Restlessness drives him out that night, his body too accustomed to midnight tours of Hogwarts' corridors. A week before Christmas, with the air bitter and streets slush, he does not expect to find the pub as full as it is. Though he supposes the warmth of companionship, or firewhiskey, is more appealing than stoking the fire in one's own hearth.
He picks an old haunt – the Broken Knut-- to wile away the hours. By his third pint the ale has done its job and Severus watches the room with a kind of hazy reminiscence. Lucius and he had come here years ago, back when they'd been so confident of ruling the world they walked as if they already did. Beneath the low ceilings of the back room (the one Severus no longer enters), they'd argued political philosophy with the lofty certainty that future generations would sit at their table in awe and pale imitation.
Now Lucius is gone, as Severus knew must happen. He is left, mostly ignored by a population that can neither dismiss his heroism nor forgive his past, to watch younger men drink and whisper and touch, secure in their own immortality. The fools.
A vaguely familiar laugh sounds from the next room, joyful and young. Grating against his memories, the sound begets abrupt anger. Chair rasping against the floor, Severus stands and takes a step before the half-formed notion of saving the laugher from his own green ignorance dissolves beneath reason. Still unable to place the familiarity of the laugh, he continues forward with a sense of indifferent curiosity.
Hoary as Knockturn itself, the pub is a masterpiece of dark wood, ripe with the mingled scents of lemon oil, sweat, ale and paraffin. His steps reverberate with a deep, hollow sound; the old floorboards lending them significance above their worth. Standing in the doorway of the next room, Severus' gaze passes tables where the patrons' heads are bent intently to their cards, seeking out the noisier groups. He finds his quarry to the side of the room, seated on a leather bench against the wall. Severus turns away cursing his own curiosity, and Harry Potter's apparent omnipresence, before the scene registers and compels him back.
Like some dark sprite, Potter is dwarfed in his seat between two massive men. Rimmed in kohl, his eyes appear softer, his jaw sharper. He laughs, too loud, as the men murmur in his ear, touching his arms, his thighs. But it is more than this that makes Severus' blood quicken in a current of anxiety and anger. Potter is cloakless. Cloakless, with his body on obscene display in tight Muggle jeans and a pullover. As he watches, one of the men slips his hand beneath the hem of Potter's shirt, across the skin of his stomach; Severus can still see it, the thin material showing every movement even in the dim light. Potter smiles up at them, easy and flirtatious.
Three hard strides bring Severus before the trio. “Potter!” he hisses, voice low in an effort not to draw outside attention. “Get up this instant!”
“Snape? What the--”
“Oy!” the man to his left exclaims when Severus seizes one of Potter's wrists.
Lush mouth set stubbornly, Potter studies Severus. He wets his lips, his pink tongue winking in the candlelight like the glint of a sickle in the road. Severus flexes his hand in reply, fingers settling tighter around the narrow wrist; he doesn't pull, but holds steady in expectation of a rebuff.
“Sorry fellas, looks like I'll have to call it a night,” Potter says breezily, as if Severus has not yanked him forward at the first hint of agreement.
“Just one minute,” one of the men growls, rising.
“Now.” Severus pulls his wand, pushing Potter behind him. “Gentlemen. You are, understandably, upset--”
“Won't be, soon as you hand him back over.”
“And you've no reason to trust me.”
“However, trust me when I say, if you make any move towards me or your wands, St. Mungo himself wouldn't know how to help you.”
He doesn't turn until they reach the next room. There, one hand fisted in the back of Potter's shirt, he hauls the man forward, dragging him past the knowing smirks of the other patrons and out into the street.
Pulling free of his grasp, Potter rounds on him as the pub door slams.
“What the hell is your problem?”
Ah, there is the indignant anger Severus expected inside. A sneer twists his mouth reflexively at the fit. Breathing in the winter air, he savors its cold burn down his lungs. “It's past curfew, shouldn't little boys be safe in their beds?”
“I am not a little –” Catching sight of Severus' imminent smirk, he stops. “Eighth years are allowed to do what they like outside of school hours.”
Potter crosses his arms, chin thrust out petulantly. It only serves to highlight his delicate frame, so indecently exposed in the moon and torch-lit street. Reaching out, Severus grabs the front of Potter's shirt. Fabric yielding to his hand, his fingers brush against the firm skin underneath. Turning, he pushes Potter up against the pub wall, holding him there with the press of his body. Their faces close, Potter's gasp sends a brush of warmth across his cheek.
“Did you wish to be known as an alley whore?” He's seen the papers; lurid tales of Potter flying recklessly, fighting, cavorting with anyone, everywhere, that he'd dismissed as sensationalism. Perhaps too quickly.
“What are you --”
“Where is your cloak?”
“My cloak?” Potter's face is a study in innocent confusion. So near, the kohl around his eyes makes him seem younger; a child playing dress-up in his parents clothes. “I left it home-- didn't want to be bothered. What good is being a wizard if you can't make use of a heating charm?”
“Are you truly so ignorant?” Severus breathes, pressing into Potter harder. “Have you no concept--” he growls in frustration, shaking Potter sharply once before continuing. “Only whores go without a cloak.”
“Oh.” Then, a second later, “Oh.”
“Indeed.” Duty done, Severus is about to drop him when Potter's expression tightens again.
“That doesn't give you the right to drag me about.”
Potter is baiting him, though he doesn't know why. Severus can hear the contrived anger in his voice, but the words snap through him nonetheless, cracking his patience like ice over a lake.
“You're not my teacher anymore, you can't tell me what to do.”
“I,” he answers, voice cold, “have been saving your ungrateful hide for as long as you have been alive. I can do whatever I want.”
“Oh? Going to give me detention, Professor?” Potter mocks.
Severus sees it then, the familiar restless dissatisfaction in Potter's eyes, in the disillusioned curve of his lips; the desire to be broken and remade again into something useful, into what he was.
“Yes,” Severus answers, Apparating them with a crack!
They stumble into his front room, Potter's weight dragging Severus forward and nearly sending them both sprawling to the ground. He lets go of Potter, whose arms pinwheel, seeking balance in the absence of support, before he manages to regain his equilibrium.
Lighting the fire gives them time to regain their breath. Potter's eyes dart uncertainly around the room, over the shelves of books, the ancient sofa, the desk, the empty mantle, finally settling again on Severus in wary expectation.
Severus stands, yellow-orange firelight beginning to spread across the carpet, stretching towards Potter.
“Bend over the desk, and lower your trousers and pants.” Though he hadn't known what he was going to say, Severus feels a strange sense of calm with the words, as clean as the relief of a joint slipped back into place.
Potter opens his mouth – you can't be serious, Severus expects, or maybe you're off your nut – but Potter only stares at him.
“Bend over the desk.”
Steps silent, Potter goes over to the desk. It is perhaps the nicest thing Severus owns, and he watches as Potter looks at it. He doubts the man can appreciate the fine craftsmanship and unblemished mahogany. More likely, he's looking at the ephemera scattered across its surface: grocery list, receipts, commissions, the dull detritus of Severus' post-victory life.
Stepping up behind Potter, Severus sends papers and quills fluttering to the floor with a flick of his wand. He reaches up, touching the back of Potter's neck, fingers spread across the delicate curve, over wayward hair. Potter bends. Severus' hand falls with the motion, sliding down the line of Potter's spine and coming to rest against his lower back.
“Trousers and pants down.”
Face hidden in one arm, Potter reaches down with his other hand to undo the fly of his jeans.
Removing his own cloak and jacket, Severus watches Potter work the material down in short increments. His arse comes into view, trembling but high and firm and utterly flawless. Severus' cock begins to fill at the sight, desire flickering like the banked coals of a fire stirred to life.
Clothing lowered just to the tops of his thighs, Potter stops. He shifts, spreading his legs slightly to keep the material from slipping lower.
Dismissing his desire as irrelevant, Severus steps forward. “This will hurt.” It's not a warning, or a promise, but a statement.
Potter's shirt shifts in the light as he breathes.
The first is the loudest; Severus' hand connects with a slap of flesh on flesh against Potter's arse that seems to echo in the room. It is almost loud enough to cover the sound of Potter's sharp inhalation, his tiny noise of shock.
Stepping back, Severus waits long seconds, enough time for Potter to bolt if he is going to. Then he sets to it. They're not particularly hard smacks, after the first, just enough for the sting to build. A red flush blooms across Potter's arse, a pretty rose deepening to crimson. “Fifteen,” he says, blows landing steadily, “for your wanton stupidity.”
Potter is relatively quiet; Severus hears him gasp with each strike, thinks he hears the faintest of whimpers, like sobs stifled behind closed doors, beneath pillows.
Flexing his hand at the end of the set, Severus feels the sting across his palm, radiating heat over his fingers, across his nerves. He watches Potter's cheeks clench, listens to the soft moan, and wonders if Potter appreciates the burn of it the way he does, if Potter's cock has begun to fill and ache, or if he is merely playing the martyr once again.
“Twenty, for disrespecting me.”
Potter cries out on the next set and shifts his body against the desk in an undulation that Severus cannot decipher as either desire for more or escape. When Severus pauses again, Potter is breathing hard, back arched slightly as if trying to curl in on himself over the desk.
“Twenty,” he announces, and Potter moans in reply. “For disrespecting the life I have spent eighteen years protecting.”
“I'm sorry!” Potter cries, at the fourteenth, and every blow after it. Body shaking, light glimmering erratically over the sweat on his back, he sobs openly.
Severus catches him as Potter crumples, sliding off the desk and down to his knees on the floor. His face is a mess, kohl shadowing the paths of his tears.
“This,” Severus says, stroking his thumb across Potter's cheek, catching tears and kohl, “is unnecessary.”
Potter looks at him with wide eyes, and does not blink when Severus raises his wand to his face and murmurs a cleaning spell that wipes away kohl and tears alike. He buries his face against Severus' neck, arms coming up to cling to Severus' shoulder.
Wrapping one arm over Potter's legs, he pulls the man forward to rest half in his lap. A quiet Accio brings a healing salve in from the bathroom. Opening it one-handed, Severus coats the tips of his fingers and brings them back to trace cooling lines over the heat on Potter's arse. He works slowly, listening to Potter's soft sighs as the salve takes effect.
He thinks the tickle of wetness against his throat is more tears at first. But it comes again, and Severus recognizes the feel of tentative lips. Stopping it would be the right thing to do, but sapped of his earlier anger and concern, desire is what remains. It has been too long since he has felt another's touch, and when Potter breathes a near-silent thank you against his jaw, Severus is lost. Bringing their mouths together, he traces his tongue over the seam of Potter's lips, surprised at how easily they part for him.
They kiss for long minutes, lazy as the snow falling outside. Severus' hands drift beneath Potter's shirt, tracing over smooth skin and plucking at his nipples until he jerks in approval against Severus' thigh.
Potter's skin tastes clean and sweet beneath his tongue. Frotting lightly against him as Severus licks and sucks at his throat, Potter moans.
One hand still beneath Potter's shirt, Severus reaches with his other to dip his fingers again into the salve. Bringing his hand back, he slides slick fingers along Potter's cleft, teasing along the edge before dipping down to brush against his hole. Potter makes a soft sound of surprise, then distracts him by rubbing his fingers over Severus' cock, still trapped within the confines of his trousers.
Exposed still, Potter's cock is leaving sticky trails of pre-come along Severus' pants. Freeing his hand from the warmth beneath Potter's shirt, Severus sweeps up a bit with two fingers. He brings them up to Potter's mouth, groaning as Potter sucks them eagerly between full lips. He breaches Potter at the same time, sinking one finger into tight heat, watching as Potter's eyes go wide and then flutter closed. They find a rhythm; Severus strokes in, Potter's hips jerk forward, his hand squeezes Severus prick. It is a bit clumsy, in truth, broken as the need arises to remove trousers and shirts, but divine nonetheless.
“Yes,” Potter whimpers when Severus introduces a second finger, and “more” when he uses a third. By then, Severus' cock has been freed. Slick with pre-come, Potter strokes him in earnest, his eyes focused on the task raptly. Suck me, Severus wants to say, desperate for the sight of wide eyes and long lashes looking up at him as his prick slides into wet heat and that perfect, fuckable mouth.
Instead he rolls them over. Potter settles his legs around Severus easily, as if he's done this a hundred times before. Erection slicked, Severus breaches him slowly. Potter breathes in sharply, and then out on a sigh as Severus stops, fully sheathed.
“Oh,” Potter says, sounding awed, “more.”
Severus thrusts. It does not take either of them very long, though he goes slowly. Spread out before him, finely boned and golden in the firelight, Potter is gorgeous. He moans wantonly, and with a keening cry, arches up, rosy cock spilling come across his stomach and chest. Severus follows him, his whole body tightening in pleasure so thick, there is no room for even an inarticulate yell.
They fall asleep curled up on the thin carpet, exhausted.
Severus wakes alone. He sets the room to rights and has a shower in less time than it should take to clean away all the evidence of the previous night, and then goes about his day.
By that evening, he is restless again. Donning his winter cloak, he sets out into the cold, navigating Knockturn's crooked streets – their filth hidden tonight beneath fresh snow – until he steps again into the warmth of the pub. He sees Potter immediately, standing against the wall opposite the door, cloakless.