Written for snapelyholidays on InsaneJournal

Into My Hands
by Beth H.
(c) December 2008

"Goodbye, Professor!"

"Father said to thank you for the recommendation, Sir. Our Caitlin's been offered the apprenticeship."

"Have a good holiday, Sir!"

Severus Snape nodded in response to the farewells of the students leaving Hogwarts for the summer. That all the children calling out to him were clad in green and silver was neither unexpected, nor was it unwelcome. Severus was many things, but a hypocrite he was not. To pretend a fondness for almost any child not of Slytherin House would have strained Severus's well-honed ability to prevaricate past the breaking point.

He watched as the last child left the castle and smiled to himself. The year, as these things were measured, had been a success, even when viewed through his admittedly pessimistic eyes. He'd taken what his Muggle cousins used to call the trifecta: his little snakes had won the Quidditch Cup, the House Cup, and the Head Boy and Head Girl, both, had been Slytherins.

Some envious sorts might say that this had little if anything to do with his own actions. He hadn't even been particularly generous doling out points to his own house this year, at least not compared to years past. However, some of the credit surely had to go to Severus himself, and catching sight of Albus smiling benevolently upon him from the castle doorway, it seemed he wasn't the only one who felt that way.

Even Minerva had a kind word or two for him when the last of the children had been settled in their carriages and sent off to Hogsmeade to catch the Kings Cross train - and her words came with a bonus.

"Congratulations, Severus," she said. "I'll be opening up a bottle of Glenfiddich in your honour in the staffroom just before supper. Make certain you're on time though, or I suspect Sybill will take your share along with her own."

"I'll be there just as soon as I owl the final Potions marks to the Ministry."

"Well done, lad," she said absently, then patted him on the shoulder and walked down the corridor back toward her office.

Severus frowned slightly as he watched her go, annoyed by the manner in which she'd chosen to bestow her praise. Damnation. He'd been waiting for her to acknowledge his work for close to a decade, and when she finally did so, it sounded as if she was praising a first year for being able to turn a conker into a button.

"Well done, Severus."

Almost exactly the same words, but this time spoken by the Headmaster, who had, somehow, materialized beside Severus without having made a single sound or, in any other way, betrayed his approach. How was the old man able to keep doing that? Was he part House Elf and part Invisibility Cloak?

"You seem a bit distressed, my boy. Is anything the matter?"

Severus turned and looked at him, instantly wishing he hadn't done so. It was beyond foolish to meet Albus Dumbledore's gaze when one was even the slightest bit unprepared. The Headmaster may have spent his schooldays in Gryffindor, but the hundred years that followed might as well have been spent in Slytherin, for all the reticence the man had when it came to not taking full advantage of his ease in reading the thoughts of the unshielded.

"You know that Minerva is sincerely impressed with the guidance you've been providing to the children of your House, Severus," Albus said softly. "If she still sounds, on occasion, as if she's awarding points to a schoolboy when she speaks to you, well . . . you must understand by now how difficult it is for some of us to see our young charges as fully formed adults, even long after they've left the nest. And in your case, I suspect she thinks of you with rather fonder regard than she has for most of her former students."

Severus rolled his eyes, but he could feel the slightest flush of pleasure bloom, unwillingly, in his cheeks. He hadn't yet felt anything of the sort for his own students - not even the ones of his own House - but then, it had only been a few short years since the last of the students with whom he'd shared a common room left school. It was a bit hard to see your students as truly under your care when, until relatively recently, some of them had been trading hexes with you in the dungeon corridors.

"I'm gratified by her regard, Headmaster," Severus said, as politely as he could manage. He supposed he could just about bear the thought of Minerva viewing him as some sort of surrogate son, so long as Albus didn't share her feelings. For a number of reasons, some of which Severus was barely able to put into words, the idea of the Headmaster having paternal feelings for him made him exceedingly uncomfortable.

"You can relieve your mind on that score, Severus," Albus said in answer to his unspoken thought. "I think I can safely say that my feelings about you are not . . .ah, but I see I'm keeping you from your responsibilities. Go ahead and send your marks to the Ministry, and I shall see you in the staffroom a bit later. Perhaps we can speak then."


As it turned out, there was no opportunity for any kind of a sensible conversation with the Headmaster that evening, for reasons having to do both with the amount of end-of-term alcohol Severus consumed and the fact that every single being under contract to Hogwarts - from the Heads of House to the castle ghosts - was in attendance. It was just possible that there might be a connection between those two facts, as Severus was not entirely comfortable in large groups, unless those groups were made up of individuals under the age of seventeen who were required to listen to him speak.

The following day, however, was far more conducive to private conversation, particularly after most of the teachers had packed up and Apparated away for their holiday breaks - and the non-teaching ghosts had gone wherever it was ghosts go when they feel the need to get away from it all. When Severus went into the staffroom for his accustomed cup of afternoon tea, he found only Binns asleep above a chair in the corner of the room and Albus seated at the center of the sofa, attempting to put together a jigsaw puzzle.

"Come, sit down beside me, Severus," Albus said, patting the seat cushion to his left. "Perhaps you might care to help me find the pieces containing pictures of sheep. If this were a wizarding puzzle, I'd suspect the sheep of having wandered off in the direction of the meadow pieces, but as this is entirely Muggle in origin, that's probably not possible."

"No, I don't believe it is, Headmaster," said Severus, taking a seat on the sofa. "In any case, I think I'll forgo the pleasures of puzzling, at least until I've had my tea. I don't suppose you have any idea where the House Elves are?"

"Oh, I've sent them off on their yearly holiday," Albus said. "Or rather, since they were quite adamant, as usual, that they wouldn't actually take a holiday, I've allowed them to go help out at St. Mungo's for a fortnight. Change being as good as a rest, and all that."

"Mmm. Well then, perhaps I'll wander down to the kitchen and . . . ."

"No need to trouble yourself, Severus." A casual wave of the Headmaster's hand, and a cup of Yorkshire Tea, black and strong with just a hint of sweetness, appeared on the table.

Severus breathed in the familiar aroma, remembering the Taylors of Harrogate tea bag box that always sat on the kitchen table at Spinner's End. When Severus was little, he used to imagine he might someday be able to Apparate into the country scenes that were painted on the box's sides. Perhaps he and his mum could set up housekeeping in one of the little white cottages with the thatched roofs, miles away from any neighbours. His father . . . well, his father had never liked the countryside much, so it had never occurred to Severus to care whether he came along or not.

He was brought back from his reverie by the sight of the Headmaster holding out a plate of biscuits. "Chocolate HobNob?" [2]

It had become, in recent years, almost second nature for Severus to automatically turn down every offer made to him, no matter how insignificant or seemingly innocent those offers might be. Brilliant though he was in some areas, the eagerness with which he had accepted Lucius Malfoy's offer to become one of Lord Voldemort's followers had convinced Severus that he was barely more able to assess the value of whatever allurements might be dangled in front of him than were the dunderheads he had to teach, day in and day out.

Where Albus was concerned, however, refusal was rarely an option. From the moment Severus returned to Hogwarts under the Headmaster's protection, he was loath to deny Albus even the most daunting requests. And when Albus was holding out a plate of chocolate-covered HobNobs, the chance that Severus would turn down the offer was so infinitesimal as to be almost non-existent.

If he had refused Albus's offer - if Severus's mouth hadn't been so full of biscuit and chocolate when Albus asked whether Severus might like to take a walk around the lake with him - well, Severus might have delayed the inevitable slightly, but in the end, the result would have been exactly the same.

The outing, as it turned out, was quite . . . pleasant (not that Severus had a great deal of experience with pleasant outings) - enough so that they shared another walk the following day, and the one after that, until their walks became a daily feature during the summer holidays. Sometimes Minerva joined them, but more often it was just Severus and Albus.

For a time, Severus let Albus take the lead in what might charitably be called their conversations, but which were closer to the Headmaster keeping up a running commentary about everything and nothing, and Severus nodding in agreement or snorting disdainfully as the occasion called for it. It wasn't that Severus had no opinions - Merlin knew he had those in abundance - but rather that he had almost no familiarity with the ebb and flow of adult conversation. Debates and negotiations, he understood, but the last time somebody had seemed to be interested in just talking to Severus for no other reason than the pleasure of his company, he had been fifteen years old.

But Albus showed a great deal of patience until, eventually, he was able to overcome even Severus's reticent nature, and the two men started to really talk to each other. At first the conversations were only about potions and spell creation and the latest inane directives from the Ministry, but in time, their discussions took on a more personal tone, and Severus began to speak of travel, books, music, even his tentative plans for the far-distant future. They rarely touched on the subject of politics, and they never mentioned the students.

It was almost like having a friend.

Sometimes, as they walked, the backs of their hands would brush against each other.

And then one day - a Saturday, as it happened, not that the day of the week mattered terribly much - one of them suggested they climb to the top of the hill which overlooked the southern edge of the Forbidden Forest. If questioned later that night, Severus would have been hard pressed to say whose suggestion it had been to climb the hill without resorting to a pensieve, but he had no trouble whatsoever remembering that when they were halfway up the hillside, Albus paused and asked Severus to lend his hand to an old man for the rest of the climb.

"I could Apparate to the top of the hill, of course," Albus said with a smile, "but where's the challenge in that?"

Severus took Albus's hand in his own and, silently, continued to climb. When the two men reached the top, they stood for a space of time, watching the sun sinking down behind the dark green leaves of a stand of oak trees, their hands still clasped together.


Back when Severus was a student, the denizens of Slytherin House tended, collectively, to be rather dismissive of their Headmaster. They showed what respect they must in public, but privately, they derided his outlandish clothing, his odd sense of humour, and what seemed to be a complete lack of dignity. An outside observer might have questioned whether their own Head of House wasn't guilty of similar transgressions, but Professor Slughorn was Slytherin born and bred, while Dumbledore . . . well, honestly, it was sometimes difficult for some Slytherins to believe the man was even a Pureblood.

For a number of reasons, including a highly-developed sense of self-preservation, Severus never questioned - aloud, at least - the 'official' Slytherin attitude toward the Headmaster. But Albus Dumbledore had, from the very first, always treated Severus with respect and shown - out of the sight of his fellow Slytherins, of course - a good deal of interest in what he called Severus's 'exceptional magical abilities': heady stuff for a boy raised almost entirely in the Muggle world. There were times when young Severus found himself thinking of Dumbledore in an almost paternal manner. This didn't come without its own set of difficulties, since it wasn't quite clear to Severus exactly what a father was for, his own Da not having been much of a role model, even in the Muggle world. However, it did mean that Severus had a slightly warmer feeling for the Headmaster than did most of his fellow Slytherins, at least until the Incident at the Shrieking Shack (and quite frankly, it took many years after that incident before Severus was able to feel even the slightest bit of warmth for anybody at all).

However, in the third week of the summer holidays, what Severus had started to feel for the Headmaster was very unlike the almost familial affection that had occasionally crept upon him unawares during his teenage years, and he had no idea what to do about it. Like most of the members of Slytherin House, Severus had always kept his deepest feelings extremely private - sometimes hiding them even from himself - and the only two people with whom he had ever shared his most private thoughts were Lily Evans (who had long since travelled far beyond Severus's ability to contact for advice) and Albus Dumbledore himself, who, for obvious reasons was the very last person on earth with whom Severus wanted to share his current dilemma.

Was he actually growing interested in a man who was old enough to be his . . . God, was there even an appropriate word for a man of Dumbledore's age? How was Severus supposed to know? He wasn't completely inexperienced when it came to sexual congress, but where actual relationships were concerned, Severus might as well have been the Giant Squid, for all the history he'd had with others of his kind.

Plus, of course, there were Albus's feelings about the matter to consider. Yes, he had sought out Severus's company each and every day so far, but perhaps that didn't mean what it seemed to mean. After all, the two of them were often the only beings (apart from Peeves) in the Castle. Who else could Albus turn to for conversation or companionship if not Severus? And in any case, the thought of introducing this subject somehow . . . of actually asking Albus if he might be interested in pursuing a more personal relationship than they had thus far entertained - was, quite frankly, more frightening than the prospect of encountering one of Lupin's kind on the night of a full moon. Severus could barely conceive of a response that wouldn't be humiliating at best, no matter how gently Albus tried to let him down.

And yet . . . Severus didn't see how he could be imagining every single touch and gaze that had passed between him and Albus since the end of term. Severus had known the man for almost twenty years and worked with him for more than a dozen, and in all that time he couldn't remember a single instance of Albus holding hands with anybody . . . and most certainly not with any of the staff. Yet Albus had held Severus's hand on more than eleven occasions thus far during the summer break (not that he was counting), and except for that very first time on the hill path, Severus couldn't think of a single reason why Albus would have taken his hand other than simply having wanted to.


Things might have gone on in this 'neither here, nor there' state until the students returned in September, had not Albus suddenly started dropping hints that he was thinking of organizing a series of American-style 'team building' exercises, starting with whatever staff members were currently residing in the castle. At breakfast, the very next day, Filius and Pomona announced their intention to visit their children in the South Seas. Later that afternoon, Hagrid apologized for having forgot to mention that he was traveling to Wales in search of a pair of blue-winged Salamanders, and even Argus left for a long-delayed bird-watching holiday with his never-before-mentioned cousin, Panoptes.

Minerva, having apparently decided (against all her Gryffindor instincts) that discretion actually was the better part of valor, simply disappeared, leaving behind a note that said if anybody wished to reach her, they . . . were straight out of luck.

The mood, when even Minerva had departed and meals no longer took place in the Great Hall at the large, family-sized oak table, was decidedly different. Albus took to inviting Severus to join him in the far more congenial setting of his rooms, and with just the two of them in attendance, the atmosphere was far more . . . well, really intimate was the only word that made any sense at all.

After dinner, they . . . lingered. Fresh servings of pudding appeared on trays unasked for, and both men agreed that it would be especially wasteful if they were to allow such beautifully made cakes and such refreshing sorbets to be vanished out of existence without taking "just a taste." The coffee pot and the creamer were constantly filled to the brim. Albus had taken to playing the occasional comical novelty song on the old Victrola he'd made to work magically back in the 1920's. And it seemed as if they had to actually ask that the brandy snifters stop re-filling themselves if they wanted the glasses to remain empty. On nights when Severus and Albus were particularly relaxed, they forgot to ask.

On one such night - a night when rather too much had been eaten for dinner and Severus, at least, was particularly grateful that he hadn't worn a pair of constricting Muggle trousers under his robes - the two men retired to the sitting room after the meal, if not the brandy, was finished.

"Have you a preference, Severus?" asked Albus, as he searched through his collection of Muggle record albums for just the right thing.

Severus laughed, no longer especially caring that he seemed to have stopped keeping his guard up entirely. "I don't suppose you have anything by The Clash in there?"

"I'm afraid not," Albus said with a smile. "I do, however, have a copy of 'Little Drummer Boy,' if that's to your liking."

"In the summer? Hardly an appropriate time of year for that sort of song."

"I never knew you were such a connoisseur of Muggle Christmas music, Severus."

Looking out the window at the star-filled night sky, Severus took a drink of brandy from his just-replenished glass. "Probably a result of my misspent childhood. Our local paper used to give away cheap records every now and again, and most of them seemed to be full of Christmas songs."

"Did you like them?"

"Suppose so," Severus said with a shrug. "Never thought much about it. I'll tell you one thing, though . . . it took bollocks to risk being caught humming 'Jingle Bells' in my neighbourhood."

"I can well imagine. Well, perhaps we might just make do with a bit of Chopin?" Carrying his own brandy snifter in one hand, Albus sat down on the sofa. "Come, Severus," he said, patting the seat cushion. "Sit beside me."

Severus did as the Headmaster asked, and . . . it might have been the magic of the music or the great number of drinks he'd had - far too many to count at this point in the evening - but whatever it was, Severus was feeling far more relaxed than he could remember having felt in the longest time - possibly more relaxed than he'd ever been before. He closed his eyes, just for a moment, and before Severus was entirely certain what was happening, Albus had taken his hand and placed it on his robe-clad lap.

"I think I might have over-indulged tonight," Albus said ruefully. "I'm afraid my belly's a bit more full than I'd intended."

Seveurs was about to reply - possibly with some pointed remark about Albus's belly being a good few inches higher up - when he felt, against the side of his hand, the unmistakable sign of what could only be Albus's burgeoning erection.

He took a single shuddering breath as he felt his own prick respond. Was this really happening? Severus tried to follow Albus's convoluted story about meeting the French Minister of Magic at a party in Geneva in 1954, but it was impossible. Were they really going to . . . what the hell were they going to do? Just sit politely beside each other on Albus's damned sofa, pretending they weren't both sporting aching erections under their robes? He knew that Albus came from a different era where some things just weren't discussed, but this was ridiculous. How could that man be ignoring the fact that . . . oh God, he wasn't. Albus wasn't ignoring Severus's erection any more. He had, somehow, slipped his hand up Severus's robes and had started to stroke him right through Severus's underpants.

Severus groaned, thrusting up into Albus's hand. Somewhere in the back of his lizard brain, he knew he should return the favour, knew it was wrong to just let his hand rest limply against Albus's arousal, but for the moment, all he could do was thrust mindlessly as he was pleasured by the Headmaster's clever, warm hand, while all the while, Albus carried on talking about absolutely . . . nothing! When one should add herbs when cooking chicken, the state of the squirrel population on the castle grounds, how Muggle starch was able to get collars . . . so damned stiff, so hard he couldn't hold back another moment, couldn't keep from thrusting once more into Albus's firm grasp, couldn't keep from coming all over Albus's hand.


He had to say something, had to let Albus know that he was more than willing to reciprocate, if only he could just rest his eyes for a moment.

Then Albus was patting the back of Severus's hand, and saying "Never mind," and "If not tonight, then some other time, surely." But, no, that couldn't be right, and Severus dropped to his knees, sliding the Headmaster's robes up past his hairy shins and over his knobbly knees. He nestled in between Albus's pale, thin thighs, smiling wryly at himself, at his surprise upon discovering that Albus wore no undergarments. Then he took Albus's long, firm length into his mouth, and . . . . he remembered reading somewhere that the older a man was, the longer it took for him to come, but whatever journal he'd read that in had no business still publishing, because almost before Severus remembered to be more careful of where he placed his teeth, Albus had come - hot, thick, bittersweet - into Severus's mouth.


From that night on, it felt as if everything had changed. Albus and Severus no longer spent most of their time together . . . they spent all their time together, and it grew more and more difficult to keep from touching, no matter where they happened to be on the castle grounds. One encounter - which saw both men frotting desperately against each other in the shade of an old oak tree at the edge of the Forbidden Forest - had been the subject of serious scrutiny by a young centaur, still too young to have directed all his interests away from earthly matters. Severus, who'd always zealously guarded his privacy, was the first to notice that they were being watched - but as usual, Albus was doing such incredible things to his straining prick that he couldn't be bothered to do a damned thing about their uninvited audience.


Returning from their various holiday destinations, most of Severus's colleagues noted the changed atmosphere surrounding the two men with a sort of detached amusement. Only Minerva, of all people, seemed troubled by their closeness. She even tried to broach the subject with him once or twice, but as Albus always seemed to be nearby whenever she made the attempt, Minerva finally let the matter drop.

A very small - almost infinitesimally small - part of Severus was concerned that somehow he'd missed an indication that she and Albus had been involved in a romantic relationship and that his relationship with Albus had brought theirs to an end. It didn't seem likely, however, since he'd never seen the slightest sign that they were anything more than colleagues and friends - and in any case, a far larger part of Severus was just annoyed that the old biddy couldn't just be glad for him for once.


The final weeks of summer passed.


Severus watched as the First Years were shepherded into the Great Hall by Minerva. Lucius's son, as expected, had taken the lead, and was followed by a typically unprepossessing gaggle of scruffy children, most looking rather frightened. For the first time in all his years of teaching, Severus had a brief moment of fellow feeling; while he would admit it to no one else, he had been terrified upon his arrival at Hogwarts and so could sympathize - if only a bit - with their fears. Perhaps, he thought with amusement, glancing at Albus's welcoming smile out of the corner of his eye, some of the man's Gryffindor tendencies were rubbing off on him. He might - just might - consider taking a leaf out of the Gryffindor playbook and try to show a bit more understanding to the youngest of his new charges this term.

And then the boy entered the Hall.

There was no mistaking him. He looked exactly like his damned father had at that age, with barely a trace of his mother's looks to temper the memories.

"Albus," Severus hissed under his breath. "Tell me that isn't who I think it is."

"Ah yes, I fear I inadvertently neglected to remind you that Lily's son would be starting Hogwarts this term," Albus said, his expression suspiciously free from every trace of guile. "You will, I'm sure, do all that's in your power to protect the boy during his time at Hogwarts. If not entirely for young Harry's sake, then for my own, perhaps?"

Albus Dumbledore had never "inadvertently" neglected to mention something in his whole bloody life, of that Severus was absolutely certain. His eyes sought Minerva's, and she met his glance in an instant, almost as if she'd been expecting his unspoken question. Her gaze shifted for a moment in Albus's direction, then returned to Severus, but this time her face wore an expression of sympathy and pity, both, as if she knew precisely what Severus was feeling at this exact moment.

Severus attempted to swallow down the bile that rose in his throat. How had he ever allowed himself to be gulled by that damned manipulative old bastard? Had all Albus's actions this entire summer been nothing but an elaborate ruse? Had his supposed trust in Severus been so weak that he'd been willing to go to such lengths to keep Severus distracted? What had he thought Severus would do with the knowledge that the Potter brat would soon be returning to the wizarding world? Had he feared Severus would share this information with someone if he wasn't otherwise occupied?

"Albus, we need to talk about this," Severus said, gritting out the words between clenched teeth. "I'll meet you tonight after the feast in your rooms, as usual, and . . . ."

"Oh, I don't think that would be wise, Severus," Albus said, a vague, almost dismissive note in his voice. "The children having returned to Hogwarts and the times being what they are, well, I'm certain it hasn't escaped your notice that all the staff have to be above reproach during term time. I will miss our evenings together, my dear, but . . . sacrifices have to be made for the greater good, as you, no doubt, understand."

For a long moment that seemed to stretch out into an eternity, Severus could not respond, almost as if his higher mental functions had all shut down completely. He stood, still and silent, with only the barely perceptible twitching of the fingers of his wand hand to indicate his inner turmoil.

The moment ended, and Severus simply nodded. "Of course. I understand perfectly . . . Headmaster."


In the summer of 1996, Severus Snape fulfilled the most difficult promise he'd ever made to Albus Dumbledore.


Years after the history books accorded Professor Snape his rightful place among the fallen heroes of the Second Voldemort War, fierce debates raged over how it had been possible that Snape had been able to perform the Killing Curse on a man to whom the books said he had been loyal and whom he had, reportedly, even loved. After all, everybody knew that the Killing Curse could only be cast successfully by somebody who possessed both intent and hatred for their victim at the moment they said Avada Kedavra.

The mystery might have been solved if anybody had thought to ask Minerva McGonagall - long since retired from public life, but sharp as she'd ever been and spry enough for a witch well into her second century - what memory Snape might have drawn on in order to do the Headmaster's bidding.

She knew, as most of us know, whether or not we admit it to ourselves, that hate and love are not always two sides of the same coin. They are, in many cases, the same side.


The End

Or perhaps not.

As Albus Dumbledore was once heard to say, death is but the next great adventure.

Surely there's just a bit more of the "adventure" left to tell?


2275 A.D.: A Bed, Somewhere Beyond The Veil

Albus sighed. "Once more, Severus, I tell you that you are willfully misinterpreting my actions from that summer."

"Misinterpreting? Hah! I will never accept such a load of codswallop as truth."

"Is it so impossible for you to admit to the possibility that it had nothing whatsoever to do with me? That you paid no attention to Harry's imminent arrival because you had other, more pressing things on your mind?'

"I admit to nothing. It is true that I might have been slightly distracted . . . ."


" . . . by the events of that summer - and you have no cause to gloat, old man. There were many things demanding my attention that year, of which you were just one small - actually, infinitesimal - part."

"Old man? Now, Severus . . . I hardly think you're in any position to assign me that appellation, not now that you're well into your fourth century of existence."

"I was not even forty when I crossed over, and not-even-forty I shall remain . . . and stop trying to change the damned subject. You had planned all along to put me in thrall to you and to make me forget the boy was going to be arriving."

"I most certainly did not," Albus said. "You ascribe far too much power to me, Severus. And even if I had been . . . ."


"Hah, nothing. I said 'if.' If I had been trying to distract you, wouldn't it make sense that I would have been doing so for your own sake? To let you enjoy your summer for once?"

"For my own sake indeed." Severus snorted in derision, then yanked one of the pillows out from behind him and held it aloft in a threatening manner. "Admit it! Admit that you are now and have always been a manipulative old codger who . . . ."

"For the love of God," snapped Minerva. "Will you two go through eternity bickering like a pair of Goblins fighting over the last account book in existence? Can ye nae think of ought else to do?"

Only slightly embarrassed to have been caught out, once again, acting like an unruly First Year, Severus had to admit that he could, in fact, think of something else to do. As Minerva knew very well, Severus had thought of many, quite inventive "something elses to do" over the past 300 years, and was, as it happened, doing so once again. When he glanced at Albus, Severus could tell that he wasn't the only one currently exercising his rather dirty imagination.

"And ye can wipe those adolescent smirks off your faces, the both of you," Minerva said, putting down her knitting. She looked pointedly at the two of them for a moment over the tops of her spectacles, then folded her hands sedately in her lap. "You'll not scare me off with your leering and winking and innuendo. As I'm sure you've noticed by now, gentlemen, I don't mind watching."

"You know, Minnie," said Albus, a cajoling and rather hopeful note in his voice. "As we've said many times, if you wished to do more than simply watch, you'd be quite, quite welcome."

She looked from Albus to Severus, then back again to Albus and chuckled. "Oh, I might someday, my dears. But for now, I think I prefer things stay exactly as they are. Much less tiring and nearly as entertaining." She picked up her knitting again and nodded encouragingly to the two men. "Well, what are you waiting for? Carry on."

"Bossy cow," muttered Severus.

"And yet," said Albus, "she does seem to have the right idea. Shall we?"

Severus affixed an inordinately long-suffering and altogether unconvincing expression on his face. "If you insist," he replied.



[1] The title was taken from "Into My Hands" by the band The Church. (back)

[2] The utterly gratuitous and self-indulgent "Chocolate HobNob" joke was taken from the Barman sketch (from the programme A Bit Of Fry and Laurie) Watch it here when you've finished reading. (back)

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