Happy Daft Day alisanne! Recipient:alisanne Title: Worthy Author:amandasaitou Beta: Much thanks to winnet and umbroken_halo for the valuable help! Rating: PG 13 Warnings: None. Prompt: Forced bonding, first time, romance, UST that's resolved by the end. Summary: A new prophecy, a reluctant bond and a mischievous Headmaster. Author's note: Well, the muse helped little in achieving everything demanded in the prompt in due time, so I apologize, and hope you enjoy this story for now. I'll write a sequel to it soon though ("Cherished"), and inform you about it.
Harry realized that being back at Hogwarts was not as easy as he had first hoped.
It was true indeed that his former teachers and the Headmaster were delighted to have him back as a fellow teacher, but there was that one person... well, that one person who made all efforts to make his everyday life at the school as unpleasant as possible. No one could ignore his constant rants and sardonic remarks about how happy everyone should be by the return of the Golden Boy.
Said person was, to no one's surprise, Severus Snape. The man had changed after the war, that was certain, but for the worse, in Harry's opinion. Snape had been recognized as a war hero, and the young man admitted it to be true. When everyone believed he was a traitor he'd had the most important role in the whole battle, since his double position and his acquired trust with the Dark Lord had been the crucial weapon in allowing Harry to deal the final blow.
However, a confident Snape seemed, in the end, much worse than the old, bitter, low esteemed Snape, and proved to be a more difficult man to understand. Not only had he refused the First Class Medal for which he'd always aimed, but also rejected the offer to take the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. Instead, he'd chosen to remain with his Potions classes. And he'd taken to spending all his time, when not teaching, sitting by the new tree replacing Whomping Willow, absorbed in his books, or quartered in his rooms.
When he and Harry met by chance in the corridors of Hogwarts, or in the Great Hall, Snape would either nod his head and otherwise ignore Harry, or throw insults at him, depending on his mood. However, Headmaster Dumbledore never allowed them to stay apart for too long, always employing himself to make Harry and Snape talk, even if that meant a not so pleasant exchange of death glares and insults between them...
Though even with the Headmaster's twisted games and Snape's ever mercurial moods, Harry was happy to be back at the place he'd always considered home. Hogwarts had always held a sense of security to Harry, a place where he'd decided to settle a permanent home and where he believed nothing could surprise him anymore. Nevertheless...
It had started as any other night at Hogwarts, with dinner at the Great Hall, students chatting loudly, Albus telling another of his bawdy jokes, Harry and Snape insulting each other passionately... All of a sudden, Professor Trelawney appeared out of nowhere, surrounded by the annoying smoke she used in her Divination classes, moving as if she were dancing a mad waltz... ending up in front of Snape and Harry and, to everyone utter surprise, delivering another real prophecy.
A prophecy concerning Snape and Harry, causing Dumbledore to order all students back to their Common Rooms, and drag the two men and Professor McGonagall to the Headmaster's office. Which brings us back to the moment that young Harry realized... well, with further thought, that young Harry realized his life was never going to be the same ever again ...
"ME, MARRY POTTER!? Are you out of your senses, Headmaster?" Snape was, if possible, paler that he ever used to be.
"Actually, Severus, the prophecy made it clear that you have not only to marry, but bond as well with Harry. Only then will you be finally free from the curse that Voldemort had cast on you during the final battle."
Harry was very confused, he didn't know about any final Voldemort curse. He looked at Minerva for help, but she had such a harsh look trained on Dumbledore and Snape that Harry gave up that avenue for aid as a dead end.
"I have lived with this curse for two years just fine, Albus. And I'd prefer to die immediately if my only other option is to live the rest of my days with Potter!"
Minerva then raised her voice. "Lived, you say? Half lived, that's the truth! We didn't fight so hard to have you dying from a curse cast by that monster."
"Please, Minerva, don't you tell me that you agree with this insanity! Because this is the most insane proposition I've ever heard in my entire life."
"Then I must say you'll have to change your mind or I myself will change it!"
"You are as crazy as Albus." Snape crossed his arms in a defensive manner.
"No one is crazy, Severus. All we want is to make sure you are free from this curse at last."
"I agree with Albus. If destiny is offering us a chance to save your life, then we shall follow through it."
Snape was about to retort when he spotted Harry sitting in the chair. Why did everything always have to do with him? "Potter! Certainly you must agree with me!"
Harry sighed. All eyes were on him now and he didn't know what to say. It was too much to absorb in one night. "I..." His eyes travelled from Minerva to Dumbledore to the floor and then back to Snape. "I really don't know, Snape. I didn't even know you were cursed in the first place... why didn't you tell me?"
"My curse is none of your business, Potter. You just need to see the preposterous of a bond between us. It will not happen."
"I need time to think about it About this prophecy, about what it means to me, what have to do..."
Snape's vitriol dripped heavy with sarcasm. "What you have to do?! Oh, the Golden Boy comes to save the world once again! Please, Albus, spare me this. I'm going back to my rooms and forget about this whole nightmare."
Before anyone could stop him, Snape was gone.
Dumbledore looked unsettled for a heartbeat, and then ... "Harry, my boy, we need to talk"
Severus Snape woke in a very ill humour the next day. He had barely slept and the few minutes he'd had nightmares about the days of the final war... and Potter. He got up cursing all his ancestors (and Potter) and kept doing it until he'd finished getting dressed for the day.
He sat on his bed and rested his face in his hands. He was tired. And in no mood at all to face Dumbledore, Potter or anyone who knew of the events of last night. A bond with Potter... It was so... wrong. So he sneaked through the castle's unused passages and went to his usual place under the new tree. He leaned against its trunk and closed his eyes. The silence and the fresh wind brushing his face gave him some peace of mind, and his body finally relaxed and he soon fell asleep.
Behind another tree, there was a pair of green eyes observing the sleeping Potions Master in secrecy. Harry had intended to come by and talk to Snape, but instead, he had watched Snape lie down and sleep peacefully. His face was much more agreeable when he was sleeping, Harry noticed.
He cast a silencing spell around him and approached Snape, sitting by his side. Dumbledore had explained the whole situation to Harry, and the young man had spent the night awake thinking about what to do. The truth was that Harry was very scared. After the war, Harry had decided to live a life alone. He had lost too much at the war and he believed he could not bear another loss. So avoiding a family seemed as the best way to avoid suffering as well. And now...
It was true that Snape wasn't one of his favorites people, and the rivalry between them seemed to be destined to have no end. They'd had some good moments of peace during the war and Snape had always protected and guided him from the shadows. Plus, they had battled Voldemort together in the final moments. He even had to admit that he wondered... well, for some time he wondered if Snape would actually like him, if their grudge would end. Nothing of a romantic nature, he forced himself to believe, but he'd aimed for some sort of friendship with Snape, though with little success. However... to marry Snape, that was a huge step.
Before Snape woke to find him there (and what an argument that would lead to!) Harry whispered a silent goodbye and left. He walked by the lake for a few more hours feeling as if the world sat on his shoulders as it had in Voldemort's time, and he knew that, if he decided to accept Albus idea, he'd have a task before him as hard (or maybe harder) than destroying Voldemort...
Another Thursday and another hell class teaching a rebel group of Gryffindors and Slytheryns together. Snape had written the formula of the day's potion on the blackboard, then told them to make it perfectly in his usual menacing, silky voice, and quartered himself in his desk to grade papers. Though not pleasant, it was routine, and Snape was glad for that.
The week had been employed in running away from Potter and the Headmaster, skipping meals at the Great Hall and ignoring staff meetings due to a persistent headache. Finally, neither Albus nor Potter seemed to be peeking at him like they had been all week, and he'd decided to return to having meals with his fellow professors. In fact, Potter spent the whole time with his back to Snape talking to Albus and Minerva, who had ignored him as well.
So, all in all, everything seemed to be back to normal. Or so thought Severus...
"Err... Professor Snape?" The young Gryffindor looked terrified, which only intensified once he saw the evil stare directed on him.
"What is it, Mr. Werner?"
"S-someone told me to give these flowers to you..." The boy raised a beautiful bouquet of exquisite bright onyx and silver flowers. "It's for you, sir."
For a split second Severus was taken aback, eyes wide open. However, the whispers that spread through his class quickly made him his usual self again. "You must be mistaken, Mr. Werner, these... flowers must belong to someone else." He tried to keep his countenance as calm as possible.
Though scared, the young man seemed determined to accomplish his task. "It is for you, sir, I'm not mistaken." Then again he raised the flowers and awaited for Snape to take them.
Severus pressed his hands against the table's firm surface in order to refrain from casting an Unforgivable at the boy right away, and forced his voice into a stern tone. "I do not receive flowers, Mr. Werner, simply because I do not enjoy them. Now go away before I take a hundred points from your useless House for disturbing my class."
The Gryffindors in the room started to protest (little Mr. Werner belonged to their house after all), but the threat did not seem to scare the young man enough. He was, after all, a Gryffindor! "I'm sorry if I disturbed your class, sir, but Professor Potter told me exactly this - 'Give them to Professor Snape, and don't leave his class until he's got it from your hands.' "
All the students' mouths dropped and eyes popped wide open. The expression on Snape's face was priceless, as he couldn't decide what was the worst feeling, the shock, the humiliation in front of his students, or the rage, and the man boiled with all three at the instant. More on instinct than on rational thought, Severus grabbed the flowers from the boy's hands. "Your little mission is accomplished, Mr. Werner, now turn and leave my class if you want to live long enough to reach your graduation."
The boy did as he was ordered. "CLASS DISMISSED!" As everyone remained staring at him (and at the flowers), Snape growled. "OFF WITH YOU!"
The students jumped from their desks and raced from the room leaving Severus alone with the flowers. He then noticed a note attached to the stems. Still trembling in anger, he opened it and read along...
Dear Severus I apologize for the disturbance the flowers may have caused in your class. I hope you like them, it took me a while to find the right ones. Aren't they beautiful? The dark ones made me remember of your eyes... Please, meet me near the Phoenix tree after dinner. I really want to talk to you, it's important. Yours, Harry Potter
Yours ?? What the hell was that, some kind of stupid joke? Potter sending him flowers, calling his eyes beautiful, wishing to meet him at night... Snape sighed heavily and dropped his head on the table. Though he didn't want to admit it, he knew exactly what it meant... that the insanity of last week had not finished, and worse, it had escalated to truly insane heights. The idea that Potter could be trying to court him was surreal and scary. Also, he knew that the boy (boy?no, young man)must be doing so by Albus' request or pity (or both!), not because of real feelings towards him (not that he wanted that, of course!). The bell rang and he knew that Potter and the Headmaster would be at lunch. His first thought was to skip eating at the Great Hall once more, but then, he knew he couldn't avoid them forever. So, after transfiguring the flowers into a book, and taking it to his rooms, he marched to the noon-time meal brewing up a foul mood.
Harry was pacing back and forth in Dumbledore's office. The boy had returned and told him how Snape had reacted to the flowers. Well, he thought, at least he had not sought out Harry immediately and cast an Unforgivable on him. Though it had been Albus' idea, he really had spent a lot of time finding what he believed to be the most beautiful flowers he'd ever seen. Yet, he had to admit, the flowers and the note sounded as if he were smitten with the Potions Master, and to tell the truth, he wasn't.
After Trelawney's prophecy and the talk about the bond, Harry became unsure of what to do. Albus and Minerva had talked it over with him, and so did Hermione Granger. In fact, her words were that really convinced him that trying a relationship with Snape would be a good thing. His friend had always seen Snape in a good light, even more after his role in the final war, when he'd almost died to save her parents' lives. As his love life had not been much succesfull until then anyway, he'd decided to at least give it a try. After all, as Hermione said, it would save Severus' life.
"Too nervous today, Harry."
Albus' voice brought him back from his reverie. "And shouldn't I be, Albus? I'm meeting with Snape in ten minutes and I have no idea how it's going to go."
The Headmaster smiled sympathetically. "If I know Severus well, he'll try to avoid you as much as possible, as he's done during the past week. He'd never make a scene in public, much less in front of students and staff."
"But Albus, what about tonight? I mean, if Snape really goes to meet me, what am I going to do? I..."
"Harry, if you really are set in pursuing a romantic relationship with Severus, then you must be aware you will not have his cooperation easily. Severus has never had what could be called a love life, and no family bonds to teach him about love and trust. He has lived a very hard life full of difficult choices and a lot of sacrifice. Life has never been easy or fair to him... except for now."
Harry sighed. "And do you think I am going to be the one to teach him? I don't even love him, I mean, we're always arguing and insulting each other, it's not easy to go and start courting him all of a sudden..."
"I understand your point of view, Harry. Severus will be sure that you are forcing yourself because of the prophecy, that you pity him, that I have begged you to do it... Although you may not believe that, Harry, Severus thinks very high of you, and very little of himself. You will have to prove him that he is worthy of you, and you... you will have to prove yourself woth enough to make him open up to you, heart and soul. Only that way can the bond be fulfilled."
The look in Harry's face didn't seem very confident. "See, Albus, I think it's easier to face Voldemort again than to do that. Sev...Snape won't trust me... "
"Give him some time, Harry, and he will. Now, let's go to the Great Hall."
Finally the day was ending. Lunch had not been as bad as Severus had imagined. In fact, he had managed to barricade himself between Trelawney and Sprout, lending his usual seat by Dumbledore's side to the new Quidditch Professor, who seemed very enthusiastic about her position and had kept both Albus and Harry busy for the entire meal.
However, as soon as he had left the table, a house-elf came behind him and delivered a small note written on a piece of napkin. He couldn't believe his own eyes at those words... Please meet me tonight. It's no use trying to run away from me, Severus. I really need to talk to you in private. L, Harry
A freakish feeling started to invade him. He felt as if his stomach had turned upside down. And worse, a part of him actually wanted to meet him there. Severus tried to push that aside, but the truth was that was his hiding place, his shelter... Potter was an intruder, and hell, he could toss the boy away if he bloody wanted! So, repeating those thoughts to himself for hours, he ended up examining his reflection in the mirror after dinner (which he had skipped again, by the way) and decided to go to the meeting after all. One curious thing was the fact that he was more worried about his appearance than he ever used to be...
Snape arrived first, and let out a relieved breath at seeing no Potter in the vicinity. He sat by the tree as usual and waited. Ten minutes (where the hell is that brat?).... twenty minutes... (If this is some kind of prank, I'll kill Potter!)... Half an hour... Severus stood up very angry and ready to leave when someone bumped into him... "What the hell...? POTTER!"
Harry's face was flushed from the probable running, but seeingSeverus there (still there, he though) made him set an apologetic smile on his face. "Hi, Snape. I'm...I'm sorry I'm so late, but Sybil started speaking non stop and I..." He saw that his explanation was doing no good. "I'm sorry, really sorry. I'm happy you came."
"Actually, Potter, I'm leaving." He motioned to walk past Harry, but was stopped by a strong grip on his left arm. Turning around, he tried his best glare in Harry's direction. "Take your hands off me, Potter!" Harry kept his grip on him. "Please, stay, I've already apologised for being late."
Dark eyes scanned him deeply and Harry tried not to be bother about it. If Snape was using Occlumency on him once again, he'd not deny him access this time. Maybe it would help the man to trust him.
"And why would you want me to trust you, Potter?" So he was using Occlumency after all.
Harry let go his grip and sat on a rock under the tree. Though reluctant, Severus did the same. "So, your point is..." The Potions Master noticed that Harry was as nervous as he was, and somehow that made him relax a little. However, they didn't want to face each other outright, so the grass and the sky got all the scrutinity they wouldn't give to each other.
"It's about the bond. I've been thinking about it and I think I'd like to do it. To bond with you."
"And how much time did Albus employe in forcing you to come to that conclusion?"
"He didn't do that, Snape. It is true that he asked me to do it, but I made up my mind alone. So you can be cured and stay alive."
Severus then faced him, the same penetrating dark eyes. "I appreciate your sudden concern for my well being, Potter, but I don't want to bond with anyone, much less with you!" To his surprise, Harry didn't flinch at his sarcastic tone. No, in fact he did something entirely unexpected. He reached out and captured Severus' hands, holding them tightly yet in a tender way. Needless to say, Severus froze in his tracks.
"I can convince you, if you let me." Gathering all his courage, Harry inhaled deeply and moved forward, brushing Snape's lips lightly with his own. There was no response from Snape, but no rejection either. He just stood there motionless in shock, as Harry carried on, licking Severus' lips lightly with his tongue, then kissing his cheeks, his forehead, his trademark nose... and then, boldly, encircling Snape with this arms and drawing him closer.
Severus heartbeat got wilder with every advance from Harry and he was so scared he didn't know what to do. His first instinct was to push him away, but...oh, it'd been so long since the last time he's been cherished like that. He could feel Harry's sincerity, as he had seen in the moment he'd explored the other's mind, but still it made him feel uneasy. Potter didn't love him, so why was he doing this?
But Harry was too focused on hugging Snape the best way he could. It was a strange thing, holding Snape like that, but not so bad as he had thought it would be. As Severus leaned in, Harry breathed in the scent of the man, and caressed his hair (greasy, yeah, but not unpleasant) tentatively. Harry then brought them to their previous sitting position, still holding Snape's hands in his. Just then he noticed the confused and embarrassed look on his companion's face. It was so surreal to see Snape with such a look and Harry couldn't avoid smiling.
"Why are you smiling, Potter?"
"It's just... it worked."
"This! This thing between us. It worked!"
Snape, apparently gathering his usual snide persona about him like a safety blanket, pulled back his hands. "Nothing worked, Potter. I was just... It's wrong, so very wrong..." He stood up and started walking away, but Harry went after him.
"Why this is wrong? I liked it. You did too!"
"Potter, I don't like you, you don't like me." Severus stopped and twirled to face Harry, his cloak billowing about him." And I don't want to like you! You're Harry Potter, the great hero of the wizarding world, the man dream of every young witch, and to settle things once and for all..." He cut the distance between him and Harry, grabbing Harry by the shoulders. "You are the son of that stupid, conceited bastard, James Potter!"
Snape was red from anger, and Harry felt his temper grow wild and his voice raise. "You can think whatever you want about my father, but I am not him! And you..." He poked his finger against Snape's chest. "...you know that! And for your information, you git, I do like you!"
Harry tried to get closer and kiss him once again, but Snape pushed him away, knocking Harry to the ground. "Don't waste your time and your energy, Potter, I'm not worthy of it!"
And leaving an unhappy young man behind, Severus Snape turned around and marched back to the safety of his dungeons...
Two days passed and Potter had not looked for him. Severus finally believed he had gotten free from him and knew that he was right in the end. Potter didn't really cared about him, or he wouldn't have given up so easily. He almost slapped his own face for that thought. It had been such a stupid thought anyway... as if Severus Snape was worthy of love...
Not that he'd avoided glancing at his colleague sitting by Albus' sice once in a while during dinner. He had glanced at Harry many times, but Harry seemed totally unaware of that. Or so thought Severus...
"Well, it's been the fifth time Severus has glanced at you, Harry, and I doubt it will be the last one." Dumbledore had a humorous sparkle in his eyes, and he was certainly having fun with the whole situation.
"You know, Albus, you can be very evil sometimes. Wouldn't it be easier if I just went there and talked to him? He'll hate me when this day is over!"
"Do not worry about Severus' mood, Harry. If we do things his way, he will be dead ten times over and you two will not yet be bonded! Ha, there comes my assistant! It is time, Harry." Albus stood up and asked for the staff's and students' attention. "Please, all, this is a moment of great importance." He clapped his hands and the ceiling changed to a sunrise scenery. The Great Hall became darker, and Harry barely noticed Dobby coming in carrying a tray in his hands.
The Dark Arts Professor knew what that tray had on it, but still he couldn't stop his heart to beat faster and faster. He spotted Snape at the other side of the table and the man looked back, a guarded look on his face. Actually, he was soon to discover that he was right in being suspicious...
Albus kept on with his speech. "Professor Potter here requires some of our time to share with us the most important moment of his life... If you will, Harry."
As Severus realized what could be going on, he silently left his seat and started fleeing the Hall, but to his utter desperation, Dobby made him stop, blocked his passage and smiled that weird smile of his. Before he could protest, Harry had reached him, taken whatever was in the tray and dismissed Dobby from their way. Harry kneeled down before him, and once more, the look on Snape's face was priceless.
Harry had gently grabbed his right hand in his. "Severus Snape, you are everything to me, and more. I have realized I can't live without you for one more moment of my life." Even frozen in his position, and his growing despair, Severus noticed that the young man was trembling a lot, and blushing like a little girl. That realization helped him to keep himself steady and prepare for the inevitable. He glanced at his old friend, as if he was once again ordering Snape to obey his demands. As things were at present he could escape such a trap. To Severus' surprise, Harry's eyes unlikely were full of the pledge as he spoke, having none of the demanding he had expected. "As it is, I... I..." Severus sighed, and whispered a 'Get on with it, Potter!'. Harry frowned, but found his voice. "Will you marry me , Severus?"
The whole Hall was taken aback and the hubbub started to spread even before Snape could muster a reasonable answer. Harry tried to ignore it as Albus had told him to, and showed the engagement ring to Severus, silently asking for permission to put it on his finger. Severus sighed once more, debating with himself. He could say no and to ridicule Potter as he had ever dreamed in fromt of all those people, he could refuse the proposal and run away from there, he could even resign from his position at Hogwarts... he could do anything, in reality. However... he raised his eyes to Potter trying to decide on the right answer, but all he could see was anxiety and fear of rejection, feelings always so familiar to himself. "Severus...?" So the boy was indeed as scared as he was ...but here he was, in front of everyone, swallowing his pride, on his knees, asking the least worthy wizard alive to marry him, knowing fully well that he had every chance to be humiliated at any moment. If there was one person worthy of something good in that room, such a person was Harry.
And then... "My answer is yes, Potter. I will marry you."