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While Severus always enjoyed the annual International Potions Conference and made a point to attend every year despite it overlapping with the school term, he did not make a habit of mingling at the evening social get-togethers. He had managed it quite successfully for the first six days of the conference, but not quite on the last day.

He had only lingered to get a copy of one of the speaker’s research papers, detailing the experiments the man had conducted as to the different methods of preparing fluxweed and its effects on potency. But that had clearly been enough time for some stranger to try and engage him in conversation.

“Master Snape!” called a voice from behind him.

Severus grimaced, not exactly in the mood for talking to anyone. But he turned around to greet the other man regardless. And was utterly surprised by what he saw. The man who had called out to him and was walking swiftly over was quite literally beautiful. It was a ridiculous notion; one Severus had never experienced before in his life. He wasn’t one for admiring beauty. Lily had used to say he was blind to other’s appearances. But this man was beautiful.

He was perhaps a few years younger than Severus, with a face that seemed carved from marble, all chiselled edges, and a head of thick black hair that floated softly to his shoulders. And his eyes. They were green in a way that seemed to glow ethereally, bright and full of life. Severus had once thought that Lily’s eyes were the most special, but that was before Severus had seen this man.

“Oh, it’s so good I managed to catch you!” the man said, finally reaching where Severus stood, “I’ve been looking for you all week. I read your paper on the dangers of the Wolfsbane potion and I have to admit, it was incredibly enlightening. I had wanted to discuss with you possible changes that could be made to the potion that might negate the effects you mentioned.”

Severus swallowed thickly, trying to ignore the man’s otherworldly appearance and focus on the words being spoken to him. Changes to the wolfsbane potion? It was so incredibly volatile a potion that no sane Potions Master would dare tamper with it. Just who was this man?

As if reading his mind, the man smiled somewhat self-deprecatingly, bringing a hand to nervously card through his hair as he said, “Right, sorry, I really should have introduced myself. My name’s Hadrian Peverell. Perhaps, you might be familiar with my work?”

Normally, Severus would have snorted at the arrogance of the statement, but he was indeed familiar with the man’s work. Hadrian Peverell was a relatively new name in the Potions field, having only gotten his mastery two years prior. Yet, since getting his mastery, he had invented seven new potions and come up with many alterations to others. It was a good Potions carrier to come up with even five new potions, let alone seven in the span of two years. And some utterly ground-breaking ones at that!

Severus had even started brewing some of his Internal Heal Potion for Poppy as there weren’t many potions which could heal lethal internal wounds. Normally the potions didn’t absorb fast enough into the bloodstream from the stomach to actually make a difference in life-or-death situations. Yet Hadrian Peverell’s potion did.

When Peverell reached out a hand to shake, Severus actually clasped it and shook it once, “I am indeed familiar with your work.”

Peverell beamed at that and leapt into the changes he was contemplating regarding the wolfsbane potion. Snape had to admit that there could be merit in a few of the ideas, although he was ruthless concerning the suggestions which would only cause the potion to implode.

The man was surprisingly enjoyable to talk to and Severus found his hand reaching out to simply rest on the other’s arm. Peverell froze at the action, staring at the offending hand in confusion. Severus flinched, withdrawing the limb. Stupid, stupid. Why would he ever think that the man would be receptive to his advances?

A faint blush rose around the man’s cheeks as he seemed to realise Severus’ intentions. It was faint enough that Severus would have missed it if he hadn’t been watching his expressions so carefully. His heart stuttered a beat at the sight and Severus was again hit with the assessment that the man was beautiful.

Peverell coughed lightly, looking at the floor somewhat abashedly, “Would you want to go get dinner?”

It was Severus’ turn to be startled. Was he- Severus used occlumency to clear his head and nodded, taking the other man’s arm as he apparated them to a restaurant. A very fancy restaurant, Severus noted, dreading the price of the meal.

“Dinner’s on me.” Peverell said, smiling nervously, “I’m friends with the owners so they give me a discount.”

Severus nodded, not exactly wanting to argue about who paid for food.

“Hadrian!” called the girl who was standing ready to lead people to their tables, before jumping into fast French as she exchanged words with Peverell. Right, Severus had forgotten that Peverell was French.

They were led to a table near a window that had an absolutely amazing view of Paris. It was just his luck that the International Potions Conference was held there this year. In the ‘city of love’, Severus snorted internally.

After they were seated, Severus commented, “I would have thought you were English if I hadn’t just heard you talking in fluent French.”

“I spent some time in England in my youth and a lot of my associates are English, so I picked up the accent.” Peverell explained, smiling softly.

Dinner was a simple affair. They shared an entrée and then had a main each before deciding to end the meal there, neither needing the sweetness of a dessert. They talked further about different potions Peverell was working on at the moment. He was an incredibly intelligent man, Severus thought the more they talked.

It was pleasant conversation, never straying far from the realm of potions. There were few Severus could talk to on this level about the subject, and certainly none so interesting as Peverell. He watched the man as he ate or spoke. He found his eyes lingering on the red lips or the long lashes. Severus had never been more keenly attracted to another person before. It was almost dangerous how much his body seemed to lust after the younger man.

It turned out Peverell needn’t have cared about paying as they were informed that the meal was on the house and that Hadrian should make sure to come by more often. They stood outside the restaurant for a little bit, staring at the streetlights and the mingling people. Peverell shuffled his feet somewhat nervously, eyeing the stones of the pavement.

“Do you want to come to my hotel room?” Severus asked, almost surprised by his own boldness.

Peverell met his eyes for a second, the faint blush returning to his cheeks, “Um, yeah, sure.”

Severus really couldn’t believe that such a handsome man would even give him the time of day, let alone consider spending the night with him. Again, he shoved those thoughts out of his mind and held out his hand. Peverell stared at the outstretched hand in confusion, looking back to Severus in question.

“I’ll apparate us.” Severus explained.

“Oh.” Peverell said, seemingly embarrassed, taking Severus’ hand in his, “In France, we take the arm.”

Severus didn’t comment on how they normally did the same in England too.

He apparated them to the bedroom of his suite, landing quite near the foot of the bed. He saw the blush rise in Peverell’s face, reaching to his ears this time as he looked around the room wide-eyed. Severus wondered if perhaps he’d been a bit too bold but was dissuaded from such thoughts as Peverell stepped closer to Severus, bringing their still joined hands to his lips and kissing it tenderly.

Severus snapped, his self-restraint running out. He raised an arm to the man’s slender neck, pulling his face closer and smashing their lips together in a feverous kiss. Peverell’s hands went to his body, grabbing at his torso and shoulders, running his fingers along his side.

The kiss was hot and brutal. With barely any space to breath. They fell onto the bed, Severus pressing down on the other man as his tongue roamed his mouth. He wormed a hand into his hair – just as soft as it had looked – and tugged, spreading featherlight kisses along the exposed neck. Peverell moaned, the sound desperate and heady.

The man rocked his hips forward, somehow aligning their erections with no difficulty. His green eyes were alight with pleasure and lust as they kissed again, simply moving against each other. He tasted absolutely delicious, with a hint of the dinner they’d just eaten as well as his own natural taste.

When they stopped for breath, Severus began undoing the buttons on the man’s shirt, Peverell doing the same for his. Each button revealing more and more of the tan skin of the man beneath him.

“Do you top or bottom?” Severus asked as he began to nibble at Peverell’s exposed neck again, amazed that even his skin had a pleasant taste to it.

“Uh-” the man moaned, clearly finding it difficult to concentrate on the words, Severus smirked, “I- I have no preference.”

Hmm, so the man was switch. Severus started up their kiss again as he began unbuckling the man’s belt and withdrawing his considerable erection. He gave it a few pumps, feeling it grow just that little bit more. Peverell moaned again, throwing his head back against the pillow. Severus worked his way down, licking and nibbling and biting, soliciting even more moans.

When Severus finally reached what he had been aiming for, he engulfed the other man with his  mouth, taking as much of him in as he could. Peverell positively keened at the action, grabbing at Severus’ hair in reflex. He didn’t mind the pull as he used his tongue to swirl around the head.

“Oh, Merlin!” Peverell groaned out, panting deeply as sweat began to bead on his forehead.

Severus smirked as he continued his ministrations, bobbing his head. It was an incredibly powerful feeling to bring such an outstanding wizard to delirium like this, to see so clearly the effect he could produce in the man. He wasn’t only good for potions after all.

He tried not to startle when the last remains of their clothes vanished, appearing nicely folded on the chair beside the bed. He sent a quick glance up at the man beneath him, surprised by the feat of wandless and wordless magic.

There was a pause as they both examined each other’s body, taking in the natural lines and grooves. Severus could see the way the younger man’s eyes lingered on the odd scars scattered around his body, pointedly ignoring the blackened tattoo on his right forearm. He had never been one for embarrassment, but he found himself wondering what the other man saw when he looked at him.

Severus shook his head, using what little wandless magic he could do to summon the jar of lube that was in the bedside table. He applied liberal amounts to his fingers, warming it up slightly before proceeding to slowly massage around the man’s opening.

Peverell trembled slightly as he inserted the finger, swirling it around slowly before curling the finger slightly. God, he was tight. Severus searched with his finger, stroking his inner walls before finally finding his prostate. Peverell gasped, arching his back, bringing his fist of his mouth to try and hide the moans he was letting out.

Severus couldn’t help but be proud, though he let go of the man’s erection, creating an obscene ‘pop’ as his lips lost their seal. He reached up and grabbed the man’s arm, pulling it away from his mouth, whispering into the man’s ears, “Come on, don’t hide such pretty noises.”

Peverell shuddered at the words, his mouth seeking out Severus’ as he inserted his second finger. He reached down, grabbing Severus’ own erection, and griped it tightly, stroking up and down along the length of it.

Severus grunted at the sensation, kissing the man harder in gratitude, using his fingers to stretch the man. He added some more lube before he inserted the third finger, using the combined width of his fingers to slowly pound into the man, drawing yet more of those lovely moans. He managed to hit the prostate several times.

“Urgh, God! Please- Just!” Peverell moaned out, incoherent in his desire for Severus to just finally be in him.

Severus smirked, coating his length in more of the lube before aligning himself at Peverell’s entrance. Peverell seemed to hold his breath as he pushed in. Severus groaned at the warmth and tightness of the younger man. It had been over a year since Severus had last been with someone and Circe, did it feel good.

Peverell moaned, arching until their chests met, sweat now covering both of them in a thin film.

“You’re so- Fuck!” Severus groaned, pulling back before pushing back in with more speed than before.

The man beneath him gasped and he grabbed at Severus’ shoulder, his nails digging in, likely leaving marks. Severus, in turn, grabbed Peverell’s hips, using his grasp as purchase to push even deeper into the younger man. He moaned loudly as he pulled out and pushed back in in quick succession, the sound of skin smacking on skin reverberating off the walls. He hoped the walls were thick enough that the sound didn’t travel, as he hadn’t had the forethought to set up a silencing ward.

With Peverell being so receptive and displaying his pleasure loudly, it was easy for Severus to find the man’s prostate and continue to aim for it on each subsequent thrust in. This pounding abuse on his prostate left the man a mess, drooling slightly as he grabbed harshly at Severus and the bedsheets, basically anything within reach.

As Severus built up to a fast and steady pace, he began to suck at the man’s collarbone, leaving small and easy to hide marks. There was inexplicable pleasure in the idea of Hadrian Peverell being covered in marks left by him. It was a sign that he’d been there.

After a particularly deep thrust, Peverell came, screaming out nonsense French and tightening even more around Severus. It only took another two thrusts into that deep hole to have Severus coming too.

Severus tried to take deep breaths, eager to get his breathing under control, as he looked down at the man he had so thoroughly just fucked. The man’s hair was in complete disarray, strands sticking to his sweaty forehead, his face was flushed a deep crimson, and his breath was coming out in shallow laborious pants. So beautiful.

And then, he opened his eyes and stared at Severus. While he couldn’t read whatever was in those eyes, the sight was breath-taking, somewhat dazed emerald green looking straight at Severus. Again, his heart stuttered at the sight.

“I think I’m going to fall asleep very soon.” Peverell whispered, his eyes already starting to close.

Severus pulled out of the man, earning one last tired moan as he rolled to the free part of the bed next to the man.

“Sleep.” Severus said, “I don’t mind if you stay the night.”

Which was normally a lie. Severus had never really liked sharing a bed with people, whether he knew them well or not. But it was oddly different with Peverell. He truly didn’t mind if he stayed the night, in fact… he almost wanted him to.

Peverell smiled, clearly satiated by their actions, “Bonne nuit.”

The language slip amused Severus as he moved to make sure that the both of them were covered by the bedsheets. Although the man might’ve been warm at the moment, his temperature would plummet as soon as he crashed from his high.

He reached over, grabbing his wand from the bedside table, though not entirely sure how it had ended up there. He cast a simple nox, turning off all the lights in the room. It was strange to fall asleep to the sound of heavy breathing beside him, but also somewhat pleasant at the same time.

 

-

 

Severus woke up the next morning to the feeling of the bed moving beside him. He had always been a light sleeper and awoke at even the smallest of disturbances around him. Habits from the war, he supposed. Anything to stay alive. He didn’t open his eyes, only reaching out with his senses to scope out what had woken him. His mind was surprisingly clear, and his body felt well rested in a way that Severus almost couldn’t remember it having ever been.

“Oh, sorry, did I wake you?” came the now familiar voice of Peverell.

Yes, that’s right. He’d slept with the man after a dinner. Hadrian Peverell, one of the most spectacular Potions Masters of Europe. That he’d slept with. Again, it almost didn’t seem real. So, he opened his eyes, those vibrant green ones looking down at him apologetically.

“I was going to let you sleep in more, but I have a meeting I can’t be late for with some of my suppliers.” Peverell explained, as he started doing up the buttons of his shirt.

Severus groaned, pushing himself until he was sitting against the headboard of the bed. Right, Hadrian Peverell was also the owner of a hugely successful chain of apothecaries that spanned from Portugal to Poland. Although, he hadn’t branched into Britain yet.

“Not a morning person?” Peverell teased, grinning roguishly at him in a way that had him almost asking for a repeat of the night previous.

Severus hummed, his voice thick and leaden with sleep, “Not before my morning coffee.”

“Well, let’s see if I can’t remedy that before I depart, hmm?” Peverell said, waving his wand and setting the supplies in the other room up to make a cup of coffee.

It was almost a shame to see the marks Severus had left being covered up by the shirt the younger man was wearing, but at least he wasn’t getting rid of them. Although, there was a chance he wasn't aware of them as there wasn’t a mirror in the room for him to see his own reflection.

Once Peverell was fully dressed, he left the room and returned not long after with a mug of coffee. Severus accepted it gladly, almost put at odds by the kind gesture. While he wasn’t exactly used to people staying the night, certainly none of those that had had ever made him coffee.

“Do you add any sugar or milk to your coffee?” Peverell asked once the warm drink was securely in his hands.

Severus shook his head, “No, I drink it black.”

Peverell quirked a small smile, “That had been my guess.”

Severus would have huffed if he’d been a little more awake, perhaps even snared at the presumption, but instead he took a grateful sip of his coffee before it got cold.

“Thank you.” Severus said quietly, so quietly even he could barely hear the words. He didn’t even know whether he was saying thanks for the coffee or for the night before. Both maybe. Peverell blushed bright red at the words, in a way that brought to mind how the younger man had looked beneath him during the peak of last night’s pleasure.

Peverell simply nodded in response, casting three separate freshening and cleaning spells on himself in a bid to disguise what he’d been doing the night previous. It was only partially successful.

“May I- may I write to you about my experiments with the Wolfsbane potion?” Peverell asked when he finally looked ready to depart. The question startled Severus and reminded him why he normally never slept with anyone that worked in the same field as him. One-night stands should remain a relationship that lasted just the singular night. Yet, Severus’ potioneer’s mind couldn’t pass up the opportunity for an intellectual communication with the Hadrian Peverell.

And so, Severus nodded, “Please, I am most intrigued to see whether they will work.”

That put another bright smile on the man’s beautiful face, “I’ll look out for you at future potions conferences. Goodbye!”

Severus didn’t return the farewell, simply held the other man’s gaze as he disapparated. He still didn’t know whether sleeping with the man had been a wise decision or not. Severus wasn’t known for making wise decisions.

 

-

 

Their correspondence very quickly became the highlights of Severus’ week. Although, the incoming letters never seemed to have a schedule, they came at least every ten days, each taking up more than one piece of parchment and making the envelope bulge from the mass of paper within. It was a hard thing not to show how pleased he was whenever he received one.

Already, Minerva had commented that he was getting a lot of mail recently but backed down once he explained that it was simply another Potions Master writing for academic advice. Pomona was less easily dissuaded. She would heckle him with her teasing every time the familiar owl landed in front of his meal.

It was mind-blowing how quickly Peverell – Hadrian, he’d been told to call the man – made his discoveries. Two months had passed, and he already wanted to start testing his revised Wolfsbane recipe on willing werewolf participants. He had sent Severus the full recipe – stupidly trusting of the man – and asked him to brew it and make sure he didn’t find any problems or further improvements that could be made.

While there had been none of the problems that Severus had mentioned in the paper that had first garnered him the younger Potion Master’s attention, he had suggested a few improvements which were readily implemented, and the yet again revised recipe sent back for further examination.

A lot of their letters where that kind of back and forth but laced within the academia that pleasured his mind just as the man’s body had pleasured his, was the odd witty or humorous line that reminded him of the person behind the letters. Of Hadrian Peverell.

He was liberal with his complaints of the people he negotiated with on the regular, of the different governments he had to talk to in order to acquire permission to sell within their countries. He’d even found out the reason why the man had never branched into Britain. Apparently, the tariffs on imported potions ingredients were so astronomical that there was no way that any such products to be sold for a profit.

Which made a lot of sense as there were very little potions ingredients that Severus bought which weren’t locally sourced. Although, Severus wasn’t one for politics or economics, he found whatever the other man talked about incredibly interesting.

In the letters he sent back, Severus would also often complain and bemoan the stupidity of the children he taught. Hadrian seemed bemused by his plight and offered him a job with his apothecaries if he ever wanted it. Sadly, Severus was less free to choose the path of his life as the other man and so, was bound to Hogwarts.

Severus looked up from his breakfast when the owls started trickling in with the mail. He saw the familiar snowy owl the same moment Pomona did, who giggled excitedly beside him like a teenage girl. Although, the snowy owl – Hedwig, Hadrian had mentioned once – was not clutching the normal letter, but a rolled-up edition of Revue de Potions, the leading French Potions magazine.

He took the magazine from the owl, leaving it to peck at whatever it desired from his plate as he examined it, wondering why Hadrian would have sent it to him. On the cover was a picture of a wizard Severus didn’t recognise brewing a greenish potion. All of the titles of the featured articles were in French, and thus, beyond his comprehension.

He really should learn French if he wanted to talk further with a French wizard.

As he flipped through, he noticed a piece of paper slipped within the pages. He turned to the spread, both surprised and horrified to see a picture of himself staring back at him beside a picture of Hadrian. The picture they had chosen was one he’d been forced to take at the annual IPC three years ago in America and he looked just as bitter in it as he remembered being those three years ago. In fact, it was the same bitterness he’d had before he’d started exchanging letters with Hadrian.

He felt fury rising in his chest at the audacity to print a picture of him without his permission. His clenched fist was leaving the left side of the spread magazine crinkled. With the other hand, he picked up the letter Hadrian had written him, trying to reign in his anger so as not to destroy that too. Afterall, the man had some explaining to do. His photo looked recent, as if it had been taken for the article.

Dear Severus,

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for the use of your photo in this article. While I had not given them permission to use your image, nor did I know they had a photo of you in their collection, I should have warned you prior to its release or told the magazine to contact you. I was unaware they even wanted a photo of yours. Again, I apologise for this oversight.

Now, the article in question details the new Wolfsbane potion we have created, and I mentioned in great depth how you had helped with its creation process. The potion has been approved for use in France, Spain, and Belguim which is only just the start. The IPO has started their own tests on the potion and once they approve it, it will get a lot easier for each country to approve it.

I hope you do not mind that I put you down as the co-creator for all of the applications I’ve made as well as the patent I drafted and got approved not even two days ago. The royalties for the potion have been set at 3 knuts to Damocles Belby, 5 knuts to yourself, and 5 knuts to me. Gringotts will handle this distribution, so you will simply see the money deposited into your account fortnightly.

The news of the new Wolfsbane potion will likely reach Britain soon. I hope it doesn’t cause any trouble for you.

Also, I will be visiting England in two weeks for some meetings with suppliers and others. Perhaps, if you’re free, we might meet up for dinner one night? I will be spending a week in London and half a week in Edinburgh. Of course, if that doesn’t disturb your schedule at Hogwarts.

Wishing you well,

Hadrian Peverell

Severus was left stunned. While he might have expected to have been put as a reference for the potion – which he had not expected either – he couldn’t believe that the man had labelled him as co-creator. With an equal share of the royalties as Hadrian! Belby of course got his from having created the original Wolfsbane potion. If the man had wanted more, he should have responded to any of the countless letters Severus and Hadrian had sent the man over the years.

He licked his lips at the suggestion for dinner. He wondered if there were any hidden motives in the invite, particularly along the lines of their previous night together. Then he had to wonder whether he wanted there to be or not. Again, adding sex into these sorts of on-going relationships was a murky business. Yet, he couldn’t regret it as he could still remember Hadrian’s face and body and the noises he’d made and-

Not thoughts for the Great Hall.

Severus tried vainly to flatten the magazine where his harsh grip had crumpled it. He tapped a finger against the cover as he already began pondering his reply.

“It’s not been long since you’re last letter.” Pomona grinned, holding out a hand to ruffle the snowy owl’s feathers, “Only four days ago, I think.”

Severus tried very hard to keep his annoyance from his face, merely replying, “Indeed.”

“Ooo,” She called, grabbing at the magazine before he could hide it from her, “What’s this?”

From his school day’s he knew that if he ripped it from her hands and made a scene, it would only light the fire of her curiosity. He still couldn’t believe that he had to subject himself to this kind of humiliation as a professor. Couldn’t this woman grow up?!

French.” Pomona noted, raising a thick eyebrow at him, “How exotic.”

Not really, Severus thought, France was only a thin stretch of water away and just took the singular international portkey to get to.

At least, the woman had some notion of privacy and didn’t flip through nor read the letter Hadrian had written. Although, that courtesy didn’t quite extend to asking.

“Now, why is your paramour sending you French magazines, hmm?” Pomona asked.

Severus’ lip twitched towards a snarl, “He’s not my-”

His denials did nothing to convince the woman. The stronger he tried to deny, the more she thought he had something to hide. If only Pomona was less public with her own private life and stopped expecting others to be as well.

“It’s a potions journal.” Severus explained acidly, “He wanted me to read one of the articles.”

That much should have been obvious from the picture of a bubbling cauldron on the magazine’s cover.

“I didn’t know you knew French.” Merlin curse this woman!

“I’m learning.” He ground out.

“My,” she looked off dreamily, “You must be in love! Learning French! So romantic.”

Severus felt a vein pulsing in his forehead. He stood abruptly, his patience on its last thread and left the breakfast table. He didn’t know what kick Pomona got from riling him up so constantly, he only knew that one day – one day soon – he would snap and hex the woman into next week. The herbology professor was playing a dangerous game.

He waited a day before writing his reply, not wanting to seem too eager. He wrote that so long as they agreed on a date, he’d simply need to not assign detentions on that evening, and he’d be free for dinner.

Hadrian’s letters came more frequently – to Pomona’s infernal delight – in the two weeks leading to his arrival in Britain. He kept Severus updated on the progress of getting the new wolfsbane potion approved in various countries that he’d never been to and likely never would. He hadn’t been to see his account at Gringotts yet and didn’t know quite how much to expect from the potion. Few of the potions he’d created had gotten outside of Britain, purely due to the fact that Severus had never thought to try.

It took only three days after Hadrian sent the magazine for the news to reach Britain and a rather large article had been written about it in the Prophet. Not on the front page or anything, but it was still a rather large achievement. Severus sent Hadrian a copy as a thanks for him doing so with the French one.

Albus clapped him on the shoulder when the article was released, expressing how proud he was, and Minerva was rather surprised but also congratulated him. He didn’t bother to tell them that he’d hardly worked on the potion at all. Pomona seemed both disappointed that it had been a correspondence regarding potions, yet also rather excited by the notion that Severus was talking to a young, handsome, and filthy rich wizard. And not to mention a French wizard.

The only surprising reaction was Filius who had lamented about how Severus was wasting his skills at Hogwarts, that he was still young and should go do research before settling into teaching. He was the youngest professor at Hogwarts, only 26 and had gone into teaching more or less straight out of school.

The comment made Severus feel almost restless as he remembered Hadrian’s open offer to work for his company. He shook his head. No, he was teaching as a favour to Albus.

 

-

 

It was a very cold Friday evening when Severus apparated to London to see Hadrian. They had agreed on a rather small wizarding restaurant that Severus had frequented a few times in his life. On special occasions.

Hadrian was already there when he arrived, seated at their reserved table. The establishment was well known for its privacy wards that separated each table into something of a small room. They were seated near a window, although the view wasn’t quite the same as the restaurant in Paris, merely of the alleyway below.

“Severus!” Hadrian exclaimed once he saw him, standing up and moving to hug him. Severus wondered for a second whether he should prepare himself for a kiss as he’d read was common with French people. Alas, Hadrian seemed to sense the touch made Severus uncomfortable and gestured for him to sit opposite at the table.

“Hadrian.” He returned the greeting, “It’s nice to finally see you again after exchanging letter for the last few months.”

Hadrian grinned rather roguishly at him, “Indeed. Gosh, only a few months? Feels like longer!”

Severus felt himself relax in his chair, a small smile tugging at his lips. It did feel like more than a few months. He had worried, clearly in vain, whether conversation would be difficult after communicating so long by letters, but Hadrian was a natural at easing into different conversations.

Somehow, he found himself complaining about Pomona to him and Hadrian merely laughed. Although, he did blush when he explained exactly what the witch thought of him, carding a hand through his hair sheepishly. It was oddly endearing.

“Have you ever been to Edinburgh?” Hadrian asked once they started talking about his travel plans in Britain.

Severus nodded, “It’s much closer to Hogwarts so the staff go there to celebrate at the end of each school year.

“And get wildly drunk, I imagine.” Harry laughed.

“Maybe.” Severus shrugged, smirking at the younger wizard.

“You’ll have to show me all the good places to drink then.” Harry suggested, and Severus felt a strange warmth in his chest at the notion that Harry wanted to see him again so soon.

He tried to hide his warm feelings with a confident nod, “Of course. I’ll come up with a list of only the best drinking establishments.”

“But for now,” Hadrian pondered aloud, his smile almost mischievous when he looked at Severus, “Do you know any good places in London?”

“A few.” Severus said airily.

Hadrian ended up paying for the meal, refusing to let Severus split it. Severus would have protested more if he hadn’t smirked that cursed smirk and suggested that Severus could shout him a few drinks to make it up to him.

Then, they were off to get wildly drunk.

A drunk Hadrian Peverell was much the same as a sober one, both charming and happy. The only difference Severus had noticed was that he was far more touchy-feely. They were mostly innocent touches, just a brush of a hand, or his shoulder touching Severus’ when they looked over at a pamphlet together.

Perhaps, another difference was the types of conversations they had. It was surprisingly deeper than their sober conversations. Hadrian ended up regaling Severus with the details of his childhood. The genius wizards’ parents had both died when he was an infant and he was sent to live with abusive muggle relatives in England until he was seven. Apparently, a French wizard had come across him getting punished for his accidental magic and whisked him away to France where he proceeded to raise him and help him gain his Peverell inheritance.

Strangely, the story made Severus tell his own. He told Hadrian about his drunk father and weak mother. Hadrian understood him in a way no one else had. He had gone through similar situations as a child. It sent pleasant tingles of warmth through his chest.

At the next innocuous touch, Severus couldn’t take it any longer. He grabbed Hadrian’s arm, pulling the man into a blinding kiss. He felt the other man’s eyelashes as he blinked in surprise before also closing his eyes and leaning into the kiss.

He pressed against Hadrian, pushing him into the bar behind them and searching his mouth with his tongue. He didn’t know what he was looking for, but he found it when Hadrian moaned against him, pressing against his leg. He pushed his leg further forward, creating more contact between their bodies.

Severus could barely taste the alcohol on his lips, likely having gotten used to the same flavour in his own mouth, but he could taste the strong sweetness that could only have belonged to Hadrian. It was an almost cinnamon-y sweetness. It was bliss.

“Hmm hmm.” Coughed a voice from behind them.

They stopped what they were doing and pulled apart just far enough to turn to the barman. Hadrian blushed prettily as he realised the whole bar was staring and jeering at them. All in all, the barman was actually rather polite in kicking them out.

They stood outside the bar for a few seconds before Severus burst out into laughter. Hadrian looked at him wide-eyed before joining him.

“Do you want to-“

“Of course.”

And so, Hadrian apparated them to the hotel room he was staying in. It was rather extravagant by Severus’ standards, but he paid it no mind as he set to resume their passionate kiss.

They kissed for a very long time, finding themselves on the couch and simply snogging. It was an odd experience for Severus as he’d never much been keen on kissing, it was far too intimate during one-night stands. Somehow, this didn’t feel much like a one-night stand. He didn’t quite know what this was. A mistake, quite possibly.

But it didn’t feel like a mistake. It felt wonderful.

Hadrian’s hand trailed down his shirt, pulling it out from his trousers before beginning to unbuckle his belt. Severus began to do the same to Hadrian, but the younger man pulled away from the kiss, giving him a look that sent shivers throughout his body.

“Let me return the favour from last time.” Hadrian murmured, voice deep. He looked gorgeous, eyes glowing and lips slightly swollen.

He began to slide off where he’d previously been half-straddling Severus, lowering himself to the floor. He looked up at Severus again, making eye contact as he removed Severus from his pants. He ran a cursory lick along the edge, from base to tip, before pausing. He smiled at the taste and Severus didn’t know whether there had ever been a more lascivious picture.

Then, he proceeded to take only the head in, using his tongue to examine every plane. Severus shuddered, his whole-body trembling from the sensations wrought by the other man’s tongue. Hadrian sucked lightly, again just the tip, and Severus groaned, the sound coming deep from his chest.

Hadrian looked up again at the noise, blushing faintly as if he had been caught doing something obscene. The green of his eyes certainly did nothing to help his strong arousal. Losing interest in just the head, Hadrian began to move down the length, not taking the whole thing into his mouth as Severus would have expected but sucking from the sides.

Reaching the base, Hadrian moved entirely. Directing his sinful mouth to one of his balls as he raised a hand to fondle the other. Severus didn’t quite know what to think of this performance. He’d almost call it teasing. He’d certainly never had a blow job that felt so explorative. He almost wanted to attribute it to Hadrian’s personality. It was as if he wanted to get to know everything about him, from his childhood to his career, even it would seem, to his dick.

Severus watched in awe at the creature in front of him as he pulled back a smidge to simply stare at Severus’ leaking member. His face was flushed, and if Severus had ever been a man for embarrassment, this would have been a moment of scared emotion on his part.

Hadrian returned his lips to the head, opening his mouth and engulfing what he could. He swallowed the precum that had beaded there since his departure and moved to bring more of Severus into his mouth.

“Oh- Fuck, you feel so good.” Severus moaned loudly at the warmth that was suddenly all around him, at the wetness of Hadrian’s mouth.

Hadrian swallowed and that sent another round of bodily shivers throughout his body. Severus reached out with his right hand, twisting it tightly into Hadrian’s hair. Hadrian moaned at the pull and Severus couldn’t help it as he thrust deeply into Hadrian’s mouth.

The other man choked a little but quickly returned to his ministrations, using his tongue and cheeks to pleasure Severus in a way that he hadn’t experienced in so many years. Not many wanted to suck off the greasy Slytherin, or slimy Death Eater. Yet, here was Hadrian on his knees and using his mouth in a way that seemed as if he was trying to worship him with it.

He thrust again, wildly losing control and pulling Hadrian down to meet his thrust. He hit the back of the other man’s throat. Hadrian moaned even as he spluttered and Severus could feel the build-up of pleasure, the tightening of his-

“Oh- I- Soon-“ Severus tried to warn, but didn’t quite manage to as he blurted out, “Fuck!”

Severus released himself into Hadrian’s mouth, filling it with his cum before leaking out to drip down his chin. Severus panted heavily as he recovered from what Hadrian had done. Hadrian, too, seemed in need air. He wiped at his chin, staring at the whiteness that transferred to his hand.

He quirked a small smile at Severus, clearly pleased with himself. Severus huffed, pulling the younger man towards him by his shirt – God, they were both fully clothed still – and into another passionate kiss. Severus’ lips were beginning to get used to the feel of Hadrian’s against his.

He began to unbuckle Hadrian’s belt, intent to return at least some of the pleasure Hadrian had just gifted him. Hadrian laid a halting hand atop his and pulled away from the kiss, blushing and unable to meet Severus’ eyes.

“You don’t- I already-” Hadrian ducked his head, hiding from Severus’ view. Severus looked down and saw a damp patch in Hadrian’s trousers. Had he- From sucking off Severus?

Severus couldn’t help being surprised; Hadrian hadn’t even wanked as he’d pleasured him. Just from… Severus laughed in wonder, which was honestly a stupid reaction thinking back on it as Hadrian flinched away from him, his shoulders shrinking in shame.

Severus grabbed him by the shoulders harshly, causing Hadrian to look back at him, “Hadrian, you’re fucking wonderful.”

Hadrian stared at him with wide, round eyes at the statement, a blush returning to his cheeks. Merlin, what was Severus even saying?

“You swear a lot, did you know?” Hadrian asked, still seemingly stunned from Severus’ earlier statement.

Severus huffed, “Mostly during sex. Now… if you’ve soiled yourself like this, then perhaps you might be wanting a shower?”

Hadrian blushed bright red yet again, Severus didn’t think he would ever be able to get enough of that shade on his cheeks, “You don’t need to phrase it like that! I didn’t soil myself!”

Severus just laughed as he pulled the man up with him as he stood. It would seem that just like the rest of the hotel suite, the bathroom was rather luxurious as well. He set the water to warm as they undressed, Severus watching keenly as Hadrian removed each article of clothing.

While he had seen the man naked before and could remember starkly the images from that night, it felt somewhat different tonight. He cared more about Hadrian for one, even called him by his first name. Maybe there was something else as well that he just couldn’t place his finger on.

Hadrian sent him an accusatory glare and he finally began to remove his own clothes. He joined Hadrian in the shower, watching as the water trailed paths down the man’s body. He brought a hand and ran it through Hadrian’s hair, looking into his green eyes as he lent in for another kiss.

He could feel Hadrian’s growing erection as he pressed him against the tiled wall, the water cascading over the both of them. His own arousal was back with a fervour as well. Severus considered just wanking the both of them, especially after that mind-blowing blow job Hadrian had given him, but it had been over three months since he’d last been inside Hadrian and he desperately wanted to be again.

Severus reached for one of the bottles by the side of the shower, squirting some into his hands to use as a lubricant. Hadrian watched him as he reached down to his arse, bracing himself against the wall as Severus inserted a finger. Hadrian gasped at the coldness, clenching around his finger.

Circe, he was tight. Severus remembered him being tight last time as well. It seemed nothing had changed in the last three months. He wondered idly whether he’d slept with anyone else since the last they met. But maybe he normally topped, he had said he didn’t have a preference last time. Severus felt a burning hatred rise up in him at the idea and tried to quickly discard that feeling. He didn’t have a say on who Hadrian slept with. They were- they were just friends… Weren’t they?

Severus shook his head, sending water flicking out of his hair. He lent back into his kiss with Hadrian, swallowing the man’s moans as he used his fingers to prepare him. One finger, then two, then three. He spread them wide, hoping to loosen the man as much as possible. Hadrian gasped and moaned and returned his kiss ardently.

Before long, Severus was satisfied by how much he’d prepared the other man and pulled one of his legs up. Hadrian understood quickly and wrapped his legs around Severus’ waist. He hiked the man up a little, until he was the correct elevation and proceeded to push slowly into the man. They both tensed, Hadrian throwing his head back, his face getting pelted with the stream of water from the shower head. Severus had to restrain the impulse to roughly thrust into him, which was much harder than he’d expected.

He reached out for Hadrian’s erection, not going to let it go ignored for the entire evening, pumping in time to his trusts. Hadrian keened, the noise loud and like music to his ears. Severus grunted in reply, kissing the man’s neck and leaving those little bruises just as he had last time. Hadrian seemed to hide his face in the crook of Severus’ neck, overstimulated and just letting the pleasure flow into his mind.

Severus pulled out, using one hand to help support the weight of Hadrian’s body before pushing back in fully. Hadrian gasped loudly as he hit his prostrate, holding himself upright by grasping Severus’ shoulders.

“Severus!” Hadrian moaned loudly, feeling the pleasure so acutely.

Severus shuddered at the sound of his own name on his lips, murmuring a reciprocating, “Hadrian.”

Perhaps, it was the exchange of names that drove Severus to the edge, but he didn’t manage to hold out much longer. He thrust in a few more times before finishing and filling Hadrian with his seed. Hadrian moaned at the sensation of the warmth within himself and as Severus continued to jerk him off, found his own completion soon after.

Severus returned Hadrian to his own feet, the both of them a little weak-kneed. The water of the shower washed over them, ridding them of the traces of each other’s cum. Severus leaned his head atop Hadrian’s shoulder as he struggled to catch his breath, Hadrian doing much the same.

“You’re pretty wonderful yourself, you know.” Hadrian mumbled quietly.

Warmth spread quickly in Severus’ chest at the words. He couldn’t remember ever having been called wonderful. Ever. Fuck. Severus didn’t want to fall in love. Nothing good ever came from falling in love. Only pain and misery and tragedy. And yet, Hadrian was so perfect and wonderful and- and lovable.

This was why Severus didn’t bring sex into friendships. Not that he even had many of those. But he’d always relegated sex to a merely primal activity, not wanting to catch feelings for anyone. Not after Lily. Maybe this had been a mistake after all.

“What’s wrong?” Hadrian asked, a worried frown on his face as he looked at Severus.

Severus stepped away, horror on his face as he looked at Hadrian. This was wrong. This was so wrong.

“Severus, what is it? What’s wrong?”

He stepped out of the shower, grabbing his wand and casting a quick drying spell on himself. Hadrian hurriedly turned the water off, following Severus out of the shower. Severus left the bathroom, grabbing his clothes and hurrying to put on whatever would make it acceptable for him to leave. Hadrian quickly grabbed a hanging bathrobe from the wall before following Severus out of the bathroom.

“Severus!” Hadrian grabbed his arm.

“Don’t touch me!” Severus shouted, ripping his arm out of his grip. Hadrian flinched away and he had to shove down the guilt that rose at seeing the pained expression on Hadrian’s face.

“Severus, just tell me what I did wrong!” Hadrian said, standing near but not reaching out again, “Severus, please! Tell me what I did wrong so I can fix it!”

He’d gotten his trousers on and started buttoning up his outer robes, not even bothering with his shirt.

“Please, Severus, I can’t fix it if you don’t tell me what’s wrong!” But it wasn’t anything Hadrian could fix. He was simply too perfect, and Severus should have never dared to covet something so precious, “Was it- was it the sex? Was I bad?”

God, he’d been perfect. That was the problem.

“Please, come on. I’m sorry. Just tell me why you’re leaving so quickly!” there were tears in Hadrian’s eyes now. Fuck. Things like this always caused pain. Severus could feel it deep in his own chest too.

“I can’t ever love you.” Severus said finally, by way of explanation. He apparated away seeing the expression of utter devastation on Hadrian’s face as a tear leaked down his cheek.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

 

-

 

Severus didn’t leave his quarters for the entire weekend. Hadrian sent three separate letters, but he didn’t open a single one. Instead, he lay in bed and just wallowed in self-pity. How could he have been so foolish as to fall in love?

His mind had warned him every step of the way that this was a bad decision. That Hadrian was far too handsome to return Severus’ interest, that they shouldn’t exchange letters. He’d known before he’d even left Hogwarts on Friday evening that this was a mistake. Stupid! He was so fucking stupid!

On Monday morning, he didn’t go to the Great Hall for breakfast, instead calling up a meal to his rooms. He did the same for lunch and dinner, not wanting to have to socialise with anyone. In class, he was scathing and took more points in the day than he ever had in a week. Not even his Slytherins were safe. He just simply wasn’t in the mood for dealing with children.

It was hard enough dealing with himself.

On Wednesday, Minerva came to nag at him. She knocked at the door of his rooms. Severus contemplated not answering but had forced himself to at least see who it was. When he opened the door, he was greeted with Minerva’s disapproving face.

Severus clenched his teeth, not in the mood to be scolded like some child, “What?”

She frowned even more at his tone, but her face softened slightly as she asked, “Are you alright? Did something happen?”

“It’s none of your business.” Severus growled, getting ready to slam the door, deputy headmistress or not, she was not privy to details of his life.

Minerva sighed, “Look, many students have come to me and complained about how many points you’ve been taking. And all the detentions. At least, Filtch is happy with you, although I’m sure he’s the only one.”

Severus said nothing, affecting nonchalance, as if he was behaving no differently than normal.

“Severus,” Minerva sighed exasperatedly, “In the last three days, you’ve taken a total of 109 points from Gryffindor, 92 from Hufflepuff, 78 from Ravenclaw, and even 53 from Slytherin! Poor Hufflepuff has barely ten diamonds left in their hourglass!”

At that, Severus at least had the sense to feel a bit ashamed. He hadn’t realised he’d taken quite so many points.

“You’ve given out 17 detentions and I’ve had four students come to me in tears.” Minerva went on as if it weren’t yet bad enough, “Severus, please, I do consider you my friend, but I’m also Deputy Headmistress and this is quite simply unacceptable. If you don’t stop soon, I’ll be forced to bring up my concerns about your abilities as a professor with the headmaster.”

Severus clenched his jaw tight, almost chocking on the words he wanted to say. He wanted to scream that he’d never wanted to be a professor and that he wouldn’t care a single wit if she got him fired. But he held it in, it wasn’t her fault. No, it was all Severus’.

Everything bad that had ever happened to Severus had been a consequence of some mistake he had made. Even simply existing had proven to be a mistake in the eyes of his father. His fist tightened around the door as he remembered how Hadrian had sympathised with the treatment of his father, having a similarly abusive muggle uncle.

Thinking of Hadrian was like lying on hot coals, pain rippled through his chest. And wasn’t this simply another consequence of one of his mistakes. How dare he fall in love with such a man. He was like a slug who had fallen for an angel. It was stupidity. Plain and simple.

Minerva sighed again, “Severus, just tell me what’s wrong. I’ve known you since you were eleven, and we’ve become close since you’ve started teaching here. You can talk to me. Maybe, I won’t be able to solve your problem, but I can at least listen. And if not me, at least talk to Pomona. We’ve all missed you in the Great Hall.”

Severus turned away, ignoring her words. Hadrian had said that too: ‘tell me what’s wrong!’, ‘tell me what I did wrong so I can fix it!’. Severus closed the door, not even bothering to say goodbye to Minerva. He leant against the wood of the door, willing away thoughts of the other man, of the a tear creeping down his face or the pained sound of his voice. Why couldn’t he just stop thinking about him?!

He barely knew him! They’d met only twice, and the first time had only been just shy of three months ago! Why had his heart attached itself to something so unobtainable so quickly? But he knew why. Because he could also remember the way Hadrian had looked before Severus had seen fit to run away.

He could remember his roguish grin, his bright blush and the green eyes filled with glowing passion and pleasure. Thinking on it, Severus wasn’t sure if his analogy with the slug and the angel wasn’t too far off. Hadrian had seemed rather otherworldly in his beauty.

Hadrian sent more letters, but he ignored them. He didn’t want to know what the French wizard thought of him, his imaginings were already dark enough. Ignorance was bliss, they said. Severus would rather live not knowing how much Hadrian might despise him.

The next day, he felt keenly more sombre than angry, which was a relief as it drove him to take less points – in line with Minerva’s warning. He wondered absentmindedly as he made his way back to his rooms after a mind-numbing day of teaching if he was perhaps going through the stages of grief.

When he was in his room, he almost felt close to tears. Severus never cried. The only time since he was a young child that he had cried was when Lily had died. So many shitty things had happened to him, but he’d only cried the once. He wouldn’t cry now. He wouldn’t let himself.

There was another knock at the door. Severus wanted to ignore it. But after Minerva yesterday, there was a chance she’d told Dumbledore and it was he who was outside his rooms. If it was Minerva again or one of the other professors, he’d simply shoo them away. So, he stood up, and made his way to the door. When he opened it, he was instead faced with the sickly-pale face of Hadrian Peverell.

Severus flinched, not having expected that. How on Earth had he even gotten into Hogwarts?

“Severus-“

He slammed the door shut, but Hadrian was quick and stuck his arm out. His fingers crunched audibly between the door and the door frame.

“Why the fuck-“

“Severus, please, we need to talk.” Hadrian said, clutching his wounded hand to his chest.

“You need to get treated!” Severus said, unable to fathom why Hadrian would do something so stupid. He was a potions master! Their hands were precious!

Hadrian shook his head, “Not until we talk. I’m not leaving until we talk.”

And Severus had nowhere to run. This was his home, he couldn’t just apparate away. Instead, he had to face the man. Severus had never been a brave man, always a coward. He hadn’t been able to save what was important to him, had only switched sides in the war when things had started going south.

Yet, seeing Hadrian’s determined, green eyes, Severus knew there was nothing he could do, nowhere to hide. He moved out of the entryway, allowing the man access to his private chambers. He looked around curiously, but quickly returned to the issue at hand, sitting opposite Severus at the dining table.

“Severus.” Hadrian began, “You said that you couldn’t ever love me. But- But I never had that expectation of you.”

Fuck. He had to listen to himself being rejected in person. This was going to hurt more than just reading the letter would have.

“I- I don’t need you to love me, okay, Severus?” Hadrian said, looking down at his clenched hands, “You’re one of my closest friends, and I don’t mind if all you want is to just be friends. Exchanging letters with you and talking with you at dinner, that’s enough for me, okay? Even if you just wanted to have sex, no strings attached, I wouldn’t mind. Severus, meeting you has been the best thing that’s happened to me in the last few years. I don’t care if you don’t reciprocate my feelings, but please don’t ignore me.”

By the end of his speech, Hadrian had looked up, an earnest passion in his eyes that Severus had come to adore. But- what was he saying? What on earth was Severus listening to? Reciprocate feelings? What feelings? Severus frowned; his mind not quite able to comprehend the meaning behind Hadrian’s words.

“And- And I just wanted to apologise if you felt that I had pressured you to sleep with me in any way.” Hadrian said, “I’m not very experienced with all that stuff, and I wanted to apologise if I’d misinterpreted anything or- or just simply been a bad partner.”

“What- What the fuck?” Severus blurted out. What the fuck was he talking about?

Hadrian flinched but seemed prepared for any reaction Severus might have to his words. Severus stared at him in disbelief, in outraged fury even. What the actual fuck?

“What-What feelings are you talking about?!” Severus asked, utterly uncomprehending.

Hadrian swallowed nervously, “Well- I- love you. But! But I don’t expect you to feel the same way about me! I- I said that! You don’t need to love me back! You don’t need to feel pressured or burdened by it!”

What.

Love.

But-

What.

Hadrian couldn’t love Severus. It simply wasn’t possible. Severus’ brain couldn’t even process the possibility. It was completely unfathomable. An angel wouldn’t fall in love with a slug.

“But- What? How could you possibly l-love me?!” Severus asked, his voice high and strained even to his own ears.

Hadrian blushed a little, but was firm in his response, “Well, I mean, it’s easy. You’re smart, and handsome, and I enjoy talking to you and brainstorming potions and- and kissing you.”

Oh God, he was dreaming. He had to be. This was utterly outlandish. Handsome, what rubbish. His own mother hadn’t loved him. Yet, Hadrian Peverell – one of the most eligible bachelors in all of Europe – said he loved Severus?!

“But that’s impossible!” Severus exclaimed.

Hadrian seemed a little angry as he replied, “It’s not impossible. I love you, that’s that.”

As Severus’ head began to spin a little from the complete irrationality of the conversation he was having, Hadrian’s expression turned confused as well.

“But, if you weren’t mad that I loved you, why did you leave?” Hadrian asked, his voice quiet and pained, “Was it- was it really the sex? Am I that bad?”

What was this man even talking about?

“The sex was fucking fantastic.” Severus said, the only thing that still made sense. It had been fucking fantastic.

Hadrian blushed bright red, and that cursed warmth returned to Severus’ chest at the sight, “Then… why?”

The question was so quiet, Severus almost didn’t catch it. It was so vulnerable, and Severus was suddenly filled with such hatred towards himself and his past actions. How could he- how could he make this man doubt himself in such a way?

“I-“ Fuck, he’d have to be honest, wouldn’t he? He’d have to be brave, “Nothing good comes from falling in love.”

Hadrian seemed intent on interrupting him, but Severus steamed ahead, “No, really. Neither of my parents loved me. I might have loved my mother, but she died. I had wanted the love of my father, but he would only beat me. I once loved this girl from school, but she died too. Even before then, she had despised me. Nothing good comes from being in love. Only pain and misery. Just look at what pain l-loving me has already brought you.”

There was silence as Severus composed his next words. Hadrian watched him, tears in his eyes that could have just as easily been pity as pain.

“I realised on Friday that I could very easily fall in love with you. If I hadn’t already.” Severus said and Hadrian’s eyes went wide, a bastard hope in them, “But I didn’t want that. I don’t want to fall in love. It won’t do any good for me, and certainly not for you.”

“One must love anyway. Not- Not that you have to love me.” Hadrian blushed profusely, quick to clarify, “Just… One loves despite the high risk for pain. Because there is equal or more joy to gain from it. Maybe, it’s because I grew up in Paris and everyone talks about love, but love isn’t a bad thing. Losing love isn’t even a bad thing. It’s a sad thing, yes, tragic even, but not bad. Love can never be bad. Not in its pure form. One might act on it in a bad way, but having loved, having experienced love can never be bad.”

“Look, I can’t promise that we’ll be together forever, that neither one of us will leave the other or- or die.” Hadrian went on, “But, I can promise you that right now, in this moment in time, I love you.”

Severus stared at Hadrian, stunned by the words coming out of his mouth. It didn’t sound real. It went against everything that Severus had learn first-hand about how the world worked.

“You don’t need to say you love me, you don’t even need to believe what I just said, but maybe…” Hadrian reached out and clasped one of Severus’ hands in his, “Maybe you wouldn’t be so against trying out a relationship with me? See where it leads us?”

Severus felt suddenly drained, he’d been running on high emotions for the past week and now, he didn’t even know what to think. He could hardly believe there was a man that would ever profess he loved him. Yet, here was proof to the contrary, sitting directly in front of him.

Somehow, he found himself nodding. Maybe he would see whether there was any truth to Hadrian’s words. And when Hadrian left him or started to hate him, then, he’d know. Then, he’d know for certain whether love was good or bad.

Hadrian smiled and it was like the sun coming out from an overcast sky. Severus felt blessed to even be witnessing it. He seemed less pale than he had when he’d arrived, colour had returned to his cheeks, and he seemed more alive. He stood, slowly tugging Severus out of his seat.

“Come on, you look like you could do with some sleep.” Hadrian noted and it was true, Severus had dark bags under his eyes from lack of sleep the past week, “Albus asked if I could try return his potions professor to only normal levels of grouch.”

Severus huffed, his eyes drooping slightly as his brain started to crash, “Was that how you got into Hogwarts? Through Albus?”

“Yup.” Hadrian nodded, opening the door to Severus’ bedroom and helping him get changed into night clothes, “He’d said you’d been off all week and if I thought I could fix it, he’d let me into Hogwarts to try. I, of course, leaped at the opportunity. You’ve been ignoring my letters all week!”

“’m sorry.” Severus slurred as he was laid down onto the bed.

“Eh, it’s okay.” Hadrian smiled fondly, lying down next to him, “Everything’s better now. Maybe you can show me around this castle you call a school tomorrow, hmm?”

Severus didn’t reply as he quickly fell into a relaxed sleep, Hadrian still clasping his hand tightly within his own.

The End