Bruise Pristine
by Eriador117

Snape/Harry slash fanfic
Rating: Mature
Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns the Potterverse, I just play in it from time to time

Part 1

Grimmauld Place was an ugly, spiteful place and Harry hated it even more now that Sirius was no longer there. He'd been there since the second week of July, after Remus had come to call at the Dursleys' and discovered that Harry had been locked in his room since the end of term, despite the Order's threats to his relatives at the train station. Harry had known it would never have made much difference. The Dursleys always did what they wanted, they didn't really think that the Wizarding world would ever affect them.

Each day there was a different Order member on duty at the house to look after him. Every member except for Snape, the man hadn't been anywhere near Harry since school broke up. Kreacher was still skulking about the place somewhere but he knew enough to stay out of Harry's way. Harry was so angry with the house-elf that he wanted to kill him. He dreamed of it often enough and was surprised when he woke up to find the elf still alive, if not well, he seemed delusional at the best of times.

It was Dumbledore's turn to babysit him today and for the most part, Harry had ignored the man and spent most of the time in his room, just lying there and staring at the ceiling. He couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten and he was in a state of almost light-headedness for the past few days. The world was fuzzy round the edges, everything had lost focus, things were easier that way. He didn't want to know how hard the world really was if it made him feel like this.

In a few days he would be sixteen, Sirius had promised they would spend the day together and do something special for his birthday, but it would never happen now. Sirius was gone and the grief was like a burning ember beneath his breastbone and sometimes he felt as if he couldn't breathe. As if he didn't want to breathe. He wanted someone to pay. Someone had to pay.

It was Snape's fault. If he hadn't kept goading Sirius about being a coward, Sirius would never have left. If Snape hadn't stopped giving him Occlumency lessons, Harry would never have seen that false vision of the Ministry of Magic. (Harry deliberately didn't think of the reason those lessons had ended so abruptly.) It was Snape's fault. All of it.

***

"Harry, you've got to eat something," admonished Dumbledore when Harry finally went downstairs. There was a plate of sandwiches and a glass of pumpkin juice set out on the table for him. Harry took a bite of one and then set it back down, everything tasted like ashes in his mouth. How could he think of eating when Sirius would never eat again? He avoided looking at the headmaster, afraid that he would feel that uncontrollable anger again, Voldemort's anger, but underneath Harry knew there was some of his own anger too. Anger at being left in the dark for so long.

"Harry, Professor Snape told me why he stopped giving you Occlumency lessons," Dumbledore said, twirling his beard. "You know why I can't give you those lessons, Harry, but you do need to resume them."

"What?" The man couldn't mean what Harry thought he meant.

"You will apologise to Professor Snape for the violation of his privacy and you will request that he takes you back for Occlumency, Harry."

"No," said Harry stubbornly, standing up so fast that his chair clattered to the tiled floor of the kitchen.

"No? I'm not sure I understand you, Harry."

"I won't apologise to him! Not after what he's done! He killed Sirius!" yelled Harry so hard he though his lungs might burst.

"Harry, you must do this. I insist," said the headmaster calmly.

"I don't care what you bloody insist on! I won't do it!" Harry ran from the room, away from him, away from the memories crowding in his mind. The surprise on Sirius' face as he felt the curse, the slow fall and Harry wanted to yank every thought from his head, not have Snape poking round in there, berating him, belittling him at every opportunity.

Harry stomped up the stairs, not caring if he woke the portrait of Mrs. Black and made his way to one of the drawing rooms. It was lined with glass fronted cabinets, filled with dark curios of all sorts. He didn't even know what half of them were. It was the glass Harry was more interested in. He felt, he felt coiled as if he wanted to snap in two, anger and grief welling up in him so fast that he wasn't sure which he was feeling more. There was a hollow ache in his chest whenever he thought of his godfather and it would never be filled. Sirius was gone and he wasn't coming back.

Harry howled and grabbed one the chairs, throwing it at the first cabinet. Glass shattered, shards flowing out and grazing his arms, but he didn't care. He needed to feel something, something other than this hollow emptiness that just wasn't getting any easier to bear as the days passed. He shattered three more cabinets, blood dripping down his arms before he heard the voice of the man he least wanted to see.

"Quite done with our little tantrum, are we, Potter?"

Harry's head snapped round so fast he was surprised it didn't fly off from his neck. Snape.

"You think that's a tantrum?"

"Yes, you're a spoiled little boy who always wants to have things going his own way. Yet again, you have given no thought to those around you. Destroying Order property, damaging yourself so that people will feel sorry for you. I have news for you, Potter. Acts like this will do nothing to garner anyone's sympathy. You're pathetic, just like that mutt of a godfather."

"You bastard!" screamed Harry. "Take that back! Sirius was worth ten of you!" Even as he said it, Harry's mind was drawn back to the pensieve and what he saw. How his father, Sirius and the Marauders had bullied Snape, just because Sirius had said he was bored.

"I believe the headmaster said you had something to say to me, Potter?" Snape continued, as if he hadn't even heard Harry's outburst.

"I have nothing to say to you," spat Harry as he headed towards the door. Snape reached out and grabbed hold of his right arm, the pain from his cuts flaring anew at the contact.

"No, Potter? I believe you owe me an apology?"

"I owe you nothing!"

Snape squeezed his arm even tighter. Harry could Feel Snape's breath, hot in his ear. He bit his lip when he felt the first stirrings of his cock, hardening against the zip of his jeans. Not now! It couldn't happen now, not here, not with Snape! "Are you sure about that?" snarled Snape, close to his ear. He was so close, Harry could smell the man's soap and a hint of coffee. He was too warm, too light-headed and he had to get away before his teacher saw, before he knew the effect he was having on Harry.

"Let go of me!" hissed Harry, struggling out of the man's grasp. "I hate you!"

"I can assure you, Potter, the feeling is entirely mutual. I suggest you get those cuts seen to. We wouldn't want them to become infected, now would we?" He dropped Harry's arm so fast that it took a few moments for Harry to realise that he was indeed free and could now move away from him.

Harry bolted upstairs, his whole body aflame, as if he could still feel Snape pressed so close against him, could still feel the man's touch on his skin. The small cuts on his arm were stinging and he was leaving a trail of bloody droplets as he made his way up the stairs, but he didn't care at that moment. All he cared about was getting to his room and having some privacy.

His cock throbbed in his trousers as he slammed the bedroom door and leaned panting against it, the urgency he felt like nothing he'd ever felt before. He'd touched himself, but it had never felt like this, as if he would go mad if he didn't do something now. He barely had unzipped his trousers and cupped his erection before he was coming almost immediately, spurting over his hands and his clothes. He could still smell Snape, could still feel the ghost of the man's touch on his skin, remember the pain as he'd held his arm.

Harry stayed hard as he thought of Snape and he rubbed himself frantically to a second orgasm as he thought of the Potions master. His legs buckled as the release left him, he landed flat on his arse by the door as he squeezed and squeezed around his prick, he just couldn't seem to stop coming and he was sobbing by the time he was fully spent.

It was the first time he'd cried since Sirius had gone and once started it was like a dam inside him had burst open and all the grief, all the fear just poured from him in waves. He wept for over an hour, resting his head on his knees as he trembled and cried it all out. Harry could almost imagine Sirius' voice in his ears, ashamed of Harry for what he'd just done.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Harry sobbed to the empty room, not entirely sure what he was sorry for or indeed who the apology was aimed at. He couldn't make it to the bed, he curled up on the floor, hugging his misery to him as if it was his only friend now.

***

The Order were wearing him down. No matter who it was, they all wanted him to take the Occlumency lessons again, although only Dumbledore knew the reason they had stopped in the first place. Harry didn't want to apologise to Snape and he certainly didn't want the man poking about in his mind again, but the nightmares and visions were getting worse and he was afraid he was going to make the same mistake again. There was nothing for it, he was going to have to say sorry to Snape. It wouldn't mean that he meant it.

The week before school started, he got his chance. It was the first time Snape had been at Grimmauld Place since that night. A meeting had just broken up and Harry caught up with Snape just as he was stepping into the Floo in the kitchen.

"Professor Snape? May I talk to you for a minute?"

Snape paused, his hand still inside the Floo pot standing on the mantelpiece. "Come to your senses, Potter, have you? Stopped sulking?"

"I wasn't sulking! I was grieving!" God, the man could rile him like no one else could. He belatedly realised that shouting at his teacher was not going to help his case.

"Oh, of course, our Golden Boy was grieving. After all, no one else has ever lost anyone, have they?"

"I didn't mean it like that," Harry said quietly. "I - I wanted to apologise, sir, about the pensieve. I won't do it again."

"Too right you won't, Potter, for I will not be so foolish to allow you anywhere near my memories ever again."

"But - I thought - the headmaster said..."

"You thought did you, Potter? That makes a change, doesn't it? You thought that you could come to me with an insincere apology and hope to sway me? I don't care how bad the nightmares get or how many false visions the Dark Lord sends you, Potter, you will never, never learn Occlumency from me ever again!" Snape was so angry that his face was tinged purple and spittle flew from the corners of his mouth.

"But, sir, I really need to learn it!" protested Harry, forgetting his own rule about not shouting.

"You should have thought of that before you invaded my privacy! Was it fun, Potter? Did you enjoy laughing with your little friends all about it? How the great James Potter and his friends brought Snivellus down a peg or two?"

"No, sir. I - I never told anyone."

"And I'm supposed to be grateful?" spat Snape. "I'm supposed to be grateful that you suddenly developed a conscience? Where was it in the first place, Potter? You knew those were my thoughts, they were private and yet still you looked!"

Snape's tirade woke up Mrs. Black's portrait and between her casting aspersions on Harry's heritage and Snape's ranting, Harry just wished he could disappear now.

"I - I'm sorry, sir," said Harry and this time he knew he meant it.

"Sorry just won't do, Potter. How do I know you're sincere?"

"Please, sir. I'll do anything to make it up to you."

Snape stared at him, arching his left eyebrow. "Anything?"

"Yes, professor. Anything."

"You will obey me without question?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well, you will report to me for detention on the first night back at school. After that we'll see about resuming your lessons."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir," said Harry, even though he was wondering what he'd let himself in for.

Part Two

Harry could barely face his dinner on the first night back at Hogwarts. After the feast he had to report to Snape for detention and he was dreading it. He'd foolishly promised the man he would do anything. What was he thinking? What would the man make him do? Whatever it was, Harry would do. He knew he needed the Occlumency lessons again and if he had to be in detention for the entire school year then he would do it.

"Harry, how could you get detention your first night back?" asked Hermione, sharing worried glances at Ron. "What did you do?"

"It doesn't matter," replied Harry.

"Of course it matters!" hissed Hermione. "Harry, if Professor Snape is bullying you, you should tell someone."

Since when would that stop Snape? He'd been unfair to Harry since he first started school and although Harry now understood a bit better as to the reasons behind it, it still didn't mean that it was right for Snape to take his anger out on Harry because Harry happened to be James' son and looked like him. Harry wondered if Snape would still have mistreated him so much if Harry had allowed the Sorting Hat to place him in Slytherin after all. He wondered if Snape even knew that the Hat had wanted to place him in Slytherin first.

Harry shrugged his shoulders. He couldn't tell them the reason he had detention and he didn't feel like arguing about it all through the feast either. Harry reached for a bowl of chocolate pudding and ate it, filling his mouth just so that they would stop pestering him to talk, not that he really wanted to eat it. Hermione clucked her tongue, still sharing those same looks with Ron and Harry swallowed around the ball of anger that had suddenly lodged in his throat. They'd been talking about him behind his back all summer no doubt, owls flying between them. Except for his birthday cards, delivered by Dumbledore, he hadn't heard from either of them all summer.

So Ron and Hermione wanted to discuss him, did they? Well, let them, he was past caring by now. There was a psychopath out there intent on killing him and Harry was going to make sure he wouldn't get the chance. It was probably best if he didn't have friends anyway. Look what happened to people you loved, they got hurt, they left you and Harry could not bear to go through that again. It would be easier this way.

All too soon the feast ended and Harry saw Snape lead the new first year Slytherins out of the Hall. As Snape passed the Gryffindor tables, he paused by Harry and mouthed, "Fifteen minutes."

Harry nodded to show he'd understood the directions and a few minutes later he left the feast and made his way down to the dungeons. It was early he knew, but there was no point in going back to Gryffindor Tower, it would take ten minutes to get there and back and by that time he would be late. Being late would certainly not endear him to the Potions master, so Harry just waited by Snape's office door until the man himself came gliding down the dungeon corridor, his black robes billowing behind him like wings.

"On time, I see, Potter," he said, pointing his wand at the office door so that it swung open on its own. "That's a good start. In." Snape stood by the door, waving his hand to indicate that Harry should precede him in. Harry obeyed, feeling strangely nervous. It wasn't as if he'd never had detention with Snape before, but he somehow sensed that these detentions would be different. These were something he'd asked for, he'd requested.

"Sit down, Potter," said Snape as he seated himself behind his desk. Harry sat down on the chair opposite the desk, a ladder back wooden chair that was the most uncomfortable item of furniture he'd ever had the misfortune to sit on. "I must confess, Potter that I am surprised to see you here tonight."

"But, you said I had detention!"

"Number one, Potter. Whenever you are in this room you will call me sir or Professor at all times, is that understood?"

"Yes, sir."

"Number two, you will not under any circumstances reveal what you saw in the pensieve to anyone, is that clear?"

"Yes, sir."

"Number three, you will never speak of what happens in these rooms to anyone else. No running to Dumbledore or the other teachers because you think my methods are harsh."

"No, sir. I wouldn't."

"Number four, you will have detention with me each evening after dinner for the next three weeks -"

"Three weeks?" gasped Harry and then belatedly added the "sir".

"Do not interrupt me again, Potter. Yes, three weeks. If you can manage to cope with your detention for three weeks, then we will see if you were really sincere. If I hear one complaint from you, just one to any of your friends or to any of the other teachers that I am treating you unfairly, then this will all stop and you will forfeit my promise to teach you Occlumency. Do you understand?"

"Yes, professor."

"And now for your detention, Potter. It will be the same every night. You will kneel on the floor of this office and you will remain still for as long as I deem it necessary. When I say still, I mean perfectly still Potter. Your hands will be by your sides, you may not move them to scratch nor can you shift position once you've knelt on the floor. Well, what are you waiting for?" demanded Snape.

"Sir, I don't understand..."

"I have explained what you must do, Potter. If you cannot follow simple instructions, then how do you expect to master Occlumency? Do you wish to renege on your agreement, Potter? Did you not promise me that you would obey my instructions without fail?"

"Yes, sir," said Harry standing up and glancing at the floor, looking for a good place to kneel. The flagstone floor was rough and uneven. Nowhere looked particularly comfortable to kneel on for any length of time and Harry dithered, wondering what he ought to do.

Snape tapped his fingers impatiently on his desk. "I'm waiting, Potter."

"Yes, sir," said Harry, sinking to his knees and resting his hands by his side as he'd been ordered to do. He had no illusions on that score, it was an order and he would be expected to obey orders until Snape deemed him sincere enough to resume the lessons again.

Snape nodded lightly before accio'ing a heavy dusty book to him and began to read. After that, he ignored Harry for the most part, except when he thought Harry might have moved and his head shot up, his eyes glittered as he took in Harry's position on the floor.

Harry had never been good at staying still. He was always active, even as a child, much to the chagrin of the Dursleys. Knowing that he couldn't move made it even worse, his skin felt as if hundreds of insects were crawling all over his skin, making it itch. His knees throbbed, his back and shoulders ached for holding the one stance for so long. A bead of sweat dripped from his forehead and lay hanging there on the tip of his nose, he could see it just out of the corner of his eye but knowing there was nothing he could do about it was almost unbearable. Harry desperately wanted to move but he wouldn't give Snape the satisfaction. He could do this. He could. He could.

"You are dismissed, Potter," said Snape, without even glancing up from his reading.

"Thank you, sir," said Harry, struggling to his feet. His legs had gone to sleep and his feet were stinging as the blood resettled itself again. The door seemed even further away before he first came in and Harry just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, his legs seemed to have turned to water but he would not ask for the man's help. He could make it to the door by himself.

"Tomorrow evening, Mr. Potter," Snape reminded him just as Harry reached for the door handle and missed it by a few inches. What was wrong with him? Why did everything seem so weird?

"Yes, sir," said Harry, finally managing to yank the door open, only to be almost knocked over by Draco Malfoy who'd fallen into the room. Obviously the young Slytherin had been trying to listen to their conversation.

"Mr. Malfoy, would you care to enlighten me as to why you were eavesdropping?" Snape asked in a dangerous voice.

"No sir, I mean I wasn't eavesdropping," Malfoy tried to explain. "It's just some of the first years were a bit upset after your talk and..."

"Really, Mr. Malfoy? Potter, return to your dormitory at once. You have only a few minutes until curfew."

"Yes, sir," said Harry, almost running in his haste to get away from them. Draco was lying, he was sure of it, but wouldn't Snape know being the skilled Occlumens he was? He always seemed to know when Harry was lying anyway.

Why was Malfoy eavesdropping, or trying to, on Snape? Or was it Harry's conversation he was so interested in? And on whose orders was he doing it? Voldemort's? His father's? Was he even in contact with Lucius now that he was in Azkaban? Did Azkaban allow visitors or letters?

He remembered Barty Crouch's confession about his parents coming to visit him, but that seemed to be a one off thing and not something that seemed like a regular occurrence. Or was Malfoy doing it himself? Where were Crabbe and Goyle? It wasn't often Malfoy was to be found without his two sidekicks and Harry was just getting more and more confused the nearer to Gryffindor Tower he got.

Just as he was about to give the password to the Fat Lady, the door swung open from the inside and Ron gaped at Harry. "There you are, mate. I was just going to fetch you. McGonagall's been in, the headmaster wants to see you."

"Now?" queried Harry. He was tired, he ached all over and he just wanted to go to bed and forget about everything for a while.

"We'll, she did say as soon as possible," said Ron. "Harry are you all right? You look a bit pale."

"I'm fine, just a bit tired."

"What did Snape make you do? Scrub out the cauldrons without magic?" asked Ron.

Harry didn't answer. He had no idea how to explain Snape's new idea for detention. He absently rubbed at the scar on his hand. I must not tell lies. "I'd better go then," said Harry, turning round before Ron got a chance to question him any further.

He wondered what on earth the headmaster wanted to see him for now.

Part 3

Severus Snape paced the headmaster's office, it was all he seemed to do in there these days. He'd gone as soon as he'd delivered Draco Malfoy back to the Slytherin dorms and interrogated him on the way. Not that he discovered much, Draco was still adamant that he hadn't been eavesdropping. Draco would not have discovered much with his own efforts either. Well aware that news of his true allegiances if discovered had made Severus a very paranoid man. All the rooms in his quarters were well warded and covered in silencing charms tied to his presence. It wouldn't matter if doors were open or shut, if Severus was in the room then no-one would be able to hear the conversation within.

"So, if as you think, he is spying, Severus, on whose orders? Voldemort's or his father's?"

"I do not know, Albus, but my guess is he is working for his father or hoping to avenge his father's imprisonment in some way. He thinks I should be doing more in order to secure his father's release from Azkaban and since I haven't, he does not confide in me as much as he used to. Either Potter or myself could be targets for his rage, but in my bones, I think he blames Potter more than me. Potter seems a much more likely target for him to go after."

"One of the many reasons I assigned you this duty, Severus. I know you will do your best, as you do in everything you attempt."

"Albus, I am still not sure this is the wisest course of action to take in regards to Potter," stated Severus. No doubt he was going to enjoy it, but that wasn't really the point. Was it for the best? He wasn’t sure what Dumbledore was trying to achieve, but he would do it because the man had told him it was important and nothing more.

"He agreed, didn't he?" said Dumbledore. "He's accepted the detentions?"

"Well, yes, but he doesn't know what's going to happen in the future though. If it gets out what I am attempting to do..." Visions of Azkaban flashed before his eyes.

"It won't, Severus. I won't be telling and neither will Harry. By the time you take him to the next stage, you will have him so well trained that he would never think of disobeying you. I know of your ... reputation in this art. Rest assured, Severus, you have my full blessing in this."

Yes, but none of the others had been Harry Potter, saviour and hope of the Wizarding world. He would be lucky to get to Azkaban for what he was going to do to the boy. The mob would lynch him if it was ever discovered.

"Thank you, headmaster," said Severus. He had the headmaster's blessing to do what he'd been dying to do to the Potter brat for years now.

To punish him. To break him.

He would not disappoint.

***

The spiral staircase was already opened when Harry reached it, which was good as he didn't know the new password. He passed Snape coming down as he was coming up, almost near the top of the stairs. It was a very narrow fit and Harry squeezed himself back against the wall as Snape passed him, even with that small distance between them, Harry's prick gave an interested twitch as Snape glowered down at him.

"What are you doing here after curfew, Potter?"

"P - Professor Dumbledore sent for me, sir."

"Did he? Very well, but make sure you go straight back to your dormitory afterwards." With that, Snape snapped his cloak around his heels and swept down the stairs so gracefully that it seemed he was floating rather than walking. Harry stared at the steps a long time after Snape disappeared from view, his groin and chest both feeling strangely painful.

The office door was already open when Harry stepped onto the small landing. He knocked on the door with his knuckles before entering and Dumbledore rushed from his seat to shake his hand. "Harry! Come in, come in!" Dumbledore beamed at him and held out a small saucer of lemon drops. Harry shook his head, feeling slightly sick.

The last time he had been in this office, Sirius had just died and Harry had destroyed almost all of Dumbledore's possessions in his rage. They were all fixed now, but he knew nothing could bring Sirius back and Harry blinked back the tears that threatened to spill.

Harry stood by the man's desk, as Dumbledore rummaged about in the drawers for something.

"Aha! Found it!" exclaimed Dumbledore as he emerged clutching a rolled up scroll tied with a red ribbon. "You were supposed to get this on your birthday, Harry, but all the red tape has only just been sorted through. The Ministry demanded a wait of thirty days at least to make sure he was really dead." Dumbledore handed him the scroll and Harry untied the ribbon, his eyes blurring as he read the first line.

The last will and testament of Sirius Algernon Black.

Sirius, oh, God, Sirius. Harry doubled over as if he'd just been punched in the gut. He felt sick and faint and he just wanted to grab a Time Turner and change everything. Only he couldn't, for in their fight with the Death Eaters at the Ministry, all the Time Turners had been destroyed. Sirius was never coming back and the parchment in his hand was the proof of that. He had to face it, he had to face it and get over it.

Sirius had left everything to him, not only Grimmauld Place but also a castle in Ireland, two cottages on the Isle of Man and a chateau in France. The Blacks had been very well connected, there were also acres of land with no buildings on them at the moment as well as all the money in Sirius' vault, jewellery and all the contents of each property. Added to his parent's legacy, Harry knew he was now a very rich young man. It didn't make the loss any easier to bear.

"Thank you, sir," said Harry and folded the scroll again.

"Harry, about Grimmauld Place..." the man began delicately and Harry tried not to laugh. He was a fool, they all pretended they were so worried about him, but really they were just worried about their precious headquarters. For a split second he felt like telling Dumbledore to stuff it, that they could just go and find somewhere else for their meetings, but his anger faded almost as quickly as it had come.

"The Order can still use it for headquarters, sir," said Harry. "It's not as if I use it that much, is it?"

"Thank you, Harry. Do you have any questions about the will? You have read it all?"

"Yes, sir. Can I go now?" For Harry was not in the mood for small talk.

"Harry, if anything is bothering you, you do know you can tell me, right?" Dumbledore twirled his beard.

"I'm fine, sir," said Harry firmly. Dumbledore was the last person he felt like confiding in at the moment.

"Very well, Harry. Good night."

"Good night, sir."

***

Harry had been in Snape's office more times than he cared to remember. His memories of the place were always of something unpleasant. Detentions, reprimands, Occlumency lessons - the reason he was here now.

His knees hurt and he shifted a little to try and get a better position on the unforgiving flagstone floor. He'd mistakenly sank to his knees just where a crack was digging into his knees. He could feel the ridge as it pressed into his flesh, even through his jeans and school robes.

"Did I say you could move, Potter?" growled Snape as his head snapped up from his desk. The quill in his hand was dripping red ink onto someone’s essay or test. Snape never used anything besides red ink, for he never wrote anything good on anyone's work. Unless they were Slytherins maybe. But Harry wasn't friendly with any Slytherins to ask about their grades.

"No."

"No what, Potter? Have you forgotten already? You will address me as 'sir' at all times. Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir," replied Harry, but he gave the man a defiant glare even as he said it. Snape was bound to notice that Harry wasn't really using the title as a term of respect at all. Harry was just so confused and angry. What on earth was he doing spending his evenings kneeling in front of Snape's desk? Why did he keep coming back?

Harry didn't understand it, why did the man want him kneeling on the floor? And why was it that now when Harry himself entered the room, he knelt down even before he was asked? It was bothering him in an indefinable way, especially since the night before Snape hadn't given him his detention but sent him back to his dormitory when Harry had knocked on the office door. He missed it, he missed kneeling on the man's floor while Snape worked, sore legs and all. That was something he tried not to think of too deeply.

"Please, sir, may I move?" asked Harry, his knees were sending little pains through his body and he thought that maybe if he could just move to a smoother part of the floor he would be able to hold his position for longer.

Snape scrawled something on a piece of parchment and looked at him. "No you may not. Perhaps it will teach you next time to choose your position more carefully."

"Sorry, sir," said Harry, hanging his head to hide the tears that threatened. He didn't understand why he wanted to cry, his knees weren't that sore, but Snape's blatant disregard for his discomfort was almost more than he could bear. He couldn't cry here, not where Snape could see and berate him for it. Harry swallowed down his distress, he'd had plenty of practice at that after all and didn't move for the next hour until Snape stalked over to him, tilted up his chin and said, "You are dismissed."

Harry cried himself to sleep that night, muffling his sobs into his pillow so the others wouldn't hear.

***

Well, Snape was right about something at least. For the next three days during his evening detentions, Harry made sure to look before he sank to his knees and placed himself on a smooth part of the floor. On the fourth night, Snape was not grading essays. He just stared at Harry the whole two hours, and Harry felt himself flush under the scrutiny. No-one had ever looked at him so intently before and he wasn't sure he wanted to be the centre of so much attention.

His heart was beating very fast and his hands were clammy, he wanted to wipe them on his robes but he couldn't move, knowing Snape would never allow it. In this room, he had to obey Snape's rules, even if Harry didn't quite know what the rules were yet. His mouth was dry, but he never uttered a sound, not even to request a drink of water. Was it some sort of test? Some way of training him to defeat Voldemort? To see how still he could be? How silent? But if that was the case, why hadn't Snape told him? Was it something else?

After the silence of the hours spent on his knees, when Snape spoke, it was almost a shock. "You are dismissed."

Even more of a shock was the fact that Harry didn't want to leave.

Part 4

"Not another detention, Harry!" scolded Hermione. "What have you done this time?" she fluffed up her scrambled eggs before taking another bite. It was the first Hogsmeade weekend and he was supposed to be going with Ron and Hermione, but Snape had other plans for him. Plans that probably involved sore knees again, so why was Harry so eager to comply?

"Nothing!" he protested, angry that his friend would immediately jump to the conclusion that Harry had been making trouble. If anything he was a lot better behaved than he had been last term, with no Umbridge treating him unfairly, he'd been a measure of calm. At least he thought so. Their new Defence teacher, Professor Allen was very shy, but competent in the subject he taught. Maybe this time they'd be able to keep one for longer than a year.

Harry hadn't told anyone else about what he'd seen in Snape's pensieve, or even that he'd looked in it. He could almost imagine Hermione's grim disapproval. You looked in his pensieve? Harry, I can't believe you violated the man's privacy like that! Ron of course would want to know all the gory details of what he'd seen and Harry couldn't tell either of them what he'd done in order to merit all these punishments.

The more time he spent in Snape's office, the more he realised that he'd done something really terrible and he deserved, no, he wanted to be punished for it. It wasn't Snape who had got Sirius killed. No the blame for that was squarely at Harry's door, even if no-one ever said it out loud to him. Everyone was walking on eggshells around him as if Harry was going to snap in two at any moment. And sometimes Harry himself felt it was more than likely.

It was Harry's fault for not trying harder at his Occlumency lessons. It was Harry's fault for not being able to close his mind to the Dark Lord. It was Harry's fault for not understanding the difference between a real vision and a false one. It was Harry who looked into the man's pensieve, although he thought he had good reason at the time. But no-one forced him to look, that was all his own decision. Harry had betrayed the man's trust, how would Harry have felt if Snape had looked into all of his personal memories? Harry knew he'd be angry too, he was just surprised at the form Snape's punishment was taking.

"Hermione, last term I did something that I wasn't supposed to and these detentions are my punishment, all right? Just be thankful we haven't lost points over it as well."

"What did you do?" Ron asked around through a mouthful of sausage.

"I can't say."

"What do you mean you can't say? Harry, it wasn't something illegal, was it? Was it because you'd used Dark magic at the Ministry?" asked Hermione, her hands fluttering around her tie.

"Look, you can't tell anyone about this, ever," insisted Harry in a low voice. "But - but I looked into Snape's pensieve when we had our Occlumency lessons. I'm not proud of it, Hermione so there's no need to look like that. It was wrong, I know it and I'm having these detentions because of it."

"Well, that's good, Harry. I'm glad to see you're at least taking responsibilities for your actions," said Hermione primly.

"What did you see?" asked Ron.

"No, Ron. I will never tell anyone that, it's private."

"Since when have you cared about the greasy git's feelings?" huffed Ron, miffed at missing out on the gossip.

"Just leave it, Ron. All right? It's none of our business and I'm ashamed that I even looked in the first place."

Ron gaped at him, doing a very accurate impression of a landed trout.

"What, Ron?"

"Nothing, it's just you - you sound like you like Snape or something."

"Don't be ridiculous. I shouldn't have looked, no matter whose pensieve it was. It's got nothing to do with how I feel about Snape."

Ron nodded and tucked in to the remainder of his breakfast, but Hermione was giving Harry a very thoughtful look.

***

Harry ran into Filch on his way down to the dungeons, holding Mrs. Norris to his chest like a baby. "You're out of bounds, Potter," growled Filch. "Only Slytherins allowed in this corridor unless it's for class. No class on Saturdays." Good grief, the man was filthy and he stank of stale sweat and other odours Harry didn't want to identify too closely. Didn't the man ever bathe?

"I’ve got detention with Professor Snape," sighed Harry, he just hadn't got the energy to trade insults with Filch today.

"You'd better get going then, hadn't you?" Filch gave him a pleased smirk as he wandered off, cooing nonsense words to his ugly cat. Harry shuddered as he made his way to the Potions office. He hated that cat. The door was wide open, but Snape was nowhere in sight. Harry knocked, wondering if he should go in without permission and start his detention, he knew what he was supposed to be doing anyway. They were all the same, as Snape had already informed him.

He knocked again and went in, since Snape did not emerge to let him in. Harry took a look at the floor, trying to judge the most comfortable position and sank to his knees, his robes pooling around him on the floor. There wasn't much to see besides Snape's desk, as he could not turn his head to look at anything else and whichever place he happened to fall to, he was always directly in front of Snape's desk. Snape wasn't there, but there was something sitting on Snape's desk that Harry had never seen before.

Instead of the usual parchment, quills and ink that usually decorated the man's desk, there was only one item on it today. A cane, the paleness of the wood a stark contrast to the dark mahogany desk and Harry felt himself flush. Whether it was from fear or desire, he never quite knew, but there was no mistaking the twitch in his groin. Harry kept his hands firmly by his side, as per orders.

He'd never been caned, Vernon had always used a belt on him, so it wasn't as if he'd never known physical punishment before, but corporeal punishment had been banned in Muggle schools for quite a few years and Harry had never given it much thought until now. Was it still permitted at Hogwarts? Would Snape use that cane on him as part of his detentions? Would it hurt more than a belt? For it had always hurt when Vernon beat him with the belt and it had never been arousing.

It hadn't happened for quite a few years now, but Harry could almost imagine he felt the sting on his backside and the tops of his thighs as the belt came down, again and again. He started trembling and tried to stop himself. Shaking wasn't being still and Harry just felt that even though Snape was not in the room, he would somehow know if Harry wasn't doing his detention properly.

Harry didn't know how long he knelt there before Snape finally entered the office. Harry could hear the man behind him, but he didn't dare look round. "Do you know what day it is, Potter?" the Potions master asked him, close to his ear, his voice like a caress and Harry forced himself not to lean back and into the body behind him. He could smell Snape, a lot different than the odours coming from Filch, that was for sure. Snape smelled of apples and freshly mown grass, Harry couldn't help the small intake of breath through his nose to hold the scent to him as long as possible.

"Um, Saturday, sir."

"Correct, but that is not what I meant. This is your final detention, Potter. On Monday evening I will schedule our first Occlumency lesson for this term."

What? It couldn't have been three weeks already, could it? The time had seemed to fly so quickly. Harry was getting used to these detentions, dare he even think it, he was enjoying them? Just kneeling on Snape's floor, no words, no-one asking if he was all right every ten minutes, no watching Ron and Hermione bickering then making up and snogging in full view of everyone else. No having to pretend to be all right because he knew everyone was watching his every move. Snape watched him too, but Harry knew it was different.

"What do you say to that, Potter?" said Snape, walking round and standing in front of Harry. Harry did not even move his head up to meet the man's gaze, he was as still as a statue, the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed the only movement.

"S- sir, I don't deserve it," Harry whispered brokenly. "I - I need to be punished more, sir."

"Are you questioning my judgement in this matter, Mr. Potter?"

"No, sir. No, but I do think I need to be punished more."

"You think so, Mr. Potter? Very well then. On Monday night, you will have one hour of punishment and one hour of Occlumency. As before, you will tell anyone who asks that you are taking remedial Potions. I suggest you mess up a few of your potions in class to make the story more believable, your work there has been rather adequate of late. Monday and Thursday evenings will be devoted to your Occlumency and to your punishments."

Adequate? Did Snape just compliment him? On Potions? Harry felt as if he could just fly out of the room.

"Thank you, sir," said Harry, still not looking up at his teacher.

"Very well, you are dismissed. No doubt you can catch up with your friends in Hogsmeade."

"Please, sir, may I stay for little while longer?" Harry stared at the floor.

"Am I understanding you correctly, Potter? You want to remain here on your knees in the dungeons with me, rather than go to Hogsmeade and find your friends?" The man sounded shocked.

"Yes, sir, please."

"Very well, Potter. You may remain until lunch time, if you wish it." With that, Snape removed a book from one of the shelves and settled down by his desk to read.

The whole time Harry was there, his eyes wandered again and again to the cane sitting innocently on Snape's desk.

Harry couldn't stop wondering how it would feel.

***

Severus watched Potter every so often out of the corner of his eyes, he knew what the boy was looking at. The cane, sitting there in full view, but Severus made no move to touch it. He never would.

Not until the boy asked for it himself. Snape grinned.

They always asked in the end.

Part 5



"What do you mean you're not going to the Quidditch match?" asked Hermione, hands on her hips as she glared at Harry in the common room. Ron and the other Gryffindor Quidditch team members had already made their way to the changing rooms. He and Hermione were the only two left, everyone else was already at the stands. Umbridge's ban was still in force and Harry was still not allowed to play. "Ron will be so disappointed if you don't go, Harry."

"I just don't feel like it, okay?" he said, turning back to his Transfiguration essay.

"You don't feel like much these days, do you?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It's just - I don't know, Harry. You seem different, you're not acting like yourself. I don't think these Occlumency lessons are agreeing with you."

"What would any of you know?" snapped Harry. "Do any of you really know me? Or is all you can see this stupid scar on my forehead? Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived? Snape knows me. He's the only one who does."

"Harry, that isn't true. We're your friends," Hermione protested. "And - and I think you're spending too much time with Professor Snape."

"What? Hermione, you were the one who wanted me to go back and beg him to give me Occlumency lessons again."

"Well, I was wrong. The past few weeks since you've been having the lessons, you've changed, Harry and not for the better."

Harry slammed his textbook on the table. "All right, all right. I'll go to the bloody stupid Quidditch match, but don't expect me to enjoy it." Why didn't any of them understand? He loved Quidditch, but he couldn't play it. Yet they expected him to sit there, happy to just be a spectator when all he wanted was to be up there on the broom himself. At Hermione's appalled look, he felt the hand of guilt squeeze his chest so tight that it was difficult to breathe. "God, Hermione. I'm sorry, I don't know what's wrong with me these days."

It was true, his emotions were all over the place. One day he would be as happy as he could be, laughing and joking with Hermione and Ron like they'd always done and the next he couldn't bear to be in anyone's company. Anyone's except Snape's and if truth be told, he was a little worried about it himself. Why did he feel this sudden attachment to Snape of all people? It couldn't be normal, could it?

Harry knew that it had been some time since he'd felt his usual hatred and antagonism for the man, he wasn't sure
when the change had occurred exactly, but he thought it had been before they started on Occlumency.

"I think you're stressed, Harry," said Hermione. "You need to relax more. You're doing so much, what with the Occlumency on top of your normal classes, it's bound to take it out of you."

"That's no excuse to take it out on you and Ron, though," said Harry.

"Harry, I think I know what you're doing. It's because of Sirius, isn't it? You're trying to distance yourself from everyone because you think you might lose them too, aren't you?"

Harry turned in his chair, trying to hide that he was crying. "I still m- miss him, Hermione, I miss him so m- much," sobbed Harry. "If a - anything happened to you or Ron I don't think I - I could b - bear it."

Hermione knelt down in front of him and wrapped her arms around him in an awkward hug. "Ssh, Harry. It's okay, you're allowed to miss him, but please don't push us away just because you think you might lose us too. We want to help you, Harry. Please let us."

Harry cried, his tears staining the neck of Hermione's robes, but she didn't seem to mind. He clung to her like a shipwreck survivor might cling to passing log and he felt a little better after he'd cried himself out. Hermione handed him a clean, lace edged handkerchief with HG embroidered on the corner once he'd finished crying. Harry tried to hand it back, but she insisted he keep it.

"Is that why you're spending time with Snape, Harry? Because you think you wouldn't miss him so much if he was gone? That he's safe to be friends with?"

Harry stared at her, he hadn't really given it much thought until now, but he knew that if something did happen to Snape, he would miss him as much as he would miss Hermione and Ron.

***

Harry was glad he went to the Quidditch match in the end. He was caught up in the excitement of his fellow Gryffindors and only felt a little pang that he wasn't the one chasing the Snitch. Ginny remained as Seeker, although not as good as Harry, she could hold her own and managed to catch the Snitch right out from under David Parson's nose, the seventh year Ravenclaw Seeker.

The cheers from the Gryffindor supporters surrounding them were deafening and Harry's throat was raw from his own shouting. Gryffindor had won by two hundred points to one hundred and twenty. The first Quidditch match of the season and already they were looking good for the Quidditch Cup.

"Thanks, Hermione, for making me go," Harry grinned at her. "I think I needed that."

"You sure did," said Hermione, giving him a quick hug. "I want to go and see Ron to congratulate him! Did you see those saves? He's really getting better at this, isn't he?"

"He is," agreed Harry.

"Coming?"

"You go on, I'll catch up with him later," Harry gave her a knowing wink. He was feeling very generous today and knew that the two of them would probably like some private celebrating time of their own.

"Thanks, Harry. You're an angel," Hermione gave him a quick peck on the cheek before rushing down the stairs of the stands. Harry sat there for a while as all the stands emptied of spectators, just enjoying the silence. Sometimes he just liked to be on his own. He knew the common room would be full of noisy celebrations and he didn't want to face that quite yet.

Madam Hooch waved to him as she collected up the Quidditch equipment. She disappeared beneath the stands, returning a few minutes later mounted on a broom and flew up to where Harry was sitting, she landed on the front of the stands and sat down beside him.

"Do you miss it?" she asked him.

"Yeah," replied Harry, his throat tight.

"Thought so," said Madam Hooch and she accio'd a broom to her and held it out to Harry. "I also thought you might like this back."

It was Harry's Firebolt, the one Sirius had given him and he quickly blinked back tears. "But Madam Hooch I'm still banned."

"You're banned from playing Quidditch, Harry, not from flying. Umbridge should have worded her decrees better, shouldn't she? One lap round the pitch for old times' sake, what do you say, Harry?"

"Thank you, I'd like that," said Harry. Madam Hooch got up and mounted her broom, zooming away. Harry stood up and stepped up to the front of the stand. It happened so quickly, one second he was about to mount his broom and the next the floor of the stand had collapsed beneath him and he fell right through, screaming in pain and terror, the he could hear and feel his bones breaking as he fell through the struts.

Harry was too shocked to even try a spell, Madam Hooch cast a levitation charm on him just as he was inches from the ground and she hurried over to him as Harry just lay there, trapped between the supporting struts of the stands and the flying instructor's spell. The spell had done nothing except stop his descent, he was still in pain, still screaming when the woman reached him.

Harry couldn't see what was wrong with his legs and hips, but he could feel the pain. He tried to move his head, but it wouldn't budge, the charm preventing him from moving any part of his body. He couldn't even talk.

"Harry, I'm going to get Madam Pomfrey, all right? You'll be fine, don't worry."

When she said that, it was all Harry could do.

***

"Thank you, Severus," said Poppy as she took the vials from Severus' hands and placed them on her store shelf. "If you do get some time, can you make some Dreamless Sleep as well? A lot of the first years are having nightmares at the moment and I'm running low."

Severus didn't doubt it, the reported Death Eater attacks were getting more and more frequent and it was more and more common that the casualties were related to those students still at Hogwarts. "Very well, Poppy. Anything else?"

"No, I think that's it for now. I wonder -"

"Poppy! Oh my God! Poppy, come quick, it's Harry!" screamed Madam Hooch as she came skidding to a halt in front of them, her flying robe billowed behind her like wings.

"Harry? Harry Potter?" asked Severus, his heart leaping into his throat. He followed the two of them without invitation as Hooch led them back to the Quidditch pitch. Potter was nowhere in sight, but a broken broom lay on the ground beside one of the stands. "He wasn't flying?" Severus demanded.

"No," snapped Hooch, "I was going to race him around the pitch, but when he stood up, the floor just collapsed beneath him."

"What do you mean?" asked Poppy. "He fell from the stands?" They all looked up at the pennants fluttering in the heights and shuddered.

"I managed to cast a levitation spell on him before he hit the ground, but he was already injured by that time. The struts," said Hooch as she cast aside the lower curtain and they all went inside. It was not a pretty sight, Harry's limbs were twisted, both by the spell and the wood. His legs were at an awkward angle and on the left one, his robes had been ripped, as had the skin beneath, blood trickling from a large gash near his knee. A shard of bone was sticking out through his left shin.

"Was he unconscious when you left him?" Poppy demanded as she cast scanning charms over the boy's still form.

"No, he was lucid."

"Well, he's unconscious now," said Poppy. "Broken legs, broken arm, fractured pelvis. Thankfully his spine seems to be fine, but he's going to be in a lot of pain for a few days while he heals. What happened, Rolanda? These stands are always checked for safety before every match."

"They are," agreed Madam Hooch. "I did it myself this afternoon, there was nothing wrong with this stand then."

"Could you have made a mistake?" asked Madam Pomfrey as she tended to Harry, splinting both his legs while he was still knocked out.

"It's possible, but if the stand was unsafe, why did it only break when Harry stood on it? There were hundreds of children who passed that same spot and nothing happened. Wouldn't it make more sense if there was the weight of more than one person on it? And Harry isn't exactly heavyweight material, is he? The poor boy's skin and bone." Hooch shivered as she caught a glimpse of Poppy trying to put the bone back into place, probably regretting her choice of words.

"Do you need me to help get him back to the infirmary?" asked Severus.

"No, we can manage, Severus, why?"

"I just thought I'd do a little investigating around here," said Severus. He left Potter in their tender care and made his way up to the top of the stands, going very carefully. The tower was a little wobbly after Harry's dive through the supports. Severus edged closer to the gap of wood at the front and waved his wand around. As he'd thought, it was a magical flaw in the wood, tied to Harry's magical signature. It would look fine and if anyone other than Harry walked past it, nothing would happen to them. But if Harry walked past, then the spell would activate and the flawed wood would collapse.

It was a trick Death Eaters had used in the last war to ambush Aurors and Snape's right hand curled around his left forearm. Surely there weren't Death Eaters in the school? They would never get past the wards, would they?

How else to explain the stand collapsing? For there was no doubt in Severus' mind as to what this was.

This was a deliberate attempt on Harry Potter's life.

Part Six



Harry had to stay in the infirmary for days, he was unconscious most of the time and when he wasn't, Madam Pomfrey dosed him with pain and calming potions. He was healing, but as the bones knitted together, it hurt. A lot. He was just glad they'd got to him in time. Madam Pomfrey had already told him that he was very lucky, even five more minutes and they might not have been able to heal him properly at all.

Ron and Hermione visited him when they weren't in class, although Hermione kept giving him his homework, he wasn't really feeling up to it, but Harry did it anyway, just to have something to pass the time. It wasn't his best work though and he didn't think he would be getting perfect grades on anything he'd written while laid up in the infirmary.

When Harry had been in the hospital wing for about a week, he found it hard to judge time dipping in and out of healing sleeps as he was, Dumbledore came to see him along with Professor Snape. They both looked very grave as Dumbledore sat down on the chair by Harry's bed. Snape stood behind it and Harry couldn't fathom the look that was in their eyes. Snape cast a strong silencing and warding charm round the bed. Harry sat up straighter, feeling his heart thud like a drum in his chest.

"Harry," began Dumbledore. "I know we've had our differences, but I hope you'll understand that what we are doing is for your own good. Your injuries, your fall, Harry. It wasn't an accident."

"Sir? You mean someone damaged the stand deliberately?"

"I'm afraid so, Harry," replied Dumbledore, patting Harry's knees through the bedclothes.

"That wasn't all, Potter. It was a trap, set for you."

"What? Someone at Hogwarts is trying to kill me?" The one place he thought he would be safe from that at least.

"It certainly seems that way," said Dumbledore. "Which is why I am appointing Professor Snape as your bodyguard as soon as you leave the infirmary. I know there has been some - tension between the two of you, but Harry, Professor Snape is the best man for the job and he has agreed to this duty. I'm hoping you will be gracious and accept his help."

"Will you be following me around all the time, Professor?" Harry asked of Snape.

"Not that you would notice, Potter, but I will be keeping an eye on you. You will be able to spend time with your friends, go to your classes and everything else as normal. The only difference is that you will no longer sleep in the Gryffindor dormitories."

Harry stared from one to the other. "The safest place for you at night, Harry, is in the cubiculum securus," said Dumbledore.

"The what, sir?"

"In essence a secret room, safe room if you will, Potter. You will spend your nights there as when you are asleep is also when you are most vulnerable to attack."

"The room itself is not actually part of Hogwarts," continued Dumbledore. "It hasn't been used in years, but it is always ready for occupation. No-one must know of your changed sleeping plans, Harry. You will go to bed as normal, wait until your friends are asleep and I will give you an emergency Portkey amulet which will take you directly to the safe room. It is keyed to you and only you, so if even if it falls into the wrong hands, no-one else will be able to use it."

"Shouldn't the others be protected as well?" asked Harry. "If there is a murderer on the loose?"

"Potter, they are after you and only you. The wood was charmed to recognise your magical signature and only yours. You are the only one who is danger right at this minute, but if I discover who was behind this..." Snape trailed off and clenched his hands into fists. Harry was shocked at how much the man seemed to be upset as to what had almost happened to him

"So - so, Professor Snape will be staying with me in the room?" Harry wondered why his tummy gave a little jolt at that news.

"Haven't you been listening, Potter? The headmaster assigned me the task of guarding you. Where else do you think I'd be? I have to be there in the unlikely event that the wards to the cubiculum securus are breached. Did you think I would be most able to protect you if I wasn't even there? You had better get used to it, Potter. You and I will be spending a lot of time together until the culprit is caught."

"Okay," said Harry quietly. He wasn't sure how he should be feeling at the moment. The pain from his injuries had mostly faded thanks to Madam Pomfrey's care and hefty doses of Calci-Mend to help the bones heal. He felt he should be more frightened that there was someone out there wanting to kill him, but he'd spent so long worrying about Voldemort trying to do him in that he'd gone way past anxiety about it long ago and was into what he could only describe as calm acceptance. He wasn't afraid to die.

Dumbledore rummaged in his robe pocket, removed a gold medallion hanging on a chain and handed it to Harry. There was an engraved eye in the middle of it and where the eyeball should have been there was a small emerald. "This amulet is only keyed to you, Harry. Whenever you press the emerald with a thumb or finger, you will be taken straight to the safe room and Professor Snape's amulet will give him a warning to let him know you've arrived there, if he isn't in the room already."

"Thank you, sir," said Harry, placing the chain around his neck.

"Keep it safe, Potter," said Snape.

"Yes, sir."

"Well then, Harry, we'll let you get ready for class. Madam Pomfrey has informed me you're well enough to leave today," Dumbledore's eyes twinkled as he gave Harry the good news. Harry couldn't help smiling back. He spent enough time in the infirmary as it was.

Snape was giving Harry a strange look, but Harry couldn't fathom what it was. "Until tonight, then, Potter," said Snape, turning on his heel and walking away in a billow of robes.

***

Severus' amulet vibrated at ten past midnight, so he knew Potter had already gone to the cubiculum securus. He pressed the jewel on his own amulet and was deposited almost immediately into the room. It was quicker than a normal Portkey and there wasn't that same dizziness after travelling either.

The room itself was large, with pale pink carpet on the floor, pink and white flowered wallpaper on the walls and the largest four poster bed he'd ever seen. The hangings were white with small pink flowers embroidered on them and a large pink and white striped bedspread covered the bed. It would comfortably hold five, but only one would be using it tonight.

There were no windows, but a half open doorway led to a bathroom (thankfully decorated in mostly white with just a few pink accents, Severus didn't fancy bathing in a pink bath), where he could see Potter bent over the sink as he brushed his teeth. Severus tried to ignore the stirrings in his groin, but it was difficult, the brat looked so delectable bent over like that and he just wanted to pinch him.

Potter turned round and Severus was delighted to see the little jump he gave when he saw his teacher. "Professor! I didn't know you had arrived yet."

"Obviously," drawled Snape. "Tell me, are you naturally this oblivious all the time or do you have to work at it?"

The boy flushed in embarrassment at the insult but didn't retort. That certainly wasn't usual for a Potter. He stood hovering by the bed, getting even pinker than the vile carpeting. "Um, sir, there's only one bed."

"I'm well aware of that, Potter, but rest assured your virtue is in no danger from me," at least no tonight it isn't, "If you had bothered to explore your surroundings with the same zeal you give to travelling out of bounds, you would realise that there is a camp bed underneath the four poster. I will be sleeping on it."

"Oh," said Potter, just as the overly large pyjama top slipped to reveal a pale, milky shoulder. Severus wanted to lick it, the skin was just begging to be licked and sucked and bitten. Bruised too, he wondered how purple and yellow would look against the paleness of the boy's skin. Shaking his head to rid him of those thoughts, Severus bent down and retrieved the camp bed from underneath the four poster and erected it with a wave of his wand.

He removed his outer robe and transfigured it into a blanket. Potter tossed him two pillows from the large bed and Severus gaped at him in surprise. He was slightly discomfited by the gesture, that Potter cared even a little about his comfort was an unusual situation to say the least and certainly not something James Potter would ever have concerned himself over.

"Thank you, Potter," said Severus. The boy fell back on the bed, clutching his chest dramatically.

"I think I've just had a heart attack," he had the gall to grin at him. "I'm just recovering from the shock."

"What shock?" asked Severus as he made up his makeshift bed.

"You thanked me for something."

"I've thanked you before."

"No, sir, actually you haven't."

"Go to sleep," snapped Severus. They couldn't laugh and joke together, as if they were friends. That wasn't part of Dumbledore's plan but ever since Severus had seen Harry after his accident, he wasn't sure if he was the right person for the job. He hadn't told Dumbledore, he hadn't told anyone, but he was getting too attached to the boy and that did not bode well for Dumbledore's plan at all.

Potter climbed into bed, he looked dwarfed in the large bed and settled down under the covers, before casing a silencing charm.

"No silencing charms," said Snape, glaring at him. "I need to know if you have nightmares or visions from the Dark Lord. I need to hear everything if I am to do my job of guarding you properly."

"You don't need to hear everything," mumbled Harry and Snape turned away to hide his grin from view. Ah, the joys of being sixteen and slave to hormones.

Their enforced retreat was certainly going to be interesting.



Part Seven

Harry lay on the wide four poster bed, listening to Snape's light snoring. This felt a lot different to being in a dormitory with four other boys. This was a man in the room with him. A man who Harry was beginning to think of more than just his teacher, his protector. Harry often found himself staring at the man's lips, wondering how they would taste.

He watched Snape all the time now, in class, at meals, whenever he caught sight of him in the hall and always Harry would have the same reaction. He would flush and get hard, wanting nothing more than for the man to reach out and touch his cock. Not that that would ever happen, Snape had given him no indications that he thought of Harry as anything more than a student. Harry wanted to be more than a student. He wanted to be worth something to someone. He wanted to belong to someone. Snape. He wanted to belong to Snape. He wanted to curl up next to Snape in the giant four poster and feel the man's breath hot in his ear and along his neck, feel biting kisses all around his neck, like a necklace of bruises branding him as Snape's.

His one and only kiss with Cho Chang had been a disaster and he was in no hurry to repeat the experience, except maybe with Snape. He hadn't really given girls much thought since he'd been back at school, he never drooled over the pretty ones like Ron did, earning Ron glares from Hermione. Girls just didn't interest him like that, he realised now it was probably why things hadn't worked out with Cho. He just wasn't into girls. Owl the Prophet, Harry Potter was gay. He was just surprised it took him so long to figure it out.

He didn't quite know why Snape was engendering these feelings in him. Maybe it was because Snape was older, more experienced and might even teach Harry something, for Harry hadn't a clue. He had no knowledge or experience beyond his own right hand.

Harry didn't know when his feelings had started changing, he just knew they had and now more often than not, he wasn't suffering from nightmares at all but dreams of an entirely different sort. Dreams which featured the Potions master in a starring role and left Harry sticky and breathless when he woke up, the main reason why he'd tried to cast a silencing charm around the bed in the retreat. How was he supposed to explain to Snape if he called out the man's name in his sleep or something? Snape would probably hex him into next week and save the would be murderer the bother.

So far Harry had managed to block all of those memories and dreams away during their Occlumency lessons, but Harry knew it was only a matter of time before Snape accessed them. What on earth would he do then?

Harry glanced over at the sleeping man. Was he really asleep? Snape was facing him, the camp bed almost the same height of the four poster and he looked a lot younger sleeping, his face smooth and unlined.

It was their fifth night in the retreat and Harry was suffering a little from sexual frustration. He hadn't wanted to touch himself with the man right there, but his attempts in the shower the past few mornings had been thwarted by well meaning friends, wondering if he was all right after the attempt on his life and he had to hurry to get to class without even starting.

His cock was insistent, pressing up against the blankets and Harry knew from past experience that if he didn't take care of things now, then he ran a real risk of definitely having sticky sheets in the morning and he didn't want to have to face Snape after that. If he just wanked now, he could clean up with a spell and hopefully Snape would be none the wiser. Being sixteen was hell.

Harry removed his pyjama bottoms and turned over on his stomach, moving his head to the side so that he was facing the sleeping Snape. The man wasn't that close to him, the bed was so wide, but Harry could almost imagine that Snape's head was on the pillow next to him and Snape was kissing his neck, his ears. Harry stifled a groan as he thrust down against the mattress, loving the way his cock was trapped between the mattress and his stomach, the pressure on his cock a welcome relief. Harry gripped the pillow in his fists and his hips pumped faster and faster on the bed, he wanted to come so badly, worried that Snape might wake up before he'd finished and he needed this, God, he needed this.

Harry's eyes fluttered closed as his orgasm drew near, the vision of a sleeping Potions master shimmered behind his eyelids. Suddenly Harry was there, spurting his release onto the sheets beneath him, muffling his cries, "Sir! Sir!" in the pillow, tasting feathers and damp cotton. He lay there for a while, feeling too languid to move, not even caring about the wet patch beneath him until it began to grow cold and not very sexy.

Harry waved his wand and cast a cleaning charm over both himself and the bed, squinting with one eye to make sure Snape was still sleeping before pulling his pyjama trousers back up and grinning from ear to ear. It had felt good when he bit down on the pillow, he wondered how it would feel to be kissed as he came, would that make it even better?

He gave one last lingering look at his teacher before finally succumbing to sleep.

***

Potter was flushed as he settled himself on the bed the next night and Severus had to stamp down on the grin. No wonder, if that's what he got up to each night. For Severus had been far from sleep the night before, wondering what the boy would do if he thought Severus was asleep.

He didn't think Potter would risk masturbating right there in the room with him, he hadn't even gone to the bathroom, which had a lock. Severus hadn't seen much from beneath his lowered eyelids, just the steady rhythm as Potter humped the mattress, but oh the wonderful sounds he made as he came and the flush on his cheeks as he reached his peak, were enough to have Snape wanting to reach out and lick the sweat from the boy's skin.

Snape stretched, trying to get rid of the kinks in his back.

"Sir?" asked the boy.

"Yes, Potter?"

"Um, we can share the bed. It is big enough," he said.

"That would hardly be considered appropriate," said Severus, even though he had been hoping for an invitation.

"I won't tell anyone, sir. You can't be comfortable on that thing. It's too short for you, your legs dangle off the edge."

So he'd noticed, had he?

"If you're sure?" Severus asked again.

The boy nodded and pulled down the covers. Severus climbed in and cast a spell. "It's a shield barrier," he explained. "So we both stay on our own side of the bed." Dumbledore may have given him permission to dominate the boy, but he hadn't given permission to seduce him.

"Goodnight, sir," he said, turning over and seemed to fall asleep straightaway, much to Severus' disappointment. He'd been rather looking forward to the show and this time he was going to see if Potter would be interested in some audience participation. Severus was lying down propped on one elbow and just gazing at Harry's shoulder where the pyjama top had slipped again.

"Potter? Are you awake?" he asked.

No answer. Potter did truly seem to be asleep and Severus sighed in frustration, his cock pounding with blood beneath his nightshirt. Suddenly Potter moved to lie on his back, arching it like a human bridge and let out a moan that had Severus leaking in his underwear. "Snape! Oh, sir, Please!" the boy moaned again, his fists gripping the bedclothes beneath him in his fists. His knees were bent and there was a tell tale tent beneath the bedspread. Was he dreaming?

Harry turned again, this time clamping himself right round the Potion master's body, how on earth had he got through the shield barrier? Harry's leg twined itself with his and he began rubbing his erection along Severus' thigh and groaning loudly.

Severus knew the right thing to do would be to wake the boy up, but at that moment, he didn't care about the right thing, he was enjoying this too much. It was so wrong, so forbidden, but oh so delicious. An armful of squirming, aroused Harry Potter, even if he was asleep. In the end, he couldn't do it. Not like this, not with Potter asleep and not knowing what he was doing. "Potter, wake up," he whispered, giving the boy a slight shake.

"S- sir? What? What's going on?" gasped Potter, opening in his eyes to stare into Severus' face. He blushed as he tried to extricate himself and then his eyes widened when he realised the situation, the situation being that he was humping Severus' leg like a dog in heat. "Oh, sir, I'm sorry!"

"Hush, Potter. It's all right. You were sleeping and had a dream. Nothing to worry about."

"I didn't mean to." The boy flushed again and hung his head, Severus could still feel Potter's erection pressing into him as he was sure the boy could feel his.

"You were talking in your sleep," continued Snape, not releasing him quite yet. "You seem to have developed a fascination with me, Potter, did you realise that?"

"I'm sorry, sir," he said, shamefaced.

"Don't be. I find myself equally fascinated, as you may have gathered that isn't my wand digging into you."

Potter gaped at him, mouth opening and closing like a goldfish. "The question is, do you want me to do anything about it?"

"Sir?"

"Students and faculty affairs while not banned are certainly frowned upon and you would have to keep it a secret, whatever might happen between us."

Potter was no longer making any move to escape from his arms and even seemed to shimmy a bit closer.

"You - you like me? Like that?" His green eyes were sparkling in the small lamp from the bedside table. He sounded so surprised, as if he had no idea of his own worth. And hadn't that been one of the problems he and Dumbledore had been trying to fix?

"I do, Harry, I do."

The boy gasped on hearing his name and much to Severus' surprise, Harry lifted his head and mashed his lips against his. It was awkward and clumsy, but certainly enthusiastic. After about five minutes or so, Severus pulled away and just looked at him.

"Harry, we don't have to rush things," he said quietly, his cock throbbing in protest. "We don't have to do anything tonight if you don't want to."

"I don't know what I want," Harry said finally. "I've never - I've never," he waved his arms to encompass the both of them. "Can you just - can you just hold me?"

"Do you want me to?"

"Yes, please," sighed Harry and snuggled closer, tucking his head underneath Severus' shoulder. "I've never been held like this before."

Below the sexual frustration that he was still feeling, Severus felt something else. Awe at how quickly Harry had grown to trust him, despite their past differences. Relief that Harry had finally seemed to think that he deserved more than being punished for things that were not his fault.

Severus just hoped that Harry never found out what Dumbledore had ordered him to do.


Part Eight

The first letter arrived on the third day after Harry and Snape had first shared the bed in the retreat. He couldn't think who would be sending him letters now, unless it was maybe Remus or Tonks. Harry hadn't heard from either of them since the fiasco at the Ministry and he wasn't sure anything they said could make him feel better about it. It was Harry's fault Sirius had died, maybe that's why they hadn't written before? They were still angry with him? Harry felt the need to suddenly be in Snape's office kneeling on the floor and he gripped the parchment firmly in his fist.

He didn't recognise the owl, a small tawny, he gave it a few owl treats before sending it on the way. Ron and Hermione were looking at him curiously as Harry made no move to open the letter.

"Who's it from, Harry?" asked Ron.

"I don't know, there's no return address."

"Well, open it then," suggested Hermione. "Then you'll know."

Harry shrugged, then slid his thumb underneath the flap to open it. The parchment inside had been folded and folded again until all that remained was a tiny square. Harry's hand shook as he unfolded it, he'd already guessed this wasn't from Remus or Tonks, they never folded letters like this, as if they were trying to hide what they'd written.

There were only a few words on the parchment, scrawled haphazardly across the page.

I know what you are.

It didn't make much sense to Harry, nor going by their confused faces, to Ron and Hermione. Harry glanced up just as Snape left the teachers' table after breakfast. "I have to go," said Harry, knowing instinctively that he should show the letter to Snape. He caught up with the man just as he was descending the stairs to the dungeons.

"Professor Snape, sir, can I talk to you?" asked Harry, following him down, even though Harry's first class was Herbology and outside, not in the dungeons.

"Is this about the letter you just received, Potter?"

"How did you - " But of course, the man was looking out for him after all, Harry really shouldn't have been surprised. "Yes, sir."

"Follow me," said Snape and led Harry into an empty classroom, not the Potions one. This one was covered in dust and cobwebs, looked like it hadn't been used for years. Snape locked and warded the door before holding his hand out. Harry placed the letter in his professor's proffered hand and waited patiently as the man scanned it with his wand.

"You have no idea who sent you this, Harry?" Snape asked, rubbing his chin.

"No, sir."

"They've been very clever, normally when you write, you leave behind a trace of your own magics, almost like Muggle fingerprints, but there is nothing on this letter at all to indicate who wrote it. Not one trace of their magical signature remains, they've hidden it or charmed it away. Do you mind if I keep this? I would like to perform some more spells on it to try and discover anything else."

"No, sir. Do you want the envelope as well?" asked Harry, holding it out.

"It might help, yes," said Snape, removing it from Harry's hand and putting both parchment and envelope in an inner robe pocket. "You'd better get to class." Snape leaned close to him and gave him a quick kiss. Harry's breath hitched, Snape had never initiated anything while they weren't in the retreat before. He wondered what it meant.

"Yes, sir," said Harry as he reluctantly headed towards the door.

"Potter," said Snape just as he turned the handle. "You did the right thing in coming to me."

Harry couldn't help the smile then as he hurried out, feeling as if he could float all the way to Greenhouse Three.

Praise from Snape was rare indeed, but that only made it even more special.

***

The rest of the day passed uneventfully, although Ron and Hermione did his best to pester him to try and find out who Harry thought had sent the letter. Harry had no idea and he had no idea what they meant either. I know what you are. Those words didn't seem to make much sense. What was Harry? A student? The Boy Who Lived? A teenager? And why did the thought of someone sitting down, writing those words and sending them to Harry send a shiver up his spine? They had no proof, but Harry guessed it might have been from the same person who had
set the trap for him at the Quidditch stands.

The whole school knew Harry was banned from Quidditch, but not from spectating, the culprit could be anyone and Harry was feeling slightly paranoid by the time dinner rolled around. He was just grateful that it was Thursday and he had an Occlumency lesson tonight with Snape, along with an hour's punishment. Just knowing that he could go to the man's office soon was calming him down.

Harry just toyed with the chicken pie on his plate cutting it up into smaller and smaller pieces, then mashing both pastry and filling together so it looked like wallpaper paste and decidedly unappetising. Hermione stopped him mutilating any more of his dinner by gripping his wrist firmly in her hand and giving him a pointed look, taking in all the other Gryffindors staring at him. Great, now they all thought he was crazy. Harry set his cutlery down and couldn't face another bite of food. He sipped at his pumpkin juice until it was ten to seven, then muttered to Ron and Hermione that he had to go to Remedial Potions. They were the only two who knew that he was studying Occlumency, but he hadn't told him about the punishments he still felt he wanted. He wasn't sure how his friends would react to that.

Harry had never been caned by Snape yet, even though he stared at it a lot. He was curious as to what it might feel like but he was a little frightened of the pain too. Snape had never touched the cane, but it always lay on his desk now whenever Harry arrived and he felt the time had come for him to ask for it. Maybe the physical pain would stop him thinking, for he was fed up of his thoughts going round and round in circles. Sirius, the Ministry, the attempt on his life and none of them were making much sense.

Snape was waiting by the door when Harry arrived at the man's office, his arms folded across his chest. His hair looked shinier and softer tonight and Harry had to clamp down on the urge to reach out and stroke it. That would probably get him hexed into next week. Harry followed the man in and sank to his knees in front of Snape's desk almost immediately. The cane was no longer on the desk. Snape sighed and sat down.

"Harry, we have to talk," he said and Harry felt his heart flutter like butterfly wings against his ribcage as the man spoke his given name. He loved it when the man called him Harry. "We have to talk about your punishments."

"Yes, sir," said Harry, not lifting his eyes from the floor.

"Harry, please, get up and sit down on the chair," said Snape, sounding exasperated.

Wobbling slightly, Harry got up and sat down, feeling strangely disappointed. Snape was no longer going to punish him like this, Harry had done something to offend him, he just knew it and Harry tried to swallow around the snitch that had suddenly taken up residence in his throat.

"Harry, why do you still feel the need to be punished? Your detention is over, I've already told you that and yet you still insist that you need to be punished, why?"

"I - I don't think," said Harry.

"You don't think what?"

"No, I mean, when I'm kneeling on the floor, I don't think about the things that are bothering me. I can only think of how hard the floor is or whether I'm hurting, but it's a good hurt because I know that it will end soon. Physical hurt always goes away in the end."

"And emotional hurt is more difficult to handle?" asked Snape, leaning forward and gazing steadily at Harry. "Why me, Harry? Why do you want me to be the one to give you this punishment?"

"Because - because I trust you," replied Harry, realising as he said it that it was true. Snape was the only person he could trust with the knowledge that he liked physical pain. "You would never really hurt me. You've always looked out for me, even when I didn't know about it."

"Is there a sexual component to you liking pain, Harry?"

Harry flushed. "Not - not at first," he admitted.

"And now?"

"Yes, I keep wondering what it would be like for you to hurt me. The thought of it - ar - arouses me."

"The thought of being hurt?" asked Snape.

"No, the thought of you hurting me." Harry wished the floor would open up and swallow him now, he was bracing himself to hear Snape's laughter about his fantasies, he already knew Snape liked him, but would he still like Harry knowing that he wanted to be hurt? There was a steady silence, the only thing Harry could hear was his blood pounding in his veins.

At long last, Snape spoke, his voice a register lower and Harry felt his groin stir. "Have you ever been caned before, Harry?"

"No, sir," Harry replied breathlessly. Was he going to do it? Was Snape actually going to do it?

"Then I don't think you're quite ready for that yet. Do you know what a submissive is, a pet?" asked Snape.

"Not really, sir," admitted Harry, although he had a feeling he was going to soon find out.

"You're half way there already, Harry. You feel the need to obey me, to kneel for me. Do you want me to control you? To dominate you sexually? Would you like to be at my whim? Would you like that, Harry? Would you?"

Harry had never been so hard in his life and his answer was whimpered. "Please, sir, yes, I want that." Even before Snape asked, Harry slid to the floor again and knelt with his head down, feeling hot and cold at once. Snape stood up and walked round to Harry, tilting his chin up with long pointed fingers. Harry could hardly bear the man's gaze, his eyes were just so intense.

"Harry, we are going to do this properly. Before we go any further, you must tell me your safe-word. If I ever do anything that you don't want or find too much to handle, say your safe-word and I will stop, do you understand? To be a pet, submissive, is not to give total power over to someone else. It is to feel safe enough to relinquish control and know that you are still in control yourself, through your safe-word."

"So if I don't like something, I say my word and you will stop?"

"Exactly, Harry. Your word should be something that you wouldn't normally cry out in the throes of passion."

Harry thought for a moment, he never really said much when he touched himself, as he always tried to be silent.

"Um, McGonagall?" he queried.

Snape smirked. "Indeed, that will do admirably, Harry. And now I think, it's time for your punishment. Stand up, Harry," commanded Snape and Harry obeyed at once. "Remove your outer robe and fold it neatly on the chair," instructed Snape. Harry did as he was bid, feeling a sense of nervous excitement build in the pit of his stomach and lower still.

He was left in his school uniform and stood in the middle of the floor. Snape pulled the armless chair from beside the desk and sat down on it. "Across my knees, Harry," said Snape and Harry just gaped at him for a few moments. "That will be one extra for disobeying a direct order. Would you care to make it more?"

Harry hurried across the floor and settled himself across Snape's lap, his feet and hands touching the floor, his glasses hanging precariously from his nose. "I could make some trite remark about this hurting me more than it hurts you, but we both know it would be a lie. This is supposed to hurt, it is a punishment after all," said Snape as he brought his hand down on Harry's cloth covered rump.

"Count them."

"O-one," gasped Harry, trying to ignore the burning in his backside. His clothes were protecting him a bit, but it still stung.

"That was for James," said Snape and Harry nodded mutely.

Another whack across his backside. "T- two."

"That was for Lily."

Smack! "T- t - three," Harry whimpered, Snape's hand like a brand across his arse. His cock was hardening, he could feel it pressing against Snape's thigh and he hoped the man hadn't noticed it.

"Do you want me to stop, Harry? Do you need to use your word?"

"N- no, sir, I'm all right."

"Very well, that was for Cedric."

Whack! "F- four," Harry gasped, blood rushing to his cock at the impact.

"That was for Sirius."

By the fifth slap he was crying and trying to breathe through the pain.

"That was for the pensieve."

His hand came down again and Harry wailed in pain. He didn't think he'd be able to sit down for a week after this.

"S- s- six," sobbed Harry, gripping Snape's lower legs, anything to distract himself from the stinging in his backside.

Snape's hand didn't fall for the seventh. "That one, that was for you, Harry," said Snape as he caressed Harry's sore bottom, the touch soothing now, not hurting and Harry cried even more. He didn't deserve to be soothed. It was his fault all those people had died and he sobbed harder against Snape's legs. His erection was long gone from the guilt flowing through his veins.

Snape lifted Harry up and sat him in the man's lap, being careful of Harry's sore cheeks. "Ssh, Harry, it's over now. You've been so good, such a good boy," said Snape as he wrapped his hands around Harry and pressed Harry's head to his shoulder. Harry's glasses were digging awkwardly into his face, but he didn't care.

"I- I'm not good," sobbed Harry. "I got them killed! I got all of them killed!"

"No, Harry, you didn't. None of this was your fault. It was Voldemort's fault and no-one else's. Don't let him do this to you."

Snape caressed his head, his neck, his back as Harry just cried and cried. He didn't feel awkward or embarrassed at weeping in the man's arms. It felt safe, comforting, especially after the spanking and Harry knew instinctively that Snape was not going to berate him for this.

"I'm your master now, Harry, you belong to me. I won't let anything happen to you, I promise," Snape kissed his hair and Harry never wanted to leave the man's embrace.

It was the only place he'd ever felt safe.

Part Nine

Severus hissed in frustration as his latest spell caused the letter on his worktable to turn to ashes. Seven letters in three weeks and they were still no nearer to discovering the culprit, nor who had damaged the Quidditch stands. Three weeks in which he spent nearly every night comforting Harry after nightmares that left him shaking and barely coherent, he refused to talk about them, just snuggled up even closer to Severus and lay there all night, not sleeping for hours.

It was hard to see the change in Harry. From such an outgoing boy, he was getting more and more nervous, Severus saw him jump at the slightest thing and he was withdrawing into himself more and more, even Granger and Weasley were having no luck in drawing him out. He was getting paler and thinner by the day, the only colouring on his face were the purple shadows under his eyes.

Harry hardly ate and the other teachers were commentating that his written work was getting better and better but that his practical spell work left a lot to be desired, he just seemed to nervous or upset to cast spells and McGonagall had informed Severus that one day in Transfiguration, he bolted from the room in tears when Hermione Granger had turned a rabbit into a pair of slippers.

All Quidditch games had been cancelled until further notice, no-one wanted a repeat of what had almost happened to Harry and Severus had already had a visit from Draco Malfoy that morning, protesting the ban as unfair. "It's not as if Potter would have been a great loss anyway," the blonde boy said and Severus had to restrain himself from grabbing the boy by his robes and hurling him against the wall. He ordered Draco out, that he had work to do and the boy seemed glad to leave.

Severus pinched the bridge of his nose to try and stave of his headache. He had never felt so out of control as he did when Draco had bad mouthed Harry, but then he had never felt like this about anyone else before. His previous lovers he could count on one hand, not counting the pets he'd trained for Voldemort. Harry was both more than a pet and more than a lover. He'd never felt the need to be constantly near someone, or this fierce protectiveness for someone before. He knew that if he discovered who had hurt his Harry, he would not be responsible for his actions. Harry belonged to him and him alone.

They hadn't yet progressed beyond kissing, but Severus knew it was only a matter of time before they did. He wouldn't rush things. Harry was still a virgin and he had no intention of scaring him away just because he couldn't be patient with him.

Since the spanking, Harry hadn't needed to kneel on the floor anymore, but he would do it if Severus asked him to, willing to obey any order Severus gave him. Harry seemed to be such a natural submissive, but Severus was finding it harder and harder to do anything that might hurt him. He seemed so fragile lately, with the killer and the letters and Severus realised he didn't want to do it anymore. Despite Dumbledore's orders, Severus had no desire to break him. He wanted to - he wanted to love him.

***

When Harry arrived at the retreat later that night, he saw that Snape had Transfigured the camp bed into a small table and chairs, set for two. There was a small mountain of food on the table.

"Sir?" asked Harry, staring at the multitude of dishes sitting on the table.

"Harry, unless we're playing our games, you may call me Severus in here rather than sir."

"Oh, oh thank you, Severus!" Harry smiled and wrapped the older man in a hug. He'd missed him all day, it being Sunday, so no classes or Occlumency lessons. Ron and Hermione had been gone all afternoon and Harry had been feeling more and more left out. "So what's with all the food?"

"Since you haven't been eating in the Great Hall, it's up to me to see that you eat."

"I- I'm not hungry." It was true, in fact Harry felt a little sick to his stomach at just the amount of food there.

"Harry, please, you've got to eat. You're skin and bone as it is. I won't let you starve yourself, I know you're scared and nervous, but I promise you we will catch whoever is doing this to you. Don't do their job for them. They're probably so happy that they've reduced you to not eating and terrified of your own shadow. Do you really want them to win?"

Harry shook his head but he couldn't help how he was feeling. He didn't like it, he didn't want to be scared of everything, he didn't want to jump at every sudden noise or feel as if he was about to burst into tears at any minute, it wasn't like him and he just wanted it to stop.

Snape sat down on one of the chairs and patted his lap. "Would you like me to feed you, Harry?"

Harry nodded eagerly and clambered into the man's lap, sitting sideways on. Snape began by feeding him slices of melon, the juice trickling down his chin, Snape deftly licked it off and Harry moaned. Oh, he liked eating like this, pity they couldn't do this in the Great Hall, he would probably eat a lot better. "More?" asked Snape, close to his mouth. Harry nodded, not sure whether he was replying to get more food or more licking.

Snape moved a forkful of tomato pasta to Harry's mouth and he swallowed it eagerly, eating didn't seem half so bad with Snape feeding him. After the first forkful, Snape kissed him hard and long on the mouth. "A kiss for every bite you eat," Snape said then. "Your reward."

After Harry had been rewarded twenty times, he just couldn't eat anymore. His cock was hard and straining against the crotch of his pyjamas and he just wanted to keep kissing. "More," said Harry breathlessly and Severus reached down to the plate again. Harry shook his head, "No, more kisses, please," he begged. "Please." He knew Severus loved it when he begged.

Severus' eyes darkened as he lowered his face to Harry's and Harry lost himself in the sensation that was kissing Severus. He could never get enough of the man's lips and tongue and he opened his mouth wide as they kissed and kissed. Harry could barely breathe but it didn't matter, all that mattered was the man's mouth on his, the scrape of stubble against his cheeks and the sweeping sensations low down in his belly.

Snape's hand moved, slipping beneath the pyjama top and he began toying with Harry's left nipple, making it stand in a little peak. Harry groaned and his hips bucked almost of their own accord, as if a string had connected his nipple directly with his cock and balls and he clutched Snape's waist for dear life. He'd never really thought of his nipples as sexy before. The hand moved lower, caressing his chest, the planes of his stomach and then hovered by the waistband of his pyjamas. Harry tensed a little, Snape must have sensed it for he stopped kissing him and stared at him.

"Harry? Are you okay? Do you want me to stop now?" Severus was breathing heavily and had two splotches of colour high on his cheekbones.

"I- I'm a little scared," he admitted. "But it feels good, please don't stop."

"Don't be scared, Harry. It's just going to be touching, I just want to make you feel good, okay?"

Harry nodded and leaned his head on Severus' shoulder, looking up at the man's face. "Can - can you keep kissing me?" he asked shyly.

"Whatever you want, Harry," smiled Severus as he leaned over and once more claimed Harry's mouth in a heated kiss. Harry wrapped his arms around Severus' waist again and tried to relax as Severus reached below his pyjamas and started fondling his prick. It felt different to how Harry touched himself, more intense, knowing that it was someone else doing it and he widened his legs so Severus' hand could get a better grip. As the stroking became faster and more frantic, so did their kisses, teeth clacking together, chest heaving with the effort as Harry writhed on the man's lap. He was dimly aware of something hard digging into his hip, but Harry was so far gone in his own pleasure that he didn't register what it was then.

Severus rubbed him faster and faster, spreading precome around the tip and Harry thrust his hips in a ragged rhythm, already he could feel a delicious ache low down in his belly and the base of his cock and in a few more strokes he was there, spilling himself in copious spurts over Severus' hands, biting Severus' lip in his ecstasy. His whole body was trembling as Severus continued to stroke and milk him, still holding him until Harry softened completely.

"Sorry," mumbled Harry, only now realising that it was Severus' erection that had been digging into him.

"What for?"

Harry reached out and caressed the man through his trousers. "I didn't take care of you. Do - do you want me to do that to you?"

"Not tonight, Harry. I just wanted to make you feel good, this was for you. I'll calm down in a minute," he smiled then and kissed Harry, just a soft brush of lips on lips, not to arouse this time, but to comfort.

"I was being selfish, wasn't I?" Harry asked from his perch snuggled beneath Severus' shoulder. He should have touched Severus too, shouldn't he? Isn't that what lovers did?

"No, Harry. You were just lost in the moment and it was gratifying to see it. To know that I could give you such pleasure. It was beautiful, just like you."

Harry blushed. "Thank you, no-one's ever called me beautiful before."

"Then they're blind. And now I think it's time for bed." Severus cast a cleaning charm on both of them, before standing up with Harry still in his arms and placing him tenderly on the bed. Once Severus was settled, he opened his arms in invitation and Harry scooted across the bed and cuddled up next to him. That night, Harry slept free from nightmares.

***

Just as the sixth year Gryffindors were coming out of Transfiguration the next day, the seventh year Ravenclaws were getting ready to go in, but David Parson, the seeker, stayed behind for a moment or two. "Harry, I wondered if I might have a word?"

Harry waved Ron and Hermione on, he thought David probably wanted to discuss the Quidditch ban with him, but he was unprepared for what the boy said next.

"So, Harry. The next Hogsmeade weekend is on Halloween and I wondered if you might like to go with me?"

Harry gaped at him. "Do - do you mean like a date?"

"Yes, you do like boys, don't you?" He didn't sound at all embarrassed to be discussing orientation right here in the corridor.

"Er, yes, but I'm sorry, David. I can't go with you, I'm already seeing someone." Severus would have a fit if anyone found out about them though, so Harry just hoped David wouldn't ask who he was seeing. It wasn't as if Harry could reveal it to anyone.

"Oh, okay then. Didn't hurt to ask though, did it?" He smiled then and made his way to class and Harry hurried off to Care of Magical Creatures. He wondered what Snape would say when he told him he'd just been asked on a date.

Harry smiled to himself. Maybe he'd get a spanking.

Part Ten


They had Potions just before lunch and Harry could barely concentrate on the lesson, so focused was he on the teacher. Every time he caught a glimpse of that dark eyed gaze upon him, he couldn't help remembering the night before, when Snape had fed him and the touching afterwards. He spent most of the lesson half hard and as red as a tomato, he was sure. Hermione thankfully didn't seem to notice anything amiss, probably putting Harry's distraction down to nerves at being in Snape's class, but she didn't know why Harry was so much more nervous now.

"Time is up," called Snape, striding round the room and glancing in everyone's cauldron. Harry had to tear his eyes away in case anyone noticed his new obsession. He had a collection of them now, watching Snape walk, watching Snape eat, watching Snape talk, watching Snape's eyes flutter closed as leaned in for a kiss...

"Mr. Potter," the voice of his fantasies dragged him out of his reverie. "Yet another dismal effort from you. See me after class." It was barely perceptible, but Harry saw the small wink his teacher gave him and his heart sped up.

"Yes, sir," he agreed readily as his heart seemed to jump from his chest to his throat. He didn't care if he missed all of lunch as long as he got to spend some time with Snape.

"Rotten luck, Harry," whispered Hermione as Snape left their table and headed towards Malfoy's. "I thought your potion was rather good today."

Harry could hear Snape singing Malfoy's praises, look at the exact shade of purple his spot shrinking solution was, the right consistency, the correct aroma. Malfoy earned twenty points for Slytherin and Harry bristled. He wasn't bothered about the points, he was bothered by the way Malfoy was smiling up at Snape, touching him on the arm and batting his perfect blonde eyelashes like a bloody girl. "It's because you're such a good teacher," simpered Malfoy and Harry felt as if someone had just punched him in the gut. How dare Malfoy touch Snape and suck up to him like that! He had no right, Snape was his!

The bell rang before Harry had to endure much more of Malfoy fawning over Snape, over his Severus.

"See you later," Hermione called as she left along with the rest of the class. Once everyone else was gone besides the two of them, Snape cast warding and silencing charms on the door. Harry hadn't moved from his desk, he had the feeling that Snape was about to make up for last night's tenderness and that he was in the presence of his master now.

"Stand up," Snape commanded as he walked round and stood in front of Harry's desk. The voice was cold, but his eyes radiated heat and Harry hastened to obey. He stumbled a little as he tried to get out of his chair. "Go and face the wall."

"Sir?" Harry was confused at the order and stood in the aisle between the other desks. Snape yanked Harry forward by his tie so that their faces were mere inches apart.

"Are you disobeying a direct order?" Snape hissed at him.

"No, sir, no," whispered Harry. Snape let go of his tie, Harry took a deep breath before heading to the wall and doing what he was told. He was unprepared for Snape to wrench his arms backwards and grip both of them with his fist. With his other hand, Snape pushed Harry's cheek harshly into the wall, Harry could feel grit from the stones embed themselves in his skin and he panted for breath. Snape leaned heavily on Harry's body, he could feel the man's very prominent erection on the small of his back and Harry bit back a whimper, both one of arousal and a small touch of fear.

"Do you think I wouldn't know?" asked Snape hoarsely. "That I wouldn't find out? You belong to me. Only to me, do you understand?"

Harry nodded slightly, his movement hampered by Snape holding him, he didn't think he could speak.

"You should have not been talking to that Ravenclaw," Snape continued as he pressed against Harry.

"How did you - "

"I did not give you permission to speak!" snarled Snape as he yanked Harry's head back and clamped his mouth around Harry's neck, sucking hard. Harry thought he might have fallen to the floor if the man hadn't been holding him up. "Do you feel that?" Snape pushed his erection firmly along Harry's back. "That's for you. Your punishment for flirting with Parson. You'll be on your knees," Snape paused, panting for breath, Harry could feel the air brushing along his neck and ear and he shivered with desire. Snape released his hands and stepped away from him, Harry couldn't stop the small whine of protest as the well muscled body was removed.

"Put your hands on the wall above your head, stretch as high as you can."

Harry had learned his lesson, he didn't question his master's orders, but obeyed them at once, stretching on his tip toes, with his palms flat on the dungeon wall. He rested his forehead on the wall, wondering what was going to happen. A spell from Snape removed his robes, then Snape's hands were on him again, fumbling with his belt and trouser fastenings and Harry moaned at the thought that soon he would feel Snape's hands on him again. Trousers loosened, Snape pulled down Harry's trousers and underwear in one fell swoop, leaving them bunched around Harry's ankles and shoes.

Harry could hear similar noises behind him and he turned his head to try and get a view of the man's cock, he hadn't seen it yet, but Snape forcefully put his head back on the wall. "Don't look or I'll stop," Snape warned.

"Yes, sir," said Harry, hoping that he wouldn't be in trouble for just agreeing to a command. Snape stepped closer to him again and Harry could feel the man's cock against the cleft in his arse, already sticky with precome and he so wanted to turn round and look, to see, to taste, but he knew he wasn't allowed to yet. Snape made no move to penetrate him, but he rubbed up and down along the cleft until Harry was practically climbing the walls. No-one had ever touched him there before, he had no idea it would feel so good. Snape's hands were on his waist, holding Harry where he wanted him. Harry didn't want to be anywhere else but here.

"You will be on your knees," said Snape again. "And you will take all of me in your mouth, even if it chokes you and you will," Snape's thrusts speeded up and Harry's own cock was dragged across the rough dungeon stone and he didn't want Snape to stop. Ever. "Swallow every mouthful! Ahh! Ahh!" Snape wailed as he came, spurting hotly over Harry's naked skin. The wet heat was enough to send Harry hurtling over the edge of his own orgasm and he spilled himself against the stone, some dripping onto the floor and his clothes. Harry's knees buckled, but Snape still had a firm grip in his waist and he didn't fall. "Oh, God," Harry moaned through the aftershocks. His legs felt like rubber and he wasn't sure he could move anywhere at the moment.

Snape knelt down on the floor and pulled Harry onto his lap, hugging him close and kissing him all over his face.

"All right, Harry?" he asked, concerned. Harry was sitting awkwardly in the man's lap, his clothes around his ankles, his come on the wall, his clothes and the floor, the air heavy with the scent of sex and he had never been better.

"Better than all right," he grinned, giving Snape a few kisses of his own. "What brought that on? You don't normally do anything when we're in school."

"I know, I just wanted to stake a claim on you after I heard you were being pursued. Oh," said Snape, glancing at Harry's neck. "I've bruised you, I hadn't meant to be so rough."

"It's okay," said Harry. "I'm fine Severus, I would have used my word if I wanted you to stop."

"I know, sometimes it scares me how out of control I get around you."

"Severus, you do know I'm not interested in David Parson, right? I didn't encourage him." For that seemingly was what the punishment had been about, hadn't it?

"I know, I just thought it was a good scenario, a reason for hurting you."

"You don't need a reason. Just do it when you feel like it."

"Harry - Harry, you don't want to be hurt all the time, do you? I don't think I can handle that." Severus kissed his nose. "I don't want you to be with me just because I hurt you. I hope, Harry. I hope there's more to this than that."

"I do too, Severus. I'm not with you because you hurt me, I'm with you because you can see me. The real me, I mean. Most people can't see past the scar on my forehead, but you've never subscribed to all that nonsense about the Boy Who Lived. You were the only one who ever treated me as normal and punished me when I deserved it, the other teachers let me get away with things just because of who I am or because I was grieving, but you never did. If I acted up in your class, I got detention or lines, it helped. You were treating me as if I was real, a person, not a prophecy. Yes, sometimes I enjoy being hurt, but not all the time. Just being held in your arms is good too. It's because it's you, Severus, not because I'm being hurt. It was always you."

Severus hugged him tight and kissed his hair.

"So tell me, how did you discourage your suitor?" asked Severus and Harry's tummy growled. "You'd better eat some lunch. You can tell me tonight, you're not getting out of your punishment that easily." Severus cast a cleaning charm over both of them and Harry's skin felt a little raw afterwards.

Harry stood up and put himself to rights, grinning at his lover as he donned his robes, for that's what they were now, wasn't it?

"Don't worry, Severus. I'll be on my knees for you tonight."

Part Eleven

That night was the first time Harry had needed to use his word. He'd been on the floor of their bedroom retreat, sucking on Severus' cock as though it was the most delicious lollipop in the world and Severus lost himself in the sensation of that hot wet heat engulfing him. He was in Harry's mouth and he could almost come just from that thought alone.

He bit back a moan as Harry licked the sensitive vein on the underside. Harry hadn't got him very far in his mouth at all, it was his first time doing it and his technique could only improve with time and with practice. Oh, yes, he intended to ensure Harry got lots of practice at this. He wanted to reach down and pet Harry's head, when he remembered this was supposed to be a punishment, not a reward and he growled down at the boy instead.

"You can do better than that. Take all of it in your mouth, boy," he ordered and was shocked when Harry spluttered, choked and removed his mouth altogether from his cock. "M- M-McGonagall," sobbed Harry, curling up in a ball by the foot of the bed and wrapping his hands around his head as though to protect it from blows.

Severus felt as if he'd just been doused in ice cold water, the shock was so great and his erection faded almost at once. He didn't know what he'd done to scare Harry, but there was no denying that's what was wrong with Harry now.

He knelt down and rubbed Harry's back. "Harry?" he asked softly, but Harry just whimpered and pulled away from him, tucking himself against the bed. "Harry? What did I do? Why did you need your word?"

Harry shook his head, unwilling or unable to tell him. Severus lay down and wrapped his arms around the crying boy and rocked him. "Ssh, Harry. It's all right. It's all right," he crooned over and over again until Harry fell asleep on the floor.

Severus put him to bed, then lay down beside him and nestled Harry against his chest. He hadn't meant to hurt Harry or scare him but if Harry didn't tell him what the problem was, then he risked doing it again.

That was something he tried not to think of too much.

***

"Tea, Severus?" asked Dumbledore as he conjured a pot, two cups, sugar bowl and a small jug of cream out of the air.

"No thank you, headmaster," replied Severus and Dumbledore banished the extra cup with a wave of his wand. He fixed his own tea, lots of cream with four sugars as Severus watched and winced. The man had a sweet tooth a mile long and Severus could almost feel his own teeth ache at just the thought of all that sugar.

"So, how is everything going?" asked Dumbledore as he sipped his tea. Translation, what is happening with you and Harry and how near are you to catching the culprit?

"Not too good, Albus," admitted Severus. "There is no trace of a magical signature anywhere on the letters and I thought we might be looking for a squib, but the magic used on the Quidditch stands could not have been performed by a squib of any sort. No, we're definitely looking for someone magical. Some of the owls used were from the school and some from the post office in Hogsmeade. I've already spoken to the Post Mistress there, but she doesn't remember everyone who's used their owls and no-one stood out as a stranger. It's someone from within the school, Albus, I'm almost certain of that."

"Not Death Eaters?" The headmaster glanced briefly at Severus' left forearm.

"No, I don't think so. This isn't their style. Whoever this is, I'm not sure they're trying to kill Harry outright. Oh, I think they have murder in mind eventually, but they want to terrorise him first. Want to see him suffer as much as possible beforehand."

"Torture?" gasped Dumbledore, setting his cup on the desk between them.

"Psychological torture. Letting Harry know that he's being watched, but that he doesn't know who it could be, so he suspects everyone."

"Does he? Suspect everyone, I mean."

"No, but I think it's only a matter of time before he does." And before I lose him, Severus thought sadly.

"So we are no nearer to a solution."

"No, Albus."

"Minerva has noticed Harry's absences from his bed, as have his friends, Severus. I think it might be time for Harry to return there. He can't stay in the retreat indefinitely."

"Why not, if it keeps him safe?" Severus had grown rather used to sharing a bed with Harry these past few weeks, his own bed would seem lonely without him. "He feels safe there, can you not let him have at least one place where he feels safe?"

"How would it look if the governors were to discover that Harry spent his nights with a professor?"

The words were said easily but Severus sensed their threat. Did Dumbledore know? Did he know what had happened between himself and Harry? What was still happening? He Occluded his mind at once, Dumbledore never waited for an invite before making himself an unwelcome guest in someone else's mind. He couldn't know, he was guessing, suspecting, that was all. At least Severus hoped it was.

"You were the one who suggested it," said Severus.

"Yes, yes, I did," he agreed, nodding. "But I'm afraid I may have been mistaken. Very mistaken. The two of you spending so much time together can only hinder our cause, Severus. You do remember what I requested of you?" Dumbledore's eyes were no longer twinkling, but cold like two chips of blue ice.

Requested, oh, Severus liked that. As if the headmaster had ever requested anything. His words may have been couched in flattery and soft terms but they both knew that the headmaster only ever gave orders and expected those orders to be obeyed without question or Severus would no longer remain under the protections at Hogwarts.

"I remember," the statement was the truth as far as it went. Severus did indeed remember what Dumbledore had ordered him to do, but what the headmaster didn't need to know was that Severus had long since stopped doing what the headmaster had wanted. He was no longer following Dumbledore's agenda, but his own and Harry's.

"And?"

"It is taking longer than I expected."

"You do know how important this is to the cause, don't you, Severus?"

"Of course, Albus, but I need more time."

"Very well," sighed the headmaster. "I will give both of you another week in the retreat, but after that I'm afraid you know what has to be done."

Severus tried not to show any thoughts on his face. A week! Harry would never be ready in a week, but by the looks on Dumbledore's face, he didn't particularly care. He was quite willing to sacrifice Harry to the cause. What the old coot hadn't reckoned on was that Severus wasn't.

***

Harry dreaded the arrival of the morning post owls now, always wondering if there was going to be a letter that day from his stalker. Halloween morning was no different, despite the decorations of pumpkins and live bats fluttering around the ceiling in the Great Hall. The letters didn't arrive every day, nor even every second day. There was no pattern, they arrived randomly and that made it worse as he couldn't even prepare himself.

His heart fell to somewhere near his shoes when Hedwig swept towards him, a large envelope in her beak. She slid gracefully to a halt beside his bowl of cornflakes (uneaten, growing soggier by the minute) and dropped the envelope in front of him. Harry recognised the untidy scrawl at once and bile rose in his throat. This was too much, now they were using his own owl to send the messages to him.

Hedwig lowered her head and hooted softly, wanting to be petted. Harry obliged, wondering at the last person who had maybe touched his owl, stroked her as if they were a friend, for that was the only way Hedwig would have delivered letters from someone other than Harry.

Harry glanced up to find Snape staring steadily at him and looking pointedly at the envelope.

"Harry? Aren't you going to open it?" asked Hermione as she sprinkled some sugar on her porridge.

Harry didn't want to open it. "What's the point? It's just the same old thing over and over again. I'm fed up reading the rubbish they send me."

"But there might be a clue," persisted Hermione, her hand hovering by it. "May I?"

"Go ahead, but I don't think it'll help," said Harry, turning to Ron and for a few moments they discussed the Quidditch ban and when they thought it might start up again.

"Oh fuck!" exclaimed Hermione, loud enough for the whole Hall to hear. Ron and Harry turned to her, surprised, Hermione didn't normally swear.

"Hermione what - ?" asked Harry and then he saw them, scattered on the table like the tattered remnants of his life.

He felt as if he wanted to puke, to cry, to faint, or maybe all three. His lungs were bursting with pain as he tried to breathe through the terror that had crushed his chest. There were photos, hundreds of them. All of him. Harry asleep in his bed at Gryffindor Tower, playing Quidditch, in lessons. Photos of the tasks at the Tri-Wizard tournament, flying on Buckbeak. Photos of his first ever Quidditch lesson with Oliver Wood when he first started school.

When he was eleven.

Harry stood up, swaying as he took in the images, blurring into a collage of his life at Hogwarts. He felt sick and shaky and just knew he was going to throw up there on the floor, there was now way of stopping it now. He sank to his knees and retched, bringing up what little breakfast he had, trying to avoid staining anyone's shoes, but he felt so awful by that point that he didn't really care if he did or not.

A few moments later, Ron and Hermione were beside him, Hermione rubbing his back as he three up twice more and Ron vanished the vomit as soon as it appeared. Ron handed him some minty sweets from his pocket and Harry took them gratefully. His mouth felt as if Hedwig had been using it for a nest.

"Sorry," Harry mumbled, although what for he wasn't sure. He knew the whole school was staring at him, at the display he'd made of himself and he just wanted to run and hide somewhere. Somewhere with Snape.

"Are you all right, Harry?" asked Hermione, making no effort to remove her hand from his back.

"I think I'll go and have a lie down," he said, pushing himself to his feet, Ron and Hermione following. Ron stuffed the photos back in the envelope, grimacing as he did so.

"Aren't you coming with us to Hogsmeade?" she asked. "The fresh air will do you good."

"Do you want me to? I thought the two of you might, you know, want to be alone."

"Harry, of course we want you to!" exclaimed Ron with such enthusiasm that Harry suspected it was a lie.

"I don't want to be in the way," Harry protested.

"You won't be in the way. It'll help take your mind off things, won't it?" continued Ron.

"If you're sure?"

They both nodded frantically.

"Mr. Potter, a word please," said Snape as he arrived where they stood by the table. "Bring that with you," he pointed to the envelope.

"I'll meet you in half an hour or so," Harry said to his friends as he followed Snape out.

Snape led them to an empty classroom where he locked and warded the door and then wrapped his arms around Harry in a comforting hug. "Are you okay, Harry?" he asked gently as he stroked Harry's back.

"No, not really," he admitted. "I'm really scared, Severus. It wasn't a letter this time. It was photos."

"Photos?"

"Yes, photos of me. There were even photos of me when I'm asleep in my dorm. And - and, Severus - " Harry paused, he had no idea how to tell Severus the next part, unsure of the man's reaction.

"Go on, Harry, I'm not going to bite. Not unless you want me to," Severus glanced down at him with a grin. Harry returned it, feeling a lot better now that he was wrapped in his lover's arms.

"Some of them aren't recent. They go as far back as when I was eleven."

"Eleven?" gasped Snape. "You mean this has been going on for years? This stalking? But why have they only attempted to contact you now?"

"Because they know about us," said Harry. "You've read the letters. They called me Snape's little whore. in a few of them."

"They also called you Voldemort's, Hagrid's and the headmaster's if I'm not mistaken," replied Snape.

"Yes, but I think that was just to throw us off track. I think we might be able to find out who sent them."

"How, Harry? I've cast every reveal spell I know. They've hidden their magic too well."

"Yes, but what about fingerprints? Muggles use them to catch criminals sometimes, perhaps Mr. Weasley would know someone who could help?"

"Harry you're a genius! If they're pure blood, they might not have even considered that and not taken any care with removing them. This is worth a try, Harry. I'll get onto Arthur right away and get the ball rolling." Severus bent down and kissed Harry fiercely, as if he was drowning and Harry was air.

"I promise you, Harry, I won't let the sick fuck get away with hurting you."

Harry didn't doubt it for a second.

Part Twelve

It started to rain as the trio made their way to Hogsmeade so that by the time they arrived, the bottoms of their cloaks were soaked and mud splattered and their steps were little more than squelches in the mud covered ground. Ron and Hermione were a little way ahead of Harry, holding hands, their heads close together and giggling in that secret way between lovers. Harry's chest hurt at the sight. Severus had never held his hand like that, he never would while Harry was still a student. They'd never be able to be open about their relationship until Harry left school. They had to hide, as if it was something shameful and sordid.

To some people it might be, a teacher involved with a student, but Harry had never felt ashamed at anything he'd done with Severus. What upset him, what had him shivering in revulsion was the knowledge that someone was watching him, photographing him without his knowledge or consent. Watching him sleep was the worst. How close were they to him to take those photographs? Had they been close enough to touch him? Had they touched him while he slept? Without him knowing? The thoughts brought bile to his throat and he swallowed quickly, trying to dispel it before he threw up again. He didn't want to break down right here in the middle of Hogsmeade. Harry rested his hands on his thighs as he took a few deep breaths.

Ron and Hermione turned round when they realised Harry wasn't keeping up with them. "Where do you want to go, Harry?" asked Hermione as she wandered back to him and linked her arm through his. Harry tried to ignore the look on Ron's face as she did so. Great, not this again. When was Ron going to realise that Harry had no interest in Hermione as a girlfriend whatsoever? He didn't need Ron's unfounded jealousy on top of everything else.

"Oh, anywhere's fine," replied Harry. What he really wanted to do was go back to the castle. He felt too exposed out here in the village, wondering if everyone he saw was the phantom photographer.

"How about Zonko's?" Ron suggested. Harry agreed eagerly and disentangled himself from Hermione's arm, before running the few steps to catch up with Ron.

"Hey, Ron, there's no need to be jealous, I can hold your arm too if you want me to," grinned Harry and he made as if to reach for Ron's hand. Ron soon stuffed both hands in his pockets.

"Er, no, Harry. That's okay. I don't know why I got jealous, you're not interested in Hermione like that, are you? You're both just friends, right?"

"Definitely," said Harry, who'd noticed that Hermione was walking a few paces behind them but not making any move to catch up. It seemed she was leaving the two of them alone to hash this out once and for all. "Look, Ron. I don't know if anyone's told you this," (anyone being a short, bushy haired girl walking behind them), "But I'm gay, so I won't be interested in Hermione as anything more than a friend."

Ron stopped so abruptly in the middle of the road that other wizards and witches had to swerve to avoid bumping into him. Hermione stopped a few paces behind them.

"You're gay? But what about Cho? I thought you liked her?"

"So did I at the time, I think I was just feeling confused. It would never have worked out between us. We were too similar."

"Too similar?" queried Ron.

"Yeah, we both liked boys!" Harry chuckled and was relieved when his friend burst out laughing too. It had been such a long time since Harry had laughed with his friends, such a long time since he felt like laughing.

Hermione chose that moment to catch up with them, wrapping her arms around both of them. "Well, are we going to Zonko's or not?" she asked.

They made their way to the shop, Ron and Hermione holding hands again but every time Harry would try and hang back, Hermione would look back, glare at him and point to the ground beside her, so they were all on the same level eventually.

The joke shop was crowded with students eagerly crushing in to see what the newest lines in Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes were. Fred and George now had an arrangement with Mr. Zonko, where if he stocked their products, they would stock his in their shop in Diagon Alley. Since Mr. Zonko could never have afforded his own premises in Diagon Alley, he was quite happy with the arrangement. Of course, Harry knew all of this second hand from Ron's letters from the twins and he was really pleased that their joke shop idea was working out. The best galleons he ever spent giving it to them.

"It's a bit crowded," said Ron. "Do you want to go to Madam Puddifoot's?" Although Ron's gaze took in both of them, Harry knew that the question was really for Hermione. He was in the way, Harry had known it all along and he felt a pang in his chest that his friends couldn't even be honest enough with him to let him know when they wanted to spend some alone time together.

"You two go," said Harry, who had no desire to enter the Tea Shop of Doom himself. Doom if you weren't part of a happy couple anyway. He hadn't been back there since Cho. "I'll head back to school."

"Harry, you can't go back by yourself!" Hermione protested shrilly, causing all the other customers to turn and stare at them.

"Don't be silly, Hermione. It's barely half a mile to Hogwarts," huffed Ron. "What would happen in Hogsmeade?"

"Ron's right, Hermione. I'll be fine. I've got my wand and I'm not going far."

"I don't know..." Hermione was still having her doubts.

"Go to Madam Puddifoot's with Ron," urged Harry, heading towards the shop door. "I'll see you both later."

Without another word Harry pushed past the throng of students and out into the air, making his way to the wooded lane that led back to Hogwarts. The rain had stopped but the lane was churned mud, difficult to walk on. Cart tracks and footprints were filled with puddles of murky brown water. Because of the mud it was a while before Harry noticed the sound of squelchy footsteps behind him. He whirled, his wand out ready to cast a hex when he saw David Parson quite a way behind him.

A loud yowling in the distance startled both of them. "Did you hear that?" asked Harry, whirling round to face the trees.

"Yeah, what do you think it is?"

"Sounds like a cat," said Harry edging closer to the tree line. "Were you following me?" Harry asked the Ravenclaw as he turned back round

"Um, yeah?" he sounded embarrassed more than anything. "Look, I know you're going out with someone, but the whole school's been talking about you being stalked and I didn't want you to go back to school by yourself. Just in case anything happened."

Harry was so surprised he almost dropped his wand. "You mean you wanted to protect me? Even though I didn't go out with you?"

"Well, yeah. You're a good person, Harry. I wouldn't want anything to happen to you."

The yowling started up again. "It sounds like it's in pain," said Harry as he stepped further into the trees. "Do you want to help me look?"

"Sure," said David and they both entered the woods. "Harry is that - " the other boy's words were cut off with a loud thump. Harry turned round and came face to face with his stalker.

"You!" he gasped, before his wand was yanked from his hand and Harry was pressed face first on the muddy ground, choking on it as his mouth and nose were pushed in again and again.


"Yes me! I bet you never thought of that, did you, Potter?"

Harry struggled trying to get out of the man's grip. "Scared Potter? I know you like the rough stuff," he hissed in Harry's ear. "Do you think I didn't know? How you get on your knees for him? How you're Snape's whore? After I'm through with you, he won't want you. No-one will!"

A rock against his head, the words dimmed as Harry slowly lost consciousness.

***

Arthur Weasley's office was barely bigger than a broom cupboard, but the man himself could not be more welcoming, ushering Severus in and offering him a shot of the finest firewhiskey he had on offer. It was not as expensive as what Severus was used to, but he accepted it in the spirit it was offered and downed a sip before he got down to business.

"Fingerprints, eh?" mused Arthur. "I know someone over at Scotland Yard, a detective. His son's at Hogwarts, he might be able to help us. Tristian Finch-Fetchley, Justin, his son is in Harry and Ron's year. Do you have all the letters with you?"

Severus cast a spell and all of the letters dropped onto Arthur's desk. Arthur rummaged in a drawer, pulling out some clear flexible content holders. "What are those, Arthur?" he asked curiously.

"Muggle invention, plastic bags. Handy for carrying things and stopping any more fingerprints getting on these. The Muggles don't like it when there are two many fingerprints on items, makes it harder to identify the culprit."

Severus groaned inwardly. How many people had touched the letters? Harry, his friends, the headmaster, the post mistress, himself. They were lucky if half the school hadn't had their paws all over them. "So they won't be able to help?"

"Maybe not with fingerprints, but you see that large envelope there?"

Severus glanced down and saw that it was the envelopes which had contained the photographs. "What about it?"

"It's a Muggle envelope, see there's no wax seal?" Arthur eagerly pointed it out like a child left to run riot through Honeyduke's sweet shop.

"So?" Severus was getting a little impatient and it came out a tad sharp.

"They have special flaps to seal envelopes, some are self sticking, but this is one of the more old fashioned ones. Whoever put those photos in the envelope, had to lick the flap to get it to stick. There's your culprit, the one who licked the envelope. I'll Apparate over to Scotland Yard now, would you like to come?"

"No thank you, Arthur. I must get back to Hogwarts, but you will let me know the results of these Muggle tests as soon as you can?"

"Of course, Severus. Molly's been that worried about the boy ever since she heard."

"We all are," sighed Severus as he took his leave and Apparated from the Ministry to the edge of the Hogwarts wards. Not even four in the afternoon and already it was growing steadily darker. The students would be returning from Hogsmeade soon, ready for the Halloween Feast. He would see Harry soon. The thought buoyed his steps as he made his way back to the castle. He wondered if Harry had enjoyed his visit, it had been a while since he'd seen him in the company of his friends and Severus hoped that it wasn't because of him that Harry was spending less time with them. Yes, he enjoyed spending time in Harry's company as he hoped the boy enjoyed his, but he needed his friends too. Harry shouldn't just rely on one person. Especially when that person could let you down at any moment. His eyes flicked quickly to his arm and away again.

Severus grimaced as he entered the Great Hall, filled with chattering students. Automatically his eyes wandered over to the Gryffindor table. He spotted Weasley and Granger, but no Harry. Heart thudding in his chest he rounded on them at once.

"Where is Harry Potter? Why isn't he with you?"

"He came back early, Professor," replied Granger, visibly quaking under his anger. "We thought he'd gone for a lie down. Oh, Ron, didn't you check the dorms?"

Weasley shook his head, paling so much that his freckles stood out starkly against the skin.

"You let him come back alone?!!" screeched Severus, having to force himself not to go for his wand and hex both of them for their stupidity. Whoever was stalking Harry had been watching him and if they were watching then they knew when Harry was alone and could strike.

Just then, the double doors of the Hall swung open and in staggered David Parson, carrying a blood soaked, unconscious Harry in his arms. There were shrieks and cries of alarm from all tables as Madam Pomfrey rushed from the dais and reached the two students.

"What happened?" she demanded of David. "What happened?"

But it was too late, David slumped to the floor in a dead faint, Severus' quickly cast levitation spell the only thing which prevented the two boys from landing in a crumpled heap on the floor.

"Severus, quickly! Help me get them to the infirmary."

Severus obeyed at once, steering them out the door and down to the hospital wing.

As if he would have gone anywhere else with Harry in that state.

Part Thirteen

Extra warning for this part: Mutilation

Severus placed Harry and David on two beds next to each other while Poppy cast a general scanning spell over both of them. She told Severus to just keep an eye on David while she examined Harry. "David's just fainted, he should come round in a moment."

"And Harry?" Severus demanded, for it was Harry he was more concerned about. But Poppy refused to answer him and pulled the curtain round Harry's bed with a swish. A few moments later he could not hear even the slightest thing from within the curtained off area and knew that she had cast a silencing charm. Merlin, what was wrong with Harry? What had happened?

Argus Filch entered the infirmary, his awful cat twining round his legs as he wheeled a bucket and mop in front of him, grumbling to himself all the while as he mopped the floor. "Getting mud all over my floors," and other more colourful versions of the same. The ugly cat was making pitter patter noises all over the infirmary floor and its paws were leaving muddy tracks. He took a closer look at Filch, that's when Severus saw it. Filch's clothes had always been in a bit of a state so it had taken a few moments to realise that the darker patches on his outfit were in fact mud splatters. He looked as if he'd been rolling around in it.

Severus leaned over David's bed, pretending to whisper something to the boy and Filch edged closer to the bed as though to eavesdrop. In no time at all, Severus cast a binding spell on the man and Petrificus Totalus on the cat as well, its hissing cut off mid flow. Both were lying on the floor, powerless to do anything until Severus released the spells.

Filch glared at him. "What do you think you're doing, professor?" he spat the word professor like an insult and Severus wondered why he'd never realised it before. Filch was a squib, a jealous squib who hated all those who could do magic when he couldn't. Who better than to take his inadequacies out on than one of the world's most powerful wizards, Harry Potter?

As a member of staff, Argus Filch had access to every part of the castle, including the boy's dormitory. But what about the Quidditch stands? That had needed magic and Filch was most definitely a squib. "Professor Snape," came a weary voice from the bed. David Parson had woken up.

"Yes?" Severus snapped his head round, while glancing back to keep an eye on Filch and Mrs. Norris.

"Harry sir? Is he all right?"

"I don't know, Madam Pomfrey is in with him now. What happened, David?"

"We heard a noise, a cat I think and we both went into the woods to search for it. Harry thought it was in pain or something and he wanted to help. When we got to the woods, someone knocked me out and when I woke up, Harry was lying unconscious on the ground and covered in blood."

"So you didn't see who did it?"

"No, sir, but before I was knocked out, I saw the cat. It was Mrs. Norris."

"Are you sure about that?" demanded Severus.

"Yes, sir. I'm positive, every student would know that cat." David looked over at the stiff form of the feline and shuddered.

"Thank you, David," said Severus, stalking over to the hospital fireplace and fire-calling the headmaster. He was deep in conversation with Professor McGonagall. It couldn't have worked out better, for he would need Minerva too. "Albus, Minerva, can you please come to the infirmary at once and send word to the Aurors? I think we may have found our culprit."

Minerva's hand flew to her mouth, but not before a small choked gasp escaped it. "Who is it, Severus?" she asked at last.

"Come and see," he replied, stepping away from the fireplace so that both of them could step through the Floo to the infirmary. On seeing Argus Filch and his cat lying unmoving on the floor. "What? That's impossible! Mr. Filch is a Squib!" protested Minerva. The headmaster had yet to speak.

"He may be a squib," agreed Severus. "But I believe his cat is something else entirely. Minerva, if you'd be so kind?"

As the Transfigurations professor, Minerva was well placed to reverse any sort of Transfiguration, human or not. Her wand shook as she pointed it at the still form of the cat. A small flash of red light and they watched transfixed as Mrs. Norris slowly transformed from ugly cat to even uglier human. It was woman of late middle age, long brown hair streaked with grey and Severus guessed if she could have formed an expression, it would have been one of loathing. Under Severus' spell her face looked calm and blank but he would bet a year's salary that she was feeling anything but.

The line of her face seemed slightly familiar, but Severus couldn't place her.

"Albus? Minerva? Do you know her?"

"It's Lydia Rookwood, Agustus Rookwood's sister," said Minerva, her face as white as chalk. "She's a metamorphmagus. I taught her over twenty years ago. I taught her!" Minerva grabbed hold of a bed to steady herself, as if she couldn't quite believe this was happening.

Rookwood, ah, one of Voldemort's other spies, no wonder her face seemed a little familiar. Severus had only seen Rookwood a handful of times. The woman's arm was unmarked, but Severus knew that not all those sympathetic to Voldemort were marked. Was there more to this than just Filch's psychotic jealousy?

"Why, Argus?" asked Dumbledore, shaking his head and looking sadly at the man, but Filch refused to speak.

The Aurors arrived shortly afterwards, five of them altogether, but Poppy still hadn't emerged from examining Harry. It had almost been an hour. What was wrong with Harry? Severus had never doubted the medi-witch's abilities but he worried now, surely it wouldn't take that long to rouse him?

The Aurors lifted Filch up and tied him to one of the visitor chairs, doing the same to the woman before asking Snape to remove the spells. Moody held up a parchment and waved it under Filch's nose. "Do you know what this is?" he sneered at his captive. "This is proof that you were the one who was terrorising Harry Potter all this time! Smith, where's that Veritaserum?" Moody turned to the nearest Auror, a youth of no more than nineteen or twenty, he blushed and stammered.

"Um, sir, I forgot it!"

"You forgot?" Moody rolled both eyes, magical and normal. "Severus, I don's suppose you have any to hand?"

"You're in luck, Alastor, I just finished a batch yesterday." Severus hurried off to retrieve it. He felt a lot better that they would be using his own concoction rather than what the Aurors were usually issued with.

Once back in the infirmary, he dosed Filch and the woman with four drops each, he didn't want them fighting it. Their eyes glazed over and drool collected at the corners of their mouths.

"Now, Filch," growled Moody. "Let's start at the beginning shall we? Did you take those photographs of Harry Potter without his consent?"

"Some of them, she took the rest. She could hide in any form so he never noticed, but I was the one who wanted the photographs. She only took them because I asked her to."

"Why did you want the photos?"

"To look at him, happy and smiling. He never looked at me except with disgust. He never smiled at me, none of the filth did. They thought I was dirt, messing up the school and expecting me to clean up after them all the time. Animals, all of them. Worse than animals. He was the worst, always getting away with being out of bounds, the headmaster refusing to punish him when I reported his infractions. But I could punish him. I did. I punished him." He cackled with demented glee and Severus wanted to smash the man's head in it for what he'd done to Harry.

Moody turned to Lydia Rookwood. "Did you cast the spell on the Quidditch stands so that Harry Potter would fall?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"I wanted to kill him. Argus was spending too much time stalking the boy and not enough time with me. I thought it had gone on long enough. With the boy gone, he would be back to normal. But once it failed, he got even more and obsessed, wanting him watched all the time and of course it was me who had to do it. Pretending to be insects and spiders so that he wouldn't notice me. I shrunk my cameras and took all the photos Argus wanted, but it still wasn't enough."

"I wanted to hurt him," Filch interjected. "I didn't want to kill him, no. I wanted him hurt, so hurt that he would always remember that it was me who done it. Harry Potter, beaten and humiliated by a squib!" Filch spat, his saliva landing with a wet pop on the floor. Moody slapped him hard across the face, the other Aurors didn't bother to intervene.

"Lydia Rookwood, you are under arrest for the attempted murder of Harry Potter and for being an illegal metamorphmagus. Trial is set for three weeks. Take her away," Moody told two of the Aurors as he pointed at the shaking woman.

"Not Azkaban! You can't send me there!" she protested, but her pleas fell on deaf ears as the Aurors conjured manacles and ankle chains, all of them imbued with magic inhibitors, as Severus knew from the brief time he'd worn them. Lydia was still screaming as the Aurors led her out of the castle and away from the wards.

"What did you do to Harry today?" asked Severus, but the Veritaserum had worn off and Filch just smirked smugly at Severus and the remaining spectators. He couldn't give him another dose, it would only knock him unconscious and they still wouldn't be able to find out anything.

None of them had heard Madam Pomfrey, she was well used to walking softly in the infirmary so as not to disturb her patients. All the watchers knew, was that Filch's eyes widened in shock, they turned to see what had so surprised him and it happened so quickly that no-one could stop the witch as she flew at him, scratching and clawing at the bound man's face, her nails drawing blood. "You bastard! You fucking bastard!" she screamed as he scratched and punched him again and again. The man's face was crimson with blood in a matter of moments.

"Get her off me! Get her off me!" shrieked Filch, but not one of them came to his aid, quite willing to let the matron have a go at him. Something they would all probably like to do themselves, but why when she was so good at it?

"This is assault! This is!" shrieked Filch.

"Assault? I'll show you assault!" The spell was cast, one that only one of the spectators had ever heard of before, but by the end of it Filch was screaming in agony, unable to form a coherent sentence. And there, on the floor were what were unmistakably the man's cock and balls. Two of the Aurors threw up at the sight, but not Moody nor Severus. Minerva still looked a bit pale, but she kept herself together.

"He'll bleed to death if that's not taken care of soon," said Moody, for all the world as if they were all just having a chat over a cup of tea.

"Yes," agreed Dumbledore. "Poppy, I think you'd better help him. We don't want our medi-witch sent to Azkaban for murder, no matter how justified it might be."

Poppy's mouth set in a grim line as she cast another spell, attached the man's genitals back on his body and stopped the bleeding. Once finished, she grabbed the man's balls and gave them a sharp yank. He yelped and she grinned maliciously.

"Just checking to see that everything's attached."

The Aurors took Filch away, making sure that he banged into the door on the way out. "Severus, I must go and write a report for the school governors, can you and Minerva stay with Harry for a while?" asked Dumbledore.

"We won't be anywhere else, Albus," Minerva informed him as Severus nodded. There was no way he was leaving Harry alone. Not now. Not ever.

"Poppy? Why did you attack Filch like that? What did he do?" asked Minerva.

"What? Besides the broken bones and concussion? He was vicious, Harry's leg was broken in three places, as though he was stamped on. There were boot marks all over his body, broken rips, ruptured spleen, damaged kidneys. The blood loss was extensive, I dread to think what would have happened if he hadn't got back in time. Filch - that vile man - he - mutilated the boy," Poppy added in a whisper, glancing over where David was listening eagerly. Severus cast a silencing charm around them and urged the medi-witch to continue.

"Go on," urged Minerva too.

"He - he's, oh Merlin, how do I say this? Harry's now a eunuch. Filch castrated him."

Part Fourteen

Severus was surprised at Minerva's stoicism when Poppy gave them the grim news. He thought for sure she might have fainted, but despite seeming even paler, she gave no indication that she was going to do something so girlish as that. It was Severus who felt the world spinning around him, white spots danced in front of his eyes and it took an effort of will just to keep himself conscious. He'd had plenty of practice during his previous tortures after all.

"It couldn't have been that spell," muttered Snape. "Unless Lydia Rookwood cast it?" It had been well known at one time among the Death Eaters, a Dark spell but not Unforgivable and Severus was surprised the medi-witch knew of it, never mind could cast it. The Death Eaters used it as a form of torture when they were bored with the Cruciatus, kept especially for those they suspected were spies. It was a risk Severus took every time he was summoned and if it happened to him he knew there would be no medi-witch available to heal him and he would bleed to death very slowly and painfully.

"It wasn't a spell," Poppy shook her head. "He used a knife, that's why there was so much blood loss. If David hadn't got him back here when he did... The only consolation is that I think Harry was unconscious when it happened. I can't even begin to imagine how painful it would be."

"Did he - did he remove everything?" Severus managed to gasp out, feeling his own sac draw up and tighten, getting as close to his body as possible. He just couldn't imagine his bits not being there and he shuddered, a phantom shiver of Harry's pain. Azkaban was too good for the likes of Argus Filch.

"I really shouldn't be discussing this with either of you," said Poppy, seeming to snap out of a daze. "It's up to Harry who he tells, if he wishes to. Please do not discuss this with anyone else. I shouldn't have spoken."

"It's quite all right, Poppy. We won't tell anyone, will we, Severus?" she gave him a glare that rivalled one of his own.

"No, of course not." He would never betray Harry's trust like that. Never. "Can we sit with him for a while?"

"Yes, Severus. He's still unconscious, but he should wake soon. There's a bottle of pain killing potion on his bedside cabinet, if he wakes before I'm there, make sure he drinks all of it. He'll be in excruciating pain as soon as he wakes up."

Her instructions finished, Poppy smoothed down her apron and bustled off to her office. Minerva accio'ed another chair over for Severus to sit on. Minerva leant over and gave Harry's forehead a soft peck before she took her seat and Severus felt pained at that. Severus wished he could give Harry a kiss of comfort, or even hold his hand, but he could do neither of those things. Instead he sat down and they both stared in silence at Harry's prone form.

His head was padded with bandages and the tendrils of hair which had escaped were dark, matted with blood and mud. Harry was as still and pale as a marble statue, the slight rise and fall of his chest the only indication that he was still in the land of the living. Bruises covered his face and arms, his nose looked as if it might have been broken, but Madam Pomfrey had already fixed that. The hospital gown covered his torso, but Severus guessed bruises would decorate his back and chest too. Severus could see the outline of the medallion that should have taken him to safety, but obviously Harry couldn't get to his jewel in time or this would never have happened. Severus would never forgive himself for being in London at the time.

The attack had been vicious, hateful, done out of pure spite because Filch was jealous of everything Harry had. His magic, his friends, a happy life. That's where Filch was wrong, for Severus had had his suspicions for a while now that Harry's life had been far from happy, but the boy had hidden it well. He wondered if anyone knew or suspected. Had the headmaster sent him back to Privet Drive again and again, knowing what Harry suffered there?

Now this, it was too much and Severus wanted to scream, to claw, to kick, to kill. Harry didn't deserve this. Filch would pay. Oh yes, he would pay for this. Severus could guarantee that.

"You're very quiet, Severus," said Minerva, reaching out to caress Harry's unresponsive hand. Severus wanted to knock the woman's hand away and claim Harry for his own, right there and then without thinking of the consequences. Neither he nor Harry would survive if Voldemort ever found out about them.

"I was just thinking."

"What about?"

"That Azkaban is too good for the likes of Filch. Maybe Poppy should have let him bleed to death after all."

Minerva didn't answer for a while. "Hmm, maybe. Do you think there's any way they can keep this out of the paper? I'm sure Harry won't want everyone knowing what happened to him."

"They'll have to report the attack, but not what form the attack took. Unless Filch and Rookwood reveal it at the trial, no-one else will have to know."

"Maybe not yet, but Harry will have to tell eventually. His girlfriend or future wife, he'll not be able to have children."

"Excuse me, Minerva, I just want to go and talk to Poppy for a while." He couldn't bear discussing Harry with Minerva like this, it felt too much like talking about him behind his back. Poppy was different, she was a medical professional and her discussing Harry's condition didn't feel like gossiping about him.

Poppy was writing up some notes, he could see her through the open office door. "Come in, Severus," she invited, warding the door as soon as he had entered the room. "I presume you wanted to talk about Harry?"

"Yes, Poppy. I wondered if there was any way you could reverse it? Like you did with Filch?"

"No, Severus, I'm sorry. That was a simple reversal of a spell I had just cast. There was no spell and since we don't have Harry's organs, there is no way of re-attaching anything."

"Organs?" Severus could feel his legs shake, he sank into the chair in front of Poppy's desk and hung his head in his hands.

"Filch removed Harry's scrotum and testicles, Severus. His penis is still intact, but Harry will need to become adjusted to his new body."

"Will he change further? His body, I mean."

"No, as the castration happened after puberty, he will remain what he always was, a young man. His body will no longer produce testosterone or semen, he might still be able to ejaculate, but there will be no sperm. He won't ever father children. His sex drive will be much lower than a normal male and he might find his physical strength decreasing, as well as his emotions becoming calmer. His body hair might decrease or become finer, but he won't suddenly become a girl. He's also at increased risk of osteoporosis because of the lack of male hormones now. I'd like to see him increase his calcium intake along with the rest of the nutrients his body needs. Every term, he comes back here malnourished."

"Muggles used to do this, didn't they? Deliberately, to guard their women?" Severus was sure he had read that somewhere.

"I believe so, Severus. They mistakenly believed that eunuchs did not or could get erections. They can, it's just not as easy for them, it takes longer."

"They do get erections?"

"Some do, it varies from person to person, as does everything. I don't know what the case will be with Harry, but he may even be able to have dry orgasms and maybe even a few wet ones, but his fluid will have no sperm in it. Eunuchs have been known to feel pleasure if the prostate is stimulated."

Severus flushed but she continued as if they were discussing the weather. "He's still the same person you fell in love with, Severus," she said softly.

"I have no idea what you mean."

"Severus, just because I spend most of my time in the infirmary does not mean that I am blind or stupid. I see a lot more than people give me credit for. I know who comes to visit my patients and Harry Potter has had more visits from you than his friends and the headmaster combined. Why else do you think I'm telling you this? Do you think I would discuss Harry's condition with just anyone?"

Severus shook his head, there was no point in denying it anymore. "What are we going to do?" he whispered.

"You're going to keep it a secret like you have been doing," she said briskly. "I won't tell, Severus. I promise. Harry will need you more than ever now. He'll feel shocked and scared, frightened that you might reject him because he's different now. He's been mutilated, something taken from him without his consent, it's almost like a rape, Severus and Harry will be feeling like that for quite some time. He needs you, don't turn away from him now."

"I won't," said Severus, his nails digging so hard into the palms of his hands that he drew blood. A scream from Minerva had them both rushing out to the main ward and running to Harry's bed. Harry's empty bed.

"Minerva what happened?" asked Poppy breathlessly.

"Harry woke up screaming, then he pressed his chest and just disappeared."

"It's okay, Minerva. I know where he's gone," said Severus, feeling the medallion on his own chest heat up. He picked up the bottle of painkilling potion and pressed the jewel, leaving a bewildered Poppy and Minerva in his wake as he was transported out of the infirmary and to the safe room.

Harry was curled up in the corner, leaning sideways against the wall, his hand clutching his groin and screaming in agony. The front of his gown was stained crimson and Severus just hoped it was old blood and that he hadn't opened up the wounds again.

Severus ran to him and turned Harry's face to him, opening his mouth. "Harry, drink this, you'll feel better in a moment."

He tipped the potion down Harry's throat, making sure that Harry drank every drop, despite his spluttering and choking, his hitching screams and sobs. Severus' heart ached for Harry, for the young man he loved with every fibre of his being and he knew that there was no way now he could ever carry out Dumbledore's plan. Harry had been through enough and it ended here. Right now. No more games. No more lies. Harry had to be told everything. Tonight.

The bottle now empty, Severus set it down and wrapped Harry in his arms. "S- Severus," he sobbed. "It hurts! Oh, God, it hurts!" Harry's hands tried to get to his groin again, but Severus moved his arms from Harry's back and grabbed hold of Harry's hands, not wanting Harry to undo Poppy's work.

"I know, Harry, I know. It'll stop soon," he said softly, as he caressed Harry's hand, trying to distract him from the pain until the potion took effect. It wouldn't be long now, it was one of his more potent brews and soon Harry's breathing eased out and he was no longer sobbing or screaming.

"What do you remember, Harry?"

"Filch, oh, God, it was Filch! He was the one who was stalking me," Harry said, looking into Severus' eyes. "He knocked David out and then tackled me to the ground, I didn't have time to press the jewel to get to the safe room before he knocked me out too. The next thing I remember is waking up in the infirmary. What did he do to me? I don't know what he did," Harry turned from Severus and threw up over the floor, his shoulders heaving with the effort of his retching. Severus banished the mess and took Harry in his arms again.

Harry was shaking, he felt hot, but was shivering too. "Harry, we have to get you back to see Poppy."

Harry plucked at the hem of the hospital gown, staring wide eyed at the spots of blood on the front. He looked up at Severus in alarm. "Did he - did he rape me?" Harry asked at last. "I don't remember, Severus. I don't remember what he did."

"Harry, no, not that." Merlin, how was he supposed to tell the boy this?

"Why do I hurt down there?" he asked, waving a hand at his groin.

"Harry - do you know what a eunuch is?"

Harry paled, struggling to get out of Severus’ grasp. He stood up, unsteady on his feet and walked the length of the room, to get as far away from Severus as possible. "No. No. No," Harry mumbled over and over again as if by saying it out loud, it would be true. He leaned against the far wall, slapping his palms against the stone and repeated his mantra.

"Harry, I'm sorry," said Severus, standing up and walking towards him.

"Stay away from me!" screamed Harry. "Stay away!"

But Severus didn't think that's what Harry needed right now. As soon as he was a few paces away from Harry, Harry detached himself from the wall and flung himself at Severus, pummelling Severus' chest with his fists. "It's your fault!" sobbed Harry. "It's your fault! You were supposed to protect me! You were supposed to be protect me!"

Harry kept hitting his chest and Severus continued to let him, accepting every deserved punch. It was his fault, he was not going to deny it and if it made Harry feel any better to beat Severus to a pulp, then Severus was going to just go ahead and let him.

***

It was another two hours before Harry had calmed down enough to curl up again in Severus' arms. "I'm sorry, Severus."

"Don't be, Harry. You're right, it was my fault. I should have been there, I should have stopped him."

"No, it was Filch's fault. He was the one who did this to me," Harry burrowed his face in Severus' robes as if he never wanted to leave them.

"We should get you back to the infirmary, that potion will be wearing off soon."

Harry looked up, blinking wearily, probably unable to see much without his glasses. "Severus? Can you - will you stay with me in the infirmary? I don't want to be on my own."

"Of course I will, Harry. I'm not leaving you. Ever."

Part Fifteen

He knew he'd promised not to leave Harry, but Poppy had dosed the boy with Dreamless Sleep and he should not wake for while yet. Ample time for him to get to Azkaban and back.

The grounds of Azkaban prison were filled with plenty of rats, but Severus would only need one.. And there it was, huddled away from its fellows, they sensed they should avoid it.

Dementors floated by him, happy to ignore him now for he had fed them plenty with his thirst for revenge. This was much better than sucking happiness out of a soul, this fed them like a feast and they sucked and sucked until they were satisfied, but they still hadn't removed all of Snape's anger or his avenging spirit. They knew they never would and so they left him to do his work, work that they couldn't see but could only sense as soft screams on the air. Oh, they would feast tonight and the glided back towards the fortress, getting ready.

Severus stood up and dropped what he needed into the potion, a flea. Just enough potion for two.

Did they think that Azkaban would save them from his wrath? Severus glided towards the prison, his billowing robes so like those of the Dementors that those prisoners whose cells he passed cried out in despair as they pressed themselves further against the walls of their tiny cells.

Filch and Lydia Rookwood were in cells side by side, both of them already on the verge of insanity in the short time they'd been here. Filch screamed when Snape entered his cell and Snape hoped he was reliving what Poppy had done to him. "No! Please! Anything! I'll do anything! Just make it stop! Make it stop!"

"Drink this," ordered Snape. "Then it will all be over."

Filch blinked, as if he suddenly recognised Snape. "Professor! You've come to save me? An easy death?" he gasped, looking around for the Dementors but seeing none.

Snape just smiled. It would be Death indeed, but it would not be easy. Filch's last moments would not be merciful. He had no mercy left for those who had hurt Harry. Filch opened his mouth obediently, like a chick about to receive nourishment from its mother. Severus measured out the drops carefully before shoving Filch down on the ground and stalking over to Lydia Rookwood's cell.

She didn't give a flicker of recognition as Snape entered her cell. He tilted her head back and tipped the potion down her throat. She swallowed, beyond thinking at that point and Snape briefly wondered which of her worst memories it was that finally broke her at the hands of the Dementors.

The Dementors let him leave without incident. He had no illusions why. Tonight they would have two new souls to feast on.

***

Harry woke up slowly, his head always felt fuzzy after Dreamless Sleep. He reached for his glasses on the nightstand, before realising they weren’t there. They hadn't been there, David had carried him back to the school but his glasses were probably still lying on the mud soaked ground, broken and cracked, just like his body had been.

Harry hadn't looked at himself yet, he was scared to see what he looked like now, but he could not avoid it forever, especially when a sharp pain from his bladder indicated that he needed the loo soon. Severus was lying asleep, his upper torso leaning on the bottom of Harry's bed. Harry moved his leg and Severus' eyes opened at once.

"Harry? Are you all right? Do you need more pain potion?"

Harry shook his head. "No - I have to go the loo," he said, flushing. "I can't - I can't look." Harry felt the tears dampen his cheeks. "They were r- right all a- along. I am a freak." Harry hung his head on his knees and sobbed.

Severus stroked his back, his neck. "You're not a freak, Harry. This has happened to other people too. Poppy has some books about it for you."

"She does?" Harry glanced up and blinked his tears away.

"Yes, people sometimes have had accidents, or it was done deliberately, but you are not alone, Harry."

"He - he said no-one would want me after this," panted Harry. Would Severus turn him away? Not want him anymore?

"He's a raving lunatic, Harry. Do you really want to believe anything he said?"

Harry shook his head and climbed out of bed, his legs were a bit unsteady, his balance was slightly different now, but if he could face down a Dark Lord time and time again, shouldn't he be able to handle going to the bathroom even if he did have parts missing?

"Harry! Just where do you think you're going?" demanded Madam Pomfrey as she rounded the privacy curtain. "Get back into bed at once!"

"Toilet," said Harry miserably.

"Then you can use a bed pan."

"No, please, let me do this on my own. Please."

She clucked her tongue at Harry's resistance, but relented. "Very well, but come straight back here. The Occulist is here to see you for new glasses."

Harry nodded and made his way to the bathroom. He supposed he should be thankful that Filch hadn't removed everything. He wondered how he would have been able to go the loo if he no longer had a prick, would they have had to turn him into a girl or something? He didn't feel like a girl, he didn't know if it was his imagination or not but he did feel sort of less masculine. Not that he'd ever been some brawny type anyway, he was too short and skinny to have ever looked like that. He'd never had much body hair to begin with and he hadn't started shaving yet, he guessed now he never would need to.

The potions were certainly helping, he no longer felt in any pain and he lifted the gown and gingerly looked down at himself. He looked more normal than he expected. His prick was there, but instead of resting on his balls like it had done before, it was just the smoothness of his body and had two thin scars underneath it. It was more than the relief of letting go of a full bladder that caused him to sigh.

***

The headmaster entered the infirmary before Harry returned from the bathroom, a Daily Prophet clasped under his arm, his purple robes flapping like some exotic bird. He stopped by Harry's bed and then looked from the empty bed to Severus.

"Have you seen the paper?" he demanded, throwing it on the bed.

"No, I've been with Harry all night," Severus lied easily. "I haven't seen any papers yet."

"Then you won't have known that Lydia Rookwood and Argus Filch died last night."

"No, I would not have known that. How did they die?" He asked casually, even though he knew full well.

"Well, according to the papers, both of them succumbed to bubonic plague. Not very likely in this day and age, is it?"

"I don't know, Albus. All it takes is one infected rat or flea and you could have an epidemic."

"None of the other prisoners got sick," protested Dumbledore. "I know you had something to do with it, Severus."

"Really, Albus. Sometimes your imagination rivals even the students' for tall tales. Tell me, how was I supposed to give them bubonic plague? It's not very subtle, is it?"

Dumbledore paused, as if thinking. "No, I suppose not. You would have made it a lot more subtle, undetectable poisons, that sort of thing."

"There you are then," said Severus, reaching for the paper and scanning the headlines. "Terrible tragedy, before they've even been tried and convicted." Severus set the paper aside. "I presume in light of Harry's attack, the plan is off?"

"What? No, of course not. Five more days, Severus and then you must take him to Voldemort as we agreed. As you agreed. You're not getting cold feet now, are you?"

"No, of course not, headmaster. It shall be as you wish." Over my dead body. If Dumbledore thought Severus was going to go anywhere near the Dark Lord with Harry in tow, then he was a lot more senile that Severus had first thought.

When the headmaster left, Severus went to Poppy and told her everything about what Dumbledore had planned for Harry. A plan that at first, Severus had gone along with, but gradually realised that Dumbledore was madder than a hatter and the plan would never work. Voldemort would see right through it at once.

"You do know what you have to do, don't you, Severus? You have to tell Harry."

"I know, but I don't know how. He'll hate me, Poppy. I can't bear for him to hate me. Not now."

"He deserves the truth, Severus. How do you think he'd feel if he found out some other way? During Occlumency or something? That would be much worse, don't you think?"

Severus nodded, knowing the medi-witch was right did not make it any easier to tell Harry, but the only way they could foil the plan was if Harry knew about it and then maybe both of them could figure out some way to prevent it. They stopped discussing it when the Occulist arrived, a tall, pale man in his fifties, hair hanging in a grey plait down his back, but his face unlined.

Harry stopped at the entrance door when he saw the stranger. "Harry, it's okay, this is Mr. Collins, the Occulist I told you about. He's here to fit you for new glasses."

Harry nodded and took a few steps further into the room, heading directly for Severus and seeking his hand.

Severus squeezed Harry's hand and settled him in a chair while the Occulist conjured his equipment. Harry's whole body was tense, as if afraid he was about to tortured rather than have his eyes tested.

"Harry, haven't you been to Muggle opticians before?" Severus asked, stroking his fingers along the backs of Harry's hands to try and calm him.

"No, the Dursleys never took me."

"Why were you wearing glasses then?"

"They were Dudley's old ones, before he got contact lenses."

The Occulist gaped in shock. "How on earth did you see?"

Harry shrugged, unwilling to discuss it further and the Occulist began his eye exam.

Once finished, the prescription sorted, Mr. Collins handed Harry his new glasses, small square metal frames that suited his face better than the round frames ever had. Harry blinked, then blinked again, tears dripping down his face.

"I can see! Oh, God, Severus, I can see!" He scrambled from the chair and wrapped his arms around Severus. "I didn't know what things weren't supposed to look fuzzy round the edges. Everything's so clear." Harry looked up. "You're so clear."

"Come on, Harry, back to bed before Madam Pomfrey has my hide." He hoped Mr. Collins thought Harry's enthusiasm was because he now had glassed that worked, not that he was keen on his teacher.

Severus tucked him in and sat down on the chair by the side of the bed. Harry saw the paper and quickly read the front page.

"They're both dead?" he asked.

"Yes, Harry. They are."

Harry knelt on the bed and wrapped Severus in a hug. "Thank you, Severus. Thank you."


Part Sixteen

Severus pulled the privacy curtain around the bed and cast a powerful silencing charm around both of them. Harry felt that the two of them were locked in their own private little world and he didn't want to leave it. What would happen when he left the infirmary? How was he supposed to get changed or shower with the other boys in the dorms now? They would all notice how different he looked and he didn't want to have to explain what had happened to him, what Filch had done. To speak of it like that would make it all too real and Harry wasn't sure he was ready to face that just yet. Managing to go to the loo by himself without freaking out was a lot different than telling his friends.

"Severus? What's wrong?" asked Harry. He could sense the man wanted to say something, but he was being very quiet.

"Harry, I have to tell you some things, things that you aren't going to like. I don't even know where to begin."

"Just start at the beginning," suggested Harry.

"Before I fell in love with you, you mean?"

Harry's heart fluttered against his ribs then seemed to come to a complete standstill. Severus was in love with him? He'd never mentioned that. Harry just thought he fancied him, that he desired him, his body, not that love was involved. At least not on Severus' side.

"You're in love with me?" he gasped. "Since when?"

"Since the day I spanked you and you cried in my arms. I couldn't bear to see you hurting anymore and that's when I realised that I could no longer follow Dumbledore's plan."

"Dumbledore's plan?" Harry had a theory, that Dumbledore smiled and wore bright robes to distract everyone he was speaking to from how manipulative he was.

"Yes, Harry. The headmaster ordered me to give you those types of detentions. I had permission to use whatever methods necessary, bar sexual, to get you to submit."

Harry had not been on good terms with the headmaster since the end of fifth year when he had finally revealed all that had been hidden from him over the years, but he couldn't imagine him giving Severus permission to do that.

"Why?" demanded Harry. "Why would he ever agree to such a thing?"

Severus toyed with a loose thread on Harry's bedspread and would not meet his eyes. Harry reached out and grasped the man's hand in his. "Severus, please," he begged. "Tell me why, don't I deserve at least that?"

Severus glanced up, Harry was appalled and surprised to find the man's eyes swimming in tears. "You deserve so much more than that, Harry. More than I've ever given you or ever could. Harry, I'm so sorry. For everything."

Harry scrambled across the bed and tugged the man forwards so that he could reach over, kissing his eyelids, tasting the salty wetness on his tongue. "You'll never forgive me, Harry," sobbed Severus as he leaned on Harry's shoulder and now it was Harry's turn to give comfort to the man he loved. He didn't know when he first realised that he loved Severus Snape, but nothing the man did or said would have him hating him again, he knew that now. He might be upset, but he wouldn't hate Severus.

"I'll be the judge of that," sighed Harry as he rubbed Severus' back until the crying eased. Severus sat back down on the chair and wiped his cheeks, blinking rapidly. His cheeks were blotchy and his eyes red rimmed, but to Harry none of them were a sign of weakness. It showed how much he trusted Harry to be able to cry in front of him.

"Go on, Severus, you can tell me."

Severus took a deep shuddering breath before he could begin. "While in the Dark Lord's service, I wasn't just his tame Potions master, although that's what he wanted me for in the beginning. I had other - duties," he said the word duties as if it pained him and maybe it did. Harry had no illusions, he knew Severus had done terrible things in his time as a Death Eater, he wouldn't have survived this long if he hadn't.

"Go on," Harry urged, now that he'd got the man to start talking.

"I trained his prisoners, Harry. Male, female, it didn't matter to him. I trained them to be submissives. I was the procurer of Voldemort's pets. He was a demanding Master, but he did not want to take the time to train them himself. He wanted them perfect, ready to serve him as soon as I presented them to him. He wanted them subservient to them, willing to obey commands. He didn't believe what he was doing was rape. They were his pets, his toys, his to do with as he wished. I was very good at what I did."

"Severus? Did you - did you rape them too? To train them?"

"No, Harry, Voldemort was not one who would share his prizes. What I did was worse, much worse. I broke their spirits until they were little more than shells of their former selves, willing to obey any order, debase themselves just for one touch from Voldemort. Some of them starved to death because they did not have enough will of their own to eat, they had to be ordered to eat and the Death Eaters never bothered to remember that. They didn't care, they were only Muggles after all, plenty more where they came from. They were my responsibility, even though Voldemort knew I couldn't be with them all the time, I was already working at Hogwarts. Every time one of my charges died, I was punished."

Harry paled at the man's words. I broke their spirits.. "And that's what Dumbledore wanted you to do to me? Break me?" he demanded. "Why? Why would he ask you do that?"

"Don't you want to know why I agreed?"

"I know why you agreed to it," snapped Harry angrily. "You wanted to punish me the way you never got a chance to punish my father and his friends for all they did to you. You wanted to bring the Gryffindor Golden Boy down a peg or two. You wanted the Boy Who Lived cowering at your feet because you thought he was an arrogant, selfish jerk just like his father." Harry yanked up his hospital gown and yelled at him. "Well, am I broken enough for you now?!!"

"Oh, God, Harry, I'm sorry. I never meant for any of this to happen," Severus reached out to touch him, but Harry backed away.

"Don't, I can't handle you touching me right now." Harry scooted back along the bed to the headboard and leaned back against it. Severus had been doing it in Dumbledore's orders. Was he even telling the truth when he said he'd been in love with Harry? Just to keep doing whatever Dumbledore was planning?

"Harry, I started doing these things on Dumbledore's orders but somewhere along the line, it went wrong. I wasn't supposed to fall in love with you. Dumbledore hadn't anticipated that, he thought our mutual enmity would prevent that from happening, but it didn't. I finally got to see the real you, beyond you scar, beyond your father's face. I love you, Harry and I'm so sorry I ever agreed to the plan."

"Do you really love me, Severus? Really and truly, not some ploy to keep doing Dumbledore's plan?"

"I do, Harry. I do. Look into my mind and you'll see I'm telling you the truth."

Harry nodded and cast Legilimens on Severus and instantly he was hurtling through the man's memories of him. Severus comforting him after the spanking, Severus watching him sleep in the retreat, kissing him, kissing his forehead, his worry after the Quidditch stands had collapsed, his anger with Ron and Hermione over leaving Harry alone. His righteous anger when he killed Filch and Rookwood. His fear that Harry would turn away from him once he found out what he'd starting doing on Dumbledore's orders.

Harry eased out of the man's mind gently. It was true, Severus did love him. Harry was still upset, still angry, but he was also in love. "Severus, I will never turn away from you. Not over this, not ever." Harry grabbed the man's hand. "I know you thought you had good reasons at the time for agreeing, but why did Dumbledore order you to do it in the first place?"

"Why do you think, Harry? Dumbledore and Voldemort have made a truce. He doesn't think he'll be able to kill you outright, so he'll be quite happy to have you under his control instead. Dumbledore wanted me to turn you into the perfect submissive and present you to him like the spoils of war."

"What?" squawked Harry. "Why?"

"Harry, you're one of the wizarding world's most powerful wizards. A virgin wizard. Sex magic is very powerful, Voldemort would use you in a ritual that would make him even more powerful than ever and there will be no-one left to resist him. The ritual would kill you. Dumbledore didn't tell me that, I'm not sure he knows about that, but Voldemort has used his toys in this ritual in the past to gain more power and I'm guessing that's what Voldemort would do if you were ever brought before him a prisoner."

"You said they'd made a truce, what was Dumbledore supposed to get in return for sacrificing me?"

"An assurance that those within Hogwarts would not be harmed in the coming war and that he would no longer recruit Death Eaters from among the older students."

"What about the rest of the wizarding world? The Aurors? Shops, businesses? Private homes?"

"Voldemort gave no such assurances that they would not be harmed."

It didn't make much sense, sacrifice Harry to spare those handful of people at Hogwarts? Not that those lives weren't important, they were, but they were so few compared to the wider wizarding world. Harry could understand it if Voldemort had gave assurances that no-one else would be harmed, but just Hogwarts? Why risk so many when only so few could be spared as a consequence? Was Dumbledore going mad? Or was there some more to the plan that he hadn't even told Severus? But if somehow, the plan was to get him close enough to Voldemort to attempt to kill him, why train him as a submissive at all? Wouldn't it be better just to pretend to be one? So that he would be stronger to attack? He was giving himself a headache at this rate.

"When were you supposed to take me to Voldemort?"

"Five days."

"Good, that'll give me a bit of time to get my strength back a little."

"Harry, you're not seriously thinking of going?"

"Of course I'm going, Severus. Tell me, what would happen if you didn't appear when you were supposed to with me?"

"Then they'll know I've been spying. Every Death Eater in the land will be hunting me."

"I'm going, Severus and together we're going to bring him down. Do you really think I would let anything happen to my Master?" Harry grabbed his hand and squeezed hard. "No-one messes with my Master, Severus. No-one."

Part Seventeen

Harry had never been in the dungeons below Malfoy Manor before and if by some miracle they survived this, then he would prefer never to see them again. The bare stones had been painted over, murals depicting men, women and children suffering every from of torture imaginable and some that Harry had never imagined in his life. He did not shudder or throw up though, knowing that they were expecting him to show no emotion except when his Master dictated it.

They had taken his wand, Severus had handed it to the Dark Lord as soon as they'd entered the cell, but what Voldemort didn't know was that Harry was an adept at wandless magic. He didn't need a wand as long as he was angry enough for the spells to work. Finding the opportunity to cast them was another matter. He hadn't been bound, they thought that because he was now submissive he would not attempt anything. Severus and Harry were keen to let them believe that.

There were only four people in the cell, Harry, kneeling on the floor, his forehead resting on the slimy floor as he prostrated himself before Voldemort. Voldemort standing in front of him, flanked both by Severus and Lucius Malfoy. Harry's scar was aching unbearably being in such close proximity to the Dark Lord, but unfortunately their link had no debilitating effect on the monster whatsoever. Harry dimly wondered how Malfoy had escaped Azkaban, but he was too worried for what might happen to Severus and himself to give it much attention.

Malfoy was dressed in formal robes of dark blue, embroidered with silver snakes on both lapels. Harry wasn't sure whether it was an hallucination due to his time spent on the floor, but he thought he saw the snakes writhing and hissing when he'd first entered the cell.

Harry was dressed in a long robe of dark green velvet, it pooled on the floor by his knees, like a storm tossed sea and Harry wondered if they were both going to drown here in Malfoy's dungeons. Not even the headmaster knew where they were, for Voldemort had not given Severus any former indication of where he was going to take them. They were on their own and the weight of his destiny had never seemed so heavy to Harry. He only had this one chance. If he failed now, it would all be for nothing. Voldemort would destroy him and every other wizard who stood in his way. Harry could not fail. It just wasn't an option.

"Impressive, Severus," said Voldemort. "But is it true? Have you really broken him? It seems to good to be true. Lucius, you may begin."

"Thank you, my Lord," said Lucius as he bent down and lifted Harry's chin up with a pale, pointed finger. Harry tried not to shudder, they'd both known this test was coming and they'd prepared for it as best they could in the past few days, but since neither of them knew exactly what was coming things might go wrong.

"Legilimens!"

Harry didn't block, but he steered Malfoy in his mind only to those memories that he wanted Malfoy to see. Harry, kneeling on Snape's office floor, obeying him even though Harry's knees were aching. Snape spanking him and Harry crying over it. Harry sobbing over Snape's disregard for his comfort, feeling joy when Snape paid him even a little bit of attention. Malfoy must have seen enough, Harry could feel the man's mind withdrawing, the relief once the invader was out of his mind. He tried to school his face to remain impassive. Harry wasn't real to Voldemort and Malfoy, he was a toy, something to play with and break it if they wished. He hoped things wouldn’t get that far.

"Well?" demanded Voldemort.

Lucius stood up and smiled. "It is as Severus has said, he has trained the boy as a submissive."

"Is he still a virgin?"

"Yes, my Lord. His aura is still white."

Harry did not speak, he did not have permission to speak but he kept his head where Lucius had left it, he didn't bow again. Voldemort stalked towards him in a swirl of crimson robes. They swished across the floor, sweeping dust in their wake. The monster looked down.

"Who would have thought it, Potter? The Boy Who Lived bowing and scraping at my feet? What would your friends say if they could see you now? Would they be pleased? Kiss my robe, boy," hissed Voldemort and Harry completely lost it. Who would have thought that it was what had caused Harry to freak out with Severus was the reason the Dark Lord was finally defeated? It was the one word to guarantee that Harry would never submit.

"AVADA KEDAVRA!!!!" Harry screamed with all his might. Green light shot forth from his body, enveloping Voldemort in its eerie shimmer. When the light dimmed, Voldemort crashed to the floor of the dungeon, his lifeless body shattering on impact with the stones. "You shouldn't have called me boy!" yelled Harry to Voldemort's dead body. The adrenalin from the spell wearing off, Harry slumped to the ground and promptly threw up what little he'd eaten that morning. He was trembling all over, every bone in his body ached, as if he was coming down with flu or something, but he knew he had to get Severus away from here.

Harry was the only person left conscious after the spell. He rushed to the prone form of Severus, feeling for a pulse in his neck. Finding one, he cast a binding spell on the unconscious Malfoy, wrapped his arms around Severus' prone form and pressed the jewel in his medallion.

They both landed in a heap on the safe room floor as Harry struggled to support the Potion master's weight. Harry levitated Severus to the bed and cast an ennervate on him. Severus' eyes flickered open and he blinked at his rescuer. "Harry? What happened? What are we doing here?"

Harry yanked the man's sleeve up and there, where the Dark Mark used to be was a patch of shiny pink skin.

"It's over, Severus. He's gone. He's finally gone. You're free."

Severus looked at his arm and then at Harry's face. "Harry, your scar, it's gone too. Merlin, you did it, you really did it. How? What happened?"

"A wandless Killing Curse."

"Wandless? See, Harry, I said you were a powerful wizard, didn't I?"

Harry nodded just as a scroll popped into existence in the room, the Ministry seal dangling from one end. "Uh-oh."

Harry untied the ribbon and his eyes scanned the letter, a knot of fear forming in the pit of his stomach as he read on.

To Mr. Harry Potter,

It has come to our attention that at 3.07 p.m. this afternoon that you knowingly cast a spell while not in residence at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry. This contravenes the Restriction of Underage Sorcery. A representative from the Ministry will be sent to Hogwarts shortly.

Please consider yourself suspended from Hogwarts until after the hearing on 20 November.

Yours sincerely,

Dolores Umbridge
Officer in Charge
Magical Law Enforcement


The letter dropped from Harry's nerveless fingers. That woman, that vile, awful woman was now in the Magical Law Enforcement office? Who would be so stupid as to put her in charge of anything? A hearing. Harry remembered another hearing, with chairs with chains on the arms and he had a feeling that this time, those were the chairs he would be placed in.

"Harry what is it?" asked Severus rising from the bed and bending down to lift the letter from the floor. Harry could barely speak for the rage that was coursing through his veins. He'd just destroyed what was probably the world's most evil wizard of all time and now they wanted to take him to task for using under age magic? It might even have been funny if it hadn't been for the shadow of Azkaban falling over everything. Dementors. His mother's screams.

Harry had used an Unforgivable curse on another human being.

Severus must have guessed what he'd been thinking. "Harry, Voldemort had been travelling Dark paths so long that he stopped resembling anything human long ago. He was a pestilence on the land, you exterminated him. You did nothing wrong. Nothing. This was your destiny, Harry. You were fated to do this or he was fated to kill you. Which would you have preferred?"

"God, Severus, what are we going to do?"

"The first thing we need to do it get back to Hogwarts and inform Dumbledore that it worked. He can alert the Order and the Aurors can start hunting the Death Eaters, who no doubt are probably all wondering why their Marks have suddenly disappeared. Then you are going to get lots of rest, even if I have to tie you to a bed myself. Magic that powerful, especially wandless magic takes a lot out of you."

"What if they put me in Azkaban? I couldn't handle that, Severus."

"Harry, you won't get sent to Azkaban. You were only doing what they all wanted from you. They wanted you to destroy Voldemort, do you really think they're about to sentence the Boy Who Lived to Azkaban for it?"

"She would," Harry said vehemently. "She's hated me even before she met me. Umbridge wants me locked up, Severus. I just know it. She'll not be happy with just an expulsion from Hogwarts."

"Harry," Severus stepped closer to him and opened his arms. Harry quickly accepted the comfort that was being offered and burrowed his face in Severus' robes, feeling his breath becoming even more erratic and uneven. He just wanted to curl up somewhere safe and stay there until he graduated. "Harry, you won't be expelled, do you really think Dumbledore would allow that to happen?"

"I don't know anymore, Severus. I never thought he would ask you to train me as a submissive after he made a truce with Voldemort. He may well expel me, we don't know, do we?"

"No, I suppose we don't," sighed Severus.

"Can we stay here?" asked Harry. "Just the two of us? No-one can disturb us here, can they?"

"No, Harry, they can't. But that also means that we will not be able to get food."

"I don't care!" protested Harry. "I'd rather starve to death than face the Dementors in Azkaban. Please, Severus, promise me that you won't let them take me to Azkaban. I couldn't survive that, hearing my mother's screams over and over. Promise me you'll do whatever it takes to prevent that."

"I promise, Harry," said Severus and he kissed Harry's hair. "Time to go, Harry?"

Harry nodded, unable to look at him as they each pressed their medallions to bring them back to school.

Briefly Harry wondered why he was no longer feeling as if he was coming home.

Part Eighteen

As they both made their way up the moving staircase, Severus couldn't help but notice how white Harry was. His lips were bright red, seeming so much brighter against the paleness of his face. He was trembling slightly too and Severus knew he must be feeling the after affects of casting an Unforgivable curse for the first time. He would have to watch him carefully for the next few days. Dark Magic was addictive and once tasted, it got easier and easier to do, without thinking of the consequences, only wanting more and more of that forbidden power, Severus knew from experience.

Dumbledore was waiting for them, his office door open already when they arrived at the top of the staircase. Fawkes squawked from his perch, ruffling his feathers and regaling both of them with his beady eyes.

"Welcome back, my boys," he said, smiling. Severus did not return the smile. "It is finally done then?" He took in Harry's face and then stared at Severus, who pulled up the arm of his robe. "Excellent, excellent. I knew you could do it, Harry."

Dumbledore communicated silently with the phoenix, who disappeared in a burst of golden flame.

"Might I ask how you achieved it, Harry?" Dumbledore peered at Harry over the rim of his glasses and Severus just knew the headmaster was attempting Legilimency on Harry without the boy's permission. He coughed so that Harry looked at him and not the headmaster. A simple foil but it worked and he could almost sense the headmaster's frustration as not being able to access Harry's mind.

"A wandless spell," said Harry, swaying a little. The headmaster had offered neither of them a seat. Severus pressed his hand on the small of Harry's back to support him a little, noticing the headmaster's glare but ignoring it.

"Wandless?" repeated Dumbledore, turning his attention back to Harry. "I don't suppose Voldemort was expecting that, was he?"

"No, sir," said Harry. He showed Dumbledore the letter he'd received. "The Ministry have suspended me from school."

"Have they indeed? Well, you see, Harry, Hogwarts is a private institution. The Ministry has no authority over suspensions or expulsions, that would be down to the governors and the headmaster. However, I doubt that the governors would require your removal considering that you have just fulfilled your destiny. It's getting late, Harry. I suggest you go back to your dorms and get well rested for your classes tomorrow. If you do not attend, I'm afraid it will have to be detention for you."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, Professor," said Harry, his beaming smile brighter than the light in the room. "See you in Potions, Professor," Harry stood on tip toes and gave Severus a small peck on the cheek. Severus flushed, but allowed it. There wasn't a lot the headmaster could do except fire him now and he no longer cared if that happened anymore.

***

As soon as Harry entered the portrait hole to the Gryffindor common room, he was almost knocked backwards by Hermione's welcome hug. "Harry! You're back!" she shrieked, making his ears ring. Ron stood off to one side, smiling softly, pleased at his friend's return, but not as demonstrative as Hermione about it.

"Where have you been? What happened? You weren't in the infirmary and Madam Pomfrey wouldn't tell me where you'd gone," said Hermione once she released him from the hug. The few other scattered Gryffindors who weren't in bed yet were staring at the three friends, eager to hear Harry's news as well. Harry didn't speak, he just lifted his fringe out of his eyes and they all gaped at the smooth skin they saw there.

"He's gone?" asked Neville, walking towards them and reaching out as if to touch Harry's head. Harry backed away from him, not feeling comfortable about that. Neville lowered his hand. "Sorry. So it's true then, what the Slytherins are saying Filch did to you?"

"What are they saying?" asked Harry, his heart beating so fast he was surprised it didn't suddenly burst forth from his chest.

"That he attacked you that he - that he raped you," said Hermione softly.

"He attacked me, yes," agreed Harry. "He beat me, kicked me, hurt me physically, but he didn't rape me. Let me guess, Malfoy started that rumour?"

They all nodded. Why would Malfoy start such a malicious rumour in the first place? Did he really hate Harry that much? He would probably hate him even more, knowing that it was Harry's actions that would land the elder Malfoy in Azkaban yet again.

Harry felt as if all his energy had drained out of him and he just wanted to go and lie down, but a few of the older students hurried off to wake their classmates and soon the common room was awash with crowds of eager listeners wanting to hear in detail how Harry had managed to defeat Voldemort.

***

"How did he do it, Severus?" asked Dumbledore once Harry had left. "How was he strong enough to even attempt a wandless spell when you were supposed to train him as a submissive? He should not have been able to do anything without express permission, should he?"

"A bit surprised to see us back, Albus?" sneered Severus. "Wanted Voldemort to get rid of him for you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about, Severus. Things went according to plan."

"Whose plan, Albus? Did you forget how good I am at Occlumency and Legilimency? I know what you wanted, Dumbledore. You'd hoped that they would both die, the prophecy was not exactly clear, was it? You're afraid of Harry, afraid of his power. Afraid he might turn out to be the next Dark Lord. Harry wasn't supposed to survive this, was he? With Harry gone, you knew you'd garner sympathy votes and people would be on your side again. You enjoy manipulating people, it's all some game to you. Harry was never a person to you, was he? He was just a plan, a tool a pawn. What will you do to us now that you no longer have need of us, Albus? Are you like Voldemort, will you cast out your broken toys? You make me sick," spat Severus. "You've done nothing but use that boy since the night you left him on a doorstep."

"And what about you, Severus? How do you think people will react when they find out what you did to him? You were the one who trained him as a submissive, you were the one who abused him."

"You have no idea what you're talking about, headmaster, you never did. Being submissive is not about giving total control over to another person, it is not about abuse. I trained Harry as my pet, Albus, I was his Master, do you know what that means?"

Dumbledore bristled. "I am not aware of the subtleties of those types of relationships," he muttered angrily, proof enough of how he thought of those types of relationship.

"No? I'll enlighten you then, shall I? Harry trusted me enough to allow me to hurt him, he knew I would go so far and no further, that is the Master's responsibility. It is not about abusing one's pet. Harry was the one in control the whole time, there were certain things he would never do. Voldemort made a fatal mistake, he thought he was the one in control of Harry, but the only person who had control over Harry in that cell was Harry."

"It will still come across as abuse if this knowledge is ever made public, Severus. You are his teacher," threatened Dumbledore.

"Is that a threat? You want to talk about abuse, headmaster? Let's talk about what the Dursleys did to him, shall we? You knew about it and still you sent him back there year after year, not even bothering to check up on him. Harry hasn't told me everything that happened to him, but I can make a good guess. Harry was an abused child and you let it continue unchecked. What would the wizarding world say if that knowledge got out?"

"You wouldn't air Harry's dirty laundry in public," said Dumbledore smugly. "I know you wouldn't."

"I'm a Slytherin, Dumbledore, you don't know what I would do."

"Might I remind you, Severus that you are still in my employ and that fraternising with a student is strictly forbidden?"

"Oh, it's forbidden now that Voldemort is defeated?" growled Severus, knowing that both he and Harry had been used by this man for years.

"I think we understand each other, Severus."

"You can rest easy, headmaster. You have my assurances that nothing will happen between Harry Potter or myself as long as he is a student and I am a teacher here." With that, Severus stalked out with a swirl of robes and did not look back.

***

Despite his exhaustion, Harry stayed awake until all of his dorm mates were asleep and crept out under his invisibility cloak and made his way down to the dungeons. He missed Severus so much and he couldn't wait until tomorrow to see him. The corridors were deserted and Harry had to remind himself that Filch was no longer there and could no longer harm him, he kept jumping at shadows thinking he saw him or the cat.

Severus' office door was open, Harry knocked before entering, but the room was empty and the door to the man's private quarters was ajar. Harry had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Severus would not go without his wards for a very good reason. Had Death Eaters somehow managed to get into the castle and attack him?

Harry shoved the cloak from his shoulders and ran to the doorway, the room was a mess, books and papers all over
the floor and furniture, clothing draped haphazardly over everything. An open trunk stood in front of the fireplace.

This was worse, much worse than Death Eaters. Severus was leaving. Leaving Hogwarts. Leaving Harry.

As soon as Severus emerged from the bathroom carrying a few potions bottles, Harry stormed into the room, slamming the door behind him.

"You promised!" screamed Harry. "You promised you would never leave me!" His face was dry of tears, he felt too crushed to cry.

Severus glared hard at him. "Is that any way to speak to your Master? On your knees at once," he growled.

Harry obeyed instinctively, even though his heart was shattering into a thousand tiny pieces in his chest. He could hardly breathe. He wanted to rant and argue, but knew that it was not the time. Not when he was in the company of his Master instead of Severus. Harry lowered his head, staring at the floor and this time the tears fell, landing with soft plops on the dungeon floor.

He knew now why Hogwarts was no longer home. Home wasn't a place, a castle. Home to him was Severus. He would not survive without him, he knew it.

"Please sir," he begged, unsure what he was asking for.

"You did not have permission to speak. Until I am finished, you will not speak. Do you understand?"

Harry nodded.

"You are mine and mine alone, Harry. You caught me rather unawares this evening. After I had finished packing, I was going to make my way up to the Gryffindor dorms and ask you to come with me. Do you really think I'd leave you here? Alone with a man I no longer trust? He no longer needs either of us and we are not going to wait around for him to decide what he wants to do. You may speak." His Master knelt down and kissed Harry softly on the lips before pulling back, staring at Harry with dark eyes glittering.

"I - I thought you were going to leave me here," Harry confessed. "I can't live without you, sir. I can't."

"You will never have to, Harry. We are leaving here, tonight. Gather whatever things you want or need and meet me back here as quick as you can. We will not be staying any longer than we have to. You do want to come with me, don't you?"

Harry nodded. "Master? What will I tell Ron and Hermione?"

"You may owl them when we get to our destination. We can't stay here, Harry. We have to leave tonight."

"Where are we going, sir?"

"At the moment, Harry? I just don't know."

Part Nineteen

Severus had always been a paranoid man, knowing that his duplicity could be discovered at any moment meant that he had plenty of contingencies in place. He had numerous Muggle bank accounts, passport and other identity papers under the assumed name of John Fletcher and John Fletcher also had a small cottage in Cornwall.

He decided they should hide out there for the next few days before they made any more permanent plans. One thing was clear, Harry was no longer safe in the wizarding world. If the Ministry and Dumbledore were against him, he wouldn’t stand a chance.

There was a small Muggle village, Hogsfell, about three miles from the school. They would walk there and catch the first train into Edinburgh and then down to London before making their way to Cornwall. There were plenty of car hire places in London. The Death Eaters would never think of Muggle transport, but Dumbledore might, hence Severus' alias. No-one knew he and John Fletcher were one and the same.

It took less than half an hour for Harry to return with his packed trunk and empty owl cage, levitating both in front of him. "I sent Hedwig to the Burrow," said Harry, looking rather worried. Severus could hardly blame him for that. They were effectively on the run and they had to leave the school without anyone knowing. At least they didn't have Filch to worry about this time, a new caretaker had yet to be appointed. "Do you still have your invisibility cloak, Harry?" Severus asked him. "I think we may need it until we get out of the grounds."

Harry nodded and rummaged in his trunk for the cloak, one legacy from James Potter that Severus was very glad of at that moment. "Shrink your things, Harry, but once we leave the grounds, you can't do any more magic as you're still underage and the Ministry will know."

They would have to walk to the village, an Assisted Apparation would alert the Ministry that a qualified wizard had an underage wizard with him, they couldn't risk it. "Are you up to walking, Harry? It's about three miles to Hogsfell."

"I'm not worried about the walk, Severus. It's my magic," said Harry.

"I already told you, Harry, you can't do any magic once we leave the school grounds."

"I know, it's not that. It's just sometimes my magic happens without me doing anything. What if I can't control it? The Ministry will know where we are."

"Harry, do you trust me?"

The boy nodded. "With my life."

"There's a spell I can do, it will inhibit any spontaneous magic. You will still be able to do magic, but only when you want to. You will control it. Will you allow me to perform it on you?"

"It'll stop me doing magic accidentally?"

"Yes."

"Please, Severus. Do it."

Severus cast the spell and then shrunk Harry's trunk and owl cage for him. Harry picked up the small cube and tucked it in his jeans pocket. Both of them would be travelling light. Severus had already shrunk his own things and transfigured his robes into a Muggle suit and tie, Harry was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, with a jacket over it. Severus cast a heating charm on it for him, it didn't look very warm and was also about three sizes too big for him. He tried to shrink it to fit, but the Muggle clothes didn't take to magic very well and it didn't work. Harry would just have to put up with the ill fitting clothes until they could go shopping.

"Ready?" he asked, holding out his hand.

Harry nodded and reached out to take it, the cloak falling over them like water.

***

Harry's feet were sore and blistered, the shoes were Dudley's and were a few sizes too large, he'd stuffed a pair of socks in the toes of each shoe, but they were still a bit loose and rubbed against Harry's heel and his instep every time he walked. They arrived at Hogsfell station at half past three in the morning, and the first train wasn't until six forty five. The village wasn't large enough to have an hotel, all the shops were shut and the gates of the station were locked.

They wandered the high street, looking for somewhere open to spend a few hours, but they were out of luck, they ended up sitting on some benches overlooking the village green. Harry just hoped they weren't sent on their way by the police or something before the station opened. He still felt a bit shaky and would feel better once they were on the train and going away from Hogwarts. Away from Dumbledore.

It was difficult to believe that Dumbledore had wanted him killed too, but when they'd first arrived back, Harry had sensed the headmaster's disappointment and he'd quickly cast a silent Legilimens on the man, for he was fed up of finding everything about his life second hand, and only those bits that people thought he ought to hear. Harry was shocked at what he'd discovered in the man's mind. He hadn't even told Severus, but he was going to have to tell him what he knew. That was one conversation he was dreading.

Dumbledore was not some sweet grandfatherly figure, although that was the persona he cultivated as headmaster of the school. There was only one reason he was at the school and not the Ministry, he felt there was more power to be had at Hogwarts, more young minds for him to mould into what he wanted. He manipulated Harry's parents into working for the Order, when neither of them had wanted to do it, he manipulated Severus into spying for him on the Death Eaters, but what was worse, much worse, was that Dumbledore had manipulated a damaged boy, leaving him no choice but to join the Death Eaters in the first place. Dumbledore engineered Severus' flight to them, just so that he could welcome Severus back with open arms and have himself a ready made spy. It was this that Severus didn't know. Harry didn't know how he could tell him.

Despite the warming charm Severus had cast on his clothes, Harry shivered and wrapped his arms around himself. The night was frosty and their breath misted silver in front of them. "Harry? Do you need an extra coat?" asked Severus as he delved into his pocket to bring out his luggage and de-shrink it.

"No, I'm not cold, just a bit shaky. I wish we were already away from here. We're not safe yet, are we?"

"I don't think we'll ever be safe, Harry," Severus whispered softly and kissed his hair. "Here, put your head on my lap, maybe you'll be able to get a few hours sleep."

"I don't think I'll be able to sleep," said Harry, but he put his head down on Severus' lap anyway, enjoying the man's closeness. They hadn't had much chance to be together since his attack, what with Harry being in the infirmary and then killing Voldemort and running away. Severus stroked his head and whispered a spell, "Somnus," and the next thing Harry knew he was gently woken by Severus caressing his cheek.

"The station's open, Harry, I've just seen a ticket officer arrive."

"Oh, okay," said Harry, clasping his hand over his mouth as he yawned and sat up. He'd drooled in his sleep, there was a shiny wet patch on the thigh of Severus trousers, but a quick cleaning spell soon took care of that and they made their way to the station to buy tickets. Harry was surprised when Severus paid for them with a credit card, he wouldn't even have been sure that the wizard knew what they were. As Severus retrieved the tickets and cards, Harry noticed the name on the front, John Fletcher.

Once they were on the station and waiting for the train, Severus turned to him. "In the Muggle world, I am known as John Fletcher, Harry and you are my nephew Harry Fletcher, son of my brother Stephen, okay? Your parents died and I was made your guardian. Otherwise my neighbours will be wondering why I've turned up with a teenager in tow."

"You mean you don't want them to think I'm your sex slave, Uncle John?" grinned Harry, feeling a little giddy now that he knew the train was going to be here at any minute. They were escaping.

"Exactly," Severus grinned back just as the train pulled into the station. They found seats in an empty compartment and Severus locked the door and cast a silencing charm so that they would not be disturbed. Not that there were a lot of passengers this early, a couple of businessmen had got on at Hogsfell, probably commuting to Edinburgh, but Harry was glad all the same. He didn't want to be sitting with some strangers for the next couple of hours. He sat down opposite Severus and placed his hands on his knees.

"Severus, do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"It depends on the question," he said as the train pulled out of the station.

"I didn't know wizards knew about credit cards and things. I thought - I thought you were pureblood?"

"I am, but my life as a spy was always dangerous. I needed somewhere to hide out and none of the Death Eaters would ever assume that a pureblood like myself would know anything about the Muggle world, never mind hide in it. It just wouldn't occur to them. I don't know everything about Muggles or their world, but I knew enough to get by when I was lying low. I'm not sure my identity is strictly legal in the Muggle sense, but I felt no qualms about breaking Muggle laws in order to survive. I still don't. I'm a Slytherin, Harry. Sometimes Dumbledore forgets that. I do things that are necessary, not the things that he wishes."

"Are we going to stay in Edinburgh? Wouldn't Dumbledore look there? He probably knows about Hogsfell."

"He does, but I'm hoping we'll have a head start. We're going to London and then driving to Cornwall, your uncle has a cottage there," smiled Severus. "No-one in the wizarding world knows my Muggle alias. I never trusted anyone with it."

"Good," said Harry, grateful that Severus hadn't felt the need to tell Dumbledore. The less that man knew the better. "I've never been to Cornwall, is it nice?"

"Beautiful," sighed Severus. "The cottage is in the country, high on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic, it's very remote, but there are two other cottages nearby, Muggles, not wizards though."

"Those were the neighbours you were worried about?"

"Yes, so remember your story, Harry Fletcher."

"Yes, Uncle John."

Part Twenty

Once they arrived in London, Severus was determined to take Harry shopping, despite the boy's reluctance, for the clothes he was wearing would have to go. Not only didn't they fit, but they were frayed and torn and it was as if Harry had a sign above him screaming runaway. They needed to blend in with the Muggles, not stand out.

"Harry, what is it? Why don't you want different clothes?" For Severus was sure he would have jumped at the chance to get rid of the awful hand-me-downs.

"I can't pay you back, all right? All my money is in Gringotts and if we go there the Ministry will know where we are, won't they?"

Damn the boy and his pride. "It's a loan, Harry. You can pay me back when you can. Once you're seventeen, your Gringotts account will automatically go into privacy mode. Every wizard over seventeen will receive their vault key. You don't even need to go anywhere near the bank. There's a spell to withdraw items, I'll teach it to you on your birthday. I can assure you that money is the least of our worries at the moment. So, are we getting you a new wardrobe or not?"

"Okay, thanks, Severus. I didn't know that about Gringotts. I will pay you back, I promise."

Severus nodded and pushed open the door to one of London's department stores and held it open while Harry entered in front of him. Harry headed straight for the men's department but it was obvious after a few minutes that they were never going to find any clothes to fit Harry in there. The sales assistant recommended they try the teenage department on the second floor. Severus thought he must have gotten so used to Harry's size over the years, that he hadn't actually noticed how small he was compared to average. Another thing to lay at the Dursleys' door, Severus still hadn't forgotten Poppy's words on how Harry was always malnourished when he returned to school after being with them.

The boy's teen clothing department was full of giggling female sales assistants who didn't look as if they'd been long out of school themselves and they hovered around Harry like bees round a fragrant flower. Most of them were taller than Harry and kept wandering over to the changing rooms and asking him if he needed any help. A very few squawked no's later, they left the boy alone to try on the clothes. Rather than accept any help from the silly assistants, Severus wandered among the items and selected what he thought might suit Harry and what might fit.

Three hours later, Harry was the proud owner of a whole new wardrobe. They'd bought everything from shirts to trousers, socks to underwear and Severus had sent Harry downstairs with some money and practically ordered him to get a hair cut in the hairdresser's he'd seen on the way up. It was also a good way on ensuring that Harry didn't see how much everything cost. Severus had no need to be reimbursed, but Harry's pride would not allow him to accept the clothes otherwise. So if he happened to lose the receipt, he would have to make and estimated guess of how much Harry should repay. A lower estimate.

Once Harry's purchases were paid for and wrapped up in various boxes and bags, Severus made his way to the hairdresser's to meet Harry, stepping gingerly onto the escalator and just hoping his bags wouldn't catch on any of the moving parts. Amazing what Muggles could do in place of magic.

Harry was already finished and was waiting outside the door of the salon. Severus almost dropped his shopping in surprise. Instead of the waif in tattered hand-me-downs with a mop of unruly hair, stood a confident young man. He was dressed in his new clothes, a pair of khaki trousers with pockets down both sides with a cream and green checked shirt, the tail hanging loose over the trousers (which seemed to be the Muggle fashion among the other adolescents in the store.) The wild locks had been tamed into submission, slightly shorter at the back, but seeming fuller on the top of Harry's head and his fringe, his whole hair dotted with auburn highlights which glistened every time Harry moved.

"Uncle John, do you like it?" asked Harry, twisting the hem of his shirt nervously. Severus guessed it was probably the first time Harry had ever been to a hairdressers, never mind have anything so drastic done as colouring his hair.

"It's wonderful, Harry. It really suits you."

"Do you really think so? I've never had my hair done before."

"Well, we can make this a regular occurrence if you'd like, I'm sure we'd find someone in Cornwall to fit you in."

"I've kept the receipt," said Harry, fumbling in his pocket and counting out the change.

"No, Harry. You keep that. What if you want to buy yourself a treat?"

"Oh. Okay," said Harry, returning the money to his pocket, but although they spent a few more hours looking round the shops, Harry didn't spend a penny of it. He was obviously not used to treating himself, something else that Severus was determined to rectify.

***

Harry fell asleep as soon as they left the London traffic behind, Severus knew he really should get them both to Cornwall as soon as possible, but he took a detour to Wiltshire and gently shook Harry awake. It was already dark, the November evenings drawing in and Harry looked around at the blackness outside. "Are we there yet?"

Severus smiled down at him, "Not yet, but I thought you might like to see this."

Harry nodded and opened his door, climbing out a little unsteadily as he tried to wake up properly. Severus held out his hand and was gratified that Harry took it instantly, showing how much trust there was between them now.

Severus knew they were nearing their destination when Harry gave a small gasp and stopped walking altogether.

"Severus? What is that? I feel - I feel all tingly."

"You're feeling the old magic, Harry, earth magic. This part of the country is covered in ley lines and we're coming up to one of the strongest convergences." Thankful that not a lot of Muggles were about in the dark, Severus cast lumos and a small beam of light flared to life at the tip of his wand. There were a few Muggles with torches edging close to the fence, from a distance that what's their light would look like too.

Harry gaped at the stone circle revealed, although they couldn't get the full effect in the dark, it was still impressive, despite the chain link fence surrounding it.

"Stonehenge," gasped Harry. "I've read about that, I've never been here though. My primary school class went on a school trip, but I wasn't allowed, it was too expensive."

Severus' hand tightened on his wand at yet another casual remark by Harry of how unfairly the Dursleys had treated him growing up and he ached to pay them a visit sometime. Harry deserved so much better than how he'd been treated by everyone and Severus knew he had to list himself among those who had mistreated him. Instead of Harry, he'd been seeing the ghost of James Potter come back to haunt him and he wanted to make James pay for what he'd done. Harry wasn't James, had never even been like James, but Severus had let his memories of the father cloud his judgement in regards to the son and it was long past time to make amends for his actions.

"This feels so weird," said Harry, smiling. "It's like I've got ants crawling all over me or something, it tickles."

"All wizards would feel something when in close proximity to earth magic, but you'd feel it more than most. We'd better head on, there's quite a way to go yet."

"Okay," said Harry, reaching for Severus' hand again. Severus heart gave a giddy little jump as their skin touched, their connection as wizards magnified by the magic thrumming through the earth beneath their feet, like the distant buzzing of insects.

Once back in the car, Harry was asleep again almost at once, he must have been exhausted. A sleeping Harry caused him to wonder about the sleeping arrangements at the cottage. It had plenty of bedrooms, but Severus didn't know which would be more prudent. Should he give Harry his own room and risk Harry thinking of it as a rejection of the boy? Or should he assume they would be sharing the same room and risk Harry being upset because Severus was making assumptions about their relationship?

They had done nothing more intimate than a few kisses and such ever since Filch had attacked him and Severus wasn't sure how much Harry was ready for yet, if ever. He'd discussed it with Madam Pomfrey, but he and Harry had yet to discuss it themselves and he knew they had to. Harry hadn't brought it up yet and Severus was a bit reluctant to mention it himself in case he upset Harry any more than he already was.

Not only would Harry have to cope with what Filch had done to him, there was also whatever the Dursleys had done. Severus had an idea he knew what had happened to cause Harry to use his safe-word that night, but Harry needed to talk about it too. He had no illusions that one conversation was going to make Harry better, but it would be a start.

Harry gave a soft snore and turned over on the seat, almost strangling himself with the seatbelt in the process. Severus reached over with one hand and smoothed out the strap, before stroking his fingers along Harry's jaw. The skin was so smooth and Severus knew that because of what Filch had done, it would always remain that way, Harry would never need to shave.

As he drove down the lane to the cottages, bare branches of trees scraped against the car's bodywork, the lane was barely narrow enough for one car to pass. Severus cut the engine when they were parked on the drive in front of his cottage, but he didn't wake Harry yet, just looked at him, enjoying looking at him without Harry getting self-conscious about it. For Harry had no idea of how handsome he actually was.

The porch light came on from Mrs. Jensen's cottage, his nearest neighbour, and he shook Harry awake. No telling what she might be thinking if he stayed in the car any longer.

"Harry," he whispered. "We're home."

Part Twenty One

Harry smiled when he woke up, loving the way Severus had said we're home, as if he wanted nothing better than to share his life with Harry. A home with Harry. The cottage was surprisingly big, when Severus had mentioned it, he'd assumed it would be something small and a bit run down, considering that Severus didn't seem to spend much time there. Of course now that he'd seen it, he assumed it must have had some magical preservations spells on it.

The lights flared to life as they got out of the car and Harry could see an elderly grey haired women in dressing gown and slippers at the house next door, her arms folded across her chest and glaring a bit at them, although she didn't seem to think the lights going on by themselves were that unusual.

Instead of walking up the path towards his own cottage, Severus took Harry by the elbow and steered him towards the neighbour. "Good evening, Mrs. Jensen, this is my nephew Harry Fletcher. He'll be living with me now that his parents are dead."

"It's a bit early for the Christmas holidays, isn't it?" she asked, peering down at Harry in that way Aunt Petunia always had, as if Harry was something she wouldn't want to find on the bottom of her shoe.

"Harry's older than he looks, he's left school already. He'll be helping me in my shop once we get settled in."

"Good, good, can't abide laziness in youngsters," said Mrs. Jensen. Yes, thought Harry, exactly like Aunt Petunia. "I was just making sure that you weren't being robbed or anything, what with the house being empty for so long."

"Yes, thank you, Mrs. Jensen. Very kind of you to look after the place when I'm not here. Not everyone would be so conscientious," Severus glowered at her, but she didn't seem to notice that she had just been insulted. Harry tried not to giggle. Severus was basically calling her a nosey old bat, but she seemed none the wiser.

"Come along, Harry. Let's get you settled," he said, placing his hand on Harry's shoulder and steering him back towards their own cottage, they both called a quick goodnight to Mrs. Jensen as she waited by her own door until they were at the front door. Once Severus managed to unlock the door, both with keys and passwords whispered softly against the wood and the both entered the hall, Harry's laughter could no longer be contained.

It bubbled up from his chest like lemonade and he doubled over with a stitch in his side, he was laughing so hard, tears of mirth dripping down his cheeks. He could see the fuzzy face of his ex-Potions master gaping at him in some confusion.

"Harry? What is it? Is something wrong?"

"N- no," giggled Harry, trying to get a hold of himself. "Sorry, it was just so funny, watching you insult her like that and she never even realised."

"I see sarcasm isn't wasted on you, Mr. Potter," he said in his best teacher's voice.

"Well, no, sir. I had the best teacher," he grinned back at him.

"Indeed, well until we can go shopping, I'm afraid the cupboards are rather bare this evening. We can order something in for tonight's dinner. What would you like? Pizza, Indian or Chinese?" asked Severus as he searched among the papers on the telephone table for some menus. Harry had of course seen telephones before, had even used it a few times, but to see Severus Snape in close proximity to such a Muggle device had him wondering if all of this was in his imagination or if he was having a strange dream.

"Harry?" Severus prompted. "Dinner?"

"Oh. Oh, pizza. I've never had pizza before."

***

More than replete after chicken wings, garlic bread, half of a ham and pineapple pizza and a rare treat for Harry, a fizzy soft drink, Harry was feeling rather too stuffed to move. They'd forgone plates and had eaten everything from the boxes and sipped their drinks straight from the cans, so at least there wasn't any washing up to do. The boxes were spread out over the coffee table and the smell of tomatoes and barbecue sauce permeated everything. Harry itched to tidy things up, the Dursleys would never have allowed him to leave the mess like this.

Harry stood up and began to gather up the boxes, feeling Severus' eyes boring into his back. "Harry, come here," he said. Harry looked back over his shoulder and saw that Severus had his arms held out, as if he wanted Harry to climb onto his lap. Since that was one of Harry's new favourite things he do, he dithered a bit. "But the mess," explained Harry, gesturing at the remains of their dinner. "I can't - I can't- " Harry was almost sobbing now, not sure how to explain. A quick spell later, everything had gone and Severus was holding his arms out again.

This time Harry didn't hesitate and he climbed onto the man's lap, burying his face in Severus' shirt as Severus stroked his back. "Harry, this is about the Dursleys, isn't it? What they did to you? Do you want to talk about it?"

"I don't know how. It was so awful, Severus, you'll hate me, I know you will."

"Harry, nothing you can say will ever make me hate you. I love you and I know they hurt you, do you think you were the only abused child to attend Hogwarts? There were plenty in Slytherin, Harry. Myself included."

Harry turned his head to stare at him. "You?"

"Yes, me. My father was a rather bad tempered drunk and since he was drunk most of the time, I soon learned to keep out of his way. A lesson learned from his fists."

"I'm sorry," said Harry.

"It's all right, Harry. It was a long time ago, I'm over it, but you're not, are you? Was it still going on?"

Harry nodded. "I was dreading having to go back in the summer, I knew it would happen again. Dumbledore knew, Severus. He knew what they were doing to me and he sent me back there every year, knowing that they would hit me, starve me and - and ..." Harry's voice broke as he remembered everything the Dursleys had ever done to hurt him, to humiliate him.

"Ssh, Harry," soothed Severus. "You don't have to talk about this now if you're not up to it."

"No, please, I want to tell you. It's just so hard, bear with me?"

Severus nodded and Harry continued. "Do you know what my Hogwarts letter said? It was addressed to the cupboard under the stairs. The headmaster knew and he did nothing about it!"

"Cupboard? What cupboard, Harry? I don't understand."

"The cupboard under the stairs, that's where I lived. I didn't have a bedroom until the summer after my first year at Hogwarts. They locked me in when I wasn't doing chores. I didn't even have a bed, just a mildewed mattress on the floor with dirty sheets and blankets. I did the laundry, but I wasn't allowed to wash my bedding or my own clothes, I was never allowed to wash myself either. They wouldn't let me use the bathroom, I could clean it but not use it. There were two buckets in my cupboard that I had to use but if I did, Petunia would call me a dirty freak and I would get beaten black and blue for being so disgusting." Harry clasped his hands together, feeling the urge to make sure that they were clean. He'd never felt clean while he was living with the Dursleys.

"Did no-one notice? What about your primary school?"

"Oh, the Dursleys had thought of that. They didn't want anyone to suspect how badly they were treating me, so they even bought me a second hand uniform that almost fitted me but I wasn't allowed to wash. I washed myself when I got to school in the sinks in the boy's toilets, it wasn't great, but it was better than smelling like my musty blankets. But once I was home from school, the uniform had to come off and I was given dirty ill-fitting clothes again to do my chores in. If I finished my chores in time, I was allowed to have dinner. I was never finished in time, Severus, they gave me too much to do. I barely ate when I was with them and because I was locked in, I couldn't even sneak out and get something for myself. It was only after I came to Hogwarts that I realised I'd been so badly mistreated by them and I wanted it to stop," Harry was sobbing again, resting his head on Severus' shoulder as he cried and cried. "I wanted it all to stop."

"Harry, that wasn't all that happened, was it? That night, the night you used you word, do you remember?"

Harry nodded, sniffling. "I - I was six when he first started."

"Six?" gasped Severus in shock and Harry felt his heart jump into his throat. It was too much, Severus would never like him again after knowing how much of a slut Harry had been and he tried to wriggle away. Severus kept his arms locked around him though and wouldn't let Harry escape. "Hush, Harry. I'm not angry with you, I'm angry with him for doing that to a child. It wasn't your fault."

"B- but I let him do it," sobbed Harry. "It was my fault."

"How can you think that, Harry? How on earth was it your fault?"

"Vernon would unlock my cupboard at night when Petunia and Dudley were asleep. He would take me to the living room and pull down my pyjama bottoms before making me lie down on the sofa. Then he would whip me with his belt. I always hid my head in the cushions, so I couldn't see what he was doing, but he always made strange grunting noises and after a while I would feel something wet splash onto my skin, on my back or my bottom."

Harry hadn't known what it was at the time, but he knew now and it didn't make it any easier to bear.

"Dear Merlin," said Severus. "He masturbated over you while he hit you?"

"Yes, but afterwards - afterwards, he would wash me. I let him do what he wanted with me because he would wash me and I wanted to feel clean, even if it was just for a little while. I let him do it, Severus, I let him do it!"

"Ssh, Harry, you didn't. He was a grown man who abused you, you are not to blame for this, Harry. You're not."

"Then why do I feel like it's my fault?"

"Because he conditioned you to think like that, that you'd done something wrong and you were being punished, but it was him who was in the wrong, Harry, not you. Did he - did he do anything else?"

"Severus, I'm sorry, I can't talk about this any more. Not tonight. Please." Harry hung his head along by Severus' neck and clung to him, trembling and sobbing, feeling all the shame, all the horror still clinging to him like the dirt and the foul smells he had to endure growing up. "Please don't make me go back there," he whispered hoarsely.

"Harry, you are never going to set foot in that awful house ever again, I promise you that."

"Sorry," mumbled Harry as his tears dried on his cheeks. "I'm feeling a bit fragile tonight."

"No wonder, you have nothing to apologise for, Harry. Don't ever apologise for what he did to you. It's late, Harry, time we were both in bed I think."

"Severus - we - we can still share a bed can't we, even if we don't you know - do anything? I don't want to be on my own."

"Then we'll have to spend a lot of time together, won't we?" smiled Severus leaning down and giving him a soft kiss. Severus' kisses had never scared Harry and he smiled at his lover.

"Definitely," he said wrapping his arms tight around Severus as he stood up and carried Harry to bed.


Part Twenty Two

Severus lay awake for a long time after Harry had fallen asleep, their conversation going round and round in his head. When Severus had agreed to discipline Harry, he knew that he'd done it as some sort of revenge against the boy's father, hurt him since he couldn't hurt James. Now, to discover the extent of the abuse, had him feeling even more guilty for even laying a hand to him at all.

Was Dumbledore right? Had Severus been abusing Harry? Harry didn't seem to think so, but then he thought that the Dursleys abusing him had been his fault, so could Harry's judgement be reliable in this? For Harry had told him time and time again that he wanted to be punished, he needed to be punished sometimes. Did this stem from his abusive childhood? And was it really in Harry's best interests to continue to physically punish him sometimes?

Severus loved Harry and Harry was hurting, ergo Severus was hurting too. Whatever hurt Harry, hurt him and he didn't know what they ought to be doing for the best. He knew that if he ever saw Vernon Dursley again, the man would wish he'd never been born. None of the Dursleys would get away with it. Severus didn't know what he would do, he just knew he had to something.

Harry whimpered in his sleep and began mumbling, "No, please, no," as he tossed and turned in the large bed. His forehead was beaded with sweat, despite the coolness of the room.

Severus softly shook him awake. "Harry, you're having a nightmare." He could almost imagine what it was about after Harry's revelations earlier that evening.

Harry blinked and stared up at him, his eyes unfocused without his glasses. "Sorry, didn't mean to disturb you," said Harry, almost on the verge of tears again as he turned over. Severus cuddled up behind him and wrapped Harry in his arms.

"You didn't disturb me, Harry. That wasn't why I woke you. I was just trying to wake you up so you wouldn't continue having a bad dream. Do you want to tell me about it? You don't have to, but sometimes it helps."

Harry nodded, but didn't turn to look at him. Maybe it was easier for him to talk this way. "I was dreaming about the summer when I turned twelve. They gave me Dudley's second bedroom when I came back from Hogwarts, I think they were afraid that someone from the school had found out I was living in a cupboard. They didn't care about me, only about what the neighbours would think if they found out how I was treated."

Harry shuddered and Severus kissed the back of his neck to soothe him. Despite the abuse, Harry was very welcome of any non-sexual touches and Severus was determined to give him as many kisses and hugs as he wanted.

"Dobby was there the night Vernon was entertaining Mr. and Mrs. Mason, very important clients. Well, when Dobby sent that dessert and it fell on top of Mrs. Mason, you can imagine my relatives weren't very pleased with me. Especially since I was out of my room and had let strangers see me in the bedraggled clothes and my dirty face. I probably looked like a tramp or something. When the Masons left, Vernon beat me so bad that I lay unconscious for three or four days, I don't really know. Before I blacked out I thought he was going to kill me and I half hoped he would, then I wouldn't have to put up with it anymore." Harry sniffled a little, but he continued with his tale.

"A few days later, Petunia had taken Dudley shopping for his new school supplies. Vernon took me out of my cupboard and made me take a shower. Then he gave me some new clothes that almost fit. I was too surprised to question any of it, but I should have realised that the clothes and the shower had a price."

"Oh, Harry, what happened?" Severus felt his heart lurch for that twelve year old boy.

"He took me to a hotel where Mr. Mason was waiting for us and he led us up to his room. I didn't know why I was there, or why Vernon had taken me out somewhere at all, but I went Severus, I went with them. I sort of guessed later what had happened. Mr. Mason had seen me and liked what he saw, he'd told Vernon that Grunnings could have the contract if Vernon would do him a favour, the favour being me."

"What did they do to you, Harry?"

"Mr. Mason wanted me to suck him off, I refused, so Vernon beat me again and again until I was lying on the floor in agony, I was in no state to prevent it when Mr. Mason straddled me and pushed his cock in my mouth. Vernon kept hold of my hands so I couldn't even try to get him off me. After he - he finished, it was Vernon's turn. He kept - he kept calling me boy," Harry said softly. "That's why I couldn't - I couldn't - that night -" he hiccupped and could hardly talk any more.

"I'm sorry, Harry. I never meant to make you uncomfortable. I'm glad you told me now, though. I know now never to call you that, even if we're playing."

"Mr. Mason gave Vernon the contract, he also gave him some extra money and Vernon thought it would be a good idea for all his business associates to have a go at me. They never f - fucked me, he wouldn't let them, said he didn't want to be raising a queer. It happened every summer, Severus. He would take me to their houses, their hotels and I was beaten black and blue before the men used me. Not one of them raised a finger to stop Vernon from hitting me, I think that maybe it excited them. The men would go first, but Vernon would always have a go afterwards as well. I didn't know how to make it stop." Harry turned, muffling his sobs in the pillows. Severus let him cry it out, it was a good cathartic and Merlin knew Harry needed that.

When Harry seemed calmer, Severus asked, "Did you never tell anyone, Harry? Was there no-one who could help you?"

Harry turned over and Severus felt his heart catch when he saw Harry's tear stained face. "I - I told Dumbledore," said Harry. "But he did nothing about it, except offer me sweets and said people couldn't pick their relatives, but they had to put up with them all the same."

"What? Harry, no child should have had to put up with what you went through. Not one. He could have done something, the wards at the school could have protected you as much as your mother's blood, you could have stayed there. He could have stopped it, but he didn't."

"No, he didn't," said Harry, his voice sounding hollow. Severus could only imagine how Harry felt at finally having the courage to tell someone what was happening to him, hoping that they could make it stop, only they refused to help. So Harry was left to deal with this on his own, as he'd been left to deal with everything else. Severus knew what the headmaster was doing, hoping that Harry would be made stronger by what he had to endure at the Dursleys'. But the human mind and body could only take so much, even those of them who were wizards. It was a wonder Harry hadn't ended up at St. Mungo's already.

"Do you really have a shop, Severus?" Harry asked then and Severus guessed he didn't want to discuss his abuse any more tonight.

"I do, but you don't have to work in it, I only said that to shut Mrs. Jensen up."

"No, I mean, I'd like to work in it with you, if you don't mind, that is."

"Of course I wouldn't mind, Harry. I'm finding it very hard to let you out of my sight, I'll feel a lot better knowing you're safe nearby."

"What sort of shop is it?" asked Harry, propping himself up on one elbow.

"What do you think?" asked Severus, giving him a teasing smile.

Harry thought for a minute or two before answering. "Hmm, I can't imagine you selling potions to the Muggles. Books maybe?"

"Almost right," said Severus. "Books and glass."

"Glass? What, windows and things?"

"We do small stained glass windows, but no, it's mostly bottles, vases, decorative types of glass as well as goblets and such."

"So who looks after it when you're at Hogwarts? Sorry, when you were at Hogwarts."

"I have a manager and three staff, they'll be a little surprised to see me become a permanent fixture, but it is still my shop, so they'll just have to get used to it, won't they?"

"Severus?"

"Yes, Harry?"

Harry wrapped his arms around Severus' waist and tucked his head under Severus' chin. "Thank you. Thank you for everything."

***

Severus did finally manage to fall asleep later that night, but when he woke in the morning, Harry's side of the bed was cold. Severus stumbled out of bed and ran downstairs, his heart beating about a mile a minute, worried that Harry was in danger. He heard noises from the kitchen, holding his wand in front of him, Severus pushed the door open to find Harry merrily cooking away and he almost laughed in relief.

Harry turned from the cooker and pouted. "You've ruined the surprise, I was going to bring you breakfast in bed."

"Where did you get all the food?" asked Severus.

"I borrowed it from Mrs. Jensen, I told her we got in late and hadn't time to go shopping yet and that I wanted to make my uncle a special breakfast since he was so kind as to take me in."

"She let you?" asked Severus, the woman had never let him borrow so much as a bowl of sugar.

"Well, a few stray tears might have helped," smirked Harry. "I'm well used to playing the poor orphan, aren't I?" The smirk had gone, replaced by the hollow look Harry had sported last night. Severus wrapped him in a hug, relieved when Harry didn't push him away.

"Sorry about ruining your surprise, I was worried when you weren't in bed. I thought you might have gone off to explore the cliffs or the beach."

"Not without you," said Harry. "I guessed it's only the house that's warded, since we're in the middle of Muggleland."

"You guessed right. We can go exploring later, after the shopping if you like."

"I'd like that," said Harry as he disentangled himself from Severus' embrace in order to save their scrambled eggs from burning. They ate their breakfast at the small kitchen table, Harry was a wonderful cook but Severus didn't like to think too much of where he'd learned that skill or how.

Not only were there scrambled eggs, there were pancakes, croissants, jam and marmalade along with enough toast to feed a small army. Glasses of orange juice and a pot of coffee sat in the middle of the table. As usual, Harry pecked at his food like a bird and didn't eat much. Maybe he was still feeling full after their large dinner the night before, Severus had never seen Harry eat so much before.

Severus knew he wasn't used to eating a lot when the Dursleys had half starved him most of the time, so he didn't comment on how little Harry was eating. He knew it would take some time, but once Harry got used to food again he would be able to get back to a normal diet and normal portions.

Starting today, Severus intended to ensure that Harry would have a normal life. The normal life he should have had growing up.

And if it had to be a life among Muggles, then that was just a sacrifice they were going to have to make.


Part Twenty Three

Harry was missing again when Ron woke up, he was getting used to his best friend not being in the dorms at night, but it didn't dampen his curiosity one bit. Where did Harry go at night? At first he thought Harry was receiving extra training of some sort in order to defeat You-Know-Who, or he was in the Room of Requirement as somewhere safe to protect him from the stalker, but Voldemort was now defeated and Mr. Filch had died in Azkaban, so why was Harry still missing from his bed at night? Did he go off on adventures without taking Ron?

Hearing the normal noises of his dorm mates as they surfaced, Ron climbed out of bed and that's when he noticed something that he was sure hadn't happened before, no matter how many nights Harry had gone missing. At the foot of Harry's bed, there was an empty space where Harry's trunk used to be. Harry wasn't just missing from his bed or the dorm, he was missing from the school.

Ron pulled on a dressing gown and dashed down the stairs and tried to climb the stairs to the girls' dormitory, forgetting in his worry that boys weren't allowed in. He slid to the bottom as the alarm sounded and a few girls peeped over the banister at the top of the stairs which had turned into a slide to prevent him from going any further.

"I need to see Hermione!" Ron called urgently and one of the second years went to fetch her while the other girls stared at him and kept giggling behind their hands.

"Ron? You know you're not supposed to be trying to get into the girls' dorms," said Hermione when she emerged and folded her arms over her chest.

"Never mind that, Hermione! It's Harry! He's missing!"

"But he's been missing every night for the past few weeks."

"His trunk's gone! And Hedwig!"

Hermione paled and called down to Ron to get dressed, that they needed to see the headmaster. As Hermione left to get dressed herself, the common room fire flickered emerald green and Ron saw his mother's head in the fire.

"Mum!" he exclaimed and bent over to her level.

"Ron, thank goodness! Harry's owl arrived this morning, but there was no note, nothing. What's going on?"

"I don't know, Mum, but Harry's trunk is gone too. We're going to see the headmaster, maybe he knows what's going on."

"Stand back, I'll come with you," said his mother. Ron stood back to give her room to climb out of the fireplace. Harry's trunk gone and Hedwig without a letter to explain anything? Things were worse than he thought.

***

Dumbledore eyed the students and Molly Weasley carefully. They all seemed rather worried about Harry's disappearance, something he could use to his advantage. "Are you sure there was no note, Molly? Nothing to explain where he might have gone?" He didn't think any of them were lying about not knowing Harry's whereabouts, but it never hurt to make sure, so he accessed Molly's mind while she was speaking, to an outsider it would just look like he was paying rapt attention. He was, but not to her words.

"No, headmaster, nothing. This isn't like Harry, to run away like this."

"No, it isn't," agreed Dumbledore, stroking this beard. "I don't think Harry has run away at all. This is not to leave these rooms," he glared hard at the two students who nodded frantically but Dumbledore knew they would not be able to keep this knowledge to themselves. He was relying on it. "Harry did not run away, I fear he was kidnapped by Professor Snape. He is also missing from his rooms."

Ron rounded on Hermione. "I knew it! I knew he was up to something! I never trusted him!"

"Severus? There must be some mistake," said Molly. "Severus was on our side, wasn't he? He was always looking out for Harry, he always protected him!"

"That's what he led everyone to believe," said Dumbledore gravely. "He fooled even me, I'm afraid I trusted where I should not have trusted. It appears that Severus had been in league with the Dark Lord all along, it was he who brought Harry to him a few days ago, it is only by Harry's own skill that he was able to defeat the Dark Lord. I think Severus Confounded him, confused him as to what Professor Snape's role in the Dark Lord's circle actually was, as Harry did not even realise that he had been betrayed. He did not seem to know that Severus Snape was the reason he was taken to the Dark Lord in the first place."

"No, I can't believe it," said Hermione Granger. "Professor Snape would never hurt Harry, he wouldn't."

"That's what I thought too, Miss Granger, but recently I have discovered that Professor Snape had been abusing his power as a teacher in this school in order to do just that." Dumbledore rose from the table and removed his pensieve from the glass fronted cabinet. "When Harry was being stalked, he came to me, worried that Professor Snape might have been the one who was doing all this to him. He kindly allowed me access to his memories of his detentions with Professor Snape." It was a blatant lie of course, Harry had allowed no such thing, but Dumbledore wasn't an Occlumens for nothing. He removed the memories without Harry's knowledge or consent, and he had no qualms about showing them to his intended audience.

People should really be more careful about accepting his sweets. Not once had anyone realised they were charmed. The sweets themselves would remove a person's memories and the wrappers would store them, ready for Dumbledore to access at leisure. It was how he knew so much about what was going on in Hogwarts, he had no need of invisibility cloaks or potions.

It couldn't have worked out better really. Molly would be livid, he knew how much she cared for Harry and to see what Severus had done to him would get her riled up like nothing else would. Even Miss Granger would be convinced of Snape's guilt, once they'd seen the memories of Harry being spanked, he would deliberately leave off the cuddling afterwards. There was no need for any of them to see that. They would see what he intended them to see. A teacher abusing his power in regards to a student, something he knew none of them would be able to forgive. The news would be round the school in hours and it would only be a matter of time before Molly contacted Arthur and via him the Aurors would be searching for them by the next day at the latest.

Dumbledore held out his hands towards the rune carved bowl. "If you would."

***

Hermione could hardly face breakfast after what she'd seen in the pensieve. Ron was munching his way through toast and cereal, after having told almost half of the Gryffindor table what he'd seen Snape do to Harry.

"I don't believe it!" exclaimed Neville when Ron told the other boys in sixth year.

"Why not? It's just like him," said Ron. "We all knew Snape was evil, this just proves it."

"Are you sure, Ron? It just doesn't sound like Snape, mate," said Dean.

"What do you mean it doesn't sound like him? Of course it does! He's always had it in for Harry, hasn't he? Dumbledore showed us the pensieve, didn't he Hermione?" Ron turned her, as if to garner her support. She couldn't give it, something just wasn't right.

"I don't know, Ron, something about those memories is wrong."

"Er, from what you've said Ron, it doesn't sound like detention to me," said Seamus.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, um, some people like to be punished - um - you know, as part of sex or foreplay."

"What?" screeched Ron so loudly that the whole Hall was looking at the Gryffindor table. "Are you saying Harry's some sort of pervert? Well, he isn't! Harry wasn't having sex with Snape!"

But Hermione was suddenly having her doubts about that. It made a lot more sense that Harry was enduring these punishments as some sort of sexual fetish, and maybe Snape was the only one he could trust with it. He would be afraid of telling Ron because he would get the reaction Ron had just given and probably didn't want to discuss it with a girl. The kneeling on the floor, the spankings, the caning.

The caning. There was something wrong with that, Hermione knew, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. In the pensieve, Harry had been spanked with his clothes still on, but for the caning, his trousers and underwear had been around his ankles as he'd been bent over Snape's desk. Hermione hadn't wanted to look at her friend like that, it felt like such a violation when he didn't know about it and then she knew what was wrong.

"Ron, didn't you tell me once that Harry had a birthmark on his left hip?"

"Yeah, a mole about the size of a sickle, why?"

"Because in that memory we saw about Harry being caned, there was no mole. Dumbledore manipulated those memories, who's to say he didn't manipulate all of them?"

"But why? Why would he do that?"

"I don't know, but I am not going to accept those pensieve memories as proof that Professor Snape did something to Harry. Something else is going on here and I'm determined to find out what it is. "

It was rather unfortunate for Hermione that Dumbledore happened to walk past their table just then and heard every word.

Part Twenty Four

Harry had been working at Severus' shop for three weeks and the pre Christmas rush had really started in earnest. The manager, Mr. Thompson had been a bit wary at first at having Harry work there, thinking that he wouldn't be up to the task and had only got the job because he was Severus' nephew. However, after seeing how much of a hard worker Harry was, they both got on fine after that and the two sales assistants, Linda and Amelia soon made friends with Harry too. He thought Amelia might have had a bit of a crush on him, so he tried to avoid being alone with her whenever possible.

He'd written to Hermione's parents, the Grangers via Muggle post a few days after they'd arrived in Cornwall as Hedwig hadn't come to find him. She still hadn't and Harry was a little worried, Hedwig had always managed to find him before, no matter where he might be. He hoped she hadn't had an accident or something. He and Severus both thought Muggle post was the best way to send any letters as neither of them trusted any owl other than Hedwig. Severus never had an owl of his own, he'd always used the school owls or those from the post office in Hogsmeade and Harry just hoped the Grangers would be able to contact Hermione somehow and let her know that he was okay.

Harry groaned as he bent down to unpack the latest selection of books ready to be shelved. He was looking forward to a nice long bath when he got home. It was hard work, but he never complained, working so hard meant that he had less time to think and exhaustion worked even better than Dreamless Sleep to stop him having nightmares.

Severus worked mostly in the glass department, Harry hadn't known it, but a lot of the items the shop sold were actually created by Severus himself, he was a talented glass maker, and Harry worked in books. They didn't often see each other during the day except at lunch time or when there was a lull in the shoppers, but that didn't look to be happening any time soon. It was little over a week to Christmas and they hadn't had a lull since the end of November.

Mr. Thompson peeked his head round the stockroom door. "Harry, can you serve on the shop floor for a while, please? It's a madhouse out here. I'll get those books sorted out tonight."

"Yes, Mr. Thompson," said Harry, setting the books he'd done on the out shelf and leaving the rest in the boxes so whoever was doing the inventory next would know where to start. Each of them did a bit of everything, serving customers, unpacking stock, ordering new books, managing the electronic tills. Harry loved it. Not many people knew that he was as much of a bookworm as Hermione. Books were the only things that Dudley had never broken so when Harry got hold of Dudley's books, they were new. He knew nearly all their stock off by heart now and whatever he didn't, he could ask Severus or any of the others, they were always keen to help him.

Harry washed his hands, the stockroom was rather dusty, and entered the main shop. The place was packed, so many customers that it was hard to make out individuals, they were almost like one entity, a crush of humanity with only one thing on their mind. Making a sales assistant's life hell.

Someone was haranguing Amelia and the poor girl looked as if she was about to burst into tears.

"What do you mean you don't have it? This is the last shop! You've got to have it!"

Harry was about to go over and rescue Amelia when he heard the man speaking. A voice he recognised and wished he hadn't. Cold sweat trickled down his back and his hands were clammy. Harry seemed rooted to the spot for a few minutes and then hurriedly walked upstairs to the glass department and Severus. He needed to get to Severus.

"Harry? Where are you going?" demanded Mr. Thompson and that's when it happened. Vernon Dursley looked up towards the staircase and grinned maliciously at his nephew. Harry wasn't quick enough. Vernon charged up the stairs behind him and yanked Harry's arm.

Mr. Thompson called after them both. "Hey! What do you think you're doing? Assaults on my staff will not be tolerated!"

Vernon glared at the manager and tugged Harry towards him. It was no use, Harry knew Severus couldn't help him now. "So this is where you're hiding, is it boy?" he sneered and Harry could smell sour beer on his breath, the man was half drunk. "We keep getting letters from that freaky school of yours. Won't they be interested to know where you've been all this time?"

No. No-one at the school could know, for that would mean Dumbledore would know.

"I'm sorry sir," said Harry as politely as he could manage, even though the words almost stuck in his throat. He didn't want to be polite, he wanted to punch Vernon for all that he'd put Harry through over the years but knew that would make his uncle realise who he was. "I think you must have mistaken me for someone else."

Vernon did look a little confused, glancing from Harry to Mr. Thompson and back again. Now that Harry was eating properly, he was not the scrawny brat Vernon would remember, his glasses and hairstyle were different too and he had clothes that fitted properly, the black trousers and white uniform shirt with Fletcher's embroidered in black thread over the breast pocket. He was no longer the orphaned waif, but Vernon did not seem convinced.

"What is going on?" demanded Mr. Thompson. "Please unhand my staff at once." He put one foot on the bottom step.

"This boy is my nephew, Harry Potter. He ran away."

"No, you've made a mistake," said Harry. "My name is Harry Fletcher, my uncle owns this shop. Shall I fetch him?"

Vernon didn't let go of Harry's arm and bellowed down to Mr. Thompson. "You fetch him," he snarled. "I'm not letting this one out of my sight."

All the other customers and staff in the shop were keenly watching the tableau on the stairs and Harry hoped Severus would be able to do something, even if he had to resort to magic to do it. Mr. Thompson gave Harry a worried look as he passed the two of them on his way to the glass department.

A few moments later, Severus appeared on the stairs like the Angel of Vengeance come swooping down and Harry almost sagged with relief when he saw him. Standing on the top of the stairs, he towered over Vernon, but it just wasn't that he had extra height, he had the presence that Harry now realised was his wizarding power, but Vernon being a Muggle had no inkling of it. All he saw was a rather tall, imposing figure and Harry felt the older man shudder.

"Sir? I would ask you to release my nephew or I will have no choice but to call the police. Violence of any sort against my staff is not tolerated."

"Your nephew?" asked Vernon. "He can't be your nephew, Lily had no other relatives and neither did Potter. We are the boy's only family."

"There must be some mistake," said Severus. "Perhaps you'd care to discuss it in my office?"

Vernon nodded but before he followed Severus up the stairs, he pushed Harry's fringe away from his forehead and gaped at him. "Scar. You have no scar," he mumbled and let go of Harry's arm.

"My office, Mr. ...?"

"Dursley. Vernon Dursley."

"This way, Mr. Dursley," said Severus, smiling as he led Vernon away and Harry got back to work.

"Harry? Are you okay?" asked Mr. Thompson. "What an obnoxious man! Would you like to go back to the stockroom instead?"

"No, thank you, Mr. Thompson. I'm fine." Harry smiled to show that he was okay. "I'm just glad he's not my real uncle."

"Thank goodness, imagine!" exclaimed Mr. Thompson and walked back to the till.

Harry wondered what Severus would do to his uncle. From what he knew of Severus and how protective he was of Harry, he knew that Vernon's time in that office would not be pleasant.

***

Vernon Dursley was panting from the little exertion of walking up the stairs and he collapsed in a chair by Severus' desk even before he was invited to.

"So you're Vernon Dursley," Severus said quietly once he'd locked and warded the door. Severus removed his wand and slowly wandered around until he was facing the man who was responsible for a lot of Harry's demons.

Vernon saw the wand, his eyes widened in fear as he tried to extricate himself from the chair, but Severus' binding spell soon prevented that. "You're one of them freaks! I'll scream!" Dursley threatened.

"Go ahead, it won't help you. No-one will be able to hear. And I think, Dursley that you're the one who's the freak, abusing a six year old boy? I hear that Muggle prisons have to separate molesters and rapists from the other prisoners, for their own safety. Even Muggles can't abide people like you." Severus tapped his wand against his chin as though thinking and prowled around the chair, hearing the man whimper. He stank of stale sweat and fear, wondering what Severus was going to do to him.

And then Severus knew what would be the perfect revenge. He smiled ferally and Dursley wet his trousers.

***

Harry sighed as he relaxed in the bubbles, washing the aches and the worries of the day away. He hadn't seen Vernon leave, but Severus had whispered to him at lunch that Vernon would never bother him again. Harry never doubted it. He didn't ask what Severus had done, but maybe one day he would.

The water was beginning to get cold and Harry's skin was becoming more prune like the longer he stayed. He thought about adding some more hot water, but realised it was probably time to get out anyway and then realised his mistake.

"Severus," he called through the open door to their bedroom. "I forgot to bring in some towels." Harry had left the bathroom door open every night, almost as an invitation, but Severus had yet to take him up on it. Ever since Filch's attack, Severus had done nothing more than kiss and hug him, even though plenty of times Harry had felt the man's arousal against him when they cuddled up in bed.

Was he afraid to initiate anything with Harry now? Or was it that he didn't want to make love to someone who was so damaged? Harry's libido had certainly decreased ever since the castration, but it wasn't non-existent and he wanted Severus to make love to him, but Severus seemed frightened of touching him in any way that could be construed as sexual. He only ever wrapped his arms around Harry's waist, no lower and his kisses were brief, far too brief in Harry's opinion. Did Severus think he was no longer a sexual being because of what happened?

A few moments later, Severus entered the bathroom with a small pile of green fluffy towels. He was about to put them down on the chair and leave, when Harry's hand shot out and grabbed Severus' wrist. "No, stay, please," Harry begged. Harry realised that apart from that brief glimpse in the infirmary, Severus had never actually seen him completely naked as he was now, he'd never touched his body like this either.

"What are you scared of, Severus?" Harry asked softly as he sat up in the water, suds clinging to his skin. Severus' eyes seemed to be drawn to the bubbly skin and lower still, where the rest of Harry was hidden by the water. "Do you want to see me?" asked Harry, his heart suddenly feeling far too big for his chest.

"Yes - no, not if it upsets you," Severus amended quickly.

"It won't," said Harry. "I want you to look at me, Severus. I want you to touch me, I'm not going to break. I'm not a piece of glass anymore. They shattered me, Severus. All those men, Vernon, Filch, Dumbledore, but you remade me, stronger, tougher than before."

Harry leaned up in the bath, resting his elbows on the edge and stood up as the water flowed from his skin. To his credit, he didn't blush or shy away from Severus' scrutiny of him. He wanted this, he needed this and the look of adoration on Severus face as his eyes travelled from top to toe had Harry's groin stirring, slower than before, but he knew they had all the time in the world. Tonight was not a night to be rushed.

Severus lifted one of the towels and wrapped Harry in it.

"I want to shatter you," whispered Severus hoarsely, close to his ear and Harry shivered.

"You're the only one I'll ever allow to break me," agreed Harry, nodding his head and leaning down for a lingering kiss.


Part Twenty Five

Severus dried Harry swiftly but gently with the towels, Severus kneeling on the floor in front of Harry like he was worshipping him. Severus bent forward and kissed the mole on Harry's left hip. Harry was enjoying being worshipped, for Severus was a very conscientious devotee. Harry was being worshipped by lips and fingers, there was hardly a part of him Severus did not touch. Severus stared up at him as his mouth hovered just a few inches from Harry's erection. Severus' eyes were hooded and dark with lust, Harry could feel his own body respond with just that intent gaze.

"Harry, what do you want?" Severus' voice was as shaky as Harry was feeling at that moment.

"Please... please... touch me," pleaded Harry, wondering how he could bear feeling like this for much longer. His whole body felt as if he was engulfed in fire, yet he was shivering from the water cooling on his skin. Severus gave him one last heated look before taking the tip of Harry's cock in his mouth and suckling it as though he was a baby nursing. Harry had never felt such bliss and his hands reached out almost of their own accord to tangle themselves in Severus' ebony locks as he lost himself to the sensations.

Hot, wet heat, the hint of teeth and tongue that licked and pressed in all the right places. Harry felt the orgasm build and build, but where before his strongest sensations would have been in his balls and the base of his cock, this felt different, almost as if his whole body was coming. His thighs trembled, his heart seemed to expand in his chest, his every atom seemed attuned to the pleasure Severus was giving him. "OH! Severus! Severus!" Harry screamed as the feelings overwhelmed him and he bucked his hips into Severus' mouth, no longer able to control the urge as he came and came, completely dry but so intense a sensation that he almost passed out from the ecstasy of it.

Severus was gripping his hips, supporting him, holding him through the tremors and aftershocks. Harry was glad, he didn't think he would be able to stand under his own steam for quite some time yet. Severus released his prick with a soft pop and the predatory grin Harry was gifted with had his legs wobbling like he'd just been hit with the world's strongest jelly-legs hex.

"I think we'd be more comfortable in bed, don't you?" Severus asked while still kneeling in front of Harry. Harry could only nod, words were beyond him by this point. He just knew he wanted more of Severus' magic hands and mouth on his body. Severus discarded the towels, then stood up and scooped Harry up in his arms as if Harry weighed no more than a snitch. Harry wrapped his legs around Severus waist and pressed his lips eagerly against those of his lover, loving the swooping sensation low down in his stomach as Severus carried him over to the bed. Still kissing him, Severus set him down on the bed, pressing their bodies together and Harry could feel the evidence of the man's desire digging into his stomach.

Harry arched his hips as he felt himself quicken again, the arousal more like a slow burning ember rather than an inferno this time, but an arousal all the same. Severus was still fully clothed in his black trousers and white shirt. Harry shuffled his hands between them and began tugging haphazardly at buttons, wanting to get them both skin to skin as soon as possible. He moaned into their kiss as he came across a rather stubborn collar button. Severus must have taken pity on him then, for he broke their kiss and groaned a spell that had him naked in moments. All that bare flesh against his own had Harry writhing on the bed and tugging Severus down for more passionate kisses.

Harry couldn't get enough of the man's mouth, lips thin but soft, the minty flavour of their toothpaste and a stronger, spicier taste that was unique to Severus. Harry thrust his tongue into Severus' mouth and was rewarded when Severus returned the favour and then it was a duel of flesh against flesh, teeth against teeth and lips against lips.

"Please!" Harry pulled away quick enough to gasp out, needing Severus now more than ever.

"Please what, Harry? What do you want?" Severus' voice was soft and low dripping like liquid chocolate on his skin, Harry bucked and moaned, feeling harder than he'd ever been in his life. "What do you want, Harry?" Severus asked again, thrusting his hips in a ragged rhythm of his own.

"Fix me, Severus. Put me back together again. Complete me," said Harry, kissing the man above him.

"Harry, gods, Harry I want to do that. We should have planned this better, I could have brewed some lube. I don't want your first time to hurt. Maybe we should wait."

"Aren't there spells you could use?" asked Harry, trying to hide his disappointment. He wanted Severus inside him, he felt so empty and he knew that only Severus could fill the void in his heart and soul.

"There are, but it isn't as personal. I want to do it, Harry. I want to feel you clenching around my fingers as I prepare you. I want to hear you moan out in lust as you feel each finger stretching you."

"Oh God!" moaned Harry, and it was almost as if he could feel what Severus was describing, it felt like there were fingers inside him, stretching him, preparing him. "I want that, Severus. I want to feel you inside me."

"You will, Harry. Just not tonight, but there are other things we could do. Roll over onto your stomach."

"Other things?" queried Harry, but turning over all the same, trusting Severus as he'd trusted no-one else in his life.

He settled his arms underneath the pillow, resting his head and wondered what Severus was going to do. His prick was hard and pressing against the mattress, causing Harry to moan and slide up and down a little on the sheets in order to get more friction, before Severus stopped him with firm hands on his hips. "Not yet, Harry. I don't want you to come yet. Be patient."

Harry giggled as he felt Severus' breath tickling the back of his neck. "So sensitive, my Harry," whispered Severus and he bent down and kissed Harry there. Harry sighed, My Harry, he loved it when Severus called him that, feeling that he was wanted, that he belonged to someone. For so long he hadn't belonged to anyone.

Severus began trailing kisses all along his neck and shoulder blades, then kissing and nibbling his way down Harry's spine. "Severus!" Harry clutched the pillow in his hands as Severus did his best to turn Harry into a puddle of goo on the bed. "Please! Oh, Please!"

"I love it when you beg," said Severus softly and Harry could feel the man's lips close to his buttocks, but not touching him just yet. Harry didn't think he could bear it and if Severus wanted to hear him beg, then he would gladly oblige. He could feel his bottom clenching as he imagined Severus staring at him back there, the place no-one had ever touched before.

"Please, Severus! Please!" Harry begged, although he wasn't entirely sure what for. He just knew he wanted - something. He shrieked and bucked up when Severus' tongue licked from the small of his back to his cleft. Oh, God, Harry had never even imagined anything like that. Who knew that would feel so bloody good? And it got even better. Severus' tongue teased him, tickled him with soft flutters at his entrance and then oh God, his tongue pushed past the ring of guardian muscles and suddenly Harry was being speared by that talented tongue and he howled against the pillow as his cock hardened further beneath him.

"AHHH!" exclaimed Harry, arching his hips as Severus' tongue continued its wonderful ministrations. If he'd thought having the man's mouth on his cock was bliss, then he had no words to describe this. He was thrusting back onto Severus' tongue and down against the mattress in a rocking rhythm. Severus was inside him. Inside him. God, Severus was inside him, inside him, inside him and ... "OH! OHHH! OHHH!" groaned Harry, almost tearing the pillow as his second orgasm of the night roared through him. He saw stars behind his closed eyelids, orange and red blurs as he arched back against Severus and kept waiting for the tremors to pass. They didn't, it was too intense, just too much and Harry passed out, flopping loosely on the bed.

***

Severus padded to the kitchen to get Harry a glass of cold water, once he came round again. Harry's hands were shaking so much that quite a bit of the water sloshed onto the quilt before he managed to get it to his mouth.

"Thanks," said Harry after he'd taken a sip of the liquid and set the glass down on the bedside cabinet.

"Harry? Are you all right?" asked Severus sitting down on the bed and wrapping Harry in a firm hug. Had he rushed things, rushed Harry into this when he wasn't really ready? Had Vernon's visit to the shop that day affected Harry more than he was letting on?

"I'm fine now, Severus. It was just so intense. I felt like I was floating on the ceiling or something. I didn't know people - you know did that," Harry blushed and Severus was delighted to see it. It was just the intensity of something new, nothing to do with Harry's abuse at all.

"Did you like it?"

"Like it? Good grief, how you can ask that? You made me faint," chuckled Harry. "It was brilliant!"

"Good, we'll have to try it again sometime then."

"What about you, Severus?" asked Harry, reaching over and caressing Severus' now soft and fully spent cock.

Now it was Severus' turn to blush. "I came already, Harry, just before you passed out. It wasn't just intense for you."

"Oh God, Severus, that's so hot," breathed Harry. "I made you come?"

"You did indeed." Severus smiled down at him. "You're really okay, Harry?" He didn't need to mention Vernon, they both knew what he was referring to.

"I'm with the man I love, Severus. I'm more than okay, I'm perfect."

Part Twenty Six

The weeks and months passed quietly enough, so that for brief stretches of time they both forgot that they were being hunted, that they were supposed to be in hiding. It was Harry's seventeenth birthday that broke Severus' resolve, he could hardly bear to deny the boy anything these days and Harry had only one request.

He wanted to see his friends again and Severus foolishly allowed it. It had taken weeks of planning, with letters going from Harry to the Grangers and then onto Hogwarts from there. The meeting was arranged to be held in a small café near to the shop, as Severus fully intended to be there as soon as his own shop closed. He was short with the customers and the rest of his staff, but they were used to his moods and it didn't prevent any of them from doing their jobs.

As soon as the last customer had left, Severus ducked out of Fletcher's, leaving Thompson to lock up, and ran down the street to the café. The doors were shut fast and Severus rattled them in their frames, hissing in frustration. Harry was nowhere in sight and neither were the two Gryffindors. Surely the boy hadn't been so foolish as to wander off somewhere else?

Harry knew Severus was going to join them later, but in that case, why was the café shut? They normally stayed open until nine in the summer, catering to all the tourists who frequented the small seaside town. Where would they have gone? Severus knew Harry wouldn't take his friends back to their cottage, they both knew that only secrecy could save them.

The harbour? The small beach? Severus starting walking down the hill to the harbour and met a dazed and blood splattered Ronald Weasley coming back up. "Sir!" he called increasing his strides and catching up with Severus surprisingly quickly. The redhead had shot up so much in height, he was on a level with Severus now.

"Sir, it's Hermione! She hexed me and Harry and Apparated away with Harry! She's not herself."

Indeed not, Severus suspected she'd been under Imperio from Dumbledore. It would be just like him to use Harry's friends rather than the Aurors to track them down. There was nothing else for it, he was going to have to do what he'd promised himself he would never do again.

He was going back to Hogwarts.

***

Harry didn't know where he was when he woke up, but he knew he was lying down and that he was bound to the surface he was lying on. It was hard beneath him, not a bed and he pulled at his restraints in frustration. He couldn't believe it. Hermione had betrayed him. He had been so looking forward to seeing his friends again, not once had he suspected that either of them might have been under the Imperius curse and especially not Hermione. He thought she would have been able to throw it off, but perhaps Dumbledore was even more powerful than he and Severus had ever imagined.

Almost as if by thinking of the man, he was there glaring down at Harry over his half moon glasses. The headmaster was the only thing Harry could see in the room, almost as if the light was coming from within the wizard himself.

"Professor Dumbledore, please," gasped Harry as he struggled anew, but that only seemed to make the bindings tighten their hold on him. "Why are you doing this?"

"Why indeed, Harry? First, I think, I have to correct the small misapprehension you are under. I am not, nor have I ever been Albus Dumbledore. Albus Dumbledore is dead, killed by me over fifty years ago."

"You're - you're Grindelwald?" Harry felt his heart shatter. From all the rumours, an even worse Dark Wizard than Voldemort. Harry tried to use a wandless spell to release the ropes holding him, but it didn't work.

"Sorry, Harry. We're in the Room of Requirement and it will only meet my requirements today, no magic for you, I'm afraid. But yes, you are correct, I am Grindelwald. I defeated Dumbledore all those years ago. I knew that I would only continue to be hunted if people knew I was still alive, so I cast a glamour over both of us, when the Aurors came for the body, it looked like Grindelwald and I was heralded as the hero of the hour for defeating him. It was really too easy to fool them. People believed what they wanted to believe." The man sighed, waved his hands and a soft blue glow illuminated the room, it now looked like some sort of cavern, carved out of rock.

"Voldemort was one of my protégés you know, I was the Defence teacher when he was at school here, shortly before I defeated Dumbledore, but Voldemort wanted to surpass his master. No-one supplants me," he hissed, "I was glad when I heard that a baby had defeated him, but then I heard that you had survived too, with a curse scar on your forehead. The whole wizarding world was clamouring to adopt you, but I couldn't allow that to happen, you couldn't be brought up as a wizard, for I knew if you were, you would become powerful enough to challenge me. Rather fortunate for me you had relatives who hated magic, I was sure they would beat it out of you." The man paused and stroked his beard, or rather Dumbledore's beard.

"You knew?" gasped Harry. "You knew what they'd done?"

"Of course I did, I had hoped they would convince you that magic never existed, that you did not have power. I did not need another powerful wizard in my way."

"It didn't work then," replied Harry.

"No, for you defeated him again. I was so disappointed that you survived, Harry, I wanted no-one to stand in my way as I aimed for the Minister's position, reluctantly of course so they wouldn't be suspicious, but as soon as I gained office, my true self would be revealed and I could rule the wizarding world how I wanted and they couldn't do a bloody thing about it because they'd elected me themselves. They would be the instruments of their own destruction. Of course, I don't want to destroy everyone, where's the fun in that? I want people to obey me and only obey me. Those who don't, well I will have no choice."

"Too bad you destroyed the Philosopher's Stone," spat Harry. "Then you could have continued your reign forever, couldn't you?"

"Who said it was destroyed, Harry?"

"You - you told me, in the hospital wing."

"Ah, blind trust is such an interesting concept in the youth of today. I've had fifty years of teaching young wizards and witches, Harry. It'll only be a matter of time before they pressure me into accepting the Minister's position again and this time I think I might take it. The Stone was never destroyed, Harry. I was just biding my time. You see, normally the Elixir of Life has to be drunk constantly in order to confer immortality, but there is another way, where it only needs to be drunk once and immortality is given to the drinker. That's where you come in, my young friend and I have Argus Filch to thank. I went to see him in Azkaban before he died and he told me what he'd done to you. The fates were once again on my side, I could hardly believe it. Not only had you defeated Voldemort, thanks for that by the way, I didn't need him ruining my plans, but you are now exactly what I need. You see, I need to add something to the Elixir. Blood of a virgin, a virgin eunuch to be precise.

"They are so hard to find these days, it's fallen out of fashion to castrate the young."

"You're mad!" screamed Harry.

"No, I'm not mad. I know precisely what I'm doing. For example, for this spell to work, you have to be a willing sacrifice. You have to allow me to kill you."

"Well then, it will never work for I won't go willingly!"

"Are you so sure about that, Harry?" Grindelwald turned, waving his arms again and suddenly Hermione appeared out of thin air, suspended about thirty feet above the floor. "You either agree or I will drop her and smash her head open on the stones below."

Oh, God, the bastard knew that Harry could never put his friends in danger. "Let her go!" he wriggled against the ropes.

"Not until you agree to be a willing sacrifice." Hermione fell a few feet and Harry's heart shot into his throat.

"Hermione! I can't let him kill you!"

"Harry! Don't listen to him! It's a trick! He'll only kill me anyway after he's done the spell! Don't do it! Don't agree!"

Harry couldn't do it. He couldn't let Grindelwald kill Hermione, nor could he agree to be the willing victim, for to do so would be to condemn the rest of the wizarding world to their fate and Harry could do neither.

"I'm waiting, Harry," snapped Grindelwald as he lowered Hermione another few feet and Hermione's face turned pale with terror, but she refused to beg for her life.

"Then you'll be waiting a long time, for I won't do it. I will never agree to be your victim, never! AVADA KEDAVRA!" Harry screamed, not even sure it would work, but he had to try. The man toppled the floor with a loud thunk like a tree being felled, but as soon as he did, Hermione began to fall at an alarming rate and Harry's quick levitation spell was the only thing that saved her.

"Harry! Thank God you're all right!" she sobbed as she was lowered gently to the floor.

"I have to concur with Miss Granger, Harry," agreed Severus as he Apparated into the room along with about thirty Aurors. Harry stared hard at the face of his lover and could hardly believe he was here. Maybe he was the one going mad and was dreaming of his rescue.

"How?" gasped Harry.

"Questions later, Harry. Rescue now." Severus and Kingsley Shacklebolt cast a reveal spell on Dumbledore's prone form and Shacklebolt whistled his surprise. "Well, I'll be, it is Grindelwald. Had us all fooled. Not any more. Take him to the cemetery outside Azkaban," he ordered the Aurors as Severus loosened Harry's bindings with a spell. Harry sat up and rubbed his chafed wrists, still feeling a little out of it. Severus was here. Severus was here.

The Aurors bound Grindelwald's body with ropes and containment spells before they Apparated him away.

"Harry, Hermione, are you both okay?" asked Kingsley.

They both nodded, but Severus was having none of that. "You are both going to see Madam Pomfrey. No arguments," he glowered at both of them.

"Yes, sir," they said, before bursting into giggles and hugging each other.

Part Twenty Seven

"You wanted to see me, Minerva?" asked Severus as he hovered by her office door. The decor was a little too tartan for his taste, but he was glad that she hadn't seen the need to go to the headmaster's office yet, even though Minerva McGonagall was now the new headmistress of Hogwarts and was entitled to use the Head's office.

"Yes, Severus. Do come in."

Severus entered, closing the door behind him and took a seat by her desk, reminding him uncomfortably of being sent to her office for plenty of detentions when he was a student.

"How are Harry and Hermione doing?" she asked.

"Miss Granger is quite recovered from the Imperius, her parents are coming to take her home today."

"And Harry?"

"Poppy wants to keep him in the infirmary a bit longer, she's worried he might have become addicted to Dark magic, that was the second Killing Curse he cast within a year, it can't be good for him and he probably won't even realise until it's too late that it's happened."

"And what about the two of you, Severus? What are your plans where Harry is concerned?"

"I'm not sure I understand the question, Minerva."

"Severus, I may be old, but I am not blind nor stupid. You and Harry are in a relationship, anyone can see that so I ask you again, what are your intentions towards the boy? Is this some sort of fling, are you having a mid-life crisis? And will Harry end up being hurt because of it? I'm worried about both of you, Severus. What if Harry wants someone younger in the future, how will you feel then? Or what if you get tired of him?"

"I won't and neither will he. Do you think I would have run away with him, thrown away my career because of a fling? Then you don't know me as well as you thought."

"So what are you saying, Severus?"

"That I love him and we are never going to be parted, that's what I'm saying, Minerva. Do you think we entered into this relationship lightly? We've been through too much together and no-one is going to part us. Harry is of age now and I am no longer his teacher."

"About that," said Minerva. "I wanted to offer you the Defence Against the Dark Arts position, Severus."

"I don't think that would be very wise, Minerva. Why do you think Dum- Grindelwald never offered it to me in the first place?"

"I don't know, he never confided in me."

"Because I was and always be an addict of Dark magic, I would rather stay away from temptation if you don't mind, Minerva. I will have to use some Dark spells in order to teach that course and it will only be too easy to fall back into bad habits. I cannot accept."

"Oh, I see. Thank you for telling me, Severus. Do you know if Harry wishes to return to school in September?"

"I don't know, I will have to ask him."

***

The shakes were bad today and Harry had to force himself not to speak in case he cast any Dark spells. It didn't help that they'd taken away his wand, he was so good at wandless magic now that it was even easier to cast a spell than it had been with a wand. He was having hot and cold flushes as well as bouts of nausea that had him heaving over the side of the bed. Severus had warned him that Dark magic was addictive, but he hadn't really believed it.

He believed it now. The want was there, the power was there, all he had to do was reach out and grab it and it was with sheer force of will that he didn't. He didn't want to become a Dark wizard, he didn't want to hurt people, but the truth remained that he had. He had killed twice. He was a murderer and he was being hailed as some sort of hero.

Madam Pomfrey had already chased away about fifty reporters who'd somehow managed to gain entry to the castle, the wards were a bit erratic at the moment. Harry had wanted to curse all of them, it would have been so easy but he resisted, knowing how disappointed Severus would be if he gave in.

Almost as soon as he thought of him, Severus was there, wrapping Harry in a hug even before he greeted him. Harry sobbed on his shoulder with relief. It was a lot easier to resist the call of Dark magic when Severus was with him. Severus had gone through this too and Severus had beaten it, Harry could do that. He could do it for Severus.

"How are you feeling, Harry?" Severus asked once Harry had calmed down and his tears had dried to a trickle.

"Not too good," he admitted.

"It'll get better soon, Harry. I promise. I know it seems like you'll feel like this forever, but you won't."

"It's so hard, Severus. I can feel it there, the Dark power in me and I want to use, I ache to use it."

"I know, Harry, I know," Severus kissed his forehead.

"Severus, there's something I haven't told you. About Grindelwald."

Harry could feel the tension in Severus' body as soon as he said the words. "Harry, what did he do to you?"

"Not to me, to you, Severus. He made you join the Death Eaters."

"He may have done many things, Harry, but he didn't make me do that. I'm afraid I joined the Death Eaters of my own free will."

"No you didn't," insisted Harry. "He encouraged the marauders to play all those pranks on you and prevented the other students from getting too close to you. He wanted you alone and friendless, ready to accept Voldemort's offer of friendship and belonging, but to make sure, he put you under Imperius to join him. He wanted you as a spy, Severus and had no qualms about putting you at risk every time you went to a meeting. When you joined them, he removed the curse and that's when you decided you'd done the wrong thing and went to who you thought was Dumbledore, begging for forgiveness for something he'd made you do. It was despicable, Severus."

Severus was paler than Harry had ever seen him and Harry worried that maybe he should never have told him. "Is this true, Harry? How do you know all this?"

"By Legilimency, he didn't know I could do it without a wand. I was in his mind that day we returned from Malfoy Manor, after I k - killed Voldemort. He wasn't even trying to hide anything, he didn't think he needed to."

"It was his doing all along? I always wondered why I joined and then almost immediately came back to Hogwarts, it didn't make much sense at the time."

"Yes, Severus, he moulded you as his perfect spy just as he moulded me for his perfect weapon to defeat Voldemort. We were nothing but pawns to both of them and I am sick of being used!"

Harry took a deep breath. "He admitted it to me, Severus, he knew all along what my relatives had done and he continued to send me back there year after year. It was all a lie about my mother's blood protecting me. Well, that blood flowed in my Aunt Petunia's veins and she never lifted a finger to help me, not once! He said he hoped they would beat the magic out of me so that I would never be a threat to him." Harry wriggled out of Severus' embrace, climbed down from the bed and knelt on the floor by the side of it.

"Harry, what are you doing?" Severus asked him, sounding horrified.

"I - I have to be punished. I killed people, I have to be punished, Master."

"Harry, you did nothing wrong. I am not going to punish you for defeating the two most evil wizards the world has ever seen. Please get up."

Harry stood up on shaky legs and sat on the chair by the side of the bed, Severus was sitting on the bed itself, but Harry didn't feel like being hugged at the moment, or even being close to him at all. "I thought you were different," said Harry, the tears falling anew. "But you're just like all the rest, ready to let me get away with it because I was the Boy Who Lived, that I could do nothing wrong. You always punished me before, I knew I could count on you."

"You can count on me, Harry."

"No, I can't! Don't any of you understand? I didn't just skip class or detention, I murdered two people and they didn't even arrest me! I used Dark magic to kill them, is that what you want? Do you want me to use it again, will that make you punish me, Severus? I can do it you know, all I have to do is reach out and - "

Harry's words were cut off as Severus yanked him out of the chair by the wrists and flung him face down on the bed.

"Don't you ever, ever threaten to use Dark magic in front of me again!" Severus hissed in his ear, pressing Harry's shoulders with his hands. "Do you think Dark magic is some sort of joke? Well, do you? Answer me!"

"N - no, sir," Harry whispered and for the first time he felt a little afraid of Severus. This wasn't play, Severus was really angry with him and Harry felt his heart shatter into a million tiny pieces. He shouldn't have said it, he shouldn't.

"I'm sorry, Severus. I'm sorry!" Harry's shoulders ached where Severus was holding them, his breathing was laboured, his mouth and nose being squashed in the pillows.

The pressure on his back was suddenly removed. Harry turned over just in time to see Severus walking out of the infirmary.

Away from the hospital wing. Away from him.

Part Twenty Eight

Severus didn't know where he was going when he left the infirmary, he just knew he had to get away for a while. Harry's words had made him so angry that he didn't know what he might have done. He knew about that darkness, for he had it in him too and to have Harry threaten to use it, use it as a bargaining tool in their relationship was just too much.

He couldn't talk rationally to him about it, not yet. Not when even now Harry's words had awoken the demons he'd long thought were sleeping, if not destroyed. Harry knew that he had problems with Dark magic and yet he was talking about it so casually, as if discussing the weather or something.

Did Harry feel it too? That pull whenever Dark magic was discussed? Severus had been sorely tempted to accept Minerva's offer of the DADA position, even knowing full well that if he tasted Dark magic once more, he might never find his way to the Light again. But the truth remained that the desire was there and he had almost given in to it, for just a few brief seconds he had wanted to feel that rush again.

Severus wandered out to the lake, his fingernails pressing little half moons into the flesh of his palms. The pain distracted him from thinking about and wanting Dark magic. He stopped suddenly, realising how much of a fool he'd been and turned, heading back to the infirmary.

***

Harry was sobbing into his pillow when Severus returned, so he didn't see him at first. He had never felt pain like this before, the Cruciatus was nothing compared to the ache in his heart. Harry had turned Severus against him, he had made Severus so angry that he was never coming back. Severus was never coming back to him. Harry had lost the man he loved by being stupid and selfish and he wished he could take the words back, pretend they'd never been spoken.

"Harry," came the soft voice and Harry was sure he must have been imagining it, for he could not think why Severus would be there. "Harry," louder this time. "Look at me, Harry."

Harry turned his head and looked into the dark eyes of his lo - ex-lover, feeling his heart shatter anew at the sadness he found within their depths. Tears were dripping down Harry's face, his nose was running and he felt as if he could barely breathe.

"You're here," said Harry wonderingly. "I thought you were never coming back."

"What part of I'm never leaving you don't you understand?" asked Severus softly. "I promised I would never leave you, I meant it. I was just angry, but I'm not leaving you, Harry. Never."

"Severus!" sobbed Harry, hurling himself into the man's waiting arms and crying on his shoulder.

"It's the pain, isn't it, Harry? The pain helps you, gives you something else to focus on?" Severus said as he rubbed Harry's back.

"What?" Harry had the impression he had joined the conversation somewhere in the middle and wasn't sure what was going on in it. He wiped his nose on the sleeve of his pyjama top and stared at Severus.

"You need the physical pain because it helps you. It stops you drowning in guilt, it might also help with the craving for Dark magic."

"What are you saying, Severus?" asked Harry, hardly daring to hope.

"I'm saying that perhaps you were right, you do need to be punished. But not now, not when you're in the hospital wing."

"When we go home?" asked Harry eagerly, already wondering when that would be.

"Home? You mean Cornwall, Harry? You don't want to stay here and finish school?" Severus hugged him tighter a gesture that Harry could never get enough of.

"I want to go home," said Harry. "I want to work in the shop with you, I don't want to stay here any longer than we have to, Severus. Too much has happened here, I just want to go."

"Are you sure, Harry? What about your friends? A career as an Auror, don't you want to do that anymore?"

"No!" Harry was surprised at his own vehemence. "I've dealt with enough Dark wizards, I don't want to do that anymore, Severus. My friends can come and visit, can't they? You won't mind, would you?"

"No, Harry. Your friends can visit whenever they wish to, it's your home too. We needed secrecy before, but now that both Grindelwald and Voldemort are gone, we no longer need to hide."

"Only from Mrs. Jensen," grinned Harry. "I wonder what she'd say if she knew she had two wizards living next door."

"Probably something not very complimentary."

"Severus," began Harry, he'd been wondering this for a while now. "How did you get into the Room of Requirement? I didn't think it opened on the outside if it was in use."

"It doesn't usually, but I was with Hagrid that day. He nearly hexed me with his umbrella when I went to his cottage that day, he thought I was a traitor, that I had kidnapped you and was now back to do some more mischief, it took a while to convince him that we had run away together and that you were in danger up at the school. I've never seen anyone so big move so fast and once we got there, Hagrid removed the wards and I could Apparate into the room and the Aurors could get into the school. Hagrid's the Keeper of the Keys, he can get anyone into anywhere in the castle, he's responsible for the upkeep of the wards and if he wishes it, he can get anyone into the Room of Requirement even if it is in use."

"I see," said Harry. "And Grindelwald let him be the Keeper?"

"Yes, Professor Dippet instated him, it would have looked suspicious if the first thing Dumbledore had done was to entrust a new Keeper of the castle. New Keepers are usually only replaced once the old ones have died and Grindelwald was biding his time, pretending the whole time to be Albus Dumbledore."

"I'm sorry, Severus. I'm sorry about what I said about the Dark magic. I don't know why I said that, I wouldn't do it, Severus. I don't want to do it but it feels like there's something inside me that keeps reaching out for it."

"There is, Harry. Every wizard has the ability and the drive to use Dark magic, some more than others, but it is something that can be controlled. It won't be easy and I'm not going to lie to you and say that one day you'll not feel like using it, because that isn't true. You will always have this urge, Harry, just like I do, but you can resist it. You might have to do something else, anything else to try and distract yourself, but eventually the urge will fade into the background a little and you can carry on as normal."

"I've never felt normal," said Harry. "To the Dursleys I was a freak because I was a wizard and here I was different again because I was the Boy Who Lived. I just want to be Harry, Severus, is that too much to ask?"

"No, Harry it isn't. You've given them enough, now isn't time for you to be happy?" Severus hopped down from the bed and knelt on one knee. "How would you feel about being Harry Snape?" he asked.

Harry squealed and jumped down from the bed, wrapping his arms around Severus. "Yes! Yes, Severus, yes!"

***

Three days later, Harry was released from the infirmary and Professor McGonagall performed their bonding ceremony in the gardens of Hogwarts. It was not a large wedding, Severus and Harry didn't want much of a fuss, so only the staff, Remus, the Weasleys and Ron and Hermione were there.

Severus had removed the Snape bonding bracelets from his vault at Gringotts and Harry had done the same from his, and when Ron as the best man, presented the bonding bracelets to Professor McGonagall at the start of the ceremony, there was a gasp from the assembled crowd. Both bracelets were identical, clasped hands holding a heart with a diamond in the centre. Harry didn't know why the bracelets were the same, he'd always thought wizarding bonding heirlooms were unique to each family, but he was too excited to worry about it now.

"Do you Severus Snape take Harry Potter unto yourself? Do you accept him and only him? Will you cherish and protect him in this world and all worlds? Do you forsake all others and be faithful only to him?"

"I do."

Harry's heart was beating frantically as Professor McGonagall repeated the vows and there was only one answer he could give. He loved this man with all his heart and he could not imagine being without him.

"I do," Harry said and the small congregation let out hollers of celebration as they placed the bonding bracelets on each other's wrists.

As soon as the clasps were shut, a scroll popped into being above their heads, McGonagall removed it and set it on the small table she'd just conjured for that purpose. "If you'd like to sign here, Severus, and you here, Harry," she said, indicating the correct places with her quill. When they'd signed the wizarding marriage register, the scroll disappeared and Harry knew it would end up at the Ministry, but that didn't worry him anymore. They were married, they were official. No-one could separate them ever again.

"Congratulations, both of you," said Professor McGonagall, giving them both a firm hug. Harry had never been hugged by his former Head of House before and it was a little disconcerting, the woman was stronger than she looked. "Now, Dobby has outdone himself with the decoration of the Great Hall for your wedding feast."

Harry had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "Dobby did the decorating?" he asked, visions of Christmas baubles that Dobby had put up in the Room of Requirement floating in his mind's eye.

"He did," said Hermione giving Harry a peck on the cheek and shaking Severus' hand. "But don't worry, Mrs. Weasley and I helped, we didn't let him get away with too much."

"Thanks, I think," said Harry as he and Severus made their way inside to the Hall. The House tables had been transfigured into lots of circular tables draped with white embroidered table cloths, garlands of white flowers were draped across every chair, every wall. It was very understated for Dobby's taste and he sniffed his displeasure at the two grooms.

"It is not being very colourful, Harry Potter, sir but they is insisting it has to be white. It is being the tradition for wizards to be having everything white for weddings. House elves is not having white for weddings, sirs. House elf weddings is to be having lots of colour sirs."

"House elves get married?" asked Harry, surprised.

"Of course, sir. How else is there to be having lots of baby elves?" Dobby shook his head and clasped his hand over his mouth. "I is being very sorry, Harry Potter. You is very young and are only just being married today. I is not to be telling you about babies, that is being for your husband to tell you." With that, Dobby clicked his fingers and Disapparated away.

Harry grinned and looked at his new husband. "So, Severus, do you want to tell me all about the babies?"

Severus sidled close to him and whispered in his ear. "I can do better than that, Harry. Later, I can show you."

Harry's knees almost buckled at the promise in that voice. Good grief, how were they going to get through hours of a feast and dancing when all Harry wanted to do was get Severus alone in a corner somewhere? He was hard already and he wondered if Madam Pomfrey's books had got it right, that it was more difficult for eunuchs to get erections, for Harry certainly didn't seem to have any trouble whenever he was close to Severus. It was going to be a long few hours.

***

Severus took Harry's hand and led them away to the edge of the wards as soon as the speeches were finished, the didn't even stay for the dancing.

Unfortunately they were followed by all of their guests, no chance of a quiet getaway.

"Aren't you staying for the rest of the feast?" asked Hermione, a sentiment echoed by the rest.

"No, we want to get home," said Harry. "You all enjoy it."

"This is most irregular, Severus," scolded Minerva. "The grooms are supposed to stay until dusk."

"Minerva, be grateful you even had us this long, we could have eloped you know. We're married and we are going home."

Professor McGonagall hugged both of them with tears in her eyes, as did everyone else. "Make sure to write, Harry," said Hermione. "We'll come and visit you both soon."

"Not too soon, Miss Granger," warned Severus, placing his arm in a propriety way around Harry. "I believe newlyweds are entitled to their privacy for a while?"

Hermione blushed as the rest of the group tittered loudly, but finally, finally they were able to Apparate away.





Part Twenty Nine

Harry wobbled a little as they finished Apparating, he still couldn't get used to the sensation of his body being displaced from one place to the other. Before he'd quite recovered, Severus had him pinned against the wall and was kissing him senseless. Harry moaned under the onslaught, his entire existence dwindling to just this. Severus touching him, Severus kissing him. Just the two of them, the outside world disappearing.

Harry wrapped his arms around Severus' neck and tugged him closer, Harry's hips falling open so that Severus could fit between them. He wriggled closer, feeling Severus' erection against his stomach and his own pressing against his husband. Little sparks of arousal shot throughout Harry's whole body as he felt how impressive his husband's erection was. Harry made a strangled sound in his throat, something between a wail and a whimper as he imagined what Severus was going to do with it later.

"Do you feel that?" Severus pulled his lips away slightly to whisper and pressed his body even closer to Harry's. "That's for you. I'm going to be inside you, pounding you into the mattress, the headboard will be rattling against the wall I'm going to take you so hard. You're going to feel every inch of my cock filling you and then you're going to come and come all night long. Come and come."

It hadn't been a command but that didn't seem to matter as Harry's body convulsed, arching his hips, a choked cry from his lips as the orgasm ripped through him at Severus' words. His knees threatened to give way, but Severus was there, holding him through the tremors as his cock twitched and he came and came, totally dry but feeling even more intense for that. Severus began sucking and licking his neck. "Did you come like that, Harry? Even before I did anything?" Severus sounded entirely too amused for Harry's liking.

"But you did do something," he protested, gasping the words out.

"I did?" Another long lick to Harry's neck and he was instantly hard again and moaning in the man's arms.

"Yes, your voice," Harry groaned, feeling sweat trickle down his back. "Your voice is so sexy. Fuck!" Harry wailed as Severus sucked hard where his shoulder met his neck, it felt divine even through his clothes.

"Language," snarled Snape and stepped away from him. Harry whimpered at the loss of all that delicious pressure against his body. "I think I may have to punish you for that."

Harry could hardly believe that Severus wanted to play one of their games tonight of all nights, their wedding night, but he realised it was his own fault for asking. Of course, he could use his word and it would all stop, but he wasn't sure he wanted it to stop just yet.

"Sorry, sir," said Harry as he meekly lowered his head.

"You will be. Do you think I will allow you to get away with such insolence? Well, do you?"

"No, sir."

"You will go into our bedroom and you will undress. Everything is to come off, including your glasses. Once that is done, you will kneel down by the side of the bed and place your hands palm down on the covers. You are to remain in that position until I arrive and you will not touch yourself, no matter how hard you may become. Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, what are you waiting for? Go!" his Master commanded and Harry obeyed, running up the stairs and almost tripping in his haste. It didn't take long to undress, he unbuttoned the first few buttons of his shirt and then just yanked it over his head, before tugging off his shoes and socks and pulling down his trousers and underwear in one fell swoop. Harry's prick was hard as he knelt by the bed and got into the position Severus had ordered him to wait in. He'd almost forgotten to remove his glasses, he quickly discarded them and set them on the bedside table.

He did not hear Severus enter the room, but Harry could smell him and his heart sped up in his chest at the nearness of the man. He could feel the blood rushing through his veins and he was even a little dizzy as he sensed Severus moving closer and closer to the bed. Something whistled in the air by his ear and landed with a thud on the bed. Harry knew what it was even before he turned his head to look.

It was the cane.

***

Severus wondered what Harry would do. Would he accept the cane, or would he decide that he'd been punished enough? Severus did not want to cane him, but he would do it if Harry asked it of him. He would not deny Harry anything except Dark magic, for neither of them could afford to use that. Ever.

"Well, pet? Are you ready to accept your punishment?" Severus made sure to ask him even now, to give him the chance to use his word and stop him from doing this. It was a while before Harry answered, but his voice was unwavering.

"Yes, sir."

"Very well, you will receive three strokes as you have never been caned before. After each stroke you will say the number aloud. Miss your count and you will receive and extra stroke until you have called out three. Are we clear?" Severus knew that the counting helped, as did knowing how many blows Harry would receive.

"Yes, sir."

"Brace yourself," Severus waited until Harry gripped the bedsheets and shuffled forward a little so that he was resting on the bed a little. He swung the cane through the air and brought it down hard on Harry's naked buttocks, wincing at Harry's pained cry of "One!"

Severus could almost feel Harry's pain himself and he wished Harry didn't feel the need for this at all, but he knew that it was better this than using Dark magic. He tried to angle his next stroke so that it hit a different part of Harry's skin, unwilling to make him endure any more pain than necessary. "Two!" shrieked Harry as he inched forward slightly as if he was trying to get away, but he still did not use his word.

Severus caned him for the third time, hardly able to look at the damage he'd inflicted on the delicate skin of his husband. "Three!" Harry called out and his upper body collapsed on the bed. "Please," he sobbed against the quilt. "Please."

Severus removed the salve from his trouser pocket and began to rub it on Harry's inflamed skin, soothing the pain he'd just inflicted. "Ssh, Harry. It's over now, it's over." The guilt welled up in his throat and chest, crushing him and Severus hoped Harry would never ask him to do that again. He couldn't bear to see Harry hurt, he didn't know if he was going to be strong enough to keep giving Harry punishments whenever he needed them.

The salve was doing its work and soon Harry's sobbing turned to moans of pleasure as he writhed against the bed.

"God, Severus, that's so good!"

Severus kissed the back of his neck. "That's the idea," he whispered, scooping Harry up in his arms and lying him flat on the bed. Severus took his time, kissing Harry all over even before he started teasing his entrance with an oiled finger. "More!" gasped Harry, bucking his hips.

"More?" Severus questioned, adding another finger and watched Harry's eyes flutter closed in bliss. Harry didn't seem to be in any pain, his salve had seen to that and the third finger slid in without a problem. Severus angled his finger searching for the little gland inside and was gratified to see Harry arching almost entirely off the bed.

"OH GOD! What was that?" he panted.

"That, my dear Harry, was your prostate."

"Inside me, Severus, please!" begged Harry. "I want to come with you inside me."

"Then you shall get your wish," said Severus as he prepared himself with the salve, shuddering as his hand closed around himself. Merlin, he was so close, he wasn't even sure he would last long enough for Harry to come again. He squeezed his sac, staving off his orgasm for now. He pulled one of the pillows from his side of the bed and placed it beneath Harry's hips.

Severus slowly entered his husband for the first time, feeling as if time had stopped and they could relive this moment over and over again.

Harry winced. "It hurts!" he gasped out.

Severus stopped moving, just the head of his prick inside Harry's body. "Relax, Harry. You'll stretch, but it will hurt more if you tense up. I'll go slow, okay?"

Harry nodded and Severus inched his way forward again, waiting for Harry's cries of distress, there were none and suddenly he was there, he was all the way inside that hot, tight, heat. Severus moaned and kissed Harry hungrily on the lips. He daren't move, he'd be lost if he moved.

***

Harry had never felt such completeness than when Severus had finally broken the last barrier between them. He would never be alone again, he knew it now. Severus would always be with him. It was forever and Harry moved his hips when he felt Severus all the way in. It had hurt at first, but now he just felt really full and he needed that, needed to feel that. "Severus! Move, please!" he begged, wanting Severus to hit that magic spot inside again

Severus began to thrust in and out of him fairly slowly, but each time he kept hitting Harry's prostate and Harry mewled in delight. It felt so wonderful to have Severus inside him, to feel the weight of the man's body on top of him, to see Severus’ face transported with ecstasy.

Suddenly Severus' thrusts speeded up and Harry was arching his hips to meet him thrust for thrust He felt as if he was falling over the side of a cliff and he didn't want to reach the bottom. "God, Harry! I can't! I can't hold on any longer! Come for me, Harry! Come for me!"

Harry bucked up, once twice as he obeyed, and this time there was even a small amount of clear fluid from his prick. It was barely a second later when he felt his husband pulsing deep inside him and he was bathed with wet warmth as Severus found his own release.

Severus collapsed half on top of him, breathing heavily in Harry's ear.

"Harry? Are you all right?"

Harry nodded, blinking away the tears. "I love you, Severus! I love you!" he sobbed and wrapped his arms tight around his husband. It had just been so intense, he had no idea it was going to feel like that. How connected to Severus he would feel.

Severus let him cry, patting him on the back every so often, neither of them speaking and soon Harry fell asleep wrapped up in his husband's arms.

***

Harry woke up in the middle of the night with a nightmare and he tried to get out of bed without waking Severus, but he discovered that Severus was already awake and had been reading a book by candlelight on the other side of the room. He set his book down and glanced at Harry, concerned.

"Harry? What is it?"

"Nightmare," he said dully. "Vernon."

"Oh, do you want a hug?" asked Severus standing up and Harry almost ran into his arms, wrapping his arms tight around his husband's waist.

"I love being married to you," sighed Harry.

"Me too. Do you want to talk about your dream, Harry?"

"No, but I did want to ask you, what did you to Vernon that day at the shop?"

"Oh, that. It's a very obscure curse, it mimics syphilis, but it won't respond to any Muggle treatments."

"Syphilis? What's that?" asked Harry.

"It's a sexually transmitted disease, very nasty if it doesn't get treated. Can lead to impotence, insanity and death. Dursley will never be able to be cured. He won't die from the curse, but he will suffer the symptoms for years."

"It sounds terrible," said Harry quietly.

"And what he did you to you wasn't?" asked Severus. "Don't ask me to be sorry for doing it, Harry, for I'm not. I'd curse him again for what he did to you, for what he allowed to happen to you with those men. Vernon Dursley does not deserve your mercy."

"No, no, he doesn't," agreed Harry. He searched the room. "Where's the cane?"

Harry felt Severus tense up as he mentioned it. "What do you want it for?"

"Please, Severus. I just have to show you something."

Severus fetched the cane from the floor on the side of the bed and handed it to Harry, his eyes sad. Harry never wanted to see that look in Severus' eyes again. Harry cast a wandless spell to break the cane in two and handed the pieces to Severus.

"I don't need it any more, Severus. I don't need to be punished anymore. I've been through enough pain."

"Are you sure, Harry?"

Harry nodded his head and stood up on tip-toes to give Severus a fleeting kiss.

"I'm sure, Severus. I can cope with anything now that I have you."

The End