Something More Than Refuge by arynwy Title: Something More Than Refuge Author:arynwy Pairing: SS/HP, mention of HP/DM Rating: PG Word Count: 3,391 Warnings: None Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. The characters and their worlds belong to their original writers and no copyright infringement or offense is intended. No money was made from this story. Summary: There are some lines that a man won't cross. Severus won't ask. Will Harry answer? A/N: Thanks to sighing_selkie, sky_bleu_angel and iulia_linnea for the stellar alpha and beta services. All errors and awkwardness are my own – these ladies are awesome!
Festival Prompts used – if you consider use of them to consist of turning them upside down, staring at them cross-eyed and dancing the Tango with them: #5. Severus took a deep breath and closed his eyes, his heart breaking. #2. Because nothing says 'Happy Valentine's Day' better than Minerva 'pussy-cat' McGonagall trying to set you up with every unattached member of staff, including non-humans and ghosts, in a crisis of guilty conscience and self-recrimination. (Or she's just drunk.)
Something More Than Refuge
Severus watched Potter from the shadows as he had made a habit of doing since the end of the war eighteen months prior. He’d watched as the boy got back together and then broke up with the Weasley chit, only to take up with Draco Malfoy in her stead. Observed as the young wizard helped restore the castle and grounds using magic that should have been beyond his reach, but mysteriously wasn’t. Silently witnessed and held himself in check as he noticed that the wrong elements in the Ministry were also paying attention to Potter and his burgeoning talent, because the boy was no longer his responsibility. It wasn’t his job to save Potter anymore – especially now, considering his own precarious status in society.
At present, Harry was laughing quietly at something Draco had said as they made their way through the Entrance Hall. Severus stepped further back into the shadows as he watched Draco lean over to playfully kiss Harry before heading outside. Closing his eyes, Severus took a deep breath and faded from view; his heart breaking anew as he chanted his private mantra: Harry is no longer my problem. I need to make the shift for myself before the Ministry starts breathing down my back as well. Ha! Who did he think he was fooling and just when had Potter become ‘Harry’? In his hurry to flee the object of his pain, Severus never noticed that Harry had paused to study the shadows where he’d recently hidden before turning to exit the castle.
When Severus rematerialized at the top of the Astronomy Tower, Minerva was waiting for him. “Severus, how do you keep getting into the castle without my permission? The new wards shouldn’t allow it,” she stated with a frustrated sigh as he leaned next to a crenelation, making himself comfortable.
“The Board may have named you Headmistress due to my condition, but Hogwarts still knows who its master truly is,” he replied with a smirk. “Besides, you have nothing to worry about. As soon as the school reopens, I will absent myself when there are students in residence – unlike some; I refuse to put them at risk.”
Minerva sighed and bit back the harsh words that immediately came to mind. “Severus, you know that is not what I meant. The wards should have kept you out because you’re . . .”
“Do not finish that statement, Minerva. If you ever cared for me, just don’t. I personally can pass the wards because I don’t intend anyone harm and that is all you need to know.”
“Well, I hope you’re correct about this Severus, but that still doesn’t explain why you keep returning. I wouldn’t mind so much if you would at least make yourself useful.”
“And we both know what you’d consider useful. No.” Severus gave Minerva a look that would have shut anyone else down, but evidently not her.
“You could teach him as well as keep him from being used,” Minerva countered. “With your protected status, the Ministry wouldn’t be able to touch him. Who knows? You might even grow to enjoy each other’s company.” Giving him a sly look, she continued. “I seem to recall the fact that you have a mandated deadline to find a willing, permanent partner or the Ministry will assign you one from their list. They will only accept your voluntary donors list for so long.”
Severus wasn’t certain whether he wanted to hex her or scream. Minerva had been trying for years to pair him off with just about anything with two legs and a pulse, but this time she’d stepped over a line that he was very much unwilling to cross. Harry was someone he actually wanted, but only if the feelings were mutual. He would not use the mandated Ministry rules for his kind to obtain him. “That was low – especially coming from you. As for Potter, he’s had more than enough interference in his life. I won’t be party to it anymore. If he needs my assistance or wants my attention, he can ask me himself. You know how to find me,” he murmured as he spun and stepped from the tower, flying gracefully towards the Forbidden Forest in the evening gloaming.
“Ah, Severus, I may know how to find you, but when will you allow someone else in?” Minerva muttered as she turned to make her way back to her office.
Draco watched carefully as Harry finished constructing the intricate privacy wards on Narcissa’s personal study and shivered as he felt them snap into place. “That was the last thing that Mother required of you, yes?”
Harry turned from the wall he was inspecting and smiled. “Yeah, and it seems to have worked. I felt the mutual Life Debts dissolve as soon as I activated the ward.”
“I did as well.” Taking a step closer to Harry, Draco reached out with his hand and beckoned, smiling in satisfaction when Harry moved to join him at his side. “So what will you do now? Mother and I have taught you everything we can in regards to serving a dominant,” Draco said as he led Harry to the sofa and pulled him closer as they both sat.
“Now that I’m completely free of obligations, magical and otherwise?” Harry asked as he laid his head on Draco’s shoulder, making himself more comfortable.
Harry didn’t respond immediately, but Draco had grown used to the prolonged silences that were a part of the other boy’s thought process. As usual, right when he thought he needed to prompt him, Harry spoke.
“I’ve decided to decline Flitwick’s offer of apprenticeship and seal the Elder Wand away permanently. I’ll ask Ron and Hermione to help set the ward, that way no one will be able to retrieve it unless all of us are there to lift it.”
Draco nodded. “I thought so, although I don’t envy you at all when it comes to breaking the news to Hermione and the Weasel.”
“No, honestly! Hermione will go on forever about lost opportunities and Weasley? If he wasn’t so ridiculously loyal to you, I’d be worried about his fascination with that wand,” the blond stated seriously.
“Hermione won’t be a problem, she’ll be distracted and probably go spare when I tell her the rest of it,” Harry said with a sigh before continuing. “I’m going to offer myself to Snape instead.”
Draco whistled. “So that was the reason behind the request for instruction from us. I thought it odd that my portion of the Debt actually terminated, but now it makes perfect sense.”
“I suppose it would,” Harry replied. Turning a bit, he reached into an inner pocket in his robe and pulled out a roll of parchment. “This is the offer and the terms I’ve written out for Snape to consider. Would you take a look and make sure I haven’t screwed myself over too badly?”
Draco took the scroll and set it aside. “Are you doing this because of the Ministry? Not that I’d blame you after the last run-in with that hag from Mysteries. I had nightmares for days about her petitioning the Wizengamot to have your magic permanently bound after we finished the final warding ritual at Hogwarts. I would have thought that Shacklebolt would keep a firmer leash on them.”
“Kingsley is under a lot of pressure now that I’ve officially turned down offers from the Aurors and the Unspeakables. I’m not one of his favourites at the moment, but to answer your question, no – not primarily,” Harry said with a smile. “Haven’t you noticed that Snape has been following me since we got together?”
Draco stared at him in confusion. “When? I think I’ve only seen him twice in the last nine months and that was from a distance.”
“That’s because he’s only let you see him twice,” Harry said with a laugh. “I’m interested and I think he’s more than interested as well.”
Draco picked up the parchment with a sigh. “Well, if that’s how things stand, I’d better look this over carefully. You do understand that this will be a permanent bond if he accepts? He won’t settle for anything less.”
“Yes,” Harry whispered more to himself than in response to Draco’s question. Tucking himself closer to the other boy, he listened as Draco made suggestions and changes to the document that would change his life and secure his freedom if Snape accepted the terms and himself.
Three figures stepped away from Dumbledore’s tomb and headed slowly towards the entrance of the glade. One shook his head in apparent agitation and walked a bit faster than the other two, only to turn back swiftly in anger.
“No, Ron. The Elder Wand is where it rightfully belongs now and there it will stay until its power is broken,” Harry said firmly, his mouth drawn in a thin line.
“But Harry, that’s what you said originally and then you ended up using it for almost two years. You’ve done incredible things with it – you should keep it, mate,” Ron insisted.
“I did what needed doing Ron and now I’m finished. My own wand is more than good enough for what I need to accomplish now,” Harry huffed in frustration and started walking towards the castle.
“Well, what about the Aurors?” Ron asked. “Wouldn’t it be best if you had the wand when you join them?”
Harry stopped in his tracks and looked down at the ground, counting silently under his breath. After a brief moment, he looked up and stared Ron in the eye. “For the last time, I won’t be joining the Aurors and the wand stays. Dumbledore left it to me to break its power and I’ve done half the job by using it for nothing but good works and creation. Powerful works of the like that hasn’t been seen since the time of Merlin. Give it a rest, Ron.”
Ron looked to Hermione, who’d been strangely silent throughout the whole exchange, and when she refused to comment, he sighed. “Fine. I’ll just take myself on to the castle before I end up making a mess of what’s left of our friendship.” Looking decidedly dejected, the redhead continued on his way alone.
Hermione walked up to Harry and wrapped her arms around him in silent support. Finally, Harry kissed her on the brow and said, “Thanks for that. I don’t want to be angry with him right now; we’re just barely speaking as it is because of me taking up with Draco.”
“Well, I think that Draco has been good for you, even if neither of you is serious about the relationship,” Hermione said with a smile.
“We’ve both been good for each other. We’ve healed a lot that was broken,” Harry said quietly.
“Not wanting to get on your bad side at the moment, I’m going to ask you a question and you can refuse to sate my curiosity,” Hermione said softly.
“Alright, go ahead and ask.”
“Why won’t you take the multidisciplinary apprenticeship that Professor Flitwick has offered?”
Harry looked at Hermione solemnly and slowly walked around her until he was directly behind the slightly smaller woman. Pulling her gently to him, he whispered softly in her ear, “Its better if I show you, but just remember the fact that you asked.” In one swift motion, he pulled them both into Apparition, grinning at the panicked look on Hermione’s face as they now stood on a portion of the Great Wall in China that they had visited six months ago. He didn’t allow her to catch her breath before pulling them into another transit that ended in his private room at Hogwarts.
“Fuck, Harry. Just fuck! What the hell was that?” Hermione stammered as Harry held her snugly and gently ran his fingers through the sweat dampened roots of her hair. “It’s not possible,” she whimpered. “You can’t Apparate onto or off Hogwarts grounds or in the castle itself. Hell, you can’t Side-along, let alone do a single transit over the distances you just pulled in one jump!”
“Shhh. It’s alright; just a small taste of what I can accomplish now. I didn’t mean to scare you, Hermione. I’m a hell of a lot stronger than they know and I can’t have them finding out. Right now, they mostly think I managed all of that advanced magic because of the Elder Wand, but it’s not true. Not one bit and some of the folk in the Ministry are starting to pay attention – especially that Unspeakable from Mysteries. I need to speak with McGonagall and see if she will put me in touch with Snape,” Harry said calmly, magically forcing his calm upon the shivering woman in his arms.
“But Severus Snape is …,” Harry placed his hand softly over her mouth to silence her.
“Snape is the failsafe that Dumbledore left behind in case something like this came up. If I am going to apprentice with someone, it will have to be him,” Harry said, releasing her and lowering his hand to his lap.
“Oh, Harry,” Hermione said with a sigh, “haven’t you sacrificed enough?”
“It won’t be all that bad and it will protect me from the Ministry. They can’t change the laws and treaties that are on the books without starting another war,” Harry stated.
“But who will protect you from Snape? He’ll make a thrall of you. I’ve read about the requirements that most of his kind demand,” Hermione whispered as a single tear trickled down her cheek.
“I’m not quite that naïve, Hermione. I won’t go with him unless he agrees to bond with me. I would be his bond-mate and as such, he wouldn't harm me. I’d be cherished and cared for.”
“You’d be his bound submissive, Harry. You do understand what that means?” Hermione questioned, turning to look at the boy she’d protected for almost half of her life.
“That I’d choose to willingly submit would be the greatest gift that I could offer him. He will not abuse the gift, Hermione. Come on, it’s almost dinner and they’ll be expecting us,” Harry said as he stood and pulled Hermione to her feet. They walked the through the castle in companionable silence.
Two days later, Harry found himself sitting in Headmistress McGonagall’s private quarters ensconced in a comfortable leather wingback, sipping a finger of her favourite single malt. After trading anecdotes and other inconsequentials, his former Head of House came to the point.
“Harry, I noticed that you strengthened the wards and cast that damnable spell that Severus developed when you entered my rooms. Is there something that you’d like to tell me?”
Harry laughed. “You sound like Dumbledore when you put it that way. Well, yes. There is something I’d like to ask, a favour of sorts.”
“I’m all ears, young man. Now get to the point,” she snapped.
Harry took out a thick letter and passed it to Minerva. Taking a calming breath he stated, “I need you to put me in touch with Severus Snape. It would be best for all if I apprenticed with him, although I appreciate the offer from Professor Flitwick.”
Minerva looked carefully at the young man seated across from her and frowned. Harry had finally figured out that he needed to apprentice with Severus. The Ministry wouldn’t be able to touch either of them if they bonded and the boy definitely needed that kind of protection if he was to have any type of freedom. Harry’s talent had grown all out of proportion and it couldn’t all be accounted for by his use of the Elder Wand. There were certain factions in the Ministry that wouldn’t let that fact go unless they were forced to by other, more powerful circumstances. She just hoped that there was more to all of this than his need for shelter. Severus deserved someone that was actually capable of loving him. Thinking back over the last year, Minerva had to admit that over half of the conversations that Harry had initiated with her revolved around his interest in Severus. Making a swift decision, Minerva finally spoke.
“Harry, I have my misgivings, but I will make the request of Severus and pass on your letter. If he agrees to meet with you, you’d best be civil with him. It’s obvious that you need training up and I completely agree that it would be in none of our best interests if the Ministry got its hands on you. They are already unhappy with the fact that you’ve turned down a spot with the Aurors and Unspeakables, young man. Who knows what they’ll do once they find out you won’t be tucked away here at Hogwarts either.”
Harry smiled. “There was a reason that Albus Dumbledore stayed locked up in his ivory tower for the most part. Now, I must do the same, if I’m to have any sort of life. Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me yet, Harry. I still have to get his grumpiness to agree to meet with you,” Minerva said with a laugh.
Harry stood and bowed. “I have every confidence in you, Madam,” he said with a cheeky grin.
Minerva sighed. “On a more serious note, Harry, you do understand that if Severus agrees, this will be a permanent situation?”
Hiding his annoyance at being asked that same question yet again, Harry replied, “I’m completely counting on that detail,” as he casually struck a pose of overconfidence that was more suited to the Malfoy scion.
“Oh, get out of here, you scamp,” the older woman said with a mock frown on her face. Harry laughed and lifted his wards, exiting the room with a spring in his step.
On Valentine’s Day, just before the sun set, Harry found himself standing on a grassy tor out in the middle of nowhere, awaiting Snape’s arrival. He’d taken a bit of care with his appearance in hopes of making himself more visually appealing to the man. Harry had left his hair just past shoulder length and wore a fitted vest with his form fitting jeans. The loose duelling robe he’d donned was open and fluttered in the soft breeze. After quickly scanning the horizon, something made him turn to look behind him. Snape.
“Very good, I must admit. It took less than a second for you to notice me and yet, had I wished it, you would be dead,” the former Death Eater said with a smile.
Harry relaxed and smiled in return. “I do appreciate the show of mercy on your part, Snape. You look well.”
“Of course I do. My former masters are both dead, the war is over, and I no longer teach dunderheads.”
“I was hoping you’d make an exception and mentor me,” Harry said quietly, waiting for the older man’s rejection.
Snape paced a circle around Harry and laughed. “You always hope that I’ll make an exception. After all of these years, one would think you’d know me better. No matter. Minerva delivered your missive and I’ve made my decision,” he stated, stopping directly in front of Harry.
Severus stared at the young man that stood calmly before him. Potter had grown in more ways than one since the final battle. When the boy wasn't shielding, magic practically sang in his presence. He was taller and now possessed a dancer’s build. His eyes were no longer obscured by the hideous glasses he’d persisted in wearing in the past. Curiously, that was the only other thing Potter had done for himself with the Elder Wand besides repairing his original wand – he’d magically corrected his previously magically uncorrectable vision.
“I am impressed. No incessant questions, no insipid demands for answers. Who are you and what have you done with Potter?” Snape asked glibly.
“I’m a weary traveller requesting a place to weather out the coming storm. Potter got lost somewhere along the walk to his death in the Forbidden Forest. Harry is all that’s left.”
Severus took in the peaceful mien of the man standing before him and decided. He would do. “Harry, come to me.”
“The terms?” Harry asked quietly.
“I agree to all that you’ve requested of me and all that you’ve offered in return,” Severus replied.
Taking a shallow breath, Harry stepped into the vampire’s embrace.