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A Princely Abode by odogoddess
[Reviews - 7] Printer Chapter or Story

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Author's Notes:

A few more story warnings not available on the drop down menu: post-war, references to near non-con wartime incident, wanking, voyeurism, tub scene, frottage, and a plot for which I most humbly apologize. ;)

Disclaimer: All the characters are Rowling's. All the smutty scenarios are mine.


* * * * * *

Severus thought he knew what hell was, but it turned out he was wrong. This was hell.

He quickly drew the shade over the window of Hogwarts' Infirmary using wandless magic and winced at the sound of tapping and scraping from owl claws and the belated and distinct sound of camera shutters. Bleeding ruddy hell!

"What the devil is that racket?"

Poppy Pomfrey was frowning as she came in with his afternoon potions. She took in his dour expression and sighed.

"Did you try to look out the window again?"

He looked away.

"There is a reason Minerva set those drapes in place, you know. The endless hordes have yet to cease descending."

"Bloody parasites."

"Now, now, Severus," she tutted as she gently propped him up so he could swallow his potions. "They're your well-wishers, your fans."

"The bane of my existence," he muttered and got the lip of a flask set to his mouth for his troubles.

Giving up with ill grace, he swallowed the medication and the other four noxious potions she had to give him, and then lay back on his pillows and tried to catch his breath.

Was it his fault he'd survived the final battle? Was it his fault Harry Potter and the Order had used him as bait? Did any of the bloody simpletons out there even know how he'd been sure he'd die as Voldemort and the Death Eaters tortured him even as the Order had carried out their plans? Seeing Minerva, Molly and Hermione amidst the other Order members had only increased his discomfiture, since Macnair had poured a lust potion down his throat and then bound him naked and spread-eagled to a grave marker, back arched, pushing out his genitals in an obscene fashion.

If they hadn't gotten there when they did, Fenrir Greyback had been about to lift his legs and bend his knees back in order to allow Macnair easier access. The man had intended to...

He gagged now, fighting back revulsion at the thought. If the Order had arrived only a minute later, they'd have seen him being--

"Professor?"

Never had Harry Potter's voice been more welcome to Snape, but despite this his reply was as acid as his currently churning stomach.

"What do you want, Potter?"

"Good afternoon to you, too, Snape. Sheesh. Rescue someone and this is how they treat you," Harry said only half-seriously.

Severus scowled. "You are, of course, ignoring the fact that you intentionally put me in harm's way in order to effect the so-called 'rescue', Potter."

Harry's pleasant expression hardened.

"Whatever. We wouldn't have let them hurt you."

"I was nearly r--" Snape pursed his lips tightly, clenching his teeth against the word. It had been the most humiliating, the most degrading moment of his life. And the entire bloody Order was feasting on it. Worse, they were congratulating themselves over it and telling the media, that being the reason so many were camped outside hoping for a glimpse of him, the man of the hour, the sodding martyr of the sodding Final Battle against sodding Voldemort won by sodding hero sodding Potter.

"Get out."

"Well, Sna--"

"GET OUT!"


* = *



...Two years later


The hands pushed his arms down. He could not move. He was cold and naked and the potion was already working. He could feel his erection growing painfully hard, a divining rod pointing to the twinkling stars. He thought reflexively of Albus and a pained look crossed his face. He whined and fought to get a purchase on the ground to move away, but his toes scarcely touched the trampled earth and the harsh stone beneath him scraped his shoulder blades and buttocks.

A hand slipped around his aching organ and he fought to keep from responding, but his body wanted touch so badly and he screamed aloud.

"Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!"


Sweat dripped down from his brow as Severus bolted up from his bed, panicked and uncertain before he fully woke, still fighting the restraints and his miserable fate.

The sight of the rusty, battered cauldron atop his dresser made him swallow tightly, forcing down tears. His voice was an agonized whisper.

"Thank you."

He wasn't sure whom he thanked -- Muggle gods or Wizarding forebears or the Fates themselves, but his supplication was heartfelt in that moment he recognized he'd woken from the dream.

The cauldron helped. It was once one of his favourites, but had been abandoned to his private laboratory at Hogwarts during his last year as a Death Eater spy. He'd collected it when he left Hogwarts Infirmary for good after he recovered from the Final Battle. It had been almost like seeing an old friend, scarred from their experiences, but still recognizable and an entirely welcome sight.

The first night on his own in Spinner's End had been bliss -- free of reporters and well wishers and bloody members of the bloody Order. Of course, the next morning he'd been absolutely besieged by owls and letters and howlers, but at least he was home and he could ward the place to a fare thee well and hex anyone who approached.

Still, he could not do the same to his own treacherous mind, which refused to allow him respite from the imagery. He refused to dwell on it and naturally his mind returned to it as he slept.

Potions worked, at first, then strong drink. Finally, Severus sought refuge in brutally hard work, always his final mainstay, and it worked so well he did not stop working. Every day he laboured on the most difficult theoretical concoctions, after he'd completed the medicinal potions that he sold in order to maintain his household, his potion supplies and keep himself fed. Not that bread, milk, butter, tea, marmalade, potted meat and tinned vegetables cost all that much.

The cauldron he'd brought up to his bedroom, ostensibly to use as a chamber pot. Instead, it had saved his very sanity each night he woke from the ragged dregs of that bloody dream.

Nothing bad had ever happened when he brewed alone. Nothing. Oh, he made the occasional mistake as anyone would, but no one ever taunted him or hissed at him or tortured him or restrained him or betrayed him when he brewed. Alone.

This realization did much for his state of mind and so the cauldron went atop his dresser where he could see it right off as he sat up, as he usually did during the dream. And if from time to time he'd heaved himself up out of bed and staggered to his dresser and clung to that cauldron, hugging its cold, battered copper to his bosom, no one was the wiser.

Since it was of an adequate size to brew enough Pepper-Up Potion for all the staff of Hogwarts, it also had another very comforting feature. Tears that fell in it swiftly disappeared into its shadowed depths, hiding his supposed transgressions, and by day, as the months went on, the evidence of his late night lapses became strikingly beautiful specks of blue-green rust.


* = *


When a man desperately needs something to focus on to shut out the world and his own feelings, a frustratingly difficult puzzle to solve can be a welcome distraction. When that same man forgets to eat and can scarcely sleep, he might apply that time toward his goal. And when that selfsame man is already a master in his chosen field, with a discerning and analytical mind, what he can accomplish is boundless.

Hence, it should have come to no one's surprise when Potions Master Severus Snape, nearly martyred hero of the Final Battle, followed up his creation of an amazingly efficacious Dementor repellant the first year after the war with a concoction to stop monthly lycanthropic morphing the year after. What did cause some surprise, to Severus at least, was just how lucrative Snape's Transformation Transfixation Potion (or TTP for short) became.

The Office of Magical Law Enforcement bought the formula for his Dementor repellent. Various wizards, especially those who had been in the Order, felt it was Snape's way of atoning for the things he'd had to do as a Death Eater. Snape himself would have denied this, although he'd felt a large weight roll off his shoulders when the Ministry had acquired the formula. To his surprise and satisfaction, it had been rapidly manufactured and distributed to every Wizarding household in endangered areas. The Dementors had not cared that the war had ended, and without Voldemort there was no one at all to keep them in check. Scrimgeour had zero intention of going the way of Cornelius Fudge. His politically astute action had secured the welfare of dozens of Wizarding communities, as well as ensured his re-election.

The Transformation Transfixation Potion, however, had begun in the weeks following this success. It was when the dreams had returned along with his utter inability to pleasure himself without memories of the Final Battle resurfacing.

Snape had needed a much larger and more complicated puzzle to occupy his mind and lycanthropy presented a thorny one indeed. That was really all it meant to him, although he'd guessed his discovery would be of benefit for some of the hundred or so werewolves in the country.

However, he had not reckoned on the many werewolves worldwide who would have need of Snape's Transformation Transfixation Potion... every month... for the rest of their lives. Some countries actually signed contracts for the right to purchase pre-made solution in bulk from him or a facility approved by him, for years in advance.

The solution itself was deceptively simple, could be easily made in large quantities, was shelf-stable for two years, and required only one drop of the werewolf's blood added just before ingestion to work. Drunk within twelve hours of moonrise on a full moon night, it made a werewolf calm and would not allow any magical physical transformation to occur for thirty hours.

A normal Wizard or Muggle could safely drink the plain solution with no more reaction than drowsiness and a very heavy sleep. The solution was every potions master's dream and Severus Snape had patented it.

In short, at the tender Wizard age of 42, he found himself a revoltingly wealthy sod and a half.

You'd think he'd be happy. That was what was most commonly said behind his back, and usually in tones of exasperated confusion.


* = *


The letters had never really stopped, despite his ignoring them. It was only after the Owl Master General had dunned his Gringott's account that he'd finally knuckled under and hired a private secretary to handle his correspondence.

The canny and highly circumspect Luna Lovegood fell into the job without a hitch.

To his surprise and gratification, she had set about sorting all his mail, including the backlog, into appropriate categories. She scripted over a dozen politely worded responses appropriate to each category as templates she then duplicated onto fresh parchment with letterhead she also designed, and answered every single one in order of importance. After looking over the first two days worth, Severus stopped reading them. Two weeks later when she handed him a purchase order for a magical rubber stamp of his signature, he did not hesitate nor question the expense. The rubber stamp was a clever bit of charms work that required him to give a single wave of his wand over a stack of completed correspondence to activate the inking charm and imprint his signature on each letter. It would do for the bulk of the mail, if not all of it, and relieved them both of a huge burden.

On her first weekend on the job, Luna had Floo'd in laden with groceries and sorted his larder and kitchen. Severus might have been more perturbed about this if it hadn't been for the fact that her unexpected presence helped him focus on something besides the damnable nightmare that still plagued him some nights. He watched, as she'd quickly set his kitchen to rights.

Then she had briskly gathered his garments, towels and bed linens with a clever little charm, sent them to be laundered, and freshened the rooms. This she continued to do each weekend thereafter.

The next month she had asked for, and been granted, an increase in salary and a change of title from personal secretary to personal assistant. She completed his years of backlogged correspondence six months later and now, eight months after her arrival, Luna was very much a part of his household, not quite a friend, but far more than a mere employee.

As such, her suggestion during one tea break that he might consider "doing up" the place did not fall on deaf nor indignant ears.

In fact, Severus Snape admitted as he sipped the wonderful tea she now stocked his kitchen with, he had been thinking of making some changes.


* = *



"Perhaps it is not meant to be."

Luna sighed.

"We just haven't seen the right renovator."

"That was what-- the sixth one we've had this week? It's bloody irritating and disrupts the whole afternoon. I've gotten nothing done all week."

"I did suggest you move to my place until the renovations were done."

"What renovations? They, whoever they might be, haven't even been hired. Besides, it's nonsense. I can stay in whatever room they're not working in."

"Then it's settled. I'll call the next one on the list."

Severus sighed now; aware she'd ably manoeuvred him into agreeing to see at least one more decorator.

"Which lot is this?"

She studied her neatly written list of mostly scratched off names.

"Residential Reparo & Rehabilitation."

"Same as before. You'll handle them."

"Of course, Severus. They'll think they've come to inspect the household of one Regis Dividius."


* = *



"Professor Lupin," Luna said with surprise as she opened the door the next afternoon.

"Why, Miss Lovegood! What a pleasure," he beamed at her. "But I'm afraid I've got quite the wrong house then. I'm calling on a Mr. Regis Dividius?"

"No, you've got the right house, Professor. The name is not entirely inaccurate; it's just a bit dated. I work for him."

"I see. Well, I'm here about a possible renovation job."

"Will you come in? You'll need to see the place if you're here to inspect it for renovation. It will be near enough for tea when you've done and we can discuss what my employer wishes and your cost estimates over a nice cuppa."

"Thank you, and yes, of course."

An hour and a half later, after Remus had inspected the entire house, including the small, fenced backyard, he and Luna were seated at the kitchen table where he'd spread out the parchment he'd jotted measurements and notes on.

"So, correct me if I'm wrong or have forgotten something but your employer wants the entire first floor turned into a master bedroom with master bath and a small guestroom and tiny washroom?"

"Yes."

"The cupboard below the stairs turned into a small toilet with hand basin."

"Yes."

"The front room redone with a hidden library and a small wet-bar for guests."

"Yes."

"This kitchen refurbished with more modern amenities."

"Yes."

"The coal bin is to be made into a combination laundry/storage area, including a cold box."

"Yes."

"The backyard is to be magically re-screened with a greenhouse built at the far end which is to have one corner devoted to a spa bath with a small wardrobe for towels and robes."

"Yes." Luna smiled dreamily, but her tone belied her expression. "How much do you estimate the material and labour to cost?"

Lupin sighed, sipping at his tea as he considered, then began writing figures by each item on his list.

"Well, it will be at least fifteen hundred galleons for the first floor work. Two hundred and twenty-five galleons for the small hall toilet. Six hundred galleons for the front room plus the reshaping charm work which could be as much as seventeen hundred galleons, depending on the specific dimensions and configuration desired for the library, twelve hundred galleons for the refurbished kitchen, two hundred for the coal bin remake plus a hundred galleons for the perpetual cold box. The backyard is the pricey one and it will be a minimum of three thousand galleons for the magical rescreening, but that would include needed touch-ups over time. The greenhouse and spa we can probably do for seven hundred and fifty plus another hundred for the wardrobe. So you're looking at a minimum of around ninety-four hundred galleons, probably closer to ten thousand galleons since prices on materials fluctuate and that estimate is based on material that is neither low-end nor high-end. It will, of course, depend on what your employer wishes us to use."

"Quality is more important than cost," she said with certainty and he nodded.

"In that case, it will be near to 15,000 galleons."

"Factor this in, Lupin," Snape suddenly spoke from the doorway where he'd appeared unseen a few moments before. "I will do the backyard rescreening myself, and what would have been spent there will turn my root cellar into a fully stocked laboratory with several equipment and ingredients cupboards and light and temperature-controlled potion storage capability."

Remus barely blinked at Severus's sudden appearance, merely nodding his greeting and considering what he'd said.

"In that case, I'd say it would add another two thousand galleons to the lot."

Snape stepped into the room and poured himself a tea before sitting beside Luna and across from Lupin.

"This is excellent, Miss Lovegood. White peony with green-cut orange pekoe and a touch of ginger?"

She nodded, smiling at him. "Mountain Wreathed In Starlight. I'm afraid I can't pronounce the actual name."

"Only the Tibetan monks who grow it can," he assured her before turning back to Lupin. "I'll be glad to sign your company for the work, Lupin. When can you start?"

Remus looked startled. "No arguments over costs?"

"There is no need. Quality, honesty and discretion are my prime considerations. Your assessments were sound, you can provide quality materials, and I know I can trust your discretion as to who you are actually working for."

"So you're Regis C. Dividius?"

"You know Latin as well as I, Lupin."

"A prince divided? What's the C stand for?"

"Cognatus."

"Ah, very clever. A prince by blood divided. A half-blood prince."

"My mother's maiden name as I'm sure Potter told the Order. Quite frankly, I feel a far greater affinity for her than for my father, but be that as it may, the name serves to provide me much needed privacy these days."

"Ah. Well, I'm flattered, but please keep in mind I won't be doing all the work. In fact, I do very little of the actual renovating. My partners are the ones who do most of the grunt work."

"So long as they are discreet."

"We'll allow you to put us under a geis of discretion if you like."

"A simple contract will suffice. Just keep in mind if I hear of this venture anywhere but in this house or read of it in a letter or the news--"

"I get the picture, Severus. Not to worry, discretion is our middle name." Lupin smiled. "By the way, in case I don't have a chance to say it later and before I forget -- thank you."

"For what?"

"Allowing me, us, the ability to stay sane and unchanged during full moon. You've no idea how much that means. We owe you so much. Your name is becoming legendary among the werewolves."

Snape rolled his eyes, but his tone was only mildly sardonic, and Lupin chuckled when he said, "Then my life is complete."


* = *


"What in Merlin's name is that racket?!!"

"I think Professor Flitwick is having some trouble with the dimensional portal," Luna did not try to yell to make her voice louder, she merely pressed her wand to her throat and amplified it a little bit.

Just then the last person Severus wanted to see stepped into the kitchen.

"What are you doing here?"

Harry's expression grew hard, even as his eyes got a peculiar emotion that Severus couldn't quite pinpoint.

"I was just coming to apologize for the noise. The dimensional folding charm is very delicate, difficult and time-consuming and whilst Filius is testing the extensible limitations of your living room it will be unavoidably noisy," he said, his voice readily amplified without visible means. "Our standard silencing spells are holding just fine outside, but there's not much we can do in here, unless you want some earmuffs?"

Before Snape could say anything, Luna quickly nodded. "Yes, please! I can't concentrate to answer correspondence."

Harry waved his wand at a spare piece of parchment and it transformed into a set of fuzzy purple earmuffs. She smiled thanks and slipped them on, then picked up her quill to answer another letter.

Snape watched him, uneasily aware of the man's power and vibrant personality, and far more aware of his incredible physique. Harry Potter no longer looked like a boy, and he was, in fact, older than his father had ever become. He was also very much a man. Not tall, although Snape did not consider this of any importance when he considered Potter's near-tangible aura of magical power. And his body radiated health and vitality and was far too impressive-looking for the long-deprived Snape.

He cleared his throat now, and pressed his wand to his throat to ask, "How long will this take?"

Harry shrugged. "Usually three or four days."

"What?"

"I said--"

"I heard you, Potter. What the devil am I supposed to do in the meantime?"

"Well, if you've nowhere else to go, I'll be happy to let you stay in a room at Grimmauld Place."

Severus considered this unhappily. He could stay, he knew, with the Lovegoods in their lovely guest bedroom, but he ran the risk of possibly disturbing them with his ever-present nightmares and his need to work or walk when they wouldn't allow him respite. Or he could do the same at Potter's place.

"Luna can come to work there, too, while this is all going on. In fact, you should probably consider staying even after Filius is done. Otherwise, we'll just be in each other's way constantly." He added, "It's no bother. If it matters, I'm rarely there. I'm usually busy elsewhere.

Probably chasing as much tail as he can grab with both hands, thought Snape. With looks like those, he probably has to beat them off with a Bludger Bat. Still, at least it keeps him away.

"I accept."


* = *


True to his word, Grimmauld Place was practically empty. Potter assured Snape no one lived there, but him, and even then, his time there was limited. He was running the Three R's, as Residential Reparo & Rehabilitation was known and, unbeknownst to Snape, undertaking Auror training.

Not his own, but Harry was actually training some of the Ministry's Aurors in defensive and offensive magic. There were very few spells that were effective against him and he was fast, powerful and accurate, hence he was a very good sparring partner.

The heavy and practical training he'd received from the best people they had available in the Order before the Final Battle had served him in far better stead than the training Aurors typically had. He had, in fact, been taught most necessary and many experience-acquired Auror skills by Moody, Tonks and Shacklebolt long before he'd stepped foot inside the Ministry's Office of Magical Law Enforcement. He'd seen more battles, taken place in more combat and accrued more practical experience in assessing a scene for clues and dangers than most young Auror's did in all their training and first few years combined.

Hence, the head of the MLE, one Mr. Arthur Weasley, his erstwhile father-in-law-to-be, had proudly given him honorary Auror status not long after the war was over, and Harry's long-desired wish had come true. With it had come the realization he did not desire to do battle or fight evil wizards for a living. He felt he needed to help repair the damage the war had done, and hence, the Three R's was born.

The fact it helped provide work for many of his friends who could not otherwise work, such as Remus, was a happy bonus. Harry was content with his life so far.

If only, his many friends thought, he could find himself a nice man.



* = *


The hands pushed his arms down. He could not move. He was cold and naked and the potion was already working. He could feel his erection growing painfully hard, a divining rod pointing to the twinkling stars. He thought reflexively of Albus and a pained look crossed his face. He whined and fought to get a purchase on the ground to move away, but his toes scarcely touched the trampled earth and the harsh stone beneath him scraped his shoulder blades and buttocks.

A hand slipped around his aching organ and he fought to keep from responding, but his body wanted touch so badly and he screamed aloud.

"Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!"


Sweat dripped from his brow as Severus bolted upright in bed, still fighting remnants of the dream. His eyes sought his cauldron, but it was not here, and he remembered now that he slept at Grimmauld Place.

He jumped as his door opened to let in a harried looking Potter, wand drawn, tired eyes alert and focused to danger.

"Everything okay?"

Snape felt his face burn with shame, but he merely waved a hand.

"I'm fine. Get out."

Harry lowered his wand, but assessed Severus carefully. He frowned.

"Are you all right?"

To his horror, the breath he drew in was shaky and his face burned even more as his eyes flooded.

"Get out!"

Potter never could listen to his teachers, Snape thought now as he turned away from the stubborn prat and fought a miserable fight first to keep the damnable tears from falling, and then to keep the damnable boy from seeing them.

"There's no shame in having nightmares, Severus."

Snape did not respond, knowing his voice would be a dead giveaway. He merely waited, not touching his face and fighting to keep his breath even and steady.

"I have them, too. From the war. From the killing."

Snape swallowed, cursing himself when it was audible. He clenched his hands into fists.

"I imagine yours are even worse."

"You've no idea," Snape finally whispered, damning himself silently for the choked and raspy way his statement came out.

He could hear the footsteps, but he did not move. He couldn't get any further turned away than he was and if the price he paid for accepting Potter's offer to stay as his house was renovated was the revelation of his nightly travails, then it was steep but he'd pay it.

The indrawn breath finally made him look briefly over at Potter. To his surprise there was no triumph or derision or even amusement on his face. There was obvious sympathy and concern and dismay.

"Wh--"

"It's always the same," he managed to say in a tightly choked voice. "It's that night. The night you s-- rescued me."

He said nothing further, but from the look on Potter's face he did not have to.

Snape angrily swiped at his face with his hands and huffed.

"I suppose you think it's foolish of me to be having the selfsame nightmare lo these many years."

Harry shook his head, a troubled expression on his face.

Severus drew in a shaky breath, struggling for equilibrium.

"You may as well get it over with, Potter. Gloat. Jeer. Or better still; laugh at your pathetic old professor. Or was what you did to me, what you made of me, a big enough joke at my expense?"

Harry frowned now.

"What are you talking about? Of course I wouldn't gloat, nor would I laugh at you. I've been there, where you are, too many times to count and I wouldn't appreciate anyone laughing or gloating at me, so why would I do that to you?"

"Indeed. What you did no doubt provided much amusement for all involved."

"Snape, what are you talking about?"

His expression grew hard and bitter and angry.

"Stop this game, Potter. You know very well what I mean. That night. The lot of you, the whole bloody Order saw me. Greyback holding me down. Macnair..." his throat choked up tight on the words and he looked down to his clenched fists and fought to swallow down the humiliation, the despair.

He ignored Harry as he knelt before him, until he felt those rough, warm, capable hands rest lightly over his fists and he looked up into those clear green eyes.

"Severus. No one saw you but me."

Snape stared.

Harry explained, "I came ahead under my Invisibility Cloak. I'd been scouting. I didn't know they planned to do anything that night. The last I had seen that day when I'd been spying was that you had been thrown in that oubliette. I thought they were through with you for the time being. I was expecting action the next day and I was scouting to check on booby-traps and looking for places of concealment. We'd planned an attack for dawn.

"When I got there, though, I saw what they were going to do. I was terrified because it was too early and we weren't ready. I did the only thing I could. I cast a glamour over you and then I sent a Patronus message to the Order for immediate assistance. I knew they'd be able to rescue you. I went on to find Voldem--"

"You cast a glamour?"

Harry nodded. "Yes. I didn't want them to see you that way."

Snape swallowed. "How did they see me with the glamour?"

"I made it appear you had clothes on to anyone but a Death Eater. It looked like you were being tortured. That's what Hermione told me later. She said Fenrir was holding you down and Macnair had bent you back and was forcing some kind of potion down your throat when they got there and stopped them."

Severus shivered. He suddenly remembered one specific about that night which had long bothered him. When the two Death Eaters had released him, when the Order had rushed up after immobilizing them, the Granger girl had hurried over to help him up and guard him. Then Minerva had stepped up to him and squeezed his arm comfortingly before placing a Portkey in his hand that had sent him straight to Hogwarts Infirmary where he had landed with a graceless splat! on the stone floor. Pomfrey had swiftly levitated him to a waiting bed where he lay exhausted, battered, suffering from torture and still stunned by the suddenness of his rescue.


He had finally allowed himself to lose consciousness, but not before he'd wondered why neither McGonagall nor Granger hadn't at least thrown a robe over him. It had seemed out of character for either of them. McGonagall, he was positive, would have transfigured him some form of garment for decency's sake. Yet she had not.

The only thing his tired and fragile mind could conclude was that they held him in contempt. But Granger's actions had been of concern and McGonagall's had been kindly, so his mind had never been able to muster a proper answer.

Potter's quiet confession finally solved this puzzle and to his surprise, he could almost literally feel a monstrous burden lifted from his shoulders. He blinked.

"You-- no one saw me, then?"

Harry shook his head. "I didn't think you'd want anyone to see you like that. I knew you were on our side by then. I didn't want anyone to see you like that, either. I feel bad I didn't stop them myself, but I had to go on, not risk an alarm being sounded."

"You don't have to explain. It was war."

"Maybe I do. It bothers me sometimes. Things I didn't do. Things I did. I have dreams. Bad ones. Not like you, but bad enough."

"Why didn't you tell me this before?"

Potter scowled slightly now. "I tried! I came to see you, to tell you, but you threw me out. You got so agitated Madam Pomfrey made me swear I wouldn't visit you again."

Severus remembered that moment, the look on Harry's face and he groaned now.

"What a bloody stupid fool."

"Yes, well, I also tried to write, but you didn't answer my letters. Hedwig kept bringing them back."

"I didn't answer anyone's letters."

"Maybe you should have. You'd have had better sleep."

Snape conceded his point, but was still stunned by the revelation. All this time...

"I appreciate your telling me now." He sighed. "Although, I'm not sure you'd be right about the sleep. The incident preyed on my mind for more than that reason."

Harry tilted his head now, brows raised in inquiry. He began to stand again.

"I, uh," Severus stammered and to Harry's surprise, began to grow red. "It bothered me, because if they had succeeded in what they were trying to do... well... I'd, er, never actually done that before."

Harry frowned now. "Anal sex?"

The blush grew crimson and Snape shook his head rapidly.

"No, I mean sex at all."

Harry froze. His face was a study in uncertainty.

"You-- you're saying--"

"Yes, damn it, I'm a virgin."

"Oh."

It was all he said, but Snape could sense no amusement or derision in his tone.

When Harry spoke again, though, all he said was, "In that case, I'm really glad I stopped them."

Then he quietly left the room.


* = *


The late night or early morning depending on how one looked at it, revelations between them, leavened the atmosphere at Grimmauld Place as the house renovations continued.

Harry kept reporting to Snape and/or Luna about the progress and twice they both went to check on the renovations directly.

"The toilet under the stairs is giving us fits," Harry admitted during one visit.

"What's the problem? The Muggle pipes run right through that space."

"It's not the plumbing, it's the height. Right now, only Filius could use it without knocking his head on something. You didn't specify re-spacing could be done, but I'm not sure how we're going to put a small privy in without it. Seamus's idea so far is best, but I have to ask you -- can we tear down and rebuild the stairs?"

Before Luna could speak, Severus swallowed a groan to say, "Just use re-spacing spells, Potter."

"All right. Oh, here," Harry handed him a parchment. "These are the spirits Aberforth can supply your new wet-bar with. The costs were figured in up to 200 galleons worth, so have fun choosing. Whatever's left over, if anything, will apply to your laboratory."


* = *


"You'll be happy to hear the coal bin has been cleared out and we start work on the laundry/storage room tomorrow," Harry informed Severus as he sat by him at the table in Grimmauld Place.

He helped himself to tea and the lone sandwich from the plate Luna had left before she went home for the day. Now that Snape was sleeping better, his appetite had also improved, so Harry did not know he was lucky to have been left one to eat.

"Not as happy as Luna, no doubt. She dislikes having to send out the laundry."

Harry considered this as he chewed. "What did you do before she got there."

Snape lifted a brow. "I used freshening charms."

"No washing? Gad!"

"I had little time. If I'd taken time to do laundry, Potter, your werewolf friend would not now be able to enjoy the pleasure of a walk in the moonlight of a full moon night."

He didn't expect an answer to this acerbity, so he was surprised a few moments later when Harry laid a hand over his arm and squeezed. The gesture reminded him of Minerva and he looked up into those warm green eyes.

"If no one else ever says it, I have to. Thank you, Severus. For the Transformation Transfixation Potion alone, I would owe you a huge debt."

Snape frowned. "You're no werewolf."

Harry smiled. "No, but one of my closest friends is, and thanks to you, his health has increased and the full moon holds no horrors. Men shouldn't have to live with horrors. Sours the belly. Strips us of sleep. So for that kindness, intended or not, I thank you."

He let him go and returned to eating with gusto as Snape watched, disquieted.

* = *

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