Best Man, by Fox.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, J.K. Rowling.

Snape came fully awake just in time to realize that the itch on his neck, which had introduced itself in his dream in the form of a scratchy collar, was gone. He didn't open his eyes, but lay still for a moment – enjoying the comfort of the bed and the pillow and the fact that he'd had a complete night's sleep and been allowed to wake naturally, instead of answering to some chime or half-remembered post-traumatic nightmare. Finally, he stretched and hummed and opened his eyes.

Harry was awake, lying on his side, one hand propping up his head and the other in the hollow between Snape's neck and shoulder. "I'm sorry if I woke you," he murmured, with a smile that made him look as if he weren't sorry at all. "I was watching you sleep, and you were squirming a little, so I tried to rub the itch out for you so you wouldn't wake up." He stroked the spot in question gently with his thumb.

"You didn't wake me." Snape pulled Harry down for a lazy, undemanding kiss. "What time is it?"

"'Bout half twelve. Want some breakfast?"

"Are you cooking?"

"Wasn't planning on it. It just seemed like the thing to say." Harry smiled impishly. Snape would almost have sworn he winked.

"Very well, then," Snape said, pushing himself to sit up against the pillows. "Coquo accioque prandium," he said, turning his wand in a circle and tapping its end against his index finger.

"Which one is that?" Harry asked, sitting up on his hip. "Eggs and sausages, isn't it?"

"Raspberry crepes," Snape said, as a tray rolled in bearing parchment-thin pancakes, warm bitter raspberry syrup, and strong coffee, "and you can't have any."

"Very well, then." Harry's imitation was unsettling in its accuracy. Snape raised an eyebrow and turned to his meal. "Hermione's invitation came in yesterday's post," Harry added after a few moments.

He must have waited until Snape's mouth was full before making this announcement. Snape looked sternly at him while he swallowed his mouthful of crepes – as sternly as one could look, when one was naked and sleep-rumpled with a linen napkin in one's lap and raspberry sauce, inexplicably, on the second knuckle of one's left thumb.

"Invitation? You'll have to refresh my memory."

"You were in the village with the students."

Sometimes Snape thought Harry must be deliberately trying to provoke him. "I know where I was yesterday when the post arrived," he said with as much patience as he could muster. "What's this about an invitation?"

"Very funny. The wedding is in six weeks." Harry stole a maverick raspberry and hopped out of bed, heading for the bureau. "Do you suppose we can get you a grey waistcoat before then, so there's a chance you won't be mistaken for the vicar?"

"I didn't think –" Snape paused and considered his words – "I didn't realize we were expecting to attend Miss Granger's wedding."

Harry turned and looked at him curiously. "Of course you did. It's been on for months. I remember telling you when she asked me and Ron to stand up in it."

"The idea of the two of you as bridesmaids," Snape muttered. "What I mean is, I hadn't assumed I'd be going."

"Why on earth not?"

"I understood the notification to be a courtesy. I didn't think my actual presence would be particularly welcome."

Harry rolled his eyes and sighed. The effect was quite silly – certainly much more so than he'd intended, combined as it was with the fact that he was stark naked apart from five neckties draped over one arm. "The sooner you get past the idea that people just put up with you because of me," he began.

"It's not that I think people don't like me," Snape said, setting his plate aside and pouring a cup of coffee. "Rather the reverse, in fact. I have no wish to upset Miss Granger on her wedding day by reminding her –"

"Reminding her of what?" Snape raised one eyebrow at Harry over the rim of his coffee cup. Harry gave a snort. "Oh, that? Please. You think she's still not over you? It was a schoolgirl crush, that was all."

There was nothing so unflattering as having one's young lover casually discard the idea that others of his generation might find one attractive. "It was no different from your schoolboy crush on me, if I'm not mistaken," Snape said pointedly.

"You are mistaken, actually," Harry said – but he recognized the acid in Snape's tone and dropped back onto the bed, causing Snape's coffee to slosh alarmingly in the cup. Harry tossed the neckties to the foot of the bed with a flick of his wrist and leaned on one hip and elbow next to Snape. "In the first place, you didn't hear this from me, but when Hermione came to your office to, you know, fling herself at you, she'd never had –" Snape cleared his throat; Harry flashed a smile – "a serious relationship. So she was just interested in a whole different way than I was, for a start."

Snape opened his mouth to speak, but Harry laid one finger over his lips and continued. "In the second place, she could talk herself into fancying anyone if the idea occurred to her. And she could talk herself out of it even quicker. And in the third place, when she found out that I'd ... succeeded where she'd failed," he grinned, tracing Snape's mouth now with a fingertip, "she didn't speak to me for about nine hours. Whereas if she'd got you and I hadn't, even if it turned out to be nothing, I probably still wouldn't be able to speak to her even now – because it would hurt too much."

Harry leaned in and nudged Snape's lips with his own until Snape parted them, and they kissed unhurriedly. The taste of Harry's mouth always made Snape think of lime juice and black pepper, and was somehow – even when it should have clashed with whatever taste was on Snape's own tongue – never unpleasant. Snape licked at the inside of Harry's lower lip until Harry gently pulled away.

"And besides," Harry murmured, taking Snape's coffee cup and putting it on the tray – it took him two attempts to avoid setting it on the rim of the pancake plate, but he managed – "she's getting married. Bit rough on Eric, don't you think, to assume she's just settling for him and still carrying a torch for you?"

"If she doesn't –" Snape began; but before he had even got that far, Harry's mouth was on his again. Probably just as well. He'd much rather kiss Harry than slog through an earnest discussion, which would inevitably have been the result if he'd given voice to the entire thought (If she doesn't want people to think she's settling, she shouldn't be marrying a Muggle, no matter how well-off a family he comes from). He should have considered that before he'd started speaking, of course, but given that he hadn't, it was good (for once, instead of maddening) that Harry had interrupted him. He wrapped Harry up in his arms.

Harry pulled and scooted until they were both lying down again among the pillows. Snape started to roll them over, but Harry pressed gently on his shoulder before he'd even leaned up on his elbows. He lay back as Harry settled on top of him, not moving his hands yet, just warm and heavy and comfortable.

His lips were soft and sweet and familiar. His tongue was smooth and damp and wonderful. His breath, when he left Snape's mouth to move along his jaw and down his neck, was hot and made Snape shiver. Snape slid his hands over Harry's skin and whispered he knew not what; Harry lifted his head, briefly, and smiled.

Snape closed his eyes and welcomed the sensation of drifting. In his mind, he could see Harry licking at his nipple, nibbling his collarbone, kissing the inside of his elbow; slowly, Harry attended to every part of Snape's body with his lips or his hands or the two-day-old stubble on his chin. Snape felt his arousal building, but without any sense of urgency. He suspected that if Harry drew a fingertip down the center of his chest just right, his body would hum like a crystal water goblet.

When Harry reached his cock and licked softly at the head, Snape felt as though he'd taken his boots off after a long journey. He sighed and reached down to stroke Harry's forehead. Harry turned his head long enough to press a kiss into Snape's palm, then bent back to his cock.

He could stay like this forever. Nothing could be more satisfying – lying in a warm bed after a safe night's sleep and a good meal, being made love to by a man who knew seven thousand ways to turn him to jelly. Snape patted Harry's shoulder with his other hand, and Harry brought his own hand up and twined their fingers together as he licked, gently, and sucked, gently.

Snape had no idea how much time passed before his orgasm broke over him, rather more like a good rainstorm than a tidal wave. He opened his eyes again to see Harry's head on his belly, just as he knew it would be, and Harry's eyes on his.

"You're looking pleased with yourself," Snape said.

"Some reason I shouldn't be?" Harry grinned and crawled up to curl himself into Snape's side, to lay his head on Snape's shoulder. His cock was soft and sticky where it pressed against Snape's hip.

"Evidently not."

"No complaints from you. You enjoyed my breakfast much more than I enjoyed yours."

Snape sighed. "You might as well get that grey waistcoat, then, if I'm to go to Miss Granger's wedding," he said, closing his eyes. Against his chest, he felt Harry's smile widen, just before he drifted back to sleep.

They did not speak of the Granger girl's wedding again, and indeed Snape almost forgot about it entirely, until one Thursday in December when his students were suffering from advanced premature holiday excitement.

He returned home utterly drained of energy – perhaps he'd threaten to retire if he was ever again given a double period of first-years at the very end of the day. Surely he had some seniority he could wield in this case. Wearily, he climbed the stairs to the flat; Harry appeared in front of him as soon as he'd closed the door.

"I've got seven waistcoats for you to choose from," Harry said, without preamble. Snape glared at him. Harry seemed not to notice. "Pick one for the wedding on Saturday, and one for Sunday morning."


"And there's matching cravats," Harry said, ignoring him.

Purple. Orange. Yellow. He couldn't imagine what Harry had been thinking.

"Aubergine," Harry corrected, when Snape said as much. "Paprika, and banana. And if you don't like those, you don't have to wear them."

"Is there some reason you're referring to all these colors with names of foods? It's not a palette, it's a smorgasbord."

"I don't make them up. That's what Madam Malkin said they were called."

"And I thought I'd agreed to wear grey in an effort not to resemble the clergyman – not some appalling cake-icing shade of –"

"She didn't have anything in grey," Harry said over his shoulder as he went into the bedroom. "Pick two of those, will you? I'm trying to pack for the weekend."

Snape glared at the bedroom door, and then glared at the sofa again. He picked up the purple waistcoat and tie, and, after looking at the rest of them for as long as he could bear to, the dark red as well. He felt a keen desire to vanish the others, but suspected that would cause Harry some trouble with Malkin, so he resisted.

"You owe me," he snarled when he brought his (reluctant) selections to Harry. "I don't know what, but I shall keep your debt to me in mind and call it in when I require some unpleasant favor."

"Oh, good," Harry said, taking the waistcoats from him. "Wear the garnet to the wedding, eh? It'll be nice next to this crimson Hermione's got us wearing."

"You and –"

"Me and Ron. She thought it was –" Harry looked up at the corner of the ceiling as he tried to remember his friend's exact words – "still evocative of Gryffindor scarlet, though rather less shocking and thus more appropriate for a formal occasion." He grinned. "Don't want to turn up looking like we're kitted out for a Quidditch match, do we? The twins might get the wrong idea – not that they'd need our help, really ..."

Snape blinked. He knew he shouldn't have been surprised to hear that Fred and George Weasley would also be at the wedding; but he'd forgotten, somehow, that Harry's (and therefore also Hermione Granger's) friendship with Ron had led to a close relationship with the entire Weasley family. It was an aspect of the wedding it had not even occurred to him to consider.

"How many Weasleys will be there?" he asked, careful to make the question sound equal parts idle curiosity and mild contempt.

Harry shrugged and carried on packing. "All of them, I expect. Charlie's even coming in with what's-her-name, Ron says. Hand me that other shoe, will you? I'm going to Apparate around midday tomorrow, but it'll be just about dinner time if you come down after your last class." He turned to Snape and raised one eyebrow. "So don't waste time giving detentions or anything."

He had no apparent interest in the Weasley question. Snape was faintly surprised, but certainly not inclined to press the point. "I wouldn't dream of it," he said. "Nothing could keep me from hurrying to witness Miss Granger's vows in such company."

As it happened, all day Friday no student committed any offense worth more than five or ten House points. No opportunities to give detentions presented themselves. Snape considered resenting the hell out of that, as it seemed Harry, or someone working on a tip from Harry, had warned the entire student population that this was not the day to cross him. As if he couldn't have resisted the inclination on his own, he thought sourly as he locked his office and started back toward the stairs up to the main entrance. What good was making a promise if one was never permitted even to try to keep it?

Snape was three steps from the carved oak door when he heard his name called from the staff room corridor. He sighed, but stopped and turned and made an effort not to glare as Lupin strode toward him.

"Severus. Minerva and I wondered how you were getting to Rushden this weekend. You're welcome to share our portkey, if you and Harry haven't already got plans."

"We have, actually," Snape said.

It took Lupin a moment, evidently, to realize that Snape didn't mean to say any more. "Ah." He scratched his chin. "Well, then, I suppose we'll see you there."

"So it would seem."

"Good evening, then," Lupin said, and knit his brow as he turned back toward the staff room.

At the foot of the stone stairs in front of the castle, Snape summoned a thestral-drawn carriage for the short trip to Hogsmeade. Had it been warmer, he might have walked, but getting slush in his boots would be just the thing to ruin his day completely.

The creature headed back toward Hogwarts almost before Snape's feet touched the ground. He stepped away quickly, yanking his cloak back to make sure it wasn't caught in the door, and – grumbling under his breath – went up to the flat to collect his luggage and make sure Harry hadn't left the gas on.

Burners off, windows locked, shaving things in a case; there was a note from Harry on the bathroom sink. "S – brought all the clothes with me in one suitcase, so you can't 'accidentally' leave anything behind. Sorry. Apparate to Room 9 at the Frog and Nightgown. Dinner's at 6. Not sure where, so I'll have to come get you once I find out. Sorry. Don't forget to lock windows – H."

Snape rolled his eyes and made one more pass through the flat gathering things he expected he'd need at the weekend; then, seeing that it was ten minutes to six already, he locked the door, turned out the lights, and Disapparated.

Room Nine was full of dark wood and heavy fabric, and had, Snape was mildly surprised to note, a private bath, which he understood to be rare among Muggle public houses of this vintage. Harry's suitcase was open on the rack, with a shirt draped over one edge of it and sundry other articles on the bed, over the arm of a chair, jumbled in an open drawer. Snape found Harry's cloak and hung it, with his own, on the coat rack near the door. He returned to the suitcase to try and make some order out of the heap of clothing and found, laid on top of the pile, another note from Harry: "S – dinner in restaurant downstairs – come down when you get in – 5:45 now, going down to be sociable – H."

Snape hung and folded the various shirts and trousers flung about the room before stepping out into the narrow corridor, where he realized he had no key with which to lock the door behind him. He tried to lock it from the inside and then close it, but as he'd anticipated, this failed; the deadbolt device that kept Muggles from opening a closed door also kept them from closing an open one, which had always struck him as rather stupidly earnest.

He briefly considered leaving the room unlocked, but at the very idea he felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. He'd have to lock it using magic, and he'd have to do it inconspicuously; there was no telling when the next Muggle might come up the stairs or through one of the neighboring doors.

A locking charm wouldn't do. It was just the thing in a wizarding building, where everyone knew the same spells and it was important to set a door to admit only oneself or one's authorized guests. Here, though, the Muggles used their metal keys much as wizards used passwords – which meant that some Muggle member of the hotel staff might come along expecting to be able to get into the room, which meant that Snape had to leave the door magic-free and figure out a way to get that thrice-damned deadbolt shut.

Finally, after two solid minutes of turning the lever back and forth, peering at the bolt and the doorjamb and into the keyhole, closing his eyes and feeling for the vibrations with his fingertips as he locked and unlocked the open door, he had a solution. "Vectis defigo," he murmured, touching the tip of his wand briefly to the end of the deadbolt. As he drew the wand away, the deadbolt extended and the lever turned. Excellent. He closed the door, moved his wand slightly to the side, and heard the bolt strike home; he murmured a Finite, waved his wand back in the other direction, and tried the door.

The bolt had not reopened; the door was locked. Snape sighed gratefully, slid his wand into his sleeve, and stalked down the corridor imagining what he'd have to say to Harry, when he got downstairs, on the subject of room keys.

Everyone was just moving to sit down when he reached the dining-room. Harry's back was to him; Snape saw Ron Weasley notice him and nod in his direction, and saw Harry turn to look over his shoulder, and saw Harry's face light up.

Snape felt his shoulders stiffen just a little. Harry had always been so transparent. Snape had given up on trying to get him to be less demonstrative, unless wishing could be considered trying; and, though he'd scarcely admit it even to himself, he didn't even wish it wholeheartedly. He was – secretly – pleased not only that Harry was so delighted to see him, but also that Harry saw no reason to hide this delight from others. Sometimes, Snape felt, he'd had enough of hiding.

But in the main, of course, hiding was what he knew, and there was a lot to be said for not showing one's cards before it was time. He couldn't help thinking it wouldn't be at all a bad thing if Harry learned to temper his effusiveness. Just a bit.

Harry beamed as Snape reached his side, leaned up for a quick hello kiss, and pulled him by the elbow into the group he'd gathered with. "You know Ron and Chiara, of course," he was saying ("Miss Borgia. Mr. Weasley." "Professor." "Nice to see you again."), "and this is Eric's sister, Helen, and Michael Fuller. Severus Snape." Snape managed a tight smile as he shook hands.

Naturally, Weasley monopolized Harry through the entire meal. The Borgia girl was laughing and chatting with them; Snape was cornered between the two strangers. It couldn't possibly be important to anyone that he have a pleasant conversation with Hermione Granger's future sister-in-law, but oddly enough the conversation was pleasant all the same. The Bennetts were apparently the right sort of Muggles, the sort who had no objections to a witch in the family. Like the Grangers, Snape supposed. If the majority of Muggles took that attitude, wizard-kind wouldn't feel the need to be so insular.

"And if wizard-kind weren't so insular, more Muggles would realize we're nothing to be afraid of and welcome us into their families," Harry said on the way back to the room when Snape mentioned this. "That's a discussion I'm completely sick of – you should hear Hermione and Arthur talking about it. They just agree with each other louder and louder until all you can do is get the hell out of the house." He stopped at the door to Room Nine.

Snape looked at him. "What are you waiting for?"

Harry looked back at him expectantly. "You, to open the door."

"I haven't got a key."

"Of course you have. I left it for you."

Snape folded his arms. "If you had left me a key, I wouldn't have needed to spend five minutes coming up with a way to lock a Muggle deadbolt with a spell."

"I left it in the pocket of my cloak."

"Then it's hardly a surprise that I didn't see it."

Harry rattled the doorknob, though why, Snape could only guess. Possibly for the same reason some people persisted in shaking a vial over a cauldron immediately after looking and seeing that it was empty. "But – well, can't you unlock the door the same way you locked it? Undo whatever you did?"

"Finite won't work; it's not spell-locked. I actually did lock the deadbolt. I've no idea if I can use the same spell to unlock it."

"Couldn't give it a try, could you?"

Snape glared at him and pulled his wand from his sleeve. "Vectis defigo," he muttered, then moved his wand from the doorjamb toward the center of the door. He didn't hear the bolt sliding open, and the door remained locked. "No, you see, I can't bind the wand to the bolt if they can't make contact," he said, disgusted.

"There's got to be a way to get this thing open. What do Muggles do when they don't have their keys?" Harry snapped his fingers. "They use paper clips or wire hangers or something," he said, "and bend them into the right shape."

"Have you got a paper clip or a coat hanger?"

"No." Harry leaned on the door and let his head fall back against it.

"I suppose we could transfigure your wand into a master key," Snape suggested.

"Oh, my wand, of course," Harry said with a wry smile. "Thanks, but unless you're positive you could transfigure it back when we were through, I'd rather not."

Snape turned back to the lock and kept trying to magick it open.

"We could go outside and Accio the key," Harry offered after a silent minute or two.

Snape didn't even look up at him. "You'd break the window."


"Party in the hallway, is there?"

At that voice, Snape did look up. Not that he needed to; he'd know that voice anywhere. (Looking up to see what it meant was, he realized with a tiny touch of hysteria, very like Harry's rattling the doorknob though he knew the door would only stay locked.) Harry pushed himself away from the door with a delighted grin. "Bill! Wondered when you'd get here!"

"Hiya, Harry," Bill laughed, dropping his bags as Harry pulled him into a hug. "All set for tomorrow, are you?"

"Not my wedding," Harry said. "I don't have to do anything but stand there and look pretty."

"Won't be too hard, then, will it?" Bill said, and cuffed Harry lightly on the side of the head.

Snape had straightened up. Bill turned to look at him, and Snape could see his face change just a bit – the smile was still there, but the laughter in his eyes vanished and was replaced by something a little strained. Snape knew what it was; it was pain, but it was also regret that the hurt was enough to lessen, however slightly, Bill's happiness to see him. Bill extended his hand. "Severus."

Snape shook it. "William."

"Been a long time."

"It has."

Bill hadn't let go of Snape's hand. Peripherally, Snape saw Harry turn his attention to the lock on the door. "You've been well, I hope?"

Snape felt as though he were having this conversation with a vase balanced on his head; he could neither remove it nor draw any attention to it, and he certainly couldn't let it fall. "Yes. Thank you. And you?"

"Same as always." Bill looked at where Harry was evidently considering an attempt to shoulder his way into the room. "You seem to be having trouble with your door."

"Locked out," Harry said. "Any ideas?"

"Hmm." Bill let go Snape's hand, stepped to the door, jiggled the doorknob a couple of times, tapped on the door and the doorjamb on either side of the bolt, looked at the ceiling and the floor, and pressed his left hand to the lock. "What'd you call it when you locked it?" he asked Snape over his shoulder.

Snape cleared his throat. "Vectis," he said.

"Vectis tempori deliquesco," Bill murmured, then opened the door quickly with his right hand. "There you go," he said. As Bill spoke, Snape saw the lock and bolt shimmer into place.

"Excellent. Thanks, Bill." Harry dashed into the room and headed straight for the loo.

"Glad I could help," Bill called after him. He chuckled and scratched the back of his neck, and sighed when he turned back to Snape.

"Thank you," Snape said. "I appreciate the –"

"I'd better get a move on," Bill interrupted. "I left Mum and Dad at reception, and we've got to get some dinner before the kitchen closes."

Snape blinked and then lifted his chin to keep from looking at the tops of his shoes. "Of course," he said.

"But I'll see you tomorrow, all right, Severus?" Bill's smile was hesitant, possibly even anxious, but genuine.

"Of course," Snape said again, and reached out to shake Bill's hand.

Bill shook his hand, but then stepped closer and hugged him. Snape tried, and failed, to keep his eyes from closing just for an instant at the bittersweet surprise of having Bill Weasley in his arms again; then Bill stepped away, smiled one more time, clapped him on the shoulder, picked up his luggage, and strode off down the hall.

Snape went into the room, closed the door, and rolled his eyes as he locked the deadbolt behind him. He wished fervently that in addition to a private bath, the room had come with more refreshment than the coffee packets on the table. He didn't require a fully-stocked minibar, such as he knew some Muggle hotels provided – but what he wanted was brandy, not a blasted cup of tea.

"So," Harry said, emerging from the bathroom, drying his hands on a towel.

Snape waited for him to continue, but he didn't. "Yes?"

Harry tossed his towel over the back of a chair and shoved his hands into his pockets. "So is there something I ought to know about you and Bill?"

Snape wasn't going to sit down until Harry did, for this conversation, and since Harry made no move to sit down, Snape remained standing. The room felt drafty. He folded his arms in front of his chest. "Years and years ago," he said. "Close to twenty years ago." In fact it would be nineteen years, in February, since Bill had finally made his decision. Snape hadn't had the energy, much less the right, to try to talk him out of it; Bill had left for Egypt before the month was out.

"For how long?" There was far less accusation in Harry's voice than Snape would have expected – than he would have had in his own, certainly. Harry actually sounded more curious than anything else.

"Almost two years."

Harry's brow was knit thoughtfully. "Which of you ended it?"

"He did. But before you ask, his reasons for doing so – and he did have them – are not mine to tell." Snape paused. "I'm sorry."

"No, it's not –" Harry said, distractedly, sitting down on the arm of the chair. "I'm just surprised he never mentioned it, that's all."

"When would he have –" Snape stopped and repeated Harry's words to himself. "Is there something I should know about you and Bill?"

Harry grinned. "Six, six and a half years ago," he said. "The summer between my fifth and sixth years. But that was just a couple of months. Nothing serious."

"I see."

"Well, that's an amusing bit of irony, isn't it?" Harry laughed. "Wonder if we've got anyone else in common." He stood up, evidently satisfied to abandon the subject altogether, and began to unknot his tie. "The ceremony's at ten tomorrow, but I've got to be there at nine for the pictures and everything," he said. He tossed his tie into the suitcase and kicked off his shoes as he started on his shirt buttons. "So you'll be sure to bring the key with you when you leave the room, right?" He winked.

And that, it seemed, was that. Snape's relief at not having to spend more time discussing the chapter of his life that was his relationship with Bill Weasley was marvelous and unexpected, like removing a hat he hadn't realized was too tight. "I'll take charge of the key for the rest of the weekend, I expect," he said, taking Harry's towel from the back of the chair and hanging it in the bathroom before starting to undress as well.

Harry dropped his trousers on the floor and came over to where Snape had only half-unbuttoned his coat. "You'd think you'd be quicker with those by now," he said, stretching up for a quick kiss, "if you've been dressing like that all your life. I swear I'm going to get you some clothes with no buttons on at all."

Harry's hands made speedy work of the buttons on Snape's coat and shirt, and pushed both off his shoulders on the way to wrapping his arms around Snape's neck for a much deeper kiss. Snape pulled him closer; he, like Harry, especially loved the first touch of warm skin on warm skin, and he slid his hands over Harry's bare back as they kissed.

Harry pushed him away after a moment and reached for his trouser buttons, and seconds later they were both naked and Harry was pulling him toward the bed and then onto it. Harry's hands were everywhere, his mouth was everywhere, and it was several minutes before Snape could catch his breath and turn him over and lick him until he squirmed.

Snape was sucking gently on Harry's left hipbone when Harry tugged his head up to kiss his mouth again, and Harry wound his arms and legs around Snape and rolled him over onto his back, pressing their cocks together for an instant that was entirely too brief while he shoved one hand under the pillows. When he found what he'd been reaching for, he smiled triumphantly and sat up on his knees, and Snape saw it was a bottle of the lubricant they kept in the bedside table at home. He'd brought some as well, but his was in the bathroom with his toothbrush and his razor. Credit to Harry for thinking ahead and planting it in the bed when he'd arrived.

Harry resettled between Snape's legs, when he'd opened the bottle, and nudged Snape's thighs apart with his hand. Snape stretched his neck and tried not to arch his back as Harry quickly slid one finger inside him, then two, working the lubricant around the outside with his thumb. He withdrew his hand and brought it back a second time, hastily, leaning in to suck the head of Snape's cock briefly, tantalizingly, into his mouth, swirl his tongue around the crown three times, and then let it go.

Snape rose up slightly onto his elbows to see him; Harry's hands shook as he slicked his own cock, tossed the bottle aside, and lifted one of Snape's legs onto his shoulder. And then he was there, Harry's cock was pushing into him and Harry's palms were hot on his thighs, and their eyes met, and at the same moment, Snape turned his head and bit down on the pillow next to him and Harry turned his head and buried his face in the bend of Snape's knee. Snape could still hear Harry's shout, louder than his own, as his cock slid all the way home, but he doubted the sound would carry through the wall.

Harry leaned down and pulled the pillow from Snape's mouth and kissed him and kissed him as he moved, thrusting smoothly, bringing Snape closer – and then Harry's hand was around Snape's cock, and Harry's cock was in his arse, and Harry's tongue was in his mouth, and the arousal that had been swelling steadily burst and spread out and settled over him in a hundred tiny fragments of contentment.

Snape lifted a hand and threaded his fingers into Harry's hair. Harry was still kissing him, wet gasping kisses that were all he could sustain as his thrusts sped up toward his imminent orgasm. He moved the hand that had been on Snape's cock to the mattress, to take some of his weight. His other hand still held Snape's leg on his shoulder. Snape lifted his hips and clenched his muscles and that did it; Harry came with a sob of relief and kissed him again as his body shuddered.

A moment later Harry let Snape move his leg and dropped, grinning, onto his chest. Snape smoothed his thumb over Harry's eyebrow and pulled the coverlet over them. Harry kissed his chest sleepily and yawned, "'m not awake by half eight, you'd better hex me."

"You assume I'll be awake to notice," Snape murmured, smiling – but Harry's breathing was already soft and regular, and Snape was sure he hadn't heard.

The ceremony was both simple and short, which pleased Snape immensely. He said "I'm sure you must be very proud" eight or nine times as he went through the receiving line, trusting that everyone who was very proud heard him, and then tried to find an inconspicuous place to stand so he wouldn't be required to mingle.

He should have known it would never work; Minerva McGonagall spotted him almost immediately and actually called "Yoo-hoo, Severus!" as she waved him over to join her. (Had anybody bothered to ask, he'd have warned against giving that woman more than one mimosa.) She was chatting with a Muggle couple she introduced to Snape as Hermione Granger's aunt and uncle. Snape shook their hands and told them he was sure they must be very proud.

Soon Harry came to stand with them, bringing a few more of the Granger relations. Molly and Arthur Weasley came by, and commented on his waistcoat. Snape raised an eyebrow and said nothing. They had met the groom's parents at least once before; Arthur was anxious to talk to Eric's father about microwave ovens, but Harry convinced him it wasn't a good time for that conversation and microwave ovens weren't that interesting anyway.

There were plenty of other Muggles for Arthur to talk to, besides; the wizards were outnumbered easily five to one. Snape found this far less unsettling than he'd expected. None of the Muggles seemed at all to care – assuming they even knew – that there were wizards present. (Truthfully, they must have known there was something unusual about the Weasley twins: Fred wore a yellow suit, brighter than the shade Harry had called "banana" the other day, and George wore purple; and, as they always went about together, one's vision when one looked at them seemed to vibrate or moiré.)

"Having a good time?" Harry murmured in his ear.

Snape raised an eyebrow. "Splendid," he said.

"Morning, Harry," Charlie Weasley called, coming towards them. He shook Harry's hand energetically and turned to Snape to shake his as well. Snape tried not to wince at Charlie's bruising grip. "Hullo, Professor. Almost didn't recognize you, not wearing black from head to toe, eh?" Snape glowered, but Charlie took no notice. "Have you met Cassandra? Cassandra Betony, Severus Snape, Harry Potter." Charlie's girlfriend was delighted to meet them both. "You seen Bill lately?" Charlie asked the group in general.

"Bumped into him last night, but we haven't been looking for him this morning," Harry said. "Is he drunker than McGonagall?"

"No idea. I have been looking for him, but I haven't seen him since right after the ceremony."

"If we see him, we'll tell him to find you," Harry said. Snape doubted there was anything to be gained by having both brothers wandering about in search of each other, but did not say so.

The entire morning was like that – even having decided not to mingle, Snape found himself relentlessly mingled at. He got by on "Pleased to meet you" and "Yes, charming", and let Harry handle the actual small talk. He did have one lengthy conversation, with a friend of the Grangers' who turned out to be a forensic chemist, about the reliability of scientific results given different methodologies – there was bad science as well as good on both sides of the magical aisle, it seemed.

Snape caught sight of Bill on a few occasions, but didn't care to call to him that Charlie was looking for him. Bill was often, he noticed, with or near Remus Lupin – either talking with Lupin himself, or talking with someone else and Lupin, or listening while Lupin talked with others. Snape considered pointing this out to Harry, but on second thought decided to keep it, for now, to himself. Perhaps it was nothing; but more likely, he realized, it was nothing just yet.

He deserved it, he supposed. Snape had never been one to shy away from admission of his misdeeds. He had atoned, and – apparently, for he was alive and well and had Harry by his side – he had been forgiven, to some degree or in some cosmic sense; but nevertheless, he would be doing a sort of penance for the rest of his life: seeing one whom he had loved and failed find happiness elsewhere.

All the same, Snape allowed himself a brief, silent moment to resent the hell out of Remus Lupin.

Ginny Weasley had come over to ask Harry what he knew about the best man. Harry knew he was a friend from university who had introduced Hermione to Eric in the first place; this became a very earnest discussion, in which Snape's interest was nil, and he looked idly around the rest of the gathering. Ron Weasley and Chiara Borgia were by themselves, whispering seriously. Unless Snape missed his guess, it wouldn't be long before Ron asked Harry to be his best man, which would mean Snape would have to endure being a wedding guest again.

Ginny Weasley flitted away, and Snape felt Harry's chin on his shoulder. He turned, and leaned away enough to see Harry's smile, before bending his head to press a kiss to his lips. He wouldn't subject himself to a repeat of Thursday's disastrous color buffet; perhaps he could pre-empt that sort of thing by investing in a grey waistcoat as soon as possible. Maybe he'd buy two.

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