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The Twelve Month Budget

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Fridays are Severus' absolute worst day of the week. Why - you might wonder as everyone knows that the day after Friday is Saturday and who doesn’t love the weekend? Well, Severus… actually. To be honest it really didn’t have anything to do with the weekend and more to do with the fact that Fridays were the day Severus set aside to visit Diagon Alley for supplies.

The ex-headmaster of Hogwarts lived a modest life - an extremely modest life. Once he had recovered from Nagini’s bite the Wizenmagot had acquitted him allowing him to move back to Cokeworth. Cokeworth hadn’t been his first choice to settle after the war but even though he had been acquitted the board of governors at Hogwarts had ruled that it wouldn't be appropriate for him to continue working at the school. Admittedly teaching had never been his preferred profession, but secure employment had also been his preferred employment status. So, although he wasn’t too devastated that he had to leave Hogwarts it had also been a long time since he had to manage his own budget. While at Hogwarts he'd received a regular wage with bed and board included his only expense had been maintaining his family home in Cokeworth. Of course, he had savings, but they soon dwindled away when he set
up his own owl order potions business two previously. After spending a year post-recovery doing very little but research and reading he’d realised that life was more expensive then he remembered. His own potions business seemed like the next logical step – he was a potions master after all.
 
Unfortunately, his business endeavour hadn't been quite as lucrative as he had expected he’d had to under value his potions to attract sales. On average, after the ingredients, he was only making around 40 galleons a month. It seemed that not everyone had forgiven his past sins enough to trust him with their potion orders.

Luckily for Severus it wasn't quite as bad as all that. Though he had never liked his Father he had to be thankful that he had at least managed to make his mortgage payments in full leaving a paid for house to Severus. He also had to be thankful that wizards lived simple lives that didn’t require gas, electric, televisions, or that new thing that Muggles were calling the ‘World Wide Web’. His only
outgoings in regard to his living expenses was his monthly council tax payment to Cokeworth and Fillingdale Borough Council. You see, even though he's a wizard his house is on muggle owned land meaning he had to abide by their horrendous taxation laws. The council tax worked at16 galleons a month - which was almost half of his monthly income.

His council tax is what brought him to Gringrotts at 1pm every Friday. He'd spend his morning double cheeking his potions inventory, that way he could restock at Bogin and Burkes after his visit to the bank, he then had a light lunch before apparating to London. The apparition distance was further than comfortable really, but he refused to waste his money on restocking his floo powder when he had means of transport for free. In Gringotts he deposited at least four galleons a week to cover the transfer they made monthly for him for his council tax payment. If he had had a lucrative week with his potion sales he would deposit one or two galleons more to his savings. He'd need them for the weeks that he made barely any money from his potions or if
he needed new equipment. Maybe one day he might be able to afford to do some home improvements.

After his council tax money had been paid in it left him with around 24 galleons a month for his food and other essential items. That was five galleons, one sickle, and 24 knuts a week. He could be worse off he supposed. There were some weeks he had extra to spend and others he’d need to use his savings to get by. This week he had five galleons, six sickles, and three knuts in his coin purse after he’d picked up this week’s potions ingredients.

Now this was the part of his day he truly despised. His food shop. The British wizarding worlds largest grocery store was located on one of Diagon Alleys side streets just passed Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes. Most of his food intake was the same every week but he did try to have different dinners every so often to stop himself getting completely sick of eating the same stuff every day.

For breakfast he would have porridge a weeks supply cost three sickles and 13 knuts. His milk supply was four sickles and six knuts. His tea and coffee weekly intake amounted to an abysmal ten sickles. The soups for his lunches cost him 11 sickles and five knuts. A loaf of bread was four sickles and six eggs were three sickles. His toiletries and cleaning items cost him one galleon and 15 sickles today as he was running low on almost everything.

Severus took out his note pad to add up his shop so far - three galleons three sickles and 24 knuts. He then proceeded to buy food for his dinners attempting to stick to a market of four sickles per meal so as not to go over his budget.

Eventually he reached the last aisle which like ever great grocery store in the country was full of bottles. The alcohol aiste. Severus had always been a man who had like to indulge in fine wines and good scotch. His opportunities for indulging were few and for between now he was a poor man. In fact he would usually avoid the aisle altogether but tomorrow was his birthday and he was so hoping that he would be able to afford a nice bottle of wine to go with the Spaghetti Bolognese he was planning to make himself.

He walked up and down the aisle twice to ensure he had located the cheapest bottle of wine that the shop stocked - nine sickles three knuts for some basic white wine that probably tasted like paint stripper and was only nine percent in volume. Severus preferred red but needs must - he also preferred meat everyday of the week and fish on Fridays yet he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been able to afford even a cod fillet for his tea.

Taking out his notebook he did another quick add up of his shopping. Damn it - he only had five sickles and two knuts left. Severus contemplated putting an Item of food back but he had promised himself long ago that he would never be the sort of man to chose alcohol over food. Butterbeer would have to do and at 4 sickles and 24 knuts it was within his budget. Happy bloody birthday, Severus.

Putting the wine back on the shelf he headed towards the beer stopping suddenly when he recognised the dark haired man stood at the opposite end of the aisle. Harry Potter.

Harry Potter was almost 23 now he’d had surprised everyone by qualifying as a Medi-wizard the year before. After the battle Potter had graciously returned his memories with a shake of his hand and understanding in his eyes - they had talked for hours that day. Now and again their paths had crossed in the years in between, and although they didn't keep regular tabs on one another, Severus would go as far as to say they had some sort of relationship which could but classed a a quiet comfortable undemanding friendship. The way he liked his friendships to be.

They met up a few times a year for a drink or a coffee as well as often spending the evening entertaining each other at ministry functions. Kingsley always sat them next to one another for the photo opportunity - he didn’t mind there were worse people to be sat with at one of them things. They always made frontpage news the two heroes of the wizard world one loved and one not quite yet forgiven by the wizardry world. The papers loved to speculate on how horrible it must be for Harry to spend the evening sat next to Snape. The only reason Severus even attended the bloody functions was for the free food and drink that were served all night - he always made sure to swipe a bottle of fizz on his way out drinking himself into a stupor when he arrived home.

Potter turned then spotted him easily across the aisle his facers breaking into a bright smile before taking the last few steps towards him with his arm extended. "Snape! It’s been months! How have you been?"

"The usual." Almost destitute. "And yourself? I heard on the wireless you have had an impressive first year at St Mungos"

"Oh I don't know about that. Last week the Prophet printed a story saying my bed side manner was severely lacking." Severe wouldn't know as he hadn't been able to afford to subscribe to the Prophet for the last few months. "I love the job though."

''Well I can’t say I'm unsurprised that Harry Potter is enjoying his job saving peoples lives." Severus replied light heartedly the answering smile told him it had been taken as he had intended.

"I’m glad you are here actually," He raised his eyebrows prompting the man to continue. "My boss is having this posh dinner party tonight and I thought I'd bring a bottle of wine but I've not a clue which one to go for. You’re a wine man aren't you, Snape?''

"Indeed" His eyes darted to the butterbeer to his left glad he hadn't yet put his measly bottle into the trolley. ''I take it this is a networking event that you are looking to Impress at?"

''Well you know me, don't like much of a fuss but want to keep on the good side of my boss so she gives me the interesting cases." Harry smiled at him again.

"Here." Snape walked back up the aisle plucking a red off the shelf. It was a favourite of his. He'd have a bottle of it at least once a week when he was at Hogwarts. "Its an Elf made Chianti - I guarantee there will be any complaints about that tonight.”

"Three galleons three sickles! Merlin it better be good at that price." Severus snorted. Little did the man know that that bottle of wine he was about to buy cost almost as much as all his shop for a week.

''Ah I better get two, eh? Don't want them thinking I'm cheap." He plucked another one off the shelf.

''I'm sure no one dares think that of the ‘Golden Boy’.” He teased as they walked back to his trolley together.

"You'd be surprised." Harry snorted derisively clearly thinking of a particular person - Severus deduced it was probably a jealous colleague. "Have you got time for a drink in the Leaky now? I've got a couple of hours to kill.''

As much as Severus world have loved a drink in the Leaky it was six sickles for a pint of butterbeer or seven sickles three knuts for a glass of wine. Not something he could stretch to today. "I'm sorry but I've got an order to finish."

"Oh. Of course." Potter almost seemed disappointed. "Maybe one day next week?"
Severus mind quickly snapped to how many orders had been placed so far for next week. He could probably stretch his budget to a drink next week or he could probably suggest a coffee in the shop round the corner if he was struggling - that was only three sickles nine knuts. Though considering that most of the cleaning products he had bought today would probably last him a couple of weeks he would probably be able to stretch to two drinks in the Leaky. "I believe that would be possible I’ve a fairly light schedule next week.”

''Excellent. I'll owl then." Severus nodded shaking Potter’s hand again before he left. After he was sure he’d gone he placed his lonely birthday butterbeer into the trolley.

The next day he'd had no orders to complete which he had to admit was nice on ones birthday despite his desperate need for the money. He wrapped up warm in the late morning taking a walk around the local park. While there he was lucky enough to come across some freshly bloomed snowdrops. Coincidentally he’d had an emergency order that morning for a fever reducing potion which was one of the few potions he kept a small supply of. He had sent it off straight away via return owl but that meant he now needed to replace the stock. He'd received one galleon, five sickles for the potion - he the knew for a fact Borgin and Burkes were currently charging three galleons two sickles for that particular potion. At least with the snowdrops he was going to save himself at least a sickle when he made another batch this week. Merlin, he never thought he would see the day when saving himself one sickle would feel like such a triumph.

That evening he got started on his dinner while the Bulterbeer chilled in the fridge keeping a running tally of how much the meal was costing him.

100g Beef Mince - Six Sickles
One Red Pepper - Ten Knuts
One Carrot - Ten Knuts
Tinned Tomatoes - 38 Knuts
Handful of Mushrooms - 12 Knuts
One Brown Onion - Nine Knuts
Garlic Purée - Two Knuts
Herbs - One Knuts
Dried Spaghetti - Four Knuts
Tomato Purée - Nine Knuts

It totalled Nine Sickles two knuts but there would be enough leftover for tomorrow nights dinner which brought it within his four sickles fifteen knut budget for evening meals.

As he was letting the sauce simmer there was a tap on his window. Hopefully another order. A large eagle owl flew into the kitchen landing on his dinning chair carrying a brown paper parcel that look suspiciously like a bottle. He untied the parcel and the note setting the bottles shaped parcel to the side for later.

Snape,
        You were right - the wine impressed! So much so that I'm going to have to postponed that drink. My boss is sending me to Eygpt to help out with a Dragon pox outbreak.
        I'll owl you when I get back but thought I'd bring over a take-away one night instead of a drink in the Leaky. Don't know about you but I'm tired of being front page gossip every time we say three words to each other in public! I'd invite you over here but I only moved in last week and it's a mess - I doubt very much that a stint in Eygpt will improve that. Anyway, I've enclosed a bottle of that Chianti as a 'Thank-you-for-getting-me-this-opportunity'. See you when I get back!

        Yours,
        Harry Potter

PS Happy Birthday, Severus!

How the bloody hell had he known it was his birthday? Later Severus pondered the puzzle that was Harry Potter later as he sipped the Chianti which incidentally tasted better than he remembered. The Butterbeer long forgotten in the fridge.

 

See letter at: https://janealpha-snarry.tumblr.com/post/181911952029

Chapter Text

February

It was the second week of February the next time he heard from Potter. The same eagle owl as last time was perched on his kitchen window when he came down for his morning coffee. He could only assume that that meant potter had sent the owl sometime in the night. He let the bird in quickly untying the missive before sitting down at his table with his cup of coffee.

Snape,

        The outbreak in Egypt is finally under control - they let me portkey back yesterday.
I'm working tomorrow but they very graciously gave me the whole weekend off. How does Saturday at 7pm sound? I’ll bring Chinese? Unless you hate Chinese then I'll bring Indian instead.
        Demetrius (The owl) will wait for your reply.
Yours,
 Harry.

He turned the note over before summoning his quill to him so he could write a quick reply saying that both Saturday and Chinese were fine. He tied it to the owls leg opening the window for the bird to fly out of. If Potter had expected him to feed the bird he should have sent some food with it… owls were natural hunters anyway. He could find his own breakfast free of charge.

Severus had half expected Harry not to organise a meeting with him on his return but the five weeks since his last letter had given him plenty of time to prepare. He'd been buying a butterbeer each Friday - along with the one he bought for his birthday (but had drank the wine Potter had sent instead) plus the one he planned to purchase tomorrow he would have six butterbeers to offer Potter if he wanted a drink. Hopefully that would be enough though he was sure the man was courteous enough not to drink him out of house and home. He had had a particularly lucrative week with his potions trade last week. He’d made 18 galleons seeing a slight rise in his sales which amounted to almost half of his usual monthly income. With the extra money he had bought himself a bottle of wine which cost him 15 sickles and 12 knuts. He’d packed it safely away for Potters potential visit – at least he knew he could drink it now. Severus was a sensible man so he had also saved three galleons 12 sickles four knuts in a small cauldron pot on the shelf which he planned to use to pay for the takeaway. He'd saved another four galleons in his Gringotts vault for the weeks that weren’t quite as lucrative.

Severus glanced again at the cauldron pot on his shelf. It was one of the only gifts he’d ever kept – he’d had it for years on his mantel at Hogwarts and had brought it to Cokeworth with him once he had returned. His mother had bought it for him after his OWLS. She had been particularly excited about his skills in potions hence the shape of the pot. He had hidden it at the bottom of his trunk for years scared that his father would break it during one of his fits of rage. When he’d first moved to Hogwarts he’d finally taken the cauldron out and he had it on display ever since.

He spent all day Thursday working late to finish the potions that needed finishing. On Friday it was business as usual with his shopping trip. He bought some scented candles that he found on offer is Bagworths Wizarding Home-ware store. He didn't get visitors... ever. Although his home was always tidy it wasn't perfect. He was sure it was dusty and if he was to pay attention, he thought perhaps the smell was most likely a little musty. The candles had promised to eradicate any unsavoury smells within an hour but for 12 sickles he was dubious as to their effect. Friday evening, he cooked himself a chicken broth.

200g Chicken - 14 sickles
Three Potatoes - 1 sickles
One Onion - 9 knuts
Carrot - 10 knots
Swede - 1 sickle
Peas - 12 knuts
Stock - 20 knuts

It was a cheap meal even by his standards he’d also actually made enough for three portions. He put one portion in the freezer to have next week sometime when he didn’t feel like cooking and the other in the fridge for Sunday.

After his chicken broth he tended to a last-minute order which had arrived via an emergency owl for an anti-warts potion. There was absolutely no way could he do it tomorrow as the potion came with a six-hour brewing time and he had other tasks to take care of in the morning. Severus wasn't in the position to be turning away a sale especially not for one of his more lucrative potions on advertised list of potions - he did do special commission every now and again but they were few and far between. He was working on the potion until past 1am but he did allow himself to sleep in until 9am on Saturday morning. When he came down stairs his owl had returned with five galleons three sickles in its coin purse. That was three sickles more than the price of the potion. The patron had attached a note which explained that the tip was due to the speed in which the potion was completed. Severus added the extra three sickles into the cauldron pot placing the rest to his coin purse ready for next week’s Diagon Alley trip.

He spent quite a few hours clearing the house up although he had to admit that cleaning spell work weren’t his strong suit and he had to refer to one of his mother’s old books more than once. By 3pm he was happy with the state of his home so he drew himself a bath and changed into his best robes. He decided to keep his cloak off as he felt it would be too formal for a takeaway in his own home. That left him enough time to be able to read for an hour or so before the doorbell rang. When he opened the door, he was greeted by Harry Potter wrapped up in a form fitting long grey coat with a green scarf around his neck. He was holding two brown bags in each his hands while smiling in greeting at the man.

"Hi" The man greeted. "Chinese and wine." He said holding up the bags.

"Come in. I'll take them for you. You can leave your coat on one of the hooks." Severus said by way of greeting taking the bags while nodding to the hooks behind the door.

After Potter had hung up his outer wear, which revealed dark blue jeans and a crisp white shirt, all the while filling Severus in on how busy the takeaway had been, and that really, he should have gone elsewhere as it IS the best Chinese in London so maybe it was worth the wait and it hadn’t actually made him late had it? He not dignified Potters nervous chatter with an answer but instead he’d shown him through to his kitchen.

"Take a seat." Severus told him as they entered the kitchen. He placed the bags on the side taking out the cartons from one of them. He'd already set the table earlier with plates. Instead of sitting down Potter joined him at the kitchen side.

"I'll help.” He told him with a smile. “Where are your glasses? I'll pour drinks, I’m sure you can trust me to do at least that.” He took out two bottles of the same red wine he had recommend to him a month’s ago. Severus pointed to his cupboard above his sink and Potter pulled out two wine glasses as he place the takeaway tubs on the table.

When they were both seated Potter began shovelling food on his plate from various different tubs as Snape asked, "So tell me about this dragon pox outbreak then."

The men talked pleasantly about work while they ate the Chinese. Severus was curious about which potions Harry had decided to use and why he decided to use them to treat dragonpox. That lead them on to further debate about healing potions which made Severus admit (not out loud of course) that maybe Harry wasn’t as useless at the subject than he’d first assumed. After they had finished, and the left overs had been packed away (enough leftovers for at least a couple of meals though he’d have to freeze his broth) Severus offered Potter some money but he refused point blank to accept anything from him.

''Don't be silly. This is a thank-you for your help getting me that job." He was sure the bottle of wine that had arrived on his birthday was the thank you for helping him impress his boss.

"I only recommended the wine, Potter.'' He showed the man through to the living room motioning for him to take a seat on the sofa. He sat down in his arm chair.

''Ah, yes, but what you didn’t know was my boss thought I was an uncultured oaf and refused to give me any responsibly as she thought I would make the department look bad." Harry laughed. "Of course, she’s right, I am an uncultured oaf, but what she doesn't realise is during a dragon-pox crisis the Egyptian healers don’t really give a stuff about my how bloomin well cultured I am they really just care about my skills with healing spells. Hence the glowing report full of praise which has resulted in much more respect from my boss - all that from choosing the right wine."

Severus raised his eyebrows. "You mean to tell me you aren’t carving a career in name alone?"

Harry laughed bitterly but it was enough to let him know that the jibe had been taken as he’d meant it to be taken. "My boss is Violet Rosier.”

"Rosier’s younger sister?” She’d been in the year below Severus at school. A Slytherin through and through. A bit of a nasty chit if he remembered her correctly.

"The very same.” Harry confirmed with a grimace. “While she had no connection to the death eaters..."

"She’s a pureblood sympathiser. I remember her from school though I wouldn’t have expected her to end up in any position of power." Snape told him with disdain. She had never been nice nor particularly smart well not smart enough to be leading a department at St Mungo’s. He had to admit that it made him a little bitter that a woman with her toe just over the line of the dark lords ways but with no actual evidence of wrong doing had managed to find herself in a better position in life than himself.

"Well she's never actually been a death eater she’s not marked anyway and there was a bit of a healer shortage after the war.” Severus remembered reading about all the healers that had retired following the war. Most had seen enough conflict to last them a life time - he couldn’t blame them.

"Anyway, shes harmless enough just stuck in her pureblood ways I suppose." Harry shrugged.

"And as a half blood you have to work hard to impress,” Snape assumed.

"Yes." Harry confirmed. "There does seem to be a little bit of favouritism, but I don't mind the challenge – most of the time. Plus who knew something as simple as wine would sway her."

"She was always a fickle creature.'' He took another sip of the wine deciding to make some enquiries about Violet Rosier.

"And your potions business?" Harry enquired.

''As well as can be expected." Snape told him truthfully.

"Don't be underselling yourself now will you, Professor, most healers I know would sell a kidney to work with potions of your standard.” The man smiled at him sincerely and he couldn’t help the slight upturn of his lips in answer. He knew the man was being sincere even though his tone was teasing.

''Ah, but Mungo’s won't pay for my potions." They had an in house potions lab they were often employed trainee potion masters. The potions were substandard at best; as soon as he was well enough after Nagini’s bite he had brewed his own potions. It was a wonder he was still alive after his brief stay at St. Mungos under Auror watch before he’d been moved back to Hogwarts infirmary once cleared by the Wizenmagot.

"I wish they would pay." Harry groaned. "Speaking of potions you don't happen to have any hangover potions left over for tomorrow do you?”

Harry had left a little while later with a hangover potion which Snape had refused to let him pay for and a promise that they would meet up again soon. Snape had agreed knowing that he still had the galleons saved up that Harry hadn't accepted for the take away tonight. Not to mention a bottle of wine and six bottles of butterbeer he could make use of if the man wanted to come here again.

Harry smiled smarty when he agreed to meeting again soon reaching over to squeeze his shoulder but before apparating off he called out, "Happy Valentine’s Day, Severus."

Valentines Day? He glanced at his calendar on his way back into the kitchen - it was indeed February 14th. What was Harry Potter doing spending Valentines with him instead of one of the hundreds of suitors he’d heard about on the wireless. He poured the rest of his wine into his glass pondering the options. Perhaps the boy had fancied a break this year from the insipid holiday? Or perhaps with him being away he'd lost track of the date and made plans with him before realising today was Valentines?

He also had to consider that It was only 10.30pm and the boy was a bright young thing. Perhaps he'd left to meet his intended partner in the club where they would spend insane amounts of money on drinks. Yes that seemed plausible.

Ah to be young, free, and well off. Sounded much better than being middle aged, free, and a pauper.

Chapter Text

March

True to Potter’s word they had met up again a little over a week after the first meeting. Though Potter has been extremely busy with work so he had invited him for a quick coffee on his lunch break. The cafe they had met in was round the corner from St Mungos and was run by Muggles. It had been pleasant and cheap meaning Severus had barely had to break into the money from his savings pot. That time he had insisted on buying Potter’s coffee as a matter of principle. The man had accepted graciously. They had chatted for almost an hour about some of the current cases Potter was working on. Severus had given him advice on one of the potions he was working with suggesting that he request an ingredients change. The man had run off when his break was almost up promising he’d owl and thanking him for his advice.

Potter had owled a few days later thanking him for the advice and letting him know it had worked and his patient had been discharged. He hadn’t suggested another meet up - Severus wondered if it was perhaps his turn to do so. The other man had so far initiated all contact between them perhaps he was taking a step back to make sure Severus didn’t feel obliged. The truth was he didn’t mind Harry’s company - and yes it was Harry now and again. He owled back saying he was glad he could be of service and that he should owl him if he ever thought their was an issue with any of the potions he was working with. He hadn’t yet received an owl back.

Now they were into March - it was Friday. The first shop of the month was always the worst as this was when he was most likely to be short of essential household supplies. Toilet roll (seven sickles), toothpaste (three sickles four knuts), disinfectant (five sickles ten knuts) the list went on. Severus was dreading trying to budget his food shop today even more so as he was in need of a new knife for his potions kit. His had been blunted and sharpened so many times he was worried if he sharpened it again it would snap.

He flounced into Slug and Jiggers handing over the ingredients list to the shop assistant, Proust and ex-pupil of his. The boy gave him an insolent look but Snape ignored it marching over to the knives knowing that the boy would get the order ready for him even though he dislike him. He’d budgeted himself a maximum of ten galleons for a knife - a decent one cost at least 20 galleons but he was only using the extra galleons he’d saved in February refusing to take any more of his savings than he had too. He currently had four galleons 12 knuts in the cauldron at home but he had decided to keep that encase Potter invited him out again soon. He didn’t want the embarrassment of having to turn him down due to lack of money.

The knives were laid out on a long vertical green velvet cushion in the window. The cheapest was three galleons which he was sure most Hogwarts students purchased their first year trading for a better quality one by the time they started their second. The one that he was probably going to end up with was nine galleons seven sickles. He didn’t even pick it up at first a little begrudged about the quality. He looked further down the shelf to the more pricier knives. The most expensive was 35 galleons - a beautiful knife encrusted with rubies and emeralds.

Severus couldn’t help but pick it up from the shelf to examine the intricate pattern on the hilt turning it over slowly but as he did he noticed a solid shadow looming across the window. Glancing up he saw Harry Potter watching him curiously just outside the shop. When the man noticed he’d been spotted he quickly raised his hand in greeting. Severus nodded back moving back towards the shelf as the man entered the shop.

“Hi.” He said in greeting as he approached Severus. “New knife?”

Severus realised that he was still holding the expensive knife. He placed it back on the shelf. “A little bit elaborate for what I need it for.”

Potter reached over and stroked the handle smiling slightly; “Maybe elaborate but still very beautiful.”

“Mr. Snape your order is ready.” Proust called from the counter. Potter glanced over at the shop boy so Severus took his opportunity to grab the nine galleon knife while he was distracted.

“I’ll just be a moment.” He told Potter as he headed over to the counter handing over the knife. As the boy finished adding the order up he felt a presence at his shoulder.

“Proust.” Potter greeted. Severus realised they would know each other. Proust had been three years below Harry at Hogwarts.

“Potter.” And a Slytherin. No love lost there then. “That’s 15 Galleons ten sickles 17 knuts Snape.”

He reached into his robe pocket for his coin purse when Harry begin speaking again. “Professor Snape. Don’t you mean, Proust? A please wouldn’t go amiss either.” Snape’s head snapped up to stare at his companion in shock. Although he had noticed Proust’s blatant lack of respect he was used to it from more than a few people in the wizarding world. “Also I saw Professor Slughorn the other day, singing your praises he was, something about discount for all Potion Masters who shop here? Said you gave him double being his favourite old Professor.”

Proust spluttered slightly his cheeks tinged red. In truth Slug and Jiggers had had a discount scheme for Potion Masters for the last decade at least which, while at Hogwarts, he had often benefited from but in recent years he’d noticed the discount had stopped being applied to his orders. He hadn’t tackled them on the issue unwilling to estrange himself any further from the potion society - challenging Slug and Jiggers on their discount policy seemed like the way to do that. “It’s at owners discretion wether the discount is applied it says it right here.” The lad point to a scroll on the wall but Severus didn’t bother reading it too busy staring at potter willing him to drop the argument. He knew already he wouldnt; Potter couldn’t help being a fierce defender of his friends - he had worked out a while ago that Harry considered him a friend.

“You look like neither Slug nor Jiggers, Jeremy.” Potters slipped to his first name pronouncing it with venom. “Maybe you should call them? Tell them Healer Potter would like a word about discriminative behaviour towards war heroes?”

Proust and Potter stared at each other both defiant with reddened cheeks and closed fists. Until Proust broke eye contact. “13 galleons 12 sickles three Knuts then... Professor Snape.” He emphasised the word ‘Professor’ in an insolent manner.

Severus paid him quickly gathering his bag very aware that the altercation had drawn the attention of the other shops occupants. He knew Potter hadn't followed him straight away which he took to mean that he was having further words with Proust but sure enough the man fell into step beside him half way up Diagon Alley.

“Proust's a jumped up shit.” Potter exclaimed. Severus just continued walking knowing he should be grateful that Potter had just saved him two galleons but at the same time his damned pride had been hurt. He would never have asked for the Potions Masters discount and he was damn well sure he didn’t want Potter fighting his battles for him. “I’m sick of people treating you like a second rate citizen despite all the scarifies you made for them.”

Potter continued ranting about Proust's behaviour as Severus entered one of the side alley way. Once off the busy stretch of Diagon Alley he finally pinned Potter with a glare. “You think I’m bothered about the damned Potions Masters discount?” He hissed harshly.

Potter reeled back slightly as if shocked at the anger is his tone. “You’re entitled to it. If Professor bloody Slughorn gets it after he was the one who told Tom Riddle about Horcruxes and faked his own death to try and avoid the war I’m damn sure you should get it.” He replied passionately.

Severus huffed. “I’m not bothered enough about it to cause a blasted scene. People already have a low enough opinion about me as it is.” With that he turned on the spot and apparated home.

He was unlocking his front door when he heard the pop of apparition near by followed by a hand in his upper arm. “I’m sorry I didn’t think.”

Severus paused but didn’t turn around. He let Potter continue. “I just get so angry when people behave that way towards you. His smarmy little face. Don’t you just want to hit him?”

He sighed. “I just want a quiet life.” He admitted glancing at the man who he had to admit looked contrite.

“I know you do. I didn’t handle it well did I? It will probably make the Prophet too.” Potter winced slightly. “Let me make it up to you? I’ll buy you dinner? We’ll go somewhere Muggle...”

The man’s knees seemed to buckle then but luckily Severus’ reactions were quicker. He caught his upper arm managing to take his weight and keep hold of the bag of ingrediants. “Bloody hell, Potter.”

Potter lent his head heavily on Severus’ shoulder taking a few deep breaths but not speaking. He pushed the door open hauling them through the fresh-hold plonking the limp dark haired man on the bottom step of his stairs while he put the bag on the table in his entry way. He shut the door with a wave of his hand hiding them from nosy neighbours.

He dropped to his knees in front of Harry pushing his head back so he could see his face gently slapping his cheek lightly. “Potter. What’s wrong?” He only for a grunt in response. “Harry. Come on. Answer me.”

He admitted a long groan. “Apparition Sickness.” The words sounded as though he’d forced them out but Severus almost sighed in relief summoning an anti-nausea potion uncorking it quickly and pouring it in Potter’s mouth. After a few seconds he pulled the man to his feet half dragging him to the living room pushing him down on the sofa.

“Stay there. I’ll make tea.” Severus left the man draped across the sofa entering the kitchen muttering about ‘stupid Gryffindors’ and ‘foolish Healers’. When he reentered the living room Harry was sat upright again but still deadly white.

“I’m sorry.” Potter said sheepishly while accepting the tea. Severus had put three spoonfuls of sugar in it for good measure.

“What are you sorry for?” He sat down heavily in his armchair with his own cup of tea minus the sugar.

“All of it. Proust. Forcing my Gryffindor tendencies on you. Following you home. Fainting on you.” He took a sip of his tea while playing with the hem of his coat nervously.

Severus decided it was probably time to let the Proust thing go. Potter couldn’t really help his own personality could he? Plus the extra money he would be able to transfer to his cauldron pot wasn’t to be sniffed at. “What sort of Healer. that apparently suffers from severe Apparation Sickness, doesn’t have an Anti-Nausea potion on them?”

Harry breathed out a laugh. “To be fair I really didn’t expect to be apparating such a long distance today plus I did cast an Anti-Nausea charm before apparating - it just wore off much quicker than I expected.” Harry admitted.

“You suffer that badly?” Snape asked curious.

“Yes. I can just about get away with flooing without any charms but if you think that apparation sickness is bad you want to see me with Portkey Sickness. I was in bed for a full day when I arrived in Egypt in January and then another day on my return home.” Harry pouted slightly.

“A day? With potions?” The boy nodded his confirmation reaching into his pocket pulling out a ratty booklet. He held it out to Severus who opened it carefully realising it was a map of the public floo system the man had even added extra floos to the map and also had a list of floos to use for different locations. He noticed his own ‘The Goat & Lamb - SS’ he recognised the pub it was around two miles south but he never visited. Potter must use the public floo system and then make small jumps from there. “Curious.”

“Anyway; before all the dramatics I was begging you to let me take you out for tea by way of an apology. I think the drinks are all on me now too as a thank you for seeing me right.” He looked up hopefully at him over his tea cup.

He sighed again. Well he HAD missed doing his food shop and no way could he be bother going back now. “I think you will find the drinks were always on you.”

Potter smiled brightly at that and Severus couldn’t help the slight smile that crept on to his face in answer. “You know anywhere good?”

“I know there’s a pub round the corner that serves food. I have eaten there myself for a number of years so I can’t comment on the quality.” He got his wand out a pointed at the fireplace. “I’ve opened the floo to you. See that you use it in future instead of apparating.”

“I should have just told you in the first place shouldn’t I?” Severus just rolled his eyes in answer standing up and walking out the living room into the hallway. He unbuttoned his robe placing it on one of the hooks underneath he wore a simple white shirt and black pants. He replaced his robe with a knee length Muggle black coat. It was years old but due to the fact that he rarely wore it it was in good condition if not a little dated. Reaching into his cloak pocket he pulled out his coin purse that he had left there earlier turning it over he located the word ‘Muggle’ which had been embroidered into the bottom he rubbed his thumb across it twice watching as it transfigured into a leather Muggle wallet. Opening it up he checked the sleeve finding a ten pound note that he had left in there years ago for emergency’s. Not that this was an emergency but he really should buy Potter a pint. When he walked back into the living room the boy was standing an indication that he was ready to leave.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to you in Muggle clothes.” Harry laughed in a nervous fashion that confused Severus slightly. He the reached into his pocket and pulled out the emerald green scarf he’d been wearing the last time he’d come round. “Here.”

Harry walked up to him standing on his tiptoes and wrapping the scarf around his shoulders and smoothing the material out. “As I thought... makes you look distinguished.” At that moment Potter lost his balance stumbling but Severus was ready catching him with a strong arm around the waist.

“Lightheaded?” He asked; the man hummed a little in conformation. They were close Severus realised their foreheads almost touching. Potter had his eyes closed obviously waiting for the dizziness to pass but when he opened them their eyes locked. Severus cleared his throat letting go of the man’s waist and moving back. “Better?”

“Yes. Think we’ll just take this walk a little easy. I’m probably just hungry. Haven’t eaten since breakfast.” He smile at him taking a step towards the door. Severus followed and they started their careful journey to the pub.

Later, hours later, Potter used his floo to get home managing to not have any further relapses. Severus was lucky he had a couple of handfuls of floo powder left I his pot for emergencies. Harry had thanked him again and apologised again, Severus had just nudged him towards the fireplace with an amused grunt but before the man left he spun round pressed a quick kiss to his cheek then stepped into the green flames. What a curious man.

*
On Saturday Severus had to venture back into Diagon Alley to finish the food shop he hadn’t got round to yesterday. It was later than he intended due to three unexpected orders being owled through that morning making him nearly five galleons. That was halfway towards replenishing the February funds he’d spent on the new knife.

As he walked past Slug and Jiggers Master Jiggers himself exited the store waving a folded up Prophet doing a strange non-jog towards him. Severus stopped allowing the elderly man to catch his breath as he reached him.

“Master Snape I can’t apologise enough.” The man spluttered. ‘Master’ it had been a while since he’d been acknowledged so formerly by someone who was only an acquaintance. Of course, Harry had been right, many off his ex students did still refer to him as ‘Professor’ apart from the ones who wanted to be purposefully disrespectful. Being referred to as a ‘Potion Masters’ his proper title hadn’t happened since he last attended a conference a decade ago. The man managed to get his breath again so he could continue. “Proust has been dealt with accordingly. I hope we haven’t lost your business? You’re one of our best customers and Proust knows now to apply the relevant discount.”

Oh. That had got back to him had it? “You have my business.” Severus stated simply not wishing to discuss the matter further in the street.

“If you could let Healer Potter know too.” At this point Master Jiggers opened the paper to gesture to the front page. A picture of he and Potter stood in front of a scowling Proust. Potter was stood proudly but only half his face could be seen but it was cool and calm. Severus on the other hand was looking towards Potter with a look of slight shock on his face. He’d have to remember to work on getting his masks back into place if he was going to start ending up as front page news again. The headline read ‘Boy-who-lives’ Rage at Shops Discrimination’.

“Can I borrow this?” He asked motioning towards the paper. He needed to read the damn article.

Jiggers thrusted the paper towards him. “Keep it. I’ve had at least ten copies sent to me this morning alone. So you’ll let him know then?”

“I’ll owl him.” Severus nodded to the man then continued up the street. He took a turn into a quiet alley usually used for apparating and began to read the article. It was pretty accurate regarding what had happened stating that Potter had called the shop assistant up on his attitude questioning why a well known potions master had not been privy to the potion master’s discount. It went on to state the discount had been eventually awarded before offering a brief history on his own potions career including praising his young age when achieving his mastery, his work on the Wolfsbane, and years as Hogwarts professor. It even went on to call his business very affordable before mentioning it by name; Spinners End Potions Ltd. Well that explained the extra potion orders this morning.

He quickly finished up his shop being slightly more elaborate with this weeks food spending a whole extra galleon in his shop that he usual but he was in the mood to celebrate. The article was free advertising. Although he had been upset by Potters disregard for his feelings on the matter yesterday he couldn’t deny that the article put him in a good light as well as promoting his business.

He’d never advertised. Too expensive. He’d been relying on word of mouth solely but if one article could get him five extra galleons maybe he needed to have a serious think about advertising in the future.

When he arrived home not long later he was surprised to find another five owls waiting for him with more orders. In a moment of madness he added another three galleons seven sickles and two knuts to the miniature cauldron pot on the shelf. There was now seven galleons nine sickles 24 knuts that he’d managed to save in there since January.

After putting his shopping away he took a quill and a bit of parchment penning a letter to Harry.

Potter,

Seems your little stunt yesterday has done my business some good. Not only have my orders increased after the Prophets write up but Master Jiggers himself approached me to apologise and assure me the discount would always be applied to my future orders.

Looks like I owe you dinner now.

How does next Saturday sound?

SS

Next weekend would give him more than enough time to find an appropriate place to take Potter that would be no more that ten galleons including drinks. A difficult task but doable as long as he avoided popular haunts which tended to be pricer.

Severus began on his tea for tonight. Something a little more elaborate than his usual batch cooks. Chicken burger and chips.

Chicken breast - 6 sickles
Bread roll - 4 sickles
2 potatoes - 1 sickle
Cooking oil - 23 knuts
Side salad - 12 knuts

He couldn’t deny it was a refreshing change from his usual economic meals which stretched to two or three portions. An hour or so last Potter replied.

Severus,

Wondered if you’d seen the Prophet. Glad it had a positive effect. I was worried it would make you mad at me all over again.

Dinner sounds lovely. Working all next weekend. Is Monday ok at all?

Not sure I’ll be bothered with going out in public again after five shifts in a row. How about a takeaway again?

Harry

Well he had to admit a takeaway would be cheaper. He still had the butterbeer in the fridge and he could certainly afford a couple bottles of wine especially if the orders continued the way they were doing. He was sure he had a takeaway menu in the draw somewhere for the Indian in town. He rummaged around in his kitchen draws until he found it. It was quite pricey but they did set meals which seemed a good option. £23 for poppadoms, starters, mains and sides. That would be around four galleons six sickles but of course he still had the £10 note from his wallet that he could use. He’d get the rest changed on Friday. Maybe he could keep four or five galleons in the cauldron for any future outings with Harry?

Chapter Text

April

By mid April Severus and Harry had something of a new routine established. They met at least once a week for dinner either at Spinners End or they would go out somewhere (so far Severus had managed to steer them somewhere cheap). Though since the Indian back in the second week of February they had started to split the bills. They had also ditched the owls and begun to firecall each other since he’d opened the floo to Harry; he had to invest in some more floo powder which was a slight blow to his finances. Sometimes the calls were practical short conversations finalising their plans but on three occasions now Harry had prolonged their calls prompting Severus to invite him through for coffee - he’d never enjoyed speaking to someone through the fireplace. On the third time Harry had floo’d through after a long shift at the hospital still in his healer robes. Severus had taken one look at him and brought out a bottle of wine that he’d bought for the following night when they’d actually planned to have takeaway. He’d made a cottage pie the night before (enough for four portions) so he’d offered Harry a plate which he’d accepted graciously - he’d served it with fresh vegetables and gravy. Potter had complemented him on his cooking skills promising that he’d return the favour by cooking for him soon. By 9pm the bottle of wine was drink and Harry was almost falling asleep on the sofa. He’d urged him towards the floo telling him he needed a good nights sleep. The man had simply sighed bidding Severus goodnight with a (now regular part of their routine) peck on the cheek before flooing home.

Severus had half expected him to cancel the next night but Harry had turned up at seven more refreshed than he’d been yesterday with two bottles of wine to replace the one they’d drunk the night before. They’d ordered the same Indian as last time splitting the bill when the delivery driver knocked at the door. It was almost 3am before Potter seemed to suddenly realise the time an apologised for keeping him up. Severus had assured him that if he’d have wanted him gone he would have been shipped home hours ago. The boy had laughed then and wrapped his arms round Severus’ shoulders; he’d loosely returned the gesture with an arm around the smaller man’s waist telling himself it was simply because he was worried the man was drunk and would loose his balance. Harry had given him a lingering kiss on his cheek then which had been far more intimate than all the previous ones. After a moment Severus had stepped back not meeting Harry’s eyes stepping behind him putting both hands on his shoulders directing him towards the fireplace. Before he had gone he’d slipped an Anti-Nausea potion as well as a Hungover cure into his pocket patting his arm telling Harry he’d need it. The man had smiled a little bemusedly then thanking him before flooing out.

Financially he’d been doing much better. He was in his potion lab for at least two hours a day now when previously he’d often have two days in a row were he wouldn’t need to brew. Last month he’d made 72 galleons even with the extra expense on the new knife. His food budgeting hadn’t increased too much as he was still attempting to budget the same fully expecting the rainy days to return. Although he had managed to put three or four galleons away in Gringotts each week. Of course he was putting more in the cauldron now their meetings had become a regular occurrence
. He tried to keep the total above ten galleons just in case Harry fancied going somewhere pricier. That meant he’d been putting at least five galleons in the cauldron each week. He was well aware it was foolhardy to spend more money going out for meals with Harry Potter than he was saving in his vault but for the first time in a long time he was actually enjoying himself.

He wasn’t a fool. He didn’t expect this arrangement between them to last forever. He had assumed that Harry was at a loose end with his best friends busy planning their wedding in May. He was a stop gap between romantic entanglements; he knew Harry had recently come out of a relationship but he hadn’t pried about the details. A man like Harry wouldn’t be single for long.

It was now Wednesday and he hadn’t heard from the man since he’d floo’d home two nights ago. By now they had usually made plans for their next dinner. Severus wasn’t sure if he should floo the man himself to make sure he’d not stumbled out the floo and cracked his head when he’d arrived home or something. By Wednesday dinnertime he’d decided he’d wait until this evening the floo Harry to check in.

As though Harry sensed this Severus’ floo chimed at around 4.30pm. He’d been in the lab so had to put his potion under a stasis charm to accept the floo call. The man smiled at him when he spotted him entering the room.

“Hello, busy?” Harry nodded to the door which he’d just emerged from.

“Steady.” He replied. “Have you been working?”

“Yes. I’m on nights this week. Did last night and I’m going back in an hour. I’m off tomorrow then working Friday, Saturday, Sunday.”

“She does like to put you in on the weekend shifts doesn’t she?” Snape commented referring to Rosier.

“Yes. I have noticed I seem to work more than the other Healers but I suppose when I’m head of the department I can work which ever days I like.” He gave him a sly smile and in that moment Severus wondered how he’d never seen Harry’s Slytherin side before. Confident, ambitious, and cunning. “Anyway, I was flooing to see if you wanted to spend my night off with me.”

“Only if your sure you won’t be too tired.” He didn’t want Harry suffering at work.

“Well I was actually thinking you could come here.” Harry hadn’t invited him to his yet so he was surprised. “I’m fairly happy with the progress I’ve made... not perfect yet but presentable. I’d like you to see it. I usually sleep until 3-4pm so if we say 5pm to give me chance to come wake up properly?”

“Shall I bring food?” He could got something cheaper this time. Fish and chips perhaps?

“No. I’ll cook.” Harry smiled at him it was obvious he’d surprised Severus.

“Alright.” Severus confirmed. “See you at 5pm.”

“Ok. See you tomorrow.” He ended the floo call. He would take a bottle of wine over of course so as not to turn up empty handed but if Harry was cooking it would end up being a relatively cheap evening.

*

“Hello.” Harry greeted opening the large black door a minute or so after Harry had knocked. The flat was located in central London on a terrace street. Harry had previously mentioned it was a split property but the upstairs apartment had a separate doorway. He also knew the upstairs belong to a witch and wizard, Harry had told him they worked for the ministry - Severus wouldn’t put it past them to inform the papers he was visiting Harry Potter’s home.”Come in.”

Severus nodded entering the foyer. It was spacious and bright with a coat stand to the left of the door. Hand handed the wine to Harry and took off his inner robe leaving him only in a white shirt and black pants. “Would you like me to remove my shoes?”

Harry laughed perhaps a little nervously. “No it’s ok. What are cleaning charms invented for.”

“Indeed.” Perhaps Harry was better with cleaning charms than he himself was.

“I’ll give you the guided tour then.” Harry told him turning around and heading to the first door on in the right of the hall. There were three doors all together and a staircase that lead down stairs obviously into a converted cellar. “This is the sitting room and study”

The first room was deep red in colour with dark wood. There wasn’t much by the way of furniture. A bookshelf with a handful of books and trinkets on. A dark wood desk in front of the window and a sofa in front of the fire. Severus recognised the room from their floo calls he assumed that Harry only used the room for flooing due to the lack of furniture. It had great potential bad a study though but he doubted Harry could make proper use of it due to his work schedule. Spotting a box of books on the floor he commented, “You’re still unpacking.”

Harry snorted. “You want to see next door. It’s just a room full of boxes. Grimmauld place had so much crap in it. I didn’t really have much time to sort through it all before I moved so I got Kreacher to pack it all in boxes for me to sort through here.”

“Do you still have him? Kreacher?” Severus asked curious as to wether Harry got him to move with him.

“I do. He’s was pretty upset about me selling up but that place was a full time job in itself plus it was making me seriously depressed living in that horrible house. I’ve sent Kreacher to Hogwarts for the time being but I’m not sure how long McGonagals going to let him stay for. He’s causing a bit of a nuisance... grieving his home probably.” Harry briefly opened the next door to confirm the boxes crammed in the medium sized room then led him to the next letting the door swing wide. “My bedroom.”

Severus almost blushed he hadn't expect to be shown into the bedroom. The man had obviously spent some time redecorating it. The walls were pastel blue and white with a modern looking low bed with two white bedside tables either side across from the bed was a chest of draws and large wardrobe also in white. A stand alone mirror was in the corner and to the left Severus could see another door open slightly which was clearly an on-suite bathroom. The really impressive thing was the far wall wasn’t a wall at all but full length sliding glass doors which, when opened, would lead out to a medium sized two level patio. The lower level was all grass which looked slightly unkept. It would make a great herb garden. “I hadn’t realised you had a garden.”

Severus purposely avoided commenting on the bedroom decided that anything he said would probably come across as sleazy. “I don’t like to talk about it. I hate gardening. I don’t even know where to start with it.”

He regarded Harry for a moment. The man seemed genuinely glum about the prospect of gardening which surprised Severus he seemed like the type to enjoy the outdoors. “I can help you. I kept my own herb garden at Hogwarts that I wouldn’t let Hagrid anywhere near. I’ll teach you a few spells that will help you keep it tidy.”

“You would?” The man brightened. “That would be amazing. Come on I will show you downstairs.”

Downstairs turned out to be one long room complete with kitchen, dining table, as well as a comfortable sofa. It was spacious and atmospheric; severus could tell that Harry spent most of his time down here. At the end of the room there was a corridor which Harry told him led to a utility room and downstairs toilet.

“It’s a nice house.” Severus told Harry honestly.

“Thank you.” He motioned for him to sit down at the sofa pouring them both a glass of wine before joining him. “It needs a lot more work to get it the way I want it but it’s nice enough for now. I don’t think I’d want to move again anytime soon it’s been pretty frustrating.”

“Yes. I can imagine. Sorting out Grimmauld place would have been a task I think you made the right choice to move.” He told him honestly. Harry had a career to think about he couldn’t hold on to a house that wasn’t fit for purpose because of sentimental reasons.

Harry gave him a thankful smile. “I appreciate you saying that. I’ve had so many doubts about it. It felt a little bit like selling Sirius’ memory but then I realised he never liked the damn place anyway.”

Severus reached over squeezing Harry’s thigh for no reason other than to offer him some comfort and if he thought it was an intimate place to touch another person then he’d only done it as he couldn’t touch Harry’s arm as that might have spilt the wine in his hand. Harry hadn’t seemed to mind anyway; placing his own hand on Severus’ and lacing their fingers together with a bright smile before letting him go and standing up. “I’ve got to finish the food.”

Touches between the two of them had become a regular occurrence over the last two or three weeks. It had all begun with the kisses to one another’s cheeks progressing to reassuring touches and even the odd hug. He didn’t mind them. Though he’d never been someone who craved that sort of familiarity with someone he could tell that Harry was probably used to this and thus expected it as they grew closer.

Harry served up a curry and Severus had to admit he was impressed with his skills as a chef considering his abysmal potion making attempts. He told him as much; Harry had laughed and told him he’d probably have done better if he wasn’t trying to figure out how to kill the a mad wizard. He conceded that that was probably true. They moved back to the sofa after the plates had been cleared and Harry opened a second bottle of wine but before Severus could even take a slip he heard the floo activate up stairs followed by the thud of someone landing rather clumsily.

“Harry!” A male voice called. Harry’s grimace looking apologetic.

“I’m sorry.” He whispered. “I’m positive I told them you were coming round tonight.”

There was a pounding on the stairs as someone rushed down. Seconds later Ron Weasley appeared in the room. “Shit!” He exclaimed when he saw Severus sat on the sofa. “I forgot. Sorry Harry.”

Harry smiled reassuringly “Don’t worry. My fault for not locking the floo after Severus arrived.” Locking the floo??? Did they think he hated the red head so much that he’d have to lock the floo to avoid an encounter. He’d have to rectify that.

“Mr Weasley, nice to see you again.” He stood and extended his hand to Ron. The red head eyed him strangely for a moment before shaking it.

“No need to be so formal. Ron will do.” The man blushed a little glancing to Harry. “You asked him about the potions yet?”

Severus sat back down wondering what potions Harry hadn’t asked him about. “Not yet. Why don’t you ask him seeing as your here? Why are you here anyway?”

Ron seemed to ignore Harry’s question turning to address him instead. “As you probably know me and Hermione are getting married next month. Well next week is my stag do... Harry has booked this VIP area in the best club in London but I when I agreed to the date I’d forgot that we had booked the wedding rehearsal for the following day. It’s in this Muggle church were Hermione grew up and she says absolutely no way can we turn up with hangovers and off course most of the lads on the stag need to be at the bloody rehearsal. Anyway, Harry mentioned you make THE best hangover potions so I wondered if you could make a batch for us... Harry’s going to do little gift bags or something aren’t you mate?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “I wouldn’t say they are gift bags Ron. I was going to give everyone a shot at the start of the night and a hangover potion at the end of the night.” He turned then to Severus. “What do you say? We’d pay full price of course I’m not expecting any favours.”

“How many do you need?” Full price? He wouldn’t charge Harry in a month of Sunday’s.

“We need 18.” He answered.

“17!” Ron corrected earning him a confused look from Harry. “I un-invited Oliver.”

Harry looked a little surprised at that but didn’t say anything about it. Severus usually charged a little over a galleon for his hangover potion a full galleon cheaper than other suppliers and he knew his batch was superior. He’d already made 50 galleons this month which was ten more than his month budget plus he had almost 12 galleons worth of orders this week he’d do the hangover potions for 15 galleons which would mean that he’d make around ten galleons on them. The beauty of it was he could make them all in one large batch meaning it wouldn’t be very time consuming. “It’ll be 15 Galleons for 17 - would you like them sending here?”

“That would be perfect right, Harry?” Harry was giving him a slightly suspicious look.

“Come On, Ron - I’ll walk you out.” Harry told the man getting up. Ron said his goodbyes following Harry upstairs. They were gone for a couple of minutes before Harry reappeared with a knowing look. “I know your doing the potions for cheap.”

Severus shrugged. “Its all one batch. Less work involved.”

“Thank you anyway.” He told him sincerely and topped up his wine. “And sorry about the disturbance. I told Ron I was on to them... I suppose we were lucky we didn’t have Hermione and the rest of the Weasleys ‘drop in’ on us. I have locked the floo though now.”

He wasn’t really upset that Ron had dropped in. This was Harry’s home. “Who is Oliver?”

Harry gave him a confused look as he sat down. “Oliver Wood. Few years ahead of me at Hogwarts - plays for keeper Puddlemere.”

“Ah yes. Tall. Red haired.” He remembered out loud. “Have they had a falling out?”

He was being nosy he knew but when you couldn’t afford the Daily Prophet you had to get your gossip from somewhere. “No I don’t think so. I think Ron has finally realised that we aren’t getting back together and to give up on the hope of free Quidditch tickets.”

Free Quidditch tickets... the perks of friends in high. Wait? Did he just... “Back together?”

He must have had a look of absolute confusion on his face as Harry looked a little shocked but recovered quickly. “Oliver and I. We dated... for nearly two years. You didn’t know?” Harry said slowly.

Obviously not. He really should have kept up with his Prophet subscription this was just embarrassing. Their relationship had probably been front page news for months... you know... being that Wood was a bloke... and Harry was a bloke. Harry was gay. Well bi at least. It wasn’t a complete shock... he had suspected it but what he hadn’t expected was that this was common knowledge in the Wizarding World and that Harry clearly thought that Severus was privy to this personal information about himself. “No. I didn’t.”

Harry looked at him for a moment as if assessing the mood. “Well that’s about all there is to say. We dated. He cheated. I pretty much hate him now.”

He cheated. On Harry? Why would the man throw away someone like Harry? “I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with him.”

“Don’t be. One door closes and an even better one opens.” He smiled at him before chucking their glasses together in a mock cheers.

“When exactly is this stag do?” He asked assuming Harry would rather him change the subject.

*
Ron Weasleys stag party (stag do as Harry was calling it), as it turned out, was the last Saturday in March. He agreed with Harry to bring the potions around that evening before the others arrived ensuring they were as fresh as possible. They’d met earlier in the week for coffee on one of Harry’s breaks. That made front page of the Prophet... Severus knew this as he’d subscribe to the paper again after the Wood debacle. The picture had been of them sharing a small table Harry’s head was thrown back in laughter as Severus himself smirked into his cup... he’d just told Harry how he’d once given Lucius a potion to rectify a certain embarrassing problem. He’d regaled the story of how the proud man had attempted to ask for it discreetly but he’d pretended not to understand what he was talking about forcing the man to almost yell the potion name. Harry had found the story particularly funny. The headline had read: Harry Potter Finally Laughs Again! The article had gone on to describe the months post Wood/Potter break up were Harry had been spotted looking mostly dour often down right miserable with a picture for proof. It mentioned how he himself was usually a dour man too and how they had bonded over shared misery. He’d rolled his eyes at that... shared misery. He had cut the picture out though. He liked to see Harry laugh. He framed it placing it on his desk in his lab somewhere tat Harry didn’t visit so he wouldn’t see it and think he was sentimental.

He floo’d to Harry’s flat at 5pm carrying the potions in a tray. They were spelled to stick to the bottom to stop an accidents. Harry was waiting for him when he landed. He was dressed in Dark jeans, a tighter fit than Severus had seen him wear before, a burgundy shirt that was tucked into his jeans he wore brown brogues with matching belt. He’d obviously attempted to tame his hair and was wearing cologne - a lot of cologne.

“You smell like a brothal.” Severus told him playfully. Harry laughed closing the gap between them and kissing his cheek in greeting.

“I’m taking that as a compliment.” He told him as he took the try from him laying it on the bureau at the back next to a try of shots. “A shot each then a potion for later. Do you think I should have done a gift bag... maybe have included some snacks.”

Harry turned his head back and Severus quickly diverted his eyes from his pert bottom. He noticed a large crease in the back of Harry’s shirt obviously caused by a slightly miscast decreasing charm. He joined Harry in front bureau placing a hand on the back of his shirt casting a quick spell to get rid of the errant crease he didn’t miss the way Harry shivered with the magic or the small smile of thanks he gave. “I don’t think anyone’s really going to care about the gift bag, Harry.”

The man leaned into him causing Severus’ arm to fall around his waist. “I know. I know. It’s just a lot of pressure you know.”

Severus just squeezed his waist in answer and they stayed like that for a moment of two before Severus said. “You’ll still be his best man gift bag or no gift bag.”

Harry hummed in agreement. “Oh! I almost forgot!” Severus felt the loss of that warm body almost immediately fighting a frown. Harry returned to his side a moment or two later with an ivory envelope and a money pouch. “The money for the hangover potions and this...”

“What is this...?” Severus asked after quickly pocketing the money.

“Open it and see.” He did.

Severus Snape,

Mr & Mrs Granger cordially invite you to the marriage of their daughter:-

Hermione Jean Granger
To
Ronald Bilius Weasley

1pm 8th May 2003

St Francis Church
St Francis Street
Heathstead
Hampshire
BH24 1HA

Reception to follow at

Rivington Barn,
Hookton,
Hampshire.
BH27 3AS

RSVP to Hermione Granger (via owl post)

P.S there will be muggles so please keep magic to a minimum. Robes can be warn. Hermione’s muggle friends and family believe that she attended a traditional boarding school where robes were the norm.

Severus hadn’t expected to be invited to the wedding. He hadn’t been invited to anyone’s wedding for a number of years. He glanced up and noticed Harry watching him expectantly.

“Say you’ll come. I know it’s not exactly your thing but I’d enjoy it so much more if you are there with me. Hermione has said she’ll sit you with me during the meal so you won’t have to worry about making small talk with a bunch of muggles... or a bunch of Weasleys... or whatever’s worse. What do you say?” He didn’t know what surprised him more. The invite or how much Harry wanted him there.

“I think it would be very remiss if me to refuse such an invitation don’t you?” Harry’s smile was so bright in that moment that he knew it was worth if it made the man that happy. Harry’s joy at the acceptance continued as he grab Severus’ cheeks and gave him a kiss directly on the lips... it was closed mouthed, of course, but Severus felt his cheeks redden slightly all the same. The kiss was much more intimate than what he was used to and he wasn’t blind... Harry was an attractive man. He’d come to realise this more and more over the last few weeks.

It was dangerous. Severus knew he should distance himself from Harry before he ended up in too deep but the man’s personality was addictive. He didn’t want to give him up. He would take all he could get. The pecks, the careless touches, and the increasing opportunities he found were he could offer Harry some physical comfort.

Harry had moved away and cleared his throat awkwardly realising that Severus was deep in thought. “You alright?”

“Yes.” He started, feeling embarrassingly vulnerable. “I’ll leave you. I’m sure that the stag party members won’t be too far off.” He walked towards the floo.

“Why don’t you come with us?” Harry asked. Severus stopped and turned to smile at him. The man went out of his way to make him feel included.

He reached out and squeezed his hand. “I really don’t think it will be to my taste. Have a good night... don’t...” He hesitated a sudden image of Harry grinding up against another man on the dance floor. He felt the sudden burn of jealousy. He’d no right. Harry wasn’t his.

“Don’t...?” Harry prompted.

“Just be safe.” Severus said finally.

As soon as he arrived home his placed his head in his hands taking a couple of steady breaths. He couldn’t allow this to happen. He couldn’t fall in love with someone he could never have.

Chapter Text

May

 

Two days before the Granger-Weasley wedding Severus made an extra trip to Diagon Alley. He had a few things to purchase for the up coming nuptials. Firstly, he needed new dress robes, as well as a present for the couple, plus potion ingredients. On Tuesday Harry had floo’d into his living room with an excited look on his face explaining quickly that Hermione had been so impressed by the hangover potions affects on Ron the day after his stag party that she had decided that it would make a quirky, yet practical, favour for the wedding guests. Harry had told him she wanted 40 viles of it for all the magical guests - she was going to charm the bottles to look the same as the favours the muggles were receiving. Severus had of course accepted and quoted the witch 35 galleons. That batch meant that he would make 28 galleons profit as well as the 23 galleons he’d made from other orders that week. His saving pot was in good shape but that was about to change - weddings were expensive even for the guests. 

 

His first stop was going to be Madam Malkins as the price of his dress robes would determine how much he had to spend on a gift and how much he was able to change into Muggle money. If it wasn’t much he might have to resort to drinking tap water at the wedding. 

 

The dress robes were on the first floor of the shop. He could see a sale rail right at the back of the room, thankfully for him, they mainly seemed to consist of dark shades. Black was of course his preferred colour but he had been known to deviate slightly for dress robes. He’d already decided to go without an outer robe on account of the Muggle guests. He would rather not draw attention to himself. He also knew his white shirt would be mainly covered so had decided not to replace it though he would need some new dress pants which he’d already seen down stairs for four galleons. He moved the brighter colours to one side of the rail and also discarded the robes that had any ‘frills’ sewn into them including piping and lace. It didn’t leave him with much choice and no black unfortunately. There had been a dark grey robe but that had an elaborate embroidered flower across the chest. He wasn’t going wear anything that flamboyant. That left him a choice of  a dark rouge robe, a navy blue and a velvet emerald green one. The rouge robe opened up at the waist falling almost to the ankles - absolutely not; too flamboyant. The navy was almost knee length whereas the velvet was calf length. He checked the prices the navy was eight galleons and the velvet green was ten - a shame really as if he was honest with himself he quite like the emerald green robe. It was less than half the original price too whereas the navy had come from one of Malkin’s budget ranges. 

 

Spending 14 galleons on his outfit would leave him with 14 galleons for the wedding present and the Muggle money to spend on the day. He hadn’t actually received a gift list which was fairly modern but he supposed the Weasleys had always been a modest family. He had no idea what sort of wedding gift they would like and hadn’t wanted to ask Harry incase he suggested something which he couldn't afford. He supposed he could brew them a rare potion? Something that would be an appropriate wedding present that wasn’t on his usual stock list. If he chose something that cost no more that four galleons to make then he would have ten galleons the change into Muggle money which worked out at around £50. If he did that it would mean he could afford to buy the green velvet robe. 

 

Before he could second guess his choice Severus took the robe back downstairs picking up a pair of black dress pants along the way. Malkin’s assistant was manning the till as he handed over the clothing. She smiled politely while complimenting his choices.

 

“Would you like to take advantage of Malkin’s robe fitting services for eight galleons. You’d be in and out in five minutes?” Was she mad... the fitting services cost almost as much as the robes.

 

Severus shook his head. “I know the spells, thank you.” 

 

She nodded but continued on her quest to squeeze more money out of him. “What about a neck tie? There’s an absolutely stunning bottle green one on sale at the moment for five galleons two 

 sickles.” 

 

Even though he would have like a new neck tie it was simply an expense he couldn’t afford - one if his old black ones would have to do. He again politely declined the neck tie and the assistant continued wrapping up his purchases in brown paper after Severus had handed over 14 sickles. 

 

After she handed him the package she said; “Thank you for shopping with us, Sir. You’re sure you don’t want the necktie? It would go terribly well with the robes.” 

 

Severus was about to use some sharp words when he felt a hand on the small of his back suddenly. “New robes, Severus?”

 

He turned his head slightly to find Harry stood next to him. Was the man ever out of Diagon Alley? “Harry.” He greeted leaning down to meet Harry’s lips which fell just to the side of his mouth. He blamed the awkward angle. 

 

“What’s this about a necktie?” He asked the assistant with a slight twitch of his lips clearly knowing Severus had been about lose his temper. It often surprised him how well Harry could detect his moods. 

 

“It’s a beautiful bottle green one which will really finish off his look, Mr Potter.” The girl told Harry excitedly. 

 

“His look, eh?” Harry smiled at him looking pointedly at the package in Severus arms. “Does this mean to say you are considering wearing something other than black?” 

 

“Brat.” Severus moves away slightly uncomfortable with the audience Harry’s smile never altered. “You shall have to wait until Saturday to see the so called ‘look’!”

 

Harry pouted. Behaviour like that was exactly why he was falling for the boy. He looked away, straight at the bemused face of Hermione Granger, who was watching the exchange from a few feet away. She looked a little embarrassed to be caught observing them but moved quickly towards them.

 

“Nice to see you, Professor.” She held out her hand which he took without hesitation.

 

“Severus please, Miss Granger” He felt as though he would probably be giving many people from Harry extended family permission to use his first name over the next few days.

 

“Thank you, Severus. Hermione will do fine. It’s going to be confusing enough on Saturday with an extra Mrs Weasley being added to the mix.” That was true. He’d actually lost count of how many of the Weasley brothers were now married. 

 

“Just had my final robe fitting.” Harry reentered the conversation. “Well, Hermione promises me it’s the final one.”

 

“It is. She’s going to do the final adjustments and owl them all over tomorrow.” She huffed checking her watch. “Bloody... Harry we’re already ten minutes late for lunch.”

 

“I’m not surprised with the way you deliberated over the exact width of that piping 5mm or 8mm! Surely it can’t have made that much of a difference.” Hermione lightly smacked Harry’s arm in mock offence. 

 

“Oh, shush you.” She turned again to Severus. “Would you like to join us? We are meeting Ron, Molly, and Arthur in the Leaky Cauldron. You’d be more than welcome - Arthur was only talking the other day about how much he’s looking forward to catching up with you at the wedding.” Harry nodded in agreement. Arthur had always made time for him whenever their paths had crossed over the last few years.

 

“I’ll have to decline, unfortunately, I have to get to Gringrotts and then I have some orders to complete.” She nodded in understanding and all three of them began to walk towards the door. Severus opened it letting the other two through first. 

 

“We’ll see you Saturday then, Severus, and thank you again for fitting in that potions order.” She gave him a genuine smile. 

 

“I’ll catch you up in a minute.” Harry told her. Her only response was to roll her eyes and rush off towards the leaky cauldron. Harry smiled up at him, “I’ll probably not get the chance to see you again before Saturday... Hermione’s got a list it’s pretty structured.” 

 

“Do not fear I’ve got plenty of orders to occupy my time.” He had at least a few hours of orders to complete this afternoon and tomorrow.

 

“Ok. Saturday it is then.” Harry sighed gripping the sides of Severus’ upper arm getting on his tiptoes. He planted a kiss straight onto Severus lips - perhaps this was the new norm them? Severus squeezes his waist were his hand had fallen before pulling away he gave Harry one last small smiled before departing in the direction of Gringotts. 

 

* 

 

The next day while Severus was having his breakfast the Daily Prophet was delivered.He was thankfully sitting down at his table before he unfolded it intending to read while drinking his morning coffee. He almost dropped his cup when he saw the front page. Taking up half of the page was a picture of himself and Harry in front of Madam Malkins sharing a kiss... on repeat. He had to admit if it wasn’t Harry and himself in the picture he too would assume that the two men in question were in a loving relationship. He watched as Harry leaned up placing the quick closed kiss to his lips and he could even see his own arm tighten around Harry’s waist. When had that sort of thing become so normal to him that he would allow Harry to do it in the street? A few months ago he would have politely side stepped it. The fact remained that he didn’t want to side step Harry’s little moments of affection... he’d take anything he could get while he could get it. He was still sure that once Harry became romantically involved with someone else that their closeness would come to an end. He shook himself out of his thoughts of Harry with someone else settling in to read what was bound to be a ridiculous article. 

 

Harry Potter’s relationship with War Hero moves to next level!

 

This reporter can exclusively reveal that Harry Potter and Severus Snape are official. While we have enjoyed a few months of the pair growing closer it is now obvious that they are romantically involved, even comfortable enough to share public displays of affection in Diagon Alley! Though we were at first dubious about the match we can’t help but think they might be quite the pair with both men being intimate with the horrors at the hands of He who shall not be named. Hopefully the pair can finally find the comfort they need in each other’s arms.

 

The two were spotted leaving Madam Malkins were it looks like Potions Master Snape has bought himself a new set of robes for the upcoming nuptials of Harry’s best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. While Miss Granger was seen leaving the shop with the pair before this picture was taken we are yet to discover how Harry’s other friends are taking his new found relationship. We hope that they are as happy for him as we are. 

 

One person who isn’t particularly joyful about the blossoming romance is Oliver Wood. In a recent interview with another publication he revealed that he had ‘messed up’ with Harry but that he ‘was going to do anything within his power to win him back’. When we contacted him he declined to comment on Harry’s new squeeze but sources close to the Quidditch player say his temper has been easily flared during practice over the last week. Could that be to do with being uninvited to Ron Weasleys stag do? Will he make an appearance at the wedding? Will Harry be swayed by his charm? We can only wait and see. 

 

Bloody drivel. Who the hell took that picture? 

 

Below the Article was a small advert for Spinners End Potions. He nearly did spit his coffee out then - he had paid for an advert to be put in the Prophet this week but he hadn’t expected it would be put on the front page. He’d only paid four galleon three sickles six knuts which he only thought entitled him to an advert in the classifieds. Perhaps this would boast the business to new heights maybe even regular customers. 

 

The part of the article about Wood wanting to win Harry back maybe needed a bit more of his attention. Perhaps he should ask Harry about it? Make sure the man wasn’t bothering him. That’s what friends did for each other right? 

 

Not long after there was another tap on the window. He was surprised to see Harry’s owl carrying a small package. Maybe he was writing about the article? He unwrapped the parcel to reveal a bottle green neck tie which was stamp with golden runes at each end - he recognised them as protection runes. He quickly unwrapped the note.

 

Severus,

 

The girl in the shop assured me this would match your robes perfectly. It just sounded like too good of a deal to miss out on.

 

See you tomorrow,

Harry

 

She was right it would match perfectly probably finishing off his outfit better than his worn black one. The runes were a nice touch; he hadn’t been aware that Madam Malkin was using rune magic on her products. He took it upstairs carefully placing it on the hanger with his robes which had all the fitting and pressing charms applied ready for tomorrow. 

 

Today he had a busy day ahead making potion orders he had the wedding favours to complete and also the wedding gift he had decided on for Ron and Hermione. 

 

*

 

Severus arrived at the church thirty minutes early. He was eager to secure himself a seat at the back away from sobbing relatives and to give himself a good view of the church. He’d like to keep a good eye on Wood if he did turn up today. Maybe be able to place a well aimed hex if the man started bothering Harry. 

 

As he entered the arched doorway of the old building he noticed Harry stood at the start of the aisle looking away from the door to the front of the church. If his step faltered a little then he chose not to notice it. Harry was breathtaking. His robes where light grey and looked very similar to a muggle morning suit with some subtle wizarding differences. Instead of a penguin style tail it was the same length all the way round but the chest was still deep to show a tailored grey waist coat under neath. The collar of his shirt was Chinese with allowed for a traditional wizards neck tie which was tied in a large bow the same as Severus’ though not as exact on the measurements. Harry’s neck tie was a burgundy which judging by the ribbons and flower arrangements must have been the colour of choice for the wedding. 

 

Harry turned then spotting him in the doorway his mouth dropped open slightly in what Severus could only assume was shock. “Severus! Your robes aren’t black! I thought you were joking!”

 

Severus quickly closed the distance between then noticing a few of the churches other occupants turning to look at them. “Very well observed, Harry, clearly not joking.” 

 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to... you look great by the way... I was just surprised.” Severus rolled his eyes a little unbalanced by the compliment. He wasn’t used to them. 

 

“Perhaps I should wear a bit of colour more often if it evokes this response from you.” He recovered quickly. 

 

Harry smiled. “Well I wouldn’t go out and buy a neon pink robe anytime soon but green... but, of course you suit green. Slytherin through and through.” The other man reached out to stroke a hand down his arm then smiling again as he reached up to touch the neck tie. “She was right. It does complete you look.” 

 

Severus caught his hand quickly. “You’ll move it out of place if you’re not careful - thank you.” He told him sincerely dropping Harry’s hand back down to the side the reached up to undo Harry’s necktie. “Yours on the other hand.” 

 

Harry laughed. “I used a spell but I don’t think I practiced it enough.”

 

“You did the spell well enough it’s just not as effective as tying it yourself.” He finished tying the bow fairly quickly pulling the ends carefully until they were symmetrical. “Perfect.” He whispered so as only Harry could hear - he wasn’t completely sure if he was talking about the bow or Harry. The green eyed man locked eyes with him smiling slightly as they swayed another inch towards one another. Then a bright camera flash went off next to them causing them to jump apart. 

 

“Bloody hell, Dennis, go take pictures of Ron or something.” Harry told the man sharply who Severus recognised from Hogwarts. He didn’t need telling twice scurrying off towards the groom at the front of the church. “I better go too actually. Will you be ok on your own?”

 

“I’ll manage sufficiently I believe.” Harry smiled at him again taking his hand a squeezing it before hurrying off to the front of the church were it looked like Ron hadn’t taken too kindly to being photographed either. Severus took a seat on the back row watching as Harry conversed politely and easily to those around him.  

 

After the service they stood outside and waved off the bride and groom in their old motor car which had been decorated with white ribbons. Severus again stood at the back he had a good view of Harry here - Wood hadn’t put in an appearance. The man smiled cheerily as he waved off his best friends with the other Weasleys. After the car had disappeared round the corner the other guests stared heading out of the church yard. The muggles to their own motor vehicles and the magical folk to find a safe place to apparate from. He watched as Harry made his way over to him greeting people cheerfully along the way. As soon as he reached Severus he hugged him tightly clearly still caught up in the joy of the service. “Well that’s it they’re finally married.” 

 

He wrapped an arm around Harry’s shoulder moving him back into a loser embrace so that he could see his face. “Are you alright?” 

 

Severus didn’t miss the fact that his smile was particularly watery. He tactfully swapped arms turning Harry away from the rest of the wedding guests shielding him from view. Harry nodded but didn’t continue to speak which Severus thought might mean that he would burst into tears if he did. He manoeuvred them a little further down the path away from the prying lens of Dennis’ camera.

 

“You’re just a little overwhelmed. Perfectly natural reaction to your oldest friends marrying each other.” He let Harry’s head fall onto his shoulder as he reassured him. “You’ll be fine in a moment.” 

 

Harry nodded taking a deep breath. “Do you know the co-ordinates to the reception?” 

 

“Yes.” He’d apperated to the venue yesterday afternoon to deliver the hangover potions. 

 

“Do you mind apparating me?” Severus didn’t reply but wrapped both arms tightly around Harry before casting a wandless anti-sickness spell. He apparated them both quickly letting go of Harry when they arrived to take out an anti-nausea potion handing it to the man. “Thank you. The potion was thoughtful - I’d forgotten to bring one.”

 

“I’ve taken to carrying them with me around you. I’d rather not have you faint in the street and make front page of the Prophet for doing you some harm.” 

 

Harry laughed wiping away the last of his tears. “You didn’t mind the article too much did you?”

 

He crossed his arms; he’d known that Harry would bring it up at some point. “Well I don’t exactly enjoy being front page news but I’ll endure it.” That made Harry smile again. “Am I to expect to be challenged to a duel this evening by Oliver Wood?”

 

“Not bloody likely. Hermione wrote to him asking him not to attend after I told her it would make me uncomfortable - he’s been a bit persistent these last couple of weeks.” 

 

“Persistent? He’s been contacting you?” This seemed like something that Harry would usually share with him. 

 

Harry smiled at him reassuringly. “It’s nothing. Can we talk about it another time? Right now I’m ready for a drink.” 

 

He would drop it for now but he planned to get to the bottom of what exactly had made Harry so uncomfortable. “Lead the way.”

 

Harry did taking his hand almost marching him into the venue not even letting go as he took the offered glass of champagne. 

 

Later that evening after the speeches, the meals, the first dance and the cutting of the cake Severus marvelled about what an enjoyable day it had actually been. Harry had stayed by his side through most of it but he’d actually been seated between Harry and Bill Weasley who he didn’t mind at all. Whenever Harry had had to leave the table to talk to someone or do his Best Man duty’s Bill had made sure to include him in his conversation. The rest of the table had consisted of Bills wife, Fleur, whom spent most of the day fussing over her two young children. Charlie Weasley, Andromeada Tonks, and Teddy Lupin. Harry had often talked about his godson but it had been a pleasant experience to meet the boy especially to watch Harry interact with him. Harry’s speech had been both funny and touching, even he had laugh a little, which caused a few of his ex students to stare at him incredulously. 

 

It was now nearing 9pm, the evening entertainment was well on its way, Harry had attempted to drag him to the dance floor a couple of times but he had pointedly refused. He watched from the corner of the room fondly as Harry danced with Teddy often doing ridiculous moves which made the boy double over with laughter. After the song finished Harry pushed the boy back towards his grandmother making his way back to Severus taking the glass of wine Severus was holding. Severus hadn’t yet bought a drink. He’d managed to take three glasses of champagne from the servers as they walked round and the two of them had been the only two on their table drinking the red wine meaning that they were able to sneak off the the corner of the room with a leftover bottle. 

 

“Let’s go outside for a bit.” Harry motioned to the door a few feet away. 

 

“If we must.” Severus consented taking Harry’s glass and putting it along with their bottle in the alcove. He performed a quick wandless sticking charm to prevent it being stolen. 

 

“Severus the muggles!” The man exclaimed with an incredulous look in his face.

 

Severus simply took his upper arm moving him towards the exit. “Harry. Please remember the muggles don’t know they are muggles. Come on.” 

 

Once outside they began to walk down a long gravel path in relative silence. Severus assumes that Harry was probably reflecting on the day. 

 

“What do you think about marriage?” Harry asked him suddenly after a few minutes. 

 

Severus remained silent for a while considering his answer. “It’s not something I’ve ever considered for myself but I think that is mostly down to circumstance rather than dismissing the notion. I think if done properly it could be very rewarding.” 

 

Harry nodded thoughtfully. “I sometimes think it will never happen for me. I had these pictures when I was at Hogwarts of my parents wedding, I looked at them all the time, I just couldn’t wait to get married to some nice girl and be just like them. For a while I thought perhaps that girl might be Ginny but then after a couple of... false starts shall we say, I realised I was gay. I was pretty heartbroken thinking I’d never have what my parents had. I suppose today it just brought it all back.”

 

Severus took his hand in an attempt to comfort him. “Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean that you can’t be just as happy as your parents were or as happy as your friends.” 

 

Harry looked at him then smiling. “I think I’m begging to believe that actually.” He stopped then stepping towards Severus - he didn’t dare believe what he thought was about to happen between them. Suddenly, Harry lost his balance falling forwards - Severus stepped back in an attempt to steady them both but unfortunately his foot landed off the path on to the uneven grass causing him to lose his footing falling backwards with Harry landing on top of him. 

 

“Severus, I’m sorry, are you ok?” Harry asked raising his head to look at him. 

 

He was fine... surprisingly. The softer grass had broken his fall. Thank Merlin for the self cleaning charms on his robes he could only imagine what he’d look like returning to the party with a muddy back. “I’m fine. Well, I will be when I get off the floor.” 

 

Harry laughed again but instead of getting up off him he flopped back down wrapping his arms around him laying his head on his shoulder. “I dunno. I’m perfectly comfy.”

 

“Brat.” Severus breathed but wrapped his arms around the man despite himself gazing up at the stars. “Scorpious is particularly bright tonight.” 

 

“Is it?” Harry moved himself to lay beside him on his back on the grass but took Severus’ hand. “So it is. What does that mean then?”

 

“No idea. Astrology was never my strong subject at school. I dropped it in my third year.” He admitted. He didn’t mind revealing his weaknesses to Harry. 

 

“I’ll look it up. See if its a good omen for them.” Severus felt Harry’s eyes on him and he turned his head to the side to look at Harry. 

 

Harry’s emerald eyes twinkled brightly even in the dim light. His joy was infectious. Severus knew in that moment that he was past falling in love with the man. His fate was sealed. Severus Snape was in love with Harry Potter. 

Chapter Text

June

In the weeks that followed the wedding he and Harry had fallen back in to their routine of spending a few evenings a week together either at his or at Harry’s. The newlyweds had left on a month long honeymoon across Asia and Australia but before leaving they had sent out their ‘thank you’ cards. The new Mrs. Weasleys had seemed particularly thrilled with his gift which had made Harry determined to find out what he had given him. It wasn't polite to tell others that you’d given the new couple fertility potions with a five year expiry date despite them being a traditional wedding gift - he hadn’t revealed what he’d given them explaining it wasn’t customary. He had judged the gift correctly; both had recognised the fairly difficult brewing process along with the traditional aspects of the gift. The five year expiry date also took away the old custom of being pregnant within the first year of marriage.

He’d been back to Harry’s apartment a couple more times glad to find that Harry was making progress each time. He’d even spent an hour or so in the garden beginning to weed it getting the soil ready for planting.

It was now the first week of June and a Sunday. The weather was warm and Harry had floo called inviting him round firstly to help with the garden but he’d decided to have an impromptu BBQ flooing numerous members of the Weasley family to invite them round. While Severus continued to dig out a plot in the garden for planting Harry went to the nearby Muggle shop for supplies. Before he had returned the first guests arrived. Molly and Arthur Weasley.

Harry had obviously left the floo open to them as the entered the garden carrying a large bbq between them. He rushed over to help them noting they were struggling with the heavy metal item. Molly let go of her end allowing him to help Arthur put it in to place in the right hand corner of the garden as Arthur explained that he’d had to many bad experiences using charms on Muggle objects. He red head matriarch then quickly excused herself to go back for supplies. Severus had a feeling there would probably be a lot of food on offer today.

“Helping Harry with the Garden, Severus?” Arthur asked after he’d regained his breath.

Severus nodded moving back over to start turning out the plot again. “I doubt Harry would have time to get it up to standard.”

Arthur agreed picking up the other spade to help Severus with the plot. “He works hard our Harry. What you planning to plant here?”

“Not sure yet. I don’t think Harry has decided what he wants yet.” He heard some chatter from inside before both Harry and Molly emerged from the patio doors.

“There you are, Harry.” Arthur greeted cheerfully. “For a minute I thought you’d left Severus here alone to deal with all us lot. We were just discussing what you planning to plant here?”

“Well actually I was thinking Severus might want to utilise it to growing some of his potion ingredients.” Severus looked at him sharply quite shocked. He had a very small yard and although he had previously tried to grow some of his ingredients in pots they had turned out not to be up to his standards. Here though, he knew that he would really be able to utilise the plots in Harry’s garden, he was just surprised Harry had offered.

“Maybe I’ll take you up on that. I have always preferred my ingredients fresh. He replied aware of the Weasleys eyes on him.

Harry laughed closing the distance between them kissing Severus’ cheek. “Or maybe it’s just an excuse to get you over here more often.”

The Weasley’s tittered in the background as the watched on - he was sure he heard Arthur whisper, “Loves young dream.” In fact he spent the rest of the afternoon brooding about what the man meant. Was it just a throwaway statement or was he under the impression that the were a pair? Was that because of the press coverage or had Harry let them believe they were together perhaps to stop them trying to set him up? Maybe it was to convince them that he had moved on from Wood... had he not mentioned something about Ron hoping they would get back together. Or maybe Arthur had realised that he had feelings for Harry... maybe they all knew.

He kept himself to himself during the bbq helping Harry were needed and being polite when required. He slipped easily back into his spy mode listening to other conversations; watching their reactions to him and Harry.

At one point Fleur was talking quietly to her Husband while watching their sons across the garden. He’d missed most of the conversation but he did catch part - “Well, of course ‘e could ‘ave anyone, but you must be able to sense the... um, ‘ow do you say it? Spark? Between ‘zem?” Her French accent still dominated after many years in England. Bill had stayed very still for a moment before turning to his wife. “I must admit the smell is pretty potent.”

Harry had drawn him into a conversation then but he could barely concentrate trying to fathom what Bill meant by the smell being potent? Was it possible that the Werewolf attack had increased his sense of smell? Could he perhaps smell feelings? Merlin forbid.

Later on after the Weasley children and grandchildren had returned to their respective homes leaving Molly and Arthur to helped with the clean up Severus seized his moment to speak to Arthur alone. He made sure to wait for Molly and Harry to be busy downstairs in the kitchen before joining the wizard at the BBQ beginning to cast cleaning spells. “Arthur I’ve always admired your integrity. I wanted to ask your opinion on myself and Harry?” He left it open to interpretation.

Arthur paused his spell work briefly, “Severus you’ve never struck me as the type to put much stock in other people’s opinions.”

“Humour me.” He told him simply wary that the other two could return at any moment.

Arthur sighed. “We I was a little surprised that you two had grown so close but Harry is very happy... I can see that.”

“He’s not always this happy?” Severus questioned finding it hard to believe that Harry isn’t always as joyous as he’d been since they had been spending time together over the last six months.

“He’s always happy, of course he is, but more so with you around. Don’t worry yourself so much.” Arthur told him seriously.

He was about to further pry but could hear someone approaching. It was a little disappointing when Harry reenters the garden and he was no closer to discovering what the Weasleys knew, or thought they knew.

After Arthur and Molly has left Harry poured him a glass of whiskey sitting next to him on the sofa. “You ok? You’ve been fairly quite today. I know you don’t like gatherings so much but I appreciate you enduring them for me.”

Severus raised an eyebrow at Harry. “Who says that I do it for you?”

Harry laughed and poked him in the ribs. “Well who do you do it for then?”

He didn’t reply looking across the room at the high windows where a slither if moonlight was showing. Of course he did it for Harry; he’d do anything for Harry. Did the man know this? What would Harry endure for him... the press, Severus’ not all together clean name, his sharp humour and often dour attitude.

“Severus, I’ve lost you again.” Harry places a hand over Severus’ smiling at him a little nervously as if he was worried. “ARE you alright?”

“Yes, yes.” Severus assured him the cogs starting to turn in him head. Why was Harry so concerned. “I just worry that your family and friends don’t like your choice of company.”

The smile fell instantly from Harry’s face. “Did someone say something?”

“No. In fact Arthur started babbling about how happy you were.” He reassured Harry not wanting to cause an argument between Harry and the Weasleys.

The other man smiled again reaching out to stroke Severus’ face. “He’s right of course. I am happy... your not worried about the pace are you?”

“Pace?” He frowned again.

“...because I’m quite happy with it to be honest with you. Didn’t think I’d be into it as I’ve never done it like this before but really it’s so much better. You know you take all the pressure off and you really get to the heart of things don’t you?”

Pace? He was missing something here. Harry was talking about pace as if... well as if they were courting. The papers thought they were courting, he was pretty sure the Weasleys thought they were courting, and now he thought about it - with Harry practically cuddled into his side - it did seem a lot like courting.

The kisses... more intimate than he was used to even between friends. The gestures from Harry; the bow tie, standing up for him, and the bloody herb garden. The dinners both in and out, the wine, the coffee meet ups between the dinners, the floo calls, and the inclusion into Harry’s social life. The hugs, the hand holding, the arms around his waist... his arm around Harry’s waist.

Are they courting?

He stood up abruptly feeling his cheeks heat. Harry fell sideways on the sofa without Severus to lean on. “Severus!”

“Sorry!” He has to leave. Clear his head... but that would upset Harry. “I just need to use the toilet.”

He left without waiting for a reply locking the door behind him pacing backwards and forwards repeatedly. He stopped leaning heavily on the porcelain sink staring into the mirror in front of him. He wasn’t classically attractive to most people but he knew there was something ‘european’ about his features. Sharp. He was tall and dark... but his personality wasn’t desirable. He’d not even considered taking a partner for years. Passed caring. Until Harry... he cared for him greatly but he never imagined that the man would ever even consider him as a partner.

It was a problem really not knowing... he was under pressure now to try his best to keep the relationship going but they weren’t on the same page. Severus was going into this without the full facts... well by Harry’s standards he already was into this. Or he could come clean. Ask Harry outright if he considered them to be on a relationship. That could spell the end for them.

He needed to return to Harry before he worried him further.

“Better?” Harry asked when he walked back into the lounge area.

“Much.” He replied taking his seat again wrapping his arm around Harry’s shoulder. The man snuggled into him with a sigh laying his head on his shoulder. He could do this... if Voldemort had never realised he was Dumbledores’ man then he could surely pretend that he hadn’t completely missed the fact that he’d actually been courting Harry Potter for... well, however long.

“We should go on holiday.” Harry suggested wistfully... not a likely prospect with his current savings.

“Where to?” He conceded to continue the line of thought.

“Paris, Rome, Madrid, Shetland... anywhere really. I’ve never been fussy... not that I’ve ever been on holiday.” Harry replied wistfully.

“You haven’t?” It surprised him actually Harry seemed like the well travelled sort of person.

“No. Well unless you count the Quidditch World Cup, or that time I stayed in the Leaky for a couple off weeks, or the times I’ve been sent away with work. When I say holiday I mean the sort were you have no ties and you can just do what you want. Even stay in bed all day.” Harry told him.

“I suppose an anniversary holiday would be a nice idea.” It was risky move but he could probably talk his way out of it if it backfired.

“Oh yes. That way we have plenty of time to plan.” Confirmation. He just had to go in for the kill.

“And when is it again?” Harry lifted his head and gave him a dirty look. He lifted his lips slightly in a way that made it look as if he was teasing.

It worked. “You’re a tease. That would be lovely but I do think Valentines would be pretty busy... and not really your scene. All them loved up couples fawning all over each other in public.”

Aha. Valentines. When Harry had first come to his house for Dinner. “Perhaps another time them.”

Harry sighed clearly happy with the half cocked plans for a holiday.

Severus had returned home a little after a parting kiss which meant so much more now he knew it meant something to Harry. He marvelled on how he could have been dating someone for nearly five months and not realise. He really was losing his touch or perhaps he had never had it when it came to matters of the heart.

Chapter Text

July

The rest of June had been an awakening for Severus. He realised how truly oblivious he’d been... once he started looking there were so many little things that confirmed that they were in a relationship. Now he was privy to this information he quickly learnt to enjoy himself gaining more confidence everyday in their partnership.

He could now enjoy their touches and little moments for what they really were and he wasn’t ashamed to admit that his heart fluttered a little bit every time. He took advantage of the quiet moments between the pair when he would often wrap his arms around that toned waist or pull Harry into his side while they were seated together.

The Daily Prophet continued tracking their every move even going as far as to include a weekly article named ‘Snarry Watch’. Severus didn’t mind so much as the publicity meant that his potion business was going through a fairly lucrative period. Of course he was still selling them for well under the market value but he didn’t want to change his prices just yet as this could be a temporary state. The public could very easily turn against him again. The more galleons he made meant the more savings he could gather. He currently had just over 200 galleons saved up in his Gringrotts account as well as around 50 galleons in his cauldron pot.

He was still very careful with his money avoiding frivolous spending were he could. His weekly shop had still remained pretty much the same as always apart from the fact that he always made sure he had a couple bottles of wine and a handful of butter beers for Harry’s visits. They had started spending most nights that they were together at Harry’s - Severus would bring a bottle of wine with him even though he knew Harry had recently built up a varied wine selection. They did still eat out once every couple of weeks or get the odd takeaway but mostly Harry cooked for them. This had helped immensely with Severus’ savings. Severus offered to cook for Harry to share the load but Harry always waved him off stating that Severus’ share of the load was the garden.

Harry’s garden was coming along well. Two plots had been dedicated to Severus’ potion ingredients where he’d managed to get a couple of things planted despite being late in the season. The other plots were dedicated to an array of flowers. They had had to plant already partially grown plants this year from the Muggle garden centre - but Severus had plans to collect the seeds and plant early next year.

Harry thought the garden was beautiful; they often sat together on the double swing he’d bought for it drinking wine and enjoying each other’s company.

By the last week of July Severus felt much more settled into their relationship - Harry seemed happy. Harry had informed him that he had a couple of days off for his birthday which he’d managed to secure by not actually telling his boss that it was his birthday. Severus had asked him to keep the day free, if it wouldn’t upset the Weasleys too much, so that he could surprise him.

Thankfully Harry had agreed informing him that the Weasleys would be working anyway. They had instead planned a meal for him on the Friday evening which Severus had said he’d attend as well.

On the morning of Harry’s birthday Severus woke up early sending off a couple of potion orders while eating his breakfast. He dressed in the smart black dress pants that he’d wore for the Weasley’s wedding with the crisp white shirt. It was a warm day so he decided against a jacket or waist coat. Although he did shrink his black suit jacket placing it in his pocket incase it was chillier later on.

He double checked his coin purse taking with him all the 50 galleons he’d saved in the cauldron pot as he had planned to spare no expense today. Once he’d double checked everything he floo’d to Harry’s knowing the fireplace would be open to him.

“Harry?” He called into the quiet house.

“Bedroom.” Harry shouts back. Severus walked down the hall and entered the bedroom to find Harry stood in front of the mirror buttoning up a cream linen jacket that he’d paired with a pale blue polo shirt and Navy chino shorts. He was still bare foot.

Harry caught his eye in the mirror and smiled. “I think the jackets too much. Though of course it would help if you told me where you’re taking me.”

Severus smiled at him walking over to wrap his arms around Harry’s waist from behind. He buttoned up Harry’s jacket smoothing it down. “I think it looks perfect for what I’ve got planned.” He told him with a kiss to his cheek. “Happy Birthday.”

Harry smiled at him again through the mirror and Severus’ heart gave a large thud.

“Alright then come on I’m ready.” Harry told him wriggling out of his grasp.

“Shoes?” Severus pointed out as moved a step away.

Harry rolled his eyes summoning a pair of navy plimsoles. “Where would I be without you, eh?”

“Cheeky sod.”

Harry smiled cheekily in answer sidling up to Severus wrapping his arms around him again. “Yes but I’m your cheeky sod.”

Severus didn’t deny it but took the opportunity to steal a quick kiss as he pushed a book from his pocket into one of Harry’s hands. The portkey activated instantly. They arrived at there destination a few seconds later. Harry pushed back with wide eyes looking around the back alley they had landed in. “You’ll get a better view at the end of the alley.”

Harry walked quickly ahead as Severus shrunk the portkey for later taking out a potions bottle before following Harry out the alley. “Severus you didn’t?”

“Didn’t what? Take this quickly.” He told him grabbing his chin to pour the potion in his mouth. He turned around then to take a look at what Harry was staring at. The Eiffel Tower.

“We’re in Paris!” Harry told him. “What was that potion?”

“Something I’ve created for you. It’s a powerful anti travel-sickness remedy if my calculations are correct you shouldn’t feel too unwell today even after international travel. I know you told me you usually end up bedridden but I hope that it will reduce your suffering enough to enjoy today. You may have a little sickness or nausea still... until I make some adjustments on the potion.” He pocketed the empty potion bottle.

“You created a potion for me?” Harry asked tearing his eyes away from the Eiffel Tower.

“Yes. You said you wanted to travel. I thought day travel with your affliction might not be manageable so I made this so that you can travel with limited ill effects. I’m also making you a long lasting anti-sickness potion. I’m hoping that in future you will only need to take it once a month enabling you to apparate without any side effects.” Severus shrugged as if it was nothing but the look on Harry’s face told him otherwise.

“You are amazing.” The younger man told him grabbing Severus’ face.

“I’m a potions mas...” He didn’t get to finish what he was saying as Harry crushed their lips together passionately. Severus’s hands found the small of Harry’s back- the other hand his messy locks as he took control of the kiss walking them back slightly into the alley pushing Harry against the wall. The kiss continued heatedly for a minute or so before he reluctantly broke them apart. “The portkey is timed to return at 9pm. As much as I’d love to further explore your mouth with my tongue I’d like you to enjoy Paris on your birthday.”

“Merlin.” Harry breathed looking thoroughly ravished. “Come on then.”
Severus patted down Harry’s hair for him before taking his hand leading him towards their first stop. Harry happily went along with him chatting excitedly about everything he’d always wanted to see in Paris.

The day was nothing short of perfect, from climbing the tower to a river cruise, they both laughed and smiled all day. There were a few more heated kisses along the way when Harry seemed too overcome with joy to stop himself from pushing Severus into dark street corners to kiss him for a few minutes. In the evening Severus had booked a table at a restaurant that overlooked the tower were they ate glorious French cuisine outside on the balcony. Severus refused to let Harry pay a penny... well a euro... or was it cent. They had started their day with a quick visit to the wizarding quarter to exchange Severus’ galleons into euros. Harry had tried to exchange some of his money but Severus had refused telling him that today was his birthday and this was his present from him.

If he’d had more spare money then he would have booked them a hotel room but he had to be practical. A day in Paris was better than nothing. It felt good to finally be able to treat Harry and although he knew these trips would probably be few and far between he had hope that it business stayed good he’d be able to treat Harry every now and again.

Harry seemed happy enough with they day as the strolled around in the gardens taking in their last few minutes of the place. Just before 9pm Severus pulled them behind a statue taking out the book silently motioning for Harry to take it. Harry gave the Eiffel Tower one last look before grabbing hold of the book.

They landed back in Harry’s living room were Severus passed him another potion. “Drink it quickly.”

Harry did but looked a little green around the gills swaying slightly. Severus pulled him securely against him to stop him falling. “I’m alright.” Harry told him not opening his eyes.

“I think that second portkey was a little hopeful for the potion at this stage of its development.” He was sure he would be able to improve it.

Harry laughed. “Honestly, I would have been so much worse without it.”

“I think you should lie down.” The older man was a little concerned that Harry was going to be violently ill. Maybe he should have waited before attempting the trip?

“Yes. My bed sounds like a wonderful idea right now.” They started towards the bedroom with Harry leaning heavily on Severus. Once the reached the bedroom he helped Harry sit on the bed before taking of his jacket and shoes. He took them over to his wardrobe hanging the jacket up after a quick cleaning spell. When he turned back around Harry had taken off his shorts and polo dumping them on the floor and attempting to pull the covers from under him clad only in his boxers. Severus supposed he shouldn’t be surprised that Harry was willing to strip down to his boxers in front of him but he couldn’t help the slight blush that crept onto his cheeks.

He moved back over to the bed helping Harry to manoeuvre himself under the covers careful to touch as little flesh as possible. After Harry was tucked in he picked up the discarded clothes dumping them in the wash basket before closing the curtains then heading back towards the door.

“Where are you going?” Harry asked tiredly.

Severus stopped turning back to the bed. “Home. I don’t think you’ll be leaving that bed until morning.”

“Stay.” Harry pulled up the covers leaving no question that Harry meant for him to join him. “Nothing untoward. I’ve just had such s lovely day and I don’t want you to leave yet.”

Severus sighed but he was powerless against Harry. He removed his shoes but left the rest of his clothes on climbing into the bed next to Harry who quickly cuddled up to him laying his head in his shoulder.

“You, Severus Snape, are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” Harry told him.

Severus snorted pulling Harry into his side a little more snugly. “You’re mad.”

Harry didn’t reply but after a couple of minutes his breathing evened out. It wasn’t long before Severus joined him comforted by the warm body next to his.

Chapter Text

August

As it turned out the trip to Paris had ignited Harry’s passion for travelling. In the two weeks following Harry had presented him with three different holiday proposals. The first one had been a trip to Spain, Madrid to be exact, Harry had a brochure from the travel agents just off Diagon Alley. He’d showed Severus picture after picture of fabulous hotels with waiter service, all you can eat buffets, splendid dinning rooms, and large swimming pools. Severus had distracting him them by asking him if he thought it would be inappropriate to kiss in the jacuzzi promptly demonstrating said kissing. He managed to spill his red wine all over the brochure as he pushed Harry flat on to the sofa. The man didn’t seem to mind all that much but threw away the brochure not mentioning Spain for the rest of the night.

The second one was a three week trip to Australia. Severus was a little bit more upfront about this one explaining that at the moment he simply couldn’t take off for three weeks when their were paying customers expecting a timely service. Harry seemed to accept this agreeing that he too would probably struggle to get three weeks off work himself. He put that brochure away in one of the draws in the kitchen with a sigh stating “Maybe next year.” Severus nodded beginning calculations in his head of how much he’d have to save up to afford a three week holiday in Australia... the international portkey alone was 50 galleons before you even thought about accommodation.

The third one was a little more within a reasonable budget. A long weekend in Budapest. The portkey was just seven galleons each, the hotel was 23 each for three nights, and according to Harry the food and drink were very reasonable. Harry told him they would only need a maximum of 30 galleons spending money. 60 galleons was manageable in a couple of months he supposed. He still had 200 saved up and with the orders still coming in he could easily save up some more so as not to dip into the savings too much. But he had a feeling that Harry was eager to go as soon as possible. This time Severus placated him by telling him that the improvements to the anti travel-sickness potion wouldn’t be ready until at least October. Harry had pouted a little but accepted the compromise.

He now had a good supply of the most common potions on his order list, pepper-up, hungover dragon, blood replenishes, and such. Orders were coming in everyday for these potions which could be made fairly cheaply and efficiently in large batches. The compliments he’d been receiving from happy customers were coming in thick and fast. He decided it was about time to up his prices for these basic potions. Not by too much just a few sickles and knuts each. With an established list of regulars he was confident that business wouldn’t be affected.

One evening in the middle of August the fire burst to life unexpectedly. Confused as he wasn’t expecting Harry this evening as the man was working nights he hurried up from his potions lab. In the fireplace was the face of a pretty young Witch that he didn’t recognise.

“Potions Master Severus Snape?” She asked in a meek voice.

“Yes?” He confirmed even more confused by the formal address.

“I have a request for you to attend St Mungo's at your earliest convenience.” She told him. St Mungo’s? Was Harry hurt perhaps?

“I’ll come straight through.” He confirmed. She nodded, disappearing from his fireplace but leaving the connection open for him.

He arrived in a large room with several desks in. All of them empty but there were plenty of papers strung across them which indicated that the office was much busier during the day. The young blonde witch stood near the door. Severus noticed that she was wearing one of St Mungo’s admin staffs uniforms. The sharp purple lines of the robes drowned the blonde but she stood with a stiff professional air about her. “This way if you please.”

Severus followed after the Witch catching up to her quickly. “Why am I here if you don’t mind?”

She gave him a sharp sideways glance. “I’m not privy to that information. I’ve just been instructed to bring you to the Potions Laboratory.”

The Potions Laboratory. Whatever could be so urgent that they would bring him here passed 8pm? He followed silently passing quiet wards, down two flights of stairs, to one of the lower levels that seemed to be mainly reserved for staff. She stopped in front of a large wooden door knocking loudly. It was quickly opened by a wizard who he recognised as being a few years behind him in Hogwarts. Bartrum he thought; yes Anthony Bartrum a Ravenclaw muggleborn.

Bartrum nodded politely to him before thanking the administrator for escorting him. He then extended his arm an easy smile on his face where his dirty blond hair fell into his eyes. “Thank you for coming so quickly.”

“Do you mind telling me why I’m here?” Shaking the man’s hand all the same.

“Sylvester will explain all of that.” He gestured for him to enter the potions lab before pointing to a door at the back. “If you’d like to come with me to meet him?”

“Sylvester?” He prompted as Bartrum led him across the room.

“He’s the head Potions Master here; Sylvester Fort.” Shit.

Shit. Bloody shitting shit.

The door opened suddenly giving Severus little opportunity to recover at seeing Sylvester Fort stood there. Severus Snape’s one and only ex-partner. This was unexpected to say the least - he hadn’t followed Sylvester's career at all after they parted ways just before Voldemort made a return. He knew it would be far too dangerous to have a partner while spying for Dumbledore so he had ended things. Though Sylvester had been upset at the time, they had been together for five years after all, he had wrote to him after the war explaining that he understood why Severus had ended things. Severus hadn’t wrote back. He preferred to let sleeping lions lie.

“Severus!” Sylvester greeted warmly extending his hand politely. “I’m thrilled that you could make it.”

Severus shook the extended hand taking note of the brown hair which was now freckled with grey hair along with the crinkles around the man’s brown eyes. Sylvester was ten years older than himself but he had retained his sharp handsome features. “Sylvester. I must confess that I was not aware that you were the head of St Mungo's Potions Laboratories.”

“I’m sure you’ve been too busy to keep up with the gossip at the Potions Guild.” He was sure that Sylvester knew it had been a number of years since he last been invited to a Potions Guild meeting despite holding the title of Potions Master. “I have a budding young former student of yours working here at the moment. Draco Malfoy; he hopes to achieve his mastery within the next year.”

“I hadn’t realised he was working towards his mastery.” He’d cut all ties with the Malfoy's after Voldemort’s defeat. “Do you mind explaining why I’m here.”

“Of course, of course, Anthony, can you grab the documents for me.” He moves back from the entrance way motioning that Severus should enter. “Take a seat.”

Severus took the chair by the desk. Sylvester joined him after Bartrum had returned with a large pile of papers. He dismissed the other man lightly shutting the door behind when he left.

“We have an issue. There’s a virus spreading through Europe which effects children who haven’t reached their magical maturity yet. It directly effects their magical core, it severely effects their magic and the effects are long term or often deadly. We monitored the spread through the continent as we believed it would eventually reach our coastline. As predicted our first patient was admitted yesterday and two more today. There has yet to be anything that seems to ease the illness. We are currently treating the virus by sedating those with symptoms in a hope that it slows down the illness.” Sylvester passed some papers over that consisted of different potions administered with notes about if the symptoms had improved. “Nothing we have tried has had any affect at all. We need the create a potion to treat this, Severus, you are the best Potions Master on the continent I’m sure of it. I always knew your talents far exceeded mine. You will of course be compensated for your work but I urge you to help us. This is a matter of life and death.”

“How many children have been affected so far... what is their prognosis.” He asked wanting to discover how serious this was.

“There have been a few hundred cases across Europe... possibly more in remote areas. It is highly contagious. Out of the recorded cases around 30% passed away. Of the other 70% that survived 70% have suffered permanent magical losses with 50% losing their magical signatures completely. The other 30% made a full recovery.” Severus was shocked by the figures he frowned down at the papers. The notes there are translated from our sister hospitals in France, Spain, and Germany.

“How am I only just hearing about this now?”

“The ministry have kept it from the papers in an attempt to curb widespread panic... there have been whispers though. Tomorrow it will be front page news; we expect there to be a mass panic. If we don’t find a cure soon I expect that the ministry will delay the start of term in September due to how contagious the illness is. We can’t have all our 11-17 years olds all in one place; they must be quarantined.” No he supposed they couldn’t. Hogwarts would have to close until something was done. The safety of the students was paramount.

“I take it you have post-mortem reports here as well as previous case notes?” Sylvester nodded. “I’m going to need access to the patients here too.”

“You have full access to them. You’ll also have full access to these labs as well as our ingredients store room.” Working in close quarters with his ex could prove distracting.

“I’d prefer to work in my own laboratory; I have my own business to run as well but I will of course report here for daily updates.” He would need to see the patients everyday to check the progress.

“That will be acceptable.” Sylvester stood up then. “Perhaps you’d like to examine the patients now?”

“Yes. After that I’ll return home and read through these notes first before attempting a potion.” The other man nodded starting towards the door so Severus followed but the man stopped turning his head back around with one hand on the door.

“You look good, Severus, I think freedom from your ‘masters’ has made you look younger than ever.” He couldn’t help but blush at the comment. He knew he was referring to both Dumbledore and the Dark Lord; it was hard to accept that he had shared such intimate thoughts with this man who was almost a stranger now. This man who could still make him blush with a well placed compliment... they had been good together. There was no denying their compatibility but they shared none of the same experiences of war. Not like he and Harry who had a true understanding of what scarifies they made; a true understanding of what horrors they both faced.

“Sylvester...” He started but the man held up his hand with a small smile.

“Don’t worry. I know that if you’d have wanted anything to do with me then you’d have sought me out after the war.” The man opened the door then giving him some breathing space.

The walk to the ward was filled with Severus’ careful questions about the virus. He felt unprepared for this not having any prior knowledge before a few minutes previously. On entering the ward he was surprised to note it was large with ten beds on either side yet only the first three were occupied. The children were asleep; they currently looked to be under the age of ten. He’d have to study if that was significant or not from the notes later. Though if he had to hazard a guess he would say seeing as the virus didn’t affect anyone who had reached magical maturity then the younger children probably going to be the worse effected.

“Severus?” He turned to find Harry stood behind him. He looked as though he had just left an office which was located behind him on the ward. “What are you... oh, you’re the Potion Master they’ve consulted. Thank Merlin it’s you. If anyone can solve this I know that you can.”

Severus grimaced slightly not used to the confidence in his abilities. “Indeed, and you? This isn’t your ward is it?”

“Transferred.” Harry told him with a shrug. “I’ve only just been informed about this myself so I’m as in the dark as you are at the moment.”

He always admired Harry’s frankness. If he didn’t know something he wasn’t afraid to admit it. “Who is the lead on this? I’d like to ask them a few questions about these patients.”

Harry looked around awkwardly for a moment. “Erm, I am.”

Severus didn’t reply at first but he felt the frown forming on his face. He didn’t miss the slightly hurt look that crossed Harry’s face. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in Harry’s abilities as a healer but he hadn’t yet been qualified for two years. It was highly unusual for such an inexperienced Medi-Wizard to be put in charge of an incident as serious as this. He opened his mouth to explain this; “Harry I...”

Harry held up his hand to stop him looking passed Severus to Sylvester. “Excuse us for a minute, Fort.” Nodding towards the open office door he followed without even glancing in the direction of the other Potions Master. Harry put up a silencing charm as soon as the door closed.

“I didn't mean to offend you. I have every faith in your ability as a Medi-Wizard.” Harry nodded at Severus’ words seeming to have already have expected them. “I’m just sur...”

“Surprised that someone as inexperienced as me would be the lead on such a delicate situation.” Harry finished for him looking him dead in the eye. “As am I. This affliction whatever it is has a 30% death rate, no Healer wants that in their record, I’m the fall guy.”

It made sense really. This had swept across Europe with no treatment as of yet having any positive effect on the symptoms. Of course the more experienced Healers didn’t want to take it on; it was potentially career ending. Severus knee that from the forlorn look on Harry’s face he knew it. He took a couple steps forwards folding his arms around the man. “I’m here with you. Every step of the way.”

Harry nodded head resting on his shoulder. “If anyone can find an affective treatment its you.”

The man moved away them pulling his Healer robes straight. “Shall we get to work then?”

An hour later Severus and Harry were examining the third child. All seemed the be in the same condition. What ever was effecting them seemed to be attached to their magical cores their symptoms were all the same high fever, lack of energy, erratic amounts magical energy leaving their bodies.

By now it was nearing midnight. Harry had been given very limited access to staff just an apprentice Medi-Witch along with two nurses who were as equally inexperienced as Harry.

They retreated back to the office. “It’s intricately attached to the cores. It’s almost as though it’s feeding from the cores.”

Severus nodded in agreement. “Which I think is why such a high percentage of survivors end up Squibs. It’s feeding on their magic and once the magic is gone so is the virus. I’m willing to bet that the survivors that come out with their magic are older, in their mid teens, nearer magical maturity. It doesn’t want mature magic. We need to discover why? Perhaps we can fight it off by adding mature magic to the core?”

“But how would we do that?” Harry asked rubbing his face.

“I don’t know, Harry.” He didn’t. This was possibly the hardest challenge he’d ever faced.

Just then the office door was flung open and the nurse who was on duty entered in a panic. “Healer Potter! Come quick.”

Harry was out the door in seconds following the nurse to the middle bed. The youngest of the three patients. The youngest... Severus watched from the end of the bed as Harry ran a diagnostic spell. “He’s not breathing. Nurse the resuscitation spells, now.”

Severus watched as the nurse began her spell work. Harry projected a picture representation of the child’s core. The virus had taken over the core almost black now. They looked on in horror as they noticed it was beginning to break apart. Just two slithers of the blue of the child’s magic remained. “Severus?”

“Keep him alive until the last of the magic has left the core. He maybe able to be resuscitated once the virus has finished feeding off the core.” Severus told him running to the nearest potion supply cupboard. There must be something in here that could make some sort of difference. Pepper up was useless but a revitalising potion might make a difference. He grabbed the bottle running back to the bed. He sought Harry’s permission to administer the bottle.

“Do it.” Harry told eyes flicking off the core projection for a moment to look at the potion. He administered the potion standing back to watch the core. The blue lines shone brighter getting marginally bigger. “It’s done something.”

“Yes but it’s revitalised the magic slightly which means that the virus will remain in the core to feed.” Severus told him quietly.

“Not if the magic has enough strength to fight off the virus. His vitals have come up to.” Harry then moved forwards motioning for the nurse to stop casting. “Let’s see if he’s breathing on his own.”

Severus moved forwards to placing his hand on the boys chest while Harry’s fingers checked the pulse point on his throat. “He’s breathing.”

“His pulse is back too.” Harry confirmed. “Shall we give him another dose to help his magic?”

“I’m not sure, Harry.” It was the truth he had no idea what another revitalising potion would do but he had a feeling that strengthening this child’s magic was only strengthening the virus.

“Fuck.” Harry swore in obvious turmoil as to what to do next. “Well done, Nurse Farley, you may take your break now. I’ll stay with the patients.”

The nurse nodded obviously glad to be dismissed - it was horrifyingly unnatural to fight for a child’s life he realised. Harry sat down heavily in the chair next to the bed. “He’s going to die.”

Severus didn’t answer knowing it to be true but looked away from Harry. This was conformation enough.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Harry Jumped up bringing the magical core projections up for the other two patients. Their cores also contained more black than they had the hour before.

“I think the revitalisation potion has raised his vitals and perhaps given him a few more minutes but I believe the virus will take hold again soon.” Severus told him as he watched the vitals begin descending again.

“What if we administer another revitalisation potion once the cores completely burnt out.” Harry suggested.

“We can try. Perhaps you should call his family?” Severus summons another potion from the cupboard.

“Orphans. All three of them.” Harry sighed taking the boys hand. “One of the carets has just return from a holiday in Spain. I think he brought it back with him...”

Ten minutes later the boy stopped breathing again. Harry started casting the resuscitation spells as Severus watched the core posed ready to administer the potion. He watched as the last of the magic turned black but then suddenly in the last moment there was a flash of blue light and the core exploded. Harry continued casting starring shocked at where the projection of the core used to be the vitals dropped dramatically. He opened the boys mouth to administer the potion but a hand on his wrist stopped him. “He’s gone.”

He just nodded already knowing this the potion was useless with out any sort of magical core to work with... even a squib has a magical core there just wasn’t any magic that they could call on to cast spells. This boy was less than a squib now. He’d never seen anything like it in his life.

“Time of death 1.24am,” Harry said walking over to the chart were he wrote on the time of death and details of how it came about.

When the nurse returned Harry asked her to call for the porters then retreated to his office with Severus behind him. “I think that the revitalisation potions can be used to treat the older children. If you get any further admissions treat any of them older than 14 with them. One potion every hour. Keep an eye on the core. If my theory is correct their more mature magic will naturally fight it off. The potion will help to strengthen the immature magic so as it isn’t eaten up by the virus.”

“But will that cure them?” Harry asked with pleading eyes.

“I think they may be able to fight it off completely. I’m not sure about the younger ones. I think the potions maybe detrimental.” Harry nodded in agreement. “I need to get through the notes to get a better idea as to what we are dealing with.”

The other man just nodded standing up gathering up all the notes from the Potions Lab as well as a few from the desk that he added. “Will you go to mine? Please?”

“Of course.” Severus was a little confused as to Harry’s request but right now he’d go anywhere that was quite to read the notes.

“Thank you. I’ll join you in the morning as soon as I can get away and we can talk more about the theories when we are both fully up to speed.” Severus nodded in agreement.

“Don’t burn yourself out.” He told Harry as he crossed to the door.

Harry managed a small smile. “I won’t.”

*

It was nearly 9am when Harry stubbled through the floo. Severus was set up in the kitchen table having finished reading through the notes he was frantically scribbling different findings. He looked up has Harry entered tiredly.

“Hey.” He greeted him bending down to peck his check. “I lost another one an hour ago and three more were admitted from the emergency department.”

“The core?” Severus asked watching as Harry began boiling the kettle.

“Shattered again on the one who died. The third one seems to be slowing the virus’ progression; I think the virus is burning out on its own. The others that were admitted are siblings three year old, ten year old and a 16 year old. We’ve been giving the 16 year old the revitalisation potions and it seems to be working. He’s still sedated though.” Harry told him.

“Not one of the patients that died were older than 13... I’d extend it to give the revitalisation potions to all patients over 13. There a definite connect between the magical maturity.” He’d have to discover a way to work with this knowledge soon.

Harry joined him at the table with a cup of tea for them both. They worked on further theories until 11am when Harry looked almost ready to collapse. “You need to sleep.” Severus told him standing up and extending a hand to him.

Harry accepted it leaning against Severus for the moment. “You need sleep too. Stay with me.”

Severus was powerless to say no besides he wanted to comfort Harry as much as possible after the events of last night. “I’ll stay with you.”

Harry nodded against him before leading Severus back upstairs to his bedroom. “Do you want a shower or anything?”

“That can wait until later.” Severus told him know Harry was dead on his feet.

They both stripped down to their boxers climbing into bed with each other while Harry rested his head on his chest Severus wrapped his arms around him.

They both fell asleep not long after knowing they had a few hard long days ahead of them.

 

Harry woke him up at 5pm freshly showered and dressed. He handed Severus a clean towel before explaining that he’d had a firecall from the ward.

“The three year old died earlier this afternoon and there have been five more admissions.” Harry told him matter of factly but looking very tired. “I need to get back there now.”

“Have you eaten?” Severus asked worried about Harry’s wellbeing.

“I’m going to grab something from the canteen when I get there.” Harry moved forward then into Severus’ arms. “This is just the start isn’t it?”

He didn’t say anything but held Hardy close offering him some comfort. “I’ll be at the hospital soon.”

“Thank you.” Harry kissed him before leaving the room.

After a quick shower he floo’d to St Mungo’s heading first to the Potion Labs. He found it busy with Wizards and Witches brewing at their stalls. Draco Malfoy was in the far corner, he nodded briefly, but didn’t try to draw the man into conversation simply heading to Sylvester's office.

“Severus, I didn’t expect you until this evening at the earliest.” He told him with a raised eyebrow.

“Do you have any magical blocking potions brewed here?” He asked. He’d have brew it himself but there was an eight hour brewing time with them.

“Magical blockers?? We have a mild version that we give to youngsters that have dragon pox but live in a Muggle setting. Stops the magical outbursts while they are ill.” Sylvester leaned back ready for the theory.

“That should be sufficient. How many vials?” He wasn’t sure their would be much stock of that sort of thing. It wouldn’t be used very regularly.,

“Possibly around 20 incase of an outbreak.” Sylvester told him. “Do you think it would help?”

“It might. I’ll have to monitor the cores when it is administered to know if it’s having an effect. I’ll need help.” He told him. He was sure that by removing the magic temporarily they would have a better chance of beating the virus.

“I’ll help. We’ll go now. I’ll bring the apprentice.” Severus stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.

“Not Draco; at least not with Harry leading the clinical team.” Sylvester nodded everyone knew about the animosity between the pair.

“He’s got a good mind on him. Not much use if his emotions get in the way. I will let him read over the results; see what he comes up with.” Severus gave him a short nod of thanks.

When they arrived at the ward it was chaos. Ten of the beds were now accupied with children of a variety of ages; the nurses were running between them checking the monitoring spells. Harry was at the far end of the ward speaking to what seemed to be some of the children’s relatives. He quietly caught his attention nodding towards the office - he could tell that Harry had noticed the gesture. They didn’t have to wait long before the young Healer entered.

“You want to try something new?” Harry guessed looking tired.

“Mild magic blockers - Sylvester tells me Mungo’s uses them for cases of Dragon Pox in Muggleborns?” He clarified for Harry.

Harry’s eyes lit up then. “Yes! That could work.”

“They are only mild doses. If there is improvement then I would have to develop something similar to treat the virus.” Harry nodded understanding before holding his hands out for the potions. Sylvester handed over three potions.

“I’m assuming you want to continue treating the teenagers in the same way so you’re going to want to test these on the three cases? The worst case, middle, and mildest.” Harry correctly assumed taking a quick look at his notes on his desk.

“That would be for the best, yes.” The man nodded then motioned for the Potion Masters to follow him. Once they reentered the ward Harry ordered the nurses to move three of the beds to the back of the ward. Severus watched from the ends of the beds as Harry made note of the vitals before projecting each of the children’s cores. The child on middle bed wasn’t older than five and Severus could see that his core was failing fast. The other children were both girls one just an infant whereas the other looked almost old enough for Hogwarts. Severus would take a copy of each of their notes later watching silently as Harry administered the potions. The cores dulled dramatically a sign that the potions had worked and the magic was blocked.

“The potion lasts for four hours. Perhaps I should get you both a seat while you wait?” Harry asked. “I’ll not be able to stay for the whole four hours with the other patients to see too. I’ve got two new admissions on the way up as well.”

“I’ll stand.” He would rather be able to monitor the cores closely if need be. He saw Sylvester nod next to him.

“Fort.” Harry addressed the other man. “You know how to update the patient notes correctly I assume? I’d prefer there not be any errors.”

Severus looked at Harry surprised at seeing the confident leadership qualities that he’d never been privy to before. Harry carefully avoided his gaze but he didn’t miss Sylvester's eyes narrow. “I’m not incompetent, Healer Potter.”

Harry shrugged flouncing back across the ward allowing Severus to turn his questioning gaze to the other Potion Master. “A small disagreement a couple of months ago. I don’t think I’m your boys favourite person.”

“Harry’s...” Sylvester held his hand up with a smile.

“Harry is a brilliant Healer. We disagreed about the standard of potions being produced. Obviously after sampling your potions I’m not surprised he came to that conclusion - he’s got good taste.” Severus wasn’t quite sure if he meant Harry had a good taste in potions or men but he turned his attention back to the three patients in front of him studying them for any changes.

An hour later there were changes. The vital signs had improved and the virus seemed to be lessening its grip on the cores. Sylvester left to bring the rest of the potions from the store room while there he was going to begin brewing more while trying to get the others to work over time. They only had 17 potions left; yet there were at least ten children that would require them in four hour intervals. It would mean that some of the more stable children would have to go without for an hour or so until the new batches were complete.

Severus waited in the office for Harry.

“It’s working!” Harry cried as he entered.

“Yes. Though it could be quicker and more effective. While I do believe that these children are now out of danger of imminent death; there will still be some loss to their magic. I’m going to return home at once to begin brewing a treatment. I’m sure I can create something that will treat the virus within 24 hours with minimal long lasting effects.” Harry smiled at this before hugging the man.

“You are a bloody genius you know.” The other man told him sincerely pulling him in for a kiss. Severus couldn’t deny him. Just then the door opened although they pulled away from each other quickly Severus knew they had been caught.

Sylvester was stood in the doorway hand still on the door knob looking awkwardly between the two of them. “I’m sorry I should have knocked.”

“Yes, Fort, you should have.” Harry replies harshly taking another step away and behind his desk. Severus shot him a quelling look - it was unlike Harry to be rude - it was their own fault they got caught. The other man just bowed his head slightly before closing the door behind him as he left.

“Harry.” He said the name slowly, cautiously, which was followed by the Healer sighing as he sat down.

“I know. I’m sorry I’m tired.” He rubbed his face before looking guilty. “I know you two were together.”

Severus frowned in confusion how could Harry possibly know that? “You are jealous?” He asked instead.

Harry shrugged. “Yes and no. I trust you... completely. I just don’t trust, Fort. I’m not sure if you know but we got into this huge fight in the Potions Labs a couple of months ago. I was probably being a bit of a dick to be honest but I’d treated a patient with severe magically induced boils. They cleared up pretty quickly but they were left with permanent scars.”

 

“You think it was a substandard potion.” Severus asked knowing from his prior conversation with Sylvester that that was probably the reason for their fight. He leant his hip against the desk.

“I know is was a substandard potion. How many times did Hogwarts students end up covered in boils? I don’t recall any scarring at all for any of them.” Harry reasoned.

“Yes, but I made the boil reducing potions at Hogwarts using my own recipe.” Severus shrugged.

“Exactly. It can be done but apparently these lot are the top Potion Masters in Britain but can’t brew a boil reducing potion doesn’t leave scars. Of course I ended up bringing you into it and I think Fort just slipped out with it.” Or told Harry on purpose, Severus though, the man was a Slytherin. “He just sort of announced that he knew how good your potions were as he was your partner for a number of years. I knew he hadn’t meant potions partner. I just sort of walked out after that and I’ve been a shit with him since - I’m sorry; I’ll apologise to him.”

Severus laughed he couldn’t help it. He never imagine that a man like Harry would ever posses feelings of jealousy for him.

“Harry, you have nothing to worry about.” He told him seriously.

“I don’t?” Did Harry seriously believe that he would chose Sylvester bloody Fort over him.

“No you don’t. Don’t apologise to him either he damn well knew what he was doing when he told you about us.” Severus told him seriously. Harry smiled vowing to continue to treat Fort how he deserved to be treated.

Two days later Severus finalised the adjustments on the new potion to treat the patients. He had managed to create a strong magical blocker potion that the brewer could ad their magical signature too. This would mean that the immature core magic would be blocked and the virus would only sense a mature magical signature. It was a complete success working in a matter of hours. Fort had quickly communicated the outcome to other European hospitals sharing Severus’ potion with them. The St Mungo’s had wrote a few days with an offer of 1000 galleons for their right to continue to brew the potion and also to continue to share it with other hospitals. He agreed. He knew others would negotiate further but he wasn’t a greedy man - plus he did it to save the lives of all those children. One thousand galleons was more than he earned in a year usually plus he could still offer the potion on his menu for those wishing to purchase privately.

The Daily Prophet hailed him a hero along with Harry who continued to lead the department - at least until the outbreak was over. Harry had treated him to a takeaway the night that the potion was declared a success. He’d even asked him to stop over again; Severus was getting quite used to sharing Harry’s bed.

Severus had held Harry through the night often awakened by the man’s tears; though he’d put in a brave face there was no denying that Harry was devastated by the loss of so many young lives in the first few days of the outbreak. He’d continue admirably, Severus knee, but he’d continue to comfort him whenever he needed it until he came to accept the losses of his patients.

Chapter Text

September

Severus was experiencing a period of success there was no denying it. The Prophet has publish a series of articles about the virus and how he and Harry had worked together on the treatment. They were being hailed as a medical dream team - Severus had owls everyday requesting their assistance with some medical malady or another. Spinners End Potions sales had double with many wizarding folk requesting the potion that cured the virus from Severus himself to keep in their own stores in case of an outbreak within their families. St Mungo’s offered the potion free of charge but if people wanted to pay 10 galleons for a vial who was he to deny them. He hadn’t saved all the profits though. Feeling a little guilty from making money out of others suffering he’d spent some of it in extra ingredients creating a large batch for the school to prevent an outbreak there in term time. He’d ask Harry to forward the batch on to Hogwarts for him - the man had snogged him silly for his effort.

It was just a week into September and he was busy at least five hours a day with potion orders although he was still reserving his evenings for Harry. He spent most evenings round at Harry’s now that he was back on his day shifts... for a couple of weeks anyway. He was even stopping over on the nights which Harry didn’t have to get up for work the next day.

He was currently brewing his final potion of the day when he heard his floo activate knowing that it must be Harry he cast a quick stasis charm over the cauldron going to meet the man in his living room. Harry was leaning on the sofa when he entered looking a little out of sorts.

“I thought I was meeting you at yours in an hour? Is there something wrong?” Severus asked.

“Sorry were you brewing?” Harry asked pushing himself off the sofa to make the last few steps to Severus kissing him quickly in greeting as was customary by now.

“I was but I’ve put a stasis charm up. What’s going on?” Harry could often take his time ‘getting to the point’ - Severus found a direct approach work best.

“There’s an issue with the virus in Bulgaria. The wizarding communities are so spread out there that they’ve had to send healers out across the country, and neighbouring countries in fact, to the outreach community’s. It’s left them severely short handed in the hospital. St Mungo’s have offered them my services to keep things on an even keel at the hospital until the healers return.” Harry worried his lip turning away slightly.

Of course they wanted to send Harry; he was the logical choice - the expert in this virus. “When are you going?”

“I haven’t agreed to do it yet?” Harry looked him dead in the eye and Severus raised his eyebrow in challenge hoping he could communicate what he thought about that without having to voice it.

No such luck. “You haven’t agreed!? Why not?”

“I wanted to see how you felt about it first?” Harry looked at the ground shyly. “I’ll not go if you don’t want me to.”

“And you’d be happy with that choice would you? Remaining here while your expertise is needed to help seriously ill children.” Severus couldn’t believe Harry was asking this of him.

Harry sighed. “No; but I’ve never been a selfish person and I’d have thought it only logical to inform ones partner to see how they feel before jetting off abroad.”

Admittedly it was touching that Harry had thought of his feelings before agreeing. “Harry. You must go. I’ll be right here where you left me when you get back.”

“You could visit me if you like.” Harry suggested looking a little pained at the prospect of their separation. “If you’re not too busy, of course.”

“We shall see. I’m sure you will be busy too.” The other man looked a little unsure still so Severus pulled him into an embrace. “We can firecall everyday if you wish it; I suspect you’ll be back before the months out.”

“They think four weeks maximum... two of we are lucky.” Harry lay his head on Severus’ shoulder. “I’m going to bloody miss you.”

“The feelings mutual I assure you.” He lifted Harry’s chin up taking his lips in his own for a moment. “When do they want you?”

Harry shrugged. “The morning probably. Give them time to sort the portkey.”

“Go and pack. I’ll finish off this potion and I’ll come over. I’ll bring your travel sickness potions.” Severus pushed Harry lightly towards the fireplace. “Don’t cook. We’ll get a takeaway.”

“Ok. I’ll see to soon.” Harry gave him one last kiss before disappearing into the flames.

Severus took a moment to collect himself before returning to the lab. He didn’t want Harry to go that was true but really he had no say in the matter. He didn’t own the man. Harry had a career and a life he had to live... if that meant leaving Severus behind for a month then so be it. He would make sure that there last night together for a while was one to remember.

*

Severus had finished up his potion as quickly as possible before rushing upstairs for a quick shower and a change of clothes. He gathered together the travel sickness potions Harry would need for his journey as well as his time in Bulgaria and floo’d over. He found Harry in the bedroom still packing his suitcase.

“There are spells for that you know?” Severus told him while leaning on the door frame watching Harry fold his shirts.

“I never learnt them.” Harry told him with a shrug.

Severus waved his wand and the remaining clothes on the bed folded themselves neatly into the case. “I’ll get you a book.” He told him sarcastically moving into the room wrapping his arms around his the smaller man’s waist.

“Severus?” Harry turned in his arms. “Will you look after this place while I’m gone?”

“Of course. I’ll be here most days tending to the garden. Without you distracting me I should have it finished by the time you return.” The garden was only a few hours work away from being completed.

Harry chuckled. “You love distractions. Shall we order some food and open a nice fine bottle of red.”

“That sounds wonderful but what sounds even better is staying right here.” He walked Harry back a little bit until the back of the man’s legs hit the bed so that there was no question about what he meant.

Harry rewarded him with a half smirk which was delectable. “And what are we supposed to do here?”

“I’ll show you.” Severus pushed him back on the bed following him on it before claiming Harry’s mouth in a passionate kiss. Harry’s hips move automatically to meet his own which incited a moan from the man. After a few minutes of them rubbing together Severus suddenly stilled Harry’s hips causing the man to give him a questioning look. His hands moved though to the others belt buckle loosening it with one hand while peppering Harry’s face with kisses. He moved on to Harry’s neck as he undid the jeans button and zipper moving the denim off his hips slightly. He took Harry’s mouth passionately in his own again as he reached into the boxers freeing the engorged member.

“Are you sure?” Harry asked him with a frown when Severus moved back. They hadn’t done anything more that kiss before now; although some of their sessions had become pretty heated. He understood Harry’s hesitation this meant they were moving on to the next stage in their relationship and they both needed to be sure that they were ready for that.

“I’m sure if you are.” Harry didn’t answer instead pulling Severus back down for another kiss. He allowed it for a moment before pulling away capturing Harry’s hand in his threading their fingers together before pushing it against the bed. He slowly trailed down Harry’s body letting his lips move over his shirt reaching his hips planting a couple of well placed kisses on the soft skin before moving to take in Harry member.

 

It was over fairly quickly leaving Harry panting for breath as Severus crawled back up the bed to lay next to him. “Wow.” The man said turning to look at him. “Can I return the favour?”

Severus laughed then. “Another time. As wonderful as that sounds I’m fairly traditional and the only way I want to climax with you for the first time is while I’m making love to you.”

“Merlin. I’ll climax again if you keep talk like that.” Harry scrubbed a hand over his face.

“Now that would be a feat.” Severus pulled Harry so he lay on his shoulder. “Come. Let’s get cleaned up and have something to eat.”

“I’d love to stay in bed with you all night.” The younger man said while snuggling into his side.

“We have things to do and it’s already past six.” Severus urges Harry up reluctantly. Although he too would like nothing more than to stay in bed with then man all night.

*

Their parting the next day was a somber one. Severus remained in a terrible mood for the next couple of days cheering slightly at Harry’s nightly floo calls.

The man was busy. Outreach patients were being sent into Harry even though he had told the healers it was perfectly safe for the children to be treated at home, and the doctors rarely came by to help Harry with the patients. He was struggling Severus could see that.

Harry pouted a lot during their calls which Severus couldn’t help but find adorable. A week after Harry had left for Bulgaria Harry called up particularly moody begging to come back. Severus agreed that he would organise for a portkey to come and visit him for an evening.

The quickest he could get a portkey for was three days later but it gave him time to make a couple batches of the potion needed to treat the children. It seemed as though Harry’s main struggle was getting the Potion Masters to keep up with the demand for potions. Of course they had many more patients to treat than St Mungo’s being the only serviceable wizarding hospital for six country’s.

He finished up the orders for the day taking the portkey around 3pm. Harry had told him to meet him at the hospital. He landed in the back alley of a building that looked like a old factory though he could just about see them simmer of the glamours on the building. He quickly made his way inside watching as the grand old hospital appear in all its glory.

Harry’s Ward was on the first floor. As soon as he entered he noticed how chaotic the hospital was. There were bees all over the place. No structure... as if the patients had been dumped with every single bed occupied. He spotted Harry quickly across the room moving from bed to bed checking the cores of each child.

Harry spotted him waving him over. When he reached him Harry grabbed his arm in a discreet way of greeting. “You’re a sight for sore eyes.”

“I thought you were being a bit dramatic but this is worse than I ever imagined. I’ve brought you 200 doses of the potion.” Severus unshrunk the wooden boxes which contained the potion veils.

Harry took them eagerly looking at them in awe. “You didn’t have to brew these. Bloody hell you must have work non stop to get all of them done. It’ll clear the ward within a couple of days with more to spare!”

The man walked over to the nurses station position at the front of the ward places the boxes carefully there. “You mentioned you were having some issues. I wanted to help you.”

“Thank you. It’s just a nightmare it’s lucky if we can give them two doses a day.” Severus knee it would take days to cure it that way leaving the children open to possibly long lasting effects.

“Would you like me to send more?” Severus offered.

Harry frowned slightly considering the offer. “What about your orders?”

“I’ll manage. Plus if it gets you home quicker it benefits me doesn’t it?” Harry smiled brightly at that reaching over to squeeze his hand.

“I just need to do the hand over and we can leave.”

“I’ll wait at the door for you.” Severus left the ward surveying the occupants one more time. Harry would be here at least a couple more weeks even with the potions. It was busy but with this was the only magical hospital serving six countries which were located around Bulgaria it meant that in times of crisis the place could barely cope. To his knowledge the next Wizarding hospital was in the Athens.

Harry emerged ten minutes later tilting his head towards a fireplace at the end of the corridor.

“Did you want to go out for food? My portray is due to return me in four hours.” Severus told him.

“I plan to keep you in my apartment for the duration.” Harry have him a devilish smirk which caused Severus’ stomach to turn with butterflies at the prospect of the next four hours.

Later, when he arrived back at Spinners End, Severus went straight to his potion lab to begin another back of the potions. He couldn’t be parted from Harry for any longer than necessary which meant that he needed to send as many potions as he could manage.

Chapter Text

October

On the first of day of October Harry still hadn’t returned from Bulgaria. Severus had attempted to keep himself busy by brewing potions as well as tending to the garden; he had to face up to the sorry fact that in these few months that they had been together Harry Potter had quietly become the focal point of his days. He was currently making sure that the climate charms were operating at optimum standard while checking in some of the more delicate potion ingredients in the herb garden - climate charms were particularly hard to gage they needed checking everyday.

The main area in the garden was flourishing wonderfully bursting with colourful, and sometimes tropical, flowers that brightened the outdoor space up. Even out of season the colours burst forth from every direction, reds, oranges, deep purples and even eclectic blues. He had to admit he was proud of his work being the first time he had designed, planted, and maintained a large garden, he knew that Harry would enjoy the bright colours, luscious smells, as well as the tall elegant trees which afforded the garden with further privacy.

“It’s amazing.” He heard a gasp from behind him turning round to find Harry stood just outside the patio doors with a large smile in his face.

“I am to take your presence as your long awaited return?” Severus asked cooly though he couldn’t keep the small smile fro his face.

Harry smirked slightly. “It does.” The smaller man took a couple more steps into the garden. “Now get over here and kiss me.”

There was nothing for it but to comply with the man’s demands. Striding over to place his hands either side of Harry’s head initiating a deep kiss. Gosh he’d missed him.

“Do you have to be anywhere?” Harry asked pulling away slightly.

“Not now I don’t.” How could he leave Harry again so soon? How could he bare to be parted from him for another evening after their separation. Merlin how he’s life had changed he never imagined himself ever being so besotted with someone.

Harry smiled brilliantly. “Excellent. I’m thinking Indian then we just lay on the sofa all night and watch a rubbish film with no thought process involved.”

“I don’t think you own a film that has a thought process.” He quipped causing Harry to let out a little indignant gasp and lightly slapping his arm.

There evening was spent exactly as Harry had requested. They ordered Indian which they actually ate in the living are instead of the dining table which was something they almost never did. After that they curl up together on the sofa to watch some action film where the plot was straight forward. Harry talked over most of the film which was standard but there were also quite a few heated kisses shared before the younger man fell asleep towards the end.

Severus gently shook him awake. Harry blinked away his sleep prompting Severus to kiss his forehead. “You’re exhausted.”

“Who’s the healer here?” Harry replied with a yawn.

“You shouldn't let yourself get run down like this. Go up to bed I’ll tidy up down here.” There wasn’t much to do just wash a few plates and straighten up.

Harry pauses in the doorway. “Are you stopping?”

“If you like.” He always waited to be invited to stop the night; Harry deserves his own space if he wanted it.

 

“I’ll see you upstairs then.” He watched Harry push off the doorway tiredly positive the man would be fast asleep by the time he got up there. He washed and dried the dishes with magic sending them back to the correct cupboards. Then he straightened the seating area up by hand pausing for a moment to look at a picture Harry had had framed a couple of months ago.

It was a candid shot of them both taken at the Weasley’s wedding. It was a snapshot caught just after he’d straightened Harry’s tie. They stood close together as Severus said something to Harry that had made him blush. He remembered the word as ‘perfect’; telling Harry that had somehow created this perfect moment between the two of them which had been caught on camera. Smiling at the picture he sent a quick dusting spell the frames way before following Harry upstairs.

Sure enough the man was fast asleep. Severus pulled him close anyway.

*

In the morning Severus woke up alone which was fairly unusual. Harry wasn’t a particularly early riser. He pulled himself out of bed listening for noises in the house. Hearing clattering downstairs he assumed Harry was in the kitchen if he’d identified the sounds correctly.

He quickly used the bathroom to freshen up before getting dressed. He had a draw of clothes here that Harry had set aside for the nights he stopped over.

Once he got downstairs he saw Harry had set the table; the man was stood by the hob frying eggs. Severus admired him for a moment in the domestic scene before announcing his presence. “Have you been to the shops?”

Harry turned and smiled. “Just the corner one to get some essentials. I’ll do a proper shop later on.” He shrugged. It was only 8.30am which meant Harry must have been up at least an hour before Severus. It was suspicious. Harry would usually stay in bed with him before they’d finally come downstairs together to make breakfast. “Sit down. It’s just about ready.”

“What is all this in aid of?” Severus asked as he took his seat.

Harry shrugged again but he noticed something pass over the younger man’s face which made him more suspicious. “I just wanted to treat you.”

Harry brought the plates over placing a delicious looking cooked breakfast in front of him before he moved his hand away Severus grabbed it forcing Harry to lock eyes with him. “Thank you, it looks wonderful but please if there’s something on your mind I’d prefer it if you just told me.”

Harry sighed taking his seat in front of his own breakfast. “I just can’t decided how your going to react to this but while I’ve been away I’ve been thinking a lot about us.”

He had fears that in there separation that Harry would begin to think that maybe he didn’t want to be with Severus anymore. He could have met a young intelligent healer over there.

“I thought really hard about this so I’d like it if you didn’t interrupt me until I’ve finished.” Severus simply nodded at Harry’s request. “I’d like it if you moved in with me here. Now I know you’ve got Spinners End, while it’s a lovely home, and your potions business is all set up from there I just thought this place was a little more practical with the garden. I was thinking that I’d finally clear out the spare room which could be your potions lab. If you wanted you could even use the study as your study... Merlin knows I only use it to floo in and out.”

Harry shifted for a moment but then continued. “Of course this place is fully paid for so I wouldn’t expect any money off you... we could just split the shopping. I also had another crazy idea which you might hate but I’m going to tell you about anyway. You could rent out Spinners End and use that money to rent your own potions shop. The little shop next to Wizarding Weezes has just come up for rent; I’ve heard that the rents pretty reasonable. You could give Slug and Jiggers a run for their money.”

It was a lot to take in. From thinking that Harry was going to end their arrangement to him asking Severus to move in was quite a jump. It was a big step. Not just big huge. It would also mean having to be open about his finances if they were going to be living together and that would be a hard for Severus he had kept the bleakness of his situation from Harry all this time. Though of course if he did rent out Spinners End that would mean there would be a steady income from the rent which would mean it wouldn’t matter so much what he earned in a month from his potions.

The shop idea was another shock. His business worked fine from home but he knew that he could perhaps make a good profit if he opened a shop. The ingredients garden outside would produce a pretty bountiful stock which meant he’d be able to offer a selection of ingredients as well as his potions. He could also have a larger stock of potions readily available. Often people were more likely to spend more if they bought things on impulse that were in front of their faces.

He looked up noting that Harry was watching him intently. “It’s too soon isn’t it?”

Severus reaches out quickly grabbing Harry’s hand. “It isn’t. I was merely considering the logistics of your proposal. I couldn’t imagine anything I want more than to wake up by your side everyday.”

“There’s just a lot to sort out and mull over.” Harry surmised. “I also realise I’m asking you to leave your childhood home.”

He shook his head. “That wouldn’t bother me. Although it is a big change for me can you give me some time to think it through?”

“Yes of course, I didn’t expect an answer right away.” The man assured him giving his hand another squeeze for good measure.

*

By the end of the week Severus had gone over every possible scenario of them living together. He’d thought long and hard about both his finances and the shop too. He’d finally come to a decision.

It was a little after 5pm from the shift he was working he knew Harry would be back from work now so he floo’d over.

Harry, who was still in his Healer robes, spotted him as soon as he walked into the basement living area. “I didn’t expect you this early. What’s in the box?” He asked casually from where he was stood putting shopping away.

“This is the first box of around twenty which contain my belongings.” Harry stopped at that turning slowly.

“You’re moving in?” He asked a little breathlessly.

Severus smirked. “If you’ll have me.”

The younger man crossed the room in an instant taking the box from him and placing it on the side before turning back and kissing him passionately. After a minute or so Severus pushed him back gently.

“Sit down for a minute before we get carried away then we can talk this through.” Severus pushed Harry down on the sofa before sitting next to him.

“Your moving in this weekend right? I don’t think I can wait any longer.” Harry told him eagerly.

“I am. Now I thought long and hard about the potions shop you suggested but I’ve decided that for the time being I’d prefer to continue Spinners End Potions as it is if you’d still let me set up a potions lab in the spare room.” Harry nodded his confirmation so Severus continued. “The reason being is that Spinners End is going to need a large part of my savings to get it up to a good standard to attract renters. I’m going to get a decorator in and let them gut the place. The business has been doing exceptionally well over the last few months and I’d like to continue on how I’m operating to make sure the larger quantities of business continue before I consider opening my own shop. I also decided that I’d like to have a lot more savings in the bank before I do this. By renting Spinners End, and providing business stays good as it has been, I should be able to look into opening a shop in a few months time.”

Harry nodded in understanding. “Severus I have money I can help with the shop.”

He shook his head. “You are helping. By having me move in you’re giving me extra income from the house to save up. If I’m going to do it I’d like to do it with my own money.”

“Ok.” Harry smiles. “I think I get that. I better get started in the spare room if it’s going to be a lab.”

“I thought I’d pay for the decorator to do the lab here too. Save us the time and to be honest I’m terrible at the home deco charms. I’ll get them to move the units over from my lab to this one as they are in a good condition. Does that sound ok?” Severus asked.

“That sounds more than ok - if you don’t already have someone in mind I know a very good decorator.” Harry wrapped his arms around Severus leaning his head on his shoulder.

“Who might that be?” He asked wrapping his arms around Harry’s waist.

“Dean Thomas.” Severus had already heard that Thomas had branched out into interior design when he’d left Hogwarts so he wasn’t surprised by Harry’s suggestion; plus it worked out in their favour to have someone they could trust not to snoop and sell stories to the paper.

“Ok. Contact him and request a quote for the dismantling of my lab to be moved here as well as decorating the entirety of Spinners End to make it ready for the rental market.” He knew it would cost but he’d make the money back soon enough in rent. He saw it as an investment.

“And what do you suggest we do with all this time that we are saving by having someone take care of the decorating?” Harry smirked.

Severus raised his eyebrow. “I can think of a few suggestions.”

He kissed Harry then like his life depended on it. This after all was the man he was going to be living with - he had never before moved in with one of his partners. This was now officially the most serious relationship he’d ever had in his life - and it was with Harry bloody Potter. How life can work out sometimes.