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[personal profile] the_flic
Title: La Petite Mort
Author: [livejournal.com profile] fbowden
Characters: Harry/Snape
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Humour?!
Word Count: 8,500
Summary: Severus died that night in the Shack. He goes to Heaven but he's not there to live forever. He's still got things to do to redeem himself. The Archangel Gabriel gives him the job of being Harry Potter's new Guardian Angel. Madness ensues...
Author's notes: I instantly knew I'd have great fun with this prompt. Huge thanks to [livejournal.com profile] drachenmina and [livejournal.com profile] brknhalo241 for outstanding beta work, conducted as always with fine toothcombs. Special thanks goes to [livejournal.com profile] drachenmina who used her extraordinary talent for humour to enrich and enhance this work of fiction.



***
"WELCOME!"

Severus Snape flinched. He instantly despised himself for doing so, but with the tediously bright light dazzling him, and the feeling that he was standing on something the consistency of cotton wool, the deafening, surround-sound greeting caused him to do just that. Shielding his eyes, Severus edged closer to what appeared to be two giant, pearly gates.

"Where the hell am I?" he muttered, peering through the bars.

The booming voice chuckled. "Well that's one place you can rest assured you aren't. I hear the climate there is far more disagreeable than up here. We benefit from a rather divine south-easterly wind."

"And where, might I ask, is here?" Severus said, squinting at the shimmering figure approaching. A shimmering figure that bore a striking resemblance to Gilderoy Lockhart. Coiffed blond hair bounced gently in the breeze as the man strode towards Severus, illuminated by a corona of light.

The man - no, he couldn't be a man, for sprouting out of his shoulder-blades were a pair of huge wings - the whatever it was, who on closer inspection definitely wasn't Lockhart, stopped directly in front of Severus on the other side of the gate and wrinkled his nose. "Oh. Oh, dear." He glanced back over his shoulder. "Raphael?"

Severus craned his neck, but saw no sign of anyone else. The winged man glanced back at Severus apologetically. "RAPHAEL!"

Severus flinched again and clapped his hands over his ears. "Merlin! Must you shout?"

"No, but you'll get used to it. If you're staying, that is."

"Staying? Staying where? Where am I?"

The winged-man sighed loudly. "RAPHAEL!!"

"Whaaaaat?" a new voice whined.

"Is this Severus Snape, formally of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?"

Severus was rather alarmed that the man knew him, and even more alarmed when another winged man, sporting dark, unkempt hair and dishevelled white robes, dropped upside-down out of a cloud to scrutinise him.

"Yeah, that's him."

The Lockhart-alike frowned. "Are you sure? Only I could have sworn you said he was an intellectual."

Severus bristled. "I am an intellectual, thank you very much," he snarled.

Raphael smiled, vindicated. "Oh yeah, that's definitely Severus Snape."

"Well, I had to check," Gabriel sniffed, "I mean, how many people don't recognise this place? Besides, remember what happened the last time we got two people mixed up? He was not happy."

Raphael sucked in a sharp breath. "No, He most certainly wasn't."

Severus frowned. "Who, may I ask, is He?"

Severus was fixed with a solemn look. "A very good question, Severus, and one that those poor, earth-bound mortals are still no closer to demystifying. 'He' is your new Master; the one you should have chosen to follow in life. Luckily for you, He's very big on forgiveness."

Raphael – who, the more Severus looked at him, the more he seemed to resemble Sirius Black – nodded. He fished a small pouch out of a pocket in his robes and started to roll what looked suspiciously like a joint, until his companion glared at him and cleared his throat pointedly, upon which he flushed and shoved it back in his pocket. “Oh, yeah, forgiveness. Bit of a buzz-word 'round here.”

Severus pinched the bridge of his nose. "Could you possibly keep this as painless as possible and tell me what is going on?"

Severus ignored the beatific smile that showed a set of white, even teeth he’d have, well, given his eye-teeth for. "Let me introduce myself. I am the Archangel Gabriel, and you, Severus, are in Heaven. Well, technically you're not actually in Heaven, you're standing at the gates. But you're not in Hell, either, so - "

"Heaven?" Severus spluttered, gripping the bars so tightly his knuckles cracked. "Is this some sick Ministry plot to coerce me into a confession of wrong-doing?"

Gabriel glanced over his shoulder at Raphael. "Now can you see why I questioned your identification of him?"

Raphael shrugged. "It's definitely him. No mistaking that nose. Perhaps he's still in shock."

Gabriel waved a hand in front of Severus's face. Severus resisted the urge to slap it away. "Are you seriously suggesting I'm dead?"

Gabriel looked contrite. "Yes, sorry about that. Nasty business, death by snake. Still," he said brightly, "there are worse ways to go."

Severus' hand flew to his neck. When he brought it away, bright red blood was smeared across his palm. "Oh, Merlin." His knees felt weak and only his iron grip on the bars kept him upright. "I remember now - in the Shrieking Shack - Nagini - "

Gabriel extended a manicured hand through the bars and tapped Severus' shoulder consolingly. "Now come along. There's no point upsetting yourself over it, what's done is done."

Severus took a deep breath as he remembered something else. "What about the Dark Lord? Is he - "

"Dead?" Raphael cut in, swinging the right way up and dropping to his feet beside Gabriel. "Damn right he is - oof!"

Severus stared in amazement as Gabriel cuffed his counterpart over the head with a wing. "You do realise you're on a final warning for Blasphemy?" he scolded. "If He overhears you once more you'll lose those wings quicker than you can say 'Born-Again Christian'."

Raphael rolled his eyes. "Sorry."

"Look," Severus snapped, "Are you going to let me in or am I expected to stand here for all eternity while you two dunderheads squabble?"

"Oh, you can't come in here," Gabriel said casually, as though he hadn't just hinted that Severus was to languish in purgatory for the rest of his death.

"I beg your pardon?"

"This is the Muggle entrance.” Gabriel smiled apologetically. “Wizards have to go round the back."

Severus glared, before drawing himself up to his full height and attempting to tread a path through the clouds. It felt a lot like walking though treacle.

"Unfortunately, Severus, they won't let you in there, either," Gabriel called.

Severus spun around. "Why won't they?" he growled.

Raphael shrugged. "Because you haven't atoned for your sins. I mean, granted, that whole double spy thing went some way towards everlasting redemption, but you were indirectly responsible for the premature death of two souls, Severus. God is not a happy chap."

Severus gritted his teeth. He had the feeling that God, if he ever got to meet him, which at the moment was looking increasingly unlikely, would look a lot like Albus Dumbledore, only with less sherbet lemons but a similar attitude when it came to Severus and penance. "Then what, might I ask, do you suggest I do?" he bit out.

"We've got a job for you, Severus. A pretty easy job too, considering."

"And it's not a suggestion, it's an order. From Him."

Severus felt his feet sinking and tried to run back to the gates.

"No use fighting, Severus. God always gets what He wants, and He wants you to watch over Harry Potter. Since you did such a good job of it before."

"You're to be his Guardian Angel, until such a time as he no longer needs guidance."

"Then the little fool will keep me earthbound for the rest of his natural life!" Severus shouted, frantically trying to keep his head above the clouds. "I won't do it! I'd rather go to - "

"Awfully muggy in H-E-L-L, Severus. Especially for someone so fond of chilly dungeons."

"You can't make me!"

Severus knew his last protest had been muffled by the clouds, and as he fell through nothing and into a blindingly brilliant vortex, he kept hold of that thought, until there were no more.

***

The first thing Severus noticed when he regained his balance and his senses, was that he appeared to be in the library of Grimmauld Place. The second thing was Harry Potter, slumped over a large textbook, looking decidedly jaded. It brightened Severus' mood, until he realised that part of his new 'job' was likely cheering the miserable little bugger up. Or something along those lines. What were Guardian Angels expected to do, anyway?

Severus jumped as a piece of paper appeared in front of him, blocking his view of Potter. Gritting his teeth, he snatched it out of the air.

Welcome back to earth!

Severus rolled his eyes; he'd hardly been on a mission to the moon.

In response to your enquiry, only you can decide how much or how little involvement you have in your charge's life.

Good, Severus thought, then he'd sit back and enjoy watching Potter make a fool of himself for the next hundred or so years.

Just remember, Severus, God is watching.

Severus scowled. He crushed the note into a ball and hurled it across the room.

"Ow!" Potter exclaimed, rubbing his head and bending down to examine the offending missile. "Where did you come from?"

Severus shook his head in disbelief when it became abundantly clear Potter wasn't addressing him. Trust the boy to make a martyr of himself. The entire wizarding world was no doubt clamouring to be Potter's best friend, and yet here the brat was, sat by himself in the relic of Black's house, reduced to conversing with paper.

Potter poked at it, raised an eyebrow when it disappeared, and returned to using his textbook as a pillow. Irritated, although hardly surprised by Potter's malingering, Severus huffed loudly in exasperation. The noise appeared to startle Potter, who jumped up and drew his wand.

"Who's there?" he asked, glancing around wildly. Somehow, he failed to notice Severus stood less than six feet away.

An evil smirk played about Severus' lips. So Potter could hear him, but not see him? That could be interesting. Severus bit his tongue to prevent himself calling Potter an idiot out loud. Eventually Potter shook his head as if he suspected he were going mad, and sat back down.

Intrigued by his discovery, Severus stamped his foot. Potter didn't blink. He clapped his hands, but Potter merely continued to stare into space, head resting on his arms which were folded atop his book. Severus resisted the uncharacteristic urge to jump up and down in an undignified fashion, the point of which would be to prove that Potter could hear only his voice, and nothing else. If that was the case, he wouldn't have to utilize the stealth technique he'd perfected at Hogwarts to keep track of the brat.

Potter stayed prostrate across his book for nearly ten minutes. Severus was just starting to wonder how one made a deal with the devil when the Floo roared into life.

"Harry? Are you there?" It was the know-it-all.

Potter sat up straighter. "Hello, Hermione. Where else would I be?"

"Oh, I don't know, preparing for your big date?"

Severus' lip curled. He never had liked the bossy little chit when he’d been teaching her, and she didn’t appear to have improved upon leaving school.

Potter sighed. "It's not for another two hours, and I'm not even sure I should go. Sometimes I think I'd be better off on my own."

Severus watched as Granger rolled her eyes. "Don't be silly, Harry! You haven't been out with anyone since we left Hogwarts. Three months is more than long enough to spare Ginny's feelings."

Three months? Severus felt a little ill. He'd assumed it was the evening of the battle, or a day or so after. Where the hell had he been for three months?

"It's got nothing to do with Ginny.” Harry grimaced. “This is going to sound stupid, but...you know Snape died yesterday?"

Severus' hand unconsciously flew to his chest, palm spread over his unbeating heart. He had an unshakeable urge to find a calendar and check the date.

Granger was apparently trying to appear compassionate. It made her look more like a constipated cow. "Yes, Ron told me. It's very sad, Harry, especially when they thought he was getting better. But I don't see what that has to do with tonight?"

Potter gave an inarticulate gesture. "It doesn't really, it's just... I sat with him every day, willing the greasy git to wake up. There were things I really wanted to...tell him."

Severus narrowed his eyes suspiciously. He could imagine Potter had questions he'd have wanted answering, but what in Merlin's name would he have wanted to tell him? A tearful confession that he’d plundered Severus’ potions supplies? More likely it would have been something along the lines of “I know you were on our side, but you’re still a git and I hate you.”

"Oh, Harry," Hermione sighed. "We did wonder, what with you spending so much time at St Mungo’s. We just thought...well, never mind. Were you with him when he died?"

"No," Potter said, and Severus was startled at how choked and bitter the boy sounded. "Knowing Snape, he probably waited until I'd gone just to spite me. I only went to the bloody toilet, Hermione. Came back to find his room full of doctors.” He bit his lip. “I really thought he was going to be okay."

The cow, it appeared, was now not only constipated, but dyspeptic to boot. "Oh, Harry, we all did, but he was in a lot of pain, and you know he wouldn't have been able to talk again, the Healers told us that. I’m sure he's in a better place now."

Severus sneered. For once in her life, she couldn't have been more wrong. It was only with a strong effort of will that he refrained from telling her so.

Potter shrugged. "I hope so. I just wish I'd had the chance to... now I'll never know."

What on earth was Potter babbling on about? Never know what? And why had the imbecile wasted three months of his life sitting at Severus’ bedside? Merlin, if Potter had had the audacity to hold his hand... He shuddered.

"I am sorry, Harry. Do you want me to have a word with Oliver and tell him you're not feeling well?"

Him? Potter was in the market for a boyfriend? And Oliver who? Severus’ brain whirred through the number of people he knew named Oliver. The only one that came to mind was the Gryffindor Quidditch player. Disgustingly handsome and a bloody menace on a broom. Wood, Severus sneered. What a perfectly apt name for a boy as thick as two short planks. Not that Potter would notice, being similarly lacking in intellect.

Potter sighed deeply. "No, it's fine. I should go, especially after all the trouble you and Ron went to setting us up."

Hermione smiled, now a mother cow seeing a young heifer off to market. "It'll do you good to have a night out. Just be aware of reporters, and remember those extra charms I taught you."

"Hermione!" Potter laughed for the first time since Severus had arrived. The sound wasn't wholly detestable to his ears, Severus was surprised to find. "It's our first date, nothing like that's going to happen!"

Hermione blushed. "Not those charms, Harry! The privacy spells, so the Prophet can't trace you!"

Potter grinned. "Oh yeah, right. Thanks Hermione. S’pose I'd better start getting ready."

"That's the spirit, Harry!" Severus sneered at her terrible choice of words. "Good luck, and do try to enjoy yourself."

With an annoyingly cheery smile and a whoosh of green flames, she was gone.

Potter stood up stiffly and stretched. Severus couldn't help notice the smooth, toned stomach Potter's rucked-up t-shirt was revealing. When had Potter grown into a man? And why was Severus suddenly feeling tetchy at the idea of Potter going on a date?

***

Potter’s bedroom appeared to have been subjected to the creative flair of a visually impaired troll. Taking a seat on the less offensive of two armoires in the corner of the room, Severus contemplated his situation whilst waiting for the brat to finish his shower.

So he was dead. Severus couldn't really claim to be surprised. He hadn't expected to survive the war, after all. Though the fact that he'd apparently fought to stay alive for three months and then died suddenly, with no obvious reason or explanation, irked him. And rather than being permitted to...well, what did one do with one's time in Heaven? Severus had no idea, but he was certain it had to be a damned sight more relaxing than being made accountable for Potter yet again.

And what in hell’s name had Severus done to deserve this fate distinctly worse than death? Clearly record-keeping in the celestial realms had been remarkably shoddy of late. No doubt that oaf Raphael had had a hand in it somewhere. Probably sloping off to eye up the incubi when he should have been busy chronicling the number of times Severus had performed the thankless task of saving Potter's miserable arse, not to mention the Unbreakable Vow he'd made to Narcissa.

Severus' brooding ended abruptly when Potter exited the bathroom wearing only a towel, slung low on his hips, and indecently exposing a trail of damp, dark curls. Severus had great difficulty forcing his eyes away and up to the hair on Potter's head, temporarily tamed by the shower. Slicked back from his face to reveal a faded scar, beads of water dripped from the ends to meander through the valley of his shoulder blades.

Severus tried not to ogle the boy's magnificent cock, but it was an absolute work of bloody art. Flushed pink from the heat of the shower, it swung between Potter's legs like a metronome as he vigorously towelled himself off.

When Potter finally covered himself up with jeans and a t-shirt, Severus gave thanks and mopped his brow. He'd had quite enough shocks for one day, and discovering that Potter wasn't simply an annoying brat with a death wish, but an overtly sexual brat with a death wish and a gorgeous cock was stretching the realms of Severus' patience.

Another thing testing Severus' patience was how long Potter took to style his hair. Severus couldn't help but wonder what the bloody point was, since it always defied gravity anyway. And after the tenth time of the mirror gushing, 'Oh! You're so handsome, Harry!', Severus couldn't hold his tongue any longer.

"For the love of all that is sacred, Potter! Short of ingesting Polyjuice, there is, sadly, nothing that will improve upon your looks."

Potter jumped as though he'd been poked in the posterior with a cattle prod. "Snape?" he said incredulously, whirling around to pinpoint the origin of the displeased voice. "Where...where are you?"

Severus' lip curled as Potter's eyes ineffectively scanned the room. "Apparently nowhere that your mere mortal eyes can perceive."

Potter turned a rather remarkable shade of white and backed up against the mirror, hands pressed to the wall as though he needed the structural support.

"So you are dead," he said glumly. "I kept hoping they'd made a mistake."

"Well 'they' didn't, Potter, and my shuffling off the mortal coil is rather a sensitive subject, so I'll thank you to stop harping on about it."

Potter had the audacity to smirk. "Harp?"

Severus wanted to kick himself. Or Potter. Yes, definitely Potter. "Still the same facetious little twit you were at school, I see."

"Still the same miserable git you were at school, I see, or at least I would if you weren't invisible," Potter retorted."So if you're a ghost, how come I can hear you but not see you?"

Severus sniffed disdainfully. "I am most certainly not a ghost. I am your..." Catching himself, Severus snapped his mouth shut.

"You're my what?" Potter prodded. Rather unnervingly, he had narrowed Severus' voice down to the region of the armoire, and seemed to be staring straight at him.

"Nothing. You should not be concerning yourself with my predicament, when you so clearly have one of your own."

Potter's brow furrowed in confusion. "I do?"

"Yes, Mr Potter," Severus said brusquely. "You most certainly do. As evidenced by your tardiness to this evenings' engagement with Mr Wood."

Potter wasn't even remotely behind schedule, but it amused Severus to hear the gullible boy curse, as well as providing a handy distraction from Potter's question; Severus would be damned before he disclosed the real reason behind his ethereal presence. Although of course being damned might actually be preferable to his present situation.

"I haven't got time now, but I need to talk to you, Snape! Promise you won't go anywhere, I'll be back as soon as I can!" Potter yelled, running a hand through his hair and grabbing his jacket.

Potter - wait!"

"Can't! Just don't go anywhere!"

And with that, Potter Apparated away.

Just as Severus was wondering how the hell he was supposed to follow and if anyone would notice if he decided not to bother, an ineffable force lassoed his waist and yanked him into the ether.

***

Wherever Potter went, it seemed, Severus was doomed to go. The realisation that he couldn't get away was infuriating and plunged him into a foul mood, although that was partly because when he came to again he found himself sitting next to Oliver Wood in a romantically lit private booth of a restaurant. Wood failed to notice Severus had appeared beside him while he patiently read a menu and waited for his date to arrive, which suited Severus just fine. There was no possible topic of conversation the two of them might find common ground discussing anyway.

Severus sniffed disdainfully at the wine cooler, already sat in the middle of the table containing a cheap bottle of house plonk Wood had ordered.

A terrific crash from the other side of the restaurant made both Severus and Wood look up sharply.

"God, I'm so sorry!" Severus heard Potter cry, exasperatingly from somewhere just around a corner where his mishap could not be visually enjoyed. "Let me help clean up."

"No, sir it's quite all right," the maître d'hôtel trilled, sounding rather frantic. "Please, if you would just make your way to your table, your companion is waiting for you."

Potter uttered a few more inane apologies before materialising into view, an impressive amount of beef bourguignon still clinging to his shirt.

Severus rolled his eyes, but Wood burst out laughing. A hearty, amused laugh that said he was laughing with Potter rather than at him. Potter began to laugh too, sliding into the seat opposite and gesturing at himself.

"Hello, Oliver. Sorry I'm late, I...oh, thanks."

Oliver had drawn his wand and given Harry the once-over, vanishing the mess and the brown stain. Shame he'd not bothered to indulge his own attire with the same treatment, Severus thought maliciously.

"I'm just glad you're here, Harry," Oliver said, leaning forward slightly and giving Potter what could only be described as a raunchy leer. Severus shuddered at how bloody transparent Wood was.

"I'm glad too," Potter said, smiling falsely.

Severus narrowed his eyes. The boy was blatantly lying, although Wood just beamed and handed over a menu.

"Glass of wine?" Wood said, reaching for the bottle.

"I wouldn't," Severus said loudly, causing Potter's eyes to fly in alarm around the table. "Paint stripper would be less harmful. And would undoubtedly taste better, too."

"Everything okay, Harry?" Wood asked in concern.

Potter snapped his gaze back to his date. "Yeah, fine. I'd love a glass, thanks."

Severus snorted. "Don't blame me when your teeth fall out."

"Shut up," Potter hissed.

Wood's eyes flew up from the wine he was pouring."Sorry?"

Severus' lip quirked. Potter blushed bright red. "Er, I said do they do duck?"

"Oh yes, there's breast of duck with apple-honey sauce and wild rice. I think it's listed as a special. Apparently that dish has won the chef here numerous gastronomic awards."

"And by the sudden loss of blood to young Mr Wood's face, I'd wager it is also one of the most expensive dishes on the menu."

"I'm quite capable of paying for my own meal," Potter snapped.

Wood frowned in confusion as he replaced the bottle in the wine cooler. "Harry, I've just had my contract with the Falmouth Falcons renewed, I'm sure I can stretch to a half-decent dinner. Unless you've got a problem with me paying?"

Potter's mixed expression of outrage and mortification made Severus want to laugh more than the time the Dark Lord had tripped over Lucius' cane whilst dramatically exiting a DE meeting. But he hadn't given in to the urge then, and he certainly wasn't going to now, even though the penalties here would undoubtedly be markedly less severe. Rosier and Callow had been limping for weeks after some very specifically directed Crucios from their master.

"Of course not, I just thought - we could go halves - if you wanted - never mind." Potter bit his lip, then raised his glass, and drank half the contents in one deep gulp.

Wood looked impressed, and, in Severus' opinion, ever so slightly calculating.

"Unless you wish to wake in the morning with a sore arse, a headache, and a hazy memory of the evening’s events, I suggest , Potter, that youslow down."

Potter didn't fall for it this time, but Severus noted with satisfaction that he ground his teeth before taking another long drink.

"So," Potter said, in an unfeasibly cheerful voice when he'd drained his glass, "tell me about life as a professional Quidditch player."

"Yes," Severus mimicked, "do tell, Oliver."

"It's fantastic, Harry," Wood gushed, tracing the menu's embossed cover coquettishly with a restless finger. A sure sign of sexual frustration if ever Severus had seen one. "There's no expense spared when it comes to providing us with top-of-the-range, custom made brooms."

"No doubt you'll be treated to a private viewing of Mr Wood's top-of-the-range broom later," Severus sneered.

Potter's fingers merely tightened around his glass."That's great, Oliver. Makes all the difference, doesn't it?"

"Oh it does. Did you see that game two weeks ago? Against Puddlemere United?"

Harry nodded.

"We thrashed them, Harry,” Wood enthused, “ and it was all down to the new wind-resistance charms we've had placed on our brooms. They're thinking of having the entire stadium protected with a Sun-Reflective charm too and there's even been talk of changing the regularity of broom maintenance from monthly to fortnightly. Every four weeks just isn't enough when you consider the amount of usage our brooms get. I mean, it's not just the matches, Harry, it's all the training too. A broom can never have enough servicing, I reckon."

Severus was pleased to notice even Potter's eyes had glazed over slightly."And if you play your cards right, Potter,” he purred, “Wood here would be only too pleased to service yours for you."

Potter was saved from Wood noticing his somewhat choked reaction by the waiter coming over to the table bearing a basket of bread and a notepad and quill.

"Are you ready to order, gentlemen?"

Wood looked politely at Harry, who nodded. Severus realised Potter hadn't even so much as glanced at the menu.

"I'll have the duck, please," Potter said, rather defiantly in Severus' opinion.

Oliver beamed as though Potter had come up with the award-winning recipe himself. "And I'll have the same, thanks."

The waiter gave a gracious little bow, and gathered up the menus.

"Nothing for me, thank you," Severus called sarcastically to the waiter's retreating back. Not that he felt hungry; he hadn't since arriving at Grimmauld Place, but even so, it would have been nice to have been asked.

"So when do you start the Auror training programme?" Wood asked Potter.

"Next month," Potter replied, relieving the bread basket of what at first sight appeared to be a plain white roll, but which turned out on closer inspection to be stuffed with unidentifiable red and green bits. Potter looked at it a little uncertainly then started tearing it into pieces but not, Severus noticed, actually ingesting any of them. "Missed out on the June intake, unfortunately."

"You were helping out at Hogwarts, weren't you?" Wood asked, pouring another glass of wine that Severus noted Potter hadn't requested.

"Partly. I also spent a lot of time at the hospital," he added pointedly.

Wood hummed in approval, as if Potter were a modern day Florence Nightingale.

Severus snorted. "Well this has to be one of the most riveting dinner conversations I've ever had the misfortune to be privy to."

"You can leave any time you like," Potter snarled quietly, piercing Severus with an accurately placed glare.

Wood startled, spilling the wine. "Leave? Why would I want to leave?"

Potter's fist crushed the remainder of his roll. "I meant Hogwarts. No one is forced to help rebuild the school, it's all voluntary."

"Two breast of duck," the waiter enthused, setting down plates in front of Potter and Wood respectively. Severus thanked Merlin for the far quicker service one got in a wizard restaurant as opposed to a Muggle eatery. How Muggles could bear to sit and wait hours for a meal to be prepared was beyond him.

"Looks fantastic," Potter said determinedly, poking the duck with his fork.

"You made a great choice, Harry," Wood simpered insincerely, brandishing his own cutlery at the roasted bird.

"In the matter of food, perhaps," Severus said blithely, enjoying the tightening of Potter's jaw. "Sadly one cannot say the same for his choice of company."

Potter ignored him and carried on eating. Severus waited patiently for the next opportunity of ridiculing Wood, which came sooner than he'd anticipated when a blob of sauce escaped Wood's lips and clung to the corner of his mouth.

"How utterly revolting," Severus said, priding himself upon making the curl in his insubstantial lip distinctly audible. "Couldn’t you at least have asked your friends to set you up with someone whose manners have evolved since infancy?"

Potter glanced up from his meal. Fastening his eyes insolently and with uncanny accuracy upon Severus, he reached across the table and thumbed the offending drop away. Wood gaped as Potter brought it to his mouth and licked it off.

"Merlin, Harry," he groaned, "Carry on like that and we'll be leaving before dessert."

Potter smiled at Wood as if he approved of such blatant and sordid innuendo before resuming eating. Had Severus still had veins, he was quite positive the blood within them would have boiled at this point. "I expect that would suit him, too," he snarled, "not having to pay for another course. Were you aware the Scots are renowned for being tight-fisted?"

Wood, Severus noticed in disgust, was adjusting himself beneath the table.

"And I suppose you have no problem with him playing with his private parts during dinner, either?"

Potter choked on his mouthful and put his fork down. "Oliver, I'm really sorry but I'm not feeling too good. Would you mind if we did this some other time?"

Wood's face was a joy to behold, and warmed Severus' black and shrivelled little heart no end. "Is it something I said, Harry?"

Potter fidgeted uncomfortably. "Of course not, it's just...I wasn't feeling all that great before I came out and..."

"You're about to 'come out' in an entirely different way," Severus hissed, noticing a pack of photographers gathering outside the restaurant window. "You forgot to cast the privacy charms, imbecile."

Potter turned and paled as a flashbulb went off. "Shit, I'm so sorry about this," he muttered, standing up. "Tell the restaurant to charge the meal to my Gringotts vault. I'll, um, I’ll call you, all right?"

Oliver's stunned reply was lost to Severus as Potter Apparated on the spot, and the tightening in Severus' gut returned, dragging him along too.

***

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Potter exploded, the minute they'd arrived back at Grimmauld Place. "I asked you to wait!"

"I am not a dog, Potter," Severus sneered, striding across the living room, "and you are not my master."

Potter stomped in the opposite direction and threw himself into an armchair, muttering something that sounded like, 'If I were, you'd be getting the spanking of your life right about now.'

"Besides," Severus continued, resuming his pacing, "you should be thanking me. Another moment in Oliver Wood's company and we'd both have needed surgery to remove the splinters."

"Well you wouldn't, would you?" Potter snapped, "seeing as you're dead."

"Oh, I'm sorry, Potter," Severus simpered, placing his hands on the armrests either side of the brat and bending down until they were face to face. "How terribly thoughtless of me to expire.

"You could at least have had the bloody decency to do it straight after the battle!" Potter yelled, eyes flying across Severus' invisible face. "Staying alive that long it...it gave me hope and you...I went out tonight because I had to, because I needed...I thought..."

"What? That you'd find true love?" Severus mocked.

"NO!" Potter screeched, gripping the armrests, "I thought I could start getting over you!"

Severus recoiled faster than if Potter had spat in his face. "Over me?" he repeated. Severus could have sworn he'd felt his heart drop into his stomach. "Why in Merlin's name would you need to get over me?"

"Because I was.. because I'm in love with you, you great git!"

For once, Severus was speechless. Which didn't help Potter who appeared to be desperately trying to locate him.

"Well, say something," Potter said miserably, giving up the futile search and idly picking at a thread on the chair arm. "Tell me I'm an idiot and that you'd rather date Peter Pettigrew. Or tell me that I sat by your hospital bed for three months for nothing. That if you'd woken up instead of dying, you'd have laughed yourself to death the moment I admitted it."

"Potter..." Severus croaked.

Potter smiled bitterly. "Actually just...just don't say anything. It's fine. Hardly matters now anyway, does it?"

"Of course it does," Severus growled, quickly regaining his senses. "Had I known..."

"Well how could you have done? You were in a coma, remember?"

Severus rolled his eyes, despite knowing the action would be lost on Potter. "No, Potter, I do not remember being in coma, because, as you correctly point out, I was in a coma.

Potter smiled slightly at that, and the sight had Severus' feet moving towards the boy without his consent. "Why on earth pick a Quidditch twit like Wood?" he muttered, stopping just in front of Potter.

"Because I couldn't have the miserable, greasy git of a Potions Master," Potter replied, so honestly and dejectedly that Severus could hardly stand it.

"Close your eyes," Severus murmured, pleased when Potter obeyed him. Ignoring the thumping of the heart he was certain he didn't still possess, Severus brought their mouths to within a millimetre of each other. "For my sins, which are clearly innumerable, I was sent back to be your Guardian Angel," he whispered, noting how Potter shivered as he spoke. "I am here to protect you, to follow you, and save you from mishap. I am not certain I can bear to watch you fool around with men unworthy of your attention, nor am I content at having to fulfil such a duty in a form that renders me unable to touch you..., for I wish with all my heart that I might be able to do so."

Potter gasped as Severus kissed him, readily opening his mouth to the soft press of lips. Severus kept hold of the overpowering feeling of desire that brought solidity to his lips, his hands. He cupped Potter's face and kissed him harder, and Potter kept his eyes tightly shut whilst slipping his arms around Severus' newly tangible waist.

"Oh, God," Potter moaned, "Oh God, oh God, oh God."

Severus touched Potter's skin and plundered his mouth the way he'd always fantasized about but had never dared hope might one day become real. Seeing Wood's pathetic attempt at seducing the Boy Who Lived had incensed him, and with Potter's shocking admission, not to mention his being dead and having nothing left to lose, Severus could finally let himself loose.

"Potter," he gasped, fumbling with the boy's shirt buttons as a thought occurred to him, "whatever you do, do not open your eyes."

Still reeling from the onslaught, Potter nodded furiously, using his hands instead. Severus had just managed to undo Potter's shirt and was planning on releasing that wonderful prick from its confines when a piece of paper popped out of nowhere, hovering in front of Potter's face and radiating golden light.

You have violated guardian rule #296. Please return to heaven immediately.

Severus growled at the note before snatching it out of mid-air and throwing it aside. He continued fumbling with Potter's dreadfully uncooperative trousers while Potter's hands pulled his hair, urging him down for another kiss. Severus was seconds away from obliging when the uncomfortable sensation of imminent, non-consensual Apparition squeezed his waist and whisked him away.

***

"What is the meaning of this?" Severus snarled, his mouth still tingling where Potter's lips had been pressed to it mere moments ago.

Gabriel, he noted with approval, was hurrying towards him. No doubt to apologize for interrupting one of the most satisfying moments of Severus' death. Or, to be brutally honest, of his entire existence.

"Oh dear, oh dear," Gabriel wheezed, doubling over as he reached the gates. "Just give me a moment to catch my breath, Severus, and I shall attempt to explain."

"Can it not wait?" Severus grit out impatiently. "I have a rather urgent matter to attend to... down there."

Raphael dropped out of a cloud and landed next to his asthmatic counterpart. Severus didn't like the smirk plastered on his face one little bit. "I'm impressed, Severus," he enthused, extending a wing through the bars and patting Severus' back. "Hardly twenty-four hours in the job and you've already been flagged up as a rule-breaker."

"Rule-breaker?" Severus spluttered indignantly. "I am no such thing! How, may I ask, can one break rules when one has not previously been alerted to their existence?"

Gabriel looked up sharply. "Raphael, you did give Severus his copy of 'The Guardian Angels Guide to Godliness’ like I asked you to, didn't you?"

Raphael dropped his head and stared at his feet. "Yeah, of course I did."

"He most certainly did not!" Severus bellowed, pointing an accusatory finger. "I was not aware of any such manuscript! Had I been in possession of one, whatever regulation it is you believe me to be in breach of, I can assure you I would have abided by!"

Raphael raised an eyebrow. "Even rule number 296?"

Severus pinched the bridge of his nose. "Yes. And all the other two hundred and ninety five rules that precede it."

"Do you know what rule number 296 is, Severus?" Gabriel asked, straightening up.

Severus shook his head wearily. Raphael smirked. "Rule 296 states that a Guardian Angel must not, under any circumstances, engage in sexual behaviour with his or her charge. You, Severus, were caught snogging Harry Potter. And that means you've broken rule 296."

Severus paled. "One cannot break a rule one is not aware of."

Gabriel looked at him piously. “Ignorance of the rules is no excuse. That’s rule 937, by the way.”

Raphael shrugged. "Doesn't matter now, anyway. The damage is done. We can't let you be Harry Potter's Guardian Angel anymore, I’m afraid. We'll have to find someone else to look after him."

"You will do no such thing!" Severus said angrily, feeling slightly sick at the prospect of not seeing Potter again. "I demand you return me!"

"Ooh, he demands!"

"Enough, enough," Gabriel sighed. "Raphael, please refrain from teasing the mortals."

"But he's not mortal!" Raphael protested.

"No, but he soon will be."

"What on earth does that mean?" Severus exclaimed.

Gabriel took a deep breath. "The thing is, Severus, there was a bit of a...well, for want of a better expression... celestial cock-up. You see, you weren't technically supposed to die."

Severus frowned. "Technically?"

"Ye-es. There was a very sick man in the bed next to yours, in St Mungo’s. His name is Eversus Sneap. He was the one we came for, only we got the two of you mixed up."

A vein popped in Severus' head. "Mixed up? MIXED UP? Do you have ANY idea..."

"I said you shouldn't have sent Ezekiel," Raphael sing-songed, examining his nails. "You know he's dyslexic."

"Raphael, I have had quite enough of you today." Gabriel said through gritted teeth, though Severus noticed he maintained his pearly white smile. "See to the incubi. And keep your hands to yourself, this time."

Raphael smirked. "Didn't do anything they didn't want me to."

"GO!"

Severus flinched and clapped his hands over his ears. When he reopened his eyes, Raphael had gone.

"Now," Gabriel continued, "I understand that you're very upset regarding this, er, small oversight, Severus, but we will rectify the situation. Your body has not yet been interred. I shall have someone transfer you back into it, work a bit of angel magic and you'll be back on your feet in no time."

"You plan to.. to re-animate me?" Severus said in disbelief.

Gabriel gave him a look. "Yes. I hope you have no qualms with that. You were, after all, a terrible Guardian Angel."

Severus was about to protest that statement when his feet started sinking.

"Take care, Severus!" Gabriel called, waving at his shifting form. "We'll see you in another seventy or so years. And remember..."

"God is watching," Severus muttered, succumbing to the bright white light and the pull in his gut.

***

Severus was in agony. He wasn't certain what sort of magic angels supposedly used, but he knew without a doubt Gabriel hadn't bothered to administer a muscle relaxant to his newly re-animated body. Nor, upon sneaking a peek beneath the cover, had he taken the time to dress Severus appropriately. One thin, practically transparent white bed sheet was all that afforded Severus any modesty. What Gabriel had done, though, was to transfer Severus' body directly from the hospital morgue to Potter's bedroom.

Which was highly irritating, because now Potter was sat on the edge of the bed, staring open-mouthed at Severus despite Severus having relayed the tale of his being brought back to life twice since awakening..

"Were you always this pale, or do you just get that from being dead?"

Severus attempted to sit up, cursing when his arms trembled from the weight. "Foolish child. As I have repeatedly told you, I am no longer deceased."

Potter sighed when his efforts to help were rudely rebutted. "I know, I meant...never mind. So tell me what happened again - I just can't believe it.

"As I have already sufficiently explained, I was summoned back to Heaven in the middle of our..."

"Snogging session."

"Tryst," Severus corrected. "Only to be informed that a grave error on the part of the angelic hierarchy was responsible for my untimely and erroneous death."

Potter smirked. "Grave error?"

Severus scowled. "When you have quite finished mocking me, I should like to take a bath."

Potter's nose wrinkled. "Yeah, you could do with one. Smells like you've been embalmed."

"Of course I haven't, it is merely the odour one associates with hospitals. Nevertheless, if I am so repugnant to you, perhaps you would prefer me to find alternative accommodation at which to convalesce?"

"What I'd prefer, is that you stop acting like you didn't kiss me, and do it again."

"Potter - "

Apparently undeterred by the nasty niff to which he'd drawn attention, Potter employed his tongue to shove Severus' feeble protest back down his throat. The boy's hands were warm on Severus' bare chest, and his surprisingly solid weight felt comforting in Severus' arms. Something seemed to be thrumming through Severus' veins; perhaps life-force, perhaps Potter-power; whatever it was, it felt better than anything Severus could remember having experienced in a long, long time. Which made Severus wonder something else.

"How long, precisely, have you been perving over me, Potter?"he gasped, breaking away from the meeting of their lips.

Potter made a noise of protest that turned into a whimper when Severus consolingly palmed the bulge in his trousers. "Since school. I mean, since the...the Half-Blood Prince...I - does it matter? I never thought I'd get the chance to do this again," Potter whispered, stroking Severus' face, holding it steady to gaze into black, black eyes. "When you disappeared, I thought that was it. And after you died..."

"Shh." Severus ran his fingers through Potter's unruly mop of hair. "I shan't leave again."
Severus felt he could safely promise that. After all, he wasn’t even capable of sitting up at the moment, let alone running away.

Potter made the most delightful moaning sound as Severus cupped his neck and pulled him down into another toe-curling kiss. Potter's hands scrabbled at the collar of his loose-fitting shirt, fingers flying down the row of buttons in a hasty attempt to undress himself. Severus gave up trying to help with the shirt, instead going straight for Potter's fly and pushing his jeans and underpants down over a delectably firm arse.

Gloriously exposed at long last, Potter wrenched the sheet away and straddled Severus' groin, grinding himself until Severus' erection was firmly nestled between his cheeks.

"God," Severus mumbled, sending up a silent prayer of thanks and adding a plea that he might last more than ten seconds with such divine heat and firmness around his cock.

"Are you sure you're feeling up to this?" Potter smirked, running his hands over Severus' chest, lingering at a nipple and thumbing it so tenderly that Severus' stomach flipped.

"Impertinent brat," Severus muttered, cupping Potter's balls in his hand before stroking the long, thick shaft pointing heavenwards. "You might be concerned with your own stamina before you cast aspersions on mine."

"S'just that you look like you haven't had a decent meal in days."

“It’s not food I’m hungry for, as if you didn’t know.”

Having had enough of Potter's cheek (though not the two delightfully encasing his prick) Severus tightened his fist until Potter's eyes rolled back into his head. Pre-come glistened at the tip of Potter's cock, and Severus swiped it with his thumb, working the foreskin back and forth, pulling deep, delicious groans from the boy.

"Up," Severus demanded, satisfied when Potter eagerly shuffled forward, his cock conveniently lined up with Severus' mouth.

"Lube?" he asked breathily.

Potter reached for the bedside drawer, one shaky hand pressing the tube into Severus' open palm. Severus squeezed a sizeable amount of the contents into one hand, manhandling Potter's buttock with his other.

And then the air was filled with the best sounds Severus had ever heard; lube squelching as he fingered Potter's arse open, slurping noises as Potter's prick slid messily into Severus' mouth, Potter's continuous 'ungh, ungh, ungh,' as Severus' lips created a vacuum and sucked Potter to completion, Potter falling forward as he thrust jerkily and came. With three fingers inside Potter's tight, hot passage and his own orgasm an imminent certainty, Severus swallowed the bitter fluid quickly and spread Potter's buttocks with desperate fingers, gripping his hips and pushing him back towards his groin before easing him down.

"Oh fuck," Potter cried, and Severus couldn't have agreed more as the head of his cock pushed through the loosened muscle. "Fuck, fuck, fuck," Potter panted. Severus grit his teeth and watched more of himself disappear inside Potter, knowing he'd be lucky to last one thrust.

Potter stilled when fully seated, taking a moment to catch his breath. "Wanted this - so much - wanted you - "

Severus took in Potter's flushed cheeks, dilated pupils, and swollen, red lips. "As have I," he confessed quietly.

Potter acknowledged the admission with a whimper and slowly lifted himself up, dropping back down effortlessly. Severus' hands gripped the rumpled bed sheet, twisting brutally as he fought to stop himself coming.

Potter, seemingly unaware of Severus' dilemma, continued to ride him with eye-watering, bone-shaking expertise. Severus watched Potter's face, the fluttering of his eyelashes when the tip of Severus' cock bumped his prostate, the sweat dripping down his temples, his glistening forehead, his beautiful, perfectly toned frame. Grabbing Potter's thighs, Severus thrust up and closed his eyes as his orgasm rushed through him, frazzling every nerve ending in his body with the sensory overload.

Twenty seconds later, Severus blinked his eyes open and realised his cock was still firmly lodged in Potter's arse. The usual regretful feeling of softening and slipping out had, rather surprisingly, neglected to occur.

"Wow. Is that er, normal for you?" Potter said breathily, finally lifting himself off of Severus and collapsing beside him.

Severus craned his neck and observed his sustained erection with a raised eyebrow. "No."

"Huh." Potter draped an arm across Severus' chest and moved in closer. "I'd make a joke about rigor mortis if I weren't a bit bothered about it. Perhaps we should take you to St Mungos."

Severus decided to tolerate Potter's snuggling, purely for the sake of not having to listen to the brat whine. Just for a moment. After all, the boy was warmer than the sheet currently tangled around his ankles. "I imagine my having returned from the dead would rank a little higher in their medical curiosity than...that."

"I know which I'd find more interesting," Potter grinned.

Severus snorted. "Your opinion hardly counts. You deemed Oliver Wood 'interesting'."

"No I didn't, I was just being polite," Potter protested. "Which is more than you were."

Severus savoured the memory, without of course allowing the boy to receive any hint of his satisfaction. "Be quiet and go to sleep before all this talk of Quidditch buffoons bores me back to death."

Potter's mouth pursed indignantly against his chest, then curved upwards into a smile. "There's still a small part of you that could benefit from another little death."

Severus narrowed his eyes. “Less of the small, Potter. I didn’t hear you complaining.” He allowed himself a smug smirk. “And don’t worry, I foresee a great deal of fatality in your future.”

Harry murmured happily, and snuggled in even more tightly to Severus’ side. After a moment, he lifted his head.

“Um, Severus? You were talking about orgasms, weren’t you?”

***

Gabriel breathed a sigh of relief. "Well! I'm glad that whole mess has finally been sorted out. How is Mr Sneap adjusting to the afterlife, Raphael?"

"Says he's glad to get away from the wife." Raphael grinned.

"And you accomplished the reanimation of Severus Snape?"

Raphael polished his halo, looking smug. "Oh, yeah. Of course, some parts of him ended up more reanimated than others. Though I doubt he'll bother to thank me for it."

Gabriel glared. Really, Heaven was going to the dogs these days. Which reminded him. "Ah, there you are. Sirius Black, isn't it? Welcome, welcome. I'm very pleased to tell you you've been appointed as Guardian Angel to Harry Potter. If you'll just step this way, Raphael here will provide you with a copy of 'The Guardian Angels Guide to Godliness..."

The End.
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