The house elf was conspicuously absent when Draco returned to his rooms late in the evening, and the fire was built overhigh.
"I thought you liked the chill," he said, tugging off his gloves with short, sharp jerks at each fingertip.
Snape raised his head from the pile of scrolls on the desk to glare at him. "I don't like it; I merely think it more economical."
"Frozen pipes have never struck me as particularly economical."
"Only if you consider bathing a daily necessity. Hedonist."
"Spartan. Why the blazing fire, then, if you're so wedded to the ice floes and to your economical Scourgifies?"
"Ah. Well, unfortunately, the Headmaster appears to be of your mind. Apparently the fourth-year boys' washroom has been deemed overly cool, and as it backs our quarters, the blame for its temperature--and the boys' subsequent lack of hygiene--has been laid at our door. I assured her that I could persuade the boys to bathe more regularly without going to this absurd extreme, but she...declined to accept my offer."
"And chose instead to issue an ultimatum?" Draco asked wryly.
Snape's mouth twisted into a sour moue. "Evidently."
Draco crossed to the round table beneath the window, now cleared of all papers, and poked a fork at the steaming sausages piled on the plate. They smelled...common, and he briefly contemplated which punishment might best fit the house elf's lapse in judgment.
"You missed dinner." Snape's comment cut into his thoughts.
"I couldn't help it. The Board of Directors..."
"I'm well aware of the Board's dilatory nature. I only mention it because Aurelius Winterborn appeared on our doorstep shortly before six. Apparently you'd arranged to take the boy to Hogsmeade?"
"Oh, bugger, yes. He was supposed to interview at the Hog's Head. Well, at least it wasn't a reputable place. I doubt missing an appointment there will hurt his standing with Aberforth in the slightest."
"Interview?" Snape asked.
Draco sneered. "Our dear Aurelius wants to be a barmaid. His dearest wish is to distribute potables to drunken witches and wizards and to rambunctious schoolchildren, no doubt while flirting with the former and smiling indulgently at the latter." Then he shrugged. "It's hardly a brilliant career, but considering where ambition got his family, that may be for the best."
"Yes," Snape nodded. Winterborns mère and père were both languishing in Azkaban, while the older brother had been killed by defecting Death Eaters who'd vainly hoped that handing over the corpse of their seventeen year-old compatriot would lighten their own sentences.
"And he does look good in a skirt," Draco added.
Snape's eyes darkened--whether in disapproval or amusement, Draco couldn't tell.
"How many have you left to go?" he asked, nodding at the scrolls on Snape's desk.
"Forty, perhaps. Luckily for me--though unluckily for their owners--very few of them appear to have been written in letters fewer than two inches high. You?"
"I'm clear. Quizzes all around tomorrow."
"Ah. I suppose you'd better leave me to it, in that case," Snape said, unrolling the scroll nearest to him.
His long, sallow fingers grasped blindly for the quill lying on his desk, and Draco's stomach thrummed. Talking to bureaucrats always made him...tense. "Pass over some of those, and we might get to bed before midnight. Fifth years and under only."
"You do realize that your lack of knowledge concerning potions is appalling," Snape commented as he sifted through the stack, finally handing a third of the scrolls to Draco. "I'm still eminently capable of marking advanced Charms essays, and it's been over three decades since I took a class in it."
"You also know less History of Magic than the writers at the Daily Prophet," Draco said cuttingly.
"History of Magic is an insignificant branch of knowledge that has no practical use--"
"Except in its application to research in both Charms and Defense Against the Dark Arts," Draco interrupted. "As well as being a particular interest of the person who offered to assist you with your grading, and who is now considering rescinding that offer."
"Indeed," Snape said dryly, over the skritch of his quill.
Not quite two hours later, Draco washed up in a bathroom that must have been at least ten degrees chillier than whatever the Slytherin fourth-years had been complaining about. The bedroom was marginally better, but his recognition of that fact dissolved into annoyance at the sight of Snape reading one of his unlimited potions tomes on the settee.
"Bed. Naked," he ordered shortly, and was gratified to see Snape comply.
Draco slid onto the mattress after him, pulling at the bedclothes until they were out of the way at the foot of the bed.
Dumbledore's generation always talked of dark underbellies--those who weren't drooling into their teacups, anyway--but Draco couldn't quite comprehend seeing lust like that. He traced a finger along the soft, exposed whiteness of Snape's stomach, and the flesh quivered beneath his touch like the vibration of a frog's throat.
"I see you," he whispered.
"What...?" Snape focused on him confusedly.
More loudly: "I see you." Snape's eyes widened, black and shiny and dumb, and Draco smiled, feeling his lips curl into a smirk despite his efforts. "I want to see all of you."
He pushed at Snape's knees, until his feet were planted on the mattress close by his hips, and leaned forward to taste salty, sensitive flesh. Eyes closed, Draco trailed his tongue over Snape's skin, feeling his way by taste and by texture and by the sound of Snape's muffled gasps. There was the juncture of hip and thigh; there the sweet roughness of his balls; there the gentle curve of his cock, tracing its way to the tacky head, which slicked suddenly with pre-come under the ministrations of Draco's lips and tongue.
He swirled his tongue over the head, lapping at the warm liquid and probing into the slit for more.
"Do you think you might hurry this up a bit?" Snape asked, the effect marred slightly by a strangled moan midway through.
Draco lifted his head and stared up at him. "Fuck. Off." Snape's cock was warm and wet against his lips, and he sucked unhurriedly, pinning Snape's hips to the bed to prevent even the minute thrusts Snape allowed himself.
Snape's uneven breaths came more roughly, and Draco's cock throbbed with the excitement of the situation and with the feel and taste of Snape in his mouth. When Snape came, in a series of short, quick pulses, he barely took the time to slather lotion onto himself from the bottle on the bedside table before he was inside of him, feeling the aftershocks of Snape's orgasm around his own aching cock.
It didn't take long; only a few painfully good strokes until Draco was crying out his own release and collapsing on top of Snape, eyes sliding shut in preparation for sleep, letting Snape take care of the mess and of retrieving the blankets and of maneuvering them into a more comfortable position for the night.
"Professor?" a young, breathless voice called from behind him.
Draco glanced over his shoulder. A third-year Hufflepuff, cheeks red with cold and a hesitant smile on his face. "Not now, Wentworth."
The boy subsided, and Draco resisted the impulse to pat him on the head. For a moment it seemed he might say something more--he skipped along at Draco's side, keeping pace with his longer strides--but then ran back to his friends.
Draco walked more briskly, eyes fixed on the Forbidden Forest at the horizon. Back home, there was a craggy bit of rock and heath that he'd sprained an ankle in climbing one day, been beaten for his clumsiness, and still gone back to once he'd been healed. The forest contained less mundane threats, but he wasn't a child any longer, either.
Wand at the ready, he made his way to one of the rare hot springs that bubbled close to the edge of the forest. The trees thinned by its banks, though not enough to dispel the shadows cast darkly on the forest floor. Frogs added their own plashes to the water's murmur as they slipped about in the mud and rocks around the perimeter, and it was those that Draco fixed upon.
A quiet word enlarged the miniature glass jar tucked into his cloak pocket. The frogs nearest him scrabbled for a hold on their rocks as he Leviosaed them one by one until they were suspended above the opening of the jar, and then let them drop. When the jar was full, he took the lid out of his pocket, almost in time to clap it over the frog that hauled itself over the lip to fall onto the ground with a wet plop.
Its legs batted ineffectually against the air from where it lay on its back before him, its white, smooth belly shining in the dim light. Before he considered what he was doing, Draco had ground his heel into the frog's abdomen. The squelching sound sickened him, and he turned back towards Hogwarts, averting his eyes from the sight of the remaining frogs milling over and around each other in the sealed jar.
"Here are your damned ingredients," he said, placing the jar roughly on the worktable once he'd reached the dungeons. "Get them yourself, next time."
Snape's concentration never wavered from the potion he was stirring. "I would have done, had the Ministry not insisted that this batch of wolfsbane be delivered by tomorrow night. Do feel free to convey your annoyance to Minister Weasley, however. I'm sure the criticism would be taken in the spirit in which it's given."
"The spirit that led the two of us to reverse each other's knees the last time we discussed the best direction for Hogwarts?"
"That very one. You could mince those newts' eyes very fine," Snape said, gesturing to the black pile on the far end of the table.
The eyes gleamed wetly--almost alive and wholly amphibian--and Draco grimaced in distaste. "I could also not. I've homework assignments to correct tonight."
"Are you implying that I haven't?"
"No, I'm stating that I'm unwilling to lose sleep over your...your ridiculous wolfsbane."
Snape's lips thinned. "Then I'd appreciate it if you'd remove yourself from my laboratory. I haven't the time to waste on chit-chat."
"Try not to wake me if you're later to bed than I am," Draco said, walking away before he might hear Snape's reply.
When Draco awoke the next day, the bed was cold. So was the bedroom, though he wasn't at all surprised at that. Snape could be incredibly petty when he chose. He spared a passing wish that their bedroom might adjoin the Slytherin boys' bathroom, rather than their sitting room, and then shoved his feet into the icy slippers lying beside the bed.
"Sleep well?" Snape asked from the sofa, when Draco entered the stiflingly warm sitting room.
"I dreamt that you were lying on a table in the potions laboratory, and I was cutting you into pieces for a potion," Draco lied.
Snape blinked at him. "Which potion?"
"Draught of the Living Death," he answered promptly, and then wondered why.
"I see," Snape said.
There was a long silence.
"This wasn't an erotic dream, by any chance?"
"No!" Draco protested, disgusted, though the suggestion resonated a tad uncomfortably.
"And is that what you want, or is that just what you think of me?" Snape's voice was too cold to be anything but a mask.
That's what I think of me, Draco thought. "Would you let me do that, if I asked it of you?" he said aloud.
Snape's eyes flashed. "Are you truly asking if I'd willingly let you eviscerate me?"
"Would you?" Draco asked coolly.
Snape's eyes dropped, and Draco's heart plummeted in his chest.
"I'd kill you first," Snape hissed, still looking at the floor.
"Good to know," Draco said, his voice as light as he could make it. A smile bloomed inside of him, and he made it into an invitation. "Breakfast?"