"Are you serious?" Draco exclaimed. The two of them were lying in his bed together. Severus didn't go back to Hogwarts for about a week and a half, which means he wasn't due at the Malfoy's until then, either. "And you believe him?" It was a couple of days after Christmas, and Jacob had invited Draco over. He had just finished telling him about Ron's apology, and it had gone about as well as he expected.
"Ron is many things, but he's not the type to make something like that up," Jacob told him. "I know he's not your favorite person, but - "
"Yeah, neither is Granger, but at least she didn't betray you. Twice, if I recall correctly."
Jacob had to admit he had a point, but he also knew that Ron wasn't a bad guy. "He's not perfect, and he's made mistakes. He acknowledges them and wants to start over." He gave a shrug of his shoulders. "I owe him that, to at least try. Besides, as I said, no one's perfect. Not even you. There's a lot of things you've done to us that most people would say I shouldn't have forgiven you for."
Draco was silent for a moment. "You're right, and for the record, I'm sorry. If you want to give him a chance, then fine. I won't hex him into the next century, but if he hurts you again, I swear to Merlin - "
Jacob leaned forward, pressing a kiss to Draco's to silence him. "I appreciate that, but if he does it again, I'll hex him myself."
"Fair enough, but can I watch?" Draco asked, leaning in to kiss him back.
Jacob was going to say something, but anything he might have thought of saying was cut off when he felt his boyfriend pull him close to him, deepening the kiss. They had rarely had much time alone together, and apparently, Draco had been thinking the exact same thing he had. He had missed the feeling of Draco's lips on his. Wrapping his arms around him, Jacob pulled him closer.
"Do they do that a lot?" said a familiar voice from the door.
"Yes, I'm certain they do, Ron," said an embarrassed sounding Hermione.
Draco groaned as he broke the kiss, leaning his head against Jacob's shoulder. "Why are we always getting interrupted?" he whispered.
Jacob chuckled. "I don't know, but it seems like that," he said, sitting up, forcing Draco to sit up, too. "I did tell you that I invited Hermione over, too."
Draco leaned in as he arranged himself next to him, looking up at Hermione and Ron in the doorway. Hermione looked amused, Ron much less so. To be honest, the redhead looked a bit embarrassed until he caught Draco's eye. The two glared at each for a moment. "You didn't say that he was coming along."
"I'm sorry. I invited him. He wanted to come along, and I thought it would be okay -" Hermione said in a hurried rush.
Jacob waved her off. "It's fine. Isn't it, Draco? Ron?" He turned to look at his boyfriend before looking over at Ron.
Both nodded curtly as Ron and Hermione took places at the end of Jacob's bed as he and Draco curled their legs up next to them. "Yes, it's perfectly fine," he said. "Any friend of Jacob's…" He put a protective arm around Jacob, almost as if he was reminding Ron of his place.
Hermione cleared her throat. "Okay, so… Jacob, you said Draco got you a really nice cloak? I'd love to see it."
Jacob smiled, slipping out of bed. "Oh, he did. Almost too nice, but you know Draco." He walked over to the closet and grabbed out his new cloak that he hadn't had a chance to wear yet. He brought it over, handing it to Hermione.
"Ooh, wow, this is so soft. Is this silk lining?" she asked, looking up at Draco, who nodded.
"It seems expensive," Ron said, looking over at it.
"I've seen much more expensive ones, but it wasn't cheap if that's what you're asking," Draco said. "Only the best for my boyfriend."
Jacob could see what he was doing. He was staking his claim, so to speak. He wanted to make sure that Ron knew that he wasn't going anywhere, that he knew how things were going to be now if he was going to be coming around more. Ron rolled his eyes at Draco's comment, but to his credit, he didn't say anything.
"It's beautiful, and I love the color. Excellent choice, Draco," Hermione said, handing the cloak back to Jacob.
"Naturally," Draco said as Jacob hung the cloak back up in his closet before going and sliding in bed next to Draco again, who put his arm right back around his shoulders. "So, Hermione, what did your boyfriend get for you?"
A blush crossed Hermione's cheeks. "He got me a gorgeous set of stationary," she said. "Blue with gold edging and a matching eagle-feather quill. It was simply beautiful."
Draco shrugged. "I suppose that's nice enough," he said, "but it doesn't seem that personal."
Hermione looked taken aback. "It's… personal. I mean, I really like it. They're beautiful." She rubbed her hands together in her lap, appearing a bit self-conscious.
Jacob elbowed his boyfriend in the side a bit. Draco looked over at him, a confused expression on his face. "What? Excuse me, but I think the first gift after you start dating is very important, especially if you've dated for a while," he said, a defensive tone to his voice. "I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what to get you. Didn't you do the same?"
Jacob nodded. He didn't want to make Hermione feel bad - because he thought it was a nice gift - but he had to admit Draco was right. "Yeah, I did. I wanted it to be perfect," he said. "But Hermione, don't let what Draco said get to you. If you liked the gift, then that's all that matters. Do you enjoy the gift?"
Hermione nodded. "I do. It's beautiful. Maybe Draco's right, it's not that person, but it's something I like anyway, and sometimes, you can't always find a very personal gift," she said, seeming to calm down a bit as she spoke. "What did you get him, Jacob? I know you mentioned getting your father to find a potions book."
Jacob nodded, but Draco answered for him. "Yes, he got me Advanced Potions: Ingredients, Technique, Theory and Their Effects ."
Hermione gasped. "What? I heard that's the best potions theory book in the world! How advanced is it, really? I've heard it's far above NEWT-level." She leaned forward towards him on the bed. "Please let me borrow it. You know I'll be careful."
Draco gave a wave of his hand. "Of course, when I'm done. I've only done my first read through, but yes, it is far above anything we'll learn in Hogwarts. I don't understand all of it yet, but it's very fascinating to read nonetheless." Hermione seemed to understand because she relaxed nodding at his words. Ron and Jacob had confused looks on their faces. "Well, the first read-through is just to get a taste for the information, then I have to go back through, do a more detailed read through and make notes. Once I've done with that, I will probably go through it once more to make sure I haven't missed anything."
Ron and Jacob just stared at him, but Hermione nodded along. She seemed to understand completely. "Why would you need to read a book more than once?" Ron asked.
"Because you can't get the full effect of the information with only one read!" Hermione said, sounding exasperated. "And he'll probably go through it again after the NEWT's classes, too, I would imagine."
Draco nodded in agreement. "Naturally, but of course, I'll let you borrow it before then," he said. "If you use gloves."
Hermione gasped, looking truly offended. "How dare you! I do not need to use gloves."
"Okay, fine, you won't have to use gloves."
Hermione nodded, content that she had won the conversation and would get to use the book without gloves when Draco was done with it. Jacob just shook his head at their banter. Ron, meanwhile, looked between the two of them like he had walked into an alternative universe.
"How are things going between you and Boot, hmm?" Draco asked.
A small blush crossed her pale cheeks. "Oh, er, just fine," she said. "We've been writing, making some plans for hanging out when we get back to school. So fine, good."
Draco raised an eyebrow. "Just fine? Hmm. Interesting."
Hermione looked like she was missing something. "What? What's 'interesting'?"
"Oh, nothing, just… not the phrase I think you should be using, but if it works for you." Hermione still confused. "Just… is that the word you use when you two are snogging?" Hermione's blush deepened, and Ron looked he wanted to be anywhere else but there. "Because let's just say, I would not use the word 'fine' to describe any part of my relationship with Jacob."
Hermione seemed to think about it for a moment, and Jacob decided to speak up before she could overthink things. "Look, if you think it's going well enough and you're happy with how things are going, don't listen to anyone else."
Hermione nodded. "You're right. Thanks, but Draco does have a point. I'll keep that in mind. Thank you."
"Aren't you seeing someone now, Ron?" Jacob asked, trying to take the heat off Hermione for a bit.
Ron groaned. "Ugh, don't mention it. Please. Yes, Lavender and I have been… seeing each other, but like… honestly, things are only okay as long as we're snogging. The moment she opens her mouth to talk, I just want to… She's just…" Ron paused for a moment, trying to figure out what he was going to say. "Look, she's not a bad person, and I don't want to hurt her feelings, but… we just don't have anything in common, and she's kind of…. annoying."
"Then break up with her," Draco said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"It's not that easy."
"Sure, it is. You just say, 'Hey, Lavender. This isn't working. We're done.'"
"How would you know, Malfoy? Have you ever needed to break up with someone?" Ron asked.
"No, the only person I've dated is Jacob, so no fear there." Draco said it with the air of 'look how good things are going.' He looked smug with himself, and Jacob wanted to bury himself. Instead, he just leaned into his boyfriend a bit. "What? Things are going great if I do say so myself."
"I'm not arguing with you," Jacob said. They were doing very well, but the way he'd said it was still a bit embarrassing. He didn't want to rub it in Hermione and Ron's faces, either. "But I agree with him, Ron. If you don't like her, just break up with her. It's going to hurt no matter what. You can't avoid that. Just… get it over with before you lead her on anymore."
"They're right. You're just going to have to do it. She's going to be upset either way, and there's nothing you can do about that." Hermione put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "You should just do it as soon as you get back before you lose your nerve again. Just don't say 'it's not you, it's me,' because that's always a lie."
Ron nodded and gave a heavy sigh. "When did things get so complicated?"
"They aren't going to get any easier, Weasley," Draco said.
The redhead nodded. "I suppose I'll get used it at all soon enough." Jacob doubted that would ever happen, but if it made Ron feel better about it than he supposed it was okay.
A couple of hours - and some light bickering later - Draco had to make his excuses. "Sorry, but my mother insisted that I practice piano and voice before dinner."
Ron blinked as Draco stood up from the bed. "Wait, you can sing? And play the piano?"
Draco nodded, a smug expression on his face. "He's really good, too. He played for me once," Jacob said, though that memory wasn't the greatest because he had also hurt him that night, too.
"I should do it again, and we can do it right this time," the blonde said, winking at him. "Come see me off?"
Jacob nodded, following Draco out of the room and down the stairs to the Floo Room. As soon as they got into the room, the blonde pushed him up against the wall and kissed him hard. Jacob slipped his arms around and pulled him close as he kissed him back. Unfortunately, the kiss didn't last that long before Draco broke it, his breathing a bit laboured. "I really do need to go. I'll see you soon, and then we can… do that again."
Jacob nodded and smiled, giving him a quick kiss on the lips. "Yes, we will, and I'm staying with you, too, though I'm kind of worried about your parents interrogating me the entire time."
Draco chuckled. "Yeah, I don't think you can avoid that. You're not who they would have chosen for me, but you're who I choose, so they have to accept that." He kissed him again. "I do have to go, though." With that, he separated from him and went to the fireplace. "Malfoy Manor." With that, he disappeared into a puff of smoke.
With a sigh, Jacob made his way back upstairs to his room, where Ron and Hermione were waiting. "Draco gone?" Hermione asked.
Jacob nodded as he sat back at the head of the bed. He missed him already, even though he had just left.
"I just have one question," Ron said. "Why, Malfoy? I mean, of everyone, why Malfoy?"
Jacob chuckled. "Well, because he pushes me, we actually get along pretty well… He and I got pretty close after I went into Slytherin. He wants what's best for me; he's protective of me, he's been great about everything… and I really, really like him. "A smile crossed his face. "And he's pretty fit and a great kisser."
Ron looked embarrassed to have even asked, but Hermione just sat next to him, trying not to laugh. After a moment, the redhead seemed to have gathered himself. "Well, as long as he's good to you, I'll get used to it soon enough. Even if it is Malfoy."
A few days after that, Jacob finally got a chance to go see Sirius and Remus. Severus Flooed him over to their place in Hogsmeade. It felt weird being so close to Hogwarts and not being in school, but he was excited to see them. Severus had brought a book - one of his Russian ones it looked like - and took a seat, content to read and ignore them while they talked. He hugged both of them as they made their way into the kitchen.
The house itself was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom. They were off in the back behind the living room and kitchen, which also included an eat-in dining room. It was simple and quaint, but it worked well enough for their purposes. As far as the other residents of Hogsmeade were concerned, Remus Lupin lived there with a rather large dog. The three of them sat around the dining room table.
"It's so good to get some time to see you, Harry," Remus told him. "How have things been going at school? How did your first semester go?"
Jacob jolted a bit at the use of his old name; he had forgotten that he had never mentioned to either of them not to use that name. Had it really been that long since they'd talked? "Oh, fine. My grades are good. I'm getting along with everyone," he said. "Just… don't call me 'Harry' please. It's just… Harry Potter was a lie, and I can't keep looking back and pretending that I'm still him, because I'm not. I'm Jacob Snape, and that's who I was supposed to be."
Sirius and Remus shared a look. "That's very mature of you, Jacob," Remus told him with a comforting smile. Sirius was silent, but he just nodded in agreement. He imagined this was hard on them both, being so close to James Potter and all. After all, they could have imagined that a part of him still lived on. But it didn't. It felt weird now remembering how many had compared the two of them.
"And er…" Jacob ran a hand through his hair. There was something that had transpired since the last time they talked that he needed to tell them about. "So, er… I need to tell you both something. I'm... seeing someone." He had no idea how they would take it. Remus was usually pretty reasonable about most things, but Sirius' reaction about dating a Malfoy was a mystery.
Both of them looked interested. "Oh, and who is she? Or is it a he?"
Jacob blushed and nodded. "It's a he. Er, don't freak out, but… it's Draco Malfoy."
Both were silent for a moment. "What?" Sirius exclaimed. "You're dating a Malfoy? You do know who his father is, right? That's - "
"Sirius," Remus said firmly. "You remember that you are an expert on coming from a fanatical pureblood family. In fact, he is family."
Sirius was quiet for a moment. "You're right, but… it's Malfoy. It's risky; if he finds out and - "
"He already does," Jacob told him. "Do you think I'd date someone without telling them the truth? I couldn't do that. I told him when we got together, which was almost two months ago. He's not like his father. I've seen a different side of him, and I wouldn't have done it if I wasn't sure. I understand your hesitation, but I've never been more sure of anything in my entire life. He's - I - I'm crazy about him, and not being with him was making me miserable. Things are - I mean, things are going very well between us."
Remus spoke up next. "We're glad you're happy, Jacob, and if you trust him, then we trust you, don't we, Sirius?" He turned, giving his partner a warning look.
Sirius nodded. "Yes, you're right. You're happy, and he's good to you, then that's what matters." It was a very mature statement coming from his godfather, and he was glad that he was being reasonable about this.
"Wait, did you say that Malfoy is family?"
"Unfortunately, yes," Sirius said. "Most of the pureblood families are interrelated somehow, to keep the lines pure and all that. Narcissa, Draco's mother, is my cousin. Narcissa Black Malfoy." That was news to Jacob, but he doubted that he would have ever known if it hadn't come up in conversation.
For a moment, they sat there, the three of them until Jacob cleared his throat. "Um, so I have a question. How did you two get together? I mean, you dated back in school, right? But…"
The two of them looked at each other, smiling a bit. "Well, to be honest, I always had a crush on Sirius. He was handsome, smart, charming, and even though he was a troublemaker, I couldn't help myself," he said. "I never thought he was interested in me, though. He flirted a bit at times, but I thought he was just joking around like he was always. It wasn't until the end of our fifth year that I realized I might be wrong on that."
"Remus was always… different, then James or Peter," Sirius explained, "but I never knew why. I always knew I liked guys; that wasn't a question, but Remus was my friend. Then, of course, there are risks with dating a friend. It took some convincing, but he couldn't resist me."
Remus rolled his eyes, but there was a smile on his face. "We dated throughout our last two years, and into the war afterward," he explained. "Things were rough, though. We both suspected each other, and Sirius lived hard and fast. We fought a lot, even though we loved each other. We didn't really trust each other, though, and then James and Lily died, well…"
"After I came to stay with him this summer, things just…" Sirius shared a look with Remus. "We never stopped loving each other, but we had some things to work through. We talked, and things progressed, and… we just decided that we couldn't ignore how we felt, and we wanted a second chance. I wanted a second chance to do things right this time, make for what happened last time. Of course, I'm still a wanted criminal, but I'll take what I can get."
Jacob smiled at them both. "I'm really happy for you both," he explained. "I'm glad you two were able to work things out." They had issues but had managed to work through them, even though it had taken thirteen years. They were together now. Somehow, it just gave Jacob hope that maybe things would end up working out no matter what.
Severus wished he didn't have to deal with Black and Lupin. He could tolerate Lupin most days, but Black had always grated on his nerves. He was glad that the day had ended relatively quickly, and he had been content to read while Jacob visited with them. He knew that it annoyed Black that he wouldn't let them see him unsupervised, but the man was still a convicted criminal. He had to think about Jacob; someone should.
The next day came, and Severus was going to use this opportunity to do some work. He made his way to his study, across from the Floo Room. He sat down at his desk, pulling out a stack of papers from the corner. His eyes scanned the several pages of corrected notes that he had. The potion was coming along nicely, though it would still be months before it was ready for use. There were a few things he had yet to figure out, but he had accounted for quite a bit that the potion needed.
The potion he was planning was extremely difficult. It needed to be perfect, too; no mistakes could be made in the planning. Frowning, he made a couple of scratches on the notes. It wasn't ready for him to try and make, either, because he still had a few things that needed to be accounted for before it was safe for him to make. As much as he wanted this done, it was not worth his life, though Merlin only knew how many had blown themselves up by rushing through the planning stage before they were ready.
Severus scratched at a few more things, making a few more notes. He grabbed a nearby book, looking through it before setting it aside again and making a few more notes. Some potions caused similar effects to what he was doing, but none so complicated or ones that couldn't be traced back to him. There was no part of this potion that could be faulty. That was why he needed to make sure everything was in order before even attempting.
Making your own potion from scratch was far more complicated than perfecting ones already made. That he could do in his sleep. He had been doing that since his early days in Hogwarts before he even realized what he was doing. Severus had simply known that the potion was not as perfect as it could be. He had sometimes guessed correctly on how to change it. Other times it required some trial and error, depending on how much he was changing and altering and perfecting it.
Creating your own potion - while something he had done before - was far different. You had to know how each ingredient reacted to each other, and any slight variation in the process had to be accounted for before. The more complicated the potion, the more time it took to perfect. This one that he was working on now had a very specific effect in mind and needed to be untraceable. It could not, under any circumstances, be traced back to him.
He would figure it out soon enough. He always did.