|snarryhols (snarryhols) wrote in snarry_holidays,|
@ 2007-11-14 09:03:00
|Entry tags:||fic, post-dh: ewe, rated: r|
Second Chances, for willidan
Title: Second Chances
Word Count: 7,829
Warnings: Pre-slash, DH Spoilers, Innuendo
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and associated characters are property of JK Rowling. This work of fiction earned the author no money.
Summary: "It is by chance that we met again, by choice that we became something more."
Harry held the stone loosely in his palm and shook his head. He swore he wasn't going to go back for it but when he'd stumbled upon the jagged black rock; its runes almost completely faded from the weather, during a detention, he'd picked it up immediately. Looking around, Harry shoved the rock in his pocket and continued on his way back to the castle behind Hagrid.
Behind his curtains that night he'd polished the rock carefully, making certain not to turn it the requisite three times. He'd placed it on his headboard and stared at the stone, recalling his parents and loved ones. That had been in September. So much time had passed; there was so much he could tell them. It was time for him to leave Hogwarts now.
He'd finished his NEWT's, exams, last classes and was just waiting on the train home. Having to return for the entire Seventh Year hadn't been all fun and games and he'd worked hard to make up. It paid off, the NEWT's; while exhausting as their names promised, had seemed simple after chasing down the Horcruxes. He'd applied to enter into the Department of Magical Law Enforcement as soon as he'd returned to Hogwarts for his final year, to make certain he had all the proper classes. His application had been returned unopened, only to be denied immediately without explanation.
After writing for one, he found out Kingsley Shacklebolt had taken an interest in his application and overrode the Head of the department. Shacklebolt had warned Harry things were changing in the Ministry and to do his best.
Harry'd been slightly embarrassed that the Minister for Magic had to step in and vouch for him. The current Head of the Department, despite actually liking Harry, thought he was a liability. Harry's popularity was a distinct disadvantage when it came to concealment and stealth. Determined not to let Kingsley down, Harry had put aside Quidditch and postponed his and Ginny's engagement, throwing himself into extra studies to prove the Senior Auror wrong in his estimation of Harry. All he needed now were his scores.
He'd know soon enough. His test answers were winging their way to the scorers in London. Pig would be back soon from Andromeda with an answer about him visiting Teddy and Kreacher was packing his trunk.
Sighing, Harry lifted his glasses and rubbed his eyes, laying flat out on his bed as he placed his specs back across the bridge of his nose and looking about the almost packed room. He couldn't stand it. He had to see his mum once more. To tell her what he'd done. She'd approve. Sirius and his dad would love to hear about his new adventure and Lupin… Lupin needed to hear about Teddy's first words.
Reaching up for the stone and taking a deep breath, Harry closed his eyes and turned the stone over in his palm three times.
The rustling he heard didn't sound like the delicate sounds from the forest and he pulled a face. Harry opened one eye and gasped, almost dropping the stone as a young Snape stared back at him.
Snape crossed his arms over his chest and looked at Potter, a sneer upon his face. He eyed the young man arching an eyebrow as Harry continued to gape at him. "Well, Potter," he drawled softly. "You called me here. What did you want?"
Harry licked his lips and sat up, looking at Snape curiously as he recovered from his shock. "I… I actually wanted to speak with my mum."
Snape's face softened some then returned to its mask of indifference. He scowled and nodded sharply. "If that was whom you were seeking then focus properly, boy. Even in death, I don't have time to deal with your foolish whims."
He closed his eyes and began to fade and Harry felt a wave of panic roll through him. He clutched the stone tighter. "No, wait, don't go." He held out a hand as if to grab Snape's arm then felt a chill as his fingers slid though Snape.
Snape jumped back from Harry's hand, reforming fully once more and glaring at him. "Don't touch me!"
Harry stared at him, pulling his hand back and shivering hard at the memory of the cold. "How do you know how to use the stone?"
Snape narrowed his eyes at Harry, leaning forward to hiss at him. "Potter, you summoned me, by accident, I might add, and then expect me to answer your questions? You're mad and defeating the Dark Lord stirred your brains, boy. Find someone else to satisfy your perpetual curiosity. I've neither the time, inclination nor the obligation to do so any longer."
Harry leaned back from Snape, shaking his head in disbelief as he listened to him. "No… I… saw you. I watched the memories. I know you weren't always like this," he murmured.
Snape straightened and looked at him. "Those memories were selected specifically, Potter, to point you in the right direction. Even from his grave, Albus made certain that this time, the Dark Lord would not return." He smirked and crossed his arms again. "His machinations were not just for you alone, Potter. We all had a place in his grand scheme."
This time Harry wanted him go. Swallowing hard and he eased his grip on the stone, his fingers rubbing the ruin gently as he thought about Snape's last words. He'd known Dumbledore wasn't perfect but had he tried to completely orchestrate all of their lives the entire time?
Anger welled up inside of him and he threw the stone across the room. Snape faded immediately.
Harry listened to the ping of the rock on the stone walls and threw himself back on his bed, dousing the candle with his wand. He knew he shouldn't let Snape get to him but he couldn’t help it. He'd only wanted to see his mum and once again Snape had interfered. He couldn't believe he'd actually felt …
Harry paused in his fuming for a moment to consider what he'd been feeling when Snape had shown up instead of his mother. Surprise, yes. Shock, oh most definitely. There was some pity for the small little boy who had loved his mother, the only child around that had been just like him and wanted a friend desperately. He'd been like that and yet Snape had gone out of his way to not keep Lily around once they'd gotten older.
He rolled on to his back and bit his lip, thinking about the memories he'd seen in the pensieve. So much had happened since then and while he could recall some of the memories, he wanted to see them again. He made a promise to go see McGonagall in the morning as he summoned the blankets over him.
Harry pulled the spectacles from his face and yawned, placing them on his headboard, snuggling down into the blankets and pillow. Tomorrow he'd see his mother one way or another, even if he had to see Snape again to do so.
Harry awkwardly boarded the train, the pensieve under one arm as he turned and waved at Hagrid. He shuffled his way down the aisle, passing noisy groups of people until he found an empty compartment. He entered and shut the door, manually locking it and then added a few magical locking charms as well for good measure. He didn't want to be disturbed whilst he did this.
McGonagall had been happy to loan him the pensieve and had even offered to give him the magical device, seeing as he made it to the end of his schooling. The alive went unspoken between them and they had discussed her early retirement and Harry's placement in the Auror Corps. She assured him it was only a matter of time before Kingsley would be owling him with the proper paperwork to sign his life away on the next phase of exciting adventures.
Harry shook his head as he settled the pensieve on the floor of the compartment and drew the stone out of his pocket. He closed his eyes and focused on his parents like Snape had mentioned. James, who Harry'd taken after in looks, and Lily, whose fiery red hair reminded him of Ginny. He made a face as he thought about her. He'd heard whisperings about how his and Ginny's romance was to be compared with his parents and he wondered what Snape would have though about that.
"One would think that you'd learn after the first time, not to dwell on a certain specific person at all, Potter whilst using a magical object to call upon the dead." Snape's sneer came to him loud and clear and Harry arched an eyebrow before opening his eyes to look at the spectral vision of his former professor.
Sighing, Harry sat down on the bench. "One stray thought will bring you instead of them?"
Snape rolled his eyes. "I thought I told you…"
"Yeah, yeah. Neither the time nor the inclination. I remember." Harry looked up at him. "Can you just answer the question please?"
Snape crossed his arms over his chest, clearing his throat as if readying for a lecture. "Miss Weasley is a moderately attractive witch of some measurable talent, I suppose. She comes from a reasonably decent Pureblood background; as if that matters to you any, will likely bear several children well and is an acceptable match for you to enter into the Wizarding World unless you want to be beseeched by the hordes of women that want to marry Harry Potter. Merlin, only knows why they'd want to."
He smiled maliciously as if warming to his subject, enjoying watching Harry pale and was about to continue when a sharp knock sounded at the door. They looked at it and Snape frowned then vanished. Harry breathed a sigh of relief and scrambled over to the door.
Once back at Grimmauld Place, Harry settled his trunk in his bedroom and looked around. The renovations to the house Kreacher and Missus Weasley had begun after the war had transformed the place greatly even though the house still had the gloomy feel. He wondered if the past history had permeated into the walls and that no matter how many coats of fresh paint or wallpaper went over the previous if the place would always have that stigma.
Kreacher appeared and bowed low in front of him then began unpacking his trunk. Harry nodded at him as he left and made his way down to the kitchen. He placed a kettle on the hob, filled it with water and tapped the range with his wand, starting the flame.
He sat at the table, sifting through the mail and opened a post from Andromeda. He smiled as he read about Teddy's adventures and made note of when he could come and see his godson. He opened another and sucked in a breath as he read the official notice of his acceptance to the Auror Corps.
He'd not even received his scores yet, but he supposed it didn't matter as this was the Ministry and they could pull the tests whenever they chose. Shacklebolt had scrawled a personal note at the bottom, congratulating him, and Harry shook his head as he read the note.
He stood, wiped his hands on his jeans and felt he stone in his pocket, once again remembering that he wanted to tell his parents what he'd accomplished. He bolted back up the stairs and slammed his door behind him. He slid across the bed, pulling the rock out of his jeans and turned the stone, all at the same time. He focused only on them, not on thoughts of Snape what so ever.
He heard the rustling and looked up. Snape was standing at the foot of his bed and he goggled at him. "How?" he demanded.
Snape sighed and shook his head. "Why should I tell you?"
Harry narrowed his eyes at Snape and scrambled to his feet. He approached the spectre. "Because I want an answer. Because you owe me. Because you have nothing better to do. Take your pick, you snarly bastard."
Snape's eyes widened then narrowed. He snorted. "I don't think so, Potter."
Harry growled and not thinking, swung on Snape with the fist that had the stone clutched tightly in his palm. His fist went through Snape's face, the chill vibrating up his arm and he screamed, as did Snape.
"I told you not to touch me!" Snape's shrill voice echoed in the room as Harry stared at him.
"I'll do what I bloody well please in my own god forsaken house with my fucking Hallow!"
Harry rubbed his arm with his other hand as Snape stood there with his arms crossed over his chest. They stared at one another, neither one of them looking away from the other until Snape's lip curled and he spoke softly. "Fine, reckless as always, Potter."
Snape began to fade away and Harry reached out again touching the spectre with the stone again.
Snape solidified somewhat and snarled at him. "Will you stop that!"
Harry snorted. "No, not until you answer my questions." He raised his hand with the stone again.
Snape snarled and stepped back. "Just like your father, you are Potter; a bully."
"Shut-up, Snape." Harry muttered at him. "Look, I would like some answers. You obviously can provide them since I can't talk to my parents. You'll do."
Snape blinked. "What makes you think I would want to talk with you? Your arrogance knows no boundaries, Potter."
Harry cackled. "My arrogance. What about your own Snape? Even dead you can't let go of the fact that someone might benefit from you if you'd just open up and give a little of yourself." He swallowed and crossed his arms over his chest. "I've changed my mind. I don't want you here. Go away."
Snape stared at him. "You're mad."
Harry snorted as he flopped down on the bed. "Most likely. Go away now."
Snape narrowed his eyes at Harry. "Drop the stone and release me."
Harry looked up at Snape. "How were you able to leave the other times?"
Snape sighed and rolled his eyes. He crossed his arm again. "Why is it the most irresponsible person on this earth is gifted with the most powerful magical gifts of our world?" He looked at Harry. "I told you not to touch me and you did. I no longer have control and am connected to the stone again. You must release it so I may leave. Any simpleton could figure that out."
Harry looked down at the stone then back at Snape, smirking slightly. "So technically I could keep you here and torment you."
Snape glared at him. "Please do if you never wish to sleep again."
Harry nodded as he thought about that. "All right. I'll release you if you'll consider speaking with me about the stone and my mother."
Snape's face fell. "What?"
"My mother. I want to hear about her. If I can't speak with her I'd like to hear about her from you. You watched her long enough, I know that from your memories."
Harry looked at him. "You told me those memories were selected by Dumbledore to help me make my choice. Then select some new ones. Select ones that you enjoy to tell me about her. Ones that hold pleasant memories for you. Ones that weren't manipulated by him and that you kept safe to look over through the years. Those that helped keep you from killing me, if you will." He smiled at Snape and chuckled.
Snape stared at him. "You want me to delve in to my private thoughts and share them with you?"
"You can look at it like that but I see it as an opportunity to see my mother in a light by someone that loved her no matter what."
"Obsessive love is not true love, Potter. You should know that as you, yourself, are the recipient of it."
Harry shrugged. "My love life is not up for discussion, Snape."
Snape closed his eyes and breathed in several long slow breaths as if trying to calm himself.
Harry studied Snape then looked down at the stone, letting it roll on his palm as he thought about what he was doing. The tale of The Three Brothers came back to him as he thought and he looked up at Snape suddenly. "Am I going to go insane speaking with you?"
Snape opened his eyes and arched an eyebrow. "You cannot go someplace that you already dwell, Potter."
Harry resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at Snape. " The second brother, driven mad with hopeless longing, killed himself so as to truly join her.
"The Tale of The Three Brothers," Snape nodded. "No, Potter, you won't be hopelessly driven mad unless you are harbouring a secret longing for your former professor."
Harry shuddered and looked at Snape. "I take it you've decided to take me up on the offer."
"It's hardly an offer, Potter, but seeing as you have decided to follow in Dumbledore's footsteps I can hardly refuse to not do so."
Harry narrowed his eyes. "You could always let my parents come through then."
"Potter, they've gone on. When you completed your task, they no longer needed to stay around and see you through. They saw you through 'til the end therefore were able to cross over. They live on through you. Potter manifests in your physical traits and … Lily, lives on in your spirit… your eyes." Snape looked away from him as he finished softly.
Harry sucked in a breath. "No, it can't be." He sank down to the bed and hung his head, placing his fists over his eyes for a moment, his glasses shoved up onto his forehead.
Snape looked at him. "Always, Potter. Remember always. It kept me for seventeen years."
Harry looked up, held out his hand and opened his palm, the stone sparkling in the light of the candles. "Go back to where you belong, Snape."
"She liked Honeydukes's fudge and Ice Mice. And reading over my shoulder in Potions to see how much we could compete to get the potion done quicker than the other."
Harry nodded and let the stone fall to the floor. They both tracked the stone's descent then met one another's eyes as Snape slowly faded away.
"Lily loved cricket and rugby, but thought Quidditch was better than the two combined. She would cheer right along with the rest of the crowd, watching the players soar through the air, gasping and jeering when a foul occurred. Even the teams that weren't Gryffindor. She had a way about her that bridged the gap between the House rivalries and was friends with many different people from all the Houses."
Harry listened to Snape talk as he pored over his Magical Stealth and Cloaking text. He dipped his quill in the inkpot and started on his essay, humming as Snape paused in his monologue. He'd gotten better at balancing the rock on his head to keep Snape in the room so he could study and listen to the other man as well. Having to continually re-summon Snape was a chore and he'd discovered that it didn't matter how he was in contact with the stone so long as it touched his skin somehow.
Snape continued his story and Harry scribbled some fact down on the parchment then set his quill down, pushing his spectacles up the bridge of his nose to rub his eyes. "Merlin, I can see how Tonks had trouble with this aspect of training."
"Nymphadora Tonks was a clumsy child all her life. Being a Metamorphmagus was only half the problem."
Harry looked up at Snape as he adjusted his glasses. "What do you mean?"
Snape arched an eyebrow. "There is a trick to walking so one doesn't make a sound, one I'm surprised you never learned whilst traipsing about in that cloak of yours."
Harry frowned. "We did well enough, I suppose. There was a time or two that you did come close to catching me but never did."
Snape smiled. "I knew it."
Harry chuckled. "So what's the trick?"
Snape crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm now supposed to help you do your schooling as well as regale you with tales of your mother's youth? Tell me Potter, when are you ever going to learn to do things on your own without the aid of a more experienced witch or wizard?"
Harry's brow furrowed. "You aren't helping me with my schooling, Snape. I'll eventually find the right steps to take to ensure my complete stealth."
Snape snorted. "I highly doubt it."
Harry turned in his chair and looked at Snape. "I did well enough with the Dursleys before I even had magic to aid me. You saw that when you raped my mind."
"I saw a bullied child take what the Muggles and Albus Dumbledore set upon him. I saw a powerful child waste the gifts given to him by a talented woman and a mediocre man. You did nothing to change your situation then, and again, do so now. Pitiful, Potter."
Harry stood, the stone falling from the top of his head as he glared at Snape, his eyes bright in his anger. "You lie! You even told my mother that once we were eleven, that once they started training you had to be more careful, that until then you would be all right. The times I had nothing to do with any magic happening in the house, the Ministry did show up and tried to expel me. There was nothing I could do!"
There was silence in the room after Harry's outburst and Snape stood there watching Harry, his eyes flashing just as brightly as Harry's. "Then that is your lesson, Potter, not all Muggles are useless. Remember those times and what you learned. The trick is not to get caught and to roll your feet when you walk. It softens your step and allows your body to flow with grace."
Harry stared at Snape breathing hard in the silence. A pounding on the door had them both turning.
"Keep it down Potter! Some of us are trying sleep!"
Snape looked at Harry again then down to the floor. "Potter…"
Harry spun and glared at him again "What?!"
Snape pointed to the stone on the floor then looked up at Harry again. He never wavered or faded but continued to stand in the small cramped dorm room.
Harry stared at the stone and looked back up at Snape, his shade a little bit more solid than it had been. "How?"
"I don't know."
"What do you mean 'you don't know'?"
"I mean just that. I don't know."
"You're dead. You are supposed to have all the answers now."
Snape snorted. "I don't know where you got that idea from, Potter. But you'd be advised to change it now."
Harry bent and picked up the stone, rolling it in his hand before setting it on his desk. He gathered up his books and parchments, capping his pot of ink then looking at Snape once again. He sighed and hung on to the side of the desk as he kicked off his trainers. "I'm tired."
Snape nodded and watched Harry strip off his t-shirt. He turned his back on Harry suddenly. "You could at least try to banish me before disrobing."
Harry chuckled. "I did tell you I was tired."
"That does not give you leave to strip to your pants whilst I am present."
Snape looked over his shoulder, staring at Harry as the younger man dropped his jeans to the floor and climbed into his bunk, pulling the blankets over his legs. He doused the light with his wand then stuck it under his pillow, turning his back on Snape.
It was a long time before Harry could sleep and the feeling of Snape's eyes staring a hole in his back faded.
Snape was already in his room when Harry pushed open the door and stumbled into the wall, clinging to it so as not to crumble to the floor. His hair was matted and dirty, wet with sweat and clung to his head. His robes were torn and pock-marked with scorches and burns from curses.
"What have they done to you?" Snape snarled.
Harry looked up at him startled, his eyes wide and unfocused behind his glasses. "Nothing… just …training." he kicked the door shut behind him and slid down the wall, panting fast and hard. "Defensive manoeuvres… shielding."
Snape narrowed his eyes at Harry and scowled. "Yes. You forget I've come afoul of Aurors more than once, Potter. I am reluctant to believe in these so-called training manoeuvres."
Harry laughed as he clutched his stomach, carefully getting to his feet. Still slightly hunched over, he made his way to the bed and pulled his trunk out from under the bed. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, Snape; however, that is the case. The objective of this exercise is to see how self–reliant we are."
Snape arched an eyebrow. "I see the Ministry hasn't changed at all since my demise. Its policies are just as asinine as they have always been."
Again, Harry chuckled and hissed in pain as he pulled a small container from his trunk. "Maybe, but I didn't know you cared so much." He grimaced then sighed as he opened the container and unrolled a soft pouch filled with potions phials.
Snape's eyes widened. "Just where did you get those and whose are they?"
Harry looked up at him. "They are Ministry issued and I'm a bit busy here, if you don't mind. I know which ones to take, thank you very much. I'm not completely incompetent." He picked up a phial with a green potion in it and pulled the cork out with his teeth. He spat out the stopper and drank down the liquid.
Snape lunged at him and slid seamlessly into Harry's body.
Harry groaned, his entire body stiffening, the case of potions sliding and crashing to the floor as Snape melded with him. He blinked, his eyes turning from their normal green to black and he raised his hand, staring at it as if he were seeing it for the first time.
He moaned and his voice wasn't his own, it was low and gravely. He gagged and vomited up the potion then he shook himself and thrust Snape from his body. "What the hell did you do that for?!"
Snape lay sprawled in the floor, panting as he stared up at Harry, the potions smoking on the floor at his feet. His shade was more solid than it had ever been and Harry just stared at him. "Are you going to answer me?"
Snape shook his head.
Snape held up a hand and Harry blew out a breath. He winced and wrapped his arms around his middle again as he glared at Snape. "You've ruined my potions."
"Pity. The healing draft was substandard. It's not like they would have helped you much. You are suffering from after-effects of Cruciatus as well as Imperius. Such lovely friends you have now, Potter."
Harry stared at him. "You got all that just from… possessing me? Don't do that again, by the way. And again, why did you do that? You were the one with all the no touchy in the first place."
Snape stood, brushed off his robes and nodded. " Among other things. Pardon me for forgetting that I just spent the past seventeen years of my life saving yours from yourself."
Harry grit his teeth. "I'm an adult now. I don't need you to save me any longer. In fact, I don't want you to save me."
Snape huffed and crossed his arms over his chest. "Fine. Then I suppose you wouldn't like me to tell you the proper potion you need to end your suffering and heal the bruising to your abdomen."
Harry snorted and lay back on his bed, gingerly running his fingers over his stomach, unbuttoning his robes. He moved the cloth back and peered down at his skin. Mottled purples and reds were just beginning to form across his abdomen and he hissed as he brushed his fingers across the area.
Snape made his way over to Harry, bending down to look at him. His fingers hovered just above Harry's stomach as if he wanted to touch him but was almost afraid of sinking back into him once more.
Harry sucked in a breath and his stomach moved away from Snape's fingers as he watched the other man. He was almost certain he could feel the heat from Snape's fingertips but that couldn't be right. Snape was dead and the last time he had touched Snape's shade it was just as cold as a ghost.
"Don't touch me," Harry whispered softly.
Snape's voice was just as breathless as Harry's own and Harry looked up into his face, meeting the dark eyes.
"I don't know what'll happen to you. Or me."
Snape hummed. "Only one way to find out, isn't there?"
"No!" Harry reached up and grabbed Snape's hand. His fingers slid through the shade then twined with Snape's as they both sucked in a breath. Their eyes met and held as Snape ran his fingers along Harry's.
Harry continued to stare at Snape; the feeling of his long fingers gliding smoothly across his own calloused palms was warm and caused shivers to wrack his body. He licked his lips, watching as Snape's fingers solidified even more then grasped his tightly, squeezing his hand almost painfully.
Snape's eyes widened as he touched Potter's palm, the warmth of the other man searing him through their point of contact and rifling through his body like sparks of electricity. Snape wanted to pull away, yet couldn't as he continued to touch Potter and a small moan escaped him.
Snape closed his eyes and that seemed to break the connection between them. He slowly pulled his hand away from Potter's, shaking it as if to throw off the feeling of the power that had been flowing through him.
"What did you do?"
Harry's breathless voice flowed over Snape making him shiver once again and he opened his eyes, looking down at the prone man. "I did nothing to you, Potter."
"What makes you think this is my fault?"
Snape sneered at Harry. "You're the Chosen One. Harry Potter. Boy Who Lived Again. Amazing events always happen to the Boy Wonder."
Harry ignored the scorn in his voice and just looked at him, blinking slowly as he ran his hand along his stomach. "You're supposed to be the Dark Arts expert. Sirius told me so. Mum thought so too."
Snape sucked in a breath and took another step back from Harry, shaking his head as if trying to deny the accusation. "Just because one has an interest in a subject doesn't mean that he is an expert," he murmured softly. "There are things even I don't understand and can't comprehend."
Harry sat up on his elbow, wincing as his body bent to conform to the position. "So, you don't understand what is happening?"
Snape closed his eyes and nodded. "I have a theory but it is just that; a theory only."
Harry nodded, "And what is it you need to come to a conclusion on your theory?"
Snape looked at Harry in shock. "Why are you asking?"
"I'd like to know why this is happening as much as you."
Snape shrugged. "The tale is not quite clear but I do know that a veil separates the dead from the living. Perhaps something we've done has upset that."
Harry grunted as he got to his feet and pulled his robes closed. He walked awkwardly over to his desk and searching the desk for something.
"What are you looking for?"
"The stone. I'm going to send you back. Maybe if you spend sometime in where ever it is you are supposed to be you can get your answers."
Snape watched him, waiting as Harry laboriously searched the desk for the resurrection stone. Harry finally found it, turned and tossed the stone on the bed waiting for Snape to vanish.
Snape took a deep breath and waited.
Harry made a face, walking back to the bed and picking up the rock once more. He rolled it three times then dropped it again. Once more, Snape still remained in the room.
"Why aren't you leaving?" Harry asked softly. He bent and picked up the stone again.
Snape shook his head.
Harry dropped the stone to the floor. "I release you to go back."
Snape just blinked at him, looking around the room as if waiting for something to happen.
Harry sighed. "You can't stay here." He picked up the stone and pocketed it.
Snape scowled. "Don't you think I know that?"
Harry shook his head and padded back to his desk. Something had to be done about this and he couldn't do it here. He groaned as he pulled out a sheet of parchment and dipped a quill into his inkpot. He scribbled out a note then tapped his wand to it. It vanished in a flash of blue and an immediate flash of green returned. He scribbled out another note, folded it in half and tucked it into his robe pocket. Turning, he looked at Snape, studying him for a moment as if making a decision.
Walking back to his trunk, he bent carefully and dug out his invisibility cloak. He held it for a moment then held it out to Snape.
"What's that for?"
Harry looked at him. "I need to go to the Infirmary and get some potions to replace the ones we broke. After what's happened, I'm not leaving you here and don't want to take the chance of anyone seeing you."
Snape arched an eyebrow. "I'm dead, Potter. No one will see me."
Harry snorted. "We don't know that now, do we? Not anymore anyway. Can't have a supposedly dead war hero walking around the Ministry."
Snape scowled and reached out cautiously to take the cloak. The cloth bunched in his hands and both of them stared at his long fingers clutching the silvery grey material. Snape and Harry hissed suddenly and sucked in a breath as a charge flowed through the cloak.
The charge between the two of them seemed to bind them together as the touch of their hands had moments ago and their eyes met. By silent agreement and a nod, they let go of the cloak at the same time, both falling back to the floor, panting hard as whatever held them connected with the cloak released them as suddenly as it had captured them.
Harry moaned and leaned forward on his hands and knees, dry heaving as tears sprang to his eyes. He clutched his fists on the floor, trying to calm himself as pain seared across his abdomen. A low moan drew his attention to Snape. He looked up, eyes wide and staring at Snape.
Snape knelt on the floor, the cloak half covering him as he flickered between invisible and the ghostly spectre vision from the stone's summoning.
"Go," Harry panted. "Go back to where you belong!" He dug in his pocket, tossing the stone on the floor between them then reached out and pulled the cloak from Snape's body.
Snape looked up at Harry, startled, and then solidified. He groaned and bent, wrapping his arms around his waist, and then curled over on the floor, shaking as if in great pain.
Harry reached out and laid his hand on Snape's arm, gasping as he touched firm flesh and cloth. He ran his fingers up to Snape's face, tracing the sharp cheekbones and along the bridge of his nose. He pulled away slowly when he noticed Snape's eyes following his fingers carefully with his dark eyes.
Snape stared at Harry for a long moment, neither one of them saying a word until a knock at the door broke the silence. Harry immediately grasped the cloak and threw it over Snape, watching him vanish under the cloth. He pocketed the stone and called out to the visitor to enter.
Ron opened the door and peered around it. "Harry?"
Harry groaned and looked up as Ron entered. "Yeah, mate. What are you doing here?" He tried to climb to his feet and smiled weakly at Ron when the other man came to help him.
"Shacklebolt sent me. He was in the Infirmary when your request for aid came in. He's also approved your furlough. What happened?" Ron helped Harry over to the bed then drew his wand and vanished the mess of the other potions and sick on the floor. He drew out another pouch and offered it to Harry.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief. "Thanks. Had a little accident after class." He nodded down at the clean space on the floor, not looking at Ron as he pulled a potion phial out. "I think I need a little time off. Today brought back some… unexpected memories."
Ron hummed. "Malfoy Manor. I understand. 'Mione still has nightmares sometimes. Shacklebolt must have known as well because he went over Williamson's head to approve your request for leave." He sat down on the bed and looked at the clean space on the floor. "Ginny misses you."
Harry scowled and got to his feet, nearly tripping over himself when he remembered Snape was somewhere on the floor and he didn't want to step on him as he tried to get away from Ron. He knelt in place to put the pouch in his trunk. "Don't start, Ron. We agreed this was for the best while I trained and she went off to Uni."
Ron nodded and stood. "All right, well you know you are welcome to come to the Burrow for the hols. Mum misses you as well too." He dug in his pocket and held out an empty pop bottle to Harry. "Here's your Portkey. Shacklebolt keyed it to Grimmauld Place for you. He's given you a three day pass to rest and it's scheduled to return Sunday evening."
Harry closed and shrunk his trunk, pocketing it and straightened. He nodded and took the bottle, running his fingers along the dirty glass for a moment before answering Ron. "Thanks."
Ron studied Harry for a long moment. "Hermione and I are going to announce our engagement at Christmas and I'd like you to be my best man."
Harry looked up at him and smiled. "'Bout time, mate." He reached out a hand to Ron. "I accept."
Ron chuckled and shrugged, turning red in the face as he took Harry's hand and squeezed it. "Hurry back, Harry." He let go and left.
Harry hung his head for a moment and sighed in relief. "Kreacher!"
The house elf popped into the room and shuffled toward Harry, bowing low and smiling at him before reprimanding his Master. "Harry Potter is not well. Kreacher knows these things."
Harry chuckled and nodded as he reached into his pocket and drew out the note he'd penned earlier. "I know, Kreacher, but I need you to do something for me. Take this to Hermione and wait for what I've asked for. I'll be home soon and bring it to me there. Can you prepare something for dinner as well?"
The elf took the parchment and nodded. "Kreacher will makes certain it is done for Harry Potter." He vanished just as abruptly as he had arrived.
Snape pulled the cloak from his head and looked at Harry, shaking his head. "Interesting company you keep, Potter."
Harry turned and looked at Snape. "Don't start. Ready then?" He held out the bottle to Snape.
Snape looked at the bottle then at Harry's face. "You've gotten rid of the charm?" he asked softly.
Harry arched a brow then nodded. "It's safe for you to return to Grimmauld Place. We should be able to find what we need there and figure out what happened."
Snape nodded and reached out, wrapping his hand around the bottle. Harry watched his fingers curl around the neck and slid his own along the glass to touch Snape's. The long pale digits were warm and soft under his own and Snape sucked in a breath as Harry wrapped his hand around Snape's gripping both the bottle and his hand.
Harry looked up at Snape's face, just as he felt the pulling sensation at his navel. Snape's dark eyes burned with a hot intensity and Harry shivered as they vanished out of the room.
The Portkey dumped them in the drawing room. Snape managed to keep his feet but Harry wobbled, falling into Snape. He clutched at Snape's robes, eyes wide as he felt Snape stumble under his weight. They toppled back onto the sofa, Harry sprawled on Snape's lap.
He stared into Snape's eyes and reached up, touching his face. Snape's eyes went wide as Harry's fingers continued to caress his cheek. "You're really real now. Alive again."
Snape cleared his throat and nodded. "Yes, I suppose I am. As are the ten stone with which you are crushing me. Get off!"
"Oh, right." Harry pushed himself off Snape's lap and straightened his robes. He swallowed and flushed. "Kreacher should be back soon and hopefully the book should be able to help us."
Snape stood and nodded, running his hands down his chest as if testing the reality of it for himself.
"How does it feel?"
Snape looked at him and smirked. "Solid."
Harry chuckled. "I remember it well."
Snape sighed and looked around the room, sitting down once more, touching the sofa and the doily that lay across the arm. He picked at the fabric, not looking at Harry as they waited in the heavy silence.
Kreacher popped into the room, holding a battered book in his hands. He eyed Snape wearily then waddled slowly over to Harry. "Hermione Granger says to be being carefully with her book, Harry Potter. She is wanting to yous to fire talk when yous is feeling better."
Harry groaned but nodded as he took the book from the house elf. "Thanks, Kreacher."
Kreacher nodded, eyeing Snape once more and left them as Harry flipped through the book and sat back down on the sofa next to Snape. He stopped at a page then read aloud the passage about the second brother.
"Yet she was sad and cold, separated from him as by a veil. Though she had returned to the mortal world, she did not truly belong there and suffered."
Harry looked up at Snape. "Was it really horrible when I brought you back all those times?"
Snape looked startled for a moment then shrugged. "You are trying to compare apples to oranges, Potter. Whilst I didn't truly desire to be in your presence, it was not so much suffering as it was an inconvenience. After a while, I enjoyed recounting the tales of Lily to you."
Snape paused and looked down at his lap, folding his hands together as he considered his words. "It was different this time; things aren't always what they appear to be."
Harry looked away from him and nodded. "I enjoyed hearing about her. No one ever really told me about her. It was always about my dad." He ran his fingers over the page and cleared his throat. "So… your theory…"
Snape sat up. "Yes. If what Dumbledore told me about the Horcruxes and what I know of the Hallows is true, then somehow the Potter luck is partially responsible for this." He held up a hand to stop Harry's protests.
"Separated from him as by a veil, is how the text reads, correct?"
Harry nodded, slowly understanding where Snape was headed with his theorising. "You think that when we used the cloak, it acted like a veil and my pulling it off you drew you through it to this side? The mortal side of the veil? How?"
Snape nodded. "When we were… sharing space, I saw what happened to you when The Dark Lord killed you." He looked at Harry, searching his face intently and Harry squirmed under the scrutiny. "Potter, there isn't a wizard alive today that has used all three Hallows and lived to tell the tale. That, in and of itself, had to have fundamentally changed you."
Harry shook his head, closing the book and getting up from the sofa. "No, I'm just Harry, now. My scar doesn't hurt and I've had no visions in almost two years."
Snape stood, gesturing and ticking off his points on his fingers. "That doesn't matter. You still had the Elder wand, the Resurrection stone and the Invisibility cloak in your possession and successfully used them all. You went into death willingly and returned to defeat the most powerful wizard in over a century."
Harry stopped and looked at Snape. "With a second year spell!"
"Exactly! Think about it, Potter. A simple spell defeated the Dark Lord. How else could that have been possible if you had not been changed somehow by the Hallows?"
Harry shook his head. "No, it can't be. I'm… I'm just Harry."
Snape grabbed Harry and shook him. "You have never been just Harry. I would not have given my life to protect just Harry."
Harry stared at him, caught by the look on Snape's face, the wild appearance of his eyes as they glittered in the firelight. He could feel the puffs of air along his face, and in that moment he knew Snape. Sucking in a breath, he toed up and pressed his mouth to Snape's.
Snape's eyes widened as he looked into Lily's- no - Harry's green eyes. He groaned, and his fingers tightened on Harry's arms for just a moment then he pushed him away. He blinked slowly and shook his head, running one hand over his face.
Harry licked his lips and looked down at the floor. "You can stay here, if you want. There's plenty of room. Kreacher will make certain you have everything you need… and I won't bother you again." He turned and walked away from Snape.
Harry turned and looked back at Snape, biting his lip as he waited for Snape to pass judgement on him.
"It is by chance that we met again, by choice that we became something more." Snape picked up Hermione's book, caressing the spine as he turned to the tale and sat down on the sofa. He looked up at Harry, his eyes studying Harry intently for a few moments.
"Thank you for that second chance, Harry."