Fic: No Hiding Place book Three: The Cottage (15/28)
Author: Rimau Sua Lay
Rating: overall NC-17, Angst, Drama, Action/Adventure, First Time
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairings: Harry/Snape, Ron/Draco, (Sirius/Remus)
Date: December 2002 - ?
Disclaimers: Not mine, borrowed without permission, am not making any money. Please don't sue. Sherbet Lemon?
Summary for Book Three: -Does being a good guy mean you also have to be a nice guy? Draco is about to find out. Companionable silences and fist fights are a good way to hide deeper emotions.
Warning: This part contains mild violence, explicit sex between men, confusion about sex (not non-con really!) and as you can guess, angst.
The earlier parts of the fic can be found here.
Ron was certain he was slowly turning into Harry's mother.
There were so many things he'd been aware of lately that it had changed the way he was thinking about Harry; not as a simple friend, but something more complicated. All the Order meetings where people had whispered about the importance of Harry Potter must have played with his head.
He couldn't think of another reason for his relief to see Harry smiling and actually eating his food instead of playing with it.
Maybe now they could actually do something together again. Ron didn't like the silences, when Harry was so obviously lost in his own thoughts and ignoring everything around him. He was used to having people around him, loud people laughing and teasing each other. Compared to that, this damn cottage could have been a cemetery.
Not exactly a good thought.
Munching some of his breakfast, Ron looked around the table. His gaze barely brushed over Malfoy. Watching that git smirk at him would just ruin the beginning of the day.
He paid a little more attention to Snape. Intrigued of Harry's claim of having a fight with their Potions master, he wanted to see if there was any sign of homicidal rage in the man. There wasn't. How odd.
It wasn't as if he resented the lack of hostility between his friend and the git. Maybe now Snape wouldn't just give them all an F when he finally graded their exams.
That was about the only thing Ron truly resented these days; the way Snape refused to hurry with their essays. It was a very good and efficient form of torture, keeping them all waiting.
It didn't look like Snape was going to work on the exams today either. After finishing breakfast, he walked to the living room and settled there with a book. Ron muttered a few curses from under his breath so that no one could really hear. Damn the man!
This meant more waiting.
He trailed after Harry upstairs, noticing that his friend's right hand was slightly swollen only when he dug into a small bag and then pulled out a small jar of something he spread on his bruised knuckles. "You hurt your hand last night?" It came out more accusingly than he'd thought. His mind was already conjuring up violent images. That bastard!
"Sort of." Looking up, Harry shrugged the question off. "It's nothing big." He hadn't even remembered the whole thing before seeing Snape's pointed look earlier. When he'd focused on his hand, he'd realized that it actually hurt.
He'd wondered if he should ask Snape if he could give him something for it, but decided against it. It might be awkward.
Determined not to make things any worse, he'd chosen on the salve he carried in his trunk. It had always come handy for bruises he'd got in Quidditch practices.
Ron stared at Harry's knuckles, scowling as the bruises faded under the ointment. He didn't want to push, really didn't, but he couldn't help asking, "Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure." Not able to feel annoyance at such obvious concern, Harry smiled. "And no."
"Snape didn't do this. I did." It was the real question behind the other one anyway. Harry didn't want Ron to worry about him when there was absolutely no need.
It made Ron sigh with relief. He had absolutely no idea what he could have done if Snape was somehow abusing his friend. A chilly thought. In the pureblood tradition he might be considered an adult, but he knew he had no chance against their Potions master in a fight. "You clumsy bugger." It did look like Harry had hit something hard, but joking about such things never hurt anyone.
Feeling the salve already work, Harry flexed his hand. "Thanks for the concern." Enough sarcasm there to make it an answering joke.
Ron made an extremely rude gesture that was followed by relieved laughter. "All right. So what do you want to do today? More brooding?"
"No." Definitely not. "Whatever you want is fine."
Turned out Ron didn't have anything specific in mind. It was cloudy, and it seemed it might rain any minute now. Getting out of the cottage for some fresh air was out of question then. Since Harry seemed anxious to get back downstairs, Ron sighed and suggested they might as well go to the living room and play something.
Not feeling any need to be completely humiliated again, Harry grabbed a deck of cards from his table and then hurried out of their room. He wondered if Snape was still in the living room.
Raindrops started to splash against the windows as they reached downstairs, and the clouds were darkening the sky. A voice called out "Lumos!" as Harry stepped into the living room. It was clear to see the grin on his face in the bright magical light.
Ignoring the grumpy glare Ron cast on the other side of the room, Harry went to sit on the floor. He didn't mind sharing the room with Snape and Malfoy. Not at all.
He dealt the cards, concentrating on the few wizarding games he knew. With Malfoy here, he didn't want to embarrass Ron by beating him in the Muggle games that were more familiar to him. He didn't mind losing in front of Snape. If he did, he would never play wizarding chess with Ron in public.
It was a pleasant way to spend the morning. The quiet conversation with Ron was enough to keep his mind busy, so he didn't have to spend all his time trying not to watch Snape sit there.
He could still feel the dark gaze on him from time to time.
Snape watched in silence as the youngsters busied themselves with games and books. It was a familiar sight, Weasley and Harry concentrating on a game while young Malfoy hid behind a book. He could see Malfoy flinch a little as the shutters banged against the wall as a gust of wind threw them open.
That was unexpected. He'd never thought someone like Draco Malfoy would be afraid of a simple storm. The boy hid it well, but he could still see the tension in him.
Pushing that thought to the back of his mind, he turned his attention back to the two Gryffindors.
He didn't pay much attention to Weasley. There was nothing intriguing about the boy; he was just like all of his family, a simple fool who probably didn't have an original thought in his head. Snape was not going to give him the benefit of doubt even for his loyalty to his friend.
All idiots seemed to be loyal to Harry Potter. Nothing new there.
Doing a much better job than Malfoy pretending to actually read the book he was holding, Snape kept his gaze on Harry. He had already spent hours thinking about him after the completely outrageous scene he'd made last night.
Life had always thrown nearly impossible obstacles into his path, but he'd never in his most idiotic dreams -- or nightmares -- seen this coming.
Facing with Harry's ludicrous notions of friendship and teenage desire, he was determined to treat this matter calmly. Ignoring it was obviously out of question, for Harry would simply pester him more. He didn't know when his glare had lost its edge with this foolish creature, but obviously it had.
He was pretty certain he knew where this all would lead. At least he was very familiar with a part of it, the easiest part. No doubt Harry would want something more complicated.
Snape changed his position slightly, letting a haughty expression spread on his face at the way Weasley jumped. It was good to see at least one Gryffindor could still be controlled by mere expressions. Unlike the other, who had the extremely unfortunate tendency to grin at him.
No matter how he'd tried to think this insanity through, Snape had to admit he was unable to reach any conclusions. There were too many things he was completely unaware of; mostly teenage notions like Harry's thoughts, however simple those might be.
He'd told Harry he didn't want to discuss the matter; still uncomfortable with anything surrounding that pathetic attempt of a kiss he'd prefer to forget all about it for the next fifty years or so. Harry on the other hand looked expectant, as if waiting for him to say something right now.
The idiot would probably not allow him more than a few days to think about it before getting nervous and doing something stupid.
Silently cursing the Gryffindor stubbornness, Snape turned the page. Everything would be so much simpler if he could find the familiar rage inside of him, if he could believe that yelling at Harry and telling him to leave him alone would work. He doubted harsh words could work, even if he could say something evil enough right now.
Harry had not made much sense last night. He was not playing by the rules anymore, never had, really. This time, Snape wasn't certain he even recognized the game. Parts of it were very familiar, but others were incomprehensible. How on earth was he supposed to think about what to do when he didn't know exactly what they would have to deal with?
There was only one way to deal with this nonsense.
If Harry really was as mature as he claimed -- which Snape highly doubted but was for the time being willing to entertain the notion -- he would be able to discuss this in a mature manner.
Content with his decision, Snape turned his attention to his book, and continued to read. He didn't really pay attention to the sound of Weasley and Harry talking nonsense.
The storm passed quickly, and by lunchtime, it wasn't really raining anymore. A few droplets of water dribbled down, making no sound as they hit the windows. Extinguishing the lights in the living room, Snape left his book on the couch as he headed towards the dining area. He wasn't really hungry, but years spent in Hogwarts had tuned his body to crave nourishment at certain times; a thing that always managed to annoy him.
Order and schedule were only acceptable when he had some control over them.
Snape ate slowly, enjoying every bite. Finishing with his meal, he poured himself another cup of tea and sat back, watching the teenagers. It was clear that his gaze made two of them nervous. As he had guessed, the third one simply went on eating.
By the time Eppy came to collect the dishes, Snape was convinced waiting was unnecessary. He did not want to be a part of any games. If Harry wanted honesty, he would be honest. Blunt even.
"Mr. Malfoy." Even though the boy would understand his glance, Snape said, "I assume you can manage washing the dishes without any incidents?" He wanted to make it certain there weren't any.
He was not blind and knew well what was going on with the youngsters. Remembering how Harry's actions had come as a complete surprise, he amended that he was aware of what was going on with Malfoy and Weasley. The way his young ward was behaving was a clear memory from his own youth. It was none of his business as long as no one got hurt.
Still, he did not want anything to happen now. Didn't need any more distractions.
Draco was already up, ready to follow Eppy. "Of course, sir." He didn't look at Ron. Snape's tone plainly said this was not the time for fun and games.
The way the Slytherin disappeared in the kitchen made Ron almost grateful to Snape. It would be nice not to have to suffer the glances and smirks for a while.
He was positively beaming as he pushed his chair back. "So, Harry. Ready for a rematch?" He would definitely enjoy the afternoon!
Hesitating only for a moment, Snape turned to Harry before he could say anything. "Actually, I have a task for Potter. Go and get yourself a basket. I need some aconite and more heather roots." It was not a request but a command.
Harry nodded. "Sure." He didn't know what Snape had planned, but decided not to ask yet. He rushed to his room, grabbing a small basket that held his clean underwear and then unceremoniously dumped the pants on his bed.
Trying not to look too eager to obey, he almost bounced his way back downstairs.
"You can't go out there alone," Ron muttered quietly from the doorway. He looked at Snape suspiciously. Obviously their fight last night wasn't as over as Harry had let him believe, 'cause this was clearly a way to punish. Why else would he order Harry around like this?
Before Harry could say anything, Snape sighed, "Mr. Weasley. If you think I would trust you and Potter to harvest weeds from the garden, you're sorely mistaken. Aconite," seeing the blank look on Ron, he muttered, "monkshood, wolfsbane -- is extremely poisonous as any first year should know."
It made Ron bristle. Of course he knew that! He just couldn't understand why the man needed the damn shrub now. And if he needed it so bad, why didn't he go and get it himself?
"So who is coming with me then?" Harry wondered if this was a way Snape was making sure he wouldn't interrupt his thinking. He could handle harvesting plants with Malfoy. Except that Malfoy was busy in the kitchen.
Snape couldn't suppress another sigh. "Who do you think, Potter?" Without other explanations, he went to grab his robes.
Trying very hard not to show how the words made him both excited and anxious, Harry followed suit.
He refused to meet Ron's gaze, knowing his friend was worried about him and probably angry as well. There was nothing he could say to ease his worries.
It was a bit windy outside, but otherwise it was quite nice. The sun was shining from the now clear sky and the damp grass was the only evidence of the previous storm. A perfect day for a walk in the woods. Or what counted as woods here.
Snape didn't seem to be in any hurry, walking amongst the plants and pointing out things for Harry to gather. Most of the herbs were ordinary, used in everyday potions, some were a bit more obscure. Harry was surprised to see that Snape was actually looking for the aconite. Finding it, he cut it himself, obviously not trusting Harry to be careful enough with it.
Cutting plants was pleasant. Harry didn't even have to think about what he was doing, since he simply followed Snape's lead. He'd read enough about plants for the N.E.W.T.s to steer away from ordinary weeds.
He wondered why had Snape wanted him to accompany him on this. There had to be a reason, there always was one with the man. He doubted Snape had made any decisions about what they had talked about earlier, so maybe this was a test on his resolve; to see if he could control his teenage urges or something.
Determined not to make things worse, he simply followed Snape, enjoying the nice day.
Snape was keeping a sharp eye on the bushes, his gaze never missing a plant. Some were identified for later use, some were collected immediately. He'd always enjoyed harvesting no matter how some Potions masters thought it was a waste of time. At least this way he could be sure no idiot had messed with his ingredients.
He refused to admit that he actually liked the simplicity of collecting plants. It was almost like making the simplest potions even Longbottom couldn't ruin.
Usually, he only went out to gather potions ingredients during the full moon. Those trips were always quiet, solitary. The only person he'd ever seen on those times was Sibyll Trelawney, and fortunately, she was so enthralled with her not so secret obsession, she hardly ever noticed him skulking in the shadows.
The silence was a part of the appeal of those nocturnal excursions. It was strange to be here now, in the bright daylight, but at least the peace and quiet were the same.
Harry chose that particular moment to step on a twig. The loud sound made Snape glare at him poisonously.
At least he had the brains to actually mutter it quietly. Snape nodded slightly. He couldn't think of anything to say. The weird awkwardness he'd felt in Harry was so obviously spreading, or maybe he didn't know whom to address anymore. He suddenly realized that very soon, this young man would indeed be seen as an adult and be forced to take action most people probably couldn't even imagine, no matter how they all saw him as their hope.
That would elevate him far above a simple Potions master. It would make him stand amongst people like Albus Dumbledore, holding their world together with his will power and wand.
To be quite honest, Snape wasn't as appalled by the notion as he had been only a few months earlier, when Harry Potter had been nothing but a brainless child making a mess in the classroom and an even bigger mess loitering around with his friends.
He didn't know exactly when that had changed. It had started at Hogwarts, with the long meetings where the youngest of the Order's inner circle had actually showed some signs of a mind. He had still seen Harry as nothing more than a mindless youngster when he'd come to his rooms for help; not as a pathetic child, but definitely not as a mature person with whom he could actually discuss.
That transition had happened so gradually he couldn't pinpoint it to a certain moment. All he knew was that he couldn't think of Harry as a sniveling brat anymore.
The contrast between the three teenagers was enormous. Snape knew he would probably call Ronald Weasley an idiot child even when the redhead turned fifty. It would take a miracle to have him grow up. Young Malfoy was a bit more mature, probably because he was raised to take on responsibilities from early on.
Yet he looked awfully young to Snape, young and lost. He would have to guide him to the right direction. His ward, his responsibility.
Unlike Harry. It had started like that, with that ridiculous life boon over his head. Doing his best to distract that idiot Quirrel and the odd basilisk and werewolf had been his penance, his way of repaying James Potter. Everything after that was... complicated.
Snape hid his snort of disgust by cutting some fern.
Shoving the cut fern into the basket Harry was still carrying, he tried very hard not to dwell on thoughts about those dark years when Voldemort had returned and he'd had to make some hard choices.
Everything he'd done and seen had only strengthened his resolve to bring the Dark Lord down and to make sure no one had to suffer because of him ever again. Yes, that had been one of his thoughts that night when the boy wonder had first come to his room with his worries.
He wondered if he should cling to the thought now. Back then, he had reasoned he might as well listen to Harry so that he would not succumb under his own private darkness like so many already had. It was tempting to think about that now, to agree to whatever was wanted of him, using that excuse.
Snape shrugged the thought off before it was even fully formed. He refused to use such blatant lies to avoid confrontation with anyone. He was going to be honest -- at least to himself -- if he was indeed going to allow Harry to...
Unable to finish the thought, he glared at Harry again, glad that his attention was on a small rock formation on the ground and he couldn't see his glare. What was the thing he was supposed to be contemplating? What did this annoying young man want from him anyway?
Was it simply the need for physical contact? Here, removed from the world, he was probably the only person Harry could turn to in his desire for a release. Snape had kept an eye on his friendship with Weasley and knew there was nothing there that even hinted about sexual interest.
He wasn't exactly surprised.
Still, he couldn't help wondering just what exactly did Harry want. Sex? Something else? He couldn't really tell. Nothing he did made real sense.
Maybe it really was just teenage hormones. The drive for physical intimacy.
Snape almost let out another snort at the thought. There had never been anything really intimate in the sexual act. It was sometimes enjoyable, usually either painful or humiliating or both. A release, nothing more. Intimacy was something completely different.
He didn't want to think about what he considered intimate. His space, his privacy. Both of which he was already sharing with Harry Potter.
The basket was full now, and there was really nothing else Snape needed to find out here. He would have a lot to do in his room with all the plants to clean and prepare. There were potions he would need to brew, more thinking to do. Except that he didn't have enough knowledge on which to base his thinking on. He preferred to analyze things properly, not wonder and guess.
Still marveling at the way the day had turned out to be so fine, Harry was keeping his gaze on the sky. He liked being with Snape here. It was mellow somehow, the space between them not filled with the gut wrenching tension anymore.
He didn't know why Snape had wanted him to accompany him here. Probably because he knew that if he tried to go out on his own, he'd follow him. It might be daytime but he didn't like the idea of anyone wandering out here alone.
It was a sign that Snape wasn't going to avoid him anymore. Relieved, Harry was quite willing to follow him on whatever menial task. He could be quiet and show he could be more than an annoyance.
Now that they had this, he could try to ignore the other thing. He could live with desire. Dealing with unrequited lust couldn't be much harder than dealing with unrequited emotions. He'd had plenty of practice when he'd been younger.
This was nice; walking, gathering herbs together.
"Are you still determined to have a conversation about your hormonal behavior?" The question came with no preambles.
Harry froze. This was definitely not what he'd anticipated, though he probably should have. Once Snape's mind was set on something, he usually attacked the topic and didn't let go until he'd dissected it like a pile of shrivelfig.
He didn't have to think about it for a moment. "Yes." What else could he do? Sit alone in the dark every night and wonder about the whole thing? He had tried that so often and it had never worked.
"All right." Placing his sickle back in his belt, Snape looked around and then continued walking towards the stream. He didn't want to return to the cottage now, feeling that it was more sensible to talk here, outdoors, where they could be certain of their privacy. "And you still..."
"Yes." It was so obvious what Snape meant, though he did cast a rather annoyed look at Harry for interrupting. Ignoring the glare, Harry shrugged. "I'm not that fickle. Yeah, I still fancy you."
It was strange how something in him drove him to make these comments. He felt a bit uncomfortable, and a lot embarrassed, but was determined to overcome that. If he ever wanted Snape to see him beyond a stupid brat, he couldn't afford behaving like one.
Snape's expression was completely unreadable. "What exactly do you mean with this crush of yours?" He sounded like he was asking Harry to explain some theory or a thought that had been troubling him.
"I..." Blinking, Harry stared at Snape. He wondered just what exactly did he want to hear. Talking about this was weird.
Not as weird as all the other occasions he'd talked to Snape. Compared to some of those first nights, this was nothing. At least now he felt like he was able to actually form coherent sentences.
"What do I mean? I mean I like you. Fancy you." He smiled at that.
"Very amusing, Potter." Snape didn't exactly sound amused. "Now what do you want to do about it? You are obviously not content with keeping your crush to yourself. I would like to know what is it exactly that you want."
Harry had to think about that for a moment. His gaze darkened as he tried to make a list of everything he might actually want. "I want... Lots of things." He saw the way Snape looked at that and amended, "I'm not talking about sex. Only sex. I want things like this."
"Explain." Snape was truly baffled. He could understand sexual attraction, it was familiar to him, but this made no sense. "Things like what? Talking?" It could not be that simple.
"Yes. Talking. Walking together like this. Spending evenings together. Things." Harry didn't know how to explain it better. He didn't really want anything different from what they already had. He wanted to add to it, not change it.
Snape sighed. It was exactly what he'd feared. "Gryffindor emotionalism and useless sentimentality." It came out almost as a curse.
Trying not to laugh out loud, Harry nodded. "You can call it that, I guess. I'd say companionship." He didn't want to think about it too much. Companionship was more than he could ever have even dreamed of; something he could actually share with someone instead of just taking. Or being taken.
There was a small silence, as Snape thought about it. He seemed to accept the term, not making any comments about it.
They walked on, strolling slowly towards the stream. Harry liked the easy way they could still share the silence, glad that they hadn't lost that after all. No matter what his body wanted, this was the most important thing.
It was almost as if Snape could read his thoughts. "You said 'not only sex'. I assume you mean you want a sexual relationship as well."
Harry nodded. Yes, he definitely wanted a sexual relationship with Snape. "I do want it. But if you say no, it's all right. I can deal with the rest of it." How funny he'd never even thought about the fact that Snape might not share his view of sex.
He wondered if he should say something about it. Maybe he should have asked Ron more about what was seen as the norm in the wizarding world, if there was a difference between older, pureblood families and the rest of them. Saying things like that now would sound idiotic, so he clamped his mouth shut and waited.
There was no reply. Snape didn't want to share his thoughts about physical intimacy with Harry. It was too revealing. He didn't even want to think about the whole thing, the comfortable silences between them, relaxing in Harry's presence or even trusting him to some degree. It was ridiculous and had nothing to do with this.
He definitely didn't want to discuss about it with Harry.
"Snape?" Voice surprisingly quiet, Harry asked, "If I told you I really need it. Need this. Would you then shag me?" He didn't have to explain it further, they both knew what he meant.
Snape was quiet for some time. He thought Harry deserved an honest answer to this. Collecting his thoughts, he finally nodded curtly. "I said I'd be there if you need me. If you really need physical contact in the form of sex to gain some balance, you can have it." How strange that the idea wasn't half as disgusting as becoming someone's shoulder had been.
"I kind of thought you'd say that." At least now he knew.
It was almost tempting; an easy way to initiate sex. Harry knew it would also be the way to make sure there would never be anything really intimate between them.
He didn't want that. Mindless sex was something he could have with pretty much anyone; these few years of being regarded as a consenting adult had proven him that more often than he wanted to think of. He could live without that. But he wasn't sure he wanted to go on without Snape there to simply be with him.
Waiting patiently for Harry's decision, Snape tried to understand why this felt so important to him. He was used to performing unpleasant duties, had learned to block out all emotions decades ago and do what was expected of him. This would be no different. He had survived much worse than simple sexual acts with Harry Potter and at least now he was certain there would be no lingering after effects, no nightmares of pain and terror that would drive him to his potions.
Something in Harry's words had hit their mark. Snape had always dismissed talks of friendship, he had never known a 'friend' who wasn't seeking for something to gain from their acquaintance. This sounded different, more dangerous. This was a game he'd never learned how to play.
"I don't really need you like that." Harry knew that with his words, he was probably throwing away his only chance of ever getting that close to Snape. It didn't matter. He was not about to lie about this. "If you say you're disgusted by the whole thing, I'll be fine. Your choice."
That definitely caught Snape's attention. Yes, he was familiar with choices and consequences.
He was also impressed by Harry's choice of words. At least he knew not to ask if he wanted this. "I am not disgusted by the prospect of sharing a bed with you, if that's what you mean." It was the truth, but not the whole truth. "I do not however find your age and the fact that you are a Gryffindor especially attractive either."
Harry couldn't help feeling a shiver go through his whole body at the words. They sounded like an insult, but were actually the biggest compliment he'd ever received. Snape would definitely not shag him because he was the great Harry Potter or the Quidditch hero.
Looking at Snape, he moved a bit closer, not really sure what he was about to do.
"No." It was perfectly obvious where this would lead. Snape raised a hand to stall Harry, who once again had that ridiculous look in his eyes. "Absolutely not. You will not do that again. I forbid it."
Harry recoiled back, realizing he had actually planned on yet another insane kiss. He was too dismayed to even blush. Maybe he really was just a hormonal teenager.
There had been something in Snape's words that had made him sway closer, maybe it was the calm acceptance of his feelings and desire. Harry couldn't think of anyone else he could have had this conversation with, which was actually inane because before this spring, Snape would have been absolutely the last on his list. "Why?" The problem didn't seem to be anything he might have imagined. At least there was some mutual attraction. He was certain of it.
"Because I don't kiss children. I don't kiss my students. And I certainly do not kiss idiots."
Harry nodded slowly. "All right. But I'm not really a kid anymore. You know that." It was said so calmly it wasn't really even an argument. "And I'm not exactly your student anymore." He heard the intake of breath and hurried to continue before Snape could say anything, "All right. You're still my teacher. At least until you finish grading the exams. After that, things will be different."
"Only if you pass the test." It was rather lame, and Snape knew it.
Nothing in the whole world would stop Harry from hoping for the best. "Yes. But you said yourself that I'd pass if I study hard enough, and I've been studying. So that's all right. About kissing idiots..."
Snape could already guess what was coming next. He refused to give in, though. There were some things he was willing to label as unavoidable, but agreeing with Harry was not one of those things.
"You'll just have to get used to it."
It was almost a challenge. Snape chose to ignore it. "I shall not allow anything to disturb my privacy. If you think I will ever adopt any of the mannerisms so clearly seen in your peers when they court each other, you truly are insane. I shall not be made a fool of."
Harry shook his head so hard he wondered how he didn't sprain anything. "I wouldn't do that." The need for privacy was one of the reasons he felt comfortable with Snape.
"Being the object of your romantic aspirations is not one of my biggest dreams." Snape's tone spoke volumes of the understatement of his words. "However, if you choose to pursue this..." He saw Harry open his mouth and held up a hand. "I would have to ask you not to do this for as long as you are my student."
The wind was blowing harder now, but Harry wasn't feeling the cold. He could only stare at Snape. "You're not saying no?" He knew it wasn't the same as agreeing to any of this, but that was probably just because of the way Snape was.
"No. I'm not saying no."
Harry didn't even try to fight the silly grin that spread on his face.
"Futile as it may be, I will trust you to control such hormonal behavior until a later date when I am no longer responsible for your learning." Snape didn't sound like he was convinced about Harry's ability to control himself. "In case you find these urges too hard to resist, I can always offer you a neutering potion." There was a note of finality in his voice, as if he considered the subject closed.
Not knowing if that was a joke or not -- one never knew with Snape and there had been a rumor of such a potion circulating around for ages -- Harry just kept grinning. He didn't care if that made him look like an idiot.
Snape seemed to think so, considering the words he muttered next. Harry didn't mind. He was used to the grumbling and it was one of the things that sort of made him happy, not that he'd ever tell Snape that.
They continued the slow walk, following the stream for a moment before turning back to the cottage. Snape was already going through the inventory in his mind, wondering if he needed to collect some heather or not. Deciding he could always come back for it if he needed to, he let the thought go. Now that he didn't need to concentrate on trivialities, he could focus on important things; like his potions.
Harry was content to just walk beside him. Enjoying the sun on his face.