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 grimaced when the man moved further back into the shadows. 'He's definitely acting as though he has something to hide,' ran through his mind as he drew nearer. Harry stopped, facing the prospective john and squinted upward, trying to make out the man's facial features in the dim light.
He whispered, "Hello love, fancy a bit of fun tonight?" and wasn't overly surprised when the man refused him. For some reason, some guys liked to play hard to get, even though it was apparent what they were down here cruising for. "Are you sure? I could make it worth your while." Smiling as seductively as he could, Harry gently touched the pale blur above him and wordlessly cast 'Legilimens', reading – absolutely nothing in the man's mind. There wasn't even a glimmer of desire for him; there was only the image of fire.
The man wretched himself away from the touch and Harry frowned inwardly. There were very few people skilled enough at Occlumency to shield their minds from him – he must be more exhausted than he realized. Drawing deeply from the core of his magic, he extended his hand, touching the john's chest with the tips of his fingers and tried again. He calmly met the man's gaze, unaware that his glamour had slipped a fraction and that his own vibrant green eyes were staring out from his face.
Harry gasped as he heard the man utter his name – he would recognize that voice anywhere. The john he'd been propositioning was none other than his former Potions Master, Severus Snape.
Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck.
"A hustler, Potter? All those years of education and extra training, and you've become a hustler?" Snape was more than shocked – he was livid, angrier than he could ever remember being. How dare Potter squander his potential by prostituting himself out to nameless tricks?
Harry closed his eyes for a second, thankful that his cover wasn't blown after all. He opened his eyes again and shrugged nonchalantly, "I do what I need to do in order to stay alive, Snape. Surely you can understand that?" Glancing down at the valise Snape was clutching, Harry decided to go on the offense. "What are you doing down here anyway?" He waved his hand around, indicating their surroundings.
Straightening up to his full height, Snape looked at Harry and said scornfully, "My affairs are none of your concern, Mr. Potter."
"Ah, but you're in my playground now, Professor. I think you're down here looking for a piece of ass." Harry stepped closer to the other man and leered. "I could help you with this, you know." He cupped Snape's groin with his hand and gently squeezed.
Snape grasped Harry's wrist and threw off his hand. "Keep your hands off me, Potter. I haven't the slightest interest in buggering you." He glared at Harry, hoping that Potter hadn't noticed his body's reaction to his touch.
"I wouldn't exactly say that, Snape." Harry chuckled. Snape, or at least his prick, had definitely liked the idea of fucking him. His own cock twitched at the thought, and Harry ruthlessly squelched his rising desire. He refused to acknowledge the attraction he'd felt for the man since his seventh year at Hogwarts.
"Think what you will, Potter. This discussion is over." Snape quickly moved around the other man and stormed off, the hem of his robes swirling around his booted feet.
Harry stared after him, brow crinkled in concentration. Finally, he shook his head and decided he was too tired to deal with the implications of Snape's being here in Knockturn Alley. He'd think about it tomorrow, after he got some sleep.
The door creaked open slowly as Severus knocked on it with one hand, the other holding a steaming goblet. He peeked around the edge of the door and smiled at the old man lying in the four-poster bed at one end of the large room. "Albus, you're looking better every day. How are you feeling?"
"I'm still weak, but all in all, I think I'm doing well." Albus struggled to sit up for a minute, then plopped back into the pillows with a sigh. "Blast."
Severus came over to the bed and carefully set the full goblet on the nightstand. He slid his long arm behind Albus and raised him up, then adjusted the numerous pillows to help brace the fragile man. After sitting on the edge of the bed, he reached over and picked up the goblet again, holding it to Albus' trembling lips. "Here, this should help. Careful, it's hot."
Albus slowly drank the potion, making disgusted faces at the flavor as he drained the cup. "Severus, my boy, I think this would be much improved with a little honey. It tastes quite horrid." He handed the goblet back to Snape and leaned back against the pillows again. His eyelids fluttered closed as the potion worked its way into his system and soon he was quietly snoring.
Severus gently brushed a strand of long gray hair away from Albus' face, and thought about how much he owed this man. The night he had fled back to Hogwarts, a devastated, bitter nineteen-year old, Albus had calmly sat and listened to his broken confession about his activities as a Death Eater. He then did something no one else in Severus' life had ever done – Albus had taken him in his arms and comforted him as one would a child.
Over the years, Albus had proven to be more of a father to him than Tobias Snape ever had, and Severus vowed to repay the debt, no matter what the cost to himself.
Grasping the thin hand that was lying on the counterpane, Severus felt for the pulse point in the wrist. Albus' heartbeat was thready but regular – no more arrhythmia. He returned the hand to Albus' side and leaned forward, placing his cool palm against the sleeping man's forehead. Satisfied that there were no adverse reactions to the new potion formula, Severus got to his feet, retrieved the empty goblet and turned to leave the room.
Before he reached the door, the fireplace flared and Poppy Pomfrey stepped through the Floo. The two colleagues froze as they stared at each other, then Severus nodded politely and said, "Good morning, Poppy."
"Severus." Poppy glanced over at the Headmaster and softly queried, "How is he doing this morning?"
"His strength is returning slowly, the irregular heartbeat appears to be gone and the fever has broken. He's exactly where he should be at this point in the treatment."
Poppy walked to the side of the bed and pulled out her wand, slowly running the tip across Albus' sleeping form. She smiled as she read the results then asked over her shoulder, "He's had his potion this morning, correct?"
Severus chuckled. "Yes, and he was complaining the whole time." Shooting an affectionate look at Albus, he continued, "He'll sleep for a while – I put a sedative in the potion to help him – but he'll probably be cantankerous once he wakes up. I believe this enforced bed rest is beginning to irritate him."
Poppy thought for a minute then said, "Maybe we can get Hagrid to carry him out to the gardens for a while. A little fresh air might do him some good." She straightened out the blanket and crossed over to the fireplace. "I've set some monitoring wards that will notify me if there are any changes in his condition." She took a pinch of Floo powder and paused before saying, "I owe you an apology, Severus. Very few people would put themselves at risk for such an old man." Poppy bit her lip then whispered, "Thank you." Tossing the Floo powder into the fire, she quickly stepped in and was gone.
Severus returned to his rooms, anxious to clean up and rest for a while. He'd been up for more than thirty-six hours, relying on Pepper-Up Potion to get him through his Friday classes as well as the brewing he'd done last night. He knew he needed to decide what to do about his early-morning encounter with Potter, but his mind was too hazy to function properly right now. It was a problem that would have to be put off until later.
Harry blinked down at the report, the words blurring together into a jumbled mess. He groaned as he tossed it aside in frustration. Fuck, he hated the paperwork involved with his job. Rubbing his hand across his face in an attempt to clear his thoughts, he reached for the next file in the basket. As he was nearing the end of the pile on his desk, there was a soft knock at the door. Kingsley Shacklebolt poked his head in and asked, "Harry, do you have a minute?"
"Sure, Kingsley. Come on in." Harry gestured to the chair across from his desk with his chin.
Shacklebolt picked up the stack of papers resting on the chair and set them on the floor. He lowered himself into the seat and stretched his arms over his head with a sigh. "I'm not sure if you heard, but they found another body last night in Nightshade Lane. Male, about nineteen, name and address unknown."
"Shit." Harry cringed at the news – he'd been there last night, could have passed the killer in the dark. "Was the body mutilated as well?"
Kingsley nodded "Yes. The victim was slashed open with a sharp implement, and the liver was removed." He grimaced as he remembered watching the autopsy. Thirty years in the field and he still had to deal with a queasy stomach sometimes. He swallowed hard and asked, "How did it go last night? Did you see anyone suspicious while you were down there?"
Harry hesitated as he thought about Snape and his behavior, then shook his head. Even though the man had been acting peculiar, there wasn't enough reason to drag his name into the investigation – yet. He would just have to keep his eyes open to see if Snape showed up again. "Other than getting some really bizarre propositions, I didn't find out anything useful to the case. The guys working last night refused to talk to me, so basically the evening was a wash."
"Going back out tonight?"
Glancing down at the note he'd just added to his report, Harry nodded. "I have to go – I need to catch this bastard before he strikes again." Heart, lung, eyes, kidney, brain, pancreas and now liver. Damn, he was dealing with one sick asshole here. He picked up his quill again and wrote 'Snape?' below the list then closed the file and slipped it into his backpack. "Anything else?"
Kingsley shook his head as he got to his feet. "No, that pretty much covers it. Good luck tonight, Harry." He made his way out of the office, quietly closing the door behind him.
Harry braced his elbow on the desk and leaned his chin on his hand as he contemplated the man he'd encountered on Knockturn Alley earlier in the day. Snape was an enigma and he fascinated Harry. Even though he'd spent seven years as a student in his classroom and an additional two years as a fellow soldier in the war against Voldemort, Harry still didn't know the man very well. However, he acknowledged that he wanted to try. Maybe this case would give him the chance to do just that.
Snape pulled out his pocket watch and quickly checked the time. If he hurried, he could stop in and see Minerva before leaving for Diagon Alley. He replaced the watch in his vest pocket and warded his door before beginning the long trek from his rooms to the interim Headmistress' office. He soon found himself standing in front of the portrait of one of Minerva's ancestors that was guarding the room. Muttering the password to the young woman, he smiled as she cuddled a small kitten. "Abyssinian." The door swung open and he entered the cluttered office.
"Ah, Severus, come in and have a seat." Minerva looked up from her grading and smiled welcomingly.
Severus remained standing. Not wanting to waste time on social niceties, he went straight to the point. "Minerva, what have you heard about Potter? Do you ever see him or even hear from him?"
Minerva shook her head sadly. "No, Severus. The last I saw him was at Dean's funeral. Other than that…" She frowned slightly at the thought. "Now that I think about it, I don't believe Albus has heard from him either. I'm confident he would have said something if he had."
Nodding grimly, Snape turned to leave. It was just as he assumed; Potter had cut himself off from everyone and everything in his past after his lover's death.
"Severus, why the sudden interest in Harry? It's not as though you were on friendly terms with him, after all," Minerva softly questioned him.
Snape put his hand on the doorknob and replied, "Not now, Minerva. I'll tell you more when I am clearer on the situation." He pulled the door firmly closed behind him as he departed.
In the ten days since he'd last seen Potter, Snape had made quiet inquiries into the man's whereabouts. None of his many underground contacts had any information on what Potter had been up to for the past six years. Discovering now that Minerva and Albus had not had any contact from him since the funeral disturbed Snape, although he wasn't interested in evaluating the reasons why at this particular moment.
He strode through the nearly deserted hallways, smirking as the small groups of students he encountered on the way scattered when they spotted his approach. Snape returned to his rooms and Flooed to the Leaky Cauldron. There were several errands to be completed before he went in search of his prey.