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 9

By Salix


1 AM, Day 7


The bottle of port was empty and Severus was deep into melancholy.

I can't shake this feeling from my head. I know it's not the right thing, and I know it's not the good thing. But I want to.

More than anything I've ever wanted. More than anyone. Even more than...

I thought that was love, before. But if this is love, and I know it is, then that clearly wasn't. Or at least was a quite different, more pale kind of love... Where I wanted him, wanted to have him, possess him, own him...

I just want Harry to be happy. Whole. Even if that means he wouldn't be with me. Which it will.

The other love was all about what I needed. This is all about what Harry needs.

This isn't going to work out. I can't love him like this. I don't love. I tarnish things. Ruin people. He can't love me. Whatever he's feeling is just gratitude and lust. I can't bear to pretend that it's love, now that this is over.

This has to end. If it goes on much longer, it's just going to hurt worse. Hurt him... I don't want to hurt him.

What would hurt more, a stillborn love or one that's been murdered?

I can't do this. I can't love him and let him pretend to love me and then discover he was wrong.

Gods, this hurts. This time I swear I truly will never love anyone again. I mean it this time. Last time I swore that, I hadn't tasted real love...

Now I know it will always taste of Harry...


Noon, Day 7


The snow that had fallen a few days ago had mostly melted away over the paths. Harry woke up late, feeling lethargic and sick. Less in body but more in soul. Heavy and grey, as if his head was full of nasty black goo, weighing him down.

I knew it wasn't just some fucking curse. I knew most of it was me... Me and my sick desires. He shuddered, thinking of Tom Riddle, and decided to go for a walk, to escape. He dressed as warmly as he could and cast a warming charm on his clothes, needing to get out of the castle and stay out for as long as possible. Trudging through the snowy grounds, he decided to head for Hogsmeade.

I knew he could never really want me. And now that it's over, the curse is gone... Of course he wouldn't. He was probably just trying to show me that my touch isn't actually toxic. It was just educational to him. Just helping me. Just sex.

Why did I think it was anything more? Wasn't it just sex to me? How could it be more? Do I really love him? How could I? Of course it was just sex. God, I'm such a fool, kidding myself into thinking it was anything more. So naÔve.

Why does it come as a surprise to think that I was so naÔve? Of course I'm naÔve; it's not like I've got any past experience in this kind of thing. Still...

Why did I want it to be more than sex? Stupid romantic idiot. As if I deserve that. Just because it felt so nice to be with him. In his bed.

No. In his arms. And just sharing his company.

No, that's just because he was taking care of you, making you feel safe. You're confusing gratitude with love.

Am I?

Doesn't matter anyway. He never let us talk about it. And now it's over.

He doesn't even want to see me. He practically asked me to leave his rooms. It's all over now that I'm "cured."

Harry found that his feet had walked him all the way to the door of the Three Broomsticks, so he went inside. At the bar he ordered a glass of port without thinking about it.

Madame Rosmerta regarded him with surprise, "Port? Are you sure? That's really another professor's drink. How about an Irish coffee; you look like you've been out walking?"

Harry cursed himself inwardly. "All right, both please," and carried his drinks over to a table in the corner.

He downed the coffee-laced whisky (Rosmerta poured with a heavy hand) and sipped slowly at the port, starting off into space, growing more and more sullen as he became inebriated. He barely noticed the shadow that fell over him before someone sat down at his table.

He scowled drunkenly up at Snape, stubbornly waiting for him to talk first. Finally the sensual voice said, "Harry" as if it was asking a question, and Harry felt his body shiver with anticipation.

Damnit, no! I will not let myself be seduced like this. He's not doing it on purpose anyway. I refuse to be so out of control. Go away! Just leave me alone.

"You don't need to always be watching out for me anymore," came resentfully out of his mouth instead.

The eyebrows quirked. "I know."

"Why-- " Harry choked out before he clamped his mouth shut on the string of questions threatening to flood out. Why did you help me? Why did you even want to? Why did you touch me? Why are you the only person who knows me and now you're pushing me away? Why did you act like you cared about me? Why does it hurt so much? Why does it hurt so much?

He realized his chest was heaving with the effort of not saying anything. His eyes stung and burned, but he clenched his jaw and refused to let any tears fall. He was done with that now. Time to stop being so overemotional. Just accept it. It was nothing. Nothing! Now get out of here before you say anything!

Snape watched him struggle to not speak, and then clumsily shove back his chair and lurch to his feet. When Harry started to put his coat on, Snape got up. "May I accompany you back? I presume you're intelligent enough to not try to Apparate in that condition."

Walk back to the castle with Snape? After last night? "No thanks. I'd rather be alone." He didn't see the hurt look that crossed the other man's face, as he turned and wove towards the door, fumbling with his gloves, muffler, and hat.

A hand caught his elbow just as he wrenched open the door. "Nonetheless, I insist on seeing you safely back home," said the familiarly biting Potions Master's voice, allowing for no disagreement.

"I said, I don't need you to watch out for me!" Harry shouted as they stepped outside and the icy twilight wind whipped the ends of his muffler into Snape's face.

"Want it or not, I'm not leaving you to stagger home drunk in the dark and get frozen to death, you idiot boy!" he snarled, gripping Harry's arm more tightly.

Harry shrugged him off, muttering under his breath, "Sure, now you touch me." Louder, "Fine then," as he turned and started off through the slushy streets.

Snape stood as if stunned for a moment, before rushing to catch up.


4 PM, Day 7


They walked in silence through Hogsmeade, past the empty fields in-between, and were nearing Hogwarts grounds when Snape's boot hit an icy patch of the road and he lost his footing.

Without thinking, Harry's wand was in his hand and Leviosa was on his lips. Snape managed to look both grateful and put-out as Harry gently lowered him back to a standing position. "You didn't have to do that," he said.

"No? I should have let you fall and break something? You didn't have to walk back with me in the first place," Harry retorted with drunken courage.

Snape scowled. "Yes, I did. You could have--"

"Been hurt? Fallen?" Harry rolled his eyes. "I don't need you to take care of me. Severus, when are you going to realize that I'm an adult? I know I'm young, but I'm not a child anymore."

Snape made a noise that sounded an awful lot like a snort. "You're not even twenty yet."

Harry rounded on him, eyes flashing with anger. "And how old were you when you joined Voldemort?"

The older man flinched visibly.

"That's what I thought," Harry continued. "And at the time did you feel like anything less than an adult?"

Snape paused for a long moment before answering slowly, his honesty obviously taking an effort. "No. But. I was wrong. I was far too young to make the choices I made."

"If you had chosen not to join him, would you have thought you were also too young? Just because you made a mistake doesn't mean you can entirely blame it on being young. Everyone chooses. At all ages."

Snape regarded him with raised brows. Harry wondered if he was getting too philosophical. The alcohol was starting to wear off in the cold, but maybe he wasn't making sense.

"I know I can't say anything that will make you believe me. And lately... with the curse..." Harry cleared his throat and looked at his shoes. "I've been so... depressed. Vulnerable. Needy." He cleared his throat again and plowed ahead, grateful he was still tipsy enough to force the words out against his better judgment. "I needed you. But I didn't feel like a child. Especially in your bed. Ever." He wrenched his gaze up from his fascinating shoes to meet Snape's eyes.

They burned into his, black flashing even in the growing darkness. Burning. Harry began to feel quite warm, in fact. Even before that smooth voice huskily confessed, "I didn't think of you as one. I just wanted..." Snape paused, finding the right words. "To protect you. To help you." Harry forgot to breathe as Snape finished, "Wanted you."

"Did that change?" Harry asked quietly. "Because I still want you."

There was a long silence. Harry's fascinating shoes reclaimed his attention. He noticed he was getting cold and it was now completely dark. The lights of the Hogwarts gates were not far off, but the two men stood surrounded by shadows.

Harry's chest felt like a hippogriff was sitting on it. He blinked rapidly and nodded. "All right. I'm sorry," he said calmly, turning away. "It's really over then," and started walking hastily towards the gates.

There was a crunch of snow behind him, and a voice that made him melt falteringly but emphatically cried, "No!"

Harry turned and was crushed in Snape's arms. "No, please," the reserved man whispered brokenly. "Not over. Just-- I'm too old for you. Not what you need," he pleaded as if trying to convince them both.

Harry's irritation flashed back, even caught in that delicious embrace. "Stop it! You don't get to make my decisions for me," he argued, as he pressed his lips to Severus'.

As they stood in the dark, kissing slowly, Harry began to wonder if they were going to make it back to the castle at all. Lust flashed through in his body in a fiery wave, and before he could become embarrassed by it, he pressed up against Severus', feeling an answering hardness pressing into his stomach as his met the taller man's thigh.

"Let's go home," Severus whispered into his ear when they finally had to stop and breathe.


5 PM, Day 7


The walk across Hogwarts grounds was the longest Harry could ever remember, as they held hands and occasionally stopped for a hurried kiss, making their way across the snow as quickly as was safe. They self-consciously dropped hands once they got close enough to the castle that someone might seem them; Harry wasn't sure whether to feel relieved that they were maintaining their privacy or hurt that Severus might be ashamed of what the others would think. Mostly though, his head wasn't thinking much and seemed pleased with the notion of relinquishing control and letting his body be in charge for once.

After an eternity (Harry had had no idea it could be so uncomfortable to walk for such a distance with an erection), they finally reached the dungeons. Severus stopped as they neared Harry's door. He paused a minute. "I don't know exactly what you want or what we're going to do, but whose rooms would you be most comfortable in?" he asked delicately.

"Yours," Harry said without hesitating. "Mine are cold and sterile and I hate them. Yours at least feel like your home."

Severus looked like he wanted to ask about that, but instead nodded and they continued down the halls until they reached his chambers. Harry started to step back so he could undo his locking spells privately, but Severus held his hand tightly and said the words clearly and audibly, implicitly giving Harry access to his rooms. Harry was perceptive enough to be touched at the amount of trust this implied, as well as pleased, given how much he had recently trusted Severus. As they walked on, Harry began to quiver with fear as well as desire, in more or less equal parts.

Inside Severus' rooms, he was torn between taking things slowly and seeing what happened, or throwing himself at the other man. Harry's body told his brain to shut the hell up and launched itself at the taller man, who stood hesitating near the door. His hands reached to pull Severus down by the neck, as his body pressed against the other man's, kissing him deeply, clearly communicating his desire.

After a few moments of feverish kissing, Severus pulled back and started to speak, but Harry interrupted him before Severus could do more than part his lips, saying, "No. I want this. I want you. Come what may, I want this and I know you want me. Don't you?"

The other man nodded without hesitating and Harry moved in for another intense kiss, whispering, "Then stop thinking and take me to bed. Please."

Coats, mufflers, and winter robes fell to the ground, shoes and boots kicked off as they groped their way blindly to the bedroom. Severus pulled back from Harry's kisses long enough to flick his wand at the fireplace and a few candles around the room, as Harry shrugged out of his jumper, shirt and socks. Harry blushed at the reverent expression on Severus' face as he looked at his body, but with anticipation rather than embarrassment this time.

Severus had hardly said a word and seemed hesitant; Harry suspected the older man was uncertain still. He slowly sat down on the bed, pulling Severus with him, moving backwards until he was lying on his back with the other man kneeling astride his hips. Harry's hands purposefully explored up the other man's chest, feeling him through the thin fabric of his shirt, the muscles of his chest, hard nipples, shoulders, down his arms, and began to undo the cufflinks at Severus' wrists.

Harry's concentration on the cufflinks and buttons was so thorough he didn't notice the patiently amused expression on Severus' face until he had pushed the shirt down and away, and thrown it off the bed. He smiled up at him, amused too, but flooded with sensations as his hands stroked the other man's skin purposefully. He felt as if his hands were huge and clumsy but hypersensitive, and he wanted to memorize every detail, every curve, every plane of Severus' ivory flesh.

Severus sat patiently, letting Harry explore. He's thinking too much. Holding back. Harry's brow furrowed with the sudden desire to make him lose control. He shifted his weight under the other man, pressing his pelvis up into Severus. Gods, it felt so good, and it was going to be so wonderful, no matter if it hurt, possibly even because it would hurt. A sense of purpose crept over Harry; he knew what he wanted and he was going to get it. He pulled Severus down to kiss him deeply and surprised the older man by quickly rolling him over so Harry was on top, their legs tangled together.

I'm going to make him respond if it kills me. With a surprising sense of power he dove in for more hungry kisses, sliding his tongue deeper into Severus' mouth, while his hands caressed his arms, shoulders, chest, until he found nipples and began to gently roll them between his fingertips. Severus gasped into his mouth and Harry sat back with a grin that was inarguably feral.

"Stop thinking," he ordered. "I know what I want, and I want you." The intensity of his gaze, pupils so dilated with arousal that they almost swallowed the malachite irises, left no room for doubt.

"I just can't believe it," Severus whispered, "I never would have thought--"

"Don't think!" Harry teased, "That's rather the point. If anyone's supposed to be uncertain, isn't it me?"

Severus tensed up underneath him again, and pushed the smiling young man off his lap. "I don't want... to do anything you're not ready for."

Harry took a deep breath for courage and asked with all humor gone from his voice, "Was this just something for you to do? Was it all just an interesting project for you? Is that all there is between us?"

There was a long, tense pause, before Severus slowly answered, "There is respect. And... friendship."

"And at night? Was that respect and friendship, too?" Harry whispered.

"No, Harry. That was desire."

There was another long pause, while they both remembered the last week of nights together.

Harry replied slowly, testing the words for their honesty, "Respect. Friendship. Desire. How is that different from love?"

A small smile of something like hope pulled at Severus' mouth, but his eyes still seemed immeasurably sad. "I don't know."

The look in Severus' eyes pulled at something deep in Harry, filling him with tenderness and a fierce urge to protect the older man. He slowly bent forward to gently kiss him, murmuring, "Then stop being so analytical and let me love you."

"But... I don't want to hurt you." Something like fear shaded Severus' voice, as he slid a hand down to the young man's hip.

"I don't care if it hurts. I know it will, some. But I trust you. I want you to do it," Harry whispered.

Severus' eyes held his for a long moment, evaluating. Harry rolled his eyes, annoyed at having to convince the older man to do something they both obviously wanted. Fine. I'll just have to tempt him into it, he thought, smirking as he stood and slowly ran his hands down his chest and stomach and started to unfasten his jeans. Once they were off and on the floor, Harry re-met Severus' eyes, amused at the slightly stunned expression on the other man's face. He moved closer and bent over, letting the fabric of his boxers tighten to show off his bum as he pulled off the professor's socks, and turned back around running his hands up Severus' legs and thighs, until he reached his waist, where he started patiently unbuttoning the wool trousers. He tugged once, a brow raised, and Severus compliantly lifted his hips so they could be removed along with his boxers.

Once the other man was naked, Harry's uncertainty came crashing back. He sat, staring at the angles and curves of the long, pale body in front of him, until he heard a deep chuckle, "Lost your nerve? Or you can't think of anything else to do?"

Harry's eyes tightened into a mock glare, "Just didn't want to push you too fast. But if that's what you want..." he trailed off, as he crawled back on the bed and bent over to take one taut nipple between his lips. Severus must have been surprised because he gasped, but the sigh that it turned into clearly expressed his approval. Harry felt drunk again, intoxicated on the powerful feeling of giving pleasure to another person. He licked and sucked at the tight little nub, pulling all sorts of wonderful sounds out of Severus, before moving to the other nipple and repeating the process.

Harry hesitated, then gently bit Severus' neck, sucking hard, slowly pulling more of that brilliant tasting skin into his mouth. Salty, delicious, and his senses were overwhelmed by it all. He licked up to an earlobe, which he nibbled and sucked, and then finally moved over to the lovely mouth that was making all kinds of soft sighs and moans that Harry felt travel down his entire body to his groin.

He dove into Severus' pliant mouth, the softness of lips forgotten as hungry tongues took over, tangling with each other, licking and sucking at teeth. Harry climbed on top of the taller man, fitting their bodies together, grinding their erections into each other. He felt like he was flying, exhilarated.

Severus finally pulled away from Harry's mouth, steadying the boy with his hands on his hips. "May I?" he asked as he started to roll Harry off of and underneath him. At his nod, Severus grinned dangerously, and both pushed him over and stripped off his boxers before Harry had a moment to think about it.

Harry gasped and squirmed as Severus held him down firmly with one hand and roughly licked and probed the hollow of his throat with his tongue, traveling down his chest to his navel. His exacting fingers confidently pinched and pulled at Harry's nipples until he was making continuous mewing noises, which turned to gasps as the tongue dove into his navel and wiggled, deep and hard. Severus' hair trailed down Harry's stomach and his hands tangled in it without thinking, smoothing the soft midnight silk across his skin. Before his brain could reach for clarity through the onslaught of different sensations, Harry felt what could only be that same maddening tongue lick up the length of his cock as the shaft was gripped firmly in Severus' hand. He was so startled he yelped.

Slowly the mouth pulled away and Severus turned to look up at him with a deeply amused smirk. "Words, Harry. If you want me to stop, you need to use actual words." Harry shivered; just that deep voice, over such thinly stretched control, could make him come. He took a deep breath and decided that more than feeling that, he wanted to do it to Severus.

Muscles from years of flying, playing, and fighting hard allowed him to flip the startled professor onto his back. Taking a deep, steadying breath, he bent and tentatively kissed the other man's erection, asking very quietly, "Is this ok?"

A soft whimper seemed to be his only answer, as he nuzzled into the slightly protruding hip bones. Harry slowly licked and kissed his way to the cock in front of him, and gently reached out to touch it. The soft warm skin over unyielding hardness was amazing. He slowly tightened his hand, stroking it up and down, fascinated by the drop of pearly fluid gathering at the tip. Brain still cooperating by not making him think before acting, he gently licked at the drop, savoring the salty, slightly yeasty taste. The gasp and moaned response, "Oh, Harry, yes," from Severus was all the encouragement he needed to open his mouth over the end and gently run his tongue around the head.

Harry had no idea he would find doing this so exciting. He felt in control, exhilarated, deeply satisfied with himself that he was touching someone, touching Severus, tasting him, and he liked it. He was having some trouble breathing, but realized it was partially because he had been pushing his own erection into the bed, and was moaning softly from the combined pleasure.

After a few minutes of slowly stroking his hand up and down, using his lips to gently suck, and gradually taking bit by bit more into his mouth, Harry pulled back, sucking hard, and swirled his tongue around the head. Severus gasped loudly, and pulled him off. "If you keep that up, I'll be through in no time," he panted. "Unless that's what you want, which is fine," he quickly amended.

Harry shook his head, unconsciously licking his reddened lips lasciviously. "No, I want you inside me," he answered, suddenly realizing how much he did want it and feeling the muscles in his arse clench and release in response.

Severus' black eyes positively glittered in the candlelight at his reply. "All right then. I'll take it slowly. And you must tell me if it hurts; it shouldn't and it doesn't have to," he cautioned, opening a drawer in the night table and pulling out a small bottle.

Harry felt his heart racing and a nervous sweat broke out over his body, as he had a brief flashback to Voldemort's sneering voice telling him that no one would want him. No. Stop it. Severus wants me. Voldemort was wrong. I was wrong to believe him.

Severus noticed Harry's moment of inner struggle and pulled him close. Again seeming to read Harry's mind, he whispered, "I do want you. Badly. You're wonderful, beautiful, and I just can't believe you'd want to give me this gift, your body, your first time. Are you sure?"

Harry smiled shakily back at him. "Yes, I'm sure. I want to know. I want it to be you. And I want you to stop asking me; I won't change my mind. I promise." The promise was sealed with a small, sweet kiss, a kiss Severus stole control of and turned into one of growing passion, lips sliding open, tongues tangling gently, as he pulled Harry on top of him.

The hands holding Harry's head released him, long fingers firmly massaged at his neck for a moment, then stroked down his back, gently scratching with fingernails, until Harry arched and sighed and positively purred in delight at the sensation. Severus' hands stroked down again to Harry's hips, down to the smooth, firm thighs, and back up to grasp his buttocks.

"Gods, you're perfect," he breathed into Harry's ear as his hands stroked and slowly massaged the muscles underneath the smooth skin. "Just relax, breathe." On cue, the tension in Harry's body seeped out, and he leaned forward, burying his head in Severus' neck, body curled above him. He liked this position; he didn't feel powerless or exposed or vulnerable. Or alone, as he had feared he might feel, face down into the mattress.

Soothing, warm fingers massaged him for a few minutes, before one hand carefully crept between his legs to lightly hold his balls, feeling them through the loose skin. As Harry's thighs parted to make more room, gentle fingertips stroked down his spine, between his cheeks, and whispered over his opening before leaving. He sighed into Severus' shoulder, gently kissing his neck.

Deft fingers returned, covered with slick fluid, gently probing, teasing just at his entrance. Harry was surprised at how much pleasurable sensation he felt, from such an unexpected place. Without thinking, he pushed back slightly into the fingers, burrowing his head further into Severus, as he moaned softly, little humming sounds. One fingertip gently eased in and began to wiggle slightly, pushing against the tight muscle until Harry started to relax, then in further, deeper. It felt strange, but not bad, especially as it began to slowly stroke in and out, as Severus' other hand came up to soothe his back, and the older man kissed the forehead buried into his shoulder, whispering, "Breathe, Harry. All right?"

Harry nodded, not trusting himself to speak, and then gasped in surprise as the finger inside him pushed in further and brushed against something that made sparks flash against his eyelids. He felt more than heard the chuckle from the chest underneath him, before the finger inside him swept across it again, and then again, making him shiver, and it continued to stroke it until Harry began to moan and twist, crying "Oh, Gods, Severus!"

Harry whimpered as the finger slowly slid out, and then groaned as it came back with another. Two fingers this time, slowly moving in and out, slowly further and further, until finally one hit that wonderful spot inside him, and he pushed back against it, never minding the slight discomfort, wanting more of that feeling, more of those sparks running up his spine, more of that feeling of ecstasy. He didn't realize he was brokenly babbling, pleading, "More, more, please more," until Severus stopped moving his fingers and asked, "Are you ready?"

Harry took a deep breath and nodded. Severus prodded him until he lifted up some, then reached in a hand and smoothed more of the lubrication over his cock, and Harry's as well. Harry felt the other man position himself and gently rub the head against his opening. Taking a deep breath, trying to relax, Harry bent down to lick at Severus' jaw, distracting himself from his fears, re-meeting lips for a languorous kiss.

Slowly, the head eased into him, stretching and feeling full, like it was too big, too tight to possibly bear. It hurt. He was frozen in a moment of indescribable pain, not excruciating really, but strange. "Breathe," Severus encouraged him, stroking his back. "Push out a little, as I push in."

It sounded strange, but Harry complied, and could feel as the knots of tension in his body started to unravel. Inch by inch, it eased in, stretching and pulling, until Harry felt oddly full, but also felt right, a sense of completion. Finally Severus was all the way in, obviously straining underneath him with the effort of going so slow. Harry kissed him on the cheek, and whispered, "Thank you. For everything. For being careful."

Severus groaned under him and rocked upwards, slowly moving in and out just a little. Just enough to hit the gland inside. Harry's eyes opened wide as the pleasure flooded his body, unexpected. "Oh, God." Tears filled his eyes as Severus thrust lightly up into him, and he rocked back to meet him. The pain faded to nothing as the pleasure grew, jolts of sensation gathering speed as he rocked back and forth. When Severus' hand crept back between them and began stroking his erection at the same pace, Harry knew he never wanted the feeling to end. Just this, just this perfect feeling. Everything I ever wanted. He barely heard himself whisper in Severus' ear, "I love you."

Severus froze.

The older man took a deep breath. Of course he feels that. This is his first time. It's nothing to do with me. After a moment he said simply, "You couldn't possibly love me. You don't even know me."

Shocked out of his bliss for a moment, Harry laughed, amused at being contradicted even in such an intimate tangle. "I know you as well as you know me."

"It's just-," Severus pushed in again, deeply, making Harry rock back, eyes closing in pleasure, "-this."

Harry continued to move back and forth, slowly, eyes unfocusing. But he insisted, panting, "It isn't. I love you. Stop tormenting yourself. And try to believe me. I love you."

Severus moaned from deep in his chest, picking up speed, gasping, "I can't pretend, Harry. Don't, don't say it," as he moved Harry's hips faster and faster, on the brink of losing control, his hand on Harry's cock a blur between them as they rocked on the precipice of climax.

Harry forced the words out of his mouth, afraid he was about to lose all train of thought, "I love you, I love you, I love you..." he cried as he started to twitch and fall, his orgasm washing over him like a tidal wave, erasing everything else from his consciousness.

Harry's body convulsing around and on top of his, the look of complete joy and bliss and love on the young man's face drove Severus over the edge as well. He didn't mean to say it, but as he relinquished control the words, "I love you, too" escaped.

Harry drifted in a rapturous haze for a long time. He felt safe and comforted and cared for and loved for the first time, ever. Eventually he felt Severus slide out of him, wrap him close in his arms, and kiss his cheek. Harry shifted and looked down into the deep, dark eyes, and saw satiation but also a touch of fear.

Harry kissed him, murmuring sleepily, "I know. You've saved me so many times... Let me to save you, now. Let me love you."

Severus felt himself falling, falling, into a dark well, weightless and terrified, but somehow willing to let go. "Yes," he whispered, returning Harry's kiss.

They fell asleep and dreamed of nothing, content, safe, and with no fear of nightmares.



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