Hocus Focus Bernice Beta read by Millifiore.
Snape awoke with a start and an idea. An idea for a potion. A great potion. And such an obvious idea! Why hadn't he thought of this years ago? Somehow it seemed as if lots of little niggling questions had suddenly coalesced into one big answer.
He'd need a lot of raw material, which he was sure he could get, and a lot of time which could be a problem, but for something like this he'd find the time. And, of course, a research subject. But that wouldn't be a difficulty, either. He had just the perfect subject in mind.
He jumped out of bed, tried to put on his slippers, missed one in his haste, and flapped off half shod in search of a quill, ink, and parchment to write down his brilliant idea before he forgot. And a cup of tea.
It swirled and glimmered, a rainbow whirlpool of ever moving light and dark. The potion was a masterwork. It could be his greatest discovery to date. It could make his name as one of the most brilliant and inventive wizards of his generation. In constant motion and constant change it thickened and shifted sluggishly, then with an effervescent sparkle of champagne bubbles, it thinned and swirled faster, all without his touching it. All the colours of the soul were here, mercurial and capricious, fluctuating with the easy change of mood and memory. All those who mocked him for his obsession with his art would have to come to the realisation that he could, indeed, hold their very souls in his hands, should he so desire.
Those who could see the further potential of this discovery would beg him for favours and assistance. Of course, there would always be those who would scorn him, because of his poverty, his unfortunate choices, and all the other excuses they had for treating him like nothing of any importance. And there would be those that said his dabbling with the human soul would be nothing short of dark magic. Certainly, another wizard, someone handsome and silver tongued, would be lauded as a great saviour of hearts and minds with Snape's discovery. He'd be labelled a soul trader if he tried to market his discovery, unless he had a miracle to back it up. No matter. He was used to their contempt and would not let it stop him in his quest for perfection. Luckily, fate had played into his hands, delivering him both the means and the perfect excuse for his creation, as well as a screen of respectable motive. Dumbledore would be so proud of his efforts, and ascribe him selfless motivations and sherbet lemons.
The cauldron was made of nothing. No air, no space, no electrons, no neutrons; a nothing so pure that nothing could exist where it wasn't, not even a vacuum in its absence, and nothing could pass through it. No element existed that was otherwise pure enough to hold these precious wisps without affecting them; not glass, nor air, nor petrified water. Snape had tried them all at various points. There were far too many impurities in air, no matter how much he filtered it. There were always old sneezes and sad sighs and passing thoughts, and air held far too much magic in this place. Water rotted the potion away like acid, and like the air around them, water held the memory of every person and creature it had touched, with no way to bring it to complete purity. Glass held the memory of a million years of stone, and he hadn't even attempted to bring a million years into this potion there were potions for which that strength was needed, but here it would create nothing but havoc.
Trial and error had been agonisingly frustrating, but at least the main ingredient was cheap and plentiful, if a little embarrassing to obtain. In fact, most people had been more than happy to give away their supplies, even though they laughed at him for asking at first, until he spun them stories about the photos being booby trapped with concealed memory charms, and how he was trying to save them from losing their memories, and how he really didn't need to be thanked, it was his pleasure, and thank you for the tea and biscuits. Or that he was trying to create a pictorial history of every professor at Hogwarts, and they needed some for the 'You too can be like this Professor if you're not careful!' wall of warning.
He certainly didn't want to tell them the truth, in case the experiment failed, although he had no doubts of his own brilliance, there were many variables, and who was to say if his research subject would last long enough for him to complete his potion.
It wasn't long before they would happily hand over any Gilderoy Lockhart photos they happened to have. Of course, many had been burned, torn up, or otherwise destroyed since it had been revealed that Lockhart had been a fraud, and a dangerous fraud at that, but some still had a few autographs lying around. There had been many thousands of them, after all, and some very few people still believed in Lockhart, believed that his downfall was nothing but a set up. Nothing had been printed in the Prophet, after all, and if it wasn't in the Prophet, then it just wasn't true, and they could go on ignoring the rumours of attacks on the Boy Who Lived, and go on believing in Lockhart's wonderfully outrageous adventures. They believed in golden curls and perfect smiles, and that the outside matched the inside. They believed in truth in beauty, and beauty in truth like a bunch of blind fools. And when Snape had run out of star-struck witches, he'd dug through old newspapers, carefully vandalising them. It was easy to get copies of Lockhart's old books and they were a treasure trove of photographs: front covers, back covers, dust jackets, interior illustrations, and any other gap where Lockhart had been able to stick his grinning, imbecilic face. In fact, the book shop had given him ten galleons to haul away their entire catalogue. It saved them from the expense of proper disposal of the unwanted goods.
He carefully cut around another photograph. The man in the picture squirmed nervously away from Snape's scissors, pausing to flash a bright sparkling smile whenever he thought he could catch Snape's eye, then mincing out of the way of the sharp blades again. Snape was careful to trim away everything in the photograph that wasn't Lockhart, making sure that the entire background image was removed without actually damaging the nervous central figure.
When he'd finished, Lockhart's image was standing, looking as if he'd been straight jacketed into place; unable to move into a background that no longer existed, and no longer able to leave the frame. The handsome face smiled up at Snape hopefully, and Snape was almost tempted to stab his tiny, sharp scissors into it, just to watch it scream. Instead he carefully held it between scrupulously sterilised tongs, scourgified it to make sure none of the oil from his fingers would taint the potion, and held it over the cauldron.
With exact precision he used his wand to levitate a portion of the potion and started to drip it over the photograph. It writhed and screamed, mute, its tiny mouth stretched wide in terror and agony as the brilliant colours swirled and spread, soaking through the paper. As Snape poured more of the liquid over the photograph, it appeared to eat through the image, but in actuality the image was becoming a part of the liquid. It was lifted up, away from the paper, torn out, torn into its component chemicals, and as the liquid swirled back into the cauldron, the image went with it, drip by drip, until eventually all that was left was a soggy, Gilderoy Lockhart shaped piece of blank paper.
He'd told the healers at St. Mungo's some cock and bull story about Lockhart's fingerprints being needed to unlock a protection spell on his old office, and no one had questioned him, no one had wondered why Snape had kept him so long, and no one cared at all. Even Dumbledore was prepared to turn a blind eye to whatever Snape was getting up to, as long he didn't have to face the embarrassment of his hiring Lockhart originally.
Lockhart himself cowered in the corner of Snape's makeshift 'guest room'. The thinly-disguised oubliette was not really humanised by the addition of a pallet and the washing facilities that Snape had graciously provided, and considering how often Lockhart had hurled his chamber pot or water jug at Snape, it was only through Snape's kindness that Lockhart was allowed to keep them. Lockhart was currently trying to cower behind the washing stand, but there was no protection in that spindly piece of furniture.
Snape saw no real point in Lockhart's cowering anyway. The extracted soul in the potion should have no taste to Lockhart. To anyone else it would be bitter and peculiar and alien, but as it was Lockhart's own soul it should slide down his throat like water into a desert. Easy and natural and welcome.
But Lockhart fought every step of the way. He'd taken the first draft easily, smiling vacantly, as accepting of Snape's largesse as an innocent child accepts lollies. He'd taken the draft with a puzzled but eager expression and drunk it trustingly.
Once the old memories took hold, though, he'd started to cry.
Apparently, Lockhart hadn't enjoyed his life all that much.
So Snape had to force him.
At first Lockhart had had fought wildly, screaming, biting and scratching, or holding his breath until he'd passed out. Snape used holding spells and hit him with a heavy cauldron while thinking wistfully of the Imperius, waiting until Lockhart regained consciousness before forcing the potion down his throat. By the fourth dose, Lockhart was fighting with greater skill, playing at defeat before getting in a well-aimed kick to the groin. Snape had confiscated Lockhart's boots, chained him to the wall, and left him without food for a few days, after that. Hunger drove Lockhart to a small measure of co-operation. As Lockhart's memories returned, Lockhart got clever. He'd take the potion and hold it in his mouth, faking a swallow. At least one carefully prepared dose had been spat out before Snape had realised how Lockhart's strategy had changed.
Yesterday Lockhart had tried bribery; offering Snape the fortune he'd accumulated from the sales of his books in exchange for his freedom. But Snape did not need Lockhart's ill-gotten funds that badly. He might desire more than he received as a teacher, but he wouldn't touch Lockhart's money with a ten foot broomstick.
Today Lockhart had spent a good part of the past hour begging.
"Please, Severus," Lockhart begged, his big blue eyes wide and pleading, "Please, Severus..."
"Professor Snape!" Snape demanded. "You do not have permission to be so familiar, you snivelling worm."
Lockhart cringed at Snape's harsh tone, and Snape couldn't help feeling a twinge of satisfaction at having everyone's golden boy so far beneath his boot heel now. He'd told Dumbledore that hiring this self-aggrandising fool would be a mistake, but Dumbledore hadn't listened, and people had suffered and been placed in jeopardy. But now Snape was vindicated and in control.
"Please, Professor Snape," Lockhart smiled tremulously, sitting near Snape's feet. He raised his hand, skin paler now than Snape's after so long in St. Mungo's, and placed it carefully on Snape's knee. His blue eyes were wide with childlike innocence, red lips moist and gently parted as he breathed his plaints, begging, getting to his knees, his breath stirring Snape's robes just slightly. Snape sneered at him, disgusted that Lockhart had turned from begging to almost whoring himself for Snape's sympathy. He felt a flush of heat and let it turn to anger, and wondered if this was as calculated as it seemed, or if it was simply Lockhart's nature to try to seduce others with illusion and delusion. Snape suspected that Lockhart was very aware of the effects of his helpless and respectful position.
"Please, Professor Snape, have mercy!" Lockhart pleaded, melodramatically.
"Why? Did you have mercy on those whose glory you stole? You took the credit for all of their hard work! Miah Warrigal in Wagga Wagga had created a cure for lycanthropy, and when you took the credit for it, and took Warrigal's memories, you destroyed that knowledge forever. Do you have any idea of the suffering that could have been alleviated by that potion? Not only is the knowledge lost, but the path back to it is redirected to some ridiculous charm that doesn't exist!"
"I don't remember please don't make me "
"You took their memories, so I'm giving you back yours saving their accomplishments, recording everything we find for posterity. If a person is the sum of their memories, I'm bringing back more than one person here. I think that's rather elegant, don't you?"
"But I won't remember the werewolf cure if I didn't know it then not even if you give me your memory potion. Only Warrigal knows the potion he invented."
"So? What do I care?"
"It won't benefit anyone. My memories won't help anyone. I'm useless, you know it," Lockhart forced a tremble to his lips, and Snape was disgusted to see a tiny, fake tear appear, sparkling silver in bright blue eyes.
"Oh, but you're wrong. It will help me," Snape said, smiling. "You are going to make me famous. I may only make a few sickles selling this potion to victims of memory charms, but my reputation will benefit enormously, particularly once I publish my thesis. How benevolent I will seem!"
"But what will happen to me?" Lockhart bleated, losing some of his beauty to petulance.
"I don't care, Lockhart," he said with savage glee. He wondered if this was how Lucius felt when dealing with his house elves, arrogant and imperious.
"I don't mind St. Mungo's - the healers are so very nice to me there. They let me sign autographs and sometimes fans come to visit me. That's really quite nice. Please, take these memories away and send me back there!"
"I told you, I don't care about you or what you want," Snape stood statue still as Lockhart's hands crept up his thighs with tiny, needful squeezes.
"But I keep all these memories, I'll go to gaol," Lockhart whimpered.
"You don't know that."
"I do! I heard the mediwizards. They said if I ever get my memories back, I'd have to face a competency hearing, and I'd have to go to Azkaban for my " Lockhart swallowed convulsively, "crimes."
Snape was about to say, 'Good, and well deserved, too', but checked himself. Dumbledore was always going on about attracting flies with honey, and Lockhart was possibly the biggest insect Snape knew. It would be easier, although probably less fun, if Lockhart was a more willing guinea pig. "All right. If you co-operate with me, I'll put in a good word for you with the Wizengamot, see if they will go easy on you."
"They won't, Severus," Lockhart whined. "They won't. I know they won't. You could let me go now. I have enough of my memories to get by Yes, I'll just go away, start anew. I'll start my line of hair care products! That's all I've ever wanted to do, really. I never wanted to be a great wizard I never wanted to have to live up to other people's expectations. I just want to look good and help others to look good too! You could say your potion was a failure ?"
So much for honey, Snape thought. A failure indeed!
Snape jabbed his wand against Lockhart's cheek, satisfied to watch the resultant flinch. "Drink this." He levitated the correct portion of potion over and jammed his thumb into Lockhart's mouth, forcing it open, directing the dose, stroking Lockhart's throat until he swallowed; a little trick for forcing potions into unwilling creatures that he'd picked up from Hagrid.
Lockhart gagged, and Snape grabbed his hands to stop him jamming his fingers down his own throat. Lockhart's previously perfect manicure had turned to ragged nails and torn cuticles since he'd been under Snape's care. The house elves kept Lockhart clean-shaven, but his hair was raggedly uneven. No carefully set bouffant would be allowed in Snape's domain.
Snape thought Lockhart looked better for it, too. The longer, looser style, still naturally blond, fell around Lockhart's undoubtedly pretty face. No glamours, no tasteful cosmetics, just a handsome man on the turn of middle age, slightly past his prime, dark rings under his eyes, slightly flushed with the potion. The ridiculous popinjay of the past had been wiped away by Snape's Spartan touch.
When he was sure the potion had gone down, Snape let the struggling man go, watching like a hawk as Lockhart crawled away, sobbing unconvincingly.
"What do you remember?" he asked, his dicta-quill quivering in readiness to record all the notes he needed.
"I hate you!" Lockhart pouted childishly.
"Join the club. What do you remember?"
Lockhart chewed a lip thoughtfully, sniffling a little. "Getting an award," and his voice became a little dreamy. "I was getting an award for for doing something awfully clever." He smiled a little. "They loved me. All the people loved me. They thought I was wonderful. Yes, they do. They love me." He slipped into present tense as the potion brought the memory to the fore.
"That's because they didn't know you," Snape sniped. "Do you remember what you're getting the award for?"
"Shhhh," Lockhart whispered. "You're ruining it!"
"Ah, so my memory potion isn't all bad then?" Snape said with a smirk. "See all the enjoyable memories you can have all over again?"
"The award " Lockhart's eyes were closed, lost in his dream. "I'd defeated a manticore saved a town."
"No," Lockhart admitted, "but I got the thanks for it, that's the next best thing." He smiled, his eyes, suddenly focussed on Snape, were all too worldly. "And the night before the award ceremony, the town gave me another award. A comely young lad to warm my bed."
"A lad?" Snape was taken aback.
"Yes, oh, lovely he was, lithe of limb and cherubic of face," Lockhart wrapped his arms around himself, rocking slightly. "Ah, William, so warm and willing and wiggly. Hair like a raven rather like yours - skin of alabaster, thighs so firm and silky."
Snape stared at the crouching Lockhart in surprise. A lad? Such things were more than just frowned upon, and Snape had never before heard a wizard openly admit to a preference for other wizards. To do so would be to face condemnation by society, a disavowal by patrons and common folk alike. He waved a hand at his dicta quill, and it stopped recording Lockhart's words. Snape did not want such filth in his notes.
"Have I shocked you, Professor Snape?" Lockhart crawled a little closer.
"I shouldn't be surprised," Snape sneered, "A low-life worm like yourself, I shouldn't be surprised that you'd engage in the degradation of little boys."
"Oh no, Professor." Lockhart once again sat at Snape's feet, gazing up at him with practiced limpid awe. "Never 'little' boys. Young men, men in their prime, men that are firm of limb and strong of back," Lockhart's hand picked at the fabric of Snape's robes, incidentally tweaking at the hair on Snape's thighs, "and never degrading."
"I fail to see how the act of " Snape paused, pursing his lips in disgust, "sodomy can be anything other than degrading! It's a crime against nature, it's "
"Unnatural?" Lockhart asked, his voice coyly amused.
"Yes. It's unnatural!"
"Wearing clothes is unnatural, Professor. Eating cooked food is unnatural. Magic is unnatural. But the love between two men? Oh, that's very natural," Lockhart's hand was flat against Snape's thigh, pressing hard, and Snape could feel the heat and moisture through the heavy fabric of his robes, "That's natural, lovely, beautiful, and delightful! All creatures do it, from ducks to dolphins. Our laws against it now that's unnatural!"
Lockhart stood up, they were of a height, and leaned in close. "Those that would ban the natural wonder of love, they are the unnatural ones," he whispered, his face close to Snape's. "Silly ridiculous," the sibilants of his breath brushed against Snape's lips and smelled of rosemary, "foolish "
As he spoke, Lockhart's hands brushed against Snape's hips, a warm distraction from the lips that whispered imprudently against his own.
Snape put one foot back, as if to step away, but Lockhart followed him, moving closer, "who's to say what two grown men, long-legged and lean, should get up to in their privacy of their own rooms, Severus? Who should decide who gives whom pleasure?"
The p in pleasure exploded against Snape's lips in a puff of herbal potion scented breath, and Snape back away sharply, shoving Lockhart back, "I told you to call me Professor!" he snarled, "You pervert!"
"Oh yes, Professor," Lockhart looked at him coyly from beneath limp blond ringlets, "I now remember many sweet perversions. This gift you have given me. I dare say that future doses of your clever potion will bring back many wonderful nights of delight. I'm sure you'd be interested in hearing all about those. Don't you think that's far more interesting than your old, dry-as-dust potions thesis? You see, I know how to write a book. I know how to titillate the reader. No one wants to read some boring recital of facts about a potion. Let me help you, Severus, together we could write a scintillating best seller, a tale of seduction and passion. You as the dark, haunted genius, and me as the handsome, helpless captive who seduces you into wild flights of ecstasy Imagine the passion we could ignite between the pages, Severus, not to speak of the passion we could ignite between the sheets."
Snape spun on his heel and strode back to his private rooms, hurling locking and trapping charms behind him. He didn't stop until he'd made the sanctuary of his bedroom, slamming the door behind him and resting his forehead against the living wood, listening for the sounds of pursuit, although there was no possibility of Lockhart being able to follow.
Blood pounded in his ears and he knew he was blushing brick red from anger and mortification. He wasn't sure what made him more furious; Lockhart's denigration of his scientific efforts, or this blatant attempts at seduction.
How dare that prancing ponce embarrass him like that? How dare he make a mockery of their society with something everyone knew was disgusting and despicable? Something unnatural, no matter what Lockhart said. He'd made it sound normal, beautiful, as if it was something Lockhart engaged in easily, often, with a plethora of willing partners.
As if Lockhart, in all of his well-renowned cowardice would be the one brave enough to risk his precious public image simply to satisfy his base desires! Lockhart, to whom image was everything, could not be the one able to risk it all to touch an object of lust. Snape simply refused to believe it.
And yet he couldn't help but picture Lockhart's creamy, spelled perfect, pale golden skin contrasted against darker tones, dark skin over heavy muscles, or paler skin over thin bone, stronger than the ripe softness of a woman, pressing harder against the heat of another man. Snape couldn't help but think fleetingly on the acts that Lockhart must have committed with other men, with his body, with his mouth, with his-
Snape shook his head and refused to dwell on this any longer. If Lockhart persisted in tormenting Snape with his perversions, then Snape would simply remind him of what happened to known queers in Azkaban. That would shut him up.
It was with some trepidation that Snape approached Lockhart's room the next morning. He would rather have just let the whole of yesterday's incident slip by, and in fact he could almost understand Lockhart's tendency to oblivate everyone in sight. He would like to erase that conversation from Lockhart's memory, but that would negate the purpose of his experiments, so he determined to merely ignore the unwanted information, and perhaps threaten to curse Lockhart with some minor, but disfiguring hex if he brought it up again. A threat against his precious face would scare him into silence.
He was surprised, when he entered the room, to see Lockhart had set a modest spread out over the small table in his room. A tablecloth covered the dark wood, and was laid with tea and biscuits, small cakes, and tiny sandwiches.
"Please forgive yesterday's outburst, Professor. I am under some considerable stress, I'm sure you understand."
Snape just stared at him suspiciously.
"I had the house elves make us tea," said Lockhart, face pale with tremulous hope.
"Why the pretence at civilisation? You are only going to scream and beg, then I will force you to take the potion anyway, then you will cry like a girl and accuse me of being a monster."
"Yes, that's true," Lockhart said and his eyes sparkled with humour. "But let us take tea like civilised people first? Shall I be mother?"
Snape merely grunted, and watched as Lockhart poured tea, his ragged, unkempt nails a sad contrast to the fine bone china. He was the very picture of a gentleman fallen on hard times.
"I could put your potion in the tea," Snape offered. "It won't be affected by the tea, now that the potion has been stabilised, and that would be more civilised than my forcing it down your throat. Can you co-operate to that extent?"
They were both surprised by the unexpected magnanimity of the gesture and sat silently for a few seconds before Lockhart nodded.
"Yes, please. Thank you very much, Professor."
Snape emptied the vial into Lockhart's teacup, and watched hawk-like as Lockhart took the potion without quiver or qualm, a small trembling of his mouth and the tenseness in his face the only sign he was afraid of the results. Snape's dicta-quill doodled on its parchment impatiently as it waited to take more notes.
They sat and sipped tea, and ate tiny, crisp little cakes while waiting for the potion to take effect. It occurred to Snape that if he could get a recent photograph of the Dark Lord, the Order could gain an awful lot of knowledge of their enemy. Of course, whoever took a potion with Voldemort's memories would be making a huge, and horrible, sacrifice. One Snape himself would not be willing to take. Perhaps the Potter boy, he mused.
"The offer still stands, Professor," Lockhart said, distracting him from that line of thought. "To help you with your book that is, not the anyway I've a number of best sellers to my credit, I can help you write something the public will adore!"
"I'm recording a paper on a subject of enormous potential import, not writing a crapulous pot boiler!"
"Ah, even so, it should still be interesting. Even scientists and potion masters like to be entertained. No one wants to be bored."
Snape was about to snarl his response when Lockhart's expression changed.
Lockhart snivelled into his tea, looking as if he was trying to appear to put on both a brave face and a look of abject, pitiable misery at the same time, the effect being he looked as if he were suffering terrible indigestion.
"Well? What do you remember?"
"I was a good student in school you must have used school photographs in your brew this time."
Snape nodded, he'd used a mix of time lines this time - an experiment within the experiment to see if large amounts of memory could be returned at a time, or if quality of recall would be lost. If successful, it would bring an end to this experiment so much sooner, and give him a far more useful, and easily marketed, potion.
"I was a good student. My parents expected much of me. The teachers expected a lot. I did well. I tried, anyway. I studied hard, but I could never remember the right spell at the right time. I was always a bit too slow."
"So you cheated?"
"No," Lockhart had the gall to look affronted, but then dropped his eyes back to his cup. "Not at first, anyway. I really did try to be a good student. But everyone expected so much of me!"
"You mean you couldn't live up to your own publicity, even then?"
"Yes, I suppose I suppose you're right, Professor. Everyone expects you to live up to your reputation." He looked at Snape, his eyes hooded, "Or down to it."
"What do you mean by that?" Snape said, suspicious that Lockhart was being less than respectful.
"You and I are rather alike, don't you see?"
"We are nothing alike!"
"No, it's obvious!" Lockhart beamed as if alight with his revelation. "You are so afraid of people rejecting you if they see the real you, that you drive them away by being as horrible as possible, instead of taking a risk and reaching out to people then failing. You're in control by driving them away first! You cover the real you with so much deliberate bile that no one can ever get close enough to see you. That way, it's not actually the real you that they are rejecting!"
"That's no revelation, Lockhart," Snape snorted. "Dumbledore's been telling me that for years."
"Well, don't you see that I'm the same? But I hide the real me behind bravado. I steal other people's identities and achievements to cover up my own shortcomings. People won't reject me, because I've hidden the real me behind bits of other people. Either way, Severus, we both wear masks. Both of us hide away. Both of us hide our true selves."
Snape had to admit he was impressed by Lockhart's self knowledge, and wondered how long Lockhart had practiced his speech.
Lockhart put a hand on Snape's thigh. "Both of us hide what we're afraid others might see. We hide our true " and Lockhart's voice dropped down low, "desires."
"I have nothing to hide," Snape nearly shouted, standing up and dislodging Lockhart's hand as if it burned him.
Lockhart smiled demurely into his tea cup, and Snape grimaced at his blunder. "At least, not from you!" He shut up when he realised he was just making himself sound bumbling instead of threatening.
"Of course you have nothing to hide from me. I think we are coming to understand each other, Professor. We both wear our hearts on our sleeves," Lockhart tossed his hair, then slowly tucked a strand behind one ear so that gold highlights were picked out by the small fire behind him, "That's what makes us " he fluttered his eyelashes slightly, " vulnerable."
"I am vulnerable to no one," Snape said, but he didn't meet Lockhart's eyes.
"I've seen I remember seeing the way the Headmaster treats you."
Snape whipped his head around, hair getting into his mouth as he snarled, "Don't talk to me about the Headmaster. You do not have the right to say anything about Professor Dumbledore!"
Lockhart held up one placating hand, "I just mean that you deserve more respect. The Headmaster takes your valuable service for granted instead of respecting your loyalty and the treasure it truly is. The way he speaks to you sometimes," Lockhart tsked sadly, "You're quite sensitive in some ways, you deserve much better. You deserve to be given all the respect due your intellect and difficult position."
Snape cleared his throat and let his hair fall down over his face. "The Headmaster treats me according to my position." He couldn't really argue, he agreed that the Headmaster did not always treat him with respect. Dumbledore had treated Lockhart better when the fool had been teaching.
"And the students!" Lockhart went on, sloshing his tea as he made a wide gesture. "The way they talk back to you! They need to learn to respect you more. Not just because you are their teacher and their better, but for your skills and for everything you do for them! Let's be honest here, Professor Snape, many of them wouldn't even be alive if it wasn't for you, never mind in profitable careers!"
Snape stood up, putting his tea cup back. "I am not so easily flattered, Lockhart. I'm surprised you ever managed to have 'companions' if that is your approach."
"Only fools who saw my public fašade, only those who wanted to be seen with the Amazing Lockhart."
Snape turned to leave.
"What if I told you that you have lovely eyes?"
Snape span back around. "What?"
Lockhart grinned merrily, "I remember "
Snape took a step closer to catch any recollections Lockhart might bring forth, ignoring the comment about his eyes.
"I remember a gentleman called Roger."
Snape's mouth twisted yet another of Lockhart's improbable stories of conquest. He wondered if Lockhart's habit of dwelling on sexual memories was something he needed to record for his thesis. It was a shame he couldn't get more subjects to get a comparison.
"Roger by name, Roger by nature," Lockhart laughed as Snape snorted. "He had this odd thing. He liked it when I gently ran my fingers up and down the inside of his forearms."
"His forearms?" Snape asked, puzzled enough to forget he intended to ask only scientific questions.
"Yes, like this " Lockhart demonstrated on the pale bare skin of his own forearms, running the backs of his nails gently from wrist to inner elbow. "It would make he hair on his arms stand on end and he would just melt!"
Reluctant to encourage the more ridiculous of Lockhart's recollections, Snape couldn't help asking, "Why?"
"Why?" Lockhart looked at him, "Why not? Everyone has their 'special place'. Some like to have their backs scratched, some melt when you blow in their ears or nibble their earlobes, or kiss their necks. I knew a young man who would break into a full body sweat if I licked the backs of his knees. I've known people who squeal and sigh if they have their toes sucked. Why, Severus, where is your special place?"
"That is none of your damned business!" Snape hollered, horrified that Lockhart would even suggest he had a 'special place' or other weakness. He turned and swooped out of the room, but was horrified to hear Lockhart stifle and chuckle. "And my name is Professor Snape, you imbecile!"
Snape watched the latest batch of his potion swirl and tried to track the colours as they spun, wondering if the colours represented emotions or action or even how accurate each memory was as it spun and merged.
If memory was subjective and flawed and filtered through bias, how 'true' could any of these memories be? There would be almost no way to test with empirical accuracy the exact efficacy of a potion like this, it would be nigh on impossible to prove that a person's memory had been returned complete and unadulterated. He made a note of these thoughts but decided against putting them in his final paper few people would even consider that, and it would only give ammunition to his detractors. Why help them?
A brilliant burst of scarlet shot past and Snape decided, just to himself, that it probably represented Lockhart's lust; some disgusting episode of self-indulgence and wanton partners, oiled and open, hands and mouths and bodies writhing in eagerness for Lockhart's depraved touch.
He thought how easy it would be to just flick up a droplet, just one tiny droplet, and taste that for himself. He would know, without actually having defiled himself, just exactly what it felt like to touch another man, to love another man's flesh, smell his skin, breathe together and lie together and know all the small pains and pleasures that people gave each other.
But he had no idea, at least he didn't yet, how to control the memories that came with the potion, and no way to ensure he didn't end up with Lockhart's memories of cowardice and failure, or something inglorious like eating a sandwich or using the toilet.
A man was the sum of his memories, and Snape did not want the sum of Lockhart in his head, blurring with his own sense of self.
He watched the colours swirl and ran his nails gently up and down the inside of his forearm, feeling the goose bumps come up, and wondered what it was that made men brave, or cowardly, or foolish.
"Does anyone miss me?"
"Hmm?" Snape didn't look up from the notes he was making on the results of the latest dosage.
"Does anyone miss me? I've been here an awfully long time. Surely someone has asked?"
"No. Other than I took you off their hands at St. Mungo's, no one knows, or cares, why you are here. No one misses you."
Lockhart's face fell for a moment, then he brightened, looking at Snape with a sly gleam in his eye, a twinkle that reminded Snape unnervingly of Dumbledore. "So it's just you and me, then?"
Frowning, Snape said: "Try nothing. Do nothing. Sit here quietly and do nothing more suspicious than breathe!"
Huffing a theatrical sigh, Lockhart obeyed him and things were quiet for a few moments.
"I could help you with your spelling, you know." Lockhart said, craning his neck to read Snape's parchments upside down.
"There is nothing wrong with my spelling!"
"No, no, of course not! I love your spelling. You're very creative. But as a multi-published author I could help you to make your spelling and grammar fit the modern standards that publishing houses prefer. They are so restrictive on these things, with their new fangled ideas on consistency and commas and not putting an extra e on the end of words. It's something they've picked up from Muggles, I'm sure."
Picking up one of his rolls of parchment, Snape cast a critical eye. True, his spelling was somewhat old fashioned, but that was entirely appropriate for a pure blood wizard. Still, although he knew there was at least one e in foole, he wasn't entirely sure how many e's were in ridiculous, and that was a word he needed to use a lot when describing Lockhart, so with a mumbled curse he pushed the finished pages over, along with his spare quill, and they worked in silence, bar Lockhart's occasional happy humming and Snape's intermittent 'Shut up!'s until supper arrived and they braked for tea and sandwiches.
"Mmm?" Snape mumbled around his roast beef and mustard. He'd become accustomed over the last month or so, to Lockhart's company. He certainly wouldn't seek it out, but the man's cheerful vanity and undemanding babble were at least a change from his usual silent meals and relentless self-improvement through potions. He'd never felt so good about himself since he'd been able to compare himself against Lockhart on a regular basis.
"Have you ever made a love potion?"
"A what?" Snape almost choked on his sandwich.
"A love potion, Professor Snape. A little aphrodisiac, a little Cupid's kiss of romance to enrich people's love lives. With your skill at potions, I'm sure you could do a rip-roaring trade in marriage enhancements. Now that's a thought! After all this " he gestured to Snape's papers, "project is over, you and I could go into business together, selling elixirs of love. With your skill and my dazzling smile on the bottle, we could clean up!"
Snape waited a beat until he knew his voice would be even and calm. "I will not be a party to rape."
"Rape!" Lockhart exclaimed. "Who said anything about rape? I'm talking above love!"
"Love potions are merely the tool of the rapist. They force people to desire someone they would normally eschew. They are completely vulnerable to the person who administers the poison, unable to say no. It's another potion form of the Imperius curse. People like you think that they are enormous fun, a great Valentine's treat, a harmless prank, but what about when the potion wears off and the victim regains their senses, what then?"
Lockhart stirred sugar into his tea and looked thoughtful, an expression that did not sit well on his face. "But what if the victim, as you call them, really does want it, but can't say yes because they are embarrassed, or afraid of what society might say? What if they deeply desire the pleasures of the flesh, and a love potion, slipped into their tea, would give them an excuse, would free them of responsibility? The victim in this case would have all the joy and passion they desired, but be completely without blame. All that freedom from just a few drops of love potion slipped into their tea."
There was a clatter as Snape's cup awkwardly crashed into its saucer.
Lockhart pursed his lips in a way he apparently thought was attractive. "I was talking hypothetically, Professor Snape," he said, and went back to sipping his tea.
They were both still for a while, then Snape murmured, "No, I don't make love potions."
"I've made a few suggestions, here and there, Professor Snape," Lockhart said, shuffling the parchments on Snape's desk.
"You what? What have you done?" Snape snatched the papers, noting Lockhart's flamboyant scrawl in the margins and all though his own crabbed handwriting.
"It's just a pity that where your spelling is creative, your writing style is so very dry," Lockhart shook his head sadly, hair tumbling around his face.
"This is a paper for the Alchemists Guild," Snape jabbed his fingers onto the parchment for emphasis. "It's supposed to be dry!"
"But when the publishers read this, you don't want to bore them to death. I've made some suggestions to make it more interesting. More human. So whoever reads it will enjoy it far more. That will increase your audience, so you won't just win the Order of Merlin, second class, for Contributions to Alchemy, you'll also win over the general public!"
"Order of Merlin?" Snape picked up on the one interesting thing amongst all of Lockhart's gibberish. That was a possibility he hadn't considered. So few useful potions were discovered nowadays, the 'Contributions to Alchemy' Order of Merlin was rarely awarded anymore. Interesting.
"Oh yes! Everyone will line up for your autograph and photo. Once we have your teeth fixed, of course."
"Everyone will love your face," Lockhart held his hands up to frame his vision, as if lining Snape up for a photograph, "but I can help you make something to make your teeth bright and sparkling!"
Snape waved him away, wanting to return to pondering the possibility of an Order of Merlin in his chosen field.
"So in this," Lockhart gestured to the parchments, "I've painted you as a kind of dark, brooding Mr. Darcy type figure."
"No, no, not Mr. Darcy No. I see you as more of a Mr. Rochester!"
"Who?" Snape was completely lost and considering a silencing hex, but he had some horrors over what Lockhart may have done to his thesis and needed to hear the details.
"Mr. Rochester. Dark and brooding etcetera. All tortured angst and bad moods and terrible secrets in the attic, er dungeon. Not handsome, but fascinating and exciting and setting everyone's hearts a-flutter. Oh yes, that's the image for you!"
"I have absolutely no idea what on Earth you are going on about!"
"Can't you see me as Jane Eyre? A strong willed, plucky, delicate English Rose only better looking, of course - tossed and turned on fate's outrageous fortunes, until I overcome all obstacles to fall into the arms of my beloved Mr. Rochester."
Twirling and waving his arms as he described this scenario, Lockhart suddenly affected a swoon and fell into Snape's lap.
"Get off me, you fool," Snape stood up and shoved Lockhart back onto his feet.
"Except that neither of us has become unexpectedly rich, more's the pity. Still, our book will fix that."
"'My thesis', not 'our book'."
Lockhart grabbed Snape's shoulders and turned him to look at the window. Black night outside, with the candles behind them, the window made a good mirror.
"Can't you see? We're a team. We belong together. Look at us!"
Snape looked, and saw an ugly, greasy vulture standing beside someone who had once been a handsome man. Lockhart smiled widely and was handsome once more.
"We're like the black and white pieces of a chess board, you and me. Complete opposites, and yet," his breath was hot against Snape's ear, "perfect together."
"We are going to make such a team, you and I! You with your brilliance and skill. Me and my " Lockhart bit his lip as he paused to think of something he was good at, "public affairs management acumen. Oh yes, that Order of Merlin is in the bag!"
"We are not a team!" Snape turned to yell at Lockhart face-to-face, and found himself nearly in Lockhart's arms. "You are not my partner, you are my test subject!"
"But we could be so much more, Professor Snape," Lockhart fingered the buttons on the front of Snape's robes. "Together we could be invincible. We make up for each other's shortcomings " Again Lockhart seemed to find it necessary to whisper his thoughts against Snape's lips, pressing himself down the front of Snape's robes, all rounded thighs and body heat. "There is so much we could teach each other. You can teach me to do real magic, instead of pretending, and I can teach you everything else."
"Your attempts at seduction are as clumsy as your attempts at magic!"
"Then I will stop playing with you, Severus. Sleep with me."
"Why? Why on earth would I want to do something as disgusting as that with someone as disgusting as you?" Snape cut himself off short, realising that his voice didn't sound angry, but instead sounded afraid.
"Because you're like me. I saw the way you reacted to my touch. You may not really want me as such, but we both know you desire another man's touch. I could teach you, satisfy your curiosity. I am very good, you know."
"And you think I will stop the experiment if you let me have my way with you? You are a fool!"
"No, I don't think anything will save me from your experiment," Lockhart said. "But maybe I could trade my body for a little comfort? A little compassion? And, Severus, if I may call you Severus, I do actually find you quite attractive."
Snape laughed at the lie. "No one finds me attractive, Lockhart, I'm not falling for that!"
"If we are together, it will be the first time I've been with someone who knows the real me. Ever. You have no idea what a relief it is to be with someone and be myself. No one has seen the real me since I was a child, Severus. I've been so afraid. But you've already seen the real me, and you're still here."
"I live here," Snape pointed out.
Lockhart continued on as if Snape hadn't spoken, "That's very attractive, Severus. And if you could sleep with me, knowing who and what I am that would be wonderful. No one has ever done that for me before. They are only attracted to the masks I wear, attracted to the achievements of others that I've stolen as my own. You would be the first person who isn't attracted to the fake skin I wear around myself."
Snape couldn't disagree with this honesty, and this earnest pleading certainly seemed very honest. What would it matter if Snape traded comfort and what kindness he could muster for sexual pleasure? No one would know. It wasn't like he was forcing Lockhart Lockhart was the one who'd raised the concept, after all.
"Besides, you've never been with another man, have you, Severus."
"That's none of your business!"
"There's no need to deny it, Severus."
"I'm not denying anything!" Snape was getting confused. It was becoming harder to think clearly, his head was pounding, and although his vision seemed clearer than it had ever been, it also seemed harder to look at anything other than Lockhart's full lips and the small pink tongue tip that flicked out now and then to moisten them.
"You're not unattractive, despite what you say. You're strong, healthy, intelligent, and perhaps you are not a great beauty, but there is nothing really wrong with your looks, either. It's not as if you're disfigured." Lockhart's hands mapped the counters of Snape's chest. "And if I were to be your first that's very seductive. I'd love to be your first, Severus. I'd love to show you what I could do for you "
Lockhart's voice had dropped to a whisper, a practiced seductive technique, and his lips were pressed to the corner of Snape's mouth. "Let me show you what I can do, Severus. Let me show you what it can be like, when two strong men are together."
Snape wanted to protest that he wasn't a virgin, that he'd had plenty of lovers, that he wasn't queer, that he'd slept with women but he'd never sleep with a man, but Lockhart's lips were pressing against his own, and Lockhart's hands were sliding into his robes, flicking buttons undone and easing around his ribs, tickling and exiting him, and Snape simply didn't know how to make it stop. He couldn't find the right lie to tell Lockhart that he wasn't as untouched as Lockhart seemed to think It was getting harder and harder to find reasons to protest.
He should stop this. What if Lockhart tried to overpower him and escape? Laughable idea, he thought, as Lockhart's lips brushed over his. Lockhart was weak, almost a squib, completely dependent on Snape's largess, and he would not walk away from his precious partnership. The thesis was too important to both of them, now.
Lockhart's peculiar braveness in this, in something that had kept Snape terrified for a lifetime, was fascinating, and Snape had to admit he was charmed by its incongruity in a man usually so afraid of everything. Perhaps Lockhart was fearless in this one thing because if anyone ever rejected him, or reacted angrily, or threatened to tell, Lockhart could simply oblivate them and move on safely.
Snape thought he could do the same. If Lockhart was a threat, or tried to blackmail him, Snape could always slip a little extra something nasty into the potion then declare his experiment a failure. Who'd know?
Lockhart was terrified of him, without a wand, and totally helpless. He lived or died at Snape's whim, and they both knew it. If Snape did accept Lockhart's offer, in exchange for the compassion Lockhart wanted, then no one need ever find out. It would stay between them, or Lockhart would die as a sad side effect of the new potion. No one would care, or miss him. And they both knew that, too.
Right now, Snape wasn't sure that something terrible wasn't happening to him after all. His heart was beating wildly as Lockhart's hands slipped into his underwear and eased them down. Snape's lungs worked like a bellows as Lockhart's lips caressed his chest and his thoughts were becoming scattered and wild as the blood left his brain.
He wanted this, he told himself. He didn't want to die without knowing. He didn't want to always be afraid of discovery, living his life celibate because he couldn't face the consequences of anyone finding out. They may sneer at having an ex-Death Eater on the staff, but they'd scream and throw hexes if they thought a queer was teaching their precious darlings.
Lockhart pushed Snape down onto the thin pallet he'd used as a bed, then posed for a moment, with a trademark toss of his hair and gave Snape a look that attempted lustful mastery, but just made him appear to be suffering gas, before rolling Snape on top of himself to ease away the last of Snape's clothes. Lockhart's hand was tangled in Snape's hair, holding him hard and fast for frantic kisses, skilfully moving so that Snape's nose was not in the way, Lockhart's expertise overwhelming Snape's clumsy attempts to reciprocate.
Lockhart's touch was reverent. He moved carefully, showing far more care in his seduction than he had ever shown with his spells. Snape was surprised and nearly saddened, wondering if Lockhart could indeed have been the great wizard he'd pretended to be if only he'd put this much effort into his magic.
The kisses were hot and wet and noisy and Snape couldn't get enough he'd never thought the press of mouth on mouth could be so arousing or the feel of another man's stubble chaffing his skin could send frissoms of excitement through his whole body.
Snape clamped down on an excited moan as his hands discovered Lockhart's perfect skin. Not a single blemish or scar met his questing fingers a perfection that would only come from the use of cosmetic potions or vanity charms. Either would have cost a small fortune.
Lockhart shucked off the last of his ragged clothing and rolled Snape until he was underneath, and started kissing his neck, making his way down Snape's collarbone with practised ease.
It made an interesting contrast, Snape mused, Lockhart's skin so pale against his own, Lockhart's hands soft and delicate even with his manicure neglected against the rough landscape of Snape's body; all bones and scars and unattended hygiene.
Snape couldn't help comparing them. The fine gold dusting of hair on Lockhart's skin compared to the spare, wiry black hairs on his own arms and legs, which themselves were too skinny and stringy next to the plump, round musculature Lockhart sported.
Lockhart must have worked hard for his pectorals and rolling abdominals either he was doing sit ups in St. Mungo's or he'd found some permanent muscle definition charm - and maybe they were fake, but that didn't make Snape feel a whole lot better about his protruding ribs and jutting hip bones.
None of that seemed to concern Lockhart, though, who was thoroughly appreciating Snape's chest and sunken belly with his fingers and mouth, and soft sighs of enjoyment.
Snape tried to project imperiousness, tried to show he was lying back and expecting Lockhart to please him because Snape was in charge, he was the powerful wizard and Lockhart merely his supplicant, not that he was afraid to make a move in case he betrayed his complete ignorance. He hoped Lockhart felt appropriately sycophantic and that he hadn't realised that the way he was suckling Snape's nipples while he rolled Snape's balls on the fingers of one hand had rendered Snape both speechless and helpless.
"You're in for a treat," Lockhart said, his blue eyes almost black with arousal. "I am very good at this!" and he bent his head to swallow Snape whole. Apparently he wasn't quite as good as he thought he was, as he choked a little, the vibrations and constrictions making Snape moan and writhe, but Lockhart handled his overconfidence with aplomb, pulling off and licking the head of Snape's penis until Snape was seeing stars.
Snape gasped air until the stars went away, and tried to regain his composure, but it was hard as Lockhart reeled out his repertoire of tricks. Snape did manage to change a helpless whine into a cough as Lockhart dipped down to lick his balls, bathing them with a warm tongue until Snape felt them start to tighten and contract, but he couldn't stay silent and started to lose control of the small yelps and moans that pushed their way out with every determined stroke of Lockhart's tongue.
Lockhart was sliding a wet finger inside and Snape tensed up, trying to stop him, but he couldn't wiggle away from Lockhart's mouth and his involuntary thrusts sent him back until he'd impaled himself. He didn't want this, he thought. Queers do this put things up inside themselves because oh because of that he wiggled a little, and Lockhart wiggled his finger too, and Snape couldn't hold in a small 'ah' of surprise and pleasure as Lockhart demonstrated just why queers liked to put things up into themselves.
As Lockhart worked his way up the shaft with tiny little flicks of his tongue and hot panting breath, Snape could feel the tension rising. As Lockhart alternated between gently rolling Snape's balls and rubbing his shaft, Snape could no longer stop himself from thrusting hopefully towards Lockhart's rosy lips. When Lockhart concentrated on the sensitive little spot just under Snape's cockhead, with flickering, fluttery little licks, Snape could only wonder where on earth Lockhart had learned such magic. What books had taught Lockhart how to hold just the head of Snape's cock in his mouth and lathe it with his tongue just so until the intensity was too much to bear any more? There was nothing he wouldn't do for Lockhart right now, he thought. If Lockhart wanted his name on the thesis as co-author, Snape would give him that honour. Anything, as long as Lockhart didn't stop what he was doing. Snape's balls felt like they were going to crawl out of his own skin, the tension unbearable as every tendon, sinew and muscle in his body strained towards the cusp clenched around Lockhart's finger then up and over, pouring out of himself with helpless whimpers and his fingers tangled in Lockhart's blond curls.
As Snape returned to earth, Lockhart gazed down with a smug smile, splatters of white across his face, dripping from his lips. He apparently thought this was an attractive look and fluttered his eyelashes in an attempt to look sexy, taking a finger and wiping some from his chin and licking it suggestively. Snape could smell the acrid scent of his own fluids and sweat, and the room was starting to feel cold again against his overheated skin.
Lockhart leaned down until they were chest to chest, bringing the warmth back, and Snape wondered if Lockhart was going to kiss him, wondered what he'd taste like on Lockhart's lips, but Lockhart merely smiled and wiggled his erection against Snape's hip.
"I want " Lockhart started, but then he groaned and Snape felt a splash of heat against his belly and knew Lockhart wasn't going to get what he wanted not right now, anyway. He wondered what it would be like to give the same kind of pleasure to Lockhart, what the heat and weight of another man's penis would feel like in his mouth, if it would feel like he'd imagined, if he would feel the shame that society had told him he should feel, or if he'd come against Lockhart's hip in excitement in the same way.
"Normally, I last hours and hours," Lockhart said, flipping his hair. "People have sung paeans to my prowess!"
"It's all right," Snape felt somewhat magnanimous towards Lockhart after his recent efforts.
"Really?" Lockhart looked at him, as if thrilled with the compliment.
"Yes, you were right," Snape thought that maybe this whole queer thing was worth the risk after all. Perhaps. As long as no one else found out. "You are good at that. I must admit, I don't think I've ever felt anything quite like it before."
"Ah, not just sex, Severus. I was always very good at something else as well."
"What? A vanity related spell, no doubt. Teeth whitening? Hair curling?" He couldn't help the instinct to sneer, just a little, but stopped short, seeing his own wand pointed unwaveringly at his chest. He realised that Lockhart must have picked his pocket while undressing him.
"Memory charms, Severus. I've always done very well with memory charms. With this wonderful potion, and your unknowing silence, my comeback will be spectacular! I'll take that boring thesis of yours and turn it into something brilliant! A gripping story of one man's struggle to regain his memory and fight his way back to the cover of Witch Weekly! All I need is a good title for my next book. 'Gilderoy Lockhart and the Picture Perfect Potion'. What do you think?"
"You wouldn't da-"
Snape awoke with a start and an idea or was it? Potions? Maybe it was just the lingering traces of a dream. About a blonde someone? It didn't matter. He got out of bed, put on his slippers and wandered off in search of a cup of tea.
Thanks to some folks on my friends list who gave me many cover stories for Snape to use to hide his real reason for taking Lockhart out of St. Mungo's, after Millefiore pointed out he couldn't tell the truth about it (and that I had spelled St. Mungo's several different ways, none of them correctly). And spelled Millefiore incorrectly. In fact that line about 'I love your spelling you're so creative!' came from something one of my friends at University once said to me. She was very sweet. Write what you know. I know just how many e's are in ridiculous. Seven!
Thank you to Stellahobbit for telling me that it was the Wagga Wagga werewolf that Lockhart claimed to have defeated. Since Wagga Wagga is in Australia, I used an Australian Aboriginal name for the wizard. Miah Warrigal means, sort of, wild moon dog.
Thanks to Snapetoy for the word 'guild'.
Send feedback or I'll cry!
|Feedback||Guest Book||Back to Stories|