Author: Sterling Dragonfly (aka Snapesgrrl)
Genre: Romance, Angst, Drama, Action/Adventure; AU
Disclaimer: The lovely blond lady owns the characters – I own nothing. I promise to put them back after I'm done playing.
Warnings: implied Harry/Dean Thomas; Sexual Content; Violence; Adult Language
Feedback: Commentary, feedback, and constructive criticism are more than welcome at
Beta: First three chapters beta'd by SilentAuror. Much thanks to her.
Summary: Severus Snape is trying desperately to save Albus Dumbledore's life, and doesn't hesitate when it comes to illegal methods. Harry Potter is working as an undercover Auror who is investigating a series of murders. Their paths cross in an unexpected way.
Harry crossed his living room to the bar, where he poured himself a stiff firewhiskey and tossed it back in one shot. The pain he now felt was as intense as it had been on the day he'd come home from work to discover Dean's rapidly cooling body. There had been a note from Draco Malfoy attached to his bloody shirt, proudly announcing the success of his plan for revenge over Harry's part in his father's death.
He flopped down onto his sofa, reaching over and opening a small, carved wooden box. He withdrew a tattered piece of parchment, carefully unfolded it, and read the despised words again, even though he'd committed them to memory years ago.
I'm sure you thought I meant to kill you when I swore revenge on the day you and Weasley murdered my father. That would have been too easy for you. This way is so much better, don't you think? Now, you can live out the remainder of your life with the knowledge that your actions cost you the life of the person you love.
Happy dreams, Potter.
Malfoy had been right, the fucking bastard; Harry was living with the guilt – he couldn't escape it, no matter how hard he tried. Harry stared down at the letter, absently caressing the brown stains where Dean's blood had dried on the paper. He'd kept the note, despite his friends' adamant protests, as a reminder to never allow anyone to get close to him again – he couldn't deal with the pain of losing another lover.
He replaced the note in the box, then got up from the couch. It was time to get ready for work. Harry walked back into his bathroom and took out several pieces of jewelry from his case. He slipped a sapphire stud into his pierced ear then wound a gold chain about his slender waist, fastening the small lion's head clasp so it rested just above his bellybutton.
There was one more thing he needed to do before he headed to Knockturn Alley. Harry grabbed his wand and looked into the mirror as he cast a glamour spell on himself. His normally dark hair was now a lighter brown, heavily streaked with bright blond highlights. Intense green eyes were changed to blue, matching the sapphire that twinkled in his ear.
Harry stepped back so he could see himself completely in the mirror. He smiled, pleased with his appearance – he looked as if he belonged on the streets. Nobody would associate a blond, blue-eyed hustler with the famous Boy-Who-Defeated-Voldemort. He slipped his wand into a hidden pocket near the outer seam of his pants then, snagging a leather jacket on his way out, he quickly left his block of flats and Apparated away.
Snape stepped gracefully around his lab table as he prepared Albus' potion. His hands moved with precision as he chopped, diced and ground the assorted ingredients. He mentally inventoried the gathered components: powdered white willow bark and ginger root, finely diced madder root, coarsely ground guaiac wood and small bottles of salamander blood and Peruvian Vipertooth venom.
Nodding with satisfaction, he pulled out his fire crab shell cauldron and placed it atop the low-burning flame. He poured four cups of sterilized armadillo bile into the pre-warmed cauldron, then meticulously measured each ingredient while the bile came to rolling boil. Snape added the willow bark and ginger root, then counted to fifty as he stirred the potion in a counterclockwise direction.
Reaching for the sliced madder root, Severus slid it into the bubbling concoction, reversing the direction of his stirring until the fluid changed to a light red color. He set the magical timer for five minutes, waiting until it rang before he put in the guaiac wood and the ten drops of salamander blood. The flame was reduced until the potion was simmering then he set the timer for eight hours. The dragon venom would be added last, after the cauldron was removed from the heat.
Snape thoroughly cleaned his work area, putting away the various knives, pestles and mortars he'd used in his preparations. He checked the potion once more – it would be fine until he got back from collecting the final ingredient for this particular batch.
Severus frowned slightly as he warded his lab and went to his rooms; Poppy was extremely upset about the whole situation and if he was honest with himself, he wasn't exactly thrilled with his actions either. He had thought to leave his days of illegal activities behind when Voldemort had been killed by Harry Potter.
He idly wondered what had become of the Wizarding World's Savior as he unbuttoned the special robe he wore while working on his potions and got into the shower. Harry had destroyed the Dark Lord at the very end of his seventh year. Severus remembered the boy standing proudly beside him as they received their Orders of Merlin, First Class at the Leaving Feast, along with Albus Dumbledore and Ronald Weasley.
Snape had been astonished, to say the least, when Dumbledore, Potter and Weasley insisted to the Ministry that they wouldn't accept their awards unless he was granted one as well. All three of them averred that Severus had been as instrumental in bringing down Voldemort as they had been, and Amelia Bones, the Minister of Magic at the time, had reluctantly agreed.
Harry had graciously accepted his medal, then grabbed the hand of his young lover and departed Hogwarts once the final goodbyes were said. He had a small flat in London and became deeply involved with his Auror training.
Severus heard many different rumors about Potter over time, but he didn't set eyes on him again for nearly two years. Not until Severus, along with the rest of the faculty and most of the upper-classmen from Hogwarts had attended the funerals of Dean Thomas, Hermione Granger-Weasley and her tiny daughter, Amber Rose, all ruthlessly murdered by Draco Malfoy and his cronies.
The services were held in the Great Hall at the castle – the room was crowded with mourners and the flowers arrangements that had been sent filled every nook and cranny. Ron and Harry had been positioned in front, near the caskets, as Albus gave the eulogies. The difference between the two men's reactions was obvious to anyone watching.
His parents stood at either side of Ron during the memorial service. Arthur had his arm around his son's shoulders, while Molly gripped his hand tightly, a handkerchief fluttering to her eyes occasionally. Ron kept his attention focused on Albus, the tears flowing unchecked down his face as his wife and child were remembered fondly. Ron's siblings were gathered close around them, ready to offer support if he needed it. Even Percy had attended, long held grievances forgotten in light of his younger brother's loss.
Harry had placed himself apart from everyone, staring at Albus without the slightest expression on his face. After Albus was finished speaking, Harry had turned slightly and Severus saw his eyes – they were deeply shadowed with grief, anger and guilt. When the service was over, Harry had brusquely pushed aside all attempts that the surrounding crowd made to pay their condolences, exiting the castle to wait outside for the funeral procession.
Snape had followed Harry – he understood what the young man was going through. He had once seen that same haunted expression in his own eyes when he looked in the mirror. Severus' young muggle-born lover had been tortured and killed when Voldemort wanted to test his loyalty to the cause. He'd been forced to watch as Lucius Malfoy and Walden Macnair flung curse after curse at the writhing boy, until with one final scream, all movement from the pain filled body ceased.
Apparating to the gates of Hogwarts immediately afterward, Severus had fallen to his knees and become violently ill. Once the heaving of his body ceased, he'd gotten to his feet and shakily made his way to the castle and into Dumbledore's office. He had renounced the Dark Lord that very night and offered his services as a spy to Albus.
Snape quietly observed Harry as he stared in the direction of Hogsmeade, but decided not to approach the grieving man. There was little he could say to alleviate the anguish the young man was currently feeling. When the pallbearers appeared, the caskets levitated between them, Harry had moved to his place behind them and slowly followed the procession across Hogwarts' grounds and into the small Hogsmeade cemetery.
After the caskets had been lowered into the ground, Harry walked over to the edge and tossed something small and golden into Dean's grave. He then approached Ron for the first time that day, quietly exchanging words with his friend. The two men embraced each other, then with a crack, Harry was gone.
Two weeks later, the bodies of Draco Malfoy, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle had been discovered on the steps of the Ministry of Magic. Harry disappeared from the public eye after that and hadn't been seen or heard from since.
Severus finished shampooing his hair, then rinsed it and turned off the water. He spelled himself dry and quickly dressed in a black shirt and trousers, then slipped on a snug-fitting robe. He crossed his bedroom, opened a drawer in his bureau and took out a long wicked-looking stiletto. Severus slipped it into a hidden sheath in his boot, then picked up a large valise and made his way quietly out of his rooms and away from Hogwarts itself. He quickly walked to the front gates, slipped through them and Apparated to Knockturn Alley.
In the hour right before dawn, Harry wearily leaned against the rough brick façade of a weathered building and contemplated his evening thus far. The nocturnal inhabitants of Knockturn Alley were departing, leaving the lane almost deserted. Their work done for the night, the prostitutes had quietly called their goodbyes to each other as they made their way to wherever they spent their days.
Seventeen hopeful johns had tried to chat him up in the past nine hours and not a single fucking one had been his suspect. Harry closed his eyes briefly, deciding to call the night a bust and maybe grabbing a drink at a pub before going home. Pushing off the wall, he walked down the dark alley, quietly whistling a slightly off-tune muggle song.
The evening's results were disappointing. The hustlers had reacted poorly to his appearance in Knockturn Alley earlier in the evening – they'd hurled jeers and catcalls at Harry as they jealously guarded their favorite spots in the dark doorways and poorly lit corners. He'd tried to approach one of the quieter prostitutes at one point and question him about the murders, but the boy just looked around fearfully then hurried away without responding.
As Harry rounded the corner, he spotted a dark figure creeping through the shadows toward him. Harry watched the man then sighed. This one was behaving suspiciously enough to warrant an investigation. 'So much for my drink,' he thought resignedly. Mentally donning his assumed persona, he strutted seductively toward the man.
Quietly closing the door of the abandoned-looking building behind him, Snape glanced up and down the empty street. Satisfied that there was no one about, he stepped out of the doorway and edged his way down the alley toward the public Apparation point, staying deep within the darker shadows cast by the towering buildings surrounding him. There was little time to spare – a predawn glow was lightening the sky, signifying the need to hurry back to Hogwarts before his potion was ruined. Snape tiredly shifted the heavy valise from one hand to the other – the contents were too delicate to risk them by shrinking them with magic – and quickened his pace. Thank heaven this evening's work was almost completed.
He was close to his destination when he heard someone approaching, whistling off-key. Looking about warily as the footsteps came toward him, he smirked when he noticed the man's appearance. Merciful Merlin above, he was about to be propositioned by a prostitute. He drew closer to the nearby buildings, immersing himself in the protective gloom.
Snape halted as the hustler approached him. His eyes swept appreciatively down the lithe form, taking in the bared stomach muscles and the slight, provocative sway of the narrow hips. 'Too bad I don't have time to partake,' Severus thought fleetingly, 'this one looks quite enticing.'
The young man stopped in front of Snape, huskily asking, "Hello love, fancy a bit of fun tonight?" He tilted his head to one side and smiled invitingly.
Snape shook his head and took a small step to the side, preparing to walk away.
A hand stretched out, sensuously caressing his face, "Are you sure? I could make it worth your while." A tendril of magic touched Severus' psyche, he could feel it attempting to push its way into his thoughts. 'Damn, the idiot is trying to cast 'Legilimens' on me.' He jerked his head backward and hastily reinforced his mental wards. He routinely practiced Occlumency when in this area of town – there were too many unscrupulous people who would use any knowledge they could glean from him – but the man now facing him appeared to be a particularly strong Legilimens. There was also something vaguely recognizable in the magic, a touch he'd felt before.
Snape studied the young man, the familiar tilt of the head and tone in the voice nagged at the back of his mind. As the hand reached out once more, fingertips lightly brushing against his chest, a slight shift in the hustler's appearance caused Snape to flinch involuntarily. He knew those eyes – he'd taunted, taught, protected and trained the boy for years.