Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes;
it provokes the desire, but it takes
away the performance: therefore, much drink
may be said to be an equivocator with lechery:
it makes him, and it mars him; it sets
him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him,
and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and
not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him
in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.
-Macbeth, Act Two, Scene Three
Harry Potter looked down from the high table to the line of children to be sorted with a feeling that the world wasn't quite right. Only a few months ago he had been sitting with the students and now here he was, the youngest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in nearly a century.
It wasn't as if he lacked qualifications. Not only had he tested for his teaching certificate over the summer but there was also last June's defeat of Voldemort to consider. Still, it felt odd to be on the other side of the desk. Likely it would feel odder still once classes started the next day.
"Geller, Arthur," the hat was saying. "SLYTHERIN!"
Even without turning his head Harry knew that next to him Professor Severus Snape was leveling his piercing glare at the new first years. It was never too early to put the fear of God (and the potions master) into their nervous little hearts.
Snape was another one of the oddities of being a staff member. He seemed ... well, much more subdued when not around students. The sarcasm was still there as was a slight air of condescension, but somehow the malevolent fire that Harry had so often felt as a student was gone. When he'd tried to explain it to Dumbledore - no, Albus - all the old man had been willing to say was that Snape had an interesting relationship with students.
Harry was still trying to recover from the shock of having actual civilized conversations with the man that did not revolve around defeating the Dark Lord. It was downright odd not being insulted every other minute. Odd, but quite pleasant.
"Parker, Margaret. GRYFFINDOR!"
He quickly stole a glance at Snape, relying on his Seeker's speed to disguise the movement. Hermione and Ron would probably laugh themselve silly if they knew, but Harry actually liked the man's lank, greasy hair. He liked the nose too and the hands as well. Not to mention there was a distinct attaction to Snape's gaunt frame. Hell, there was a distinct attraction to Snape period. Had been since mid-sixth year when Harry had discovered that boys could be quite as interesting as girls...
He had Draco Malfoy to thank for that, the condescending bastard. They'd only been together once, just long enough for the two of them to lose their virginities in an act that could only be defined as a metaphorical "bugger off" to Lucius Malfoy. There is no fanatic like the converted and Draco had spent the nearly two years since then violating every principle the Death Eaters had lived by.
After all, Lucius would have tortured and killed his mother if Draco hadn't acted as quickly as he had. As it was, Narcissa had endured enough of the Cruciatus Curse that night to ensure that she'd be walking with a limp the rest of her life. And Draco, having seen his idolized father attack the one person he truly loved, began questioning the ideals that had made up his childhood.
So Draco had gone his merry way, off to seduce every "Mudblood" he could find, regardless of gender. And Harry had been left with a new appreciation of the male form which somehow, ridiculously, had decided to focus on the potions master. Not to mention Bill and Charlie Weasley as well as Viktor Krum and his memories of Cedric... but mainly on Snape. If Harry hadn't figured out the year before that Snape's evil bastard act was indeed partly an act, he would have been far more disconcerted than he actually was.
The fantasies just kept on coming... and Harry was beginning to become slightly disturbed. He'd convinced Cho Chang - his girlfriend at that time - into experimenting sexually in effort to make the unwanted thoughts go away. Even making love in the private room Cho had as Head Girl did nothing. If anything, the thoughts got worse and worse...
Perhaps that was why when they broke up the summer after Cho graduated Harry didn't feel very crushed. It was suprising, really. Harry had spent the last nearly three years believing that Cho was the great love of his life and she ended up being no more than a particularly pleasant interval.
For the last year Harry had stopped protesting against his errant thoughts and started accepting them. It was much easier that way. Instead of being disturbed by his enjoyment of those thoughts he could just focus on how pleasant they were to think about. Sometime after Halloween he had found out that Neville was of similar inclination as he was and together they had formed a sort of agreement where, as neither were currently involved with anyone else, they would provide an outlet for each other's sexual urges until graduation.
It had been a good relationship, all things considered. Neville had always been a good friend, if at times a bit of a tag-along, and the fact they were screwing each other didn't change the relationship. Besides there was the fact that, although Ron would roll his eyes if Harry had ever said anything about it, Harry really liked Neville's body. The other boy's rotundity excited him in some way that he'd never been able to figure out. Harry hypothesized that he had some kind of strong attraction to imperfect bodies
Which explained why Snape's greasy hair and hook nose didn't seem to bother him. In fact, the man's resemblence to a bat actually turned Harry on. He had admitted this to Hermione once and, while she agreed that if the man cleaned his hair more often he'd be quite attractive in a gaunt kind of way, she still couldn't understand what Harry found so fascinating with the man as he was. No one could really, except maybe, in part, Neville whose attraction was tempered with fear.
There was the sound of singing. Harry blinked. Had the school song started without him?
After singing along to what had once been amusing but now was getting tedious, Harry tried to focus on Albus's announcements without being his thoughts being dragged off on another tangent.
Albus seemed to be sticking to his usual schtick: stay out of the Forbidden Forest, don't feed the gremlins after midnight, yadda yadda yadda. And then he mentioned the first unfortunate thing: Hogwarts was going to have a costume ball to celebrate Halloween this year. And Harry was supposed to chaperone.
Well, Harry and the rest of the staff. Which made Harry secretly happy that he wouldn't be suffering alone. He glanced at a fuming Snape. At least he wasn't the only one with an aversion to costuming himself.
Then Albus announced the second unfortunate thing: "I regret to inform you all that at the end of this year I will be taking a much needed sabbatical in New Zealand. You needn't worry - I should be back within two or three years. Professor McGonagall shall be serving as acting headmistress while I'm gone. Since we shall temporarily need a new transfigurations master, I will be interviewing long-term substitutes starting tomorrow."
Harry banged his head on his plate. A costume ball and Dumbledore leaving? Could his year get any worse?
The old man smiled beatifically, as per the script. "Now that that's done, I invite you all to tuck in."
Harry scowled as he found his head submerged in Shepherd's Pie. It could.
A little over a month later, Harry was pouring out his sorrows to the house elves. "It's like Fred and George all over again... except there's three of them and I'm on the other side now... I'm gonna die..."
"Harry Potter will not die. Dobby hasn't let Harry Potter die yet."
Dobby made a half-hearted attempt to pat Harry on the shoulders consolingly, but it didn't work any better than the last seventeen times he'd tried calming him down. Winky just made maternal clucking noises.
Harry, however, ignored their efforts to comfort him. "Their older sister is even worse... I mean, she a good student and all but I've been getting love letters with her homework... and she's only twelve years old..."
There was a dry chuckle from the kitchen's portrait hole. "Bemoaning the existence of our American Weasleys, I take it?"
Harry looked up. "I didn't know you went on kitchen raids, Professor," he replied, trying to hide his former emotional outburst.
Snape smirked. "Come now, Potter, did you think I search the premises for miscreants on an empty stomach?"
Harry shrugged, "Good point."
There was a short silence, then Snape guestured to the bottle of Butterbeer in front of Harry. "You're not a house elf, you know. If you're trying to get drunk, you're going about it the wrong way."
Harry scowled. "The cellar elf's a bloody Yank and won't let me touch anything stronger."
"Ah." It was a wonder how the man could make a simple syllable sound like an entire sentence. "I suppose that if you are in need of alcoholic beverage, I could spare something from my own liquors."
"Really?" Harry found himself grinning in spite of himself.
Snape gave Harry one of those penatrating stares that had a tendency to make him want to either run away screaming or stain his boxers. Or both. "You'd have to accompany me to the dark pit known as my private quarters, of course."
As if Harry hadn't been longing for an excuse to visit those quarters for a bit over a year...
Somehow Harry had expected Snape's quarters to be more... well, dank and dreary like the dungeon they were obviously part of. For a windowless hole in the ground it was actually kind of cozy. It was certainly a lot brighter than he would have expected, with candles lit in every corner and a roaring fire in the grate. It makes sense, I guess, thought Harry, considering all these books.
Indeed, the walls of Snape's sitting room seemed lined with bookshelves and from what Harry could see from the half-opened door his bedroom looked to be much the same.
As Snape rummaged around in what Harry assumed was the liquor cabinet, he himself started to idly read the titles on Snape's shelves. A good percent of the books were at least a century old: Shelley's Frankenstein, Thoreau's Walden, Stoker's Dracula, and what seemed to be the complete works of Wells, Verne, Lewis Carrol, Conan Doyle and Dickens. Apart from the novels there also seemed to be some poetry: Donne, the Rossettis, Swinburne, Marvell, Coleridge, Tennyson, Dickinson, Eliot, Ginsburg and Whitman. Scattered here and there were paperbacks of more recent vintage; there was a big clump of them by someone named Irving. A well-used twin of Harry's copy of The Lord of the Rings graced the top shelf.
Albus gave him one too, didn't he? Harry remembered, taking in more and more titles with a weird sort of hunger, as if he were trying to determine the measure of the man by his library. Oddly enough, there seemed to be at least as many muggle books as there were wizardly ones. Harry was reading the Egyptian-sounding titles of a large clump of mystery novels by Elizabeth Peters when he heard the muffled cry of "Eureka!" come from Snape's liquor cabinet.
He spun around to see Snape brandishing a largish bottle filled with red-gold liquid. "I trust Old Ogden's Firewhiskey is to your liking, Mister Potter," he said dryly.
Harry nodded. "I've always wanted to try it..." He watched, fascinated, as Snape poured the firewhiskey into the two glasses on top of the liquor cabinet.
Snape handed Harry one of the glasses and motioned him to sit in the armchair closest to the bedroom. Harry took a tentative sip. It was almost as if the liquor was some sort of liquid flame running down his throat. Well, now I know where the stuff got its name...
"So, Mister Potter, what seems to be your problem with the students?"
Harry spilt it all. The sheer weirdness of having Moaning Myrtle as one of his fifth year students, the constant pranking of the Pike boys and the Pike girl's inexplicable crush on him, the minature campaigned run by the third year Slytherins to disrupt every lesson of his, the extortion racket that Geller had set up among the first years, and the annoying tendency of the Parker girl's familiar to make puddles everywhere.
The more Harry talked about his problems, the more whiskey he gulped down. And the more whiskey he gulped down, the easier it was to pour out his troubles, heavy tongue or no. Harry was starting on his fifth glass before Snape even finished his first.
Somewhere along the line, the conversation had switched from the annoyance of the students to potential schemes of revenge that would not be immediately associated with certain staff members. Not very long after, Harry downed his twelfth glass and he couldn't remember much of the conversation from that point on...
Harry woke the next morning in an unfamiliar bed. Squinting, he tried to focus his eyes so he could get a better look at his surroundings than he usually could without his glasses. Bookshelves. Lots of bookshelves. Which meant he was either with Snape or Hermione.
There was a blurry black-haired figure at the end of the bed, which meant it had to be Snape. Which was good. Ron would kill him if he'd ended up in Hermione's bed. Snape made more sense anyway, Harry doubted he had had the ability to make it from Scotland to her university without killing himself. Besides, she would have given him a lecture on drunk flying if he had.
The Snape figure handed him something. "I trust you'll need these," it said. They were his glasses. Harry put them on, looked down, and blinked. He didn't seem to be wearing anything besides his boxers.
Snape raised an eyebrow. "Tell me, do you always tear off your clothes and attempt to devour the mouth of your host while intoxicated or am I just special?"
Harry blushed. "I did?"
Snape smirked. "Then you started singing a rather catchy tune about John Lackland. How did it go? 'He calls for mum and sucks his thumb and doesn't want to play?' You'll have to teach it to me."
Harry stared at Snape. "I will?"
"I'll find some way to pay you back. Perhaps get you drunk again?"
"Not if I'm going to make a bloody idiot of myself!" Harry snapped.
"Why not? I found it amusing enough. You collapsed snoring after your impromptu musical number anyway." If anything, Snape smirked even wider. "Besides, as drunken slobbery snogs go, it wasn't half bad."
Huh? "It wasn't?"
And then Snape kissed Harry. Without tongue, but tongue probably would have made him want to throw up given the current state of his stomach. And when he lifted his head again after a few seconds, he was smiling a real smile and not a Snape-ish smirk. It was slightly crooked.
"It might be enjoyable to attempt it while you're sober, though. Should we try your room tonight, Harry?"
Harry's reply was incoherent but unmistakably affirmative.
Finis (for now).