PAIRING: Albus Dumbledore/Severus Snape
RATING: R (despite efforts, I doubt it's a NC-17)
SUMMARY: Five things Albus Dumbledore knows about Severus Snape.
NOTES: Angsty as usual. Needy!sex with a touch of violence and degradation. (In other words, just casual Snapledore sex.) Lots of credit to the great rexluscus for the beta. This is part three of the 7spells table, of which I am convinced y'all keep enthusiastic track. The prompt (and please work with me here) is effect of impact on stationary objects. The rest of the table is here.
He wanted to be an adventurer.
When he was a boy - small in stature and already impatient, Albus imagines - he crawled up into an armchair in front of the television and drowned in a book every time his parents fought. That way he managed to read a lot. Scattered textbooks on magic with 'Eileen Mathilde Prince, Ravenclaw – steal and you will be sorry!!' scribbled on the inside of the covers. Jules Verne. A book about hedgehogs or garden plants. Or ships. His grandfather liked shipbuilding.
His father read the newspapers and no more than necessary, but his mother bought Muggle literature for Severus's birthdays and holidays. For his seventh birthday, he got Baron Munchhausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia; leather-bound and with strange spelling. When he told the neighbours' girl, Maggie, that he would become a Baron himself, she laughed and threw a ball at him; instinctively, Severus displayed his first signs of magic that afternoon. They never told him what happened to Maggie, but he would always remember Baron Munchhausen.
The scent of leather remained Severus's most vivid memory of the book, even in his father's hand, as it hit his face and landed in the fireplace.
He wants to hurt.
He wants Albus to pull his hair hard when he kneels down to take him in his mouth; wants rough hands around his head, shoving him in place. When he's on all fours on the floor in the Headmaster's study, panting with frustration and exhaustion he wants Albus's disgust. Strength guides his long thin fingers beneath robes and undergarments, strength and devotion to whatever cause he has and Albus leans his head back against the bookshelf and spreads his legs a little. You fall to your knees far too easily, Albus thinks, wanting to shape him into something else, stroke his cheek and that horrible Mark on his arm. The first time they practice this ritual, this half-affectionate, half-harmful play, Albus tries - and Severus's eyes turn dead.
He wants to hurt. Sometimes he digs up Albus's most primeval reflexes and is hit by a scorching hex or a fist; sometimes he is satisfied with words.
Filthy. Traitor. Scum.
Albus pretends it does not have a deeper significance, pretends he isn't agreeing to it, and looks away when he has to. This is what he has built his reputation around, after all, this self-built ignorance which he is letting go piece by piece in silence and Severus sneers at the dirty secrets even as he subjects himself to punishment.
He has eager lips and blunt desperation, a tongue that moves hurriedly along the insides of Albus's thighs, his balls, the long-forgotten spots of his body, making him wonder how many pair of hands have shoved and demanded before him.
Severus's mouth is hot and dry around Albus's cock, too-sharp and cruel and he buries his fingers in the greasy scalp until the boy stops, with a low cry of pain. They are plastered together through skin and teeth, all broken edges; Severus draws a deep breath as he is forced back down, lips parted. Every time, every individual scene is a struggle for that which he already has, his eyes pale with fear whenever Albus does not respond immediately. Because afterwards when their fingers are dirty and damp, and Albus feels oddly uncomfortable, Severus always looks up for an answer.
Filthy. Traitor. Scum.
"Good," Albus mumbles. "There's a good boy."
And a soft shade of calmness sweeps over the boy's face.
The first one he killed as a Death Eater was Professor Burns, who once taught him Herbology.
Basic law of Herbology: natura non contristatur. Nature isn’t sentimental. Professor Burns taught them that there is not one poisonous plant that is completely useless for healing – not one beautiful flower that couldn’t cause death if used wrongly. Severus liked her, loved her, because of this one lesson.
"Nature is neither good nor evil," she said and ordered them to write fifteen inches on the breeding of belladonnas for medical purposes.
She spoke in clichés even as they tortured her to death.
He keeps his eyes closed when Albus touches him.
In the Potions dungeon, his body holds a scent of fading monkshood and elder; his breaths taste of averted consent as Albus slides a finger below the tightly buttoned collar. It's been a long winter and an even longer spring, slowly mending – grinding – the Wizarding World back together again in waves. With the first signs of summer Albus licks salty stress off Severus, surprises himself with the washed-out hunger he can feel, as the boy sighs and recoils.
Albus places kisses on the nape of his neck, the taut line of his back, thinking I'm sorry it has to be so ugly.
On Albus's own orders, he watched James and Lily Potter die.
No amount of time or alcohol would make him speak of this night; no words were uttered about it save the ones Albus dragged out of him with a force that was anything but gentle. Severus sat behind his desk. A Potions master to nobody, least of all to himself, but they had time yet to make the lie more believable. Severus sat behind his desk, hands in his lap like a prisoner before a court, and Albus pried his mind open for the second time in his life.
"I'm sorry," he told the boy afterwards. "Desperate measures for desperate times."
Severus did not look up.
The year Harry Potter is about to arrive to Hogwarts, Severus starts knocking on Albus's door late at night. They have already had their tea, their talks, their well-mannered frustration over misty glasses that carry their fingerprints all the way into the bedroom, but this year nothing is enough.
This year there is no satiation in him and Albus has never felt older.
"What will you tell him?" Severus asks, fidgeting with a book on a shelf, thrumming his Morse codes into the wall with fingers that feel icy despite the late August heat. He hides his unspoken questions in a broken language, wraps it in a syntax of muttered insults and desperate desires, Albus knows, and transcribes it as best he can.
"What he needs to know," he answers simply.
What I think he should know, he thinks and kisses Severus, a hand grazing his fully clothed hip. A few useful lies and a good portion of make-believe.
"Bastard." Severus reads his mind without problems these days, late at night when age and sleep deprivation take their tolls. His chin and cheeks are burning, boiling as Albus kisses him, flaring up as though he's coming too close to the core.
Later, near dawn when they have drained another conversation, Albus pulls him towards the desk. Presses him tight against his chest as he thrusts into him, deeper for every gasp, and Severus's fingernails draw blood from Albus's arse. He leaves red swollen streaks across Albus's body in bed; in the growing light, they almost resemble secret messages. Don't take me for granted.
They never speak of it, but as they walk into the Great Hall that September, Albus keeps his hand on Severus’s back a little longer than he usually would.
One Christmas, when he was eighteen, he and Igor Karkaroff murdered a whole family together.
In the middle of the feast, among the mistletoe and the carols - the parents and the grandparents were kept alive to watch their children being torn apart. Severus practiced the Unforgivable curses on the teenaged daughter. She had been a few years below him at Hogwarts.
Albus wonders, sometimes, if she was one of those who laughed.
He hates being fucked.
He growls curses beneath Albus, averts his eyes, curls his fingers on the sheets and clenches his teeth when he comes; and as soon as he can stand up again he does, clothes on and face composed as he leaves. Of course he returns as soon as his pride has recovered and he has lost patience with himself, but it's wordless, a shrug of constructed indifference, of do you really think I need this, that I couldn't restrain myself if I wanted to? Albus believes him.
The first Christmas after Voldemort's return, Albus fucks him anyway, the way he only is allowed to when Severus has had a few glasses of wine.
"We will discuss this further in the morning," Albus says and ends the hour-long debate about teaching Harry Potter Occlumency.
"You will tell me the exact same things and refuse to listen to me, you mean," Severus mutters, agreeing in his own way.
He keeps one hand on Severus's back, trailing the long spine while he undoes their robes; catching a resentful doubt in the shadows behind it, but none of it in Severus's eyes for once. He slumps down on the bed as Albus gently pushes him, hooks into him with hands and slightly intoxicated kisses that make their teeth clash. Adjusting himself comfortably on his knees on the carpet, Albus kisses the pale chest, the visible bones, and scant flesh of Severus's body, pressing down hard over nipples and navel and the black curls of hair between his legs. Ugly disastrous boy, so beautiful in certain angles. If Albus had been a man who made compliments, he would have wanted to tell him that. Severus makes a small noise and shifts position, makes more room for Albus's head. His skin is hot down there, flushed with pounding blood and anticipation, but his cock is still limp.
"On your back," Albus whispers.
Afterwards, when Severus has almost-escaped the bed, he is hindered by a strong grip around his wrist, fingers caressing his arm.
"It's only half past ten," Albus mumbles, kissing the dark-red bruise on his shoulder, where his own mouth rested a little too long. "You should stay."
He wonders if Igor did the same.
He wonders if it means anything at all.
He will survive the second war against Voldemort.
What little they know is cut out of time, like coldly defined fragments.
They know so little. In the dark, when the shadows have lost their homes and fall all over the rooms, Albus counts the facts on one hand; it tires him and comes down to the same thing every time: the word Horcrux has a taste that reminds him of Severus.
They have tried to melt the subject to nothing for months now, tried to tear it out of the spaces around them, masticate it with quiet fury. Severus grows colder for every morning they share, less inclined to outbursts. Albus drinks his restorative draughts and wears out his own light-heartedness. They do everything one day at the time: live, die, pretend. He tells the boy he needs someone to count on, means that he must ask someone to give up a soul to be of use. He tells the boy it's an act of trust, means I have nobody else to ask.
"But when I'm gone, Severus--"
"You haven't even heard the rest of the sentence." Albus feels very tired.
"No," he hisses and turns back to his potions. He stands like that for minutes, his head slightly bent.
The following day Albus brings it up again, as they take their Sunday afternoon tea in his office. Something in the air of this room makes it easier, less appalling to form these words. It's a room accustomed to disgust.
"You will accept it, eventually." Albus says it as a statement, thinking it's true, thinking of bonds and promises running so deep they're indiscernible from the scars on Severus's hands, his stark scent. I've had you on loan, my darling boy. You always knew that.
"No," Severus says. Over and over again, as if he's trying various intonation of the single syllable. "You can't force me."
Oh, I can, Albus thinks, but says nothing. He's silent as he moves closer, silent as he sinks down beside Severus's chair, silent until he's caught the boy's gaze and its utter horrification.
"Please," he says, simply.
"Don't do that, Albus."
"Please," he says, again, his hand tight over Severus's own. Harsh fingers to drive out the right words from this loveless desperation, their mutual fear of failure. Severus spits the consent – I hope the Muggles are right about hell - much later, when his head rests against the cold wall and his fingers enclose Albus's throat. Severus forces a knee in between his legs, his teeth into Albus's lower lip and fists strangling his hair, pushing him up and down as the roles are reversed and the boy pants with anger.
"Please," Albus says for the last time. That lights something in Severus's face – a streak of the cruelty he manages to keep at bay, a touch of the Death Eater in him tearing at the surface. When Severus relents, arches back, and relaxes his hold of him, Albus is not surprised to feel his erection brush against his own stomach. He reaches for the opening of Severus's robes.
In long, slow strokes and with his mouth breathing warmth to Severus's face, Albus touches him; the boy closes his eyes as he comes, finally calm.
Albus pulls him against his own tired body afterwards, thinking about love, thinking about testaments and faith, thinking write it on my old bones, don't let me be wrong. In his hand, Severus holds the Headmaster ring, its engraved history gleaming in the light from the windows. Albus presses his lips to it.
"Precautions," he says softly. "We can't afford to fail this time."
He kisses Severus's lips, kisses his sweaty forehead.
Severus doesn't answer.
All through that night, Albus watches him sleep, counting his worries on one hand. I do love you, he thinks, wondering if the boy can tell. I do trust you, he thinks, forcing the sharp tang of doubt beneath his swollen tongue. He wonders if it means anything at all.
He knows so little.