Happy Daft Day, inoru_no_hoshi! Recipient:inoru_no_hoshi Title: Definition of Need Author:asnowyowl Rating: Mature/NC-17 Warnings: Non-magic AU, teacher/student, Chan (15 years old), mention of SS/BW. Prompt/Summary: Severus Snape lives a lonely life until he finds what it means to be needed. A/N: Set in the United States. Non-magic AU. Wonderfully beta’d by bk7brokemybrain. inoru_no_hoshi, I didn’t use as many of your kinks as I would have liked, but I hope you enjoy the story.
Definition of Need
Severus closed the door on his last class of the day and sagged against it, massaging the back of his neck with one hand while flicking the door’s thumb lock with the other. Since no student ever sought him out for extra help, he felt not a twinge of guilt about locking his door during the after school Activity Period. Teenagers avoided him like he was the overbearing aunt with chin stubble.
Stepping away from the door, he wandered the room, picking up stray scraps of paper and pushing in chairs that were left haphazardly away from desks. When the student area of the room looked presentable enough to leave for the night janitors, he gathered the assignments from his rectangular in-tray and placed them neatly into a folder and then into his briefcase. Snapping the case closed he peered at the clock, disappointed that only five minutes had passed. His hard and fast rule was to wait a full ten minutes in case anyone knocked on his door for writing help. He wouldn’t want to turn away the next Hemingway or Bronte, after all. With a tired sigh, he lowered himself into his desk chair and closed his eyes.
When he opened them again, it was time he could leave.
Severus stood and straightened to his full height. He’d make his escape with dignity or not at all. Unfortunately, when he opened the classroom door, someone was waiting on the other side, fist raised to knock.
“Severus, I’m quite worried about a certain student.” Al strode in, pushing his broom in front of him, cleaning cart dragging behind.
Severus sighed and returned to his chair. He liked Al, he really did. After all, the man was the closest thing to a friend he had. But sometimes Severus tired of the old man’s interference. Turning his mind to Al’s statement, Severus tapped his lips with one finger, his brow creasing, wondering how a night janitor would see any student enough to formulate an opinion. “Pray tell, Al, what have you seen that concerns you?” And why would you bother me of all people with it?
Al shrugged and swept idly at the floor. “He seems too quiet, too alone.”
“Many teenagers are loners, at least for a while.”
“Yes, that’s true enough, but this boy seems to have no friends. I think he’s sad and lonely.”
Finally, Severus asked the question he’d avoided moments ago. “So why are you telling me this, Al? There are other teachers better equipped to deal with students’ problems.”
The old man shook his head. “No. I don’t think so, Severus. Not in this case, anyway. The boy reminds me a bit of you, actually. That’s why I thought you might offer the best help.”
“What? Is he an ugly, unsociable,” Severus glanced toward the door and then lowered his voice, “bastard?”
Al chuckled. “No. But neither are you.” He propped the broom against his cart and sat heavily in one of the student chairs. “Maybe this is the one, Severus.”
Severus groaned. “Not again, Al. How many times have I asked you not to poke your nose into my business?”
“If you didn’t want my help, you wouldn’t have told me of your hopes, my boy.”
Severus snorted. “I have no hopes left.”
“I think you do, you just don’t want to admit it. You still hope to mentor some talented young writer. You still dream of pushing someone to heights you couldn’t reach. You want to be needed.” Al arched an eyebrow as if challenging Severus to argue.
“Those who can’t, teach, eh?” Severus mumbled. “But that dream died years ago, Albus, killed off by teenagers who tossed my offers of help back in my face. Murdered by watching my suggestions balled up and thrown in the trash. Literally.”
“I think this boy’s different.”
Severus shook his head. If he wanted to get home tonight, he’d have to play along. Al would tell him which no-talent brat he was worried about. Severus would inform Al that the child was, indeed, a no-talent brat and the conversation would be over. “Fine. We’ll do this your way. If the child has any writing talent I shall try to help him. But Lord knows, there are shockingly few in this school who would qualify. So, who is it?”
Al’s smile reached his eyes, which twinkled brightly. “A sophomore. I think you have in him in your creative writing class. Harry Potter.”
Well, damn. Leave it to old Al to hit on the one student who was talented enough for Severus to consider mentoring. The gangly boy always sat in the middle of his classroom, surrounded by other students, but never interacting with them. His oversized clothes, quiet demeanor, and ugly glasses only served to alienate him from his peers. Severus sighed and nodded. “Yes, well, Potter does show some skill in writing. I’ll see what I can do, but don’t look for miracles.”
Severus was agitated when he arrived home. Truthfully, he didn’t know if he had it in him to try again, to pin his hopes on another student. After all, it had been several years since he had last tried to find a protégé. He sat in his tiny library for a few minutes, his mind at war, until he finally made a decision. For good or bad, right or wrong, he would attempt to tutor the child. He had promised Al, after all. And maybe, maybe this student wouldn’t be embarrassed by the attentions of his odd teacher. Severus chuckled to himself. At least Potter seemed almost as odd as he was.
With the decision made, Severus felt better, calmer. He fished Harry Potter’s latest assignment out of his briefcase and sat at his desk, actually looking forward to grading a paper for the first time in ages. After a half hour, Severus had given the child hints on making his writing stronger as well as faint praise for the areas that were already up to snuff. He’d save any invitation for private tutelage until he saw how Potter reacted to this first overture.
That done, Severus set about to grade the other thirty or so assignments he had toted home with him. A little more than an hour later, he tucked them back into his briefcase and rewarded himself with a nice stiff drink.
Hearing voices carrying through the open window, Severus took his glass with him to the side porch and leaned against the railing. He counted the redheaded Weasley siblings tumbling around on the ground in the neighboring yard, five of the seven. He sought out, and found, fifteen-year-old Ronald. The boy who would be about the same age as Potter. Maybe if he weren’t home schooled, Ronald would have befriended Potter. For some reason, Severus imagined the two boys’ personalities would complement each other.
Missing from the Weasley fray were the two oldest, William, who at twenty-five, still lived at home, working as a locksmith, and Charles, who was in college and very rarely home. Severus felt a stab of annoyance that William wasn’t present. He would have liked to see him tonight. There were certain scratches that were itched more pleasantly by others than at one’s own hand.
The Weasley’s front door opened and the children’s father, Arthur, stepped out, smiling at his offspring as he stepped down the stairs and onto the lawn. Severus watched him skirt the writhing mass that was his wrestling children and head, as expected, toward a small garden that adjoined Severus’s lawn. Arthur glanced up when he reached the small plot of ground, spied Severus, and smiled wider.
“Severus, how are you tonight? I hope the kids aren’t bothering you.”
“No more than my students do during the day.”
Arthur laughed. “Ah, that bad then?”
Severus chuckled and turned his attention to the street, watching cars crawl by, suddenly satisfied to see a familiar sedan pull into the Weasley yard, William’s. He waited until William was out of the car and glanced toward him before he saluted him with his drink and walked back indoors. The man would understand the invitation and come around if he was also so inclined.
Fortuitous indeed that it turned out he was.
Severus was uncharacteristically apprehensive about returning Harry Potter’s assignment. The boy’s creative writing class met directly after lunch, just far enough into the day for hopes and fears to build.
He knew his anxiety was foolish, but he’d been here before, been in the position of hoping to help a gifted student, only to have his overtures rebuffed. This would be the last time, absolutely the last. It wasn’t as if he wanted his routine disturbed, anyway. Teaching, grading, reading, and the occasional evening tryst with William were enough to fill his time. So what if his hopes to see his name on the dedication page of a novel were never fulfilled? It wasn’t as if he had anyone to brag about the achievement to.
The students began filing into the room. The Dursley boy had, as usual, at least half his lunch on his face. Severus couldn’t fathom how the boy had grown so obese when that much food ended up on his skin and clothes. Severus watched, his eyes narrowing, as Dursley passed Potter, nearly knocking the smaller boy to the floor. Dursley’s friends laughed. Potter found his balance, stepped aside for some other students, and then passed Severus’s desk to take his seat.
Was this normal fare? Severus couldn’t be sure. He normally didn’t observe the students’ arrival in class. He postponed looking at them until the very moment when it was unavoidable.
Severus cleared his throat, still glaring at Dursley.
The boy looked back and seemed quite flustered at having been caught out at his bullying. From that Severus surmised it did indeed go on regularly. “Mr. Dursley, I will ask that you not attempt to harm other students in my classroom.”
Dursley laughed and bowed. “I’ll save it for the halls, then, sir. He pulled his desk chair out and sat, his wide posterior hanging inches over the chair on either side.
The Potter boy’s cheeks flamed red and he scrunched down in his seat.
Severus made a game of teasing himself. Instead of passing out the corrected stories at the beginning of class, as was his wont, he held off until it was almost time to dismiss the students. In this way he was allowed to hold irrational hope for just a little longer. Stupid, really.
After giving instructions for a homework assignment that was merely to rewrite their latest, mostly-failed, attempts at a short story, Severus walked through the room, handing out said stories. By design, Potter’s was the last paper in the stack. Severus strode to the boy’s desk, placing it down and giving it a sharp tap with his fingers.
He tried for a casually bored gait as he returned to his desk and then swung around once more to face the class. “As always, if anyone has questions on their returned assignment, you may see me after class or during Activity Period.” As he resumed his seat, he finally let his eyes fall on Potter. The boy was just setting his story down on his desk. His brow was furrowed, teeth worrying his bottom lip. As Severus watched, he picked the paper up again and scanned it, eyes moving down, pausing now and then.
The ringing bell startled Severus from his attentions. “Class dismissed.”
Potter waited until everyone in the rows behind him had passed by before he stood. Severus wondered if that too was normal, but again had no context with which to compare, as he was usually planning his next class before the present one exited. The boy peeked around behind him before he stood, and kept his head down as he passed Severus’s desk on his way out the door. But Severus did notice that the story he’d returned was clutched tightly in Potter’s hand.
When the next class filed in, Severus kept his head down, scanning his lesson notes.
The next day, Severus asked for the homework in Potter’s class to be handed in as the students walked through the door. He wanted to avoid the temptation of skimming Potter’s revised story immediately, so he tucked it into his briefcase with the rest for later perusal.
At home that evening, Severus graded every single other assignment before plucking up Potter’s. He closed his eyes for a moment, took a steadying breath, and berated himself for acting the fool over what would be another failed attempt at mentoring. He even argued with himself for a moment that the boy wasn’t that good, anyway, though he knew it to be a lie.
Finally, he looked at the paper. As was procedure, Potter had stapled the original story on top of the revised version. Severus was about to flip to the second page when he realized that his own broad red strokes were not the only ones decorating the margins. Under many of his suggestions, Potter had made his own comments in reply. Severus scanned the notations, noting that it was the style remarks, and not the cut and dried spelling and grammar corrections, that had been expounded upon.
The first one Severus read was in answer to: You are using too many adverbs. Try stronger verbs instead. Potter had written: So instead of walked quickly, I should use strode?
The rest of the notes were in the same vein, clarifying what Severus had written, or asking questions as to why a change would benefit the story. Severus smiled. So the boy was willing to learn.
When he finally got around to reading the revised story, Severus found Potter had taken his suggestions seriously and even made changes Severus hadn’t indicated, most of which were improvements. Again he made comments, and placed the paper in with the others.
Before he went to bed that night, Severus tucked a paperback thesaurus into his briefcase. It was an extra copy he never used. Potter would be better served by it than he.
Again, Severus watched as the sophomore class filed in after lunch. Potter caught his eye and blushed deeply, turning away and fumbling to his seat. Odd.
When Severus handed back the revised stories, Potter fairly snatched his out of Severus’s hands. Severus stood back for a moment, just out of the boy’s view, and watched. Potter scanned the paper for a few moments and then placed it carefully in a folder. Good. It was a promising start.
For the first time, Severus was almost glad Al was a nosy old man.
When the end of period bell sounded, Severus dismissed the class. As he had observed before, Potter let the other students file by before standing and walking the aisle. When Potter was a step or two away, Severus scooped up the thesaurus and held it out. “Mr. Potter. Do you own a thesaurus?”
He hadn’t expected the boy to look so crestfallen. Potter settled his gaze on the book, talking to that instead of to Severus. “No, sir. I don’t have one, but we learned how to use it in junior high.” His gaze flicked up to Severus’s face for a moment before dropping to the floor. He swallowed and said, “Is my writing that bad, sir? Because I thought maybe it was okay after the notes you made on my last paper.”
Ah, so that was the problem. “Mr. Potter, I would never give a writing aid to a student who I believed had no talent. That would be a waste. It is precisely because you do write well that I give you this book.”
A smile bloomed across Potter’s face. “Really? Because I’ve always loved writing and sometimes I think it’s the only thing I’m any good at.”
Severus stood, leaned over his desk, and pressed the book into Potter’s hands. “Really. Now get to your next class before you’re late.”
The boy clutched the book to his chest, fairly running out of the classroom.
Severus had to fight hard not to smile. A problem he had seldom had.
Severus waited a week and another assignment before finally offering Potter one-on-one lessons during Activity Period. It had become the boy’s habit to nod and say goodbye to Severus at the end of each class. So it was only a matter of Severus stopping the boy with a simple, “Mr. Potter…”
“Your latest assignment was quite good, but if you truly want to be a writer, you may benefit from searching a little deeper for ideas.” He held up a hand before Potter could speak. “Instead of following the latest plethora of knock-off horror writers, you could perhaps think in more personal terms.”
“What do you mean?” Potter asked.
“I’d like to see you dig deeper for themes for your work. Find ideas that you’re passionate about.”
The boy bit his lip and nodded. “I kind of know what I want to write, but…”
“Are you making excuses, Mr. Potter?”
“No, sir. I do have ideas for some stories, but I’m not sure if I could do them right. I’ve always been interested in long-ago times… you know, like the middle ages and stuff. But I don’t know enough about them.”
Severus chuckled. “That’s called research. And with the invention of computers and the Internet, it’s a much easier task than it was when I was your age.”
Potter shrugged. His gaze slid to the classroom’s computer. “I can’t use the computer at home and the ones in the computer lab are always taken.”
“Then you have permission to stay here during Activity Period whenever you’d like. You can use this computer and I’ll offer you as much help as needed.”
After that, Severus no longer locked his classroom door, for Potter came every day. At first the boy seemed awkward, as if he was unsure of his welcome. But as days and then weeks passed, they fell into a rhythm of sorts, with Potter—Harry—researching or writing and Severus doing his grading and giving advice when asked.
He was asked often.
He had heard it said that being needed gave one’s life meaning. He understood that now.
Two weeks into this arrangement, Severus was invited to the Principal’s office for a chat. Before he was even seated, Arabella plunked a paper cup of swill in front of him and launched into a clearly rehearsed speech. “Severus, it has come to my attention that you are spending an excessive amount of time with the Potter boy.”
Severus straightened and stared at the woman. “I assure you, Ms. Figg,” (If he was being accused of something untoward, he wouldn’t give the woman the honor of using her first name as she so often badgered him to do), “I am only tutoring the boy. I am doing nothing wrong.”
The woman had the gall to titter. “Of course you’re not. I would never imply such a thing, Severus. No.” But her brow furrowed and she frowned, a look she rarely sported. “I would hope no one would think such a thing about any of my flock.”
Severus sighed. For a woman who ran a school so ably, Arabella sometimes came off as more empty-headed than an old cat-woman. “I have a class to teach in ten minutes. What did you want to see me about? Something to do with Potter, you said.”
“Yes, yes, Harry Potter. I need you to do something for me, Severus. Something for the welfare of the boy.” She took a sip of coffee. “I do believe there are problems with his home life. I need you to find out as much as you can about how he’s treated by his guardians. You’ll do that for me, won’t you?”
“Guardians? What of his parents?”
Arabella tutted. “Oh dear, you have more work ahead than I imagined. The boy’s parents were killed when he was quite young. Horrible car accident. He was with them. You’ve seen the scar on his forehead? So he lives with an aunt and uncle, but I don’t believe he’s well cared for.”
Severus glanced at the clock and stood. “I am not a spy, Arabella, and do not want the role. If you need information on Potter’s home, you should ask him.”
Arabella stood and darted past Severus, placing herself between him and the door, spry for an old lady. “I’ve tried. Of course I’ve tried. As have many teachers, but the boy opens up to no one. That he spends so much time with you bodes well for your success where others have failed.”
Severus stepped up to her and cocked an eyebrow, waiting for her to move and release him.
“And don’t think about it as spying. Indeed, you’d be doing the boy a favor if you found he was mistreated. We could take steps to correct the situation.”
Severus wanted to bellow at that statement, but to do so would be to reveal more about his own childhood than she had the right to know. His own history had proven that sometimes well-minded people made situations much worse by stepping in. So he gritted his teeth and said, “Sometimes even less than perfect arrangements are better than the alternatives.”
The old bat pretended he’d just agreed with her. She reached up and tapped his shoulder twice before stepping away from the door. “Thanks, dear,” she said, before she sat back at her desk and bowed her head in work. A clear dismissal.
But Severus was not fond of dismissals. “I will do as you ask under one condition.”
Arabella looked up, her eyes narrowed. “Name it.”
“I want permission to take the boy to the book store and town library on occasion.”
“Get it from the guardians and you’ll have it from me.” She bent her head to her task again. “Oh, and Severus, get a haircut. You’re getting shaggy and you know the school rules.”
Severus slipped from the room.
“There’s a library at school, you know.” Harry pushed his hands deeper into his coat pockets and lowered his head against the late autumn wind.
“I am aware.”
“Then why are we walking to the town library?”
“Because Miss Pince runs a shoddy library and should be run out of town.”
Harry laughed, but then sobered when Severus said, “You must know the town library is far superior. I’m sure your guardians have taken you there on occasion.
The boy snorted. “I can only imagine what Uncle Vernon thinks of libraries.”
They boarded a bus; a concession Severus had no choice but make. The bookstore was too far of a walk and there was a school rule about students in teachers’ cars. They sat shoulder-to-shoulder on one of the small, vinyl seats.
“Here is the list of books I intend to purchase for you.” Severus pushed the list into Harry’s hand. Although it might not be exactly within moral limits to buy gifts for a student, it wasn’t outlined as a prohibition in the school’s teacher handbook. Harry’s protestations had been handled. If need be, Severus could also manage Arabella’s complaints. “Some are classic novels in the vein of the book you are writing, others will help you flesh out characters and build plot.”
“But you already do that.” Harry pressed closer to Severus’s side.
Severus had nowhere to go. He was already flush with the metal interior of the bus. “I am not with you every minute that you write, now am I?”
The boy muttered something unintelligible.
“Excuse me, Mr. Potter, but if you are addressing me, I suggest you speak in a volume audible to humans.”
Harry’s face flamed. He stammered, took a deep breath, and then turned just enough so he could glance at Severus. “I said I wish you were.”
“With me all the time.”
Severus was stunned, but quickly regained his senses. “I would make a horrible guardian. I am sure your aunt and uncle’s care is superior to mine.”
Harry shook his head and grinned. “For someone who’s so smart, sometimes you’re pretty dense.”
Severus chose to ignore the context of the statement and focus on the insult. “I would give you an after school detention for your audacity, if it would do any good. But since you already bless me with your presence on a daily basis, the gesture would be wasted.”
“Yeah, but what would you do without me?”
Severus couldn’t answer. The truth of how much he already fed on the boy’s dependence scared him, but he wasn’t in the mood to lie.
Yes, he’d informed Arabella that he was no spy, but as the Christmas season approached, and Severus spent more time with Harry, he began checking on him more often than was necessary. And since said checking routinely involved peering around doorways and slipping past classrooms unseen, Severus supposed maybe he’d have made a passable spy after all.
Harry’s lunchtime routine was perplexing. It had taken Severus several days of passing by the crowded cafeteria, glancing in and roving his eyes over the gaggle of teens, before he finally spotted Harry. After all, he couldn’t very well stand in the doorway for long moments searching, or pass by the cafeteria too many times in one day. No sense in blowing his cover… if he had one, that is.
After he had located his quarry’s usual lunchtime retreat, Severus easily trained his eyes to find Harry unerringly on each successive trip past the doors. There were two concerns Severus carried with him from his lunchtime constitutionals, the first being Harry’s choice of friends. The only students who sat with the boy during lunch were that know-it-all Granger girl (and really, Severus thought, even he was probably better looking than she), and a petite blond freshman, the Lovegood girl. If anyone could be called flighty, it was that one. It was a strange duo for Harry to be spending time with.
When Severus would swoop by and see Harry smiling and talking animatedly with the girls, he had to quash the possessive jealousy that spiked in his gut. After all, he couldn’t possibly be envious of Harry’s time spent with others. They were teacher and student, mentor and mentee, for goodness sake. Nothing else. Nothing.
Severus’s other concern was that Harry never seemed to eat. To test this theory, Severus passed by the cafeteria no less than four times in one period just to prove that Potter didn’t have some odd quirk, like only getting his food in the last five minutes of lunchtime, or some such. But no, the boy never had a lunch tray in front of him. Severus even passed by fortuitously when Lovegood attempted to push half a sandwich into Harry’s hand. Severus had slowed long enough to see Harry smile and shake his head.
So, thereafter he set out snacks during Activity Period.
On the first day, Harry looked longingly at the food, but left it untouched, even though Severus heard his stomach growl once or twice. Loudly. Day two Severus made a show of opening one of the cartons of yogurt, a strawberry one, and eating it while leaning over Harry’s chair, helping him with a rather tricky paragraph.
The only thing that accomplished was Severus having yogurt breath and Harry leaning into him far more heavily than what could be considered proper… or innocent.
Day three Severus didn’t get within touching distance. But he did plop a bag of trail mix onto Harry’s desk and walk away saying, “Eat.”
Harry’s head snapped up. “What? Is someone worried again that I’m not eating during lunch period? I’m not a charity case! Who told?”
“No one told me anything.” Severus frowned and shook his head, feigning indifference to Harry’s words. “I’m only giving you food because I’m normally hungry this time of day and would feel more comfortable enjoying my afternoon snack if you also partook.”
After that, Harry reached for a snack as soon as he walked in the door, often taking seconds or thirds. He didn’t seem to notice that Severus rarely joined him.
“What have you learned, Severus? It’s been a month.” Arabella narrowed her eyes and frowned. “And don’t tell me you’ve found out nothing. I see how much time you spend with him.”
Severus scowled. Unfortunately the expression never cowed Arabella. “I have tried to fish information from the boy, but he generally ignores the bait. Indeed, I have learned very little. Little enough that I have nothing to report.” Severus made to stand, but the Principal held up a hand, staying him as surely as if she pressed him back down into his seat.
“Perhaps you simply aren’t digging hard enough. The boy’s strong, he can handle a little tough questioning.”
“Ah… but how do we know that?” Severus asked. “Potter is only now beginning to trust me. If I move too quickly, all will be lost. I doubt you’ll get the chance to throw another teacher into his path.” Severus’s lie didn’t bother him in the least. He knew Harry trusted him, probably more than he’d ever trusted another person, but Severus had weeks ago decided not to betray that trust. Let Arabella think he was her agent; she would never need know the difference.
“You were wrong, old man.” Severus strode up to Al just after Harry left for the day. “The boy has friends. The Granger and Lovegood girls sit with him every day at lunch.”
Al shrugged, but kept sweeping the hall. “I’ve been wrong a few times in my years.”
Severus chuckled and strode away.
Al’s voice followed him down the hall. “But the boy certainly looks happier. As do you. He needs you, Severus.”
Severus’s step didn’t falter, though his stomach swooped at the thought of someone needing him.
“So you think this kid’s got a crush on you?” William sat up in bed and grinned down at Severus. “How old is he?”
Severus sighed. He enjoyed sex with the eldest Weasley son, but not his penchant for delving into Severus’s life afterward. His pillow talk seemed to take the route of cross-examination. Right now Severus was silently berating himself for discussing Harry over drinks with William before they fell into bed. “Fifteen. He’s fifteen.”
William frowned. “Ah. Ron’s age, then. I remember being fifteen. Horny as all hell all the time.” He laughed, his face brightening, eyes dancing. “So what are you going to do with a horny fifteen-year-old, Snape? Will you throw me over for him? Will you fuck him?”
Severus leapt from bed, grabbing his robe. “What kind of question is that? Of course I won’t touch him. He’s a child! My student!” He marched across the room, flung the bathroom door open, paused, and then paced back toward the bed, finger out and pointed at William. “I think it’s time you leave. For good. Save yourself for that fiancée of yours.”
That did the trick. William’s face paled. “I asked you to never mention her.”
“Then don’t say vile things about me,” Severus spat.
William held his hands out palms up. “It was only a joke, Severus.”
“It’s not funny to joke about child abuse and rape, is it? How would you feel if a man my age was lusting after Ronald?”
William shrugged. “Fifteen is old enough to make your own decisions. Even about sex.” He leered. “So are you lusting after the kid?”
Severus shook his head and retraced his steps, this time making it into the bathroom. “Good-bye, William.”
“Yeah. But I can come back, right?”
Severus closed the door and collapsed against it, his heart hammering in his chest, breath shallow.
William yelled, “You wouldn’t be so defensive if you weren’t thinking about fucking him. I’ll be back in a few days. After you’ve calmed down.”
“Christmas is next week.”
“I am aware, Potter.” Severus looked up from his grading. The boy was staring at him over the computer screen. Severus leaned back in his chair and folded his hands over his stomach. “I’m sure you’re looking forward to the holiday…”
Harry chuckled and shook his head. “Never have. I was too young to know what Christmas was before my parents died. Since then, my aunt and uncle don’t really give me presents, so no use looking forward to it.”
“Are they quite poor?”
Harry’s brow crinkled. He frowned. “I thought teachers knew things about their students families.” His eyes darted away. “Or I thought maybe you’d at least taken enough interest in me to find out something about the Dursleys. After all, I’m here all the time and they’re…”
Severus’s mouth went dry. It wasn’t the first time he’d thought the boy was trying to tell him something, something Severus might not want to hear. After all, even a teacher can’t be forced to act unless they have proof of abuse or neglect. Before Harry could blather on, Severus said, “I don’t believe in nosing into my students’ business. When I asked for permission to accompany you on outings, I realized you live with that awful Dursley boy, but I imagined if there was anything you wanted to talk about, you would.
Harry smiled slightly. “Yeah. Thanks. I guess you’re right. I wouldn’t like it if you started asking all sorts of questions about the Dursleys. But no, they aren’t poor, they just don’t see any need to buy me more than what I need to stay alive.”
Severus nodded. Well, lack of Christmas presents wasn’t a reportable offence. He bowed his head back to his work, only just finding where he’d left off when Potter cleared his throat.
The boy was blushing, red staining his cheeks and neck. “I mentioned Christmas, Mr. Snape, because I was… well I hoped…” He drew in a deep breath and looked away.
“You hoped what, Mr. Potter?”
“Harry. Call me Harry, please. You usually call me Harry.”
“It’s just that it’s easier for me to talk to you when you call me Harry.” The boy flicked his eyes back to Severus. “There’s an old lady that lives next to me, and I’ve been sneaking off from the Dursleys to help her with chores. She pays me a little and I’ve been saving it all. So I was hoping you’d let me buy you dinner some night before Christmas. You know, to say thank-you for everything you’ve done. It couldn’t be any place real expensive, but…”
Severus resisted the urge to scowl or sneer. After all, how could Harry know Severus’s feelings? How could this boy know that he struggled mightily with his attraction to Harry after William had so unkindly pointed it out? “As much as I appreciate the offer, I don’t believe it would be wise for us to be seen together sharing a meal. No matter how much leeway Principal Figg has given us so that I may mentor you, she would not approve of us having dinner together in any setting.”
Harry frowned. “I thought of that, but I don’t know what else to do for you for Christmas.”
Severus stood and walked to stand behind Harry. “Nothing. You will do nothing for me. Spend the money on yourself, Harry.”
When Harry looked back at him, his eyes glimmered with hurt. He didn’t even look this pained when Dursley pushed him down in class or made fun of him mercilessly. Severus’s heart clenched. He turned so his back was to Harry. The final bell of the day sounded, indicating the end of Activity Period. “Tomorrow is the last day of school before the holiday vacation. I will not be here for Activity Period, so don’t plan on staying.”
He didn’t turn around as he heard Harry collect his things and leave the room.
The boy wasn’t in school the next day. Severus tried to convince himself it was for the best, but in truth he had never felt so lost, so damned lonely. Perhaps that was the trouble with being needed, the pain when you were forced to give it up.
Severus was never bothered by the coming of the holidays, at least not much. Both his parents had died years ago, and since he was an only child, he didn’t have family to celebrate with. Once the Weasley matriarch, Molly, realized this, she had taken it on herself to see he wasn’t alone on Christmas day. Severus always refused to join them at their home, so Molly sent at least one of her children over with a plate of food and a small gift. Last year it had been only William. It was the night they had begun their liaison. William had told Severus several months later that he’d done some fancy wrangling in order to be the only one delivering the meal that night. It seems he’d had his mind set for seduction.
Now, almost a year later, Christmas three days away, Severus had finally allowed William back into his bed. He kept his eyes open the entire time, fucking the man from behind, afraid if he shut his eyes, he’d imagine black hair instead of red, green eyes glancing over a shoulder rather than blue.
Later, alone in bed, Severus wondered how he would survive this attraction to Harry Potter. How would he get over it and keep his sanity? When the questions wouldn’t stop thundering in his head, he rose and settled at his computer. Several minutes later he had the listings for every school in the state that was in need of a teacher in the English and Literary fields.
It would be easy, really, to move and start a new life. The house was a rental, and he had no friends other than Al and William, and they weren’t really what most people would consider friends, were they? Yes, easy enough to leave… unbearable to stay. Severus went back to bed, and this time, was able to find sleep.
He was awoken the next morning by a knocking. He rolled out of bed, wrapped a robe around his nude body, and stumbled to the front door. Yanking it open, he expected to chastise the Weasley twins for bothering him so early in the morning, but was brought up short by the sight of Harry standing on his doorstep.
“Sorry, sir, but I have a problem and don’t know where else to go.” He squeezed past Severus and into the house.
Severus turned slowly, suddenly wondering if he was still in bed dreaming.
Harry had made his way to the kitchen and was leaning against a cupboard, running a hand through his hair, flags of color riding high on his cheeks.
Severus sighed and entered the kitchen. He leaned against the counter opposite Harry. “How did you know where I live?”
Harry shrugged. “It’s a small town. Not that hard to find anyone.” He glanced out the window. “Does that big family of red-heads really live next to you? The ones that’re home schooled?”
Severus nodded. He waited for Harry to explain himself, but when it looked like they might be there all day if he practiced patience, he asked, “Why are you here, Harry? You know you shouldn’t be.”
“They left. The Dursleys. They all left for vacation.”
“And they didn’t take you? Well I suppose you’re old enough to stay home alone.”
Harry chuckled. “I’ve been staying alone for as long as I can remember. But this time’s different.” He looked up at Severus. “You see, my room’s an old porch that was walled in and there’s still an outside door. When the Dursleys go on vacation they lock the house so the only room I can get into is my bedroom, well that and the attached bathroom.”
“How do you live when they’re gone? What do you eat?”
“Usually I’m okay, really, they leave me cereal and bread and stuff. But this time they either turned off the heat or the furnace is broken. It got really cold last night.”
Severus shook his head. This was neglect, plain and simple. As a teacher he was law-bound to report it. He told Harry as much.
Harry’s eyes widened. “Please, sir. I’ve been taken away once and put in a home. It was horrible. As bad as the Dursleys are, at least I know what to expect.” His eyes darted around Severus’s house. “I only need a place to sleep until New Year’s Eve. That’s when they’ll be home.”
“I’m breaking the law by not reporting this, but I suppose for your sake, I will not.” Severus ran a hand through his hair. Like he’d told Arabella, sometimes the alternatives are worse than the status quo. “But you certainly cannot stay here.” Even if it wasn’t legally and morally reprehensible for a teacher to house an unrelated student, Severus knew he’d go crazy if Harry Potter slept under his roof. The boy was completely irresistible, and the only way Severus could see of surviving until he moved was to not get into situations like this.
“I’ll freeze to death if I try to sleep at the Dursley’s tonight.”
Severus sighed. He tried to come up with some sort of compromise, but only one solution presented itself, and it was far from perfect. “I may know where you can stay.”
One phone call and five minutes later, Molly Weasley bundled into Severus’s kitchen. Severus introduced Molly to Harry and then asked Harry to wait in the library until he was called for.
“Molly, do you know the Dursleys?”
Molly’s brow crinkled for a moment before she said, “Tall, skinny woman and fat, horrible husband, right?”
“I’ve never seen them, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Harry is their nephew and one of my students. It seems the Dursleys left on vacation and now something’s wrong with the heat. He can’t stay at home and he can’t stay here with me.”
Molly’s face lit up. “One more for Christmas!” She clapped her hands. “How old is he? He’s awfully small, so maybe a little younger than my brood, but still, I’m sure he’d have fun with us.” The smile slid from her face and she tutted. “Awful people, those Dursleys, though, aren’t they? Leaving a child behind over the holidays.”
Severus nodded. Sometimes he thought Molly was more hyperactive than even her twin boys. “Yes, the Dursleys seem horrid, but they’re all Harry has. He’s Ronald’s age, by the way, and I do think he’d be happy at your place for the duration. As long as you don’t mind…”
Soon enough, Harry had been invited to spend the rest of his vacation with the Weasleys and Molly was bustling out the door, talking a blue streak to Harry, not realizing Harry wasn’t following her.
“Don’t let her frighten you,” Severus said from his chair at the kitchen table. “She really does take a breath now and again.”
Harry turned slowly. He licked his lips before scurrying over to Severus. Before Severus could react, Harry cupped his face with one hand and leaned in to kiss him lightly. “Thanks. I’ll see you soon,” he said as he ran out the door.
Well that certainly wasn’t what Severus needed. It was bad enough to have the object of his every perverted fantasy next door, but to have the taste of the boy on his lips was unconscionable. Severus’s tongue darted out and swept over his lips, just to make sure. Yes, he could taste the boy. He stood and retreated to a bottle of scotch.
When William showed up that night, Severus closed his eyes and let his mind conjure whatever fantasy it desired while he fucked the man. Of course, it desired dark hair, green eyes, and a lithe, young body.
When William left, Severus sat up long into the night, reviewing the available teaching positions and crafting a résumé. His body might not know that Harry Potter was an obsession that needed to be excised from his life, but his mind certainly did.
When his printer began whirring, coughing out the letters he would mail after Christmas, Severus finally crawled into bed.
Severus spent the morning indoors, not caring to be sociable. After a terrible night’s sleep, and not much hope of more until Harry wasn’t encamped next door, he was bleary eyed and testy. So it was, all things considered, the wrong time for Harry Potter to come bursting through his door just after lunch.
Harry stood in front of Severus in the living room, hands balled into fists at his sides, eyes large and bloodshot. He looked as tired as Severus felt, and when he talked, his voice was gravelly. “He can’t have you.”
That wasn’t one of any number of conversation starters Severus had expected from a furious-looking Harry Potter. “What? Who?”
“Bill Weasley. I saw him sneak over here last night. I followed. You really should keep your door locked.”
The import of what Harry was saying hit Severus. He felt ill, but thought he managed to hide any expression. “William has no reason to sneak to my house, and furthermore, you have no right to let yourself in, regardless if my door is locked or not.”
Harry’s hands flexed. “No reason to sneak? He’s engaged! To be married. Did you know that? Ron told me. He’s supposed to marry some French girl. I’m sure she doesn’t know that you… that you fuck him! I bet Mr. and Mrs. Weasley don’t know either.”
Severus glanced toward the window. Luckily no one was in the Weasley yard as Harry was nearly shouting. “William is a grown man. Who he chooses to be with is his concern. But to answer your question, yes, I know of his engagement. Not that it’s any of your business, but what William and I do is solely for release, nothing more.”
Harry nodded. “That’s good, because like I said, He. Can’t. Have. You.” With every word, Harry stepped closer until, on the ‘you’ he was standing toe-to-toe with Severus, glaring up at him. His face softened. “Don’t you know how I feel about you? Don’t you care about me?”
Severus took a step backward and then another. “I… I didn’t know how you felt until that kiss yesterday.”
Instead of stepping toward Severus again, Harry sat heavily onto the floor. “You really don’t care about me? I thought, just maybe, someone finally did.” He bent his legs at the knees and folded his arms over them, resting his forehead on his arms.
“You are my student, Harry. You’re underage. A child. Even if I did care about you in the way you hope, I wouldn’t be able to act on those feelings.” Severus was suddenly unsure what to do with himself. Standing over Harry felt like looming, but sitting on the floor next to him would be folly. Finally he compromised and sat on the sofa a few feet from the boy.
Without looking up, Harry said, “You have to tell me straight out. I need to know.”
“If you have feelings for me. At all.”
Severus took a few deep breaths, stalling for time. He should lie, of course he should. But would a lie break the boy? This child who had no one to count as his loved ones, would one more rejection ruin him? But how could one rather filthy obsession be better?
When Severus failed to answer, Harry crawled across the floor to him and then up into his lap.
Severus fought dual urges: to push the boy away or to pull him close.
Harry made the decision for them both. He leaned forward and whispered, “Please,” before pressing his lips to Severus’s. “Please,” he begged as he wound his arms around Severus’s neck. But it was the, “I need you,” whispered as he rocked his hips, pressing his hardness into Severus’s stomach, that killed the last of Severus’s resolve.
Severus’s arms came up almost reflexively and his hands clutched Harry’s hair as he tilted the boy’s face to the angle he desired and consumed the mouth that was on offer. Harry’s lips were warm and sweet—too sweet for the likes of Severus, but he was far too out of control, too needy, to pull away. He unwound one hand from Harry’s hair to lower it to the boy’s back, pulling him impossibly closer, moaning when the boy’s weight shifted and pressed against his cock.
Harry pulled his head back just enough to speak. “Oh, god, sir, I can feel you… I can feel how much you want me.”
Severus tilted his hips, so his cock pressed harder into the back of Harry’s leg. The increased pressure, while intended to further inflame Harry, had just that effect on Severus. He wasn’t a teenager. He shouldn’t be ready to lose control from a bit of frotting. He pulled away from Harry’s questing lips, hoping to gain back some semblance of command, only to be confronted with a needy look on the boy’s face. It was a look, alas, that Severus couldn’t deny. “And how much do you want me, Harry?” he whispered.
The boy threw his head back, exposing a pale neck to Severus, one Severus ached to plunder but was afraid to lose control on and mark. Harry whined. He tilted his head down and looked at Severus through lust-darkened eyes. “Want you so much. Need you. Only you. Please, sir.”
If Severus had any conscience left in regards to having this boy in his bed, Harry’s breathless begging extinguished it. He grasped the hem of Harry’s shirt and yanked it over his head, throwing it aside and running his hands over a too-thin torso, unmarred by scar or age. Peaked nipples teased him into leaning in and tasting.
Harry moaned his approval.
Severus pulled away from the pebbled flesh and rasped, “Bedroom. Now.”
Harry seemed either unwilling or unable to process the order, so Severus wrapped his arms around Harry’s ass and stood, carrying him to the bedroom. Once there, he put Harry on his feet and reached for Harry’s jeans’ fastenings, wanting to see the boy, all of him.
But Harry surprised Severus by stepping away and viciously tearing the linen off Severus’s bed. The comforter and sheets were plucked away and thrown into a heap on the bedroom floor. Even the pillows were slipped of their cases before Harry turned, panting in exertion, to look at Severus. “I won’t do this on the sheets you had him on last night.”
The possessive fire in Harry’s eyes spurned Severus on to even greater heights of desire. No one had ever wanted him so deeply as to wish to erase the touch of another from his life. “I’ll burn the fucking things if you’d like.” He snatched at Harry, and grabbing the boy around the waist, lowered him roughly to the bed, covering him with his own body. It was only after they were again kissing deeply and frotting against each other that Severus wished he’d thought to remove their clothes.
He sat back so he was straddling Harry’s thighs and fumbled at the button and zip of the boy’s jeans until he got them undone. Then he stood at the side of the bed and removed Harry’s shoes and socks before pulling jeans and boxers off in one smooth movement. He took a moment to stare down at the boy, admiring taut, young skin. Harry’s cock was a beautiful sight, in proportion to the rest of his body, hard and glistening with pre-come. Severus bent and licked the fluid away with a flick of his tongue, causing Harry to thrash. He pulled away and stood, divesting himself quickly of his own clothes.
This time when he covered Harry’s body with his own, the fire of skin-to-skin contact was almost too delicious to bear. As for Harry, he was silent, seemingly overwhelmed, but his hips thrust rhythmically, pushing his cock against Severus’s hip. Severus shifted so their shafts were aligned and watched Harry’s face when he next thrust up. The boy’s eyes widened and his mouth opened on a gasp.
“Feels good, doesn’t it?” Severus purred, leaning down so his mouth was a scant inch from Harry’s ear. “To feel such need pressed against your own…”
Harry nodded and groaned. His arms wrapped around Severus’s back. He turned his head so they were nose to nose and then pushed forward for a kiss. As his lips and tongue sweetly assaulted Severus’s, Harry’s hips continued to thrust. With each push, Severus’s cock was bumped and slid against.
Neither of them would last long like this, and Severus needed this to continue at least a little longer. After all, the boy could come to his senses at any moment and realize just who he was in bed with. Severus pulled away from Harry’s mouth. “Harry, I want to slow down a little. I want to enjoy you.”
Harry took a deep breath. “I just want this so bad.”
“But you don’t want it to be over almost before it begins, do you?” Severus rose up on his elbows and knees so Harry could no longer frot against him.
Harry whined but nodded.
Severus began exploring and tasting the boy. Starting with that neck he was so afraid to mark, he ran lips and tongue over Adam’s apple and then lower, sweeping across a thin chest and then plying each nipple with attention.
Harry was so responsive, writhing under Severus, vocalizing his approval.
Severus bent lower, nuzzling into Harry’s pubic hair, inhaling the musky scent. He swiped his tongue across Harry’s balls and then up, laving the boy’s cock from root to tip, swirling at the top, listening to Harry mewl. His own cock twitched at the sound and the taste.
No matter how much he longed to draw this experience out, he was now sure he wouldn’t last no matter how slowly he tried to take things. “What do you want, Harry? Should I suck you off? Or would you rather we frot against each other as we were?”
Harry’s hips bucked shallowly. “I want you to fuck me.”
Severus sat back on his haunches. He gazed at Harry until the boy opened his eyes. When he had Harry’s attention, Severus said, “Your virginity should be kept for someone other than me.”
Harry shook his head. “I don’t want anyone else. It has to be you. Please, sir.”
God, how Severus wanted to do just what the boy was asking, but he was afraid. Terrified he’d hurt the boy, frightened that Harry would later regret giving Severus such a gift.
Harry seemed to recognize Severus’s hesitation for the fear it was. He sat up and grasped at Severus’s forearms. “I’ve never belonged to anyone, at least not that I remember. But I want to be yours. I want you to take me and make me your own.”
Severus wanted that, too, but he knew it was a fool’s hope. It would be only too easy to fall completely for this boy, and then what? Take another job and leave him? Stay and wait for someone to discover their secret and have Severus arrested? Was there any hope for happily ever after? “Fucking does not amount to claiming,” he said finally.
Harry cradled Severus’s face with one hand and looked right into his eyes. For one disconcerting moment, Severus was sure Harry could read his desires, because the boy smiled. “For us it will,” he whispered. He leaned in for another kiss, this one slower, filled with such unbearable promise that Severus was lost.
Severus pushed Harry back down onto the bed, lying on top of him once more. Between kisses, he asked, “Are you sure, Harry?”
“Yes. But only if you know what it means to me.”
Severus pulled back so Harry could see his face. “I do, Harry. We shouldn’t do this, but, God help me, I do.”
“Then fuck me, sir.” Harry closed his eyes and sighed.
“I am going to take my time in preparing you. If I don’t, you could be hurt and that is not acceptable.” When Harry didn’t respond, Severus leaned over and pulled a condom and lube from his bedside table. He laid the condom aside and slicked a finger on his right hand. He nudged Harry’s legs until the boy lifted them, wrapping his arms around his knees. Severus trailed a wet track down Harry’s cleft, from balls to tailbone and then back up, noting Harry’s reaction when his finger skittered over his entrance. The boy shivered and gasped at the contact. “Does that feel good or unpleasant?” Severus asked.
Severus re-oiled his finger and went directly to Harry’s pucker, circling and massaging it until Harry was writhing. Then he pushed in, just a little, to see how Harry reacted. It was encouraging.
Harry moaned and pushed back.
Severus let his finger sink deeper into Harry, wondering at the almost impossible tightness of the boy. Would he even be able to loosen him enough to fuck? He carefully thrust his finger in and out until the muscles did indeed loosen. When Severus thought Harry was ready, he slicked another finger and entered him again. This time, he searched for, and found, Harry’s prostate, rubbing it, and watching, delighted, as Harry gasped and his cock twitched.
Severus repeated this slow exploration with three fingers until Harry was as prepared as he thought he could make him. He pulled the fingers away and said, “Open your eyes and look at me, Harry.”
The boy did what he was told. Green eyes gazed up at Severus and a smile played on Harry’s lips. “Are you ready, then?”
“The question is, are you?” Severus replied. He made a show of running a hand up his own prick, making sure Harry knew he would be impaled with something larger than three fingers.
“I’ve been ready for this for months,” Harry whispered, his eyes not leaving Severus’s cock. “Please. Now.”
Severus nodded. He ripped open the condom package and unrolled the bit of latex over his cock, adding extra lubrication before placing Harry’s ankles on his shoulders and guiding his prick to Harry’s entrance. When he was sure Harry was as relaxed as he was probably going to be, Severus pushed gently forward, relieved when the head of his cock breached the boy without undue force.
Harry gasped and tightened, his back arching slightly. Severus hushed him and stilled, letting Harry get used to the fullness. He reached around Harry’s leg to grasp the boy’s cock in one hand and stroke it back to the full erection that had flagged under the assault on his ass.
Muscles slowly relaxed and Severus just as slowly pushed into the boy. Finally, he was fully seated inside Harry. He paused once more to let him adjust.
Harry’s breaths were shallow, his eyes open but half-lidded. When the vice-like grip of Harry’s internal muscles slackened, the boy nodded. “I’m ready.”
Severus began by just rocking against Harry, letting his cock do no more than tease inside. When Harry began rolling his hips, rocking along with Severus, Severus pulled out a little and then pushed back in, thrusting shallowly, waiting for Harry’s reaction.
The boy moaned. “More. I want more.”
That was permission enough for Severus. He began elongating his thrusts, still careful not to go too hard too quickly, gauging by Harry’s reactions when it was acceptable to redouble his efforts.
When he had finally gained to a full, hard thrust, Severus began pulling again on Harry’s cock, delighting in the boy’s throaty moans. He hoped he could hold off his own orgasm until he tipped Harry over the edge, wanting to feel the boy’s muscles contract around him. But Harry was like heaven itself, or at least Severus’s version of it—smooth, tight, hot, and needy. Severus knew his own completion wouldn’t take long.
Harry’s hips were moving frantically along with Severus’s thrusts. “So close,” he keened. His eyes opened wider, locking gazes with Severus. “Tell me what I am,” he begged.
Severus was so close to his own orgasm, he couldn’t comprehend what Harry was asking of him. He wanted to give the boy whatever words he desired, but couldn’t think of what they might be.
“I need to… ungh… need to hear it, sir.”
Severus wracked his lust-addled brain and finally came up with what he thought were the correct words. “You are mine. That’s what you are, my Harry. You need me and you belong to me.”
The boy said, “Yes,” on a sob. His cock jerked in Severus’s hand, and he came, pulsing his seed between them.
The rhythmic clenching of Harry’s muscles tore Severus’s release from him. When he had emptied completely into Harry, Severus gripped the base of his cock and slid out, discarding the condom and pulling Harry into his arms. He held the boy while he shook, whether from his orgasm or emotions, Severus couldn’t know.
When Harry stilled, he said, “Thank you, sir.”
Severus chuckled. He was about to answer, when he heard a knock on his side door. He jumped from the bed and pulled on enough clothing to be presentable, closing Harry into the bedroom on his way out.
He opened the side door to find Molly Weasley on his doorstep. She smiled lightly and said, “I lost him, Severus. I’m not sure where Harry is.”
Severus’s brow crinkled. He focused on looking confused rather than guilty. “What do you mean?”
“He said he was going home to pick up a few things, but he’s been gone too long. I tried to call the Dursley house, but no answer.” Molly attempted to step by Severus, but he blocked the doorway.
“I’m sure he’s fine, Molly. Probably just got waylaid. He’ll show up soon, and if he doesn’t I’ll go looking for him.”
Molly nodded. “I’ll call you, then?”
“Yes. Yes, of course.”
When Molly left, Severus sagged against the wall, allowing his heart to regain its normal rhythm. When he was no longer completely panicked, he returned to his bedroom, easing the door open.
Harry sat on the bed, still gloriously naked. One leg was stretched out along the bare mattress, the other bent at the knee. He was rifling through a stack of papers. When he heard Severus enter, he looked up, recrimination shining from his green eyes. “You’re going to leave me?” He rattled the papers, creasing them beyond saving.
It was then that Severus realized what Harry was holding. His eyes flicked to his printer, and his fears were confirmed. The letters and copies of his résumé he’d left in the printer tray were no longer there. He stepped forward and wrenched the papers from Harry’s grasp.
Harry stood up on the bed, knees slightly bent to balance on the soft surface. “You said I was yours now. You can’t leave. You can’t take another job. I need you, sir.”
Severus looked from Harry to the papers. He held them up for Harry to see and slowly ripped the whole bunch in two, discarding them on the floor. He knelt on the bed, pulling Harry forward and down, wrapping him in his arms.
For better or worse, his decision was made. “Shhh… Harry. Don’t worry. I won’t leave. I promise.” In that moment, he knew he couldn’t leave if he tried. He was needed, and goddamn it, he wasn’t going to ever let Harry down.