Prompt: Harry is a happy-go-lucky kind of guy with a boyfriend; Snape is repressed and teeth-grittingly, fist-clenchingly jealous because Harry likes him but doesn't like him.
Notes: I had written this for dracofiend's request at slashfest. I don't recall posting it here though, so..here it is! This was the first Snape/Harry I ever wrote. Beta'd by ruinithil. Jenn and Nessa! Remember this? And I totally fangirl dracofiend, so I was glad to write it.
One day soon, maybe next week Wednesday at 6:15 pm, Severus Snape is going to come up with a potion to kill Potter’s boyfriend.
It will be light as air, undetectable by magical means or other potions. He will give it to Ralph in a lovely flagon of pumpkin juice and he will try to make a genuine smile as Ralph swallows it happily. Then he will watch as Ralph claws at his throat and turns purple. Harry will be inconsolable for about nine days; like a Being of Light, Severus will swoop in, fold him in long slim arms and soothe his heart with sly whispered words. A Gryffindor might like rescuing people, but they love nothing more than to be saved themselves.
"Potter," he will rumble. "I will care for your untidy person. And make sure you have enough vitamins. And a hair-brush."
"Severus," Potter will sniffle gratefully. "You are the Being of Light in my life."
After careful consideration of these horrid daydreams, Severus concludes that next week Wednesday at 6:15 pm, he is going to drink that damned poison himself.
"Severus," Potter says, smiling at him from behind a new pair of glasses. Snape hates those frames; they are too square and make his face look old. "I have some new orders for the Recollection potion. Madame Leon swears that she's remembering where she buried her first husband."
"She could have asked me," Severus responds tightly, because his mother had managed to go to that funeral, years ago. Harry looks at him and then laughs a little; his laugh is lovely, like a well-measured Calming Draught. Severus tries to think about something uncharitable, to balance his mind. His eyes land on Harry's arms. It's fairly hot outside and Harry has taken to wearing these skimpy sleeveless shirts that leave a stretch of long bare skin, brown from gallivanting in the sun. Such long arms, Severus ruminates with a mental lip-curl. That's why he was such a good seeker. He has a reach like an ape.
"Hey, don't look at my arms," Harry says with a smile as he unpacks the supplies that Severus had sent him out for; such a sweet bright smile, one tooth in the top row slightly crooked. "They're so long and scrawny. Ralph says I should get a tattoo."
Severus tells him, "There are many health hazards to a tattoo, foolish boy. You can get a viral infection. Bacteria and fungi, Potter. If you bring your leprosy-riddled arms into my laboratory, I will hex you. And Ralph too, just for suggesting that."
"You're not going to hex my boyfriend," Harry says with calm confidence. He had had that same self-assured tone when he had come to Snape and made his business proposal: Snape making the potions and Harry being the face of the enterprise. It has worked out well for them both. So well, in fact, that it was Severus' muscle-relaxing ointment which had led Harry to Ralph. Harry had brought it to the Arrows' manager for a sample; the manager had promptly introduced him to the entire Quidditch team, which is why Harry is now sporting a scruffily handsome Chaser at every function. Ralph Sanderson, Severus thinks in deep distaste and struggles against the bile rising.
"I would never hex your boyfriend," he says darkly, measuring ingredients with an easy, hypnotic rhythm, setting four spoons in their cauldrons to make six counterclockwise stirs. "At least, not where anyone can see."
Blast, did he say that last bit out loud? Harry shoots him a quick look that is nowhere close to the visage of terror that a Potions Master of his stature deserves. Instead, it is filled with friendly mirth. Severus grits his teeth and banishes the spoons, leaving the potions to cool.
"You're so funny," Harry declares lightly. "Why is it that you weren't this amusing in school? I hated you, you know."
Severus suddenly feels upset and then despises himself for this.
"But now. Now, I like you. I know you're a great guy."
"I am not great," Severus hisses, feeling much better and so much worse at the same time. "I've simply been branded as a Former Traitor by your beloved media. And a reporter referred to me as 'sallow', once."
"You just need more sun," Harry soothes as he fills out an order form with a quill Severus gave him for Christmas last year. The quill is luxuriously fluffy and eye-blinding in a neon-green way; Severus had handed it over, feeling so smug that Harry would definitely be offended over the Slytherin-esque shade. Instead, Harry had been so delighted, showing everyone his gift and thanking Severus with quick hug.
Severus had been appalled at how pleasurable it had felt, to get such a reaction.
Now, he opens his mouth to berate Harry on the dangers of sunburn, when he feels the wards press in a little. Harry waves at him as he makes to get up from his stool.
"No, no. I'll get it."
Harry slips quietly out the door of the lab and into the front section of the shop. Severus listens carefully through the slightly opened door.
"Hey." Harry's voice is suddenly low-pitched and infinitely sexy. Severus hates that he sounds so much like a completely attractive man and not like a squeaky student he used to tutor. "You're back. I've missed you."
"Ditto," laughs Ralph and Severus wants to put his wand right through his ear to get rid of Ralph's gravely voice. "You alrigh', luv?"
"More than, now that you're home. Um... let me tell Severus that I'm leaving for the day. Alright?"
Severus nods curtly when Harry returns and speaks to him, beaming like he's swallowed a Lumos charm. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see the dark head of The Boyfriend peering around the edge of the door.
"Why should I care whether you leave now or not?" he says to Harry, who is tidying that little desk he had insisted on placing in the lab. Severus had been thrown into a mood of outraged annoyance at the time, but now it seemed as if Harry had always been in that corner, out of his way, poring over the accounts and making up bills and cheques. "You own half of this damned enterprise. Go away. I need to decant these."
"Oh, I'll help, if you want," Harry offers, throwing looks of longing to the door. Severus scoffs mightily, feeling the noise vibrate through his considerable nose. Ralph has a straight, aristocratic nose. Once, when he had deigned to go to an Arrows match with Harry (he had really been dragged snarling and grumbling to the stadium but that was moot), he had seen Harry go on tiptoes, hands resting on Ralph's broad shoulders and placing a short, shy kiss on the tip of that nose. Severus had breathed deeply as Harry kissed the corner of Ralph's grinning mouth and then looked up at him with unbridled adoration.
That day had darkened considerably in Severus' memory.
"I said go away," Severus now tells him curtly. "I'm sure that after over nearly thirty years of decanting potions, I may have gotten the general idea of it by now."
Harry smiles at him and then pulls on his robe.
"I'm pretty sure you have," he chuckles and strides out, reaching for Ralph's hand before he closes the door.
For some reason, Severus' hand shakes as he is pouring and this is unacceptable. He leaves everything, goes to the sink to wash his hands before buttoning on his over-robe and Apparating to the Malfoy Manor.
"You look like shit," Draco says to him succinctly and Severus rolls his eyes over a large flute of wine. "Has Potter been running you ragged? You need more sun."
"I need for my former students to stop encouraging skin cancer. And Potter hasn't been running anything at all. Just tripping merrily about with Ralph Sanderson." Severus contemplates the dark liquid swirling in the glass and then downs it all in one go. Draco huffs, sitting in a large chair with his slim legs sprawled over one of the large, well-padded arms. Draco looks at him closely, pale eyebrows raised and then he laughs that comfortable Malfoy laugh, deep and self-secure and so very annoying.
"Merlin, Severus," Draco smiles. "Potter? I mean, really."
"I do wish I could give you detention, right now. You didn't get enough in school, apparently," Severus says in sour tones. Draco tilts his head back and laughs until he cries.
Severus is placing all the decanting bottles in a dark cupboard when Harry rushes into the lab, his hair sticking nearly all the way up. For a moment, Severus reads his frenetic expression, his flushed face and overly-bright eyes and Severus' heart lurches in his thin chest, yearning.
"Severus," Harry breathes and Severus is at his side in a moment, for this is his hour. He is now the Being of Light, waiting to soothe away any pain that Ralph Sanderson has inflicted. "I-"
"I'm here," Severus says, trying to sound comforting. He pushes Harry towards the desk and sits him in the little Muggle office chair that Harry had rolled in himself, taking the stationary one on the other side of the desk. "I'm listening."
"Ralph," Harry says, gesturing wildly and a glint on his left hand catches Severus' eye. He frowns and grabs at Harry's hand, which lies small and pliant in his large bony one as soon as he takes it. There is a plain silver band on the ring finger. It hums with the calm magic of a promise-bind.
"Ralph... he asked me to move in with him. And. You know...be with him. For a long time." Harry is smiling down at the ring, his face lit up and he is so very beautiful.
Severus releases his hand and blinks at him.
"This is a... life-changing decision," he intones as blankly as he dares. As his heart dares.
"I know," Harry replies, staring in his face. "I know. And this makes me happy. You... you do want me happy, don't you, Severus?" He says this half-jokingly, half-earnestly and Severus can see the hopeful joy in his young face, how much Harry wants his approval. He smiles so tightly that it may as well be a grimace.
"You'll be happy whether I want it or not," he says cryptically and Harry bites his lip and then decides to take this as a yes.
"Thanks," he smiles; and then this smile breaks out into a huge grin. He gets up and leans over, placing a cool dry kiss on Severus' cheek. Harry whirls to the door in an excited spin of robes, not seeing how Severus places a hand against the spot, feeling foolish even as he does so, because he is a man in his middle-age, acting like a love struck teenaged witch.
Severus drops his hand quickly when Harry turns back around.
"You know," Harry begins, innocent in this utmost cruelty. "I've always figured that if I wasn't with Ralph, I'd be with you. I used to think you were my kind of guy. But I guess I'd drive you mad."
"Undoubtedly," Severus replied, his hands curling under the desk where Harry couldn't see. "For I am no-one's type."
Harry shakes his head and chuckles as he steps out the door. Severus counts to fifteen after he feels the wards seal shut with Harry's departure and then every glass item within five feet cracks develops a single large crack.