Genres: H/C and Mystery (with elements of family building, fluff, and humour)
Pairings and Characters: Harry/Male Character, others; features many characters, original and otherwise
Warnings (highlight to view): For emotional issues involving abandonment, addiction, and death.
Word Count: 9922 (36,167 words total)
Summary: After the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry discovers that Snape has made him a beneficiary of his will; it takes him a while to accept the Potions master's true gift to him.
Disclaimer: This piece is based on characters and situations created by J. K. Rowling, and owned by J. K. Rowling and various publishers, including but not limited to: Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended by the posting of this fic.
Author's Notes: This is the final fic of five that I've written based on the results of my last prompts poll; the prompt was transfigured. Thank you, shiv5468, for contributing a correction to my legal language, accioslash and jin_fenghuang, for much-needed encouragement, and fodirteg, lalaith_niniel, and shiv5468, for patient and thorough beta'ing. You may find all parts of this story by clicking the Snape's Will tag.
Dedication: This story is dedicated to bethbethbeth, who is about to celebrate her 50th birthday. Happy early birthday, Beth!
Harry awoke to the sound of someone breathing, someone who wasn't himself; it was a rasping sound, as if the person breathing were elderly, and it was coming from the other side of his curtains. He kept his own breathing steady and lay still, hoping that he hadn't alerted the stranger to his state of wakefulness as he quietly fumbled for his glasses with his free hand; his other hand was already clutching his wand.
"Mr Potter," an unfamiliar, rather hoarse voice said, "I assume that you're looking for these?"
A gnarled, slightly blurry but obviously goblin hand holding his glasses pushed through the bed curtains.
"Er, thanks," Harry replied. "Who are you, then?"
"Forgive the intrusion, Mr Potter, but my client was most insistent that I come to you immediately upon the declaration of his death. I am Grapplethorpe of Gringotts."
"Accio yesterday's clothes!"
"Yesterday was indeed a good one, for you defeated the Dark Lord, but perhaps a fresh change of clothes would be in order?"
Harry said nothing as his clothes levitated through the curtains. He cast a laundering charm on them before dressing hastily, and then he swung his legs over the side of his dormitory bed. Pushing aside the curtains with one hand, his wand pointed in the direction from which Grapplethorpe's voice had come behind them, he peered out.
An elderly goblin stood there; he was leaning upon a dark wooden cane and holding an attaché case in his free hand. His eyes were fixed upon Harry's, but they blinked rapidly as if he were fighting sleep.
Harry cleared his throat, but Grapplethorpe didn't appear to notice. Loudly, Harry said, "Good morning."
"Hmm? Oh, Mr Potter, yes. To business," Grapplethorpe said, moving forward slowly to lay his attaché case on the bed and then proceeding to open it. "Now where is it? Ah, here," he murmured, turning to offer Harry a scroll, which he took after sheathing his wand. "What you are holding is the last will and testament of Severus Tobias Snape, formerly and among other things Headmaster of Hogwarts, now deceased."
Harry almost dropped the scroll. "What did you say?"
"Did the battle affect your hearing?"
Grapplethorpe didn't sound as though he were being sarcastic, but Harry was too astonished to know for certain. "I, er, I don't think so, no, but . . . but why are you here again?"
"You are named in Mr Snape's will. Perhaps you'd care to read the document?"
This is a weird bloody dream, isn't it? Harry thought, staring at Grapplethorpe.
"Mr Potter, you are not my only appointment for the day."
"Oh, er, sure," Harry said, unrolling the scroll. Might as well figure out why I'm dreaming this, I suppose.
The scroll read:
I, Severus Tobias Snape, residing at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Hogsmeade, Scotland, being of sound magic, mind, and body, and in the contemplation of the certainty of my death, do hereby declare this instrument to be my last will and testament.
I. I hereby revoke all previous wills and codicils.
II. I die upon the Surrender of my name, which I wish to be forgotten.
"What's a 'Surrendering'?"
"A bit of old-fashioned verbiage. Don't concern yourself with it."
"Er, all right," Harry replied, continuing to read.
III. I direct that the disposition of my remains be as follows: If at the time of my legal death there be anything left of my lifeless body or its parts, that flesh shall be, without ceremony or rite, burnt, and the ashes then scattered over the Black Lake at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Section Three was certainly grim, but Harry supposed not particularly unreasonable, given whom Snape had served.
IIIa. I hereby direct that no posthumous awards be granted me; no remembrance services, ceremonies, or rites of any kind be held for me; and that no monuments of any kind be erected, placed, or painted in memory of me. For the sake of utmost clarity, I hereby attest that I do not wish posthumous recognition in any form, be it tangible or intangible. The executor of my estate, I charge with the task of destroying or disrupting any tangible or intangible attempts to commemorate my person or acts.
"Well, that's unexpected. Can you really do that?"
"Do what, Mr Potter?"
"Keep people from honouring Snape?"
"My client was quite firm on that point."
"Yes, but he's a hero. People will want to honour him."
Harry swallowed. Perhaps not. Still . . . . "I think that he should be honoured."
"I'm sure that Mr Snape would have been touched by your concern," Grapplethorpe said, in a tone that clearly contradicted his words.
Harry shook his head and continued reading.
IV. My earthly effects, those found on my body, contained at Spinner's End, Trafford Park, Manchester, contained in my vault at Gringotts Wizarding Bank, and contained in my quarters and office at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which constitute my only legal possessions and are, therefore, mine to dispose of freely, with one exception, I direct shall be auctioned for profit by the executor of my estate; the auction's proceeds, I direct shall be contributed to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry's Needy Pupils Fund, and I further direct that the funds from my contribution shall be used solely for the benefit of needy Slytherin students. The exception to the auction is a small oak chest, which may be found behind the panelling in my quarters at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; this chest, I bequeath to Harry James Potter, son of Lily Potter née Evans, wheresoever he is residing at the time of my death. This chest contains items that will be of particular interest to Mr Potter as they relate to his mother. Should Mr Potter fail to claim possession of the chest within one year of my death, I direct that it be Vanished by an agent contracted for this purpose by my executor. Whosoever retrieves the chest shall require the assistance of a curse-breaker; this includes Mr Potter, who will be arrogant enough to assume that such assistance is not required for him should he elect to collect his legacy.
Harry went from feeling pleased by Snape's unexpected generosity to his Slytherins, which really was nice, to feeling annoyed, but he said nothing of this to Grapplethorpe. Snape had been a right git to the end, it seemed.
IVa. My executor is to see to it that Mr Potter retains the services of a curse-breaker should he claim the chest. In the event that a person other than my executor or Mr Potter seeks to remove the chest, my executor is directed to allow whomever this fool might be to attempt removal of it on his or her own, and my executor is further directed to afford no remuneration from my estate to the family of that idiot upon the occasion of his or her inevitable death.
"Merlin, what a bastard he was!"
Grapplethorpe chuckled, but there was nothing pleasant about his laughter.
IVb. I purposefully make no provision for any relatives of mine, known or unknown to me, in this instrument.
"Did Snape have any relatives?" Harry asked, wondering if Section IVb was standard legalese.
"That is not for me to say."
As if you would, anyway, Harry thought, trying to reconcile Snape's heroism with his hatefulness.
"Do read on."
V. Grapplethorpe the Goblin of Gringotts Wizarding Bank, I name as the executor of my last will and testament. In the event that Grapplethorpe dies before me, I direct that his replacement be made my executor. All fees for this service have been rendered unto Grapplethorpe in the expectation that he make arrangements to see that they are transferred to any necessary succedaneum in the event of his death occurring before mine.
I hereunder subscribe my handwritten and magical signatures on this, my last will and testament, on this, the third day of April, 1998, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and in the presence of the portraits of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore and Phineas Nigellus Black, who witnessed my writing of this will from beginning to end, as well as the subscription thereto of my signatures, and who have agreed to attest this will's authenticity should such attestation be required.
Severus Tobias Snape
Reading the contents of Snape's will only caused Harry's confusion to deepen. "Why would Snape have left me anything? He didn't like me. Hell, it seems as though the only person he ever liked was Mum."
"That is not for me—"
"To say, yeah, all right."
"Do you wish to claim the chest?"
"I . . . yeah, I suppose so, but—hey, wait. How do you know Snape's dead already? Did they find his body?" Harry asked, even though he knew that dreams didn't necessarily have to be logical.
Shacklebolt had caught up with him on his way to bed and told Harry that he'd sent Aurors to collect Snape's body, but Harry found it difficult to believe that things could have been sorted so quickly, whether they'd found Snape or not.
"Whatever 'they' found, it was obviously enough to allow them enter a Certificate of Death into the Record, and once that fact was made known to me, I journeyed here to do my duty by Mr Snape."
"Well, how'd you get in here? I thought Professor McGonagall had ordered the grounds sealed to everyone who wasn't part of—"
"Mr Potter, I know that it is early, and I believe that the past few months have been trying ones for you, but perhaps you'd care to answer my question?"
"After you answer mine. How'd you get in here?"
"I am Grapplethorpe of Gringotts. Without exception, I go where my duty takes me."
It was obvious to Harry that he didn't know nearly enough about goblins as he should, even dream goblins. "But the grounds, they are sealed, right?"
"Not to me."
Grapplethorpe's gaze was unnervingly steady and certain.
"So you're saying that you know another way into the castle?"
"I'm saying nothing of the sort, merely waiting for your answer. Will you accept Mr Snape's gift, or won't you?"
"If it's got anything to do with Mum, of course I will. Oh, and thank you," Harry answered, offering Grapplethorpe his hand to shake.
He didn't take it.
"All right, then. I'll just go get the chest now, shall I?" Harry asked, moving towards his door, which was open.
At his approach, it closed.
"Reading comprehension shouldn't be something with which you have difficulty at your age," Grapplethorpe told him, and his tone, if not sarcastic, was definitely derisory.
"I'm sure I can manage it, but thanks, anyway."
"That is what Mr Snape expected you to believe, but you are mistaken. You will require the services of a curse-breaker to claim your chest, and I am charged to see to it that you have them."
"Fine, then," Harry replied, beginning to feel much more annoyed than confused, "I'll ask Bill."
"Do you speak of Mr William Arthur Weasley?"
"Yeah, he's a friend."
"He is also mourning his brother. It would be inappropriate to disturb him at such a time, but I have another curse-breaker who would be happy to provide you with his services."
A card floated from one of Grapplethorpe's pockets towards Harry then, and he snatched it from the air. "'Sebastian Sharpe. Curse-Breaker. Gringotts'," Harry read aloud.
"Reading, you do well enough. Have I your permission to engage Mr Sharpe on your behalf?"
"You're not going to let me out of here until I agree, are you?"
"Suffice it to say that I shall not allow you to claim your chest without a curse-breaker's assistance."
"Do you really think that you could get away with keeping me here against my will?"
"It would be an interesting experiment," Grapplethorpe replied, suddenly leaning against the bed.
It looked to Harry as if he were about to collapse, and even though he was irritated by the officious little man, he could tell that he was probably ill and too tired to be waiting on his answer. "Are you all right? Is there anything that I could do to—"
"Yes or no, Mr Potter."
"Yes, all right, I'll use Sharpe's services."
Instantly straightening and beginning to pack his attaché case, Grapplethorpe replied, "Very good, I shall have him contact you at once."
A knock fell upon the door then, and Harry went to it, incredibly irritated to realise how he'd been manipulated. Not surprised to discover that he could open it, he was startled to find a tall, fairly attractive man standing outside of it. He was wearing an old-fashioned suit and bowler hat, his red hair falling in a plait over one shoulder.
"That was fast," Harry said, turning back to address Grapplethorpe.
The goblin was gone.
Harry turned his attention back to the curse-breaker, for he couldn't imagine who else the man might be. "Sharpe?"
"As a tack, Mr Potter. Now then, are you ready to proceed?"
"How did you—"
"No doubt," Sharpe said, as he walked off in the direction of the stairs, not bothering to see if Harry would follow him, which of course, Harry did, "Grapplethorpe's goblin efficiency is as alarming to you as it is to me, but there is no reason to delay, is there?"
Harry, continuing to follow Sharpe, pinched himself and winced. Fuck, I'm not dreaming. "I suppose not. Just . . . how the hell did you get in here? And how did Grapplethorpe get out?"
"Goblin efficiency," Sharpe replied, stopping his progress as he and Harry emerged from Gryffindor Tower to look up and down the corridor. "Be good enough to follow me through here," he said, walking a few steps away from the Fat Lady's portrait to tap the stones in between two others and stepping through another door, one that Harry had never before seen, as the stones tucked themselves into the wall to create a portal.
It closed behind them, and torches flamed.
"A secret passage."
"Not so secret, clearly."
"And you knew of it, how?" Harry asked, finding it unnerving to realise that Grapplethorpe must have used the same system of tunnels—and that there was a portal to them near his dormitory.
He was dreaming after all; he had to be. Fred and George had known all the tunnels in Hogwarts, hadn't they?
"I discovered it while a student here," Sharpe replied, walking forward only to stop again and open another portal, this one leading to a steep, winding stair. "My girl was a member of your house, and our circumstances required discretion."
"Circumstances? Were you a Slytherin?"
"House affiliations don't change, Mr Potter. I remain a Slytherin. Let us just say that my boy was rather understanding, and also a Slytherin, one who knew all the old, forgotten battle passages. We put them to great use in my day."
"Which couldn't have been that long ago, I'm thinking," Harry replied, flushing at the thought of Sharpe's flexibility with regard to relationships. Oh, yeah, definitely dreaming.
"Are you flirting with me, Mr Potter?"
"What? No. You just don't look that old, is all."
Sharpe snorted. "Thank you," he said, stopping again.
"Problem?" Harry asked, as Sharpe withdrew a phial from his pocket and drank from it.
"No, none. Just thirsty. Now then, we're here. This is the not-so-secret entrance to the Head of House's quarters. I should like you to stand back, as I feel certain that Mr Snape was well aware of this portal."
"You think he warded it?"
"I believe that he placed curses upon it to ensure his privacy, as would any good Slytherin," Sharpe said, beginning to murmur something unintelligible.
The door swung open in a matter of moments.
"You're good," Harry said, attempting to enter the room ahead of Sharpe, who stopped him by placing a large, surprisingly warm, hand upon his chest.
"I'm not so good as to prevent your death should you set off any further 'protections' by entering the room before me. Allow me to do my job, Mr Potter."
Sharpe's voice was fairly deep, if gravelly, and his citric, masculine scent, which Harry knew he had no business noticing, was intriguing. Harry stared at him, pressing into Sharpe's hand and cursing the fact that he was a redhead.
At least he's not a Weasley.
Remembering himself, Harry pulled back and swallowed, completely mortified by his behaviour and the turn of his thoughts. "Oh, er, sure."
Sharpe's mouth twitched. "I understand your . . . curiosity, but caution is called for here." With that, he turned back to his task.
Harry's embarrassment gave way to fascination as he watched Sharpe work. There were several apparently tricky wards to be removed before he deemed it safe for Harry to enter Snape's quarters, and it was . . . interesting to watch him crawl forward while holding a strange bit of clockwork in one hand—interesting for the most part because it gave Harry a clear view of the man's arse, which was rather nice, indeed.
If this were a good dream, he'd be naked, and perhaps Ginny'd be on the bed, also naked.
Harry bit his lower lip, trying to keep the dream from changing. He really was curious about the chest. Mercifully, it wasn't long before Sharpe signalled to him to enter the room, and Harry forgot the erotic tenor of his thoughts as he looked about at the surprisingly comfortable-looking and homey furnishings.
"Is there a problem, Mr Potter?"
"No, but everything seems . . . normal."
"What were you expecting? Torture devices?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "This was Snape's room. Torture devices were the least of what I was expecting."
"Oh? Do tell."
"Er, perhaps we'd better just get on with it."
"As you like."
Sharpe placed his clockwork device back into his pocket, removed his hat, and then knelt on Snape's bed in front of the headboard. He drew his wand and murmured something, and a shimmering cloud of iridescent, rainbow-coloured particles issued from his wand and drained into a crack in the panelling that Harry wouldn't have known was there had he not read Snape's will.
"What are you doing?"
"Performing a diagnostic spell. Don't speak."
The sound of chimes began to emanate from behind the panelling, a light, pleasant sound which quickly turned strident. As the pitch grew sharper, a thick black cloud of smoke began pouring out of the cracks, defining a rectangular section of wood that began to pucker. Sharpe moved off the bed and strode towards Harry, one arm raised, his hand waving him towards the secret entrance.
"We'll need to step out for a moment," Sharpe said, and how he could sound so calm, Harry didn't know.
His head felt as though it might split from the dreadful tone.
Just as they stepped over the threshold and into the passageway beyond, the sound became more a shriek than anything else, and Sharpe pulled Harry to one side of the entrance, casting a shielding charm. Shards of wood bounced off it as the panelling apparently exploded, and a sickening stench rolled out in waves to curl around Sharpe's shield.
"Don't breathe deeply. In fact, cast a Bubble-Head Charm."
Harry and Sharpe cast their Bubble-Heads at the same time, which was, it turned out, a mere heartbeat's span of time before another explosion sounded from the room. It was bigger than the previous one had been.
"Someone's got to have heard that!"
"No, I think not. I did nothing to disable the Imperturbables."
"Oh. All right." Harry waved a hand in front of his face; he couldn't see for all the smoke. "Does anyone know you're here?"
"What do you think, Mr Potter?"
"I think you're a cracking curse-breaker."
Sharpe snorted. "Give it a moment. There may be one more burst."
"You don't know?"
"I don't come across this particular 'protective' spell often."
"Couldn't you just Vanish the smoke?"
"No. Not yet. Patience."
"Could it escape the room? Hurt anyone?" Harry asked, feeling stupid for not having wondered this sooner.
"It's my understanding that this area of the castle is empty, but I did take steps to ensure that the room was sealed, save for this portal. That, however," Sharpe told him, removing a clear bottle from his pocket and pulling the cork out of it, "will not be a problem."
Sharpe pocketed the cork, tapped the bottle with his wand, and held it up; the black smoke was quickly sucked into the bottle, becoming syrupy as it entered it.
"Yes, quite. This substance is lethal," Sharpe said, as he sheathed his wand before stoppering the bottle and sliding it into his pocket. "Now it's safe to retrieve your chest."
Harry followed him back into the room. "Things might have gone a bit differently for me if you'd been my Defence teacher."
"Yes, I expect that's true." Sharpe removed the small chest from its hidden shelf and offered it to Harry. "Well, Mr Potter, my task is now complete. Do you think that you can find your own way back to your dormitory, or shall I escort you?"
Hugging the chest tightly and without thinking about it, Harry said, "I'll probably wake up any moment now, so no, I guess you don't need to escort me."
Sharpe barked out a laugh. "You believe that you're dreaming? Truly?" he asked, taking a step towards Harry.
Harry clutched the chest more tightly and swallowed, suddenly unaccountably nervous.
"You do, don't you? Tell me, what kind of hero wastes time on dreaming about explosions and killer smoke when he could be imagining far more pleasant things?"
"I'm not a—"
"Spare me, Mr Potter. You're the epitome of the do-gooding hero, and so very Gryffindor into the bargain."
Harry didn't say anything as Sharpe closed the distance between them and tugged the chest out of his hands.
Setting it aside, he said, "Remove your charm."
It was only then that Harry realised that Sharpe had already removed his Bubble-Head bubble.
"Or don't. It doesn't matter," Sharpe told him, leaning down to press his face to Harry's inside of the air bubble and bringing with it the man's scent—and his mouth, which opened Harry's in a demanding kiss.
When Harry felt Sharpe's tongue sliding over his own, he moaned and began kissing him back. It was nothing like what he'd imagined when he'd envisioned kissing Ron, or Malfoy, or any of the boys who'd been part of his dreams; it was like kissing Ginny, not wet at all, and it made him feel hard and soft at once.
It was definitely a better way to dream, no matter his curiosity about the chest.
Abruptly, Sharpe broke their embrace.
"What . . . why—"
"No, Mr Potter. No. I am a curse-breaker, not a breaker of children." Sharpe drew his wand and a golden, amorphous "ball" shot from it to hang between them. "Follow it back to your dormitory, and do think of Gringotts for all your curse-breaking needs in future."
With that, Sharpe seized his hat and made for the tunnel. Harry would have gone after him at once were it not for the chest, which he stopped to collect before following the man. The mass of light whizzed by his ear and began travelling back the way they'd come at great speed, and this left Harry with no real choice but to follow it because there was no sign of Sharpe, and he really had no idea how else he'd get back to the tower. And he had to get back there because Ginny was coming to see him.
"Sodding stupid dream!"
Harry didn't miss Ginny, or the Talk that he'd been expecting from her since he'd seen her with Neville the previous day in the Great Hall; it didn't take particularly long, and he didn't feel half as fussed about it as he'd imagined he'd be. What did bother him were the constant demands. It seemed like everyone at Hogwarts—Governors, Ministry officials, Aurors, professors, students (and their families)—wanted to speak to him; some of them wanted statements, some wanted reassurance, and some, it seemed, just wanted to be near him. In the end, Harry had to apply to Kreacher to keep people away from him. Kreacher took to this duty with perhaps rather more relish than Harry would have liked to have seen, but he was so frustrated by the attention that he repaired to Gryffindor Tower and didn't gainsay Kreacher's methods—until the evening.
"I'm his best friend! Let me in there!"
Oh, fuck. "Let him in, Kreacher!"
Ron's furious face appeared in the open portrait hole. "Oh, so I rate an audience, do I?"
"Just come in, you git."
"Nice way to talk to a bloke who's just . . . lost his brother," Ron said, entering the room and shuffling his feet.
Shite. "I'm sorry. I didn't tell him to keep you away, I just wanted—"
"Yeah, I know. Professor McGonagall told me that everyone's been trying to kiss your arse."
Kiss, Harry thought, flushing to remember Sharpe's mouth on his and trying not to.
He still hadn't opened the chest; it hadn't seemed right to look at his Mum's things when he'd been so "preoccupied" by the man who'd helped him to acquire it. He supposed that he should tell Ron about Snape's will, but he decided that it wasn't the right time.
"So, Neville's at the Burrow comforting Gin. Neville is. What's that about?"
"Luna there, too? She said she was going."
"Look, Ron, it was Ginny's idea. She and Nev have been through a lot together, and he's probably better for her."
Ron's eyes widened. "You mean she dumped you?"
"Strictly speaking, we were never—"
"Oh, sod 'strictly speaking'! Everyone knows that you're meant for each other!"
"Yeah, everyone but us," Harry said, throwing himself down on the sofa by the fire.
Ron joined him. "Yeah, all right."
"Had things to do. I asked if I could help, but . . . ."
It was quiet for a long time, too quiet, but Harry couldn't think of what to say. He had so much on his mind that even considering talking about it exhausted him.
"The funeral," Ron said, finally breaking the silence, "that'll be tomorrow."
Fred. "And George?"
"Distraught. Strangely, not as much as Percy is."
"Look, is it because you're a poof?" Ron abruptly asked.
"But you are a poof."
"I'm not. I'm just . . . well, I think that I'm just flexible, is all—Ginny didn't know that. She just knew that I didn't trust her enough to involve her, at least, that's what she said."
"Tired of being the little sister."
Ron sighed. "Yeah, well, good luck to her on that changing any time soon. Mum doesn't even want her to come back here."
"Can anyone come back?"
"They're already making arrangements to finish the term over the summer in Hogsmeade while the castle's made safe for next term, and next year, everyone who didn't get to attend school is going to be invited back."
"Makes sense," Harry said, although it seemed strange to him that people were already thinking about moving on.
"McGonagall wants to talk to us about that. She says there might be a way for us to take all our classes over the summer so that we can start our training on time."
"Auror training? But we haven't even applied to—"
"Here," Ron said, passing him a document. "Seems we've been invited to join the DMLE."
Harry skimmed the letter. "'Pending the satisfactory completion of your studies'. Merlin, Ron! They didn't waste any time, did they?"
Ron sighed. "McGonagall's already found an Auror to agree to teach Defence."
The invitation slid from Harry's hand. "People . . . people aren't even in their graves, yet."
"Yeah, but . . . yeah," Ron said, sniffling loudly. "Fuck."
Harry reached for Ron's hand. Ron took it, and then they both, although in future they never spoke of it, began to cry.
The special summer term was hell on professors and students alike, especially for Harry and Ron, who both were granted Time-Turners in order to take a full year's worth of courses during that time to meet the requirements of the DMLE's Auror Training programme. Hermione had, to Ron's great chagrin and no surprise of Harry's, refused both her invitation to study with them and to enter Auror training. She'd had enough of Time-Turners and adventure, she'd told them, but Harry had known that she'd wanted to spend the summer with her parents, as well as to return to Hogwarts once the school reopened for a "proper," albeit belated, seventh year. To placate Ron, who'd been practically mental in Hermione's absence, Harry had promised him that once the term ended, the three of them would spend time together at Grimmauld before Hermione returned to Hogwarts.
"Master!" Kreacher greeted him, as Harry arrived home. "Everything is ready. Kreacher has seen to all your wishes, and Kreacher has a surprise!"
Harry grinned. It was good to see Kreacher happy, and he was glad that someone had been waiting for him. Ron had gone back to the Burrow to spend a few days with his family before joining Harry, and Hermione wasn't due to arrive until the day before Ron did.
"A surprise? Did you cook something new?"
"Kreacher has done what you told him."
Oh, fuck. What did I tell him? Harry wondered, following Kreacher towards the kitchen.
While he'd been in Hogsmeade, he'd agreed that Kreacher should remain at Hogwarts because his house-elf's enthusiasm to serve him had become more a hindrance than a help.
"She is waiting," Kreacher continued, spitting on his hands and smoothing down the hair in his ears.
Harry raised his eyebrows at that, and noticed that Kreacher was wearing a new, bright green pillowcase with an embroidered edge which he suspected could probably stand up on its own for all the starch.
"You told Kreacher to help his friends at the castle, Master, and Kreacher did this."
"But this isn't Hogwarts," Harry said, stopping as Kreacher turned to face him, his ears quivering in excitement.
"Yes, yes! That's true. This is Kreacher's home. Master is very generous with Kreacher. Master is wise. Kreacher was saddened to be sent away. Kreacher punished himself for returning when Master became angry, but now Kreacher understands."
Oh, hell. Harry remembered now.
It had been difficult to persuade Kreacher to leave him alone while he was studying, and one afternoon when Kreacher had shown up during a lecture at the make-shift school of tents that had been erected in the centre of Hogsmeade for the students—bearing food for all of them because he'd been sure that Harry hadn't been eating well—Harry had ordered Kreacher, "Go find someone else to take care of!" How Kreacher had interpreted that order was something that Harry couldn't even begin to fathom.
"Er, show me?" Harry asked.
"Master Harry is home, Tissy!" Kreacher called, throwing open the kitchen door to reveal an elderly female house-elf wearing a starched silver pillowcase with an embroidery pattern that matched Kreacher's own.
"Master Harry," Tissy greeted him, her ears upright as she took Kreacher's hand.
"Kreacher and Tissy take care of each other, now, Master, just as you said."
"And Tissy is happy to be able to take care of you, as well, Master Harry."
"Thank you, but . . . does the Headmistress know?"
"Oh, when my Kreacher told Mistress McGonagall of your order, she was very kind to Tissy. Tissy is allowed to come and go with Kreacher now," Tissy told him, her eyes shining.
House-elves in love, Harry thought, gobsmacked. "Well, er, good—I mean, I'm happy to have you here."
Kreacher positively beamed with happiness. "Kreacher has done well, and Tissy has done well. There is food. Sit. You must eat, Master."
It took all evening to satisfy Kreacher and Tissy that he'd eaten enough, and then Harry retired for the night. He'd put something off for long enough; it was time to open Snape's chest.
"It's beautiful, Harry. Have you looked through everything else, yet?"
"Well, there's this, which must have taken him ages to make," Harry said, deflecting Hermione's question as he took the snow globe he'd just shown her back and held it up to the light.
The scene inside was of a young Snape, perhaps thirteen, swinging on a set with his mum. They were both smiling, and instead of proper snow, crystalline flakes would swirl within the water when the globe was shaken.
"He used fairy dust particles for the snow, I think," said Hermione admiringly, "and those figurines are probably just wooden dolls with a charm over them, but a really strong one."
"I wonder why Snape never gave it to Mum?"
"Too shy, I suspect, if he made it when he was the age of his figurine. What about those letters?" Hermione asked, pointing into the trunk.
Just thinking about the twin stacks of letters made Harry blush.
"Have you read them?"
"They're kind of personal."
"Oh, Harry, I wasn't expecting you to tell me what was in them."
Harry knew that Hermione was disappointed, but he appreciated her pretending not to be. The letters were Snape's to Regulus Black, and Black's to him. He wasn't sure how Snape had managed to get his back from Regulus, but the man had been a spy. In any case, Harry had been wanking to the letters since first reading them. That wasn't something he was about to tell anyone, least of all Hermione, even though he suspected that she knew as well as Ron that he was "flexible."
The other items were personal ones—a hairbrush, a stick entwined with dried flowers, several books of poetry, an essay of his mum's with Snape's scathing comments underneath Slughorn's (apparently, he hadn't been pleased by the professor's failure to understand the subtlety of his mother's work, "no matter his unctuous praise"), a lock of dark hair, and a journal of experimental potions and spells interspersed with more personal entries by Snape. Harry figured that things must have been pretty bad for Snape if he'd been distracted enough to include his journal and mementoes of Regulus amongst the other items in the chest, but he wasn't sorry to have them, and he was quite happy to have remembrances of his mother. Oddly enough, he found that he was also happy to have evidence of Snape's not having been such a complete bastard—and of how much they'd had in common.
Snape's childhood had been just as bad as his; the anger he'd felt about his neglect resonated with Harry, and that the man had been flexible, too, well, that was somehow incredibly reassuring.
"Did Ron tell you that the Novitiate's Master of Training was retiring?"
"Apparently, Aldrich Brent's finally found someone worthy of replacing him."
"That is news," Harry said, closing his chest and returning it to his closet.
Brent was a legend in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; he'd been the Master at the Novitiate for over fifty years, and Harry and Ron had learnt everything about him that they could towards not disappointing the man.
"I suppose his replacement's an ill-humoured, autocratic twat if Brent likes him."
Hermione laughed. "Nervous, are you?"
"Wouldn't you be?"
"Of course, but according to Bill, Sharpe's a good man."
Harry went rigid. "Did you say Sharpe?"
"You know of him?"
"Curse-breaker for Gringotts, right?"
"Yes, but how did you—"
"He's the one who retrieved the chest for me."
Now it was Hermione's turn to look surprised. "Well, that is interesting."
"Sebastian Sharpe? You're certain?"
"Yes, Harry, but that's good, isn't it? I mean, that you already know him?"
Harry snorted. "It was just one meeting. I don't know him."
"Did you like him?"
Flushing, Harry replied, "He seemed decent enough, but he'll be the Master now, and . . . ."
"Don't be nervous. I doubt he'll treat you any differently than he will the other novices."
Harry supposed not, but that in itself was disappointing. There'd been no time to practice being flexible while finishing school, and although he'd promised himself the autumn to make up for that (training wouldn't begin until the first of the year), Sharpe had figured in his dreams as much as Snape and Regulus Black had.
He was casting about for something to say when he heard, "Oi! You up there?"
"Ron!" Hermione called, dashing out the door without a word to Harry.
He snorted. He'd expected as much, and he wasn't surprised by Kreacher's tardiness in announcing Grimmauld's newest arrival. When he did come, however, it was bearing a letter; Harry was still scowling over it when Ron and Hermione joined him later for dinner.
"—'have a plan, but it will require a bit of nerve on my part, and some public speaking on yours. I look forward to discussing this with you tomorrow. Sincerely, Minerva McGonagall'," Harry read, before looking up to see Ron and Hermione's reactions.
"That's reprehensible!" Hermione exclaimed.
Ron frowned. "How can they do it, anyway? There've always been four houses."
"It wouldn't be Hogwarts without them."
"Don't worry about it, Hermione," Harry said, laying aside the letter. "McGonagall's not going to stand for this, and neither am I. First the portrait business, and now this. No, it's completely unacceptable! It's . . . it's like slapping him in the face!"
"Snape, you mean?" Hermione asked, and Harry didn't miss her quick, worried glance at Ron, who shrugged.
"Yes," Harry said, mentally postponing his plans for the autumn.
It seemed that he had work to do.
Much of the damage that Hogwarts had suffered was still visible to Harry as he approached it for the Sorting ceremony at the start of the next term. Some repairs took longer than others, and Minerva had made it plain that she wasn't in a hurry to allow anyone to forget what had happened at the school. Harry understood that, which was one of the reasons that he'd agreed to address the students as the Board of Governors had requested. While he'd avoided becoming the Ministry's "poster hero," as Ginny had called their desired role for him, he now had several reasons to believe that it was a good idea for him to be on hand to reassure the students that things really were going to go on as usual—and chief among them was Minerva's plan.
The Governors wouldn't be expecting the content of his speech, and they weren't going to appreciate it, but Harry didn't appreciate the lot of them for behaving like such utter arseholes. Still, no matter his resolve to do what he could to help Minerva, he felt odd about why he'd agreed to do it. He'd had plenty of time alone to think over the previous few weeks—Ron and Hermione had been more than willing to entertain themselves—and Harry had spent much of it thinking about what it meant that Snape's portrait had never shown up with the other Headmasters'. He'd even begun to develop certain suspicions regarding the man that he'd become hell-bent to see appropriately honoured.
They said, he thought, of the Governors, that the portrait had been arranged, but how can I know that for sure?
Still, even considering what he knew of Snape's will, Harry found it hard to believe that one magical document could override centuries of Hogwartsian tradition.
As he flew over the Quidditch pitch, however, he put all thoughts of Snape out of his mind. In a little under an hour, he'd be speaking to a packed Great Hall. He'd not addressed any crowd since Voldemort's death, no matter who or why anyone had asked him to, and he had no idea what it was that he was going to say.
No matter what I say, no matter what people think of me, it doesn't mean that they'll do something just because of my speech.
That Minerva thought otherwise was reassuring, but Harry still had his doubts.
Hell, I'm only eighteen. Who cares what I think? he asked himself, coming down to land in the centre of the pitch. At least I'm not coming back to teach.
Sighing and shrinking his broom, Harry tucked it into his pocket and made for the castle. He was almost to the stadium's exit when a familiar voice called to him.
"Harry Potter. The Chosen One. The Boy Who Lived. Our Saviour."
"What the hell?" Harry demanded, spinning on one heel to find Sebastian Sharpe striding towards him, a wide grin on his face.
"If you don't want an earful of that rubbish, perhaps you'd allow me to show you one of the entrances to the old battle tunnels? The press is at the front—in force."
"Oh. Er, sure—I mean, yes. I don't like reporters."
Sharpe snorted. "You've done an astounding job keeping them at bay since the Dark Lord's death, so I think I believe you."
Harry shook his head and smiled ruefully to remember where some of his dreams had taken him as far as Sharpe was concerned. No, can't be. I was wrong. "I'm sorry."
"Whatever for?" Sharpe asked, directing Harry to follow him into the stands.
"I, er, I sort of thought that you might be . . . never mind. It's stupid."
"Might be lurking about in hope of another kiss?" Sharpe asked, indicating that Harry should walk towards the base of the nearest observation tower.
Harry coughed. "No, that wasn't it. But really, it was nothing."
Sharpe pointed his wand at the earth by the tower's outside wall as they came to it, and a hole appeared. Peering into it, Harry could see that there was a stone stair spiralling downwards.
"Damn, it seems as though we attended two different schools! The Marauder's Map never had these tunnels on it."
"The what? Oh, I see. Some clever students created a map of the school, one to show where everyone was, perhaps? The better to sneak about?"
"Yeah, got it in one," Harry said, suddenly wondering about Sharpe again. How could he have known that? He noticed two things as they took the stairs: Sharpe still smelled good, and his smile was nothing like the smirk that Snape had occasionally worn, which made him waver again on the matter of Sharpe's identity. "I, er, I suppose that's no surprise, given that you'll soon be my Master."
"You're still a flirt, then, Potter?"
"I wasn't flirting."
Sharpe stopped as the stairs began to widen and an arch became visible in the gloom. "I would appreciate it if you'd tell me what you're trying so hard not to."
"You mean, about the nothing?"
Harry swallowed; Sharpe's gaze was reminiscent of Grapplethorpe's, steady and piercing. "I thought you might be—it's impossible, of course, but your girl and your boy and the—I mean, you know about these tunnels!"
"Clarity, Mr Potter, will be required of you as an Auror. Try again?"
Sharpe seemed amused, and not at all terrifying; Harry knew now that he'd been wrong about him. "I . . . oh, hell. I thought you were Snape. I know it's stupid, but I—"
"Ah. Of course. I expect that does make some sense." Sharpe tapped some of the stones around the arch, and the earth blocking it appeared to melt away. "An illusion, that, and one of mine, I'm proud to say."
"It's good," Harry replied, feeling like a git.
"Don't feel stupid. I contributed to your confusion, I'm sure. You're not the first student to fancy a professor—"
"—and given everything on your mind at the time, it couldn't have helped that I kissed you." Sharpe stopped and turned towards Harry. "I don't regret it, I'm sorry to say. You looked delicious, and I'd not had occasion to celebrate the victory when Grapplethorpe called me. My impulse control has never been particularly good without a reason to mind it."
Harry couldn't believe that they were having this discussion and said nothing.
"Harry—may I call you Harry?" Sharpe asked.
"Severus Snape is dead. I know it must have been odd to discover that he'd left you something in his will, and given the circumstances of our meeting so soon after Grapplethorpe presented you with the news, as well as our resultant adventure, I don't blame you for your supposition. But he is dead, and I've been Sebastian Sharpe for all my life, a rather talented curse-breaker with poor impulse control, as I said, but Sebastian Sharpe all the same. I suppose I'm flattered that you think so highly of me, no matter the things I've heard about Snape, so I'll give you my promise now never to mention your confusion to anyone."
"Thanks. I don't know what I was thinking, really. I guess I just . . . ."
"I'm good with puzzles, too. Something, or several things, about me remind you of Snape, is that it?"
"He was flexible."
Sharpe laughed. "If you mean that he fancied both sexes, that's hardly uncommon," Sharpe replied, favouring Harry with a pointed glance.
Harry flushed. "He had a girl, sort of, my mum, I mean, in Gryffindor—and a boy in Slytherin. He was good at spells, like you, and you knew all about his quarters."
It seemed terribly important to Harry to present his reasons. He'd barely allowed himself to think of them for all the wanking, and now that he had Sharpe in front of him . . . .
"Was there something that you wanted to say to Snape, some apology that you wished to make him?"
"Snape was a right bastard to me from the moment I stepped into his classroom. He was a hateful git!"
"But he was brave, too. He saved my life and tried to save Mum's—and I called him a coward almost the last time I spoke to him. I just . . . I never liked him, you understand, but I wish I'd had . . . I wish that I could have saved him back, you know? And had the chance to thank him."
"Oh, all right, and to apologise to him."
"For calling him a coward?"
"I guess. Yeah."
"Harry, as I understand matters, Snape was playing a role, and you're no more responsible for how you reacted to that trickery than he was for having to be so cruel—unless of course he took some pleasure in it, in which case, yes, a right bastard he must have been. But by my lights, you've no reason to apologise to him at all. You were, and you'll forgive me for saying so, I hope, just a boy."
"There's a lot you don't know about Snape."
"To be honest with you, there's a lot I don't care to know about the man, but you interest me."
"I don't see why not."
"You're going to be my Master of Instruction."
"Merlin, but I was wrong about you."
"There's nothing in the written rules against fraternisation, but no, I won't be indulging myself with any novices."
"Right, you don't break children. I remember."
"I don't suppose that you are a child after everything you've experienced, but you are harbouring an odd wish to connect me to this Snape of yours."
Harry frowned and ran a hand through his fringe.
"You say you know that you were wrong about me, but I don't believe you. Some part of you obviously needs to believe that the man's still with us."
"You sound like a Muggle head doctor."
"Curse-breaking is aided by a working understanding of what could be considered the psychiatric arts, but it's more than that. Do you still have nightmares? Are you still keeping yourself too busy to think?" Sharpe asked, retrieving the phial that Harry had seen before and sipping from it.
"What is that?"
"Just a bit of Firebright. Now answer my question."
Harry knew what Firebright Elixir was, at least, he knew that it was forbidden for use by Auror trainees; that information had been included in the literature he'd been given with regard to his upcoming training. "Do you take it to remain alert?"
Sharpe shook his head. "It's no use trying to deflect my questions. At the Novitiate, I'm going to learn far more about you than—"
"Yeah, yes, I do have nightmares, and I haven't let myself rest in . . . in ages, it seems, but I don't know how else to go on."
"Honest. Good. Since you've been honest, I'll tell you that I couldn't possibly be as charming as I am without my elixir. Curse-breaking takes its toll. Frankly, given what your life has been like I'm surprised that you haven't developed any bad habits. You're a stronger man than I am, it seems."
"You think? I don't feel particularly strong, and—and you know, I can't think why I'm talking to you like this."
"Because you don't, is that right? Talk?"
"Not like this."
"Has anyone asked you to?"
"Anyone to whom you'd care to speak?"
"No," Harry said, leaning against the wall opposite Sharpe and sliding down it into a squat.
Ron wasn't much for talking, and Hermione had contented herself with worried, bearing up looks that told Harry she was trying to respect his privacy.
"Yes, we have been standing here for an age." Sharpe mirrored Harry's posture. "We've perhaps twenty minutes before the Sorting."
Sharpe's eyebrows rose.
"Not that I'll make them. I'm just nervous."
"Because they're trying to get rid of Slytherin House."
Sharpe's eyes narrowed, and no matter what Harry had previously thought, the man's expression was a twin of Snape's cool but angry expression. "Minerva and I aren't going to let them, though. Well, mostly Minerva—it's her plan."
Smiling at that, Sharpe insisted that Harry explain, which Harry quickly did, and then the two of them rose.
"Your efforts on Slytherin's behalf are most welcome, Mr Potter."
"I thought I was Harry?"
"And I'm Sebastian, but only when we're alone."
Harry grinned as they proceeded further into the castle at a fast pace. "What happened to not involving yourself with novices?"
"I mentioned my impulse issues?"
"So you did, Sebastian."
Given that he was about to involve himself in a Sorting-related issue, Harry decided to speak to the hat responsible for the process. All eyes were on Minerva, and the Sorting Hat was in front of her place at the High Table, next to which Harry was sitting. He surreptitiously took the opportunity to move the hat towards the edge of the table and himself, sighing to remember how Fred and George had taught him to throw his voice like a ventriloquist one holiday.
It's amazing how many silly things they taught me that have turned out to be useful, he mused, throw-whispering without shifting his position, "So, er, Mr Hat, I mean, Mr Sorting Hat?"
"Why Harry Potter, isn't it?"
"Yeah, it's me."
"And feeling so very Slytherin, too."
"Mr Sorting Hat, I—"
"Hat will do nicely, Mr Potter."
"Oh, er, all right," Harry whispered, noticing that Minerva seemed nearly done with her speech. "About Slytherin, do you think you'll still be Sorting students into it?"
"Who can say for certain? I won't know until I'm worn."
"So you'll still do it, if it's called for?"
"Of course I will. Why would you ask such a question?"
"No reason. Well, all right, there is one, but—"
"—to the podium, Mr Harry Potter!"
Harry started as the candles hovering overhead flared and people's attention turned from Minerva to him. He stood up from the High Table and walked around it to take her place at the podium, shifting uncomfortably as the applause continued. Finally, quiet fell in the Great Hall, and he began to speak.
His words, however, wouldn't come. He'd meant to speak first of Voldemort, of honouring the dead, but he'd been thinking about Snape and Slytherin. He covered himself by feigning a coughing fit, and that was when he noticed Grapplethorpe leaning on his cane at the back of the hall.
Fuck. Snape's will.
Somehow, Grapplethorpe was doing something to honour Snape's wishes about 'intangible' memorials.
Bastard, Harry thought, meaning Snape rather than Grapplethorpe. Fine, then. "I'm sorry," he said, clearing his throat. "I'm coming down with a bit of a cold, but nothing could have prevented me from being here today."
Cheers erupted in the hall, which Harry smiled through, thinking furiously about what to say.
"Hogwarts has a house system, and one that works. You've all grown up hearing about it. You've all wondered if you'd be Sorted as your parents were. For some of you, I imagine, today is especially worrisome."
A ripple of noise, as if of uneasy agreement, rolled through the soon-to-be First Years.
"Well, this is all I have to say about that: this is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It had four founders. It's always had four houses. And today, no matter the . . . the infamy of some, it has four houses still."
Instead of applause, Harry looked out into the crowd to see that everyone appeared to be holding their breath.
"Voldemort killed my parents, but he didn't kill Slytherin House. His evil had nothing to do with his Sorting. Ambitious, brave, clever, and loyal students have come out of Slytherin, and today, ambitious, brave, clever, and loyal students will find themselves Sorted into it."
Now came the applause, and it was thunderous; Harry found himself so caught up in his relief at the resultant excitement that he forgot the rest of his speech even as he finished making it.
At some point after the Sorting—which produced seven new Slytherins (and Minerva told him that she was sure there would be others once the news got out that Slytherin was still a house at Hogwarts)—Harry found himself shaking hands with Draco Malfoy.
"You're back to finish?"
"Obviously, Potter, and I appreciate what you've done. Being made a Ravenclaw would have been unbearable."
"You expected to be Re-Sorted?"
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "Of course I did, at least, at first. Father's had his solicitors preparing a challenge to that eventuality for months. Frankly, I'm relieved it didn't come to that."
"It would have been a sorry thing to do, especially given . . . I mean—"
"You mean Professor Snape, and so do I," Malfoy interrupted, his expression losing all trace of arrogance. "Thank you for saving his house. It seems as though that's all the memorial he's ever to receive."
Harry had only the chance to nod before he was pulled away by Minerva, who gestured at a Governor striding towards them. "Perhaps you'd like to visit the staff room? They can't go in there. Severus saw to that when he became Headmaster."
Harry gave a half-laugh and made for the door behind the High Table.
Sharpe was waiting for him in the staff room.
"I never did ask," Harry said, as if he'd been expecting the man, "why you were here—or if anyone knew you were."
"Everyone who's seen me knows that I'm here."
"Why do I get the feeling that the list of people who have seen you is short?"
Sharpe smirked as Harry sat down near him. "Because you're not a dunderhead?"
"Snape used to say dunderhead."
"Snape is dead, Harry. You watched him die."
"Not for lack of trying."
"Goblin efficiency, I expect," Sharpe replied, sipping from his phial.
Harry raised an eyebrow. No ghost, either. "Why are you here, anyway?"
"About you, or hadn't you gathered that?"
"Poor, if we're speaking of mine, but I meant what I said about not interfering with novices. Of course, you're not yet a novice, are you, Mr Potter?"
"You're . . . really rather strange, Sebastian."
"No, Harry, I'm intrigued—and Slytherin enough to know how to bend the rules without breaking them." Pocketing his phial, Sharpe rose. "Shall we?"
"Er, shall we what?"
"Make great use of an old battle tunnel."
Oh, Harry thought, swallowing hard to find himself so.
There was a long, liquid moment in which Harry thought his very soul was being sucked out of his body through his prick; Sebastian's mouth was a hot vortex of suction and undulating tongue. The rhythm of its movement against the underside of his cock was damnably slow, but it coaxed more than one orgasm from him before he finally couldn't take the pleasure anymore and collapsed, breathing heavily, into Sebastian's strong embrace, and Harry found himself laughing uncontrollably.
"Sorry, can't . . . I can't . . . I don't . . . know why—"
"Don't fight what you're feeling," Sebastian said, his voice so low that it was almost a growl.
Harry could hear the need in it.
"But I . . . want . . . I want—"
Sebastian shifted a bit, and Harry spilt bonelessly into his lap, his head leaning against the older man's chest. Sebastian was cradling him, and that should have been awkward, but Harry couldn't bring himself to mind.
"I want you, to . . . I want to do . . . that to . . . you."
Lips pressed themselves to his head. "Rest. We've time."
"Oh, yes. I've made certain of it."
Harry nuzzled against Sebastian, on impulse, nipping at his chest before allowing sleep to claim him.
The last thing he heard before it took him completely was Sebastian's murmured, "Things will be different this time."
Harry woke up in Snape's quarters, alone, or so he thought until he noticed the steam pouring into the room from a door he'd not noticed the last time he'd been there. Snatches of a bawdy song issued from that room, as well; the singer's voice was deep and rich, and once again, Harry found himself sure that Sebastian Sharpe was Severus Snape. He stretched his deliciously sore limbs and rose from the bed, moving towards the open door.
It's true, isn't it? But how can it be? he wondered, his eyes playing over the lean, well-muscled body he saw in the shower. He doesn't act like Snape, but . . . .
It occurred to Harry that perhaps Sebastian was right; perhaps some part of him did need Sebastian to be Snape, so he was just imagining similarities between the two. Still, there was the matter of Sebastian's phial. Polyjuice was a possibility.
But Nagini's bite—how could Snape have survived that? I watched him die.
Harry couldn't think how it might be possible that only hours after suffering such a dreadful injury, Snape could have shown up in the guise of Sharpe.
But I don't have to know how it happened for it to have happened, do I?
"Are you just going to stand there, or would you like to join me?"
Harry started. "Sorry, didn't mean to stare."
"And why not?" Sebastian asked, turning around to display his wet, soapy body to Harry. "I'm worth a look or two like this, I think."
The smile wasn't Snape's, but Harry was more interested in the rising prick before him; it made him forget his confusion entirely. "Rinse off. I want to suck you."
"Yes, so very much the Gryffind—oh."
Harry liked Sebastian's reaction to his fingers fondling his bollocks, and he rolled them slowly as he knelt before him, his free hand sliding down Sebastian's torso to grasp the base of his prick. Grinning up at him, he closed his eyes before taking what he could of Sebastian's cock into his mouth, trying to roll his tongue along the pulsing vein of its underside even as he sucked. It took some getting used to, cock-sucking, but before long, Harry was sure he'd got the hang of it.
"Fuck yes, just like . . . fuck, Har—"