"Harry, sweetheart, we need to talk."
The look on Molly Weasley's face warned Harry to brace himself. It was similar to the expression she had worn when making preparations for Fred's funeral -- competent, implacable, yet with a great deal of pain underlying her determination. Harry supposed that Arthur's protectiveness had made him underestimate Molly's strength in a crisis, but now he knew better. Sitting up straighter, he asked, "Is everything all right, Mrs. Weasley?"
"No, everything is not all right," Molly announced in a tone that contrasted sharply with the gentle squeeze she gave his hand. "You're not all right."
Harry groaned inwardly. He hoped this wasn't going to be another discussion about Ginny. He had been fine -- relieved, even -- when Ginny finally told him that her feelings for him hadn't changed, but she wasn't going to spend the entire year waiting for him to stop mourning and start living again. Molly seemed to be under the impression that Ginny might have broken his heart, and moreover kept reassuring Harry that she was certain Ginny would still be interested if he ever told her that he was too.
"I've raised six sons," Molly said briskly. "I'm not naive, Harry."
Maybe cutting her off would avert the conversation, thought Harry. "Mrs. Weasley, I'm not moping about Ginny. Honestly." He offered her what he hoped was a cheerful smile. "I've had a lot on my mind since the battle..."
"This is not about Ginny." Molly nodded agreement, and Harry didn't know whether to be relieved or nervous. "As I was saying, I've raised six sons. I know what moping looks like. And this is not it."
"Right," Harry agreed hastily. "Well. I'm glad you understand..."
"If you aren't interested in dating girls, you know no one in this family will love you any less. Ron may say impolite things, but you mustn't take them to heart -- he's just acting his age." While Harry gaped at her, not quite able to believe the implication of her words -- not that he'd really expected to be tossed out of the Burrow, just that it had never occurred to him that Molly Weasley of all people would be the first to figure it out -- she continued, "This is much more serious than concern about your romantic future. I know that you've been watching those memories from Severus Snape over and over."
This made Harry blush even more than the thought that she knew he was attracted to men. He'd been careful not to draw attention to the Pensieve he'd convinced George to procure for him, but he'd brought it with him to the Burrow, unable to bear the thought of being without it even for a few weeks at the holidays. "I'm not obsessed with Snape!" he said defensively. "Those memories are the only ones I have of my mother, and they aren't even mine."
Molly shushed him as if he were one of her children. "You've been living in the past, Harry, ever since the battle. That's why Ginny left, not because she suspects what I do. You know how hard it has been for this entire family..." Her voice trembled for a moment and her eyes grew bright. "But we've tried to move on. Even George has returned to work. I don't think you have moved on. I think you should talk to a Healer."
Startled, Harry squirmed on the kitchen chair, stammering out, "A -- a healer?" Did she know about the rest...? But when he could look up again, he saw only concern in her eyes. She couldn't know about the odd things he'd been noticing whenever he tried to do magic, about the ripples of what felt like static electricity bursting beneath his skin, or the sometimes disastrous effects even simple spells had when he was in the grip of one of these bouts.
"They don't just patch up broken bones, you know," she said gently, tugging off her apron and laying it in her lap. "They can help with all sorts of things -- mental things," she went on, hesitating over the single word. She reached out and gave his hand another squeeze, cutting off his instinctive protest, though he was genuinely touched by her concern. "Harry, dear, you don't have to tell me something is wrong. A mother knows these things, and don't argue with me, I'm as much your mother as I am Ron's. I've made an appointment for you this afternoon with a private Healer."
"What?" Harry snatched his hand away from her grasp as if her fingers had just turned into snakes. "I won't -- I mean, I don't need -- it isn't anything like that!" Without warning, silvery sparks leaped from his fingertips toward hers, dancing and whirling in little pinwheel shapes until they burnt out as they hit the floor.
Both Harry and Mrs. Weasley stared at the spot, then faced each other. The shock was quickly replaced by concern. "What is it like, then?" she asked, and Harry remembered that she had raised not one but two Weasley twins. "That isn't the first time that's happened." She didn't even pretend it was a question.
Shaking his head, Harry picked up her apron, which had fallen to the floor when she'd shot up in surprise. "Usually it's worse," Harry said, feeling almost relieved to see her implacable concern.
"Maybe I can reschedule that appointment for before lunch," she said, kneeling to examine the tiny burnt spot on her kitchen floor. Harry leaned over too. He hadn't even felt the ripples underneath his skin this time; the magic had just burst forth.
"Wait -- no!" Harry wailed, though he already knew the protest wouldn't have much of an effect. "You can see I don't have any mental issues --"
"This just proves you have more to discuss with the Healer than a bout of suppressed sexuality," she said, dabbing at the ashes with the edge of her apron. For just a moment the ruffle glowed silver then faded. "A lot more."
There was a crash as the front door slammed. Every one of the Weasleys had tried to do something about the damage the door seemed to have suffered, using every spell any of them knew, yet it was as if the door refused to listen; it groaned on its hinges, stuck in its frame, and banged shut violently with the gentlest of pushes. "Oi!" Harry heard Ron groan, at the same moment he heard another familiar, rather cross voice:
"You know you have to be careful shutting it."
"And you know it would have slammed itself if I hadn't touched it!" Living under the same roof as Ron's parents was proving to be a bit tense for Ron and Hermione. They'd been thrilled to be reunited once Hermione had retrieved her parents from Australia and restored their memories, but sharing a house with so many other people had begun to fray their nerves.
"Stop shouting, Ron!" All the shrillness had returned to Molly Weasley's voice as she rose and shrieked through the kitchen. "Don't worry, sweetheart," she added with a forced smile as folded the apron, hiding the charred edge. "I'll tell Ron I've asked you to accompany me on a shopping trip." Without giving Harry a chance to protest, she marched out of the room, calling again for Ron.
If Harry had hoped that his friends would rescue him from an excursion with Mrs. Weasley, he found himself out of luck. "That's great that you offered to help my mum, mate," said Ron with a wink over lunch. Hermione blushed, but she, too, gave Harry a grateful smile when no one was looking. With an inward groan, Harry realized that his friends thought he had conspired to give them some time alone together. It was little wonder that Molly had noticed his problems before Hermione did; right now, Hermione only had eyes for Ron.
"Right, well, I'll be back in time to watch the Wasps play," he said.
"No hurry, really," Ron assured him. "We can watch a Quidditch match any time, right? And you know Hermione doesn't care." Though Hermione might on a different occasion have protested her interest in Quidditch, she nodded enthusiastic agreement. "So take your time, do whatever shopping you need, mum!"
That was that, then. Harry had little choice but to accompany Molly as she marched him over to the Floo, leaving Ron and Hermione to clean up the kitchen. "We aren't going to St. Mungo's, are we?" he asked her in a nervous whisper, imagining the Daily Prophet headlines if he were recognized and photographed going inside.
"No, sweetheart, we're going to Knockturn Alley," she whispered back. Harry wasn't certain whether to be relieved or even more uneasy. There were unlikely to be reporters in Knockturn Alley -- or if there were, they were more likely to be panicked if recognized than Harry -- but he couldn't imagine what sort of a Healer would have offices there. Was Molly Weasley under the impression that he had a problem with illegal potions? Still smiling, she shoved Harry into the enormous fireplace, taking a pinch of Floo powder before he could inquire further.
"Knockturn Alley," he managed just as the flames roared and took him away. Luckily Mrs. Weasley was right behind him, latching onto his arm and escorting him down the dimly lit alley that led to the not much brighter street.
"Mrs. Weasley, if you don't mind my asking, how did you find a Healer here in Knockturn Alley?" Harry asked, tugging her aside before she stepped in a noxious looking puddle that glowed slightly green. They both ducked under an awning that had torn loose and was flapping wildly even though there didn't seem to be a trace of breeze. She made shooing motions before an elderly man, with far too many overcoats than the crisp fall air seemed to call for, could approach them.
Mrs. Weasley sailed along, past several darkened shops that despite their gloomy exteriors, seemed open for business, before coming to an abrupt halt in front of the last shop in the row. There wasn't an awning on this one, no sign in front and no business name stenciled on the door. "This Healer," she announced, giving his arm a pat, "is a friend of the family."
Inwardly Harry groaned as she pushed through the well-kept door. He'd known the Weasleys long enough to know what sort of friends this particular family had made over the years. The Healer was probably a fired Ministry official on whom Mr. Weasley had taken pity and set up in a shopfront, or some friend of Bill or Charlie's who hadn't been able to finish school at Hogwarts and had been reduced to selling sham potions in Knockturn Alley.
There wasn't much inside the shop, at least not in front, though there was a small waiting area curtained off from the rest of the interior. There was no one in the waiting area and no sign that anyone had ever been there. "Halloooo!" Mrs. Weasley called out toward the black curtain that bordered the waiting area. Still, she hung onto Harry's arm, though whether to comfort him or in case they had to make a hasty departure, Harry couldn't tell. There was a tinkle of glass from somewhere and something that sounded like a muffled curse before they both heard the scurry of footsteps behind the curtain.
"Are you sure you made an appoint --" Harry began but before he could finish, the curtain was flung aside.
Severus Snape stood glaring at them both.
* * * * *
"Molly, I told you I --" Snape's eyes narrowed as he followed her arm to where it was locked with Harry's. "Potter!"
Harry's mouth dropped open. The last time he had seen Snape, he'd been dead on the floor of the Shrieking Shack. Perhaps all-but-dead, but dying at the very least. Yet here he stood, looking as displeased as ever to see Harry. "Snape? You're -- you're alive!"
"That's Healer Snape to you, Mr. Potter," Snape hissed, letting the curtain fall behind him. Since he was all in black, albeit no longer in his teaching robes, he blended in completely, save for his sallow face and stained hands. Distantly, he felt Mrs. Weasley patting his arm reassuringly. All he could focus on, however was the familiar sneer on Snape's features. "Not quite as dead as you'd hoped?" Snape asked, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
"I hoped -- that is, I wanted to talk to you -- " Belatedly he realized that Snape might hex him where he stood if he discussed what he'd seen in Snape's memories in front of Molly Weasley or anyone else. "Of course I'm glad you're not dead!" he exclaimed. "I'm just very surprised."
A satisfied smirk crossed Snape's face. "Like so many others, you underestimated me," he announced. "Did it never occur to you that I would predict the Dark Lord's plans and take action to prepare?"
"But you couldn't have known exactly! I mean, he could have used a spell or some sort of trap. It didn't have to be the snake."
"Which is why I made certain to provide myself with more remedies than a simple anti-venin. I had many years to study the Dark Lord's methods..."
Snape's condescending tone, combined with the fact that no one had bothered to tell Harry that he'd survived, was making Harry angry. "Yes, I'm sure you'd started thinking exactly like him," he snapped. Molly patted his arm again, and he whirled on her. "When did he become a Healer, anyway? And why didn't you tell me that he was alive?"
"Because he asked me not to, dear," she replied, nodding in Snape's direction. "I think Severus had better fill you in on his qualifications."
Harry turned back to Snape. He'd spent months living in memories, both the ones Snape had given him and the ones he had of Snape, trying to work out whether there was a clue he might have missed, if there had been some way to save him...and Snape hadn't even had the courtesy to tell him he needn't bother. "There's no need. He can't do anything for me anyway," Harry snarled, his anger boiling over, pointing at Snape. "And if he thinks I'd want his help..."
Quicker than Harry could finish speaking, a silver torrent flew from his fingertip as if it had become a wand. The silver stream shot over Snape's shoulder, bounced off the dark curtain and fragmented, turning into a curtain of sparks that left Snape outlined in glittering light. As the sparks slowly began to blink, Snape turned an expression of astonishment from the dancing embers to Harry.
"How long has that been happening?" he demanded furiously.
"It's never done that before." Harry jerked his arm free from Mrs. Weasley's grip just as she spoke to Snape:
"Now do you see why I brought him?"
Snape's eyes narrowed, assessing Harry. To Molly, Snape replied, "Get out." When it appeared that she was about to argue, he added, "For your own safety. I will handle this."
"I don't need handling," Harry said hotly, then blushed as he recognized the double entendre in the phrase. "I just need everyone to stop fussing at me!"
To her credit, Mrs. Weasley looked torn about leaving him. It was only when Snape took out his wand closed the blinds of the shop that she turned to Harry. "He really is exactly what you need," she promised.
"I don't need anything!" Harry said, backing away from them both. Behind him he smelled smoke and realized the soles of his shoes had started to glow greenish silver. "What --?" he began, looking down then back at them helplessly.
"You did the right thing bringing him here," Snape said, his wand tracing a pattern in the air that Harry had never seen before. "But I really must insist that you --"
Mrs. Weasley wasn't looking at Harry -- she was looking at the pattern Snape had traced between himself and Harry. "I -- I think you're right," she admitted, giving Harry's arm a final pat. When she was gone, Snape locked the door behind her with a lazy flick of his wand. At least Harry's shoes had stopped glowing, but he still felt angry and betrayed.
"Do you know what's wrong with me?" he demanded.
"Of course I do," Snape said. He still had his wand out but wasn't making that strange pattern any longer. "You're arrogant and too trusting even for a Gryffindor and --"
"I don't mean my character flaws," Harry huffed, fists clenching at his sides. The static under his skin was so bad it felt like the hairs on his hands were sticking up.
"When Molly owled me that she had a case for me that might interest me, I assumed she meant one of her endless stream of offspring. She didn't mention the --" Snape had circled him once, jerking his head to indicate the singed curtain.
"She didn't know about that when she made the appointment," Harry replied grudgingly.
Snape made another circle around him, tapping his wand against his chin. "But it's been going on for a while?" he prompted.
"A while," Harry admitted, watching Snape circle him once more.
"Could you possibly be more specific than that?" came the growl of a question from behind Harry's back and Harry tensed up again.
"Since you let me think you died and didn't bother assuaging my guilt in having to leave you on that filthy floor," Harry huffed.
"Oh, 'assuaged' sounds like someone's been doing something besides playing Quidditch the last few months," Snape replied, now back in front of him. His gaze wasn't on Harry's face but somewhere on his mid-section, the wand still tapping infuriatingly on his chin.
"Look --" Harry began, only before he could finish, a single spark burst out of one fingertip, nearly setting Harry's shoelace on fire.
"Since you vanquished the Dark Lord?" concluded Snape while Harry stamped out the spark. The hot retort died in Harry's throat. He nodded, suddenly miserable. Why did everything in his life always come down to Voldemort? "How long have you been avoiding doing magic?" Again Snape tapped against his chin with his wand.
"Since -- hey, how did you know I'd been avoiding doing magic?" He sighed when Snape merely smirked. "Since I tried to do a summoning charm and nearly set the Burrow on fire," he admitted. "I can still do most things," he defended himself as Snape nodded at this information. "But now it's happening without my wand." It nearly killed him to ask, but he did: "Can you help me?"
Finally Snape's gaze lifted to meet Harry's. "Yes." Another tap of his wand. "The question you should be concerned with is will I help you."
Harry's fingertips made a crackling sound. Shutting his eyes, he willed himself to think about something relaxing. Flying over the lake, sipping butterbeer beside a roaring fire, wanking -- oh fuck, not wanking! He went back to imagining being on his broom, making lazy circles above the Forbidden Forest. Only then did he open his eyes. "If you weren't going to help me, you wouldn't have sent Mrs. Weasley out," he said in the calmest voice that he could summon. "You just want to make me beg." Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his wand, and smirked a bit when Snape stopped tapping his chin to aim his own wand at Harry's hand instead. "Does it have something to do with this? Some unintended effect of the Expelliarmus that killed Voldemort?"
"There is nothing wrong with your wand," said Snape, though he cast a long glare at it as if he thought Voldemort's ghostly image might burst from the tip. "I presume you have not been foolish enough to attempt Prior Incantato, and that the Dark Lord's wand has been dealt with by the Ministry."
"The wand you gave him, you mean," Harry retorted. Now he knew that neither Dumbledore nor Voldemort had told Snape that the Elder Wand was real. He wasn't about to start answering questions until Snape did. "That wand is safe. If it's not some remnant of Voldemort affecting my wand, then what's going on with my magic?"
"I should think it would be obvious even to a student as slow as yourself, Potter. You have a surfeit of magical energy from the battle -- not your wand."
Even as Snape finished speaking, another shower of sparks burst out of Harry's fingertips, making him stamp all over the floor to put them out. "And I suppose there's a potion that can help, that you're going to tell me I'd know about if I'd been paying attention in class?"
"If you had been paying attention, you would know that there's no potion in the world that can help you."
Snape looked positively smug. Again the sparks fell from Harry's fingers, shooting toward Snape even though he'd been careful to keep his hands practically clenched at his sides. "In that case," Harry snapped, dancing around to step on the silvery embers, "I guess you can't help me after all, so I don't know what I'm doing here. If anything, it seems to get much worse around you."
"There's a reason for that, you know," Snape replied grudgingly, stepping back and reaching behind the curtain. When he pulled his hand forward, it was holding a scarf that Harry had never seen before -- it certainly wasn't a Slytherin scarf.
"Why's that? Because you hate me so much?"
"Because of this, you fool." Lifting his head, Snape stretched his neck out of his robes, revealing the dark gashes in his throat left by Nagini's fangs. This time, at least, Harry felt the burning in his fingers and turned away, holding them against the filthy window that would have overlooked Knockturn Alley had it been clean enough to see outside. The sparks sputtered harmlessly against the glass. Behind him, he heard movement, and when he turned back, Snape had wrapped the scarf around his throat. "That should keep me safe from you at least for a few minutes," he drawled.
It had not occurred to Harry that there might be some practical reason why Snape might not want to help him. "Maybe this is a bad idea," he said. "I'd rather not feel responsible for your death, again."
With a snort, Snape held back the curtain. "Come in," he ordered. "I may not be so formidable a wizard as the Dark Lord, but I believe I can defend myself from your uncontrollable discharges."
Blushing at the phrase -- why was everything today making him think about sex, besides the fact that he was a teenager? -- Harry tried to peer past Snape into the dim room beyond. "What are you going to do?" he asked.
Snape leaned forward. From this proximity, Harry could see that the scarf he wore was made of some kind of snakeskin. "What I am going to do," Snape whispered dramatically, "is something I am certain you experienced rarely at Hogwarts without the assistance of your friend Granger. I am going to show you what may be the answer to your problem in a book."
Biting back a retort that might have set the whole place on fire around their heads, Harry followed Snape down the unlit corridor. It opened on a room that was a bit brighter -- candles burned on the mantel and in a creaky looking iron chandelier overhead. It was not, as Harry expected, fitted out as a Potions lab, in fact there was nary a cauldron in sight. Instead there were charts pinned to one entire wall, mostly involving the human body, and few of animals, and even a few close ups of things Harry wasn't sure he wanted to look at too closely. Snape went to the crowded bookcase, pulling out several books only to reach behind them to a second row to find what he was looking for.
There were no chairs in the room, only a sturdy examination bed with the simplest of coverings and without pillows. It looked as uncomfortable as Harry felt, watching Snape page quickly through a moldy looking old book. Hermione would indeed have been in raptures over it, he guessed. Harry shifted from one foot to the other trying not to wreak any more havoc until Snape made a satisfied noise and looked around, spotting Harry as if he'd forgotten he was still in the room.
Crossing to the examination bed, Snape laid the book open, gesturing for Harry to come over. Harry had to stand very close to see the old writing in it though standing this close it felt like he'd brushed up against a cat the wrong way and was about to spark. It took a moment to realize he was looking at an old map of England, with lines crisscrossing it in seemingly random directions, though some appeared to follow rivers and valleys. There were tiny names attached to some of the lines -- Glastonbury, Cheltenham, even the Forest of Dean.
"These --" he began, looking over at Snape.
"Ley lines," Snape said, as if that made perfect sense.
"Well, I can see they're lines," Harry said, struggling to follow Snape's reasoning, made more difficult by the fact that he hadn't offered any.
"Not just any lines," Snape said, fingertip tracing a prominent one from Glastonbury Tor to Somerton. "Lines of power."
"That's, um, very nice but I don't see how --"
"Think, Potter, for once," Snape said, smoothing one hand over the scarf around his neck. "You've battled the most powerful dark wizard in over a century and used only the simplest of spells to destroy him. Where did all that power go?" He stabbed a finger into the map. "This is where it was supposed to go. Into the earth's magical resources."
"Ley lines." Harry vaguely remembered reading about them in History of Magic, but if he had ever known they connected to the earth's magical resources, he'd forgotten it since. His fingertips were quivering, but he felt, for once, that he could contain the burst that threatened to spark out of them.
"The headmaster himself absorbed some of Grindelwald's power but was able to control it somehow," Snape said and Harry was careful to look away. He had a pretty good idea that Dumbledore had had some help with that, but that option wasn't available to Harry any longer. He hadn't wanted the Elder Wand before and even with his problem now, he still didn't want it.
"So I just go to these ley lines?" Harry asked, feeling a bubble of hope rising in his chest. He trusted himself to look back over at Snape but now it was Snape who was looking away, with what looked to Harry like great deliberateness. "I don't want Voldemort's --" He waved one hand in the air for emphasis, before continuing, "Voldemort's anything."
"I'm afraid it isn't as simple as visiting the vortices," said Snape, glancing at Harry, then scowling. "A vortex occurs at the point where two powerful ley lines cross. I imagine you may have heard of some such sites...Avebury, Stonehenge, the Merrivale Stones..."
"I've heard of those," Harry interrupted. Glancing at the map, he saw several other stone circles and monuments indicated where ley lines converged. "So I go to the places where lots of lines come together, and what?"
"The most powerful ley lines are not restricted to Britain," Snape said crossly, pulling out another map. Harry recognized the outlines of North America. Many of the lines on this map converged near the five lakes that separated the northeastern United States and Canada, while others centered on the southwest and still more in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere in the northwest. "Niagara Falls," Snape pointed to a spot on the map, "And Sedona, and Devil's Tower, and Lake Louise. There are more in South America, in the Andes and on Easter Island. Major vortices occur in the Tibetan Himalaya and at the source of the Ganges. And Ayers Rock in Australia sits at the center of the most powerful of the Pacific lines."
"You're saying I'm going to have to go to Asia?" Harry stared, incredulous. "I don't have time to visit all those places!" He flung out an arm, indicating all the books on Snape's shelves. "I'm supposed to be training to become an Auror. The Ministry expects me to..."
Not only sparks, but an actual ribbon of fire burst from the hand that Harry was waving around. He gave a yelp of alarm as Snape whirled, pointing his wand and crying out, "Aguamenti!" A jet of clear water burst from the tip of the wand, intercepting and dousing the flames as they flew toward the bookshelves.
Dark shapes fell to the floor like half-burned paper. A terrible singed odor filled the room. "Sorry," Harry whispered, feeling more abashed than guilty. Would he never be free from being the Chosen One?
"You cannot begin Auror training in your present condition," Snape announced, aiming his wand this time at the charred mess on the floor and making it disappear. "You would be a danger to yourself, your fellow trainees, and everyone at the Ministry." There was really no arguing with that assessment, though Harry couldn't help wondering whether he might have a bit more control when he wasn't being insulted by his former professor.
The scarf around Snape's neck had slipped, leaving the ugly gashes visible. Again Snape looked away, studying one of the charts across the room as he readjusted the snakeskin.
"Powerful magic leaves traces, Potter. Surely you must know that."
"I have a pretty good idea, yes." Harry shoved his hair back, revealing his own scar. He had thought that it might finally fade after Voldemort was gone, but the lightning bolt remained as visible as ever, though it didn't hurt any more. "How about you? You were bitten by a horc-- a horrible snake!"
Snape looked at him oddly, but if he guessed what Harry had nearly blurted out, he didn't say anything. "My wounds are not healing as they should be," he agreed. "And, just as it is more difficult for you to control your magic in my presence, it is -- uncomfortable -- for me to be in yours."
That startled Harry. "It is?" he asked without thinking, earning himself another glare. "Right, of course it is. But that stuff about your wounds not healing -- that's..." Something nagged at his memory about magical wounds. "That's means you've absorbed some dark magic too, doesn't it?"
With a sigh Snape drew himself up, facing Harry again. "Apparently there were some classes in which you were paying attention." Harry realized it had been the year Snape had taught Dark Arts that he'd learned that. "I have not made contact with you, despite being informed of your apparently genuine regret over my death --"
It must have been Mrs. Weasley who'd let Snape know of his preoccupation with Snape's memories. He was so worried over how much Mrs. Weasley had told Snape that he almost missed Snape's next words.
"-- but the solution to our problems, I believe, lies in each other."
"What?" Harry asked, thinking perhaps he had actually had missed something. "That doesn't make sense. Why would you let me think you were dead if you thought I could help you heal?"
Snape didn't answer, merely turned back to the old book, finger tracing the lines in America randomly as if the answer lay somewhere between Colorado and the ocean.
"Tell me why --" Harry began, making a grab for Snape's sleeve. If he'd thought about it, he would never have done it, not only because the risk of combustion was too great but also because Snape had always seemed to dislike being touched. There were no sparks, nor any of the surges of static he'd begun to expect. Instead his fingertips glowed faintly silver. It felt warm and almost alive and...and good. Harry moaned softly at the unexpectedness of it.
"That is why, Mr. Potter," Snape said, stiffening under Harry's fingers. Harry slid them off Snape's arm, but not before he saw a faint silver glow from beneath the edge of the scarf.
"That wasn't dark magic," Harry said with confidence. His fingers still felt warm. He wanted to touch Snape again, somewhere without his sleeve in the way, but Snape looked so uncomfortable that he didn't dare. "That was --" He frowned. "What was that?"
Snape faced him, pressing his lips together in a narrow line. "You are not a child," he grated.
"But I didn't finish seventh year, either. We were due to start healing charms." Snape's scowl told Harry that healing charms weren't the answer, either, but if not then Harry couldn't imagine what it might be. He remembered watching Snape heal Draco after Harry's reckless Sectumsempra, chanting something that was unlike any other magic Harry had learned at Hogwarts -- perhaps, like the curse itself, something of Snape's own devising, or maybe a healing spell Harry didn't know. The counter-spell had been beautiful, Harry remembered, like a song. He would have liked to hear it again, just as he would have liked to touch Snape again...
His hand moved of its own accord, it seemed, the way fire had erupted from it a few minutes earlier, though again there were no sparks, just the vague glow as his hand made contact with Snape's arm. He heard Snape inhale sharply and his eyes rolled up, jaw softening and mouth falling open. Harry didn't think it was hurting him, though he had no way of knowing whether Snape felt the same pulse of warmth surging up his arm from the spot where they touched, spreading into his chest and slowly down through his abdomen. "Oh," Snape moaned softly, releasing the breath in a long sigh.
"Oh," Harry whimpered in agreement as the heat coalesced in his lower body. So that was what it was. Not without reluctance, he pulled his hand away. "Why is that happening?"
"Ley lines follow natural magnetic lines of force," Snape replied as though that explained everything. When Harry shrugged, Snape added, "This is very simple magic, Potter. When you cast Expelliarmus and defeated the Dark Lord, your body was overwhelmed with the residual power from that spell. It would be oversimplifying to say that the spell infused you with positive energy, but that is essentially what occurred. Something similar happened to me when the snake bit me, though its effect was the opposite, since the snake was cursed."
Harry tried to work out what this meant. "Are you saying we're like magnets, and my positive charge and your negative charge are..." He didn't want to use the word attracted and risk being hexed, or worse, laughed at. "...like polar opposites, and we both have to come to the center?"
"Again, that is overly simplistic." Snape sounded satisfied to be able to insult Harry again.
"But not wrong? Can we balance each other somehow?" Again Snape looked distinctly uncomfortable, and Harry tried to figure out why. "I mean, you could come with me to these ley line vortices, so we could both get back to whatever is normal for us. I have plenty of Galleons, so it's not like we'd have to share rooms." Though the idea of traveling around the world with Snape wasn't exactly pleasant, it was, at least, an improvement on the thought that Harry might have to do it alone, and figure out by himself how these ley lines were supposed to work. Maybe he'd have a chance to get Snape to talk about his mum, and the things Harry had seen in those memories.
Slowly, deliberately, Snape reached out his hand toward Harry, fingers spread, palm facing forward. Harry raised his own hand and echoed the gesture, realizing that he hadn't nearly started a fire in several minutes. Both their hands glowed faintly before their fingertips even made contact, and when they did...
Oh fuck. Harry shuddered all over. There wasn't a part of his body that wasn't tingling, but again, the feeling was strongest in the least appropriate places, and he was sure Snape knew it because Snape was looking right into his eyes and Harry had never been able to shut him out.
"I told you, it isn't as simple as visiting the vortices." Snape's voice made Harry quiver. "An energy exchange must occur. So you see why I have not only not sought you out, but have actively fostered the belief that I had died as a result of my injuries." For once, Snape looked weary, something Harry had never seen in the Snape of old, even in his darkest days of being a spy. "Molly was wrong to bring you here."
"What? No she wasn't," Harry insisted, swallowing hard. She'd been trying to help, and she'd known certain things about Harry -- or suspected she knew, which, in a Weasley, was as good as knowing. He had to duck around to get Snape to look at him again, and it seemed he'd gone grayer just in the few minutes since he'd caught and held Harry's gaze. "Why would you say that?"
Shaking his head, Snape replied, "False hope is the cruelest snare."
Harry's hand itched to touch Snape again, as though there was some airborne drug between them that grew more intoxicating with each breath they took. "It doesn't have to be false," he said before he could lose his nerve.
He thought Snape might laugh or mock him, so he reached for his arm again, hoping to show him that they needed this. He didn't expect Snape to pull away as though Harry's fingers were on fire again. "You're only making it worse," Snape hissed, wrapping his arms around himself, a clear signal to keep away.
"I won't touch you again if you don't want," Harry said, backing away a step, "but if we can help each other I don't see why we can't --"
"Can't you get it through that thick Gryffindor skull that we would have to exchange energy in the form of sexual intercourse!" Snape burst out.
"Right. I worked that part out," said Harry with a shrug.
Snape's mouth opened, then closed again. "Our proximity has obviously rattled what little intellect you possess," he said finally, tugging absently on the snakeskin scarf.
Harry had had enough of Snape's insults. "Look, is the idea of touching me so repulsive that you'd hide yourself away here rather than, you know, ask me to help?" He felt a tingle in his fingertips, but it didn't feel good this time. It felt like his fingers were going to explode. He thrust his hands into his pockets and immediately his trousers felt hot. He could just see himself going back to the Burrow with burnt pants, so he took them out. Maybe Snape was just angry that Molly had brought Harry to him because now Harry would know Snape was queer. Or maybe Snape wasn't queer, and was disgusted that Harry would ever have thought he might willingly have sex with a man even to save his own life. Or maybe it was just that Snape didn't want to have sex with James Potter's son, Lily Evans's son, Sirius Black's godson, the Boy Who Lived while his mother died...there were all sorts of reasons Harry could think of for Snape to reject him. Sparks sputtered from his fingertips, falling to the floor.
Snape had narrowed his eyes, watching Harry dance around trying to prevent a fire. "I thought you came here to ask me for help," Snape grated out.
Was that really all Snape wanted -- his pride? "Fine -- have it your way," Harry agreed. He didn't think he himself could feel any more humiliated than he already did. "Professor Snape, I would really like to stop blowing things up, and I assume you would like to get rid of those holes in your neck, so if the idea isn't completely revolting to you, even if you don't normally like men, and knowing full well that you don't like me, I would like to ask you to --" Now Harry hesitated. He didn't think he should say fuck, but have intercourse sounded so clinical and he couldn't think of any better phrase except make love, which he wasn't about to say to Snape. "-- to exchange energy with me so that we can both resume whatever passes for normal lives. Right now, if you like."
"Potter," barked Snape. "You haven't been listening at all. A single -- incident -- will scarcely make a difference. We will need to visit powerful vortices all over the world."
"Are you saying we'd have to shag right on top of Glastonbury Tor?" To Harry's surprise, the thought aroused not fear or embarrassment, but -- well -- arousal. "All right, I'm game." He took a deep breath. "I have an Invisibility Cloak."
That revelation distracted Snape from whatever angry retort he had in mind about the sex. "Where did you get it?" he demanded.
"From my father. It was his. Family heirloom."
"That explains how you both were able to sneak out of your dormitories..."
"I didn't use it to sneak out of my dormitory!" Only when absolutely necessary. "My point is, I can be invisible almost anywhere I want, to do whatever I need to do. And so can you."
Snape was rubbing a spot on his scarf, the part that was tucked into his robes. Harry was sure there was an insult brewing on his tongue but it looked like Snape was making a visible effort to keep it in. "It isn't revolting to me," he said, closing up the old book.
"What?" Harry asked, confused because he'd been expecting an insult. "It isn't?" he asked a moment later, when the faint pink creeping up Snape's neck told him what had supplanted the insult. "You mean you're, um..." His fingertips were tingling again, but they most definitely did not want to shoot off sparks. "Like me?"
"If you mean a dunderhead, then no, I am not like you," Snape retorted, but Harry could tell his heart wasn't really in it.
"If we're both willing, then we can make it work," Harry said, surprised by the sudden fierce determination that welled up inside him, determination that was tempered with doubt because it was Snape he was dealing with. "Can't we?" he asked, when Snape made a face.
"There are certain difficulties..." Snape began, but Harry waved his hand again, forgetting for a moment about the possibility of combustion, but nothing happened except a warm sort of glow when his hand moved fractionally closer to Snape.
"Look, I know you don't like me, or the idea of --" He fell back on his earlier euphemism. "-- exchanging energy with me, but if we can help each other --"
Snape was still making that face but it looked like he was listening. "We can," he supplied.
"Then we should at least try." His hand seemed to pull closer to Snape without his will. He smiled, wishing Snape looked less wary.
"I presume that you have experience...exchanging energy?"
Oh. That. "Actually, not...with men," Harry said quickly. He expected Snape to get even more irritated about that, but Snape looked relieved. Maybe it would have been all right to admit that he had no experience exchanging energy at all, though there was always the possibility that Snape would have told him then it couldn't possibly work, or ridiculed him for having failed to learn the second-most important thing everyone studied at Hogwarts. "I presume you do? With men?" he asked.
Snape nodded shortly, turning his back on Harry to gather some more books. Harry wondered whether the positive-negative charge problem meant that one of them would always have to be on the bottom or something Snape found distasteful. He wasn't positive he knew anyone who was gay -- there were a couple of people he thought might be, like Seamus, who had never shown any real interest in a girl and had seemed relieved when Lavender switched her attentions to Ron -- but Harry had never quite dared to mention the subject even obliquely. Plus Harry doubted he was very good at guessing, since he'd thought for sure that Remus had been gay except then Remus had married Tonks, and he'd worried that Snape had been in love with -- well, with Harry's mum. Which hadn't been a happy thought at all.
Still, if his lack of experience was going to be an issue, Harry supposed he had better find out quickly. "Do you want me to try to get some practice, so I..."
"No!" The reply was sharper than Harry had expected. "You will have plenty of opportunities later to enjoy all the offers your celebrity will attract from more desirable partners. If you truly intend to go through with this, you will need to remain undistracted."
Harry's hand was still itching to touch Snape, unhindered by his sleeve or scarf. "I don't know how this magnetic magic works, but right now I can't think about anyone but you," he said, sliding his fingers into Snape's and turning him around. Heat spiraled up his arm, suffusing his chest. He watched Snape's glare at his unauthorized contact melt almost instantly into the same undisguised pleasure from that moment when they had touched earlier.
If it felt this good just to touch him, what would it be like to...
Harry didn't think; he acted on instinct, taking one step closer and lifting his mouth to Snape's. It was the way he always felt when reaching for the Snitch, that certainty that it was his for the taking. There was a brief spark, just as their lips met. It wasn't painful -- far from it -- it was, in fact, so very far from painful that Harry had no definition for this kind of pleasure. Snape's lips were softer than he expected, that is, if he'd ever thought about doing anything as impossible as kissing Severus Snape before this afternoon. Now, he was certain he'd never had a kiss as good as this. He realized that every kiss he'd ever had, not that there had been that many, had been missing that spark that made him shiver in anticipation and lust.
Oh God, just thinking that they would be doing more than this made Harry moan against Snape's mouth. With an answering groan, Snape pulled back. "I don't think that --" he said, but his eyes were a bit unfocused and before finishing whatever it was he'd been about to say, he grabbed Harry and covered his mouth again, pushing his tongue against Harry's lips. His arms went around Harry's back until they were as close as their clothes permitted. Without even thinking about it, Harry opened his mouth, admitting Snape's tongue, lifting his arms around his neck. For a moment they swayed, clinging as though the magnetic forces were actually drawing them together.
Then their mouths parted, though Harry mostly just needed breath for more. "Where's the closest ley thing?" he panted, looking around the room as though a ley line would appear and start glowing at their feet.
"Ley -- fuck!" Snape said, shaking his head. Abruptly Snape's arms dropped and he pushed Harry away. "We -- this --" He shook his head again, staring at Harry. He looked like he wanted to kiss Harry again and was holding back by the narrowest of margins. He took a step back, tugging the scarf around his neck. Harry had no clear memory of loosening it, save that he'd wanted his fingers to touch skin. He felt the now-familiar tingling in his fingertips. "We shouldn't waste..." Snape's gaze drifted back to Harry's mouth then back up by great force of will.
"Think of it as practice," retorted Harry, reaching again for Snape. His hands knew where they wanted to go, even if he didn't understand magical energy or magnetism or whatever it was they were supposed to be fixing. His arms wrapped around Snape's neck again, and as they did so, he tugged at the scarf, pulling it out from between them, exposing Snape's throat to his lips.
Snape let out the loudest cry Harry had ever heard from him; it was even louder than his scream when Nagini attacked. Thinking that he must be hurting Snape, he tried to lift his head, but Snape's fingers were bunched in the back of his clothing, crushing Harry against him. Harry's mouth came to rest on the skin below Snape's ear, a breath away from the ugly scars where Nagini's fangs had ripped the skin.
At least Snape was as hard as he was. Harry could feel his erection pushing against his hip as he shifted, moving his tongue over Snape's skin. Perhaps he should have thought it was disgusting to taste the flesh where the horcrux had left its mark, yet Harry felt only overwhelming want as he kissed down Snape's neck, grinding himself against Snape's thigh. Snape was pressing into him just as eagerly, keeping Harry pinned against him, and when Harry's lips made contact with the spot...
Heat shot through his body, blinding him, a searing pleasure like nothing he had heard of in the entire history of magic. He thought he must have made something explode. His ears were ringing. He was pretty sure Snape had shouted again. Either the room was shaking, or one of them was shaking, or both of them were shaking.
He didn't know about Snape, but Harry was quite certain that he himself had just come in his pants.
Snape was still clutching at him, face buried in Harry's hair, breath warm against his scalp. When Harry moved his face a fraction, he could feel how fast Snape's heart was beating from the pulse against his cheek. "I guess I'm going to need more practice," he panted, hiding his burning face by pressing it into Snape's collarbone. His arms were still twined behind Snape's neck, and he realized that his fingers, at least, didn't feel like they were about to burn something up.
"We both will," Snape muttered hoarsely.
Harry dared to look up at him. Snape's normally sallow skin was flushed and glowing faintly. His eyes were still half-unfocused, and his mouth was -- oh. Harry kissed it again.
"We also need a cleaning spell on our trousers," Snape mumbled, sounding quite embarrassed.
"Or we could just take them off." Harry grinned a bit. "This is a bed we're leaning on, isn't it?"
Snape started, as though his brain was just working out what a bed was, much less the purposes it could be put to. With another almost wistful glance at Harry's mouth he said, "If you think I can do that again right away --"
The way Harry was feeling, he thought that might not be much of a problem for himself, not when just the memory of those incredible sensations coursing through him was making his cock shift in his damp underpants. "That's all right," he said, thinking on his feet, "We should practice just touching each other, you know, comfortable-like." He took out his wand slowly, waiting for the tingling sensation in his fingertips that did not come. Still, this close to his cock -- a cock he was hoping he'd have plans with very soon -- he preferred not to take any chances. "Would you mind --?"
Snape pulled out his own wand while Harry put his away. The familiar tingle of the cleaning spell made him feel more confident. He could tell Snape was trying not to look like he wanted to be coaxed. "We don't even have to be n--" Too soon for the 'naked' word, even for Harry. "We don't have to take anything off, " he finished. Trying to look a lot more worldly than he felt, he climbed onto the bed, sliding over so there was plenty of space and acting as though they'd already agreed this was the most sensible thing they could do. "Just like, well, not friends, but people who don't hate each other, not really."
Apparently sex, especially frantic 'touch me through my clothes' sex, made Harry babble, but it seemed to be working. Snape climbed up onto the bed, his back to Harry. The sound of something thunking on the floor sent Harry scrambling to unlace his own trainers and toss them over the edge. He was staring at Snape's upright back for a long moment before he realized he was fighting the urge to reach out and stroke the seam of his robes. Or better yet to slide his hand under those robe and make another wet spot on his trousers. Or to trace that unbent spine until it relaxed at his touch but he was too afraid of spooking Snape.
Finally the robes rippled and Snape was turning around, stretching out on his back, his socked feet pressed together, arms down by his sides. It looked comfortable -- for a corpse. Harry immediately slid over and nudged Snape's arm, then, failing to get any response but a glare, lifted his arm to let himself push closer to his side, resting his head into the crook of Snape's arm. Snape was stiff but he made a small noise that let Harry know he was feeling the flicker that bespoke the magical connection between them.
"This is nice," said Harry, when it was clear Snape wasn't going to say anything. He cleared his throat but didn't say anything else, just lifted his hand and rested it on Snape's chest.
"You don't appear to be as perturbed by all this as I expected," said Snape, looking down at Harry's hand but not commenting on its boldness further. And not asking him to move it.
One finger played with one of the edges of the scarf. "I've been a bit obsessed with you," he admitted, "Okay, a lot obsessed. Mrs. Weasley saw it -- saw how much I was living in the past. Your past."
Silence. Harry glanced up. Snape was frowning. "I don't understand," he said finally. "You believed that I was dead."
"I still had -- have -- your memories. I couldn't have stopped Voldemort without them. But they're also more about my mother than I ever knew from anyone."
"Your mother." Snape huffed faintly. "She would hex me if she knew what we were planning. And your father would try to kill me." Harry laughed; for some reason it struck him as funny that Snape would expect Harry's mother to succeed in her spells while he'd only acknowledge that James Potter would try. "What's amusing about that?"
"Aren't parents supposed to resent anyone their child wants to have sex with? Who knows what they'd say if they knew I was gay, even. Or if they knew I used Unforgivable Curses during the battle."
"You used Unforgivable Curses?" Snape sounded genuinely astonished. Harry glanced up at him again, twirling the corner of the scarf around one finger.
"You know the Ministry passed that exclusion business so they wouldn't have to take everyone's wand and figure out who cast which curses." The clemency had been intended to spare people like Hermione Granger and Minerva McGonagall, though it had also protected Death Eaters -- it was the reason Lucius and Draco Malfoy were both free. And possibly Snape as well, though right now, Harry had a more pressing question. "Did those curses corrupt my magic? Is that why I can't control it? Will it do anything bad to you?"
Snape barked a laugh. "I have used many Unforgivable Curses in my life, Potter. They may corrupt the soul, but I assure you, they do not corrupt one's magic. Do you truly believe that any sins of yours could possibly be more damaging to me than this?" His fingers closed over Harry's, pulling the scarf and Harry's hand downward, until his scarred throat was exposed once more.
Pleasant shock waves traveled up Harry's arm from the hand Snape was holding. He knew that if he leaned up and kissed Snape's neck again, there would be lots of frantic tugging at clothing and rubbing against each other and things that would feel very, very good. But he also knew that if he did that, it would mean the end to the conversation, and this was the most Snape had ever talked to him without insulting him or telling him to get out, and there were a few more things Harry wanted to clear up. Starting with, "Do you think you could call me Harry?"
"I suppose you expect to call me Severus," grumbled Snape. "My mother insisted on naming me after a Roman emperor." Another long silence, and Harry realized he had just been given permission. "What will you tell Granger and the Weasleys about your impending absence?"
"They know I haven't been right since the battle. If I tell them there's something I need to do to recover, they'll understand." Surprisingly, Harry felt no great unhappiness at the knowledge that he would be separated from his friends, possibly for weeks. Ron and Hermione would probably be relieved to have more time alone, and Ginny was already moving on.
He turned his hand in Snape's...Severus's. "Are you very perturbed by all this? That it has to be me, I mean?"
Severus didn't say anything for so long Harry looked up from their twined fingers. When he realized he'd been caught out, Severus said, "'Perturbed' isn't exactly the word I would have chosen." He rubbed his thumb over the palm of Harry's hand. It sent a thrill of pleasure shooting through Harry. "I'm used to a certain level of --" He seemed to be searching for the proper term for 'loathing,' so Harry was a bit shocked when the next word was, "-- protectiveness, where you are concerned."
It was one of the things Harry had noticed in his repeated viewings of Severus's memories, that despite telling Dumbledore differently, Severus had gone out of his way many more times than necessary to make certain Harry was out of harm's way. He couldn't believe he'd never noticed it until then, but he supposed children never paid much attention to the ways adults ensured their survival. Now that he was grown, the pattern of what Severus called 'protectiveness' had become quite clear once Harry was mature enough to realize it.
"So you'd rather suffer with this --" He dragged two fingers over the slight vee of exposed skin at Severus's neck, "because you have some misguided sense that you need to protect me? Protect me from what?" He knew the answer as soon as he asked the question out loud. The color in Severus's cheek just confirmed it. "From you?" Harry rolled his eyes. Severus made to tug his hand away but Harry kept possession of it. "I told you I was, um, obsessed, right?" Severus nodded. "I felt a bit protective of your memories because I hadn't done anything to save you. I felt worse when I saw them again after that first time. All that stuff you went though." He shook his head.
"Everything I did, I did for my own reasons," countered Severus. "I'm no one's hero."
Harry shrugged. "I'm not either, but everyone treats me that way." He'd grown a bit in that year on the run, but his toes still only went down to the tops of Severus's feet. "Almost everyone," he amended. "You'd really have gone on suffering? Even if that thing never healed properly?" It made him sad and angry that Severus only ever relied on himself, expecting rejection even from those who might have been able to help. Harry knew Professor McGonagall had commented several times about how badly she felt that Severus had never taken her into his confidence.
Severus did pull his hand free then, the sneer plain on his face. "And you wouldn't have come within a thousand feet of me unless you needed help with your own problem."
"What? No!" refuted Harry, feeling suddenly bereft now that they were no longer touching anywhere skin to skin. "I mean, I had no idea when I left the Burrow this morning with Mrs. Weasley that I'd end up in bed with you, but if I'd known you needed help, especially something I could help you with, I would have tried." At Severus's openly skeptical look, he asked, "Can't anyone feel...protective toward you? Even if it's just me?"
"You, despite your protestations, can have anyone." But he didn't resist when Harry's hand found his again and covered it with his own.
"Then I can have you. If you aren't too perturbed that it's me that you have to have se-- er, exchange energy with."
This time Severus answered him right away. "I'm not perturbed to have an attractive young man to travel with and attempt some rather unprecedented magic with."
Harry snorted softly over being called attractive -- he had no delusions about being anything other than a scrawny boy with glasses and messy hair, plus he looked like his dad, which he knew would never endear him to Severus. Hopefully it meant that Severus wasn't interested in someone else, though. "You don't have, you know, a partner?" he asked a bit uneasily, thinking that boyfriend would definitely have been the wrong word and lover might not have been much of an improvement.
Severus matched his snort with a louder one. "'Partner' implies a sort of permanence that I have never had." Though Harry supposed that that was a sad detail from Severus's life, for some reason it made Harry himself quite happy. "And I have no other lover who would resent your presence. Only a few people even know where to find me."
"Are you hiding from the Ministry? Because that exclusion for the use of Unforgivable Curses would apply to you, too. Everyone knows you didn't kill Dumbledore on orders from Vol--"
"Silence!" It was the same voice Professor Snape would have used in the classroom to silence an unruly student, though at least he didn't pull away from Harry this time. "Arthur Weasley knows that I survived, which means that the Ministry knows as well. I believe that at the present time they have more pressing problems than demanding testimony from me."
"Then how come you're keeping it a secret that you're alive?" It was impossible not to feel a bit wounded. "Just to stop me from looking for you?"
Severus met his eyes. "Dumbledore's supporters are not the only people who have wished me dead."
Harry hadn't thought about that. Plenty of Death Eaters had been granted amnesty for turning in other criminals, even Fenrir Greyback. Most of them had been smart enough to lie low after the battle if they weren't pretending they'd been under Imperius, but just because they'd left Harry alone didn't necessarily mean they wouldn't come after Severus. "We need to make sure you get your strength back before anyone figures out I'm traveling and sends a Daily Prophet reporter to follow me," he said. A kind of tingling warmth moved up his arm from where Severus's fingers were touching his. "Can I ask you something? When we touch, or -- what we did before -- did that make you feel weaker?"
"No," admitted Severus, cheeks coloring a bit. "I feel better than I have in months."
That was all Harry needed to hear. "Then I want to do it again," he said breathlessly. "As soon as you want."
"I told you, it's too soon, I'm older than you and I can't --" But Harry had already pressed close enough to feel Severus's cock stirring beneath his clothing. "And you need to speak to the Weasleys, and pack your things, and I need to research the order of the vortices..."
Severus shut up very quickly when Harry kissed him, though he wasn't exactly quiet. He moaned a great deal, particularly when Harry cupped his cock through his trousers. "We can do all that later," Harry whispered. "Anyway, I can't pack if I'm setting things on fire, and the only thing that stops that is being with you."
"We can't always just --" Severus began but Harry pulled his mouth close again and reflected that if the only way he'd ever get Severus to be quiet was to kiss him silly, they were going to spend a lot of time just like this. Which suited Harry much better than he ever expected. He might have been slow to admit that he wasn't exactly straight, but making up for lost time was proving a lot more fun than a bunch of fumbles in deserted classrooms like his other friends had had.
"We can," Harry assured him. He rocked his hips against Severus's again. "See? We can and we really need to." Whether it was Harry's words or his cock that convinced him, Severus slid one arm around Harry's waist and guided him back onto the bed. It felt even better than their hasty grope before, though Harry wasn't sure how anything could. Sparks seemed to gather inside him, not the kind that could ignite but the kind that flared along his nerve endings. He could feel the weight of Severus's cock through both sets of trousers and groaned at the idea of feeling skin against skin when every touch seemed to blaze between them.
"Undress me, please," he begged, tugging at his own shirt, but it was pinned in by Severus's weight on his legs. "We don't have to actually, you know, right now --" Severus nodded, helping Harry lift the shirt over his head, rubbing his hand over his chest. "Just want to feel you everywhere!"
"I suppose we may as well begin our research here," said Severus, reaching for the fastening of Harry's trousers. His cheeks looked flushed and there was a stray bit of hair that clung to his cheek. Harry reached up and freed it, surprised when the mouth that nuzzled his fingers was gentle. "We'll have to determine exactly what sort of contact will exchange the most energy, and whether certain forms of exchange will be needed depending on the position of the ley line."
Harry felt the corners of his mouth twitch but he refrained from laughing. As long as Severus was sliding Harry's trousers off he could call it whatever he wanted. "Research, right," he agreed, kicking the freed trousers and pants over the edge of the bed. His cock had sprung up, twitching like a dowsing rod in Severus's direction. "I think I need to do some research too," he said, tugging one end of the scarf loose. Severus looked away as if he didn't want to see Harry's reaction but Harry had more than his throat in mind. He sat up a bit, glad it was warm in the tiny back room, and tugged Severus's shirt loose, not worrying about the buttons when he could just lift it up. He needed cooperation for that but thankfully Severus lifted his arms. He was close enough to feel the heat radiating off Severus's skin and he leaned in further still, craving it.
"I think you'd better do the rest," he said shakily, letting the ripples roll through him when their chests touched. It seemed to be a great effort for Severus to pull back enough to unzip his trousers but he managed it, though not before reaching for his wand and dousing the lights.
"Hey!" protested Harry, but bare legs stretched against his and he reached for Severus. His fingers were tingling again, but not like they were going to start a fire. Severus's hand slid over his chest, flat and smooth as if Severus were studying the pattern of ribs. A fingertip brushed one of Harry's nipples and he moaned, reaching up to touch Severus the same way.
"Slowly," ordered Severus, though Harry could feel the bare cock brushing his hip and groaned anew at the heat and size of it. He was a bit intimidated at the thought of having something that big inside him, yet at the same time, when he thought about Severus oh God fucking him, it made his own cock throb. Undulating his hips, he pressed upward against Severus and was rewarded by a sharp hiss of breath. "Do you not understand what 'slowly' means?"
"My mind understands, but the rest of me..." Harry rolled the nipple between his fingers, squeezing a bit, and heard Severus gasp again. "I told you, I don't have a lot of experience."
"That is all the more reason not to act hastily..." Severus began, but Harry had let his fingertips roam, and when they encountered the base of Severus's throat, Severus's voice trailed off in a soft cry. Harry loved that sound. His cock loved it too, and he pushed it against Severus's as he moved his mouth to the spot his fingers had touched. He could feel Severus quivering against him, clutching Harry closer in spite of his words. "Perhaps you had better tell me what experience you do have," Severus said breathlessly.
"Mostly wanking," Harry muttered, hoping that the words were muffled because his mouth was on Severus's neck. A firm hand slid around his hip, working itself between their bodies. For a moment Harry resisted it because it was inserting itself between his cock and Severus's, but then it wrapped around his cock and he bucked wildly, crying out, forgetting completely why he had thought he hadn't wanted it there.
"Like this?" asked Severus silkily, moving the hand up and down much more slowly than Harry wanted.
"Oh fuck -- more -- please --"
"Patience," murmured Severus, and his voice -- that voice that had threatened and tormented Harry at Hogwarts -- sounded sexier than anything Harry had ever heard before. His thumb brushed the spot just below the foreskin, catching a drop of fluid that was clinging there. "You aren't hiding in the boys' loo or using Diggory's password to sneak into the Prefect's Bathroom now."
"Oh God! How did you know..."
"There isn't much you got away with at Hogwarts that I didn't know about." Harry thought that perhaps he should have been embarrassed to learn this, but instead the words sent another thrill through his body. He felt like he was going to catch on fire, but in a good way, the best way possible.
How did Severus have this much control when he was the one with the serious injury? Harry thrashed against him, moaning, groping for Severus's cock in desperation. "Want to do this together," he panted.
"Just this?" Severus asked, studying Harry's features, "because if you touch me, I may...exchange energy faster than I would like."
Oh God, just hearing Severus discussing -- if such breathy words could be called something as ordinary as a discussion -- his own orgasm sent Harry's hips bucking into the fingers promising him relief. "Can I touch you without touching your --" His fingers slid lower on Severus's belly and he groaned again when he realized the hair had thickened under his hand. "Your c-cock?" He'd got the word out though the simple act of speaking a single word had never aroused him like this.
"Anywhere," groaned Severus, and Harry loved that he could be so aroused just by touching Harry. The thrum of the energy or magic or whatever the hell it was laced through him, especially as he let the coarse hair glide through his fingers. Severus's hand was still moving slowly as if learning the shape of Harry's cock through minute arcane measurements. "Does this feel better than when you wank by yourself?" he asked in a voice that was at least showing signs of the same need that cascaded through Harry.
"Are you mad?" Harry gasped, one fingertip skating along the base of Severus's cock. "This feels better than anything! Please let me touch you!"
Severus hesitated an instant before shifting to bring his cock in contact with Harry's hand. He made a sort of guttural noise when Harry touched him and his own maddening strokes sped up as though their hands were connected by a circuit. Everything shifted downward -- his awareness, his magic, the tingle of energy that he'd only ever felt when he touched Severus. Downward and --
"Oh fuck!" he cried out, bucking into the heated sheath of Severus's fingers.
-- and out.
"Sorry, oh God," Harry panted, still moving into that tight heat, one hand clenching Severus's shoulder, the other trying to stay in motion on Severus's --
Oh God, he was wanking Professor Snape. Wanking him and about to make him come, if the hot little breaths against his neck were any indication. "Don't...bloody...apologize," Severus said, pushing his face into Harry's shoulder, squeezing his wet fingers over Harry's cock reflexively.
"What? Oh!" Harry said, because it was hard to focus with the aftershocks still coursing through him and Severus's mouth pressing against his neck and those gasps. Oh God, was that a whimper? With no further warning than that Severus went rigid. Hot spatters coated Harry's fingers before he quite realized it and when he did, a thrill went through him quite like anything he'd ever experienced.
"We can do a lot more research," he said when Severus went still beside him, his face still pushed into Harry's neck. "As much as you want, really." In fact, Harry thought, with a nap he could probably do more research tonight.
"That will be sufficient," Severus said, pulling back far enough to look at Harry. "For now." 'For now' at least implied that he hadn't been disappointed in having to let Harry touch him, so Harry didn't risk asking when 'later' might be. "You've done that before," Severus went on, still looking at Harry the way he'd used to stare into cauldrons when waiting for the potion within to turn the proper shade of puce.
"I told you I had," Harry confirmed, loosening his fingers from around Severus's softening cock. "I mean, hasn't everyone?"
"With someone," clarified Severus, looking puzzled.
Harry took a deep breath and shook his head. He still had Severus's come between his fingers so he was hoping confessing wouldn't ruin everything. After all, they'd proved how much they needed each other. Twice. "Just, um, solo," Harry answered. He freed his fingers, wondering why he sort of enjoyed the texture on them when he'd never even thought about it when it was his own.
Severus was still staring at him and Harry wondered if he'd violated some bedroom etiquette with his confession. Then Severus shook his head and with his own unsticky hand reached for his wand to clean up both sets of fingers. "You don't have to flatter me, Potter, I've already agreed to help you."
Harry frowned, flexing his clean fingers. "I thought we were helping each other and I mean it. I've only ever done this by myself." And not often for that lately since he'd been in an unsoundproofed tent for ten months then had been at the Burrow, where he was ever conscious of other people in the house.
Severus was sitting up. "Are you implying that your other lovers have been too sophisticated to engage in mutual wanking?"
"No!" Harry nearly shouted, reaching out to grab his shoulder. "I'm implying that the only lover I've ever had just engaged me in mutual wanking!"
At that, Severus's expression cleared. "Ah. I had forgotten that until very recently, you considered yourself heterosexual." He slid off the bed, and away from Harry's hand, bending to pick up his discarded pants and robes. "I can only hope that this form of exchanging energy lives up to your expectations."
A strange feeling had begun in Harry's fingertips. He didn't like it. Nor did he like the fact that Severus seemed determined to put some distance between them, maybe even to find an excuse to start a quarrel. "I've never done this with a woman before, either," he said crossly. "Never wanted to. I didn't 'consider myself heterosexual,' I just dated girls because it was what everyone else did, and I only ever kissed a couple of them so you have nothing to --"
He paused. He had been about to say be jealous about, but that was ridiculous - Severus surely wasn't jealous about anything where Harry was concerned.
Severus glanced back at him, tugging together the buttons on his trousers. "You expect me to believe that you never let any of your fawning admirers suck your prick?"
"No! I can't believe you think I'd let some random person do that." The words came out sounding very cross. Harry hadn't supposed that Severus would be a virgin, but he hadn't thought he'd be so -- so Slytherin about sex, taking any opportunity that came his way. Maybe he'd only called Harry attractive because Harry had made himself available. "I suppose you've let lots of admirers suck your prick, so you're the one who's likely not to have your expectations met, not me." Scowling, he reached over the edge of the bed for his own pants, feeling the unpleasant tingling in his fingertips intensify. "Did I do that so badly that you don't even want to touch me now?"
"Would I have suspected that you'd done it before if I thought you did it badly?"
"I don't know! I don't know why you're saying any of these things. I told you before that I had no experience with men and now you're acting like you think I'm a liar." Not that that was different than how Professor Snape had always treated him before, but it felt worse now, after all they'd been through and all they'd just done together. "All I know is, that felt better than anything I've ever done myself, so I wish you'd tell me why you can't wait to get away from me."
Severus turned to face him. "If you really have so little experience, of course it felt better than anything. There's no need to pretend it was anything more than what it was -- a necessary development."
Necessary development? Harry had had enough. The tingling in his fingertips had become an ache, almost as if he'd scraped them over stone for too long. "I don't know why I even bothered coming to you," he muttered, fumbling around for his clothes. Despite being naked nearly all afternoon, he wanted to get dressed quickly because he suddenly felt embarrassed.
"As I recall, you were brought here," said Severus waspishly, looking buttoned up and unapproachable while Harry was still sliding his feet in his jeans. Tiny sparks flew out when he touched the zipper.
"Don't worry, I'm not coming back," Harry said, not realizing exactly what he was going to say until the words were out. All he wanted was to get as far away from this pain as he could. Necessary development.
For a moment Severus looked wounded, nearly as badly as he had when he was bleeding out on the floor of the Shrieking Shack those months ago. He swooped down to recover the scarf, draping it around his neck and tucking it back into place. When he straightened, his face was a hard mask.
Harry shook his head. "Wait, I -- I don't mean that." He slumped on the edge of the bed, his jeans still gaping while he buried his aching fingers in the tangle of sheets. "Just don't be nice to me when we're --" He jerked his chin toward the bed. "Doing the exchanging energy thing. Just be your old rotten self." He tried to touch the zip again and his fingers sparked so much he smelled ozone. "I can't stand it when you're nice to me then take it away."
He was going to have to go back to the Burrow just like this, with his jeans open, unless he could trust himself to try magic, and wouldn't that be perfect if he blasted off his own prick before he'd ever got a chance to exchange anything? Vaguely he heard movement, probably Sev -- Snape -- trying to get away from him as quickly as possible. Instead he came to stand over Harry, making an impatient gesture with his hand so that Harry would lean back. Severus stepped between Harry's legs. With efficient movements he slid up the zipper and threaded the button into place.
"You should --" Severus's voice was husky so he cleared his throat and continued. "Pack clothing for all weather conditions and climates. Several of our destinations will be tropical, some will be in the mountains, and every clime in between. Pretend you're going on an extended camping trip."
It sounded so much like Severus was teasing him that Harry looked up suspiciously. He was nearly certain he saw the corners of Severus's mouth twitch. Since he was standing so close to Harry, the heat flared between them, like the awareness of Occlumency coupled with a skitter of arousal. "We aren't really going camping, are we?" Harry asked, thinking of all those months he'd spent in a damp tent.
"We will, as much as possible, make use of local accommodations, but there will be times, yes, when we may need to provide our own shelter."
"When are we leaving?" asked Harry, feeling his way cautiously through Severus's probably-momentary reasonableness. There was something soft in his hands and he realized he'd reached for the ends of Severus's scarf. Touching it make the ache in his fingers dissolve away.
Severus was looking at him curiously. "Can you be ready in a few hours?"
Harry shrugged. "All I've got to do is pack and go to Gringotts." He had a feeling he knew what Severus was going to say so he kept talking to cut him off. "I'm taking you away from your livelihood. It's only fair I should help with the expense." Though he was planning on paying for as much as he could get away with. The shabby shop told him everything he needed to know about how much time Severus could afford to take off.
He didn't think the argument was done, but Severus too seemed to sense the wisdom of not breaking the burgeoning truce. "The more quickly we depart, the safer it will be for everybody," he said.
Harry wondered whether Severus was afraid he was going to start a fire someplace or just whether, left alone or with the Weasleys for any length of time, Severus expected Harry to rethink the wisdom of the entire arrangement and never come back. "I'll go by Gringotts and get my things from home before I go back to the Burrow -- most of my travel things are there, since I've been staying with the Weasleys. Do you want to meet me there? That way you can explain to them that I haven't gone barking."
Severus looked mortified at the idea that he would have to explain anything to the Weasleys, but Harry had guessed correctly that the invitation would reassure Severus that he wasn't planning to disappear. "I trust that Molly will not require a full accounting of our planned activities?" he asked.
"She'll just want you to promise to bring me back safely and cured and all that. She still acts like Ron, Ginny, and I aren't old enough to take care of ourselves, no matter how many Death Eaters we've faced." In some ways, Harry thought, she wasn't wrong about the others; Ginny still had a year left at Hogwarts, and Hermione was talking like she might go back and finish even though the Board of Governors had voted to grant them their diplomas already, which might mean that Ron would go back, too, to be Head Boy and Quidditch captain, the things he had wanted before the Dark Lord had changed everything. "What we're going to do won't really be dangerous, right? Apart from possibly getting caught and charged with indecency?"
"The exchange of energy will not be dangerous." The irritated expression on Severus's face from when Harry had mentioned Ginny now turned into a scowl. "However, there may be other complications."
"I'll try not to blow you up if we have another row."
Harry had only been half-joking, but Severus smiled unexpectedly and for a moment it was impossible to breathe. The only thing in the world Harry wanted was to kiss him. "I believe I can prevent you from blowing me up," Severus purred -- well, it sounded like a purr to Harry, though he wasn't exactly thinking clearly.
"Then what..." Oh fuck. Severus looked like he might kiss Harry first. Necessary development, Harry told himself. That reminder of how little this all meant to Severus was enough to clear his head a bit. "What do you mean by other complications?"
"As I have told you, powerful magic leaves traces. Anyone who wished to track my movements might be able to determine our course and anticipate our arrival."
"Then we'll just have to make sure we visit the vortices in some random order." One glance at Severus's face told Harry that that had not been the correct reply. "Um -- do we need to visit them in a particular sequence?"
He could tell that Severus had to make an effort not to roll his eyes. "When one is brewing Draught of Living Death, does one stir the potion clockwise or counterclockwise?"
"One clockwise stir after every seventh counterclockwise stir," Harry recited, relieved that he remembered this from the Half-Blood Prince's notes. "Oh -- you're saying we need to go in a specific direction?"
Severus turned and grabbed a map from the table behind him. It showed a labyrinth, though Harry didn't know which one. "All focal points of power must be approached and exited in a precise manner," he said. "Yes, we must visit the vortices in a specific sequence."
"All right." Harry sighed a bit. "Give me a couple of hours to be ready."
* * * * *
Exactly two hours later Harry was pacing the small kitchen in the Burrow. He had raced to Gringotts as soon as he'd left Severus's shop, resisting the urge to linger and see if that really was a kiss hovering between them. He'd had the goblin in charge of his account give him a crash course in lines of credit at other banks, since he wasn't sure exactly where they would be going and didn't want to have to haul around sacks of Galleons. Then he'd made a brief stop at Number 12, Grimmauld Place to retrieve his winter cloak before he Apparated back to the Weasleys, dashing upstairs before answering any of Mrs. Weasley's questions.
When he came back down, she looked stern but resigned. Haltingly, and very glad that Ron wasn't around, he explained that he was going away with Severus -- only he remembered to call him Professor Snape just in time.
"Without saying goodbye? To anyone?" Molly said.
"It's a necessary development," Harry explained, pacing the length of the kitchen again and peering out the gingham curtain toward the yard. With a huge feeling of relief -- and a flutter of excitement -- he saw a swirl of black appear just beyond the shed. "He's here."
Molly wiped her hands on her apron and looked over Harry's shoulder. "Let me get the kettle going."
"I don't think we'll have time," Harry began, still watching as Severus strode up the walkway. Harry flew to the door to open it. "You came."
Severus looked at him the same way he had after he'd slid his hand off Harry's twitching cock and it made Harry feel a bit more than a flutter of excitement. "You knew I would." He stepped closer and for a moment Harry forgot Mrs. Weasley was in the room. The rumble of the kettle, which Mrs. Weasley must have magically sped up, reminded him.
"Um, come in," he said, stepping out of the doorway. He looked over his shoulder to see if Mrs. Weasley had noticed his near-slip but she was setting out the tea things.
"Severus, dear," she said, coming over to take his hand, patting it. "I hear you're taking our Harry away." She tugged him over toward the table. Harry, though impatient to be off, remembered he had suggested Severus come over to help out with the explanations.
"Potter believes I can convince you he hasn't gone barking mad," Severus said, taking the seat Molly offered. Harry sat too, though he resisted the temptation to wedge his chair over closer. Severus certainly didn't have any trouble calling him 'Potter' again, he thought, a bit dispiritedly.
"Don't be silly," Mrs. Weasley said, patting Severus's hand again. "I knew you were just the right person to take him to." She sat back, looking at them both over her tea cup. Then her canny eye focused on Severus. "You'll take care of him, won't you? Make sure he doesn't go haring off or get himself killed?"
Setting down his own cup, Severus looked over at Harry, again with that same private expression that made Harry think of wicked things to do with the lights out. When he turned back to Mrs. Weasley he looked every inch the responsible professor he'd been for so long. "I'm a healer, not a miracle worker," he replied, "though I believe Potter has a genuine interest in being cured."
"You're very good to take him on," Mrs. Weasley said, and Harry thought he saw a slight twinkle in her eye. He hid behind his own cup, gulping down hot tea. "Let me pack you some sandwiches for the trip."
"That won't be necessary..." Harry and Severus said nearly simultaneously.
"Nonsense, you'll need to eat no matter where you're going," she said airily, rising from the table. "Will you need a refrigeration charm?"
Harry glanced at Severus, who said, "We won't be traveling far this afternoon."
"Nothing exotic, then," said Molly, sending slices of cheese floating onto the bread she was placing on the countertop. Smiling, Harry shrugged. It was easy enough for her to evade her curiosity since he really had no idea where Severus intended to take them first. "I trust that you'll owl regularly so that we know you're safe?"
"Of course." Again, Harry and Severus spoke at almost the same moment. Harry had thought occasionally about bringing a new owl into his life -- it would be impossible to replace Hedwig, of course, but he'd thought he might like an animal companion. Now, however, he reflected that it was just as well he had no pets or familiars in his care. "Professor Snape told me that we won't be doing anything dangerous," he added.
"Even so, you of all people need to be careful. Your face has been in the Daily Prophet, you'll be recognized! And, Severus, I don't need to remind you what Arthur said." Molly's expression grew dark. Harry wondered whether Severus had more specific knowledge about ex-Death Eater grudges than he'd admitted. He glanced over, but Severus didn't seem any more inclined to elaborate on that enigmatic statement.
Severus cleared his throat. "Tell Arthur that there has been no cause for concern, and I will certainly contact the Ministry if I have reason." Obviously Harry was going to have to ask Severus about this later -- why only a handful of people were allowed to know that Severus had survived the war. "But we should be going. I would prefer not to travel after dark."
"My things are still upstairs," Harry said, standing and wiping his hands nervously. He hadn't used a charm to shrink the bags to manageable sizes; he didn't quite trust himself with his wand when Severus wasn't around. "Will you help me bring them down?"
For a moment Severus looked affronted, as though Harry had asked him to act as his servant, but when Harry started to pull out his wand, his expression cleared. "I don't suppose that even Arthur would authorize you to create Portkeys," he announced, following Harry upstairs. Once they were out of earshot of Mrs. Weasley, who was packing fruit with their sandwiches, Severus said, "You remember what I told you? Clothing for all seasons, and boots if you have them."
"Got it." He had kept his Invisibility Cloak out in case they needed it right away. "Where are we staying tonight?"
"Amesbury," Severus said shortly. That answered Harry's yet-unasked question about their first destination -- he might not have paid much attention in History of Magic, but he knew that Amesbury was the town closest to Stonehenge. He had never seen the massive monument, though he knew it had been an ancient healing site. But it was exposed, visible to Muggles and wizards alike, and the idea that he and Severus were going to have illicit sex right in the middle of it made him whimper a bit. "What's the matter? Is the destination not fashionable enough for your liking?"
"With you so close, the only aspect of fashion I care about is getting your clothes off as quickly as possible," Harry said, figuring Mr. Necessary Development Snape could make of that whatever he wanted. Snape stopped on the stairs and Harry had gone into the room he shared with Ron before he realized he'd come up the last few stairs alone. He poked his head out. "What's the matter, isn't Ron's room fashionable enough for you?" He was busy pushing all his bags toward the door when Snape came in, looking a bit dazed. He glanced at the bed before pulling out his wand and shrinking the bags. At least they were safe -- relatively -- because Harry didn't think even the shivery arousal that had ignited in him when Snape had come in was enough to make him have sex in Ron's bed.
"We can Apparate to Amesbury," Snape explained, helping Harry stow the bags into a single one with a featherlight charm on it. They stood in the doorway, neither moving while Harry tried to stop staring at Snape and wondering if Ron's bed might not be too bad after all.
"Boys!" Mrs. Weasley called from downstairs, startling them both out of the doorway. Hearing Severus referred to as a boy made Harry laugh though, so he got back downstairs with his bag. "All set?" Harry nodded, taking the bag of sandwiches and who knew what else from her. He was wrapped into a fierce hug before he could put the bag away properly and even Severus wasn't able to escape the farewell, though to Harry it didn't really look like he was trying.
She waved to them from the door, dabbing her apron at her eyes as they stood near the spot in the yard where Snape had Apparated in. Even though he was looking forward to the adventure ahead, he was still sad to be leaving the Burrow -- the only home he'd really known save Hogwarts -- behind. He waved back before he took Severus's arm, just before the rush of Apparition took them away.
They arrived in a country lane, behind a stand of trees. Just ahead stood a fine old brick farmhouse with a quaintly lettered sign, with moss growing over the signposts. The sign said 'Ratfyn Farm'. Snape was taking stock after their journey and nodded approvingly at the farmhouse. "It's a bed and breakfast now, run by wizards for four generations."
They checked into a room with two beds. Harry put down his bag and went over the window, trying not to show his disappointment. There was a lovely sloping field just beyond the car park and a rose arbor beside an aged whitewashed wall. Harry tugged at the curtain and took several deep breaths past the lump in his chest. Severus couldn't have said better what he should expect if he'd put up a rose arbor and wall in their room between the beds. Double beds were apparently also a necessary development.
Behind him Severus didn't move for several moments, but then Harry heard him rummaging through his bag, pulling out something on parchment. Harry dropped the curtain and turned around. Severus had got out a map, laying it over one of the beds. He sat on the other side of the map, looking at the confusing whorl of lines intersecting one another. It was, he realized, a map of prominent ley lines and vortices all over the world. Snape waved his wand over the one marked Amesbury and the map shifted, highlighting the area around the town and the henge.
Seeing Harry watching, Severus gestured him over, enhancing the diagram of the structure until it rose a foot in the air before them. Setting down the wand, Severus pointed at one stone off to a side. "This is the heel stone. The parallel ditches here and here lead to the River Avon."
"Does that one line up for the summer solstice?"
"The wizards who built the monument put far more emphasis on the winter solstice," said Severus crossly, as if Harry ought to have known this, which Harry supposed was probably true. A finger jabbed near the middle of the map. "This is known as the Altar Stone, though it was at one time upright. It would be most appropriate for us to exchange energy at the magnetic center of the structure." The finger moved, indicating north. Harry tried to pretend he was paying attention to the map rather than the way Severus's throat moved when he talked. "Which will mean that we will have to approach at the dead of night."
"Why at the dead of night? Is that more magical?" Harry asked.
Severus fixed him with a glare. "It would be more magical not to be apprehended by either agents of the Ministry of Magic or the Muggle police."
"You don't think we'd be safe even with the Invisibility Cloak?"
"Unless your cloak has the ability to muffle sound, I think it will be far simpler to arrive at the henge at a time when no one is looking at the stones."
Harry had to admit that that made sense. It also made him feel a little less unhappy about the fact that they wouldn't be sharing a bed. There was a kettle and a basket of tea and sugar on one of the tables in the room, and he went over to see about boiling some water. Standing close to Severus, all he could think about was tugging off his clothes and rubbing against him, which might lead to another row, which wouldn't put him in a good frame of mind for exchanging energy later. Plus he didn't know whether Severus would be tired -- he definitely looked a bit pale. "Maybe we should eat Mrs. Weasley's sandwiches," he suggested.
Though Harry hadn't thought he was particularly hungry, himself, he ended up devouring his own sandwich, plus most of the fruit and the chocolate Mrs. Weasley had packed in with the rest. The sky grew dark while they sipped their tea, studying the maps Severus had brought. Stonehenge was situated along a miles-long ley line connecting prehistoric mounds that ran to the northeast. Harry could see that it was also in a direct line with the stones at Avebury and Arbor Low, forming right angles with the Tor at Glastonbury. "Is that where we go next?" he asked, indicating the British sites to the north.
Severus moved his hand in a counterclockwise direction, down and away, indicating Ireland. "No. Glastonbury will be our very last location, after Montsegur in the Pyrenees. We will go from here to Sí an Bhrú, which you perhaps know as Newgrange. Then to Myvatn in Iceland." The finger continued to point across the water, indicating North America, and Harry had a sudden sense of exactly how far they would travel and how long they would be away, with no one but each other for company.
Harry rummaged into Mrs. Weasley's bag, pulling out the last chocolate bar and breaking it in half. Severus unwrapped his without comment, staring reflectively at the map until he'd finished his half of the bar. "We should get some rest," he said, gesturing toward the map with his wand. It shrank and folded before he caught it out of the air and tucked it in his pocket. Since they were both sitting on one bed, Harry got to his feet a bit too quickly.
"I'm too restless to sleep," he said, shoving his hands in his pockets and going back to the window to peer out. Dusk was approaching, coating the cultivated lands beyond the whitewashed wall with peach and pink and gold. "Have you ever been here before?" he asked, glancing over to the beds. Severus was leaning back, not lying down, his hands folded on his lap.
He answered without opening his eyes. "Once, when I was a little bo-- before I went to Hogwarts." He was quiet a moment and Harry thought he might be dozing. But then he said, "My mother brought me. She thought I should see a bit of the magical world before going off to school."
Harry remembered the child he'd seen in the memories Severus had entrusted to him. He wondered if coming here with his mum had been a happy memory, but couldn't think of a way to ask. He stared out the window for a few minutes more, following a tractor ambling slowly along the lane, turning into a shed before he dropped the curtain. Severus's eyes were still closed but Harry couldn't tell if he was asleep or not. Gingerly he sat down on the other bed, looking wistfully at Severus's outstretched form.
"You are thinking too loudly," Severus said, glaring at him with his eyes closed.
"Are you --" Harry squinted, rubbing his forehead with the heel of his hand. Usually he could tell if Severus was using Legilimency but he hadn't felt any signs of it.
With a put upon sigh Severus opened his eyes. "I don't need to invade your thoughts to be able to tell what you're thinking." He adjusted the pillow so it was over his lap. "If we share a bed we will never be able to complete our objective for coming here in the first place."
Harry laid back against the pillows, folding his hands behind his head and staring up at the ceiling. "Objective, right," he said.
"Why do you object when I say things like 'objective'?" Severus asked, his voice pitched low in the darkness.
Grunting, Harry rolled over, keeping his back to Severus to avoid the temptation to do exactly what he knew he wasn't supposed to. "It's nothing. Don't worry about it. I'll be ready when it's time to leave."
Severus made a noise like he was going to say something else but after a moment Harry realized he hadn't spoken again. The next thing he knew, a hand was shaking him awake. For a moment he thought he was back in the tent with Ron and Hermione. He bolted up, fumbling for his wand. "What?" he asked, confused by the erotic dreams vaporizing like mist as his brain clicked into place.
"Harry, it's time," Severus said, kneeling beside his bed. "We'll have to walk outside -- we don't dare Apparate too close to Ratfyn Farm, nor arrive too near to the monument."
"How far away is it?" asked Harry, running a hand through his hair. His heart was pounding, partly from his confusion upon waking and partly because he now remembered exactly what they were there to do.
"Perhaps four kilometers along the Muggle road." Too far to walk comfortably, then -- and definitely too far to walk back afterward.
He glanced at the blanket on his bed, wondering whether to bring it along with his Invisibility Cloak. It had been a warm afternoon and would likely be a pleasant night, but he didn't fancy losing his virginity on cold stone with only his bunched-up clothing under him. Plus there was the issue of, um, lubrication. "What do we need to bring?" he asked guardedly.
"I have everything we need." Severus held up what looked to Harry like a small pouch. He hoped there was a shrinking charm on it.
"What about my wand?"
He could see Severus hesitating. On the one hand, neither one of them trusted Harry's spell-casting much at the moment. But on the other hand, in case they got separated somehow, it might be important for Harry to be able to use whatever magic he could manage. Severus nodded tersely, and Harry put it in his pocket, grabbing his cloak and following Severus out the door silently into the hallway.
The sky was clear, at least, with a nearly-full moon. Harry supposed that if there had been a rainstorm, they'd have had to carry on despite the weather. He walked with Severus away from the road, toward the fields to the north that the map had indicated were crossed by long barrows. "Aren't we going in the wrong direction?" he whispered.
"Away from other people is the right direction," Severus hissed back, offering his arm. Harry slid his arm through it, enjoying the contact for a brief moment before the sickening tug of Apparition took that, and them, away.
It was much darker when they materialized seemingly in the middle of nowhere. "Where --" Harry began, only to have Severus hold up a hand to silence him. A moment later, he could see lights in the distance.
"That will be the highway," said Severus, moving toward it. Harry squinted through the dark, but still could not make out the shape of the monument, even in the moonlight. "I had to be certain that we would not be stopped."
Of course, thought Harry, there would be security around Stonehenge, and Severus would want to be certain they could fire off a Confundus charm if necessary. He felt his feet sink into the ground as they walked. And then, all at once, he saw it -- the ancient monument reportedly visited by Merlin himself -- the Giants' Dance. He grabbed at Severus's arm. "Look!"
Severus nodded. It was hard to tell in the moonlight, but Harry thought he looked nervous. "Where is that Invisibility Cloak of yours?" he asked.
"Here." Unfolding it, Harry offered an edge to Severus, who peered suspiciously at it before tugging it around his shoulder, which promptly disappeared. Harry moved closer to pull it around them both. So near to Severus, it was difficult not to try to touch him...
"We will need to be as silent as possible when we reach the monument, so there are matters we should discuss first."
Severus still looked distinctly uneasy. "I believe that, this first time, because of the nature of my injury and the energy you absorbed, it would be prudent for you to -- " He cleared his throat. "-- to assume the penetrative role."
A small moan had escaped Harry's nose before he could stop it. To make sure he was clear about this, he asked, "You mean I'm supposed to be on top? Do we need to come at the same time? What if I'm too fast?" For all that he'd been thinking about what he and Severus were going to do since their first discussion, he had never considered that he might have to be the one on top.
Severus halted, pulling Harry to a stop as well, while the rumble of a lorry echoed over the open countryside. Once it had gone past, they resumed walking and Harry got the feeling Severus had forgotten they were under the cloak for a moment. "The specific position is irrelevant. There is no need to climax at the same time. As long as we both achieve orgasm while...joined together, the energy exchange will be achieved, " he explained, looking ahead rather than at Harry. "As to the rest, I can instruct you and I believe you will have some natural talent --" He adjusted the cloak around them as they started up the slight slope that led to the stones. He glanced at Harry before continuing. "A natural talent for sexual activity."
That made Harry stop, nearly pulling the cloak off them both when Snape strode ahead a pace. "What? Why do you say that?" He'd thought he'd been barely acceptable this afternoon -- God, had it just been this morning that he'd been in Mrs. Weasley's kitchen trying to wiggle out of seeing a Healer?
Harry noticed that Severus fiddled with the edges of the scarf when he was uncertain about something. "You are younger. You'll be able to sustain an erection for as long as the exchange requires. I'll be in a better position to instruct you if I don't have to worry about hurting you."
Using the uneven ground as an excuse, Harry slid his hand around Severus's arm while they resumed the climb. "That isn't what I asked. I don't mind, er, trying it that way the first time. I want to know why you think I might have a natural talent at it."
Severus had tensed a bit when Harry had taken his arm, but he accepted it. "I have been your teacher, and while I was not able to openly approve of many of the roles you assumed in school, I saw the care you took with those in your charge." They had reached the outermost ring, avoiding the barriers set up to control tourists, so Severus shushed him before Harry could question him further. Somehow the disclosure that Severus thought Harry would take care of him was almost as stunning as the idea of being on top.
A heavy silence fell as they entered the outermost circle, passing one of the large fallen stones. Time itself seemed to be waiting for them to enter the ring. The urge to reach out and stroke the upright stones as they passed was nearly irresistible, but Harry kept his free hand close by his side. He didn't think Severus would approve if Harry's magic went wildly awry somehow and sent the stones toppling over like so many prehistoric dominoes.
Without making a sound, Severus led him to the large recumbent slab that Severus had identified earlier as the Altar Stone. He had expected it to be his own arse offered up on this stone and wondered whether Severus actually preferred being on the bottom. Though that wasn't right exactly -- Severus had said it didn't really matter what position they were in so long as it was Harry's energy going into Severus. So to speak. If Severus was going to insist on being clinical about the whole thing, maybe it was better to think of it that way and not as, oh God, fucking him.
Severus was glancing around, turning in a slow circle. There was a uniformed guard at some distance outside the ropes that marked the stones as off-limits to tourists, but Harry didn't see any wizard security, and the Muggle guard didn't seem aware that anyone had intruded on his watch. Without making a sound, Severus withdrew the small bag he carried in his pocket along with his wand, which he pointed at it. The bag promptly became ten times larger, and Harry sighed with relief that Severus had indeed brought a blanket.
Severus handed the bag to Harry while he spread the heavy fabric over the rocks. Curiously, Harry reached inside. He could feel a small vial and a towel. Though he had a pretty good idea in theory how to use lube, he'd only ever used spit on his finger during his rare furtive explorations of his own arse. What if Severus was wrong about him having any natural talent for sex?
Well, Harry supposed, it didn't really matter; Severus was only here to get Harry's energy in balance and recover from his own wounds, he'd made that clear. Bad sex would probably work as well as good sex for that.
A cawing noise made him jump, and a dark shape fluttered past him. Harry remembered Hermione mentioning that ravens nested at Stonehenge, but he hadn't expected to see one so late at night; they had probably disturbed it. He hoped it wasn't a bad omen, then thought it was a good thing Severus couldn't read his mind and find that ridiculous thought. Except that Severus could read his mind, if he wanted to.
"I don't know if I can do this," he whispered.
Severus turned to face him, eyes sweeping over Harry's body. He was probably trying to figure out whether Harry had an erection, which at that moment Harry did not. It made him blush as much as his uncontrollable desire had earlier. In the moonlight beneath the cloak, Harry could tell that Severus was frowning. "Are you cold?" he asked. When Harry shook his head, the scowl deepened. "Ah. You mean that you don't wish to do it with me."
"It's not that." He paused, searching for the right words. "My whole life apart from my aunt who hated me has been about surviving Dark Lords. I thought when I got to make love, it would finally be something I could do the way I wanted, just because I wanted to do it. With someone who wanted me because he liked me -- not because I'm the bloody Chosen One." He felt himself getting angry as he spoke, heat tingling in his fingertips. "Now I've got to sneak around having sex in the middle of the night with someone who just wants to fix our energy. And I've got to do it over and over, and not let it mean anything more than that."
Severus was definitely frowning now. "If you're having second thoughts, you might have thought to tell me before we dragged all the way out here in the middle of the night," he said in a waspish whisper.
"I didn't say I didn't want to try!" Harry said, trying to keep his voice low, but his fingertips were aching, twitching against his trousers. Severus shushed him and Harry shook his head, ready to Apparate out of there to anywhere he wouldn't have to feel this sense of wrongness. "I know I told you to just be rotten to me, like you always are, but maybe it would help if you pretended to like me a little. Just while we're..." He licked his lips and glanced down at the Altar Stone.
"You're being ridiculous," Severus hissed, and Harry sagged, the backs of his knees rubbing against stone. "Do you think I would have dragged out here in the middle of the night for anyone else?"
Sitting down hard on the blanket, Harry peered up at him. The cloak had rucked up, exposing their ankles, but Harry didn't suppose anyone could see them among the tumbled field of rocks. "You're just saying that because you need me." He dropped his head into his hands, feeling the heat in them against his cheeks though at least he hadn't destroyed anything, yet.
After a moment, Severus sat down beside him. "Is this all about my calling this an 'objective'?" he asked quietly. Harry nodded, knowing Severus would see the truth if Harry bothered to lie. He heard the other man sigh. "This afternoon, in my shop -- that wasn't because we were exchanging energy."
Harry slanted a glance at him, turning his head to rest in one palm. Severus's head was profiled by the muted colors of the cloak. "We just got crazy -- excited -- and lost control." He shrugged. "Then you called it a 'necessary development.'" The pain of the words lanced through him again.
"Do you believe I am in the habit of losing control with anyone else?" asked Snape. "Or that any of this is familiar to me? That I would find Harry Potter in my shop -- needing me? Saying things like he wants to get my clothes off or looking at me like I hexed his best friend when he saw the separate beds in our room -- don't think I didn't notice."
Harry felt his insides squirm. He remembered what Severus had told him this afternoon about always feeling protective of Harry. Beside him, Snape grunted and sat up straighter. "Very well, would it help if we went back to the room and made -- had your first time completely free from --" He waved a hand in front of him, causing the cloak to ripple. "Trappings?"
"You'd do that?" Harry didn't really need the tight nod of the man beside him to know Severus would do exactly what he said. And the knot that was twisting his insides unraveled. "I don't suppose it matters where we do it," he said slowly. "As long as you actually want to do it with me and it's not just what we have to do so that then, maybe, we can have normal lives."
"I have never imagined that I would have a 'normal' life," Severus muttered. "In truth, I expected to be killed by one side or the other. Or to survive without a single friend who could forgive me for my betrayal of whichever he imagined my loyalties to be. I certainly did not dare to hope that you would forgive me, let alone want me."
The ache in Harry's fingertips had become a different sort of heat. Reaching up, he brushed the ends of Severus's scarf. "I want you," he said. "It's not just the energy thing, you know that. I wanted you before I knew you were still alive -- I just didn't understand exactly what it was I wanted."
From somewhere among the stones, a raven let out a mournful cry. Severus gave a start. The scarf slipped loose, falling into Harry's hands. They both glanced down at the dark pile of fabric. Then Severus tilted his head, leaned in and kissed Harry. It wasn't a particularly passionate kiss, but it made all the unhappiness and fear and regret disappear -- suddenly Harry was aware only that he was kissing Severus on a beautiful moonlit night in one of the most revered places in the entire world. He could feel the energy surging between them.
"I want you now," he whispered.
"Are you certain?" For the first time Harry could see clearly that Severus was more afraid of rejection than he was himself. He leaned up for another kiss, sliding his tingling fingertips across Severus's throat.
"I'm completely certain. All of me is certain." He pressed closer to make sure Severus understood what he meant and felt a sort of triumph when Severus had to muffle a groan in his hair. "I still don't know what I'm doing, though, so you'll need to tell me."
"I'll show you." Oh God, Severus sounded sexy when he promised things. His hands slid under Harry's shirt, not pulling it up, just touching the skin, and the electricity that had sparked between them in his office came roaring back. Whimpering, Harry started to unbutton Severus's trousers. He felt Severus's fingers move slowly up his ribcage, pausing when they found his nipples, then continuing into his armpits, now bunching the shirt up as they moved. Reluctantly he tore his hands away from Severus long enough to put his arms up so that Severus could tug the shirt off.
"What do we do with our shoes?" asked Harry, then giggled. He could just imagine a guard spotting two pairs of unattended shoes and calling in a team of security people, leaving Harry and Severus to sneak away barefoot.
"Take them off and I'll transfigure them into stones." Oh -- that was a clever idea. With another soft laugh, Harry kicked his trainers away, then started to take off his jeans, though he was also watching Severus carefully remove his own shoes and slide down his trousers. The ground was slightly damp and quite cool, though the rock with the blanket over it was surprisingly warm, and Harry wondered whether Severus had put some sort of spell on it.
"Everything?" asked Harry, fingers hesitating over the waistband of his pants. Severus's shirt still hung down past his hips, though his legs were now bare. He hesitated then nodded, lifting his own shirt up without undoing the buttons. Harry was very glad they hadn't gone back to the room -- the moonlight did really amazing things to the contours of Severus's skin. It also made his cock, which was not quite as erect as Harry's, look quite huge. Though the idea of being on top still made him nervous, perhaps it was a good thing his first time wouldn't be trying to get that to fit inside him. Harry shivered and slid back on the rock.
"You are cold," Severus said, and there was something about the concern in his voice that reassured Harry further. Severus might not exactly have liked Harry, but the something that had always been between them wasn't hatred or indifference or even simple need.
"Just excited. And nervous," confessed Harry, shaking his head. He didn't add 'and happy' because he wasn't precisely happy, knowing what was expected of him, but he was much further from the unhappiness that had gripped him a few moments ago.
Before Severus joined him on the stone altar, he squatted down and dug out his wand and cast several spells around them -- Notice Me Not and alarm charms, all very similar to the way Hermione had drilled into them when they'd been on the run last year. As a final measure Severus aimed a spell at the security station before laying his wand within easy reach and sitting on the blanket.
Harry reached for him at once, before he had a chance to think about being naked. Being naked with Severus. Being naked with Severus and about to do that. There was no disguising his excitement, and, to his delight, Severus's. It was enough for now to be wanted.
"Slowly," cautioned Severus, "or we'll have to try again tomorrow night." That knowledge, that he could arouse Severus, gave Harry another awareness of power, more subtle than the simplest magic. "Normally we could use spells to prepare me," he went on, and though the words sounded like a lecture, the tone -- full of breathy gasps while Harry kissed him -- was not. "But the uncertain nature of this ritual makes this, I believe, unwise." He slid his hand over Harry's belly. "I can, er, attend to the matter myself, if you prefer."
As soon as Harry worked out what that meant, he shook his head. "Just tell me what to do," he replied as Severus gave him an approving nod. "And you'll have to tell me if I hurt you." He'd experimented on himself enough to know that there were proper angles and very improper ones.
"Trust me, you'll know the exact instant I'm in distress," Severus said, kissing Harry again before leaning back onto the Altar Stone. He lifted up onto his elbows, stretching his legs to either side of Harry. The invitation was plain and Harry's cock leaped to accept it.
Harry pulled the vial out of the bag, not sure he could open it when his hands were shaking. Wordlessly, Severus sat back up and uncorked it, still in Harry's hand.
"Use as much as you need. It's very simple to brew when we need more." Harry kissed him again, needing the reassurance of something he already knew how to do before guiding Severus back onto the blanket.
He nearly spilled the entire vial over his fingers, but managed to get them slippery before setting the vial back down. He looked up at Severus, who gave him another nod then leaned his head back and shook his hair out, like a horse shaking its mane. The action was so unconsciously sexy that Harry was rubbing his slick fingers over Severus's balls before he quite realized it. Severus tilted his hips, knees lifting up to give Harry room to work, and that was even more sexy, having Severus so open to him.
The furrow of wrinkled skin felt impossibly tight -- Harry didn't know how he was going to fit a finger in there, let alone his cock. He stroked it cautiously and was startled to hear Severus moan, the skin twitching beneath Harry's touch. "Harder."
Pressing down, Harry felt the pucker give way around his fingertip. Severus moaned again, and so did Harry as the finger slipped inside. Past the narrow entrance, the flesh felt hot and smoother, the passage eased by the lube. Even at this distance, Harry's cock throbbed. He wondered how angry Severus would be if he came before he ever got it in. "Is that good?" he asked breathlessly.
"Stretch it," Severus instructed, and again Harry's cock twitched, this time in response to the commanding tone of Severus's voice. He slid the finger partway out and back in, taking Severus's grunt as encouragement. "You won't hurt me."
"Want you to like it," Harry replied, pressing the finger in deeper, trying to find the spot that -- oh yes, that was it. Even if he hadn't felt the bulge of what he guessed had to be Severus's prostate, he'd have known by the noise Severus made that he'd hit the right place. Whimpering, he stroked it again, watching Severus's face contort in pleasure. "Like that?"
"Get me ready or I won't last long enough to make lo-- to exchange energy," ordered Severus, squeezing around Harry's finger in a way Harry hadn't known human muscles could move. "Another finger."
All of Harry's fingers were already slick from the oil so he rubbed one over the loosening pucker before working it in beside the other. Heat encased his fingers and he couldn't help but wonder how that would feel around his cock. Just thinking about it sent blood pounding through him, so he concentrated on the task Severus had assigned him. Surprisingly, the flesh yielded to his movements and Harry began to see how it could work.
"Yes, that's good," Severus said, though it wasn't an instruction really. Harry could see that his eyelids were heavy with arousal, and he wondered what Severus saw when he looked at Harry. Just another problem to solve by necessary developments? "You should fit nicely enough now," he went on, and his voice had gone husky, oh God. "Use the oil on yourself."
This time Harry was prepared for the command and used more care, although he could feel a tremor go through his fingers and very nearly dropped the cork. He knew Severus was watching but somehow that made him more confident and less nervous. Severus would never let him do this if he didn't think Harry could do it, could even please him while completing the ritual exchange. When he was sure he was slippery enough, he wiped his hand over his ribcage, scooting forward on his knees. He knew what to do next but he looked down at Severus for approval before continuing.
"Just go slowly," advised Severus, "The energy exchange will occur as long as you can manage to stay inside me when you co-- climax."
Harry was nodding but he was trying not to get too distracted from guiding his cock into the suddenly too-small space -- and Severus's voice was definitely high on the list of distractions. "Slowly, right," he said, pushing against the beckoning heat, feeling Severus gently pushing back, certain nothing was happening until he was oh God, inside. He paused with just the head buried in Severus's arse, his own fingers still wrapped around the base of his cock.
"Slowly," Severus said, voice just above a whisper, as if sensing Harry's predicament. "Just stay inside me. I will attend to my own needs."
That meant -- oh God, that was almost hotter than anything Harry might have thought he'd have presence of mind to do. He slid in deeper, pulling back almost without thought because his brain was currently overloading on the feel of his cock being gripped by heat and tightness and the sight of Severus's fingers sliding around his own length. Moving again was easier; he could see his cock sliding in and out, careful to keep from sliding all the way out.
Severus reached for the oil and tilted a bit over his fingers before returning to his cock and Harry could not hold back the groan. "That's -- this is --" he tried, but attaching words to the feelings coursing through him was proving harder than he could have imagined.
"I know," Severus said, fisting the head through his fingers. "I knew it would be."
That sounded a lot like Severus might have given more than a passing thought to things Harry himself had only just begun to think. He felt a surge of heat in his fingertips, the good kind of heat, and since most of his weight was on his left elbow, he reached up with his right hand to touch the scar on Severus's throat. The tingling intensified, and it was as if there was really a magnetic charge between them because Harry found he couldn't stop his hand from traveling where it wanted. Even as he thrust, it stroked over Severus's throat, across his jaw, up his cheekbone.
"Harry," Severus whispered, eyes rolling shut, face turning toward Harry's hand.
Oh God -- it was too much, all of it, the way Severus's arse was clenching around his cock and the way Severus looked touching himself and the faint pressure of Severus's lips against his palm. Harry's cock pumped in and out, harder and faster than he wanted it to, but he couldn't control it any more than he could control the way his hand slid down Severus's throat, across his shoulder, traveling the length of his arm to rest on top of Severus's hand where it was wrapped around Severus's cock, stroking just as feverishly as Harry was thrusting. "Now," Harry grunted, though whether he'd meant it to be a warning or a command, he couldn't have said. "Now, now -- oh!"
He felt Severus's arse clamp down suddenly, felt Severus's body convulse beneath his...then the stone itself was moving, or maybe the earth below it, the instant before Harry could feel nothing but the pleasure exploding out of his cock, expanding to touch every part of his body, even places he'd had no idea could feel that kind of delight. It went on and on for what might have been several seconds or several minutes, longer than he had had any idea an orgasm could last. There was nothing in his world but himself and Severus and this indescribable bliss.
When the world stopped shaking around him, he found that he was gripping Severus's bum tightly, so determined had he been to ejaculate inside him and complete the energy exchange. He could also tell from the rawness in his throat that he must have shouted. Oh fuck -- what if the guard had heard?
Harry glanced down to see whether Severus was angry. It was hard to tell at first, since his face was flushed and his lips were pressed together in a tight line. It looked, at first, like a grimace, and Harry was sure he had done it all wrong and hurt him. He was about to apologize when Severus leaned up and kissed him. It was the best feeling in the world, with his cock still inside Severus, even better than coming, when some small part of his mind had still been focused on the magic they had come there to perform. This was a different sort of magic -- private, intimate -- and Harry moaned softly when he had to break the kiss to breathe.
"Did it work?" he whispered.
"Didn't you feel the ley lines charge?"
"Is that what the earth-moving thing was? I thought it was, you know, from coming." He felt his face get hot at the incredulity on Severus's face. "That's not what sex is supposed to be like?"
Severus's eyes widened, then he huffed a laugh. "In later years, you're going to think it was very cruel of me to ask you to perform this ritual before allowing you some typical sexual experiences. If your experience tonight was anything like mine, I'm afraid you may find 'what sex is supposed to be like' to be a disappointment."
Harry touched the scar on Severus's throat. It was pretty dark, but he was still pretty sure that it had faded. "Maybe this is what sex is supposed to be like, and you just never found it before," he said. "Or maybe this is what sex is supposed to be like between us."
"It will be for a while, at least," Severus replied, pushing up against the soft probe of Harry's fingers. "Harry, we can't stay here." The warning didn't sound like Severus felt much like moving either. Harry nodded, awareness of their surroundings coming back to him in a snap. The rock must have been uneven beneath Severus's back, the heating charm must have been fading, and Severus must have thought he was an idiot.
Still, it had been a good night. Harry felt his cock slipping free of its snug haven so he wiggled to facilitate it further, helped along as sturdy hands reached up to steady him and ease him over. He smiled gratefully, careful not to scrape anything vital on the unprotected edges of the stone. He expected a lecture on all the reasons Harry shouldn't romanticize what was a simple charging of the earth's natural forces but all Severus did was sit up and start handing him his clothes. They dressed quickly before Severus started gathering up the blanket. The vial of oil had rolled off to the side; Harry scooped it up and tucked it into the bag. Nodding in approval, Severus took out his wand before covering them both back in the Invisibility Cloak, dismantling the protective charms around them.
They stood a moment in the circle, assuring that no alarms had been raised before trooping back down the slope. Once they were away from the henge, Severus slid his arm around Harry. "I'll Apparate us back." Harry used their position as an excuse to pull himself closer before the sickening pull yanked them off the silent meadow, setting them back down in view of Ratfyn Farm's imposing Georgian house. If anyone was awake to hear the sound of Apparition, at least they weren't nearby. Harry clung to Severus a moment more than strictly necessary before Severus tugged on the cloak. "You can let go now."
"Right," Harry said, only slowly stepping away. He still felt pretty good, but the day was starting to catch up to him and the little bit of sleep he'd got when they'd first arrived hadn't been enough. "Ireland tomorrow?" he asked, stretching sleepily as they headed toward the front door.
Severus looked at him a moment before nodding. They moved silently to their room and sorted out taking turns in the bathroom with surprising ease. Harry was sitting on the bed in his pyjamas when Severus came out of the loo. "I think we should share a bed," he said, clasping his hands on his lap.
"The beds are singles," Severus said, rubbing the back of his neck underneath his hair. He wasn't wearing a nightshirt like Harry had seen him in at school, but pyjama bottoms similar to Harry's own and an undershirt. His feet were bare.
"I'm only going to get one first time and the earth hasn't quite finished moving for me yet," Harry said, trying not to sound as though he was pleading.
Severus looked a bit startled. Then he reached for his wand. Harry got out of the way as the opposite bed enlarged enough to accommodate them both. "Don't expect much -- I am considerably older than you are," Severus warned.
"We can only sleep, if you want. I'd just prefer to do it together." He could crawl from the small bed by the window to the newly big one against the wall, so narrow was the space between them. However much he might have enjoyed it, they'd needed to do what they'd done out on Salisbury Plain to put the earth's energy back in balance. Anything they did in here, even sleeping, would be just because they wanted to, just for them.
Dousing the light, Severus sat on the foot of the bed and scooted up toward the pillows. "You may not appreciate it in the morning. I'm a restless sleeper."
"I don't mind. I haven't been sleeping very well, anyway." Really, that wasn't a recent thing; he'd never slept well at the Dursleys', dating back to his days in the cold, noisy cupboard under the stairs, and at Hogwarts he'd had to worry about the Heir of Slytherin and the Grim and nightmares about the Ministry and collecting memories. When Severus lay down, he wriggled close, and when he heard no objection, he slid an arm around Severus's waist.
"I suppose you want a kiss goodnight," Severus said.
"That would be nice." Harry didn't wait for Severus to finish rolling toward him to lean over, finding his mouth easily in the dark because Severus was already arching to meet him. It wasn't a very passionate kiss but it went on for a long time, as they settled their arms around each other and shifted together. When they moved apart to breathe, Harry kissed along Severus's jaw, tasting the skin under his ear before rubbing his lips over the scar on his throat. He couldn't be sure, but the skin seemed smoother and warmer under his mouth.
"You're trying to get me hard again," chided Severus in a slightly breathless voice.
Harry, who had had an erection since he'd switched beds, could only nod and rub a thigh between Severus's. "Feels like I might be succeeding," he observed.
"If you do, I may be utterly depleted before we reach Sí an Bhrú."
"Then we'll sleep all day and sneak out to the tomb the next night. This is good for us. Your scar seems better. And I haven't set anything on fire."
"It's self-indulgent," Severus noted, though he was rubbing against Harry through his pyjamas, making Harry moan. "It won't be like it was among the stones."
"If it's half as good as it was in your office when you made me come in my pants --" Apparently Severus liked hearing that, because he groaned and cut Harry off with a hard kiss, tugging him closer with a firm hand on his bum. "I want to do all the things that might not count for exchanging energy. I want to suck you. I want us to wank together." Again Severus groaned. "Think how good it'll be when we're trying to share it with the world if we really love doing it just for us."
Before Severus could point out that what they had didn't constitute an us, Harry kissed him again, fingertips brushing into the vee of his undershirt. He could feel the vibration of the groan his touch elicited so he did it again, just brushing his fingertips over this tiny spot. Their pyjama bottoms tented against each other in the scrabble to bring their legs closer. Even their bare feet brushing against each other felt sexy. Harry didn't mind that they weren't naked; it felt nice just to rub against something that felt as good as this, and Severus in soft cotton was definitely something good.
"You've thought about this," Severus said, sliding his fingers down the loosely buttoned front of Harry's shirt.
Nodding, Harry pushed his fingers beneath the undershirt, spreading them out across Severus's chest. "You notice I didn't have any trouble dropping everything and running off with you to parts unknown for as long as it takes," he answered, diverting his fingers into the waistband of the cotton pyjamas.
"You didn't even know I was alive," countered Severus, flicking one side of Harry's shirt open, his hand sliding over Harry's belly.
"I'm glad you were," Harry said, noting with delight that apparently Severus didn't wear pants to bed. All those times he'd stared into those memories, he'd known it wasn't sensible to want the things he did, and what he'd wanted most was for the feeling that Severus wasn't dead to be true.
His fingers slipped around the rigid cock, letting the elastic slide over his fist. He bucked when one hand slid into his pyjamas, cupping him intimately. Without the thin layer of cloth between them, their cocks nudged against each other. Harry moaned, working his hand under Severus's arm, stroking and pulling, learning the feel of another man's cock. He liked that Severus was a bit thicker and longer than himself, and liked that his cock fit perfectly in Severus's hand. It might not have been the earth moving, but the intimacy of holding Severus's cock while thrusting against him was still pretty much a good thing. Severus moaned and Harry amended his thought. It was pretty much an amazing thing, that he could make Severus feel as good as this.
He was glad to be hard, especially after their time in the stone circle, with no pressure save to touch and be touched and make Severus moan again -- yes, just like that. "Is this all right?" he whispered.
"I have many magical skills, but the ability to produce a fake erection is not one of them," countered Severus.
"I mean, you don't think it's too self-indulgent or depleting or..."
"I think it is all those things. Don't stop." The ragged urgency in Severus's voice went straight to Harry's cock. He shuddered, and a moment later, Severus's fingers wrapped around it, beginning to move in rhythm with Harry's.
"Don't you stop either," he managed, hips bucking to thrust into Severus's hand, panting against Severus's neck. He could feel Severus's breath warm and moist in his hair, nose pressed against the top of his head. It wasn't the same as having his cock buried in the heat of Severus's arse, yet they were just as close to each other, touching in more places, and without the distraction of being outdoors under a cloak and needing to keep quiet, Harry was more aware of how the hair on Severus's legs felt against his and how their skin clung in places and grew slippery with perspiration in others. Already he could feel his bollocks tightening. "You lied to me," he gasped.
"About what?" There was faint irritation in Severus's voice -- probably at having to speak rather than the accusation itself.
"You said it wouldn't be as good as it was out there." Severus's hand stuttered in its rhythm as Harry writhed against him, hand pumping Severus's cock steadily, just the way he'd have stroked himself if he'd been alone imagining this instead of, oh God, actually doing it. "And it's so good, and I -- fuck!"
He went rigid against Severus, forgetting to keep stroking him...forgetting everything, really, except that Severus was making him come, wanking him without hesitation as he spurted over his hand and belly and the head of Severus's cock. By the time it had stopped, Harry was shaking, clinging to Severus, sucking in air.
"You didn't come," he realized, lifting his head. "Oh fuck -- I'm sorry --"
"We aren't going to ejaculate together every single time," Severus said with what sounded like a snicker. "As I keep informing you, I am considerably older than you are."
"I know," Harry said. "But I bet I can make you come anyway." Severus's cock was still hard in his hand, and when he moved his wrist, he heard Severus's breath hitch. "Like, if I sucked this."
"You haven't ever --" Severus began, halting Harry mid-wiggle. "Very well," he said, shaking his head.
"I haven't done this with anyone, if that was what you were going to ask," Harry said, kissing the patch of skin closest to his mouth -- somewhere just below one nipple. "I told you, you're the only man -- the only person I've been with." He discovered he liked kissing places beside Severus's mouth, especially when fingers tangled into his hair, petting him, urging him downward.
"I believe you," came the reply from overhead as Harry slid far enough down that his ankles dangled over the edge of the bed.
"Because I'm rubbish at se-- lovemaking -- sex?" he asked, barely able to restrain his tongue when Severus's thick cock occupied his entire range of vision. He wanted to suck it so much that he didn't quite know where to start. Taking a deep breath filled his nostrils with the heady, musky scent, one that was at once a bit familiar from his explorations of his own body, complete with the scent of semen clinging to Severus's flesh. It was also a bit strange, different than the way Harry smelled, more like Severus himself. Good enough to taste --
"Because your enthusiasm is...gratifying," said Severus with one of those breathy moans when Harry's tongue began licking around the rounded head of his cock. The fingers in his hair tightened, then loosened slowly as if Severus realized the firmness of his grip. "And arousing."
Harry purred a bit around the head. "The arousing part I get," he said, before devoting his mouth to more interesting pursuits. Like seeing how much of the firm flesh he could wrap his mouth around. Or how to elicit more of those groans that made Harry's cock, even soft and sated, twitch. He knew he wasn't skilled at this, but he could imagine what felt good, and how to move his mouth so it mimicked the movements of sex. He tried to be careful of his teeth -- the few times he'd gotten his hands on porn it always made mention of that -- but Harry couldn't really focus on anything but the sensual slide in and out of his mouth, and, after he got a bit more confident, on sliding his hands around the bollocks in their taut sac to rub and squeeze them gently.
"Because you want me," Severus said, the groans mixed in with the words as he moved against Harry's mouth, his fingers tangling in Harry's hair. Harry wasn't certain he was meant to hear, whether Severus was even aware of speaking aloud because the next word was louder, "Harry!" Seed erupted over his tongue, not all in a rush but in several shuddering spurts as the fingers gentled into his hair.
He wasn't sure he liked the taste, but he loved that he could make Severus cry out his name like that and shake beneath him. He had to wipe his mouth with the back of his hand before he looked up, but Severus didn't appear to mind, or even to notice; his eyes were clenched shut, mouth still open in the shape of a moan. Harry wanted to kiss him but he didn't know whether Severus would appreciate being forced to taste his own come.
As he watched, Severus closed his mouth and swallowed, opening his eyes and looking down at Harry. "Come here," Severus said gruffly, reaching past Harry's shoulder and catching him under the arm. They slid together, turning onto their sides, and Harry's dilemma about whether or not to try to kiss Severus was decisively ended when Severus's mouth moved over his.
It made Harry moan, though his cock was too tired even to twitch by now. In fact, all of Harry felt chilled, perhaps a belated reaction to being out on the cold stone in the middle of the night. He shivered, and Severus's hand slid over the goosebumps rising on his arm.
"I warned you we would be depleted," Severus said crossly, pulling away from Harry, who whimpered and grabbed at him. "Be still, I'm pulling up the blankets." Severus arranged the covers over them and tucked them around Harry's hip before wrapping his arms around Harry again. "Are you warm enough?"
"Mmmhmm." The chill faded as Harry pressed his face against Severus's warm throat, though it was being replaced by exhaustion. "Are you? It doesn't mean we did something wrong with the energy exchange if I'm cold, does it?"
He felt Severus sigh. "It probably means we did something right. But you must rest. And you will need to eat a full breakfast."
"I bet this place has one. I bet you checked before you picked it." A hum of affirmation vibrated against Harry's cheek. "Severus?"
"Thank you for letting me sleep with you. And letting me -- do what we just did."
"There's no need to thank me. I'm certain I enjoyed it as much as you did."
Harry wanted to explain that he had a feeling it meant something different to himself than it did to Severus, being his first time, but he was very sleepy and thought he'd probably do a better job explaining if he closed his eyes for a few minutes...
* * * * *
"After breakfast. If there's time."
"But I'm hard, and you're hard, and --"
"After. Breakfast.." Clearly, Severus did not intend to change his mind, realized Harry as his own shirt was dropped on top of him. "Now get up and put your clothes on."
From beneath the shirt Harry heard the sound of the loo door closing as he groaned. As much as he tried to recapture the cozy feeling of waking up wrapped around Severus, rubbing against each other before they were truly awake, the memory that crowded in was that of Severus groaning and pulling away, sitting up and raking fingers through his hair.
It was no use. Even wiggling against the mattress and trying to pretend Severus was rubbing back didn't feel nearly as good as the real man beside him. Harry gave up and slid upright, tugging the shirt off his head and into his lap. He glanced at the bathroom door, briefly entertaining a fantasy of slipping into the loo and -- Severus would probably hex him before he got the door open all the way.
He was dressed by the time Severus got out of the bathroom, using his fingers to comb his hair while he waited his turn. They passed each other outside the door and Harry's spirits lifted a bit when Severus gave him an approving nod. Truthfully, he was starving; Mrs. Weasley's sandwiches had been a long time ago, and the smells coming up the farmhouse stairs were doing very good things to his other appetites.
Once they were seated in the dining room Harry ordered two of nearly everything on the menu, including kippers and he never ate kippers except the few times growing up when Dudley had eaten all the bacon and there hadn't been anything left except them.
"I told you you'd feel depleted," Severus said after their apple-cheeked waitress had taken his more modest but still robust order.
"I still could have gone one more time this morning," Harry said, leaning forward to ensure he wouldn't be overheard.
"Harry, if I accomplish nothing else on this hastily assembled trip of ours, aside from restoring the balance of magical energy, it will be to --"
Severus had leaned forward too, creating the feeling that they were alone in the bustling dining room. Before he could finish, their heaping plates arrived. By unspoken consent they dug in for a few moments before Severus continued. "To teach you that sex is just --" He waved a forkful of kippers, "Opportunity and convenience."
"We had the opportunity this morning," Harry mumbled, drowning his toast with cherry preserves. "And having both of us be hard was awfully convenient."
"Whereas," Severus continued, as if Harry hadn't spoken, "making love is about feeling and...anticipation."
Harry nearly dropped his fork. During the rest of their breakfast, he wondered who it had been who'd taught Severus the difference and whether he'd fancied himself in love when he'd learned it, whether he had ever been loved in return. Just because Harry had never seen anything like that in the memories Severus had entrusted to Harry didn't mean much; there could be parts of his life he might never share with Harry.
It turned out neither of them could eat everything they'd ordered, but even Severus had made a sizable dent in his plate. Their waitress looked impressed when she dropped off the bill. Harry and Severus reached for it at the same time. "Come on, we agreed," Harry said, winning the struggle. He'd worked out what to say in case Severus protested. "We can take it out of your Healer's fees," he said, as he used the card the Gringotts goblins had assured him would cover any debts he might incur.
The beds were back to their original state by the time Harry returned from trying to pay for the hotel room itself, but Severus had taken care of it already. Harry flopped down on his shrunken bed, packing up the few things he'd used in their stay. "Anticipation?" he asked, straightening up. He did a silent once over and his cock wasn't exactly happy about the idea but it wasn't protesting, not when Severus looked so delectable. There might be something to the whole anticipating thing.
"Anticipation," confirmed Severus with a smirk. "Ready for Ireland?"
"I've never been," Harry admitted. "Are we staying somewhere nice?"
"The hotels within walking distance of Brú na Bóinne are run by Muggles. I thought it would be more convenient to stay at a bit of a distance and Apparate after dark." Severus's cheeks had reddened slightly; Harry wondered whether that meant he had booked them someplace more expensive. Really, if they were going to Apparate to Newgrange, they might have stayed here till nightfall. He was about to point out that there was apparently no rush when Severus added, "I thought we would have more privacy if we stayed at the Glenhouse at Rossnaree. It is said to have unrivaled views of the River Boyne and megalithic sites below. The witch who runs the estate agreed to lease the house for a single night."
"Do you know her, or something?" Harry still couldn't figure out Severus's embarrassed expression when he shook his head. "How come it's unusual to lease for a single night? Is it usually for long holidays?"
"It is isolated from the rest of the estate. I believe it is generally rented to artists and tourists who require privacy."
"Like people on their honeymoon?" Severus whirled away, aiming his wand at their belongings to shrink them until they could fit in their pockets, and did not answer. Harry's eyes widened. "Sounds very romantic."
"We will only be there for a single night," Severus reminded him gruffly. "And will be spending much of that night...occupied."
Anticipation had taken on a whole new meaning for Harry. He knew that the area around Newgrange had many other historic places to visit, and he had thought that perhaps they could visit one or two of them, but now there was only one sight he wanted to see when he got to Ireland and he could see that without venturing outdoors. "We'll have a lot of hours first," he pointed out.
Severus still looked embarrassed, turning back and pointing at the door. "If you wish to spend more time there, we should not waste time here."
Harry followed him out the door and outside, down the path that had brought them to Ratfyn Farm, once they had turned in their keys. He assumed Severus had taken care of a Portkey, and was still turning Severus's confusing behavior over in his mind. He'd felt pretty rejected that morning when Severus had insisted on breakfast before pleasure, but now he felt like Severus had offered him an unexpected gift.
Harry's first impression of Ireland, once the dizziness had worn off, was that it looked as verdant as its reputation. They had emerged behind tall bushes and wildflowers onto an unpaved lane, at the end of which was a stone house that backed to trees. When Harry turned, he could see the main buildings of the estate, which sat atop a hill high above the river valley. "The tomb is that way," said Severus, gesturing and moving as if he planned to give Harry a tour.
"We'll see it tonight, right?" Turning back toward the house, Harry started up the lane.
"I'd like to survey the site while there's still light to assess our best approach this evening," replied Severus, looking around the front stoop of the weathered stone facade of the house. He tugged on an old-fashioned bell pull. No sound issued forth, but a young witch popped in close to where they had made their own arrival. She had two keys though she looked like she knew they would probably only be needing one. With a handshake they were alone again and Severus fitted the key in the lock. Inside was much more modern than the outside, looking more like a cozy bungalow inside than the rough-hewn exterior would indicate.
"There are three bedrooms," Severus said, looking a bit uneasy.
"Oh no," Harry said, feeling stubborn. "We're sharing one, or we can try all three one at a time, but you feel better when you're close to me and I don't blow things up when I'm with you, so one bed."
"I was merely pointing out the amenities," he said, and Harry had the impression he was relieved that Harry had been the one to make the decision about sleeping arrangements. Briefly he wondered if Severus still had notions of protecting him, and that one of the things he might need protecting from was Severus himself.
Harry laid a hand on his sleeve. The energy thrum, while not as wild and uncontrolled as it had been at first, pulsed between them at his touch. "As long as there's a big bed in one, that's the only amenity I care about," he said.
They chose the room overlooking the river, though it was probably not a coincidence that it had the most luxurious bed. There was also a washstand and a full-length window covered only by wispy curtains for unobstructed views of the river below. "It's perfect," Harry decreed, while Severus took out their trunks and unshrunk them. He turned away from the window to find Severus staring at him and Harry realized they were completely alone. No other hotel guests, no well-meaning mothers, not even a stray fisherman along the bank. Severus apparently had the same thought; they were in each other's arms before another breath passed. "You're perfect," Harry moaned, pushing up for a kiss.
"Hardly," Severus murmured against his mouth, sliding his arms around Harry's waist.
"Perfect for me then," Harry said, kissing him again. "You planned this."
"Are you objecting?" replied Severus, walking Harry back toward the bed.
"No, I'm anticipating," Harry breathed, pushing back onto the counterpane, quickly wiggling over to make room for Severus. They'd chosen a good bed, though when Severus was stretching out beside Harry, a blanket on the floor of a tent would have been sublime.
"I thought," said Severus, hardly breaking off the kiss as he climbed up beside Harry, "it might be a good idea to...practice certain things before we are called upon to enact them."
Harry nodding, pushing eagerly against him. The energy sparked between them, more powerful the more places they were touching. "Anything," he moaned, spreading his fingers over the front of Severus's shirt.
Only Severus was shaking his head. "Don't agree before you understand what I'm asking," he said, looking like he'd rather be kissing Harry and holding back by only the slimmest of measures.
"Anything," Harry said again, rubbing his fingertips over Severus's lips.
Severus pulled the fingertip into his mouth, shaking his head slightly. "Since you seem to have a bit more control, I thought that tonight, at the tomb, we should reverse positions. But I don't want you to attempt it unprepared." He kissed Harry's fingertip again.
The proposition sounded so formal that it took a moment for Harry to figure out what Severus was suggesting. "You mean you want to fuck me?" asked Harry breathlessly, sliding the finger into Severus's mouth. Severus sucked on it for a moment before replying.
"Only if you wish --"
"You know I wish. I would have let you last night, if you hadn't thought we should do it the other way. I told you, I want to do it with you every way it can be done." He moved his hand around the back of Severus's head and pulled him down so that he could kiss him again.
Severus moved willingly, kissing back, arm sliding around Harry's back, but his face looked troubled. "I realize that you wish to take this opportunity to experiment..."
Experiment sounded awfully similar to necessary development, and Harry scowled. "Don't start talking like that. I want to make love, which you told me was supposed to be about feeling and anticipation instead of opportunity."
Severus's brows remained lowered. "When one is young, it is easy to confuse the two -- to believe that one has an emotional attachment, only to recognize later that one has projected one's own feelings onto a partner who is convenient rather than suitable."
"Is that what happened to you when you were young?" Harry countered. He didn't know all that much about Severus's youth, but from what he had seen of Severus's unhappy childhood, it wouldn't have surprised him to learn that Severus had fallen hard for the first person who had offered him something resembling affection. "Are you trying to tell me you don't intend to be exclusive so I shouldn't get attached?"
"Yours was the first offer I have had in much longer than I care to admit," Severus said, shaking his head slightly, his mouth twisting as he gestured at the pretty room around them. "I am trying to tell you that you may enjoy the pleasures of intimacy without attempting to delude yourself that it signifies a grand passion."
"Then that is what happened to you when you were young," guessed Harry, pushing Severus's hair back from where it was falling across his throat, exposing the scar. He kissed it. Whoever had made Severus as cynical about emotional attachment as he was about almost everything else had probably been a Slytherin; Harry just hoped it hadn't been a Death Eater. "I know you see me as a prat you've had to protect all these years, but I don't think I can do what we came here to do without a certain amount of passion involved. I can't travel all over the world with you feeling as good as last night and have it not mean anything besides exchanging energy."
"Won't you feel considerably worse if we return home and you discover that you've made declarations you don't actually mean, or done things you'd rather have waited to try with someone else?"
"I already told you, I'll feel considerably worse if we return home and I feel like I sacrificed my virginity for the good of the wizarding world instead of because I was with someone I really wanted to do it with. And I really want to do it with you, so can we please..." He kissed Severus's neck again, slowly, feeling the warmth of his skin against his lips. "Can we be lovers?"
The frown on Severus's mouth softened into Harry's kiss and he knew he had his answer. He should have known Severus would want to argue about everything, even about whether they should just enjoy themselves. They were going to spend a lot of time in each other's company, and if the map they had looked at last night was any indication, a lot of those places would be even more isolated than this, and with fewer amenities. If they could learn to share a bed, they could learn to share a tent, or a cave or whatever they had to. And the hours they'd be not restoring the magical energy balance of the earth were a lot fewer than the hours they could just kiss and touch and oh yes, just rub against each other. Even still dressed, Harry loved the way their bodies fit together when they were kissing.
"You're certain?" panted Severus, when Harry gave him room enough to speak. Harry rolled his eyes slightly, dragging his fingertips over the warm flesh around the scar. Trust Severus to not trust this, when it was so plain to Harry.
"I promise I won't say anything I don't mean," Harry said, moaning softly when Severus pushed his fingers up beneath his shirt. "You know me well enough to know I usually have good instincts about people." Severus was tugging the shirt loose, lifting it over Harry's head.
"Usually?" Severus asked, lowering his mouth to Harry's chest.
"There was one notable exception. This professor I had who did his best to make sure I didn't like him. Oh God, that feels good." It did. Severus was doing something to his nipple that felt like Harry suddenly had nerve endings there he had never known about. "Turns out he was just looking out for me."
"Ridiculously unreliable people, professors," Severus said, kissing his way across Harry's chest. "Full of silly notions that they shouldn't fuck their students." The other nipple seemed to leap against Severus's mouth as if it too wanted to experience that thing he was doing with his tongue. Just hearing Severus say 'fuck' was activating other sorts of nerve endings Harry had never known about.
"As long as this one doesn't fuck any other students, or let them declare any grand passions." Harry pushed his fingers into Severus's hair, tugging at the collar of his shirt. "Always wore too many clothes though."
"Perhaps he never had anyone interested in seeing him naked," replied Severus, lifting his head from the things he was doing to Harry's chest.
"I'm interested," declared Harry. "More than interested." He shifted so he could undo the buttons on the front of his shirt, pushing it off his shoulders. "Invested, even. Intrigued. Maybe a bit enamored..."
"Harry --" Severus said warningly.
"I said maybe," Harry said, dipping his mouth to see if he could entice Severus's nipple to stiffen against his tongue. It did, and Severus groaned approval. Harry knew he should have said probably, but now his mouth was busy and he didn't feel as much like talking. He sucked the nipple, feeling Severus's fingers slide through his hair, tightening when he ran his tongue in a circle around the taut skin. Meanwhile he reached to unfasten Severus's trousers. "Still wearing too many clothes."
"So are you." Harry felt himself being rolled flat on the bed, pressed down by Severus's weight. Oh -- his cock liked that, just having Severus lying on top of him, even half-dressed -- he let his knees move apart, wrapping around him. "I can't take your jeans off if you do that," Severus objected.
"You can take them off in a minute. Kiss me." His cock liked it when Severus obeyed him, too. Moaning, he squeezed his legs around Severus, rocking under him. Even half-dressed, the energy between them surged. "Keep kissing me," he ordered, reaching between them to shove his own jeans down, working Severus's trousers past his hips. Their cocks pushed together, both fully hard already.
"You need to let me get you ready," Severus murmured, half-lifting up to kick his trousers off his feet, tugging on Harry's jeans until they too had fallen off the bed. Eagerly Harry raised his knees again while Severus lunged to the side, grabbing for his wand and the same little vial that he'd given Harry to use the night before.
"There's a spell you can use instead of lube, isn't there?" asked Harry, feeling impatient.
"There is, and it may be necessary tonight if we need to hurry to avoid detection, but I prefer to do this slowly." Severus's eyes moved over Harry's body as if it were a dinner table and he was trying to decide what to eat first. Oh fuck -- this anticipation business was definitely worth studying further. "One charm is always useful, however..."
Severus aimed his wand and Harry felt a faint tingling in his bum. "Did you just, um, clean me?" he asked, blushing a bit.
"It's a reasonable precaution when one intends to do this." Faster than Harry could guess what he was planning, Severus had shifted down between his bent knees and was kissing around his balls -- behind them.
If Harry had liked what Severus's tongue did to his nipple, it was only a pale memory now compared to what that tongue was doing, oh God, "You're not actually going to -- fuck!" Because Severus was, apparently, going to put his tongue right in Harry's arse, just as soon as he got done teasing the surface exquisitely and if anything in the world felt better than this, Harry thought he might die of pleasure.
And then Harry was dying of pleasure, he was sure of it, as Severus's tongue curled and pushed inside him. Just slowly at first, the nerve endings in his arse thrumming with the energy that always connected them, amplified it seemed with each stroke of wet, warm tongue. His fingers groped for Snape's hair, though he wasn't sure if he was going to stroke him or just hang on and make sure this exquisite preparation never ended.
"You like that," commented Severus dryly, and from the sound of his voice his mouth was still very close to Harry's balls. He gave them a lick, confirming Harry's guess.
"Like?" Harry gasped, about to unleash a tirade on Severus's flair for dramatic understatement when the mouth lowered again, this time joined by a fingertip, tracing circles around Harry's entrance. "I like that too," he moaned, "And that. Oh yes, and that. A lot." A soft chuckle, sounding like the most erotic thing Harry had ever heard considering where it was coming from, and one slick finger breached him, then slid back out before Harry's gasp was done. "Do that again."
Severus did. And again, deeper this time, interspersed with kisses along his balls and maddeningly slow licks around the finger buried increasingly deeper in Harry's arse. Then something that felt like the earth moving again, only from inside him, sent Harry nearly rocketing off the sheets. For a moment he thought they must have Apparated somehow out to Newgrange but when he forced his eyes open they were still in the big bed with the sun streaming in the windows.
"You like that too," Severus said, with a chuckle in his voice that made Harry want to promise him anything, only just never stop doing that thing with his finger.
"You like tormenting me," Harry managed, trying to relax his hand when he realized he'd grabbed a handful of the heavy black hair and was tugging on it.
"Torment? Hardly." Then he did it again, more slowly this time, as if expecting Harry to appreciate the finesse involved in this heretofore unseen talent of making the earth move with just a fingertip. Harry was panting and writhing, ready to beg by the time the second finger had eased out and Severus shifted up onto his knees. Harry was so hard he knew he'd come the moment he touched himself; it was only the notion of proper anticipation that kept his hand clenched in the sheets.
Severus tipped out some of the oil, spreading it over his fingers, then his cock, keeping his gaze on Harry as though making sure he wasn't about to change his mind.
"You look good doing that," Harry commented, showcasing his sincerity with an appreciative twitch of his cock against his belly. The blush from earlier reappeared, only now it went down onto Severus's bare shoulders.
"You can tell me to stop if you need to, or slow down or --"
"I won't," Harry reassured him lifting the sides of his legs around Severus's hips.
"Just so you know you can," said Severus, sliding his hands down Harry's legs as he leaned in closer, rubbing his slippery cock against Harry's, before dipping it lower as he slid one hand around it to guide it against him. It burned when Severus pressed forward -- his cock was a lot bigger than two fingers -- and he paused, looking down at Harry, though his eyes looked glassy and unfocused. "Is that..."
"Just, oh God, move!" The burn lessened as Harry raised his hips, forcing Severus in even deeper. Harry wasn't quite as hard as before, which was just as well, since he'd probably have come just from the thought of Severus oh God fucking him, sliding his cock partway out before pressing in again. Faster definitely felt better. In fact, faster felt good. "Like that," Harry moaned, tilting his body up at a different angle, an improved angle. Suddenly Severus was pushing right there and the earth was moving again. "That!"
"Yes," came the drawn-out moan from Severus in reply. Harry looked at his face and saw an expression he'd never seen there before. He thought it was pure happiness. Harry didn't mean to pry, but he kept his eyes locked on Severus's, wanting to see him so unguarded. Then for a moment he was seeing not Severus, but himself through Severus's eyes, which ought to have been embarrassing since he was flushed and sweaty and straining, but Severus had never let Harry slip past his defenses before even when Harry had been trying his hardest, so instead of being embarrassing it was fantastic, even better than the slow slide of Severus's hand around his cock.
Harry never wanted it to end, though he knew that it would have to, but they would get to do it again tonight out at the ancient mound and then it would be even better, the whole earth moving with them. He shuddered, bucking his hips up, thrusting into Severus's fingers. "So good," he managed, which he knew didn't begin to convey how he felt.
"Yes," Severus replied again, thrusting at a slightly different angle, and Harry shouted as the room disappeared again. He could feel Severus watching him, possibly penetrating his thoughts as he had let Harry do in that unguarded moment, but Harry couldn't bring himself to care. There wasn't anything coherent in his mind anyway, just good and yes and more and fuck!, and possibly something a bit soppy but how could Severus blame him, really?
He shuddered, and Severus sped up his hand on Harry's cock. "Need to come!"
"Then come," Severus growled, low and hungry. Even if Harry hadn't been on the verge of exploding, that would have pushed him over the edge. He felt the pressure inside burst out of his cock, erupting over Severus's hand, spattering his own belly as Severus thrust in hard and stayed, writhing on top of him, shouting Harry's' name.
It took a few moments before either of them could breathe, let alone speak. "Best...anything," Harry panted, realizing belatedly that his fingernails were leaving marks in Severus's skin.
"Yes." Severus's eyes were still clenched shut, and he was trembling slightly. Or maybe Harry was trembling slightly, and that was shaking Severus, who was still buried inside him. Either way, though, Harry didn't think he was saying it just to be polite. He slid out very slowly, hand still wrapped around Harry's cock. "Are you sore?"
"Not really." That wasn't completely true, but it was the best kind of sore he'd ever felt.
"There's a spell that will repair..."
"I don't need it!"
"We need to do this again in a few hours."
"Oh fuck, I know. You can do the spell in a few hours. Right now just don't move."
Severus did move, but only to slide his hand off Harry's cock. Instead of reaching for his wand to banish the mess, he lifted the hand to his mouth and -- oh fuck! Harry felt another shudder go through him as Severus licked the palm of his hand clean, then sucked one finger into his mouth. "That's -- oh God!" His arse gave a twinge of protest as he shifted up to watch the next finger disappear between Severus's reddened lips. "Can I --? he began, when Severus's hand was clean at last, then felt his cheeks warming. Severus tilted his head in question and Harry got the courage to continue. "Want to kiss you like that."
Severus leaned over obligingly, pausing close to Harry's mouth. "Are you --"
"Yes, please, I'm certain," Harry moaned, closing the scant distance between their mouths. He showed Severus how certain he was by stroking his tongue inside his mouth, tasting himself against his tongue.
They broke apart, Harry smiling a little. "'s good," he said, burrowing into the crook of Severus's arm.
"I'd still like to survey the mound before this evening," Severus said, but his voice sounded heavy and slightly slurred.
"We can do that in a few hours too," Harry replied, tugging the covers over them both. He thought Severus said something else, but the words were little more than a mumble and Harry's eyes were already closing.
It was still light in the room when he woke up, aware immediately that the bed beside him was empty. He sat up quickly, fumbling on the nightstand for his glasses. He didn't have far to look; Severus was in the chair by the window, the map open on his lap. Disappointingly enough, he was fully dressed, but he looked interested when Harry pushed the covers down, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. He help up one hand. "Loo first," he said, padding into the bathroom without bothering to dress. Once he was done, it felt sort of weird to walk back into the room naked, so he took down one of the white robes on the back of the bathroom door, belting as it he headed back into the bedroom.
Severus had pulled the other chair up to the window and Harry sat down beside him. Severus had already enlarged the map to show the area around Newgrange. To Harry it did not look like an ancient site, with its white stone facade and its tidy paths, but he knew the tomb was older than Stonehenge.
"The inside is much cruder than the outside, but more private than the henge. Once we're inside, we can erect wards, and take our time." He seemed to realize the double meaning of his words as soon as he said them, for his cheeks pinked slightly.
"Right now, I think I'd like to take time for lunch, okay?" Harry said, stretching in the chair so that his bare feet brushed against Severus's shoes. "I'll make it, just let me get dressed." He made a face, then looked sheepish. "Maybe you'd better do that soreness spell first."
Severus frowned. "I told you to tell me if I was hurting you. If you'd rather not..."
"You weren't hurting me. It felt better than anything in my life! I'm just a little sore now, and I want tonight to be perfect, like at Stonehenge." He smiled, waiting for Severus's brows to unfurrow. After a moment Severus reached for his wand, and Harry felt a tingling like the cleaning spell that removed the lingering ache inside him. Grinning, he stretched. "See, now I'll be in the mood again before we ever get outside."
"I believe your plan to feed us first was a sound one." Severus returned his grin with a smirk. "It would not do to become depleted."
Harry remembered that Lupin had always recommended chocolate when one was feeling depleted, magically or otherwise. He wondered what Lupin would say if he knew what Harry was up to now. For a moment he was homesick, though not for Grimmauld Place; more for the Weasleys' crowded kitchen, and the food that was always plentiful there despite how many people were always around to be fed. "You aren't feeling depleted, are you?" he asked Severus, who shook his head.
"Me too. I'm going to go see what's in the kitchen."
Apparently Severus had asked for a well-stocked pantry when he reserved the cottage, because there was a lot of food, and though Harry hadn't thought he would ever be hungry again after their enormous breakfast, making love had apparently revived his appetite. There were two loaves of bread, fresh local cheese and fruit, plus corned beef and creamy rice pudding under refrigeration spells.
Harry made them both large sandwiches and brought them over to the table where Severus had moved his books. He tilted a page to show Harry a photo of people sitting in a huge outdoor pool. "Where's that?"
"That is where we will travel next -- to Iceland," Severus told him. "These are the hot springs of Myvatn."
"Iceland? Looks desolate," commented Harry, trying to talk around a mouthful of corned beef. Severus nodded, waving his wand over the book so that the picture changed, showing a landscape with weird volcanic structures.
"They have a surprising number of tourists due to the rumored therapeutic powers of the water, but still fewer than our first two stops." He took a bite of his own sandwich while the pictures changed again, showcasing more of the landscape while they ate. "We'll need a Portkey but we'll worry about that in the morning."
"You can do the spell?" asked Harry, impressed at the confident smirk that made his reply. "Of course you can." They couldn't possibly Apparate all the long distances they would need on this journey without Portkeys and Harry doubted whether they'd be stopping in wizarding embassies around the globe to apply for them, especially given their reason for traveling. He could just picture himself filling out an application, which looked rather like one of Umbridge's exams, and writing in, under Reason for travel?, "To restore the energy forces of the earth through shagging."
They reached for the last pickle at the same time, and Harry let him have it, saying instead, "I'll get the pudding." They were happily full by the time they were ready to set out to see the grange, though instead of the stealthy reconnoiter Harry expected, they simply hiked the well-marked path, strolling past fields full of sturdy sheep cropping the grass. There were tourists about, even a busload of them that was thankfully pulling out, but still enough so that they didn't stand out as they approached the hillside. Harry wanted to take Severus's hand but didn't quite dare.
It was much larger than Harry had pictured, larger even than Stonehenge, though obviously built for a different purpose. Severus had told him that it was older but the well-kept white stones on the outside made it look like a team of housekeepers had just been through polishing the structure. As they got closer, they could see the ancient carvings in the stones, some worn in places, some looking as fresh as if some Pict or Celt had just picked up his chisel and walked away.
"We won't need to go inside," Severus said, once they had made a circuit of the structure along the path. "I don't want to call attention to ourselves in case anything goes wrong." Harry was about to ask what could go wrong, but he decided he didn't really want to know. Severus looked up, assessing the time. "Until then, we have several hours till the sun sets. What would you like to do?" Harry's smirk made him roll his eyes. "We should save our energy," he said, a bit primly, as if he wanted exactly what Harry did but was trying not to admit it. "The closest town is Drogheda and is supposed to be quite picturesque. We can Apparate once we're out of sight."
"Aren't there castles?" Harry asked. He felt foolish almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth -- of course there were castles, and abbeys and churches and cairns. He didn't actually want to be in a town, though he supposed he should see some of the populated world on this trip, not just private corners where he could be alone with Severus. "Or maybe gardens?" He thought of photos he had glimpsed in one of Severus's books. "Or what's that place by the water with the big six-sided pillars? The Giant Something?"
"The Giant's Causeway? That's hundreds of kilometers to the north!" When Harry only shrugged at this information, Severus looked thoughtful. "The Giant's Causeway does sit along a powerful ley line with the Loch Laidon fault. But it was given that fanciful name by Muggles because of its appearance; it has no connection to giants."
"It looked like a pretty magical place to me in that book you had." Harry remembered hexagonal stones that looked as though they had been carved and fitted together, spilling out from the base of a mountain toward swirling pools and, past them, crashing waves. He also remembered vast spaces where even if they encountered other tourists, they could keep to themselves. "Could we Apparate there?"
"We wouldn't have time to see the entire geological site." Severus frowned a bit. "And those of us who are no longer young might find it tiring to climb on those rocks."
"I wasn't thinking of climbing, really. I was thinking that since I have my cloak, we could sit on the rocks and look out over the sea and kiss."
That had been an even more foolish thing to say aloud, Harry realized at once. Now he'd admitted that he really wanted a soppy romantic experience, not to see what was undoubtedly a natural wonder. Severus looked startled, then uncomfortable. Probably he was about to make another speech about the dangers of attachment...
"If that's all you want, we could Apparate to Skerries, which is much closer," Severus said, reddening slightly.
Harry felt suddenly breathless. "You mean you don't mind if we don't see the town?"
They had reached the stand of trees that marked the boundary of the Bru na Boinne site. "Come here," ordered Severus, sliding his hand around Harry's arm and pulling him into shadow. For a moment Harry thought he was going to kiss him. Then he felt the sensation he generally associated with nearly being sick, the stomach-churning jerk of Apparition, only he was doing it with Severus and each time Severus took him someplace new, it made Harry unreasonably happy.
The world reformed as a landscape of stone, sea, and sky, stretching as far as he could see. "This isn't Skerries," Harry guessed, wheezing slightly, clutching at Severus to remain upright.
"You wanted to see the Giant's Causeway," Severus replied, gesturing at the paths of geometric stone that led down to the water, popping up in islands and outcroppings in both directions. "Perhaps the energy here will...mffff!"
Apparently Severus wasn't any better at figuring out when Harry was about to kiss him. They swayed against each other, partly to steady each other from the trip and partly because the wind here was fierce, and they were only partially protected by a series of stone columns. Harry slid his hands into Severus's jacket, just in case he started to pull away. But Severus wasn't pulling away. He was kissing Harry back, slipping his tongue into his mouth, confident of his welcome. They moaned together before pulling apart.
Harry grinned. "Let's go higher!" He pointed up to where the columns formed stepping stones like giant organ pipes along the edge of the gray Irish Sea.
"Hang on!" Severus called out, over the wind whipping the long strands of his hair against Harry's face. Harry clenched him tightly and realized at once that Apparating in such a position made the wrench of Apparating less horrid. The view shifted, and now the wind was a bit calmer -- Severus had transported them into the lee of one of the outcroppings where Harry was delighted to see there were flat stones to sit on with stunning views of the sea all around them.
This time of the afternoon there were still a few tourists picking their way along the uneven steps but Harry got out his cloak and draped it over them both, tugging Severus's hand toward the precipice. "Better do an anchor spell on my cloak," he cautioned, grinning again when he realized Severus already had his wand out. The edges of the cloak dropped at once as if weighted. Harry could just see trying to explain to Ron and Hermione that his prized cloak had gone whipping out into the middle of the North Atlantic.
"Let me try something," Harry said, tugging his own wand out of his pocket. Severus looked alarmed, stopping to see what Harry was up to. "You said we're on a ley line?"
"Almost directly," replied Severus, still looking uncertain. "Harry --" he began but Harry had merely done a quick time spell.
"Nothing exploded!" he crowed, clutching Severus's arm in happiness. The time had flashed briefly then faded out, with no lingering tingling in Harry's fingers. He flexed his hand and put his wand away. "Felt...different, but good." He smiled again, wondering if the different feeling was being so close to the ley line or being with Severus.
"Be careful!" Severus said, but he looked at relieved as Harry felt, picking his way over the oddly hexagonal stones that led to the overlook. They stood for a few moments gazing out over the rough water. Harry hadn't seen the sea since he'd been plunged into it during Dumbledore's last night. He kept his hand in Severus's, making no pretense of needing it to steady himself on the rough basalt as they brushed shoulders, then leaned unabashedly against each other, letting the timeless peace of the stones and the water sink in.
"Not sorry we came here?" he asked Severus.
"Not sorry," Severus agreed, turning his face so that Harry could brush his mouth over Severus's. After a moment he added, "But about kissing in public..."
"You don't like it," sighed Harry.
"What I like or dislike is irrelevant. You understand that in the Muggle world, prejudices against men in sexual relationships can be extreme?"
Harry couldn't have lived with the Dursleys for most of his childhood without learning exactly what certain sorts of Muggles said about men in sexual relationships, or even about men they merely suspected of unconventional attractions. He nodded. "I'll be more careful," he said.
"Here in Northern Ireland, we would likely be subjected only to ridicule if we were seen." For the first time it occurred to Harry that when they had Apparated from Newgrange to the Giant's Causeway, they had crossed a Muggle border, a national boundary that had sparked violence since long before his own birth. It had all seemed very distant while he was at Hogwarts, but when he had been a small boy, Uncle Vernon's opinion of the Irish had been only slightly higher than his opinion of homosexuals, and prejudices like that too often turned into physical attacks. "If we were discovered together in some of the places we will be visiting, the consequences would be much worse."
"I know it's illegal in a lot of places. And some of the punishments are..." He shuddered. Staring out over the sea in the direction of England and home, Severus looked very somber, and Harry didn't think it was just about the way people around the world treated gay men. "Your dad was a Muggle, right?"
"This is not about how I personally have been treated." Harry was about to say that he hadn't thought it was when Severus sighed and looked at him, pushing back the hair that had blown into his face. "Not entirely, at least. You know that my father was a Muggle. He might eventually have forgiven me for being a wizard but he would never have forgiven me for being queer."
"You never told him?" asked Harry. Severus shook his head. "What about your mum?"
"My mother would have forgiven me for anything I did as a wizard. She forgave me for joining the Death Eaters - and for leaving the Death Eaters. I would never have risked learning that she could not forgive me for my inclinations."
In a way, Harry thought, it might have been easier for himself to make choices for himself, knowing that the Dursleys would have hated him no matter how he turned out. He pressed close to Severus, shivering a bit as the wind blew the cloak against them. He had never met either of Snape's parents but he'd seen glimpses of them in the outpouring of memories they'd shared. "I bet she would have forgiven you," he said, pushing the loose strand back again and tucking it behind his ear only to watch it blow loose once more.
Severus snorted. "You have no basis for that belief," he said gruffly, but he turned his face and brushed his mouth over Harry's fingertips.
"She loved you," Harry insisted, "If she forgave you for that other stuff, she must have loved you, and people who love each other --" He was looking at Severus, his cheeks ruddy from the wind, his hair as impossible as Harry's own. "Forgive each other," he finished, turning his face away and staring back across the rough surf in case Severus was watching. The wind-whipped waves spewed salty drops around them, even on their faces, even as high up as they were. The sun had started to sink into the sea , topping the waves with pink and gold. All but the hardiest of tourists had sought more hospitable surroundings.
And Harry knew Eileen Snape wasn't the only one who loved Severus.
After a little while Severus said, quietly, "I like to think so. She was quite as indiscriminate in her affections as --" He cleared his throat, and the pink in his cheeks might have been a reflection off the water but Harry didn't think so. He wanted to know more about Severus's parents and about his childhood, but he knew if he asked, it would sound like he was looking for more information about his own mum. Harry did want to know those things, but he also wanted to learn more about Severus and his odd background, since Harry didn't know anyone else who had grown up as he did. Perhaps between the two of them were enough happy moments for one good childhood.
They stayed until the last ripples of light raced across the waves, melding with the white sea foam and turning the rocky beach pink. Severus squeezed his fingers. "We should get back."
"But we haven't seen anything," protested Harry, feeling that Severus had wanted to explore the Giant's Causeway in a more scientific way.
"Haven't we?" replied Severus, looking at Harry in a way that sent a shiver through him, and he thought perhaps Severus had used Legilimency earlier only Harry hadn't felt anything. "We should eat and rest a bit before attempting the ritual tonight."
Harry was about to protest that they'd eaten a few hours ago, but that few hours had been quite a few now, and they'd done loads of walking in those hours. "Don't want to get depleted," he said, trying to sound as cheeky as he felt.
Severus seemed to have picked up on his mood, especially after the somber discussion they had had up on the precipice. Wrapping his arms around Harry, he Apparated them back to the room, holding onto him while the disorientation faded and the cottage steadied around them. Before he let go, however, he swooped his mouth down onto Harry's and kissed him, not lingering, but enough to let Harry know he'd been kissed.
"Kissing in private is perfectly acceptable," he said, sliding his arms away and walking into the kitchen.
Harry followed, discovering that there were sausages and eggs plus more of the sharp cheese they'd had on their sandwiches earlier. "I'll cook for us," he said.
"Are you a good cook?" Severus asked curiously.
Harry supposed that after some of his disasters in Potions class, it was a fair question. He shrugged. "The Dursleys used to make me cook for them. I suppose I'm not complete rubbish at it or they'd never have allowed me to feed their precious Dudley." He had thought he'd never want to cook anything again after leaving that household, but he liked the idea of cooking for Severus. "I'm not going to try an Ulster Fry, but I'm pretty sure I can manage these sausages."
He'd thought that they would have a quick dinner, but after watching him move around the kitchen for a few minutes, Severus came over and began to peel and mash potatoes, so they ended up cooking quite a large meal with Irish omelets and rarebit. At one point Severus glanced over and pursed his lips suspiciously. "What's funny?"
"What? Nothing." Harry hadn't even realized he'd been smiling, and now he blushed. He felt happy and peaceful and tonight he and Severus were going to make love, again, in a magical place where the earth would move for them, and tomorrow they were going to Iceland where maybe they could spend a bit of time in the romantic hot springs before seeking out the energy vortex, and after that to Niagara Falls in Canada which Harry happened to know was a popular honeymoon destination as well as a place where powerful ley lines converged. He shoveled a bite of omelet into his mouth, hoping Severus hadn't seen that thought in his mind.
Severus was still glancing at him quizzically. "Don't enjoy yourself too much. We'll gain two stone if we keep eating like this."
"We'll make sure we get plenty of exercise. Lots of places we have to climb, right? And we can't afford..."
"...to get depleted," Severus finished with him, smirking and reaching for the last piece of bread. "Still, I must caution that it would be wise to remember that this is not a leisure holiday. We cannot indulge every whim as easily as deciding to go see the Giant's Causeway."
"Right. So I guess I shouldn't beg you to fuck me over the table, since we need to be ready to exchange energy tonight." Severus dropped the rarebit face-first onto the tabletop, where the cheese immediately began to ooze over the edge. "Oops."
"Wicked boy." Severus's eyes had gone very dark, and he sounded breathless. Harry smiled at him, scooping up cheese between two fingers and sucking it into his mouth. "We need to be ready to exchange energy, and we need to rest before then."
"I can anticipate while I rest, right?"
Whipping out his wand, Severus sent the plates flying into the sink, which then turned itself on and began to clean the dishes. "You can anticipate in your sleep," he growled.
Harry would have sworn that he was too excited to sleep, yet almost as soon as they lay down together, he shut his eyes, curled up against Severus's chest, and was aware of absolutely nothing until he felt Severus shaking him awake. He stumbled to the loo, cleaned his teeth, and came out to find Severus holding up his Invisibility Cloak, studying it. "Anything wrong?" Harry asked nervously.
"I was wondering how your family came into possession of a magical object as ancient as this one appears to be."
"I wouldn't know," Harry replied honestly. He was going to have to remember, at moments when he got jealous about the things in Severus's past that he would never know, that he had his own secrets he hadn't told Severus, either.
Severus folded the cloak in half, then into quarters. "How did you come by --" he began, handing it over so Harry could tuck it in the bag with their other supplies. "That isn't any of my business," he decided.
"You know you can ask me anything," Harry said, taking his jacket off the peg beside the wardrobe. The night air would be chilly even though the day had been mild.
"It still isn't --" Severus began but Harry stopped him with a kiss.
"Dumbledore gave it to me first year," he replied, pulling away quickly, zipping up his jacket. "He said he had it for safe keeping, that's why it wasn't destroyed in the --" He remembered the ruin of the house at Godric's Hollow. "Whatever it was that destroyed the house where we were living." If the cloak could indeed be destroyed, which Harry wasn't certain of either. He had never taken especially good care of it before knowing its origins, tossing it into whatever book bag or pocket that happened to be convenient, and it had spent a lot of time in the bottom of Harry's school trunk with the ends of quills, broken Sneak-o-Scopes, and worn out socks but it had always looked as perfect as the day Harry had first opened it.
"I'm certain you used it for just as much mischief as your father did," Severus said, turning his back on Harry and getting his own coat. It was the first time the specter of Harry's father had come up and Harry frowned.
"I'm not him," he said staunchly. "You know I'm not. I used it to play one trick, one, on Malfoy who was being a prat." He laid one hand on the sleeve of Severus's coat. This was going to be a very long trip if the ghosts of his parents got in between them now.
When Severus turned around, Harry knew it was all right. Perhaps nearly dying had affected him as profoundly as it had affected Harry, or perhaps knowing that Harry had seen memories of the things he'd been through as a schoolboy, but Severus touched Harry's hand on his sleeve. "Draco thought you had an Invisibility Cloak after you did that. He was very jealous when Lucius couldn't find one to rival it."
Harry laughed, sliding into their Side-Along Apparating position. "Good," he said before the wrench took them both out into the Irish night.
Since the site was so exposed, Severus had placed them close to one of the Guardian Stones, where they broke apart slowly, peering around the stone on opposite sides to see if they'd been observed. The hill looked completely deserted under the dark sky. As a precaution, Severus did a locator spell to see if there was anyone close enough to prevent them from entering the mound.
"We should be safe," he said, studying the results. Harry was already getting the cloak out, shaking it out and handing an edge to Severus. They pressed close together to fit under the cloak. It was a misty night, chillier than it had been at Stonehenge, perhaps because of the cool air emanating from the enormous structure as they climbed the steps that led them around the Entrance Stone.
"Feels a bit spooky," Harry whispered, sliding an arm around Severus's waist. He remembered from History of Magic that people were buried at Newgrange, and more in the nearby tombs of Knowth and Dowth, and while he knew, rationally, that the dead were resting peacefully, he couldn't help imagining them rising as Inferi like the ones in the cave where Voldemort had hidden a horcrux. He shivered, hoping Severus would think it was because of the cool air.
"The mound is a calendar, like Stonehenge," Severus murmured, leading Harry into the chamber and pulling out his wand. He didn't speak, but as heat spread around them, Harry realized that he must have used a warming charm. "There are no surviving records, but although stories say that the High Kings of Tara were buried here, it was probably not built primarily for the dead. The Celts claim their hero Cúchulainn was conceived here through magical means."
That meant the place might be connected with sacred sex, an idea that appealed to Harry. He watched as Severus enlarged blankets for them, spreading them on the floor of the chamber. "It's not sacrilegious, what we're doing?" he asked.
"What we're doing would be considered sacrilegious by nearly every Muggle who has visited this place. That was true at Stonehenge as well. And these have always been pagan sites, used by wizards and Muggles alike. The ley lines in Jerusalem cross sites holy to three major Muggle religions, each of which would define this ritual as an abomination."
Though Severus spoke somberly, his words actually made Harry feel better. "They're just wrong, then," he said. "We're not the ones who got the energy out of balance, we're trying to put it right. And no one's ever going to persuade me that love's an abomination."
Aiming his wand at the entrance to the chamber, Severus put some sort of ward in place. Then he turned, slipping out from beneath the Invisibility Cloak. "I doubt that the people who would use the term 'abomination' would believe that love played any role in it."
Harry caught his breath. Again he'd spoken without thinking, but Severus hadn't tried to dismiss what he'd said. That made him feel brave. Tugging off the cloak, he asked, "What about you?"
Severus had busied himself with unbuttoning his shirt. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves."
"I'm not. I know what I believe. I'm asking you. Do you believe love plays any role in this?"
Silence. Despite the warming charm, Harry felt chilled. He shivered as he unzipped his jeans, trying to remember that this was going to be pleasurable whether Severus loved him or not.
"You know that Dumbledore believed love to be the most powerful force in the world -- the basis of all magic designed to do good. I'm sure he would say that an energy exchange such as we are attempting would not be possible without it."
Slowly he slipped out of his shirt, watching Harry carefully. It wasn't exactly a flowery declaration of undying love, but it was good enough for Harry. For now. After all, he wasn't the sort to make a big show of his own emotions either. He had never told Ginny anything but that he'd enjoyed spending time with her. Growing up without love had made him crave it that much more keenly, and to be that much more certain of what he wanted, and what he wanted to be able to give freely in return.
"What about when we just make love for ourselves?" he asked, exposing his legs as he stepped out of his jeans. He felt very vulnerable even though they were in an enclosed tomb rather than outdoors beneath the stars. With a quick jerk he yanked his shirt off.
"That feels very powerful to me as well," Severus replied. He hadn't looked away, which Harry thought was a good sign, since Severus seemed to always hide his own feelings by turning away, perhaps as a result of his own Occlumency training.
"You know how I feel about you," Harry insisted, sitting on the soft blanket and stretching out his legs.
After a moment, Severus, now naked as well, joined him. "How you think you feel," he replied, straddling Harry's thighs, close enough that their stirring cocks brushed together.
Harry stroked his cheek. "How you feel too." Severus did not demur, turning into Harry's caress and kissing him.
"You'll only be disappointed when you find out that I'm not a romantic hero," he grumbled, but the kiss that followed had some laughter in it. Harry did not miss the fact that Severus hadn't refuted the statement.
"Right," Harry said, working his arms around Severus's neck. "Because everything I know about you so far makes me think romance." He touched a finger to Severus's about-to-be-protesting mouth. "Just don't not let it happen?"
Severus nodded once and flicked his tongue over Harry's finger, prefacing the way for more hungry kisses. Already Harry felt the quiet thrum of energy passing between them, and he groaned as Severus kissed him lower. If it hadn't been for the rough stone ceiling overhead, Harry would have sworn they were back in the cottage bedroom, as Severus lingered over caressing Harry's body, easing them both back onto the blankets.
Harry tried to participate, tried to kiss and touch and find ways to please Severus, but each time he reached out, Severus kissed his fingers back, or moaned into the touch. "Later," he promised, and Harry whimpered. "Let me relax you."
"If I was any more relaxed, I'd melt," said Harry, able at least to brush his fingers through Severus's hair. A soft chuckle came from around Harry's cock and that alone was nearly enough to make the earth move again. He groaned, sliding his foot up Severus's side, tilting his hips so that his arse was more accessible. He wondered whether there was some polite way to ask Severus if he'd do what he did earlier with his tongue -- he hadn't known anything in the world could feel that good. He tried wriggling a bit to get Severus's tongue to move.
"You don't feel completely relaxed," Severus murmured against the base of his cock, which he then licked. "Tell me what you want."
"Oh fuck. Your, um, your tongue." He heard Severus hum and felt him lick his balls for emphasis. "Down there. Maybe more."
"You need to learn to tell me what you want me to do." Just feeling Severus's breath against his most intimate regions was making Harry nearly inarticulate, while Severus sounded rather amused. "And to call things by their proper names. If you want my tongue in your arse, you need to say, 'I want you to put your tongue in my arse.'"
"Fuck! If you talk like that I'm going to come too soon!"
Harry heard Severus chuckle, then felt a firm hand squeeze his cock. "Do you think you can control yourself if I put my tongue in your arse?"
"Oh God, I can't promise anything..." He felt the tingle of a cleaning spell, then felt Severus's mouth slide lower, kissing the puckered opening. "But I don't want to come until we're making love so I'll try!"
He'd braced himself for lingering soreness from earlier, had even thought it might help him last longer, but there was none. The spell that Severus had used on him had taken away any discomfort that might have remained, so that all Harry could remember was the pleasure of coming with Severus's cock inside him. He shuddered as he felt Severus's tongue tease him, then breach the opening, pressing inside. "Better?"
"Yes, oh, perfect!" Harry was going to have to remember to ask Severus to teach him those spells, and how to do what he was doing, some time when Harry was not delirious. "Oh fuck, love that!"
"I didn't invent it, you know," Severus told him between licks. Harry supposed that that was true, but if Severus had announced that in fact he had invented this kind of sex specifically for Harry, Harry might have believed it. He shuddered again as he felt Severus slide a finger slowly around his balls and down to the entrance. "But I'm glad you appreciate it."
"Appreciate! It's the best thing that ever happened to me!" Except maybe every single other thing he'd done with Severus, including sleeping pressed against him, but Harry wasn't interested in sleeping for a long time. "Want to go to every ley line in the world and do this!"
"That is, I believe, the general plan," came the warm chuckle, interspersed with licks between his cheeks. "Though we may not have enclosed tombs and leisurely evening hours at every single one."
"I just may need to --" Harry groaned as one finger wiggled inside him, surrounded on its journey by more wet kisses, "-- oh fuck, practice first!" He bucked a bit off the blanket, not sure the earth hadn't moved before Severus even got his cock inside him.
"We'll have time for that," Severus assured him, "more than enough to learn everything."
Harry already knew how much time he wanted, how much he was willing to give to Severus, but he felt he'd coaxed Severus enough for one night. "Anticipation, right," he said, earning himself another of those throaty chuckles that went straight to his cock, so he really hoped Severus would only do them when they were naked. And aroused. And oh God, about to make the earth move enough to shake down this ancient tomb if Severus kept sliding his tongue in like that. "Want you!"
The chuckle became a groan, and Harry could feel the vibration of it against his skin. "Want you inside me," he clarified, in case Severus was making him say everything aloud. "And I want to...to get you ready." Severus head lifted, nodding in approval from behind Harry's cock.
"Gently," he said, lifting onto his knees, and sliding the lube down to Harry. "You aren't the only one whose libido has seen a resurgence since we began this trip."
That made Harry chuckle, pouring out the oil and working his hand around the base of Severus's cock before sliding it up and around, making sure the foreskin was pulled back. "You mean you don't usually make love several times a day and restore the magical balance of the earth with all your lovers?"
"If you mean the dim, ancient past when such things were an issue, then no. You are the first lover who made the earth move for me."
For someone who didn't think of himself as a romantic hero, Harry thought, Severus was pretty good at it. He gave his cock an approving kiss, getting a bit of lube on his lips, before leaning back into the blanket. He lifted his legs around Severus's waist, letting himself be positioned, watching their cocks bobbing together as their bodies settled against each other. Severus waited a moment, until Harry nodded that he was ready, too vulnerable just then to speak. It was just a ritual, but it was their ritual and their lovemaking and Harry wanted forever with Severus.
It wasn't much easier than this afternoon as Severus's cock slid inside him. Harry still felt the wrench of something not quite right before his body adjusted, coaxed by slow, steady strokes and a warm slick hand on his own cock. "It's all right, you can do this," Severus crooned, "You feel perfect, so perfect."
"So do you," Harry said, even though it wasn't quite true at the moment, but then he raised his knees and Severus angled his hips, practically bending him double, and suddenly everything fit together just right. "Like that," he gasped, not quite able to thrust into Severus's hand in this position but Severus knew what he wanted, stroking him faster, angling his thrusts to press oh God just there inside.
"Yes," a drawn-out moan, Severus's head thrown back, and although Harry knew that Severus was not considered particularly handsome by most traditional standards, he had never seen anyone look more desirable. He tried squeezing his inner muscles and heard Severus choke out a grunt. "Yes, perfect -- you're perfect --"
He wasn't, Harry knew, any more than Severus was, but he loved hearing it, just as he loved feeling Severus inside him with the thrum of energy that seemed to be pulsing up from far below them in the ground. "Perfect together," he panted, clutching at Severus, unable to do much more when he was so completely exposed, lying on the floor of the ancient structure with his knees practically around his ears and his hips higher than his head. He was quite warm now, a heat that seemed to rise from the earth's mantle. Every stroke of Severus's cock made his own pulse.
"Together," Severus commanded, tugging firmly on Harry's cock as he moved. "Give me your strength!"
All the energy building between them seemed to concentrate in Harry's cock. He cried out, digging his nails into Severus's shoulders. He wanted this to go on and on, to feel the earth move and crumble into dust around them as long as Harry could keep doing this with Severus. "Yours oh fuck, yours, all yours!"
Harry clung hard, with his legs and his arms and even the rhythm of his cock through Severus's fingers. Something roared in his ears and if the earth wasn't moving, it was doing a fair imitation of it, enough to send him hurtling over the precipice, as if his cloak had indeed been borne on the winds over the sea, wrapped in the only secure thing in the shifting world.
"Severus, oh fuck, love you!"
The enclosed tomb echoed with the wail of Severus crying out Harry's name, overlaid with groans as he pumped himself into Harry's arse, clinging back as he jerked once again before slumping over Harry's legs.
"You --" Severus groaned. "You're perfect," he went on, though Harry didn't think that was what he'd started to say.
Harry shook his head, reluctant to claim perfection even in such a perfect moment. "That wasn't just the ritual," replied Harry, even though Severus was heavy on his legs. "That was us."
Severus dragged a hand through his damp hair, apparently realizing the weight he was putting on Harry in this awkward position. He shifted up, not enough to dislodge his cock, but enough that blood raced into Harry's legs.
"You felt it too?" His gaze swept the rock-hewn cavern as if assuring himself it was still standing.
Harry concentrated a moment and clenched his arse around the cock starting to slip from it. "Oh yeah. The earth moved. I think it worked."
Nodding, Severus let his cock slide out, sitting back to give Harry a hand in righting himself. "Are you all right? Did I --"
Harry did a quick check, wiggling a bit and clenching again. "I'm fine. You can do that spell again if I'm stiff in the morning." He leered. "In my arse, I mean, since I already know where else I'll be stiff."
"Brat," Severus said, but without rancor, as he handed Harry the heap of his clothing.
Leaning up, Harry brushed a quick kiss over his cheek. "Your brat," he said happily, perfectly aware that Severus didn't want to analyze what Harry had said during their lovemaking but glad he'd said it anyway.
* * * * *
Harry had expected Iceland to be, well, icy. He had not expected brilliant blue water teeming with birds and plants, surrounded by a landscape of lava and cave formations beneath mountains streaked with colorful sulfur stains. Severus had told him that had they visited in the winter, it would have been dark not long after lunch, which in this case included potatoes and hot spring bread cooked with smoked char from Lake Myvatn. But at this time of year, the sun remained above the horizon for so long that they had had to stay up most of the night just to steal enough darkness to sneak out to the Dimmuborgir -- the dark castles of lava claimed in local legend to connect the earth with the inferno at its center.
Harry had had no trouble believing that the towers and gates of lava could have been created by some fiery being underground, but the blissfully warm water of Myvatn's natural baths, where they had relaxed before the ritual, convinced him that whatever magical beings lived under Iceland must be benevolent. And Severus let Harry be on top, and the earth had moved so dramatically that for a few moments Harry had been afraid that they'd awoken a dormant volcano, though after a bit he'd realized that the only eruptions that night had been their own.
He still felt a bit intoxicated when the Portkey set them down, rather clumsily, in a stand of trees that at first didn't look all that different from trees in Europe, except that there was no way Harry could forget that they'd just traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and were now standing practically at the border of North America's two enormous countries, in comparison to which the whole of Great Britain would fit into one of the the larger states or provinces. Harry had been eager to see the United States -- a place that had produced so many Muggle celebrities he'd seen on the telly over Dudley's shoulder, and where his own face would surely be unfamiliar to most -- but Severus had insisted that the Canadian side of Niagara Falls offered many advantages. For one, the basin of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls was on the most powerful ley line in the region. For another, there were quiet inns only a few minutes' walk from the falls.
"I'd have paid for a big suite on the other side, you know," Harry told him. "In one of the hotels with a view of the falls right from the window..."
"...and the noise, and the crowds," grumbled Severus.
"And the big heart-shaped whirlpool tubs."
"After sitting in those silky mineral baths in Iceland, looking through the steam at the volcanoes, you want to sit in a grimy Muggle hot tub?"
"Sitting wasn't exactly what I had in mind." Harry flashed a grin at Severus. "Isn't this supposed to be a place where people come for romantic getaways?"
"Quick marriages and quick divorces." Severus waved a hand, gesturing across the river, where Harry knew there were plenty of miniature golf courses and tourist magic shows as well as the natural wonders of the landscape. "I would prefer a few hours of rest and quiet. And I believe there is a whirlpool tub in our en suite accommodations in what I'm told is a quaint and very private Victorian inn."
Harry grinned again, turning his back on the thundering spectacle that had indeed already drawn a crowd. "Just a few minutes' walk, you said?"
"Just there," Severus said, pointing as they emerged from the trees. Ahead was a red brick Victorian house, with a discreet sign out front announcing its availability as a bed and breakfast.
Harry laughed in delight. "Look, it's got turrets and everything!"
"I'm glad you like them; our room is up in that one, I believe." Severus shifted the back and pointed to the side of the house. "It has its own private entrance," he said with a pleased smile.
"You know, if this healing thing doesn't work out for you, you could make a go of it as a travel agent," laughed Harry as they headed up the steps to their lodgings. "Or go into honeymoon planning," he added in a low voice.
Once they had checked in and inspected the room, Harry flopped down on the properly quilted bed, letting his legs dangle over the edge. "So, I get that there's a ley line running through the falls, but there's no convenient ancient monument or burial mound around it, right?" he asked.
"Correct," replied Severus, unfolding the map and bringing it over to the other side of the bed. Harry wiggled over onto his front so he could see it. "The ley line we are most interested in is the most powerful one, running north to south, just here."
Frowning, Harry forced himself not to be distracted by the stroking finger. "But that's the falls itself. Er, themselves. How are we, I mean where are we going to, um, make love?"
"We will be performing the ritual here," Severus went on, pointing directly over the largest area of the falls.
Harry laughed, but Severus looked dead serious. "Won't we get wet? Not that being wet with you isn't hot," he reassured him, thinking of those Icelandic mineral baths.
Severus's smirk made Harry feel like he'd asked the stupidest question in the world. "There is a cave behind the falls that Muggles have no way to reach. They believe it was obliterated in a rock fall a few decades ago. Only wizards and certain faux mystics are even aware of its existence."
Harry liked the sound of that. His only previous experience with caves had not been pleasant, but he thought this one might make up for it. "So we can go see the falls? From the outside?" He sat up on the bed.
"As long as we give ourselves time enough to rest before tonight," replied Severus, waving his wand over the map so that it folded itself.
Harry didn't feel like resting. He'd been feeling so much better since their travels had begun that he wondered now how he had ever felt tired or out of sorts. Severus hadn't worn his scarf for several days now and the wound looked nearly closed, pink around the edges, especially when Harry was licking it or kissing it. It was hard to believe they'd only been gone a few days, or that just a few days ago he hadn't been in love with Severus.
"I want to buy a tacky souvenir," Harry said, bounding to his feet at the prospect of doing some exploring. "One of those bottles with a penny in it. No, one of those things you shake up with the snowflakes in it." He held out a hand to help Severus up. "My Aunt Petunia had one, from when they all went on holiday to Brighton and I used to sneak in there and look at it and pretend I'd gone too." Severus took his hand and got to his feet, tucking the map away in his jacket pocket. "Had to spend four days at Mrs. Figg's," he recalled with a shudder, aware all at once that Severus was staring at him strangely. "And I'm talking too much, aren't I?"
Severus hadn't let go of his hand. "No," he said, and his voice had gone quiet. He kissed Harry, pressing against him at the edge of the bed. Harry responded as naturally as he always did to their kissing, while being aware that he was usually the one to initiate their non-ritual affection. Severus was passionate enough once prompted, but before then, it had always been Harry who had requested kisses. "You aren't talking too much," Severus said, just rubbing his mouth over Harry's before pulling back enough to let Harry know a kiss was all he had in mind.
"I don't suppose you got to go on holiday to Brighton, either?" Harry asked him, wondering whether this was how Severus showed sympathy.
"My parents never had money for holidays of any sort." The statement was matter-of-fact, spoken without regret. "This is already the longest hol- well, the longest I have ever traveled."
"We should make it good, then. I mean, not just the energy exchange. We should do things you've always wanted to do." Harry smiled. "I could take you out to dinner."
"I would rather be alone with you for dinner." The possessive growl in Severus's voice gave Harry goosebumps, and made some other things stand up a bit as well. "But I would like to see the falls properly in daylight."
Though Harry would have been happy just then to forget about travel and souvenirs and fall back on the bed, he nodded. "We can have dinner here, then," he said. "And...rest."
Severus smirked, and the mood shifted -- not in a bad way, since Harry was certain that he was thinking about what would happen after that, but the odd intensity of Severus's stare had turned into something more familiar. "There isn't any hurry." Severus might have been speaking of that afternoon or the whole trip-around-the-world business, Harry wasn't sure, but it made him remember that this was really still just the start of their journey -- they had all of the Americas and Asia and Africa before them. He also realized guiltily that he should send a message to the Weasleys and Hermione or they were going to worry. He'd owled them from Amesbury, but hadn't been in contact since.
Though Severus dropped his hand before they stepped outside, he stayed close to Harry, and when a girl who was gliding by on roller skates smiled at him, Severus shot her such a glare that she nearly lost her balance, flailing her arms. "Don't you like skating?" asked Harry, snickering.
"I don't like prowling."
"She wasn't prowling, she was just being friendly." Already Harry could hear the roar of the falls, though he couldn't see them yet.
"She probably assumed that I was your father and that you would be more interested in spending an afternoon with her."
"She probably assumed that we're a couple. Aren't half the people here on their honeymoon?" Even though they were coming upon a crowd of tourists, Harry grabbed Severus's hand and squeezed it. "See, nobody here cares -- it's Canada. And it's not like I have any interest in going off with someone else."
Severus's furious expression had relaxed into something that was still pinched and wary around the mouth. "I warned you that you might change your mind before the end of our travels."
"Not going to change my mind. Going to change yours -- going to make you stop thinking that as soon as we get back, oh bloody hell, bugger me!"
They had come to the top of the rise that gave Harry his first full view of the falls, and he had undoubtedly spoken too loudly just to make himself heard over their noise. Severus might have chuckled softly, but it was hard to take in anything but the enormity of the spectacle. Others around them had stopped to gawk, families with children clustered around, their mouths agape, couples edging closer and bending heads together as the masses of water pounded into the basin.
Harry purposefully kept ahold of Severus's hand, tugging him along the broad pedestrian avenue paralleling the river. They found a spot close to the railing -- even Severus was willing to put up with a bit of jostling for a clear view. "Are we really going inside there?" Harry asked, needing to lean over very close to be heard over the steady roar of the water.
Instead of a verbal reply, Severus nodded, pointing to a spot where wet scaffolding bracketed a ledge. A row of yellow-ponchoed tourists kept up a steady stream along the ledge. It didn't look much different than any other part of the wall of water around them. When Harry looked back questioningly, Severus leaned in to explain. "There is a system of caverns behind that one. The Canadian Wizengamot closed them off years ago by blocking the passage with a rockfall."
Harry waited until Severus had turned back toward the spectacle before leaning in to ask, "We won't, um, cause any more rocks to fall while we're inside there, will we?" He flattened out his free hand in front of them and wiggled it as though the earth was shaking.
Severus's roar of laughter was nearly drowned out by the roar of the water. Harry took that as a good sign, leaning shoulder to shoulder along the railing at several points along the path, watching a boat making its way into the basin and back. It was easy to let the crowd flow around them, and once or twice Severus glared at children crowding in too close and sent them scampering away. They held hands more often than not, and even got their faces wet when a gust of wind sent spray over an entire section of the pathway.
Harry dragged Severus into a crowded gift shop, the window stuffed full of the ceramic bears, maple leaf ashtrays and t-shirts with grinning moose heads on them. "Look! They have dozens of them!" There was an entire display of snow globes, and Harry spent more than a few minutes shaking up as many as he could reach. There were ones with white specks and ones with glitter and ones with scenes of the falls and ones with random bears and moose, even one with the Statue of Liberty that Harry left unshaken. "Which?"
Severus looked indifferent to all of them, so Harry picked one with a plastic rainbow over the falls that rained glitter down over the molded image. He added a few postcards once he was up to the checkout so he could send greetings back to his friends, and waited until they were outside before asking Severus to shrink it down. Harry hadn't done any more spells since the time spell in Ireland, but he had the feeling his magic was coming under control. His fingers never ached any more and the pulse of energy inside him always seemed controllable rather than wild and unpredictable.
They took their time walking back to the inn, stopping to glance at the well-tended gardens in front of several of the buildings. "You said this place will let us have dinner in our room?"
"The brochure indicated that meals past breakfast were available en suite for an extra fee."
Harry had already checked out the loo, which indeed had a whirlpool tub, much smaller than the ones in the brochures Harry had seen for the fancy American hotels but probably cleaner, since the water had to be refilled for each use. "We could have an early dinner and a bath," he said hopefully. "Or a bath and a late dinner."
"We both showered in the morning. If you need a cleaning spell..."
"I meant we could have a bath. Together." He thought he'd managed not to leer, but Severus's lowered brows told him that he'd failed. "Just a bath! I know we have to rest up for later." Anticipation, he reminded himself. He knew from Iceland that even when they were someplace too public to make love in a bath, there could still be plenty of touching and stroking underwater. It wouldn't be Harry's fault if he got an erection from that.
Severus didn't look fooled, but he nodded. "I will speak with our hosts about our dining options." Harry decided not to take chances; he started filling the tub as soon as he went into the room. There was a small selection of bath salts so Harry sniffed them, settling on the least flowery-smelling one. He heard the low murmur of Severus's voice in the other room, ordering dinner. It had surprised him at first that Severus was proficient with Muggle devices like phones, but it was all part of the general competence Severus exuded. He patted down his pockets, realizing he still had the shrunken snow globe and postcards in a bag. He pulled them out but left them in their reduced sized, not wanting to ruin his romantic plans by setting the room on fire.
Severus was just hanging up the phone when Harry handed over the souvenir bag.
"Must I?" Severus asked in long-suffering tones but he was already reaching for his wand.
"You think it's tacky."
Snorting, Severus gave the bag a tap and it swelled back to its normal size. "That's because it is tacky. You said so yourself."
Ignoring him, Harry took out the snow globe and set it on the nightstand on what he already thought of as 'his' side of the bed. He'd been delighted in both Iceland and here that there had been no more pretense at separate beds in their room. Task finished, he sat down beside Severus and pulled out the postcards he'd picked up. "To send home," he said, since he didn't want Severus to think he was going to be buying piles of silly junk on each of their stops like some mad trophy hunter. "I got lots in case you'd like to send some back too."
"I don't have anyone to write to," replied Severus, looking at the assortment of watery images in Harry's hand.
"You could write to Mrs. Weasley," Harry responded. "I got the feeling she really cares about you."
Their food arrived with a soft knock and the postcards ended up on the other nightstand while they sorted out the dinner cart. Despite not actually being that hungry, Harry ate everything, jumping up just before dessert and turning on the whirlpool in the tub, untucking his shirt as he sat back at the table.
"Eager?" Severus asked, passing over a trifle with fresh berries.
"How did you guess?" laughed Harry, dispensing with his shirt altogether since Severus didn't look like he minded Harry's eagerness. Or the foot that rubbed over his while they finished the pudding. Or the trail of clothes they left heading into the bathroom.
"I see that I have been unsuccessful in teaching you the pleasures of postponement," noted Severus, sniffing the steam rising from the tub. It had a sort of in-the-woods smell that seemed particularly North American to Harry -- at least, the specific mixture of evergreen and berry wasn't familiar to him.
"You told me to anticipate. I'm getting better and better at anticipating," grinned Harry, slipping into the hot water. He hadn't turned up the temperature quite as high as it could go because he'd read that that could affect the strength of male ejaculate and he didn't know whether that was a relevant factor in the magic they were performing. The fact that the bubbles hid his erection made it easier to try to keep an innocent expression on his face.
Severus stepped in more cautiously, not sitting until he had rubbed warm water over his chest and arms. "You won't be unhappy, then, if I recommend that we refrain from orgasm until later this evening in the caverns."
"I will if you will," Harry said, already letting his foot slide up Severus's leg. "But it's all right if we get in the proper frame of mind for exchanging energy, right? Wouldn't that be a necessary development?"
"You are mocking me," Severus accused, though he was smirking as he reached for the bath oil, sniffing it suspiciously as if he thought some inferior potion-maker might be trying to offend him. Apparently it met with his approval, because he poured some into his hand and gestured for Harry to turn around.
"I'm not mocking you." Harry sighed happily as he felt Severus's warm, slippery hands descend on his shoulders, rubbing the oil into his skin. "I'm trying to think like you think."
He felt Severus's fingers tense on his back. "Why in Merlin's name would you want to think like me?"
Severus hadn't said anything too clinical about their means of exchanging energy since the last time Harry had been upset about it. He'd thought maybe that was because Severus was enjoying it more, but maybe, he thought, Severus was just being careful. With a sigh, he said, "Don't you want me to understand how you think?"
The hands went back to rubbing his shoulders, smoothing the oil up his neck. "One bitter old man in this endeavor is sufficient."
"You're not old!" Harry turned his head to try to look at Severus. "And you're not bitter all the time. Only when we haven't made love in too many hours." He wriggled back against Severus to emphasize his point. "Aren't you happier when you don't try to act like this is some big chore we have to do?"
"I'm happier when you're happy," Severus said, sounding a bit surprised to be saying it. The hands moved in determined circles as if he didn't want to analyze the words too closely or draw attention to the fact that he wasn't. "It's been...easier than I expected, traveling like this." Another slow slide of his palms over Harry's upper arms before he nudged the arms up so he could slip slick fingers into the hair underneath.
Harry had leaned forward, eyes drooping in bliss, but he was paying attention. Severus was always more unguarded when they were naked, or perhaps it was just that it was easier to speak when they weren't facing. "You don't have to try, you know," he said, keeping his eyes closed as fingers rubbed slowly back and forth in the crease of his arms. "I'm fairly happy just being with you."
"Hmmm," came the reply, a bit closer to Harry's ear so that when the tongue came out to tickle his ear Harry purred instead of jumping. "Only fairly?"
"I thought if I was more enthusiastic, you might think you didn't have to try at all, and I like it when you make me happy. And I like making you happy back." He tilted his face, eyes still closed since he could feel exactly where Severus was, rubbing his cheek against the waiting mouth. "I, um, do make you happy, don't I?"
"I may not be old by your definition, but I'm old enough to know that happiness is fleeting," replied Severus.
That wasn't really an answer so Harry shifted around to open his eyes. Severus had pushed his hands through Harry's arms and was working the oil into his chest. "So is, um, you know, coming, the pleasure from that, but that doesn't mean we stop doing it just because it doesn't last forever."
"I didn't say I wasn't happy," Severus said, his mouth still very close to Harry's ear. "I just know it won't last."
Harry twisted and laid a finger on Severus's lips. "You'll jinx it, talking like that." He took his fingers away and grabbed the oil. "Let me do you." There hadn't been a lot of time for thinking on their trip so far -- between traveling and making love and coming up with ways to get Severus to have more sex, Harry hadn't given much thought to what lay beyond their trip. Obligingly, Severus turned around, presenting his back while Harry poured out some of the wonderfully slick stuff and warmed it in his hands. He pressed his hands flat just beneath Severus's shoulder blades, leaving oily hand prints where he touched, his own personal mark. Then he moved his hands up, starting with Severus's shoulders, moving slowly around the sensitive skin around the scar on his neck.
"You've been healing," he said, inspecting the skin as he moved his fingers around it. "This seems loads better then when we left."
"Feels better," Severus said, and Harry smiled. Severus got less wordy when he was aroused. On the pretense of getting a better angle, Harry stretched his legs out and brought his body closer to Severus's back -- his cock lining up with Severus's arse. "Harry --"
"Just stretching," Harry replied, wiggling against him as though he didn't know his cock was pressing into Severus's back. He moved his hands across Severus's shoulders and under his arms, sliding them over the hair on his chest. Now that he knew Severus had very sensitive nipples, he could never resist trying to touch them. "Does this make you happy?"
"You're confusing happiness with physical pleasure." Severus drew in a sharp breath as Harry squeezed the nipples gently. "And if you bugger me now, I may be too sore later to complete the energy exchange."
Harry moaned enthusiastically. He loved it when Severus said bugger or fuck or even penetrate when he was feeling clinical. "I told you that you should teach me that healing spell," he said. "But I'm just as happy not to bugger you." He let one hand slide down, following the thickening hair on Severus's belly until it brushed the hard cock jutting up from the water. "I can do this..."
His own cock twitched against Severus's bum as Severus's groan made his own chest vibrate, pressed up against Severus's back, when his slippery hand began to move up and down on Severus's cock. He loved it when Severus said stroke or wank too. "I thought we agreed to refrain from orgasm," Severus said, sounding less stern than breathless.
"Want me to stop?" Harry asked, rocking his hips so that his own cock slid up and down against Severus's bum. He felt Severus deliberately squeeze his buttocks around it and muffled another moan by biting Severus's shoulder a bit. "When you do that, it doesn't put me in the mood for refraining from orgasm."
"Nothing puts you in the mood for refraining from orgasm." Severus angled his hips, deliberately thrusting his cock into Harry's hand. "When you are a bit older and have more confidence, I hope you will at least refrain from promiscuity."
"You bastard!" Harry bit down again hard enough to let Severus know that he was sincerely cross, if also distracted by what their cocks were up to. "Nothing puts me in the mood from refraining from orgasm when I'm with you, because you make me hard even when you're being horrible to me. I don't look at anyone else. I don't want anyone else." He punctuated this last with a firm thrust against Severus's arse. "Are you wishing you could go be promiscuous with some other boy if only you weren't stuck with me?"
"No -- oh -- only want you," Severus grunted, hips lifting up with each syllable to thrust.
"See, that makes me happy!" The water was splashing over the sides of the tub from the way they were rocking. He wondered whether they could make a geyser go off when they did the energy exchange at Yellowstone. "And it makes me happy when we make love just for us and when we spend time together and when you let me tell you I love you!"
He felt Severus go rigid against him and for an instant he thought he'd gone too far, that Severus would pull away, but then Severus let out a strangled cry and Harry could feel him coming over his fingers in hot spurts. It wasn't quite a geyser but it was more than enough to make him cry out too and thrust against Severus's bum until his cock too was erupting, sending pearly streaks up Severus's back.
With his head buried against Severus's neck, Harry nearly missed the softly murmured, "What am I going to do with you?"
He wanted to say, "Love me," but if Severus wouldn't admit it or say it on his own, it wasn't worth having the words. "This," he replied, keeping his mouth pressed into the drape of black hair that fell over Severus's shoulders. "As much as we can." He shifted up to kiss the closest spot on Severus's face he could reach, a bit of cheek. Severus turned his head and it became an even better kiss.
They rested for a few hours, tucking easily against each other in the bed until even the sounds of the constant buzz of tourist traffic on the street outside had quieted. By now, Harry could dress and pack in the dark, keeping words to a minimum while they assembled the familiar bag and dragged out the cloak. They walked back down to the falls and Harry was aware that even now, when the sidewalks were practically deserted, that Severus was checking on their surroundings. Soon they were back at the ledge where Severus had pointed out the caverns that afternoon.
"We'll Apparate from here," he said, touching Harry's elbow as they got into the proper position. "In stages." Before Harry could nod they were on the first catwalk, just inside the falls. The noise was tremendous but they were dry thanks to the Impervious charm Severus had put on the cloak.
Severus took a moment to get their bearings before Apparating them again, this time into total darkness. "Lumos" he cast at once, doing something with his wand, passing it over his palm and making a ball of light that he released above them once Harry dragged the cloak off them. He repeated it several more times, making a glowing circle of light above them.
"Good trick," Harry said admiringly.
Smirking, Severus replied, "Like magic."
Then Harry saw beyond the pool of light and gasped. There was more magic all around them, the magic of nature, of the slow force of the water to carve patterns and shapes in stone. "Wow," Harry whispered, knowing mere words were already inadequate. The floor in the immediate area of the light was smooth enough but all around them were fantastic shapes, as though sediment had frozen around them. From somewhere Harry could hear the sound of water, not just the distant thunder of the falls but the slower drip of water over stone.
"Indeed," Severus said, staying close to Harry's side as they peered up into the inky heights of the cavern. Harry was suddenly glad they were sharing this together, something very few people had ever seen. There was no telling, outside the pool of fire balls, how high the unseen ceiling was or how far back the maze of formations went. "There are several other caverns along the ley line but this is by far the most stable," he explained.
"We wouldn't want to make the earth move in an unstable one," Harry agreed, reaching for Severus's hand. It was chilly in the cavern, but heat as well as light seemed to be emanating from the glowing orbs, and he knew Severus would warm the rocks before they lay down on them. "Wizards made this, you said?"
"Wizards blocked it off. Muggles had tours of the Cave of the Winds just behind Bridal Veil Falls until the rock falls that protected the interior. But the caverns are far more ancient than the Wizengamot."
Harry took a step closer to the wall and placed a hand on it. It felt damp to the touch, and a bit slimy. He started to reach toward a stalactite but Severus stopped him.
"The oils in your hand will damage it. Even your body heat will affect its growth."
"Won't those light balls do the same thing?"
"One of the advantages of magic is that it does not follow the same rules. What you perceive as heat has no effect on the cavern walls. However, it would be best not to linger, to be certain that we leave no traces here."
Turning, Harry smiled at him. "Just remember that this time, I wasn't the one who was eager." He watched as Severus enlarged their blanket, spreading it over the uneven floor. To his surprise, the blanket did not settle on the rocks but floated over them. "Are we going to make love on a flying carpet?"
"This is a levitating blanket, not a flying carpet." But Severus smirked. "As I said, this region is prone to rock falls. I believe it may be wiser to avoid direct contact with the stone at the moment of energy exchange."
"You mean when we come." Grinning more widely, Harry stepped out of his shoes. "Though you can say climax or orgasm or energy exchange -- it almost sounds hotter when you get coy."
"I thought you disliked clinical terms."
"Only when you make it sound like a chore." He paused with his trousers hanging half-off. "Is it all right to leave our clothes on the ground? They won't damage the cavern?"
"Keep them close together and I'll put an Impervious spell on them." Harry was about to offer to do the spell himself, but then he decided that this was not a safe place to risk a disaster if he couldn't control his magic. He stripped off, piling his clothes as neatly as possible in a spot that didn't look like it had anything dripping around it. The orbs were glowing now like the lamps Professor Sprout used in the greenhouse on plants that needed a steady supply of heat, and the cavern was nicely warm.
Severus sat on the edge of the blanket, which rippled but did not sag under his weight. Despite all his warnings to Harry earlier, he was already hard again. "Sure you want me on top?" Harry asked a bit shyly, stepping over to stand by the hovering blanket.
"Quite sure." Later, Harry reminded himself, he wanted to ask Severus about whether the energy exchange worked differently depending on which of them came inside the other, but right now he didn't want a lesson. He watched as Severus shifted back, beckoning him onto the rippling blanket, which felt surprisingly solid when he placed a knee on it, as if it had layers and layers of foam beneath it.
"This is nice," he said, knee-walking between Severus's legs. "We need to try this again when we don't have to worry about being buried alive." He glanced at the stone ceiling somewhere above them. Severus had laid the bag on the floating blanket and Harry fished out the lube. "And when you don't have me so horny I might come before we can do the ritual." For indeed the sight of Severus leaning back, his knees lifted while he gazed frankly at Harry, stirred Harry's cock against his belly. The orbs hovering overhead gave their bodies a luminous aura, or perhaps that was partly the magic of this place.
"You're young; you'd get horny over anyone," retorted Severus, but Harry shushed him by leaning up over his body and brushing a kiss over his lips.
"Not anyone," Harry explained, working the slippery oil over his fingers. "Never anyone else."
"You've never been with --" began Severus but Harry had got a finger inside him and he momentarily lost the power of speech.
"Would anyone else have made love with me this afternoon then got me so hot I couldn't wait to see them naked just a few hours later?" Harry liked this part, working his fingers in and out and feeling Severus's body ready to admit him. He was still a bit nervous about being on top, but seeing Severus like this, his face flushed, his hair fanned out over the blanket, made Harry willing to put aside his fears of doing something wrong. "Because I can't. Wait."
They made love with the ease of lovers of long standing, wrapping around each other while floating a few inches above the cavern floor. Even though he was on the bottom, Severus set the pace, sliding his hands around Harry's arse, rocking against him as Harry caught the rhythm. Harry knew the exact moment the earth adjusted for them; the roaring of the falls seemed to pound into his ears and he was glad they weren't in contact with the stones themselves. Severus held him through the energy shift and for a bit while Harry caught his breath, panting against the only solid thing in the world, Severus's chest.
"Right, I could do that with just anyone," he said, once he could speak.
Severus looked content and sated but something wary crept into his features. "The earth will not always move."
"It will for us," Harry asserted, wishing he could take that wariness away. He knew nothing he could say would be enough. He would just have to prove that what he -- no, they, because he knew Severus wouldn't be trying so hard if he wasn't feeling something -- felt was real.
They rested against each other for a long time, not saying anything, floating above the stone floor, even though Severus had said it would be better if they didn't linger. Severus's hand stroked up Harry's back, fingers sliding idly through his hair. Harry could feel Severus's heartbeat beneath his cheek, could feel it slowing as they recovered their breath. He wanted to say that even if they never made the earth move again, they could have this, always, but he didn't know if Severus would say it was no substitute and he didn't want to know if that was what Severus thought.
"Can we Apparate from in here back to where we're staying?" he asked.
"Naked?" The surprise in Severus's voice made Harry laugh. "I suppose I should be pleased at your confidence in my ability to avoid splinching your most personal treasures..."
"I didn't mean naked, necessarily. Just that it would be nice not to have to walk." He liked the idea of wrapping around Severus here and finding himself steps from their bed in the quiet room where they were staying.
"Don't you want to see if the moon illuminates the falls?"
"Do you?" Beneath his cheek he could feel Severus shrug a bit. "I mean, I suppose maybe we should, since who knows when we'll be back here. But honestly..." He yawned. "Hey, is there any reason we have to get to our next destination the next night? I mean, since we're losing time moving west anyway, or at least gaining more hours in the day, couldn't we stay here for another day and just be tourists and sleep late and come see the falls tomorrow night, earlier? And then walk back to the inn like -- like ordinary people?"
He could tell at once that Severus hadn't even considered the idea. He could also tell that it was because of Harry that he was now giving it some thought. "I suppose," he began and Harry was already grinning because he knew that meant he wanted to but was just putting up a bit of resistance for show. "Provided you don't drag me into any more knick-knack shops," said Severus.
"Deal," Harry said, sealing the bargain with a kiss. "We can write up postcards like normal tourists and let Mrs. Weasley be smug on our behalf."
"She was appallingly accurate about our need to seek a cure together," Severus agreed, letting his fingers drag idly through the hair on the back of Harry's neck.
"And other things," Harry murmured, thinking of the discussion that had prompted the entire visit to Severus's shop. He was practically purring at the slow strokes through his hair, that under other circumstances would be of interest to his cock but since that part of him was currently sated, he supposed he would have to content himself with a comforting wiggle. Eventually they got dressed and Severus took the spell off the blanket so Harry could fold it up. "And we could try this again," he said, feeling his cheeks warming a bit as he slid the blanket into the bag. "In the room even."
"Tired of the bed already?" Severus asked as Harry stepped into his arms, the bag slung over one shoulder. Before Harry could answer they were Apparating, landing in the center of their room, still clinging.
"Right now, I'm just tired," Harry said, yawning as he untangled their arms. He had just enough energy to undress and fall into bed, enough presence of mind to leave room for Severus, and just enough time to burrow into his arms before he surrendered to slumber.
They did sleep late the next morning, or at least later than they had up until that point, so late that they missed the breakfast portion of their bed and breakfast accommodations. There was tea in the room, so Severus didn't stay grumpy for long, and they found a cafe that had fresh croissants and more tea. By the time they set out wandering, the day was looking brighter and he didn't even complain when Harry lingered outside a souvenir stand, not breaking the spirit of his promise but not really able to avoid them since it was nearly impossible to take ten steps without encountering one.
They spent the most potentially tourist-crowded part of the day indoors, dutifully writing postcards in Harry's case and studying the map in Severus's. He did add a line to the one Harry had addressed to Mrs. Weasley, noting simply, "Cure progressing." After a moment, he added, "Regards, Severus."
"You didn't tell her the nature of the cure, did you?" Harry asked.
"You heard everything that I told her. However, she is quite a clever witch and I have little doubt that she may have guessed the nature of our mutual difficulties." Severus cleared his throat. "Speaking of which..."
Harry smiled and started to strip off his shirt.
"That's not what I meant. While we have a few quiet minutes, I think you should practice some spells."
This was not what Harry had been hoping to hear. Sighing, he said, "Are you sure? I mean, we're indoors, and if I blow something up..."
"I will set wards to prevent you from damaging anything in the room. Take out your wand."
Hearing Severus suddenly giving orders like Professor Snape was, for some reason, fairly arousing, and Harry felt his cock twitch a bit. "I still think we should try the spells someplace safer. In the meantime, I can take out my other wand..."
"There will be no lewd behavior until you've shown me that you can perform a few simple charms." Seeing Severus look so stern was even more arousing, but he wouldn't even acknowledge Harry's smirk. Moving his arm in a circle, Severus cast a protection spell, then turned back to Harry. "See if you can levitate your snow globe."
"What if it breaks? You'll have to come with me to another souvenir shop."
"I most certainly will not. If it breaks, we'll see whether you can perform Reparo."
With a sigh, Harry pulled out his wand and cast Wingardium leviosa. He felt a slight tingle in his fingertips, but the spell worked perfectly, lifting the snow globe from the bedside table and wobbling it just enough to make the glitter inside surge up toward the rainbow. Smiling, he set it down again carefully on the table. "I can pass first year charms," he said.
"Congratulations. We should review several other simple spells."
Harry was feeling good. There was one spell that always worked better when he felt happy and sure of himself. "Expecto Patronum!"
Severus's eyes widened as the stag burst from the tip of Harry's wand and reared up at the foot of the bed. "That is not a simple spell!" he barked.
"But it worked." Something odd was happening. Without any effort on Harry's part, the stag moved toward Severus, who glared at it suspiciously. It lowered its head, pawing at the floor. "I think it wants something," Harry said.
"What are you doing?" Snape demanded, raising a hand slightly. The stag nudged its silvery nose against his fingers. "Harry!"
"I'm not making it do this." His fingers felt fine -- still tingling a bit, but not like something was about to blow up. He remembered when he saw the silver doe in the forest, he had felt a strong sense of recognition, as if he had been waiting for it. He'd had no idea then that the doe was Severus's Patronus, yet he had known to follow it. "I don't think this is something the matter with my magic. It's like it knows you."
"Because you know me." Severus moved his hand to one side, then the other. The glowing stag followed the movement. "Perhaps because we've...exchanged energy."
"Cast yours," Harry suggested.
It was a measure of how odd the the behavior of the patronus was that Severus didn't argue with him, simply closed his eyes for a moment -- Harry wondered what memory he was calling up to make the spell work. Harry's had been about Severus and the first time he'd let Harry be on top. Once the spell was cast, the silver doe trotted over beside the stag, both still close to Severus's outcast wand hand. Their muzzles bumped and rubbed.
"Do they all do that?" asked Harry softly, though he wasn't certain the glowing creatures would be affected by sound. "Other patronuses I mean," he added, transfixed, as was Severus, by the almost courtship behavior of their spell-cast creatures.
"I...I don't know," Severus replied and it was not just Harry whose voice had gone soft. "I've never heard of such a phenomenon." He reached out one hand but once his fingers were extended, looked uncertain until both silvery heads rubbed along the sides of his hand. "This is...extraordinary."
Cautiously Harry crossed the space between them, gaining the notice of both their patronuses. Severus's doe was the first to trot toward him, its soft eyes looking exactly as he remembered from the forest, as though he should trust his instincts then and now. His own stag came up behind her, their bodies so close that the silver light intermingled. Then between one breath and the next the patronuses vanished.
"Oh God, I feel --" Harry began, looking up at Severus a bit desperately. Severus must have been feeling it too, because he had his shirt partly open and looked a bit dazed when he met Harry's gaze as if he wasn't sure when he'd started stripping off.
"Now, yes," Severus panted, reaching for Harry. Their clothes ended up in the floor, and they nearly did too except Severus all but dragged Harry over to the bed, rubbing against him. They were going to make the earth move again, even if there was no cavern around for miles. Harry ended up on top but he groped around for his wand, then, when he couldn't even Summon it properly, found Severus's instead.
"Get me ready," he begged, still kissing while he raised himself up over Severus's cock and pushed down with a breathless groan as soon as the tingle of the spell slicked him up. "Need --"
"I know what you need," moaned Severus, trying to angle his hips while Harry shifted on top of him. Rocking together, Harry slid one hand into Severus's, partly for balance and partly just to stay close in all the places they could. With his other hand he reached for his own cock, his hand tugging erratically with each jerk of Severus's hips.
"Need, need, need oh fuck, need you!" Harry threw his head back and cried out the last word, and if the earth didn't move the bed certainly did. He came hard, spattering Severus's chest, slicking up his own fingers which were still stroking himself. He felt Severus jerk his hips up a few more times, grunting, before he slammed in and stayed, moaning.
They were both too breathless to speak for a bit, as Harry slid off Severus's cock and collapsed beside him in a sweaty tangle of legs while Severus pulled his hand up by the wrist and licked his fingers, chuckling when Harry squirmed because it tickled when Severus's tongue crossed his palm. Harry didn't feel like laughing yet.
"That meant something," he insisted, still panting.
"It meant that we have become very proficient at interpreting one another's erotic cues..."
"Not the sex. Before. With our patronuses." He was pretty sure Severus had known what he was talking about, and that Severus either didn't know or didn't want to think about it. "I mean, Hermione's my best friend, and our patronuses were sort of playful when I taught her how to do the spell, but nothing like what yours and mine just did."
Severus sighed softly, but at least he didn't release Harry's hand as he asked, "What is it that you think it means?"
"I don't know. I learned how to cast a patronus from Lupin but he never really explained how the magic works -- how come my patronus took the shape of my dad's and not my mum's, or how come Tonks' patronus turned into his werewolf shape but Ron's patronus is an animal that would scare off Hermione's patronus if they were real animals. Yours is a doe because of my mum, right? But my mum's patronus is the mate of my dad's, not the same. And mine is the same as his, which means yours could be the mate of mine, except we're both gay, but I guess our patronuses aren't."
Severus let out another small chuckle, and this time Harry had to laugh with him. "And from all this, what have you concluded?"
"I don't know. Maybe that your patronus isn't a doe any more because of my mum, but because of me."
"That's possible," Severus said agreeably, licking his palm again.
"Because we're in love with each other." Silence. Severus kept his tongue busy, sucking one of Harry's fingers clean. It felt good, but Harry's stomach knotted a little as the quiet dragged on. "You don't have anything to say about that?"
"What would you like me to say?"
Harry scowled a bit. "I don't know. You could tell me if you agree."
"I would have to research the development of patronuses to form an educated opinion." His nose brushed across Harry's palm. "I don't disagree."
Harry couldn't work out if that was a good thing or not. He had never been up to Severus's verbal games. "So, you agree that we --" He knew he was breaking his own vow not to force Severus to say anything he didn't mean, but like everything else with Severus, Harry didn't seem to be able to help himself.
"I agree that we have a temporary alliance with all the benefits of a committed relationship that appears to be deepening the more time we spend together."
Harry sighed and flung his arm over his eyes. "You drive me mad, you know that?" He felt the bed beside him shift and felt Severus sliding down, insinuating himself under Harry's raised arm, the way Harry himself usually did when he snuggled in the crook of Severus's arm.
"Harry," Severus said, and Harry slid his arm away from his face and looked at him. "I don't know what's happening here either. Do you want me to swear undying love to you when what we're feeling could be a by-product of an artificially induced magical condition?"
"But you are feeling it too?" Harry asked, combing his fingers through the hair at the back of Severus's head. He liked the sound of swearing undying love, but only if Severus meant it. He felt Severus nod. He thought again about the odd behavior of their patronuses and knew he didn't need to seek the answers in some book.
* * * * *
They never saw the falls by moonlight. They Apparated the next morning to Wyoming, which, while still in North America, was in as different a place on earth as it was possible to be from Niagara Falls and still be on the same planet. They were only at the massive stone rise of Devil's Tower for a day -- and a night -- seeing it in daylight long enough for Harry to make out the same hexagonal patterns in the rocks as they'd seen at the Giant's Causeway, which he meant to ask Severus about since he guessed those might have been caused by the magnetism that was connected to the ley lines. But they got distracted by the prairie dogs at the foot of the tower and the birds high above it, and Harry forgot about his questions.
They stayed two days in the same part of the country, going the next morning to a park called Yellowstone. Harry didn't insist on any more tacky souvenirs but he did get a few more postcards for them to mail off, seeking out local wizards to send them via the network of local hawks at Devil's Tower. To his astonishment, there was a return postcard waiting for them the next morning. A hawk was sitting on the railing outside their rustic cabin, holding a rolled up bundle in one claw. Harry slipped out of the warm bed, leaving Severus sleeping. They had exchanged energy last night near a famous geyser, which Harry was sure they had made erupt off schedule. When he slid open the glass door, the hawk's piercing gaze pinned him.
"Easy there," Harry said, tucking the hastily donned robe around himself before Summoning a scrap of bacon from the kitchen. He held it out, then took another look at the bird's claws and laid it on the broad railing. The hawk stuck out its leg and Harry took the paper before the bird swooped up the bacon and took off. "Daft birds," Harry said, suddenly a bit homesick for ordinary owls.
When he went back inside, Severus was sitting up in the bed. Harry smiled to notice that Severus's wand was close by, though Harry knew neither of them had had enough presence of mind last night to do much more than collapse into bed. "It's from home," Harry said, unrolling the rest of the postcard. Where Mrs. Weasley had got a postcard from the Isle of Wight, Harry couldn't guess.
Severus stretched, arching his head back so that his hair feathered along his back before he peered over curiously. "Molly?"
Harry nodded, folding his legs and sliding back against the pillows. "She says hello and thanks for the notes -- told you she'd appreciate knowing where we've been -- and --" He squinted at the tiny print, jammed in in the small writing space, and felt his cheeks coloring.
"And to take care of each other," Harry finished, setting the postcard up behind the snow globe on the nightstand.
With a small harrumph, Severus rolled onto his side. "Do you feel properly cared for? Or do you require a healing spell?"
Turning back, Harry smiled at him. "Not today. Maybe being near underground hot springs makes it work more smoothly." He hadn't needed any sort of spell the past several times, really -- he was getting more familiar with which angles were the most comfortable. "How far is where we're going tonight? Do we have time to see the park before we have to leave?"
"I wouldn't have spent the money to stay right in the park if I didn't intend to have a look around," Severus said. "Though it'll have to be those ghastly Muggle breakfast bars and coffee."
"I think we'll survive." Harry grinned. They were going that evening to a place called the Grand Canyon, and from the photos Harry had seen, it looked pretty grand indeed. Even so, Yellowstone had looked more spectacular in Severus's books; they had seen the lake and falls the day before, and a couple of the brilliantly colored chromatic pools of near-boiling water, but they hadn't seen the mud pits or fumaroles and they'd only witnessed the one geyser erupting, at a moment when Harry had been pretty distracted by other eruptions.
Despite the season, it was a chilly morning, and they put on jackets, though Harry didn't bother to pull on the Invisibility Cloak. They'd only met a few American witches and wizards, and only a couple of those had recognized Harry. Apparently they hadn't considered Voldemort their problem. At this early hour, there weren't yet crowds around the famous Castle Geyser or the Morning Glory Pool, and Harry was feeling quite relaxed -- relaxed enough to hold Severus's hand -- when a scream shattered the quiet morning, followed by a flash of green light that Harry recognized instantly as magical.
"Get down!" Severus yanked his arm, pulling him off the well-marked walkway onto the delicate ground. There were signs everywhere warning tourists that the grass and soil could give way anywhere to scalding hot water, and moreover that their footsteps could damage the fragile terrain, but Harry didn't have time to worry about that. He followed Severus as they raced away from the path toward the big old lodge.
"What's happening?" he shouted.
"Quiet!" Grabbing Harry's arm none too gently, Severus hauled him under a bridge. The water flowing through had strange orange colors in it. "I warned you that I had enemies," he said tersely.
"Death Eaters?" Craning his neck, Harry tried to see above the stones, but Severus yanked him back.
"Get down! Where is your cloak?"
"Back at the cabin." He heard Severus huff in frustration. "Listen, maybe it's better if we're seen. If one of those Muggle security people spots us off the trail..."
"...he or she will be cursed," Severus said grimly. "I warned you that this might happen."
"It might not have anything to do with us," Harry said, keeping close to Severus's side. He knew Severus had exaggerated ideas about protecting him but Harry knew he could hold his own in a fight.
"It still isn't wise to linger and find out," replied Severus as his fingers gripped Harry's shoulder, pulling him further into the scant shadow.
"Can we just Apparate --" began Harry as another streak of spell light careened past their hiding place. This wasn't green like the Killing Curse but what it did to the ground just beyond their hiding place didn't make Harry anxious to linger either.
"There might be traps back at the hotel," whispered Severus, pulling them further under the dubious protection of the bridge, "We don't know how they found us." Wordlessly he cast several spells and Harry recognized the telltale feel of a Notice Me Not spell raising around them. Pebbles rolled down the embankment just as someone called out -- a man, whose accent wasn't American but English.
"I think I saw someone," the voice called out, ending Harry's hopes that their attacker was alone.
"Bugger," said another voice, also British, just as two unfamiliar wizards slid down the slope, just paces from their hiding place. Severus had gone utterly still, but Harry noticed he'd somehow angled in front of him. Harry didn't recognize them but he thought Severus did. "What does the tracking spell say?" Second Voice, who turned out to be a tall skinny wizard with lanky blond hair, asked, bent over his wand while First Voice, who looked like an even uglier version of Peter Pettigrew kept watch.
"Can't get a fix on 'em," Second Voice said, sounding frustrated. "That blasted Muggle must have alerted them. They've probably Apparated by now."
"Snape's tricky though," said the first man, the ugly one, scratching his chin with his wand. "Not trickier than me, though."
Harry tensed, knowing a split second before he did it what Severus was going to do. "I beg to differ," Severus said, aiming for the ugly one with a well-placed Sectumsempra, that took out not First Voice but his wand, which broke with an audible snap. Harry had automatically aimed for the lanky blond one, and his fabled Expelliarmus spell did not fail him. Before he could stun either of them though, the pair charged straight for them. Harry broke left, Severus right, and someone Accio'd the wands -- Harry hoped it was Severus but he didn't stop aiming to find out. He dropped onto the rocky soil, aiming up for the smaller one who went down with a look of shock.
Harry scrambled up, racing desperately toward Severus, who had gone down in a tangle of limbs with the lanky man. "Fuck," Harry swore, not worrying about aiming now but firing off stunning spells until both men went limp. Harry wobbled, then sank to his knees beside Severus. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, Rennervate!" He cradled Severus's head in his hands, uncertain whether to cast again when Severus's eyes fluttered open.
"Please tell me you've secured our visitors," were Severus's first words as Harry helped him sit up.
"Um," Harry said, hefting his wand and racing back to the unconscious form of the taller man, securing them both with magical bindings before running back to Severus. There were two wands in his hand -- his own and the confiscated one. He bent over and picked up the pieces he'd snapped with his cutting spell. "Who are they?" Harry asked, still breathing hard, partly from racing around and partly from his heart pounding so hard.
Severus crouched beside the shorter of the two, lifting one eyelid to make sure he was truly unconscious. "I only recognize one of them, this one," Severus explained, checking on the bindings before moving to the other man to inspect Harry's handiwork.
Harry heard noises along the trail they'd left above and quickly cast another Notice Me Not spell, grateful that his magic was stable enough to be an asset and not a danger because two Muggles, one dressed in a park ranger uniform were stepping off the trail and peering down into the ravine. Harry heard them discuss the noises they'd heard and the woman who'd screamed earlier. But at least they were not discussing two tied up men and two very relieved wizards hiding below. After a moment they left and Harry returned to Severus.
"Who is he?" asked Harry, edging closer to Severus.
"Pettigrew," was the answer Harry least expected. "Richard. Peter's younger brother."
Harry made a face. "Mrs. Pettigrew named her sons Peter and Richard?" Now that the danger was over he found himself nearly shivering with reaction. "D-death Eater?" he asked, trying not to giggle, knowing his nerves were still on edge.
Severus was shaking his head. "Even more of a follower and want-to-be than his brother." He toed the man's leg. "Hufflepuff," he said as if that settled it.
"Why does he want to --" The reaction set in at last and all of Harry's breath left him in a rush. "Oh God, you could have been killed!" Hands gripped him, pushing him over so that his head was level with his knees.
"Breathe!" came the command and Harry did, long deep breaths, staring at the rocky soil while Severus rubbed his back until the stars cleared from his vision and he waved to be let back up.
"Thanks," he said, giving a last shudder as he looked at their captives. "Why was he after you?" he managed at last.
"I suspect he thinks I had a hand in his brother's death," replied Severus, "I've heard rumors."
Nodding, Harry edged closer to Severus. "What are we going to do with them?" he asked, needing the reassurance of Severus's shoulder against his own.
"Alert the local authorities," said Severus with a sigh. "I fear we won't be exchanging energy as planned this evening. This may take a while to sort out."
Sheepishly Harry realized he'd never thought about magical law enforcement in countries besides his own. A country as large as America must have its own equivalent of the Ministry of Magic. Severus was right about the delay -- it was slow going, getting both men back to their cabin and securing them before Firecalling the local branch of the Federal Bureau of Magic. Harry was too full of restless energy to do more than keep watch over their prisoners, but he heard the conversations and admired the way Severus explained the situation without giving away too much of his own past. Before too long they had three American officers -- two wizards and a witch -- come through their stone fireplace and take charge of the two unconscious men.
"We'll make sure they get back to your Auror department," said the head witch while her companions further secured the two prisoners. "We were looking for them after the incident out by the Morning Glory Pool this morning." Her level gaze kept looking between Harry and Severus as if she'd seen their faces on a wanted poster somewhere. Finally, after the other two had left with the two renegade wizards in custody, she stopped on their hearth. "I'll need your names and contact information for the report," she said, looking at Harry. "You can count on my discretion, Mr. Potter."
Harry and Severus looked at each other. Until that point, only Severus had given his name. He nodded at this new information. "Thank you, Officer Hargreaves, you've been very helpful." When she was gone, Harry sat down hard on the bed. They had missed lunch and but it was still early enough for tea even if neither of them felt like seeing any more of the park. After a moment Severus sat down beside him, shoulder to shoulder, legs touching. "Are you all right?" he asked.
Harry looked up, nudging his shoulder. "You could have been killed."
"Either of us could have been the target. We'll have to be more cautious in the future." He sounded calm; he looked calm. But Harry could see the shadow of worry behind the gaze.
Harry knew he meant for the rest of their trip but just hearing Severus mention their possible future helped leech out some of the tension. "I'll make us some tea," he said, needing something to do that did not involve thinking. When they went to bed that night, for the first time since they'd begun their trip, Harry simply held onto Severus, seeking the reassurance of strength and stability and the sound of a steadily beating heart.
Though fear of another attack ruined the experience of seeing the Grand Canyon for Harry, he didn't have time to worry about anything like assassins two nights later, when they had to carry out a tricky Apparition to board a cruise ship passing near the Bermuda Triangle. They ended up making love under the Invisibility Cloak by the swimming pool. Not only did the earth move, but the waves heaved as well, and they fell off the lounge chair, landing on the pool deck with the cloak tangled around them. Fortunately, everyone was too busy panicking and screaming "Iceberg!" to worry about two half-invisible, half-naked men in their midst.
They tried to keep a low profile -- as low as possible for two Englishmen in Brazil and Peru, anyway -- but they didn't see anything suspicious in Nazca or Cuzco, and by the time they reached Machu Picchu, the stunning Inca citadel perched on a mountain ridge, Harry had begun to relax a bit. Or maybe it was being lightheaded from lack of oxygen; Severus had warned him about the sudden change in elevation, though that was going to be much worse when they approached Mount Everest, where they'd be in a couple of weeks.
Though it had been quite hot in North America even in the mountains, they'd switched seasons when they'd crossed the Equator, and Severus didn't protest when Harry snuggled against him behind the wall of an ancient stone building. He knew that, in this part of the world, it was probably even riskier for two men to be seen kissing in public than in the United States, so he tugged his cloak up over them both. The ruins had been hidden behind clouds as they approached, but the sun was breaking through now, giving them a clear view of the river rushing through a bend far below.
Blankets of wildflowers wove between the stones, and they had seen llamas and some kind of goat. Earlier Harry had kept a lookout while Severus stealthily snipped a few flowers to use as potion ingredients. Harry had been surprised to learn that magic worked a bit differently in the southern hemisphere -- some potions that required stirring clockwise at home needed to be stirred counterclockwise here.
"I love being here with you," he said to Severus, looking out at the ancient ruined staircases.
"It's said to be most beautiful at dawn," Severus told him. "We should go to bed early and perform the ritual in the early morning hours."
Harry already knew that they would need to Apparate to the top of Huayna Picchu, a difficult climb for Muggles, to see the ancient city transformed by pink light from over the tops of the snow-covered Andes. They would have to leave stealthily, since visitors were only permitted up there with approved tour groups, but Harry doubted that anyone would be around at four in the morning. "We can disappear under the cloak to watch the sun rise afterward. It'll be very romantic."
Severus turned to look at him, an odd expression crossing his face. "Here we are at one of the archaeological wonders of the world, and you're thinking about romance."
"You say that like they should be mutually exclusive. I'm seeing them with you. Twenty years from now if I think about being here, I'll be thinking about being here with you. What are you going to remember about Brazil -- those towns in the jungle, or that parrot that landed on me when we were naked?"
As intended, Harry had managed to make Severus smile. "I doubt that I will ever forget that," he said. "Or seeing you naked and nervous at Newgrange." A sudden hungry, possessive look flared in Severus's eyes. "No one else will ever see you in all the places I have."
"Exactly." Harry had to suppress a shiver. "And no one will ever see you the way I have, either."
Severus dropped his eyes. "I doubt that anyone else would want to."
"More for me, then." Pressing close, Harry leaned his head against Severus's shoulder. "Twenty years from now, don't you want to be able to look at each other and say, 'Remember how we practically caused an avalanche when we made love underneath Niagara Falls?'"
Severus glanced up, past Harry at the sun-drenched valley, but his eyes were still clouded. "Twenty years from now, assuming that I'm still alive, I'll be an old man. You'll want to be with someone your own age."
"Twenty years from now I'll want to be with you," Harry said intently. "If you insist on pushing me away, I'll just keep looking for ways to bring you back. I'm a Gryffindor -- we don't quit on people."
"Your mother was a Gryffindor, too," Severus muttered.
Harry rolled his eyes a bit. "And all this time I thought it was my dad who made you not trust me. I'm not my mother. I'm sorry she hurt you, but the situation wasn't the same. She wasn't in love with you."
"She was, at least, honest with me," replied Severus, and Harry's mouth dropped open in outrage.
"What? You think I'm --" He shook his head, bewildered and frustrated. "I can't believe you think, after all we've been through together..."
"I only meant that I knew there was no future in what we had, for either of us. Myself, because of my inclinations and your mother because the differences between us were too great. Just because we shared something as children did not translate into a lifelong devotion. That was as honest as we could be. To give him credit, your father only sped up what could have been an agonizing process of realizing it ourselves."
Harry sensed that he and Severus, despite similar horrid upbringings and, as Severus said, inclinations, had very different views on love. Harry trusted it; Severus, it seemed, did not. Harry trusted it because he knew it, knew the Weasleys loved him despite him not being able to marry Ginny and be another son. He knew Hermione would always love him, even when he was being thick. Sirius had loved him, despite their too-short time together. And Harry knew how to return love, even when he wasn't sure Severus understood what he was offering. "I am being honest," he explained, sliding his hand into Severus's. "I won't change my mind." The warmth of their skin touching was reassuring in the chilly breeze.
To his surprise, Severus didn't dispute this claim. Instead he turned Harry in his arms and rubbed his chin over the top of his head. "Then you have nothing to worry about." Something was off about Severus's attitude but Harry wasn't certain how to banish the disquiet until Severus said, "Just always be honest with me about how you feel and we'll just enjoy the rest of the trip." Harry was about to tell him again that he was being honest but Severus kissed him and it was always hard to think when they were kissing.
They did enjoy the romantic sunrise the next morning, wrapped only in blankets as the sun rose over the Andes. They crossed over into Bolivia and took time for a leisurely steamship ride at dusk on the dark blue waters of Lake Titicaca before performing the ritual in the sacred city near its shore, Tiwanaku. Harry was a bit leery of being so exposed on the altar-like stone in the Sunken Temple where Severus insisted they had to spread their blanket, especially since there were huge stone carvings with larger than life eyes and strangely carved mouths leering down at them. As if sensing his unease Severus cupped his face and kissed him over and over while they were making love under the strangely aligned stars, and the carvings faded into nothingness when the ground shook.
* * * * *
The Portkey trip across the Pacific Ocean was the most unpleasant Harry had ever experienced. He'd heard that there might be storms, but he'd never thought about what it would mean to travel magically right through one. Fortunately, Australia was as delightful as Hermione's parents had claimed, and the nights he spent with Severus at the Nimbin Rocks and Uluru were very relaxing -- no sign of ex-Death Eaters or anyone from Britain, just bats and frogs and even a wallaby.
The same could not be said for Miyakejima in Japan's Devil's Sea; the air was so thick with sulfur that it was hard to breathe, and Harry was convinced that exchanging energy might cause Mount Oyama to erupt. Fortunately, it didn't, but Harry was very happy to arrive in China, though Severus had warned him that they would be particularly conspicuous as tourists at the Shen Dao archway marking the path to the Ming Dynasty's sacred tombs. They spent most of their time in Beijing in their hotel, so Harry didn't get to see the Forbidden City nor most of the statues along the Spirit Way, but he didn't mind; he was just as happy to have a quiet day with Severus, drinking tea and reading over the safety information Severus had insisted that he study before they approached Mount Everest.
"We don't actually have to make love at the summit?"
"Are you mad?" Severus looked horrified. "There is scarcely enough oxygen at the summit for experienced climbers to stay alive long enough to plant a flag. I expect that we will feel weak in Tingri, which is less than eighty kilometers from the Chinese base camp."
"We'll stay in Tingri, then?" Harry flipped through the book Severus had given him. It looked like Tingri was a tiny village with one central street, surrounded by the tents of nomadic Tibetans. The views from the fortress above the town looked amazing, however, with three of the world's six highest mountains -- Everest, Lhotse, and Cho-Oyu -- soaring high above.
"We will stay in Tingri. The inn is quite rustic, though if Muggle climbers are to be believed, the restaurant is acceptable."
"The book says there are hot springs along the way."
"The book surely also notes that the communal pool is slimy and the dirt floors are unsanitary. Which reminds me -- I must prepare potions to be certain that the drinking water doesn't make us ill." Harry watched as Severus stood and stretched, obviously unconscious of how sexy he looked when he made his muscles move like that. "The ley line passes directly beneath the Rongbuk Monastery."
"We're going to make love in a monastery?"
"Fortunately, it has a guest house. Since this is the monsoon season, we may be lucky enough not to have to share it with dozens of climbers. However, we will have less privacy than in a Hogwarts dormitory, so we will need to be...creative."
Harry had been expecting Severus to say silent, and he grinned. "Creative, right. I can do that."
Being creative ended up meaning standing by when the rumor of a Yeti sighting flashed through the village, sending locals and tourists alike scrambling, most armed primarily with cameras. At least Harry thought it was a rumor. Severus had vanished for nearly an hour soon after they'd arrived and had returned chilled to the bone. The monastery, and the narrow street of the village, were eerily deserted when the raucous cries echoed through the shabby streets. Even the hardened local innkeeper shuddered when the inhuman sounds set off another frenzy of pounding footfalls into the hills.
They had the strong black ginger tea -- doctored first with Severus's potion -- that the restaurant owner had insisted they try, and ate curry with chunks of meat in it that Harry wasn't sure he wanted identified. The monastery was still virtually empty when they made love under the Invisibility Cloak and started off another flurry of rumors when a minor tremor went through the village. Beautiful as the view was, Harry was not sorry to leave Tibet behind.
They were equally creative in the sacred cave of Amarnath, donning the garments of pilgrims as they gazed upon the amazing ice shiva that had been luring the faithful to the shrine for centuries. Fortunately it was not the holy month when hordes of pilgrims and tourists alike beset the Indian countryside. After the high plateaus of Tibet, the lush valley of the Kashmir was a welcome change. They were careful not to touch each other in deference to the harsh laws against homosexuality in these lands. Their room had two tiny beds, one of which Harry carefully rumpled before climbing in with Severus.
Kiev was a beautiful, cultured city, but they had little time to explore after a late arrival when a bout of illness -- likely caused by jumping from one altitude to another with little warning -- left them both drained and weak. They were still a bit paranoid about being seen as a couple when they arrived at Istanbul. Severus had decided against recharging the ley lines at Mecca, even though it sat at the center of one of the most powerful vortices in the world, since their very presence as non-Muslims could have been disastrous if they were spotted.
By the time they reached Israel, Harry needed a respite from all the caution and begged for a day's indulgence just to relax. Severus, who interested in the ancient bazaars, voiced no objection. There were English accents at the restaurant where they stopped to eat, and a few English newspapers; a photo on the front page of the Times bore the caption, "Not So Abominable As All That" beneath a blurry photo of something quite large and hairy ducking behind some rocks.
"Do I want to know about the Yeti?" Harry asked, digging into the first full breakfast he'd had in days.
"I believe the proper form of the question would be Yetis, plural," Severus said, folding the paper and laying it beside his own plate. He'd bought it, he'd said, to catch up on the news from home, but Harry noticed he'd read the Yeti article first. "As there must obviously be more than one of them to substantiate the rumors that crop up from time to time."
"Just crop up, do they?" grinned Harry, sweetening his tea with almost orgasmic appreciation.
"They were happy to help once I explained that the energy in the mountains, upon which they have a particular dependency, would be back in balance if we were allowed to proceed without too much scrutiny by the local population," said Severus, looking a bit smug.
Harry had spent little time considering that their journey might be affecting local cultures, and dug into his eggs with more thought. The enormity of what they were doing had always been secondary to the progress of his relationship with Severus. He thought about how good he'd been feeling, even when they'd been freezing their balls off in Tibet. His magic was working perfectly, his body never ached anymore except the delicious ache that vigorous sex gave various parts of him. And Severus's wound had been a nearly invisible pink line for over a week.
More than his magic and his feelings, Harry felt whole. He glanced over at Severus, who, caught staring, dived back into his paper and merely grunted when Harry reached over and gave his hand a squeeze before devoting himself to his own breakfast.
"I must remind you that although Tel Aviv has a cosmopolitan gay population, an energy exchange focused on Jerusalem would be considered sacrilegious by the followers of three major Muggle religions," Severus warned quietly.
"I'm not planning to go around bragging about it." Harry had been afraid at first that they would need to make love at Al-Aqsa or the Western Wall, two sites so holy that people were sometimes rejected there by Muggles of their own religions for failing to heed certain traditions, but Severus assured him that there were ley lines all over the ancient city, not only near the Temple Mount, and that Nahal Sorek -- the ancient waterway between Jerusalem and Jaffa -- followed one of the most powerful, reaching a vortex at Avshalom Cave. Keeping his voice low, he asked, "Are you sure we won't make that cave collapse if we go out there?"
"I will take the necessary precautions. The cave had been forming for hundreds of thousands of years before its discovery this century."
Harry knew that there were many wizards and witches in Jerusalem -- Kabbalists, Sufis, Behmens, Dionysians, plus dozens if not hundreds of others -- and that their communities suffered from some of the same conflicts as their Muggle counterparts. He wondered whether Severus's enemies might have guessed their route and made contact with potential allies in this part of the world. "I want to do this trip again with you, in a few years, when we don't have to worry about straightening out the world's magic or anyone chasing you," he told Severus.
"The enemies I have made will likely pursue me for the rest of my life." Severus sounded resigned. "Provided that we are circumspect among the Muggles, we should be safe enough at Giza, where there is a large contingent of Ministry security at all times to protect against relic hunters, as is Delphi -- we will be permitted into the Temple only because, as a Parselmouth, you may be granted access by the Pythia."
"The Oracle is a snake?"
"The Oracle is a woman," Severus said sternly. "Said to be a priestess inspired by the vapors rising from the body of the great serpent slain by Apollo. Though I suspect that if I were to examine those vapors, I could name the potion ingredients causing her trance. In any case, we will not be disturbed there. We will need to be very careful in Rome, however."
"Isn't there anyplace left where we can just relax and enjoy each other?" sighed Harry. He'd spoken without thinking and saw at once that Severus was considering which of many replies to use to put him in his place. Harry sighed. "Right, we're here to save the world or some such." He stabbed his fork into a sausage.
"Although restoring the energy balance is essential, our primary motivation has always been healing our own war injuries," explained Severus in a low voice.
"Then why can't we just take a few days off, or a week or even a month to just wander though those bazaars you're so anxious to visit or find one of those gay resorts I've seen the ads for in the backs of magazines and just --" He waved one hand in frustration. "Just lay around on a beach somewhere and be able to hold hands in public?" Even though their table was secluded he kept his tone as low as Severus had.
"Harry," Severus said warningly, "I have a business to return to when this is over -- it isn't exactly a holiday, no matter what else it is."
"It could be." Harry pressed his lips together stubbornly. "We've had fun, haven't we?"
Heat flared in Severus's eyes, so sudden it made Harry wish they weren't in a crowded dining room. "Parts of it have been...interesting." If they'd been alone they would be making some part of the earth move, even if it was just the bed up in their suite. As it was, Harry whimpered and shifted in his seat.
"Just parts, eh?" he managed, trying to carry on as if he wasn't hard enough to slide under the table and take Severus into his mouth right here. If the tablecloths had been a bit longer he might have tried it. As it was he switched his focus to his toast, buttering it with fierce devotion. "Look, I'm just saying we can do things like this in the future, and don't bother telling me we don't have a future because I bloody well want one with you and if I have to throw the ley lines out of balance myself to get your attention, I will."
Severus wasn't pretending to read the paper anymore. "All by yourself?" He was smirking when he said it but Harry hadn't missed the slight flare of what might have been jealousy.
"I've always been good at getting your attention," rebutted Harry, slipping his hand under the table and giving Severus's leg a quick squeeze. "I just didn't realize why I wanted it until we started on this...trip." He almost said holiday, but caught himself in time.
"I suppose we could, perhaps, arrange to travel again together in the future," Severus said, in the manner of a man picking his words carefully. "Though I can't promise to make the earth move quite so many times once the ley lines are back in balance."
A warmth flooded through Harry that had nothing to do with his earlier arousal. He liked it when Severus mentioned the future. It made him think he wasn't daft for wanting something as impossible as a normal life. "If you're with me, I'm pretty sure the earth will move."
As it happened, the bazaar was quite enjoyable -- one of the few places Harry knew of where wizards and Muggles set up shops and stalls beside one another, with Uzbec and Bedouin weaving for sale in one area alongside potion ingredients from the desert, embroidery along the Via Dolorosa sharing space with amulet dealers, and shouts in English, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, plus several other languages as shoppers bartered for bargains. Severus bought only spices, though Harry spent more money than he should have on souvenirs and no one blinked when he accidentally pulled out Galleons in a Muggle shop.
Nahal Sorek was a delight as well, though they had time to see only a small part of the valley, now a national park with waterfalls and lush green plants. Severus had bundled up fruit, bread, and hummus for dinner, which they ate in the area where the witch Delilah had supposedly lured the giant Samson to his doom. They exchanged energy in Avshalom Cave after spending a few minutes admiring the spectacular stalactite formations taller than themselves, and spent the night under the stars beside the running brook, sharing a sleeping bag that Severus had enchanted to twice its size.
"This is very romantic," Harry said sleepily.
Severus laughed a bit. "You think everything is romantic after making love."
"Don't tell me you don't think it's romantic too. We didn't have to stay out here in the middle of nowhere, we could have gone back to a guest house in the city. You knew it would be like this."
Severus was quiet for a minute. "Tomorrow we shall be in Egypt, where it would be unwise for us to share a bed," he said. "And Rome is certain to be crowded, while Chartres is now a Catholic holy site where a degree of caution will be necessary. You said that you wanted a day without such concerns."
Harry sighed happily. "If it's true that there are dozens of ley lines around Jerusalem, I'm glad you picked this one."
Egypt was very hot and crowded with tourists. As amazed as Harry was by the Pyramids and the Sphinx, he wasn't sorry to leave Africa for Europe, though Rome was just as crowded and nearly as warm. Like Jerusalem, the ancient city was traversed by dozens of ley lines -- the map made obvious the meaning of the saying, "All roads lead to Rome" -- so they were able exchange energy in the earliest surviving marble building in the city, the Temple of Hercules Victor, a round edifice cooled by the breeze from the Tiber.
They took two extra days in Greece, and Harry was delighted to realize that Severus's skin turned a golden brown as they climbed over the ruins of the Temple of Apollo. His own was darker since he didn't mind going about shirtless and in shorts he'd purchased from one of the bazaars. After they exchanged energy Harry took time to explore the lines of light and dark on Severus's skin where the shirt had been. They were of course sharing a bed again, as they had been since Rome.
Harry knew by the map that they still studied nearly every day that they were nearing the end of their journey, but also, he hoped, the beginning of something more. It was so easy to touch Severus in public, even hold his hand, and more than once Harry had been on the receiving end of a casual tug to his own hand, pointing out everything from some spectacular view to a particularly good bargain on myrrh in a bazaar. They were staying in a guest house in the Old Town of Chartres on the River Eure, taking a day to explore the cathedral before returning that evening to exchange energy in the center of the famed labyrinth set in the floor.
He had stopped to gaze up at one of the famously blue stained glass windows and turned to point out something quietly to Severus when he saw a man approach him. Curious, Harry started forward but something about Severus's posture was off and before Harry could pinpoint what disturbed him, Severus and the man were behind one of the stone columns. Alarm hurried his steps and when the distinct pop of Apparition came from behind the column, Harry started running. Severus was, however, standing there alone when Harry came to a stop.
"Who was that man?" he asked, out of breath, not just from the sprint but from the near-panic that had engulfed him.
"What man?" Severus asked, but Harry knew him well enough to know when he was concealing something.
Harry put one hand out onto the column to steady himself. "That wizard, the one who just Disapparated after you spoke to him."
Once caught out, Severus didn't pretend ignorance any longer. "A client. I told you I would have to go back to work once this is all over."
"So, you're what -- going to go off on another trip around the world after you drop me off in England?" Harry snapped, unable to say why he was so angry, save that he'd been filled with panic that had no place else to go.
Severus frowned at him over the guide book. "Not all cures are as unique as this one," he explained. They were just outside the ring of lights in the floor on the border of the labyrinth and were getting a less than patient look from one of the priests.
"Just planning to meet him in your back room, then? Couldn't you even wait till we got home?" Harry wasn't doing a good job of keeping his voice down. He'd managed to put off till now the understanding that it would all be over in two days. Not just the travel, but knowing where Severus was at nearly every moment of every day, being able to talk to him whenever he wanted, eating together, reading together, sharing a bed...
"He's an old friend and he has a condition that requires a difficult potion which is in short supply. Surely you understand that my position requires confidentiality."
"Apparently not so much confidentiality that you can't go around telling old friends where you are, even though some of them may be trying to kill you." Now two of the people walking the labyrinth were staring at Harry. People came to the cathedral as a symbolic pilgrimage, to walk the path of enlightenment and be closer to the divine or at least to their own thoughts; it was supposed to be a private, silent experience. Grabbing Harry's elbow, Severus steered him toward the exit, but rather than making Harry feel ashamed, it only made him more bold, and his voice grew louder as he wrenched his arm free. "If he was only a client, you wouldn't have pretended not to know what I was talking about when I asked who you were talking to. Can't you even wait till we're home to start seeing other people? Or have I cured you well enough that you're ready now?"
"Harry..." began Severus, but Harry was already walking away. He had to get out of there -- he couldn't breathe, even though Chartres was reputed to be a place of healing, with an underground spring believed to have magical properties since long before Christians arrived and built a church there. He could hear Severus hurrying after him but he kept walking. He'd had it with ley lines and vortices and magical energy and being responsible for fixing the world. All he wanted was to get home, except he didn't know where home was -- he didn't really belong at the Burrow, he wasn't a Weasley, nor was he a Black and Sirius was dead and the idea of living alone in that big house was suddenly repugnant.
"Wait." Severus was out of breath but he'd managed to catch up to Harry without using magic. "I didn't tell you who he was because I thought you might do something foolish, though apparently you intend to behave foolishly no matter what I tell you."
"You can't hold me responsible for what you consider foolish behavior on my part when you lie to me!" There was an odd feeling in Harry's fingertips, not the tingling that meant he was about to blow something up -- he hadn't felt that for weeks now -- but a peculiar discomfort like a reminder of it.
"If you would be silent for one moment and let me explain, you would understand that I'm not lying to you!" Now Severus sounded like angry Professor Snape, but at least that was familiar. Harry stopped in the stairwell, crossing his arms, and waited. "He is a client, but he's also an associate of Arthur Weasley's at the Ministry. That's how he knew where to find me."
"Why was he looking for you?" Harry asked in a voice that made it sound like an accusation.
"To tell me that they've arrested Fenrir Greyback."
As tense as Harry was, he couldn't help feeling a sense of satisfaction about this. He would never forget how much he'd wanted to kill Greyback, both on the Astronomy Tower the night Dumbledore died and at the Malfoys when Greyback had threatened Hermione. "That's good news. I assume he did something new, and they aren't just rounding up the people they pardoned a few months ago. Why didn't you just tell me instead of sneaking around?"
Severus scowled. "He burned down my shop."
It took a few moments for the import of this to sink in. "He tried to kill you?"
"He was aware that I was not in London. Pettigrew had informants who told him that I was traveling, and there were werewolves who knew, since I am one of the few potion-makers who can produce Wolfsbane. Apparently Pettigrew named Greyback to the Ministry as one of his accomplices, and Greyback destroyed my shop as a form of reprisal."
"But he might have been trying to kill you. He doesn't exactly strike me as rational." Harry's stomach still felt like someone had tied a knot in it, but at least he wasn't furious with Severus any more, which was the worst feeling in the world. "What foolish thing did you think I'd do when I found out -- go after him?"
"Exactly." Severus fixed him with a glare. "There will be a trial, and Greyback will go to Azkaban as he has long deserved. Let the Ministry handle this."
Harry slumped against the cold stone wall of the stairwell. He was shaking, partly with fury and partly with relief. Suddenly his hand was engulfed by Severus's warm one, fingers moving over his own, just stroking. "I --" Harry began, even though he wasn't sure himself exactly what he was going to say.
"You've been acting strangely since we got to France," Severus said, reminding Harry to keep his voice low by keeping his own quiet.
"It isn't --" Harry began, looking down at his fingers in Severus's. He exhaled heavily. "Yes, it is, it's being here with you and knowing it's not going to last." He pulled his hand away even though he missed the warmth of it at once.
Severus straightened. "We're nearly done."
Harry rubbed his face against the stone column. "Here and Glastonbury, I know. Couldn't we add a few more stops, or go back and have a go at Medina or --" Even though Severus wasn't in his direct line of sight, Harry could tell Severus was shaking his head.
"There's no need." Harry looked up, hearing a coldness in Severus's voice he hadn't heard before, even when they'd just been arguing in the church. "We're nearly done," he said again.
"What are you going to do when we get home -- back to England?" Harry asked, feeling the desperation rising in his chest. What he really wanted to ask was what are you going to do about me?
Severus was frowning. "I told you, I'm going back to work. I'll have to find other premises, of course." They stared at each other for a moment, until a passing priest crossed the stone floor in front of their stairwell, looking a bit curious but smiling as he passed. Slowly they strolled back out into the cathedral, across the pools of colored light on the floor. Harry wished he'd kept holding Severus's hand but couldn't take it now, not when the nave was full of worshipers straggling in for the evening service and tourists still walking the labyrinth.
Once they were under one of the lesser known windows, Severus stopped, looking around cautiously. "If you cannot bear to be with me any longer --"
"What?" Harry nearly yelped, clapping his hand over his mouth to remind himself to respect this sacred space.
"You've been saying all along that you desire something beyond our cure, and now that the time has come due, you are regretting your rash promise." Severus leaned against a column as if he couldn't remain upright a moment longer. "I never expected to hold you to that promise, but we should at least finish out here and at --"
He stopped speaking, simply because Harry's mouth was closing over his. "And at Glastonbury, I know. Hold me to my promise. Stay with me forever." He looked up at the ancient stones that had been formed and set into place around the time the Founders were building Hogwarts. "Longer."
He realized as he was speaking that he'd just kissed Severus in a church, and that if anyone found out, they'd be asked to leave if not ushered out by guards, but he didn't care because Severus wasn't pulling away. "What are you saying?" Severus asked in a low voice.
"Move in with me, for starters. There's plenty of room at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place -- you can have the top floor -- the top two floors, if you like -- or you can put a potions lab in the basement and put a lock on the door and I'll stay out of your way when you're working. Or do something else, take the year off, we have plenty of money that I'm only alive to spend because of you. We could travel some more. Or if you can't stand the idea of living in the Black home, I'll sell it and we can move somewhere else." Harry swallowed and tried to stop babbling. "Even if you want your space or your privacy or whatever, there's another advantage -- I don't think anyone will risk attacking my house. Whichever side your enemies are on, they'll leave you alone if you're with me. Anything you want...anywhere you want. I just want to be with you. That's all I want."
Severus was studying him, his expression so guarded that Harry couldn't tell if he hated the idea or didn't quite believe it was possible. "I am not an easy person to live with," he warned.
"I've lived with you in horrible guest houses and inns and outdoors for weeks," Harry reminded him. "I'm sure I'm not easy to live with either."
"You'll have plenty of other suitors pursuing you."
Harry rolled his eyes. "If you mean the Chosen One will have occasional stalkers, I figured out what that was like at Hogwarts. Have you noticed me ogling people anywhere we went? I only ever wanted you."
"The earth won't keep moving." Severus's lips twitched, and Harry knew that he was winning.
"The earth moved for me when we did it in that public loo near the Parthenon, not just when we were exchanging energy. Why would you think I'd ever look at anyone else when you can make that happen for me?" He'd finally succeeded in making Severus smile. "And also -- in case you've forgotten -- I love you." He took a deep breath. "And you love me."
He was prepared for Severus to argue, to say that it still might only be the aftereffects of shared magic, or at the very least to smirk and call it cheek, but Severus only nodded and said, "I do."
"You do?" Harry had completely forgotten where they were -- had forgotten everything save for those two words -- until a stranger's head popped around the column to shush him. He was too happy to be embarrassed. "Oh fuck! Really?"
It was Severus's turn to roll his eyes. "Did you really doubt it?"
"Mostly I doubted that you'd ever say it." He kissed Severus again, squeezing his hand. "I want to make love. Right now."
"There are a hundred people in the cathedral!"
"Then let's sneak around the back. Or Apparate back to the guest house. We can do the actual energy exchange later like we planned."
"I see that I have taught you nothing about the value of anticipation," Severus said, but he was smiling.
* * * * *
The stars over Glastonbury were the same as those over London, though there seemed to be far more of them, away from the lights of the city. Though he had lived less than three hours from here during his childhood, Harry had never seen the great ruined cathedral at the foot of Glastonbury Tor, nor the tower at the top.
"This is Avalon?" he asked happily, squeezing Severus beneath the Invisibility Cloak.
"Unless Avalon is at Gwynedd, or St. Michael's Mount," Severus said. He still had the map tucked in the pocket of his coat, spreading it out this morning on the hillocks of their bed after Harry had woken Severus up by wiggling between his legs and sucking him awake. He had shown Harry the ley line that led from the start of their journey in Stonehenge directly through to where they now stood, on the path that led up the tor.
"Just one more?" Harry had asked, rubbing his finger over Severus's as it traced the line.
"Just this one," Severus had said, "then we can go home," and he'd kissed Harry until they rumpled the bed sheets again.
"I think this is Avalon," Harry decided, shivering slightly, keeping close by Severus's side as they looked through the cloak. "Right here."
Though he wasn't looking, Harry could tell Severus was rolling his eyes and smirking. "As you wish," he said, adjusting the cloak around them. Even though it was the dead of night, they were still being cautious.
"We aren't going to walk all the way up, are we?" Harry asked. The hill looked much higher than it had looked on the map. "Couldn't we just, you know, Apparate the rest of the way?" He made a whooshing noise while moving his hand.
"You are aware that unnecessary magic might interfere with the ritual," explained Severus as they shifted on the path to be able to keep the cloak over them. "Just be glad we didn't Apparate in all the way at the bottom, in the abbey ruins."
"Then we'd be too tired to perform the ritual," concluded Harry as the dark shadow of the tower loomed in front of them. "You're sure we have to do this in the church at the top?"
They were walking side by side now that the path had widened near the crest. "St. Michael's hasn't been a church for five hundred years. The sacred magic of this place is much older than that. That's what Muggles do -- they take places of great magical energy and attempt to subdue their power with religion."
"What do wizards do?" asked Harry curiously. He was not religious himself, never having been allowed out of the house to go to church even on Christmas or Easter. He suspected it had more to do with the fact that his aunt and uncle would have had to buy him proper clothes than anything else.
"Sneak in after dark," said Severus with a smirk.
They were both breathing hard by the time they reached the high stone walls of the tower and took a moment to lean against the outside, shoulder to shoulder, gazing up at the stars. Then there was nothing to do but kiss in the archway that led inside. The ancient structure had no roof, so they could still see the sky above them.
Severus cupped his cheek and smiled once they stood in the center of the barren stone floor. "Ready to make the earth move?"
"Always," said Harry, breathless from anticipation as well as the long walk up the tor. He watched, smiling, as Severus pulled a tiny cushion out of a pocket. "Let me do that." Aiming his wand, he inflated the cushion until it was large enough to cover most of the floor. His magic was working perfectly; he had been testing it all day on small things, including the spell he'd fired off in town to make the sacred springs overflow, which would hopefully dissuade any Muggles who had planned to sneak up to the tower in the middle of the night. It had been useful, too, in the Chalice Well gardens when he'd wanted to kiss Severus but there were too many people around until they all went to marvel at the sudden surge in the waterfall in King Arthur's Court.
Severus set up wards at each of the entrances to the tower, then sat on the makeshift bed, kicking off his shoes and beginning to strip off his shirt. "Are you sorry this will be the last vortex?"
"Not as long as we get to make love again tomorrow morning in our own bed. Does it matter tonight who's on top?"
"I believe it should be you, to complete the circuit," Severus said. It was too dark for Harry to tell whether he was serious about the magic or whether he just wanted Harry inside him, but either way was fine with Harry. He dropped his clothes into a heap and sat beside Severus, fumbling with the vial that contained the lube. "You realize that we will have Weasleys pounding on your door before the day is out."
"Not tomorrow. I told them we wouldn't be back in England till next week." Grinning, Harry shifted over the magically widened cushion as Severus lay back smirking at him. "I'm afraid you are going to have to sit through dinner at the Burrow then, though."
"Dinner and interrogation," Severus announced darkly. "Are you concerned about what your friends will say?"
Laughing, Harry kissed the inside of Severus's thigh. "You heard that Howler from Ron this morning. I could probably tell him I was in love with his brother Percy and he wouldn't blink, he's so busy screeching about Ginny." Ron had sent the message to Harry in a right state to inform him that Ron had walked in on Ginny and Viktor Krum playing with the Golden Snitch. Naked. And it hadn't been a Quidditch lesson. The thought of it had made Harry burst out laughing at various moments all day.
"You had better not be in love with his brother Percy," growled Severus.
This made Harry laugh, too. "Have you seen Percy? Or been forced to listen to him for any length of time?" He kissed Severus's other thigh, higher up, and slid a slick finger behind his balls. "There's only one person I've ever been in love with and I'm about to bugger him senseless."
"You say such romantic things." Severus bent up his knees to give Harry easier access to where he wanted to put his finger. Which was good because Harry very much wanted to put his finger there. He thought about how nervous he had been the first time they had done this, how much he'd been worried about hurting Severus or doing something wrong or coming too fast. He still knew he could come too fast, especially when Severus made those breathy little noises whenever Harry circled his entrance, rubbing the wrinkled flesh there.
"God, I can't help it when you look like that," Harry replied, trying not to whimper when he looked at the long line of pale skin gleaming softly in the scudding moon darting through the ruined windows overhead. They were both still a bit brown from their time under the Middle Eastern sun.
"Like...like what?" Severus asked, looking down at himself as if scrutinizing for some flaw.
Harry leaned up and kissed Severus's belly just above the navel. "Like sex on legs." He licked up higher, still moving his finger in slow circles behind his balls. He had always like the way Severus's nipples crinkled beneath his tongue.
Severus snorted. "At present I'm on my arse, with my legs about to wrap around your waist until you make me come so hard the earth moves," he grumbled.
With a shiver Harry pushed up and kissed him. "And you say I say romantic things," he said, voice shaking a bit, resisting the urge to stroke the slight pink flush on Severus's cheek. Instead he kissed his way back down over the familiar planes of chest and belly, dragging his chin though the fan of thick hair nesting the cock that was rising to meet the mouth Harry could not resist giving it.
"You do," Severus said, only it was a moan now as Harry pushed a slick finger in, just a bit, loving that he knew exactly how much teasing Severus liked. "You've told me you love me."
"Because I do." Another slow slide of his finger inside the tight passage. "Never going to stop telling you either." He was especially proud of his skill at stroking his finger over --
Harry grinned and did it again. Severus bucked up off the cushion, his head arching back on his neck, exposing the column of his throat. Harry whimpered, rubbing his cock just a bit against one of those legs that was about to be wrapped around his waist. He was hard and had been since Severus had taken off his clothes, but seeing him spread out like this, and watching first one finger then a second sliding into Severus's arse was making him needy. Stroking him inside again, Harry let his finger slip free, using the bit of oil over it on himself before adding more from the vial. He knew Severus liked watching him do this but he didn't dare look at him while slicking himself up because the heat that always flared in his gaze would make Harry too aroused to last as long as he wanted.
And he wanted to last tonight, to make sure they completed the ritual and could be free to start their lives together. Starting with a week in a real bed with no place to go or be and no earth to move save when they felt like it. Shifting up between Severus's legs, he rubbed himself against the stretched entrance, moaning softly as he felt Severus press down to try to take him inside.
"What happened to anticipation?"
"There's a difference between anticipation and teasing." Severus was too breathless to sound properly cross, and Harry was too needy to tease any longer. Angling his hips, he pushed inside. "Yes, like that!"
"Love you eager," Harry said, feeling the heat of Severus's body closing around his cock, welcoming him inside. "Love you tight -- oh fuck, just love you!"
"Show me." Severus raised his legs higher, wrapping them around Harry, and there was no point in pretending he could make it last all night as he'd been imagining...he'd need to concentrate just to make it last a few more minutes, it was so good. Harry knew that he was never going to get bored with this even if the earth only moved in the usual way, which it did every single time they made love.
He slid his hand between them, grasping Severus's cock. "We'll show each other." Stroking Severus gave him sufficient distraction to stop him from coming right away, at least, and he angled his hips, focusing on giving Severus as much pleasure as he was capable of.
Too soon it was over, the great rumbling deep inside Glastonbury Tor echoing the way they were shaking, and Harry suspected that the fountain in the Chalice Well gardens had just shot a plume high into the night air. "Perfect," groaned Severus, panting for breath, arms and legs still wrapped around Harry.
"We are," Harry agreed, slumping over Severus's chest. "We fixed the Earth's magic, didn't we?"
"Let us hope so." Even now Harry could feel the magic of this place, with its underground springs that, like the one at Chartres, were rumored to have healing properties. "I suppose that, if I am wrong, we will have to try again."
"Again?" For a moment Harry thought he was being criticized. He raised up on an elbow to look down at Severus, only to find that Severus was smirking. "You mean we might have to make love all over the world again?"
"It's always possible." The smirk softened into a smile. "You would not find that objectionable?"
"I wouldn't find making love with you objectionable anywhere, any time. Or all the time." Harry grinned back. "Starting tomorrow in our own house." He let himself slide out of Severus, wriggling beside him. There was a small scar that ran along Severus's arm just inside his elbow, and Harry traced it with a finger. "In the bedroom, and the kitchen..." He moved the finger. "And the library and the loo and the parlor..." He traced another small mark across Severus's chest.
"Are we going to exchange energy at all the important points in the house?" asked Severus, snickering softly.
"Don't you think we should? To make sure the energy is right. Then we can move on and make love in Diagon Alley, and Hogsmeade, and everywhere else we've ever spent much time, or plan to spend time."
"In the potions pantry at Hogwarts? Under the Quidditch stands?" Severus still sounded entertained.
"Oh, yes. And in the Forbidden Forest, just to make sure the energy there is right."
"You do realize," Severus said slowly, "that there are ley lines all around London. Dozens, if not hundreds, going straight through the city."
"Really?" asked Harry as if the thought had just occurred to him. "Well, it couldn't hurt to charge them all. Right?"
He heard Severus laugh. "Ten points to Gryffindor."