Despoiling Harry

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The characters and the situations within these fanfiction stories are not my property. They are the property of J.K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, and others, and are used without permission; challenge to copyright is not intended and should not be construed. No profit is being made from the use of these characters and situations; these written-down imaginings are only presented in an internet forum for the interest of and consumption by the like-minded individuals who enjoy them and recognize them as unauthorized fanfiction only, and are not in any way meant to be confused with the originals NOR presented as authorized materials of these owners.

Crazy Man Michael
by Amanuensis

Pairing: Harry/The Half-Blood Prince
Summary: "O, where is the raven that I struck down dead?"
A/N:  Based on the ballad of the same name, lyrics at: . For the 2006 Snarry Olympics Angst Team, prompt "Masquerade." Many thanks to Cluegirl for beta duty and to all the members of Team Angst who made suggestions.

Sometimes, in rare moments when he cannot summon the rage to thrust the thoughts away, Harry allows himself to remember the Half-Blood Prince.

The memories come when he despairs, when he is at his lowest. Not because the thoughts give him comfort, or because he reaches for the thoughts to bolster himself. No, they slip in because he has no resistance to them. The day Hermione shows him the anonymous hate mail she's received, saying Mudblood scum like her should go back to her own world and we know where your filthy Muggle parents live, and neither he nor Ron can stop her tears or her shaking; when the rumors about a great white phoenix seen in Little Whinging prove to be no more than that: Death Eater-spread rumors; when Nymphadora Tonks loses an arm saving twenty-two Muggles from a booby-trapped underground train, and neither Skele-Gro nor metamorphmagery can give her back what she's lost; on each of those days, Harry finds his naked heart laid open to those memories of the Half-Blood Prince, and can do no more than succumb.

The Half-Blood Prince ages as Harry ages, though Harry's not conscious of doing that. When Harry first imagined him, the Half-Blood Prince was sixteen, like him, the expected age to be reading and making notes in a sixth-year Potions text. When Harry realized the extent of the Prince's expertise, he didn't age him up, exactly, but something changed--he became the sort of bloke Dudley would have idolized, all rough edges and street smarts, unshaven chin and hair longer than his mum would want him to have it. Jacket of beat-up leather, and probably a disreputable vehicle. Bit like Sirius, actually.

The most incongruous element in this fantasy--which Harry somehow never had difficulty getting round--is, for all his sophistication, the Half-Blood Prince never tells someone like Harry to bugger off and go bother someone else.

The Half-Blood Prince slouches against a wall, hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. Harry approaches, and knows not to say hello, or to say anything at all--that's fatal with someone as casually cool as the Prince. Instead he copies the slouch, or tries to copy it--even in a fantasy he acknowledges his limitations. Feels the stones, uneven, on his shoulderblades, feels himself balanced on his back and on his heels as he crosses one ankle over the other, locks his knee.

The Prince slips a half-empty pack of fags (of course he smokes) from his pocket, lights it from the end of the one already burning between his lips. Hands the newly-lit one to Harry without looking at him. Harry takes it, and even in the fantasy he coughs as he tries to imitate the Prince's slow stylish drag upon it.

Half of the Prince's mouth curls up. It's a smile that says Prat or Wanker without having to speak, as if Harry's inability to handle the intricacies of nicotine aren't worth wasting his voice. It's the moment Harry's crafted to smooth over that incongruity, without realizing it; the Prince's moment of yes, I let you hang around with me, even though you don't deserve it.

Harry breaks the silence first. "Sectumsempra," he says, leaving it open at the end, a question.

"Yeah?" says the Prince. It's more of a grunt.

Harry pauses to put the cigarette back between his lips, drawing on it carefully so that the smoke doesn't get down his lungs too quickly. "I used it. On Malfoy."

The Prince doesn't smile, and Harry's glad. He doesn't say anything, though, and so Harry begins again: "I didn't--" But he can't go on, because the next word would be think or know or realize, and the Prince would scorn that kind of weakness, he knows.

The Prince understands, though. Grunts again, this time a scoffing noise. "I said it was for enemies, didn't I? Not like I said it was for your aged granny, or a bit of weekend fun."

The knot in Harry's stomach, tight as a fist since he saw Malfoy lying in that spray of blood in the girl's lavatory, loosens a little. "Yeah."

It's not the Prince's fault. He labeled the spell. He wasn't writing a textbook for someone else to follow, either; it wasn’t as if he should even have had to label it. One could say he did more than was necessary. It was Harry's choice to use that spell, and at no one's urging.

He doesn't want it to be the Prince's fault.

"That what you came here to say?" says the Prince, inhaling on his cigarette again.

If he says yes maybe he'll be dismissed. If he says no he'll need something else to say.

"Didn't really come to talk," says Harry, shrugging in a way he thinks might even be cool enough for the Prince.

The Prince's exhale of the smoke stream is slow and unaccompanied by any comment, and Harry knows he's passed.

A little flick, and the fag lands on the ground, the Prince uncrossing his ankles to grind its lit end into the stones with a toe. As he turns, he takes Harry's cigarette from his hand and stubs that one out against the wall itself.

He puts his hand to the side of Harry's neck, leans in a little. Sniffs. "You smell like someone else. That girl." The way he says girl would make a Zen Buddhist snarl and go on the defensive.

Harry says, "You going to tell me there hasn't been anyone except me since the last time?" Harry's learned this is a good answer. The Prince never answers this question, and Harry can believe in his fantasy a little better.

The Prince growls. His black hair is falling over one eye and he doesn't bother to shake it back when he fixes Harry with that look--that look, delivered one-eyed, is still perfectly intimidating. Harry stands his ground.

The moment doesn't break, and neither of them backs down. The moment simply becomes the next, when The Prince moves his hand from the wall at Harry's side to his side, his waist, pulling Harry's belt open. Harry always has a belt on in these fantasies. It wouldn't do to look too eager.

There is no kiss. Harry can't imagine the kiss, not at the beginning of their encounters and probably not at the end, either. A kiss would require a bed, a more intimate coupling than what's about to happen here, someone freer with words and gestures of affection. A kiss would require someone worthy of the Half-Blood Prince, someone who could inhale cigarette smoke without coughing and earn those little vulnerabilities from him.

But what Harry gets isn't unsatisfying. The Prince has his belt open, and Harry waits until about then to reach for the placket of the Prince's trousers (sometimes he has a belt and sometimes not; it's not as if he would care if someone thought him eager), as if to show he's waited for permission. The Prince stares at Harry's face as he slips his hand into the waist of Harry's pants, but when Harry's own hand is upon him, that's when his gaze shifts; he groans and his eyes are looking at the stone wall over Harry's shoulder, or perhaps at Harry's shoulder. Harry curls his hand about the Prince's cock and tries to see if he can make him groan again, all the while closing his lips against his own moans, biting his lip as the Prince's fingers reach under to cup his balls and lift them free of the bunched-up clothing about his thighs.

Harry's fingers, gripping just a little bit harder around that cock than he himself likes, do earn him another groan, and an "Oh, fuck, yes..." This is why Harry tries not to say anything himself at first; he fears the sound of that fuck coming from his own mouth will sound like he's trying to fake the same audacity, the same cool.

They never call each other by name. Harry wouldn't know what to call the Prince, and so it doesn't seem right for the Prince to use his.

This is one of the later fantasies. Meaning Harry's moved it past the handjobs to something more complex, and the Prince pushes Harry back up against the wall with one hand at the center of his chest, and goes to his knees. The other hand is still cupping Harry's balls, lifting his cock with it at the same time. He licks first, licks Harry from the base of his cock to its tip, uses his tongue on the head with fierce, messy attention before taking the hard length in his mouth. As Harry is enveloped, the sound he makes is unguarded and very, very uncool: a pup's whine, a strangled click in the back of his throat, three little gasps like he still has the cigarette in his mouth and is trying another inhalation.

The Prince stands back up. This is another feature of the later fantasies; Harry would have had the two finish each other off with one-after-the-other blowjobs once upon a time, but in this one the Prince shoves his own pants further down so that his cock juts free, black hair marching up to his navel, thicker than Harry's own. No kissing, no, but he presses forward, his face and mouth not far from Harry's, fixing Harry's eyes as their cocks make contact and Harry sucks in breath again, feeling the pulse of the smooth underside of the cock against his, the heat of it, there at the moment where it doesn't matter who's more eager.

A shift as the Prince lifts a foot, raises it high enough to catch at the crotch of Harry's trousers, steps right into the fabric strained taut between Harry's thighs and shoves them down to his ankles, caught beneath his foot. Trapped, Harry can't free his feet, nor can he bring his legs together as that intervening foot angles to shove his feet as far apart as the trousers will allow. He has his hands free, of course, but those are already curled about the Prince's shoulders, and God help him if he's going to let go now.

The angle is awkward, Harry's cock now being stimulated more by the Prince's thigh, but it's an eager, demanding thigh, and the Prince's cock is finding enough purchase on Harry's hip to be worth the thrusting and the Prince himself is softly snarling between clenched teeth. They rub and thrust and duel against each other, and Harry's eyes close, only to open when he feels the Prince's hand cup his bare arse--not merely the caress of a hand, but five impatient fingers, sliding towards and then down his cleft, spreading him, a single finger seeking the wrinkled pucker that resists the entrance. The finger insists. Harry hisses.

There's a sound the Prince makes then, a contented hunh of noise that isn't related to arousal--it would be a purr of satisfaction, if the Prince were pretentious enough to purr. Satisfaction at having forced that sound out of Harry, and the finger penetrating him twists just so, turning Harry's hiss into something between a pant and a moan. "Fuck, " Harry says then, and can't worry how it sounds, the word distorted against the Prince's shoulder, where Harry's head has come to droop in helpless surrender.

There's hot dampness on Harry's belly that isn't sweat; the Prince is pressing against him hard, cock dragging at the juncture of Harry's hip and stomach, marking him with the trails of spunk threading from it. He hasn't come, but he's getting there, the sounds in his throat growls now, his forehead pushed against Harry's, still nothing close to a kiss between them. Harry hasn't let go of his shoulders; he smells the musk rising off both of them, his own arousal honing as he breathes it in. He pushes back against the finger in his arse, and the fantasy lets him, for all that he should be trapped against that wall, caught in his clothing and bared waist to ankles as his cock and balls bounce against the thigh spreading his own legs, mercilessly pulling him on towards orgasm.

Neither throws his head back as he comes. Both pant their orgasms out face to face, foreheads still touching, Harry's hands still clutching at the Prince and the Prince's finger still buried deep in Harry's arse. Harry is aware of everything: the way his cock softens and the feel of it against the hairs on the Prince's thigh, the throb of his arse around that finger, his utter lack of an inclination to move, then or ever.

It's the Prince who does move at last, starting by lowering his thigh from between Harry's legs, leaving the finger in Harry's arse until last. It makes Harry shudder when he slips it free, clutch a little harder at the Prince's shoulders.

The Prince draws up his trousers with enviable casualness, as if he could just as easily remove them; one way or the other, doesn't matter, he'd still walk away without a care. It's he who helps Harry put his clothing to rights, ignoring any mess smeared on either skin or fabric, even running his fingers through Harry's hair at the last as if to give it a quick comb-through. "Fuck off," he says fondly, with a last hair-ruffle, "I'll see you later."

This, then, is what slips up on Harry when he can't resist it. He thought the fantasy was killed when he learned the Prince's identity, killed dead like a man falling from a tower.

But somehow it keeps coming back. It's utterly unfair, that it should be so powerful. It didn't go away when he began dating Ginny, but that didn't bother him at the time--he hadn't stopped liking toffee when he discovered chocolate, he reasoned, and it was only a fantasy after all.

But it shouldn't have survived Snape.

Now when the fantasy comes back, there are little changes--the Prince still has black hair, but now he'll realize it's slicker, as if with hair oil. Or the eyes, no longer merely sharp but beetle-black. At those moments Harry's sure he'll break free, that the fantasy will let him go.

It doesn't. And he hates Snape for so many things, and that is not the least of them.

Dumbledore's portrait sleeps, or rouses to say hello and ask if there are any boiled sweets to be had. Queries about horcruxes or Voldemort are met with confused smiles or enormous yawns. Even Phineas Nigellus was never so unhelpful, and soon they stop asking.

Slytherin's locket turns out to be purloined not by Mundungus Fletcher, as Harry had first thought (and spent useless days pursuing), but by Kreacher. When threats don't work Harry hits Kreacher, more than once, hard enough to draw elf blood. When he has the locket in hand, Harry tells himself that Kreacher deserved it and it was necessary. Later he remembers Lucius Malfoy taking his cane to Dobby, and runs to the bathroom to be sick.

Gryffindor's relic is not the sword; though it would have made things so much simpler if it had been that obvious, at least Harry does not have to destroy that particular token. But the relic is indeed something associated with Hogwarts. The Room of Requirement proves to have a key, plain brass but roiling with magic, and when their spells reduce it to ash Harry feels as if they should have a moment of silence for the secret piece of Hogwarts that is destroyed with it.

Hufflepuff's cup is the next to last, because they have all forgotten the rules of hiding something in plain sight. When Hermione asks what Dumbledore used to drink the potion in Riddle's cave, Harry remembers Dumbledore seemed to conjure it out of the air, and that it gleamed like crystal. And when she asks whether they brought it with them when they left, Harry goes cold.

He does not think he has, after all he has been through, the courage to go back to that cave and that lake alone and face the Inferi. But he does not go alone. He takes Kreacher, whom the boat will not recognize as another wizard. It does not prove necessary for someone to drink the contents of the basin again--that was for the locket, and the goblet, gold under the crystal illusion, is lying there on the island where Harry left it. But he looks at Kreacher as they return in the boat, and knows that he would have forced Kreacher to drink it to his death if necessary, and thinks about what kind of man he has become.

And then there is Nagini. Necessarily left 'til last, because to find the snake means to find Voldemort.

Distance magics prove useless. Moody and McGonagall and Lupin and Hermione's combined efforts to create a sympathetic doppelganger of the snake fail. They no longer have spies in Voldemort's inner circle. They come at last to the conclusion that Harry, cynic that he is, knew was inevitable: the destruction of Voldemort's last horcrux will take place in Voldemort's very presence, and Harry must be there.

Harry doesn't tell his idea to Ron or to Hermione. He doesn't tell it to anyone except for Lupin, who listens without bleating about its being too dangerous. It's stupidly dangerous. That's the point. Lupin agrees that Voldemort is unlikely to see through it. That's the other point.

Harry's messages to Wormtail are magic-borne, on dreams and mirror charms and rattusspeak. When Wormtail at last returns the contact and he and Harry arrive at their secret meeting, Harry's performance is no effort at all to affect. He is too numbed by now to show fear, or to bollocks the whole thing up with too passionate a display. He is the very picture of a young man at the end of his short list of ideas--dully, quietly imploring the conspirator in his parents' murder to redeem himself, to take the offer of immunity (if not quite forgiveness) and rejoin the side on which he began. Harry's insistence that he knows there is still good in Wormtail is said without any insistence at all, and so bears that glimmer of credibility he could never have faked had he tried.

And Wormtail betrays him, as Harry and Lupin both knew he would. Hexes him helpless, strips him of his wand and the back-up wand that was meant to be found...and takes him to Voldemort.

What Wormtail has failed to find and remove is the tracking charm, and so Harry is still alive--bleeding and in great, great pain, but alive--when the first alarms reach Voldemort that something is happening in the outer perimeters of his lair.

Despite multiple bouts of the Cruciatus Curse and the nearness of his own death, Harry has been trying to keep Nagini's whereabouts in the room on the periphery of his awareness. He even manages not to fail at it when Snape walks in. Snape, ever black-clad, ever sneering, as if no time has passed from the time Harry was eleven years old.

There's no agreed-upon cue. No signal Harry was waiting for, beyond the awareness that the Order was making its attack and that he'd soon have back-up. But when Snape enters--Snape, whose filthy, hateful bat-shape Harry has not seen except in memory for all these months--the rage boils away Harry's pain for a moment, and he knows he can act.

And he opens his mouth--they were counting on Voldemort wanting him to scream, hoping he would not be gagged--and says, " -nd," completing the stasis-spell that no one told him could not be created because he didn't bother to ask them before he invented it. The spell is directed not at Snape but at Wormtail, because Wormtail's not subtle and Snape, God help him, just might be fast enough to shield. Wormtail's wand goes flying into Harry's outflung hand as Accio wand, a spell never spoken by someone who doesn't already have a wand in hand, crackles in the suffocating air.

He has to defend himself before he can look to Nagini. Defend himself he does. Snape had called him unfit for Unforgivables, and Harry hasn't learned differently in all these months. But he's a duellist now, more confident of the skills he has earned than if he were drunk on Felix Felicis. Two Death Eaters go down, out for this round.

Neither of them are Snape. He doesn't see Snape, and he tells himself he's looking for Snape first and not Nagini because it's fatal if he misses Snape coming up behind him. And then Snape is behind him, and Harry catches Snape in his first mistake. Harry sees and shields and ducks and Snape's hex goes awry--how lucky for Harry and how unlike Snape, because the bolt of magic slips past Harry to hit Wormtail full-force. And Harry hears Voldemort scream; he knows that high-pitched voice and it's a scream like the Dark Lord is in pain, not just outraged. Harry thinks flesh, blood, and bone and can't quite sort out why--why Wormtail's injury (death?) would affect Voldemort but he can't stop to think longer. Snape missed, Snape is still reacting to the hex gone wrong and it's the only chance Harry will get, he knows it; he doesn't need an Unforgivable but the strength of the hatred behind the spell he does throw would sustain one if he did.

The name of the spell tears Harry's throat and the force of it rocks his arm as it leaves his wand and the burning light of it catches Snape just below the heart.

Only then can he see Voldemort. Voldemort has staggered, Voldemort is standing by his throne and clutching at it as if it's all that's keeping him upright. And Nagini rises on her coils, rises in front of her master: a servant, a sentinel, a target.

Later, Harry recognizes many reasons which contributed to his next mistake: his focus on the horcruxes, exhaustion, loss of blood. They're no excuse. He should have made sure, before he turned his back on Snape.

Who has reached from where he's fallen on the stones to catch Harry's ankle and jerk him off-balance.

Harry lands with his knee in Snape's solar plexus, which must hurt, but only slows Snape for a moment, who reaches up--not for Harry's wand hand, but for a fistful of Harry's hair. In that moment, there's no spell on Harry's lips; the one he was preparing for Nagini is made for the destruction of a horcrux and is useless here. Snape's black gaze fixes on Harry's, and Harry sees a dying man.

A shout. A sizzle of magic nearby. A voice he knows calling his name. The Order has broken through.

Snape doesn't react to it. Stares only at Harry.

And with his free hand, reaches up and peels the scar from Harry's forehead like a bit of apple skin, puts it to his lips, and swallows it down.

There is light, light that seems to pour directly from Snape, building, blinding, and then Harry's knees hit the stones hard. Ash whirls all about him--the same gold-and-black ash that has accompanied the destruction of each horcrux by spell--and Snape is gone.

Harry doesn't understand it. It's too much. He struggles to his feet, as the thought Nagini worries at his brain distantly, like fingers tapping on aquarium glass. It can't seem to make contact with anything real. He sees Nagini now, still between him and Voldemort, but he can't seem to keep her in focus--and that's how he realizes he knows even if he doesn't understand. Harry stands there, awash in the painless warmth where his scar used to be, and the thought Dumbledore was wrong seems like blasphemy, though he's carried that same bitter thought since the night the old man died.

But to have to add the clause Not about Snape--about the last Horcrux--that is the blasphemy. And it comes to him that it feels wrong not just because of Snape, but because Harry is still wrong--that Dumbledore purposely naming Nagini as a horcrux meant she would be left until last. Because if it would take a death to destroy the horcrux in Harry's scar, Harry would have seen to it that it was his own and no other's.

Dumbledore knew.

Snape knew.

Harry, standing where he is without even his wand raised, does not even see who sends the hex at Voldemort. A plain red jet of a hex, not an Unforgivable but no less deadly to a man who has lived many years and has only one small fragment of soul left to him.

Later Harry does not even ask who cast it.

And of Snape, there is no body left to bury.

Dumbledore is not asleep this time, when Harry goes to his portrait.

"It is over, then. Well done, dear boy," he says with a solemn upturning of lips that is void of any frivolity, or feigning any confusion.

Harry sits on the edge of a chair, his hands pressed together. "You can tell me now, can't you. About Snape."

"Yes," Dumbledore says, with a sad nod that does not even have the smile any longer. "I can tell you now."

Harry listens, and when his former headmaster is done, he is able to say, "Thank you, sir," and leave the room without breaking down.

He wants to scream. He knows the scream is in him, and if he screams he fears he may never stop. So instead he waits. A day. Two. Waits in his room until the moment he knows will be upon him does come at last. The moment that comes when he's at his lowest.

"See, you were right about me in the first place, weren't you," says the Half-Blood Prince.

And he's able to weep then, weep quietly and long, for the better part of the day, and by the time he's done, Harry's even accepted that no, he's not really a murderer, no more than Snape committed murder. They weren't pawns in Dumbledore's game; they chose the side of the light, and the rest was just fate. Fate's not a person you can blame. That's hard, like the rest of it is hard, but it's true.

A portrait's testimony has shaky legal precedence, but Harry is their war hero, and his insistence gets Severus Snape the posthumous Order of Merlin. But it's not enough for Harry; a military award is the sort of thing that gets buried within textbooks, smothered in favor of tastier slander and debate. He requests, then demands, a statue; he gets it when he promises two-thirds of the funding for it.

Before the statue is even completed, Harry still isn't satisfied. It's not as if he needs to work for a living, so he announces his intention to become a historian of the war--no authorized biographies for him; he'll do his own telling of the tale. It strikes him that people would pay to come see him speak, too, so he arranges that, planning a lecture tour of Wizarding Britain. His ideas get loftier. A Continental tour. A worldwide lecture series.

It's not unsuccessful, but early on, even the more charitable of his critics can't ignore the repetitiveness of his agenda. Yes, Severus Snape was a war hero, not the traitor everyone supposed. Yes, they've heard it. Yes, it's getting a bit old.

Harry hears the name "Pilgrim Potter" said with some amusement--there are probably worse being said where he can't hear--but he finishes out the lecture series, goes on to write his books, creates several Potions scholarships because it doesn't matter what's being said about him. He can give Severus Snape nothing now except remembrance and reputation, and it's paltry, in Harry's eyes.

Especially when the man gave Harry one other--unrealized and unintentional--gift, there at the end. He gave Harry back the Half-Blood Prince--memories no longer poisoned with hate.

Only sorrowful and piercing, like a briar in springtime.


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