Sheep's Clothing
by Anne Hedonia

Harry Potter is lying in bed, on his side, looking at me while I look at him.

He is close enough that my eyes see little else but his face. Moonlight, diffused by the bedcurtains, softly haloes him. The grin that curls his thin lips is faraway and enraptured. His large eyes are dewy and beholden. Those eyes, and their astonishing color, are legendary. That messy black hair and the scar it sometimes hides are legendary. Everything about him is legendary, and he is looking at me as though I amaze him, as though, despite everything he has encountered in the world of wizardry, I am the most wondrous being he has ever met.

I run a hand over his smooth, pale, teenage chest, over skin almost opalescent with youth. This skin stretches to cover shoulders that are rather broader than one might expect - foreshadowing the man he is becoming - but the rest of him is still so thin, losing boyishness in gradual steps. My hand continues down his belly, soft but flat, to cup the parts below his waist, which makes him smile and close his eyes. A moment later my hand is playing along his collarbone, and when I look at that hand I am surprised at how small and young even it seems.

I have sold my soul to the devil to lay with this boy, but I do not expect the devil to come and collect any time soon.


There was a new girl in Slytherin. Harry could not decipher why he cared.

But he very much did.

Her name was Patrella Smart, and there was a flurry of rumor surrounding her appearance in the middle of Harry's sixth year. The official story said she transferred from Beauxbatons, but that didn't add up in the opinion of most people, since she didn't seem to speak French. At Ron and Harry's pestering, Hermione wrote to ask Viktor Krumm if Patrella had come from Durmstrang; she evidently hadn't. Hermione speculated somewhat bitterly that had Patrella looked differently, none of the fuss over her would be happening.

But she looked like she did.

Patrella was blonde, with brown eyes that were almond-shaped and tilted in an almost Asian way. She was tiny - barely five feet - and her curvy figure put one in mind of Tinkerbelle, from the Muggle movie, if one was acquainted with such.

It was obvious her long hair's color wasn't natural - its faintly straw-like straightness attested that she'd enchanted it somehow. Her smile wasn't real, and her eyes weren't kind. Still, it was what those eyes contained that made every male in the school stop in his tracks when she walked by.

They contained knowledge.

Not from books, like Hermione's. Not from a lifetime of well-considered experiences, like Dumbledore's. Whatever Patrella knew seemed to have come hard and fast, and had left her bitterly entertained. It seemed to express itself in her cold smirk and in a very particular sway to her small, round hips.

Harry had experienced it first hand when she'd passed him in a hallway, a day or two after she'd arrived. He'd heard a small clatter and turned to see the back of some girl he didn't know, who had dropped her wand. Distractedly, he'd aimed his own wand at it and lifted it into her hands, the quicker to get it off the ground so it wouldn't be stepped on.

She'd turned, and her clever brown eyes had met his. They'd narrowed...and a smile had formed on her face unlike anything Harry had ever seen.

Harry had only ever felt mistrust and pity for anyone from Slytherin. He felt something very different for Patrella. The knowledge in her face seemed like the only form of evil Harry had ever wanted to learn, and was so enticing that he wasn't even questioning himself about why.

Certainly, a wizard with his experience should know better.

Harry was in a nearby corridor a few days later when he bumped into Neville, who had bumped into the backs of several other boys. Harry knew at once what was going on - word had spread quickly, and he now thought of these as Patrella Traffic Jams. He found a place where he could see her passing, his head visible over the shoulders of two shorter boys.

His eyes widened in surprise when he found her staring straight at him.

Even though there were a dozen boys standing there, most of them older and taller and empirically better-looking, Patrella had picked out Harry to gaze upon. She walked her swaying walk straight up to him and let her tiny hand drift thoughtfully across his chin.

"Thanks again," she'd said.

Harry had felt that touch all the way down to his toes, with definite detours to other places. She'd walked on, continuing to look at him until she was glancing back over her shoulder to do so. Then she looked forward with a toss of her hair and a grin that was wicked, even for her.

A rumble passed through the boys. Harry was rudely shoved. "Give it a rest, Potter."

Harry turned to see Draco Malfoy looking even nastier than usual. "Don't you even know when you're being mocked? That was a look of pity. She'd eat you alive."

Harry noticed that Malfoy's taunting lacked its usual glee.

After Harry's last lesson that day, when the exiting students in front of him had cleared the doorway and were heading down to dinner, he found Patrella seemingly waiting for him in the hall. "Seemingly", because although her smile felt like an invitation, when Harry approached her, she walked away.

She walked into a deserted classroom, just up the corridor.

Harry hesitated, then followed. He found her standing in the middle of the room, arms folded, facing away.

Harry's heart was beating very quickly. He didn't know what to do. He hadn' t actually been invited to follow her, he'd just sort of assumed. He didn't know if he should announce his presence or not.

"What are you waiting for?"

Her voice made Harry jump. "Who, me?" he managed.

"Who else?" she asked quietly, turning to look at him over her shoulder.

"Well, I..." He had no idea what to say.

"Are you waiting for me to do something?" she inquired innocently. Her hands were working at the front of her, and a moment later her robe and tie dropped to the floor. She turned toward him. "Something like...this?"

When Patrella turned, her shirt and cardigan were open, and her bare round breasts were exposed to his gaze.

Harry was a wizard who had seen much in his short life, both wonderful and terrible. Enough of the terrible, in fact, that trust did not come easily, and friendships closer than acquaintance had not been numerous. After Cedric Diggory's death, any closeness to Cho Chang had been tainted with regret. Aside from Hermione and the Weasleys, Harry kept people at just enough distance that his romantic experience was not what it could have been, for his age.

For a wizard of the world, he was staring at Patrella in a most unsophisticated way.

Her eyes narrowed, and her grin curled. "Planning to stand there, or do something?"

Harry didn't know what she meant, but he walked closer anyway. He approached until she was within arm's reach. Reaching toward her seemed like a good idea, all of a sudden.

Patrella smiled as though this was exactly what she wanted. Her hand touched her wand where it was stored, in the waistband of her skirt.

"Prohibitus," she whispered.

Harry's hand was impeded, inches from Patrella's left breast, by an invisible barrier. He tapped against it repeatedly, his brain apparently working more slowly than usual. He tried to reach around with his other hand - the barrier surrounded her. He stared at her confused, like a small child.

Patrella sighed extravagantly, as though thinking fondly of sleep. She extended her arms lazily over her head, her forearms resting on her hair, and leaned slightly forward. Her breasts pressed against the invisible shield, flattening them, spreading the white skin and pink areolas. She leaned in just a bit harder, as though doing so was giving her a very sinful pleasure.

Harry stared as if drugged. His hand moved as far toward her as it could, and against the barrier he traced the outline of her breasts with one finger. Patrella moaned quietly, and Harry's breath came quicker. He spread his whole hand flat against the barrier, first over one breast and then the other. Patrella made a noise that Harry had never heard before, and suddenly wanted to hear much more of.

Footsteps suddenly sounded in the hallway behind them. Harry's head jerked in response - two Hufflepuffs, deep in conversation, were walking by, ignoring them. When Harry looked back, Patrella wasn't there.

He turned back to the door. Patrella was strolling out of it, abruptly clothed, and glancing over her shoulder at him, but no longer asking him to follow.


Harry reached the Great Hall, distracted and slightly shaken. His friends were nearly done with their dinner, and after several minutes he was still having trouble following their conversation.

"Just up and left," Ron was saying. "With only a note to Dumbledore. Barely took any of her things."

"Who?" asked Harry.

Hermione had perfected that look of irritation mixed with concern. "Professor Letour," she supplied, with exaggerated patience.

Harry took a moment to process. Professor Letour was the Personal Magical Maintenance teacher - she taught spells that one might want to use on one's self, for health, self-improvement, correcting illness, etc. She taught their intended effects and their cautions. She was younger than most of the other professors, and her face had been pretty, in an average way. She had a quality about her that she obviously considered charm, and to which Harry had watched others responding readily, without ever understanding why himself. To Harry she had just seemed unsettled, and faintly desperate.

She had often noted Harry's achievements to the class, mentioning whenever he had completed a bit of class work especially well, or any other bit of news about him she could justify announcing. Afterward she watched Harry closely for his reaction, which made him slightly angry. Harry was used to his fame twisting people's responses to him, or his past making adults think he was a lost puppy, anxious to follow them around for a pat on the head. Both phenomena always earned Harry's disinterest, and faint disdain. Professor Letour had been no exception.

"Why did they take so long to tell us?" Hermione looked bewildered. "It's been over a week."

"There was something wrong with her." Ron twirled a finger near his head.

"No, there wasn't," Hermione countered in exasperation. "But I do think it's better she's gone. Her homework was dead easy."

"There's something wrong with you," Ron smirked, twirling the same finger. Hermione smacked him. Ron grinned and nudged Harry. "Say, fancy a game of chess? What are you doing later?"

Harry blinked, and smiled feebly. He realized that the whole of his future plans seemed to have been wiped temporarily from his head.


Harry left McGonagall's classroom at the back of a large crowd of people. The closet door to his right was of no importance, until it flew open briefly and a small hand reached out and yanked him inside.

Harry suddenly found himself in a cramped, dark room that smelled of magical cleaning supplies, and something else:

Warm, mysterious Essence of Girl.

Her lips attacked his before his eyes had even adjusted, her tongue forcing its way into his mouth, and he felt abruptly on fire. He didn't realize he should kiss back at first, and when he tried, he realized he didn't know how. His arms were likewise flummoxed - they flailed until his fingers grazed Patrella's straw hair, and then he realized he very much wanted to be holding great handfuls of it.

She removed her mouth from his with an audible gasp. "Schaqular," she rasped.

Harry's hands unclenched and flew back and upward to smack into the wall behind him. When he tried to pull them down, he found they were locked there.

He could see her now, watch her sizing him up with eyes that were cold but a grin that made him feel like lava filled his veins.

She ran soft fingers down his cheek, his chin, to his chest. Harry gulped, shivered, and squirmed. Her hand was drifting lower, and he realized with a hot embarrassment that if she pressed into him again, she might discover how things had suddenly changed below his belt.

It wasn't till her hand was almost there that he realized: those changes were exactly what she was aiming to discover.

She turned her palm toward his crotch and pressed it into his erection without the slightest hesitation. The resulting sensation made Harry want to scream - it was like being electrocuted with pleasure. He barely bit back the impulse but almost lost it again when she began to rub slowly, confidently, up and down. His breath became ragged; he had never had anyone touch him like this before, never had anyone else's hand making him excited. He never, ever wanted it to stop.

Abruptly, it did.

Harry made a sound that, were he older, would undoubtedly have embarrassed him with its desperation. But he was too gobsmacked to think about how he might look to her, or worry about making any sort of impression. He tried to plead out loud but couldn't form words. He tried to stop her leaving but still couldn't wrench his hands away from the closet wall.

A moment after she left, his arms suddenly responded to his frantic twisting and flew free. He bolted the closet and looked around to find the hall empty - blessedly free of other students, but cursedly free of Patrella.

He somehow didn't think an older boy would sob at this point, but the urge remained despite his brain's counseling.


At lunch the next day, Seamus informed the other Gryffindors that they would have a substitute for Snape's class. The professor was evidently not feeling well.

"Professors are dropping left and right," Ron noted. He sounded more amused than concerned.


Harry was beginning to like this closet.

He didn't know how he would be able to concentrate in McGonagall's class in the future if Patrella was going to make this a habit, as he so fervently hoped. She had not enchanted his hands this time, and after much hesitation he had gained the courage to put them over her breasts. She moaned into his inexpert mouth as he tried out caresses, and his enthusiasm to touch her doubled.

After what seemed like an eternity of blissful groping, Harry finally worked up another courage...the courage to take her hand and place it hesitantly over his erection. He'd been thinking of that particular touch since they'd left the closet last time, and he was very much hoping she'd take the initiative and send him through the roof again.

But this time her hand did not press confidently into him - it just remained motionless where he'd put it. Her lips stilled against his, and Harry was suddenly terrified that he'd gone too far - never mind what she'd been willing to do the other day; maybe she wasn't willing to now. He waited for her to get angry, or leave.

She removed her hand slowly, and Harry felt an objection like despair...until that hand grabbed one of his and led it underneath her uniform skirt.

Although intimidated, Harry felt this might not be a bad choice, either.

Her fingers led his to the juncture of her thighs, to the cotton covering her mound, damp and warm. He cupped it tentatively, disbelieving that he was allowed this great privilege, but still very uncertain about what to do. Within a few minutes, Patrella was instructing him again with her touch, leading his hand underneath the waistband.

Harry had the feeling of plunging headlong into exceptionally uncharted territory.

He swallowed nervously as his hand went where it was led. He felt sparse, coarse hair around folds of skin, and between them a moist, slippery heat. It felt so foreign and so forbidden that he was damn near aching with excitement. His fingers plundered, learning the territory; he wished he could see what he was doing as well. It occurred to him dimly that this was probably - under ideal circumstances - supposed to cause her pleasure. He tried to find something he should obviously be doing.

Patrella chose that moment to whisper the following: "Sympaticus Referendi."

And instantly, something very unusual happened.

Harry could feel someone touching him between his own legs. He damn near jumped out of his shoes with the surprise of it. He wanted to look behind himself, but knew there was only the wall there; he thought to look for Patrella's hands, then remembered they were on his shoulders. Completely unsure what was happening, he absently resumed moving his fingers...and startled when he felt it again.

He stared in amazement into Patrella's eyes; they narrowed in wicked amusement, answering his question.

Harry could now feel for himself what his fingers were doing to her.


The first thing he realized was that his current movements didn't feel good - they were just producing a kind of a clumsy feeling of being roughly handled. Sheer curiosity overtook his intimidation, and he instantly set about trying to find something better.

It didn't take long.

Stroking the delicate skin, touching more lightly but not too teasing, exploring slowly...and then finding one particular nub that just seemed to make ALL the difference. The first time he grazed it both he and Patrella gasped. Ah, rub that gently, back and forth, slowly, till you can't help but go faster...

Bloody hell, this was weird.

There was the weirdness of the fact that, in addition to what he was feeling, he was also hard, and could feel the stimulation of his erection rubbing against the inside of his pants. But that felt secondary, almost faraway.

Mostly, what he felt was inside himself, in parts he didn't actually have.

And it was delicious.

His fingers were moving faster, gaining confidence and skill; he was rewarded with both the repercussions in his own body and Patrella's obviously mounting excitement. He couldn't decide which was more exciting: the feelings racing through him, or the sight of her head thrashing, her tiny hands grasping the beams and pipes behind her as though she feared she' d float away. Her mouth hung open, powerless to stop the moans escaping, and he couldn't believe he'd done that to her - despite all his life exploits, everything that'd earned his fame, he'd never felt so powerful and amazing as he did right then.

And the noises he was making were nearly identical.

Something was coming, something...oh God...oh bloody amazing, so ULTIMATE, this was it, this was the meaning of life, surely. It was washing all through him, and Patrella too, and she screamed "UHNNNhhhh!" and though he was sure they'd be heard, it was so good he couldn't bring himself to care.

His fingers kept moving, wanting it to continue, but he found that when he did they both jerked forward, as though someone invisible was making them do really ruthless sit-ups. Better to stop.

Patrella collapsed against him, tiny and warm and breathing hard, and Harry felt suddenly protective. After all, he could feel exactly the shaky relief running through her, could feel how hard it was to come back to the world, and the gesture of falling into him made her seem vulnerable. It was the first time he'd ever seen an inkling of this within her, and he felt honored. He ran a hand over her hair and smiled.

But then he startled to hear her voice, much stronger than expected: "Sympaticus Exclusiva."

Abruptly the lovely tingly feelings were gone - the spell was over, he reckoned. He watched in quiet amazement as she quickly readjusted her clothes - looking ready to face the world in no time - and flashed him the usual cold, cocky smile. "Wait a few minutes before you leave," she told him, reaching for the door handle. "Won't do for anyone to see us leaving together."

And then she was gone.

Harry blinked repeatedly. Behind the thumping of his heart, his chest felt empty and strange.

He tried to collect himself. The smell of her lingered, and he reckoned he should wash his hands. After a few minutes, he opened the door cautiously and exited, only to find Snape a few yards away. The professor turned at the squeak of the door hinge to cast a puzzled expression at Harry behind him.

"Shouldn't you be in class, Potter?" inquired Snape, but without much of the usual venom, maybe half the usual energy. Harry agreed that he should be. Snape continued on and Harry walked quickly behind the older wizard, who turned to glare at him flatly.

"Herbology is this way," Harry explained apologetically.

Snape went to his office and tried to close the door, but didn't achieve it completely. Harry slowed, wondering if Snape was suspicious about him exiting closets. Through the small opening at the doorway, Harry saw Snape sit down at his desk and put a hand over his eyes. He seemed to be feeling worse and worse lately, and in Potions on Thursday, when a student had inquired as to the cause, he had snapped at her. Harry suspected Snape did not know the reason.

Neither of them knew that underneath Snape's desk chair, under a floorboard, was a picture of Professor Letour.

It was quite enchanted.


Days later, Harry sat blearily in his Defence Against the Dark Arts class, trying to focus and finding it nearly impossible. He glanced to his left for the thousandth time that hour.

Patrella was still in her seat, just as she'd been the last time Harry had glanced furtively over...and the time before that, and the time before that, he thought sourly. Harry couldn't stop thinking about her for the life of him, and it made him angry that he couldn't control his attention. He watched as she curled her straw hair randomly around her index fingers. He felt proud that he knew the feel of that hair - and that body, he thought in awe - and was powerfully rattled at how badly he wanted to know the feel of her again. He felt sure she knew he was watching her; she seemed to know everything. He railed internally at how he never got to see her in private unless she initiated it, which she hadn't since their last trip to the closet, way too many days ago. He couldn't even talk to her when he wanted - whenever he got a glimpse of her somewhere and tried to approach, she eluded him deliberately and effortlessly.

Harry bounced his quill irritably against the parchment before him, with a slightly shaking hand. She seemed to control everything.

At the front of the class, Professor Moody - the real one, who had actually managed to keep his position for the last two years - was talking about Siphoning. Siphoning was apparently a process wherein the powers of one wizard could be co-opted by another, in the case that the Siphoner needed something from the Siphonee that the Siphoner did not possess. Raw power was one attraction of Siphoning, or a quality to the power, such as darkness. The consequences for invoking this charm were apparently dire - both for the Siphoned subject and, if caught, the person doing the Siphoning - and Professor Moody ran over a list of the various objects used in such a transference. Harry hoped that the details of the lecture would not be on a test, as he could not have repeated them to save his life. He heard a quill scribbling furiously, over to his right, and glanced at Hermione, who was taking her usual copious notes. Harry didn't let her see his eyes for long - the concern in her face meant she might ask questions if encouraged.

Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Patrella glance slyly in his direction. His stomach jumped, and his eyes slid cautiously to look at her.

She was getting up and walking over to him. Harry looked toward Professor Moody, sure the Professor would soon object to Patrella's unauthorized strolling during class...but found that Moody wasn't objecting. At all.

In fact, Moody wasn't doing anything but standing perfectly still, like a statue.

Harry realized with a gasp that the entire class was frozen the same way - holding their positions, as though they'd been Petrified. The clock on the wall had even stopped. Outside the classroom's one window, he could see an owl stalled in mid-flight.

She had stopped time. Or at least it seemed so. Harry looked up into Patrella's cold smile, suddenly above him. "What did"

She leaned down slowly, her face now level with Harry's. "Is that really what you want to know just now?"

Harry had to admit it was not the most pressing issue currently on his mind.

The front contender for that title would have to be the fact that Patrella was pushing his chair away from his desk, spreading his knees and kneeling between them. And then reaching for his fly, sliding the zipper down...

Harry's mouth went dry. She was reaching into his pants, touching him barehanded for the first time. Harry's hips jerked upward and his chair rattled.

His mind instantly clouded and he watched in dazed disbelief as she pulled him front of the whole class.

Harry looked around wildly. Not three feet from him was Neville, sitting at the other end of the long desk and staring at his quill, as though it were malfunctioning. Harry wondered, in a frantic mental tangent, how the hell a quill could malfunction. It was Neville's usual attitude of sincere cluelessness - only this time he was frozen still. But, he wondered frantically, how could he be sure Neville would stay that way? What might break the spell? How long would it last?

Harry quickly realized the image of Neville was not the most...well, conducive to continuing the proceedings. He looked away, only be faced with Malfoy, then Crabbe and Goyle, then Parvati and Lavender, frozen in mid-giggle.

The most disconcerting of all was Hermione. Her attitude was so normal, as though she was simply listening and could turn around any second to whisper a question or make a comment. He very much disliked the idea of her turning around to see what was happening. He didn't have time to think about why.

Because Patrella was touching him again, with that slow, confident stroke, and this time he realized he could see what it looked like. The thought of it pulled him away from his fear, and turning his head back to look at her dumped him squarely into the world of sensory overload.

She was grinning and staring at him like a predator, her head bent low and her eyes gazing upward. She looked like she was ready to pounce.

And then she the form of lowering her head to take him into her mouth.

Harry briefly wondered if it was possible to open one's eyes so far that the eyeballs actually fell out of the sockets. If so, he was in grave danger of it happening. The sight alone seemed enough to kill him with shock.

And then her warm, wet mouth closed around him and it was utterly impossible to think any more.

Harry moaned like he could never remember doing in his life, for any reason. He watched the small blonde head working up and down, saw her hollowing her cheeks and glancing at him occasionally with a look so shameless it made him tremble still harder.

What was the point of any other activity on Earth when there was this?

This sight to be seen, this feeling to be had, this exquisite quicksand in which to drown? It was as warm and dreamy as the first stages of the Imperius curse, yet charged with an urgency that made it infinitely sweeter.

Although if he glanced the wrong way, it was still weird to be doing it next to Neville, frozen stiff and baffled by a quill.

It was also building to something.

He realized what was approaching, and tried desperately to warn her off of him - because obviously, who would want to stay where she was...for that? His hands pulled weakly at her head as he sputtered half-thoughts: "Don' t...I'm going have to..."

She waved his hands away and hung on to her position. Harry felt a weak remorse, but could protest no longer. His eyes rolled back in his head and his whole world exploded.

Patrella caught every bit of it, to Harry's utter astonishment.

His body collapsed against his chair. He felt like a very happy rag doll. It was hard to stay awake, even before Patrella stood and passed a gentle hand over his eyes...

...And who knows how many moments later, he awoke with a violent start: "Gaaah!"

Everyone in the class - now very much animated - erupted into laughter, turning toward Harry to see what he was up to. Harry colored furiously and his gaze shot down to his fly. The class laughed harder, but Harry was relieved - and confused - to find everything zipped up and as it should be.

"Not keepin' you awake, are we, Potter?" Harry looked at Professor Moody, who was grinning at him kindly.

"Uh, no sir..." The class laughed all over again. Harry tried his best just to grin along with the joke, because he wasn't really embarrassed, just very confused.

He looked to Patrella's chair - she wasn't in it. He looked toward the door - she wasn't walking in or out of it. Her absence didn't seem to be missed. Had he really just fallen asleep? The feelings still floating through his body told him that it had actually gone through the events he had envisioned, but then...that sort of thing wasn't exactly impossible when one was asleep. He felt his face coloring purple at the idea, but then...

He spied the bright glint of something on his knee. He reached down and pulled up a long, blonde hair.

He was apparently staring at it. Hermione was staring at him. They both looked away quickly.

Harry realized dizzily that his life had ceased to be his own, some time ago.


Hermione was reading her Daily Prophet at breakfast the next day when she spied the story about Professor Letour. She and Ron huddled to read how details of the Professor's past - and her past indiscretions - were becoming public, and they shared a shudder at the specifics of them, feeling grateful she was out of their midst.

Hermione would have shown Harry, but he wasn't there yet, and besides...Harry didn't seem to be paying any attention to anything these days.


By the time sex actually occurred between Harry and Patrella, it was - no pun intended - almost anti-climactic.

But that didn't mean it wasn't good.

She led him up to the Owlery late one night, cleaned the floor with a spell and covered it with fresh, fragrant straw. She lay down in it with a feminine grace that seemed unearthly, then pulled Harry to lay atop her, her smile the gentlest Harry had yet seen.

Something about it seemed more promising than ever.

Harry had never removed a girl's clothing before, and he did it as slowly and carefully as possible. He could sense Patrella becoming slightly impatient after a while, but he felt grateful that she didn't say anything or force him to speed up. It was his first chance to just gaze at her, and touch. It was not something he wanted to waste.

Before long the proceedings had sped up on their own, and Patrella decided to double-enchant she and Harry, so they could both feel the other's reactions. Trembling and trying desperately to seem adult, Harry finally entered her and could not believe the indescribable rightness of finding himself sheathed inside a girl for the first time. And yet he could also feel it hitting home for her, feel how he filled her and how breathtakingly good that was, too.

The pleasure and the reality-bending were nearly enough to make him insane.

They did it once, and Harry lay back blissfully when it was accomplished, buoyed both by afterglow and the fact that his first time was out of the way. As soon as he was ready, Harry insisted they do it again, and Patrella, unsurprisingly, gave no resistance. He felt better the second time, able to watch her more avidly, concentrate on something besides keeping it from ending immediately.

And when it did end the second time, they were almost together, and Harry heard owls fluttering madly overhead, scattered by their shouts.

Afterward, Harry felt ridiculously drowsy, and began entertaining his first thoughts of gathering Patrella into his arms to sleep. She was smiling at him, in that same not-exactly-kind-but-kinder-than-usual way, and his chances seemed good...

..when she passed that gentle hands over his eyes again.

He was awakened sometime later by the owls rioting again; someone else had entered the Owlery. He jerked awake to find himself covered by a blanket, all the way up to his chin. He grabbed it to keep it covering him, then peered myopically at the intruder: Percy.

Percy held a small roll of parchment, and he grinned at Harry in amusement as he approached one of the school owls. "Are you actually sleeping up here, Harry?"

Harry knew that Patrella was gone even before he looked at the now-empty space beside him. He hoped groggily that Percy couldn't see his clothing, wherever it had fallen. "Er - yeah."

Percy shook his head, tying his note to the owl's proffered leg. "Crikey, you're sure anxious for a letter."

Harry did indeed feel anxious, and empty, but not for lack of a letter.

He rubbed his eyes. "Yeah," he confirmed. "Sure am."


After that Harry simply gave into what was going on, abandoning any thought of trying to control things. He just waited for when she would visit him again, and relived her previous visits during the waits.

And she did visit.

During one encounter, they had sex in the hall behind a gargoyle, after lights out and during a bed check. Harry brought the Marauder's Map, and glanced at it - whenever he could manage to - so he could warn her to be quiet when professors passed. They once had raging sex under his Invisibility Cloak, in the middle of the grounds during the Spring Festival. As students and teachers walked within inches of them to inspect the various booths, Patrella rocked recklessly atop Harry, who had to fight desperately to choke back his gasps and groans. And Patrella stopped time once more, in the middle of lunch, and took Harry on the Slytherin table, directly in front of all his professors and Draco Malfoy's unseeing eyes.

Harry drifted from Ron and Hermione, barely noticed his schoolwork. In the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey kept Snape in a private room, and spoke with Dumbledore about him in hushed, alarmed whispers.

Which led them to this night, when Patrella had visited Harry unannounced, and cast an Obscura charm around the bed to prevent anyone seeing or hearing. The two of them could do anything they wanted, make all the noise they felt like, and Harry's sleeping roommates would never be the wiser.

They had subsequently tested the charm to its limits.

Harry lay on his side, looking at Patrella while she looked at him. Moonlight, diffused by the bedcurtains, softly haloed them. The grin that curled his thin lips was faraway and enraptured.

He was touching her face now, gently and quickly, counting something off. "And your nose, and your left eye, and your right eye, and this eyelash, and this one and this one and this one..."

Patrella smiled and closed said eyes in a way that was almost bashful. Harry grinned enthusiastically and kept going: "Although I might fancy this eyelash better than anything else on your face, I can't say for certain. I'll have to study it further..."

He kissed both her eyelids, which made her giggle quietly, then leaned back to consider the results with mock gravity. "No, still can't decide. More data." He began kissing her face everywhere, and Patrella's quiet laugh stole away every bit of her armor.

Harry's heart was as light as he could ever remember. He couldn't believe he was making her smile, really smile, for the first time. Maybe the first time in her life. Her face was looking more relaxed and...well, younger than he'd ever seen it - something about her seemed older than she was, seemed to carry the world around.

He'd always wanted to relieve her of that burden. He was thrilled to think this might be the start of her letting him.

"This is different than usual," she sighed.

Harry's brow furrowed gently. "Pardon?"

She shook her head. "Nothing. It's just..." She didn't finish.

"Just what?"

Suddenly, Harry realized she looked uncomfortable. Profoundly, physically uncomfortable.


There was panic in her eyes. "What's...what is this..."

"Trella, talk to me."

She gave out a cry and began to writhe, in obvious pain.


Her hands flew everywhere, trying to find somewhere to hold and stop the hurting. Harry tried too, but nothing seemed to help. He was working hard to keep his panic at bay when he was suddenly forced to yank himself back, for his own safety.

Patrella had abruptly burst into flames.

She shrieked in the agony of her apparently-spontaneous combustion, the edges of her curling and smoking, the middle of her bubbling and erupting.

Harry's horror and helplessness knew no bounds.

He tried to smother the flames with the bedcovers, but his hands and his efforts seemed to go right through her. He wracked his brain frantically for spells that might save her, but found nothing. She continued disappearing before Harry's eyes, in direct contradiction to his screams.

In a minute it was over, and she was gone, with nothing but faint wisps of smoke to attest to her ever existing. Harry kneeled on the bed heaving, sweating and sobbing in disbelief. Shock was starting to numb him, and his insides felt shredded, and he had no one to tell.

In the infirmary, Severus Snape suddenly gasped in his sleep, drawing the first clear breath he had in weeks.

And in his chamber, Albus Dumbledore looked at the ashes of Professor Letour 's formerly-enchanted picture in his fireplace, closed his eyes against the thought of poor Harry and his impending journey back, and sighed.


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