Disclaimer: Characters and places in this story, which appear in the Harry Potter novels, belong to JK Rowling, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros. and Scholastic. I don't make, or intend to make money out of them. They just wouldn't leave me alone.

Thank you: My Beloved Cindy Lou, Accompaniment from Trent and Ozzy. Unending Gratitude to Betas Kyohaku Celestiale Vespertina, Maruchina, Bettyblue, and Olivia Lupin - I couldn't have done it without you.

Author's Notes: Random lyrics shamelessly stolen from Nine Inch Nails' "Pretty Hate Machine." References to Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Rappachini's Daughter." Influenced more than I realized by two lovely fics, Accio Snape's "Something to Live For" and Cybele's "Le Lien des Beaux RÍves."

Archiving: Please ask.

Virulentus Somnium

Part 6

By Salix


10 AM, Day 4


I woke up in his arms again, but it was different this time. He was holding me, still tightly, after my nightmares. Which he saw. Holding me as I cried and as I slept after. Holding me like I was the most precious thing ever and he would keep me safe. I'm starting to think maybe he actually can...

But that's not what I woke up to, late in the morning. He was touching me. Light fingertips tracing patterns on my chest and stomach, waist and hips. Feeling my arms through my t-shirt. Breathing warm breath on my neck, just barely almost-but-not-quite touching my skin with his lips. Legs pressed into mine, bottom arm between our bodies, knuckles of his hand slightly touching the curve of my bum. Not really anything overtly sexual; all caresses that could be written off as comforting or soothing.

I've never been so aroused in my life. Every muscle in my body strained with the effort of not writhing in his arms. Every part of me ached for a firmer touch, something less soothing and more possessive. For him to claim me. I didn't know what to do, so I lay there, feigning sleep, feeling like my body was drugged, but with my mind wide awake and panicking, unsure. And of course my cock full of pulsing blood, straining, pleading with my brain to grab his hand and move it there. Or to press my arse back against his knuckles and moan like a whore...

What am I going to do?

Did he do it on purpose? Was he even awake? Does he want me? What was he thinking? Why did he stop? Will he do it again?

I want him to do it again.

I want him.

I think I had to write all this down just to get there. To see it in black and white so I know it's true.

I want him.

I think I may even... love him.

Harry set down the quill and picked up his wand instead. One touch and a murmured "Incendo" and the parchment was nothing more than a flutter of ashes.


6 PM, Day 4


Harry could think of nothing else all day. His body pulsed and thrummed as if it had just come to life, just been discovered. Every time his mind wasn't focused on something specific, it wandered to last night, in bed, Snape touching him. Every time he thought about it, his body was instantly ready, ready for repeats, for more of the same. His attempts to concentrate on Quidditch training or Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson plans were a disaster; he simply couldn't keep his mind on anything.

As the day progressed he was exceedingly grateful for his voluminous robes, obscuring the reoccurring bulge in his trousers. At lunch he sat with Madame Hooch, at the opposite end of the table from where Snape usually sat. They talked Quidditch and she seemed unusually patient with his inability to follow their simple conversation. Madam Pomfrey conducted an impromptu examination of his hands and face, much to his annoyance, and a few other professors stopped by to express concern over his "sleep problem."

More than anything, he wanted to be with Snape and talk to him.

I know, I'll just go straight up to him and say, "Were you touching me last night? Because I liked it. I want you. I think I may love you. No, of course I'm not mad. Well, yes, signs would seem to indicate the opposite. No, I haven't forgotten about that whole curse business either. Sorry to have implied that you could want someone as pointless and pathetic as me." Perhaps he'd just keep his distance a while longer.

A heavy snow had fallen over the last few days, making any excursions outside an impossibility. As darkness fell in the early afternoon, Harry's ever-present arousal and frustration grew. He wandered up to the Astronomy Tower to look at the stars and think. And avoid Snape.

My body feels so strange. Alive and awake and humming with energy. Energy all centered in my pants, unfortunately. Why can't I just be a normal person and go take care of it in the bathroom like anyone else? I can't do that again, though. I can't think of him and do that. I'd never be able to look him in the face again... And what if something happened? Part of me knows it won't, but what if it did?

And still, I'm so tired my eyes feel like they're on fire and my body aches. My hands and face look fine, thanks to Madam Pomfrey. I can't believe that was only two days ago... Time is bending and flexing and doing strange things. I can't believe how fast things are happening with Snape. Severus.

I guess we're friends now. Last week I wouldn't have thought so, but now... After all he's listened to, all the times he's held me while I cried in the last few days...

I'm so bloody sick of sobbing all the time. I think I've cried more in the last week than my whole bloody childhood put together. I used to be such a stoic little boy. After all I've been through... Where is all that control now? I'm just so exhausted...

He knows all my secrets. Well, almost all of them. By the time this is over, he'll know all of the big ones, I'm sure. He won't give up. I feel like he's pursuing me, but I'm not exactly running. I'm just scared. How can I give him just friendship, just a normal friendship, if I want him this badly? How can I push this all away and continue to share a bed with him? How am I going to find out if he wants me or not? I'm so lost.

Harry glanced up at the stars for a few minutes and then chuckled to himself. The moon seems to be sextile Venus, with Venus retrograde... Maybe I should drag out some of my old textbooks and see if the answers are in the stars. I'm sure Trelawney would be thrilled to help predict my broken heart and ultimate doom if I asked her for assistance.

No, I'm just going to have to do this myself. I'll track him down and we'll do some research and I'll see if I can get a few questions of my own answered. After all, what exactly do I have to lose? He's seen my deepest fears. He knows I'm gay and that I'm a virgin. He's let me sob all over him. If he's repulsed... well... I'm sure it will hurt excruciatingly.

But I don't exactly have much to live for anyway. My life isn't a life worth living...

I don't know if this is that famed Gryffindor bravery or just fatalism. Either way, I can't stay in this tower forever.

He squared his shoulders and stalked down to the dungeons, ready to corner Snape.


7 PM, Day 4


Harry found him in the library, to his surprise.

"I was wondering when you'd decide to join me," Snape said placidly.

"I was in the Astronomy Tower, thinking."

"I can see how that would take you a while," was the reply, with a smirk.

Harry wasn't sure if he should be amused or angry, so he settled for replying lightly, "Well, I didn't become a household name on the merits of my intellect."

"Given that you were less than a year old, I should hope not. So what were the results of your ruminations?"

The pause where Harry considered how to answer stretched uncomfortably. His face flushed as he thought of this morning and all the questions he had, but he couldn't just blurt them out. Finally he mumbled, "I was thinking about you."

Harry missed the brief hint of surprised pleasure crossed Snape's expression before it disappeared under his habitual mask of sarcasm, "Really? Whatever for? It would have been more useful to be thinking about the curse. That's what I've been doing and I'm not the hexed one."

Harry bristled at the sharp tone in Snape's voice. "I didn't ask you to help," he snapped, hurt that Snape's usual bite had replaced the more recent compassion, and irritated with himself for expecting anything different.

"I didn't realize I needed an invitation," Snape retorted.

"Why are you being such a git? I thought-- I thought we were friends now." There was no mistaking the hurt in Harry's voice and they both flushed slightly, remembering the morning and the possibility of more than friendship. Harry's frustration grew with Snape's silence.

"Why are you doing this? Why are you being so distant? Why do you want to help me with this anyway?"

"I need something to do over the holidays?" Snape proposed tentatively, the corner of his mouth twitching up slightly as his obsidian eyes sparkled.

Harry smirked outright. "I'm sure you can do better than that."

"I..." Snape flipped through several possible endings: feel bad about the memory charm; am still trying to atone for my sins as a Death Eater; am tired of being alone; think you're attractive; perhaps even something with the word "love" in it? He settled for, "...wanted to see you stop looking so tired."

Harry rolled his eyes at the non-answer. "Fine then. What have you discovered?"

"I've been thinking about last night." Harry colored immediately and was almost positive that Snape's cheeks flushed as well before he specified, "About last night's dreams." He paused, to meet and hold Harry's gaze before he continued. "They weren't exactly dreams, were they? They were memories of things that have all really happened to you." Harry nodded his confirmation. "So if they aren't really dreams, that would explain why the memory charm was successful but the dreamless aspect of the sleeping potion failed."

"That makes sense," Harry answered slowly, "but short of having my memory permanently altered, I still don't see how to break the curse."

Snape rolled his eyes in exasperation. "You're jumping ahead. You can't go straight from one fact about one symptom to finding the cure. You have to look at the whole picture, the other effects. Take motivation; what purpose would a curse serve that made you relive your most frightened moments with Voldemort over and over?"

"It's exhausting," Harry said after a moment. "And it was demoralizing, before the war was over. Reliving those moments when I was frozen in terror and unable to move made it harder to face him every time, when Voldemort was still alive."

"Exactly so." Snape paused a moment, before recapturing Harry's eyes, refusing to let him look away. "But those dreams weren't the worse nightmares you have, were they?"

"They're no picnic," Harry snapped bitterly, looking away.

"Of course not. But there are worse dreams, aren't there?"

"What are you getting at? Just say it already," Harry demanded, eyes narrowing in annoyance.

"Fine. I'll spell it out for you: sex. Whatever it is that terrifies you the most, it has something to so with sex, doesn't it?"

Harry flushed in irritation as well as embarrassment, and looked intently at the table. "What makes you think that?" he finally asked in a strangled voice.

Snape looked more than a little uncomfortable. "Well, from what you said about your dream about Malfoy. And... the nightmare you had after you were released from the infirmary." He shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "I was watching you so I could wake you if you had a nightmare." Harry nodded, puzzled by Snape's discomfort. "I was reading. You fell asleep. And... er... exhibited signs of having an... erotic dream."

Snape was definitely blushing now, but so was Harry. Snape had watched him have an erotic dream? How could he tell? Had he made noises? Kissed his pillow? Humped the blankets? He was suddenly mortified.

Snape cleared his throat. "Anyway. It seemed like an erotic dream, so I got up to leave you alone. But before I even made it out the door, you were screaming in terror. After you calmed down somewhat I asked you what you were dreaming about. You couldn't tell me. Can you now?" Harry shook his head in the negative. "I think it's important. I think it may hold the key."

"So what do we do then? Keep taking the dream-sharing potion until I happen to have that dream again?" Harry asked incredulously.

Snape shook his head and seemed suddenly overcome by frustrated exhaustion. He dropped his face into his hands, elbows on the table. "I don't know. I don't know how to make you a have a specific dream that you not only don't want to have, but can't even talk about." He slumped down further. "What do you suggest, Harry?"

Harry took a moment to enjoy the little shiver that passed through his body at the way Snape said his first name. The man had the most incredible voice, like creamy soft leather gloves that fit like a second skin, warm and secure and sinfully smooth.

"I don't know either. But this is stupid. It's my problem; I should figure it out. I'm tired of having everyone else doing things for me." Harry got up and walked over to a window to stare out at the moonlight on the snow. So tired...

He could feel Snape's eyes on him. All I want is to be in bed with him. Have him touch me again. And sleep. In his arms. All I want is to be safe in his arms and feel drunk with lust... Easiest way to get him back in bed would be the potion... "Maybe you could add something to the potion?" he asked hesitantly from the window. "Something... um, aphrodisiac?" He hoped his blush wasn't reflected in the glass.

Snape's voice from behind him sounded deeply amused. "Are you sure that's what you want, Mr. Potter?"

No, I want you to fulfill every fantasy I've ever had, starting with kissing me until I faint. He cleared his throat. "Yes. Yes, it's what I want. If you think it'll work."

"Very well. Shall we retire to the Potions classroom, then and throw together some more of our delicious bedtime brew?" Snape asked, holding open the door.


8 PM, Day 4


Once again they were in the Potions classroom, chopping and mincing and simmering. Harry had begun to think he could brew this potion blindfolded with one arm tied behind his back. He was torn between being pleasantly surprised that over the last few days potion making had become something he was actually good at, or feeling bored out of his mind. Mostly he was bored, since Snape did all of the interesting parts and he just fetched and prepared ingredients.

In fact, he was getting a bit irritated by that. Somewhat petulantly he asked, "Isn't there anything else I can do?"

Snape looked up from the potions book he was reading as he stirred the brew slowly. "No. I'm still deciding which... er... aphrodisiac to include," he answered with a slight flush creeping across his face.

Harry wanted to make some witty comment about how Snape probably never expected to be consensually dosing him with lust inspiring potions, but decided against it because he'd probably end up getting too embarrassed to get the words out and sputtering like a fool instead. I'm so tired of feeling embarrassed and foolish and uncertain and confused. Too many ups and downs. Too tired to handle any of it. Too fucking tired in general. The only decent rest I've had has been in Severus' bed, and that hasn't quite been entirely restful. Funny how he's Severus in bed... I should try calling him that out loud some time.

"So what have you decided to use?" Harry asked after a long pause.

Snape closed the book and stared into the simmering cauldron, not meeting Harry's eyes. "I think probably maguey juice would be best. I believe I have some in my personal stock. Stir this while I go get it. Slowly, clockwise."

Harry moved over to the cauldron while Snape left the room. As he sank down on the bench to stir he was overwhelmed with exhaustion and a feeling of futility. One more night of drinking the potion, going to bed with Snape, having screaming nightmares, with no guarantee of success. In all likelihood with increasing sexual frustration, which was frankly getting to be more than he could bear. He'd never before been so tense, and so completely unable to do anything about it. If he wasn't a cursed freak, he could masturbate to alleviate some of the pressure, but...

He sighed. Frankly, he doubted that would really even work completely. I'm so tired of being a freak. Of being broken. This isn't going to work; even if it does, it's just going to help figure out what the curse is, not how to break it. This could take forever. I could be cursed for the rest of my life. He pessimistically dismissed the thought that at least now he knew he was cursed, and had someone to help him.

Gods, what's the point? I'm so tired of all of this. Of pretending I'm sleeping fine, pretending I'm happy to be everyone's superfluous hero, of not having anyone know who I really am, of being so afraid that if they knew, they'd hate me. Let alone if they knew I was gay. And if they ever found out about Severus... About how much I want him...

He shivered, thinking of his old friends' potentially horrible reactions. He could never want me though, so it doesn't matter. Sometimes I think he does, but he couldn't possibly see anything in a naÔve little brat like me. Could he? No, of course not. I'll be alone forever. Just like Voldemort wanted...

Why did I live? he asked himself bitterly, his free hand coming up to pinch the bridge of his nose under his glasses as he squeezed his burning eyes shut. Such a stupid life.

"What's the point?" he breathed out loud.

"What did you say?" Snape asked from beside his shoulder.

Harry jumped; he hadn't heard the other man's return. "Nevermind," he replied, feeling grey depression begin to tinge red with anger.

Snape looked at him, searchingly, and Harry shifted uncomfortably off of the stool to evade his gaze. "You really should consider talking to someone," Snape suggested quietly. "Work through some of your bitterness and anger. Before you end up a resentful, lonely old man," he finished, as if talking to himself.

"I should have died," Harry said before he could stop himself.

Snape's simple reply surprised him. "So should I. And many who died should have lived."

Harry shook his head, not sure what he was disagreeing with, and closed his eyes as he continued quietly, "I just can't believe I haven't done it yet. I'm such a coward."

Snape decided not to pretend that he didn't know what Harry was talking about; of course he knew, he'd had the same thoughts himself for nearly two decades. "Well, why haven't you, if you really believe that?"

"I... I don't want them to know," Harry said slowly. "They think I'm a hero. They don't know me."

Harry missed the eyebrow that Snape raised at this excuse. "Yet you'll live a miserable, lonely life, so they won't find out that their hero is human?"

He shrugged. "I guess so. For now."

Snape gave him a long, penetrating look as he considered how to respond to the implicit threat. After a few moments he sighed and asked, "Why not find something to live for instead? Something to do?"

Harry snorted, and Snape struggled to control the smirk that twitched at the corners of his mouth. It wasn't that he didn't take the boy seriously, just that... Well, he knew Harry had too great a will to live. He was depressed, certainly, but Snape suspected that he wouldn't sound quite so melodramatic if he wasn't so sleep deprived.

Harry's voice grew louder with frustration as he retorted, "Like what? Stay here at Hogwarts and assistant coach and tutor for the next sixty years? How can I figure out what to do with my life when I can't even fucking sleep?" He realized he was nearly yelling and took a deep breath before finishing as calmly as he could, "I feel like I'm losing my sanity."

Snape's eyes twinkled with barely concealed mirth. "I hear sanity is boring. One thing at a time, Harry. Back to the potion. We'll contemplated the rest of your life later."


This time the gathering of personal items was less fraught with tension, but instead strangely intimate. Harry's exhaustion prevented a repeat of last night's overwhelming emotions while he touched Snape.

For his part, Snape managed to focus on the task at hand while he touched Harry. Until the end anyway, when Harry's head was still bowed from the hair removal. Snape gently ran his fingers through the hair, stroking and petting until Harry let out a sigh of what sounded like pleasure. He slowly, purposefully pulled the young man into his arms, giving Harry ample time to push him away.

He didn't.

Harry's hands tentatively crept from his own thighs to Snape's waist. They stood for a moment, awkward yet calm, feeling each other's warmth, until they heard footsteps echoing in the stone corridor outside and sprang apart as the door was opened and Dumbledore peered in.

"Ah. I thought I might find you two in here. Just wanted to check in and see how everything was going. You've both been missing meals the last few days. Feeling better, Harry? Making progress, Severus?" the headmaster asked with his characteristic cheerfulness.

Harry nodded his affirmation as Snape responded businesslike, "Yes, Albus. We're discovering rather a lot, quickly." The brief look Snape and Harry exchanged at this, as if they had a secret, was not lost on Dumbledore.

"Very well, then. I'd hate to keep you from anything important. Do let me know how everything turns out," he said as he carefully closed the door behind him.

"He's keeping an eye on us," Harry observed with more than just a trace of annoyance in his voice.

"Of course," Snape replied wearily. "He likes to know everything that happens in his castle."

"And check up on his instruments to ensure that they're all in good working order," Harry sneered.

Snape raised an eyebrow as he looked sharply at the young man next to him. "You seem awfully angry. Are you sure your feelings are directed appropriately? Albus has always striven to help you."

"Of course he has," returned Harry. "It was in everyone's best interest to make sure The Boy Who Lived learned enough to be able to defeat Voldemort again. But it isn't like he ever actually cared about me as a person."

"Are you saying that he used you?"

"Yes. Not any more than he used you. Or anyone else. But yes. Of course it was for the greater good. But it's still being used for what you are, rather than who you are."

Snape's unreadable expression prompted Harry to continue. "I don't dislike him. I wouldn't say he's a puppet master, but he's definitely skilled at pulling strings."

"You certainly seem to have changed your opinion of him," Snape finally replied after a long silence.

"I grew up," said Harry wearily. "I honesty don't mean to sound ungrateful. And I know it was all in the interest of everyone. But... I see more clearly now. His motivations were not as innocent as I believed them to be when I was a boy."

Snape held his gaze for a long moment, as if reading his thoughts again. "Yes. You have grown up," he replied, simply. "Far more than many adults ever do." He sounded sad, almost, and Harry felt uncomfortable, almost wishing he could take it back. He wasn't going to apologize though, for having an opinion.

"Do you still want to do this?" he asked, changing the topic and nodding at the cauldron.

Snape took a moment to snap out of his thoughts and refocused on the potions. "Yes. I think so. If you're ready. I'll just add the maguey juice last," he said, flushing slightly.

A sudden impish feeling broke over Harry, as he thought about what the aphrodisiac's effects might be. He broke into a face-splitting grin. "Not too much, now. I'm not yet twenty and I don't need that much encouragement."

Harry was pleased to note that Snape definitely blushed.


1 PM, Day 4


The aphrodisiac hit Harry's bloodstream like an insidious intoxicant. Mixed with the dream-encouraging ingredients in the potion, he felt his body get heavier and more immobile, yet more and more aroused as he drifted off to sleep. Of course it didn't help that the bed was already full of memories from the last few mornings. Nor that for once, he felt reassured by Snape's presence on the pillow next to him, not so afraid of the nightmares that were to come.

Harry dreamed...

He was fifteen and he was having an erotic dream. He was on a bed, somewhere dark that seemed familiar. It was so dark he couldn't see anything, or perhaps his eyes were closed. Someone was kissing him. Touching him. Legs tangling with his own, a flat, hard chest pressing into his. Rolling together on the bed, hips grinding against his. Fingers unbuttoning his clothes, pushing them quickly out of the way. He was lost, overwhelmed, didn't know what to do. It was so fast. He wanted more. Naked, he fumbled with the other boy's clothes, still refusing to open his eyes. Afraid.

A harsh voice whispered into his mouth as he was kissed forcefully, "Do you want me, Harry?" Harry whimpered as smooth hands stroked down his chest to his thighs. "Yes," he whispered on an exhale that may have been a sigh. "Then open your eyes," commanded the boy.

Harry's dilated vision took in the older boy's features and dark hair. There was something familiar about him, but Harry was sure he didn't know him. The boy stopped what he was doing and pulled away, kneeling over Harry, astride his waist, gently, idly, carelessly dragging his fingertips across Harry's nipples, to his navel, and over his erection as light as a feather. Waiting. "Don't you know who I am?" he asked as Harry shivered and arched under him.

"No," Harry gasped as the light fingers closed purposefully around his cock.

"Yes, you do," purred the dark haired boy. "Think. Look around."

Harry looked around the dark stone walls, to the musty corners of the room. They were obviously in Hogwarts, deep underground. His eyes were drawn to the frieze above the arched doorway, of a snake. Not a snake. A basilisk.

The Chamber of Secrets.

The boy smiled menacingly down at him, squeezing his handful hard, as Harry tensed under him. "You remember me now?"

Harry tried to pull away but found he couldn't move, as fear and bile began to rise in his stomach. "Tom," he gasped in horror, "Tom Riddle."

"That's right. And I have you just where I want you. Naked. Vulnerable." Tom grinned as he stroked him. "Aroused. You pathetic piece of trash. Look how you want me, your enemy, who wants nothing more than to kill you. Dreaming about me fucking you. You're disgusting. No wonder no one will touch you."

Harry tried to struggle but found he couldn't move at all. Like so many nightmares, he was frozen in place. Tom laughed at him, a harsh sound that dripped evil satisfaction. "I can't believe you're a disgusting perverted queer. You want me. How perfect. You're so worthless. So revolting." He sneered mockery into Harry's ear as he touched his body, which couldn't move but still somehow managed to react and stay aroused even as nausea rose in him.

"You'll always be alone now," Tom hissed sensually as his hands on Harry's skin moved faster and harsher. "You'll always be mine. No matter what. Even if you somehow kill me. You'll always be in my control. You can't defeat me here. I'll always win. I'll always have this. You'll never love anyone. Never be able to share your body. Each drop of arousal in your blood will be diluted away by guilt and horror from this nightmare." He smirked as Harry whimpered and arched up into his hands, unable to control his body's reactions. "You'll always be alone," Tom whispered as he kissed Harry's cheek.

Harry was horrified. He was ashamed. He felt manipulated and violated and he couldn't help it; he was going to come. He was so disgusted and betrayed by his body.

Tom pressed against him as he started to climax and quietly hissed "Virulentus Somnius" into his ear, the words seeming to burrow into Harry's brain like maggots.

Harry awoke screaming, just as he had four years ago, in the final throes of orgasm, with Voldemort's laughter ringing in his ears.

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