|snarryhols (snarryhols) wrote in snarry_holidays,|
@ 2008-11-11 10:18:00
|Entry tags:||fic, giftee: themostepotente, rated: nc-17|
Fic: Another Manipulation
Title: Another Manipulation
Word Count: 7820
Rating: Hard R/Light NC-17
Pairing: Harry/Severus, mentions of Harry/Ginny
Warnings: DH Epilogue compliant, previous het, character death
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Severus had long ago decided that he would not be manipulated on behalf of the Boy Who Lived, but he was in for a rude awakening.
Author's Notes: I cannot thank my lovely beta enough; she was more my writing coach during this, coming up with ideas for oncoming scenes and how I should even begin, so I cannot thank her enough!! And to the lovely L for giving it a second and third read through and beta just to make sure.
Severus knew he was going to have a bad day when, ten minutes after he flipped the sign at the front of his Hogsmeade Apothecary from “Closed” to “Open,” Hermione Granger stepped through the door.
It was not necessarily an unusual occurrence to see the young woman enter his establishment, but teaching her for six years had not been for nought, and he knew from the determined look in her eyes and the defiant tilt of her chin that she wanted something: something that was not on offer on his many shelves.
He had heard about the death of Ginevra Potter, of course. Who hadn’t? The untimely death of the wife of the most famous wizard in the country was not something that had gone by without comment, but as with most things that happened in the world around him, it hadn’t affected him in any way, and so his life had carried on as usual. Like clockwork.
At least, he had hoped it wouldn’t affect him; Hermione Granger’s appearance gave him the distinct impression that was about the change.
In the years following Voldemort’s death, he had gone to great lengths to live a life that was quiet and entirely his own. He’d vowed to never again allow himself to be manipulated for someone else’s means.
Severus had come to rely on the monotony of his existence. It was comforting. He opened his shop at precisely 10am, took exactly half an hour for lunch at 1pm, during which he ate a cheese sandwich and a green apple; he closed the shop at precisely 5 o’clock, after which he had a single drink at the Three Broomsticks and went home where he spent the evening reading. This happened day in and day out, except for Sundays when he closed the shop and slept in until 11am, after which he spent a lot of the day reading, drinking single malt whiskey and eating chocolate: his one true indulgence.
That had been his life until the moment Hermione Weasley stepped into his shop.
She was dressed in a knee length tan coloured Mac, with a white scarf tied loosely around her neck, and dark brown boots. She had her hair tied up in a loose ponytail. She looked tired and was more haggard than anyone at her age had any right to be.
Severus knew he was in trouble.
“Good morning, Professor Snape,” Granger, as he would always think of her despite her fifteen-year marriage, said politely as she approached the counter.
“Mrs Weasley, as I’ve reminded you on numerous occasions, I am no longer a Professor, nor have I been one for over twenty years. Mister Snape will suffice,” Severus replied irritably as he stood behind the counter, wary of what the young woman could possibly want.
“My apologies, Professor. I’m a little distracted at the moment. I’d forgotten.” Granger smiled, but it barely reached her eyes.
“What exactly can I do for you, Mrs Weasley?”
“Well… it’s Harry. You see, Professor, he hasn’t been eating and I can barely coax him out of bed most days. I’m really very worried about him.” Hermione paused and stared at her former teacher as if expecting him to somehow understand what she was trying to say.
“Do you want some sort of energising potion, Granger? Otherwise, I’m not exactly sure what you’re doing here.” Severus failed to keep the nervous edge from his voice, something he’d no doubt admonish himself for later. Never show even the slightest sign of weakness.
“No, Sir. I was wondering… well, hoping that you might agree to go and see him…” Granger’s face was most definitely hopeful, and for a moment he stared at her in the vague hope that she might be joking. When the seconds continued to tick by, however, it became painfully obvious that she wasn’t.
“You can’t possibly be serious.” Snape sneered at her, but she continued to stare at him with that level gaze she had always had, the one he had found unnerving on the face of a twelve-year-old child. It was even more unnerving now.
“I am, completely,” Granger said earnestly, as if that would convince him to agree.
“Potter and I have never seen eye to eye, Granger; never, as well you know. What makes you presume he would want to see me at a time like this? Or I him, for that matter?”
“He doesn’t want to see anyone! His little girl, Professor… He doesn’t even want to see his children. It feels like he’s given up. You two have never gotten on. I know that. Believe me, I do, but he’s always reacted to you. Any reaction from him now would be a good thing … anything to break him out of his stupor!”
Snape stared at her for a moment and hoped she wouldn’t start crying, because she looked dangerously close to doing so.
She stared at him with large eyes and he found himself wavering. There was nothing more uncomfortable than being in the presence of a crying woman, and at this point, he would say anything to make her leave his shop.
Moments later, a small brass key was placed on the counter in front of him and the sound of the bell above the door was ringing in his ears.
He was certainly in trouble.
Godric’s Hollow had not changed in the decades since Severus had last been there. He imagined it hadn’t changed much in the last century.
The first winter snow was on the ground. Night was falling and Victorian-style gas street lamps lit up the small village centre. In the middle of the village green, there still stood a memorial to Lily and James Potter. Severus made a point of not looking at it.
He had been sitting in his shop all day in a daze, thinking about whether or not he would keep his promise and check up on Potter like he’d been asked.
In the end, curiosity had gotten the better of him, and he’d found himself Apparating to a place he’d vowed he would never set foot in again.
He walked along the familiar track of road towards the Potter Cottage and when he found himself standing by an even more familiar fence, staring at the small blue front door, his breath caught in his throat.
It had been almost forty years since he had last stood in front of this cottage, and today he had been manipulated, persuaded and downright harangued to come here by someone who knew nothing of his feelings for the place … someone who once again cared little for his comfort just so long as the boy was safe and well. Was this always to be Severus’ role in life? He had fought and maimed and killed for the boy, but nobody had batted an eyelid.
Then again, maybe this was exactly what he deserved.
Severus had long ago come to terms with what he had done to Lily, although he would never be at peace with himself over it and all these reminders were hard to take. The night he had betrayed Lily flashed through his mind’s eye, like scenes from a Muggle film. The celluloid was old and worn, but the feelings the house brought to him were no less vivid than they had been ten years ago or even twenty.
After a few moments, he pushed open the small gate and walked up the garden path. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the small key Granger had left with him. The key turned smoothly in the lock, and with little effort, he pushed open the front door.
He stepped inside the dark home and closed the door behind him. It was strange to be somewhere that was so personal to Potter, someone Severus had made an effort to distance himself from in the years since the war, since his injury … since the night Severus had left Hogwarts and they had had their most explosive row.
They had not spoken in twenty years, not when Potter had gotten married, not when he had had a child, and not when he’d had a second and named him after Severus.
They had stayed away from one another. What they had said had been too hurtful, too close to the truth of it all, leaving them both unable to as much as look at one another.
Part of Severus was screaming that he should leave, that he should do as he had all these years and observe the ups and downs of Potter’s life as a casual bystander with no investment or care in it whatsoever. By being here, he had on some level admitted that he still cared, that Potter, despite the years and the harshly spoken words, had remained under his skin. He had not wanted to admit such a thing to himself, but that decision had been taken out of his hands by Granger.
After checking the downstairs rooms and finding no sign of life except for some mould growing in the kitchen sink, he made his way upstairs.
Potter was lying on his side, fully clothed, in the middle of what must have been their bed. He was sleeping, his unnaturally pale face relaxed. He was wearing a white shirt that must have once been crisp and ironed, and black trousers and socks. It only took Severus a moment to realise why Potter was wearing this particular attire. He hadn't changed.
“Potter,” Snape whispered. Despite everything in him telling him to run away and pretend he had never been there, he whispered his name again, more loudly. “Potter.”
Harry refused to awaken.
“Potter!” Severus hissed and followed the word with a sharp poke to the man’s shoulder.
Potter frowned in his sleep and rolled away from the intrusion.
Snape growled in frustration and made his way across the room and into the en-suite bathroom.
He filled a glass with water and walked back into the bedroom. He stood over Potter, giving him one last chance to wake, to realise that Snape was there and he should be more aware of his surroundings, but he didn’t stir.
Snape threw the water over Potter. This would teach him to not let his guard down, even in sleep.
Potter leapt from the bed like a cat from a bath and, for a moment, his face was marred with confusion, until he realised he was not alone, until he realised Snape was standing across the room from him.
Harry stood for a moment, wide-eyed and furious, before he exploded.
“Snape! What the hell are you doing here?" Harry was obviously enraged, but in his soaked state, his anger was hard to take seriously.
"I don't need to justify my actions to you, Potter," Snape said as he set the empty tumbler on the bedside table.
"You bloody well do when you’re standing in my house! How did you get in? I’ll call the Aurors! Nobody asked you to come here!" Potter was babbling, and Snape was standing on the other side of the large space, glaring back at him.
"Yes, they did! Do you really think I want to be here? Do you think it’s the highlight of my day being asked, once again, to look after the Boy Who Lived because he’s incapable of looking after himself?" Snape roared.
"Fuck you! I didn't ask you to come! I've never asked you for anything, you bastard! I knew a long time ago you would never willingly do anything for me!"
Snape chose to ignore the many implications of those words. Drenched or not, Harry radiated fury. Snape had forgotten how powerful the young man could be. He had made himself forget.
It had been years since he had been this close to the boy, years since those nights in the Hogwarts hospital wing when he had woken from feverish dreams to find Potter sitting by his side, keeping vigil over his bedside. Since Potter had told him he had cleared his name.
Since they had kissed.
It had been almost twenty years since Severus had told him to go off and live his life and stop living in a past that no longer belonged to him, that had nothing to offer a boy who had his entire life ahead of him. Harry had argued that he would gladly give up everything for him, but Severus had insisted it would be too much for a boy to give.
"Be that as it may, the people who care about you asked me to come here. They are wondering when you're going to take your head out of your arse..."
"How dare you? My wife has just died. What do you want from me?"
"I want you to try, you arrogant little prick. Not for me, not for yourself, but for those children who are scared and motherless, and need their father!"
Harry stared at him a moment, breathing heavily in his effort to not fall apart. His chest was heaving and his eyes were wide, and suddenly all the fight went out of him. He sank to the edge of his bed, facing away from Severus.
“Why do you even care?” he muttered. “You’ve never even met my children. Why do you care if their arrogant little prick of a father gives up on everything?”
“I don’t.” Severus ignored the way Harry flinched. “As I said, I promised I would come. You’re alive. Congratulations.”
Severus turned on his heel and stalked out of the room. He walked down the stairs and out of the house, vowing he would not return.
Severus had been replenishing his stocks at the back of the store when he heard the unfamiliar voice. He frowned and wiped his hands before walking out to the front of the store. A tall young man with bright hazel eyes and blue hair stood in front of the counter. He was wearing red Auror robes, although he looked far too young to be holding such an occupation.
“Can I help you?” Snape asked tentatively. Having an Auror in his shop set his nerves on edge.
“Um, yes, Sir, I do hope so. I’m Teddy Lupin. Harry’s my Godfather.”
Severus felt his stomach plummet. He had seen those hazel eyes before, and he knew exactly why the boy was here.
“I see. I expect you came here to try and manipulate me into seeing him again?” Severus snapped. He picked up a tray of freshly brewed Pepper-Up potion that was waiting to be shelved and walked past the young man, determined to not give in so easily.
“No, Sir, no manipulation from me at all. I just wanted to ask if you would consider it. Please?” Teddy followed Severus to the front of the shop and stood wringing a black wool scarf between his small hands as he watched Snape meticulously line up the small phials of potion.
“I did as Granger asked. I went to see him yesterday and as predicted, he was not pleased with my visit. He’s just as impertinent as he always was. I shan’t waste my time again.”
Severus sneered at the tall young man who only stared back at him, with no hint of fear in his eyes, unlike the generations of adults who frequented his store. They all knew what he had been, what many of them considered him still to be.
Severus enjoyed playing up to their expectations. It was no fun when you couldn’t scare anyone.
“Aunt Hermione told me she had been to see you, but I went to see him this morning and he wouldn’t even speak to me, just told me to go away and leave him alone,” Teddy choked out and Severus looked up at his distraught face.
“There is nothing I can do to stop Potter’s relentless wallowing, Mr Lupin. I apologise that your trip has been for nothing.” Severus brushed past the boy and took his place behind the counter.
“Please, Mr Snape, my Godfather isn’t like this. Even at the worst of times, I have never seen him like this. Please, if there is something you could do? Aunt Hermione said after Voldemort that it was you that helped him come back to himself and if you helped him get through that, then maybe you could…”
“My decision is final, Lupin. I suggest you leave now before your begging becomes embarrassing.”
Teddy winced at his harsh words and stared at him with eyes that seemed a little colder than they had been when he arrived.
“I grew up with people telling me what a cold heartless bastard you are, but I came anyway, and you just proved them all right,” Teddy growled before turning on his heel and storming out of the shop, leaving Snape behind.
That evening, at five-thirty on the dot, Severus stood outside the Potter house. The place was completely dark, but he let himself in regardless. He made his way upstairs and found Potter in much the same position as he had been in the day before. He was still dressed in the clothes he had worn to Ginny’s funeral, and his hair was in even more disarray.
Severus shook lightly at Potter’s shoulder, and the man murmured in his sleep as he began to wake.
“Ginny?” He nuzzled into his pillow and slowly, his green eyes fluttered open.
Severus watched as realisation dawned on Potter and felt his chest clench. He had woken up the same way for months after Lily’s death. For months, he had been haunted by what he had done to his best and only friend.
“Potter.” Severus’ voice was less vicious than it had been yesterday, but as soon as he spoke, Harry’s eyes flew open and he stared up at Snape with a look of unadulterated hatred.
“I thought I told you to leave.” Harry’s voice was croaky from lack of sleep, but there was no less venom in its tone.
“I thought I told you to get out of bed,” Severus said, trying to keep the hostility from his voice.
“You’re not my teacher anymore. I don’t have to listen.” Harry yawned and turned away from Severus.
“You never did when I was,” Snape muttered before he walked around the bed and sat down next to Harry.
“I want to talk.” Severus stared at Harry’s closed eyes and felt his irritation rising. Harry still refused to look at him.
“Damn it, Potter! Would you look at me? How long do you think you’ll carry on like this? How long do you think you can ignore the world?” Severus growled in frustration and thought for a moment about retrieving the cup from the bathroom and dousing the brat once more. Instead, he gave up. After his spat with Teddy earlier that day, he had no energy left to fight with Potter.
Severus received no more visitors that week, but he returned to Potter Cottage every evening and little changed. Some nights, Harry refused to look at him, and some nights, they shouted and screamed at one another. Those were the nights Severus dreamt of Potter, dreamt of those green eyes and the power behind them.
On the tenth day, Harry was not in bed when Severus arrived. Snape moved from room to room, looking for the man, and came up with nothing. Part of him was relieved that Potter had come out of his daze, but the rest of him was in a panic that Potter had snapped and done something stupid.
It was when Severus was standing in the kitchen, staring out over the large garden, his heart racing, that he noticed Potter sitting out under the tree at the bottom of the garden, dressed exactly the same as he had been since Severus’ visits had started.
Severus hissed in irritation. It was November, and the idiot was going to catch his death out there.
Wrenching the back door open, Severus stormed across the lawn that crunched under his feet.
Potter didn’t acknowledge him as Severus sat down next to him on the bench; he just continued to sit and stare into space. It wasn’t until Severus was sitting next to him that he noticed Potter was shivering, that his entire body seemed to be convulsing.
“Potter…” Severus growled as he wrenched open his cloak and wrapped the garment around Potter’s shoulders.
It was only then that Harry looked up and noticed him there. “Ginny liked this spot, so I built her a bench. She always… always liked to sit here with me on summer evenings, but now she…she never will again and I… It’s… all…” Harry’s teeth began to chatter and he couldn’t continue. He shook his head and swallowed hard. He stared at Severus, really looked at him for the first time that day, and the abject pain in his eyes made Severus look away.
“I have lost a lot of people in my life, more than I can bear to think about most days, but I’ve never known this kind of pain before. I feel like someone has cleaved my chest in half and I’m bleeding and there is this gaping wound, but nobody else seems to notice it and it just keeps on bleeding!” Harry was shaking even harder.
Severus had nothing to say, no words of comfort to give, even if he had been the kind of man to do so.
“Come on, Potter, let’s get you inside.” Severus wrapped his arms around Harry and helped him up from the bench and towards the house.
Severus supported Potter as they walked across the frozen grass back to the house. Severus helped him inside and up the stairs where he sat him on the toilet seat in the en-suite bathroom. Still wrapped up in Severus’ cloak, Potter continued to shiver.
Severus turned on the hot tap in the large claw foot tub.
When the tub was filled, Severus lifted his cloak from around a silent Potter’s shoulders and began unbuttoning the off-white shirt.
Harry looked at him with bleary eyes, frowning as if he couldn’t quite understand where Snape had suddenly come from.
“The bath will make you feel better,” Severus whispered as he pushed the fabric of the shirt from Harry’s shoulders.
Harry reached up and grabbed his wrist and their eyes met.
“Thank you, Severus,” Harry whispered and Severus nodded before continuing to undress him.
After that night, the fight seemed to have completely gone from Potter. They had reached a turning point.
If Potter was awake when Snape arrived, they would sit together in silence. Often Snape would ask him if he had eaten, the answer always being no, and he would fix them some dinner with what little food he could find in the dwindling pantry stores. It was nothing fancy or remotely elaborate, but Snape made quick work of the remaining food in the cupboard; pasta and jars of sauce, tinned soup and beans on stale toast were simple enough for Potter to eat without being sick, something he had done on the odd occasion since Snape had arrived.
Potter never mentioned his wife or his children, and every time Snape did, he could almost see the shutters falling across Potter’s eyes. There were days where Severus could live with the silence, and there were others where he wanted to throttle the brat and scream at him about throwing away what he had left. He never said a word, however. He knew his rants would fall on deaf ears, so what would have been the point?
“Do ever wish you could be Obliviated?”
“Excuse me?” Severus looked up as the silence between them was broken. It was a Sunday afternoon, and they were sitting in the living room. Severus had been reading while Potter had been merely staring into the roaring fire in the hearth. He was wrapped in a knitted blanket that, judging by the array of colours had been knitted by Molly Weasley, and his feet were tucked underneath him. He looked as small and vulnerable as Snape had ever seen him.
“Do you ever wish you could be Obliviated? So you couldn’t remember the good times?” Harry looked up at him furtively for a moment before returning his gaze to the fire.
“The good times? Why ever would you want your good memories Obliviated?” Snape frowned in confusion.
“So you wouldn’t have to live with the agony every day of knowing what you’re missing. If you didn’t remember the good, then the bad wouldn’t feel so, well, bad.” Harry hunched more tightly into the corner of the sofa, clutching the cup of warm soup Severus had shoved into his hands and told him to drink on pain of death.
Severus thought for a moment and frowned, concerned that Potter was thinking this way. Would he really sacrifice the memories of his children and of the life he had shared with them so he wouldn’t feel pain?
“Honestly, Potter, the levels of your selfishness truly are never ending, aren’t they?”
Potter looked up at him with wide eyes, obviously unsure of where he had gone wrong with approaching the subject. “S-Selfishness?” he squeaked.
“Do you ever, in all of this, think of your children? How they might be feeling? Have you once contacted them? Or are they to presume forever that you have died along with your wife?”
Harry stared at him for a moment before looking away as he did every time the subject was raised.
“Look at me and answer the damned question. For almost a month, I have been coming here and pandering to your every little whim. Not once have I pressed you on the issue of your three children, not once have I pushed you, but you will answer me now,” Severus said, not quite sure when he had come to the end of his patience with Potter and the man’s avoidance of reality but he had.
“You what? You hadn’t thought of them? You hadn’t once thought about your ten-year-old little girl who has been living with her Aunt and Uncle for nearly two months because you cannot bear to look at her? You haven’t once thought of your two sons? One of whom doesn’t only have to deal with being in a new school but also has to cope with the loss of a parent? Have you even thought, just once, that you should check up on him?”
“Severus, please…” Harry stared up at him pleadingly; his eyes wider and greener than Severus had ever seen them.
“No! I finally understand why I was harangued by Granger to be here, because I will say what nobody else will; I will tell you that you’re acting like the selfish attention seeking little twit I always accused you of being. I’ve been sitting here listening to your maudlin rants and your constant whimpering for too long.”
Severus had no idea why he was getting so angry. After all, if Potter didn’t want to see his kids, it was of no consequence to Severus personally, but the part of him that had come to care for Potter all those years ago had been awoken when he had stepped foot in this house again and he knew he could not stand by idly and watch Potter destroy his life by pushing away everyone who cared for him. Not the way Severus himself had.
“I can’t believe you just said that to me, after everything we have been through, after all these weeks...”
“How long do you want to keep hiding behind the fact that your wife died? How long are you going to keep telling yourself that you’re the only one to have lost everyone you hold dear?”
“What do you want...?”
“From you? Nothing, Potter, nothing at all, because I’ve come to realise you won’t even do yourself any favours, so why should you do any for me? I don’t want anything from you.” Severus was on his feet and storming away from Potter. It wasn’t until he reached the front door that he felt a frail hand on his sleeve. He turned at the unexpected touch and found Potter standing there with his wide eyes shining and a look of terror on his face.
“Don’t leave -- God, please don’t leave me again. I’m sorry. I’ll try harder. I just… Please don't leave angry, not like...” Potter trailed off and finally Severus understood. Finally, he knew why. Potter had not just been grieving, but had also been wracked with guilt.
“You two had been fighting?”
Potter stared at the ground and nodded miserably. “I don't know what to say to them. How do you tell your children it’s your fault their mother’s dead? How do you even look at them?” Potter was shaking uncontrollably, and Severus couldn’t stop himself from wrapping an arm around him and leading him back to the sofa.
“Potter, you didn’t make her leave the house; you didn’t tell her to go the practice field; you didn’t tell her to ride with no protective gear, and you certainly didn’t make her fall,” Severus said.
He finally understood why Potter had been the picture of a broken man the last few weeks. He knew what it was like to live with the responsibilities of the deaths of those you cared about. He had been a broken man when he had begged Dumbledore to take him in. He wasn’t sure if he had ever been repaired.
“But she never would have gone if we hadn’t been fighting. She always goes there when we’re fighting... always went…” Harry choked.
“It was an accident, Potter, nothing more. You cannot shut out the children because of your own feelings of guilt. You need to put it aside; you need to be a man and take control or they’ll resent you for the rest of their lives.”
Harry looked up at him then, eyes still clouded in misery, and nodded.
Finally Severus was getting somewhere.
It was two more days before he arrived at Potter’s to find him writing to his sons. There were letters all over the kitchen table, some screwed up and some simply crossed through. He’d obviously been sitting there a while and, judging by the disarray of his still ridiculously thick hair, he was finding it frustrating.
“What do I say? What do I say? It’s all wrong!” Potter screwed up yet another piece of parchment and lobbed it across the room. It hit the wall and fell to the floor.
Snape took the chair opposite him, and Potter looked up at him. His green eyes, which were red rimmed, looked even more tired than usual.
“How long have you been sitting here?”
“Since yesterday evening after you left,” Potter mumbled and pulled a sheet of clean parchment towards him while Snape huffed in irritation. When was the brat going to start taking care of himself?
“Potter, just tell them you’re alive; that much they’ll appreciate, I’m sure,” Snape said dryly.
Potter managed a quirk of lips. “Maybe,” he mumbled as he signed his name at the bottom of the very short missive before folding it and sealing it. He looked up at Snape again and smiled grimly. Snape held out a hand and Harry placed the envelope into it.
Small steps, Snape thought as he rose from the table and made his way to the shed at the bottom of the garden where the owls were housed.
Potter had received two relieved but still worried letters from his sons and the mood in the house seemed to lift. The days when Severus would have to forcibly drag Potter from his bed became few and far between.
It was the beginning of December when he arrived to find Potter sitting at the kitchen table with a small red haired girl perched in his lap, her arms wrapped around his neck and her face pressed to his collarbone. Potter looked far more presentable than he had in all the time Snape had been coming; he had shaved and was wearing a clean shirt. His hair, however, was in complete disarray as usual.
At first, Severus wanted to turn and leave, but Potter looked up and waved him into the room.
As Severus drew closer, he noticed the girl was asleep and her face was tracked with tearstains.
It couldn’t have been the easiest of reunions and, judging from the way Potter’s face was drawn and pale, she had obviously not let him off lightly. Just like her grandmother. Snape felt the corners of his mouth twitch.
Snape took his usual seat across from Potter, and they stared at one another for a moment, neither one wishing to break the silence or wake the child.
“She will be staying?”
Potter nodded jerkily, and that settled that.
It would only be a few weeks before Harry’s sons would be returning from Hogwarts for the Christmas break, and Severus couldn’t help the unease when he realised he would soon have to return to his old life. The life where he barely spoke to other people, the life where he knew exactly what was in front of him, each day exactly the same. The thought terrified him. He had thought the last month or so had been about healing Potter, but the more he thought about it, the time he’d spent here had been just as much about making himself realise how little he had in his life, how shutting himself away from everyone and everything had done little to dull the pains of the past or keep the ghosts at bay. Despite where he had been spending his days of late, he had spent less time thinking about his sins and more time thinking about what the future might bring, how he was going to get Potter over his maudlin thoughts and endless days of grieving. He hadn’t stopped to think there would be no future for him here.
He had long ago given up any rights to being a part of Potter’s future. The thought made him shiver at the table, making Harry frown at him looking confused.
“Your name is Severus like Albus?” Lily Potter sat at the kitchen table staring up at Severus as he leaned against the kitchen counter sipping a hot cup of camomile tea.
“Actually, Albus is Severus like me. Your father named him after me,” Severus replied. He had never met the boy, but he had always been stunned that Harry had named a child of his after him.
“I have no idea.” Severus’ lips quirked and the little girl frowned at him in confusion.
“Because he was the bravest man I ever met.”
Lily swung around to meet her father and smiled as he entered the kitchen, dressed in dark grey robes.
“He was?” She looked back at the man who seemed far too old to be brave and frowned once more
“Yes, he was, and still is. Who else would have been brave enough to make your silly old Dad stop moping around like a loon instead of being with his Lilyflower?” Harry picked up his daughter, making her squeal, and he hugged her to his chest.
“I miss Mummy,” Lilly whispered into his neck, and Harry pressed his face to her hair.
“So do I, my lovely, so do I.” Harry looked at Severus over his shoulder and smiled a small sad smile at him.
Severus nodded. He knew exactly what the boy was saying, what he couldn’t say with words.
On the day the boys were due home from Hogwarts, Severus couldn’t bring himself to go to the Potter house. It was the day before Christmas Eve, and he knew that seeing Harry with all his children around him would be the final step towards Harry no longer needing him, so he stayed away.
Instead of leaving early to see Harry like he had done for weeks, he worked as late as he could stand and then he went to the Three Broomsticks.
Smiling at Rosmerta as he passed, he wandered to the back of the pub and took a booth that looked out over the entire pub. It wasn’t long before a waitress sat his usual drink in front of him. He managed a quirk of lips before he lifted the glass and sipped at the single malt.
“Severus?” Several minutes later, Snape was drawn out of his daze by a voice.
He looked up to find Draco Malfoy staring down at him. “Mr Malfoy, what are you doing here?”
“I was visiting Hornswaggle and Platt. Divorce papers are ready to sign, so while I was here, I decided to pop in for a pint and here you are.” Draco smiled and sat down in Severus’ booth, uninvited.
“Lucky me,” Severus mumbled under his breath. As much as Draco would have liked everyone to believe he had changed over the last two decades, he was still the same self-important, spoiled brat he had always been.
Unfortunately, Severus had the displeasure of being his Godfather and was obliged to put up with him on the rare occasions Draco forced his presence and that of his child on him. Fortunately, Scorpius was more like his mother than his father: quiet and polite.
“Indeed, why are you here? Drinking away another dull day at the shop?” Draco sneered. He still considered it below Severus to be working in a shop, even his own.
“It’s none of your business,” Severus snapped, and Draco frowned at him. Had it been anyone else, Severus would have thought he looked sincere.
“Now, now, Severus, I’m your Godson. Surely there is nothing you can’t tell me.” Draco placed his hand on top of Severus’.
Severus felt his lips quirk. Sincerity didn’t come easily for Draco, but this was close. He nodded his thanks and took another sip of his whiskey, refusing to discuss what was troubling him.
Draco squeezed his hand once more and it was then that Severus heard the choked coughing. He looked up to find Potter staring at Draco’s hand on his arm. Potter’s eyes were wide and his face flushed.
“What are you doing here?” Severus blurted and clambered from the table, leaving surprised looking Draco in his wake.
“Why didn’t you come over today? I made dinner. I waited for you.” Harry sounded winded. Hurt flashed across his face as he once again looked past Severus and stared at Draco Malfoy.
“I wasn’t aware that I had any obligation to come and play babysitter to you, Potter,” Severus said, trying not to make a scene in the middle of Hogsmeade’s busiest pub.
“Babysitter?” Harry snapped back.
“Yes, Potter. I wasn’t aware I was required to be there every day to help you make your baby steps back into the world!” Severus was embarrassed and confused and lashing out. He knew this could only end badly.
“You bastard! Enjoy your evening with Malfoy. I won’t be bothering you with babysitting duties anymore. Don’t worry,” Harry snarled, throwing something to the floor before he spun away.
Snape looked down to find a small, neatly wrapped Christmas gift lying at his feet. Potter had come to give him a gift and he had been his usual acerbic self. When was he ever going to learn to diffuse a situation instead of exacerbating it? He picked up the gift and sighed.
“Severus, what on earth was that about? Why is Potter buying you Christmas gifts? Little Potty doesn’t have a crush on you, does he?” Draco snorted and Severus turned on him, snarling.
“Don’t you ever speak of him again, ever, do you understand?” Severus snapped before dropping a few coins on the table and storming from the pub.
Harry was halfway down the street by the time Severus got outside, and Severus was thankful he hadn’t Apparated away. Severus ran after him and grabbed Potter’s arm, spinning him around.
“Potter, wait,” Severus said, but Harry pulled his arm away.
“Don’t touch me. Don’t you dare touch me! After everything that’s happened, how could you say that to me? How could you? I thought we… I thought you cared. I thought you...” Harry stopped and composed himself, shaking his head. “I was wrong.”
Harry turned and walked away, but Severus was quick to chase him.
“Potter, stop walking away from me. Stop it. You weren’t wrong.” Severus grabbed Harry once more and stared at him, wishing for him to understand everything that he could not put into words.
“I don’t believe you. I don’t believe anything you have to say to me anymore.” Harry’s voice cracked, and Severus felt his chest clench.
“I don’t know what to say to convince you. I don’t have the words, but I do care. I was scared today. I was scared that you would no longer need me, no longer want me.” Severus couldn’t look at Harry, couldn’t hold his supposedly non-existent heart out to be shredded and look at him all at the same time.
“I have wanted you for twenty years. Surely you know that?” Harry stepped forward and cupped Severus’ chin until they were looking at one another. “I have missed you all these years, Severus Snape. I don’t want to start living without you again. I loved you when I was eighteen and I’m thirty-eight now and I don’t think I’ve ever stopped,” Harry said earnestly as they stared at one another. Then he looked away. “I just can’t, not yet, not so soon after Ginny’s—not so soon after Ginny, but I need you here. I need you with me. You’re the only person who doesn’t make me feel like a complete mess.” Harry laughed mirthlessly.
“I won’t go anywhere, not if you don’t want me to,” Severus said, and for the first time since Ginny’s death, Harry’s smile reached his eyes.
One Year Later (Almost)
Severus bit savagely at Harry’s neck as he pushed the younger man against the wall next to the front door.
Harry threw his head back and moaned. He wrapped his arms around Severus’ shoulders and a long leg around a bony hip, brining their burgeoning erections together.
They had been shopping in Diagon Alley, getting the last of the Christmas shopping done before the boys came home the following day and chaos ensued.
“God, Severus, I’ve wanted you from the moment I woke up this morning.” Harry sighed as Severus sucked on a particularly sensitive spot below his ear, all the while rutting against the Harry whose breathing was ragged in Severus’ ear, sending frissons of pleasure racing down his spine.
It hadn’t been long since they had taken their relationship further, but despite everything, they couldn’t keep their hands off one another. Severus had never been in such a passionate relationship and found himself behaving more like a man in his late teens than one approaching sixty.
It had been a long, tumultuous year for them both since the Christmas before. Harry was by no means healed, despite having admitted to Severus how he felt about him, and continued to have the odd day where he couldn’t bring himself to get out of bed. They argued constantly some days and on others, they spent hours in silence, but there was a definite change between them. They finally understood where they stood with one another. They had security in knowing that they were both in this—whatever it was—for the long haul, no walking away.
Although the Weasley’s had not taken Severus’ presence well, Harry and Severus had Hermione Granger’s full support from the very start. She was just happy to see Harry resembling a human being once more.
Teddy Lupin visited often, reassured that his Godfather was back, and Severus found himself getting on rather well with Lupin’s son.
The children had been the hardest to deal with. Harry had been wracked with guilt for months over his feelings for Severus, and it had only been in the week before the boys’ return to Hogwarts in September, that he’d told them the true nature of his and Severus’ relationship.
Lily had smiled knowingly, Albus had been shocked and James (as predicted) had been utterly livid. He had always been the most like his mother, passionate and hot headed, so it hadn’t been surprising to have him storm from the house after hearing the news.
James would not speak to Harry in the days leading up to their return to school, and it hadn’t been until two weeks later that he’d written to them, apologising for his behaviour, weeks during which Harry and Severus had fought constantly.
“Do you think it’s fair to tease me? Brushing against me like that in Quality Quidditch Supplies? Or flirting with that pretty little sales clerk in Flourish and Botts? Do you?” Severus growled as he lifted Harry up by the arms and frotted against him roughly. Neither man had the patience to wait until they got to the bedroom for what they really wanted. That would have to wait until later when the edge had been taken off and they could truly enjoy each other.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Harry said and held on tightly to Severus as the older man rocked them against the front hall wall. “Fuck, Severus! Harder!”
Harry’s growls turned into the high-pitched moans Severus had come to adore. He gladly complied.
Several more punishing thrusts had Harry coming in his pants like a teenager. Severus kissed him hard, pushing his tongue into Harry’s mouth and swallowing his moans as he shuddered against him.
Severus continued to thrust; a few more thrusts and he came, too. His trembling legs gave in and both men collapsed to the floor in a messy, sticky heap.
“Thank you,” Harry said softly as he pressed light kisses to Severus’ neck. He loved Severus like this. Post-orgasm, he was wonderfully pliable and muzzy in a way he never was at any other time.
“What for, exactly?”
“Everything. This past year hasn’t been easy, but I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you always being there for me, even when I was being a selfish, arrogant little twit.”
Severus had the good grace to blush when Harry rehashed his own words. He smiled before pressing a gentle kiss to Harry’s lips. “I did nothing, but you’re welcome.” Severus smiled uncomfortably as he always did when under someone else’s scrutiny.
“Merry Christmas, Severus,” Harry whispered as they remained slumped on the floor.
“Merry Christmas, Harry,” Severus whispered back, ignoring the way his voice cracked.