Of Disguises and Hearts
"If you ever come near me with that whore's body, Potter, I'll cut your heart out and feed it to you."
"I don't want to fail Potions, sir. Otherwise there's a lot I would say."
They are each other's necessary evils, reciprocal shadows, basking in vitriol. It barely matters how the game began; it continues because they enjoy it, the mockery, the parallelism, the reflection. Each accusing the other of the greatest perversity, each slandering the other with lust for his rival, each sloughing off the libel and sending it right back at the other. There is showmanship, virtuosity, flair, and Ron nearly chokes laughing; Draco flushes and Blaise Zabini tightens his grip on the pale boy's robes with a little smile; Harry hands in his neatly-rolled essay with a flourish and asks if Snape would like it bound with a leather thong instead of mere ribbon.
Snape, subtly and morbidly amused; Harry, reckless in the game. Neither believing it, neither taking it seriously.
Until somehow it all becomes true.
Magic runs in wizarding veins. It is not a mere by-product; it suffuses a wizard's life, plays a role in everything he does, from the mundane to the sublime, from the pedantic to the erotic. To be one of the magic folk does not merely entail the ability; it entails constant creativity, an utterly alien way of interacting with the world, the understanding that one's wand is as integral as one's hands, one's eyes, one's heart.
Snape knows this. Harry does not. And so Harry is surprised when Snape begins to mark out the circle on his chest.
Harry is already uneasy, of course, because Snape has insisted upon hanging him in chains in the middle of his bedroom--Harry is spreadeagled, naked, uncomfortable, trembling with the strain of it, sweat running down his back. But Harry keeps telling himself that Snape would never really hurt him, because he believes it with all his heart.
And there is a sort of displaced care, a tenderness in the use of his hands, as Snape draws with his wand on Harry's chest, meticulously marking out a circle a little more than a handspan wide. The touch of his wand burns, and Harry bites his lip, and wants to ask, and Snape does not have to speak to silence him.
Then Snape initiates the spell, and Harry bites back a cry of shock as his very flesh is transfigured. Skin and muscle and bone flow together, turn, reform, until a circle of Harry's chest is no longer Harry, but thick fabric, pale like a sail and just as incongruous. Harry gasps for breath, and somehow it comes, and he boggles at what might be real and what might not, and Snape sets aside his wand. And picks up a pair of scissors.
Harry struggles, and screams once, before he hears the scissors bite through fabric and realize he can barely feel it--it is like the tingle of the wand, except it is like aching and yearning too. Where Snape cuts, the fabric of his chest bleeds into a red so deep it is nearly black. Harry shivers in the chains, and closes his eyes in disbelief.
Then Harry hears the scissors being set aside, and looks.
With the hint of a smirk on his face, Snape holds up a ragged-edged cutout, the darkest of reds seeping across its whole surface. Harry lets out one gasp of hysterical laughter. It seems so strange--Snape, triumphant, holding in his hands only a canvas cutout of a heart, like a child's Valentine, nearly black.
"I keep my word, Potter."
Then Snape reaches out to touch Harry's lips with a fingertip, and Harry understands, and opens his mouth, allowing Snape to crumple the thick fabric and stuff it in, gagging him. It tastes a little bit of blood, but mostly of the black cherry pits that Snape uses to thicken certain potions; and having his mouth filled is oddly comforting, and he closes his eyes, and lets himself hang instead of twitching in the chains. Somehow, between that and Snape's cherry-stained hand sliding possessively down his side, Harry can almost relax; and his heart is in his mouth, and he is aching, and yearning. Snape wraps his hand calmly and meticulously around Harry's cock, and Harry sighs, and the night begins.
Nobody knows. The world believes the game is still false. The two look through the eyes of their masks, and smile mockingly, and turn away. Harry's heart is not quite alone, nor quite safe; Snape has carefully scrubbed the stains from his hands. But they do not worry. Their disguise is perfect.