Hello, everyone. This is my virginal post, both in this community and on the Internet. A friend convinced me to share this with you, so - here you go! Some lovely slash for some lovely people.
» Title: Something Like Hate
» Author: deadlybride AKA Liz
» Webjournal: http://deadlybride.livejournal.com/
» Fandom: Harry Potter
» Rating: R
» On Going (WIP)/One-off/Series: one-off
» Warnings: light angst
» Pairing(s): Snape/Harry
» Author's Notes: This is the first thing I've ever tried to archive, so please be kind. If you flame me, I'll have to find some way to make fun of you. Any other sort of feedback would be welcomed.
» Summary: "Harry tries to ignore Professor Snape, rather than hate him – because he knows hate is something you reserve for when it counts, isn't it? – but there are times when his teacher looms over him with that wicked, wicked excuse for a smile and his eyes glitter with something past malice, and Harry can't help himself, he can't."
It always surprises Harry how frigid the dungeons are. It seems as though the huge fireplaces and flickering torches are a sham, a show – as though all the heat of all the fires in the world can't penetrate the harsh, cold stone. He remembers his foray into the Slytherin common room in his second year: the vaulted ceilings and rich leathers and silken, silver-green tapestries couldn't hold heat, either.
When he comes to the Potions classroom, though, the lingering chill is forced away by thick, multicolored fumes and boiling liquids. He and his classmates are stifled with heat – Gryffindor and Slytherin alike roll up sleeves, remove cloaks, mop sweaty faces and try to keep stirring, keep stirring even though sweat makes one's grip uncertain on the ladle, though maddening trickles of perspiration wend their way down the back of the neck, matting the fine hairs there and providing no reprieve from the humid fog of heat. Professor Snape doesn't help, either – and how can he stand it, here, under those thick woolen robes? His hot glares and blistering mockery only add to the utter misery of this dank little classroom. He strides oh-so-swiftly from one cauldron to another, offering abuse and sarcasm like poison.
No windows in the classroom of Professor Snape. Oh, no. No chance for light, for air – and that doesn't surprise Harry, that this particular professor would avoid any chance to make this subject bearable. This professor who sneers so cruelly, who hides behind great lecterns that stand above the fog of potion fumes, who buttons his black, light-absorbing robes all the way up to the chin – he won't allow his subject to be fun. As though 'fun' was the enemy, as though enjoying yourself was a sin. Harry tries to ignore Professor Snape, rather than hate him – because he knows hate is something you reserve for when it counts, isn't it? – but there are times when his teacher looms over him with that wicked, wicked excuse for a smile and his eyes glitter with something past malice, and Harry can't help himself, he can't. When that happens he does hate, he rages silently (or not-so-silently), and it's all he can do not to launch himself at Snape, tackle him over the long worktables, smash him up against one of the sweating stone walls and beat him to death.
Snape can see his hate, he knows. He doesn't bother hiding it. If he tries, his teacher's smirk will only grow wider, his eyes will only get darker – and he will only give Harry more venom, more poison, more acrid bitterness – until the student finds himself filled with pure, acid fury, like he's boiling over with it. But no – it's his cauldron that's boiling over, his potion that's spilling over the flagstones and melting anything it touches. And the professor's eyes shine now with something far too similar to satisfaction, and it is with a certain glee that he deducts fifty points from Gryffindor House.
After the class is over, and the door opens and out spill all of the students and fumes and horrid smells, Harry cleans up the mess his potion made. And, slowly, the heat dissipates, too, until he finds himself starting to shiver again, the cold of the dungeons stealing back in to reclaim its territory. Professor Snape ignores him, now, only a scratch of quill on parchment to remind Harry of his presence. It is almost peaceful. Harry scrubs the floor clean, and his cauldron, and he tidies away all of the foul ingredients, and stores the knives, and generally scours the Potions classroom of any hint of his presence. When he's done, he rolls his sleeves back down and wipes cold sweat from the back of his neck and swings his robe around his shoulders before presenting himself before Professor Snape.
The professor leaves him standing there for long minutes. Harry wraps his cloak more tightly around himself and tries not to think of the warm April afternoon above their heads – tries not to imagine walking around the grounds that sparkle with cheerful warmth and bright sun, tries to forget about flying on his broomstick, the wind that races fiercely past his ears, making his heart thrum with the freedom of it. He hates the dungeons, hates the horrible, claustrophobic, trapped feeling that constricts his breath and makes his eyes narrow with something like hate, something that reminds him too much of fear.
Professor Snape looks up at him, then, raising one eyebrow at his expression.
"I would have thought that you would be more guarded with your emotions, Mr. Potter, considering that you've just spent an hour in detention for that very look."
His voice is liquid-dark, sarcastic, a sneer in every syllable. Harry can feel himself swelling with the injustice of it. "I'm sorry, sir," he replies, trying so hard to ignore Snape, to forgive him. Trying to mean what he says. Trying to be noble, like he's supposed to be.
It's like Snape knows exactly where to push to make him slip, to make him lose all the good in himself, all the Gryffindor qualities – how to make him become a Slytherin. Snape's smile is dark, and ugly, and Harry can feel himself losing the light. It's too dark in the dungeons, too cold, and all he wants is to leave¸ before Snape fills him up with hate again.
All of which doesn't explain why he comes back that night. His friends are safe in bed, high in
Because when he enters Professor Snape's living quarters, the cold of the harsh stone seems magnified, multiplied – a thousand-fold, and more. The room is much like those of Slytherin House – and why not, for the House's Head? His floors are all flagstone, rough, but he doesn't have even a rug or carpet to soften. His chairs are uncomfortable. There are too many hard lines here, too many discomforts. The room seems designed to keep one on edge. No pleasure here.
Snape's bed has four posts, swathed in green – the mattress is covered in harsh white. Harry undresses quietly, folds his clothes neatly on the wooden stool next to the fireplace. That fireplace is a sham: shouldn't it obey the command of its master, provide much needed heat?
Harry approaches that master, shivering already in the stillness of the room. Professor Snape stands with his back to his charge, shoulders lifting slightly with each breath. Harry lays his hand, gently, between his teacher's shoulder blades, and Snape's head droops, hanging with something closer to despair than anything else. Silently, Harry walks around Snape and begins to divest him of all of that thick clothing. Here, the black seems flat, lifeless. The long lines of buttons slowly part, and Harry removes each piece cautiously. Snape's eyes are always closed – like he can't bear to watch this. His carefully constructed clothing, with all those buttons keeping the world out – or himself locked in – like armor; and Harry's taking it away, piece by piece, until Snape stands in naught but his pale, pale skin. He still hasn't opened his eyes – and Harry thinks that might be easier as he takes Snape by the hand and guides him to the bed.
Tonight, Snape is particularly quiet. Forehead creasing into a frown, Harry urges the professor up onto the mattress, directing the long limbs toward the center of the bed. He climbs up, too, grateful that his feet aren't touching the icy stone floor anymore. Snape's single pillow is thin, and tattered, but when Snape's head falls onto it the man releases a tired sigh, like it was the most comfortable thing in the world. Harry lies down, too, resting his head on his hand, and waits.
Snape takes long, slow breaths, chest rising and falling. His voice, when he finally speaks, is gravelly and low.
"Harry." He opens his eyes – and they're soft, now, yielding, shuttered and hiding some emotion, something Harry can't name. But Harry offers a smile, or an approximation of one, and leans over to kiss this man, whom he can only think of as Severus.
It is hard to explain this process – hard to understand why he would do this, why he would allow this to happen – but it seems to Harry, at times, to be simpler than anything he's yet encountered. This strange man who never sees the sunlight is hesitant and careful, so much more careful than his daytime counterpart. His hands are potion-stained and rough-edged, and they run along Harry's skin sorrowfully, with painful regret – every touch like an apology, an act of contrition.
Harry kneels over the stranger. As he bends for another kiss, whispers of Latin make it so easy to sink down, down; the older man gasps into his mouth and Harry grabs his shoulders for balance. Severus' eyes are shadowed, still, and subdued, and his skin is so, so cold. The chill makes it simpler, somehow, not to say anything at all – to run his hands along the pale expanse and absorb the frost into his own skin – to try to alleviate that ache he can sense, trembling under the surface, trying so hard not to break free.
The useless fire casts flickers of light over the bed. When Severus reaches a hand up to Harry's face, the glow illuminates his pale inner arm and the horrible secret hidden there. Harry catches the hand in his and lowers his head, making sure Severus is holding his gaze. When he presses his lips to the black skull of the Dark Mark, Severus' eyes close, tightly, like he can't bear to see anymore.
Harry sighs against the Mark – the warmth of his breath sucked away by the chill skin – and pulls Severus up, into his arms. He sits in the older man's lap and strokes the small, dark hairs on his neck, resting his chin on the curve of one pale shoulder. In this position, he wraps his legs around Severus' hips and his arms around Severus' ribs and simply holds, though the cold threatens to slide under his own skin, take over until it'll never leave. Harry wonders how Severus can bear it here – but then he remembers the harsh stone floor, and the uncomfortable surrounds. He remembers how that other man, Snape, is during the day, when he spits and hates and sparkles with something like cruelty – how he seemed to think that enjoyment, that pleasure was something that had to be earned, something he didn't deserve. Harry tightens his arms around his professor and wonders just what he had done to behave this way – what the Mark on his arm implied.
Severus, he was called – and surely it meant 'severe', and 'harsh'. Sever us. It was unfair.
Severus simply sits, unmoving, surrounded by Harry. His breath stirs the hair over Harry's ear, and the boy almost breaks with the sudden hate that is engendered, deep within him – What happened to make him like this? What has he done? – and he is almost shocked at the intensity of it – it's almost protective, almost violent. It is because he forgets himself, then, that he whispers into the man's ear – breaks this pact of silence that they've always held.
The sudden tension of the body in his arms is frightening. Harry wonders if Severus will disappear, if the ugly man from the Potions classroom will return. He wonders how he will bear it, if that happens – how he could forget these nights, these months – if he could go back to
He pulls back, then, to look into this stranger's face. Severus allows it – he was always more docile than Snape. The lines of his face are set in an expression that's something too close to grief for Harry's comfort, and his eyes are too liquid, suddenly, too ashamed. Harry knows that something new has happened, something recent, and he places his hand along the cool, pale cheek, searching for something to say, something to forgive, wishing he could offer something more.
But he can't. Instead, he presses his lips to Severus' forehead and whispers his own apologies – and that seems to be too much, suddenly, and Severus breaks, fragility pushed too far. He lets out a raw sound and tightens his hold on Harry, almost unbearably tight. Harry can't help but be frightened, thinking of what could have happened to shatter Severus this way. He knows something has changed, now, and the night won't be the same – but he tries to ignore that, and clutches Severus' back and tries to be comforting and noble and supportive – like he's supposed to be, like a hero should be.
Harry is surprised again, feeling wetness on the curve of his neck. Severus' breath is halting, now, each inhale too much like a gasp, the exhales too much like sobs. Harry is crushed in his arms, and the feeling swelling up his throat is something raw and powerful and something he can't quite describe. He tries to soothe this man – not Severus or Snape, but someone entirely new – and the feeling expands, filling him. He doesn't want to put a name to it, because it's too close to hate, too forceful and deep – something like fear, or fury, or protectiveness, even. It is many-faceted and unknowable, and he is afraid, then, of what it might mean, what the feeling could be – but then this new stranger shudders, pressing his face against Harry's skin, and Harry realizes that the tears on his neck are warm, hot – nearly scalding – and that, finally, is such a welcome shock that he discovers that it doesn't matter what the new feeling is. He can feel the man within his arms being remade, yet again, and realizes that all the pale skin surrounding him isn't quite so cold anymore.