Fic: Bound to be Broken - for [personal profile] atypicalsnowman

Dec. 23rd, 2009 07:07 pm
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Title: Bound to be Broken
Author: The Grinch!
Giftee: [personal profile] atypicalsnowman
Word Count: 12,712 words
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Harry Potter/Severus Snape
Warnings: *Snape survives; DH but not Epilogue-compliant.*
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: There is a way to break the accidental bond between Harry and Snape; it simply involves lots of sex.
Author's Notes: So many thanks are due to the mods for their astounding patience with me. I'm so happy to have completed this fic, and that's all due to their encouragement and flexibility. To my recipient, [personal profile] atypicalsnowman: I took your very first kink/request of accidental bonding and ran with it. I also tried to incorporate a number of your other kinks, as well as slipping in the last of your optional prompts in one scene. I really hope you enjoy the results. Happy Snarry Holidays!

The next morning, Harry woke up all at once, strangely disturbed at finding himself alone. Silly, really; he always slept alone, and hadn't even shared a room in ages. He must have had a troubling dream.

He sat up, gazing about the room. Sunlight streamed in the windows, and he knew he was likely running late to work. Best get on with it then; he'd figure out how to make his excuses as he got ready and rummaged for breakfast.

As he swung his feet over the side of the bed, he breathed deeply, inhaling the faint musk in the air. It smelled like -- last night --

The night -- Snape had spent the night. Harry groped for his glasses and leapt out of bed.

"Severus?" No answer. "Snape?" But there was no trace of him, aside from that lingering scent of sex.

Harry groaned. Here he was standing starkers, barely awake and already feeling the rise of frustration in his chest. He wanted to protest, to fire off a note by owl and ask Snape how the hell he could just leave like that, without saying anything.

But things weren't like that between them. They weren't in a relationship. Last night, the dinner, the bed, the falling asleep -- everything that occurred had been a fluke, a departure from how things were supposed to go between them.

And really, Harry thought with some consternation as he showered and dressed, things weren't even supposed to go like they had been for the past weeks. Only a mistake had brought them to this series of encounters. Wasn't that proved by the very reason they were attempting this farce of intimacy, in order never to have to do any of it again?

He pounded down the stairs, intending to grab a sausage pasty and heat it on the way with a charm. When he got to the kitchen, however, there was a note awaiting him in the centre of the table, neatly folded. On the outside was written in an elegant script, Potter.

With no little apprehension, he opened it.

As you were unconscious the remainder of the night, I performed the spell without you to ascertain whether we had yet completed the bond.

We have not, in fact, completed it.

I thought you would appreciate being made aware of this.

Below that there was a mark, like a scratching out, and then the following:

If you would be amenable to the attempt, rather than wait until our next scheduled evening together, I thought we might try at least once in the intervening period.

I await your reply.

Harry grinned. So Severus hadn't just slipped out in the dead of the night, and he didn't think they should wait to see each other. Harry paused to glance at the clock before deciding he would stop along the way to post his reply before going in to work. Why not, if he was already late?

He snatched up his pasty, and was almost out the door before he realized he hadn't written anything in return yet. Might as well do it right then, he thought, rather than wave the note around at the post office. He turned, flattened the parchment and scrawled at the bottom:

I'm free tonight.

After folding it, he unfolded it and added below the first reply:

Actually, I'm free all this week.

He made it to the door before he ran back to pick the quill up.

And then next. So really, any night you'd like -- yes.

Yours, H.

He whistled as he slipped the note into his jacket and left.


"Pass the scones, would you Ron? I ordered them for all of us, didn't I?"

"We can always get more," Ron protested with his mouth full of scone. "Can't we, Harry?"

Harry nodded, not certain with whom he was agreeing. It had been three weeks since the first night Severus had come over. They had seen each other more often than not evenings and weekends in the days following, at first with one or the other of them just showing up unannounced.

But soon they began to say things like, "Can I see you tomorrow, then?" (Harry) or "I suppose I'll have to buy twice as much for supper as usual," (Severus).

It was more tiring for Harry to go back and forth constantly between his house and Snape's than it had been before when they saw each other only on specific nights. But there were unexpected benefits. They began to have actual conversations, for one. They talked about Harry's training, about the rigours of the physical workouts and the tediousness of the department's bureaucratic duties. When Harry asked Severus how his potions business was going, Snape at first refused to believe he held any interest in the topic. But gradually he had come to complain about his customers, rant about his suppliers, and denigrate the poor courier on whom he took out most of his ire, a lad unfortunately called Winnie.

"Like a house elf?" Harry had asked in disbelief when the name was first mentioned.

"I believe it short for Edwin," Severus had mentioned in distraction (Harry had been eating his pudding in what he hoped was a tempting fashion, in the interests of finishing the meal and moving things along to Snape's spartan bedroom).

"He sounds nice enough," Harry ventured.

"He is an idiot, and a constant trial upon my patience." Severus watched Harry's mouth closely.

"Careful -- I might start to think you like him more than me," Harry joked.

There had followed an uncomfortable silence. I don't like you, Potter, Harry imagined Snape retorting. He shifted in his chair, wondering how he might change the subject.

"There can be no chance of that," Severus said finally. "He's a bumbling hideous boy, and has none of your --"

"Charm?" Harry suggested.

Snape had snorted. But when Harry again pulled his spoon slowly out of his mouth, he grabbed the utensil and threw it to the ground to drag Harry to the bed.

"Look like you're a bit lost there, mate," Ron was saying from across the table.

"What?" Harry shook himself to find both Ron and Hermione looking at him with concern. "What, no, not at all."

"You've been working hard, I'm sure, Harry," Hermione said warmly.

"Yeah." Ron frowned. "It's enough to make me wonder if I really want to join the Aurors after all."

"Of course you want to join the Aurors, Ron," Hermione told him. "You have since third year."

Ron looked uncertain, but soon brightened. "Can't be any more taxing than working for George," he commented. "He's always insisting we test the products over and over until they're perfect. Besides, it's expensive, working there: you wouldn't believe how many robes I've had to replace from all the explosions."

"Or the times I've had to charm his eyebrows to grow back," Hermione put in.

"Sounds good," Harry said vaguely. He traced a pattern in the sugar he had spilled earlier on the cloth.

The other two exchanged a look.

"We know how hard this is on you," Hermione began. "Not just work, obviously, but this business with the bond."

"Yeah. Having to -- with Snape? It can't be good for you," Ron commented. He laughed. "It wouldn't be good for anyone."

"Er -- yeah. Terrible stuff, really. Se-- Snape." Harry cleared his throat.

"Oh, Harry," Hermione said with feeling. Her eyes looked suspiciously bright. "I wish there was something we could do to free you of this without making you spend time with Snape. Perhaps if I look through those volumes one more time --"

Harry felt a rise of panic. It wasn't terrible, and he was awful at lying to them. How on earth would they react if they really knew what was happening? He couldn't have them keep on pitying him, not when he was struggling to contain himself from beaming at them every time he saw them lately. And the last thing he wanted was for Hermione to stumble across a solution to stop him from seeing Severus. That would have to happen soon enough anyway; why rush things?

"I wonder about the libraries at Beauxbatons. Of course Hogwarts' collection is better, but it could be they have texts we might consult," Hermione mused. "Even so small a mention as a footnote could lead us to a new direction. It's a long shot, but there might as yet be avenues we haven't explored to break this bond." She smiled reassuringly at Harry.

No, Harry wanted to exclaim, but how on earth would he explain himself?

As a last resort, Harry shot a look of alarm at Ron. Ron paused, his fork on its way to his mouth, and stared back at Harry. At first he looked confused. Then his eyes widened, and the fork clattered to the table.

"Careful, Ron, this is a new jumper!" Hermione dabbed at herself with a serviette, scowling.

"You know what I still don't understand?" Ron asked, his eyes still huge.

"What?" Harry asked, anxious.

Ron swallowed and abruptly turned to Hermione. What sort of bond is it that has to be strengthened before you can break it?" he asked in a strained voice.

"Ron, I can't believe you! We've gone over this so many times," Hermione said impatiently. "It's very clear from the research that if they did nothing, this particular bond would have negative effects on Harry and Snape both, forcing them to spend inordinate amounts of time together to combat the consequences of straining the tie between them. But if they work on building the bond through intimate contact, it will settle. And then they'll be free to break it."

"So you have to make it think you're serious, and then sneak up on it when it's unaware," Ron offered.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "That's a complete misunderstanding of the process." She proceeded to reiterate the salient points for Ron, while Harry breathed out a sigh of relief and relaxed in his chair.

"You know, I always thought romantic bonds would be unbreakable," Ron observed after Hermione finished her explanation. He still seemed a little shocked, but he was far less outwardly troubled than he had been even moments before. "You're quite lucky yours isn't, Harry." He gave Harry a shrewd look. He must have seen something uneasy in Harry's expression, for he sighed and turned back to Hermione to ask another question. "But aren't the rest of the bonds unbreakable, then? I can't remember what we found out."

"Honestly, Ronald. You know as well as I they're not. I think they're only unbreakable in the Amorous Witches: Adventures in Romance series," Hermione said with a disdainful sniff. Back at Hogwarts she'd had a field day with the series when she discovered how popular they were among their classmates. She read aloud luridly passionate passages to Harry and Ron's embarrassment so she could ridicule the overwrought prose and fantastical plots. "Of course bonds can be broken -- anything created can be destroyed, really."

Ron's brow furrowed in thought. "Not as reassuring as you might expect, that," he said at last. His gaze flicked to Harry. "Seems to me you have to really protect the things you want to last."

"Well, obviously," Hermione huffed.

"I have to go," Harry said abruptly, getting to his feet.

"Really? But it's early yet," Hermione said in confusion.

"I have to -- er, I have to look something up, before I meet with my superior."

"Oh, well, that's perfectly understandable. I'm so glad you're taking so much initiative," Hermione said.

"See you later, mate." Ron waved. "And remember, Christmas Day at the Burrow, same as always."

"Christmas?" Harry stopped short.

"Next week," Hermione reminded him.

"Don't forget Snape's present," Ron said innocently.

"Well, the bond doesn't require anything like that. Don't listen to Ron, Harry; you needn't get Snape a gift," Hermione's voice said, fading as Harry hurried away from them, taking off at a run as soon as he was outside.


Harry paused at a window in Diagon Alley, gazing at the deluxe set of potions jars displayed in the window.

They were made of coloured glass, jewelled looking, almost as if they were infused with something that made them glint in the light. It seemed just the sort of thing to give to someone involved in potions. But Severus wasn't exactly the flashy type, and at this point Harry had absolutely no idea how he would react to Harry giving him a present. No, best to get something serviceable and less showy, Harry decided. If
Severus reacted poorly, Harry could more easily pass off the gift as a lark or a holiday fancy.

He placed a palm against the glass window as he leaned in slightly, catching sight of a more basic but still handsome set of jars. They had a silver-wrought rim, and Harry racked his brain trying to remember whether one wasn't supposed to have silver on the containers of any particularly important potions. Severus would know, of course, but obviously Harry couldn't ask him without giving up the game.

He could always just purchase the most basic, cheapest set, but that was hardly the type of thing he wanted to hand over as a present to anyone, even if it would be the simplest solution. Besides, Severus made a great many potions; it couldn't be so very terrible to have a nice group of containers for them. And if he liked them, well. Perhaps he would show his gratitude by --

"I don't think I've ever seen you gaze so longingly at anything in store windows except the latest racing broomsticks."

"Ginny," Harry exclaimed when he saw it was she who had stopped beside him.

She gave him a small smile. After an awkward moment, they embraced briefly.

"How are you?" he asked when they stepped apart.

"All right. And you?"

"Fine, fine." He cleared his throat.

"Listen, Harry," she began. "I really am sorry for how everything ended with us --"

"Oh, no," he cut in with a forced laugh. "You needn't apologize. About dating Neville, I mean, if that's what -- I probably would have done the same were the situation reversed. Not that I would have dated Neville, precisely, but." He stopped and shook his head. "You needn't apologize."

"You can't know you would have done the same." She smiled wryly. "Who even gets into such situations besides you?"

He opened and closed his mouth a moment before laughing genuinely. "You have me there."

"Thought I might." She grinned back.

He felt himself relax a bit more. "How are things with Neville? And you?"

"He's well. We're doing well." She leaned in a little and lowered her voice. "And how is -- I'm not quite how to say -- well, your man? Planning on buying him a gift, are you?"

Harry choked and she had to whack him on the back until he could breathe properly.

"Thanks," he said when he could speak. "And it's not quite like that between him and me. Er, and gift, no, I was just passing through --"

She raised her eyebrows. "What is it like, then?"

"Oh, you know." Harry made a vague gesture. "More trying to break this bond, really. All the research we did seemed to suggest one had to become, erm, extremely intimate so as to -- so that's why, you see, nothing more." He imagined any mention of the meals they had shared and the times they'd slept the night in the same bed wouldn't help his case. But he knew how it really was, because Severus still performed the revealing charm, or at least he reported doing so when Harry wasn't awake or had already left.

What was going on between Severus and him was fantastic while it lasted, but it wouldn't last.

"Harry." Her eyes were warm. "You're standing here staring at rows of elaborate potions' equipment."

"What of it?"

At her sceptical expression he leaned against the window and exhaled slowly. "All right. All right. Perhaps it is like that. Just a bit."

She nodded sympathetically.

"It can't help but veer in that direction, I suppose, given all the time we spend together." He stuffed his hands in his pockets. "It was all by the schedule at first, and now it's happening more often, practically every night, and we're -- really, I can't stop thinking about him, not at work, not when I'm alone, even when he's driving me mental. Particularly since everything we're doing together has gotten far better lately." He suddenly realized what he must be implying and abruptly stopped.

Ginny's cheeks and ears had gone bright pink, but she reached out and squeezed his arm. "That's good, then. It was bound to happen, I think, after all the two of you -- well." Her expression was only a little wistful when she said, "I'm happy for you."

"I don't think he feels the same," he said without thinking, and then blanched as he realized it was likely true.

Bonding accidentally and having amazing sex was one thing, but a relationship, that was an entirely different matter. Someone had to really want that to make it work. Like Ron had said, a person had to protect the things he wanted to last. And with Severus still performing that spell to detect the strength of the bond every time, obviously he didn't want what was between him and Harry to last.

"How do you know for sure?" Ginny asked.

"Well, it's not as though I can rely upon the normal sorts of signals," he said slowly. "We already snog and, er, all that. But that's in aid of breaking the bond eventually."

"Well." Her small smile was back. "I'm fairly sure you're not required to break the bond, are you?"

His cheeks burned, and he tried not to pay attention to the small flame of hope her words had kindled in him. Would Severus want to be with him, given the chance for something real, not just because of an accident that forced them together?

"Well. I ought to be getting home. Be seeing you, Harry."

"You know, I really do wish you and Neville all the best," he called as she turned.

"Same to you, Harry," she replied, glancing back at him with a smile.


"--if you wish to have other plans for that evening, I of course understand."

"Sorry, what was that?" Harry asked, glancing up.

They were sprawled in front of one of Grimmauld Place's fireplace, naked in front of the fire burning merrily behind the grate, except for the blanket Severus had transfigured from his pocket kerchief to cover them.

Severus's look betrayed his irritation, but it said something for how much better things had gotten between them that he didn't immediately set in on Harry for not paying attention.

Or maybe it had to do with how Harry had been rubbing his palm over Severus's sparse chest hair. Until Harry noticed he was actually speaking, Severus had been making contented noises at the caresses.

"I know we have been spending additional nights together of late --"

"More like every night," Harry said with a grin.

Severus looked stern as he continued. "As I was saying, no doubt this increased activity is due to your zeal in addressing the matter with the bond, and allowed by a certain flexibility in your schedule recently. But even were we not meeting more spontaneously to apply ourselves to our mutual problem, typically we would without question meet on Thursday next for our scheduled tryst."

"Wait, what are you saying?" Harry asked nervously. It almost sounded as if Severus was calling things off, saying they shouldn't see each other again. And here they'd been having such a fantastic evening; but so much for afterglow in front of a roaring fire. Harry pulled his hand away, and began to raise himself partly on his elbows.

Now Severus's expression was positively exasperated as he turned over to face Harry. "I trust you very likely have plans with others for the Christmas holiday, and I am trying to ascertain this is in fact true so that we may be agreed we will not meet that night even though it is one of our scheduled Thursdays."

"Oh," Harry said. That certainly seemed less dire. "Yeah, yeah, I do," he added, recalling Ron's reminder.

Severus' lips flattened as he pressed them together. "I see. Well, this is as I assumed. I should I hope I am not making too many demands on your social life by requesting we follow through with the remainder of our scheduled meetings together, even though you will quite likely wish to see me less."

"What? No, that's not what I said."

"You just confirmed your plans with others on the holiday," Severus retorted. "In what other language does that allow the interpretation of another meaning?" As he spoke, his voice rose in volume until he fairly shouted the last few words.

"Would you shut it for a moment?" Harry asked in frustration. He sat up, running his hand through his hair. "I'm trying to clear it up if you'd only listen! Yeah, I have standing plans with the Weasleys on Christmas. But this year I was going to ask if you'd like to come along with me to the Burrow on Christmas day. Which yes, happens to be on one of our Thursdays, but I'd ask you if it was on a Friday or Sunday or whatever day of the week the holiday falls on this year, all right?"

Severus' face went from twisted with frustration to slack with surprise. "You can't be serious."

"Why can't I?"

"No, I mean -- you're only asking me now because of some ridiculous notion of pity." Severus got to his feet and stalked away, presumably to find wherever Harry had flung his trousers. "You think me pathetic, inquiring after holiday plans you clearly established some time ago with others, not bothering to inform me of them."

"I am not! I want to spend Christmas with you!"

"Why?" Severus spat at him. "Why should I believe such a thing?"

"Oh for -- hang on. And don't try to sneak out while I'm gone from the room!" Harry sprang to his feet and ran upstairs, still naked.

When he returned, he hadn't bothered to throw on any clothing, but he carried with him a large gaily wrapped ribbon-decked package.

"Here," he said shortly, thrusting the box at Severus.

Severus stood, half dressed, staring at the large box now in his hands. "For me?" he asked softly.

"Yes, for you," Harry snapped. "And don't try to claim I just gave you some random gift I didn't even intend for you, because when you see what it is, you'll know it can't have been for anyone else."

Severus carefully set the package down on a nearby table, and unwrapped it.

"Ah," he exclaimed when he revealed the contents.

Harry had gone with the jewelled glass potions bottles, and when he saw Severus' stunned and vulnerable expression, he was very glad he had.

"Do you like them?"

"Yes," Severus breathed. He lifted one out from the wrappings, handling it reverently. "They're exquisite."

"So will you?"

Severus cradled the bottle in his hand, almost as if he planned to croon it a lullaby. "Will I what?"

"Come to the Burrow with me on Christmas day, like I asked."

"I have obtained no gift of similar worth for you," Severus said in distraction.

"Well, it's not as though it's Christmas Day yet," Harry joked. "Plenty of time."

Severus gently replaced the vial and folded some of the cushioning paper over it. "Indeed."

"You know, you don't really have to get me anything," Harry continued, a little embarrassed it may have seemed he was prompting for a gift. "Because you do so much for me anyway, not just all those years you helped and I didn't realize, but, you know, the meals and the nights together and really everything these last few months, so --"

And then he couldn't finish, because Severus had wrenched him close and kissed him with fervour.

"I find it amusing that you're still completely naked," Severus whispered when they drew apart.

Harry grinned. "Like you mind."

Severus's arch look showed he did not mind in the slightest. "Still, it wouldn't do to have you catch some illness in the chill air," he said briskly. He picked up the blanket and wrapped it around Harry's shoulders.

"We could be even warmer in bed," Harry suggested.

Severus gave a jerky nod, and Harry smiled at him before heading again to the stairs.

"Wait," Severus said.

"You all right?" Harry asked him as he paused. The one word Severus uttered seemed fraught with emotion.

"I think it's complete," Severus forced out. He appeared rooted where he stood, though he swayed slightly, and all the colour had drained from his cheeks.

Harry returned to the spot where Severus stood. "The bond, you mean," he said quietly. He took Severus's hands in his own, squeezing them.

"It must be," Severus said as if in a daze. "I feel --" He shook his head. "I have no doubt the spell with reveal it is so. Nevertheless..." He reached over to the table and picked up his wand.

"No," Harry said firmly, staying Severus's hand.

"No?" Severus looked wary and likely a breath away from turning defensive.

"Maybe it is complete right now. But who knows if we'll have words or grow annoyed with each other or have a misunderstanding later on. We'd just have to do it all over again. And you can't want that, going back to the way it was at the start! No, much better to keep on as we have been lately, I think."

Severus said slowly, "You are mistaking how this process of breaking the bond works. We would not have to initiate the same attempts merely because we have a disagreement in the future, after we --"

"No, I'm not mistaking anything," Harry replied, his tone deliberately light. "People can live all their lives together and go through all sorts of things that alter the way they react to each other. Feelings can change, relationships can change -- that is, if you don't want them and work on them. If you do want them and work on them, well, you at least have a good chance of keeping the tie between you strong. I can't imagine a simple revealing spell can tell us whether a bond like that is really and truly complete, can you? No, we'll have to make certain other ways."

"There may be something to what you say," Severus allowed.

"Now you're seeing reason." Harry tugged on Severus's hands, backing them up toward the stairs (and the bedroom).

"Such a method of strengthening the bond could take a long while."

"Ages, obviously." They reached the landing, and Harry drew Severus to him.

"An eternity, perhaps," Severus whispered.

"You could be right," Harry agreed cheerfully. He tilted his head toward the remaining stairs. "We'd best start now."

*~*~*~*~*~* THE END *~*~*~*~*~*
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