Written for hpshortfics, with the challenge: "Love Potion Number 9 - and Snape."

Ninth Time's The Charm
by Beth H
June 2006

Needless to say, the potion wasn't on the official syllabus. It hadn't been outlawed for use by underage Wizards and Witches until 1985, but even when Severus was a student, no sane Potions instructor would have included the brewing of Number 9 in their lessons. For one thing, the effects were rather...all consuming, and the other professors did go on so about distracted students. And for another, well, as the name suggested, the potion worked nine times - and nine times only. Your ninth dose would be your last, and you would never be satisfied by the attentions of another. Adolescents hadn't the experience to be allowed to make such decisions.

This did not mean, of course, that the most curious and enterprising of Hogwarts' students couldn't find a way to get their hands on the potion.

Especially when their Potions Masters just happened to leave a small vial of it lying about.

1. His Right Hand

Severus swallowed a dose of the purloined potion and then - because he'd read that both parties had to be exposed to the potion - poured an equal amount on his right hand.

He couldn't be faulted for this, Severus thought as he stroked himself to orgasm under the covers for the fourth time that night. He was thirteen years old, after all - almost fourteen. In some cultures, that was old enough to marry and have children, not that Severus thought it was terribly likely that either of those things would ever be in his future.

He had needs, damn it all.

The two of them - Severus and his hand - were very happy together for the next eleven months.

2. Lucius Malfoy

Severus didn't think he could be blamed for this one, either.

After all, it was possible those Veela rumours could be true.

It was the Christmas holidays, and as usual, Severus had been informed he would be staying at Hogwarts for the break, his father having no interest in having his increasingly awkward son underfoot.

The school was all but deserted. Even Mr. Filch had taken his wretched cat and departed for parts unknown until the end of the Yule break.

And then, there in the Slytherin Common room, where Severus sat alone, reading one of his mum's old books, appeared Lucius Malfoy. He had left school years earlier, but Severus - who had been carrying a rather embarrassing torch for the older boy all that time - never questioned what Malfoy was doing back at Hogwarts, and...no, there would never be another opportunity like this one.

He went into his room, drank the second-to-last dose of Number 9, and went back into the common room to offer Lucius a glass of wine.

That was how visitors should be welcomed, after all.

3. Horace Slughorn

The potion might have worked a little too well, Severus admitted to himself. He certainly had Lucius's attention, but nobody had told him that whips were quite that painful.

The only answer for it was to take another dose of the potion, but there was none remaining in the vial he had taken from the Potions classroom, and Severus had no idea how to brew it. He was something of a prodigy, but even he had his limits. Finally he had to admit defeat and turn to the one person he was sure would be able to teach him what he needed to know.

A bit sweaty, Severus thought each time Slughorn pumped away, panting like the Hogwarts Express, but all things considered, less unpleasant than being whipped.

And besides, now Severus had another six doses of Number 9 in reserve.

Just in case.

4. Lily Evans:

He didn't want to talk about it.

At least she didn't use whips and wasn't particularly sweaty.

Five doses left.

5. Lord Voldemort

Come back, Lily. All is forgiven.

Severus had been informed that there were certain initiation rites all prospective Death Eaters had to go through if they wanted to serve the Dark Lord, but he was certain it would pose no difficulty at all. Severus would have sacrificed almost anything to be given access to the power he sought.

He had underestimated how little Lord Voldemort now resembled the handsome young man he had once been.

How little he resembled any man.

It would have been easier to give himself to the illegitimate love child of a Mountain Troll and a flobberworm...and certainly more arousing.

Severus excused himself briefly, removed the familiar vial from his cloak pocket, swallowed the tasteless draught, then returned to the chamber and offered Voldemort a specially prepared glass of wine.

Thankfully, the Dark Lord accepted Severus's generous offering.

6. Regulus Black

They had been Housemates and friends and now were lovers, and even though Severus had used Number9 (he couldn't imagine not using it, to be honest), he was almost certain that Regulus might have agreed to their arrangement even without the Potion.

Before he had the opportunity to ask, Regulus had been killed.

7. Remus Lupin

Fourteen years passed.

Lupin was available, reasonably fit, and dammit, he owed something to Severus for the hours Severus spent brewing the bloody Wolfsbane.

That's all it was.

Payment in kind.

8. Draco Malfoy

Draco looked just like Lucius had done, all those years ago, but with him, there was no pain.

His skin was as soft as Lily Evans' had been.

He had expressed interest, even before being given the potion.

And he owed Severus.

Oh, yes...he owed him.

9. His Right Hand

When Draco left, as Severus always knew he would someday, Severus didn't think twice.

He drank the dose of the Love Potion - knowing it was the last dose that would ever work for him again - then poured an equivalent amount on his right hand and lay his head back against his pillow.

Comments, critiques, chit chat: beth-h @ mrks.org

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