Harry Potter, Severus Snape and all associated characters from the Harry Potter universe are the property of J.K. Rowling. The author, and the website maintainers, is making no profit by this story or any of the site's contents.

The Puppet Master was written for maeglinyedi in reversation 2006. I owe a great deal to my betas, regan_v and bethia_cathrain, for this piece of fiction.

The Puppet Master

Jay Tryfanstone

"Huzzah, huzzah, I've killed the Devil!"
Punch, trad.


His very breath smells of it, cold and hungry, stirring dust in the empty room, feeding on the blood in this body and the beating heart of the Hogwarts stone. Behind six inches of slammed shut oak door jubilant voices call through the passageways; footsteps rush, stutter, stumble; a firecracker bursts, someone laughs - someone laughs. The air smells of decay and dry ice, gunpowder, magic: the aftermath of war won.


Rage tightens his eyes, constricts the brow of his nose. If he looks down - and he does - his hands are shaking with it, these misshapen stained clumsy fingers, this inadequate alien body. Snape's wards still nudge the hairs on his forearms, read his fingerprints and search out his beating heart and the essence of his blood. Despite his borrowed flesh he is a petitioner here where he should rule by right.

If he could have done, he would have blasted these delaying wards, and the stone, and the whole ridiculous, privileged castle to smithereens and danced on the shards. He can't. Crippled, bound, confined to this ridiculous carapace of flesh, he scuttled like a frightened insect to the shell of these rooms and they'll come for him soon, they'll come, how can they not -

'Who do you think you are', he says to himself. He remembers. He straightens. He's clawed his way back from worse and he'll do it again.

The wards fade. He is accepted.

Although for a moment he cannot conceive what impulse drove him here, to this body, these rooms. On the battlefield, it had been a defiant, denying strike against the anonymity of death. He had taken Snape's body as easily as if it had been his own. Quirrell had fought, weakly, amusingly: even his last body still carried the stain of a serpent and traces of Harry Potter's magic and passion. Snape had been empty of everything but flesh, almost as if the man himself was not present when he knew - oh yes, he knew well - Snape had been present on the field of his defeat.

Nothing of Snape left but his flesh. Yet, as if he were Snape in truth, he'd fled to nowhere but Snape's rooms, the last remnant of this own soul contained by Snape's skin and housed in Snape's walls.

The door is warm against his back, but the room is cold and dust coats the marble of the fireplace and the mahogany bookshelves. The carpet is grayed at the fringe and the fireplace dull with ash. The candles are years guttered. There's an abandoned cup tip-tilted on a saucer on the table and the armchair is pushed back with the rug rucked under it. If there was any laughter left in him, he'd laugh to see it, because he knows what this means, this dead story, but time is too short. They'll come.

Two empty portrait frames. Shelves of irrelevant texts and pointless records of ineffectual experimentation, potions that failed - failed! - have been failing him for years, a betrayal that cuts so deep he can still barely believe it. A mirror.

He's drawn to it.

His gait's still unsteady. These bony knees, these shanks of legs with their sharp black hairs catching at the fabric of his robe, uneven and awkward, this alien caress of flesh he hates with a passion almost erotic in its intensity. Flesh, skin, bone, his now: he runs a hand down the dry skin of his face, his stubbled chin and the flat lines of his chest, and knows possession. He'll grow into it, he's done it before, and all he needs is time. There will be another plan, there's always another plan. He's here. He's alive.

It's a small mirror and silent. Dust grays out his face and marks it a stranger's, and he barely recognises the hand wiping the glass. Four streaks mar the glass, claw marks across his skin. In this airless room, dust doesn't settle but lingers: he coughs once and is caught by the unexpected catch in his lungs, a pain so bright it's almost pleasure.

He looks up, when the pain fades. In the mirror, mute, his face. Awkward, angular, set. The architecture of bone seems misplaced, wrong - that towering nose, the cheekbones too broad, the chin too pointed, the forehead too high and smooth. Tangled hair. Pale, dry skin, with the irritating prickle of facial hair. He has hair between his eyebrows, a tuft in the curve of his nostril - he's lousy with hair, crawling with it, ugly as a muggle-born child rolling in pigshit -

He smashes the mirror.

Shards of it spin through the dead air, shattering, then pain, pain before the sharp cuts fill with blood that slides over the knotted bones of these hands. He lifts his fist to his mouth and licks it away. It tastes of nothing but dust, and itself.

Violence came without thought. He's learning the bounds of this body. It reminds him, centres him in the cold still place of his own self. He's played these games before, he'll play them again.

Unless he picks up the threads of this life they will come for him. There will be a feast: there is always a feast. There will be children. There will be people he hates with a passion so intense it has chilled in the making. But for tonight at least, and for other nights to come, until he can remake his own power he must be what they expect him to be.

This body is filthy in its corruption. It disgusts him: it will disgust them, but at this moment of all moments he cannot afford to be noticed. His mouth shapes a cleaning charm he'd forgotten years ago, a child's spell, wandless and necessarily so for he lost his wand on the battlefield along with so much else. It works, but his flesh cringes from the spell. His feet ache in their battered boots, his bones itch in his skin, he's not himself -

Footsteps outside the door, running. A shout. More. The voices of children chanting, the high-pitched scream of something he recognises, memory dragged out from years forgotten. A clock, ticking still. When he finds it, it says, time to go, although to what it refers he will not guess.

He'll not wait to be dragged out. He straightens his sleeves, tilts his chin. He's had less to work with, and tomorrow - tomorrow he'll leave, regroup, but not tonight. Tonight he's someone else.

He opens the door. Hogwarts waits.

The corridors unroll in distant familiarity, pathways of a half-remembered road. This corner, this turning, these stairs: his feet know the way although to his mind the stonework is strange and the scenery unfamiliar. His stride is steady now and his hands tuck into the sleeves of his robe as if accustomed.

All the pictures are empty but the passages are not. Face after face turns at his passing, voice after voice falls silent. At first, he thinks the mirror lied, that he is himself again and he walks to his own unmasking, that in this world of fools he will be judged by laughter, cut down to his own bone, failed. But the faces that follow his footsteps are guarded, not amused, and in their blankness he tastes fear, not the banquet he has feasted on so recently but still the crumbs of the feast. And although there are people, hundreds of people, talking, shouting, running, clustered in corners, knocking on doors, giving out notes, sending owls - they don't talk to him. Snape's reputation serves him well. He meets no-one's eyes, and hears silence gather in his wake. Snape is feared, here. There is power in fear. His stride lengthens. He can feel the robe loosen on his body, the awkward folds growing into ease. There is a certain cock to the elbows Snape perfected, a contemptuous flick of the hem he affects - yes. It's surprisingly easy.

Snape the traitor. Even now he can remember Snape's face: the moment when he showed his true loyalties. But it's Snape's betrayal that protects him now in ironic faithfulness.

He is Snape.


The hall is crowded. How can it not be? This is the great victory - the moment of triumph for the Order of the Phoenix and the Ministry and Dumbledore's bumbling, blighted idiots. Voldemort defeated.

It's worth a headline or two, surely. It's certainly brought the masses crawling from whatever hole they'd hidden themselves in for the duration. The hall is awash in robes, voices, owls: the portraits are crowded and the noise level ear-splitting: the place stinks of cinnamon and triumph. From the doorway it is nothing but a morass of exclamatory, over-excited elation, and not a witch or wizard among them worth the weight of their own breath. Idiots, the lot of them, cowardly fools unwilling to stand up for themselves, wizards who believe in the myth of the greater good, a motley of the do-gooders and the crowd-pleasing witless.

That'd be the way of it. Send the boy wonder out to do the deed. Cower behind the stone walls of the castle whilst he's at it. Fools.

He is not part of this. It's nothing to do with him. In this room of bumbling incompetents and children he is the only one who sees things as they are. That couple in the corner, whispering - he gives them three months, no more: the young man's eyes are already wandering. That group of gray-robed officials - Fudge, does he really think his jokes are that amusing? Without the sense to bind them, he'll lose those sycophants to the next candidate with the knack of charming babies. Those absurd houses, so evident in the scarves and banners, those bonds so fragile under stress. A man will betray his own name given the right incentive, every man. The cracks show, alliances shift, nothing is permanent. It takes only a finger - the right finger - on the scales and the world changes. He knows. He's done it. He'll do it again.

It's a long walk, to the high table where Snape's seat waits. He takes notes, catalogues the flicker of a witch's eyes and the laugh that comes hollow and seconds too late: the pureblood edging away from an animated group of students and the witch with the bonding rings tight on her finger but her eyes on someone else. These small treacheries are his own playing field, these people the nucleus of a new war. He doesn't need them - he needs no one! - but he notices.

There is no need to speak. Not yet. Tonight he has merely to be, and Snape has no need to talk. He nods, occasionally, and slides through the crowds.

The timing is perfect. He reaches the high table just as chimes ring out above the voices, unexpectedly loud, and a hush muffles the crowds as if Silencio fell. It is not him the faces turn to, but away, and he is aware, amused, of the hypocrisy of his own displeasure. Yet his own eyes follow theirs as if he's one of them.

In the doorway. Of course. Who else could it be, this night of all nights - Harry Potter.

But the shock of it still sends Snape's heart racing, when he had thought nothing would: the sight is an almost tangible blow to the skin, even before he himself has registered the untidy black hair and the scar, the unconscious arrogance of that stance in the doorway flanked by the sycophantic Weasley and the dangerous, myopic Granger. The winner. The victor, taking the spoils of the conflict here in the tilt of his head and the brightness of his smile.

He would never have believed it would come to this. Even this morning, he would not believe it. But the proof of it ducks his head, childishly blushes, and holds a hand up for silence as if he has the right to pronounce on the secrets of the universe.

This idiot child, to succeed where greater men had tried and failed.

He's staring. He knows it: staring with the intensity of a starving man at a banquet. It is inconceivable that this child won. His mouth's still wet from his mother's breast (and what a pretty death that was!) and his magic still untried, the simpering fool.

But in this moment, he looks and looks again, as if he can't drag his eyes away, as if this is his own personal lodestone. His own bright enemy, all grown up. He's a man now, Harry Potter, who should have died years before, so long ago his very death would be forgotten. Stolen years have broadened his shoulders, darkened his chin, and filled out the muscles of his chest and thighs to ape his stolen power, incandescent to eyes that know how to see, so bright his form burns an after-image on the inside of closed eyelids.

Is he so weak, that he cannot look? All his seduction has failed, all his blandishment has been spurned, all offers have been brushed aside. He must listen and learn, for although the keys to this victory are held in this other man's hands victories are always hollow and crack in the grasping.

When Harry Potter speaks the crowd sighs towards him. He's known that too, the waiting silence for his every word.

But Harry Potter lets the moment slip through his fingers. Now is the moment to strike, to bind these men and women, to consolidate what he's won. But Potter looks up, almost shyly, and clears his throat and says:

"Well. I think we all know why we're here-"

Someone claps, and someone else, and quite suddenly the hall erupts in cheers, shouts, wolf whistles, screams. Potter turns to Granger. His mouth moves, but the words are unrecognisable.

He himself stands still. He will not clap. He will not shout. When Harry Potter looks up again, almost as if the contact is desired, their eyes meet.

Shock holds him motionless, when nameless panic closes his throat and sends the blood pounding through this body. For a moment, he's nothing but flesh, weak and hating himself for it. Harry Potter's gaze brands him as if in recognition.

It must be fallacy. Harry Potter's face is carefully blank. To the man he must be nothing but another creature of his schooldays. He'll be half-forgotten already. Surely the man cannot still hold a grudge over the old man's death? Such a beautiful moment: he could lose himself in the pleasure of it, were it not that the very man who should have stood by his side had failed him. Snape's betrayal had been proved and proved twice over, today.

The eyes move on, the noise subsides. Harry Potter smiles again, and says, "I'm not going to say much. Only that this is our victory, not just mine. We all worked for this."

He is amused enough that it will show. He steeples his hands, looks down to hide the humour in his eyes. Nothing so beautiful as naivety the moment before innocence fails. And if he stays - if Snape stays - who better than himself to peel those illusions of charity from the man's eyes?

It could be done very slowly indeed.

"I've nothing else to say," Harry Potter says. "Except- " He pauses. <i>"Quincux," Dumbledore says. "Pachyderm. Evocation."</i> Disconcertingly, Snape's body shivers. It must be cold, or one of the castle's ghosts overhead. "Let the feast begin."

A plate of rose-scored radishes burst into being under his nose in a shower of sparks. He blinks, and in the interval fate gifts him with a plateful of green mashed potatoes and a small china jug of mint sauce, a blunt fish knife and a silver mustard spoon. Snape's stomach tightens.

"I sometimes wonder what Albus was thinking of when he gave the House-elves a free hand with the cooking," a woman said, so close behind him he could almost feel her against Snape's robes. "Severus." It's a warm voice, intimate, someone Snape knows well. He turns round.

A small woman in a plaid Tam o'Shanter with an amethyst thistle on her gown. For a moment, he can't remember her name, then as if Snape's memory decides to give up its secrets, he knows this woman. Minerva McGonagall. Bright, fierce, but smiling now with what looks like genuine pleasure.

"Good to see you back," she says, and squeezes his forearm as if she has the right to Snape's personal space. Her teeth are that faint shade of yellow common to people of a certain age.

He can think of nothing to say. But he can feel Snape's face relax, and Minerva smiles as she looks up. "Don't leave it too long," she says. "We missed you." When she looks at him, behind the lenses of gold-rimmed glasses her eyes are fierce but almost unfocused, as if she's looking behind Snape's eyes. Not at him, at someone else.

He's almost tempted to turn round. His skin prickles.

Instead, Snape's voice, smooth as he can. "It's good to be back."

Minerva's eyes sharpen. "Is it?" she asks, and without waiting for a reply she turns away. She is stubborn in discussion, Minerva, but in her cat form will sit for hours at a lit fire and offer a silent and undemanding comfort. He can remember the tilt of her head and the softness of her ears -

He cannot. It is merely the ghost of Snape's memory that slides from his mind, unrealised. But it's vivid enough to make him grasp at the back of the chair in sudden dizziness.

"Professor! You're not well. Here, let me help you-"

A voice he does know, and with it comes a surge of hated so strong he almost chokes on it. The Weasley chit, blind as a bat, easily led as a cow to the slaughter, who nevertheless managed to foil his efforts with childish pique.

"Sit down, here-"

"Let go of me." In Snape's voice, it's a rasping command. She does, and then hovers as he takes Snape's chair. He ignores her in favour of the gleaming crystal of his wineglass. Snape would do that, surely: his Snape has no more liking for the female adolescent than himself. They had joked about -

But that memory is false. Snape was never true to him.

"Leave me alone," he hisses, and is gratified at the degree of menace he can project through Snape's voice: the Weasley pales and retreats. He watches her go: it's to Granger that she flees. She'll get no joy there, that woman's interested in nothing but her books.

Granger does not glance back. That's interesting. So she doesn't like his beloved traitor either.

"Professor Snape," someone says. He turns back to the table. Over a proffered dish of string beans, a woman's face, strong, watchful. "You'll be wanting the pitch surfaced again."

Quidditch. Snape cared … about Quidditch? "Yes," he manages. He takes the beans, and adds a pile to his plate although the very sogginess of them revolts. A dish of chicken breasts in cream appears at his elbow, and another of wilted spinach with nutmeg. The chair next to him creaks as someone sits down in it. His glass fills with something white and clear: he reaches for it, and almost chokes at the clear harsh burn of alcohol.

Hands spoon something sweet, with pastry, onto his plate. Scarred hands, but young. He looks up, but next to him Harry Potter's ruffled hair hides his eyes.

Hatred shivers across his skin, but his mouth waters. He's …

He is not grateful. It's not his thought.

"Snape?" Potter's eyes, close up, are extraordinary, the white of them lucid and sharp against the green of his irises. Lily Evans' eyes had been exactly that shade of green.

Although he had never met Lily Evans in daylight.

"You're not yourself, are you?" Harry Potter says. He pauses, shifts the napkin on his nap. There is a bulge in the sleeve of his robe that can only be the length of his wand. Like blood, desire crawls through Snape's skin.

He cannot snatch Potter's wand at the High Table. He's not that foolish. Instead, he cuts into the pastry: cream and raspberries trail across his plate. He's saved from answering by someone who taps Potter on the shoulder. Within moments, the man is engulfed in hearty congratulations once more: within minutes, he has abandoned napkin, plate and chair.

Snape feels cold.

He waits out the inevitable aftermath of the feast, the acid-edged comments, the petty power games of reply and riposte. Hooch is angling for a House of her own. McGonagall stalls. Various Weasleys collapse chairs with miniature firestorms, most amusing. Invisible music heralds the arrival of poorly-matched couples on the dance floor. Potter is at the corner of his eye, a black-tufted head in the crowd. Occasionally his glasses glint across the room.

There can be nothing between Snape and Potter. Nothing.

But Snape's body tells him otherwise, and at the back of his mind there are pictures of Potter smiling. Snape's mind stinks of danger mixed with joy, and nothing of that is his own thoughts. There should be no trace of Snape left. None. That there is … he will not think on it. Instead, crow at the feast, he leaves.

Snape's body moves freely for him, now. It's a sinuous thing, this body, sliding between pillars, padding silently over the stone of corridors, scarcely setting the flames of the scones on the wall to stutter. He could grow accustomed. He could rule from Hogwarts, although it would take time. And if he could find his wand on the battlefield, without suspicion -

Snape would pick over the bones for his potions. It wouldn't be unusual. And the fools would see it as unpleasant, only fitting for the traitor, but they'd let him be. If he had his wand, and Slytherin House, for who else would want them? And time. He'd hold them in the palm of his hand. His own pretty babes. And here, in the heart of the old man's power, he'd be free to rebuild, restart -

He'd reached Snape's rooms. Give them six hours, they'd be snoring in their beds and he'd pass unnoticed. Six hours, and he'd have his wand again in his hands.

The wards search under his skin as if he's changed. It's entirely possible that he has, the chemistry of this body adapting to his own mind. He waits, but he'll pass through, he knows it. The door does open. And beyond the door the fire is already lit, and the candles on the mantelpiece, although dust still mantles the air.

He has passed to them as well, this most dangerous first time. To their eyes he is Snape. And he'll pass again, and again. He gathers up his robes, flares the sleeves in a defiant flourish that's almost pure Snape, thinks of silence and unguarded thought as if these rooms are in truth refuge

"Good evening."

A cold voice, behind him. He spins round off balance. On Snape's doorstep, already inside his wards - with no warning, almost as if he belongs, Harry Potter.

Snape's body thrills to danger. It's the moment to strike: his fingers reach for his wand, his mind forms the spells - but he cannot speak. His throat is stoppered. He is wandless, and his hands have remained loose at his sides despite his command. And Harry Potter is still standing on Snape's doorstep.

"Leaving early, aren't you?" Harry Potter says. He's smiling, faintly, standing on the balls of his feet like a professional Quidditch player. His smile is dangerous. "But I can see the evening's not to your taste."

Waiting, poised, Potter's eyes flick up and down his body, a moment's assessment which is entirely knowing and far too intimate. Almost angry. Although Potter has nothing to be angry about: were it not for Snape's intervention, the man would be dead and he himself victorious. The unfairness of it tastes like ashes in his mouth.

"Nothing to say?" Potter asks him. "You weren't so silent this morning."

False image, but as clear as if he had lived the moment this morning he knows the sight of Potter's face, furious. Knows the feel of his boots wet with dew, the sky still dark, the stars blotted out by the battlements. It's not his memory, but the force of it stings hard. His face must have changed, because Potter stares at him from behind the absurd round lenses of his glasses as if the moment is shared, as if Potter knows what he's thinking.

"You do remember," the man says, certain, and moves. The room seems to sway around him, change itself to his shape: the rug flattens, the dust is gone, the lamps light, and he himself feels nothing but the burn of wild magic pausing. For a moment he's dizzy with it.

When the world steadies, Harry Potter is two feet nearer. At this distance his scar is lost in the vivid green glare of Lily Evans' eyes.

Every nerve in his own body burns.

He has no wand. Potter does, but by that careless display he doesn't need one. If he had that kind of power he would rule the world: it was wasted on the Potter brat.

"You," Potter says. "You said it would be fine. You said it would be hours. You promised."

Promised what? There is no clue to be read in Potter's face, curiously white. There is something between these two that burns, something he, who thought he knew everything (although he was wrong, so wrong about Snape) does not know.

"But you do remember. Don't you?" Potter asks. It's as if he's having a conversation with someone else entirely.

And then Potter, horrifyingly, reaches out a hand. It spans Snape's face: Potter's fingers cradle his jawbone, the vulnerable line of his neck, and settle on the beating pulse at his throat.

He'd flinch, but this body is no longer his own. Beyond his control, it leans into that touch. When Potter takes his hand away, Snape's skin aches for the feel of it.

When every instinct demands flight, he is held in place by his own stolen flesh. It yearns, this body: it wants to be taken, mastered, owned, and so it rejects every thought of submission to the master within its mind. Held without motion he can only watch Potter's hands move between them, closing, fist themselves on his robes with the knuckles clenched and braced. And tear apart. His robe rips open in a scream of parting cloth. Potter's face is six inches away. He is still smiling.

"You still want me," Potter says. Says it, not with the anger he himself would use, but with a curious thankfulness. One hand, carefully, loosens itself from the robe. Potter trails deliberate fingertips down Snape's bare chest. The touch burns.

He can't remember the last time he was touched. It must be astonishment, surely, that holds him still and silent, sets his heart beating and halts his breath.

Fingers brand his belly. Do not stop. Heat rushes to the trail of them: even his groin is heavy, and a pulse beats in the hollows of his thighs: his body feels weighted to the spot. Surely the air is too thick. He can't breath. This is some alchemy he doesn't know, a measure of power he has never encompassed, foisted on him by this child. Man.

Fingers grasp Snape's cock.

The world changes.

Snape's erect. Blood thrums through the veins of his balls, his cock. Snape's a moment's touch from coming, out of control, and there is nothing he can do to stop.

Harry Potter's smile widens. The grip of his hand is entirely familiar and wantonly possessive, and he hasn't even looked down. He knew: Potter knew, when he reached out, that Snape would be waiting for his touch, that Snape's body would rise to greet his.

An unwilling passenger, carried in his own flesh.

He'd dreamed of Potter kneeling. Kissing the hem of his robes, abject and beaten. But when Potter does kneel it's deliberate, not forced, a slow and self-possessed motion: his eyes never leave Snape's. And Snape's gaze follows his, down between the ripped fall of his own robes, catches the jutting rise of his own cock white between the black fallen wings of cloth. As he watches Potter's head tilts to one side, a speculative acknowledgment: he licks his lips. Then he leans forward and, slow, deliberate, runs his tongue from stem to head. Heat broad and flat against the vein, a knowing and confident caress. It tugs at Snape's heartbeat. Desire ripples through his belly, pulls him forward. He had thought to master, but is mastered and overthrown by touch. He can no more halt the tilt of his hips than he could stop the sun rising: his own hands stir and settle on that shock of hair with disconcerting gentleness. The scream is knotted in his throat and instead he struggles for breath, unable to think, wandless, trapped by the close of Harry Potter's fingers on Snape's balls and the red bow of his mouth.

It's almost casual, the way Harry's lips open to Snape's cock, an easy careless glide as if they've done this before and will do it again. But the effect is overwhelming. Heat burns from groin to fingertips: goose bumps dimple his skin and he can feel through the rush of blood the cold sweat break out behind his knees. For one terrible moment he thinks he will faint: the feel of this body in rut is alien to him and he is caught in its passion. What is left of conscious thought would rend each single hair from Potter's scalp and tear the smile from his lips but what he actually does - has to do - is move: his hips jerking, his hands tightening, his balls drawn up. Blood roils through the arteries of Snape's body. There's no design to it, no plan: it's a rhythm unconscious and inescapable.

That he comes is inevitable. That it feels like nothing he has experienced before is not. The world implodes. He looses sight, sound, control: sensation narrows to the explosive release of pressure alone. He's never felt like this, frightened, unwillingly ecstatic: Snape's body gives up its secrets in a rush of blood and semen as overwhelming as death.

Awareness comes back in almost unwelcome clarity. His stomach muscles cramp. His knees are unsteady. He's bent over, his eyes closed, his hands braced on something warm and alive - flesh over bone. Now is the moment to strike, now, but the thought surfaces not with passion but in a mildly irrelevant acknowledgment.

Were it not for the steadying hands on his hips, he would fall.

Is falling.

Is not. With a huff Harry Potter's grip tightens. His shoulder smacks into Snape's belly and takes all breath with it. Snape's limbs are suddenly weightless and loose, and blood rushes from his groin to his face. Manhandled, the room spins around him: the chairs, the bookcases, the floor distorted and dizzying from this angle. His feet smack against wood, and then his shoulder. Ridged, the doorframe bruises. Then there is carpet, not flagstones, under his eyes; worn and Slytherin green. What must be a dressing table, with a hairbrush and a tortoiseshell pot. Snape's bedroom. Dust lies as thickly here as it had done in the parlour. Disturbed it clogs his throat. He can't breath. He claws at Potter's back with clumsy fingers instead, kicks his feet, but Potter only laughs as he drops them both on the bed.

It hurts. He lands awkward, face down, cramped, his head and hands caught in the ruins of his robe and silk cold under his bared skin. Potter's weight holds him pinned, a man's weight: he braces himself, twists to get his legs under him and finds Potter holding him down with contemptuous ease. Torn cloth muffles his head but his arse is bare, undignified, ridiculous: he claws his elbows under and gropes for the robe. He can't see. Snape's body is an awkward, unwieldy beast. He can think of nothing but flight, but is caught as much by his own unwilling flesh as by Potter's heavy presence.

Snape's body wants to arch up against Potter's weight: his knees slide apart on the cover. Potter's weight is nothing he can escape: the man is all heat and skin, millstone heavy. He's braced, holding them both up: twists desperately, feels Harry Potter's head hard pressed against his own.

"No," Harry Potter says, "No." He says it quietly, without force, as if they are sharing secrets. As if this is a game between lovers.

He can't answer. There is a sharp heat against his back, hotter than his own blood, damp: it's with horror that he realises this is the unmistakable and rampant evidence of Potter's arousal. He struggles to slide away, and feels instead his treacherous body rub up to that pressure. Potter's skin slides against his, all smooth heart and power: the man's cock is fully hard and leaking. In despair, and with a shock of unwelcome and recent memory, he realises this body, sluggish, has began to rouse again.

He has never felt as humiliated and powerless. He struggles again, and succeeds only in forcing Potter to tighten his hands.

"Be still,"

That hated voice in his ear. Potter's hand runs down Snape's hips and slaps his arse with a intimacy that is almost jocular, familiar as a horseman with a mare. He can't close his legs: Potter's knees force his own thighs apart. Bucking against that binding gets him nowhere. There's nothing to hold onto: the bedclothes, silk - clean silk, he realises, his nose pressed uncomfortably against the softness of the mattress - slide under his elbows. Then for a moment, when Potter's weight leaves him, he thinks, he's misconstrued. Surely they won't fuck in this bed, the golden boy of Hogwarts and the traitor.

But they will. When Potter's hand touches his skin, it's with intent: confident, informed, a curving caress of Snape's bony haunches and a grasp at his buttocks that spreads flesh with dreadful intimacy. Skin pulls and burns at the core: he can almost feel Potter's eyes on his vulnerability. As a scar on the soul, but this body - his body - flexes and yearns up as if it craves the touch of those intrusive hands. Fingers pull Snape's buttocks apart: thumbs press at the entrance to his body, smooth, insistent invaders. There's a rhythm to it, the rhythm of Snape's lungs, of the beat of his heart, as if Potter would rather seduce than take. Inevitably, Snape's body opens to that touch. Opens easily, smoothly, as if this is something accustomed and welcome.

He can barely encompass the thought. Even as Snape's body rebels against his failing grasp, he cannot believe that he missed this, that he didn't know - Snape's body spreading like a whore for another man's possession: not his, not his, when he'd thought the man's soul signed over decades before.

Despair confounds resistance. He feels himself loosen, his arse tilting upwards, retreating, a dance of touch: he knows the gathering heat and weight in Snape's groin. All his control is gone. It's another man, not him, who grasps the covers and begs wordlessly for possession. It's another man whose thighs spread, who grips the pillow with cramping fingers, desperate and transported, who can hear the muttered imprecations of his possessor -

"Come on," Harry Potter says, his own voice unsteady now. "Come on. Open for me. You know you will. Let me in."

By the cramping feel of it, there are two fingers in his arse, an awkward thrust that stretches the muscle and leaves him open and vulnerable. When the hands shift it should be relief but it's not: his body feels empty, open, expectant: it yearns.

Potter seals his ownership with a single thrust that seats him balls-deep in Snape's body. It should hurt, but it doesn't: it's an absolute and easy possession smooth as the glide of hand into glove. It rips the last shreds of self-possession. He'd scream if he had voice: he doesn't, he can't, his shoulders are held, his ribs. The suffocating robes over his head are torn away only for Potter's hand to grip Snape's hair and hold him still. Braced, he expects a punishing, hammered possession but Potter moves as if he's got all the time in the world. Oiled ease, but Snape's body curves with the thrusts, taking everything Potter can give and begging for more. And Potter gives it, his cock thick, heavy, each thrust a slow and deliberate entry and at the end of them a second's pause. Potter deep as far as he can go and Snape's body hurting with it, yet as if they are lovers in truth Potter shifts, grinds, until he hits that dangerous spot with every stroke and Snape's body sings with pleasure of it.

Thrusting, Potter's silent now, his hands clenching on skin. Snape will bruise. Like the echoes of another man's desire, he feels pleasure in it - these small marks of possession. They move like practised lovers, these two, as if they've fucked before, often, on these sheets, on this bed, in this room. As if Snape - Snape, the traitor - gave himself willingly: as if he bared all the secrets he owned willingly over and over again.

For a moment, it feels almost attractive to be so known, so accepted for what he was in return. To want. To be trusted, to trust -

Another man's thoughts. He gathers his own, slowly, under the slide of Potter's skin against his, in him, on him, against the prickle of stubble against his shoulder-blades and the damp heat of breath against his back. Afterwards, Potter will be vulnerable: afterwards, he can -

It's not his memory. But as clear as if it was, he sees Potter curled against velvet, tousled and flushed with sex, his eyes half closed, and in that moment he feels nothing but tenderness. Nothing.

He has never felt like that about any living being.

These are not his thoughts.

And horrifyingly, then, he feels the ghost of another man's amusement in his mind, fully aware.

Never before has he failed in possession. But Snape: Snape who should be dead and gone and soulless, Snape is laughing at him in his own mind and Snape's lover spreads him wider on the sheets and fucks him deeper. Takes him with the deep rut of a man on the edge of coming, with his hand now on Snape's cock as if he owns it.

"Come for me now," Potter says, whispering, urgent and short, and Snape does as if it's pleasure not pain. It's Snape's joy he feels, half unconscious, lost, sprung into darkness, Snape's voice that says, Harry, Harry, and as he feels his own release Potter groans above him - "Yes. Yes."

This time it sends him into sleep.

When he wakes he's not sure where he is. The sheets feel familiar: the smell, lavender and chemicals, is of home.

His body aches pleasantly, with the memory of pleasure gained and pleasure yet to come.

He is content.

Then memory washes over him. Snape's voice, at the end: his and Potter's twinned in desire: the treacherous betrayal of Snape's body, the realisation of possession -

He opens his eyes.

He is not alone.

Naked, Potter is stretched out beside him, propped against a slew of pillows. He looks perfectly at home. Composed, his face is unreadable, not the face of a child but of a man.

In his hand he holds a wand. Voldemort's wand.

It enrages. He grabs for it, claws at it, and Potter lets it go with contemptuous ease.

"Cruciatus," he says, "Cruciatus. Cruciatus!" He can taste Snape in his mind, laughing. "Imperio!".

Nothing happens. Potter looks at him with detached interest.

"Petrificus Totalus, Imperio. Avada Kedavra!" Spittle chokes his tongue. "Cruciatus!"

His voice hoarsens. Still nothing: it's like holding dead wood, impotent. As if it were another man's wand.

"It won't work," Potter says. "Not for you."

It's not his hands that give the wand back, but Potter takes it with a grave nod of his head, as if the gift was expected.

He's a stranger in this body. It moves without his command, spreads itself against the sheets and curves to face its master.

"How long do you think you've got?" Potter says. "That was him at the end, you know."

His tongue's thick. It takes minutes to form the words. His mind is crowded with memories that are not his: half remembered recipes for arcane potions: the face of a woman, the eyes of the man opposite as a boy, slights and power games and moments he did not live.

For the moment, he's free to speak.

"I hate you," he says.

"I know," Harry Potter says.

They're not touching, but the potential is there. His skin warms. He remembers other nights he has not lived.

"But at the moment, you're all I've got of him. Tom."