On the Other Side


Harry's hand hesitated on the doorknob. He sighed. "Why not?" he asked, still facing the door, "Why can't I? Why can't we? Come on, Severus. I'm tired of this little room. Aren't you?"

Severus rose from the bed, still rumpled from his nap, and stalked towards Harry. He pried Harry's hand from the knob and pulled him around. "No," Severus purred as he walked towards the wall, pushing Harry back against it as he did so. "How could I ever tire of you?" he whispered as he canted his hips into Harry's and leaned in to suckle Harry's throat.

Harry groaned and panted and fell back into the wall. "That's—oh, fuck—that's not what I meant," he said. "What I said—oh, Merlin, don't stop… I mean… stop… I mean… can't think." He gasped as Severus rubbed against him and continued to suckle his throat.

"I'm doing this wrong if you can still think," Severus murmured before biting in the place that always made Harry melt.

Harry's knees gave out as Severus bit him in that special place that only Severus knew about. "Bastard," he wheezed as Severus chuckled and led him to the bed.

"I thought we agreed not to talk about our parents," Severus quipped as he made quick work of Harry's trousers, pants and jumper. "Now where was I?" he asked with an arched brow, before descending on Harry in a slow, sensual slide of mouth, tongue and fingers.

Several hours later, Harry woke. Severus slumbered beside him, his body a confident mass of sprawled limbs. Harry didn't know what time it was. He never knew what time it was. There were no windows in this room, or clocks, or calendars. He couldn't recall a time before this room. He couldn't recall how long they'd been here. For a long time it hadn't mattered. For a long time, the idea of glorying in each other and nothing else had been enough. There was no reason to wonder or question. There was no reason to leave. Severus didn't care what time it was or what was happening beyond this room. They had everything they needed here, he said. They could exist in this tiny vacuum forever if need be.

But, it wasn't enough for Harry. Not anymore. He wanted to open the door. The door that led to… outside… or somewhere. And, like every time before that Harry had attempted to open the door, he'd been thwarted by Severus's seductive wiles. Harry ran his hands through his hair. He couldn't believe he'd fallen for it. Again. He smirked at the memory of their lovemaking. "What a way to lose, though," he whispered to himself before turning to the task at hand.

Harry rolled over and stared at Severus in the low, flickering candlelight. He reached out and stroked his cheek with a gentle caress. He leaned over and ghosted sweet kisses across his brow. He smiled when Severus burrowed further into the bed making contented little sounds as he continued his soft ministrations. And then, he poked him hard in the ribs while giving the leg closest to him a short, vicious kick.

Severus yelped and flailed around in an attempt to wake up, get his bearings, stay on the bed and sit up all at the same time. His attempt nearly failed as he teetered on the edge of the bed while wondering aloud, "What in Hades has happened?" At the last moment, he righted himself, still muttering under his breath. He rubbed his ribs and winced.

Harry, still on his side with his head propped by one hand, watched the goings on with an impassive smile. He made no attempt to help Severus. He said nothing as Severus asked his rhetorical questions in the voice of one half-asleep.

"Oh, you're awake," Harry said as Severus woke fully.

Startled, Severus turned and stared at Harry. His gaze was thunderous. "What did you do?"

"Why must you assume I did something?"

Severus gave him a measured glare. "Res Ipsa Loquiter, Mr. Potter. I am now awake, when I was previously sleeping without distress or disturbance of my own making. There are no sharp pointy things in this room, beyond your fingers and bony elbows, that is. My ribs have come to the conclusion that you are the root cause of their discomfort."

"I didn't know your ribs possessed such fine legal minds. Loan them out to the barristers, do you?" Harry snorted. "Brings new meaning to having a bone to pick with someone," he murmured to himself.

"Harry," Severus hissed. It was the time-honored warning that the world was about to turn over if Severus was not placated posthaste.

"I want to open the door," Harry blurted as he sat up and faced Severus proper.

Severus winced. It seemed it wasn't only Harry's fingers and feet that could wound. "We've been through this before," he said as he tried to maneuver Harry into a more comfortable position for seducing.

Harry was having none of it. He wriggled from Severus's gentle grasp. "We've never been through it," he defied, thrusting his chin out. "And stop trying to seduce me! It won't work, you know. I'm on to you."

"Is that your way of saying that the proverbial honeymoon's over? It had to happen sometime, I suppose," Severus mused. "Vanilla sex can only take you so far, of course."

Harry's mouth flopped open in incredulity. He started to ask Severus what in the hell he was talking about and to remind him that changing the subject was very, very rude when Severus stunned him silent.

"Shall we move onto some of the more accepted kinks, Harry? Tell me, what are your feelings on silk scarves as restraints?" he asked with a wolfish smile.

Harry almost melted into another puddle of Severus-induced goo. Silk scarves. Silk scarves winding around his wrists. Harry could picture them—hell he could feel them—as his eyes glazed over and a tiny bit of drool pooled at the corner of his half-open mouth.

"That's more like it," Severus whispered as he maneuvered Harry back into the mounds of pillows on their bed.

The door came into Harry's line of sight. "Stop trying to distract me!" he seethed as he scrambled out of the bed, fell to the floor and skittered to the far wall. "I want to open the door, and you can't stop me!"

Severus stared at him and seemed to debate whether he should continue his course of distraction and seduction or bellow at Harry, forbidding him to open the door. In the end, he sagged into the pillows and asked, "Why?"

Harry blinked. He'd expected Severus to continue with his seduction, or get into a snit and forbid him from opening the door. A reasonable question was most unexpected. "Damn Slytherins," he muttered under his breath.

"Am I not enough for you?" Severus growled.

"What?" Harry asked. "This isn't about you, Severus. Well, not directly."

"So you say," Severus muttered under his breath as he sulked. "Fine, then. Do what you will. It's of no matter to me. Apparently," he said with a sniff.

"Emotional manipulation doesn't suit you," Harry snapped in irritation. "Your general intimidation tactics—the looming and whatnot—are far more successful."

"Now who's doing the distracting," Severus seethed as he loomed from his sitting position. Quite a feat, Harry thought to himself.

They could have gone on sniping at each other all day. Harry decided, though, that it was time to speak plainly. "Severus, I love you, but I want to leave this room. With you."

"If you loved me, you wouldn't want to open the door," Severus spat as he rose from the bed and started pacing. Like a caged animal, Harry noted.

"That's not true and you know it," Harry muttered as he looked around the room. Everything was beige or cream. Sure, there were touches of taupe and off-white here and there, but not enough to really stand out. The furniture was comfortable, overstuffed even. There was always plenty to eat. There were books, music and other amusements. But, it was so homogenous, so monotonous, so isolated. 'Severus and Harry' only seemed to exist in this cage of a room.

"There could dangerous things out there. Things that could hurt us. Why would you risk that?" Severus asked as he continued to pace.

Harry's fingers brushed through the thick beige carpet. "Yeah, there could be," he admitted. "But, there could be really wonderful things too," he said.

Severus stopped pacing. "There are wonderful things here. In this room. Where we are safe. Where we are happy."

'And where no one or anything else can enter,' Harry added mentally. "That's true," Harry said aloud. Severus resumed his pacing. "But…."

"But what!" Severus barked, stopping again as he whirled around.

Harry found he couldn't articulate his objection. Not in the elegant way that Severus could. He struggled to find the words, eventually settling on, "I've forgotten what rain smells like." He hoped that it was enough of an explanation.

Severus's gaze softened. He walked over, sat behind Harry and pulled him close. "I'll make you potion that smells just like the rain. I promise," he murmured as he kissed the side of Harry's head. "We can make everything we want right here. We don't need to open the door. We don't need to go outside."

Harry stared at the cream wall and realized that his skin was almost the same color. It was as if he was fading. His clothes, he noted, were cream colored as well. As were Severus's. They needed to leave. Before they stopped existing, for nothing could exist in a vacuum. "I think we do. I think I do," Harry said as he rose with determination and shuffled towards the door.

"What if we don't like what's out there? We can't come back. You know that," Severus said.

Harry nodded his head and bit his lip. "I'm opening the door, Severus. I want to know what's out there."

"You'll have to do it alone, then," Severus huffed.

Harry felt his heart plummet, but continued walking towards the door, avoiding looking at the taupe furniture and whitewashed walls. He placed his hand on the knob and turned it.

"What are you doing? Have you actually turned the knob? You imbecile! What are you doing?" Severus bellowed.

Harry continued on, trying to block out Severus's bitter rambling. He heard the click of the door and felt it begin to open. Severus had heard it too. He'd gone silent at the sound.

Harry turned back to look at Severus. "I don't want to go through this door alone," he whispered. "I want to find out what's out there with you right beside me. Please don't make me do this alone."

Severus stared at Harry. "Please close the door, Harry. Please. I beg you. Please. There's still time. You can still close the door. No one will ever know you opened it."

Harry shook his head. "No," he mouthed. "Please, Severus. Please come with me," he begged. He held out his hand in invitation.

"You'll go no matter, won't you?" Severus accused. "You'll leave me no matter."

Harry nodded. "It's true, I will go through this door. But, whether I leave you is up to you. I don't want to, so please, Severus. Please come with me."

Severus couldn't move. He stared at Harry. He stared at the door. He couldn't move.

Harry sighed. He hung his head and dropped his hand. "Please," he said a final time. Severus didn't answer. Harry opened the door.

A shaft of brilliant light streamed through the opening. Harry and Severus blinked. It had been so long since they'd seen natural light. Harry opened the door a bit more. More light streamed in, bathing Harry in its brilliance and washing out the dull, drab interior of their little room. Severus squinted. It was almost as if Harry glittered, the light was so bright. The sharp smell of grass and pumpkin pasties, of all things, wafted through the door. A slight breeze ruffled Harry's hair and carried with it the faint strains of the cacophony of everyday life…it was as bitter as sweet; as mournful as joyous. Severus could make out children playing, men and women arguing, Muggle automobiles honking and moving about. His ears perked in interest. Was that a spell? Had someone close by incanted a levitating charm? He leaned forward.

Harry took a deep breath. The color of the sky was bluer than he ever remembered. It almost hurt to see so much color. He'd been staring at beige and taupe and cream for so long. He'd forgotten that such glorious color existed. He took a step.


Harry turned, one foot hovering beyond the threshold. He could see Severus struggling with whether to stand or stay where he was. Harry cocked his head to the side and held out his hand again. This time, Severus took it.

"Are you sure about this?" Severus asked as he grasped Harry's hand and stared out into the blue sky.

"No," Harry chuckled. "But, I'm sure about us," he murmured, holding his breath, waiting for the acerbic remark about his overly-Gryffindorish sentimentality.

"Indeed," Severus said softly, surprising Harry. "You won't be deterred from this ridiculous adventure?" he asked.

Harry shook his head.

"Nothing I could do would stop you from proceeding in this?"


"And, you want to do this with me?" Severus asked with a bit of waver in his voice.


Severus stared at Harry for several moments. He looked up at the sky for longer still. He thought, and wrestled, and equivocated. He looked back into the room and tried to make out the lines of the chair. He realized he couldn't even see the chair. Everything blended into a background of nothingness, of complacency. His gaze swung back to the blue sky, the soft, white clouds, the green of the grass. He took it all in. The contrast was striking. Breath caught in his throat as the smell of aconite wafted by. But, it was the warm weight of the hand in his, the feel of its calluses and its ragged nails, that decided things. He knew that he could face any challenge, so long as that hand was in his. He came to a decision.

"Very well," Severus said as he stepped forward, confidence in his stride, his proud nose pitched high and with a sneer on his face. He jerked and turned his head in annoyance when he realized that Harry hadn't moved with him. He surveyed Harry's look of surprise, the rigid line of his body—it was as if he'd been Stupefied. "Well, what are you waiting for?" he snapped. He tugged Harry's hand and pulled him forward, like it had been his idea all along.

Harry relaxed and moved forward, easing the door closed behind him. "Nothing. Not anymore," he answered as they each took a deep breath and walked forward.



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