A Year and a Day


The sound, the voice, came from a great distance. Or at least it seemed to.

"Severus? Can you hear me, my boy?"

Well, only one person dared call him that.


"I can hear you, Albus. Stop your caterwauling in my ear."

His only answer was a soft chuckle. Severus's mouth felt fuzzy. Or maybe that was his mind. No, his mind felt fine. With the exception of the fact that he couldn't remember what had happened to him. Couldn't remember why his mouth was dry, his throat felt thick, and his body ached to its very core. His nose worked though, and judging by the smell, he was in the Hospital Wing.

"Why am I here? What happened?" he asked in a thick voice. Thankfully, a cool glass was pressed to his lips. Severus gulped the water with greedy glee. By the time he had finished, he almost felt well enough to face the world. Severus cracked one eye open and the first person he saw was Harry Potter.

"Bugger," he complained and immediately closed his eye again.


"Yes, Albus?"

"I'm glad you're going to be all right."

"I'd be infinitely better if someone would tell me what in the seven hells happened," he barked. The darkness was beginning to annoy him, so he cracked his eyes open again, both this time, making sure he was looking in a different direction than where the Potter brat was standing. As luck would have it, he ended up looking at Albus.

The old man looked like he had come though a war.

"What happened to you?" Severus asked, masking his concern with disdain. As usual, Albus saw right through him.

"Do not concern yourself, my boy. I am fine. As is Harry," Albus said, glancing meaningfully toward Potter. Severus stubbornly refused to look over. Wasn't it torture enough to see the boy during meals and classes?

"Well?" Severus snapped. "What happened?"

Albus cocked his head, a sad smile forming on his face. "Don't you remember?" he asked.

Severus pressed his lips together in frustration. No, he didn't. The last thing he remembered was grading a stack of exams – the ones given right before Christmas break. He said so. Albus nodded sadly. "You've lost some time, Severus, but only a few days at most."

Severus waited as patiently as he could – he counted to ten. "Well? Don't make me ask again, Albus. What the hell happened?"

The Headmaster's smile bloomed, spreading across his face until his skin crinkled and his blue eyes sparkled. "He's gone, Severus. The Dark Lord. Harry has defeated him."

Severus felt all the blood drain from his face, and inadvertently his gaze slid to Harry. His eyes narrowed. There was something different about the boy. He looked older, more…something. Cynical? Mature? Severus couldn't put his finger on it, and he frowned. Would one day, one battle, really reap such changes in a person?

Severus closed his eyes. He disliked looking at Potter for too long. It was a harsh reminder of things best not thought about. He opened his eyes, once more fixing them on the Headmaster.

"Well, good for Potter," he sneered. "Now maybe he can enjoy his last year and a half of school without getting into trouble."

The silence that followed his statement was so weighty that Severus felt a cold hand grip his heart. "What?" he demanded when Albus didn't speak.


"Yes?" he ground out through clenched teeth.

"What year do you think it is?"

What kind of asinine questions was that! "It's December 20th, 1996," he answered matter of factly.

He heard a strangled gasp and turned toward Potter despite himself. The boy was as white as a sheet, and he was staring at Severus with wide, despairing eyes. Severus was again shocked by the change in the boy's appearance. When did he stop wearing those awful glasses?


Severus felt his temper reach the breaking point. "Yes, Albus?" he hissed, fixing the Headmaster with a death glare.

"It's January 13, 1998."

Severus was so shocked, he nearly missed Potter's headlong flight from the room.

Madame Pomfrey released him from the hospital wing that afternoon, admonishing him to inform her the second his memory started to return. She promised him it would. He noticed she refused to look him in the eye as she made her reassurances. Severus snorted at her as he swept away. He doubted she had any idea what stray curse had caused his condition. Well, he was no naïve first year. He hardly required, nor appreciated, her bumbling efforts to comfort him.

His life could be likened to a comedy of errors, Severus thought as he stomped through the halls of Hogwarts on his way to his quarters. He spends the past six years, well apparently closer to seven, preparing Potter. Training him. Protecting him. And when the time comes for the insufferable brat to send the psychotic snake-faced bastard to hell, he misses it. All right, he didn't miss it. But he couldn't remember it.

Now, forgetting about Potter for a whole year, that wasn't so bad. His heart screamed at the bald-faced lie, but he ignored it. Again, those things were best not thought about. He entered his quarters and stopped dead in his tracks.

Severus was a man set in his ways, a man of routines and systems. Even upon learning he had lost a whole year of his life, he expected very few changes to have occurred in his day-to-day activities. He woke, he ate, he taught the brats, he brewed potions, he slept. That was his life. There wasn't much in it one could classify as good.

And if, in his heart, he harbored dreams which none would ever know, that he could never express, then so be it.

But something had changed. He stood just inside his door and studied the front room with narrowed eyes. It was different. Not glaringly so. Just subtly. Different. He walked around, glaring at everything suspiciously. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but something felt off. Then, as he was passing his bookshelves, he saw it. A circle of gleaming wood, surrounded by a thin layer of dust. Severus's brow furrowed. Something had been sitting here, but had been recently removed. Looking at the rest of the room, he deduced that in fact, several things had been removed, and within the last few days, if he were not mistaken. It wasn't an answer. But it was a clue.

The next thing was the chair. Unless he was losing his mind, it was a chair from the library at Grimmauld Place. What in Merlin's name was that doing here? Very strange, indeed. It was placed directly in front of the fire, alongside his usual chair, the one he had owned for years. Tight-lipped, Severus shed his robes and moved to his bedroom. He hadn't expected to find additional clues there, but there they were.

His bed was different. It was…it was huge. Severus had never bought into the silly notion that one person needed a mattress big enough to sleep fifty people. His old bed had not been small. It had been efficient. He reached out to touch one of the giant posters, and a memory flashed through his mind. Being on the bed. In the bed – with somebody. Then like quicksilver, it was gone.

For a long time, Severus sat on the edge of the new bed and stared into space. The changes in the front room had made him angry. But this just scared him. Had there been somebody in his life this past year? Scowling, he began unbuttoning his shirt. He would find out – of that there was no doubt. Right now, though, he was tired. He stood and moved to his wardrobe, swinging it open with a flourish. As he stripped his shirt off, however, something caught his eye.

For a long moment, he stared at it. Then, in a trance, he bent and picked up the crumpled shirt from the bottom of the wardrobe where it had fallen and then apparently been forgotten. It was a white cotton t-shirt, a little frayed at the collar. In big red letters across the front it read, "Seekers Always Get Their Snitch." Swallowing heavily, he closed his eyes against a sudden wave of dizziness, but his grip on the garment never loosened. He knew exactly who owned this fashion travesty. After all, he'd seen it often enough. Most notably, while its owner was staring at Severus over a brandished wand during Occlumency lessons.

"Harry," he whispered.

Even through the portrait, Severus could hear the party was in full swing inside the Gryffindor common room. Using his universal password, he entered quickly, ignoring a wide-eyed first year, and scanned the room. No Potter, but Granger was there. Severus's lip curled – but he pushed ahead anyway.

"Ms. Granger," he drawled as he came up behind her. He was suitably gladdened when she turned and blanched at his presence. He was not expecting her next reaction however.

"What do you want?" she asked coldly.

Severus frowned. "Ten points, Ms. Granger, for your disrespect," he sneered. "Where is Potter?"

If possible, her eyes grew even colder. "He doesn't want to see you."

"I don't give a damn what he wants!" he thundered. "I am his professor, he is a student. You will tell me where he is this instant!" The last had been yelled, and even the boisterousness of a hundred frolicking Gryffindors couldn't stand up against his anger – the room quieted instantly.

He watched as Hermione braced herself and squared her shoulders. By the gods, he thought, he had forgotten how annoying Gryffindors could be. But before Hermione or Severus could open their mouths and begin the next stage of battle, a quiet voice spoke.

"I'm right here."

Severus didn't mince words. "My office," he ordered. "Now." He spun and left, stalking the entire way back to the dungeons. When he arrived at his office, he poured a double shot of Firewhiskey, downing it in one go, before seating himself behind his desk and waiting.

He didn't have to wait long. Potter came in just a few minutes later. When he saw Severus, he faltered, but quickly recovered. With a grimace, he took a seat in front of the desk. Harry's face was a stone mask; there was not a speck of emotion in his eyes.

"What's wrong?" Severus snapped.

To his surprise, Harry didn't even flinch. And he answered right away. "I don't like sitting across the desk from you like an errant student," he said quietly.

"Why not? Is that not what you are?" Severus demanded, determined to penetrate the stoic exterior.

Harry's mouth twitched, but he remained silent. Severus reached into his drawer and pulled out the t-shirt. He laid it on the desk. He sat back in his chair and steepled his fingers under his chin. "Explain," he demanded.

To his credit, Harry didn't play dumb. "It's over."

"How long?"

"How long what?"

"How long has it been over?"

A telling pause. "A few days."

"You're lying."

Harry laughed humorlessly and ran a hand through his hair. "You're right. It was over long before that. But we stopped fucking a few days ago."

If Harry had hoped to shock him, he was going to be disappointed, Severus thought. But he couldn't deny the fact that the words, delivered so emotionlessly, struck him deep in his heart – a pang for what he had forgotten.


Harry sighed. "Does it matter?"

No, his mind supplied. It doesn't. Get out. Enjoy your victory. Have a nice life.

"Yes," he whispered.

Finally, Harry looked at him. He tried to speak, but couldn't seem to push the words past his lips. Severus saved him the trouble by firing off another question. "Why is there a chair from Order Headquarters in my front room?"

Harry make a sound somewhere between a sob and a laugh. "You stole it."


"You wanted to…remember something."

"I want to remember something right now," Severus mumbled to himself. He dropped his head into his hands and wished desperately for another drink. "Harry…" he said in a choked voice.

"Don't!" Harry sounded alarmed. "Don't…" he said again when Severus looked back to him. "I can't…" he started to say and then his voice died.

"Help me," Severus implored quietly. Before Harry could protest, Severus leapt from his chair and moved to the cupboard next to it. He pulled his pensieve from the topmost shelf and placed it on the desk between them. Harry looked at it as he would a poisoned viper. He shook his head.

Severus sat back down. "Just…something," he pleaded, exasperated. "Why do I have that chair in my rooms? Please, Harry."

When Severus spoke his name, a single tear leaked from the corner of Harry's eye. His hands were gripped so tightly together in his lap the knuckles were white. "All right," he said at last. He took his wand and placed it to his temple. His hand was shaking. After he had removed the silver thread and transferred it to the bowl, he slumped back in his chair.

Severus stood and moved around the desk to his side. Pulling Harry out of his chair with one hand, giving him no chance to protest, he leaned them both over the shiny liquid. "Together," he whispered in Harry's ear. In a flash, they were watching as Harry slipped through the cracked door, and glanced nervously around the library.

Harry slipped through the cracked door, and glanced nervously around the library. It was empty. Thank the gods. With a shaky sigh, he threw himself into one of the chairs that decorated the room, throwing one hand over his eyes, and reaching down with the other to grasp his aching cock. He hated those damned meetings. Hours spent just staring at what he wanted and couldn't have.

Gods! If he stayed in this condition much longer…his balls were pulled up so tightly against his body, they hurt and Harry could feel how hard and swollen his prick was through the soft material of his trousers. He groaned, frustrated beyond measure, and punched the cushion to each side of him.

"Damn that man. Damn him!" He knew. And Harry knew that he knew. Knew that every time he looked at Harry or spoke to him, or fuck, spoke at all, that every drop of blood in Harry's body raced for his groin. He had never rubbed Harry's face in it before – oh sweet Merlin, what a picture that thought presented – but tonight…tonight Severus had been mocking him.

There was no other word for the drawling innuendos, the lengthy, piercing looks, the soft touches. And that was something else, Harry thought as he absently stroked himself. Severus never touched him. Never. But tonight he had. It had shocked Harry so badly, he had nearly choked on his tea. It had been distracting and…arousing as hell. Just the thought of that feather-soft touch, of Severus's fingers ghosting over his knuckles, made his cock jump.

"Sodding bastard," Harry mumbled as his hands unconsciously opened his trousers. He actually felt frustrated tears gather behind his closed eyes. He had turned sixteen nearly six months ago, and the great bat still insisted Harry was a child. Harry had tried to tell him how he felt, what he wanted, but had been brushed off every time. How dare the heartless bastard tease him! Especially after knowing how enamored Harry was. How much he loved him.

Harry swallowed heavily, forcing the tears back, but giving in to the urge to touch. So close, Merlin, even now, he was so close. Harry threw his head back and moaned softly. He knew the second he touched himself, he would explode. But the urge to do so was overpowering, and after another moment, he reached with a trembling hand for his full and aching member.

He could just feel the heat and dampness of his sweaty hand on his prick, when a voice spoke from behind him. "Stop."

The command was soft. Whispered, even. But the shock of it caused Harry's hand to twitch and collide with his cock. "Oh, gods," Harry whispered. Even that small contact was enough to bring his orgasm to bear. Unable to hold back, he grasped himself firmly, needing the release, needing it, needing something. His hand began to pump furiously, seeking relief, but suddenly another hand was placed over his, stilling it.

"Oh, no…please," Harry begged, face twisted in almost-pain.

"I said…stop," the voice commanded, and this time Harry's consciousness let him recognize whom the voice belonged to.

"Pro–Professor," he stammered, not daring to open his eyes and ruin what he was sure was a very vivid fantasy.

"Not tonight, Harry," the voice whispered in his ear. "Tonight, I am Severus. Tonight, when I touch you…and taste you…and claim you… I am Severus."

The voice echoed through his head, superheating his skin, and made his engorged cock swell even further. For Harry, it was too much. The warm breath in his ear, the smooth, commanding, velvet voice, the words and their meaning – all of it coalesced in his center and Harry began to pant and moan as he felt his climax approaching like a runaway freight train. "Se…Severus…I can't…" Vainly, he tried to pump his leaking cock, but Severus refused to release his hand.

"No, Harry," he purred. His hand tightened over Harry's as the younger man tried angrily to escape. "You will come for me without a single touch. You will come just by my voice alone. I want to see you shatter into a million pieces just like I've dreamed about."

With a wordless scream, Harry did just that, pumping jets of hot come across his stomach and chest, and it seemed to never end. When he felt it fading, Severus squeezed his cock, setting off another round of glorious pleasure. He did this again and again until Harry whimpered, straining away from the over stimulation. When the hand finally slipped away, Harry threw both arms over his face, the mortification setting in right away.

"All right," he said, voice husky, "You've had your fun. Fuck off." He couldn't control the shake in his voice or the post-orgasmic trembling of his hands, but he'd be damned if he let the other man embarrass him any further.

So when a warm, wet touch grazed over his stomach, Harry jerked and his eyes sprung open. Even after the intensity of his climax, his cock twitched and swelled when he saw his professor kneeling between his legs, licking the cooling semen off his abdomen.

"Sweet, fucking Merlin," Harry croaked. Against his skin, Severus smiled. He licked slowly, not greedily, cleaning Harry thoroughly before moving to his nipples and teasing each one slowly into red, pointy nubs. Harry let the sensations fire and crackle through his body, not fully understanding why Severus licking his nipples should make his toes tingle or the muscles in his legs spasm, or the room spin with color. No one else would ever make him feel like this, he was sure of it. He rode the waves of pleasure for several minutes before a restless shift of a body against his and a strangled moan caught his attention.

Panting lightly himself, he reached down and grasped Severus's face in his hands. He bemoaned the loss of contact of that magical tongue on his skin, but he needed to see, needed to know if he was affecting this man like he was affecting Harry.

But all of the questions he had so meticulously prepared flew from his mind like Cornish pixies when Severus lifted his head and his burning eyes met Harry's. There was so much in that gaze, so much passion that Harry faltered, suddenly frightened by the depth of what he was seeing. Through his passion-fueled haze, he wondered if maybe they shouldn't stop and talk about what was happening. But Harry was a Gryffindor, not a Hufflepuff. So he stopped thinking and did what all good Gryffindors did – he acted on his instincts.

"Let me touch you," he rasped, lifting his hands to do just that.

"No," Severus hissed. As Harry's eyes turned confused and not a little hurt, Severus reached up with one hand to run long, burning hot fingers down his face, swallowing heavily at Harry's flushed skin and dream-soft eyes.

"One touch from you, and I will be undone," he whispered.

Harry's eyes snapped shut as the words penetrated his brain and a sharp spike of arousal shot through him. "You want me," he said, not a question, but instead a statement. Harry shook his head slowly in confusion. "Why didn't you ever…"

He could feel Severus's grip tighten almost uncomfortably on his hips, fingers digging in, before he dropped his head to Harry's stomach, and his body began to shake. Intending to sooth, Harry raised his arms to embrace the man kneeling between his legs. As his arms closed around the other man, the trembling increased.

"Severus," he breathed, letting the name roll around his mouth, trying out the feel of it. Against his stomach, he felt more than heard Severus groan.

"You are the devil, Harry," he said in a broken voice. "And I cannot stand against this temptation any longer." Severus took a deep, rattling breath, and began kissing his way up Harry's chest. Harry watched passively until the slow progress burned out his patience. Roughly, he pulled Severus up until they were eye to eye.

That mouth was so close, Harry thought. It was awe-inspiring and paralyzing all at once. It was evil and perfect. And it was the mouth that had been haunting Harry's dreams for years. "Years," he said under his breath.

"Yes," Severus answered. "So many years. So wrong. So sinful."

Harry sobbed a denial. He wanted to say more, wanted to hear more, but instead he surged forward to claim Severus's mouth, needing the contact more than any pretty words, even if they were of love. The kiss, which should have lacked tenderness for all its ferocity, was tender. The fierce dueling of their tongues harbored more gentle affection than a thousand soft pecks between seasoned lovers. Severus poured his heart into the kiss, and also, into Harry. He swallowed every sound, every moan and held it close to his heart, and in turn his own needy sounds were given up for Harry.

Severus kissed Harry with all his repressed passion, eventually taking control and plundering Harry's mouth, only relenting when the need for air became overwhelming. He pushed Harry back into the cushions, moaning and cursing when Harry lifted his legs to wrap them around Severus's back, and arched against him, rubbing their groins together enticingly.

"No. NO." Severus cried, trying to pull away, but Harry refused to be denied any longer. This was the contact, the connection, he had been craving since he was fourteen. It was a drug. It was addictive. It was too much, it had been too long, and Harry knew that to resist it any longer was useless. He tightened his legs, pulling Severus even closer.

"Harry, NO! I won't…I can't…."

Harry surged forward, thrusting his cock, again rock hard and dripping, against Severus, crying out when he connected with the hot bulge he could feel straining against the other man's trousers. He slid his hands down Severus's shoulders and around his back until he was grasping Severus's beautiful, tight ass.

Severus gave an inarticulate roar and Harry knew he had won. He relaxed back against the soft cushions, giving up control more easily than he thought possible, speaking the dirty, obscene things he both wanted and needed.

"Don't you dare stop." He gripped harder with his knees as he spoke. "You know I want this. You have to know. I want you to fuck me right through this chair, I want to be surrounding you when you come, I want to see you lose control." Harry groaned and gripped his prize even tighter. "I want you to take me – own me – like you've always owned me. Don't you dare stop."

Panting, swearing, Severus ripped open his trousers and pulled out his cock. At the first touch of it rubbing against Harry's, he groaned loudly. He took Harry's hips in an iron grip and began to thrust viciously against him again and again, their erections sliding together easily through the commingled sweat of their bodies. The force of his actions actually pulled Harry off the chair and toward him each time. Harry just hung on, relishing Severus's loss of control. He basked in it, head thrown back, mouth open and gasping with each brutal thrust.

He felt his body begin to tremble, and knew this climax would put his previous one, even as powerful as it had been, to shame. The tingling started in his fingers and toes and crawled inward, inching toward his cock with such purpose and intensity that Harry found himself struggling for breath as every other muscle in his body tensed, hovering, on the edge.

Against his neck, Severus growled low in his throat, then moaned, and then growled again. Then the growl became a howl and his movements turned frenzied.

Harry trembled on the precipice.

"Oh Harry, oh Harry," Severus panted, sounding tortured. Then he bit down into the tender skin of Harry's neck and Harry went super nova. His body spasmed, and he arched up, every muscle in his body tensing and releasing repeatedly as he came.

He barely registered Severus crying out, yelling his name over and over, as he too pulsed and rocked and strained, before finally collapsing into a trembling heap against Harry's own quivering body.

From beside the chair, Harry and Severus watched the memory. Harry was smiling, but Severus had tears running down his face. "How could I have forgotten this?" he asked in a strangled whisper.

Harry didn't look at him when he spoke. His voice had a distinctive dream-like quality to it. "You apparated us upstairs without a single word. You spent all night showing me how you felt. It was…it was…" Harry paused and took a deep, shaky breath. "Near morning, even I couldn't take anymore." He smiled ruefully. "When you reached for me again, I actually begged you to let me rest. Your hands…" another pause, "…your touch changed right away, became…affectionate. You just held me…I've never felt so safe or…"

"Or what, Harry?" Severus asked, lifting Harry's chin and forcing the young man to look at him.

"Or loved," Harry answered simply.

The scene twirled around them and in the next moment, they were standing in Severus's office.

Severus walked to his chair on shaky legs and collapsed into it. For a long time, he said nothing, and then a peculiar look crossed his face. "The next day I shrunk the chair and brought it back here. You laughed about it for weeks."

Harry was looking at him and nodding. "Yes," he said. "You remember?"

Severus licked his lips nervously. "Only that part," he admitted.

Harry nodded again and dropped his eyes to the floor. Silence reigned.

Finally, Severus spoke. "What happened to us?"

Harry stared at the floor and didn't move or speak. Severus waited. Eventually, Harry covered his face with his hands. Severus watched. Harry fisted his eyes roughly and rose from his chair.

"I can't do this," he said quietly. Severus felt his throat close up. "I'm not sure what good it will do," he continued.

"Please try," Severus whispered. When Harry didn't protest right away, Severus pressed the point. "Please," he said.

But to his dismay, Harry was shaking his head. "I can't. Not tonight." Then he smiled tiredly, and Severus felt his heart lurch. "Would you believe I've had a long day?" Harry joked sadly. "I'm very tired," he whispered, but he wouldn't look Severus in the eye.

"Very well," Severus conceded. "Tomorrow?" he asked, not trying to keep the desperation from his voice.

Harry nodded and left. Severus didn't sleep at all that night. And the next day, Harry was gone.

"Where is he, Albus?"

"I don't know, my boy."

"You must know. You always know."

"No. I'm sorry."

Severus began pacing the length of the office. Fawkes screeched at him as he passed back and forth in front of his perch. Albus sat calmly and drank his tea. When he had drained the cup, he placed it gently in its saucer and turned to his friend.

"You hurt him, Severus," he said, and Severus snapped around, hate and fear in his eyes.

"I know that!" he thundered. "That much is obvious. But…" He dropped into a seat and grabbed thick handfuls of his hair, pulling hard until the pain overshadowed the despair. "I don't remember."

"That does not change anything."

Severus tore through his wardrobe like a man possessed. There must be another clue somewhere. There had been nothing in the drawers, nothing hidden under the cushions of the chairs, nothing under the bed. There was nothing. Nothing left of Harry. Just a rumpled t-shirt.

Severus tore his clothes off and stumbled to the shower. He stood under the steaming water for an hour, spelling the water hot again and again, until his skin was red and angry looking. The whole time, he thought about Harry.

He couldn't remember their love, but he could remember his fantasies of it. How they had burned through his brain for months on end until every morning he was waking up wet, sticky and panting – moaning Harry's name as his orgasm faded away. And how he would lay in bed afterwards, waiting for his heartbeat to return to normal.

That was when the most intense fantasies would come. The ones where Harry shared his life.

How could he have throw that away? What had happened? Severus left the shower, got dressed in his usual bedclothes, set his usual wards, and lay down in his unusual bed. He felt determined. He was a Slytherin, and he always had a plan. So tomorrow, he would go to Gryffindor Tower and speak with the Granger girl and the Weasley boy and find out where his Harry had gone. Feeling intensely better for this well-conceived strategy, Severus fell asleep.

And he dreamed.

In his dream, he was making love to Harry. In this very bed, he spread Harry out, warning him with a sharp nip to his ear that he should not move. After he had positioned the gleaming, naked man on the bed, he sat back to admire him. Harry's eyes were filled with trust and love. And lust.

"Don't make me wait. Gods, you are cruel, Sev." But the last had been said with affection. Severus just watched, admiring the view. With a groan, Harry reached for his cock, and like lightening, Severus batted his hand away. Harry scowled at him. "You like to do this, don't you?" he asked, amused.


"Make me crazy with need."

"Yes. I like it a lot."

Harry laughed loudly and his eyes sparkled. Smirking, his hand inched toward his cock again, and this time Severus let it go. Emboldened, Harry ran his fingertips over his thick erection, swirling his fingers through the moisture at the tip. Involuntarily, Severus groaned. Harry let his fingers drift lower, gently fondling his balls, which were already tight and hugging his body. His eyes lost their laughter, and turned hot and intense. His fingers moved lower and teased the entrance to his body. He cried out softly at the touch and Severus echoed it.

"Don't make me wait, Sev." He let a finger slip inside and Severus felt his own cock jump. "Please, Sev." Hastily, he brought his fingers to his mouth, licking and wetting them thoroughly before lowering them again to his hole, and shamelessly shoving two fingers deep inside. "Ahhhhh. Sev, please."

Severus lunged forward and ripped Harry's fingers away. "Stop!" he demanded.

"Why?" Harry moaned, already reaching for himself again.

Severus tore at his own clothes, and seconds later was lowering his body atop his lover's. "I was going to come," he said.

Harry paused, surprise shouldering its way into his lust-filled eyes. "Really?" he asked.

Severus leaned down and kissed Harry. It was both intense and languorous. When he broke for air, he whispered in Harry's ear. "Never underestimate the effect you have on me, Harry."

Harry's smile was bright. "I won't forget," he whispered back.

Severus took his time preparing Harry. He whispered to him and told him how much he loved fucking him. Harry groaned and thrust himself onto Severus's fingers. He told him how his toes curled when his cock was buried inside of him. Harry's own toes curled and he spat profanities as Severus's fingers brushed his prostate. Then Severus showed him how it was true. Inch by inch, he sank into Harry, filling him until Harry was thrashing beneath him, begging and cursing him for his slow pace.

"Damn you to all seven hells, Severus! What are you waiting for?"

Severus leaned down and wrapped Harry in his arms. Then he braced himself on his knees, and licked a long, leisurely trail from Harry's chest to his ear. "Be still," he ordered when Harry started to buck underneath him. When Harry groaned in frustration, Severus nipped his earlobe.

"You are a fucking evil tease," Harry panted into his neck.

Severus smiled and nipped his ear again. "Hang on," he warned. And then he gave Harry what he wanted. He fucked him hard and fast, pounding him into the bed with each thrust. Harry pushed back against him, trying to meet him thrust for thrust. And then, they had it – the perfect rhythm. The one that made Harry pass out and Severus see stars every time. The one that fired every nerve ending in their bodies simultaneously. The perfect rhythm that wouldn't be as perfect as it was if they achieved it every time.

Harry couldn't last. "Oh, gods. Oh you…fuck…ohhhh…" Severus felt Harry's buildup and let himself ride the same wave. When he was moments away, and when Harry was gasping, no longer able to speak, Severus grabbed his cock and pulled once.

Harry screamed.

Harry was screaming at him. Was this the same dream? No – it was a new dream. But it was as unpleasant as the previous one had been pleasurable. Severus clawed for wakefulness but was pulled under again.

"Your attention is slipping. Your grades are suffering."

"I cannot believe we are having this conversation!"

Severus left the bed angrily, donned a dressing gown, and poured himself a drink. He was angry. "All of a sudden, after nearly seven years, you decide your schooling is a waste."

Harry groaned and threw himself back onto the bed. He turned his back to Severus and when he spoke his voice sounded far away. "It's not a waste. It's just not important right now."

"How can you say that? Your future…."

"WHAT FUTURE?" Harry screamed. He sprang from the bed and faced Severus across its wide expanse. "He is coming! I know you can feel it too. It will only be a matter of weeks now." Harry's eyes were wild. Frightened.

"You are ready," Severus stated with firm conviction.

Harry laughed, and its sarcastic edge grated across Severus's nerves. "Maybe," he said softly, after he had stopped laughing. "Maybe not."

Severus felt white-hot panic rush through him. "You are ready," he said again.

"Sev, we just don't know. Please, can you at least…."

"NO! You are ready!" He would not admit otherwise. He would not consider another outcome. And he was livid that Harry was doing just that.

"Sev, please." Harry's voice was needy. His eyes were scared. "This isn't about the classes or the grades." He started around the bed, trying to shrink the physical chasm separating them. "I need you to help me through this. I can't stand against him while fearing my own death. I need to accept it as a possib…"

"I do not accept it," Severus said with finality. "I do not. You will win. You will come back."

Harry stopped three steps away, his hand outstretched toward Severus. He didn't move any closer. And Severus did not step forward to meet him.

Harry dropped his hand. "And if I don't?"

Severus's heart hitched. The fear tore at his sanity. But, he refused to become emotional. "Then you will be a failure," he sneered. "Unable to accomplish the one thing that I, that everyone, has asked of you." There, Severus thought. That should get him riled. I may not be able to express my emotions as well as he, but I can argue my point. I can make him see the truth that way. He braced himself for Harry's righteous temper tantrum.

It never came. Instead, as Severus watched, something in Harry's eyes died. The spark that had never dimmed, that had carried him through all the trials of his life, flickered and went out.

"Is that the extent of my usefulness, then?" he asked with his dead eyes.

"You define your worth, Harry," Severus lectured. Harry smiled sadly.

"You define my worth, Severus."

Severus woke to a rush of memories. They rained down on him in a torrent and in less than a minute he remembered everything that he had lost. That was the end, he realized. They had lasted a year and a day. And that day had been the last time they spoke of anything meaningful. The last time they laughed together. The last time they made love.

Not the last time they fucked. They still did that often. And it was still good. So good, that for a while, it was enough. But finally, even that turned bitter and cold. Sensing Harry slipping away, Severus had started to panic. The last time they were together, less than a week before the final battle, after they had attended to business, Severus used everything in his arsenal to draw Harry out of his cocoon. Nothing worked. When he eventually fell back on his scathing wit and biting insults, pressing for a reaction, any reaction, Harry simply dressed and left. That very night, in a terrified rage, Severus cleansed his rooms of any trace of the brat.

He had pushed Harry away – he knew that. His dread at the thought of losing him had been so overpowering, he had cut their connection with an efficient cruelty that even made him wince. He never apologized for his appalling statements. He sent Harry into battle that day on his own with nothing. No encouragement. No support. And no love.

Looking back with the fresh perspective his temporary memory loss had given him, he could see his mistakes easily. It was too late to take them back, but he vowed to move forward having learned from them. He would never leave Harry alone again. Starting today.

Near the beginning of their relationship, Dumbledore had given them a small cottage. He had handed over the deed wordlessly, a twinkle in his eye. For once, Severus had not minded the old man's incessant meddling. And he had been pleasantly surprised to have the Headmaster's blessing. The small, secluded cottage became their hideaway. Their sanctuary, so to speak. It was where they went to escape. Harry would be there.

Severus apparated directly to the living room. "Harry?" he called, not wishing to startle his young lover. Silence and stillness answered him, and he began to feel uneasy. "Harry?" he tried again. He walked through the small room and stopped at the bedroom door. He frowned. Why was the door closed? They never closed the door. There was no reason to shut themselves off from the comfort of the fire-warm living room, and so the door stayed open. Always.

Severus leaned forward, pressed his forehead to the rough wood, and tried to calm his rapid, shallow breathing. At that moment, he would rather the Dark Lord come back to life than have to open the door, he realized. He was no Gryffindor – the urge to run actually made his legs twitch.

He stood there a long time. The sun shining through the window moved, lengthening the shadows across the floor. When the bright sun threatened to brush his foot, Severus opened the door and stepped inside.

Harry was sitting on the bed, slumped over and staring at something in his hand. He looked up, startled, when Severus came in. Idly, Severus wondered how Harry could have missed his arrival at the cottage.

For a while, neither spoke. Severus winced at the glazed dullness of Harry's eyes.

Harry spoke first. "How did you find me?" he asked.

Severus scrambled for the right answer. "I remembered," he said inadequately.

This gave Harry a start, Severus saw. In his lap, his fingers tightened on what he was holding. "Everything?" he queried, voice low.

For the first time, Severus focused on what Harry was cradling in his hands. And his world fell out from underneath him. Only to stabilize a moment later when he realized the vial tightly clenched in Harry's fist was still full of the opaque liquid. Still full.

"What are you doing?" Severus hissed, gesturing loosely at the vial of poison, almost afraid to draw too much attention to it. Harry just stared blankly at him.

"Why are you here?" he asked after a long silence. His gaze dropped to his lap and he fingered the clear vial.

Severus choked back his fear. "I remembered," he said again.

Harry's head shot up, a flash of anger in his eyes, and at that moment, with startling clarity, Severus saw he had a chance to make this right.

He stalked forward, and Harry flinched at his approach. He grabbed an empty water glass from the bedside table and transfigured it into a small glass vial, identical to Harry's. Lightning quick, he grabbed the poison from Harry's hand, disregarding his angry protests, and poured half of the thick, viscous liquid into his own vial. Ignoring Harry's shocked confusion, he placed Harry's vial back in his hand and closed the boy's fingers around it securely.

He crouched down in front of Harry, a position that forced him to look up into his lover's eyes while he spoke.

"I'm here because I remember. I remember my cruelty and my mistakes. I remember how I…hurt you." Severus paused, fighting for control. After a moment, he was able to continue in a rough whisper. "I beg your forgiveness. You are everything good in my life, and I couldn't bear to hear any talk of losing you. I cannot bear it now."

Holding Harry's eyes in an intense stare, he squeezed Harry's palm around the original vial and raised the one he was holding to his own lips.

With a strangled cry, Harry knocked it away. It flew across the room and shattered against the wall, where its deadly contents dripped slowly toward the floor.

When Severus looked back at Harry, he saw a spark in his eyes. It wasn't the normal brilliance Severus had learned to live for. But it was a start.

"You're a fool," Harry stated.

"Never underestimate the effect you have on me, Harry," Severus answered.

Tears pooled in Harry's eyes. "I won't forget," he whispered. He shook his head and sighed. "What do you want?" he asked. He didn't resist when Severus pried the poison from his hand.

Severus crushed the thin glass tube beneath his shoe with a satisfying crunch. His own hands took their proper place in Harry's grip. "Just you, brat. Just all of you."

A ghostly smile settled on Harry's lips. "Oh, is that all?" he said with affectionate sarcasm.

Severus nodded and pulled Harry off the bed and into his arms. It was like coming home.

"That's all I want, Harry. Can one desire too much of a good thing?"



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