Balthasar Brandyquill

Fall Into Charybdis 1/2

Bal's Blatherings


Bal Brandyquill is the author of fifteen novels. He will be promoting his sixteenth as soon as he is out of rehab.

Fall Into Charybdis 1/2

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Title: Fall Into Charybdis
Author: Balthasar Brandyquill (a.k.a. nimori)
Recipient: Symmera Filltre (a.k.a. gnomad)
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Snape/Harry
Warning: May Contain Spoilers
Disclaimer: M. Brandyquill's lawyers insist he informs you that the following is a work of fanfiction, and thus not for profit.
Word Count: 17 000
Summary: A tale of the further woes of the Boy Who Lived -- who, having escaped the monster Scylla, has fallen into Charybdis (Charybdis being he of the hooked nose and greasy hair). Which is all a terribly pretentious way of saying out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Preface: The (Spoilery) Request

Fall Into Charybdis

Malfoy: You're wasting time. I'll never tell.
Potter: You'll get life, you realize.
Malfoy: And you'll get death, just as my father.

Transcript of prisoner interview 3402-0017 (MALFOY, D.B.; POTTER, H.J.)
15 November, 1998, AZKABAN

St Mungo's had a peculiar smell. Antiseptic and Skele-gro and urine and the faintest hint of ozone jumbled together to remind Harry of life and death and bedpans. He'd seen too much of the latter two in the last year.

"Do I want to know?" he asked as Hermione held up the newspaper.

"Potter Collapse at Charity Gala," she said.

"Hear that, mate? You fainting is an event now, not a whatchacallit. Action."

"Nouns and verbs, Ronald."

Ron ignored her. "Years from now hundreds of people will claim to have been at the Potter Collapse."

Harry wrinkled his nose. He'd gone to the charity dinner hoping to squelch some of the more outrageous rumours; instead he'd given the public another reason to speculate on his imminent death. "I shouldn't have stayed so long."

"We should have rescued you," Hermione said unhappily. "I saw Scrimgeour corner you earlier but you looked all right."

"He wouldn't have let me away without being seen talking to me. He's a rotten peacetime Minister and they all know it."

Ron made a rude noise just as the curtain swished aside, and Harry's healer came in. She was clutching her clipboard to her chest, and that was never a good sign.

"If you'll excuse us, Mr and Mrs Weasley--"

"They can stay," Harry said. He'd only have to repeat the news and he wouldn't remember the long technical words Hermione wanted. "Have you figured out what's killing me yet?"

"I think so, yes," Inger said, and Harry's stomach flipped. He'd spent the last year expecting to die without knowing the cause let alone the cure. "The deterioration of your magical core is significant enough that I believe I've isolated the variant of the Valeovorus Mr Malfoy cursed you with. It's rare -- the Medici series is far more well-known, but they also have a wider variety of counters, while this variant--"

"So there is a counter?" Hermione asked sharply.

"Yes," Inger said but, in harmony with the clipboard shield, she didn't sound happy about it. "It's a very specific treatment however. I'm afraid it can't be applied to Mr Potter."

"Why not?" Hermione leaned forward, hawklike and fierce, and the clipboard jerked a little higher.

Inger glanced at Harry, grimaced at his shrug, then addressed Hermione. "It involves transmagication from a close blood relative. Parent, sibling, child... a maternal grandparent has been known to succeed, but given Mr Potter's situation..."

"An aunt?" Hermione asked.

Inger's shoulders straightened and she tipped her head up. "There's no recorded successes, but if she's a particularly strong witch--"

"Oh. She's a muggle," Hermione said.

"Ah," Inger said, and that was answer enough. Harry realized Petunia wouldn't have worked anyway, and the queer feeling in his stomach doubled. He hoped he wasn't about to throw up. He'd done enough of that the last time Inger changed his potions.

"What if... what if Harry had a child?" Hermione asked. "I know it's not the most ethical suggestion," she rushed to add, holding up a hand against the objections Harry hadn't had time to form. "If it could save Harry's life, I'd do it."

Ron took her hand, and Harry's throat tightened. Part of him rejected the idea at once, for murky reasons that added up to a feeling of wrongness that he suspected had a lot to do with cupboards, but another part clutched at the idea. That part had a perfectly clear reason: he wanted to live.

Inger was shaking her head. "A transfusion would kill an infant. Even if you were to begin now it would take a good five years before the child was old enough, and I'm afraid the original prognosis hasn't changed." Six months. She touched his shoulder.

He tried not to shrug her off. "There might be a blood relative." Harry looked at his knees, knobbing up from under the thin puke-green hospital blanket. He didn't feel deathly ill, just weak, like he hadn't eaten in too long. Sometimes his lips went numb, and he didn't dare apparate anymore.

They were all staring at him. His lack of a family was public record.

Harry cleared his throat. "I found some papers at the house in Godric's Hollow."

"What kind of papers?" Ron asked.

"The adoption kind." Harry picked at the blanket, not ready to look at his friends. "You were looking for the locket in the attic at Grimmauld Place. I... well, I pitched a bit of a fit when I found them, but the battle at Kings Cross happened later that day and we had everything from giants to muggle reporters down our necks for weeks after. I had to put it aside to concentrate on the war, and by the end it just didn't seem important."

"Harry, why didn't you tell us?" Hermione sounded hurt, and Harry squirmed. She'd just offered to have a child with him to save his life. In front of her husband, no less.

"It didn't matter, Hermione. James and Lily were my parents." They loved me enough to die for me, and that trumps some stranger's miscast contraception charm any day.

"Well then!" Inger said, too loudly. "I can have your adoption records unsealed for medical purposes." Inger sounded relieved, and Harry couldn't help but think it was mostly because she would not be labeled the healer who killed the Boy Who Lived.

Grimmauld Place suited Harry just fine as a residence. Anyone he cared to invite to his home had had the secret straight from the keeper before he died, and the Fidelius charm kept the reporters away.

He dropped his keys on the table by the new umbrella stand (purchased at Debenhams and decidedly not made from any troll parts) and carried the small box Inger had convinced the Ministry to give him into the drawing room. Dobby appeared and fussed at him, chattering about the new potions Inger had sent and the instructions for what Harry could eat with them. Harry asked for the least bland of the selections for dinner, and shut the door after Dobby hurried off to prepare it.

The box contained eight scrolls, some of which were thicker than Harry's wrist, and two phials, each holding a silvery thread of memory. One was labeled 'Final Interview', the other 'Conception Mother', both in no-nonsense script that reminded Harry of McGonagall's.

He looked at them a moment, then tipped both into Dumbledore's old pensieve. He leaned in before he could change his mind.

Harry stumbled into a tiny room. A pair of floral sofas faced down over a low round table, and a potted fern struggled to cheer the room from its corner. A young woman stood by the window, arms crossed low over her chest, staring out at a winter-grey sky, jaw set.

She looked nothing like him. Short. Pale. Loose brown hair tucked behind her ears, not a strand of it rebellious. She wore a shapeless dress that clashed with the sofas.

Harry stepped closer, and saw she had freckles on her nose.

She jumped as the door opened, and Harry turned to see his parents entering, melting snow on their cloaks. They were red-cheeked and terribly young.

"Hello. I'm Lily. This is James."

"Bridget." She tucked a loose bit of hair behind an ear. Hands were shaken, and James hung both cloaks next to a third on the cloak stand. Bridget sat on one sofa, James and Lily on the other.

"Well," James said.

"I remember you. Head boy a few years back, right?"

James relaxed and nodded. "What house were you in?"

"James!" Lily hissed.

"I'm only making conversation."

"Slytherin," Bridget said. "Still am. I mean, I'm still in school." She offered a weak smile. "NEWTs this year. They don't tell you contraception charms don't work if you're taking allergy potions."

James frowned at the mention of Slytherin house, but Lily leaned across the table to squeeze Bridget's hand.

"You've considered stasis?" Lily asked. "I know you're young now, but maybe later..."

"No. No, I have... a lot of things going on, and with the world, the war... I just... Have you been married long?"

Lily smiled. "A bit over a year."

"You're very young," Bridget said, her voice cooling. "Is there something wrong with you?"

Harry barely stopped himself from squeezing Lily's shoulder; both his parents stiffened.

"My grandfather had some peculiar notions about blood and who his descendents ought to procreate with," James said, voice hard. "The curse can't be broken."

Bridget's nostrils flared, and she let loose a short, sharp laugh. "I'm sorry. It's not you, it's just... " She rubbed her arm -- her left arm, Harry realized. Right over that spot. His stomach plummeted. "Well, it's not that funny."

"This has to be stressful for you," Lily said. She did not touch Bridget again, but slipped her hand into James's.

"No more than studying for NEWTs," Bridget said. Her eyes lingered over Lily's clothes and jewellery and Harry suddenly realized Bridget's dress looked like the ones Mrs Weasley made for Ginny: old-fashioned pattern and fabric bought on sale. "You seem like nice folk." Bridget smiled with one side of her mouth. "Too nice, but that's all for the better, I suppose. It's a boy. Healer says he'll be healthy."

"I've been taking the potions, just in case we found a match." Lily put her free hand over her stomach. The hand clutching James's had gone white-knuckled.

"All right," Bridget said, and watched them press their foreheads together. "Yeah, you're the ones."

The scene rippled away, leaving Bridget, now wearing a different shapeless dress, and a stern-looking woman. A pensieve sat on the table, and Harry wondered what would happen if he looked in it.

"You understand the child may never see this?"

Bridget nodded.

"Keep the memory strand under three inches," the woman said, and left the room.

For a long moment, Bridget did nothing. Harry studied her, looking for some hint of himself, half afraid he'd find one.

"You'll be safe," she said abruptly, and Harry jumped. "Safe and happy. And probably grow up one of those arrogant wankers I hate, but that can't be helped.

"I'd've called you Patrick. Drove all the snakes out of Ireland."

She looked at the pensieve, then touched her wand to her temple, and Harry fell onto the floor of the drawing room at twelve Grimmauld Place, dizzy and gasping for breath.

Dobby found him there twenty minutes later and brought him to St Mungo's, where they kept him overnight. By morning news of his adoption was splashed across the front page of every wizarding newspaper in the country. The Quibbler proclaimed him the son of Albus Dumbledore and a mermaid. Witch Weekly hinted at something darker; parselmouths were known to run in families.

Harry snorted at the idea, then he remembered Bridget rubbing her arm and threw away the paper.

The floo trip to Hogwarts exhausted him, and Harry accepted McGonagall's offer of tea while he waited for the trembling in his legs to subside. They chatted about mutual acquaintances and Scrimgeour's poor chances at a second term. Some part of Harry still found it bizarre, these grown-up conversations with adults who'd known him as a knobby-kneed child.

The thinnest scroll in the box had been a simple certificate, and Harry unrolled it for McGonagall.

Registration of Pre-Natal Adoption
8 December, 1979

Conception Mother: Bridget Barrow (Hogsmeade)
Conception Father: not given
Birth Mother: Lily Potter (Godric's Hollow)
Birth Father: James Potter (Godric's Hollow)

Expected sex and prognosis: M, healthy*

Naturalization charm applied: [X] yes [_] no

* Determined at examination, first trimester. Neither the Ministry of Magic nor the conception parents shall be held accountable should the child's status or expected sex change at any time after transfer.

"I do remember Barrow," McGonagall said, pushing her teacup away from the scroll. "She was a quiet girl. A decent student when she tried." She gave him a pointed stare over the rim of her square glasses.

"Hermione found her in the Prophet." The article had been short. Stray hex in Diagon Alley over the summer, eight days in hospital, funeral on Tuesday, no flowers please. She hadn't even seen her NEWT results (average). Her mother and sister had died in a portkey accident in her fourth year, and her father had died five years ago, around the time Harry had been hoping to live with Sirius. "Did she have any, er, boyfriends?"

"Not that I know of, though truthfully I pay little attention to who courts whom until I catch them in a delicate position behind the greenhouses." McGonagall studied his face over the edge of her cup. "If you looked the part... The naturalization charm is very strong, if unbalanced. You're all of James and almost none of Lily. I'm sorry, Potter, but I've no idea who your father is."

Harry grimaced. Everything from his appearance to his blood type to whose name would appear on a paternity charm -- it all pointed at James and Lily Potter. He'd asked Inger about the spell at his last examination, and she'd told him it wasn't as simple as a glamour.

"It doesn't erase your heritage but overpowers it with your adoptive parents'," she'd said. "It can fool very complex spells -- I'd have to break it to get a name, and even if you were healthy I couldn't risk destroying something that has been part of your fundamental being since the womb. If you find your conception father, I can confirm, but I need a name."

Harry sighed and sipped at his tea. Classes would let out soon, and then he could speak to Slughorn.

"Unremarkable girl," was Slughorn's pronouncement. Harry had never seen him so despondent, but was having trouble rousing any sympathy for the man. "Wanted to be a wandmaker -- told me so in her fifth year careers advice -- but she didn't do well enough on her Care of Magical Creatures OWL. Kettleburn said the unicorns didn't like her." Slughorn regarded him with wary eyes. "You're so like Lily. It's such a shame--"

"Do you know who my father is?" Harry asked flatly.

Slughorn took on a sulky expression. "No, not like Lily," he muttered, and then said more loudly, "Barrow didn't get on with the Slytherins in her year, and the propaganda of the day made it difficult for my little snakes to make friends in other houses. She tagged after some of the older students, until they finished school. I do recall giving her detention for being in Hogsmeade without leave, visiting them after they left, so they must have stayed friendly."

Lucius' lapdog, Sirius had called Snape. Harry told himself he'd stayed friendly with Fred and George, so it wasn't the same.

Except it was.

"Which students?" Harry asked, lips numb. At least if he fainted he had a Potions master at hand, and no reporters.

"Snape," Slughorn said, watching Harry carefully, but Harry had seen Bridget clutching her arm and had prepared himself for anything, even Lucius Malfoy. Voldemort, Witch Weekly had insinuated, and anything was better than that.

"Rosier," Slughorn continued when Harry didn't react. "Avery and his cousin, the Wilkes girl. Not a savoury lot, oh no. I'm not surprised Barrow found herself in a delicate situation." Slughorn heaved a sigh, and Harry grit his teeth. "Ah well, you've certainly proven yourself beyond your unfortunate parentage."

"Thank you, Professor," Harry grated, and stood up so fast he upset the jar of crystallized pineapple.

"Not at all, not at all. You must come back and visit me, Harry. I'm having tea with Rufus on Thursday..."

As he made his way back to the floo in McGonagall's office, Harry caught himself hoping his father was Snape.

At least he was marginally less a cockroach.

Ron and Hermione were more upset over Harry's decision to travel to Azkaban alone than they'd been when Inger pronounced a likely match in Snape. In the end Harry agreed to let them come with him, so long as they promised to wait outside and not to press him if he didn't want to talk on the way home.

"Welcome back, Mr Potter," the younger desk officer said; Harry had forgotten his name. "Here to see Malfoy again?"

Hermione gave Harry a sharp look, and he ignored her. "Snape this time. I'd appreciate it if you would bring him down." He felt his face heating, but he kept his chin up. He didn't want to face Snape dizzy and short of breath.

"Of course. I'll have a room prepared, if you'd care to wait." The young man paused. "You understand all conversations are transcribed?"

"I remember."

"Are you sure you want to do this alone?" Hermione whispered.

"We're behind you, mate," Ron added. "If he gives you a lick of trouble..."

Harry shook his head. His friends had been wonderful, but they protected him too fiercely at times and he wanted this meeting free of confrontation. As much as he could manage, anyhow, considering it was Snape.

James and Lily were my parents. I'm only here to propose a transaction, Harry told himself as the officer beckoned him to a small conference room.

Snape was already there, smirking and arrogant as always, though the shadows under his eyes belied his confident posture. He wore a prisoner's uniform and an iron cuff on each wrist. The cuffs, Harry'd learned on his last visit, were charmed so they could be stuck to any surface in the prison. Harry noted Snape held his wrists well away from the table.

"Shout if he gets out of hand," the officer said, and shut the door.

Snape's smirk had grown, and Harry itched to tear it away. "Well, well. James Potter's little foundling has come to visit me." So much for hoping last week's Prophet hadn't made it to Azkaban; the entire wizarding world truly did know about Harry's adoption. "If you're looking for help identifying the unfortunates who spawned you," Snape said, "you can bugger off."

"Oh, I've already identified my mother," Harry said sharply, though he'd planned to break the news more gently. "Bridget Barrow. I believe you went to school with her." Seeing the composure bleed away from Snape's face satisfied an itch Harry had nursed since first year.

For the first time since the war ended, Harry felt something better than all right. Non-confrontational, he reminded himself. You need him.

"What do you want?" Snape asked. He'd recovered a bit too quickly for Harry. "You can't want money, as I haven't any. If it's Malfoy, he never told me what curse he cast on you, nor is he speaking to me at the moment."

Harry snorted. The only highlight of Snape's otherwise disappointing trial had been Malfoy shrieking and cursing from the witness box when he'd discovered Snape had double-crossed the Dark Lord. At least the Wizengamot hadn't gone entirely around the twist and let Snape go.

"It's not Malfoy. I already know the curse. I need you to help me break it."

Snape's eyes narrowed and his hand shot out to grab Harry's wrist.

"Snape," the desk officer's voice crackled in the air. "Hands to yourself. First warning."

Snape released Harry, but not before squeezing so hard his bones creaked. "If you've fabricated this adoption story thinking to inspire pity--"

"I'm not making it up. And I don't expect pity from you."

Snape slumped in the chair and folded his arms over his chest. He looked like a sulky child. "You don't seem upset to learn your precious James wasn't really your father."

Harry shrugged, electing not to dispute which of them qualified as his real father. "I've known since the height of the war, though I only recently had the records opened. Living under a death sentence for the last year kind of leeches the horror out of... well, you."

Snape's eyes narrowed. "So. You need me to break the curse, and you don't expect pity. Which means you have a deal."

Harry smiled. "I can get your sentence reduced," he said. He'd fought long and hard with Scrimgeour for the offer -- not that the Minister had even pretended to refuse him. The battle had instead been over what Harry would give in return.

"By how much?" Snape asked coolly, but Harry didn't miss the sudden tension in his thin frame.

"Time served," Harry said, and Snape's gaze intensified. "You'd be free as soon as you agree to assist with the treatments."


"Standard early release. Just stay out of trouble, don't leave the country, and they'll leave you be."

"I'll want proof of this... atrocious claim."

"You'll have it," Harry said softly. "And I'll even do what I can to soften up the public -- or, if you'd rather stay here, I can make sure they know you could have saved me."

Snape stared at a spot over Harry's head. His clenched fists were shaking.

"Look. You can serve your remaining four years and be reviled as the Death Eater who killed Dumbledore and Harry Potter. Or you can agree to the treatments and be free by the end of the day, and I will gush to every reporter I see about how wonderful my --" The word stuck in his throat. "--Snape is, how he saved my life when I had no hope. I doubt they'll throw you a parade, but they won't spit on you for it. After the treatments, we never have to see each other again."

Snape was looking at him with dismay dawning over his features.

"What is it?" Harry asked. "It's a good bargain."

"My God. You really are my son."

Harry understood. "Stupid hat did want me in Slytherin. Deal?"

Snape arrived at exactly one fifteen, spot on time. Harry had been at the hospital all morning, enduring a bevy of charms and fortifying potions and chatting with Inger and the other specialists to settle the anxious flutter in his stomach. Until the door crashed open to admit a scowling Snape, Harry had half-convinced himself the man had found a way around the Ministry's travel restrictions and done a runner.

"Potter," Snape said, raking his gaze over Harry's hospital-gown clad body. Harry pressed his bare knees together. "You look horrible."

"Same to you," Harry muttered, and it was true. Snape was paler than ever and his hair hung in lank, greasy clumps. He had proper clothing on at least, and a wand handle peeked out from his coat pocket. "Thanks," Harry managed to say, though he nearly choked on the word. "For showing up, I mean."

"I'm fulfilling our contract, Potter, no more."

Harry bit his sharp response, and it slithered back into his brain for later use.

Inger had them sit in a pair of the hospital's least uncomfortable chairs, facing each other. "Scoot a bit closer."

"Any closer and I'll be sitting his lap," Harry said. Snape glared at him.

"The conduits must be short or they'll rupture," Inger said shortly. She hadn't looked at Snape once since he came in. "If you're not in a good position to start, you'll regret it. Snape, if you'd remove your coat and roll up your sleeves."

Snape obeyed, features arranged to an approximation of neutrality. His shirt was faded navy, muggle and a decade out of fashion. Harry wondered uncharitably if he'd bought it at an Oxfam shop. Snape held out his hands palm up on Inger's command, and she laid Harry's hands over them, palm down.

"The pulse points of your wrists must stay within ten centimeters of each other, so first I'll cast a restricting bond." A warm weight settled over Harry's wrists. He tried to move them, felt Snape's resistance. "Then I establish a connection." Inger cast the spell and at once Harry felt sleepy and weak.

He slumped back in the chair until Snape's hissed "Potter!" and a jerk on his wrists sat him upright again. Snape's complexion had lost what meager colour it once owned; the bruising under his eyes was stark purple. He looked ghastly.

"Deep breaths, both of you," Inger said, looking only at Harry. "Once your magic is cycling together I'll begin the transfer."

The weakness faded to tolerable levels, leaving Harry feeling as though someone bigger and stronger were standing too close behind him. The hair on the back of his neck rose.

It could be worse, Harry thought as he let Snape's magic course through him, protecting his own from the curse devouring it, giving it a chance to rebuild enough to fight back. It could have been Malfoy. It could have been someone who would cheerfully rot in prison if it meant my death.

By the time Inger released them, Harry was in agony. His back and arse hurt from the chair, his shoulders ached from holding his arms out from his body, and his wrists stung from Snape jerking them every few minutes. He'd also smacked himself in the face when Snape knocked his arm sideways as Harry tried to scratch his nose.

"How often will this be necessary?" Snape asked. From his pinched expression, he'd had as rough a time as Harry.

"An hour a day, six days a week."

Snape's lips thinned to a furious line, so Harry checked his own anger and smiled at Inger. "I thought you'd be sick of me by now."

She didn't laugh. "Sick of the reporters ambushing me in public toilets, perhaps. I want to observe you for the first week, and after that you should be familiar enough with the procedure to perform it at home. You'll be more comfortable there."

Snape didn't seem any happier at the news, but that, Harry thought, was just a bonus.

Dobby escorted Snape into the drawing room at the end of tea. Both of them had sour faces; Dobby vanished the moment his duty was done, and Snape froze as he caught sight of Ron and Hermione.

"They're leaving," Harry said before Snape could serve the fit he had brewing. Ron muttered something mutinous, but he set down his empty cup and stood up, dragging Hermione with him by the elbow. Harry had had several very stern talks with both of them (mostly Ron) and he thought they understood that having an audience for the treatment would be far more humiliating than anything Snape could do to him.

Naturally Snape had to ruin the effort.

"What's the hurry... Ronald," Snape said, stumbling over the name as though he'd never said it before. "Hermione. That's quite a mouthful. Do you prefer Hermy?"

"What are you doing?" Harry hissed into the shocked silence.

Snape beamed at him, black eyes hard. "Why, I'm being polite to my son's friends."

"I'm not your bloody son!"

"In which case there's no need for me to be here, is there, Harry?"

"Well," Hermione said, looking from Snape to Harry and back. She had a firm grip on Ron's shirttails. "We'll be on our way. Thank you for tea, Harry. We'll see you tomorrow?"

"Of course." Harry waited until the floo whooshed, then rounded on Snape. "What are you playing at, you greasy prick?"

"I think you should call me Dad," Snape said, examining his nails.

"Harry Potter's father," Harry snarled at his wand. "Point me!" The wand spun on his open palm and settled with its tip pointed at the photo of James and Lily on the mantle. "You. Are not. My father. You're a... you're a sperm donor, nothing more."

"I see. Not yet ready to give up your poor little orphan complex." Snape nodded sagely, a mean smile still twisting his lips. "Take all the time you need to wrap your fat head around our new relationship, Son."

Harry snorted. "Sit down. I bought comfortable chairs."

Chaise lounges, in fact. He'd asked Dobby to arrange them side-by-side, facing opposite directions. Snape, preening like a cat with a mouthful of feathers, sat.

"You must have expected something like this," Hermione said. She was watching Harry pace, worry lines creasing her brow. "Not this precise reaction," she amended when he snorted, "but how could he not be difficult?"

"He's Snape," Ron said. He moved Phineas Nigellus's bishop as the portrait directed, and promptly bagged it with a rook. Ron grinned as Phineas grumbled from his frame. "That man was born difficult. I reckon he gave his mum detention for popping him out."

"He's had just as nasty a shock as you have, Harry. Of course he's going to lash out."

"Stop being sensible, Hermione," Harry said. He flopped down beside her on the sofa and glared at the chaise lounges. Why had he bought two? He should have given Snape the most uncomfortable chair in the house. "You know how irritating sensibility is when I'm sulking."

"You're looking better," she said. "The treatments must be working."

Three weeks of transmagication sessions had done little for his temper, but Harry had to admit he felt better. He'd summoned his glasses yesterday and they'd flown into his hand at once. He'd felt like he'd run up and down the stairs a few times, but even that was an improvement over the bone-deep weakness he'd been battling all year.

Harry looked at the clock. In a few minutes Snape would march in and proceed to embarrass him.

"Would you like us to leave?" Hermione asked.

"We're not letting that git chase us away from Harry," Ron said. "Checkmate."

"He's not chasing you away," Harry said. "You're leaving because you respect my privacy."

"Mate, I slept one bed over from you for six years," Ron said, handing Hermione her coat. "It's a bit late to worry about privacy. I know what you sound like when you're--"


The hollow bang of the doorknocker cut off Harry's retort, and he waved his friends towards the floo.

"Remember, he's just as unsettled as you," Hermione called as the flames whisked them away.

"Is that Hermy's dulcet voice I hear?" Snape called from the hallway. His wind-chapped face appeared in the archway, smirking between disarrayed hair and a wooly purple scarf. "Your friends are always rushing off the moment I arrive, Harry. Are you ashamed of your dear old dad?"

"Fuck off." Harry took Snape's coat and threw it over the sofa.

"Language. Perhaps you need a spanking." Snape eyed him speculatively and Harry flipped a rude gesture. Snape only grinned and lowered his gaze to Harry's arse, fingers tapping his belt.

Harry flushed and quickly sat down. "I think I prefer you when you're snarling and angry with everyone." Which is probably why he's putting on this show.

"Oh but you're my son now, Harry." Snape sat on the other lounge and rolled up his sleeves. "Fathers and sons have special bonds. I wouldn't want to make you think I didn't care."

"Vinculum," Harry said, and gave Snape's arms an unnecessarily hard jerk to test the bonds. "Aperito." His head swam as the conduits opened, but after so many sessions their magic synchronized much more quickly, and soon Snape's magic was coursing alongside his. Harry couldn't feel anything but a vague sense of constriction and support, an internal brace.

Snape stiffened; he always did. Harry had never asked what it felt like for him.

Sometimes, near the end of a session, Harry thought he could hear Snape's heartbeat.

"Stop staring," Snape said, eyes closed.

Harry scowled and lay back. He decided to stare at the ceiling for the duration, but after five minutes of silence he began to fidget. "What are you doing now? Not teaching." McGonagall would have told him.

"I've opened my own school."

Harry sat up. "Really?"

"Yes. I teach orphaned puppies to bark 'God Save the Queen' on command."

"If you didn't want to tell me you could have just said so."

"There is nothing to tell." Snape still hadn't opened his eyes. "Few employers are impressed with either my record or the fact that an hour of my afternoons are consumed with my deathly ill famous war hero son."

Harry hadn't even considered the time. He'd never had a job, as the auror program wouldn't take him when he came with an unidentified curse. "We can move the sessions to the evening--"

"The Ministry can support me."

"You're on the dole?"

"Worried about the step down from a father who's independently wealthy?"

Harry was silent. After a long debate with himself, he said, "If you need money--"

"How much?" Snape's eyes popped open. "As your father, perhaps it would be best if I had a key to your vault."

Harry snorted and flopped back against the lounge. He chewed his lip for a moment. "I'll buy you some groceries."

Snape threw him a contemptuous look. "Never mind then."

The rest of the hour crept by. Harry was just starting to imagine the steady thump reverberating along his veins when the timer went off. Snape halted the transmagication at once, waited a moment for their magic to equalize, and broke the connection.

Harry rubbed his wrists as Snape put on his coat. "Were you sorry when she died?"

They'd avoided the subject of Bridget for three weeks.

"Don't ask foolish questions." Snape's fingers paused on the coat buttons. "Barrow balked at an order," he said grudgingly, "and Bellatrix and Rodolphus killed her for it."

"And you let them, of course."

"What was I supposed to do, Potter? Open defiance meant death. Ah, I know. You think I should have quit my little hobby, married her and settled down to raise you in saccharine domesticity."

Harry remembered the little boy cowering in the corner in Snape's pensieve. "Please. You know nothing about raising children."

"Then cease your ingratitude. You were a problem she took care of quietly on her own, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. Be thankful she saw fit to hand you over to people who cared. There's a market for human fetuses in the Dark Arts, and believe me, your mother had not a whit of your squeamishness."

"Then I'm doubly glad she's not my mother."

Snape finished buttoning his coat, a smirk curling his thin lips. "Deny it all you like, but you're the child of two Death Eaters. She didn't want you and neither do I."

"She did," Harry said, the words falling out before he knew they wanted saying, and he cursed himself even as his mouth continued. "She'd have called me Patrick."

For a second Snape looked robbed of his wind. Then he tugged on his gloves. "Be grateful she gave you away to the Potters then. Harry may be pedestrian but it's marginally less atrocious than Patrick."

He slammed the door behind him, leaving Harry standing in the empty hall amidst an invading gust of chill October wind.

"Stop fidgeting."

"It's your fault." Harry wiped his nose with a soggy tissue and dropped it on the floor. The wastebasket was full. "You and your germs."

"And of course you becoming ill has nothing to do with the fact that you visit a large building full of sick people twice a week," Snape said as he pulled his arm -- and Harry's -- back to his lap, "or that you failed to ever produce a satisfactory cold-curing potion in my class."

"I thought you'd be milking this one," Harry said. "Offering chicken soup and pretending to care."

Snape tilted his nose in the air. "When you're this snot-nosed and whiny, you can be Potter's son. I want no part of you."

"When did you ever?" Harry asked, and then wanted to sink into the floor at the bitterness in his own voice.

Snape only smirked. "I care when your charming friends are here to witness it, Harry."

"All right," Harry muttered. His eyes felt scratchy. "What's a better name?"

"What are you blathering about?"

"You don't like Harry or Patrick. What's better?"

"Nicodemus," Snape said promptly.

"Nico-- Are you mad?" Harry stirred from the chaise lounge, tugging against Snape's wrists to sit up. "That's horrible."

"It's a perfectly good wizard name."

"It's not a kid's name."

"You're only a child for ten, fifteen years. You're an adult for a hundred and twenty. Harry won't suit you past thirty, mark my words." Snape closed his eyes.

"I like Harry," Harry said. "It's better than Severus anyway."

"Marginally," Snape said, and yawned.

Taken aback by the agreement -- or possibly by the fact that Snape could be so human as to dislike his own name -- Harry sat back against the lounge. "Are we... are we having a conversation?"

"You are. I am trying to sleep."

Frowning, Harry closed his eyes and waited for the timer to chime.

"Your magic's beginning to resist the curse." Inger made a pleased sound in the back of her throat. Harry hadn't seen the clipboard all month, and he took that as a sign his healers were no longer anticipating his death.

He couldn't bring himself to embrace hope yet, not fully. "The transmagication," he said. "Is it supposed to make... Are there any side effects? Emotional ones?"

Inger frowned. "Some patients find it brings them closer to their donors. It's not an inherent part of the spell, if that's what you're asking, but an effect of the closeness. Not unlike the bonding experienced by nursing mothers and their babies."

Inger's mouth had drawn up in a moue of distaste as she spoke. Harry didn't blame her; the image of Snape and bonding made him a bit nauseous.

"You can get dressed now," she said. "I'll see you Thursday."

"Inger? Does anyone ever hear the other person's heart?"

"Magic is present in every part of your body, but it's most active in the veins."

Harry took that for a yes.

"Stop snooping," Harry said.

Snape ignored him and craned his head even further. The gold envelope Harry had left on the side table had caught Snape's interest and, from what Harry could tell, he was attempting to read it upside-down.

"I mean it, Snape. Stop reading my mail."

"If you'd wanted it private, you should have put it away. Are you seeing anyone? Dear Ronald's baby sister, perhaps?"

"None of your business," Harry said. He looked at his feet, socked and resting on the clean white fabric. For a week or so after the fight at Godric's Hollow, in between the funerals and the wild celebrations, Harry had thought he and Ginny would pick up their relationship.

And then George hadn't pulled through, and Draco had slipped into the crowd at the funeral, and after that Harry hadn't seen much point in dating. Ginny had taken her NEWTs in June and then moved in with Dean Thomas.

Snape was eyeing him with amusement. "Not such a catch when you're dying, eh? I'd have thought otherwise, considering you have two fortunes to leave a wife willing to lovingly nurse you to your deathbed. No matter. You don't have to go alone."


"Pardon me. I know you were raised by muggles but that's no excuse for poor manners."

"I'm not taking my-- you."

"Oh, I think you are. It says Harry Potter and guest."

"Do you even know what the invitation is for?"

"I don't care. It's a fancy enough envelope that it will be a well-attended event. You promised me public adulation, and that paltry interview in the Prophet hardly counts."

Harry opened his mouth, then closed it again. "Fine. Dress robes, after Saturday's session. Bring a gift."

Harry was not terribly surprised when Snape arrived empty-handed on Saturday, wearing the same faded muggle clothes he wore three times a week. The other three times Harry saw him he wore a black robe with ugly brown embroidery on the collar.

"Sit down," Harry said, rolling up the sleeves of his dress robes.

Snape seemed disappointed at the lack of reaction, and sat without a fuss. "I thought we could give a joint gift."

"Except I've already bought it and you've no money. Vinculum."

Snape hummed an agreement, and Harry snorted in disgust. For the next few minutes, neither man spoke.

"I need to use the facilities."

Harry had been staring at the bookcase and wondering if Snape would consent to letting him use their joined hands to read. "What?"

"Pardon. You truly are dense. I need the toilet."

Harry glanced at the clock. They were only twelve minutes into the session. "Couldn't you have gone before we started?"

"I didn't have to go then," Snape said. His smug tone said otherwise.

"Bastard," Harry ground out.

"No, that would be you. My parents were married." Snape swung his legs over the edge of the lounge. Harry followed reluctantly.

"We could stop the transfer."

"If you'd prefer to spend the afternoon hiding from all light and noise instead of attending your social gathering, please tell me where you've stashed the gift first. I'd hate to arrive empty-handed because you purposely gave yourself a migraine."

Snape smirked at him, but quickly lost the expression when he stood up. Harry hoped he would sit back down, but after a second Snape's mouth firmed and he pulled on their joined wrists.

"Up, Potter."

"Potter, Dad? Don't you love me any more?" Harry asked, but he gave in. He really did not want to know what Snape would do if Harry refused to go.

The floor twirled under his feet as he stood and nausea gripped his stomach. Harry closed his eyes but that only made the spinning worse, and he had to clutch Snape's arm for support.

"Do not vomit on my shoes. They're my only pair," Snape said. He shuffled Harry toward the corridor and the guest toilet near the stairs to the kitchen. Hampered by dizziness and their bound arms, they staggered into the small room.

Panting, Harry leaned against the wall and willed the universe to stillness. He felt a tug on his wrists, and looked down to see Snape undoing his trousers.

"Oh Christ," Harry said, and shut his eyes.

"Don't blaspheme." Snape's zip sounded very loud.

"Do you even believe in God?"

"Hardly." Snape sighed over the sound of urine hitting water. "But I'm supposed to demand that you behave better than I ever did."

Harry cracked his eyes open and quickly shut them again; his hands hung a bare inch from Snape's cock. He could feel the warmth radiating from Snape's skin.

"How much did you drink?"

"Four glasses of water," Snape said. "Right before I left."

"I can't begin to describe how much I hate you."

"No need. I'm intimately familiar with the feeling." Snape shook off the excess -- Harry swore his wrist touched bare skin -- and flushed, but Harry had to make him wash their hands.

"I'll use a cleaning charm before I touch anything important," he said irritably.

"My doorknobs are important."

"Cleaning them will entertain that sycophant house-elf of yours."

They glared at each other, legs trembling.

"Finish up here?" Harry asked, and Snape all but collapsed onto the toilet seat. Harry slid down to the floor, put his head on his knees, and did his best to ignore Snape for the remainder of the session.

"So," Snape said just as his heartbeat had begun to lull Harry into calm. "You snuck a peek. Do you measure up to your dear old dad?"


When the timer sounded, Harry untangled their magic as fast as he dared. He still felt lightheaded, probably the result of too much activity during the transmagication, but he dusted off his robes and collected the gift from the cabinet in the drawing room.

They would be early, but he was not going to sit alone in the house with Snape for another hour, not after he'd practically held the man's cock while he pissed.

"Morgan's Gardens," Harry shouted, and threw a handful of floo powder at the fire. He didn't care if Snape followed or not.

He stepped out of the fireplace and into the inn's tavern. The dark room had been brightened by large bunches of white gardenias, but Snape brought some gloom with him as he stepped through after Harry.

Remus was speaking with the harried innkeeper. Harry strode up to them and handed Remus the brightly-decorated gift. Dobby had helped wrap it. It had a sock for a bow.

"This is from me. Snape's offered to resume brewing your wolfsbane every month." He kissed Remus' cheek, pleased at the spluttering from behind him. "Congratulations."

"Thank you, Harry." Remus's smile turned uncertain as he looked past Harry to Snape. "I suppose congratulations are in order for you as well." It sounded more like a question than a statement to Harry.

"Condolences would be more appropriate," Snape muttered, quietly enough that only Harry heard him. He raised his voice. "Lupin. I see you've finally taken pity on that wretched auror. I don't see how her babbling is an improvement over the moping, but it's your life. Myself, I'm simply overjoyed to find I've fathered a son who saved the world." He flung an arm over Harry's shoulders and kissed him on the forehead.

"Are Ron and Hermione here?" Harry asked, not caring at the desperation in his voice. He elbowed Snape in the ribs to escape him.

"They're setting up chairs in the gardens," Remus said with a bemused frown.

Harry marched for the door, but Snape cast Remus a parting shot Harry didn't catch and followed him.

"We're attending this event together, Potter. And the next time you volunteer my services without permission, I will consider myself free to do the same with yours."

"You wanted to give a joint gift," Harry snarled. "Don't complain that I chose what to give."

Morgan's Gardens were sunny and warm, a stark contrast to the grey November sky on the horizon. White chairs marched over the lawn in rows, all facing an arched trellis swarming with roses. Ron was calling advice as Hermione charmed the roses to cycle through different colours, but they seemed to be flashing more quickly than she wanted.

Ron spotted Harry and raised a hand, but his smile of greeting died a quick death at the sight of Snape. "What's he doing here?"

"Ronald," Snape said brightly. "Hermy. I trust you won't be running off this time."

"Professor Snape," Hermione said. "Are you... Did Remus invite you? Or... Tonks?"

"Oh no, I'm Harry's date."

Harry stepped on his foot. Hard.

"Figuratively speaking, of course. Though I thought we had a moment of true father-son bonding in the toilet today, Harry."

At that moment, Harry would have happily gone back to being an orphan, especially if it meant killing Snape himself.

The ceremony went as smoothly as could be expected with Tonks as the bride. There was a mishap with the train, but Remus's quick reflexes saved the ring from flying off into the flowerbeds and Hermione, looking very... pink in her bridesmaid's dress, never so much as winced, even though it turned out she'd broken the last two fingers of her right hand helping Tonks dress.

Harry, standing with Bill, Kingsley, Hermione and two of Tonks' school friends, managed to avoid Snape for the duration, but the moment the Weasleys' ConFUNding Confetti hit the air, the man was on Harry like a leech.

A loud, embarrassing leech.

At the first opportunity Harry escaped to the bar, where he sulkily ordered a butterbeer and cursed his healers for forbidding him hard liquor. There he ran into Ginny and Dean.

"I can't believe they're finally married," Ginny said. "I thought Remus would do a runner for sure."

"Ah, Virginia," Snape said, sidling up behind Harry. Harry closed his eyes. "Lupin's a coward at heart. Obviously he's more afraid of his new bride than of marriage."

"It's Ginevra."

"If you wish."

"I don't wish. It's my name."

Snape made a doubtful noise, and Harry elbowed him in the ribs. His butterbeer fizzed up and spilled over his hand. Snape elbowed him back and nodded at the bar.

Teeth grinding, Harry got him a glass of wine. When he turned back, Snape had a hand over his heart and a small crowd watching him with expressions of mingled horror and sympathy.

"Please forgive my lapse. Donating my magic to save my son's life has left me a bit weak."

Harry downed the glass of wine and ordered another.

A reporter from the Prophet was prowling the wedding for a piece on werewolves and marriage to the uninfected. She was happy to take down Harry's long speech on the subject; he was always good for sales, she told him cheerfully, even though his opinions were so outlandish.

Snape, always only a few steps behind, swept up as Harry was signing an autograph for the reporter's niece in the vain hope of bribing her into printing what he'd actually said. Snape shot him a disgusted glare, then introduced himself as 'the famous Harry Potter's father' and an expert on werewolves.

Harry tensed, but Snape launched into a speech so similar to Harry's that he must have eavesdropped on the interview. Then he beamed a blinding smile and insisted on having his photo taken with Harry.

"You've been possessed by Gilderoy Lockhart," Harry hissed as the reporter left without speaking to Remus or Tonks.

"Jackass though he may be, the man knew something about publicity," Snape muttered back, still wearing that horrible over-bright grin.

"You're a bigger jackass than Lockhart ever was." At least I wasn't related to him, Harry almost added. "Can't you just be good?"

"If by 'good' you mean 'quiet,' then no. I will not be stuffed into a corner because you are ashamed of me, son."

"I wouldn't be half as ashamed of you if you'd be normal."

Snape raised an eyebrow.

"Fine. I would. Can we please get through the rest of the reception?"

Snape pursed his lips and stared out over the mingling guests. "I think I'll ask Hermy to dance."

Continue to Part Two
  • The dark room had been brightened by large bunches of white gardenias, but Snape brought some gloom with him as he stepped through after Harry.


    Oh, this is fabulous so far! Snape's snark is wonderful, and how much do I love the fact that he purposely drank 4 glasses of water before that session? Hee!

    "Though I thought we had a moment of true father-son bonding in the toilet today, Harry."

    • and how much do I love the fact that he purposely drank 4 glasses of water before that session?

      I am amused and delighted shocked and appalled that you would condone such behaviour from a grown man! For shame.
  • hahahhahah i love it! want more..
  • whoa, this is GENIUS.

    on to part two ...
  • "You're a bigger jackass than Lockhart ever was." At least I wasn't related to him, Harry almost added. "Can't you just be good?"

    I haven't laughed so hard in weeks--what a treasure this story is! It started out so angsty, I was all set for the funeral. The allusions to Tonks, Hermione's broken fingers, the 4 glasses of water, and the joint gift just have me in stitches!

    (Happily moving on to Part Two..............)
  • "I've opened my own school."
    Harry sat up. "Really?"
    "Yes. I teach orphaned puppies to bark 'God Save the Queen' on command."

    Ahaha! Pure Rickman!Snape, and I love it :D

    Hermy! Nicodemus! Four glasses of water! The sock bow!

    Wonderful :-) Off to read part 2...
    • Oh yes, I agree! Like totally! XD
      And part two is H-A-W-T!
      Thank you, brilliant work! ^O^
      • mo

        oisko mitenkää mahollist iha suomeks!:D
  • (Anonymous)
    "Harry wondered uncharitably if he'd bought it at an Oxfam shop." Cute play on the word charity.
    • käännös

      Saako tämän ficin kääntää suomeksi FinFanFun:iin

      can this ficci translate to finnish?
  • I just wanted to say that I LOVED this! I absolutely adore how you depicted Snape and how Harry and him talk to each other. It's really, really good. You did a super job!!!
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