Title: The Red Cloak
Rating: R - NC-17
Warning: Use of Christian imagery/concepts -- specifically, the story of Adam and Eve.
Summary: "He allows himself to get lost in the smooth skin, its illusion of perfection, and understands -- with the brevity of comprehension that accompanies all universal truths -- how an apple could have consumed Eve with desire."
A/N: Written for the 2007 Snarry_games. Team: wartime. Prompt: Fairy Tales. Genres: Angst/Romance. Many Many thanks to Aucta Sinistra for the excellent beta read, to the Snarry_games mods for their hard work organizing the games and infinite patience waiting for late writers like myself, and to Klynie1, Bironic, and Joanwilder for their support and encouragment while I struggled with a mute muse.
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe and its characters belong to JKR and Warner Brothers, not me. I'm not making any money off of this - it is done soley for love of the characters and fun.
Severus turns the apple slowly, thumb moving over flesh in precise sweeps, seeking imperfections. There is nothing perfect in this world; Severus knows this as well as he knows that lovage causes hot-headedness. But, in the dim light of the pub, the apple’s flaws are camouflaged by his stained hands and the scarred table beneath. He allows himself to get lost in the smooth skin, its illusion of perfection, and understands -- with the brevity of comprehension that accompanies all universal truths -- how an apple could have consumed Eve with desire.
The sound of the door interrupts his revelation. Severus looks up, across the tables, to see the newest arrival entering in a swirl of red and winter wind, like the flash of a cardinal amid the brush.
If there is some measure of relief at his recognition, it is only in thanks that he will not have been forced to wait for nothing.
Severus watches, fingers curled tight around the apple, as Potter procures drinks at the bar, keeping his face hidden within the cloak’s hood. Skirting the worn patrons and the islands of light cast by the pub’s candles, Potter makes his way over. He stands before Severus a moment, features just visible behind the mask of shadows and candlelight, before setting one of the brews down with a solid thunk of thick wood and glass.
Severus nods his thanks for the drink, though his first is still mostly full, and this second merely ritual courtesy.
“Only you,” he drawls by way of welcome as Potter seats himself, “would wear a red cloak at a time when even the most obscure wizards seek anonymity.”
“You say that like you’ve never seen it before,” Potter answers, the words clipped and sharp.
He has, of course -- enough to know that against that red, Potter’s skin appears whiter, his hair darker, and his lips, Severus thinks, as red as blood.
“My familiarity with it is irrelevant -- keep wearing it and soon everyone will know exactly who it belongs to.”
There is no answer, and Severus looks over to see one corner of Potter’s lips twisted up in mockery of a smile.
“It was a gift.”
“I see.” Though he doesn’t, not really. It does not matter; there is no room for trivialities of late, though Severus admits -- if only to himself -- that he misses the inconsequential more than he’d expected. “Let’s go.”
Potter hesitates: an indrawn breath, a lick of his lips, a glance about the room. Potter always hesitates. Severus long ago stopped letting it leave him breathless as a girl awaiting her first kiss.
A nod, and they stand together. Slipping the apple into his pocket, he lets Potter lead the way between the tables to the back, where there is a narrow flight of stairs. They tread silently, staying close out of necessity. Except for those moments when Severus must glance behind for followers, his view is dominated by the red of Potter’s cloak. The cloth teases him; swinging close so he can smell the prickly, fresh scent of winter’s chill still clinging to it, and then away to accentuate the line of Potter’s back, the curve of his arse. Perhaps it was here, he thinks, as his blood speeds in anticipation, that it began. Certainly it never began in their words, those half-breeds of information and feeble civility. But here -- where the very building forces them together, breathing each other’s air -- here, their hastily scraped together tolerance might have mutated into desire.
No, Severus amends, desire is not the right word. Desire is not this carbonized by-product of battles, and stress, and forced cooperation. But if there is a better word for their primitive, desperate couplings, he cannot summon it.
The hallway at the top of the stairs offers little more in the way of space. No pictures adorn these walls. There is only rough wood, gone dull from the slow absorption of dust through the years. Their room is at the end, always, well away from the ears and interest of travelers.
Severus closes the door, setting the bolt into place with a snick as Potter casts a silencing spell. The room is plain: desk, chair, wardrobe, bed, -- the necessities of inn rooms crudely rendered in grayish wood and flat lines. Severus glances out the grimy window to a world of snow and emptiness, and must close his eyes. When he opens them, Potter is turning, sliding his wand away, and Severus reaches out. Fingers tangling in the robe, he pulls Potter forward sharply and pivots, landing Potter’s back up against the door, knocking the breath from him and the cloak’s hood from his head.
“In a hurry?”
The play of light in Potter’s eyes, seeming distant and dim thanks to the shabby room, spurs Severus on. He steps close, bracing his arms against the door to either side of Potter. “Yes,” he hisses, pushing his hips against Potter’s. “Be quick.”
“Hm,” Potter answers, his considering tone belied by the arch of his body.
Bringing his lips close to Potter’s ear, Severus nudges into the warmth of unkempt hair. He releases the cloak, sliding his hand down firm chest to the burgeoning erection.
“We’ve looked through…” Potter cuts off as Severus begins to stroke him, rough and quick, “half the…mm.”
He goes for the boy’s throat, sucking and nipping, reveling in the feel of the delicate tendons just beneath the skin.
“Oh, hell. Everyone’s fine, we’re still researching. Quick enough?”
“Perfect,” Severus whispers, with the flash of a smile buried against Potter’s throat.
As answer, he pulls his hand from Potter’s cloth-covered erection and retrieves the apple from his pocket. Bringing it up, he brushes it along Potter’s jaw -- still smooth, though the boy is no longer a boy.
“More raids. Random. I’ve made you something.” He draws the apple over Potter’s parted lips, his own close enough he can feel the curve of the fruit with every word. “Taste.”
Potter gives him a questioning glance, but takes one tentative bite without objection. Later, Severus will blame the snap of the fruit’s flesh being broken, the sharp tang of it in the air, for the way his chest seems to tighten at the sight of Potter taking food from his hand.
Then Potter’s eyes are fluttering shut, his breath coming faster. Severus shoves the apple back into his robes and brackets Potter within his arms. He can feel his lips curling up in a smirk as he leans forward, reclaiming his place at Potter’s throat and letting the boy frot against him.
Potter’s hands come up to Severus’ back, clawed, pulling the fabric tight across his shoulders.
Something in the motion -- or maybe the knowledge that Potter is reliving their last encounter through Severus’ eyes -- gives Severus the urge to mark the boy; to suck at the delicate throat until the blood pools in a spot sin-red and glorious. But marks and names are forbidden here, and Severus can only growl, pulling at the skin of Potter’s throat with his teeth in frustrated desire.
Potter begins to gasp; short, stuttering breaths that Severus has grown familiar with over the months. Still, though he knows the sound, knows even the particular rhythm of Potter’s chest shuddering out to touch his before sinking away, Severus has never watched. The craving to do so is sudden and consuming; he lifts his head quickly, looking down into Potter’s face.
Eyes closed, Potter’s lashes flutter against flushed cheeks. His lips are parted, impertinent tongue just beyond, baiting Severus even now. Before he realizes what he’s done, Severus’ hand is against Potter’s cheek, stroking the strong jaw, thumb trailing across moist lips, as if he could read the memory Potter is experiencing in each exhalation. It’s mesmerizing as a snake’s stare, and Severus is drawn forward, lips parted, breath mirroring Potter’s. Then they are touching, a caress of lips that could hardly be called a kiss. And perhaps Severus only forgot that there was a third, verboten act -- this one so closed to them it has never been acknowledged.
Severus recalls himself just in time; brought back by a whimper from Potter and a sudden, arrhythmic breath sent stuttering into his own mouth. He pulls away.
Potter moans, his thrusts speeding up, and Severus shifts until the movement massages his own erection. There’s pleasure, thick and heady, but it seems a distant, secondary thing.
Body stiffening, hands gripping Severus’ waist almost painfully, Potter comes. His head hits the door with a solid thunk as he throws it back, one cry escaping sharp and quick, before it can be stifled.
Spent, Potter slumps against the door, hands falling away from Severus, eyes still closed. Silence settles between them, and they let it stay a bit before interrupting.
“What the fuck was that?” Potter asks, but while the words are harsh, the afterglow tempers his tone. He opens his eyes, looking up at Severus questioningly.
“A potion, for covert communications. Though I confess--” Severus smirks -- “your dose was stronger than recommended. Merely to demonstrate its use, I assure you.”
Potter’s half-hearted glare suggests he is unconvinced.
Slowly, Severus retrieves two vials from his robe. He holds them out on his palm, the delicate phials clacking together and drawing Potter’s attention.
“In terms you might understand,” his lips curl up at Potter’s withering glance, “it is an ingestible Pensive potion. The desired memory is drawn out and set into the base with a spell. Then the potion can be applied to any food, or taken directly. As you know, the receiver will experience the memory first hand. Less intensely than your own experience, of course, but the idea is the same. It will travel, and it will keep. The blue-capped bottle will provide you with the brewing knowledge -- I suggest Granger take that one.” He doesn’t look up as he speaks, instead tilting his hand this way and that, shifting the phials and setting the light glittering over their lengths.
“You made this?” Potter asks, reaching out to the vials.
He barely touches them, but Severus feels the pressure through the glass, pushing cautiously against his palm. He nods.
“It’s brilliant.” The words lack an exclamation point, but Severus senses the truth behind them. Hard not to acknowledge the practical applications of anything with the war on. For a moment, he almost regrets revealing the potion now, this way. It seems wrong, as if he’s tainted something.
He closes his hand around the vials, the motion forcing Potter’s hand away.
“It will suffice.”
“More than that. We don’t have to risk --”
“We do. The potion may work for passing information between order members, but were I discovered with it…” He is abruptly irritated with his own complacency in their meeting, aware that he has crossed the line of forced civility. “What do you imagine? That I could send apple-bearing owls out the window each night without the Dark Lord noticing? No, there is less risk in meeting.”
“Yes, oh. Take them, for Merlin’s sake.” Severus growls, pushing the vials into Potter’s hands.
An awkward silence descends as Potter pockets the vials. Severus becomes aware that their legs are still tangled together; his thigh held tight between Potter’s, cock still hard within the confines of his trousers.
As if he’s read Severus’ mind, Potter shifts, lifting his thigh to rub against Severus’ prick. “Let me.” The words are almost a whisper. He reaches out, fingers working through the layer of Severus’ robe to the buttons of his trousers.
Severus closes his eyes, letting his body relax. He rests his forehead on Potter’s shoulder, forcing his breathing to remain steady as warm fingers close around his flesh and draw him out.
Then Potter is sinking to his knees, and Severus must move his head to rest against the wall.
The flick of Potter’s tongue, hot and moist, makes Severus open his mouth in a gasp. He reaches down, sliding his hand into Potter’s hair, pressing the boy forward. Potter complies, wrapping his lips over Severus’ cock and taking in as much as he can in a single, wet glide. It’s exquisite; too much so. Severus is all too aware that it is Potter’s mouth on him, each movement of lip and tongue leaving him more uncontrolled. Heat pulses through him and Severus tightens his fingers against Potter’s head, holding it steady, and thrusts. Potter has taken harsher, and given it, Severus thinks, before giving himself over to the pleasure. He lets his body do as it will; hips moving faster, deeper, hunting down that one, glorious moment as a wolf seeks its prey.
It almost takes him by surprise. Severus comes blindingly, spilling himself down Potter’s unresisting throat, every muscle clenched and alive.
He doesn’t even know if he cries out, or if his release is silent as those childhood nights in the dorm.
Release, Severus thinks, looking down as he draws out from between Potter’s lips, that is the word for it. Potter looks up at him, eyes bright as Severus sees them only in these moments. He unclenches his hand from Potter’s hair, letting his fingers trail across the boy’s cheek as he pulls away, imagining for a second that he can feel Potter leaning into the touch.
Yes, Severus thinks as they watch each other, it is release.
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