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part1

Sanguis-Vinculum

by Meri

 

 


Part 1

"Are you sure about this?" Harry asked, leaning over to examine the contents of the old cauldron. Even though Hermione had assured him that what they were working on couldn't hurt any of them, something about it didn't settle right in his gut. Glancing around the empty class room they'd been using to prepare the potion, Harry could find nothing out of place, nothing seemed wrong. He willed his nerves to calm.

He looked back at Ron and shrugged. "I mean...."

"Yeah. We're sure. We've already been over this." Ron sounded resolute as he continued to stir the mixture. "Hermione should be back in a couple of minutes. With the last of the ingredients." 

"I can't believe she agreed to steal them from Snape." 

"Well, it's not like she hasn't done it before. Besides, it goes to show how much she believes in what we're doing." Ron met his eyes, seeming to convey his surety. He glanced up to look at the clock and then started to stir the cauldron in the opposite direction, his hand moving in perfect circles. 

"If we get caught, Snape will throw a wobbly. We'll all be expelled." Harry trailed off, and sighed. "Snape is looking for an excuse, you know that."

"Yeah." Ron closed his eyes and shivered. "But if this works, we'll be able to join power and defeat You Know Who, once and for all."

"Voldemort," Harry said deliberately. "We can't be afraid to say it, or he'll have won without a fight."

"I know. But I still hate it when you say his name." Ron looked chagrined and then it faded as he nodded towards the cauldron. "I wish we could have found a better one. This one is really old."

"This is the only silver-lined caldron I could find. I tried to buy one in Hogsmeade the last time we were there, but no one had one to sell."

"I know. Seems kind of odd that they are so rare. Be careful of this one. The handle is quite sharp." Ron flicked it up with his finger and it clattered quietly as it hit the rim.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief as the door opened. No one came in and then Hermione appeared as she drew off his invisibility cloak.

"Did you find it?" Harry asked.

"Yes. It was almost too easy." Hermione looked around and then back at them. "If I didn't know better, I would suspect something from Snape."

"What?" Ron raised an eyebrow. "He can't know."

Hermione pushed her bushy hair back from her face, and tied it with a bit of string before she approached them. "No. I know. But...."

"You're just being paranoid, Hermione," Ron said, but he didn't look like he believed it quite as much.

"He's never forgiven me." After last year, and all the problems with the Occlumency lessons, Snape had been even more foul tempered than in previous years. Part of Harry couldn't blame him -- he'd invaded Snape's privacy, but mostly he was too angry at Snape to care.

"For what?" Hermione asked, pulling the last of the ingredients from her pockets and slowly putting them into the cauldron. "Keep stirring, Ron."

"Yeah, mate." Ron looked at him. "Is there something specific that he never forgave you for? I mean, besides the obvious."

"No. Just for being me." Harry hated to lie to them, but despite how he felt about Snape, he could not, would not betray what he saw in the pensive. It was too personal. For both of them. It still hurt too badly to think about. 

"Okay. It's ready." Hermione picked up a sharp looking knife from the table and muttered a few words over it. She handed it to Harry. "I've made sure it's clean. Use it to cut your palm." 

"How deep?" Harry held his hand out with the knife poised over the bubbling mixture. 

"Deep enough to bleed freely. We need three drops."

With a sigh, he slid the knife across his hand, pressing deeply and surpressing a wince when it hurt. The blood welled up from his hand and dripped into the cauldron. He counted out the drops. As soon the first one hit the other ingredients, the mixture started to boil rapidly.

Pulling his hand away, Harry muttered a healing charm and touched the cut with his wand. He watched it close, leaving only a thin red line as evidence.

Hermione spoke several phrases in Latin and the mixture stopped boiling and abruptly turned a murky white.

"Now what?" Ron asked, looking down at it with a grimace.

Hermione picked up the book from the table. "Now we wait exactly five minutes and then you and I drink it." 

"Eww." Ron said, shaking his head. "It's going to taste terrible."

"Doesn't it always?" Harry smiled, looking at the potion. God, it looked like lumpy translucent milk, and smelled nearly as bad. His hand ached a bit, but at least he didn't have to drink it. 

"What are you irresponsible idiots doing in here?" Snape's sneering voice cut through the quiet like a sword through butter. He stalked across the room, his robes flaring as he approached them. "What is this?"

Too stunned to speak, the three of them could only stare. Harry's heart pounded in terror. There was no mercy in Snape's cold black eyes.

In what seemed like slow motion, Snape's hand closed over the ring of metal at the top of the cauldron to remove it from the flame. He grunted, opening his hand and staring down at it.

They all watched as blood welled up from his palm and dripped into the mixture. For one second, no one moved or breathed. A white mist rose out of the cauldron, leaving it empty. It surrounded Harry and Snape, then it seemed to hover for a moment before sinking into them. He looked down at his robes, but there was no trace of it.

Harry exhaled sharply, trying to still his racing pulse with slow deep breaths, trying to tell himself that it meant nothing. Knowing in his heart that he had more to worry about now than being expelled.

Staggering backward, Snape's eyes were wild. "What have you done?" He stood very still, clearly trying to calm himself, too. His voice was deadly as he asked again, "What were you trying to do? What spell did you cast?"

Closing her eyes and then opening them, Hermione sidestepped towards Harry. "We were creating a binding spell so that Harry could share our magic."

"Which spell?" Snape's tone was still deathly calm and all the more frightening for it. "What did you use?"

"Socius-Vinculum." Hermione said. No one dared move as she explained what they had done. Snape's face became more chalky as she spoke. Harry's fear level went up another notch.

"You fools! You utter imbeciles! Do you have any idea what you've done?" The rage in his expression was terrifying, but worse than that was Snape's underlying fear.

He risked a glance at Hermione and Ron. They were both were looking like Harry felt. And there were no words to describe his horror.

"We were trying to help Harry," Ron said, squaring his shoulders for battle. Even at sixteen, he was as tall as Snape and wider through the shoulders. "We didn't want him to have to face... You Know Who... by himself."

"In your overly simplistic vision, you decided to bind yourselves to him." Snape's voice rang with scorn and disgust.

"We were going to drink it, not..." Hermione started to say, but Snape's glare cut her off.

"Do you have any idea what you've done to me?" Snape yelled at them, and then stopped, taking a deep breath.

"Actually," Harry said, having had enough of Snape's accusations. If he were going to be expelled, he might as well go down fighting. "You did it to yourself. I mean, they were--"

"Do shut-up, Mr. Potter." Snape's tone was ever so slightly more restrained than it had been when he'd addressed either Ron or Hermione. "I'll deal with you later. Right now--"

"No." Harry tried to glare at Snape and found it... he wasn't sure, but not as easy as it should have been. He felt almost reluctant to do it. Something had changed and that scared the life out of him. What had they done? "What?" He couldn't find the words to phrase the question. 

"I said to be quiet." Snape didn't look at him. "We will need to see the Headmaster, but right now, I need to understand exactly what Miss Granger has done to me."

"It wasn't just her," Ron said, glaring back at Snape. "It was all of us. Together."

"Yes, Mr. Weasley, of course it was." Snape folded his arms over his chest and sneered at Ron, turning slightly to encompass Hermione in his look as well. "You'll all be expelled for this I'm sure."

No one said anything. Harry knew he was right. They'd made a hash of things. Even as forgiving as Dumbledore was, he wasn't going to excuse this. 

"Now, Miss Granger," Snape breathed, his tone almost silky. "You will explain where and how you got the ingredients for this," he waved his hand at the now-empty cauldron, "mess."

Her eyes flat with dislike, Hermione shook her head. "No. I won't."

"Shall we all go to see the Headmaster, then? I'm sure he won't mind being awakened at this hour of the morning." Snape smiled at them. It was not a pretty smile.

*****

Harry, Hermione and Ron waited outside the Headmaster's office while Snape talked to Dumbledore. It annoyed Harry mightily that they weren't even allowed to defend themselves. Yes, it was wrong that they did it in secret, but it wasn't a bad idea. Maybe they shouldn't have stolen Snape's supplies, but they needed them. It wasn't as if Snape would have helped them.

"Do you have any idea what they have done?" Snape's raised voice startled them. The reply from Dumbledore was more subtle and they couldn't hear it.

Harry looked at Hermione and she wouldn't meet his eyes. A small shiver of concern slid down Harry's spine. He cleared his throat. "What have we done? Is it that bad?"

"It's not life threatening. Well, not exactly," She trailed off and still wouldn't look at him. "I mean--"

"What?" Ron had been very quiet through most of this. "I thought it was a sharing spell. You said--"

Hermione exhaled sharply. "If we had drunk it, it would have bound us to Harry and he would have had access to our magic. As I told you. That isn't what happened." She looked at Harry. Her eyes were sad. "Instead of Socius-Vinculum, a breakable bond with your friends, you have Sanguis-Vinculum a blood-bond with--"

"Snape." Harry wondered idly why he wasn't feeling more horror at the thought of it because some part of him thought he should be having hysterics. "What is that going to mean?"

"A very interesting question, Mr. Potter." Snape stood in the doorway to Dumbledore's office. "Very interesting, indeed. Do come in now."

Silently, they marched into Dumbledore's office and sat down in the semicircle of five chairs before his desk. Dumbledore looked... Harry wasn't sure what he looked like, and that worried him. Usually, there was some expression in his face. Now, there was literally nothing there. That could not be a good thing. "Sir?"

"We have a very serious situation here, Harry," Dumbledore said, standing and moving around his desk to take a seat with them.

"You could say that," Snape leaned against the overstuffed bookcase behind the chairs. "But it would be a vast understatement. Miss Granger," he said her name with terrible disdain. As if he blamed her more than the rest of them. "Why don't you continue with your explanation of the situation?"

Looking away from him, Hermione nodded, her face taking on a slightly pink pallor. "You and Professor Snape are now bound by a blood spell."

"You said that already. What does it mean?" Because Harry's mind was supplying more details than he could possibly live with. "Is there some way to break the bond?"

"No." Snape shook his head. He also wasn't looking at Harry. Indeed his eyes seemed to be focused inward. "Nothing that wouldn't drive both of us mad."

"Hermione?" Harry tried to focus his attention on his hands. He didn't want to look up or around. "Tell me. Please."

She sucked in a breath. "It means that you're going to share..."

Harry felt the panic rising in him again, and he tramped it down as best he could, but the idea of sharing anything personal with Snape made him want to throw up. He'd been there and done that, and really, he'd rather not do it again. "What?" 

"Everything, Mr. Potter." Snape's tone should have been sneering, should have held the usual hatred and it didn't. "Quite literally, everything that you are, everything that you will become, every emotion you have." Then his voice changed, becoming an oily sneer as he glared at Harry. "Did you find the Occlumency lessons invasive? They will seem like a child's game compared to this."

Closing his eyes, Harry willed himself to stay calm and not strike out. "Surely there is something we can do. Can we fight it? Make it less intrusive somehow?"

"Unfortunately, not," Dumbledore said quietly. "As Professor Snape said, there is no way to break a bond made with your own blood, with the blood of both of you. If you fight it, it will become stronger, faster. And will move more quickly toward completion."

"Faster?" Harry shook his head, finally looking up at Dumbledore. "Completion? I don't understand."

"Of course you don't." Snape tone had almost, but not quite its usual, level of sarcasm but he was looking at Hermione. "Miss Granger?"

"I'm not sure." She looked at Dumbledore and he nodded. Her face became a deeper shade of pink. "I think they are saying that you will be soul-bound when it's done."

Harry choked back the bile that threatened to rise from his stomach. "Like married? That kind of soul-bond? To... To--" he couldn't say it. He simply could not. It was too much, too ghastly, too dreadful to even imagine.

"Yes, Mr. Potter. To me." Snape looked down at him. His cold eyes held the exact same horror that Harry felt.

Panic rose in Harry and he stood, his chair crashing back against the wood floor, grating loudly. He looked around, wanting to run, knowing he was being childish and not caring. This went beyond unfair into realms that Harry couldn't begin to contemplate.

A heavy hand fell on his shoulder. "You will not leave here, Mr. Potter." Snape's voice was silky in his ears. "Where is that lauded Gryffindor courage now?"

Harry pulled away and straightened his shoulders, trying to glare at Snape. "I'm not running. However, it's a bit much to be told at sixteen that I've just got married. I need some time to digest this."

"There will be ample time after the explanation." Snape took a step back. "Indeed, you'll have the rest of your miserable life to digest the information."

"There's more?" Harry looked at Ron and then Hermione. Ron's expression reflected everything that he was feeling: horror, disbelief, anger, helplessness. 

Hermione didn't meet his eyes as she nodded. "It's not like marriage. Not quite. It's a bond that has no... no...." Her face went to bright red and she shook her head.

"No what?" Harry asked. From her reaction, he knew this would be even more embarrassing and important.

"No sexual aspect to it," Snape ground out. Before Harry could breathe out a sigh of relief, Snape went on, "However, the bond has a secondary aspect to it that the bond creator did not anticipate."

A cold dread washed through him and Harry wasn't sure how much more he could take. "Oh, God. What?"

"The nature of the bond," Snape paused and cleared his throat, "Makes having a relationship with anyone else," he paused again, and then spat out, "difficult."

"Difficult? How?" Looking at Snape, Harry couldn't help thinking: God, he's so ugly. His hair hung in greasy strands, like it had never been washed. The color in his face was somewhere between chalk white and pasty yellow. His fingers were stained. There was nothing to recommend him at all. Harry was nauseated by the idea he was... married to him. With a shudder, he focused back on the conversation. "Why aren't you as upset as I am? Do you want this?"

"No, Mr. Potter, I can assure you with all sincerity that I do not want anything to do with this travesty. Or the child who perpetrated it upon me. That would be you, in case you didn't realize." Snape frowned at him.

It was disconcerting. "Then why are you being so... so... nice." Well, nice wasn't exactly the right word for Snape's attitude, but saying something like, less awful than usual, probably wouldn't go over well with Dumbledore. He didn't care what Snape thought particularly.

"This is not nice, Mr. Potter. I am not nice." Snape glared at him. "I am certainly not nice to you. I am, however, trying not to fight the bond. Something I think you should take into account or this will become infinitely worse than it already is. Not that I can see how it could be any worse. However, I do not wish to find out I am wrong."

Shivering slightly, he was afraid that Snape might be right. "Why will it be difficult to... um... have a relationship with anyone else?"

"The bond will force us to be close to each other. In ways that lovers are close." Snape said it as if it were the most appalling thing he could imagine.

Strangely enough, that reassured Harry. He didn't sound like he wanted it any more than Harry did. "You said no sex." Harry forced himself to meet Snape's eyes when he said it. God, he could not think about that in any context. It was simply too awful to bear.

"Yes. There is no sexual pull in the bond, no compulsion." Snape sent a pleading look to Dumbledore. 

"However," Dumbledore added. "When one person is very close to another person, they can, and often do, develop sexual feelings for each other."

So for all intent and purposes, he was married to.... It was too much. There had to be something they could do about it. Harry backed away from them all. "I have to go now."

"We are not done yet." Snape hovered near him, but thankfully, did not try to touch him in any way. "There is the matter of punishing what the three of you for what you have done."

Ron and Hermione looked up at Dumbledore. "Sir," Ron said. "We were only trying to help Harry. If he," he nodded his head towards Snape, "hadn't interrupted, we would have been fine."

"Mr. Weasley," Snape looked and sounded perfectly normal now, "do not try and weasel out of this." Snape smirked unpleasantly. "If you and Miss Granger and --" he drew a breath and then went on, "If the three of you had not been breaking at least half a dozen rules, I would not have interrupted you. I think those two should be expelled."

"No." Harry stood up straighter. He wasn't very tall, certainly not as tall as Snape or Ron, but he drew himself up and met Snape's eyes. "The three of us are together in this. You can't expel the two of them without me."

"The Headmaster may do as he sees fit," Snape snarled, not looking at Harry.

"As such," Dumbledore said, "I think that you three need to think about the long-reaching consequences of your actions in the future."

"But sir," Hermione protested, "we couldn't have known this would happen. I mean, how likely was it for Professor Snape to catch us and cut his hand and bind with Harry?"

That could only happen to him, Harry thought morosely. Why was it always him? "She's right, sir. I mean, this is a ludicrous situation."

"That may be, but you are all responsible for it. If you had come to me--" Dumbledore met Harry's eyes, "I would have told you this was possible." He looked at Hermione. "Miss Granger knew it, too."

"Yes, sir. But--"

"No buts." Dumbledore's tone brooked no arguments. "20 house points apiece and a week of detention for all of you. Harry with Professor Snape. Miss Granger with Professor McGonagall and Mr. Weasley with Professor Sprout."

"What? Very well, sir." Snape looked like he'd swallowed something bitter, but he said nothing more.

Hermione, Ron, and Harry all looked at each other. At least they weren't expelled.

*****

Snape turned to Dumbledore as the three miscreants left the Headmaster's office. Even with their heads bowed, he knew they were less than repentant. "60 points and a week's detention, Albus? I find it impossible to believe that you let them off so easily. They should have been expelled."

"To expel Ron and Hermione, I would also have had to expel Harry." Dumbledore's look was slightly exasperated as he picked up a tea pot and filled his cup. "Do you want more tea?"

"No. Thank you." Snape tried to sound polite even though he wanted to kill something, preferably something small and fluffy. "I don't care if he is expelled. In fact, for what he's done to me this time, he should have been--" He couldn't finish the sentence. He wanted to, wanted to say that Harry should have been expelled, should have got a lot worse than that, but the words would not come out of his mouth. Another shiver passed down his spine. 

"Exactly." Dumbledore turned to look at him, holding his teacup and saucer. "Do you understand the effects on you both over the next several months?"

"Of course, I do." In theory, anyway. He suspected it was going to be a lot worse than he was imagining. The very idea of being bonded to Harry bloody Potter made him sick to his stomach. "It's going to change how I deal with that brat."

"More than that, Severus. It's going to change you. And him." Taking a sip of his tea, Dumbledore frowned. He set it back down, and added several more spoonfuls of sugar.

"Oh Merlin, how can you drink it that sweet?" Snape hated sweet tea. Actually, he hated sweets in all forms just on general principal. "Tell me how long you think it's going to take before it takes hold and I lose who I am."

Dumbledore took another sip of his tea and sat back. The usual twinkle in his eyes was noticeably absent, and indeed his expression showed his concern. "There is every chance you won't mind as much as you think you will. You won't care you've been changed."

"I doubt that sincerely," Snape growled. "I care now. A great deal. I'd like to--" He clenched his hand into a fist and tried to force the words out again. "Teach. Him. A. Lesson."

"Do you feel better for being able to say it?" Dumbledore sounded a bit too amused for Snape's taste. "You know as well as I do that fighting this type of long term bond will only make the transition more difficult."

"You seem very calm about this, Albus." Snape closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Calm was not something he could manage right then. Smacking the insipid smirk off Harry Potter's face rated high on his list of favored activities right then. "I don't even like the brat."

"You will come to love him. Dearly." Dumbledore said it as if it were not a bad thing. Almost as if it were something he should look forward to. 

"I'd rather not." That he could have such feelings at all made his intestines want to wrap around themselves in disgust.

Smiling again, and this time it did reach his eyes, Dumbledore said, "You don't hate him nearly as much as you would have everyone believe you do."

Well, he shouldn't expect to fool Dumbledore, even if the old man didn't know half as much as he thought he did; Dumbledore did know him. "Be that as it may. I'm certain he hates me every bit as much as I think he does."

At least Dumbledore couldn't deny that. Not that it would matter if he had, nothing would change the fact that Potter, with very good reason, loathed him. "Although Harry does dislike you, that will change as well," Dumbledore said. 

"I'd much prefer that it didn't." It was easier all the way around if Harry Potter hated his guts, and he could pretend to feel the same way. It wasn't as if he liked the foolish, brave child, anyway.

"As with many things, what you wish will not have anything to do with what happens." Dumbledore had a sigh in his voice. "I know this will not be easy for either one of you."

"I am aware of that." A tremor of something Snape would not acknowledge passed through him. He slouched back in his chair, his shoulders slumping down. "I fear what will happen to me once Voldemort finds out."

"I'm not sure how he would be able to do so." Shaking his head, Dumbledore took a last sip of his tea and set the cup and saucer on the table between them. "It seems to me that he would not be able to sense it from your mind. You've blocked your spying for years."

"If my attitude towards Mr. Potter changes too greatly, others will notice and report it. I am already finding it difficult to speak to him and about him as I always have. I despair to think of the future if I do come to..." the words were like acid in his throat, "...care about him."

Understanding and apprehension in his eyes, Dumbledore nodded. "You shall have to find ways to compensate for your feelings. And his."

"You do realize that even if this manages to be a slow process, in all likelihood the brat will be in love with me before he leaves school." Of all the indignities he'd been subjected to and would be subjected to, that would be the worst. The very thought of how out of control the situation could become sent a shard of pure fear into his heart.

Dumbledore stroked a hand down his beard. "Quite probably. In all likelihood, you will fall in love with him as well. It might even be sooner--"

"Please do not say that." Snape looked away, unable to meet Dumbledore's eyes as revulsion rose in his throat. To be in love with James Potter's son. Surely, after everything, fate could not be that cruel. "I don't want to think about that part." Something else occurred to him. "I swear to you I would never--"

Holding up a hand, Dumbledore stopped him before he could express the unthinkable. "I know that. I know you. I suspect that shall be the hardest part of all of this."

"Not buggering the boy? I--" Snape shuddered. "I am not a paedophile. I do not sleep with children."

"He's not a child. However, he is a student." Dumbledore's tone should have carried a warning, even a slight one, but it didn't. "I trust you will do the right thing with Harry."

Putting his head into his hands, Snape groaned. Dumbledore's trust was misplaced, Snape knew it. It hadn't even started yet, and already he'd had enough. "I do not want to have to." He looked up. "I know the basics of this situation; is there anything else I should expect?"

"Just that you will be required to spend time with Harry. Try to do so as peacefully as possible until the bond settles."

"That may not be so easy accomplished." Snape stood, wishing there were someone or something he could appeal to for clemency, but of course, there was no one. 

Dumbledore looked troubled. "No. I expect that it won't."

*****

Harry paused in front of Snape's office door, it was a few minutes before 8:00. Usually, detention was from Monday to Friday nights, but Dumbledore decided they would serve seven days. Tonight through next Saturday. He'd spent the day avoiding everyone, especially Snape. Not that it mattered since he was here now.

Gathering his courage around him, he knocked. 

Snape answered promptly and beckoned him in with a nod.

Standing just inside the door, Harry looked around. It hadn't changed much since the last time he'd been in here. Thick, ugly, grey-white walls, a big desk at one end, sitting below a high, heavily leaded window, rows of common ingredients on shelves, many of which he'd chopped, diced, and mashed during previous detentions. Idly he wondered just how many detentions he'd severed with Snape over the past five and a half years.

"Sir?" Harry watched as Snape seated himself behind his desk. "What did you want me to do?"

"Do?" Snape glanced at him with a raised eyebrow. "Why, Mr. Potter. Did you actually plan to do something?"

When Snape was in one of these moods, where his anger was barely contained, Harry had found that nothing he could say would help the situation. He took a breath and steeled himself. "Detention, sir. Aren't I supposed to do some unpleasant task for you?"

"Well, Miss Granger is studying with Professor McGonagall. Mr. Weasley is flying with Professor Sprout. Why would you think that I'd make you do anything more unpleasant than that?" Snape spoke through his teeth, but he didn't sound anywhere near as angry as Harry thought he should be. "Why should you think you'd be punished for this last little stunt?"

"Sir?" God, it was going to be like this, was it? Snape could be such an irritating bastard. "Why don't you tell me what you want me to do, and let me do it. All right?"

"No, Mr. Potter, it is not all right." Snape drew in a deep breath and let it out very slowly. "I want...."

"What?" Harry ground out after a pause of several seconds. He hated waiting for the other shoe to drop, hated having to even ask. "Just tell me already."

"Shut up, you brainless moron." Snape walked across the long, narrow office. He stood in front one of his shelves of potions, flexing his hands. "Let's try this again."

As he watched, Snape's fingers curled into fists, and then they released for the third time. "Yes, sir," Harry said.

"Sit." Snape pointed towards the sofa. "Now."

"Yes, sir." Harry sat with his back stiff and his shoulders straight. He was almost afraid to move lest he incur more of Snape's wrath.

Snape started to pace back and forth across the worn carpet. After a few minutes, Harry's patience was wearing thin. If he spoke, he'd bring attention back to himself, and if he didn't he might go mad from watching Snape pacing. Harry shifted and the leather of the sofa creaked.

Which was enough to settle Snape's attention back on him. "So, what shall we do with you?"

"Sir?" In the myriad bad moods he'd seen Snape in, this one was new. He had no idea what would help or hurt matters. 

"It seems it falls to me to complete your education on the bond that you've forced upon me." Could Snape sound any more put upon? As if Harry had done it on purpose.

"Not just you, sir." He glared at Snape. "You're not the only one who is affected by this."

Pointing a long finger at him, Snape scowled. "You, at least, had a choice."

"I was going to bind with Hermione and Ron, not you." Harry shuddered, still not quite believing that something like this could happen. "I would never, ever, have done this with you."

"I could not agree more." Snape sneered again. "However, you certainly had more of a choice in the matter than I did."

It wasn't his fault. "You didn't have to interrupt us."

Snape sat down beside him. Running his hand through his greasy hair, Snape seemed to let some of his tension go. "We've been over this once already. We need not do it again. Let's move on to something more productive, shall we?"

Having geared up for a major row, the winds were now knocked out of Harry's sails. He was without a focus for his anger. "What would that be, sir?"

"That would be first understanding what is happening and then attempting, no matter how disagreeable it may be, to deal with it." Snape sounded nearly reasonable.

That didn't settle well in Harry's stomach. A nice Snape was an unpredictable Snape. Far too scary a concept for Harry. "Explain it to me."

Beside him, Snape tensed at his tone and then relaxed in stages. "The spell hasn't quite settled yet. It will within the next few days." Surprisingly, he spoke normally to Harry or what was as close as Snape could come to it.

A shiver rode down Harry's spine and he hid his fear behind a cold look. "What does that mean?"

"If you cease being an impertinent brat and let me explain," Snape began, but then stopped. Again, he seemed to force himself to be calm. "It means that you will start to feel a compulsion to be nice to me."

"I can't believe that," Harry said without thinking. As far as he knew there was nothing short of an act of God that could make him like Snape. Or a blood-bond, he reminded himself. His shoulders slumped. "I mean--"

"I know what you mean." Snape looked at him with annoyance in his eyes. "I agree. However, I believe this will be the first stage."

"We'll be nice to each other? It could be worse." Being nice would be okay. He didn't have to like him.

"Try and pay attention, you--" Snape cut himself off, and closed his eyes. "It will get worse. I promise you. It will get infinitely worse. The second stage will require us to spend time together."

"How much time?" He tried to tell himself that spending time with Snape wouldn't be that bad, but even as he formed the thought, he knew it would be dreadful. 

"I'm not sure. The text I was reading--"

"There's something written about this kind of thing?" That didn't come out as he'd meant it. He sounded like an idiot and from Snape's disgusted expression, Harry knew what he was going to say before he said.

"You aren't that stupid, are you?" Snape shook his head mockingly. "Yes, of course you are."

Even knowing he shouldn't do it, Harry's anger racheted up a notch and his patience down one and he snapped out, "I'm not stupid and you should know it. You--"

"Do not say it, Mr. Potter. Do not." Snape gave him a warning look. "As far as I've ever seen, you're stupid and impulsive and irresponsible." 

Harry clenched his jaw shut on a rebuttal and tried to remember this was a teacher, someone he needed to be respectful to, no matter how he actually felt about the prat. "Yes, sir."

"No reason to get angry at me. It's the truth." Snape sounded so perfectly reasonable again, as if it were all right for him to insult Harry. 

"As you see it, sir. Not as I see it." Harry knew Snape probably thought it was his right to be rude. Nothing Harry could say or do would change that.

"What would you call last night?" Snape smirked at him, obviously playing his trump card.

Not impressed, Harry met his eyes, glowering at him with impotent fury. "I'd call it a mistake."

"A mistake you say? A mistake that I am going to have to live with for the rest of my life." Snape took another breath and suddenly looked tired. "This is not productive."

"You keep saying that." Harry stood up. If he didn't move, he'd go mad. He paced a few steps up to the desk and then back. "What's the next stage?"

"The third stage is more vague than the second one." Snape glared at him. "Sit down."

Hesitating for a second, Harry decided there was no benefit in defiance and sat. "Which is?"

"We'll start to know each other's emotions." The horror in Snape's tone matched precisely what Harry was feeling as he heard him say it.

Shuddering deeply, Harry felt panic rise in him. "Oh, God." 

"Exactly. And it gets worse. We'll eventually be able to share each other's power." Snape looked properly appalled at that. "You will need to learn a great deal about control by then."

"What about you?" Harry had had just about enough of this. "You'll need to control yourself, too."

Snape gave him a completely disbelieving look. "I can already control my power, as well as my emotions."

Shaking his head, Harry couldn't help but smirk at him. "Really? I hadn't ever noticed that you could control that temper of yours."

"Ill-mannered brat," Snape snarled. He opened his hands and closed them again into fists. "Just be quiet and listen for once in your misbegotten life."

Harry was no longer in the mood to listen to the insults or anything else Snape might have to say. "Nice from you might be an interesting change. You certainly don't know anything about how to go about it, do you."

"Despite what you obviously think, I am trying." Snape took another breath. "You are too stupid to have any idea what is good for you, too stupid to realize just how close to the edge you are right now."

"Oh, I see you're trying so hard. You don't have any idea in the world what is good for me." Harry let out a bitter laugh. "I would almost think befriending Voldemort would be easier that this."

Turning white, Snape bared his teeth. "No, Mr. Potter. It is you who has no idea. None whatsoever."

Perhaps he'd gone too far, Harry conceded, but he could not stop himself. "No. I don't. And I don't want to. On either case."

"You're hopeless." Snape voice was soft and venomous. "Get out of here, you worthless creature. I can't stand the sight of you."

Harry fled.

*****

Only to be required to return the following night. 

Once again Harry hesitated before he knocked. As long as he hadn't thought about Snape, he felt okay during the day. Unfortunately, when he did let his mind drift in that direction, to Snape, he found his thoughts... he wasn't sure what the right word was, but softened came to mind. He couldn't bring up his righteous anger or hatred for Snape. It was almost as if it wasn't there anymore, but he knew it was, since he knew he still felt it.

In class, Snape had not spoken one word to him, though he'd taken points from almost every other Gryffindor in the room, much to the delight of the Slytherins. After class nearly everyone had a comment on how Snape hadn't taken points from Harry, but there wasn't much he could do or say about it.

Hermione and Ron knew, of course, and they were more than sympathetic. It was all too humiliating for words.

The door opened before he could decide whether or not to knock. "Mr. Potter." Snape just stood there, looking at him with a particularly unpleasant gleam in his eyes.

"Sir." Harry pushed past him into the room. "Do you have an assignment for me tonight?"

"Nothing more than last night." Snape sounded almost defeated and Harry wondered if he might also be confused, but decided that was unlikely.

"Yes sir." He sat down on the sofa and waited for Snape to do or say something.

Snape looked at him, and he could not meet his eyes.

"I can see you're starting to feel the effects," Snape said after a lengthy silence. There was almost no inflection in his tone.

"Yes, sir." Harry glanced up at him and then quickly away again. He didn't want to see Snape feeling the same thing he was. "It's disconcerting."

"I expect so." Snape seemed about to smile, but thankfully, he didn't.

As much as he hated to be nice, he couldn't help asking, "For you too, sir?"

Instead of an insult or a curse, which Harry expected, Snape shrugged. "Why would you think it would be different for me?"

"You're older. I thought maybe you could fight it better than me." Perhaps that was wishful thinking, but if Snape could fight it, then maybe he could, too.

"There is no fighting. I've told you that already." Snape opened his mouth to continue, and then did not.

Somehow, that made Harry feel a little better. "How long does each stage last?"

"Finally, an intelligent question." Snape's tone wasn't harsh, indeed it was nearly pleasant. Or what passed for it from him. "Unfortunately, I don't know the answer."

"What?" Harry glared at him, annoyed. "How could you--" he cut himself off as his anger faded away to nothing. "What just happened?"

Snape shook his head, looking rather smug. "You were angry and the feeling went away?"

"Yes."

"What did I tell you yesterday?"

Bloody hell. "When the bond settled that I would not be able to stay angry at you."

"Correct. Ten points to Gryffindor for finally getting an answer correct." Snape looked absolutely appalled by what had come out of his mouth.

"You're joking?" Harry felt all the blood drain out of his face. He could not believe that just happened. "In the five and a half years I've been here, I've never seen you give house points to anyone other than Slytherin." 

"I don't. Unfortunately, once it's said, it's done." Hanging his head, Snape sighed dejectedly. "This will be much worse than I imagined."

Harry almost felt sorry for him, but after a moment's consideration, he decided the git deserved it. Then he rejected the thought and sighed. "People will know."

"That is going to be the greater problem of this. We are going to need to work together so that my true allegiances are not discovered." Snape seemed worried as he glanced at Harry. "It also goes without saying that this bond must remain a secret."

"I'm not sure how we're going to do that," Harry said. "You just gave me house points. Can you take them away?"

Snape started to speak and then stopped, shaking his head. He looked resigned. "Apparently not."

Harry smiled at him.

"You're too much the Gryffindor to use this against me." Snape sounded very sure of that.

Opening his mouth to disagree, Harry found it was true after all. Bugger. He supposed that Snape knew him well enough by now to be assured. "I wouldn't do that."

Instead of saying something scathing, or even looking smug, Snape merely nodded. "It isn't even part of the bond."

"Speaking of the bond," Harry asked. "Why does it do this in stages? I mean, why not get to where we can share magic immediately? I would have been able to share Hermione and Ron's magic after they drank the potion."

"The bond, the blood bond part was originally to produce trust and loyalty between warring wizards." There was a touch of irony in Snape's voice that Harry could appreciate.

"Not unlike us." Harry looked at him. "Why would they do it? Agree to the bond, I mean?"

"No. Very astute, Mr. Potter. Not unlike us at all." Snape turned his head away, but not before Harry could see him fight a smile. ""The reason they did it was simply that they were usually forced to it by someone else. An elder in the family, someone of higher rank.

"It was found over time that if the wizards were forced to that intimacy too quickly it was found they could and did destroy each other. They needed time to adjust to the idea. So the bond was set to work in stages."

"Why didn't we know about it?"

"If you will remember, Miss Granger did know about it."

"She didn't mention it." Harry wondered about that, but it was too late to worry about it now. Maybe he'd ask her later. "Why isn't more known?"

"Because it fell out of use with most blood magics. Once set, the bond is irreversible. It's carried by the blood. Blood magic is the strongest of all kinds since it is bound by our blood." Snape looked at him seriously. "Be very grateful that the spell wasn't a love spell."

Harry shuddered and couldn't meet Snape's eyes. If he was going to end up... "It's not much better."

Snape folded his arms over his chest, but instead of looking menacing, he looked like he was trying to protect himself. "Would you care to have added a sexual compulsion to what you are feeling now?"

"No." Harry looked away. Seeing Snape as anything other than his nemesis bothered him in a way he could not explain. Like last year, when he'd felt sorry for the bastard for the way his father and Sirius had treated him, he hadn't known what to do with those feelings, so he'd brushed them away. It wasn't going to work anymore, he suspected. "But you said..."

"That it is likely we will develop..." For a moment, Snape looked uncomfortable, but it was so brief that Harry thought he might be imaging things. "As I said, that is the secondary component of the bond. It is very likely we will..." 

"Will what?" Focusing on what Snape was likely to say, Harry felt his stomach roil at the implications. Still, he had to hear it. "Tell me please," Harry said, trying to prepare himself for the inevitable.

"We will find that, over time, we will form a deep attachment to each other." Snape's voice was quiet, and he sounded every bit as disconcerted as Harry felt.

"Do you even have those kinds of relationships now?" Harry couldn't imagine anyone wanting to sleep with Snape and the idea that he might want to -- even in some dark and distant future -- nauseated him.

"How dare--" Snape closed his eyes and when he opened them again, the anger Harry knew had been there was gone. "Yes. I have had those kinds of relationships in the past. Do you find that so hard to believe?"

Some part of Harry didn't want to answer, didn't want to be unnecessarily cruel. "Yes," he said, despite his reluctance.

Snape didn't look upset or surprised by the answer. "Did you feel compelled to answer and to be truthful?"

"Yes. Is that the bond working?" Oh. Bloody hell. Harry closed his eyes, considering what that could mean in his life. A fine trembling raced through him. "I won't be able to lie to you?"

"Nor I to you." It surprised him that Snape would volunteer such information. Maybe the bond forced him as well.

They were even, then. It wasn't as bad as Harry expected it might have been. He'd be able to give as good as he got. "That could be interesting."

"No doubt. However, you might wish to think twice before asking me anything if you do not wish to know the unvarnished truth." There was a definite warning in Snape's expression.

That wasn't a bad idea, Harry conceded with a nod. They remained silent for a long time after that. Finally, Harry was released to go back to his dorm. He had a lot of thinking to do.

 
 

 

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