Harry Potter/Ron Weasley Harry Potter/Severus Snape
Harry Potter Ron Weasley Severus Snape
Romance Slash
Multiple Eras
Goblet of Fire
Published: 02/02/2003
Updated: 04/14/2003
Words: 58,873
Chapters: 14
Hits: 107,447

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 10

Chapter Summary:
This chapter: Eureka! It's an easy bet the Dark Arts have never been taught
Author's Note:
Thank you to CLS for the Beta review. Go read her Black Shadow


by Icarus

"I had to call a special session of our Dark Arts class, just to see you. You have been remarkably absent lately."

It wasn't entirely fair of Severus. He had insisted on discretion and now complained about the results. The voice was cool, calm, but the feelings behind it weren't.

"Could it be a Weasley is taking more of your time?" Severus snarled.

Harry could think of safer things than being in the Forbidden Forest, alone, with a jealous and unreasoning Snape armed to the teeth with Dark Magic. And permission to use it. No one would come to Harry's aid, assuming naturally that any explosion of Dark Magic was part of their class.

Harry took a step backwards, while Snape slowly circled him menacingly, his black cloak catching the light breeze. As a Death Eater he must have been terrifying; the hysterical thought flew through Harry's mind. Then Harry recalled Hagrid telling them in Care of Magical Creatures: "Running from a wild creature is about the worst thing you can do."

So Harry took a step closer; and, tentatively, when Snape halted, another; speaking softly in the cooing voice one used with the most violent Manticores, not even listening to himself:

"Look... you have completely misunderstood me... I'm not avoiding you... I'm only being careful. You asked, remember? Ron is with Hermione... You know that..."

Eventually he stood right beside Snape, who eyed him suspiciously still. With the sharp angular face, lank long hair and curled lip, he looked feral. But he had lowered his wand. Reason seemed to have returned to his eyes, though that dangerous cold anger still flickered.

Then Harry said in his natural voice, "Talk over dinner? Here - it's like throwing a dungbomb in Filch's office. I can't invite you to my place..."

Severus looked relieved and the tension broke. "Seven. My quarters. Password's Perehelion. I changed it when I thought...." His voice was somewhat ragged.

"You're far too suspicious," Harry marvelled.

Snape nodded almost imperceptibly, and said quietly, "Don't be late."

Harry finally breathed a sigh of relief.

Who would have thought Care of Magical Creatures - better termed Care of Dangerous Magical Creatures - would apply to Severus Snape? But on second thought, Harry considered, it made perfect sense. He wished he could tell Hagrid his class had likely saved his neck.

"Shall we continue? With our class," Snape offered.

Harry nodded weakly against his will, with a distant sense of disbelief. His nerves still jangled with adrenaline, shock and fear. Severus must have ice water in his veins, to be so calm and able to go on readily after all that.

Severus set a tiny glass unicorn on the rock. It pawed with little hooves, and tossed its mane. It was cute. Harry barely listened as Severus began to explain, in great detail, the Nova Incendiero spell, which was a variation on the simple ordinary Fire Bomb....


An hour later, the glass unicorn was in perfect health, trotting in happy circles around the beaker on the rock. Snape had long since given up worrying about the fate of their table. No doubt it would remain intact till the end of this age. Harry was as hopeless, as ineffectual, as ever. Severus leaned back against a tree with a sigh. He thought Potions was bad. As he watched, Harry's spell-casting form fell completely apart in frustration, exhaustion and anger; a first year's mistake. This was all Dumbledore's fault. They should be learning this from day one. Harry kept at it with renewed fury. Snape couldn't help but admire Harry's lithe gesture, even though he had it all wrong. Again. Dammit.

"Harry - " He shook his head and began to correct him...

Harry turned, a look of passionate frustration on his face, one that said "Shut Up" as clearly as if he'd spoken it. He looked as though he would gladly turn this spell on Severus, if only it would work. And... something else...

It had been too long. Never mind their date. "You've earned a break..."

"Expelliarmus!" Severus disarmed Harry as he approached, tossing aside his own wand as he captured the heat of Harry's face in his hands. His cape slid to the ground between them. But Harry had beaten him to the kiss, fervently, with a stream of invectives nearly unintelligible between breaths.

"You bloody crazy son of a bitch, you bastard -" Then Harry pulled out of the kiss and pushed him, then shoved Severus again. " - scared the shit out of me!"

His eyes were blazing and intense, passionate. Severus let him take it all out, laughing a bit, startled at Harry's fury. Though there was no doubt that he deserved it. Of course he did. It was unlike Harry, but Severus had pushed him too far, frightened him, then worked him to the bone.

"You want discretion - then you blame me...! I thought - !"

Then Harry pulled Severus back into the renewed kiss, and the rest of whatever else he had to say was lost, as they devoured each other. They struggled to remove their robes without letting go or interrupting.

Harry spun Severus around, dragging him down to the ground, and now he was having much more success getting both their robes undone. Severus became suddenly aware of their surroundings. He'd never done this before in a place so... public, and felt a momentary thrill of alarm. Then he recalled his magical 'traps' and 'surprises,' and lay back to enjoy this in more privacy than he could ever find at home. Harry's shirt was off, revealing smooth skin that he was tempted to devour. Severus' hands slid to his waist, his achingly narrow hips, while Harry did something marvellous with his teeth, and they were both finding it gaspingly impossible to get any closer. Though, oh, he tried. Harry learned quickly when it came to Quidditch, or this... anything physical perhaps.

"Now I have a thing or two to teach you..." Severus murmured, and he turned Harry over, nipping and kissing down Harry's back with practiced skill and passionate intensity.


They ignored how late the hour was, letting the breeze tickle their cool skin. Other than the rocks he had tossed aside, Severus thought he could get used to this out of doors. Severus turned to Harry and caressed his neck and chin with his lips, whispering in a low voice: "Stay with me tonight... no one will notice... I'm sure I can think of some excuse..." Harry just moaned sleepily. He didn't seem to mind or even to notice the rocks.

Severus thought Harry was asleep, when he caught the glimmer of green eyes smiling up at him in the half-light, not quite focusing without the glasses. Harry's hand carelessly traced the line of his cheekbone, caressed the silk of the long black hair Severus was so proud of, outlined the shape of his lips; Severus stroked Harry's chest gently and circled the silk of his nipple. Harry's breathing caught. He reveals everything, Severus noted. Perhaps unwisely, but he liked it. Severus inwardly laughed at himself, cynical. So nice to discover you like the ones you fuck, he thought.

The unicorn on the rock above them started a cheerful, and slightly annoying, tinkling trot. Professor Snape's eyes lingered on it a moment, calculating, recalled sharply to the present. And the problem at hand.

Severus' hands slid down past Harry's waist, but Harry was already ready, prodding eagerly into his hands. Ah, the young, how do they do it? He drew close and whispered in Harry's ear as he fondled him:

"Listen to me. I know you don't like to destroy..."

Harry started. Surely Harry didn't think that Severus Snape didn't know him, most intimately, by now? He was a cautious man. He studied people carefully before he brought them to his bed. As soon as he learned of Harry and Ron, he knew lack of options would likely lead Harry here. Though he hoped there was more to it than that. He feared probably not.

"Yes, I know..." He started to stroke Harry expertly, setting aside his own suddenly insistent pleasure to give all his attention to Harry -

"The Dark Magic... is like this, this passion..." Harry's breathing started to come raggedly, he was very close -

"You are so close to it, Harry..." Harry writhed slightly, he was very near the cusp -

"And then you do this - "

Snape let go.

"I don't know how you can bear it, Harry."

Harry raised up on his elbows, his pale chest rising and falling. Two green eyes blinked and stared at Snape in the twilight. Professor Snape tossed his hair. Strange, to be in this role of teacher, with your student's naked thigh pressed so temptingly against your own. But he saw the lesson sink in.

Perhaps an old murdering Death Eater could teach after all, Severus thought to himself. Wouldn't that be a miracle.


At their next class, Harry set the dainty glass unicorn on the rock. It blinked innocently up at him, nuzzling his hand a little and flicking its tail.

Harry backed away.

Then he gestured, recited the summoning incantation, and swung his wand as though he were throwing it:

"Novus Incendio!"

There was a brilliant blinding blaze of light, like a purple fireball, too bright to look at - they both flinched away in the same moment. Snape slowly dropped his hands. Harry stared, in dumbfounded shock.

The rock was badly blackened and damaged; the top looked like a cinder. All that was left of the little unicorn, was a thin piece of slag.

Severus leaped up and grabbed Harry in a vise-like hug, twirling him around and ruffling his hair. He was almost laughing - lecturing a mile a minute - emphatic and gesturing at various points, then he seized Harry again by both shoulders:

"You did it, Harry! You have it! I finally taught you. Dumbledore will have to start a Dark Arts class now! Makes me wonder if there's hope even for Longbottom... no, no, probably not - !" He gave Harry a firm kiss on the cheek and squeezed him again. "See? Now that wasn't so hard, was it? Let me get you something, anything you like!"

Harry didn't hear a word of it. He felt a little like he was in a dream. He wiped his nose and stared at that little bit of slag.

He missed that unicorn.


Snape took Harry to Hogsmeade, seemingly uncaring of appearances in his victorious moment. Harry hadn't realized he even knew what Hogsmeade was. He'd never seen him there. Students (fortunately there weren't many) who saw the two of them together blinked. Then stared after them, nudging each other with disbelief. Though if Harry knew it, he looked suitably glum for one accompanied by a happy Professor Snape. Severus took no notice of his mood.

They sipped mugs of butterbeer and something quite a bit stronger for Severus, as Severus rattled on about various things Harry didn't quite listen to. He only nodded and murmured where it appeared to be required, wrapped in his own thoughts. He felt uncomfortable and none too good about his so-called 'success' in the Dark Arts.

"Just wait till I tell Dumbledore," Severus purred, eyes looking a little bleary after the fifth of whatever it was he was drinking. After a few more, he ordered some for Harry. Esmerelda gave them a quizzical look as Harry waved her away.

"You're not celebrating," he scolded Harry finally, somehow more aware of Harry's mood with the fading of his conscious mind.

Harry reminded Severus under his breath that it was not really appropriate and he'd really rather not. Severus scoffed. What was wrong with Harry? They'd shared everything else - why not a drink or two to celebrate? Harry shushed him desperately before he could flesh out the rest of that thought, looking about to see who else had heard. A couple of warlocks glanced up, but seemed only annoyed at the interruption. Harry breathed a sigh of relief.

Harry took a casual sip of Severus' drink to shut him up. It was awful stuff; how could Severus drink this? It was brackish and burned the back of Harry's throat. And it was definitely potent. How many had he had?

Somehow, a concept that they had to fool people to give Harry drinks penetrated Severus' mind, and it pleased him immensely. In this state he had an almost child-like love of sneakiness. He ordered several more drinks and gleefully passed them to Harry under the table. He gave Esmerelda a lolling, relaxed smirk as he did this. It was rather playful and silly, and Harry played along. It was anyone's guess whether Esmerelda noticed, or if she was playing along as well.

Harry liked some of the other beverages Severus tried on him. Severus helped himself to these as well, "Tax," he called it smoothly. But Harry thought he would like getting drunk with Severus a lot better if he hadn't come to a conclusion.

He could not do any more Dark Arts.

Several hours later, Esmerelda floated stools up onto the table and glared at the two of them, her last patrons to leave. A grumpy gnome picked up Harry's feet and swept underneath him. He was unable to budge Severus, who gave him a dangerous glance and ordered another round. Harry stuffed his last glass in Severus' hand instead, and somehow managed to convince Severus to pay the tab and drape his arm over his shoulder.

Outside Harry was dizzy. The world seemed to be glowing a little about the edges, and his sense of reality was distant, suspended. It was worse than the love potion. But at least Harry could stand, which was more than he could say for Severus, whose weight dragged Harry persistently to the left. Harry wondered if the Knight Bus did short trips. How was he going to get him back to Hogwarts? Unfortunately the sweet shop was closed, though Harry wasn't sure he wanted Severus to know that route anyway.

Then he recalled the twenty-four hour Floo station, by the Owl Post. It was probably the worst way to travel Harry could imagine, if one were drunk. But it was all he could find at this hour. Sure enough, it had a stop in Hogwarts' main hall, accessible only to 'Hogwarts' Staff.'

The portly wizard on the night shift was very helpful. Seeing their condition he jumped up to help support Severus' weight, and blew the Floo powder into the wide fireplace for them. Harry wasn't sure of the effects of alcohol breath on volatile Floo powder, and thought it best not to experiment.

"Can we fit two?" Harry asked. "I don't think he'll end up on the right place if we put him in there alone."

"Well, you still have to pay for the two, mind, but as long as the destination grate is large enough, sure," he chuckled. "You're not the first to stagger out of Rosmerta's at this hour. Though I don't envy you travelling by Floo powder. You shoulda bought a Knight's Pass if you were gonna make a night of it."

Harry didn't know what a 'Knight's Pass' was, but his mind wasn't holding information well at the moment in any case, so he didn't ask.

Harry held onto Severus tightly about the chest and shoulders, and enunciated, slowly, clearly, and as carefully as he could: "Hogwarts."

The sickening spin knocked him off-centre. He couldn't see well and his head felt stuffed. He saw among the whirl of ash different houses, a sleeping grandmother witch by the fire, a couple kissing on their couch, then he caught a glimpse of the Hogwarts main hall. He threw himself and Severus onto the floor before it disappeared, hoping he hadn't missed. Harry's stomach protested and reeled, but he managed to keep it down out of pure fear of Filch. Severus moaned, and crawled forward a few steps, before curling up on the floor.

Harry lay sprawled for a moment, as the room swung about him. He found himself staring up at a suit of armour, then, further up, a tapestry swam into view with the Hogwarts seal. They had made it.

"C'mon, Severus, get up, please!" Harry whispered. But Severus curled up like a cat on the floor and was determined to go to sleep. He growled 'no' and stubbornly refused to get up as Harry pulled on his arm, and prodded him. Harry hoped Peeves wouldn't make appearance. He would love this. Then Harry heard a bustling sound behind him. Oh no...

"Severus?" Professor Flitwick said, astonished. He was dressed in a nightcap and dressing gown, floating a candle over his head. He turned it into several candles, which surrounded Severus, to throw more light on the scene.

"My... my goodness. Oh, Harry let me help you there. I've never seen him like this before..."

All in all, Harry was grateful for his help. Professor Flitwick put a lightness spell on Severus, and between the two of them, they managed to get him to the entryway his quarters. If Professor Flitwick noticed the smell of alcohol on Harry's breath, he didn't say anything. Harry blearily hoped he would attribute it to Floo powder. Or something.

"Perehelion." Harry gave the password.

Belatedly, he worried and hoped Professor Flitwick wouldn't wonder how Harry knew the secret password to Severus' private rooms. Upstairs, he kicked and held the door open with his foot.

In Severus' bedroom, they stripped him down to his undershirt. Severus looked Harry's age when he was sleepy, softer, somehow. Then Harry vaguely recalled he ought to have hidden the fact he knew the route to the bedroom. Had he marched directly to it? He had, hadn't he? Oh no... Being drunk was not good for quick thinking, Harry decided fuzzily. As Harry began to leave, Severus stirred, stretching languidly.

"Harry... stay with me tonight, my dear, sweet..." he moaned and rolled over.

Professor Flitwick blinked at Professor Snape nervously, slightly shocked.

Harry extinguished the torches with a spell. Quickly. Before Professor Flitwick could see his face.


When he woke the next morning - and it was late the next morning - Harry's head felt like the inside of an old shoe. A very grubby old shoe. There was no one about the Gryffindor bedroom. By the angle of the too-bright sun he figured it to be near lunchtime. He considered getting a Pepper-Up potion from Madame Pomfrey, and dismissed the idea immediately. How would he explain why he needed it? So he suffered, and eventually dragged himself out of bed to dress.

Downstairs, the Gryffindor common room was abuzz. The room fell silent, blessedly silent, when they saw Harry. Harry stood hunched with his hands in his pockets, feeling something like a human ashtray, wondering vaguely how Severus was holding up. He said he had a cast-iron stomach. Now it was time to prove it. It took Harry a bleary moment to realize the Gryffindors were all staring at him, very strangely.

Ron hopped up, showing an agility and speed that boggled Harry in this state, and he asked far too loudly, "Harry, you smelled like a brewery last night! - where'd you get it?"

"Harry... did you go to Hogsmeade? With Snape?" added Colin Creevey. He looked stunned. Behind him, Neville dropped a stack of books.

Other Gryffindors, even first years he didn't know that well, stared and waited.

Oh no. This was it. The end. His whole affair with Severus Snape was known by all of Gryffindor. And probably all of Hogwarts, too, by now. He was going to be expelled. Severus would surely be dismissed, in disgrace. Harry thought the humiliation would bother him more than losing his job. Though former Death Eaters had trouble finding jobs.

It suddenly looked, from this perspective, a little sordid of both of them. Though it had felt great at the time. Been great.

Harry nodded. There was no point in denying what everyone obviously already knew. The younger Gryffindors looked confused. But Seamus was gazing fixedly at the floor, and Neville, struggling to pick up his books, flicked a brief glance at Ron. Neville looked away quickly when he caught Harry's stare.

"Did he - did he..?" Colin tried to ask.

Make a pass at me? Yes, Harry thought. Kiss me? Oh, more than that.

" - say you did good on a test?" Colin finished, wonder on his face.

The room was shocked into silence. Even the Gryffindors who hadn't already heard of it. Professor Snape. Archenemy of Gryffindor. Head of Slytherin. And hater of Harry in every particular... the man who had given Harry more detention this year than Fred and George had ever seen... Snape had complimented him. In front of a pub full of witnesses. Harry's silence confirmed it.

"I don't believe it!" said Ron incredulously.

Harry couldn't believe it either.

Neither did Seamus it seemed. Seamus suddenly found something quite interesting to look at out the window; while Dean's eyes sparkled with suppressed laughter as he glanced at Ron, then away. Dean bit his lip. Neville stacked his books, very carefully not looking at Harry.

With a jolt Harry realised: they knew. About he and Ron at the least. How long had they -? Harry thought of Ron and Hermione in the dorm room, and then groaned inwardly... oh God... he and Ron had been so careful to be quiet! And they hadn't said a word. Not even to tease them about it. Gryffindors stuck together... hell. Just beyond Ron, Hermione studied Harry, her eyes suddenly calculating.

Harry fled.


Harry sat alone and picked at his lunch, unable to summon an appetite. Severus had not made an appearance. Though he often preferred to eat alone, Harry told himself. His eyes felt dry and prickly, and his head ached. But what if the teachers had learned something? They couldn't be as thick as everyone else. Professor Dumbledore, they said, knew everything that happened at Hogwarts, and Harry didn't know why he never thought of it before. And Professor Flitwick - surely he had reason to be suspicious. Harry berated himself for his carelessness last night, torturing himself by reviewing his each and every mistake, one by one. How obvious it had been!

The tables vanished to the left and right of Harry as they were banished to be cleaned, Professor Flitwick stopped Harry on his way out, motioning him aside with a quick bird-like gesture. Harry had that sinking feeling again. He was going to be reprimanded for drinking, at least. Then there were going to be questions. Flitwick had noticed.

"Last night," Professor Flitwick began, rather nervously licking his lips as Harry stiffened, "what Professor Snape said... he... he was drunk. You do realize he didn't mean those things?"

Harry nodded dumbly.

"He has some well, eccentricities. But he's fine teacher, a decent... er... a good... well... anyway, he knows his subject very well." Professor Flitwick continued, wringing his tiny hands. "Quite frankly, I have never seen him like this. He doesn't touch the stuff usually, not even for a friendly glass. Well, friendly doesn't describe Severus in any circumstance but..." he sighed. "Oh, it is so embarrassing for Hogwarts, to have a professor seen in such a state! You're a good lad for bringing him home."

Harry couldn't believe their good luck.


Harry sincerely hoped Severus was okay. That afternoon he finally managed to slip off from his friends with a murmured excuse, and he made his way cautiously to the closet panel in the third dungeon: "Perehelion."

Climbing the long steps, Harry came to the door to Severus' apartments. He had barely knocked when the door flung open.

Severus stood, half-dressed in his nightshirt, his normally smooth hair in disarray. It was a curiously vulnerable moment. He stared at Harry an instant, his guard completely down: off-balance, raw, intense and emotional. This was Severus, Harry recognized with a slight shock of insight. Then the familiar self-possession and sarcasm returned, and Severus said:

"Fool, what are you doing here? What if someone seeks you with a Locator Charm? Well, don't run now! - come in. Quickly. At the least I have more Wards inside than out."

He didn't wait for an answer but dragged Harry into the front hallway by the arm. Severus' quarters were as cold as ever, though his hand was unusually hot. He released Harry, leaned back against the wall and ran his hands through his hair. He sighed.

"What happened? I fear the worst. Professor Flitwick... he left me a note." Severus dismally produced a green piece of parchment and shook it. It spoke, in a stiff version of Flitwick's voice:

"Severus, we need to speak tomorrow. When you're.. ah.. able."

"That's it," Severus noted, "normally he rambles. Endlessly. At least McGonagall knows how to get to the point."

"It's all right," Harry urged him, and he explained what Flitwick had said at lunch, leading Severus to the living room. The fire was unlit, no wonder it was so blazing cold in there. Harry lit the fire with a wave, and described the Gryffindor reaction as well. He decided to be honest, and told him what he suspected about his year-mates. Severus looked at Harry, disbelieving.

Harry continued, "They know about Ron. That's for sure. You -? I dunno. But they won't say anything either way."

"What makes you so certain?" Severus' eyes narrowed.

"They won't," Harry shook his head firmly. "Not unless I do. They're Gryffindors."

"That blasted Gryffindor loyalty is finally worth something... and Flitwick..." Severus sighed, "I begin to see why even Lord Voldemort can't manage to touch you."

Severus sank into a black leather chair, stroking his lower lip thoughtfully with a knuckle. He looked slightly rumpled, but still managed to be elegant, Harry noticed. He liked the combination. It was the way he looked after sex.

"You have the most extraordinary, improbable dumb luck."

"Not enough luck to avoid a hangover," Harry groaned. "I've been sick all day...."

"I do seem bent on corrupting you. There's a Pepper-Up Potion in the bath - take only half. It is stronger than what's technically legal. I brew my own."

"You're a law onto yourself, Severus," Harry admired with raised eyebrows. "Fred and George would be proud."

"Fred and George would get caught," Severus observed caustically.

Harry returned with the bottle, and shook his head and blinked as the fire rushed through him. He felt immediately better. He waved away the smoke and handed the other half to Severus.

"Have I succeeded?" Severus asked curiously, glancing up at Harry before taking a sip.


"In corrupting you?" He had a look of playful malice.

"Oh - oh yeah," Harry grinned down at him with a startled laugh.

But he felt slightly troubled, suddenly, as he thought of the Dark Arts class. Recent events had pushed it out of his mind. He didn't know what to do about that.

"Good. Don't come here again, Harry. Don't press your luck."


Over the next few days, the matter quieted down. Harry learned nothing about what conspired between Professor Flitwick and Professor Snape. Severus avoided all contact with Harry, except to take points from Gryffindor, and things seemed to return to normal, in a dismally depressing kind of way. Unlike other times, when there had still been glances, or notes, or other subtle forms of communication, this was a complete shut out. With no end in sight. It was rather a let down, after how exciting and strange life had become once he got to know Severus, to be just another student again. It gave Harry more time to devote to preparing for exams, but somehow he didn't have the heart for it. He missed Severus. Harry hoped this wouldn't go on forever, and tried not to stare after his professor like a "lovesick puppy" as he could almost hear Severus saying.

But there was one benefit. Thankfully there seemed to be a lull in Harry's Dark Arts classes once again. They weighed on him. Any day now, Severus would call him to their next class. While Harry eagerly looked forward to an excuse to be alone with him, he couldn't bring himself to even imagine doing Dark Magic, ever again. Harry worried at the problem in his mind, and finally decided to talk to Dumbledore. Leaving out, of course, the um... personal stuff.

Harry thought it only right he should tell Severus first, and he steeled himself for that conversation. But at this rate, there didn't seem likely to be a chance. At least not before the next class. After Harry's last experience with Severus' temper, he thought he'd better not risk having that conversation in the Forbidden Forest. Or it may be his last.

It was a complete shock to Harry when Severus, in front of the entire school at dinner, sternly ordered him to the front of the room.

"Potter. Come here," he said in his most disdainful voice.

Harry stood up in confusion. His classmates stared after him as he approached the teachers' table. Severus led him aside to the wide entryway farthest from the Slytherin table, out of earshot, though still in clear sight of the curious. Heads bent in their direction, with smirks, shock, and looks of sympathy. Depending on which table and who was looking.

"Harry, look frightened - oh good, you already do. That saves time." Severus folded his arms.

"I'm going to scold you, Harry, in front of the entire school. Frowning would be much easier if I didn't desperately want to kiss you right now - Don't look happy! Look at the floor! Yes, that's how you usually do it. I'm being a horrible bastard, aren't I, so unfair to dress down the one who helped the old drunk the other night. Try to look a little angry if you can manage it."

Harry looked up at Severus with what he hoped was a nasty glare, though he was rather caught off-balance. Severus rolled his eyes slightly.

"That is not at all angry; it is positively sexy - well then, stare at the floor if you can't manage it. I'm going to dismiss and ignore you in a moment. Appear shocked at the count of... three... two... one. Ah, here comes Minerva, defender of Gryffindor, right on schedule - too late for your virginity, I fear - now go!"

Harry realized there was going to be no other chance, swallowed and firmed his resolve.

"Severus - I'm going to tell Dumbledore."

Severus stopped cold. The blood drained from his face.

"About the class. The accident. I can't... I can't do it. I can't do Dark Magic any more."

Severus' composure was admirable. Not a muscle twitched in his face, as he said, ever so softly:

"I don't ever want to see you again, Harry."

Then he turned and stalked from the room, his dark cloak sweeping the floor like a black cloud behind him. Minerva McGonagall stopped her approach and watched him leave, her expression slightly miffed and puzzled.

The Gryffindor table applauded Harry and cheered as he returned, pounding his back, celebrating a Gryffindor victory over the head of Slytherin. Colin Creevey even offered Harry his dessert.

"All right, Harry! You got one on Snape - !"

"Faced him down - "

"We've never seen him do that!"

"Serves him right! After all those detentions - !"

Harry felt sick. He ached and wanted to crawl into bed. He had known of course that Severus would be angry. But he had expected, somehow, that he would understand. At least. The glee of his classmates only made it hurt worse. He excused himself early from dinner.

He didn't notice Hermione's eyes on him as he left.

He found himself filtering his way through the hallways, looking back to see that no one followed him. The noisy voices in the lunchroom disappeared behind him. He realized then where he was going, and picked up his pace. He arrived at the third dungeon. Somehow, it felt like it had been an age since he'd been this way, though it had only been a matter of a few days.

He found the panel at the back of closet, looking the same as ever. He said the password: "Perehelion."

Nothing happened. Severus had already changed it.

Finis. Next: 'A Crash Course on Dark Magic.'