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The pain that wracked his body was, Snape thought, not as bad as Cruciatus in some ways, but worse in others. Cruciatus was more intense, but it didn't come with the sickening knowledge that each wave of agony brought him one step closer to death. He gritted his teeth and straightened up to meet the gaze of the man he'd asked to meet him here in order to beg for his life. "Pardon me, Po- Harry, the curse's effects are... infrequent still, but unpredictable. I promise that I did not plan for you to witness... that," he said, hating the weakness he was showing with each laboured breath.

Harry sat back and stared for long enough that, was Snape not practiced at staying still and calm under a much more baleful gaze, it might have caused him to fidget, flinch or babble. Eventually, Harry picked up the weathered bit of parchment and said warily, "Let's say that I do believe you about the cure," flipping the paper over and over in his fingers, while Snape blessed his own foresight to have copied it several times before handing the original over to Harry. "Why should I do this with you? You killed Professor Dumbledore. You chose to become a Death Eater. You're only getting what they're all getting."

Snape flinched; it took will not to hide it, but he knew he had to be genuine or Harry would never believe him. "You know I regret everything I've done, and had to do, as a Death Eater and as a spy." He looked away, unwilling to show Harry his grief, not even to save his life. "Albus knew what had to be done."

"How long?" asked Harry, his face more blank than Snape had thought he could manage.

"It's hard to say," said Snape, taking a sip of his tea to wet a throat gone dry. "The curse seems to concentrate on one person at a time, rather than progressing at the same rate in each of us. To the best of my knowledge I am the least afflicted thus far, but there are only three of us left."

"We've been losing them at every new moon, except this last one," said Harry, referring to the captured Death Eaters penned together in Azkaban prison, left to watch each other die.

Snape sighed. "I believe Draco Malfoy has passed away," he said, letting a small portion of his pain show. He'd worked so hard to keep Draco from following in his father's footsteps, but in the end it was their pure blood and foolish lust for power that brought them both to a painful and horrific end.

"Ah," said Harry, setting the parchment back down carefully. "We never did catch him."

"Unlike me," said Snape, shivering a little at the memory of his time in Azkaban. The Dementors were gone, but the misery remained, clinging to the stones like the damnable curse that clung to the Dark Mark, slowly destroying everything it touched.

"You got out," said Harry shortly, though a small bit of doubt was creeping past his facade of indifference. "You're alive now."

"For another month," said Snape pointedly. "Three at the most."

Harry sighed, dropping his act altogether. "I'm not making any promises," he said, running his hands through his hair. He picked up the parchment and tucked it into his robes. "I'll have Hermione look into it. And I won't... you're the only one I'd even consider doing this for, so don't tell a soul about this."

Snape swallowed against the hope rising in his chest. "I am Slytherin enough still to know when to keep my mouth shut," he said, then stood. "May I get the tab?"

Harry blinked, as if this mundane offer was more unexpected in its way than Snape's request. "Erm, I suppose. I mean, can you afford it?"

Snape smiled a bit grimly. "There are those who see me as a pariah, it is true, but there are still others who are happy to pay good money for my services. I didn't teach Potions at Hogwarts for so long because I was merely adequate at the craft, regardless of the lack in certain other of your professors," he said, letting a little of his old snap into his voice. He knew he'd need to woo Harry to his cause, but he also knew that the boy valued honesty more than most, and might view any major change in demeanour as a deception.

Harry rewarded him with a laugh. "All right then, the tea's on you," he said, standing up and slipping into his cloak. "You know," he said thoughtfully, drinking the last mouthful in his cup, "you're not so bad when your sarcasm isn't about me."

It was Snape's turn to laugh, and Harry slipped away before he managed to think of an adequate comeback. He paid the bill, satisfied that things were well begun. Now if only he could manage to convince Harry to finish before it was too late.

Harry took the parchment straight to Hermione, who had been quietly looking into a cure for the curse all along. "Snape found it, the bastard, and I'm the one that's going to have to suffer for it," said Harry resentfully, tossing the parchment at her. "He's already asked, and I haven't said yes, but I think he knows I'm going to. I can't just... I can't."

"You can't just let him die like that, not with a life debt between you," said Hermione. She looked at the parchment, eyes widening. "This is the solution we were looking for, and I can see why we missed it. It's an obscure branch of magic."

"It's not going to matter that I'm not... you know, is it?" asked Harry.

Hermione chuckled and shook her head. "No, that's an even more specialized sort of magic, as you can imagine, since it can only be done once in a caster's lifetime."

"Yeah, I suppose so," said Harry with a snort. "Is it, erm... are there a lot of words? I had a hell of a time with the rite that killed Voldemort, and I wasn't nearly as distracted as I'm going to be, trying to... help Snape."

Hermione laughed, and Harry tried not to feel hurt; they'd spent endless hours drilling the long chant into Harry's head, and he'd still almost flubbed it at the crucial moment. "I'm sure Snape will help you practice."

Harry's head hit the desk with a resounding thunk.

"So," said Harry, turning his teacup round and round and definitely not looking at Snape, "I think you should know, I'm rubbish at this sort of thing."

Snape snorted. "I am given to understand it is not necessary that I take pleasure in the ritual, merely..."

Harry's head shot up, face bright red. "Not that! Rituals. Chanting. Remembering more than three words of Latin in a row."

"I am sure Miss Granger can sufficiently drill the rite into you; it's no more complex than the one you used to curse me in the first place."

"Wait, I didn't curse you! And, actually, I nearly fu- er, messed that one up," said Harry, brows knitting. "Are you saying that you're all dying because of the way I killed Voldemort?"

"Why do you think it has to be you whose essence burns the curse out of me?" said Snape dryly, amused at Harry's obtuseness. "I assure you, Potter, it is not my lifelong dream to be buggered by one of my students while hoping he remembers his Latin."

Harry chuckled and relaxed a little. "I'm worried about that, actually, I mean... Hermione can drill me on the rite but I'll probably need to practice the, um, other parts, too. Or else I'll be too distracted to remember if it's perpurgo or perpugnax."

"Are you suggesting we become lovers for the duration, Potter?" asked Snape incredulously. He couldn't quite sort out his feelings on the matter, the old contempt jumbled in with a burgeoning respect, not to mention the prospect of regular, consensual sex for the first time in a long, long while.

Harry sighed and put his head in his hands. "I think you'd better call me Harry," he said, then looked up. "If we're going to be lovers, I mean."

Snape blinked. "Apparently," he said, taking a sip of his own tea, "you should be calling me Severus."

Harry downed the last of his tea in one swig and stood up. "I haven't had much practice, but I didn't get any complaints, either," he said, going toward the door. He paused in the doorway and then said resignedly, "Well, are you coming or not?"

Harry stood in his bedroom, waiting for Snape to catch up and wondering how in the world he got himself into these things. He supposed it was only sensible that he get used to both things at once, but he still had a hard time figuring out how he'd gone from tea and Latin to sex with Snape.

"You don't have to look like that," said Snape from the doorway. "I don't bite unless specifically requested."

Harry flushed and shrugged, then stripped off his shirt to give his face a moment to recover, not that he'd ever been able to hide anything. "Why would someone want you to bite them?" he asked when he was done, watching the way Snape's eyes traced over his torso like their first caress. It made him shiver.

"Cold?" asked Snape, stepping into the room and closing the door behind him. He began to remove his own clothing, first the outer robes draped over a chair, and then his long fingers worked at the dozen tiny buttons on his left wrist.

Harry shook his head, then realized Snape wasn't looking at him and said, "No, I'm fine." He sat on the bed to take off his shoes and socks, glancing up once they were off to see Snape working on the other cuff. "I always thought you'd have a spell for that."

Snape shrugged. "I enjoy the anticipation," he said sardonically, though Harry suspected part of it might be the truth.

Harry levered himself up and shuffled over, hands hovering at Snape's throat and the tantalizing buttons there. "Can I?"

Snape's eyebrow went up, and he nodded once. "By all means," he said, lowering his wrists so they could work together without interfering.

Snape's coat was stiff and a little rough, and it took Harry a few tries to figure out the way to slip the little round buttons out of their slots. The shirt underneath was wrinkled and warm, the fabric soft except for the starched collar, which was smooth and inflexible where it circled Snape's slender throat. Harry got so immersed in what he was doing that he was surprised when Snape's hands met his at the last few buttons in the middle, having come up from below to hasten the job. "Oh, I... sorry," said Harry, pulling back, feeling awkward.

It was a strange thing, to be planning sex with a man he didn't necessarily like, let alone care for or want, though if he was honest with himself he could feel the desire slowly rising in him as they unveiled Snape's body together.

Snape slipped out of his waistcoat and laid it over the robe, then brought his hands up to frame Harry's face. The fingers were cool but the palms were warm, and Harry froze with his hands hovering, unsure. "Don't be sorry about any of this," said Snape incongruously, bringing his mouth down onto Harry's for their first kiss.

Snape's nose got in the way a bit at first, mostly from Harry trying to avoid it, and then their lips met and Harry's were dry and Snape's were chapped but moist. Snape's mouth moved in interesting enough ways that Harry found his hands settling on Snape's hips to pull them closer. Their tongues tangled and it was a bit sour and strange, but it was also slick and hot and good enough to make Harry's prick take interest. Snape's fingers moved away now that things were well underway, as it were, one hand threading into Harry's messy hair while the other trailed over his throat and down his bare chest, finding and teasing a nipple until Harry gasped and rubbed his cock against Snape's thigh.

They broke apart, Harry blushing over his own shamelessness or perhaps just flushed with arousal, or both, if he was to be perfectly honest with himself. "Are we, I mean, is this..."

"Let us finish undressing and recommence in bed," said Snape, his voice just a little rough around the edges.

Harry nodded, hands reaching up automatically to start on the blessedly fewer buttons of Snape's shirt. Snape looked surprised, but allowed the contact, removing the collar and cuffs which turned out to be completely separate things from the shirt itself. Harry tugged the fabric up and out of Snape's waistband, finding it just a little damp and warm enough that he couldn't resist running his hands along Snape's naked waist, feeling the heat of his skin, how smooth and solid Snape was, not an ounce of extra anything on him. There were scars on his back that Harry traced haphazardly with his fingers, barely noticing when the shirt fluttered away and Snape's hands began to return the favour.

"Are you reluctant, or easily distracted?" asked Snape, his breath hot enough on Harry's ear it took a moment to puzzle out his meaning.

"Distracted, sorry," said Harry, stepping back. His hands went to his trousers, and he looked at Snape significantly, since Harry was sure that Snape's boots would take longer than Harry's remaining clothing, and he didn't really want to stand there naked while Snape fiddled with his socks.

Snape chuckled and sat on the chair that held his clothes, deftly unbuttoning the old-fashioned boots while Harry watched and fidgeted. It seemed to take a million years and yet not nearly long enough before they were tucked beneath the chair with a sock in each, and Snape was standing with his hands on the button of his own trousers. "Shall we have the moment of truth, then?"

"Er, yeah," said Harry, though he hadn't been thinking of it that way until just now, which gave him exactly enough time to worry about the size of his assets before they were unveiled and his trousers and pants kicked aside in a pile.

Snape of course was more neat about it, and Harry got quite a nice view of his narrow arse as he hung the last of his clothing over the back of the chair and retrieved his wand, followed by a rather intimidating view of Snape's cock as he turned back. There was a scar on his hip that Harry had a sudden, inexplicable urge to lick, a strange web-shaped mark that sent tendrils into the thick thatch of hair surrounding Snape's heavy, soft cock. Snape's eyes did their own slow perusal of Harry's body and filled with something Harry hoped was satisfaction.

"Do I, er, meet your approval?" asked Harry, his prick bobbing, the traitorous thing having enjoyed the appraisal quite a bit.

Snape smiled and stepped forward, pulling Harry close for one more kiss. "You are one of the most attractive men I have had the opportunity to bed, foolish boy," he said, something warm in his voice that might have been affection, and might have been mockery.

Harry suspected the latter, but let it go, because it was Snape and he couldn't let Snape die once they'd kissed, so there was no backing out now anyway. "You're more fit than I expected, I mean, you're all, I dunno, it comes together better when you're naked, I guess."

Snape laughed, wry and genuine, and slowly guided Harry backward toward the bed. "A most sincere compliment," he said, pressing a kiss to Harry's mouth. "Do you know the spells, or do you prefer to do things the Muggle way?"

Harry blinked. He'd only ever done this with that one bloke, who'd had a potion which somehow Harry had assumed Snape would insist upon brewing for himself. "How do you like it?" he asked, scrambling mentally to think if he had anything that would do.

Snape looked nearly as surprised to be asked as Harry had been, and he paused and shrugged. "I have no set preference, but I know the spells if that would be easiest. I can teach them to you, though for the ritual there is likely a specific lubricant required, along with everything else."

"Er, that sounds good. The spells, I mean, not the ritual... you really think there's a special one?" asked Harry dubiously. He found himself spreading his legs, even though he knew it had to be the other way around for it to be right -- the slow rise of Snape's majestic cock kept distracting him, longer and thicker with each beat of his heart.

Snape followed Harry's gaze, then let his eyes slither over to the shadowy curve of Harry's arse, just visible between his legs. "Perhaps I should demonstrate on you first, and we can have a second round the, er, proper way?" he offered.

Harry couldn't tell if Snape was being noble or self-serving, and decided if it was going to get him closer to Snape's cock, he didn't really care. "That sounds like a good idea. My wand's in my trousers, anyway," said Harry, tilting his hips up and raising one leg, doing everything but putting up a sign saying 'Insert Here'.

Snape had the intelligence not to comment on Harry's newfound willingness, and instead slid his wand sensually down Harry's inner thigh until it just touched the quivering opening at the apex. "This might feel odd. It's for cleansing and relaxing," said Snape, and then the incantation, which Harry barely heard as a shiver of warm magic slipped into his arse and left him feeling emptier and more wanton than before.

"Oh, that was... You'll have to t-teach me properly once we've, um. Later," said Harry, bringing up his other knee and spreading them wide, then reaching down and pulling his bollocks out of the way to give Snape a better view. Snape's face, once Harry managed to wrench his attention up that high, was filled with the sort of lust that Harry had always wanted to see aimed at himself, but had never been brave enough to ask for. "What's next?" asked Harry, breathless.

"Next is lubrication," said Snape. He performed a swish and flourish with his wand, tapping Harry's relaxed entrance as he said, "Esilde," his voice as liquid as the feeling that filled Harry's arse briefly. He repeated it on his own cock, and Harry watched as Snape's prick took on a distinct sheen. "Do you require anything further?" he asked, setting his wand aside.

"You," said Harry, toes curling into the sheets at the very thought of it. "I just need you."

Snape obliged him readily, moving in first for a kiss before putting Harry's legs up over his shoulders and positioning his cock. "Ask," he said, voice rough with desire as he pushed slowly into Harry's willing body, "and you shall receive."

Harry's breath left him as Snape pressed inexorably inward, bigger somehow than Harry had expected, now that he was feeling every inch. "Huge," said Harry, feeling like an idiot as soon as the word came out of his mouth.

Snape didn't smirk or mock him as Harry might have expected, though; he rubbed Harry's hip soothingly, pausing as the last of him was swallowed up in Harry's welcoming body. "Just relax," he said, though he had to clear his throat twice to get the words out. "You're very tight."

Harry almost laughed at that, wondering how it would be when their positions were reversed, if he'd manage to be so considerate, if his face would hold the same possessive awe lurking behind the lust that clouded Snape's dark eyes. Harry took a deep, shaky breath and let it out, then another and another, feeling the tension drain out of his body as the languid pleasure slipped up his spine, whispering wicked promises to him.

Promises that Snape delivered, slipping his hands up and down Harry's chest and stomach, then gripping his hips as he slowly pulled out, then slid back in with his hips angled just so, striking that spark inside Harry that sent pleasure skittering through him. "Yes," said Harry, and, "Please," and a dozen other words spilled from his mouth in a stream of half-gasped nonsense as Snape began to thrust in and out of him, hands caressing Harry's hips, chest and finally his aching, needy cock.

It didn't take long after that for Harry to come, white-gold static erasing his vision and shivering along his nerves, making him buck and writhe under Snape's ministrations. Snape kept on thrusting all through his orgasm and beyond, hands back on Harry's hips now that Harry's pleasure had been seen to. Everything felt twice as intense now, Harry's cock toppling slowly as his attention was taken entirely by the feeling of Snape, hot and hard inside him, driving toward the inevitable, desirable conclusion.

Harry's hands had been buried in the sheets, and he found the strength to slip one up Snape's arm and over his own leg to cup one of Snape's flushed cheeks. His fingers trembled and twitched as Snape struck those sparks inside him again and again, but his own need had been wiped away by his release, leaving only the languor of afterglow in its wake. "Show me," he whispered, wanting to see Snape's face as he came, to see him stripped of everything but animal pleasure by Harry's body and Harry's words.

Snape growled and thrust harder, and Harry urged him on by rocking back onto him. Harry arched up into each stroke, letting each sigh and moan loose for Snape to hear, using his own pleasure to seduce Snape over this final edge. Snape's hips snapped forward one last time and he let out a low cry, head thrown back and eyes closed, lashes smudged against flushed cheeks and every line of him transformed by the pleasure he was pouring out into Harry.

When Snape's eyes opened, they were shuttered, wary. "I take it you are satisfied?" he asked, smearing a line of come along Harry's stomach. His voice tried to be blank, but something crept around the edges, one last bit of genuineness before the mask could snap back into place completely.

Harry sighed. "Very," he said, letting his legs fall away and around so he was sprawled beneath Snape, debauched and undone. "I doubt I'll be half this good," he confessed, forcing himself to show the nervousness, the desire to please coupled with a newfound desire, period, to be with Snape, like this, as many times as he could get away with.

Satisfaction crept into Snape's expression and his eyes went half-lidded and lustful as he said, "I have time enough to teach you."

Harry laughed and tugged him down for a kiss.

Snape knew he was doomed the moment he first tasted Harry's mouth, tea with too much milk and youth eager to prove itself, but it was brought home at the sight of Harry beneath him, debauched and ready for another go, as soon as the flesh could be made willing. He wasn't foolish enough to pretend it was love, but it was lust and greed and a possessive desire to have Harry for his own beyond these few weeks, to have Harry be the one good thing in his life for longer than the boy was likely to give him.

This was Snape's last thought before the pain swept over him, and he arched back for a completely different reason this time, a grimace of agony replacing the desire that had been lurking in his features. He rolled off Harry and clutched at the sheets, toes curling as he held in the scream that always threatened to come out, teeth clenched on the sound, every part of his being concentrating on not crying out as if that would, somehow, make it hurt less.

"Severus, Severus!" he heard from a great distance, and then warm hands were on his body, and soft lips were on his forehead. "Severus, I'm here, I'm so sorry, I know it'll pass and we'll fix it and, and I'll even learn the stupid Latin this time properly, please, please," said Harry, nonsense spilling from his mouth and his face, when Snape's eyes could focus again, filled with a concern that made Snape's heart ache.

"Of course you'll learn it," said Snape, mouth running before his brain had quite caught up. "If I die, I can't fuck you again."

Fortunately for them both Harry laughed after a moment of shock, kissing Snape again. "Given myself away already, have I?" he said teasingly. "I would protest that I'm not as easy as all that, but that might keep you from shagging me again."

"Which would be a tragedy," said Snape, his voice deadpan despite his bemusement at Harry's reaction, almost as though he might be willing to bed Snape again sometime, when this was all over. As though he might be looking forward to it.

Harry kissed him slowly, comfort and banked passion together, then snuggled up to his side all sticky and unabashed. "I guess we'll have to wait a bit for another go," he said, one hand making circles on Snape's stomach and chest, "but we don't have to get out of bed, right?"

"We don't have to get out of bed," Snape reassured him, happy for the excuse even if his feet were bound to get cold like this. He was always a bit weak after an attack, despite his show of fortitude at the cafe. And this was too much like comfort to give up, this strange luxury of Harry Potter naked in his arms, smeared with come and sweat and touching him like he mattered, like he was more than an obligation. It was almost a lover's touch, though Snape was not so foolish as to think such things could be true between them.

He was given these weeks, and perhaps a few days more until Harry tired of him, and that was all he would have to content himself with for a lifetime. He just hoped their efforts weren't in vain, though at that very moment he could almost have died happy. Well, perhaps after Harry's turn at topping.

"Elia-... Elium-... Bugger," said Harry, sighing as he felt the tingles of magic drain away. He couldn't complete the ritual this way, fully clothed and not about to bugger anything except his Latin, but when he was doing it right the words and intent still raised... something. "I'm done for," he announced, putting his stupid wand away. "We've still got a few more nights, right?"

"Someone will die the day after tomorrow," said Hermione darkly. "I know you and Snape both think it's going to be Rookwood, but what if it isn't? What if you've done... all those things, and he dies anyway?"

Harry sighed and pulled his wand back out. "All right, let me just do the back half, maybe if I can get it by itself, I can put the two together."

It was nearly three hours later that they stopped so that Snape could feed Harry a voice-restoring potion, followed by a kiss that gave Harry no doubt at all that his efforts were appreciated. The hot cup of honey-laced tea that came next sealed Harry's undying, well, complete lack of hatred or animosity for this newfound side of Severus Snape. "I think," said Harry, once his voice had returned properly, "that we ought to practice our part again."

Snape's slow, wicked smile would have sent Harry running in the past, but tonight it sent tingles of a very different sort all through his body, awakening the anatomy in question. "Oh, yes," said Snape, waving a different little bottle at him, this one filled with a milky blue potion, "we'll practice tonight until we get it just right."

Harry laughed and kissed him again, grateful that the tea had washed away the taste of the medicine, leaving nothing but sweetness lingering on his tongue.

"It must have to be done on the full moon," said Hermione, the morning after Rookwood died.

Harry had been managing the ritual, or so he thought, but Snape had been struck by a wave of pain right in the middle. There were any number of reasons that Harry never, ever wanted to have that happen again, not the least of which was some bruising in a very tender part of his anatomy. "We'll try it every fucking night until then, if we have to," said Harry, a rash promise, considering Snape hadn't yet been well enough even to brew him a bruise-healing salve.

"You need to let him heal from the magic backlash first," said Hermione sharply. "Your sex drive notwithstanding."

"What about my sex drive?" asked Harry, shocked at her prurience.

"Honestly," she said, rolling her eyes. "You'd think one of you might have heard of a silencing spell. Even Ron knows a few of those."

Harry flushed, but promised not to try anything at all until Hermione declared Snape in full health. And promised himself to use a silencing spell whenever they were 'just practicing'.

Snape stood in front of the steamy mirror and looked at himself appraisingly. He'd gained a little weight recently, of the right sort, and he looked thin rather than cadaverous. The flush of heat brought on by his shower also highlighted every scar and imperfection on his normally sallow skin. Last night, Harry had managed to recite the entire ritual through three times without once saying "bugger" or "bloody hell" during their very strenuous practice session; as of tonight's full moon, Snape ought to be free of the curse.

It also meant that Snape would have to rely on his own charm and wit to keep Harry in his bed.

"Are you done? I need to shower, too, you know," said Harry through the door, his worry poorly masked as impatience. He'd proposed bathing together, an activity they'd enjoyed more than once in the past six weeks, but the ritual was very specific on that matter, as it was with so many others.

"Just a moment," said Snape, covering himself in the required robe. "Go get your things, and I'll make sure the circle is ready."

"Going," said Harry, footsteps leading away quickly to avoid having their paths cross before it was time. Snape was cynically grateful; they might only have this one opportunity, since only two Death Eaters were left alive. There was an even chance that it was now or never.

Snape silently hoped for 'now', slipping out into the hallway in the embarrassingly thin white silk. He contented himself with a brisk walk to maintain his dignity, at least in his own mind, making his way down the stairs and into the converted parlour. They'd cleared out all the furniture and purified it a dozen times over, re-chalking the circle in the centre of the room just this morning. Beeswax candles burned all around, and someone -- probably Granger, which wasn't helping his anxiety-repressed libido at all -- had laid out the white silk sheet, phial of specially prepared oil, and Snape and Harry's wands in a precise pattern inside the runes of the circle.

The scrap of ancient parchment hadn't had all of this on it, of course, but it had shown them where to look, and after that it had been easy enough for Granger to reconstruct everything using the combined references at Hogwarts and the Black family library. Snape went over all their research in his mind as he paced around the circle, checking every chalked line for imperfections or smudges. When that was done, he stood in the corner he was to occupy until Harry was in place and tried to both calm and rouse himself, thinking of all the things he'd done with Harry and the hints Harry kept dropping that they might do more, should he live.

Snape had almost managed to get himself properly worked up when the door opened and his heart leapt into his throat. Fortunately for him the sight that greeted him stole his breath away, and firmed up his resolve, among other things. Harry came in wearing the same sort of white silk that Snape had on, only Harry's clung to him wetly, transparent in the places Harry hadn't dried properly or had anointed with the various oils. Harry paused at the threshold and stared, and Snape became aware of the way his cock had risen to the challenge, leaving a damp patch where the tip distended the fabric of his own robe.

"Severus," breathed Harry softly, licking his lips hungrily.

"Harry," said Snape, his own voice embarrassingly rough. He cleared his throat and then asked, "Are you ready?"

Harry took a deep breath and nodded, moving to the far corner of the room just long enough to remove his robe and hang it on the provided rack. "I'm ready," he said formally, then stepped into the circle.

Snape felt a frisson of magic as Harry arranged himself on the sheet, arms and legs splayed and cock hard against his belly, waiting for Snape to join him, to join with him. Snape took a deep breath and removed his own robe, shoving the nervousness away in favour of the desire burning below it, flames that fanned higher every time he looked at Harry's anxious, eager face.

Snape stepped into the circle and straddled Harry's hips, then leaned in for the bottle of oil. One nod, and Harry took a deep breath and began his recitation. The words rolled off his tongue with a smoothness born of hours of practice, and Snape's hands barely shook as he drew runes on Harry with the oil, anointing forehead and palms, chest and belly, feet and finally cock. Harry came to the end of the first round of chanting and grinned incongruously, expressing the relief they both felt that he'd done it right.

Snape inhaled unsteadily and positioned Harry's cock at his own well-prepared entrance, rubbing the head over his opening until Harry's eyes glazed over and his training kicked in. Harry began the second part of the chant just as Snape lowered himself, the unfamiliar thrum of magic giving it the feel of a first time as Harry slid into him, Harry's hips arching up to meet his. Snape let out a long sigh, careful not to make any sound louder than a sigh as his body adjusted.

Harry brought his hands down and twined his fingers with Snape's so they were palm-to-palm, the oil slick and warm between them as the runes transferred, rubbing away until it was nothing more than a tingling echo of the magic that was building between them. Snape leaned forward, pressing Harry's hands into the sheet overhead, mouth ghosting over Harry's, the hint of a kiss that they couldn't allow to become the real thing. Snape's hips moved, riding Harry up and down in time to his chanting, riding the sounds as much as Harry's cock, letting them all wash over him and bring his desire to an even higher peak.

Harry's voice began to waver, but Snape kept on moving, pulling him along through sheer force of will -- Harry couldn't come until the second part of the rite was finished, and even then they had a third, shorter section to say together before Snape could follow. Snape caught Harry's gaze with his own and the chanting steadied again, taking on a determination that Snape recognized from the war, from Harry's childhood, from their more recent arguments with Hermione. That determination had killed Voldemort and the rest of the Death Eaters, and Snape let himself hope that it would save him as they approached the last few lines, words and hips speeding up encouragingly.

The last syllable came out a bit strangled, and it only took two more thrusts to bring on Harry's release. Snape became suddenly aware of all the magic they'd been raising as it rushed into him from a very unusual place, filling his body with Harry's essence and his magic as well. The glow spread under his skin, belly to balls, chest to arms to hands, hips to knees to toes, and Snape felt it swirling beneath in a decidedly disconcerting manner. Harry's right hand was still joined with Snape's left, and he cradled Snape's cock between them and stroked, a glint of challenge in his green eyes.

Snape nodded, and they both took a breath and began the last four lines of the chant, matching the rhythm to the movement of their hands. As they spoke, the magic inside Snape grew heavy and dark, the corruption spreading from his Dark Mark until the glow was sickly green all through him. It began to coalesce in his balls, at once an ache and a need that he knew he had to release, would release, as soon as he ground out the last few words.

The physical reality of his orgasm was anticlimactic compared to the rush of Dark magic that left his body with it, the small spatters of seed on their joined hands hardly able to hold the pulsing green and black swirls that were trapped within them. Their other hands reached together to find their wands, and again in sequence they Banished the mess from this world completely, leaving them both limp and exhausted, oily and sweaty and drained. By unspoken agreement they curled onto their sides and lay silently now that all was said and done. Snape found himself shockingly content to lie on a dirty silk sheet on the floor and kiss Harry Potter, holding him close and feeling warm and happy and light for the first time in ages.

And finally, Snape thought as he looked at his unmarked left arm, free.

"What are you doing?" asked Harry, sounding far more hurt and upset than Snape privately thought he had any right to be. After all, he hadn't come to Snape's room once in the nine days since their post-ritual celebration; Snape had been tired, but not so tired he'd have turned Harry away, and he'd slept even less for the waiting and hoping.

"Packing," said Snape, placing another carefully folded shirt in his luggage. "The ritual is done and there's no reason for me to keep imposing on your hospitality."

Harry moved into the room slowly, touching things as he passed them: the mantel he'd held onto for dear life while Snape buggered him stupid approximately a fortnight ago; the robe Snape had laid over a chair so it would still be fresh when the work was done; the bedpost they'd often teased about tying one another to. Snape's shoulder, ever so lightly, as though afraid he'd be slapped away. "What makes you think you're imposing?" he said at last.

Snape allowed himself to be turned so they were facing one another. "You," he said, then had to swallow against the look on Harry's face. "You haven't come to me at all since the ritual. I felt this was as clear a sign as I was likely to get without some sort of masochistic 'talking about it'," said Snape, letting his disapproval of the whole concept of talking out one's feelings show in his face and tone.

Harry swallowed. "I'm sorry, it's just. You. Um. You could've come to me, too," he said, though his chin didn't lift defiantly as it had just last week when he'd insisted that they couldn't always have him buggering Snape or it'd get boring.

Snape hadn't ever wanted to be boring for Harry, in bed or out. "I didn't wish to... presume," he said, hoping that Harry would understand, or at least be willing to take the explanation at face value.

"You look terrible, you know," said Harry, gentle fingers ghosting over a cheek, under one eye where Severus was quite well aware of the dark circle he traced, then along chapped lips. "I thought you might've been sick and just not wanted to say."

"I have been," said Snape, swallowing, "unable to sleep."

"Oh," said Harry softly. Then he moved close and nuzzled at Snape's cheek apologetically. "I missed you. A lot. And not just for your cock," said Harry quietly. "I miss the other stuff, like how you make fun of people who aren't me, and how you always know what I want for breakfast."

Snape felt laughter bubbling up and he let it free, though by the time it made its way through the tightness in his throat it seemed more like sobs, dry and harsh. He kissed Harry hard to stop the sound, and found the kiss returned with equal hunger. "I would have missed you very much," said Snape, not quite the admission Harry might have wanted but as close as he was likely to get, being who he was, who they were.

The kisses said enough anyway, and the roaming hands, Harry's fingers deft by now at his shirt buttons and both of them quite happy that there weren't the dozens of coat buttons to get in their way. "You'll stay?" asked Harry, breathless and needy.

Snape kissed him until he moaned and said, "I'll stay."

"You'll shut the door, too, I hope," said a tart voice from the doorway.

Snape laughed. "Or you could," he said with equal acidity, giving Granger an utterly unrepentant look.

"Just this once," she said, "and tomorrow I expect to see you putting up silencing wards, and moving your things in with Harry. We could use the guest space."

"Yes, Miss Granger," said Snape in as irritating a singsong as he could manage.

"Go away, or he'll never shag me," said Harry, waving his wand at the door and causing it to close practically on her nose. He put up a silencing charm as well, much to Snape's relief, and then turned back. "You are going to shag me, right?"

"Until you beg for mercy," said Snape, just for the frisson of desire it sent through Harry's frame. He couldn't help but be amused that, for all Harry had extolled his other virtues, as much as they were, in the end the boy really did crave his cock more than anything else. "But don't think this gets you out of topping once in a while."

Harry laughed and kissed him harder. "Wouldn't dream of it," he said, then stepped back and shucked his kit with the efficiency of a young man who had been getting regular sex and then, suddenly, hadn't.

Snape chuckled and finished his own undressing in a slightly more orderly manner, climbing into bed and on top of Harry with a look of wicked determination. "Think I can make you scream tonight?" he asked, kissing Harry hungrily.

"If not," said Harry, spreading his legs, then wrapping one around Snape's hips to pull him in closer, "you'll have to make it up to me tomorrow."

Snape thought about answering, but his mouth was busy kissing and his hands had moved around to cradle Harry's shoulders while their hips rocked together, less purposeful and more a casual pleasure, foreplay that would heighten their anticipation of the main event. A particularly good slide brought a gasp from them both, and Snape took advantage of the break in their kisses to move his mouth downward, sucking a mark on Harry's neck in an unambiguous claim.

Now that Harry was his, Snape wasn't about to share.

Harry's clever repartee was reduced to the sort of three- and four-letter words one generally heard in such situations, with the added sibilants of Snape's name to give it the feel of Parseltongue, sensual and secretive. Snape worked his way down Harry's body with as much patience as he could muster. He mouthed Harry's nipples to hardness while his tongue swirled through the light dusting of hairs around them, then nibbled until Harry pulled his hair to make him stop, or perhaps bite harder. Snape slipped downward, leaving the answer for another day's explorations, tasting the fit contours of his stomach and following the trail of black hairs from navel to prick. He buried his prodigious nose in the nest of curls there, inhaling the now-familiar scent while his mouth teased around the base of Harry's erection.

The swearing grew louder, and Harry's hands in Snape's hair became more insistent. Snape grinned and slipped his tongue up the length of Harry's cock to suckle at the head just long enough to make Harry groan and clutch at the sheets instead, then he slid back down to his intended destination. He was determined to take his time today, now that the onus of their deadline had been lifted, and he nuzzled Harry's bollocks while his mouth found Harry's entrance, kissing and licking the tender flesh with focused concentration.

Harry moaned and writhed as though they hadn't done this before, and Snape realized that they hadn't -- the few times they'd allowed themselves to make love with Snape topping, Harry had been so intent on getting Snape's cock that they hadn't taken the leisure for more thorough explorations. Snape redoubled his efforts, slipping his tongue around and finally into the tight entrance, feeling it soften and open to him as though he'd whispered a secret password. Though it hadn't been his original intention, Snape couldn't pass up the opportunity to make Harry beg more, to keep those lovely pleas falling from lips he hoped he'd be allowed to kiss afterward. He worked his way deeper, hands pulling Harry's cheeks wide, all of his attention bent upon fucking Harry's greedy arse with his tongue.

It seemed too soon when Snape realized Harry's arse was as open and wet as it was going to get using this method, though his mouth and tongue were quite ready for him to switch tactics. Snape pulled away and Harry whimpered and said, "Please," in such a sweet voice that Snape was tempted to give him an early release.

Fortunately, Snape had always been good at resisting temptation.

Instead he poured potion on his fingers, the one he'd made for their practice sessions, silky and scented ever so lightly of cardamom. Harry's eyes were glazed and hooded and he never stopped pleading except to take hitching breaths, but he made no effort to move from where Snape had left him, splayed and wanton. "You're mine now," said Snape, putting a surety he didn't quite feel into his voice as he slid two fingers into Harry's grasping arse, feeling them sucked into the silky tightness.

"Yours," Harry agreed with a shiver, eyes falling shut and mouth invitingly open as he rocked his hips on Snape's fingers, trying to get that last little bit of what he needed to come, or perhaps just chasing any sensations that Snape chose to give him.

Snape didn't even bother with a third finger. He slicked his cock awkwardly with his left hand, glad for the spillproof bottle as it rolled away, lost in the tangled sheets. Snape lifted his two fingers up and teased the head of his cock at Harry's entrance below them, pulling out until just his fingertips stretched Harry wide and then shoving his prick inside. Harry arched and cried out sharply, and Snape's voice followed, startled by the tightness as Harry contracted around him. His fingers slipped away and he leaned forward, feeding Harry kisses that melted his wide-eyed surprise back into languid pleasure.

"God, I love it when you fuck me," said Harry, voice low and sensual, caressing just like Harry's fingertips, which glided up Snape's arms with a feather-light touch.

"The feeling," said Snape, pausing for another kiss, "is entirely mutual." He angled his hips just so, not so much thrusting as leaning in that tiny bit more to push himself deeper into Harry without ever pulling away, smiling in smug satisfaction when Harry's composure broke again.

Snape began to thrust into Harry, kissing away the words before they could properly form on his lips. There was nothing more to beg for now, Snape giving Harry all he had, each snap of his hips that much faster and harder than the last as his own control began to fray around the edges. Slick fingers roamed Harry's body, pinching his nipples and tracing patterns on his skin, leaving traceries of oil behind. Snape drew it out as long as he could before he gave in to both of their desires and wrapped his hand around Harry's prick, not even managing a full stroke before Harry screamed and came hotly into the scant space between them.

Snape thought he'd never seen anything so arousing in his life, and the hot spark of desire set off the waiting flames inside, until he, too, found his release. He rode through it with kisses and choked gasps, finally coming to rest with his forehead pressed against Harry's and one messy hand laid over Harry's heart. "Are you really mine?" he asked, though he wouldn't truly trust the answer until he'd heard it tomorrow, or perhaps next week, away from the bed and its influences.

"Yeah," said Harry, kissing his nose and grinning, tired and sweaty and looking terribly satisfied with himself. "You're really mine."

Snape laughed, but he needed to hold onto the answer more than he needed to correct the impertinent boy just this moment, so instead of scolding he just kissed Harry again, and then again for good measure.

Snape would, he suspected, spend a lot of time ensuring that good measure in the future, for as long as Harry would allow it.

Title: Aftertaste
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Snape/Harry
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Slash, rimming
Summary: The curse that killed the Dark Lord has doomed the Death Eaters to follow him one by one, but a very personal cure may be in Harry's hands.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to clauclauclaudia, dementordelta & rexluscus for betaing at the last minute, and most especially to djin7 and the other mods who have patiently waited for me to turn this thing in. For the 2007 Snarry Games, Team Postwar.

All of the works contained herein are labours of love, unauthorized by those who hold the rights to such things, and no profit is made from them. No harm is meant, and hopefully no offense given.