|The Ways of Magic (Severus/Barty)
||[Jan. 11th, 2012|10:36 pm]
Title: The Ways of Magic
Parings: Severus/Barty, Severus/Evan (alluded to)
Warnings: explicit sex, potions and magic theory that came out of the author's head, unexplained references to herbs
Summary: Severus and Barty are working on a complicated project. The solution is somewhat... problematic.
Word count: ~2,000
"You owe me, Severus, you really owe me," Barty muttered, spreading out his papers and books over an empty laboratory table and flipping through his notes, the sharp tip of his quill tracing along the sides of the calculations he had made.
"I heard you the first time," Snape shot back. He wasn't paying much attention to the other boy. If they were to at least find some sort of solution tonight they would have to work fast. Karkaroff and the team wanted to be able to offer Antonin and the Lord a viable offensive potion for the next raid. The idea Igor had was fascinating, progressive - a potion laced with spell magic. It wasn't a new idea but most applied developments were recent and had failed, but the Lord's Lab was set on making it work. Severus enjoyed the time he had to apply his potions skills but lately it had started taking a toll. He was in training for days on end and with the intensification of raids, the Young Guard's mission load increased to a point where Severus couldn't fit in more than a couple of hours at the lab per night if he wanted to continue eating and sleeping.
"Did Karkaroff tell you what curse he meant the potion to be laced with? I feel like we're working in the dark here," Barty said, running a hand through his combed back hair in frustration. Barty had no ties with the lab and was here purely on the rights of a "spotter" for Snape, but in reality, Severus had needed a second head, a second pair of eyes. Someone who was good at Arithmancy, for Merlin's sake. Barty was the obvious choice.
"I think he wants something simple for the first time - a stupefy or a destructo."
Barty made a face. "Why can't a hallucinogen work for that sort of effect?"
Severus didn't answer for several moments, too busy measuring out dosages of prepared balmony, henbane, and vervain. "The idea, I think, is that the potion base itself is neutral. It simply must be highly conducive to releasing the magic that it is laced with. This way, we can throw up protago barriers against the magic released, but they will be unprepared. There's less need to keep a distance, unlike with coercives and hallucinogens."
"And what you're making right now is supposed to work?" Barty asked, still running through the calculations, then re-writing the baseline and checking against a pamphlet of progressive articles on the subject of lacing spells.
"Hopefully. The problem I'm having is that this is a terribly new field. I've got almost nothing off research and it's hard to experiment. This potion should be conductive enough, if you could just figure out what would be the best releasing catalyst." The nearly clear potion, smelling strongly of herbs, frothed and bubbled under his stirrer. "Really, Barty, I thought you were supposed to be good at this?"
Barty snarled in annoyance. "This is new magic, you just said so yourself. And I am a fighter, not a scientist, thank you." He glanced over at what Severus was doing. "After you're done with the Absinthe and ague weed steer in some belladonna if possible. It's an 8 on the scale and will neutralize their polarities."
Severus nodded. The one thing he did enjoy about working with Barty was that the other boy - having twelve OWLs - knew a lot about a lot. He was also willing to study with almost as much zest as Severus, a very Ravenclaw trait that neither of them could really hide. Crouch's was probably even more pronounced than Snape's.
They were still working when Evan's patronus came floating into the room. Barty watched from the corner as Severus listened intently to his lover's message, then lowered the stirrer with a dissatisfied expression and began to cast conserving charms on the cauldron.
"Everything alright?" Barty asked, watching Severus from over the top of his book.
Snape nodded stiffly. "Yes, but I think we should clean up for today."
Barty hummed noncommittally and went back to his text for a moment before looking up again. "Does he always do that?"
"Does Evan always demand attention away from your work? Doesn't it bother you when he does? Don't get me wrong, he's my friend too but..."
Severus slammed the cauldron lid and turned away from Barty to hide any stray emotions that might flicker across his face. It wasn't that Evan irritated him or was needy, he just worried too much. "Aren't you ever missed at home?" Severus asked instead, avoiding the question.
Barty snorted. "My father's never home anyways. Not like he ever was." He paused for just a moment, as though the subject was unpleasant enough to trigger something deep within him, before adding on, "It doesn't matter now. I have the Lord to serve."
Severus waved his wand several times to return the ingredients to their containers and purify the instruments. "Some of us have lives beyond our service to the Lord."
Barty shrugged and didn't answer.
They worked in bursts over the next few couple of weeks forming an intimate companionship that they hadn't had before. He and Barty had more similarities than Severus would have thought. Their love of Black Magic as a separate branch of the Dark Arts, their interest in Wild Magic, their proficiency in battle curses, their ruthless ambitions and desires - everything seemed to draw them closer. When Barty cast dark spells he had a flourish about him, a radiating power that Severus drank in. His normally sleeked back hair splayed off in sandy-brown strands and his middle-class pretentiousness vanished and broke under a wave of freeing magic.
They watched each other work and never said anything beyond what useful and relevant information was necessary. Then, at night, Severus went home to Evan and pretended like he wouldn't have rather stayed another hour in the lab.
"The bloodroot is a blood supplement," Severus said uncertainly. Barty's handwriting was a little smudged at times but Severus' was usually illegible to anyone but himself so he had no right to complain. He flipped through the notes one more time, then looked up. "Why not just use blood? It's usually more effective."
Barty shook his head slowly. "Firstly, I feel no desire to cut my hand and I'm sure you don't either. Secondly, it's too personal. We need something more neutral. This will do. We will burn asafoetide under the potion during the ritual."
Severus summoned a silver knife and a container with the bloodroots. He began to carefully cut open the roots of the plants, counting out drops of the extract as they dripped into the cauldron. "So you have thought of a way to do a charge and release?" "Yes." When Severus gave him a questioning look, Barty expanded. "We will cast magic containing spells on the flask. I've...modified a channeling spell for our purposes and it should work. Once the potion is charged, we quickly cap the flask. Then, when it shatters, the spells will break and the magic will be released. Obviously, the more laced potion, the more magic is released and the broader range it has."
"And what is the ritual to charge it? Just the channeling spell?"
"No the channeling spell will only take the energy from the source to the potion."
"Well, what's the source?"
"Us. Or...rather...our orgasms."
Severus froze. He, thankfully, had already finished with the bloodroot. Slowly, he turned around and faced Barty, eyes smoldering. "What exactly is that supposed to mean?"
"Surely you've heard of sex magic, Severus." Barty was smirking and it was making Severus' insides burn.
"Are you mad? We can't...I'm not going to...this is your wonderful idea?" Severus stuttered. Crouch could not possibly be serious; this was outrageous. But Barty was just standing there and smirking at him.
"It's the most powerful magical channeling and energy accumulation method. At the same time, it is rather uncomplicated and even pleasurable."
Severus' mouth pulled into a straight, thin line. "There has to be another way."
There was no other way. At least none that Severus could come up with and he was too embarrassed to ask anyone for help. When he finally, grudgingly, gave in, Severus made sure to burn wholes into Barty with his eyes as he said, "If this gets out I will personally Avada Kedavra you."
"Igor will ask what we did, you know that."
Severus' frown deepened, even as he shrugged off his robes. "It's just work."
"Do you find me that undesirable?" Barty asked, handing him a flask of cardamom solution to enhance the magical properties of their love making. They were in the most unromantic place - the lab, with the hard light and the glass container with the potion standing to the side over a low-burning fire, wrapped in magic-trapping spells.
"That is extremely inappropriate, Crouch," Severus ground out, but he couldn't help the flash of hot desire that spread through him as Barty disrobed and began to unbutton his shirt.
They undressed, Severus awkwardly and Barty with a careless arrogance. Severus could feel his entire body tingling at the sight of the other boy's naked body. They moved toward each other, touched withdrew. Barty ran a hand slowly down Severus' chest and to his thin, bony hip. The younger boy licked his lips and pulled Severus flush against him. With the first kiss, Severus' head spun and he was only half aware of Barty muttering the incantations for building a bubble around them and the channeling spell that would link them to the potion.
Severus was only half aware of his surroundings as embarrassment gave way to arousal. Barty captured his lips, kissing him deeply, and Severus found his hands on the other boy's ass as their hips ground together.
"You can have me if you like," Barty murmured deviously against Severus' ear. Severus growled, spinning the other boy around, nails scraping over pale skin. They were in a haze, in a world separate from everything else. Their energies blended and heightened as Severus entered Barty and they became a single unit. Their powers coalesced, slowly building as their bodies rubbed against each other - chest to back, lips to neck, fingers on soft flesh. Severus felt like he couldn't breathe as his body burned.
Somehow, Barty had retained both of their wands and somehow they managed to scream a destructive spell into the air at their climaxes. The bubble around them absorbed the spell and channeled it into the potion, which glowed and sparked, boiling with the intensity. Barty found the lucidity to levitate the glass lid and slide it over the container.
Severus pulled out and slid to the cold floor. "Merlin..." Barty sat down next to him and tugged one of their robes closer to cover their legs.
"Now the lab will just have to use magic-retaining tubes to transfer it into flasks that can be strapped-"
Barty looked over at him in surprise. "What?"
"We've just had sex. Shut up."
Crouch looked away and picked at the robe covering them. "Did you enjoy it at least?"
Severus stared ahead of himself. "Does it matter?"
Barty shrugged and stood, beginning to dress. "Not really. But I hope you did."
Evan was light. Barty was darkness.
Severus never knew where love ended and lust began. Or was it the other way around? He didn't think he wanted to know. As he walked the last mile to the flat he shared with Evan, through the biting chill of the winter night instead of apparating straight home, he wondered at the strange, yawning chasm that had opened up deep inside his soul. He fell into it and all of his feelings collided and melded. He didn't know if he had enjoyed the sex with Barty because he didn't know if he was in love with him.
Severus didn't think he wanted to know.