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I wrote this for the 2007 [livejournal.com profile] snarry_games.

Title: Fields Before Each Other
Author: [livejournal.com profile] aqua_alta (aka Becca Snape)
Team: Wartime
Genre(s): Angst & Romance
Prompt: Scorched Earth
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Character Death(possible in the future/alluded to/potential)
Word Count: 7,420
A/N: A huge Thank You goes to my betas, [livejournal.com profile] eeyore9990, [livejournal.com profile] joanwilder and [livejournal.com profile] ziasudra_fic! All remaining mistakes are my own. And another huge Thank You goes to [livejournal.com profile] so_teamwartime - you are amazing!
Disclaimer: Not mine (alas!). They belong to JKR. I’m just playing with them for a little while and I don’t intend to make money with this. It’s just a little bit of fun!

Summary: Two years after the events of Half Blood Prince, after two years of war, of set-backs and successes, Harry, Snape and the rest of the Order of the Phoenix are working on planning their final thrust against Voldemort and the Death Eaters. They come to realise that, in times of war, victory exacts a terrible price.




Fields Before Each Other


There are wars where no one marches with a flag, though that does not keep casualties from mounting. Our hearts irrigate this earth. We are fields before each other.
Saint Thomas Aquinas



Part One

"Potter."

Harry lifted his head. The muscles in his neck ached, and a thin trail of saliva had dribbled from the corner of his mouth to his chest. His eyes felt sore and his eyelids were heavy. He must have fallen asleep in the chair.

Harry stretched and rubbed his eyes. The kitchen of number twelve, Grimmauld Place was dimly lit. Harry wasn’t sure what time it was, but he had a notion that it had to be sometime after midnight.

A tall, dark figure, a man stood in the doorway, watching him. The man was holding a wand.

"Snape." Harry’s voice was raspy. He licked his lips. "You look like shit."

"How very astute, Potter."

Snape took a step towards where Harry was sitting. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but when Harry's lips tightened and Harry's hands began to search table, pockets and sleeves, he closed his mouth again.

There was a grey tinge to Snape's face, and purple shadows made his eyes look hollow and dead. He quickly tucked away his wand beneath his robes and walked over to the table. "I trust it hasn’t escaped your attention then that you do not look particularly hale and hearty yourself." His hands were shaking as he reached across the wooden surface for the bottle of Firewhisky that stood between Harry’s left elbow and the empty chair opposite of him.

Harry leaned forward and grabbed the bottle before Snape could reach it. He raised it to his lips, drained it with three gulps and slammed the empty bottle onto the table. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he stared at Snape.

"You look like you need a drink," Harry said.

He picked up the bottle again and turned it over, letting the few remaining drops of its content spill onto the dark wood between them, his eyes never leaving Snape’s.

"Ooops."

Harry glared at Snape. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and crooked his eyebrow. When Snape didn't say anything, he rose slowly and shoved back his chair until it fell over.

"Pity."

Letting the bottle slip from his hand, Harry turned and walked out of the kitchen. From the corner of his eye, he saw Snape flinch as the glass shattered on the stone floor.

*****

Upstairs, Harry headed for the bathroom and rinsed his mouth. He spat into the sink, trying to get rid of the putrid taste of the alcohol. He rinsed his mouth again and again, but the acrid tang still lingered on his tongue when he was lying in bed later.

There had been something in Snape’s eyes and body that Harry couldn’t quite place. Observation. Caution, perhaps. Suspicion. Snape had been watching him, like in the old days. Like he was reading his mind or at least trying to. Studying. Watching. Dissecting, carefully, almost hesitantly.

Harry felt his skin itch. He could feel Snape’s eyes crawling over his skin, along the line of his neck and down his chest, along his arms and over his hands. The itching turned into a burning sensation. Harry threw the bedcovers off of his body and turned over, closing his mind against the image of Snape’s burning eyes. He wanted to go home. He wanted to go back to Hogwarts.

He sank back into his pillow and conjured up the image of the numerous towers and winding staircases. Dumbledore’s office. The headmaster’s broken body. Phoenix song. A door in a wall. The Room of Requirement and an old book. The door creaking open and dark eyes behind a curtain of black hair. A whisper.

"Potter."

Harry opened his eyes again and groaned.

Hogwarts was gone, he remembered. Burned to the ground. Harry tried to erase the image of smoking ruins and black soil, but he failed.

He suspected that he was in for a long night. And suddenly he wished he hadn’t wasted those last few drops of Firewhisky.

*****

When Harry woke up the next morning, it was still early. From the ache in his spine, he could tell that he hadn't gotten much sleep. His throat felt raw and he wasn’t able to open his eyes but for two narrow slits. It felt as if sandpaper had been rubbed over his eyeballs.

A look into the bathroom mirror showed him a pair of red, puffy eyes in a pale, haggard face. He frowned. He didn’t remember crying, but everything he saw pointed in that direction.

Harry shrugged. Must have happened in his dreams. He remembered seeing Hogwarts. And Dumbledore’s corpse and ...

"Potter."

An echo of a whisper. Harry watched his face contort with rage and his hand reach for the bottle of Pepper-Up Potion that was standing on the brim of the sink. He watched his hand rise and take aim. The mirror began to crack from the middle outwards, a spider’s web spreading over the reflecting surface, as if in slow motion. Harry cursed and jumped backwards when the shards of the bottle hit the sink.

Snape. Again.

Harry splashed some water in his face and ran his fingers through his hair. He would deal with Snape later.

*****

Someone had cleaned away the glass from the kitchen floor. Molly Weasley and Remus Lupin were sitting at the table when Harry entered the kitchen. Pieces of parchment were spread out in front of them; coffee cups had been shoved to the side. They were talking animatedly in hushed voices and fell silent when they noticed Harry standing in the doorway.

"Good Morning, Harry," Mrs. Weasley greeted him. "Would you like a cup of coffee? I could fix you something to eat as well if you–"

"Just coffee, Molly, thank you."

Harry took a cup from the shelf and poured himself some coffee. Mrs. Weasley sat down again and looked at him.

"What?"

"You don’t look well, Harry. You really should eat somethi–"

Harry sat down at the other side of the table. "I’m fine."

Mrs. Weasley shot a glance at Lupin, who cast down his eyes after a second. "You look worse than I do after a full moon night, Harry. Molly is right, you should–"

"Remus, please. I’m fine. I slept poorly, that’s all." Harry took a sip of his coffee. "I met Snape last night. He was not like ... Was there a meeting I missed?" He ran a hand across his eyes. "I think I fell asleep right here."

Mrs. Weasley and Lupin exchanged another glance.

"Well, no. I mean, yes." Mrs. Weasley paused. "We, well ..."

"Well?" Harry sighed. "Meeting? No meeting? Why was he here? He hasn't moved in again, has he?"

"Well," Mrs. Weasley tried again and stopped.

"Snape. Why. Was. He. Here? I think he was ... the way he acted was ... a little off? There must have been something going on, something I missed because I was asleep. What happened?" Harry looked at them impatiently.

"He came to report," Lupin said. "It was not a proper meeting. He just came to report. They had a meeting, it seems. He came to tell us about it afterwards. About the new plans."

"I don’t want him here at night," Harry snapped and took a large swallow from his cup. "Well?" He raised his eyebrows. "What did he have to say?"

"They’re regrouping;" Lupin answered. "Nothing major. Voldemort is still trying to come up with a backup plan now that the castle and the Chamber are gone."

"Yeah, we really weakened him with that one, didn’t we?" Harry snorted. "Bought a week or two, with the castle and the Chamber gone." He set his cup down on the table. "Good plan. Really. Great plan. Fantastic." His shoulders slumped. "We’re talking borrowed time here. Bought time. You know that. Maybe the price was too high this time."

"Harry, we talked about that. The Order decided–"

"I know! I know, Remus. But I can’t help thinking that we should have–"

Mrs. Weasley reached across the table and took hold of Harry’s hand. "Harry, dear, I know what the castle meant to you. It was your home. It was our home. But we didn’t have a choice. You know that."

"Yes, I do. I do know that, Molly." He withdrew his hand.

"We need to discuss how to proceed from here," Lupin said. "Our next steps. We have to–"

Harry rose abruptly, turned his back to them and carried his cup to the kitchen sink.

"Give him time, Remus," Harry heard Mrs. Weasley say behind him. "He needs some time. We all need some time."

"We don’t have time," Remus pressed through his teeth. "We were already short of time weeks ago. It’s important that we ... this time we have to–"

Harry turned around and shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans.

"I’m going out for a while. For a walk."

Lupin turned towards Mrs. Weasley.

"Molly?"

"All right," Mrs. Weasley said. "We’ll discuss it later. Harry, you can go now. But we need you to be back here this afternoon."

"I know."

Harry smiled weakly and walked towards the door. "I’ll be back. I’ll be back in time. And then we can plan my death. Okay?"

Neither of the two others replied, and after a moment Harry left the kitchen.

"I think it worked," Harry heard Mrs. Weasley mutter while he walked across the hallway. "This time he seems ..."

"Maybe," Lupin answered. "We’ll have to wait and see, Molly. Severus will be back soon. We’ll see."

Harry opened the door and left the house.


Part Two

When Harry returned several hours later, he was carrying a brown paper bag. He could hear voices in the hallway before he even opened the door. Mrs. Black was screaming from her spot on the wall, obviously scolding somebody at the top of her lungs. Harry unlocked the door and entered.

"Traitor! Blood-traitor!" Mrs. Black screamed.

Harry slipped out of his coat and sighed. They had gotten used to the portrait, in a way, but it was still annoying him to be greeted by her high-pitched voice every time he entered the building.

"Traitor! In my house! How dare you? Appalling! Disgusting! Blood-traitor!"

Harry debated arguing that it was indeed his house now, but decided against it in the end. It was useless.

He turned towards the painting to tell Mrs. Black to just shut up and that was when he noticed she wasn’t looking at him or even in the direction of the door. She was facing the other side of the hallway, the door to the kitchen.

Like the night before, a tall dark figure was standing in the doorway. His back turned towards the hallway, Snape was talking quietly to someone in the kitchen. Harry couldn’t catch what he was saying, but from the way Snape held his shoulders and arms, he could sense tension.

Harry passed Mrs. Black’s portrait and walked towards the kitchen, his eyes fixed on the floor. He shook his head briefly to chase away the picture of his hand running soothingly down Snape’s back. His palm began to tingle, and he thought he could feel the rough cloth of Snape’s robes against his skin. He took the paper bag in both hands and gripped it tightly.

"... not going to do it another time, Molly," Snape hissed.

"Severus, we don’t even know yet if–"

"’Scuse me," Harry muttered and squeezed past Snape into the kitchen. Snape didn't react.

Harry tore the bag open and unwrapped a bottle of Ogden’s Old Firewhisky. Setting it on the table, he let his gaze flash at Snape for a brief moment. He exhaled deeply and opened the cupboard. Me, Molly, Remus, Tonks, Dung, Minerva, Kingsley, Snape, he counted in his head, corrected himself by subtracting Mundungus Fletcher, who had fallen victim to a Death Eater attack the previous week, and took out seven glasses. "Where’re Kingsley and Tonks?" Harry asked. "Aren’t they coming?"

"They should be here soon," McGonagall said. "And Bill owled. He’s coming, too."

Harry took another glass from the cupboard, placed the glasses onto a tray and carried them over to the table.

"Good." He sat down and poured himself a glass. "Anyone else want a drink?"

Nobody answered.

The silence was broken by the sound of the door in the hallway being opened and footsteps crossing the hall. Tonks, Shacklebolt and Bill Weasley entered, accompanied by another bout of Mrs. Black’s screaming.

"We brought Bill," Shacklebolt announced, and Tonks went over to sit down next to Lupin. They exchanged a quick kiss, and Mrs. Weasley rose to pull up some more chairs for the others.

"Okay," Harry said and took a swig from his glass. "Let’s get this over with."

The others sat down, too, except for Snape, who remained standing in the doorway.

Harry poured another glass and extended it to Snape. "Here, Snape. You still look like you could use it." Harry looked at Snape provokingly and waited.

Snape merely grunted and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

"Suit yourself," Harry said after a pause. He shrugged and placed the glass on the corner of the table closest to the door.

"So, the plan is to lure Voldemort into a trap and to blow up both of us in one go, right?" His voice was calm and composed, but it sounded rather thin at the same time. He never lifted his eyes from the surface of the table while he was speaking. "The only remaining questions are where, when and how, right?"

"Harry," Mrs. Weasley interrupted, "it’s necessary. You know that. We’ve been over that before and there is no other way. You’re–"

"I know," Harry said. "I’m the last Horcrux, and it’s either him and me or neither of us. That’s what the prophecy was saying all along, right? And either will die at the hand of the other. I got that." He took another swallow. "Whoever the other may be – he or she will survive, we won’t." He raised his glass again and drained it. "I won’t."

Mrs. Weasley’s hand went to her mouth as if to stifle a sob. "Harry. Harry, I’m ... we’re ... I’m so sorry. I keep thinking and thinking and hoping we’ll find another way, another–"

"There is none." Harry’s voice was flat. "We have been over this, haven’t we? The prophecy is clear. And thanks to Snape here–" He nodded in the direction of the door. "It’s me who’s going to bite the dust."

Snape remained silent and motionless; only the vein at his throat throbbed rapidly. When Lupin inhaled and began to protest, he made a quick movement with his hand to silence him.

"Potter is right, Lupin," he said, his eyes fixed on Harry. "If it wasn’t for me, not even that imbecile Longbottom would be sitting here in his place. You know that."

"But you had to!" Tonks’s palm hit the table. "If you had told Voldemort nothing, or if you’d told him what the whole prophecy said, he’d never–"

"Tonks, it’s okay." Harry reached for the bottle and refilled his glass. "We’ve been over that often enough as well. It can’t be changed. At least we do have a chance to get rid of that bastard now. Yes, it’s thanks to Snape–" Harry bowed slightly towards Snape. "–that we do have the means to that end. Me. Let’s not waste it, okay?"

Suddenly everyone started talking simultaneously. Tonks reprimanded Lupin for making things more difficult than they already were; Bill tried to comfort his mother; McGonagall, who hadn’t said anything so far, began to question Shacklebolt about the strength of the Aurors’ Defence League; and Snape moved away from the door, muttering: "I need a drink."

Harry picked up the glass he had left on the table earlier and handed it to Snape. Raising his own glass, he grinned.

"Cheers!"

The others fell silent. After a short pause, Mrs. Weasley began to sob. Bill tried to take her into his arms, but she struggled against his embrace.

"No! It’s just too much. It’s too much ..." She wiped here eyes. "First Ron. Then Hermione. And Ginny. It’s too much!"

Harry cleared his throat.

"Molly, please. I know. But we can’t help it. It has to be done. And it’s not that I have anything left. With all of them gone, I mean."

Mrs. Weasley let her hands drop into her lap.

"Ouch," Harry whispered. He took another sip of Firewhisky and reached across the table for her arm. "It’s not like that, Molly. I love you. I love all of you very much. But I’d rather protect you than stay here and leave you all in permanent danger, okay? I can do that. Finally, there’s something I actually can do. That’s good, isn’t it? It’s a good thing. Remember. It’s a good thing."

"Okay," Mrs. Weasley finally said. "Okay." She reached into the sleeve of her robe and pulled out a huge handkerchief. "Okay."

"So," Harry continued. "Let’s plan this properly. Minerva, how do you think we could lure Voldemort somewhere where we can fight?"

"I assume he won’t need much luring," Snape cut in. "He will come for you whatever we do. All we have to let him know is where and when."

"All you have to do, you mean," Harry interrupted.

"All I have to do is let him know where and when," Snape repeated.

"Oh, and don’t forget to tell the mysterious ‘other’ as well. I don’t want to face Voldemort all on my own and fight him for all eternity." Harry squeezed his eyes shut. "I only wish I knew who he is." He exhaled. "Or she."

"Here’s to hoping for someone other than Longbottom." Snape raised his glass. "Lest you spend the rest of your life–" He froze, and his arm slowly dropped.

"Hear, hear!" Harry rose and walked over to Snape. He clinked his glass to Snape’s, who had remained motionless. The expression on Harry's face turned from mocking to expectant and finally to confused, when Snape didn't react.

Snape’s eyes gradually filled with a menacing glitter, but he didn’t speak again.

"Okay, where and when, then?" Harry returned to his chair and sat back down. "I ...". He paused, took another small swallow and cleared his throat. "I want it to be at Hogwarts." He cleared his throat again. "If that is possible. Where Hogwarts was."

McGonagall nodded. "Of course."

"As to the question of when – I’d say as soon as possible, yes? I’d–"

"We’ll see, Harry," Lupin interrupted. "We’ll have to wait a couple of days to make sure that ..." He paused and averted his eyes.

"To make sure you’re well," Mrs. Weasley picked up the sentence.

"Why shouldn’t I be well?" Harry asked, and a faint grin appeared on his face. "What could happen to me here with all of you around to watch over me and the doors closed?" He gave a short, harsh laugh and locked eyes with Snape, who had been staring at Harry since he’d begun to speak. "What could possibly happen to me here? Well, apart from Snape and his spooky mind-reading skills doing funny things to my brain?"

Snape set down his glass with a brisk movement of his arm and walked straight out of the kitchen, not looking back.

"Severus!" McGonagall called after him. "Severus, please stay!"

"What’s going on here?" Harry asked, staring at the door. "Something doesn’t feel right, something–" He rose and started to go after Snape.

"Harry, a moment, please." McGonagall held him back.

Harry stopped and turned around, frowning. "What was that about?"

"Severus has been under a lot of pressure lately, both from the Order and from Voldemort. It’s not as easy for him as you might think. You know that he–"

"He’s been hiding here in my house since the beginning of the war, Minerva. He’s been hiding here again and again for over two years. Even living here temporarily. And I don’t know anything about him." Harry turned towards the door and back again. "Why? I should know ... Something is not right. What is going on here? Minerva?"

McGonagall didn’t respond.

"Molly?" Harry looked at Mrs. Weasley, who kept staring at the table. "Remus? Tonks? What is going on here?"

When nobody answered, Harry hurried out of the kitchen.

"Molly, you’ve got to do something," Harry heard Tonks plead behind his back. "You’ve got to stop him. We can’t go through all of it again. They can’t. Molly?"

He barely registered the words. Snape was about to leave the house, but Harry ran past him and blocked the door.

"Snape, no."

"Potter, for all our sakes, get out of my way. Now." Snape was so tense his whole body was trembling.

"No." Harry stood his ground. "I won’t let you leave like this." He took a deep breath. "Not before you tell me what this is all about."

"Potter. Let me go now." Snape’s voice had dropped to a dangerous whisper. "For your own sake. No more."

"No." Harry took a step towards Snape. "It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t line up. Snape?"

"For my sake then. If that matters to you at all."

Harry moved another step closer. "I’ve got to know," he insisted.

"Please." Snape’s jaws clenched.

For the first time since they’d left the kitchen, their eyes met. Harry gasped. Snape’s eyes brimmed with pleading, desperation, and raw fear. The world closed in on that pair of eyes. Harry couldn’t move, couldn’t look away. They stared at each other until Harry’s eyes burned.

They spoke at the same time.

"No."

"Let me go."

Snape was the first to break the eye-contact. He slowly turned around and walked towards the drawing room.

Harry let out a whoosh of air he didn’t know he was holding inside his lungs. Suddenly, the sound of his heartbeat filled his ears and flashes of white light danced in front of his eyes. He stood frozen to the spot for another minute or so before he went after Snape.

Inside the drawing room, Snape was standing at the window in the far left corner, his back turned to Harry, one hand holding the heavy curtain a little aside. He’d lit one of the lamps, so the room wasn’t completely dark. Shadows hid in the corners and under the furniture.

Harry walked into the room, stopped in the middle of the big carpet and cleared his throat. Snape’s shoulders rose a little and his hand dropped from the curtain.

"Potter, I urge you to leave now. Trust me when I say that nothing good will come from this conversation, which, for your information, I’m not inclined to have with you anyway. So it would be the only logical solution if you simply absented yourself from my presence."

"Merlin, Snape," Harry shouted. "We are working together. For the same cause. Means to the same end, aren’t we?" He tried to catch his breath and calm his voice. "I have a right to know what’s going on, a right to you talking to me. I have a right to answers. You owe me that much, Snape."

"I owe you nothing," Snape hissed.

"It’s always the same with you, isn’t it, Snape?" Harry asked, exasperated. "You always ..."

His words faded into silence.

"Always the same," Harry muttered after a long pause. "We’ve talked about this before."

"If that were the case, do you think it likely that I should feel any desire to repeat that experience?" Snape slowly turned around. "You may cease to worry, though, Potter. We haven’t." His lips curling into a thin grin, he added: "Rest assured that you are merely delusional. Not particularly what Molly had in mind when wishing for you to be ‘well’, but it will suffice."

Harry sank down into one of the armchairs in front of the large stone fireplace. "I didn’t mean to drain your booze yesterday." His voice sounded hollow. "I don’t even like Firewhisky that much." He looked up and his eyes met Snape’s. "I’m sorry."

"Your behaviour yesterday as well as earlier today seemed to prove the contrary." Snape started to cross the room. "Be that as it may, there is nothing to talk about." He made for the door, but he stopped when Harry began to speak again.

"I don’t even really know why I did that. It felt wrong, even when I did it, but I thought that’s what I had to do. I thought it’s what we do. My mind kept telling me that that was how it is between us ... but it isn’t. It feels wrong."

Snape took a couple of steps towards Harry, but he stopped again before he reached him. "Potter, drop it. You have no idea what you’re talking about. As usual, I might add. So be a good little war-hero, shut up and do your duty."

"But why did I– when I knew you needed–"

"Because, like you phrased it so eloquently, it’s what we do. Scorched earth." Snape shot another glance at Harry and walked towards the door again.

"Like Hogwarts," Harry whispered.

Snape froze.

"Like we scorched the castle so that Voldemort couldn’t use it as ... Like Hogwarts." Harry buried his head in his hands.

"Yes, Potter, like Hogwarts," Snape answered. "That’s what people do when they’re at war. It’s called military policy. Whatever the enemy–"

"Snape!" Harry interrupted angrily.

Snape spun around, and again their eyes met.

Harry quickly raised his wand and heard Snape let out a surprised hiss. By the look of concentration on Snape's face, Harry could sense that Snape was trying to raise his mental shields, but it was too late.

"Legilimens!"


Part Three

"Legilimens!"

Snape tried to push random, insignificant memories towards Harry, but Harry had been trained by the best. He had seen enough when Snape finally managed to fully shield his mind against his spell.

"Oh," Harry gasped and let his wand-hand fall into his lap. "Oh." His eyes never left Snape’s.

Snape’s face contorted with rage. "You stupid little ignorant dimwit! How dare you–"

"You can stop it," Harry said, but Snape went on.

"How dare you invade my thoughts like that? Do you have the faintest idea what you have done, you little–"

"Stop it," Harry repeated. "I know."

Snape fell silent.

"I know, Severus." Harry sounded tired and defeated. "I know why it didn’t feel right."

"You know nothing." Snape’s voice trembled slightly.

"I do. I know everything. It didn’t feel right because it wasn’t. Because it isn’t. We’re not at war, you and I, Severus. We’re not enemies. We’re–"

"I told you to leave it, Potter." Snape closed his eyes. "I’m telling you one last time–"

Harry held out his hand, trying to reach for Snape. "You can stop it now. I saw it. And I remember."

Snape slowly walked over to the fireplace and sat down in the chair opposite Harry.

"That’s impossible."

"So you did do funny things to my mind ..." Harry searched Snape’s face. "Why?"

"You have to understand–"

"It’s all coming back," Harry said slowly. "Bits and pieces, but–" He paused and his eyes fluttered shut. Snape could see Harry’s eyeballs moving rapidly beneath his lids. Suddenly, Harry’s face filled with pain. "We were lovers, Severus." Harry opened his eyes again.

"Why?" Harry queried softly.

"I won’t ..." Snape stopped and rose.

"Don't you dare run away now, Snape." Harry reached out and grabbed hold of Snape’s sleeve. "Don’t you dare run away and keep me in the dark about ... about why you took away the only thing in my life that mattered, the only thing that kept me alive!"

Snape tried to free himself but Harry held on tight. After a moment, he frowned and let go of Snape’s arm. "Did we break up?"

Snape only looked at Harry silently.

"Did we break up and you erased my memories? To make it easier? For me? For both of us? For both our sakes, like you said before?" His words became quicker and quicker as he spoke. "It’s the only possibility I can think of. We broke up. But why? It has to be that. Why else would you– The only thing that kept me going, I–"

Harry covered his mouth with his right hand. He took several deep breaths before he looked at Snape again.

"Oh."

Snape closed his eyes.

"Scorched Earth."

Snape nodded. He returned to the chair he had been sitting in and sank back down in it. "You said you could never go to certain death, even though you knew that you had to if we wanted–"

"But the prophecy says–," Harry started to protest. "Knowing that Voldemort could be vanquished only when I die, too, I think I–"

"You said you could never do that because of ... because you had found a purpose in being alive."

"So you decided–"

"It was your idea, your suggestion. We decided."

"You didn’t want to at first," Harry remembered. "You refused. And I ..."

"Yes." Snape clenched his jaws.

"It didn’t work."

Snape said nothing.

Harry rose slowly and walked over to where Snape was sitting. He knelt down and tried to wrap his arms around his lover’s waist, but Snape pushed him away.

"That is a very bad idea, Potter. We should–"

"Severus, please." Harry reached for Snape’s face and leaned forward to kiss him. "I want to ... I want to hold you again, like before. I need to feel you again. I need to remember everything. Please."

Snape tried to withdraw and rise, but Harry was kneeling too close to him. He fell back into the chair and lifted his arms to shield himself against Harry and his kisses.

"No. Not again. Not. Again!" He caught Harry’s hands in his and held them in an iron grip. "It is over, Potter. We’ve said our goodbyes." He tightened his grip and Harry hissed. "You have to remain focussed. The confrontation with Voldemort draws nearer and you’ll have to focus on the task that lies before you. You–"

"I want to feel alive again, Severus." Harry pulled his wrists free and brought Snape’s hands to his mouth. "I’ve felt dead since yesterday and I don’t remember how it feels–" He rubbed his cheek against Snape’s palm. "Make me feel alive again." And he tilted his head to place a kiss on the inside of Snape’s wrist.

The tension in Snape’s body weakened. Harry continued kissing Snape’s hands and wrists, licking along Snape’s veins, feeling Snape’s pulse against the tip of his tongue. A faint smile crept onto his face and a single tear rolled over his cheek.

"Like this." Harry whispered.

Snape’s left hand found its way into Harry’s hair. He sighed. "Of course." He leaned back and closed his eyes. Harry’s hair felt soft against his skin and Harry’s kisses began to make his blood heat up. He made one last attempt to withdraw, but Harry pushed his knees apart and let himself fall against Snape’s chest.

"Hold me," Harry whispered. "Hold me again."

Snape found his arms wrapping around Harry’s lithe body almost on their own accord. He buried his face in Harry’s hair and inhaled. The boy smelled alive. Snape mumbled something into Harry’s hair.

"What?" Harry looked up and met Snape’s eyes.

"Nothing." Snape rose and pulled Harry up with him. He ran a finger along the line of Harry’s cheek and jaw. "You’d better kiss me quickly if you don’t want me changing–"

Harry brought his lips to Snape’s and closed his eyes. He cupped Snape’s face and tilted his head slightly. The tip of his tongue darted out and ran over Snape’s lips.

Snape’s lips were pressed together, thin, firm lines, barrier-like. Harry didn’t force them open but gently stroked them with his tongue until they finally parted ever so slightly.

Harry gasped when their tongues met. Snape tasted of Firewhisky and bitterness. Harry broke the contact and looked at Snape’s face. The lines he saw around Snape’s eyes reminded him of dugouts. He let his fingertips run over Snape’s lids and along those lines. "We’ve–"

Snape opened his eyes. "Later," he whispered and brought their lips together again.

As their kiss deepened, Harry felt Snape’s body begin to tremble. He wrapped his arms around him and ran his hands over Snape’s back.

"Later," Harry muttered against Snape’s lips. He brought his hands to Snape’s throat and began to undo the buttons of Snape’s robe. The tiny black buttons slipped from his fingers over and over again in the process. "I remember that," Harry whispered, a small smile spreading over his face.

When he had undone half of the buttons, Harry opened Snape’s robe and slipped his hands inside. "Warm," he said, running his hands along Snape’s thin body.

Snape groaned and pulled Harry closer.

Harry felt light-headed all of a sudden. His knees gave in and he stumbled against Snape. "Hold me," he pleaded, his voice sounding shaky.

"Shh," Snape soothed. "Close your eyes." He began to undo the fastenings of Harry's robes and after that the buckle of Harry's belt. Slowly, he shoved the robe from Harry's shoulders. It pooled at their feet like black water.

Harry closed his eyes and felt Snape cover his face and throat with kisses. Snape's lips burned his skin wherever they touched it, leaving scorched trails in their wake. He gasped when Snape carefully sucked on his throat, not quite leaving a mark.

"Yes, like that!" Tilting his head, he exposed more of his skin to Snape's mouth. "Burn me ..."

Snape flinched and paused briefly, but then resumed kissing and licking Harry's skin. His fingers crept beneath Harry's shirt and stroked up and down his back. Harry's skin was smooth to his touch, except for the long scar that ran from his left shoulder to the small of his back.

He withdrew his hands and opened Harry's trousers. Harry's erection throbbed in his palm and he held it for some moments before he pushed the trousers and pants down. He cupped Harry's arse and pulled the younger man against him, grinding his groin against Harry's cock.

Harry moaned. "God, yes!" His hips bucked against Snape's body and his hands clutched the front of Snape's robes. "Want ..."

Snape broke the embrace and stepped backwards a little. Harry stood before him, panting, throbbing, chest heaving, mouth swollen and slightly opened, eyes closed.

"Undress." His voice was rough. Watching Harry open his eyes and undress himself further, he hurried to get rid of his own clothes as well. He placed his wand on the couch table and knelt before Harry.

Harry's lips parted in surprise when Snape took his cock into his mouth. He threw back his head and hissed.

Snape cupped Harry's balls with one hand and let the other one slowly run along Harry's erection, from base to tip and back again, his tongue following his fingers. Harry tasted salty and warm. Moaning, Snape let his left hand drop into his lap and wrapped it around his own hardness.

Snape's tongue travelled along the vein on the underside of Harry's cock. The noises that poured from Harry's mouth made his own member twitch. He reached around Harry's waist with his right hand and parted Harry's buttocks. Slowly he traced the crease from the small of Harry's back downwards. His fingers brushed over Harry's entrance a couple of times before he carefully breached it with his middle finger.

Harry moaned, and his hand went into Snape's hair, urging him to swallow him deeper, thrusting into the wet heat of Snape's mouth.

Something seemed to snap inside of Snape then. He began to suck Harry almost frantically, fisting his own aching member quickly, entering Harry with another finger, breaking him open. His breath came in rapid gasps and his whole body began to shake with need.

Harry almost gave in to the pleasure there and then, but when he felt his balls tighten, he grabbed Snape's shoulders and pushed him away from his cock.

"Stop," Harry panted.

Snape looked up at him and shook his head.

"I don't want to come like this," Harry said, blushing. "I don't want us to come like this."

Harry dropped to his knees and pulled Snape against his body.

"And how do you wish to come?" Snape asked quietly and drew Harry into a passionate open-mouthed kiss.

"I want you to come inside of me," he whispered, kissing Snape's face. "I want to come when you're buried deep inside of me." He lowered his head and closed his lips around Snape's nipple. "I want to feel you inside of me again."

Harry slid down until he was lying on the floor. He reached for Snape's neck and pulled him down onto the carpet beside him. "I want you to make me feel alive again ..."

Snape hesitated slightly, but then he nodded and rested one hand on Harry's chest. He ran his hand over Harry's skin and parted Harry's legs. He slowly stroked Harry's cock a few times.

Harry arched into Snape's touch and moaned. "Oh god ..."

Snape's skin was pale and covered by a thin layer of sweat. Harry tried to touch him blindly: his legs, his chest, his arms, his face. He watched open-mouthed as Snape brought his hand to his mouth and began to lick his fingers, covering them with saliva.

When Snape's fingers found Harry's tight entrance again, Harry's hands clenched into fists. He was biting his lips and his hips were bucking upwards, seeking friction.

"Hurry," he moaned, but Snape took his time preparing him, spreading him open. One finger, a second finger, in and out, slowly at first, then faster and more demanding. When Snape added a third finger, Harry grabbed hold of Snape's other hand and brought it to his lips.

"Please ..." Harry was flushed and sweating and achingly hard. His cock strained and throbbed, and a drop of pre-come had leaked from the slit.

Snape withdrew his fingers slightly and entered Harry again with a single digit. He curled it inside of Harry's body until–

"Ah!" Harry screamed and pressed Snape's hand to his mouth, stifling the noise.

Snape moaned and continued massaging Harry's gland.

"Severus, please ..." Harry was out of breath. "You're going to make me come if you ... Please ..."

The look in Harry's eyes made Snape gasp. Harry's pupils were dilated and his eyes were glistening with need. Snape took his finger from Harry's body and looked around frantically.

"I don't have any–"

"Spell," Harry panted. "Quick. Hurry."

Snape rose to his knees and reached for his wand and muttered a Lubrication Spell. He dropped the wand and wrapped his hand around his own erection, fisting himself quickly a couple of times.

Harry moaned and spread his legs further.

"God, Severus, please. Now, please."

Snape moved to kneel between Harry's legs. He pushed Harry's legs up, leaned forward and entered Harry's body with one languid thrust. Once he was fully sheathed, he stilled and rested his forehead on Harry's chest.

"I remember," Harry breathed and let his fingers run through Snape's hair. "You make me feel so alive, Severus." He reached for Snape's face and brought their mouths together.

Snape's hips bucked into Harry as he moaned into the kiss.

They wouldn't have been able to take it slowly even if they'd wanted to. Both men let their bodies take over, surrendering to their passion and desperate need. The movements of their hips consumed them.

Harry wrapped his legs around Snape's waist and held onto Snape's upper arms. His erection was trapped between their bodies, and he tried to rub it against Snape's abdomen with every upward thrust he made.

Panting, Snape reached between them and took Harry's cock in his hand. It only took a couple of thrusts before Harry began to thrash underneath him.

"Severus, yes!" Harry moaned. "Close ... Oh god, yes, I'm going to–"

"Yes!" Snape hissed and threw back his head. Hot liquid spilled over his hand, and he came, too, thrusting erratically, spilling his come inside Harry.

"My–"

"Yessss!"

Harry's legs dropped from Snape's waist, and Snape collapsed onto Harry's body.


Part Four

Harry’s head rested on Snape’s chest. "I love you," he whispered.

Snape’s movements stilled and he closed his eyes. After a couple of seconds, he said, "Yes."

Slowly, Harry’s fingertips ran along Snape’s breastbone, around his nipples and upwards, along Snape’s neck and chin to his lips. Snape caught Harry’s hand and pressed his lips against the inside of Harry’s fingers.

Harry withdrew and propped himself up on one elbow. He looked down on Snape’s face and smiled. Snape opened his eyes and Harry’s smile faded.

"We have to give it another try."

"I know," Snape murmured, averting his eyes. "I know."

A shadow settled on Harry’s face. "Back in the kitchen you said–" He leaned down and kissed Snape briefly. "–that you wouldn’t do it again."

Snape’s mouth formed a narrow line. "I–"

"And I heard how Molly said something about ‘this time’," Harry continued. "How many times ... I mean, how often have we done this before?"

Snape didn’t answer. He turned away from Harry and reached for his shirt.

"I ... that was not the first time, was it?" Harry shivered when Snape turned to look at him again. "How many times, Severus?"

Snape swallowed. "We ..." He cleared his throat. "Three times."

Harry inhaled sharply.

"You always remembered," Snape said. "Only ... it took you longer those other times. A couple of days before you ..."

Snape got to his feet and began to dress. "I must have made a mistake. Every time." He picked up his robe and slipped his arms into the sleeves. "You were not supposed to remember. It should have worked the first time but–"

Harry sat up, drew his knees up in front of his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. He began to rock back and forth.

"God, Severus," he choked. "Three times?"

"It is a difficult process, wandering around in your mind and extinguishing only certain parts of your memory," Snape went on. "I have to track down all of them and you have to let me access them lest–"

"Will it work?" Harry asked. "This time?"

Snape finished buttoning his robe, straightened his collar and his cuffs and ran his hands through his hair.

"Yes. It will work."

Harry nodded.

"Good." He rose and dressed himself, too. "When?"

Snape walked towards the door. "The sooner, the better. Now."

"Wait," Harry said. "Let me say goodbye to you." He stood in front of the fireplace and looked at Snape. "Come here."

Snape opened his mouth to speak, but he remained silent. His shoulders sagged and he moved across the room towards Harry.

Harry drew Snape into a tight embrace. "I love you," he muttered against Snape’s lips.

"Yes." Snape’s arms came to rest on Harry’s shoulders.

"What did you say earlier?" Harry asked quietly. "When we ... before we ..."

"Nothing," Snape said again. "I said nothing."

"Okay," Harry took Snape’s hands in his and squeezed them. "Please remember that I love you. Remember that it isn’t really me when I–"

"I will." Snape avoided Harry’s gaze and tried to pull his hands away, but Harry didn’t let him go.

"We’re doing this so you can live, Severus, remember that. It’s a good cause, a noble cause. You and the others will live." He reached for Snape’s chin and forced him to meet his eyes. "Remember that when I’m ... when I treat you like an enemy again."

"I will," Snape repeated.

Harry nodded. "I will always love you."

"Promise me that you won’t," Snape closed his eyes and Harry let go of his hands. "Never again."

"I–"

Snape opened his eyes once more and reached for his wand.

"Are you ready?"

Harry let his eyes flutter shut briefly and smiled weakly when he opened them again.

"I trust you," Harry whispered, and his face went blank. Snape’s eyes and his remained locked. "I am ready."

"Legilimens," Snape chanted and entered Harry’s mind.

"Obliviate."


~end~

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