Xander Harris mumbled under his breath as he trudged along.
How did he get talked into these things?
He'd told Giles 'No' more times than he could count, and yet, there he was, on his way to becoming the new liaison between the new and improved Watchers' Council and the magical world of Dis—uh…Hogwarts.
It always happened to him. Xander Harris: Favorite Butt-Monkey of the gods.
And what kind of name was Hogwarts, anyways? What were the other schools of magic called? Horsebunions? Goathemorrhoids?
Stupid magic school in the middle of nowhere.
He cursed as he tripped over a rock.
What was a rock that big doing in the middle of a field anyways? There was no reason…
Glancing up, he stopped and stared, mouth gaping open, eyes unblinking.
Wow. One minute, all there was to see was a big, crumbly mess of stone, and the next…Wow
That was one big castle. With the towers and the big-ass you-could-fit-a-bulldozer-through-those doors and…wait, was that a soccer field? No, there were strange hoops in the end zones, really high in the air. Maybe it was for some bizarre cross between soccer and basketball…for really, really tall people?
Must be for some strange British game.
Wait. This was Scotland. Shit
. He'd accepted this assignment—reluctantly—banking on the knowledge he'd gained after nine years deciphering Giles-speak.
This was so
the wrong country.
So he was in Scotland. Should he have worn a kilt? Or brought some Lucky Charms? No, leprechauns were Irish, as far as he knew…Crap
He was seriously going to fuck this up.
The inside of the castle was even more bizarre and impressive in a medieval-times sorta way; he kept expecting a suit of armor to come alive and challenge him to a duel, which, according to the really old guy in the bathrobe and pointy hat, could possibly happen. He'd have to touch up on his nonexistent jousting skills.
He followed Bathrobe Guy blindly—gaping at the paintings that talked and avoiding tapestries that reached out to grope him with their tassels—until they reached their destination.
It was dark and gloomy with flickering lamps that cast strange and surreal shadows against the stone walls and floor. A dark figure in a long black robe was standing over a large black cauldron. And could you get more cliché? This guy could have been taken straight out of a Halloween B-movie.
He was tall and thin and a little on the greasy side, but his hands were large, with long fingers that deftly chopped and crushed and diced bits of—Holy Mother of God, what was that?—something he didn't want to know about, but they were really nice hands, strong, masculine hands that could touch and squeeze and rub and caress and he was not
going there, because that was the way to the gay, and Xander was most definitely not. Of the gay, that is.
Not that it was a bad thing—of course he was supportive of Willow and whatever hot girlfriend she chose to make out with in plain view and ok, that never really happened, but if it did, he would be totally Captain Support-o—and now that he thought about it, that sounded kinda like the mascot for a jock-strap, so maybe not, but either way, gay was ok…as long as it wasn't him. No, Xander was a ladies' man, no doubt about it. It was perfectly acceptable for a straight guy to notice if Spike had a really nice ass or Angel had really great shoulders or…Cauldron Guy had really sexy hands, wasn't it? That didn't make him gay
. Of course—his inner Willow voice reminded him—there was
such thing as Bi, but he refused to go there, because there
was the way of arse bandits and shirt lifters and poofters and whatever other weird British-y names he'd heard Spike call Angel when they'd been trapped in the basement of doom together.
Ahhh. The Basement of Doom. Old times…that he most definitely didn't want to think about, what with the tension and the yelling and the half-naked, very male
vampire…no, absolutely not
thinking about that.
He came out of his mental ramblings just in time to hear Bathrobe Guy introduce him.
"This is Alexander Harris, the new liaison between Hogwarts and the rejuvenated Watchers' Council."
Xander winced—"Call me Xander."—and held out his hand.
"And this is Professor Severus Snape, Master of Potions, and your contact here at Hogwarts."
Cauldron Guy—Snape—glared at Xander's outstretched hand. He withdrew it immediately, tucking it into the pocket of his jeans.
"You will call me 'Professor' or 'Sir'."
Xander squeaked in the affirmative. Snape's voice was so deep and dark and magically delicious that it melted the paint off the walls, or would have if there had been paint, but as there wasn't any, it was just melting Xander's every flimsy excuse why he couldn't…he wasn't…
Okay, so he was gay.
"I'll take good care of Mr. Harris, Albus." Dark eyes sparkled as they raked over Xander's form.
After Bathrobe Guy left, Snape swept across the room and began fiddling with his cauldron, stirring and counting under his breath.
"So you, uh, you make potions here, huh?"
Snape raised an eyebrow, and wasn't that
unfair – he'd been practicing the eyebrow maneuver since Jesse told him chicks thought it was sexy in the seventh grade, and so far all he'd managed was to look constipated. Snape looked…disturbingly sexy.
"I take it Potions was not part of the curriculum at your school?"
Did school lunches count?
"Not exactly, no."
Snape crossed his arms and frowned. "Then what, exactly, Mr. Harris, did you study?"
"Uh, the usual. Science, Math, English…you know, just…regular old high school stuff."
"A Muggle." Snape sneered. "They sent me a Muggle
"Hey now, I'll have you know that I'm almost completely certain I've never mugged anyone."
, not mugger
, you imbecile. It's a person with no magic."
"And what's wrong with not having magic? Suddenly you find out I'm Normal Guy and I'm not good enough, huh?" Crossing his arms across his chest, Xander set his jaw. How many times was he going to hear this argument? "What, because I'm not a witch or a slayer or a werewolf or a vampire or something demony, that means I'm not useful? That is so not true. I'll have you know that I've saved the world more
than once, without the benefit of secret yet very impressive super powers. Anything you can do, I can…take a stab at and probably fail at miserably, but that's not the point. The point is…well, I can't exactly remember the point, but I'm not the Zeppo—not any more, so, well…just…keep that in mind."
Snape scowled. "Tell me, Mr. Harris, are all Americans this inarticulate, or are you just…simple
Xander blinked. "Funny story, that—"
ter Harris—if you do not cease this senseless slaughter of the English language, I will personally see to it that your tongue finds better use." Smirking, Snape turned back to his cauldron and began to stir. Glancing over his shoulder he added, "Perhaps in a potion?"
Xander's eyes widened and he clamped his lips shut. What the hell had Giles gotten him into? If he wanted to be cut up and used in somewhat nefarious and totally wigg-worthy spells, he could have stayed on a Hellmouth.
Not to mention that when Snape had first mentioned 'better' things Xander's tongue could do, his mind had gone somewhere completely and totally and embarrassingly inappropriate.
Where was an Apocalypse when you needed one?
He watched as Snape added some crumbly insect bits and three glugs full of something that was brown and clumpy and smelled like the funk on the dollar movie theatre floor to the cauldron. Snape leaned over the edge, peering into the murky depths before straightening and sweeping across the room to poke through a shelf full of little glass jars. He seemed to have totally forgotten Xander was even there.
Nice to know he'd made an impression.
"So…yeah. I, uh…I think I'm supposed to work on some project with you—I'm not sure exactly what that means, but Giles said—"
"Uh, yeah. Although he's less big with the ripping nowadays. He's more of the tweedy, glass of brandy and scratchy records type, of late."
Placing his ladle on a ceramic plate, Snape stalked across the room, robes billowing, dark eyes blazing…all in all, it was a good—very
good—look for the guy. Snape stopped abruptly, his larger-than-normal nose—and wasn't there some kind of demon that had a nose like that?—hovering inches away from Xander's face.
"What, exactly did he say?"
Xander stared, jerking a bit when he realized his mouth was gaping open. He glanced down, reaching up to check his face for evidence of drool, looking, no doubt, like a complete and utter moron. Of course, after the babble-fest earlier, he was certain that Snape had already come to that conclusion, and wasn't that a great first impression to make with the people you were sent to liaise with and wished that you weren't secretly hoping that you'd get to see naked?
Liaise? Was that the word?
Xander jumped. How long had he been thinking?
"I'm sorry, what was the question?"
Snape leaned even closer, his breath brushing against Xander's cheek as he growled: "What did Ripper tell you about our…project
"Uhm, I didn't get all of it, but he did mention something about Dave? Do you know him?"
Snape straightened, eyes narrowing in thought before he whirled around and swept across the room, pausing at the door to peer at Xander before commanding: "Stay."
"Woof." Xander muttered beneath his breath.
"And touch nothing."
Xander rolled his eyes. "Yes, Professor."
"Good boy." Snape smirked, then exited the room.
Xander whimpered; he was in so
Snape stormed into his office. He didn't know what Ripper had been thinking, sending the boy here like that. He couldn't possibly mean for Severus to…no, not possible. There had to be some mistake; Ripper must have confused the code in his old age. There was no way Ripper had sent the boy half-way across the world just so Snape could discipline him.
He plucked a tin of Floo powder from the hearth and tossed it into the fireplace.
Through the green cloud, a head appeared.
Giles grimaced, furrowing his brow; Snape winced at the wrinkles—was he
similarly afflicted? "Er, yes…I suppose. Although I do generally go by my given name nowadays."
Snape nodded. "Rupert, then."
Giles smiled. "I'm glad you've called. I suppose our new…liaison has introduced himself?"
"Indeed. The brat's been babbling at me for the past half hour."
"Ah. I suppose he's mentioned 'Dave'."
Snape arched his brow. "Care to explain?"
Giles sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose and then rubbing at his temples.
"Severus…Xander…well, he's floundering. I've been shuffling him from place to place, trying to find somewhere he'll…find himself, but things have just been getting worse. He nearly married a former vengeance demon with bigger balls than, well…any man on earth, he's been following after my slayer for years, chases after every unavailable, unattainable, or demon-possessed girl he finds…he's very obviously repressing."
Giles ran his fingers through his hair, tugging lightly on the thinning strands.
"Really, Severus, he…needs your help. I believe it will take very little before he folds, and frankly, I'd prefer it be with someone I can trust with him. Naturally, I could be wrong about Xander's…issues, at it were, and if he doesn't respond favorably…"
"Rupert, I do not take unwilling partners, in discipline, or in bed."
"Yes, right, of course."
"So the Council-Hogwarts alliance?"
"Oh, I do hope we can reach some sort of agreement on that front. I did, however, believe that you and I would be sufficient to hammer out all the…details, as it were."
"Acceptable. Now about the boy…"
"He really needs a firm hand, Severus, but not harsh. It won't take much—he's been denying this part of himself for years
. I have every confidence that within three days you'll have him eating out of your hands, perhaps literally."
"Very well." Snape nodded curtly. The blood began to rush through his body at the thought of training a new pet; it had been years since he'd had the pleasure of bending another to his will. He turned to close the Floo connection, but paused when a thought occurred. "Rupert?"
"Three days? Am I required to return him then?"
"Er, no. Keep him as long as you like. If he gets anxious to speak to his friends, Floo-call me and I'll arrange something."
"Excellent. In that case, I shall speak with you again soon."
"Yes. And Severus? Thank you."
Snape nodded, then closed the connection. He stood, brushing the dust from his robes, and smirked. The boy wouldn't know what hit him.
Xander was just leaning over the lip of Snape's cauldron to have a peek when the man, himself, came swooping in.
Xander yelped—seriously, was a bell around the neck too much to ask for?—jumping back from the table and tripping over a chair. Luckily, the wall broke his fall.
Snape loomed over him, pinning him with dark, flashing eyes. "If we are to continue our association, it is imperative that you learn to follow directions. Did I or did I not instruct you to not
"Uh…yes? Although technically, I didn't actually touch—"
"Silence!" Snape stepped even closer, their chests brushing together with each breath.
Snape was so warm
. Xander's breath hitched in his chest and he looked away.
Snape smirked; the boy was already showing submissive traits. "Well? Answer the question!" he barked.
Xander flinched, muttering, "Yes, sir," under his breath.
Impossibly, Snape moved closer, pinning Xander to the wall with his chest. Xander shuddered at the hard, firm muscles pressing into his body, the warm, moist breath caressing his ear.
"Mr. Harris, you are in desperate need of discipline."
Snape's voice reverberated down his spine and went straight to his cock, which was already very interested in the proceedings, twitching when one of Snape's nice, long-fingered hands gripped Xander's hip—oh, God, Snape was touching him…in a way that was decidedly un-platonic, and had he fallen asleep at some point? Because this really felt like a dream—and gave him a little shake. Xander risked a glance into black eyes that were looking at him expectantly. Xander blinked—what was the question?
Snape's other hand went to his head, fingers raking though his hair, gently…evenly…. Xander trembled, pushing his head into the caress. It felt so good
. So good, in fact, the he didn't notice Snape repositioning them until he felt Snape's lower body press into his hips, an impressive bulge pushing into his own. He couldn't help it; he moaned out loud.
Amazingly, Snape chuckled, licking at Xander's ear. "You'll do, Mr. Harris." Turning Xander's head, he brushed their lips together—"Welcome to Hogwarts."—before sliding his tongue into Xander's mouth.
When Snape's hands slid down his back to squeeze his ass, Xander squeaked.
Oh, yeah, he could get used to this Hogwarts place.
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