Characters: Harry Potter/Severus Snape, Ron Weasley, Viktor Krum, OMC, OFC.
Warnings: Clichés, crack, and cringe-makingly contrived cuss-words.
Word Count: 10,400
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Beta-read by two lovely people who shall for now remain nameless!
Prompt: Snape is developing a potion so that vampires can go out in sunlight and visits the castle of a vampire clan for research. Harry is there as a fledgling who develops a fancy for him. Snape is not amused. (submitted by rons_pigwidgeon)
Fly in the Ointment
Severus drank in the view from the window of his chambers in the ancient gothic castle. Below him, an unpaved lane meandered down to a village seemingly unchanged since its medieval foundation as it snuggled cheerily against the hillside, surrounded by farmland.
In the distance were dark pine forests and harsh, jagged mountains, their peaks not softened one whit by the covering of snow that remained even at the end of summer.
Severus approved of this castle. He had been here only a few days, but had instantly recognised in it the haven he had so desperately sought. Cool stone walls surrounded him, and here there were no hordes of students to shatter the peace with their infernal cacophony.
Having taken a sabbatical from his restored position as Hogwarts' Potions Master, he was here on a private commission, for which he was being paid handsomely and afforded all the facilities he had once only dreamed of. Graf von Halsstück, Master of a powerful vampire clan, had solicited his expertise in the matter of potions: to be precise, Severus had been commissioned to create a potion that would allow vampires to move freely in daylight, without all that tiresome turning-to-dust that otherwise tended to occur.
It was the sort of job he would have given his right arm for. Well, somebody's right arm, at any rate.
There was only one fly in the ointment. However, it was a monstrous diptera of David Cronenberg proportions. Severus eyed the gorgeously setting sun with disapproval, the radiant colours flooding the sky bringing him no pleasure. Yes, that annoying insect should be round right about -
"Hi, Profethor!" Harry Bloody Potter, and it was amazing just how little comfort could be drawn from the fact that that epithet was so much more apposite these days.
"I see you are still no nearer learning to retract your fangs," Severus sneered.
"Hey! I've been thtuck in a bloody coffin thince thunup, dead to the world - it'th not like I've had much chanth to practith!"
"I am glad to hear the Graf holds to the traditional sleeping arrangements." Severus frowned. "However, we are not at school, Potter, there is no need to call me Professor."
"Tho what should I call you? Thnape? Theveruth?"
Severus smirked. "Well, I am here in my capacity as Europe's foremost Potions Master. You may address me as Master."
"Mathter? Mathter? I'd thound like a bloody hunch-backed brain-dead minion escaped from a Hammer horror film!"
"Well, if the cap fits..."
Pouting sulkily, Potter mooched around a bit more, apparently not recognising that he was very heartily not wanted. Or perhaps he had, by long exposure to the sentiment, simply become inured to it. Severus sighed. A direct approach would, it seemed, be required.
"Why are you here, Potter?"
"I'm trying to avoid Magenta."
"She'th the vamp that - what'th the feminine of thire?"
"She dammed me? That doethn't thound right. Anyway, she'th the one that turned me into a vampire. Magenta de Thong, and if that'th not a made-up name I'm not a blood-thucking thoulleth denithen of the shadowth."
"De Thong?" Severus raised an eyebrow. "Heiress to a multinational lingerie empire, I have no doubt?" he added sarcastically.
"Not de Thong, de Thong! Ath in, the French for blood."
"Ah. De Sang. Hm. I concede it is fairly unlikely that a girl christened Magenta de Sang should just happen to become a vampire in later life, although stranger things have happened." Remus Lupin was an obvious case in point, although Severus had long suspected Lupin mère of being a fraud in the Sybil Trelawney vein who'd gone out and got her son bit just so she could say I told you so. "But why are you so anxious to avoid her? You're already undead, Potter, the only thing she could do to you now is to stake you. And I can assure you, I am quite as likely to do that."
"Har bloody har. She doethn't want to off me, she want'th to get off with me. Or rather, with Harry Potter, hero of the Witharding World. She'th worthe than Ginny Weathley and poor old Colin put together! That'th why she bloody vamped me in the firtht plathe, tho we could become eternal thoulemateth, or thomething. She'th - "
"Oh, for Merlin's sake -" infuriated beyond endurance by Potter's lisped whining, Severus snapped, and unstoppering a vial of chopped garlic, thrust it under Potter's nose.
"You bathtard!" complained Potter from a safe distance, his stomach obviously heaving. His face an interesting shade of Slytherin green as he struggled not to throw up Gryffindor red all over the stone floor, he asked petulantly, "What did you have to do that for?"
"Because, regrettably, I didn't have a stake handy. Now, kindly leave me in peace!"
Looking hurt, Potter dithered a bit on the threshold, finally saying, "You know, if you're intending to put that thtuff in a potion that'th meant for vampireth, I don't think that'th very thafe - "
"Potter, whilst I realise it is totally unreasonable to expect you to have retained one iota of what I taught at Hogwarts, I would have hoped that you had the intelligence to understand how these things work. Digitalin, which is a fatal poison, is used in medicines for the heart. One of the main components of the Wolfsbane potion is aconite, which is again poisonous in sufficient quantities. And if you have not worked it out by now, I will force-feed you both of them in doses large enough to kill a hippogriff. Have I made myself clear?"
"Yeth, Mathter," was the sullen reply.
"Good. Now leave, and do not return until you have learned how to use those wretched fangs of yours properly!"
Potter fled, and Severus breathed a sigh of relief as peace returned to his world once more.
Harry walked along the ramparts morosely, looking at the lights appearing at windows in the picturesque village below, his stomach still roiling from the smell of the garlic. Was it his fault he hadn't mastered his fangs yet? He'd only been a vampire for a few weeks and it wasn't like the bloody things came with a user's manual.
He brightened. Maybe he'd go and see Ron, that'd cheer him up. Nothing like seeing a mate in trouble to make your own problems seem so much better, somehow. There was a foreign word for it; he was sure. Sigmundfreud, or something.
Suddenly a hand clapped him on the shoulder. Oh, bloody hell - was it Magenta? Harry turned reluctantly - to find himself face-to-face with a beaming Viktor Krum.
"Harry! Is good to see you! I haff no idea you are vampire too!"
"I, er, yeah - you mean you are ath well? Bathory'th bathtub! I knew there had to be a reathon why they'd dropped you from the Bulgarian thquad!"
Krum nodded sadly. "Is vy I am here. Your Professor Severus Snape, he look for a potion that help me play Quidditch in day again, not just at night."
"Tho how did you become a vampire - if it'th not rude to athk, nobody theemth to tell me thethe thingth, they jutht get pithed off at me for not knowing them - bit like Profethor Thnape, really - " Harry trailed off, slightly embarassed at his verbal diarrhea on seeing the first friendly face in weeks.
"Is usual story. Ve von game, ve drink much, I meet girl, she take me back to her room - and then I find is not just my body she is vanting, is also my blood. Und you?"
Harry grimaced. "The thame. Pretty much ecthactly, in fact." He grinned suddenly. "Don't thuppothe she was calling herthelf Magenta?"
"No, vos girl I know from Durmstrang. Traute Anhänger. Ve vere together for a little while, after she turn me, but ven they drop me from Bulgarian team, she drop me also. I haff not seen her in months. But Harry, vot is this problem you have with your fangs? They should retract - like so - you see?"
"Could you teach me how to do that?" Harry asked, suddenly hopeful.
Thirty minutes of intensive fang practice later, Harry was feeling much more at peace with the world and its sibilants. "That's brilliant, Viktor, I owe you, mate. All that lisping was really getting on my tits. Tits, tits, tits." Harry rolled the words around his mouth with relish. "Nosferatu's nips, Viktor, I couldn't even say that half an hour ago! Hey, d'you fancy popping out for a bit? I was going to go see Ron in the village."
"Ron is here? Und Hermione also?"
"Er, yes, and no. I mean, Ron's here, but Hermione isn't. It's um, a bit of a long story. See, he's married now, to a local girl."
"He is not married to Hermione?"
Was it just Harry's imagination, or had Krum's eyes just lit up like lovesick fireflies?
"Well, they were engaged, but then, um, Ron and I had this bright idea of coming for a sort of lads' week away. 'Cept it turned into several weeks, travelling round Europe. And then we ended up here, and they were having some sort of wine festival, so of course we joined in, and we both met these girls, and - well, mine turned out to be a vampire, and Ron's turned out to be the daughter of the local mayor. Who walked in on Ron and Gabriela at an, um, unfortunate moment. And got a bit upset. And all his mates got upset. And he's a very popular bloke, what with being mayor and all. So, um, to cut a long story short, Ron got married next day. Apparently it was either go along with it or be strung up by the unmentionables on that tree over there."
They both suppressed a shudder as they regarded the ancient oak guarding the entrance to the village.
"Und Hermione?" Krum asked again.
"Well, she was a bit upset, of course. Ron's still a bit deaf in one ear from all the Howlers she sent him. But in the end, she quite agreed that it was probably better for him to get married than to get lynched. Plus she'd sort of gone off the idea of marrying Ron herself when she'd heard about him being unfaithful." Harry shrugged, as they carried on walking into the village. "I missed all this on account of being dead, of course. By the time I rose three days later it was all done and dusted. Bit of a surprise, I can tell you."
They were nearing an inn called, judging by the depiction on the painted sign swinging in the breeze, the Stake and Garlic. "Fancy a drink?" Harry asked.
"Ve are velcome here? I think, from the sign..."
"Oh, it's just one of those modern trendy things. You know, like calling a pub serving food the Slug and Lettuce. They love vamps in here. Apparently we're good for the local economy, or something. They certainly charge enough for the drinks."
They walked into the inn and leant on the bar. Immediately, a couple of darkly pretty local girls sashayed up to them. "You vont buy drink?" one of them asked Harry in a heavily accented voice.
"Yeah, please," Harry told her. "One for my mate too," he added, gesturing at Viktor.
The two girls looked at Viktor, then at each other, and then broke into an excited stream of their native tongue. Harry couldn't speak a word, but he could pretty much imagine how it went, especially as they seemed to end with a bit of a spat over who was going to give Viktor his drink.
"Is on house, I think," Viktor told him, grinning, when he could finally make himself heard over the squeals of the two young ladies who were clearly Quidditch fans.
The girls seemed to come to some kind of agreement, and one of them took Harry's arm with a slightly sulky air and led him into a back room. Her friend followed with Viktor.
"Vere you vant?" Harry's escort asked.
"Um, wrist, please," he told her. She held out her arm, which Harry was thankful to note looked clean - some of the girls got really tetchy if you did a Cleaning Charm on them. Harry smiled at her, and let his fangs slide out. She looked a little more impressed with him when they'd got to their full length, he was pleased to note. The other vamps might say size didn't matter, but he didn't need legilimency to know they were lying through their vertically-challenged canines. He licked the inside of her wrist gently, to anaesthetise it, and bit.
It was... nice. Pleasant. Like a cup of hot chocolate after a long winter's walk. Tasty, and satisfying - sort of.
Not at all what the other vampires said it should be like. It was supposed to be a raw, desperate need being suddenly, deliciously sated. It was supposed to be bloody orgasmic, that's what they said!
Not for the first time, Harry wondered dismally just where he was going wrong. Viktor seemed to be well stuck in - he'd gone for the jugular, and was lying across the seat on top of his young lady who was looking like she'd died and gone to heaven. She moaned - Viktor groaned - and Harry tore his eyes away hurriedly, feeling uncomfortably voyeuristic.
"Um, thank you very much," he said politely to the now even-sulkier girl who seemed to have no such reservations about watching her friend get her jollies.
"So, now ve go see Ron, yes?" Viktor asked finally, looking immensely satisfied with himself.
Ron and his wife were living with the in-laws. Poor sod. Harry knocked on the door of the mayor's house and was shown in by the elderly maid.
"Harry! Good to see you, mate!" Ron paused. "Um, you've eaten, right?"
"Yeah, Ron, relax. I'm not after your blood." Harry grinned. "Hey, look who I've brought with me!" He moved into the room, letting Ron see Krum.
"Blimey, what are you doing here? I mean, good to see you too. How's things? Bad luck on being dropped from the national side, by the way." Uh-oh. Ron was babbling, never a good sign. Harry wondered why his mate was so nervous. Then he noticed Viktor's expression.
"It is a bad thing, vot you do to Hermione." Bloody hell, Krum might not play Quidditch for Bulgaria any more, but he could certainly scowl for them. Harry's worries eased as Viktor continued, "But I forgiff you. Is better she find out now, yes?"
"Er, yes?" Ron was clearly uncertain of the right thing to say.
"Good. Ve understand each other." Viktor held out a hand stiffly, and after a moment's hesitation, Ron shook it, still looking a bit confused.
Clearly keen to change the subject, he turned to Harry. "Hey, guess what, mate? I've got some great news! I'll let Gabriela tell you - come on!"
"Um, no offence, mate, but there's still the language barrier - "
"No problem! I've been teaching her English."
Ron showed them into the next room, where his dark-haired, pretty young wife sat sewing with her stern-faced mother, who from the expression on her face when she saw them seemed to blame Harry entirely for the whole sorry mess her daughter had found herself in.
Ron, of course, was oblivious. "Hey, Gabs! Tell them the good news!"
Smiling at her husband, she rose and in a heavily accented voice, recited, "I am op zer doff!" as Ron beamed proudly.
Harry stared, then remembering himself, grabbed her hands and said a warm, "Congratulations!"
On the way back to the castle, and after Harry had answered his puzzled question of, "Vot is this doff, Harry?" Viktor seemed in a thoughtful mood.
"Does it bother you, Harry, that ve vill never haff children?" he asked, frowning.
"Nah, I always reckoned I'd adopt, anyway. I mean, there's so many kids in the world already who need families, it doesn't make sense to have more when you can give a home to a kid that already needs one." He was silent a moment. "Does it bother you?"
"For me, I think I do not mind. But for the voman I marry..."
Harry felt bad for him. "You know, Hermione's never really talked about it, but I always reckoned she wasn't that keen on having kids. I always thought it'd be a problem if she married Ron, to tell the truth."
Viktor brightened visibly.
"Harry, you are good friend, you know that?"
After he'd said goodbye to Viktor, who'd made plans with some vamps he knew from back home, Harry wasn't sure what to do with himself. His feet, however, seemed to know the answer, as they took him straight back up to Snape's chambers.
Why did he keep going back there? It was daft - all Snape did was insult him and tell him to piss off. But still, he couldn't seem to stay away.
"Hi, Snape! Look, no fangs!"
Potter was grinning broadly. Strangely, Severus felt unable to join him. "What is it now, Potter?" Watching Potter's face fall, Severus reflected that it was just like kicking a puppy - easy as breathing, but no less satisfying for that.
"I thought you'd be pleased. No more lith- sorry, lisping."
"If you think, Potter, that my irritation with you derived solely from your admittedly annoying erstwhile speech impediment, you are sadly deluded. I could give you a list of the things that irk me about you, but as that would involve a great deal more time spent in your loathsome company I must beg to be excused."
Potter looked like he was about to say something in reply, but at that moment there came a knock on the door of unmistakeable arrogance, and the Graf swept in.
"Ah, Severus. You find here everything to your satisfaction, I trust?"
Almost as tall as Severus in fact, the Graf managed somehow to give the impression of being ever-so-slightly taller. He wore the aura of power like an expensive perfume saturated with pheromones, and Severus could feel his body responding to the vampire's attractions in spite of himself.
The Graf's face was of saturnine cast, giving the lie to the popular conception that vampires were all rather on the pasty side. His lips, on the other hand, were full and sensual, eminently suited to feasting on the neck of some luscious young virgin.
Speaking of which... Severus noted Potter making a determined effort to fade into the shadows. Interesting. So Dumbledore's boy hero was afraid of the Graf, then? Perhaps not so surprising, though - the Graf possessed absolute power over the members of his clan, and Severus had heard that the punishments he was in the habit of doling out to those who displeased him were vastly more inventive than Voldemort's interminable Crucios.
"Everything is most satisfactory, Graf. I am truly impressed with the facilities you have provided here."
"And the work, it progresses?"
"Indeed. But as I have told you, we cannot expect a result in mere days." There was just a hint of reproof in his voice. Severus was damned if he was going to let an upstart vampire intimidate him into rushing his research.
"Of course, of course. But this one," and the Graf's steely gaze turned suddenly to a visibly nervous Potter, "he has been hindering you?"
Severus hesitated, just a moment. Here at last was the opportunity to rid himself of this annoying tick that seemed so determined to lodge itself in his skin.
"No, not at all. In fact he has been helping me in my research," he found himself lying smoothly.
The Graf seemed surprised - as well he bloody might, Severus thought ruefully. What on Earth had possessed him to protect that irritating brat? Force of habit, he supposed resignedly.
Certainly not because he had just been picturing him as a luscious young virgin.
"Then I will leave you to your work. Good evening!" The Graf swept out, flanked as always by two thuggish looking vampires. The effect, for Severus, was somewhat ruined by the images it brought to mind of a strutting young Draco Malfoy and the ever-present Crabbe and Goyle.
"Um, thanks, Professor. That was - thanks. I'll, um, leave you in peace now." Potter looked thoroughly chastened, although Severus did not feel sorry for him.
He merely wished not to be caught out in a lie, which was why he said, "Certainly not, Potter. You will remain and assist me."
As Potter brightened, Severus desperately tried to think of something the brat might actually be able to accomplish without buggering it all up.
"'S no fun, you know, being the newest-made vampire in the clan." Potter whinged, as he cleaned out utensils with thickly gloved hands to avoid nasty burns from the holy water. "They've got this whole hierarchy thing going on, and I'm the lowest of the low, and everyone looks down on me and expects me to do stuff for them. It's like being back at the Dursleys."
"I realise it must be a great shock to find yourself no longer the subject of universal adoration and hero-worship," Severus replied sarcastically.
"Hey! If I wanted that, I'd go find bloody Magenta, wouldn't I?"
Severus had to admit - although not, obviously, to Potter - that the brat had a point.
He was whining again. "And then there's the Graf. It's not just the traditional sleeping arrangements he holds to - he's well into all the old traditional punishments too. You were mates with Argus Filch, right? You should owl him and tell him to come and get a job here, he'd bloody love it. First week I was here, I got three bloody days chained up by my ankles just for being disrespectful to a higher vampire!"
Severus sighed regretfully at having missed such a sight, and wondered if there were any way he might persuade the boy to put the memory into a pensieve for him to enjoy at his leisure.
"Nothing to eat apart from the rats I managed to catch by pretending I was dead so they'd come and nibble on my fingers. And have you any idea how much blood there is in a rat?"
"Fluid ounces or cc?" Severus asked sardonically, having had occasion in the course of his Potions career to drain the blood of more than one rodent. Potter wasn't listening.
"I'll tell you how much! Just this side of bugger all, that's how much! I was starving when they finally let me out of there! And then, they gave me another three days just because I'd accidentally turned one of the rats. I mean, was it my fault he bit me just as I was draining him? But apparently, it's against some vampire code of ethics to turn lower animals, so they got all shirty. I was supposed to stake him, but I just couldn't do it. I mean, I'd given him a name and everything." He paused. "So, um, if you ever go down in the dungeons, you want to be careful, OK? Because I'm pretty sure little Renfield's still down there."
Potter sighed, self-pityingly. "It's just, I was looking forward to finally being normal, and then this happens! One bloody piss-up, and I end up as a vampire. A crap vampire. I had to have Viktor teach me how to use my fangs, nobody's scared of me and even the bloodsucking doesn't seem to work like it should."
Severus' voice was sharp. "You will excuse me, Potter, if my heart does not bleed for you. You are not the only person in the world whose life did not turn out as he had hoped!"
"Oh. Yeah. Sorry." At least the boy had the grace to look abashed.
Snape had dismissed him just after midnight, with the snide remark that he hadn't been snoring away the day in a coffin and he needed his sleep.
Bored once more, Harry decided to try and find Viktor again.
He eventually found out from a servant where his friend's rooms were, and knocked on the door. Viktor appeared to have been writing a letter, possibly to someone whose name began with H, from what Harry could see, but seemed glad enough to break off for a drink with Harry.
As they sat round the fireplace quaffing mulled wine, Harry dredged up the courage to ask, "Have you ever bitten a bloke, Viktor?"
Krum frowned. "Vy vould I vant to do that, Harry?"
Harry was glad vampires didn't seem to blush. "Oh, you know. To see if they taste... different. Or something."
"Ah! So, is true, Harry? Vot the other vampires say about you?"
"Vot? I mean, what? What are they saying about me?" Harry tried, and failed, to stop his voice going a little panicky.
"They say, you vant Professor Snape. That you spend all your time vith him, to try to get him to let you bite him." He leered. "Did he let you do it tonight? You spend very long time vith him, I hear!"
"No! I was just, just cleaning stuff. No biting!" He sighed. "Is it really that obvious? I s'pose everyone's laughing at me."
"No, off course not, Harry," Viktor reassured him unconvincingly.
Harry sighed again. "It's just, I look at him and I think, wow! All that pale white skin, with the bluest veins I've ever seen. I mean, that's just from what I've seen of him. Imagine what he'd be like with his robes off! You could trace those veins all the way down..." Harry broke off, realising he was getting a bit carried away.
Krum was looking at him fondly. "Ah, Harry. Is OK, I know vot is like to have a love that is not returned."
"I'm not in love! I just... want to bite him, that's all." Harry groaned inwardly as he realised he wasn't even convincing himself.
After an uncomfortable day spent discovering that coffins were really not the best places to be tossing and turning in, Harry awoke unrefreshed and unsatisfied.
As he climbed the steep spiral staircase to Snape's room, Harry wondered what excuse he could give for hanging around Snape tonight. Magenta, he'd learned, was off visiting a cousin over the border, so he didn't need to hide away from her at the moment.
But he wanted to see Snape.
He knew his chances of getting the bloke to let him bite him were roughly as good as Ron's had been of getting out of the village with his gonads intact if he hadn't married the mayor's daughter, but he just couldn't seem to stay away.
He'd had a quick bite and a roll in the hay with one of the stable lads earlier, and it had been way better than that girl in the Stake and Garlic for all concerned, but his unbeating heart hadn't really been in it. And the hay had made him sneeze; he was buggered if he knew why rolling in it was supposed to be so bloody popular.
To top it all, as he left, Vlad or whatever his name was had called after him, "Good lock viz your professor!"
Orlok's orifice, did everyone know?
Gathering his courage, Harry knocked on Snape's door.
"Enter," came Snape's voice. He frowned at Harry's entry. "Potter, I have long suspected you to have been raised by animals, but I had thought you to have moved out of the stable some time ago."
"Uh? Oh." Harry picked the straw out of his hair self-consciously. Snape was looking at him with narrowed eyes. Had he come at a bad time?
"Um, I thought maybe I could help again? You know, with the research."
"I see. And what precisely gave you the impression that I valued your assistance yesterday?"
"You didn't stake me?"
Harry thought he saw a faint twitch at the corner of Snape's mouth at that. "Very well, you may stay. But you will follow my instructions to the letter, understand? I would not wish to have to make a complaint about you to the Graf."
Harry swallowed, and nodded.
They worked in silence for some time, Snape giving Harry all the most tedious, menial jobs to do - which was fair enough, really; they both knew who was the Potions Master here. Occasionally Snape would call Harry over and drip something noxious onto the bare skin of his forearm, so he now had a pretty pattern of blisters dotted around there. "Interesting, very interesting," Snape muttered at the last one, and yawned.
"You know, you probably ought to get some sleep. It's nearly dawn anyway, I'll have to go soon." Harry looked at the window, where the first hint of brightness was beginning to tease the sky.
"Hm. I was unaware we had been working so long." Snape yawned again. "I had no idea you were even capable of applying yourself for such a length of time, Potter. I congratulate you - your fear of the Graf must be of record proportions."
Harry felt wounded. "Hey! That's not why I'm here!"
Snape raised an eyebrow. "So why are you here, then? Forgive me if I find it a little hard to believe that you have developed a sudden, intense interest in potions."
How about a sudden, intense interest in a Potions Master? Harry thought. "I just, you know, wanted the research to go well. Because I'm a vampire," he stuttered. "And because I want to see Viktor play Quidditch for his country again," he added with sudden inspiration.
Snape's frown was back for some reason. "I see. Viktor. Well, no doubt he is eagerly awaiting you - do not let me keep you from him."
Harry was confused. "What? Oh, I'm not expecting to see him until tomorrow night, now. But yeah, I'd better go. Um, thanks for letting me stay. And, you know, help." He waved his blistered arm at Snape, and left.
Severus rubbed his eyes tiredly. He really should have given the brat something to put on that arm, but he'd still been smarting from the unexpected sting of jealousy that had hit him when the boy had mentioned Krum. Really, Potter was nothing to him but a convenient subject for experimentation - a vampire guinea pig, as it were - so why on Earth had he reacted like that?
Because you found his company this evening unexpectedly congenial, a voice in his head told him. "Shut up," he told it, and taking a hefty slug of the brandy thoughtfully provided by his host, kicked off his shoes and rolled into bed, where he fell asleep instantly.
Severus awoke around noon, in a foul mood. Shouting at the servants eventually produced coffee and something vaguely resembling breakfast. Meals at the castle were the one area in which the Graf failed slightly as a host - most of the castle's inhabitants not needing to eat, food supplies tended to be a little erratic.
When he had eaten and drunk, and was no longer in a mood to hex anyone who was fool enough to cross his path for the crime of merely existing, Severus went back to his research.
Reviewing the previous day's results, Severus almost purred with satisfaction. Despite what he had said to the Graf, he felt himself very close to making a breakthrough. Having a combination assistant/guinea pig, even one of such dubious caliber as Potter, seemed to have made all the difference.
It was frustrating, during the afternoon, not to be able to perform immediate tests on Potter. Severus briefly considered descending to the dungeons, where all the junior clan members slept entombed, and rousing the boy from his coffin, but reminded himself sternly that such impatience was beneath him, and might be open to misinterpretation. The brat might think Severus was missing his company, which was clearly not the case.
Plus there was the small matter of Potter's vampire rat to take into consideration.
At length, though, twilight began to darken the sky outside his window to a rich velvet blue which deepened inexorably to black, and Severus found himself listening with half an ear for a knock at the door.
When it finally came, the night was sufficiently far advanced as to have tried his patience severely. "Potter! About bloody - ah, Graf, forgive me, I had assumed - "
The Graf frowned. His little entourage of heavies frowned too. Presumably failing to share the Master's displeasure was, well, frowned upon. "Your assistant is absent? That is most regrettable. Vassily, Boris - you will find young Potter and remind him of his duties."
Severus felt a most unwelcome pang of guilt that Potter was undoubtedly going to suffer for this. He suppressed it ruthlessly - serve the brat right for choosing to cavort with that bloody Quidditch star instead of coming here and working.
"And now, Severus," the Graf purred into Severus' ear, suddenly standing a great deal nearer than he had been moments ago, "you must tell me how close you are."
Very conscious that they were now alone together, Severus had to take a deep, calming breath before he could answer. "I am cautiously optimistic, Graf. As I told you before, these things take time."
"Ah, yes, time." The Graf's hands were on Severus' shoulders now, his chest - and other parts - only a hair's-breadth from Severus's back as he moved up even closer behind the suddenly uncomfortable Potions Master. Severus could feel the vampire's cool breath on his neck as he spoke. "Time is such a finite resource for the living. Whereas we, my dear Severus, have all the time a man could wish for."
Severus could sense the proximity of those teeth to the back of his neck, and was dismayed to find himself aroused by it. He fought to control himself. "What are you suggesting, Graf?"
"Just think what you could accomplish, had you all eternity in which to research," the Graf breathed.
Suddenly the door burst open. Severus had never been so grateful to see anyone called Potter in his life, Shrieking Stack incident not excepted. From the venomous look Potter shot Severus on seeing him practically being embraced by the Graf, he suspected the feeling wasn't mutual.
"Potter." The Graf's voice was cold. As befitted one who had been dead for centuries, Severus reminded himself.
"Er, Graf." Potter performed a nervous little nodding approximation of a bow, which did not make Severus feel sorry for him. After all, at least Potter's master didn't demand he kiss the hem of his robe. Or anything else, for that matter. "I, um, I heard the Professor was looking for me so I, um, came."
"So, the rumour reached you before Vassily and Boris?" The Graf frowned. "Then it is they who will feel my displeasure tonight. But see that you do not again neglect your duties!" He swept out majestically.
Potter's eyes narrowed. "So what the bloody hell's all this about, then? You never said you wanted me to come back and help as soon as it got dark!"
"Far be it from me to cut into your little trysts with a certain over-muscled Quidditch player!" Severus snarled in reply.
Potter gaped unattractively. "Oh. Oh. Um, Viktor and I are just mates. He only likes girls, you know."
Severus had the uneasy feeling that his cheeks had coloured. "I have no interest in your sordid little sex life, Potter!" he backtracked furiously.
"No. Of course not," Potter agreed, grinning.
And what the bloody hell was he looking so pleased about, all of a sudden?
Severus decided it was high time they got some work done.
After several hours during which Potter had tried his patience severely by insisting on smiling at him, Severus was ready for the next phase of testing. "Drink this," he ordered.
Potter complied dutifully, grimacing at the taste. "Um, Snape?" he ventured after several minutes had gone by. "How are we going to know if it's worked? It won't be light for hours."
Severus frowned. "I did not have you drink it in order to test its efficacy in combatting the unwelcome effects of sunlight on the vampire physiology, Potter."
"Oh. So why, then?"
Severus smirked. "To see if it would kill you." His mood rising as Potter's face fell, he added, "Any burning sensation yet?"
A couple more hours and several vials of potion later, Potter still wasn't dead - well, no deader than he had started out as, at any rate - but his smiles had noticeably decreased.
Annoyingly, Severus found he missed them.
He sighed. "I think we may take a break, Potter. If nothing else, I appear to have missed a vast number of meals."
Potter brightened. "Actually, I'm feeling a bit peckish, now you mention it. Don't suppose there's any chance I could - "
"Potter, if you think for one moment that I will be letting your untutored, incompetent fangs anywhere near my arteries, you are sadly mistaken."
"Oh. But, well - what you said earlier - I thought you liked me!"
"I said no such thing!" Severus snapped defensively. "I have never belonged to that sorry band of fools who worship you, Potter, and I have no intention of starting now!"
"Oh. Right. So, when you got all shirty thinking I was shagging Viktor, it wasn't because you were jealous, you just couldn't bear the thought of me having a good time, is that it?"
"That is not - damn you, Potter, I told you I have no interest in your pathetic sex life!"
"Right. So you won't mind if I tell you it wasn't Viktor I was shagging, it was Vlad. Vlad the lad. In the stables, with the leather bridle, which I thought was a bit kinky, but you won't care because you don't bloody give a shit, do you?"
Harry was shouting the last bit in Severus' face, his nose pressed against the Potions Master's. They both jerked apart as the door opened, and a sturdily-built maid walked in carrying a tray.
"I haff dinner for Master Snape," she announced to the stunned silence, and plonked it down on the table and left.
Severus could only watch as Harry stormed after her.
An hour later, Severus had made no further progress with his research, but he had made detailed plans of what he would like to do to a certain stable-boy named Vlad.
Horsewhipping the presumptuous little shit was only the start.
He had to hide his notes and anatomically-correct drawings hastily when someone knocked at the door. "Enter," Severus pronounced, not hoping it was Harry.
Apparently the Deity had, with impeccable timing, decided that today was the day Severus' wishes came true. It was not Harry. It was a female whom Severus had no recollection of having seen before.
"Ah, Professor," she cooed in sultry tones. "The Graf has sent me to see if you require any... assistance."
Severus sighed, exasperated. The last thing he needed right now was any more bloody assistance. "No, thank you, Miss..."
"De Sang. Magenta de Sang." The girl smiled in a manner Severus supposed might be considered seductive, if you were the type to be seduced by slim, dark beauties with exotic accents.
Unfortunately the only slim, dark beauty Severus was interested in had flounced off in a snit over his too-hasty words an hour ago.
The girl was talking again. "I have so longed to meet you, Professor. I have heard that you are quite the Master." She slid crimson-nailed fingers over his as they lay on the table. Severus snatched his hand back hastily.
"If you don't mind, Miss de Sang, I have work to be doing. If you will excuse me - "
She pouted redly. "All this vork vith no breaks, it is not good for you, Professor. You should get out, have some fresh air. Enjoy the hospitality of the local village. It vould refresh your mind - and your body." She fluttered her eyelashes a little at the last word.
Severus came to a sudden decision. Having obviously been sent by the Graf to attempt to seduce him to their cause, so to speak, she was clearly determined not to leave him be - undoubtedly the Graf had warned her of the consequences should she fail in her mission. Whilst Severus had no intention of succumbing to the lure of becoming a vampire in the Graf's clan - he had had quite enough of serving unscrupulous masters in this life, and would certainly not be continuing to do so in the next - he saw no harm in allowing the girl a partial success.
Plus, after all the day's tribulations, he desperately needed a drink.
"Very well. If you would be so kind as to escort me, Miss de Sang?"
Harry was up on the ramparts again, gloomily pouring his heart out to Viktor.
"I mean, one minute he's acting all jealous about me and Vlad the lad, and the next he's telling me to piss off. I just don't get it." Harry sighed.
"Vell, I think is not so bad, Harry. I hear the Graf vant to make your Professor into a vampire, so he vill stay here forever und make potions. If he knew you und the Professor vere lovers, maybe he order you to do it?"
Harry quailed. "Against his will? Bloody hell, he'd never speak to me again! Fuck that - he'd probably stake me! Van Helsing's tits, Viktor! What the hell am I going to do?"
Viktor straightened up suddenly. "Harry, I do not believe this! Is Traute, vith your Professor Snape." He pointed at a couple of figures just turning onto the moonlit lane leading down from the castle.
"He's not my - " Harry began, then stopped, aghast. "Hey, that's not your Traute, that's my Magenta. The girl who turned me! What's she doing with Snape?"
"No, is Traute. I sleep vith her for months, Harry, I think I know vot she look like!"
"Oh, Dracula's dick, Viktor, we got vamped by the same girl! And now she's after the Professor! We've got to stop her!"
Whatever he might think about Traute changing her name, Harry couldn't deny that Magenta de Sang suited her better. Tall and slender, she could easily be on a poster extolling the virtues of the the vampire unlifestyle. She was stunningly beautiful, with hair as black as Snape's robes, skin like a marble tombstone and lips like two raw steaks.
How was the Professor supposed to resist that? Harry hadn't, and ever since his tumble with Vlad he'd been definitely starting to think Ginny might have had a point when she accused him of being camper than Gilderoy Lockhart's frilly knickers. Actually, now he came to think about it, he'd been so pissed that night with Magenta that he vaguely remembered thinking she was a bloke, and wondering why European mums gave their sons such girly names.
She'd have Snape vamped before you could say Nosferatu, and then Harry would never be able to bite him. Vampire blood tasted like horse-piss, everyone knew that. And its cholestrol levels were off the scale.
They raced down the spiral staircases, which appeared to have been breeding as Harry was sure there hadn't been this bloody many on the way up, to the castle gateway. Snape and Magenta/Traute had disappeared by then.
Panicking a little, Harry spun round, as if they were just hiding and would jump out and say "Boo!" at any minute.
Fortunately, having rather less invested in this little rescue mission, Viktor was able to stay calm. He pulled out his wand and said, "Point me Professor Snape!" and Harry raced off down the lane in the direction indicated, Viktor at his heels.
After a few false starts involving local businesses and irate villagers they tracked Snape and Magenta down in a little hostelry that looked rather more upmarket than the Stake and Garlic. Harry felt a churning rush of jealousy as he saw Snape was almost smiling at the venomous harpy as they sipped red wine together.
"Not my Professor, you bitch!" he snarled, drawing his wand and pointing it right at her unbeating, treacherous heart.
Snape just looked irritated. "Potter! Am I to understand that this is some ridiculous attempt to rescue me from this young lady's charms?"
"Don't trust her! She's after your blood!"
Snape raised a sardonic eyebrow. "And you're not?"
"Well, yeah, but I wasn't planning on taking all of it! She wants to turn you into a vampire - the Graf's orders!"
Snape sighed in exasperation. In the background, Viktor was shaking his head sadly at Magenta, saying, "Trautchen, Trautchen. Is not good, to turn everyone you meet. You haff to stop this, or you get yourself a bad reputation," whilst she shrugged elegantly and blew a kiss at Harry.
"Potter, I was quite aware of the young lady's hidden agenda. Nevertheless, I can assure you that I am far from helpless - for Merlin's sake, boy, I survived twenty years as Dumbledore's spy and Voldemort's lackey, I think I can hold my own against one chit of a vampire! And I kept my hand on my wand at all times."
Now why did that innocent little statement make Harry feel all hot under the collar?
"Right. Well, um, sorry to have - whatever. I'll just go, then."
"Potter. Harry. Wait."
Harry stopped. Snape had called him Harry. Did that mean...? No, he wasn't going to make assumptions again.
Snape seemed to be struggling to speak, somehow. "Harry. I am... touched by your concern for my welfare. And - it is possible I may have spoken a little hastily this afternoon."
"Um, meaning?" Harry asked cautiously, ruthlessly trying to stamp out the tiny seedling of hope flowering tentatively amidst the gravel driveway of his breast.
Snape looked away. "I find I am not entirely indifferent to your misadventures with that wretched stable-boy. I would prefer that they cease."
Harry took a deep breath. "And if they do, you'll let me bite you?" God, he was getting a stiffy just at the thought.
Snape pursed his lips. "I may be amenable to a certain amount of... fangplay. But I will be in control, you understand? I will not have you draining me dry!"
"Oh, yeth, Mathter!" said Harry dreamily, hardly noticing that his fangs had extended automatically at the delirious thought of actually piercing one of those rich, dark veins.
"And you can put those away until we are back in the castle!"
Looking at the sky as they returned to the castle, Severus estimated that they had about an hour before dawn.
An hour for... what? If he were honest with himself (and there was certainly nobody else he was prepared to be honest with) he was a tad nervous about what was to come.
Oh, he'd been bitten before; he'd even enjoyed it, and he flattered himself that the young man involved had not found the experience to be wholly repugnant, but that had been twenty years ago. And Potter had recently been cavorting with a lusty young stable-lad (who would soon be receiving a short, sharp introduction to the gelding shears, if Severus had any say in the matter). Painful as it might be to admit it, Severus found he was concerned that Harry not be... disappointed in him.
Severus was a man unaccustomed to suffering from performance anxiety. Chiefly, it had to be said, because he was unaccustomed to performing, at least in recent years. His duties for his two late masters had left little time for forming relationships. For which in any case, he'd never really had the knack.
It had, therefore, been some time since he had experienced intimacy with another man. And certainly, with a man he desired as much as he desired Potter, had always desired him, even when he had been an obnoxious little excrescence polluting his potions classroom. It was unnerving. All the more so, since Harry had admitted himself that he was not exactly skilled at taking blood. Severus found himself wondering sourly if he should just have let Miss de Sang drain him and be done with it.
"Um, so are we going to your rooms?" Harry asked, sounding hopeful.
"We are," Severus told him firmly. With vague thoughts of sheep and lambs, he took the brat by the hand. Harry beamed at him.
Once arrived at his chambers, Severus regretted momentarily insisting that he be in charge of this, as Harry looked at him expectantly. As if to reassure him, the boy shivered deliciously as Severus reached up slowly to stroke his hair.
"Can I bite you on the neck?"
Severus stiffened. "I have a particular aversion to being bitten on the neck, Potter."
Harry eyed the ugly scar tissue left by Nagini sympathetically. "It won't hurt, I promise." He grinned, suddenly cheeky. "And if it does, I'll kiss it better."
Severus' better judgement finally gave up the battle against the desires of his cock, which was giving Harry's suggestion a standing ovation. "Very well. But if I tell you to stop, you will immediately desist, understood?"
Fully extended, Harry's fangs were... quite impressive, Severus had to concede. He found his breath coming a little faster as he imagined them sinking into him, and the boy sucking... He forced his mind back to practicalities. Unless he wanted to be bitten on the kneecap by the undernourished imp, he'd better sit down.
Fortunately Harry seemed to grasp the logistics of the situation, and immediately moved to sit on Severus' lap facing him, his legs straddling Severus' thighs, the position enabling Severus to note that Harry's fangs weren't the only things that were fully, and impressively, extended.
"Ith that OK, Thnape? Um, can I call you Theveruth, when we're - you know - like thith?"
Severus winced. "I'd honestly prefer you didn't try."
Harry nodded resignedly. "Fair enough. It pitheth me off too, I can tell you, all thith lithping - "
Time to take a firm hand. "Potter, I suggest you concentrate less on your tongue, and more on your teeth, at this moment in time."
"Oh, right. Thorry." Finally, he bent his head, and began to nuzzle Severus' neck.
Severus thought his pulse had to be driving the vampire wild; it was pounding so loudly in his ears. The rate only increased when Harry found a use for his tongue that Severus could approve of, and began licking his neck, dotting little kisses against it every now and then. Severus let out a little moan, and thrust his groin up against Harry's in appreciation. "Merlin, yes."
Severus pulled Harry's scruffily-tucked shirt out of his trousers, and ran his hands over that cool, smooth skin. Harry mmm'd his appreciation and without warning, bit. Reflexively Severus grabbed the young vampire's arse and ground their still-clad cocks together. That... was... ecstasy. Right now, Severus didn't give a damn if Harry sucked every drop from his veins.
He was vaguely aware of hands gripping his shoulder with savage, bruising force. They were frotting against each other greedily, and Severus felt like an animal as he thrust viciously up against his younger lover. Harry shifted slightly, and sucked harder - and Severus was undone, coming as if his whole life had been nothing but a build-up to this moment. By the shuddering of the firm, supple flesh under his hands, the boy was coming too. It seemed to go on for an eternity for both of them. As he came down deliciously slowly from those dizzying heights, Severus wondered drunkenly if the next time he looked in a mirror, he would appear twenty years older: his face lined, his hair turned to grey.
Of course, that could simply be a natural consequence of spending too much time with a certain impudent brat, he mused.
When Harry lifted his face to Severus' again, those mesmerising eyes were the colour of pine forests at dusk. "That was... I mean, no one's ever... fucking hell, Snape!"
There was a smear of blood at the corner of his lips. Severus wiped it off tenderly. "So. Not so inexpert with those fangs, after all."
Harry grinned lopsidedly. "I think I just needed to find the right person to sink them into."
Harry's choice of words bringing to mind delightful images of just what he'd like to sink into the boy if he ever recovered from his recent Earth-shattering orgasm, Severus almost missed the next statement.
"I'd better be going," Harry was saying, sounding regretful. "It's almost my bedtime."
Severus winced. "Your relative youth is disturbing enough already, Harry, without you making comments like that."
Harry grinned again. "Sorry." He paused. "Um, you'll be all right, won't you? While I'm down in the dungeons?" His eyes narrowed. "You won't let anyone else bite you? Like, say, the Graf, for instance?"
Severus smirked. "As long as I don't catch you within ten feet of the stables."
"Fair enough." On his way out of the door, Harry hesitated, then darted back and kissed him, before disappearing to his lonely coffin down below.
The following night, the sun had barely slipped past the horizon and its last faint colours were still leeching from the sky when Harry bounded up the stairs to the Potions Master's chambers.
Harry stopped suddenly, his grin for his lover frozen on his lips, as he took in the scene before him. The room was... bare. All the equipment had been tidied away, and Snape stood before him in his travelling robes with a small portmanteau case by his side.
"Uh, what's going on?" Harry asked slowly, feeling like the bottom had dropped out of his cold and lifeless heart.
"I should have thought that to be self-evident. I am leaving. Within the hour, in fact. The Portkey is booked, and as you see, I am ready to go."
"But why? Where?"
"I have informed the Graf that it is imperative that I return to Hogwarts to complete my research. He had no choice but to concur. In fact, he did not even raise any objection to me taking my, ahem, research assistant back with me." Snape smirked, the bastard.
Relief washed over Harry, tempered with a soupçon of suspicion and a hefty dollop of irritation. Did Snape have to get quite such a kick out of messing with his head? "Um, you do mean me, right? Because if not, I think I'm going to have to kill you."
"Yes, Potter, I mean you. I take it you will not be sorry to say goodbye to the castle here and your little vampire surrogate family?"
"Too bloody right I won't be!" A thought made Harry pause. "Oh, bugger - what about Ron? He'll be all on his own!"
"I had gathered he was occupying himself breeding a continental branch of that interminable family of his. If you are suggesting we take him and his wife along with us - "
"No, I s'pose you're right. He's made his bed, and all that. But I have to go say goodbye to him! Wait here, OK?" Harry ran to the door, then paused, his eyes narrowed. "You will wait here, won't you? I mean, you're not planning to sod off behind my back, are you?"
"You have half an hour. After that... " Snape left the threat hanging.
Harry raced down the lane to the village. It was only when he got there, panting, that he wondered why the bloody hell he hadn't Apparated. Oh well. He'd remember next time. He hammered on Ron's door.
Ron seemed to be in a good mood again. "Harry! Good to see you! Harry, this is my brother-in-law, Lembit - he owns a string of breweries. He's giving me a job managing one of them! How bloody fantastic is that? And Gabs and I are getting our own place at last - her dad reckoned we'll need the space for when the baby comes. Things are looking up, mate!"
"Um, I hope I'm not going to ruin the mood, but I'm here to say goodbye, Ron. I'm leaving - in about twenty minutes' time."
Ron looked more puzzled than put out. "How come? I thought the Graf insisted all junior vamps stayed in the castle?"
"He does, usually, but Snape insisted he needed me to go off to Hogwarts with him to help him with the research."
"Yeah? Bad luck, mate, being stuck with that moody old git. Still, it'll be nice to get back to the old place, won't it?"
"Er, yeah." Harry decided twenty minutes really wasn't long enough to explain things fully to Ron, so he left it at that. "Hey, I'll go see your mum and dad when I get back - any news you want me to pass on?"
Ron looked a bit shifty. "Ah. See, I haven't actually told Mum about the wedding yet - "
"Ron!" Harry was practically speechless.
"So, er, yeah, mate. Break it to her gently, won't you?"
Harry returned from saying goodbye to his best mate, a little breathless again since remembering he was a wizard this time hadn't actually helped all that much, the castle wards being set up so that you could only Apparate out, and not in, so he'd still had to run up all the stairs. He found Severus wasn't alone.
Viktor was there, too. Which was just as well, really, as Harry hadn't left enough time for another goodbye mission; he'd been planning to owl his apologies.
"Viktor! Hey, glad I got to see you again before we go!"
Viktor was beaming, although Snape looked noticeably less happy. "Is not goodbye, Harry. I come vith!"
"Hey, that's great! But, er, how come?"
"Vell, is no reason for me to stay here, now Professor Snape goes. Und I think maybe Hermione need a little cheer up? Vot you think, Harry?"
Harry grinned. "I think it's a great idea. So, you're hitching a ride on our Portkey, then?"
"Which, might I remind you both, is due to go at any minute. So if you will kindly take hold of this candlestick -" Snape was looking forbidding, and Harry noticed even Viktor hastened to obey.
The tug-behind-the-navel was as unpleasant as ever, but the landing in Hogsmeade more than made up for it. Harry had almost given up hope of ever getting back here! Well, not ever, Harry had quite a lot of ever to play with, these days. But he certainly hadn't expected to be back anything like so soon.
"You know, it's a good thing there's only a one hour time difference between Britain and Central Europe," he remarked cheerfully, as they ambled along the road to Hogwarts, Snape's luggage bobbing along behind them. "And that they didn't make a mistake with the Portkey. I mean, if we'd gone to Australia we'd have got there at midday, and you'd have been sweeping me and Viktor up off the pavement."
Snape made a non-committal sort of noise. "In fact, there are a number of uses for powdered vampire in potions," he replied in an off-hand voice, although Harry noticed he was glaring at Viktor all the while.
"So, er, will you be staying at the castle long, Viktor?" Harry asked hastily.
"Vell, I don't know. I think maybe two, three days. I haff to find present for Hermione - "
"She won't want a present," Harry said firmly, eying his glowering lover. "I think you should just head straight on over, that's what she'll appreciate the most."
"Vell, if you think so," Viktor said, his face brightening.
"Definitely," Harry told him.
Snape was looking a lot happier too now, he noted.
There were still several hours until dawn, and the castle corridors were deserted as Severus and Harry made their way down to the dungeons. Severus' temporary replacement as Potions Master had expressed no wish to occupy the dungeon chambers, preferring a nice tower room with a view, the big Southern nancy, as Severus had dismissively judged him.
Tomorrow, the place would be seething with that rapacious, destructive horde of locusts commonly called students, but for now, all was peace. Even Argus and Mrs Norris had retired for the night.
It was Harry who broke the silence. "So, um, I was wondering where I'd sleep tomorrow? Seeing as I didn't bring a coffin? I mean, I suppose I could always kip in Dumbledore's tomb, but it seems a bit disrespectful, somehow."
"I have given the matter some considerable thought, Potter, and I have come to the conclusion that there is only one place where you will be safe from any danger of solar incineration." He paused, smirking.
"Oh yeah?" Harry asked with a grin, "And where might that be?"
"My bed," Severus returned, his eyes glinting lasciviously.
Several days later, as they lay companionably in bed, Severus nibbling lazily on some grapes brought by a house-elf, and Harry nibbling lazily on Severus, Harry hesitantly broached a subject that had begun to trouble him.
"Erm, not that I'm trying to get rid of you, or anything, but shouldn't you start working on that potion again? I mean, the Graf's paying you, and he might get shirty if you don't deliver, and it'll mean a lot to Viktor - "
"Oh, that." Severus was dismissive. "I finished that some time ago. I owled some to Krum, and he has reported that it works perfectly."
"Hey, that's great!" Harry enthused. Suddenly his expression changed. "Wait a minute! All this time I've been cooped up in here, and I could have been out and about in the daylight all along? Riding my broom, working on the tan, going to see the Weasleys..."
Severus shrugged. "Well, if that is what you would prefer to be doing, be my guest."
Harry looked at his lover's pale, naked form laid out on the bed beside him, skin smooth and perfect as an alabaster statue, only the tiniest pinpricks at neck and thigh to show where Harry had feasted on that rich, dark blood. Suddenly, none of those other things seemed quite so appealing.
Harry grinned. "Maybe in a week or two."