Title: The Translator
“Anyone with a modicum of potions skill would realize your hypothesis is so absurd as to be laughable. You’ve entirely ignored Wittier’s base tenant of compatibility.”
At Severus’ hissed reply, the man’s eyes go wide. He looks at Harry.
“It’s an… interesting theory,” Harry translates. “Have you taken Wittier’s law into account?”
“Oh. Oh!” The blush that spreads across the man’s cheeks tells of sudden understanding. He hurries away into the crowd, too embarrassed to take his leave.
From their table, the ministry gala spreads out before them like another world.
“What good is a translator who doesn’t translate accurately?”
Taking in the haughty tone, the tilt of Severus’ head, Harry smiles. “You didn’t really want to tear him apart. He was mortified enough as is.”
“Perhaps,” Severus sniffs, casting him a sidelong, amused glance.
Harry makes a game of finding Hermione, Ron, and others from the dais amongst the dancers, until Severus speaks again.
“You needn’t stay, if you’d rather--” he tilts his head to the dance floor. “I’m armed with quill and parchment, perfectly capable of defending myself against anyone who might brave my presence.”
It angers him that after a year most still flinch away and avoid Severus, as if parseltongue were a plague. “No,” he says, taking a sip of champagne and setting down his glass. “I’m good here.”
Severus doesn’t say anything in reply, but his hand comes to rest beside Harry’s own, the sides of their pinkies just touching. Breath catching, Harry shivers.
Cautiously, he brushes his finger over Severus’. Then they’re both moving, their pinkies twining over and around each other, like snakes seeking warmth together.
Sliding his finger down, Harry smoothes over the scale patch peeking from beneath Severus’ cuff. Beside him, Severus inhales sharply, and Harry’s heart beats a celebratory tattoo.
Title: Lexica, a Hierarchy
Summary: In the hierarchy of Severus’ lexica, Harry speaks the only one that matters.
“--words’ convoluted, don’t you agree?”
Severus rests one hand lightly against Harry’s back.
Startled, Harry looks up. “Oh. Er…”
“Forgive his distraction,” Severus advises their companion. “I’m afraid Harry’s lexicon has never grown beyond Quidditch. Potions theory is entirely lost on him.”
Harry glares at him, the angry, uncertain kind that precedes questions like ‘Why do you insist I go to these things?’ and ‘What are you even doing with me?’
Stroking the small of Harry’s back, Severus watches intently as some of that consternation dissipates.
Their companion smiles and blathers on, oblivious to their inattention. Severus is weary of him, but a survey of the room showed no more promising prospects among the mess of potioneers spouting untenable opinion as fact. Their utterances converge, echoing off the walls like the dizzying refraction of light in a chandelier.
Overtaken by a sudden urge, Severus tugs on a lock of Harry’s hair. Untamable, it springs back from the gentle pull.
Harry looks at him, surprised, before his expression softens. Home? he mouths.
Severus nods, knowing he will have to explain, soon, that gibberish and jargon are fine for an evening, but what he needs is someone who understands the whisper of touch.
Summary: Sometimes forgiveness is easier to give than to accept. Note: Some of the characters have been taught homosexuality is wrong according to the Bible. This is not the author’s belief.
When the everyday sins have been confessed and forgiven, Severus waits for Harry to leave.
After a moment of uncertain silence comes a soft, “Is it truly wrong, Father, to love a man?”
A tendril of desire, long denied, unfurls suddenly within him, like a weed in shadow stretching for a glimpse of sun. Severus quashes it.
“No.” There, he thinks, to whatever god there might be, all his sins must be mine now. Albus would be disappointed-- his prize lamb, reformed sinner, taking on another lifetime of damnation-- but Severus cannot regret the lie.
Forsaking any illusion of anonymity, Harry stands, leaning close to the divide. “Father Severus, I--”
“Hush!” he hisses desperately.
“You said it wasn’t wrong.” Harry starts to pull away, his hand pressed against the screen sliding lower.
“Not for you.” Against his will, Severus raises his own hand. His fingers tremble against the soft pads of Harry’s fingertips where they touch in the spaces of the screen. “But I--”
“I’ll find a way.”
He can feel Harry’s breath across his hand, light as a ghost.
“I’ll find a way,” Harry says again, like a blessing, “for us.”
Closing his eyes, Severus bows his head, accepting.
Title: Three Kisses, or, The Visiting Prince
Summary: The frog prince -- with less frogs and more kisses.
In the castle garden, up in the highest branches of a tree, was a little golden ball.
Harry had been staring up at the ball for some time, despairing of ever recovering it.
“It seems quite stuck.”
Turning at the voice, Harry found behind him an ugly man with lank hair, hooked nose, and a curious piece of red fabric tied round his wrist. He introduced himself as Severus Snape-Prince, but Harry heard it as Severus Snape, prince, and thought him royal.
“What will you give me if I help you?” the prince asked.
“I’ve nothing valuable.” Harry looked down, disconsolate.
Severus smiled. “I am visiting the king for three nights. If I retrieve your ball, you must promise to share your bed with me, and allow me to kiss you, each night.”
Though the king greeted Severus with open arms and a twinkle in his eyes, others in the castle were not so welcoming. “He’s ugly as a frog!” they joked, not caring if Severus were around to hear it.
Many pointed and whispered about the red fabric.
Even the castle dog barked maliciously at Severus.
Harry didn’t like their behavior, but soon learned the cause. During meals, Severus was bitter and rude. He had a vicious wit; no one escaped its slap.
That night Harry declared he didn’t like Severus, and would not share his bed.
“You promised!” snarled Severus.
“Is this true?” asked the king. He looked disappointed at Harry’s nod. “Then you must keep it.”
He complied, but when they were in bed and Severus tried to kiss him, Harry pushed him away.
Severus threatened, “Break your promise and I’ll tell the king.”
The kiss was wet and unpleasant.
“How is it you live in the castle, but aren’t royalty?” Severus asked the next night.
Harry explained his humble upbringings. “You see,” he finished, “I’m just a commoner the king took in.”
Severus touched Harry’s cheek. “But uncommonly beautiful.”
Harry didn’t know what to think of this prince who was cruel in public but kind in private.
Their kiss that night was not bad.
The last night, Harry asked Severus about the red fabric.
“The king gave it to me, a reminder of a terrible mistake.” He paused. “But, also of his care.”
Seeing Harry didn’t understand, Severus explained. Harry listened quietly, not even crying out when Severus unwrapped the fabric to reveal a hideous scar.
When Severus finished, it was like a transformation had occurred; Harry no longer saw Severus as ugly. After a silent moment, he leaned forward and kissed Severus. Surely, nothing has ever felt this magical, he thought.
“I must confess,” Severus whispered, later. “I’m a prince in name only. I have no lands.”
Harry smiled. “Then I will not have to share you with anyone. You’ll be my prince alone.”
From that day, many wondered if there had been magic in that kiss. For, while most saw a mean, ugly man, Harry swore Severus was the most handsome prince.
Title: A Play in Silence
Summary: Harry's not arguing like he usually does, and Severus doesn't know his lines.
For all their raging, the crash of things thrown and words spit like acid, there is a certain predictability to their arguments. At some point Harry will break, crumpling to the ground exhausted from their hysteria.
Except Harry hasn’t yelled. In the silence of their rooms, Severus feels as if he contains all sound, every unspoken word transmuted into his own churning anger. He wants Harry to scream, to slam his fists against the table and set the breakfast dishes rattling.
“You hurt me.”
He barely hears the words over the uproar of his own thoughts. Harry is watching him from across the table. Severus’ hands clench around the silverware, resisting the desire to sweep his plate to the floor like some melodramatic actor in his first play. Setting his knife and fork down in silent precision quells the urge slightly.
Standing, Severus goes to the door. He pauses at the threshold, one hand on the frame. I’ll be in my lab, he intends to say, a final line before his exit.
Harry is getting up from the table when Severus turns, only just catching sight of his expression. Reflexively, his hand tightens against the doorframe, flesh molding over unyielding wood. He has seen that expression before, when Harry learned he would not fly a broom again.
He could dash across the room, shoving table and chairs out of the way, but instead moves slowly, cautiously, to stand behind Harry at the sink. Reaching out, he touches Harry’s arm to stop him washing. Harry’s back stiffens, though he doesn’t pull away. Severus slides his hand down to curl over Harry’s.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers, face pressed to the smooth curve of Harry’s neck and shoulder.
He says it again, and again, holding on until Harry’s body relaxes against his own.
Title: 300 Letters, or, Time Measured in Postage
Summary: Harry returns, at last, to England. It’s not as if Severus has been counting the days.
Assembling the tea gives Severus time to think. There is no sound from the other room, nothing to indicate Harry is there, waiting for Severus to return. He gathers himself in the filling of sugar and creamer, the arrangement (then disarrangement) of biscuits.
Efforts that go to pot when he returns to the living room to find Harry bent over his album. He sets the tea down with a thunk and sits, feigning anger. “Still inviting yourself to things that aren’t yours, I see.”
“These are mine.” Harry runs his fingers across the neat pages of postage. “You kept them.”
“I find myself with more time these days, and philately is a respectable hobby.”
Turning the pages of the album, Harry doesn’t reply.
“Why did you send them the muggle way?” Severus asks to distract him, “An owl would have been faster.”
Closing the book, Harry stares at the cover before placing it back on the coffee table. “You told me to see the world.” He gestures to the album. “You can’t deny I have.”
Severus watches warily as Harry stands, coming closer. “I hardly think I’ve encouraged you,” he says, as he said once, years ago.
“You wrote back.” Settling one knee on the couch beside Severus, Harry leans forward.
“Every ten letters or so--” Severus scoffs, trying to ignore the way Harry biting his lip brings back memories of that same mouth pressed against his, eager and inexperienced.
“Every ten letters exactly,” Harry corrects with a soft smile. It fades the next moment to something more serious and unguarded. “You should stop me, if you’re going to.”
He doesn’t, the last of his energy to push others away was used up ages ago, on a battlefield with a boy who tasted as sweet then as he does now.
Title: The Continental Shelf
Summary: Severus didn’t realize how deep he would go when he agreed to Potter’s request.
Harry curls away from him. Severus moves too; sliding one hand over to rest against Harry’s stomach. It is the only touch he dares in this more intimate post-coital world. Silence rears up between them, heavy and dark as a leviathan, and Severus knows something is wrong.
‘I want a child,’ Potter had said, all those months ago. To his ‘Why me?’ Potter offered words like intelligence and honor, which Severus had scoffed at before Potter’s ‘I’ll pay you’ rendered reason irrelevant.
A sigh draws him out of memory to the tense line of Harry’s back. ‘It will happen,’ he wants to say, but curses himself for a fool instead.
“I went to St. Mungo’s today.”
Severus can feel Harry trying to go on in the weighty breaths that rise and drop beneath his hand.
“I should have told you, before,” he finishes, giving up on the words between. “But I wanted…” his hand covers Severus’, holding him there.
“There are other options.”
“Or someone else might bear the child.” Severus closes his eyes against the feeling that he has gone too deep, too fast. He should explain he meant someone else, anyone else, but the lie will not come.
The bed shifts. Severus leaves his hand in place, letting it caress smooth skin as Harry turns. Fingers, tentative, brush his jaw, and Severus opens his eyes.
“You would do that?”
“For a sufficient sum.” For you, he does not say, but something in Harry’s eyes tells him he has heard the unspoken cost.
“Thank you,” Harry whispers, the way some say I love you. “Thank you, thank you.” He kisses Severus, curling against him.
Severus draws him closer and breathes, deep and unladen, as if he has not breathed in a very long time.
Title: Electricity, Recitation, and Other Lessons in Desire
“You want me.” Severus’ words are a soft, triumphant epiphany.
Blushing, Harry steps back. He’d known this would happen. Desire can only remain hidden for so long before it is unearthed and examined like an archeologist’s find. “And if I do?”
“Say it.” Severus follows Harry’s retreat, bearing down until Harry finds himself backed into the door of Severus’ quarters, one hand reaching to grasp the handle. “Say it,” he says again, and this time Harry hears something fragile in the words.
Harry can feel the air pressed between them. It seems to vibrate, like electrons in anticipation of a static burst.
“I want you.” He lets go of the doorknob to risk a touch-- a tentative brush of fingers against Severus’ jaw. “Merlin, how I want you.”
Severus makes a noise like Harry has broken something, and kisses him. There is no time for uncertainty now. Pulling at Harry’s cloak, Severus rips the clasp open, letting the fabric fall to the floor. It is all Harry can do to gasp when his mouth is released.
“Tell me how you want me,” Severus hisses, breath hot against his ear, hands hungrily undoing the button‘s of Harry‘s shirt.
Harry has never had a gift for words. He doesn’t know how to describe the tightening in his stomach when Severus touches him, or the way Severus’ mouth against his neck makes him feel, except in ‘oh’ and ‘yes’ and the other, more inarticulate sounds of lust.
“Every way,” he manages eventually, clinging to Severus’ shoulders as they frot against each other.
Severus stops abruptly, looking down at Harry with an acuity that makes him tremble. When he kisses Harry again, it is not with the same frenetic energy as before. It is stronger, a steady current that quickens every part of him.
Title: What Hope Remains
Warnings: Non-Con, implied Chan, implied prior abuse and depression/self-harm. Evil!Snape.
Summary: Eventually, the platitudes and inconvenience are well worth it.
Severus’ hands drift over Potter’s skin, following the memory of bruises. He touches Potter’s face, where the vivid purple inflicted by Dursley, the pain in his eyes, had first made him ache for the boy.
Pressed to Potter’s wrist, his tongue traces the ghostly scars over the boy’s pulse.
‘I understand,’ Severus had coaxed, ‘how the pain helps. Let me help you.’
Drawing back, he thrusts slowly, again, into that exquisite tightness. Potter writhes beneath him.
“Please,” Potter whimpers, voice hoarse. “No more.”
Severus smiles as what hope remains in Potter’s eyes is dinched beneath the weight of his tears.