|snarrymod (snarrymod) wrote in snarry_games,|
@ 2009-08-02 21:25:00
|Entry tags:||fic, snitch|
Team Snitch Entry (FIC): "The Shadowless Hereafter" by Perfica
Title: The Shadowless Hereafter
Genre(s): Literary, Alive and Kicking (EWE)
Prompt(s): Candle in the Window
Rating/Warnings/Kinks: PG15; Highlight if you wish to know: *Infidelity, Character Death*
Word Count: ~10,000
Author Notes/Disclaimers/Betas Without joanwilder’s encouragement, I would have ground to a halt. She, accioslash and loupgarou1750 (who always knows what I want to say no matter how badly I botch it) were responsible for putting the final touches to this story and I am, as always, immensely grateful.
Summary: "Mr Woodlock is a reporter from a very important periodical. He is here because he wishes to interview me on my time in the Great War."
When Harry Potter opened the door to his home on the day of his 40th birthday, he expected to find Ron, Hermione and their children. Instead, he found Severus Snape.
A very alive Severus Snape.
"Well, aren’t you going to let me in?" Snape asked.
* * * * *
After two weeks of tests and scrutinies, Snape moved into Godric’s Hollow.
* * * * *
"What’s he still doing here?"
"What am I supposed to do, Ginny? I can’t just throw him out into the street."
"Yes, yes you can, Harry. I don’t understand why you’re letting him live here."
Snape licked his finger and turned another page of his book. He had no doubt that Ginny was aware the house had excellent acoustics and that Potter was under the impression that their conversation was being conducted in stealth. Fortunately, it amused Snape to hear her and Potter arguing in the kitchen. He had forgotten that married people fought so often and with such superb skill.
"Well, you tell me what I should do. ’Hello, Snape, jolly good that you’re back from the dead and all that but would you mind moving out, dear chap? Why yes, I’m perfectly aware that you’ve no place to go and Merlin knows the Ministry doesn’t know what to do with you, but the wife says you’re making her feel uncomfortable .‘"
"God, I hate it when you put on stupid voices. If you can’t talk to me like a grownup, then just shut up."
"Ginny, he’s a war hero! Would you be acting the same way if it were Dumbledore that had turned up on our doorstep?"
"He’s not Dumbledore. In fact, I don’t even think he’s Snape."
"Oh, here we go again..."
"And there you go again making fun of me."
"Because what you’re saying is ridiculous! I’ve checked him out, okay? The Ministry has checked him out. If you don’t believe me, then believe them. He’s passed every single spell and he really is Severus Snape."
"Then why hasn’t he aged? Where has he been this whole time? People don’t just come back from the dead, Harry. What’s he hiding?"
"Oh, bleeding hell, nothing! He can’t remember, okay? He doesn’t know how or why or what happened. We’ve been through this a million times - "
"And we’ll keep going through it a million times more until you give me a good reason for him still being here."
"Because I want him to be, all right? He’s here because I want him to be here. The kids are at school and you’re always off and about doing your own thing...why can’t I have a friend to stay? The house is big enough and you didn’t seem to give a shit what I did when it was just you and me - "
"Now hang on a minute - "
"No, you hang on. You and I both know things haven’t been right between us for years and you can’t just jump up and try to tell me what to do because you’ve decided to remain Ginny Potter in name only. You wanted us to stay married for the sake of the kids? I said fine. You wanted to have an ‘on again, off again’ career? I said fine. You wanted to keep living here? I said fine. But I get a say in what happens in this house too, and I say that Snape stays."
Someone stormed upstairs and slammed a bedroom door while another someone stamped out the back door, knocking something over.
If Snape had been another type of man, he might have felt chagrined to be the cause of such an explosive argument. But every word spoken had been true: he really didn’t know how he had come to be alive. Given the choices of begging for a job at Hogwarts, slaving himself to the Ministry, attempting to eke out a living selling potions in a dingy store or living in relative comfort under the roof of his former thorn-in-the-side student, he had chosen the thorn.
Potter was happy to have him around and that was good enough.
* * * * *
Snape had taken over a corner of the house and enlarged it to suit his needs. Despite the noxious smells and slimy ingredients, the dungeon seemed to suit Harry’s moods too, for he often spent hours there whiling away the time with Snape. The first few months had been awkward; neither of them had known how to get past the twin elephants in the room of Lily and Dumbledore, but a drunken evening that had started with remembrances of the war led to mutual laughter at some of the more ridiculous things they’d witnessed during their shared past and, in the morning, they’d woken with a mutual respect and matching hangovers.
Ginny was frequently gone for days at a time or, if she was around, chose to spend her time in her own apartments. Harry seemed to have no employment beyond flying for enjoyment and walking for exercise, a fact Snape had no compunction in teasing him about, calling him ‘Squire’ whenever he got the chance. Harry, much wittier in his maturity, referred to Snape as his ‘gentleman’s companion’ as they rambled about the moors.
* * * * *
"Potter," Snape yelled through the parlour window. "Kreacher informs me that dinner is to be served when you’re ready."
"I’ll be in in a minute," Harry called over his shoulder as he leant on the front gate.
Snape sighed and put aside his paper. Wrapping a scarf around his neck and grabbing another for Harry, he joined him outside. "Thanks," Harry said, after Snape threw it at his head.
"It’s the least I can do for the man that has given me some semblance of life back."
Harry scowled. "Stop that. I never thought the day would come when I’d tell you to stop thanking me but cut it out, it makes me feel weird."
Snape’s laugh was gravelly but pleased. "Don’t take this the wrong way, Potter, but I’m quite impressed with the man you've turned into."
Harry bumped Snape with his shoulder. "I told you to call me Harry; I don’t enjoy flashing back to Potions class every time you speak to me. And listen, don’t you take this the wrong way, but I’m glad you missed out on the last decade or two. Most of it was complete rubbish and I find I quite like having a friend of my own age."
"Near your own age."
"Close enough. I think I could be older than you now."
"In real time, perhaps. We’ve both lived out the same amount of years, just at different times."
Harry nodded. "I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - that is really fucking freaky."
Snape’s laughter this time was just as pleased.
* * * * *
"Where’re you off to?" Harry asked, one leg kicked over the arm of the lounge.
"I thought I might visit with some friends. There are still people that wish to be seen with the mysterious Severus Snape, despite his intimate acquaintance with Harry Potter."
Snape paused at the door. "Is something wrong?"
"I’ve no patience for tomfoolery," Snape barked. "If I’ve offended you, then spit it out."
"I said it’s nothing, all right? Go enjoy your ‘friends’," Harry said, sneering.
Snape strode into the room, his robe snapping behind him. He loomed over Harry. "Speak, Potter, before I rip your tongue out from your head and wag it back at you."
"I just want to know what’s wrong with me. What the hell’s wrong with me that no one wants to stay with me?" Harry pushed up from his seat and pushed into Snape’s chest. "Ginny was right - there’s something poisonous about this place, or about me - "
Snape snapped. He grabbed Harry by the scruff of the neck and mashed their mouths together. Harry groaned and pushed forward. He and Snape fell back onto the floor, Harry threading his fingers through Snape’s greasy hair and climbing into his lap. Their hands bumped as they fumbled at their waists, pushing aside robes and trousers until they got to the hot, sweaty skin beneath. Harry cried out as he came, humping himself on Snape’s thigh. He pulled back for a breath and tasted blood; he’d cut his lip on Snape’s teeth. Snape panted up at him as Harry wiped his mouth, tracking the blood that smeared across his cheek. They caught each other’s eye, took in the mess that Harry had made all over Snape’s pubic hair, took in the fact that Snape was still painfully aroused, and started to chuckle. The chuckles turned into guffaws then moans as Harry nuzzled Snape’s neck and pulled him off with exquisite sweetness.
* * * * *
As autumn solidified into winter, Snape started to share Harry’s excitement that his children would soon be home for the holidays.
* * * * *
"You know, Potter," Snape said as he accepted a cup of tea from Kreacher, "I find myself becoming quite fond of my namesake. He is not yet a prodigy in potions, but he is certainly not the dunderhead one would expect, coming from such illustrious loins."
"Loins," Harry said, raising one eyebrow.
"Be silent," Snape replied, concentrating on the sugar bowl. "Idiot."
"Where’s Al?" Ginny asked, Lily trailing behind her and eating an apple.
"I don’t know. I thought he was with Jamie," Harry said, hugging his daughter to him. Snape slipped her a sugar cube and she took it shyly.
"Jamie? James! Al! Come and get your tea."
Footsteps thundered down the stairs and James burst into the room. "What’s up?"
"Tea time," Ginny said. "Get your brother."
"Don’t know where he is."
"Check outside," Harry said, "and do me a favour; put your broomstick in the shed like I - "
An explosion rocked the house. Dust cascaded from the ceiling and a number of commemorative plates fell from their perches, scattering sharp shards around the room.
"What was that?" Ginny asked, James cowering beside her. Snape lifted his head; he and Harry had grabbed Lily and sheltered her between them.
"Al? Al!" Harry screamed as he ran towards the dungeon.
* * * * *
"He could have died," Harry said softly, running his fingers carefully through Al’s hair.
Snape stood at the end of the sick bed, his face impassive.
"I told you he was no good," Ginny said, flashing hateful eyes towards Snape as she wept by Al’s bedside. "This never would have happened if he wasn’t here."
"God, Ginny..." Harry said, rubbing red-rimmed eyes.
"She’s right," Snape said through gritted teeth. "I accept full responsibility."
"Now’s not the time, okay, Snape?" Harry interrupted. "Al...he’s hurt and we need to concentrate on helping him to get better. Nothing else matters right now."
"Of course. I understand." Snape leant over and squeezed Al’s toes through the blankets.
When Harry finally made his way downstairs, Kreacher informed him that Professor Snape had moved out.
* * * * *
Three years later, a severe bout of whooping cough spread throughout the Wizarding world. Extremists blamed the increased interaction between wizards and Muggles, but statistics proved them wrong; it didn’t seem to matter if the person was Squib, pure-blood or had grown up with Muggles; the chances of people becoming infected depended on their previous immunity.
It spread quickly throughout the student population of Hogwarts, and the halls and dorms rang to the sounds of sniffling, uncomfortable students. All three of Harry and Ginny’s children had been spelled against the majority of childhood ailments, but Lily seemed to suffer the most. No matter what the doctors and nurses did, she could not be comforted, so was sent home to recuperate.
Harry caught it from her.
* * * * *
"What are you doing here? I don’t want you here," Ginny screamed at Snape.
He held both hands out, a potions bottle in each palm. "I was informed that Lily was ill. I brewed these for her."
"I don’t want you here," Ginny said, tears streaming from her eyes. Ron pulled her gently into his embrace.
"Listen, Gin, I think we can use all the help we can get. Snape might be a right bastard but he knows his stuff. Let him help."
"You’re all the same," Ginny said, pushing Ron away. "Fine. Let the bastard help them."
"Them?" Snape asked.
Ron sighed as Ginny stormed out of the room. "Harry. He’s got it too. And he’s not getting any better."
* * * * *
Snape set up camp in his old quarters and spent hours a day brewing potions. Kreacher was a whirlwind, popping back and forth between Ginny and whomever she was tending at the moment and Snape’s dungeons, bringing tonics and tea and coercing people into eating. Ron travelled between Godric’s Hollow and his home every day. Hermione was pregnant again and couldn’t risk getting infected.
"Thanks," Ron said as Snape handed him another batch of potions. They were at the bottom of the stairs and it struck Ron as funny that the only time he and Snape seemed to meet was in the middle ground of the parlour, between upstairs and dungeons, and usually at dusk.
"For Lily. Rub this one on her chest and have her drink this, two drops on her tongue every hour. These are for Potter. A bottle to be rubbed on his chest and back every hour when he’s awake, a bottle to be drunk after every meal and this is to be infused in boiling water and breathed in whenever he feels short of breath. If he refuses, feel free to push his face into the bowl."
"He’s asking about you," Ron said awkwardly. "Wants to see you."
Snape ran a hand across his face. He looked like he hadn’t slept in a month. "Is she improving?"
Ron sighed; he was used to Snape avoiding this particular conversation. "Almost as good as new. The doctor says to keep up whatever you’re doing."
Snape nodded and turned away, one foot already on the steps leading downstairs.
"Snape," Ron said, grabbing his wrist. "I don’t want to say much because...doctors can be wrong, you know? And Ginny’s upset enough as it is, Lily’s taken a long time to get better. But Harry...look, all I’m saying is..." Ron swallowed heavily. "He really wants to see you and I think you should go to him. If you ever had any real feelings - well, I just think you should go. And don’t leave it too long, for both of your sakes."
* * * * *
In the darkest, quietest part of the night, Snape opened the door to Harry’s room. Harry was awake and alone and propped up against pillows, but Snape could still hear him struggling for breath. It was the first time they’d set eyes on each in nearly four years.
"Snape," Harry said, smiling. On every exhale, a high, thin, whistling sound escaped. Snape fought the urge to punch the windows with his bare fists, to blast out the walls with his magic.
Harry’s quarters were cosy; they’d taken on the appearance of a long-term invalid’s sickroom. Bunches of dried herbs hung from the corners, and candles burned on every available surface. A wireless played softly in the background.
"Can’t sleep?" Harry asked, gasping for breath. "Me neither. Come and sit down. You look terrible."
Snape grimaced and wondered aloud, "Have you looked in a mirror lately?" He walked clumsily to a chair beside the bed, Harry tracking his every move. The second he sat down, Harry leant over and clutched his hand. "Don’t," he said, as Snape tried to pull away. "It took you long enough to get here. It’s hard for me to speak or move around much. If a dying man wants to hold your hand, the least you can do is let him."
"Harry," Snape said, cradling Harry’s hand between both of his own. "Forgive me. I never - "
A coughing fit overcame Harry, and Snape put an arm behind his back, braced him and felt every tremor wrack through his body.
"Shhh," Harry said finally, leaning back on his pillow. His eyes slowly closed and a half-smile graced his face. "I like this song."
Snape sat in impatient silence waiting for it to end, then another one started. Harry sighed and looked so comfortable Snape found he couldn’t bear to break the peace. As one song bled into another, he too began to relax. The constant clamouring in his head died down into murmurs and his heart seemed to slow its beating.
"Stupid Dursleys," Harry said finally. His eyes struggled to open. "I knew they hated me, but I just always assumed that they took care of the basics. If I’d have known, I would have bloody vaccinated myself."
Snape moved Harry’s hand and, with painstakingly careful movements, sat beside him on the bed. He tenderly brushed Harry’s errant hair off his forehead. It amazed him how fragile a person could look yet still be alive.
Harry smiled and sighed, that terrible whistling noise ever present in his voice. "I like that. Don’t stop."
Snape leant over and kissed him on the lips, gently, reverently. "It’s not yet your time, Potter. I will be most aggrieved if you should leave me after having been so long without you."
Harry turned his head and nuzzled Snape’s face. "It was a stupid misunderstanding. We’re both idiots."
"Yes, we are."
There were tears on Harry’s cheeks and Snape brushed them away, not knowing to whom they belonged.
"Do you think I can call you Severus now?" Harry asked in a voice so tiny it seemed to be composed more of vibration than of air.
"Yes, you can. If I can call you darling...my heart...my own sweet Harry."
"I like that," Harry said. "My heart. My own." He shifted and grimaced, then his face relaxed into peacefulness. "I’m glad you came back to see me."
"How can I live without my soul?" Snape asked, watching the sun slowly rise over the horizon, watching every last painful rise and fall of Harry’s chest until, just as the first sunbeam of the new day crossed into the room, it rose no more...