment anyway. Severus said it was to remind him to be more careful.
So yesterday, Wednesday, Harry was paddled forty-five times in the morning, and forty-five times that night, fifteen for each rule. Though the pain had aroused him so much he was dripping with need, he was not permitted to cum.
He’d had to wake up an hour early because Severus had to go to work, but he also had to supervise Harry as he washed the dishes and made his bed, and he had to give Harry the requisite spankings before he left for work, even though Severus was tired, too.
That had been very upsetting for Harry. He had inconvenienced Severus and made him lose sleep, and that was almost the worst part of the whole punishment.
Then, that night, Severus had to watch him wash dishes again, and then he sent Harry to mop the floor of the bathroom, and finally, Harry had had to kneel on all fours next to Severus’ bed that night, his bruised, sore bottom wiggling in the cold night air.
When Severus woke up, however, he had received a gentle kiss on the mouth and a promise that Severus would heal his arse after dinner tonight. There had been a short list of chores, and then Harry had the rest of the day off until Severus came home from work.
Now Severus seated himself on the couch on the parlour and watched Harry as he lit the fire in the hearth and the candles next to Severus’ table so he could read.
Harry went to sit at Severus’ feet, but Severus patted the couch next to him and Harry beamed, taking his place beside Severus.
The older wizard pulled him close and wrapped the arm holding the book around Harry’s shoulders.
Harry let his head fall on his lover’s shoulder. "I love you, Severus," he murmured sleepily. He had been too uncomfortable to sleep very well last night.
Severus made a non-committal noise, but Harry was used to that. Severus had been his lover for seven years now, and even so, he could sometimes be a little unsure of himself, like he couldn’t believe that this would last.
And he had never returned the sentiment, which sometimes made Harry nervous.
But Harry was happier than he had been his whole life.
Severus switched the book to his other hand and ran his fingers through Harry’s hair, petting him gently.
Harry nuzzled closer against him. The movement reminded him rather painfully of yesterday’s punishment and this morning’s subsequent promise. "S-Severus?" he whispered.
"Erm, can you fix me?"
Severus moved his eyes from the book to regard Harry curiously. "Oh!" he said as realisation dawned. "Yes, stand up and pull down your trousers."
Harry obeyed and soon felt the bruises disappear.
"Pull up your trousers and sit back down," Severus said.
Harry sat down once more and cuddled back into place beside Severus.
Severus gently prodded Harry awake a few hours later.
"I’m sorry, Severus," he apologised immediately upon waking.
"Come on to bed, then," Severus said, rising and heading for the bedroom.
Harry followed behind him into the bath connected to their bedroom. Once there, he unbuttoned Severus’ shirt and took it off him, then Severus’ trousers and pants. He carefully folded them and put them in the hamper.
Severus looked in the basket as he opened it. "You will do laundry tomorrow, Harry."
"Yes, Severus," Harry replied as he turned on the water in the shower to Severus’ desired temperature.
"No, I think we’ll have a bath this evening, Harry," Severus said.
Harry nodded and filled the sunken two-person tub while he undressed.
Severus stepped into the warm water and leant back against the porcelain while Harry joined him.
Harry gently soaked a sponge and washed Severus carefully and medically, although Severus could see the boy was half-hard, and the sight of the reddening cock rising out of the dark curls aroused him as well.
In due course, they were both clean and Harry was fully erect as he dried Severus off.
He saved Severus’ cock for last and Severus caught Harry’s hair between his fingers before he could dry it.
Green eyes blinked up at him and a pink tongue darted out to lick suddenly dry lips.
Severus ran two fingers down the side of Harry’s face. "Would you like to take me in your mouth?" he asked softly.
Harry’s lips parted in a breathless moan and he nodded.
"You may," Severus said.
Harry smiled and leaned forward, lapping softly at the head of Severus’ cock. His warm, slightly callused hands came up, one to cup his bollocks, the other to rub lightly behind them at his perineum.
He moaned softly as Harry took him fully into his mouth, swallowing and swallowing, his agile tongue licking at the base while he sucked.
Harry pulled back, then forward again, licking all the way up and down. Then he moved off Severus’ cock entirely and let the cooling air wash over it before swallowing Severus whole again.
Severus moaned long and loud when Harry pulled back and wiggled the tip of his tongue at Severus’ slit.
"Touch yourself, but do not come," Severus ordered, and moaned when Harry complied.
Harry moaned around Severus’ cock as he masturbated himself, and the vibration combined with the energetic sucking set Severus off, and he came with a cry.
Harry swallowed the cum eagerly and licked Severus’ cock clean, still masturbating himself.
Severus looked down at Harry’s prostrate form. The swollen red lips were wrapped around his cock and the big green eyes stared up at him through black eyelashes and the glint of Harry’s customary eyeglasses. Harry’s large, slender hand was alternately forming a ring at the base of his cock and rubbing himself gently.
He pulled out of that warm mouth. "Stop and follow me," he said. "On all fours, please," he added, knowing how much that turned Harry on.
Indeed, he heard Harry whimper softly behind him.
"Stand and lay spread eagle on the bed," he ordered softly, and Harry complied.
Severus sat down on the bed next to him and bent his head to lap at Harry’s nipples, each in turn, coaxing a delightful series of pleading moans from the hapless boy beneath him. Then Severus kissed and licked down the cavity of Harry’s chest. He thrust his tongue into Harry’s navel in a parody of intercourse until Harry’s hips were jerking uncontrollably, and only then did he move down and lap at the pre-come dripping slowly out of the head of Harry’s purple, steel-hard cock.
Harry sobbed and pleaded softly, and one hand came down to circle his fingers at the base of his cock and keep himself from coming, but Severus swatted his hand away. "You may come," he said, and got in barely one more lick before Harry was coming hard.
Severus swallowed and moved up to kiss Harry softly, brushing his tongue across the younger man’s. Harry seemed to be tired, because he made no move to wrap his arms around Severus’ neck as he usually did, and his lips moved somewhat sluggishly under Severus’.
"Sleep, Harry," Severus ordered, and Harry yawned and nodded, starting to slip out from under the covers.
Severus caught him and pressed him back against the mattress. "No, you’ve earned sleeping in the bed tonight."
Harry yawned and nodded again, settling more firmly into the soft sheets.
"How long will you need to prepare tomorrow night’s dinner?" Severus asked.
"Five hours," was the sleepy reply.
"Then you will be permitted to sleep an extra hour tomorrow morning."
"Thank you, Sev’rus," Harry slurred.
He was already out, because he made no move to set his wand to wake him up.
Severus chuckled softly and brushed a light kiss on Harry’s brow, then set Harry’s wand himself.
Harry cuddled up to him in his sleep when Severus wrapped his arms around the smaller man.
Harry opened his eyes as his wand gave off small sounds. He yawned and sat up, and a sheet of paper fell off his head. He laughed and picked it up, absently turning off his alarm.
Dear Harry, (it read),
It should be around nine o’clock right now. Do not panic: if you don’t remember, I gave you permission to sleep for an extra hour.
Don’t forget that Draco is coming tonight for dinner. The house must be spotless; you have permission to forgo our room until Draco has gone if you need more time, except for the bed. Also, remember that Draco is to be called Mr. Malfoy if he should speak to you.
If you should finish your chores early, you may sit on the couch and read.
I will be home with Draco promptly at six. As always when we have a guest, you will not be required to prostrate yourself and remove my shoes at the door. However, I expect you to be on your best behaviour this evening. Do not embarrass me, Harry.
I have laid out your clothes for this evening. I expect you to be dressed and the table to be set for two when I arrive. You will be serving us this evening. Draco is an important guest, and I expect you to treat him as you would treat the Minister.
Finally, I wish to remind you that you are representing me by your behaviour this evening.
All that being said, I wish you to know that I know that you will do me proud. You are an excellent cook and I have the utmost confidence in you.
Harry smiled and carefully set the letter away in his drawer before beginning his chores.
Harry had just set the pheasant on the table and was casting a Warming charm on it when the front door opened. He gave the centrepiece a quick last straightening before moving to greet them at the door.
"Draco, you remember Harry from your schooldays."
Draco nodded at him. "Potter," he greeted.
"Mr. Malfoy, Severus. Dinner is ready if you’ll follow me, please, gentlemen." Harry smiled and led them toward the dining room.
Severus stopped him from pulling out Draco’s chair and did it himself, then allowed Harry to pull out his chair.
"How are your parents doing, Draco?" Severus asked as Harry unobtrusively began serving the pheasant.
"They’re doing fine. Father has started the appeal of his case with the Wizengamot. I pretend with him," Draco explained as Harry poured the wine, "But I hope he rots in prison. Mother has been ever so much better since he was sent to Azkaban in fifth year."
"Thank you, Harry, that will be all. What is your mother keeping herself busy with lately?"
Harry heard Draco’s rich laugh all the way into the kitchen. "She’s taken up with a younger man," he said, voice fading as Harry silently closed the door.
He was terribly confused. Severus had never treated him this way before, so dismissively. As if they weren’t lovers. Harry had always eaten at the table with the guests, and now . . . and now Severus was treating him as if he were . . . were nothing but a servant.
Tears pooled in his eyes.
Angrily, he blinked them back.
Try to think, Harry. Maybe you broke a rule and this is your punishment.
But . . . but Severus had always told him before when he was on punishment, and he hadn’t said anything in his letter at all about Harry having misbehaved.
The horrible thought that Severus wanted to end their relationship struck him and he reeled.
He couldn’t. Harry needed Severus. Harry loved Severus.
But Severus had never said he loved Harry.
Maybe he didn’t.
Maybe he was ready for a relationship with someone who wasn’t so needy, like Draco.
Or-or someone who was better looking, like Draco.
Or just someone who was better.
A tear slipped out of his eye and he wiped it away, resigning not to cry.
If Severus wanted him gone, he would have to say so. Harry wasn’t going to leave until he was forced to.
But Severus wanted to talk on Sunday.
Harry sighed and wiped his eyes, hoping they weren’t too red.
He composed himself carefully and re-entered the dining room. Carefully and silently he refilled their wineglasses and took their empty plates back to the kitchen, not listening to their conversation.
He dished crème brulee into dishes and carried it carefully into the dining room. He served Draco first and Severus second, and then headed back into the kitchen without listening to them.
Harry took off the charcoal gray sport coat he was wearing, donned an apron, rolled up his sleeves, and distracted himself with washing dishes until Severus called him once more.
Quickly, he doffed the apron and swung his sport coat on over his rolled up sleeves as he headed out of the kitchen.
"It was nice seeing you again, Mr. Malfoy," Harry said, and pulled Draco’s coat out of the closet, helping him into it.
"Pleasure seeing you, too, Potter," Draco smirked at him and rebuffed Harry’s attempts to straighten his jacket for him. "And you as well, Severus," Draco said seductively, and kissed Severus’ cheek.
Harry barely held back a sharp gasp of betrayal as he watched Severus allow it.
"Right," Severus said. "Harry, I’m going to walk Draco to his car."
"Yes, Severus." Harry watched him leave and walked back into the kitchen to finish the last of the dishes.
Harry heard the front door open as he cast a drying charm on the last dish. "Harry," Severus called, his voice weary. "Can you bring me a whiskey, please?"
"Yes, Severus," Harry said, and he filled a glass with the amber liquid.
He brought it out to Severus and handed it to him.
Severus sipped it and patted the couch next to him. "Sit. I want to be with you," Severus said.
Harry sat, wondering at Severus’ strange behaviour, but willingly sat down and allowed himself to be petted.
Severus nuzzled his nose against the base of Harry’s throat. Harry felt the agile tongue dart out to lick at his skin and shivered in pleasure.
Severus moaned softly and stood up, taking Harry’s hand and pulling him up. "Come with me, Harry."
Harry followed obediently, his confusion at Severus’ behaviour overwhelming the betrayal he felt, at least for the moment.
"S-Severus, what—" he began when Severus led him into the bath.
"Shh. Have a seat on the chair, Harry."
Obediently, Harry sat and watched, perplexed, as Severus filled the tub with water. "Come here and tell me if this temperature is good for you."
Harry complied. "This is fine, Severus."
Severus looked at him for a long while. "Not hotter, or colder?"
Harry shook his head.
"All right." Severus reached to unbutton Harry’s dress shirt.
"Severus, what are you doing?" Harry asked, watching as Severus began undressing him.
Two long fingers landed on his lips. "Sh. I want to take care of you tonight, Harry."
Harry nodded against the fingers on his lips. "Yes, Severus," he said.
Severus smiled softly at him and cupped his cheek, moving in to kiss him softly as he undid the buttons of Harry’s shirt.
Harry moaned softly and pressed closer to Severus, kissing him hungrily as the older wizard shed his dress shirt and unzipped his trousers, pushing them gently down his legs. Harry whimpered as Severus broke the kiss and moved to take off Harry’s pants and socks.
"Get in the tub, please, Harry."
Harry nodded and slid into the warm water. Severus gently pushed him to lean where Severus usually leaned, and in a few short moments, Severus had shed his clothes and joined him.
He took up the sponge and soaped it up, then ran it over Harry’s body, gently scrubbing away Harry’s hurt and confusion along with the dirt of the day.
Under the water, he grasped Harry’s hard cock and stroked up and down.
Harry gasped at the feel and mewled softly, shutting his eyes as Severus coaxed him to orgasm.
"So beautiful," Severus breathed. "So lovely. Come for me, Harry. Come for me."
With a sharp cry, Harry came hard, sobbing, insensate.
When he came around, Severus was carrying him to the bed, carding his fingers through Harry’s inky black hair.
"Sev’rus?" he mumbled.
"Shh," Severus whispered as he lay Harry on the bed.
Severus sat down next to him, and Harry noticed his cock was hard and purple and laying on his stomach.
He scooted backwards to sit up and reached for Severus’ cock, intending to bring Severus to orgasm, but Severus slapped his hand away gently. "Not yet, Harry."
Harry licked his lips. "Yes, Severus," he whispered.
"Turn over," Severus said softly, and Harry, mesmerised by the rasp of his voice and the lust in his eyes, did not hear his words.
So Severus simply turned Harry over himself. Pointedly ignoring his own aching erection, he straddled Harry and massaged the kinks out of his muscles, slowly moving down Harry’s tense body, until Harry was nothing more than a whimpering, quivering mass on the bed, his muscles approximately the consistency of cooked noodles.
Severus carefully and gently turned him over and repeated the process on the front of Harry’s body.
Harry couldn’t have moved if Voldemort himself had entered the room and levelled a wand at him.
Then, Severus reached for the jar of lubricant on the night stand and took Harry’s half-erect cock in hand, bringing it to full arousal.
And finally, finally, he coated two fingers with plenty of lubricant. Harry’s legs fell open to give Severus access to his grasping hole, and Severus gently worked his fingers into Harry’s hole, giving his prostate a quick brush with every thrust.
Harry keened softly, too spent to make any other noise, and a third finger entered him, thrusting in and out, and then the fingers were gone and Harry heard a soft hiss and managed to open his eyes enough to see Severus was coating his cock liberally with lubricant.
Severus settled over him, kissing him, softly at first, then more roughly. He petted Harry’s lower lip with his tongue, requesting entrance, and Harry granted it with a little moan.
He brushed his tongue across Harry’s, feeling the smaller body below him squirm and he rubbed his hips against Harry’s, their hard cocks brushing against each other, swallowing each other’s moans in their mouths.
Severus stroked his hand down Harry’s twitching stomach to line his member up at the entrance to Harry’s tight channel.
Harry whimpered and tugged their mouths apart. "Please," he moaned. "Please fuck me, Severus."
Severus moaned loudly and complied, thrusting his cock into Harry and pumping his hips. He grasped Harry’s hard cock and squeezed gently, eliciting a pleading cry from the smaller frame beneath him.
He did not intend to make Harry wait, stroking his cock faster as he fucked him harder.
"I’m-I’m coming!" Harry cried. "S-Severus, come w – come wit-"
Severus reached down and cupped Harry’s balls in his other hand.
He licked his thumb and ran it over the slit of Harry’s prick.
Harry came, screaming. His hips jerked up and down, trying to get both sensations at once, the hand on his cock, the prick in his arse, his breath sobbing in his throat.
Severus stopped thrusting to watch, and when those bright, sated, half-closed green eyes set on his own lust-filled black ones, he came.
Harry cried out in pleasure as he felt Severus’ come fill him. Through a haze, he felt his body lift of its own accord to press against Severus’ and his arms wrap around his neck, pulling the older wizard against him.
Severus kissed him very gently and put his head on Harry’s shoulder, his tongue snaking out to lick Harry’s collarbone soothingly.
He lifted his head and smiled at Harry. "One more time," he whispered, and Harry whimpered tiredly.
Severus kissed him softly once more and moved down, licking at Harry’s chest and navel as he went.
He flipped Harry over so that he was laying on his stomach, then parted his thighs and ran his tongue down Harry’s cleft.
Harry yelped weakly and pressed back into Severus as he traced Harry’s hole with his hot, wet tongue, lapping up the come that had pooled there.
Severus pressed his tongue into the tight back passage, trying to get every drop, fighting with the muscles that were trying to keep the wet invader out.
He kept licking carefully and worked a finger into Harry’s hole as deeply as it would go, then began thrusting in and out, stroking his prostate gently, making Harry’s hips jerk.
He stroked the little button more firmly and Harry came for the third time, though it wasn’t much more than a few drops.
He moved up Harry’s body and kissed him one last time before moving back into the bath to get a warm cloth.
He gently scrubbed the saliva from Harry’s arse and turned him over to clean his prick and stomach, then attended to his own before throwing the towel back into the bath and gathering the insensate young man in his arms.
Harry was too spent to do more than whimper against Severus and fall asleep.
But Severus stayed up very late that night, thinking . . .
Harry yawned as he woke the next morning, muscles still more than relaxed from Severus’ ministrations the previous night.
Another note fell from his head when he sat up.
I’m afraid I will be late this evening. I am going out to dinner with a friend, and we will be out late as we have some business to discuss.
I am at work right now, and it should be about eight in the morning. Please do not wait dinner, and I should see you at about eleven o’clock. Make sure to complete your chores.
Harry smiled and put the letter away before heading into the bath to shower.
He had just finished the dishes he had used for lunch when a knock sounded at the front door.
All day he had been hard pressed to keep the smile from his face and the skip from his step, so it was with a huge grin that he opened the door to reveal Draco Malfoy.
"Mr. Malfoy," he greeted, his face falling slightly.
"Potter. Is Severus in?" he asked.
Harry shook his head. "No, he’s at the castle, sir. At work. Can I help you?"
Draco laughed meanly. "I guess the Boy who Lived really has fallen, haven’t you, calling a Malfoy sir. Let me in, Potter."
Harry reluctantly stepped aside.
"Where is your fireplace?" Draco demanded. "Take me there."
Harry did, shutting the front door behind them.
Draco tossed some Floo powder in, "Hogwarts School, Dungeons, Head of Slytherin!"
"Draco!" Harry heard Severus say warmly. "To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?"
Draco smirked back at Harry. "I wanted to make sure we were still on for tonight, Severus."
"Of course we are, Draco. Saint Martin’s Pub at six, correct?"
Betrayal cut through Harry like a knife. He held in a gasp and blinked back the tears.
Draco nodded. "Just verifying, Severus. Thank you."
"I shall see you there, then?"
"Of course. At six then, Severus."
Draco cut off the Floo and turned to pout mockingly at Harry. "Aw, I guess ickle Hawwy is about to lose his boyfwiend."
Harry held his head high despite the blush blooming on his cheeks. He said nothing, merely turned and strode back into the kitchen.
Draco followed. "He’s upgrading from a little boy to a real man, Harry. He never did like the needy types. Especially ones as ugly as you." Draco patted his shoulder in mock sympathy. "But you’re famous, though, Harry! You’ll find someone new, I just know that there are people in the world who can look past your ugly face and how scrawny you are to see your fame."
Draco patted his cheek mockingly with a derisive smirk on his face. "I’ll show myself out," he said, and left.
Harry looked at the clock. It was only twelve-fifteen.
He could go lay on Severus’ bed and cry.
Amazing how fifteen minutes can change your whole perspective.
He lay awake on the bed at eleven when Severus came home, and quickly feigned sleep as Severus came through the bedroom door.
Severus sighed softly as he came to stand next to Harry. A long fingered hand slipped down to brush Harry’s hair back from his head.
"You must be so terribly confused and hurt," Severus murmured, so softly Harry had to strain to hear him. "And it pains me to let you continue that way. One more day, my Harry. One more day."
A light touch of Severus’ lips to his scar and he could not help but shiver.
Harry awoke slowly, to the feel of Severus gently kissing him. "Happy Birthday," he murmured softly, once he realised Harry was awake. "What would you like for breakfast?"
"Eggs and bangers," Harry said softly. "Toast. A cinnamon roll."
"Done," Severus murmured. "Let me get you your first gift, hold on."
Severus kissed him softly once more and sprang from the bed.
In the corner of the room was something bumpy covered by a sheet.
Severus pulled the sheet off with a flourish. Underneath was a television set.
"Oh, Severus!" Harry said. "Thank you!"
Severus looked terribly satisfied with himself as he handed Harry the remote control. "I shall go make breakfast whilst you enjoy your first gift."
Severus smiled and winked, then left the room.
Harry sighed happily and turned on the television.
Forty-five minutes later, Severus brought the breakfast back into their bedroom. For reasons unknown to Severus, Harry still referred to it as Severus’ room, Severus’ bed. But Harry slept in the bedroom, and often he slept on the bed with Severus, unless he was on punishment.
Severus supposed it was because, for so long, Harry didn’t really have a place of his own. Even the cupboard under the stairs held various and sundry cleaning apparatuses, with Harry’s cot shoved in haphazardly in the back. He’d never lived anywhere where he could really set down his own roots, not even Hogwarts.
So now, he considered very few things ‘his’. He established two drawers for himself, and kept all his possessions in those and a school trunk in front of the bed that still bore his initials.
He had very few items hanging in the closet, and those were items of clothing Severus purchased for him, for the benefits and banquets they had to attend because Harry was still the Boy who Lived.
Severus set the breakfast tray over Harry’s lap and Harry’s eyes widened comically. "I love you," he breathed. "Thank you for cooking for me, Severus."
He bit down into the cinnamon roll with relish, and gestured to Severus to join him.
Severus did. "What is on the, eh, televisum?"
Harry laughed softly. "Television. It’s just the Muggle news. How did you get it to work?"
"Simple spell, really. Your mother taught it to me at Hogwarts. She brought her – I believe it was something called an hate-track?"
"An eight-track," Harry said. He had long since discovered the friendship his mother and Severus had shared – if secretly – as children.
"Yes, that. She taught me a simple little spell to allow them to work properly in a magic home. Of course, they didn’t work at Hogwarts anyway – but your mother was very resourceful, and figured a way around that as well."
"Tell me, please," Harry said, starting in on his eggs.
"She charmed the, er, tapes themselves to play their music. It was my first taste of Muggle culture."
"Did you like it?"
Severus smiled. "I enjoyed the Beatles quite a lot. I think your mother might have even got me the cassette for Christmas one year."
Harry smiled. "What was she like?" he asked as he set aside the empty tray.
Severus tugged at his sleeve and Harry eagerly scooted closer to him.
"She was very intelligent and skilled in Charms, as you already know. I think she was better suited for Ravenclaw than Godric’s house, but then, she was brave enough to – Anyway, she was also very beautiful."
Harry nodded and Severus carded long fingers through his hair.
"She liked to ride horses. She didn’t play Quidditch, but she liked to watch it quite a lot. She hated chocolate and had skin very like yours, pale and spot-free."
"Do-do you know how she fell in love with my father?"
"I only know that he stopped being a fool – to her at least."
"Did . . ." Harry gulped. "Did you love her?"
"I have always known that I prefer the company of men, but she was my best friend, so yes, I did." Severus sipped his orange juice, indicating that the conversation was over for the moment. He reached beneath the bed for another gift-wrapped package. "Next birthday present."
Harry smiled shyly and took it, unwrapping it with the care of one who had received few gifts in his life, and had learned to treasure what he did receive.
He pulled the long book over to his lap to see it more clearly once he’d set aside the wrapping. "A blank book?"
"A sketchbook. Muggles apparently have special paper specifically designed for artists."
Harry nodded and opened the cover to reveal the thick white paper. He ran his fingers over the soft rough surface.
"I know you love to draw, and parchment is inherently useless when it comes to writing anything other than ink."
Harry nodded. "I-I love it," he whispered, still running delicate fingertips over the pages. The small bumps caught on his flying-roughened fingers.
"I’m afraid most of the rest of your gifts all have to do with art, as well."
Harry smiled again, his face lighting up. "That’s okay," he said excitedly.
Severus smirked. "Would you like to open them now, or wait until your friends come over after the game?"
"Let’s wait for my friends," he said.
Severus nodded. "Just a quiet morning, then?"
Harry nodded. "Yes, please," he said softly.
They regarded the television for a long while before Severus said, "When were you planning to tell me that Draco came by yesterday?"
Harry’s eyes widened. "Now, I suppose, Severus."
Harry shrugged. "I-I’m sorry, Severus. I didn’t think that it was important . . ."
"Don’t be that way," Harry entreated.
Severus simply shook his head, sighed, and pulled Harry closer against him.
"Open mine!" Ron demanded later that night, and got a sharp smack from Hermione for his trouble.
Harry laughed good-naturedly and reached for Ron’s present.
It turned out to be a professional practice snitch, signed by the Seeker for the Wimbourne Wasps, Harry’s favourite team.
Harry thanked Ron profusely and carefully set the tiny fluttering ball on the coffee table.
Hermione grinned and handed him her gift.
Harry unwrapped it carefully, revealing a book on the Dark Arts that he had been wanting for some time, on Animagi.
Remus leant over and took it from Harry’s shocked grasp.
"It’s really a gift for both of you," she said. "If it’s okay with Severus, I was thinking Remus could have another animal to hang out with on full moons."
Harry smiled at Remus.
"We’ll see," Severus said in the tone of voice that meant the answer was probably yes.
When it was nearing the end of the evening, Severus pulled a small package out of his pocket and handed it unobtrusively to Harry.
Harry smiled and tore the wrapping off to reveal a jewellery box. "What’s this, Severus?" he asked.
"Open it," Severus urged.
Harry did, and stilled, catching the attention of the others.
Severus lifted the box from his unresisting fingers and slipped to one knee before Harry. "Harry, will you do me the honour of becoming my husband?"
Harry blinked, gulped, nodded, a small smile on his face slowly turning into a joyful grin as Severus slipped the old-fashioned-looking ring onto his finger.
Severus placed a light kiss on Harry’s lips and moved to whisper in his ear. "I think that settles whether or not you’re going to lose me."
Dimly, Harry nodded.
Hermione shrieked happily and scrambled over the coffee table to hug Harry. "Congratulations!" she cried.
Ron shook Harry’s hand, then, gingerly, Severus’. "Congratulations," he offered shortly.
Severus nodded sharply at him, smirking as Ron’s discomfort.
"Are you sure that this is what you want, Harry?" Remus asked carefully. At Harry’s nod, he smiled and pulled him into a hug.
Ginny was next. She hugged Harry hard. "I’m so happy for you," she said. Ginny had been the very first to accept Severus and Harry’s relationship for what it was, and had been instrumental in convincing Hermione and Ron to just deal with it.
Her husband, Neville, shook his and Severus’ hand. Now a fully-grown wizard, with the woman he’d wanted since Hogwarts as his wife and several awards for his contributions to the study of Herbology, Neville was a confident young man in a way he never had been before, and no longer held any fear of Severus Snape.
"Congratulations, Professor," he said respectfully. "I do hope you realise how lucky you are."
Severus merely smirked.
"Perhaps Severus and Harry would like some time to chat, eh?" Remus suggested, and began clearing everyone out.
"Remus?" Harry called just as he was putting on his threadbare coat to leave. "Can I speak with you?"
"Of course you may, Harry, if it’s all right with Severus."
Harry looked sheepish and glanced back at his fiancé, who nodded.
Harry caught Remus’ arm and led him out to his car.
"What did you want to talk about?"
"Are . . . are you happy? I mean, with-without Sirius?"
Remus looked into the distance and smiled ruefully, then looked back at Harry and shrugged.
"Do you want to be with someone else?"
"My lover is dead," Remus said calmly.
"Yes, I know, but—"
Something in Remus’ voice made Harry pause and really look at the older man.
"You love Severus?"
"You’d do anything for him? Die for him? Live for him?"
Harry nodded again.
"Suffer so that he might be happy?"
"Can you imagine feeling that way about anyone else? Ever?"
Harry’s eyes softened in realisation and melancholy, and he put his hand on Remus’ shoulder. "No," he acknowledged softly.
Remus smiled at him sadly, and Harry returned the smile as Remus got in his car.
Harry watched Remus drive off before heading back inside.
"Have a nice chat?" Severus asked, picking up the garbage strewn around the parlour.
"Yes, Severus," Harry replied, and moved to help him pick up stray garbage.
"Stop," Severus said softly. "Let me do it."
Harry obeyed, dropping the items he had in his hand into the bag Severus was carrying.
"Have a seat on the couch, we need to talk."
Harry sat down, crossing his legs under him.
Severus moved the rubbish bag from one hand to the other, almost nervously, quite an odd state for Severus Snape.
Finally, he set the bag down and came to kneel in front of Harry, grasping his wrists in both hands and looking into Harry’s eyes almost earnestly. "You truly wish to marry me?"
Harry smiled and nodded. "I can’t imagine my life without you," he whispered. "I love you."
Severus pulled Harry off the couch and tight against him, kissing him hard.
A moment later, he broke the kiss, leaving them both breathless. He leant his head against Harry’s forehead and whispered hoarsely, "Harry, I . . ." Severus sighed and shook his head, staring pleadingly at Harry.
"I know," Harry whispered back, equally hoarse.
Severus layered Harry’s face with butterfly kisses, then lay the boy’s head on his shoulder.
"Why were you meeting with Draco Malfoy?" Harry asked softly, after a long, comfortable silence.
In response, Severus grasped the hand bearing the ring and ran his finger over it. "This ring has been worn by Snape wives for generations, passed down from mother to son, when the boy was prepared to marry. The last woman it was given to was Draco’s grandmother on his mother’s side, and it had been in the Malfoy vault since then. I had to get it back from him. It . . . would not have been right for you to wear any other engagement ring."
Harry nodded and hugged Severus tightly. "I’m sorry I doubted you," he whispered.
Severus hugged him back. "You had every reason to," he replied softly. "But you must never doubt again."
Harry pulled back and shook his head. "I never will. I love you."
Severus kissed Harry softly and settled the dark head firmly back on his shoulder.
"Just promise me something."
"Hmm?" Severus murmured inquiringly.
"Never see Draco Malfoy again."
Severus laughed. "That’s not a problem for several reasons, not the least of which is that Draco Malfoy was under the impression that I was requesting the ring in order to propose to him."
"I take it he quite upset when you told him it was for me?"
Severus grimaced. "He threw water in my face and called me a greasy, selfish bastard."
"Sounds about right," Harry said cheekily.
Severus playfully swatted his behind.
Another comfortable silence ensued, and Harry had been falling nicely asleep, when Severus asked in a low rumble, "How was your birthday?"
Harry smiled and answered without opening his eyes. "Best ever," he whispered, and settled more firmly against Severus’ comforting warmth.
A long, silent, sleepy pause, and then
"Do you want children?"
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