|snarryhols (snarryhols) wrote in snarry_holidays,|
@ 2008-11-28 10:12:00
|Entry tags:||art, fic, giftee: ivylady, rated: pg-13|
Fic and art: A reason
Title: A Reason
Author: littleblackbow and summerborn
Word Count: 7300
Media/Medium: Watercolor on paper
Pairing: Um... Snarry...
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Snape has had forced upon him another chance at life. Harry finds he's lost his purpose. And somehow Wales seems to be the place to go if you've lost all direction.
Author's Notes: Thanks to our betas!! Hope you like this little story, (even though there's no buttsex... yet).
"About fucking time you woke up, you git," the voice said.
"Leave him alone, Padfoot. Let him at least become aware of us."
"Like hell! Moony, Harry's down there fighting, and he's just laying about! I told you they should have sent me."
"That's not possible, you berk, and you know it."
"Shaddup, James. 'Ziff you'd know, anyway?"
"All of you be quiet! Nothing's going to be solved at this rate, and I swear on all of your graves that if anything happens to him because of your stupid antics, I'll never speak to any of you ever again!"
As Snape wiped the sleep out of his eyes and adjusted to the cool blue haze that surrounded the figures, the only thought that went through his mind was about how strange it must have been to exist in a place that had no light, and yet was not completely dark. Was there even a type of magic that could create such an atmosphere? And even if he could have figured that part out, the fact that all of these voices from his past were yelling at and around him could not, in fact, be explained by anything but his own death.
Now, normally, he wouldn't have considered his own death to be anything out of the ordinary at all. After all, for years he had been waiting for it – expecting it. At any given time any number of people could have, and possibly should have killed him. In fact, the idea of him actually surviving through Harry's fourth year was so absurd, that when he started teaching in his fifth year, he had a difficult time adjusting to the idea of babysitting those wretched brats for another term.
So, he was dead. Finally.
And as soon as he adjusted his consciousness to the idea of being dead, and focused on those faces he'd prayed he would never see again (with the exception of one, of course), he felt an uncomfortable tug pull his chest down again.
"What... what is that? Potter, is it you?"
"What the hell are you talking about, Snape?"
"That pull, you fool. Stop it at once. Feels like..." Like he was anchored to the ground, and a force was pulling him down from the underside of his sternum.
"Oh, come off it!" Sirius said, exasperated. "Don't tell me he gets to go back down there!"
"Pads, calm down, what, do you expect to return now after being gone for two years?" Remus said, slowly rubbing circles along Sirius' back.
"No," Snape said softly. "You can't be serious. I don't want to go back."
Lily leaned down and smiled at him. "You have to," she said calmly.
Sirius turned his back to the scene. James looked annoyed. Remus put his hand on Sirius' arm, looked back and smiled sympathetically at Snape.
"You're the only one who can help him now."
Snape managed to look into her face. "I cannot. Protecting that child of yours has taken more than I can possibly be expected to give. In fact, it's a miracle that I—"
Lily leaned down and pressed her cheek to his. Closing her eyes, she whispered the reason into his ear.
It really was too bad that Sirius wasn't looking at him at that moment. After all, the look of shock and terror on his face when his mind registered her words was priceless.
With another strong tug, Snape felt himself falling out of that weird reality and back into a world of pain. And cold.
And a very hard floor.
Harry tossed his plate and fork into the sink and headed back to the parlour. Slumping down into the sofa, he propped his feet up on the table and stared into the fire. Somewhere in the background, he heard Kreacher grumble and pad into the kitchen to clean up after his master. It was only a sandwich and butterbeer, so there really wasn't much to clean up, after all. Still, this was part of their routine.
Every night, after a day of wandering around the outskirts of Muggle London, Harry would come home, fix himself a sandwich, then sit in the parlour for a good hour or so staring at either the pile of correspondence he was disinclined to reply to, or flip idly through Quidditch catalogs, or use the doxys that had infested the drapes for target practice, and shoot as many of them as he could into oblivion before admitting defeat and meandering up to bed.
It had been a year since he'd defeated Voldemort. For the first few months, he was fine with it. Great, actually! Although he wasn't actually interested in the parties and gatherings, at least there were things to do.
He testified at trials and shook hands with important people, had his picture taken for the Prophet, the Quibbler, Witch Weekly, Wizarding Digest, and various other tabloids and magazines, and at the end of every day, he would come back here with Hermione, Ron, and sometimes Ginny, and they'd laugh and talk and visit and remember. Okay, so he hated just about every minute of it until they got back to Grimmauld Place, but at least he was needed for something.
Things changed, though. In September, Hermione and Ron moved into their own flat, and Hermione started her Auror training. Ron signed with the Falcons as a second string keeper and was training with them most of the time.
As for Ginny...
"I can't believe you're still here, just sitting around," she called through the Floo. "Now put out that fire so I can come in and straighten up. We can talk for a bit while I pick up after you, how does that sound? You know, I can't come in through enchanted flames like this!"
Harry turned his back to the hearth and sighed. "Harry James Potter, you listen to me! I'm not doing this for my own good, you know. Someone's got to take care of you, and you can't expect that gloomy old house elf to be around forever."
Her voice echoed in the otherwise empty and silent room. He'd broken up with her in November of last year. Things just weren't right between them, and she apparently couldn't understand that. For a while, she would ask, and wonder, and try to coax some sort of reaction out of him. Then, in an attempt to manipulate him, she claimed it was all her fault, and would blame herself and ask him "why?" and "what was different?" Finally, in this stage, she seemed to turn into her mother - maybe thinking that was what Harry needed.
In the end, though, Harry's reaction was always the same. He found that he was just not attracted to her. The fact that he couldn't perform in bed might have given her a clue, but apparently she didn't care about that, either. It seemed as if she just wanted her trophy, her hero of a boyfriend permanently latched onto her arm, and it didn't even matter that he didn't give a rat's arse about being intimate.
As she scolded him from the fireplace, Harry rolled his eyes and pushed the coffee table away with his feet. He was beginning to understand how Sirius felt being trapped in this house all the time after he'd escaped from Azkaban. "I'm sorry Ginny," he said over his shoulder, "I can't talk now. I'll Floo you soon. Really." With that, he got up and went into the foyer. "I'm going out. There are a few things I need to do," he yelled back to her as he toed into his trainers and shrugged into his jacket.
Harry turned to the old elf standing in the hallway. "Don't know when I'll be back. Listen for my call, though, okay?"
"Yes, Mister Harry Potter," Kreacher said in a low, grumbly voice from the kitchen.
The first few months after Severus landed on that cold hard floor had been the hardest. He hadn't wanted to come back to this world at all, but he'd managed to drag himself off the floor of the Shrieking Shack by remembering his purpose - and the ghostly breath with which Lily had whispered into his ear. If there was more he needed to do to make sure Potter defeated the Dark Lord once and for all, then Severus was grimly determined to see it through to the end.
What he hadn't been prepared for was to find out that Potter had already done just that.
It was bitterly cruel to find himself alive, Lily still dead, and Harry Potter the darling of the Wizarding World. The only redeeming points was that Snape had managed to conceal his return from the rest of the world, he had been quick enough to scrape together his meager possessions from Spinner's End before anyone thought to look there for him, and somehow found a new place to live: a tiny, remote cottage on the North Wales coast. Muggles wouldn't be able to see it, and there was a town where he could procure any mundane item that he didn't want to order from a wizards' shop.
After a season or two of drifting and feeling sorry for himself, he'd finally realized he needed to do something with his time - something besides helping Harry Potter, that is, regardless of what Lily's ghost had told him. She'd just been wrong. That was the only explanation. She'd been wrong about everything.
He invented a pseudonym and listed an advertisement in the Daily Prophet for some basics - Hair Regrowing Tonic, hangover potions - anything he could find the ingredients for in the nearby vegetation. He received enough orders to get by, and after the first winter he found himself venturing farther afield searching for new components, with some modest success, even if he did say so himself.
He had to say so himself, as there was no one else who would say it.
After five hours of wandering around London without going home, Harry began to realize he might have some issues to resolve. Well, not really. Not the real issues, anyway. What he realized was that he didn't really feel like going home at all, so he checked himself into a Muggle hotel and considered his options.
It was strange, looking around the hotel room at all the things Muggles considered necessary: television, telephone, a tiny refrigerator with food inside, wrapped in neat plastic packages. He sat on the bed, staring at an electrical outlet, much the same way he used to stare at piles of unopened correspondence on his desk. Slowly, resoundingly, it occurred to him that, even though he'd grown up as a Muggle, he was no longer part of this world.
And he didn't much care for the Wizarding world either.
With that revelation fresh in his mind, he was finally able to fall into an exhausted sleep.
In the morning, he felt better than he had in months, but he still needed a change of clothes, probably a bath, and a destination. Somewhere to go was better than nothing, and if along the way he found something to do with his life, so much the better.
Taking inventory of what he'd brought with him, which wasn't much, he decided he would risk going to Diagon Alley for some supplies.
He stopped in at Gringotts and took out enough Galleons to last him a month. Exchanging them for Muggle money, he ended up with something around £1500 stuffed into his jacket pocket. Not precisely the safest situation in the world, but then again, he had his wand, so if anyone accosted him, tried to mug him, or even attempted to steal (those little trap hexes on pockets were wonderful), they'd be sorry enough.
As he left the bank, he noticed two familiar faces staring up at him from the walk. "Ron. Hermione," he said as he approached them.
"Harry, Ginny's worried sick."
"'Mione, come on, give the bloke a decent greeting first, will ya?" Ron turned back to Harry. "'Lo Harry."
Harry sighed. He loved Ron and Hermione, but they just weren't as close as they used to be. "Hermione, she's not my keeper. I don't need a keeper. I don't need her to be my mother, either." Harry shoved his hands in his pockets again. He was looking worse for wear, and he knew it. Maybe arguing that he didn't need a mother or a keeper wasn't the best idea when he'd been wearing the same clothes for a day and a half.
Hermione nudged Ron and gave him a pointed glance.
"Um, oh yeah, well, we were all wondering if you might want to come down to our flat a week from Sunday. Dinner, y'know. And... for some kind of news thing." Hermione punched Ron in the arm. "I mean, a party, but not a big one, just a small one without much of an important event to celebrate."
Hermione smacked her forehead. "Ronald, you are the epitome of stealth. Has anyone ever told you that? No? Well, there's a reason." She turned to Harry. "Harry, Ron's asked me to marry him. Well, sort of. More like we agreed it was time. It's our engagement party, and we really want you to be there."
He knew it was coming. They all did. A year ago, Ginny had even joked on how they would have a double-engagement party a year from then.
Life never turns out the way you expect it to, though.
"Congratulations to you both. Really, you're brilliant together." Harry sighed and ran his fingers through his messy hair. He needed to buy a comb. "I would like to be there. Really, I would love to. I mean..."
How could he explain this? They wouldn't understand him, anyway. He didn't have any Auror training - he'd lost the taste for fighting dark wizards when he killed Voldemort. He didn't have Quidditch practice. He didn't have anything at this point, but that seemed to be all the more reason he couldn't go.
Harry had to find something to do. No, more than that, he had to find out something to be. While Ron and Hermione, Neville, Ginny, Dean, Seamus, Lavender, Pansy, Luna... everyone had figured out who they were during their teen-age years, he was busy being a prophecy and a hero and not much more. Quidditch was taken away from him at the time in his life when he should have been securing his career as a player. He hadn't had time to excel in anything in school. He couldn't even properly concentrate on any of his classes, since he had been busy saving the lives of all the other students.
And his final year was a complete wash.
Now that he thought back on it all, he had never anticipated surviving the war after Dumbledore died. So what point was there in looking beyond that for what he'd do in his theoretical future?
"I need to go somewhere. Out of town." He had to think of something fast. Hermione wouldn't understand him wandering around aimlessly for who-knows-how-long. "Holyhead, Wales. There's... something I have to do there. I'll try to be back before your party, okay?"
Why Holyhead? Why Wales? Maybe it was just the only town besides Cardiff or Cornwall that he could remember reading about in Wales. And it was remote enough that he was unlikely to meet anyone he knew there.
Harry had lost himself in London several times in the past few months. It was hard finding places he'd never been before and even harder to find places where he could just stare off and clear his mind of everything that had happened and was happening - the noise and the bustle of people and their automobiles was too distracting for him, too Muggle.
But here, he could lose himself completely. There was something about sitting on those rocks watching the waves come in and out; listening to the roar of the ocean that expanded far beyond what anyone could imagine, that allowed him to completely clear his mind.
Harry hadn't eaten much since he left London two days ago. He'd nibbled on a few chips when he was waiting for the train, and then a lady gave him an apple when he arrived (she probably thought he was a vagrant looking for handouts). And now that he sat before the ocean, he realized that it didn't matter in the least. Eat, starve, breathe, drown, live, die; Everything was insignificant in relation to the ocean. Everything. Voldemort couldn't have dreamed of containing it.
Dumbledore's death, Remus, Tonks, Fred... just like the ocean, it was all just a part of nature.
The nature that was so peaceful, even with all its roaring, that couldn't help but feeling calm himself, calm for the first time that he could remember.
Well, at peace except for whoever it was that was making a noise on the other side of the outcrop where Harry was sitting. Really, it sounded as if the person was bashing two rocks together over there.
As it was, bashing two rocks together was doing nothing for Severus' patience. It seemed that the only way to check which piece of slimy seaweed had the purple Anglificus pods that he needed inside were to break them open, and he'd gotten well out of the habit of using his wand anywhere outside of his house, where he knew it was safe. So here he was, trying to keep his outer robe from dragging into the water, fetching out one piece of the kelp at a time and only occasionally being rewarded by an outburst of purple slime, which he then had to collect and stopper before it too fell on the sand.
A curse escaped his lips as, finally frustrated of the whole endeavour, he tossed the rocks out into the ocean and stood to stretch his legs. He was getting too old for this sort of field work. He reminded himself again that if the pods worked, he stood to make a good bit of money selling the improved version of the Hangover-Be-Gone potion.
It took Harry a few moments to fully realize what was going on. His mind provided him with all sorts of explanations that made no sense at all. Perhaps the ocean had spit Snape back up onto the shore, and this was his way of ranting about it?
Or perhaps, this was part of the hallucinogenic effects of the ocean on him. After all, he'd hardly eaten since leaving 12 Grimmauld Place, maybe he was starting to hallucinate from the lack of food?
Either way, he knew there was no way he could just turn around and leave.
"Professor Snape?" he asked as he rounded the rocky ledge.
Severus spun around and nearly dropped the vial of purple pods he was clutching in one hand. It was utterly impossible to think the person in front of him was Harry Potter, and yet it had clearly called him by name. In any case, real or imagined, he wanted nothing to do with it: his life was his own, now, and any interaction with Potter was . Recovering himself, Severus lowered his brows into the most menacing scowl he could manage after nearly a year without practice.
"Help?" he spat. "You've done quite enough for a lifetime already." He moved forward, intending to stalk by Potter on the most direct route back to the road, but his footing wasn't as sure on the rocks as he would have liked, and he was sure the resulting picture - as he picked his way carefully over the sharp rocks - was not nearly as dignified as he meant it to be.
Harry covered his mouth with his hand as he tried to stifle his smile. For some reason, Snape looked a lot smaller out here now. Perhaps it was because this was all an hallucination. And since it was, that meant that Harry could do and say whatever he wanted.
"You never could accept the fact that you were just as human as the rest of us, could you? When you walk on rocks, your feet hurt, when you go into the ocean, I'll bet you get cold." Harry moved so he stood between Snape and the road. "I have to tell you, though, that I know about you and what you did."
Harry was starting to feel a little dizzy from all of his walking and going a day and a half without food. The salty-cold sea air was likely contributing to his fatigue. "Furthermore, when you died, I was really upset. Not only at the fact that you'd died, but at Voldemort for completely obliterating your body."
At that point, Harry actually went up to Snape and reached out to him. He was more than a little baffled at the fact that his hand physically made contact with the man's shoulder. That shouldn't happen if he was hallucinating, should it? "Couldn't even give you a proper wake," he managed to add just before he blacked out completely.
"Bloody hell," Severus muttered, barely catching Harry as the boy drooped into his arms. If he'd had any doubts that this was the real Harry Potter, they'd been erased by the fact that the boy needed to be saved - again. Of course, the smell wafting off of the boy made Snape actually wonder if he wasn't inferi already. A quick scourgify, and Snape reckoned he could stand holding onto him until he found someplace to set the bloke down.
He eyed the rocky ground on which they were standing, and then turned an eye to the tide. Even if he could leave him here, if Harry didn't awaken in a few hours, the tide would take him.
With his eyes closed, Harry looked more like his father. Before Severus could stop himself, his hand was reaching up to brush a strand of hair off Harry's face. He jerked his hand back down, caught halfway between anger and guilt. The sooner he got Harry Potter out of here - out of the country, preferably, and out of his life - the better.
With a long-suffering sigh, Severus pulled out his wand and hefted the boy into a more comfortable carrying position. A simple spell would make Harry light enough for him to carry back to his cottage. With any luck Harry would be gone by nightfall. Severus wondered why he didn't feel more relieved by the thought.
As it was, Harry didn't even wake up until it was completely dark outside. The fatigue he had felt had sunk completely into his bones - much like after a run-in with a Dementor. Still, he was warm and found himself laying on a firm mattress in a dimly lit room.
And someone had removed his glasses.
"It's about time you woke up," Severus grumbled. He was sitting on his only chair, arms crossed to prevent himself from pacing or tapping his fingers with impatience. He'd been unable to do anything with Harry in his house besides watch over him like a hawk, aware of every sigh, every shift of position... Ridiculous. "I won't ask how you found me. I don't care." He gestured at the bowl on the squat table next to the bed. "I've no doubt that you're dehydrated. The soup will do you more good than water at this point. I expect you to be gone as soon as you're able."
Snape. Harry knew the voice belonged to Snape. Somewhere in his mind, he remembered the scene on the beach and how he must have - Oh God - he fainted.
"My glasses?" he asked, pushing himself to a sitting position. How was it Snape was alive, anyway? Well, that question wasn't likely to get an answer just now, was it?
Harry looked over at the bowl and spoon on the table. Without his glasses, he wasn't sure if he trusted himself to actually eat soup without spilling it all over himself.
Severus was forced to clear his throat. "Your glasses... and the rest of your things... are there on the foot of the bed." Harry's outer clothing had been wet, and Severus was tempted to make a cutting remark about how children should avoid playing in the water if they hadn't eaten in days... but he was too aware of the fact that Harry was not quite as child-like as Severus remembered. Not physically, at least. Seeing him sit up in Severus' own bed, hair tousled from sleep, was a further reminder that Harry was, in fact, a man.
It was decidedly disconcerting.
Standing up, Severus took a few steps over to the kitchenette and pretended to busy himself with a set of mixing cauldrons.
Harry pawed around at the end of the bed and managed to find his glasses. He decided that any and all questions should wait until after he'd eaten. Or at least until after he'd taken the bowl and made a gesture toward doing as Snape told him to do.
The soup was adequate, but nothing to write home about. For some reason, Harry had imagined it would either taste like some revolting potion, or as if it came from a gourmet restaurant. "It's... good," he lied, taking a bite of what seemed like a piece of lamb and some celery.
Snape seemed to be puttering about the place without a real intention other than to avoid eye contact with Harry at all costs. Deep inside, Harry made a note of this and smiled. "I'm surprised to see you here. I actually came here in an attempt to get away from everyone who knows me."
Despite himself, Severus turned back to face Harry, a sneer forming on his face. "Running away from your problems? Really, Potter, I thought you were sorted into Gryffindor. What could you possibly want more than the glory and attention of your adoring fans?"
At that point, if he had any energy at all, Harry could have sprung out of bed and hugged the man. Up until this point, he could have been convinced that someone had polyjuiced himself to look like Snape, but those sharp remarks that were meant to cut directly through him could only have come from Severus Snape, Potions master of Hogwarts...
Harry couldn't help but smile. "Running away? I suppose so. In a way. After all, the adoring fans get troublesome after a while. What with every one of them wanting to get into my pants - oh, and my ample bank account, as well. Did anyone ever tell you about that? All the things I inherited from my father?" Harry took another bite of soup, smirking over the bowl as he looked at the other man.
The glint of green from behind the glasses reminded Severus sharply of what Harry had inherited from his mother, and he kept any reaction to Harry's words off his face. "Then you will, of course, be in a hurry to return to them, and to your... inner circle, shall we say. I'm sure the Weasley girl is waiting for you." He arched an eyebrow at Harry.
"I'm sure she is," he said in a sardonic tone. Harry tucked into his food again to give Snape a moment to think about his reaction. "I didn't know you were keeping up with all of the romantic gossip from Hogwarts. Still, I suppose you haven't heard the latest news - about me breaking it off with her, having run away from all of that yourself."
Severus snorted. Harry was, perhaps, a bit more astute than he remembered, as well. "Making a careful, planned retreat from the world is not the same as haring off into the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on your back - and just how long had it been since you'd eaten, Mr Potter?" He shook his head, considering what Harry had said. So he'd broken it off, but only recently? "No doubt you'll find another to take her place. That shouldn't keep you from doing feature pieces for the Daily Prophet on a regular basis, to satisfy your public."
Harry finished his soup and set the bowl down on the table again. He lay back on the bed and pulled the covers up over his shoulder. "I broke it off with her 'cause I wasn't attracted to her. I sincerely doubt that under the circumstances I'm going to find another girl to take her place."
Well aware of the fact that there was only one bed in the cottage, Harry slid over so he would only take up half of it. This was obviously his bed, and Harry was infringing on his private, personal space.
And for some reason, that made him feel really, really good. "So, tell me, why are you still alive?" he asked, yawning.
Severus was too taken aback to say anything before Harry began burrowing deeper into the bedclothes, and then it seemed too late to insist he find someplace else to spend the night. First thing in the morning, then. Severus scowled and answered the brat's question, far more directly than if he had been thinking properly. "Because I have things to do," he said shortly. He resigned himself to sleeping on the floor, for one night.
"I used to have things to do, too," Harry said softly as he drifted off to sleep again.
The first thing Severus was aware of when consciousness began to return to him was the unaccustomed weight of another person in his bed. There was a new smell, too, not at all unwelcome, a clean male scent that reminded him vaguely of Sagina Subulata... and Scourgify. In a heartbeat, the events of the previous day came back to him, and he had a half-formed memory of waking up freezing in the middle of the night... crawling into bed without caring who might already be in it.
Now, with the first light of dawn coming in through the window, he found himself paying for his indiscretion: Severus Snape, lying curled up in the arms of a nineteen-year-old Harry Potter.
"Mmm, just a little longer," Harry said drowsily, and Severus held his breath. Harry, obviously still asleep, pulled him closer, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, nuzzling his chin against the top of Snape's head. One arm reached down and gently rubbed a few circles in the center of Severus' back, just between the shoulder blades. "Tired. Warmth... is good," he mumbled.
A moment later, Potter relaxed, slipping back into a light sleep.
Severus, who had frozen when Harry began to stir, immediately set about trying to extricate himself, very gently, from Harry's embrace. Mustn't wake him up. Merlin, he didn't even want to think about how long it had been since he'd woken with a man in his -
Boy. Harry Potter was a boy, no matter what the size of his chest muscles said. Or his shoulders... Severus realized that his fingers had trailed along Harry's arm, and they were liking what they felt, despite every attempt he made to pull them away. He had to get out of bed, now, before Harry woke up! The very idea of what he would say, think, upon finding Severus cuddled against him, was enough for Severus to cast a wordless version of Petrificus: just enough to keep Harry from moving until Severus was well and away from the bed entirely.
And out of this nightshirt. Nothing could portray the image of a Potions master, in control of himself and the situation, as well as his traditional, high-collared robes, and that was just the image Severus needed if he was going to make sure Harry left today and didn't return.
His feet were just hitting the floor when he came to that thought; surely that explained the slight shiver that went through him at that moment.
He glanced over his shoulder at Harry's sleeping form. The dark hair was longer than Severus remembered, making Harry look older. He really was changed from the year plus since the final battle - he'd filled out from the spare, underfed teenage frame Severus had known at Hogwarts, and his chin was covered in several days of unkempt growth. Still, his face looked peaceful, which was another change, and for a moment Severus was tempted to run his palm along Harry's jawline.
With a quick shake of his head, he let the spell drop and stood up. The sooner he washed and dressed, the better.
Ever since his fourth year at Hogwarts, Harry had been a light sleeper. Any little motion, sound, or even magical residue, and he would be half-conscious. This morning's spell and movement were no exception. From the moment Snape first shifted, Harry was all too aware of what was going on and precisely to whom he was clinging.
And when Snape got up and removed himself from Harry's arms, he felt completely bereft of warmth. There was a certain reality of Snape's existence that was only present when he was right there. Much like a baby not understanding how his parents would ever return if they left the room, Harry's inner self was in a panic that perhaps Snape was not alive if he was not right there with him.
Why was it so important that he was alive, anyway? Oh, Harry knew full well just what Snape had done in the war. Professor Snape was braver than any of them, and took more risks than anyone could have expected him to, but there was something more than that - something that had only risen after he'd learned about Snape's unfortunate childhood, and of the man's friendship with his mother.
The rest of his friends had all come from worlds that Harry had never known: they had families who loved them, societies that accepted them. Never were they denied love or understanding or compassion.
But Snape. Young Snape's childhood was as challenging and as difficult as his own. The boy he saw in those memories might as well have been orphaned for all the love and affection he was offered. And just like Harry, he had grown up in a household where his magical abilities were suppressed rather than praised.
Here was someone who understood him. Who could possibly understand who he was supposed to be.
Someone who could help him find out who he was.
Of course, that would never happen if Snape knew he had been awake all this time. "Ung... cold," Harry mumbled, pulling the covers up over his shoulder. He rolled over onto his stomach, taking the covers with him. If Snape was interested in a show - and he certainly wouldn't accept such an offer if he knew Harry was aware of what he was doing - then he ought to be rewarded for his vigilance, right?
The key to this kind of stealth is always figuring out just how long to pretend to be asleep before you actually "wake." And in this particular case, Harry decided the ambient temperature of the room would work well enough as an excuse.
"Cold," he said again, shifting on the bed. He brought one arm up near his face and rubbed his eyes and nose on his forearm. After a few moments, he pushed himself up, squinted into the room, and pulled the covers over him as well as possible.
"Need to stoke the fire," he mumbled, trying to convince Snape that he was completely disoriented. Looking around the room, he squinted, and tried to keep a straight face. However, when he saw Snape there, looking over him, he couldn't help but smile.
"So glad it wasn't a dream," he said softly to his former Professor.
Severus cleared his throat. "I have errands to attend to in town. You have your things, and you'll be wanting to return to your friends as soon as possible." Without a glance towards Harry, he gathered a few personal items and disappeared into the bathroom.
"Not bloody likely," Harry said under his breath just after he heard the door close.
If Snape had thought for a moment that Harry would leave while he was gone, he had another thing coming. And it wasn't that Harry didn't have anything better to do, he had NOTHING else to do at all.
At least, nothing more important than being here, in Severus Snape's personal place... with his piles and piles of papers, empty cauldrons, bottles, herbs, ingredients, and books.
As he looked around at all of the stuff that was crammed into this tiny house, Harry decided that Snape needed more room. He needed help, and there was almost no chance at all that he'd actually ask for it. This was Snape. The crowned prince of martyrdom and self-sacrifice.
And he always accused Gryffindors of that rot.
Rolling up his sleeves, Harry set about to do something for this man who'd sacrificed virtually his entire adult life for him. He dared not touch any of Snape's personal items. Not only would Snape likely hex him within an inch of his life, but Harry was actually worried (and rightfully so) about the dangers within the books and ingredients, themselves.
In the end, Harry decided that his best course of action would be to increase the size of the house on the inside. He'd give Snape an extra room or two, including a decent-sized kitchen, and a separate room for potions ingredients.
Now, he'd tried this spell once before - at 12 Grimmauld Place. He'd found an old book that outlined the theory behind shelter augmentation spells. Although he'd only had moderate success at first, after weeks of practicing (with nothing better to do), he'd managed to make one of the broom cupboards into a ballroom.
So, giving Snape a couple of extra rooms to work with shouldn't be all that difficult.
As it was, when Snape returned from town, Harry was gone. Part of him actually thought the boy would still be hanging about the place when he returned. And a minuscule percentage of that part actually wanted him there.
Very tiny percentage. Hardly even worth mentioning.
Snape looked around at the place. His books and papers seemed to have been left untouched, but there were two extra rooms in the small cottage - one of them resembling a proper kitchen, and the other an actual study, complete with bookshelves.
Potter had apparently also cleaned all the dishes in the house, scrubbed the floor in the kitchen area, and done some laundry.
"At least the brat has learned some manners over the years," he grumbled as he set a bag of groceries down on the table.
Snape had begun putting away the things he bought, mentally commenting on the silence in the room now that Potter was gone, when the door was thrust open again - hitting him on the elbow and causing the loaf of bread to fall on the floor.
"Oh, sorry, Prof-, um... Snape." Potter brought in with him a bucket that was seemingly filled with water. "Oh, I got you some more of those purple things you were trying to get yesterday. Anglificus, right? And I have them in the sea-water so they'll stay fresh." Potter set the bucket on the floor at Snape's feet and went to the sink. "See, I remembered something from your classes. I got you about two dozen of them. That's enough, right? Or do you need me to go back for more? I can get more if you need them."
The endless chatter seemed to cover the look of shock and surprise on Snape's face long enough for him to gather his wits about him and then right himself. "You're still here!" Perhaps he wasn't completely gathered yet.
"Yup. Now, in the new kitchen there's more space to work, so why don't I just put the dinner things away in there, and I'll begin--"
"This is my home!" Snape glared at the insolent brat who stood before him. "My home. Not yours. What you did-- how did you? No, nevermind, that doesn't matter in the least. I will not stand for such impertinence! Who gave you the right to--"
Potter moved in close to Snape until he was standing directly in front of the man, intruding on his personal space. "I did." Potter smiled gently and put his hand on Snape's cheek. "And you. The way I see it, you need me. Well, maybe not need in the usual sense, but I certainly need you - again, not in the usual sense. Hmmm. Let me think of how I can explain this. You can use help, and I need to be useful to someone. And you're... well, you're my hero."
Snape laughed. It wasn't a terribly pleasant thing, and considering he was already in something of a panic due to his shock at the impressive changes made to his living quarters (only the most powerful of wizards could accomplish what Potter had without long hours of preparation, a collection of raw materials, and a team of assistants), his laugh turned out to be much more forced than he had intended.
Potter put his finger on Snape's mouth. "I'm going to make dinner. If I'm going to stay here with you, I will earn my keep. Housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, and basic potions prep. Or I could call Kreacher in. It's up to you. First, dinner!"
Snape stood there for a moment and watched Potter put the groceries away. Something was already simmering on the stove, and he had to admit that it did smell delicious.
As he silently observed the other man, a memory came into his mind. Something he heard from Lily when he -- before he came back to this world. Her whispered words echoed in his mind.
"It has to be you - not because he loves you, which he does, but because you love him. And you are the only man who can help him survive all of this."
She wasn't referring to the war. The realization hit Snape hard as he stood there. She knew Harry would be fine as he defeated Voldemort.
"Harry," Snape said, the name feeling awkward coming from his mouth.
Harry turned to him and smiled.
Without another thought, and before he knew what he was doing, Snape stepped forward and wrapped his arms around the young man's neck and shoulders. Everything that needed to be said could not be adequately put into words. Instead, Harry would just have to accept the only thing Snape could give him at that point.
After a long awkward moment, Snape pulled back and straightened himself out again. "The spices are in the cabinet above the sink. I do not like pork. Also, I am very particular about how the washing is done. You must use hot water only, and be sure to rinse every bit of the soap away."
As he turned to start preparing the pods, Snape could have sworn he saw Potter's mouth curl up into one of those silly grins.
"And don't look at me like that. You look like your father."
"Of course not... Severus."