|snarryhols (snarryhols) wrote in snarry_holidays,|
@ 2007-12-10 09:14:00
|Entry tags:||fic, post-dh: ewe, rated: pg-13|
Love So Belated, for sweetmelodykiss
Title: Love So Belated
Word Count: 4829
Warnings: DH spoilers
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Harry returns to Hogwarts to repeat his seventh year, amid his own doubts and longing to be in the Aurors Corp, and finds unexpected love in the arms of one Severus Snape.
Harry ducked behind a bookcase as a crowd of giggling fifth year girls passed near him. He could hear the loudest of them talking about how hot Harry Potter was and he was glad that he hid. Once he could no longer hear their giggling voices, he left his hiding spot and wandered through the library to find the book he needed for Transfiguration. The new professor, Thomas Hu, was a stern man with a low tolerance for slackers. Professor Hu told Harry on the first day of term that he would not treat him any differently just because Harry was the Chosen One.
Harry liked that about Professor Hu.
It was incidents like that which occurred in the library that made Harry wish that Ron and Hermione decided to redo their seventh year with him and not go off to their Ministry apprenticeships. Harry would have done the same, started apprenticing to become an Auror, but Kingsley had refused to let him in until he finished his seventh year.
Harry complained of course, because Ron was allowed to apprentice, but Kingsley took him aside and told him that he wanted Harry to become all that he could be and that meant finishing his schooling. "You have the rest of your life to become an Auror, but only one chance to take all that Hogwarts has to offer you," said Kingsley.
And so Harry found himself asking Headmistress McGonagall if he could retake his seventh year, by doing independent studies because he couldn't quite face taking classes with Ginny's year. Or facing Ginny day in and day out.
He still loved her and always would, but there was all the time in the world to talk to her. He couldn't look at her face and not remember Fred's own face, especially when she made an expression that had her look identical to her brothers. It wasn't fair to Ginny, but Harry couldn't help it.
Harry found the book he needed and headed towards a lonely corner of the library to write his essay. Instead of writing, however, he spent most of his time staring out of the window onto the Quidditch field.
It was easier to stay away from people, to bury himself away in Hogwarts, than to face the world. It was the only reason he'd allowed himself to go with Kingsley's request. Hogwarts would keep its wayward son safe from the world and give him time to find himself before he became who he was meant to be.
Harry glanced at the clock and groaned. He was supposed to meet Madam Pomfrey for lessons. He shoved his books into his bag and hurried out of the library, ducking out of Madam Pince's sight.
Harry arrived at the Infirmary, peeking his head in and wondering where Madam Pomfrey was. Instead of finding her, however, he saw Snape making a bed. Harry knew it was rude to spy, but he couldn't help watching Snape move. He never would have used the words 'graceful' and 'fit' for the man, but in this case the words were perfect. Snape moved as if he was dancing, every movement a poised action that drew attention to his body.
Harry never thought of Snape as a handsome man, and he still couldn't say the words, but there was something striking about him. He felt a pang of guilt at the realization that he had never thanked Snape for what he had done during the war. Now that he thought about it, he felt worse because he thought Snape had died in the Shrieking Shack when Harry went away with his memories. If it wasn't for McGonagall going back for Snape's body, the man would have been dead in truth.
Harry must have made a noise because Snape turned sharply towards him and raised an eyebrow. "Potter," he croaked out, though there was no hate in his tone. "Is there a reason you are here?"
"No. Yes. I wanted to talk to Madam Pomfrey about her healing skills. Kingsley mentioned I should, ah, learn more about that before my apprenticeship. You never know when you'll need to learn how to heal." Harry looked away as he flushed red. If he'd known how to heal a few months ago, Snape wouldn't have such a horrendous scar on his throat from Nagini or speak as if it hurt to say another word. "Do you know where she is?"
"She is visiting Minerva momentarily. I will give her the message that you were here. Good day, Potter." Snape turned away.
"Wait!" Harry rushed forward, placing his hand on Snape's arm. "I'm sorry."
Snape stiffened at the touch. "You are forgiven for whatever you are referring to. Now please leave me alone."
Harry jerked his hand back, rubbing his palm. "Sorry. But I meant sorry for everything. I shouldn't have left you to die in the shack and I should have trusted you more. Thank you for-"
"Stop right there. I don't want to hear anymore. I didn't do it for accolades."
Harry nodded. Harry knew what Snape meant; he did it for Lily. "I know. But thanks."
Snape nodded curtly. "Y-you're welcome."
Harry turned and left.
Harry entered the Great Hall, keeping his head down as he sat at the furthest edge of the Gryffindor table. He saw Ginny out of the corner of his eye waving at him, but he ignored her. It just wasn't time to talk to her yet. He snuck a peek towards the head table and watched Snape eat his meal meticulously. Snape also sat at the furthest edge of his table, away from the chatting professors, ignoring them as he concentrated on his food.
Harry winced as the scar on Snape's throat pulsed every time he swallowed. If it wasn't for him, Snape would not have that scar as another constant reminder of the war. Harry muttered and glanced down at his plate filled with food. He wasn't hungry any longer.
"Hi, Harry." Harry looked up and smiled at Luna. She still wore her radish earrings with her uniform. "Glad to see you back at Hogwarts. I've missed you while you were gone last year."
"I've missed you too," he said truthfully. He could always be himself around Luna and she never pressed for more in a conversation. "I've finished eating. Want to take a walk?"
"Of course. I've already eaten. The mushrooms in the Forbidden Forest are quite tasty when picked during the full moon. Would you like some?"
"Um, no thanks." Harry got to his feet, ignoring Ginny's pointed stare, and followed Luna out of the Great Hall. "So how've you been?"
"Doing well. The house is only half rebuilt but Father thinks he'll finish up by the time I come home for the Christmas hols." Luna smiled and Harry forced a smile in return. He had almost forgotten about the time he, Ron, and Hermione visited the Lovegood household.
"What about you?" Luna asked "I haven't seen you in any of my classes and I share quite a few of them with Ginny. Have you been trying to hide?"
Harry shook his head. "No, just doing independent studies with the professors. It's nice, you know. I'm able to concentrate a little better because there's only the professor and me there."
Luna patted Harry on the shoulder. "It sounds pretty lonely, Harry. Maybe you should join us in class. You really cannot avoid talking to Ginny forever."
Harry cringed. "Did she tell you about that?"
"No, I can see things very well with my own eyes, and you two are my best friends. I hate to see you like this."
Harry shrugged his shoulders. "I'm fine. No really, I am. I just want to get through this year and apprentice to become an Auror. I would have been there with Ron if it wasn't for Kingsley."
Luna reached over and gave Harry a hug. "Kingsley means well. He's like a Snoreflat in a way. But don't let that get you down, not when your friends are still here with you. I do have to go though; the Thestrals need to be fed."
"Thanks, Luna." Harry watched her go, and smiled. It wasn't so bad being back at Hogwarts. He just wasn't ready to speak to Ginny, not when she reminded him so much of Fred. Harry turned around to walk back to Gryffindor Tower when he ran straight into something else.
No, not something. Someone. Harry looked up to see a scowling Snape staring back down at him. "Potter, I understand that you cannot see very well, but surely you can notice where I am standing."
"Sorry, sir," he muttered. "Didn't mean to be a bother." As Harry shifted to move, Snape reached out and grabbed onto his arm. "Sir?"
"Walk with me, Potter." Snape released his hold and didn't want to see if Harry followed behind him.
Harry sprinted to catch up and began to walk side by side with Snape. He didn't want to be the first one to speak so he remained quiet as they walked through the empty corridors. Harry glanced at Snape, trying not to look at the scar on his throat. His skin tone was as sallow as it always was, but there was a faint trace of colour in his cheeks. It looked good.
"Potter, why are you here?"
"Because you told me to-"
"I meant why are you back at Hogwarts? You could have done anything once you vanquished the Dark Lord. Instead you are retaking your seventh year."
"Oh. Kingsley made me come here. He wanted me to become more educated before I join the Aurors." Harry shrugged. "It's been okay. But what about you? I didn't expect to return to Hogwarts."
"I do not see why you're so surprised. I have nowhere else to go but Hogwarts." Snape paused in his walking to face Harry. "You have grownup," he said. "Your mother would be proud."
Harry blinked, not certain he had heard correctly. "Th-thank you, sir."
"You're welcome." A flush began to spread across Harry's cheeks as Snape continued to stare. Harry began to shift from foot to foot, wondering whether he should leave or stay. Snape finally rolled his eyes and laid a hand on Harry's shoulder, stopping him from fidgeting. "Mister Potter, I have a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that hasn't been opened. If you have a free moment, perhaps we could share it?"
"Sure," Harry blurted out. "I'd love to."
Snape inclined his head. "If you would follow me."
Harry followed Snape to the Infirmary corridor, but as they reached the room, they continued onward. Harry moved a little closer to Snape as they walked through the darkening corridor. When they reached the very end of it, Snape caressed the wall, running his long fingers down the bricks.
A door suddenly appeared, trickling forth as if it was a waterfall. "My quarters," Snape said as he gestured inside.
Harry stepped inside the room with Snape close behind him. He took a quick glance around the room and noticed how bare and sterile everything was. It was as if Snape hadn't bothered decorating when he first took the quarters. The only thing that had a personal touch to it was the bar filled with bottles on its shelves. "Nice place," Harry said as he took a seat by the fireplace.
"Thank you." Snape went to his bar, popping open the Sauvignon's cork. He poured the wine into two glasses, handing one to Harry. "Do you know much about wines, Potter?"
Harry shook his head. "The strongest drink I've had was Firewhisky."
"Wines are amazing drinks really. I prefer dry red myself. Non-sweet, while wet are sweet wines. Usually the case is that the older the vintage, the better the taste. Some wines, like this particular bottle, needs to breathe before you can savour them fully."
As Snape spoke, he moved to sit next to Harry on the sofa. Harry glanced at him before taking a sip. "This is nice."
"Thank you. I am delighted you enjoy it. Swirl the wine gently in your glass to let it breathe a little more. Then drink slow and deep. Wines are not meant to be chugged."
Harry slowly drank his wine, savouring the taste like Snape showed him. He lowered his glass, cradling it between his hands. "Why did you invite me here? Is it because of my mum?" Harry winced at the comment.
"No, Potter. There are times when you are not merely a substitute for one or both of your parents." Snape laid his glass aside on the table resting next to the sofa and leaned back. "You are an adult now. I thought you would take pleasure in being treated like one."
"It feels nice." Harry finished his drink, leaning across Snape to place his glass next to Snape's own. Snape cleared his throat and Harry realized how inappropriate their position was and blushed. He straightened, shifting a few inches away from him. "Sorry," he mumbled.
Snape laughed, but it was gentle, not cruel like Harry half expected it to be. "Foolish brat," he said affectionately, and Harry glanced at Snape.
"Are you feeling alright, sir?"
"Yes. For the first time in a long while, yes." Snape chuckled, shutting his eyes as he rested his head back. "You should probably head back to your own quarters, Potter. It is safer there."
"Er, okay." Harry clumsily stumbled to his feet, trying not to look at Snape. "Thanks for the, yeah." He hurried to the door, leaving.
Later in his room, Harry lay back in his bed staring up at the canopy. That entire situation with Snape was just plain surreal. He had never expected Snape to change, but he had. No, that wasn't true. But there was something quite different about the older man and Harry wasn't sure how to feel about that.
If Ron and Hermione were here, he would know what to do. Hermione would assume Snape was under a curse while Ron would tell Harry to stay away from him. Even knowing what the man did during the wars didn't mean Snape wasn't an unkind person.
But still, sharing wine with Snape was pleasant enough and Harry wouldn't mind doing so again.
"Mister Potter, if you wouldn't mind, come with me please." Harry looked up from his seat at the library and saw Snape hovering over him.
Luna smiled dreamily at Harry and waved her hand that wore a bone bracelet around her wrist. "Have fun on your date, Harry."
Harry flushed red as he slammed his textbook closed and hurried after Snape. "Anywhere in particular?" he asked. This was the third outing in a week Snape had invited him on. Not a date like Luna seemed to think it was. Snape loved Harry's mother and Harry was obviously not Lily.
"I thought you might be getting a little bored of the scenery around here. Perhaps lunch at the Three Broomsticks?"
"That'd be nice, but it's not a Hogsmeade weekend."
Snape shrugged, unconcerned with that thought. "You are an adult and not quite a student, Potter. You are allowed to go down to Hogsmeade, especially if you are in the company of a Hogwarts employee. But if you wish, we can certainly detour to Minerva's office and ask for her permission."
Harry shook his head, smiling at Snape's almost teasing look. "No, no. I trust you."
Snape's almost teasing look turned serious. "Do you?" he asked in a solemn tone.
"Yeah. I do."
"Good." The sentiment seemed to please Snape because he took Harry by the hand, very loosely, as they walked in silence. Harry tried to ignore the warmth he felt radiating from Snape as well as the fact that they were holding hands. Only couples held hands. Well, that and parents with small children.
Harry felt a small feeling of disappointment. Was that what all the little outings were for, Snape treating him like a son, Lily's son? He was an adult, as Snape kept so often reminding him, and he didn't need another person acting in his parents' stead. It was embarrassing, and Harry pulled his hand out of Snape's hold at the thought.
Snape stiffened, not stopping as they entered the wizarding village. "Is something the matter?" Despite the raspy huskiness of his voice, Harry detected concern and worry in Snape's question and that spurred on his irritation. He was not some sprog that needed coddling.
"Of course not. I'm perfectly alright. Can we get this over with?"
That made Snape stop and he braced his hands on Harry's shoulders, forcing the younger man to look into his eyes. "If you did not want to lunch at the Three Broomsticks, you could have told me and we could have gone elsewhere."
Harry glanced away. "The Three Broomsticks is fine."
Snape dropped his hands, taking a step back. "Ah, I see. Well then. Potter, if you do not want to be near me, that is understandable. Just say no next time, you are certainly not forced into saying yes. Good day."
Harry shook his head furiously, not wanting Snape to leave because of him. "No, no. It's not you. I like having our little outings, but you're not my father and I don't need a parent."
Snape blinked as his jaw dropped open. Then suddenly he began to laugh, great big wheezes as he bent over, holding his stomach. "P-Potter. Y-you're an idiot!"
"What?" Harry shuffled from foot to foot, waiting for Snape to stop laughing.
When he finally did, Snape straightened himself and struggled to maintain a serious expression, though his lips kept twitching as if he wanted to smile. "Potter, I am well aware I am not your parent and I would never want to be one. These 'outings' as you call them...I am trying to court you."
"What!" The first thought that came to Harry's mind was that Luna was right; he was on a date.
"I am courting you. Dating, if you would to care call it such." Snape's lips twitched again. "I find you attractive. Is that so hard to believe?"
"Yes!" Harry rubbed at his scar. "You love my mum. I saw that in the memories you gave me. You can't find me attractive."
"I loved your mum, yes, but only as a friend. She was my first and only friend. How could I not wish to protect the only remaining piece of her, especially when I was the cause of her death?" Snape took in an unsteady breath. "But you've proven a thousand times over that you are worth more than any wizard alive or dead, including Lily. You have grown to be a fine man, Potter. I may be scarred, but I am not blind."
Harry blushed, a usual occurrence around Snape, and met his gaze. "I never knew."
"As I can see, but now you know. Did you wish to continue with this courtship or would you like me to stop? It is entirely up to you."
"Er, I don't know. You won't force me into anything, will you?"
"Of course not. We can go at your own pace."
Harry nodded. "Then I'd like to continue this."
"With pleasure, Potter." Snape reached for Harry's hand and lifted to his lips, pressing a kiss on the back of it.
Harry came back from the date in a dreamy mood. He almost felt like Luna appeared to after she returned from howling at the full moon for some imaginary creature or another. Now that he knew Snape liked him, he was aware of the man's subtle flirtations and touches. Harry never expected to like touches from a man, especially from Snape, but he enjoyed every part of his date.
He ran his fingers across his bottom lip, unable to stop himself from moaning. And when the date ended, Snape bent low to faintly brush their lips together. It could barely be called a kiss, but that's what it was. He and Snape kissed.
"Harry!" Harry turned around and saw Ginny's bright face as she came towards him. "I haven't seen you in awhile," she said, despite the fact that they both knew that was a lie. "How are you?"
"Good. I just came back from Hogsmeade." Harry was hesitant in telling Ginny about Snape because he didn't want her getting upset at him. Not that they were dating or he was betraying her, but he doubted she would take the news well.
"Hogsmeade? But it's not even a Hogsmeade weekend." Ginny chuckled. "You're so lucky. Was it something for your classes?"
"No, it wasn't. Look," he blurted out. "I need to tell you this and I don't want you to be upset. I know I've been avoiding you and it's been because I see Fred's face in your own, but it's more than that too. I don't want to give you false hope. I'll always love you, but I can't ever be your boyfriend. I'm not the silver lining you were hoping for."
Ginny stared at Harry, gradually getting redder at his words. "Harry, I can wait. I don't mind w-"
He shook his head. "You'll wait forever then and I don't want that to happen. You're my friend and my best friend's sister, and that's all you'll have to be."
"I think you're making a big mistake," she said quietly, gazing into his green eyes, searching for some kind of answer. "And when you come back to your senses, I'll be here waiting for you."
Harry watched Ginny leave, her red hair curling around the nape of her neck. His fingers returned to touch his bottom lip and he recalled Snape's kiss. It didn't seem like a mistake at all.
"Potter, have you seen my-"
"It's on the counter opposite of the bar," Harry said without looking up from his textbook. He was in Snape's quarters again, but that was a daily occurrence. After meeting with his professors in the morning, Harry would spend the rest of the day with Snape in his quarters. At first, Harry had felt uncomfortable because he thought he was taking up Snape's time when he could be working in the Infirmary, but Snape had silenced that assumption.
Weeks had passed and Harry enjoyed Snape's gentle wooing. There weren't any flowers or chocolates involved in Snape's courting, and Harry liked that. He also liked their quiet moments drinking wine and walking through Hogwarts holding hands. Their courtship comforted Harry in ways he never thought possible. He was content.
Snape came into Harry's view and Harry smiled at the sight of his suitor. "You look beautiful," Harry said as Snape buttoned his cuffs. "Going anywhere special tonight without me?"
"Minerva wants me to visit the next year's Muggleborns. She is worried that the Muggle war will affect their chance of going to Hogwarts." Snape glanced at Harry with a light smile on his face. "I would take you with me, but I believe Professor Hu gave you a ten foot essay to write?"
Harry groaned. "I nearly forgot about that."
"Fortunate I reminded you then. I would hate for you to fail your NEWT and have to repeat another year at Hogwarts to make it up for the Aurors." His lips twitched as he knelt down to pull Harry gently towards him.
Harry grinned goofily and rested his forehead against Snape's own. "Where would I be without you? I should give you a reward." He kissed Snape, opening his mouth a little to allow Snape to slip his tongue inside his mouth.
Snape groaned against Harry's mouth and hauled him off of the sofa and into his embrace. Harry wrapped his arms around Snape's neck, trying not to break the kiss. Snape slowly pulled away, breathing heavily as he stood, lifting Harry into his arms. "I hate to leave you like this," murmured Snape as nuzzled his cheek against Harry's own. "But I will be back within the next few days."
Harry sighed. "I understand. Do you think you can spend that time practicing calling me by my first name?"
"Harry, Harry, Harry. Is that better?"
"Much." Harry kissed Snape once more before Snape let him free. "Try to be back before Christmas, won't you? I've asked Minerva if we can spend some time in London for the hols."
"I assume you've made all the arrangements, Harry?" Snape took a step back from Harry to rearrange his clothes, redoing his cuffs.
"Down to the bottle of wine that'll be waiting for us in our hotel room. You'll enjoy it."
"I am sure I will. Try not to mess up my quarters too much." Snape quirked his lips at the smiling Harry before closing the door behind him.
However, after a week of no reappearance, Harry wasn't smiling. He found himself in front of Minerva, pacing in her office. "Why isn't he back yet?" he demanded.
Minerva sighed, rubbing at her temples. "This is the seventh time you've asked, Mister Potter, and my answer is always the same. I do not know. I expected him back four days ago."
"He told me there's a Muggle war going on out there and that's why you sent him." Harry stopped pacing and slammed his palms down onto Minerva's desk. "You're treating him like Albus did. He's not some thing you can send off to do any dirty little deed anymore. He's a free man now!" By the end of his speech, Harry had ended up yelling at Minerva.
Minerva furrowed her brow. "I am well aware of that, Mister Potter. I was in the same war as you."
"And I've seen his memories. I know his Patronus. I was there at the en-" Harry cut off as he swallowed a lump in his throat. "He has me now."
"I know." Her eyes softened. "Have faith in Severus. He survived two wizard wars. He can certainly find his way around a Muggle one."
Harry dropped his head, staring at the ground. "I don't even know why they're fighting. He never told me."
"I don't think it matters. People are dying and people are fighting. War is a cruel mistress, but war is something Severus knows how to survive. Go back to your quarters, or his if you prefer. I will send him to you when he returns."
It took another three days before Snape returned to Hogwarts and Harry nearly jumped him once Snape entered his quarters. Harry kissed him quickly as he snuggled into Snape's embrace. "What took you so long? Christmas is less than a week away."
Snape chuckled deeply and lifted Harry into his arms as he carried him into the bedroom. "I am well aware of this, Harry, and I apologize for making you wait. There were Muggle soldiers everywhere I went and I could not draw attention to myself."
"What are they fighting?" Harry asked as Snape laid him down on the bed, climbing in after him.
"I read their newspapers. It is something about a revolution, and I fear their war may leak into our world as our wars have leaked into theirs. But," Snape said as he saw Harry open his mouth. "That is a discussion for another time. I would rather spend the time we have now on something else."
"Oh?" Harry gulped as he gazed into Snape's black eyes. During their dating, the furthest they'd gone were kisses and heated embraces. Harry hadn't even seen Snape naked.
Snape shook his head. "Not that. I am content to wait. I meant taking our holiday now instead of later. Where in London did you arrange our trip?"
"Er." Harry realized if the Muggles in London were warring, the hotel he made reservations with probably wasn't the best place to spend the holidays. "About that..."
Snape chuckled and pressed a kiss against Harry's scar. "I thought as much, so I booked us a hotel in Paris. They are not caught up in a war, at least not in their homeland. Do you find this agreeable?"
"Of course." Harry reached out and entwined his fingers with Snape's fingers. "You're an amazing man, did you know that? I'd never, not in a million years, ever imagine that I'd be thinking that way about you. That I'd be in love with you like I am." As Harry said it, he realized it was true. His love had crept up on him like some kind of vine, and entangled him deeply. He loved Snape.
"Are you in love with me, Harry? I hadn't realized." Snape's lips twitched as he spoke. "Does that mean I am in love with you?"
"I certainly assume so, considering all that time you've spent with me. Not to mention how you keep coming back to save me from myself." Harry grinned and, with his other hand, caressed Snape's cheek. "To Paris?"