Primer to the Dark Arts
- Story Summary:
- Harry learns he is to be given private (and secret) tutoring in the Dark Arts to protect himself next time he meets Voldemort. His teacher? Professor Snape. Features ghost cats and cursed harps, spells that are supposed to go wrong and don't, a friendly sociopathic Death Eater... and Snape's very naughty, naughty library.
- Chapter Summary:
- This chapter: Time Fairies, bubble baths, and near misses. Things are getting hazardous for Harry and Snape.
- Author's Note:
- Thank you to CLS for her astonishingly fast Beta review, and, as ever, insightful comments. Go read her stuff now: Black Shadow. Fashion Sense. Er. After you've read my story, that is.
Soap and Guacamole
It was growing late in Severus Snape's apartments, but his attention was elsewhere, languidly stroking Harry's thighs. The muscle ran just so.... Harry leaned back on a pillow of thick bubbles. He looked both lovely and satiated. Well, he should be. Some things improved with age.
There was no tub in these quarters, so Severus had Transformed the love seat in his living room into one. It was currently filled with multi-coloured bubbles.
They had been turning a Magical Die Severus had picked up in a certain sleazy Knockturn Alley shop. It randomly determined what would fill the tub. They had enjoyed the thin sheet of oil until they were exhausted, then the next turn gave them... chocolate pudding. That was fun, if a little predictable. Harry had liked it. Bored with that (and maybe a little sick) they gave it another turn. Guacamole. Their eyes met with distaste - No. - as they sat in foul smelling green paste. There was a reason this demonic contraption could only be found in Knockturn Alley. But it was still worth it. They were down to bubbles now. Bubbles were quite pleasant. If a little garish.
Severus had lit the fire and all the black candles in the candelabra, giving the room a mysterious soft glow. The radio was set to 'the Witching Hour': current Wizarding hits, a concession to Harry's youth. Severus liked music, but preferred that the composer be long dead. The wineglasses were virtually untouched. They'd been too busy to empty them even once.
Severus checked his watch before he realized that, of course, he wasn't wearing one or anything else for that matter. He sat up out of the tub and reached for his wand to do a Quick Time-Teller Spell. Harry's eyes flicked approvingly over the wiry muscle in his arms and chest as he moved, Severus noted with a satisfied inward purr. A man should know his good points, at least nearly as well as his bad.
"Cronos!" Severus flicked his wand and settled back into the tub. A tiny white fairy no bigger than his thumb appeared over the tub.
"Thank you for invoking Quick-Time! At the tone, the time will - ooo - " she squeaked, looking down at the two men tangled together in the tub below her.
The one, long and thin, and had an unruly shock of black hair. He was putting on an owlish pair of glasses. The other, of a similar height, was slightly broader, with sharp features; his longish straight black hair fanned out on the foamy pillow. If this were a gothic painting, they were both missing their fig leaves.
" - oh! Harry Potter. My goodness... the time is - is - " She turned pink and put her tiny hands over her eyes. She peeked, and then hid her face again.
"I think she's a little embarrassed, Severus," Harry commented. The fairy turned a slightly darker shade of pink.
Severus smirked. "Yes. I love doing this to them. Little prudes. It embarrasses the hell out of them."
" - ooo!... the time is eleven-o'clock-and-eight-minutes!" She got it all out in a rush, turned bright red and with a final glance, vanished in a tiny red flash.
"Yet they always linger that extra half-minute. I've timed it," Severus noted, tongue in cheek, looking up at the place where the Time Fairy had disappeared. "And they always look."
"She recognized me. Do you think they'd tell anyone?" Harry wondered.
Severus made a dismissive gesture.
"Well, we have forty minutes till McGonagall checks your rooms. You had better get dressed - " Severus grabbed Harry as he started to climb out of the tub and dragged him back into the foam. " - soon. Not now."
Harry emerged from the kiss breathless, kicking foam out of the tub.
"I can't wait till I leave school. Then we won't have to sneak around so." Harry tried to unsuccessfully wipe the foam off his glasses. He picked up the die. "I'm tired of Bubbles."
"Be careful with that thing," Severus warned him. "I don't fancy rolling about in potato salad."
"Is there potato salad?" Harry asked, staring at the die faintly horrified.
"I got it once. But only once."
"Well, that's proof," Harry said. "The Dark Arts truly are dangerous." Harry turned it, and smiled. "Ah."
"What is it?" Severus asked with no little trepidation, sitting up. Then the bubbles cleaned themselves off, vanished, and swaths of black fabric filled the tub.
Harry gave him a radiant smile. "Satin," he said, as he rolled and enfolded himself in the rich cool fabric.
"Sensualist. I will check that die for tampering first thing tomorrow. You have been entirely too lucky to be believed." Severus stretched. "You did not even get the glue. I always end up with glue."
"I got guacamole," Harry offered.
"I turned it that time. I got guacamole."
Harry had wrapped himself in the fabric until Severus could only see a pair of bright green eyes. Harry changed the subject.
"Do you think you could show me that trick... with the note?" Harry asked hesitantly.
Severus leaned on an elbow, preferring to lie on top of the fabric, thank you.
"I could show you a great many things. Including that. But - " Severus watched Harry's eyes carefully. " - it would helpful if I had my book back."
He held Harry's eyes, slightly triumphant at the young man's sudden discomfort. Harry froze, but didn't admit a thing.
"Come, come. You are caught. Confronted. In bed. Your notes clearly disappeared at the same time. Nobody else would have taken those. Or does your Weasley have it?" Harry remained silent. Severus was not sure how far that relationship went, between Weasley and his Harry. Severus sneered. "Still - you will admit nothing? Not even to me? Appalling. You ought to have been Sorted into Slytherin."
"I almost was," Harry said.
"What?" Severus blinked. Now that was an eye-opener.
"I asked the Sorting Hat not to," Harry explained.
"Yes. Well, that was probably for the best," Severus noted. "A true Slytherin would have replaced your notes with a blank scroll. Then I would never have noticed. It is what I would have done.
"- if you are going to be bad, you might as well be good at it."
"Is that why you became a Death Eater?" Harry asked suddenly. The satin slid down to his chest as he sat up.
"The best of the worst, or the worst of the best - is that it?" Severus said with acid humour.
"Yeah, I suppose."
"No." Severus was curt. "Nothing so intelligent."
Severus rolled onto his back, not looking at Harry, and was silent for a bit. "Well congratulations, Harry. You certainly know how to kill a good party; so nice of you to remind me of old ghosts..."
"I remind you of him?"
"What - ? Him? Oh yes, your obsession with Torvald. - Is it jealousy? I would be so flattered - " Severus looked over at Harry, who had taken the opportunity to wrap himself sensually in the satin again. He was lying on his side looking up at Severus fetchingly. "No. You are nothing at all like him. Torvald... was a violent man. A puritan. German. He liked being a Death Eater. And he loved Dark Magic... even, certain aspects of it. He had an iron stomach."
"What about you?" Harry asked softly.
"I did my job. Very well. Too well in fact." Severus did not like these memories being dragged up in his bedroom. Or living room as the case may be.
"I mean Dark Magic." When Harry's eyes sparkled like that, he reminded Severus disconcertingly of Dumbledore. That wizard saw too much. Reminding him of an old man did nothing for Harry's sex appeal. Severus did not deign to answer.
"I was a fool," Severus said darkly. "I do not like being a fool."
Severus sat up.
"Come. We must get you back to your crib, before mother McGonagall has a fit and starts randomly firing Seeking Spells."
Harry ignored Severus' jibe of course. He knew that if Severus didn't see him as a man, he wouldn't be here.
"Well, she can't find me in your quarters. It's Warded," Harry pointed out.
"That would be the problem: vanishing. A student who has simply gone to the bathroom can be found."
"We still have twenty minutes," Harry complained.
"Mmm. Twenty minutes. Now what can we possibly do with twenty delicious minutes...?"
Severus slowly unwrapped Harry from the satin like a present. Harry watched him with big eyes, delighted. Satin was fun. Harry particularly loved being stripped for some reason Severus could not fathom. He squirmed deliciously, as Severus slowly devoured him where he was already rising to the occasion. Harry started to return the compliment, but Severus put out his palm and stopped him, shaking his head. "Time. Do not start what you can't finish."
Frustrated, Harry sighed, "I really can't wait till we can stop sneaking around!"
"Now that's twice you've said that. Tell me. Are you really so anxious to allow your friends to know that you have suffered the lecherous advances of your decrepit Potions Master? Willingly? A man even? Such as he is," Severus asked doubtfully. Harry was not being realistic.
"Decrepit?" Harry raised his eyebrows and laughed, then stretched languorously on the satin. Severus picked up a wineglass, and handed Harry his. Harry took a sip, and then turned the stem in his hand. "Yeah, I'm really suffering..."
"Comes from living in a cupboard. Makes you appreciative of little things like - air." Harry put his chin on his knee and considered. "Well, I hadn't really thought about it too much, but it is the truth, isn't it?"
"So you would take the pointed fingers, the disdain of those who once respected and admired you, the horror of your friends - ? Not to mention baring your neck to Malfoy and his ilk... all in the name of some obscure Truth?" Severus was astounded.
"I take it back: You are, every inch of you, a Gryffindor."
Severus set his glass down and gave Harry a hand up out of the tub, letting his hand slide down the pleasant curve of his bottom admiringly.
"Do me a favour," Severus said as he watched Harry pull on his clothes, a sight in and of itself. Harry might like being undressed, but Severus had an unholy fascination with watching him dress. "Before you go off on some 'nobility jag': talk to me. I may not appreciate being doomed with you."
"You know I would," said Harry.
Harry picked up his wand and some Floo powder.
Then just before Harry stepped into the fire, a gleam of last-minute mischief crossed his face. Harry suddenly leaned forward and tipped the die with his wand one more time. He disappeared into the fire with a naughty grin and a wave. With a shock Severus watched the satin disappear as it was replaced with -
- champagne. Expensive champagne at that, by the taste of it.
"Dumb fucking luck." Severus decided he'd save some for Harry.
Harry arrived in fire of the Gryffindor common room, coughing and feeling a little dizzy from the wine combined with Floo travel. He really hated travelling by Floo Powder, but he and Severus had really pushed it this time, and it was the only method fast enough. Too bad it only worked one way from the teachers' quarters. Harry somehow managed to arrive backward and so stumbled over the grate into the room. Someone cleared her throat behind him.
"Harry, where have you been?" It was Hermione! Harry turned to find his friend, clad in a fuzzy pink bathrobe thrown over an old familiar knitted sweater with the letter 'R' on it, her hair poofed like an angry cat's. She was tapping her feet. "Professor McGonagall was just here."
What?! "She was early?!"
"Early? Harry, this is getting really weird. No one is supposed to know when the teachers are going to check on us."
Harry opened his mouth, but nothing came out. All his cool composure with the imposing Severus Snape melted away before the ire of Hermione Granger. Maybe because Severus was usually in the wrong, but Hermione almost never was.
"Harry - hurry upstairs! She'll be back any minute! I told her I thought you'd gone to the room over the Owlry." Hermione blushed. She never liked lying to the teachers, and Professor McGonagall was a favourite of hers. "Well, you could have gone there. You owe us an explanation. Tomorrow. Go!"
Harry could have kissed her. And Ron. He knew who 'us' meant.
Upstairs, Harry crept across the room between puddles of moonlight to his four poster. He slipped as quietly as he could under the covers. Then he heard Ron whisper:
"So... how was it?" There was a smile in Ron's voice.
"Worth it," Harry breathed. And it was.
Harry lay awake a long time trying to think how he was going to explain this to his friends in the morning. He had no idea. But it was a lot easier than having to explain it to Professor McGonagall. Harry breathed a sigh of relief. He was going to have to tell Severus they should back off for a while until this cleared. Severus was always saying they had to be discreet. It was his career at stake after all.
Ron didn't even wait for Harry to reach the main hall for breakfast, but cornered him outside the entranceway. Hermione was right behind him. Harry suppressed a moment of envy that they could be open about being together. Judging from how close Ron was standing to her, Harry suddenly suspected things were going a little bit better for him. They both had their arms folded, glaring at Harry, though Ron looked very curious.
They ducked as owls flew in through the doorways and windows about them. Harry could see Hedwig looking for at the breakfast table, puzzled he wasn't in his usual spot. She finally dropped his letters at his empty plate. One of them was smoking. Uh-oh. He'd better get that one, quickly.
"Well?" Hermione asked.
"I - I don't know how to explain..." Harry said in all honesty, thinking fast. He had not been able to contrive any plan the night before. The situation was impossible.
"Okay. Just to start with - who is it?" Ron suggested with a helpful smile, leaning against the brick wall.
"I can't tell you that!" Harry said desperately.
Ron rolled his eyes muttering "... you mean you won't. Don't you trust me? Us? We've been your friends forever!" He seemed hurt.
"No, Ron, Hermione - honest, I can't. I promised. He - " Harry stopped. He was already in trouble, after only three sentences. But he couldn't lie to his friends!
"He?" Ron asked, incredulous. Hermione gave Ron a knowing nod, and Ron threw up his hands, saying, "Alright, alright Hermione, you were right. This is starting to make a bit more sense anyway. So, Harry, who - who is...uh... he?" Ron seemed a little awkward at the idea.
"Ron, if it were you, would you want me to tell?" More to the point, when it was him, had Ron wanted him to tell? No sir.
"Uh..." Ron was clearly thinking back to the Book of Eros. And the room above the Owlry. And Hagrid's house. And the night everyone was gone to Hogsmeade. And the other time... "No. Not really. In fact - you'd better not!"
"Well then..." Harry was ready for breakfast. That letter looked like it was about to catch the tablecloth on fire.
"That doesn't do it, Harry." Hermione stopped him. "That doesn't explain the spell on that paper... and you knowing when Professor McGonagall was going to come check on us... and, oh, a whole bunch of things. Harry, if... if you're seeing a teacher, you could get into really big trouble."
"A teacher?!" Think fast, Harry, think fast! Harry scrambled.
"Who would it be?" Harry asked her, his mind racing a mile a minute.
"Professor Flickwick?" Harry asked incredulously.
"Dumbledore?" Harry suggested, feeling a little more confident.
Ron burst out laughing. "Oh - Hagrid - stop, stop, please, you're killing me..."
Harry decided to risk it: "S...Snape?!"
At that thought Ron dissolved into hysterical giggles. "Snape?? Ew. You'd have to wash him first!"
Harry heart was pounding in his chest.
When Ron finally stopped laughing and wiped the tears out of his eyes, he pointed out, "You know, that's always been the major hole in your theory, Hermione. Who could it be after all?"
Hermione gave up. "Okay. I see your point. But Harry - well, never mind. You know to be careful."
Harry staggered into the hall, feeling like his life had just dangled over a chasm and he had narrowly survived. Or he just completed a full dive on his Firebolt and found the ground closer than he expected. His stomach felt hollow.
He had almost called him Severus. Instead of Snape. Out of sheer habit.
Harry had nearly blown it all. In one word.
He very carefully did not look at Severus this morning. Things had to go back to normal for a while. Discretion, Severus called it? Harry was going to be the king of discretion, from here on out.
Harry decided not to tell Severus everything. He would be too pissed off and sarcastic at Harry's near stupidity and Harry didn't want to hear it. So after Care of Magical Creatures, Harry slipped downstairs during the lunch hour. He found the Potions dungeon empty. He picked up a piece of chalk, and wrote his message to Severus on the blackboard. Then erased it. Harry put the eraser in the middle of Severus' desk, so he'd know to look for the message.
Yipe! McG. early! Everything's okay, but being careful. XXX Harry
They never used the same form of communication twice, some habit or so from Severus' days as a Death Eater. Harry had thought it paranoid before, but now he appreciated Severus' caution. Though usually it had been easier just to talk during Harry's Dark Arts class.
In the Dark Arts they had returned to 'simple' spells. Harry was as much of a dud as ever. But now being a dud at Dark Magic was a matter of routine, and Harry made no particular effort to do any better: he found it comforting to know he would never go any further in Dark Magic. Harry never asked what that quicksilver stuff was, and Severus had never told him. In fact, 'the accident' was a subject they both preferred to avoid.
The next morning, Harry stepped out of the showers wrapped in a towel, drying his unruly hair. He stopped at the mirror, though it was as usual, completely steamed up. Then he saw one word write itself in the steam:
Harry nodded. Good. Severus found his message. Somewhere, most likely his own bathroom, Severus was writing this message in the steam on his mirror. Then the writing went on:
Towel. I like you better without it.
Severus was just teasing him, knowing he'd be in a towel right now. He couldn't see him. Harry was almost positive about that. Several Gryffindors came out of the showers behind Harry, laughing and joking. Harry wiped the letters clean.
In the freshly cleared mirror, Harry saw someone who was slightly taller than he had been; his hair was a little longer. He had the same scar. But his eyes were serious, determined. Harry saw there, to his surprise, a grown man.
Finis. Next: 'Eureka!'