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The Future Flows From Here

Part 2

 

FRENCH LETTERS

************

 

Severus stares at the pile of letters neatly stacked on his table.

All from Harry; all of them unread.

It is five weeks since the three of them left and four and a half weeks ago, the letters started to arrive; always one, sometimes two a day. He held each one when it arrived trying to gauge the contents; love you, love you not. Fear held him in its thrall. He had enjoyed two wonderful weeks with the young man and had felt alive for the first time – in how long? During those two weeks, something miraculous happened; he started to feel again. All the emotions he had buried so deep inside, he began to feel again. It was glorious. It was terrible. It frightened him.

Of course he knew it would never work long term. And anyway, who was he to be worthy of such a gift as love? So the letters sat on his table, a reminder of something he had had and didn’t deserve.

The moon is rising, full and ripe. Stars appear in the inky sky. He allows his head to fall back as he closes his eyes.

***

The hand holding his is warm and slightly calloused. One thumb is making small circles on the webbing between his own thumb and forefinger. They stare silently at each other as the hub-bub in the house continues until silence descends.

‘You got yourself grounded?’ Harry moves closer, a smile plays upon his lips.

His heart-rate increases and his breathing quickens slightly.

Arms come around his neck and for some unknown reason he finds his own arms encircling Harry. ‘Bit old for being grounded aren’t you?’

‘My sister can be very … forceful when she wants,’ he replies. He doesn’t smile, not yet. ‘I’m damaged goods Harry. Old, ungentle, scarred and no fun to be around. Have you even considered you could be making a huge mistake?’

‘Yes. But then … I’m thick and rather stupid; the only way I learn is by making mistakes.’

‘You are neither thick nor stupid,’ he brings his hand up and runs a finger down Harry’s face. ‘Annoying and exasperating … perhaps.’

Without another word, Harry closes the space between completely and before he can protest, he is being kissed and the young body is pressing into him. It is not a deep kiss, more of an exploration, a reconnoitre. He hears a soft moan and realises it is him.

‘You kiss rather well,’ he says when the need for oxygen forces them apart.

‘I’m not the shy virgin people think I am,’ Harry says with a half-smile.

‘Oh please don’t tell me you have had a crush on me since your fourth year … because that would be a lie.’

‘Don’t be daft,’ Harry cupped his face with his hand, ‘I would have been much too young.’

‘Thank the gods for small mercies.’

‘It was the sixth year,’ and Harry laughs and he could feel his cheeks burn. ‘Let me kiss you again,’ Lily’s son says in a soft, low voice.

He can only nod as he realises he is falling; there is no safety net and he is helpless to save himself.

***

Severus opens his eyes and releases the breath he has been holding. It should be wrong. It should feel wrong. Yet, the two weeks they were together, what Harry called, ‘getting to know us’, was utterly and completely right.

Taking his wand, he lights the lamp on his table. He picks up a letter at random, breaks the seal and starts to read.

************

Saskya sits in the secret room at the top of the house. She is at her desk, a blank parchment before her. She knows Severus will hate her for it, he will regard it as interfering; but she feels that something has to be done. Harry’s letters remain unopened, at least she thinks they are, but since yesterday her twin has been muttering to himself as he walked around the house. When she asked him if there was a problem, he had made no reply other than to stare at her with pursed lips; which told her there was a problem and said problem had something to do with Harry and the letters. Had he read one of them? All of them or none of them?

She picks up her quill and begins to write in the full knowledge that Severus may just hex her properly this time should he find out.

“September 16th

Cher Harry

My my, but you have set the dragons amongst the peacefully sleeping sheep! Sev is roaming the house and garden muttering dark things which I am sure is the result of your letters. What are you saying to him? Did I not caution you to go slowly? That my brother is not as impulsive as you and he needs time to think things through? How many now? Two a day for the past four weeks – it is too much for him, Harry!

Of course, he has not spoken to me of anything yet, only to say that he has another letter from you; but this I know as I see your owl arrive. Then he shuts himself in his room for many hours before leaving the house and walking the hills. I know how happy you both were over the summer. Shall I tell you something? It was the happiest I have ever seen him. So I must chastise you and ask that you do not write as often. Write to him of course, but perhaps – only once a week? Has he written back to you? I doubt it.

The children are safely back at school. They missed all three of you as soon as you had left (and I know Sev missed you immediately). Can you warn Ron and Hermione that Marius would like them to adopt him? I have explained that they would not be interested in a young, wayward wizard, but he seems quite adamant.

I have been walking deeper into the mountains lately. The wolf found me. It is female, grey and silver; she has violet coloured eyes. She seems to have expected me. Perhaps she is lonely like me.

The first chill winds have arrived; autumn is on its way. The Old Ones in Haute Village predict early snow. We shall see.

Remember my words cher Harry, write less and keep to everyday things as my guess is that you have written too much about love, sighs, kisses and other sweet things. Am I right? Of course I am!

Take care of yourself for me (and him).

SM.”

She seals the parchment and whistles for her owl who has been sitting patiently on the window sill. She scratches Hercule’s crest and he coos in delight.

‘Harry Potter,’ is all she says as she gives Hercule the letter and on swift, silent wings, he flies out of the open window.

 

***************

Severus holds the parchment. It arrived by owl an hour ago and he has yet to break the seal and read it. It is from Harry of course. Finally, he gives in, opens it and reads. On reaching the end, he is confused; he shakes his head. What is going on? This is different to every other letter Harry has written and quite frankly, he is disappointed. What is the meaning behind the contents? He flings the offending letter onto his table and goes to stand by the doors leading to the garden; arms folded across his chest, he stares at the hills and sky. He brings one hand up to his neck and he touches the scars that lie beneath the fine, white shirt. He stands deep in thought and when the conclusion is reached, with a fluid turn, he strides to the table, finds a parchment, takes a quill and writes back for the first time.

 

“September 20t h

Harry,

Thank you for your most recent letter. Why in the name of all the gods would you even think I was remotely interested in such drivel as the Ministry, Hogwarts, the soaring price of eggs and Bill Weasley’s ever expanding family?

However, I think your other letters contain more of your real thoughts and feelings and this one has all the hallmarks of my sister interfering in what does not concern her.

Or perhaps – you have come to your senses at last and realise that I am not what you think and this letter was written to purposely bore me into disliking you and therefore, is your way of beginning to let me down gently.

Don’t.

If you are letting me down, bloody well tell me.

~~SS~~”

************

 

“22 September

Severus,

Yes, Saskya has written to me. She was worried that in my usual enthusiastic way I am overwhelming you. She said you were wandering around muttering – so I held back.

Are you OK?

Love

Harry xx”

*************

 

“September 23rd

Apology accepted.

~~SS~~”

************

 

“24 September

Dear Saskya,

Just had the strangest letter from Severus. He accepted my apology. Only thing is, I don’t remember apologising. In fact, I don’t recall ever having said anything I need to apologise for. Is he alright or just being his usual strange self?

Not that I mind him being strange – no, in fact, I love it. Just as I love him. He gets under your skin in a slow, sensuous kind of way. Which makes him as sexy as all hell – but I shouldn’t be saying such things to his sister!

Ron and Hermione asked me to tell you there is no way they would adopt Marius, but they would be his honorary aunt and uncle. They have decided to get married next year, about time if you ask me.

Have you seen your wolf again?

Love

Harry xx”

*************

 

“October 2nd

Mon cher Harry,

I only read your letter today as I have been in the mountains for a week looking for my friend. It was she who found me! We walked together through the forest and along the mountain paths. She would sit with me at night and accept any food I shared with her. Then she would curl up and sleep by my side. It took me back to the times I was with Lyrus when he was a wolf. (Oh dear! I have let slip my secret. Yes, my husband was also an Animagus Lycanthrope, same as his brother. I will tell the whole story one day). I was always safe with him and it feels the same with her. Then one morning, she had gone, so I came home.

As I came down from the mountains it started to snow very gently. The Old Ones were right after all.

Sev eyed me knowingly when I returned; he knows I know that he knows I wrote to you (does that even make sense?). He has a dreamy look in his eyes, which is strange for him! Have you been oohing and aahing again?

Oncle Ron and Tante Hermione will always be welcome at Fermé Malefoy.

Take care as always.

SM.”

************

“12 October

Severus,

Is everything alright? You have not written in weeks since your last (strange) letter when you accepted my apology. I have upset you?

An update: I have been promoted to Senior Auror; it’s exactly the same job only with more pay and a greater chance of getting seriously hexed; or cursed. Either way I could end up in St Mungo’s.

I miss you. Can I come and see you? I dream about you often and what we shared over the summer. Right – I’m going to say it again because your thick skull doesn’t seem to retain information anymore.

I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU.

Yeah, right. I know I am nothing more than an annoyance to you, but I can’t help it (loving you that is, not the other thing). And no, it’s not infatuation or some kind of crush. It’s mature love. No, I don’t feel sorry for you either, just the opposite in fact. I am very proud of what you achieved and what you did (and sacrificed) for all of us.

So please, just write. Stop being a stupid bastard and just … write to me. Missing you and your kisses - and body.

Yours, in love.

Harry xx”

************

Severus lowers the parchment as he sits, it hangs from his hand but he is loath to let it fall to the floor. He has read it four times already and he is frightened by the power of six little words. He has lived a life of danger and peril; a life of duplicity; he has survived two wars and one near fatal attack by a serpent. Why then do these words, honest, gentle and loving, frighten him? He sighs heavily; there is only one thing for it. He rises from his chair still holding Harry’s letter and heads upstairs.

 

************

 The soft tapping at her door wakes her up.

‘Sassi, can I come in?’

She groans and opens her eyes. ‘Come in,’ she mumbles and Severus enters her bedroom and sits on the edge of her bed. She yawns until her jaw cracks and sits up, pulling a shawl around her shoulders against the autumn chill. ‘Can’t sleep?’ she asks.

He shakes his head and hands her the letter. She takes it and reads it through once, then once more. She hands it back to him. ‘And the problem is …?’

‘Why is he bothering with me? He should just leave me alone.’

‘I agree, of course he should leave you alone – after all, you are a miserable cuss. You are scarred physically and emotionally. You are as ugly as all stinking Hades and you are probably a terrible kisser.’

He turns to scowl at her. ‘Be serious. He’s a bloody nuisance.’

‘Hmm, a nuisance that kept you happy for two weeks. A nuisance that made you smile, made you laugh and made love with you.’ He looks aghast at her. She smiles gently and squeezes his arm. ‘You forgot the privacy charms and to close your windows one night.’

He sighs heavily and slumps next to her on the bed. ‘I don’t know what to do.’ She reaches for him and pulls him into her. They lie wrapped in each other’s arms, just like when they were children.

‘Talk to me,’ she said. ‘Perhaps talking it through will show you the way.’

‘You are right Sassi; I am scarred … and scared.’

‘I think Harry is also. From the little I know … his early life was very hard. Then from age eleven he finds he is part of some prophecy; he fights a War and sees and experiences things that no teenager should and all before the age of eighteen. He is just as scarred as you, only … in different ways.’

‘So why would he want to be with me?’

‘The Gods only know!’ and she laughs and kisses his head. ‘Seriously though, I think he sees you as a kindred spirit; someone he can be himself with, no masks, no … external shell. He doesn’t have to pretend with you Sev. He can be himself.’

His head rises and falls with her breathing. She stokes his hair and allows him to think.

‘But it’s not right,’ he says at last. ‘He was my student. And we hated each other. He tried to hex me more than once.’

‘And like I haven’t?’ she grins at him.

‘That’s different, you don’t really mean it … he did. Anyway …’

‘… Anyway what? He likes you. He’s in love with you, he makes you happy. Stop being so thick-headed, Sev. I’m beginning to think you enjoy the drama.’

‘I do not,’ he protests. ‘I simply have to make sure. And don’t call me Sev.’

Moments like this don’t happen so often these days and she enjoys every second when they do. Her twin is usually so private and only allows her so close. But sometimes, like tonight, he needs to drop all his barriers and allow her in. It has always been so since they were teenagers. As youngsters, before they went off to their different senior schools they were joined, emotionally and physically. They needed each other and the comfort the other gave; and although he had Lily Evans, it was always to his twin he turned to for help, advice and safety.

She kisses his brow. ‘Write to him … properly, tell him these things.’

‘But …’

‘…I know. It is a trust thing. Then perhaps it is also time to trust someone else other than me … and yourself.’ They are quiet again. ‘I could write to him for you,’ she breaks the silence.

‘No, you have written enough.’

‘Very well,’ she shrugs, ‘but if you don’t … I will. You can’t keep him waiting, Sev.’

‘Don’t call me Sev,’ he snaps.

‘Fine, fine. I won’t call you Sev, Sev. I shall simply call you … monsieur Grincheux.’

‘Sassi!

‘Sevvi!’ she imitates his voice exactly.

He laughs softly. ‘I will let you go back to sleep,’ he kisses her cheeks in the family tradition. ‘Thank you … as always.’ He gets up and straightens his shirt.

‘As always … you are welcome. Good night … Sev.’

He pulls his familiar sour face and purses his lips. ‘Sleep well … Saskya Edna.’

‘Touché! … Sev,’ she mutters before settling down in the soft pillows once again.

************

“November 14th

Mon cher Harry,

This has got to stop – since your last letter you have not written to him and I know he has not replied to you. Imagine if you can a dragon, a very hungry dragon who wants his food and he gets none. This is our Severus.

So please, write again.

He came to me when he received your last letter and confessed that he was scared. He feels he can’t trust; either you or himself. We lay together on my bed, arms wrapped around each other. No, it is nothing sexual; but we are twins and sometimes, we need the close connection (I expect we were entwined in the womb).

Also, please treat this letter as your official invitation to come to Fermé Malefoy for Noël. I will not take no for an answer.

I have not heard my friend call for several nights now. I hope she is alive and well. Muggles in this region do not like wolves. They will shoot them when they find them.

With my love.

SM.”

 

************

 

Severus sits at his desk with quill and parchment. At his feet are the shredded remains of several letters he has started to write that did not convey what he wanted to say. They were all soppy, trite and lovey-dovey; say what you like about Severus Snape he mused, he is not lovey-dovey. He doesn’t care what anyone says, not Harry, not even Saskya. He is not lovely-dovey and he does not cuddle. And yet, as he writes, he finds the quill writing things his conscious mind would never think of. Silly things, daft things. Things a Death Eater, Potions Master and ex-Head of Slytherin would not, should not write. It was all because of Harry’s last letter that came by owl yesterday.

*************

“16 November

My dearest Severus,

I haven’t heard from you, so I hope you are well. Just so you know, I have no intention of hurting you, ever. You can trust me.

In fact, guess what? (To drive the point home) I love you.

Love you. Love you. Love you.

HP xx”

************

The words burn into his mind like red hot pokers. He throws his half written response to the floor to join the others lying there. With a sigh, he rests his head in his hands; why is he so conflicted? Why is it all so difficult?

His thoughts turn to the summer again. The touches, the kisses, the words.

***

They are standing in the middle of his room; Harry asks to see his scars, so he opens his shirt. Harry removes it and drops it to the floor. Now he stands half naked before the young man who is scrutinising his body.

‘I saw your scars in St Mungo’s when they were still quite fresh. I’m not repulsed by them. They show your strength; they are your badge of courage. Be proud of them.’ Harry kisses each and every scar. Then somehow, he moves them both to the bed, pushes him down onto it and commences to kiss him again.

Oh ye gods of small pleasures; he finds he likes being kissed by Harry.

‘Now, let’s get undressed and into bed, I need to be close to you.’

The rest of the day passes in a haze of kisses, cuddles, stroking and mouths.

He knows he could get very used to it.

***

************

He picks up the quill again and writes.

“November 17th

Don’t. Just don’t.

~~S.S.~~”

************

“20 November

Severus,

Do I mean nothing to you? Did the words we spoke to each other the summer mean nothing to you?

Don’t play the cold hearted bastard with me. This is me, Harry; who shared your bed, shared your body and shared your love.

You are not that man.

As I told you before, I am thick and don’t learn quickly. So, no matter what you say or do, I will never give up on you.

Understand?

HP”

************

 

‘You are a stupid fat-head, Sev,’ Saskya doesn’t bother keeping the anger out of her voice.

‘Who gave you permission to read my private letters?’ He counters.

‘You. Because you left them out for me to find, otherwise you would have hidden them from me.’

His glare is all ice and cold steel.

‘He’s not going away Sev; you are just going to have to deal with it. So deal with it like an adult, eh? And before the children are home for Noël. Oh and by the way, I have invited Harry to stay for the holiday.’

‘YOU … WHAT?’ he explodes.

‘You heard.’

‘How dare you interfere in my personal life?’ he demands.

She stares at him for a minute or so. ‘I’m your twin.’ And she turns on her heel and walks away.

 

************

“November 21st

Harry,

Don’t waste your life on me.

What ever happened - it’s over.

~~SS~~”

************

Harry sits at his desk in the Auror Office reading Severus’s letter. It is only a few words, but he reads them again, then once more to make sure he fully understands what is being said. He does understand, and is so angry he feels like throwing breaking spells around. But he is in his office, in the Ministry and Shacklebolt would throw a fit.

‘Bastard git,’ he mutters, ‘not on my watch and over my dead and bleeding body. Ignito!’ he watches the letter burst into flames and vanish.

The door to the office opens. ‘Everything alright, Harry?’ Ron asks. ‘What’s that smell?’

‘That, Ron … is the sweet smell of disappointment.’

Ron frowned. ‘And what are you disappointed about?’

‘Oh no, not me Ron. Definitely not me.’

Ron peered at him and the Knut dropped. ‘He still trying to get rid of you then?’ Harry nods and Ron grins at him. ‘Well, you had better polish all your Harry Potter charm, you’re going to need it. And … good luck with that by the way. You coming for some food?’

‘No thanks, Ron, I’m not. I’m going to get the snarky git and beat some sense into him.’

‘Yeah well, don’t forget he’s a Slytherin and will probably enjoy it. See you later.’

Harry sits at his desk and makes plans.

 

************

‘MÉRDE! YOU DID WHAT?’ Saskya yells, ‘ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?’

‘IT IS NONE OF YOUR BLOODY BUSINESS, I KEEP TELLING YOU THAT. BUT OH NO, YOU HAVE TO KEEP PUSHING YOUR NOSE IN WHERE IT IS NOT WANTED.’

The twins stand in the middle of the kitchen of Fermé Malefoy, arms rigid by their sides, fists clenched as they face off. The raw power exuded by them crackles and fills the room. As if knowing this, Saskya takes a step away from her brother; the threat lessens.

‘I just want you to be happy, Sev … and you are happy with Harry,’ she softens her tone.

‘Oh don’t delude yourself woman,’ he sneers, ‘he would tire of me within a month. I refuse to open myself up to …’

‘… To what, exactly?’

‘That.’

She stares at him. ‘Then you are missing out on one of life’s great gifts.’

‘I doubt that very much.’

‘It’s called love Sev and you deserve to be loved … and to love in turn.’

‘Romantic, foolish tosh and you know it,’ his face is set in a mask of unemotional distain. ‘It’s all rubbish, you should know that better than most. After all, you made a complete fool of yourself with Lyrus …’ he stops in mid-sentence. ‘Sassi …’ but the damage is done; he has overstepped the mark.

‘Tu peux être un vrai salaud parfois !’ She pushes passed him. ‘DO WHAT YOU LIKE GRINCHEUX; WALLOW IN YOUR SELF-PITY AND SELF-LOATHING, I DON’T CARE ANYMORE.’

‘Sassi …’ but the only response he gets is her footfalls on the stairs and the slamming of her bedroom door.

************

“25 November

Dear Saskya,

I haven’t heard from Severus since his last stupid letter. I’m fed up of waiting, so I am coming out to see him. Please don’t tell him as he will no doubt run. I need to clear this up once and for all. Neither of us survived the War just to have nothing in our lives.

I have arranged things with work, so expect me tomorrow.

Love.

Harry x”

************

 

Harry lands in the snow covered courtyard. He approaches the kitchen door and stops; he feels the hum of protection charms and wards.

‘Hello, Saskya?’ he calls, ‘anyone home?’ Getting no reply, he wanders round to the back of the house and into the garden, being careful to stay clear any protections. He goes up to the French windows of the sitting room and Severus’s room. Both crackle with the frisson of protection. He guesses that they may be up in Haute Village shopping.

He stamps his feet; by Merlin, it’s only November but it’s cold in the mountains. It starts to snow lightly. He doesn’t want to leave as they could be back soon, but he does need to get out of the snow. The owlry was the only cover he can see, so he runs to the small stone tower. Inside it is still cold, but at least it is dry. Three sleepy owls open one eye each and looked at him.

‘Monty!’ he cries as he recognised his own Ministry owl. Monty gives a soft hoot before closing his eye again. His letter is on the message table unopened, which could only mean there was no one around yesterday when he had sent it. What was going on?

With a ‘Producio’ an extra scarf, a pair of gloves and a woolly hat appear. Better protected against the cold, he sits on the window ledge and looks out across the garden to the hills and mountains beyond.

***

They sit side by side; the French windows flung wide to encourage any breeze to enter and cool the room. It is a soft, hot summer’s night. The moon hangs high in the sky and countless stars twinkle. The rest of the house is quiet with slumber.

The hand that holds his is large, warm and secure. Every so often, Severus lifts his hand and kisses it. They are sipping Cognac and enjoying the simple pleasure of being together.

It is enough.

He has learned so much about Severus Snape over this first week. A jumble of mixed emotions, yet capable of deep love. He wants nothing more than to sit with this man, to lie in bed with this man, to make love with this man for the rest of his life.

If only the man would allow him in.

***

He jerks awake. He must have dozed, but what had woken him? Then he hears it; the plaintive howl of a wolf. He scans the garden and sees Saskya enter from the path. He stretches and waits. It is usual to check for messages if you had been out. The door of the owlry opens and Saskya enters.

‘Hello Saskya,’ he says, not wanting to frighten her.

‘Ah, bonjour, Harry, ça va?’ She comes and kisses him, not at all surprised that he is here.

‘I’m good … no, I’m not. I need to see him,’ he blurts out.

She picks up his letter, opens it and reads it through, and then she gives Monty a tickle to his head. The owl remains fast asleep.

‘He’s not here,’ she said. ‘Come into the house for coffee. I had to go shopping.’ She leads the way, removes the protections over the house and ushers him into the warm kitchen. He removes his extra layers before sitting down.

‘Where is he?’

She doesn’t reply immediately, but busies herself with preparing coffee.

‘Saskya … I will not be put off by his childish attitude. I’m an adult now, fully grown and able to run my own life. He should also remember I am Harry Potter, wizard; The Chosen One.’

She smiles as she hugs him. ‘All this I know Harry dear. And Sev … he knows it … but refuses to acknowledge it.’

‘Then he is thicker that I thought.’

She pours two bowls of steaming coffee and places fresh croissants on the table. Harry sips his coffee and eats a croissant.

‘Does he dislike me so much?’ he says between mouthfuls.

She looks at him over the edge of her bowl. She places it on the table and takes his hand. ‘Oh no, Harry. He loves you very much …’

‘Then why? … After the summer …’

‘Because he is Severus Snape, double triple agent; scion of Voldemort; hated and despised by both sides. And like you … Voldemort tried to murder him,’ she sighs. ‘He is … complex.’

Harry says nothing. He rolls the crumbs of his croissant around the plate. He looks out of the window; the snow is falling thicker now, adding another layer of white crispness to the courtyard.

‘Spinners End,’ she says at last.

 

************

“November 27th

My darling Sassi,

Forgive me.

I am stupid, pig-headed, foolish and unthinking. I say things to hurt; it is my defence mechanism as you know. I did not mean what I said about you and Lyrus, for all his faults I know you loved – and still love him deeply.

And therein lies the rub.

You have known love, given and received love; something I have always thought I cannot feel. Don’t get me wrong, I think I have fallen in love with Harry, young and stupid as he is, but … you knew that was coming, didn’t you? … but, why is he bothering with me? It scares me; so much so I have had to run away. Should he turn up at the farmhouse and I know he will, don’t tell him where I am. I need …”

The banging on the door is getting louder and harder. With an exasperated mutter he lays down his quill and goes to open it.

‘What?’ he growls as he opens the door.

‘Good to see you as well,’ Harry says. ‘Can I come in?’

Severus scowls his best Snape scowl and opens the door just enough to allow Harry in. With a nod, he directs him into the back room.

Harry looks around. ‘Bit of a dump, isn’t it?’

‘And this from someone who lived in a cupboard … under the stairs?’

‘Fair comment.’

‘What do you want Harry? I’m busy.’

‘A cup of tea would be great. Milk, one sugar.’

Severus tuts, but goes into the tiny kitchen to make tea. Harry sits on one the two chairs by the small fire. He hears the rattling of a cup and saucer.

***

They lay in bed; Harry is curled up against Severus’s side, his head buried in the crook of his neck. He kisses the large scar across Severus’s throat; the punctures wounds are still visible. Severus allows him that privilege.

‘Are you ever going to allow me in?’ Harry whispers.

‘No. Possibly. Perhaps,’ is all the response he gets.

‘Do you even like me?’

‘Possibly. Perhaps.’

‘Thanks.’

‘You’re welcome. Now, stop kissing my neck and kiss my lips.’

***

He is brought back to Spinners End by a tray being thumped down on the table. Severus still glares at him and makes no attempt to pour the tea. So Harry gets up and as there is only one cup, he goes into the kitchen and finds another one.

‘I’ll be mother then,’ he says, and pours two cups of tea. He hands one to Severus who accepts it without thanking him.

‘When are you going to stop running?’ he asks.

‘When are you going to stop pursuing?’ Severus is quick with his retort.

‘Never.’

‘Well … there you have your answer,’ and Severus takes a sip of his tea.

They glare at each other.

Harry puts his cup down. ‘You are not the only one with scars or pain or hurt,’ there is bitterness to his voice. ‘Would you like to see mine?’

‘No.’

‘Why not?’

‘No point. No point in any of it. Just leave.’

‘Say please.’ Severus purses his lips and remains silent. ‘I will not leave until you give me a real answer and a real reason for pushing me away,’ Harry persists.

Severus goes to his unfinished letter, picks up his quill and writes.

“… I need … thanks for nothing. He is here.

Stop bloody interfering.

~~Severus~~”

He gives a low whistle and an owl appears. He rolls the parchment, seals it and sends the owl on its way. Then he turns to Harry who has been watching him. For one fleeting moment he is taken back to the summer when he would often catch Harry watching him with soft, love filled eyes.

***

They are in bed.

‘Why do you watch me?’ He asks Harry.

‘To make sure you are real and to make sure you are safe,’ Harry answers before kissing him. He has grown to love Harry’s kisses; they can be soft and gentle or rough and bruising. He likes both kinds.

‘I can assure you that I am both real and safe. Now, go to sleep.’

He turns over and Harry spoons himself against his back, one arms around his chest, the hand resting over his heart.

***

The tension in the small room could be sliced with Godric Gryffindor’s sword.

‘At least the Dursley’s house had stairs,’ Harry says.

‘This house has stairs, they are just … hidden,’ Severus turns away and lowers himself into a chair and stretches out his legs. He picks up a copy of The Daily Prophet and starts to read it, ignoring Harry.

‘Show me.’

‘No.’

Harry takes the other chair and they sit in silence. Severus makes great play of reading. Harry finally gets up, puts his used cup on the table. Severus’s head is buried behind the paper. Before the man can protest, Harry grabs the paper from his hand, sits in his lap and stares deep into his eyes.

‘What the bloody hell do you think …?’ But Severus’s words are cut short as, with a ‘Ligilimens’ Harry forces his mind into his own.

He sees it all.

A child unloved, neglected; as he grows, hand-me-down clothes; no proper food only scraps. The continual complaints about how much he is costing them and how grateful he should be he is not in a Foundling Asylum. They shout at him; lock him in the cupboard under the stairs; his cousin being showered with gifts and attention. The bullying at school because his clothes are old and too big for him; or because he is small for his age; or because he smells. All of this before the age of eleven.

Severus wants to pull away, but Harry holds his eyes.

Hogwarts.

A jumble of memories: Voldemort, hurt, pain, loss, friendship. Hagrid, Hedwig, Dobby. Not wanting to be The Boy Who Survived. He is Harry.

Sitting by his side in St Mungo’s. Holding his hand, talking; a light kiss.

Harry pulls away and Severus slumps back against the chair, too stunned to react. How was Harry even able to do that?

Without a word, Harry gets up and leaves.

 The door slams.

The world is suddenly cold.

 

************