Fic: A Friend in Need - for [personal profile] lemondropseven

Dec. 20th, 2009 09:58 pm
snarryhols: (Snarry Hols (Dawn))
[personal profile] snarryhols posting in [community profile] snarry_holidays
Title: A Friend In Need
Author: Trelawney once saw a porno like this...
Giftee: [personal profile] lemondropseven
Word Count: ~8,500
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Severus/Harry
Warnings: *canon-compliant save the epilogue. UST. wet dream. wanking. kissing. more wanking. angst. a hopeful ending*
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Snape slowly wakes after Nagini's attack, glad to still be alive and at Hogwarts, with his beloved by his side. The only trouble is, his rumple-haired, green-eyed beloved appears to be a bit clueless.
Author's Notes: Your prompt [personal profile] lemondropseven was Severus-sent. :) Happy (Snarry) Holidays!



~



"Is there any improvement?"

"No."

"You've been here all night. Come eat breakfast with us."

"I'm not really hungry. I'll get something from the house elves."

The voices seemed to drift away after that, or he did, and he felt himself float away in a haze of distant pain and scarcely remembered panic.


~



"...you should really go outside and get some fresh air."

"I'm fine. Besides, there was an incident earlier. Not everyone knows what really happened."

"Did you tell Kingsley?"

"He's busy. Interim Minister, didn't you hear?"

"Fantastic. That's wonderful news! Just what the wizarding world needs right now -- a stable hand at the helm. I feel so much better about going to get my parents now, just knowing Kingsley is in charge."

"Are you sure you don't want to wait? We could go with you, later, after--"

"No, I'll be fine. I have to do this by myself."

"I understand."

"So you're going to stay here?"

"Yeah, I think it's best. If I'm here people don't bother him."

The warmth that filled him on hearing this was unexpected, but welcome, and he allowed himself to doze off filled with a comforting sense of reassurance.


~



He could hear a window being carefully levered open nearby, and feel the cool damp air against his fevered brow. It felt soothing. He guessed it was daytime, but he had no idea. He could not open his eyes. The last thing he remembered was holding someone close, desperate to say something. The image would not come clear.

The smell of grass now reminded him of green, that tender and so temporary spring green when the earth is reborn after the cold white of winter. He longed for it, longed to lose himself in that verdant, vibrant foliage.

The face came to him as if from a dream:  angular, a cap of dark, messy hair, a scar like lightning peeking from in between the strands, and two green, green eyes. The green eyes of his love.

His love. Yes. His love. He could sense it now. He remembered. It was his love he had been holding close, struggling to speak to him. He had been ready to give up his life, anything to protect him. He had nearly died for him. He was weak now, but he had heard his love's voice earlier, could hear him now, breathing noisily, asleep.

They were together again. His love was keeping vigil and the thought filled him with gratitude and a great sense of peace. He allowed himself to fall back into the deep, dreamless state he seemed to exist in most of the time now. It welcomed and embraced him.


~



"I don't like to use Scourgify except in very rare cases. He's been Scourgified twice since he's been here and enough is enough. It's been a week and it needs to be done."

"I'll just wait outside then."

He stiffened, suddenly afraid. He wanted his lover near. He fought to wake, to speak, but nothing happened save his breathing changed and he could hear his breath rasping rapidly in and out.

"What's happening? Is he all right?"

"Agitation. He's hyperventilating. I don't know why. He's not fully conscious. He might be able to hear us. Headmaster?"

He wished he could speak, to reach for his mate.

"You're all right, Severus. You're in the Infirmary. We're taking care of you."

Why couldn't he move?

Then a warm, familiar hand encased his and he trembled, relaxing.

"I'm here. I'm right here with you."

It was his lover's beloved voice. He sighed.

"That's it. He needs the contact. I guess you'd better stay then."

"It's all right, I'll just look away."

"There's nothing he has that you haven't seen on your own body, my boy. If it will keep him calm whilst I work, so much the better."

The hand squeezed his and he relaxed further still, ignoring the feeling of warm, wet flannel being dragged across his bare skin, ignoring the herbal scent of the soap, and waited for the moment he would be able to open his eyes and behold his love once again.


~



"... and too, I hope, that things shall be different. For my part, they will be, Severus."

The woman's voice was couched in a faint Scottish accent, and he felt as if he should know her. The way she spoke, it sounded as if they had parted ways and she intended to make amends. She sat with him, held his hand, and called him by his first name. Perhaps a relative?

"You could have spoken to me at any time. Better still, you could have sent me your Patronus. In the dead of night, no one would have been the wiser and I would not have treated you as I did. As we all did. Oh, Severus, I hope you can forgive me."

The hand squeezed his and he knew he already forgave the woman, whoever she was. She sounded so sad and sincere. He tried to squeeze her hand back and his fingers trembled.

"Severus?"

The effort was exhausting, though, and he soon fell back into his dreamless state.


~



"You'd probably laugh, or maybe curse me, but I brought some plants. Liven the place and they make it smell nice. They're all herbs, so no flowers, nothing girly."

Severus could smell marjoram and thyme. The recipes for various potions and tisanes began to filter through his consciousness. It was thoughtful of his love to bring herbs so he could smell something besides the scent of clean sheets and linens and the antiseptic smell that seemed to permeate the Infirmary.

"Mm... that does smell better. Can you smell that, Sev? Sorry, I should call you Severus, shouldn't I? I know only my mom ever called you Sev, but... I can't call you Snape anymore. Sounds cold. After all you did and after all we've shared, it just doesn't seem right. Severus sounds too formal."

Severus thought he loved hearing him say his name that way, but could not voice the thought.

"But I like Sev. I think I'll call you that here when we're alone."

A hand stroked over his brow and Severus felt a warm tingling flow through him.

"Don't worry. I'll be proper when anyone else is here. I know how you feel about impropriety."

Severus wished he could say he rather enjoyed the impropriety, but the deep dark called to him again. His love was with him, holding his hand and sitting beside him, and he felt safe enough to drift off for a while.


~



"It's almost a fortnight now. If he doesn't respond soon, the stupor may be permanent. He was left untended too long with far too much blood loss."

"It's my fault."

No, my Harry. Harry! He thrilled now as the memory cemented and he recalled the name of his lover. He struggled to speak once again.

"Does he tremble like this often?"

"Sometimes. We haven't figured out why."

With the greatest effort he had ever expended in his life, he managed to part his lips. A harsh exhale was all he could summon.

"He gasped!"

His hand was squeezed encouragingly.

"Headmaster Snape? Can you hear us?"

He rested, discouraged and exhausted, but tried again, forcing air from his throat with an effort that seemed ridiculously out of proportion for the results.

"Hehhhhhhhhh..."

"He's trying to talk!"

It was all he heard before he lost consciousness again, this time feeling smugly satisfied at having made his awareness known.


~



Severus had been drifting unconscious for some time. When he finally made the transition to a genuine sleeping state, it manifested as a dream.

It was cold, but he was watching, watching his love as he undressed, but he could not make himself known. No, his love was unaware of his feelings. He knew this now and cursed himself for his foolishness and ignored the pangs of guilt he felt as he crept further behind the tree and watched as his love, as Harry, removed all but his boxers.

Harry! He remembered his love's name and Severus felt the tightening down deep in his belly, felt warmth begin to flood his groin, along with the feeling of triumph that lifted his spirits and made him feel giddy.

His Harry was perfect -- a beautiful man. Not tall, no, but well-built and clearly masculine. Hair sprinkled that chiseled chest, his abdomen rippled with muscles and the heavy coat of hair that covered his lower abdomen and led to his groin nearly made him swoon.

Sturdy, muscular legs and wiry arms completed the picture. Then Harry dove into the freezing water and he held his breath, waiting for him to surface again. When he did, the pants he wore would be stuck fast to that trim, tight body...


~



Snape woke as the warm, wet flannel stroked over his belly. He could hear Harry whispering in the dark, but could see little beyond what moonlight wrought in the dimness. He knew he had experienced a nocturnal emission; it was what his love was so gently wiping from the hairs on his belly.

"There we go, Sev. It'll be our little secret. But this is a good sign. Means you're getting better."

Feelings of warmth and fondness and gratitude filled him; Harry was so devoted. Snape sighed, and then made the attempt.

"H-Harry..."

The sound of the metal basin falling was loud and a light turned on in the Matron's room, and the sound of running steps were heard, even as Harry quickly pulled the bed-covers up to cover Snape's lower body.

"What's going on? Harry?"

"He's awake," Harry said excitedly, bunching up the damp, soiled flannel in his fist and keeping it behind him. He vanished it as he got hold of his wand, along with the basin and water he'd spilt in his surprise.

"Well, then, Severus. It's good to see you."

"P-Poppy." The effort was difficult and painful as his throat felt raw and abraded.

"Yes, that's right." She smiled as she waved her wand over him. Her brows lifted slightly as she waved the wand over his lower body, but to Harry's relief, she said nothing, merely continuing her magical appraisal.

"Well, aside from your wound which is still healing from the nasty effects of the venom, and aside from needing to eat better and exercise your limbs before you can even attempt to get out of that bed, you're fit as a fiddle. The venom was cleared from your system and you're no longer suffering the effects of blood loss. Your magic levels are a bit depleted, due to your body working so hard to recover, but you'll gain that back as you improve." She smiled, relaxing now. "I'll get you some soup -- it will be easiest on your poor throat. Harry, could you fetch some tonic and the bottle of Throat Coat? He should have some before he eats."

"Yes, Madame Pomfrey." Harry hurried off to the Infirmary store room. Poppy turned to pour a glass of water for her patient, but was surprised at the expression on his usually stoic face.

"Is something wrong, Severus?"

He did not look at her, continuing to stare in the direction Harry had gone.

"Harry."

She nodded. "Yes, he'll be back."

To her astonishment, Severus smiled. It was a fond and gentle smile unlike any expression she'd ever seen on him before. His voice was hoarse, but his tone was mild and gentle, even, dare she say, loving.

"Harry."

She said nothing, but noted the light that filled his eyes when Harry returned, bearing his medicine, and kept her thoughts to herself for the time being.


~



The next morning brought a visitor. Severus was glad to recall her name.

"Minerva."

"Oh, Severus, lad..." The Scottish brogue reminded him of the woman who had visited him and held his hand as he slept. She swept him up into a motherly sort of embrace and he lifted a hand to pat her arms where they held him. Her eyes were bright when they let him go. "I'm so very glad you will be all right."

"Minerva. I do forgive you," he managed to croak out past his aching throat.

She frowned, then paled somewhat. "You remember that? I thought you unconscious."

"I heard you," he admitted. "I could hear and feel everything."

Harry, who sat beside him watching the exchange, suddenly grew pale, but neither Snape nor McGonagall noticed.

"Maybe I should go," he offered now, uncertain and wanting to think about what he could say to Snape, but long, lean fingers stopped him, gently squeezing his hand.

"No. Please stay, Harry."

Minerva smiled and Harry swallowed, but nodded. He sat back down and watched Snape warily, but the man's pleased expression did not change, nor did he let go of his hand.


~



The Acting Headmistress had gone and Snape had fallen asleep, still holding on to Harry's hand firmly. Harry watched him with concern.

Snape was not acting at all like he'd expected, especially given the fact he claimed to remember everything from the nearly two weeks he'd spent unconscious.

He did not seem angry at all, and, in fact, Harry would have expected him to be furious. He not only had called him "Sev," but he'd watched the man being bathed and had even wiped him clean after he'd had a wet dream.

Harry's face heated now as he remembered waking in the chair Madam Pomfrey had transfigured to a lounging couch the night before, having heard the moaning sounds Snape had been making. He had nearly called the Mediwitch before he realised the moans were ones of pleasure, not pain.

The bedclothes had been pushed down to his thighs and since he had bandages covering his throat and upper chest and Madam Pomfrey needed to see to his toileting needs on a regular basis, this meant Snape was naked before him, surprisingly heavy erection waving gently in the Infirmary air, perpendicular to his flat belly.

His hands had been twitching and as Harry watched, the man had stilled, moaned again, and that rearing erection had suddenly seemed to contract. Then Snape had moaned a bit louder as his erection now seemed to jerk forward, squirting a thin, milky fluid a few times before easing up, still twitching slightly. Thicker, more viscous semen had slowly dribbled out, the emission covering that flat belly and the line of wiry hair the led to his genitals.

Harry had been aghast, a little aroused at the sight, but also afraid of Snape waking or Pomfrey coming. So he'd fetched basin and water and flannel and set about wiping Snape down, intending to cover him decently after, but then he'd woken.

Had Snape felt all that? If he had heard and felt everything, then he had known what Harry was doing, that Harry had been there when he'd had his wet dream. But the man did not seem embarrassed or angry or even concerned.

So what was going on?


~



"Good morning, Harry."

Harry blinked tiredly, looking toward the bed he had gotten used to sleeping next to. Snape was watching him with a fond expression.

"Poppy hasn't been by. Would you mind helping me use the po?"

Harry felt his face heat up, then looked down toward Madam Pomfrey's office door, which was still dark. The sun had not fully risen yet. He finally shrugged.

"Sure."

Harry bent and fetched the chamber pot, handing it to Snape who was able to hold it, but could not situate it as needed, still being very weak.

"I'm sorry, Harry, I will need your help keeping steady. I believe I can hold the po by the side of the bed, but not remain upright."

He nodded and went to help support Snape as he sat at the edge of the bed, doggedly not looking as the man placed the pot on his now lowered lap, his semi-flaccid penis falling within at a slight angle.

Harry held onto Snape and closed his eyes, wishing he could shut his ears, as well, as the sounds of muted splashing and a relieved sigh reached them, but acknowledging that it was only logical that he help.

"That's the ticket," Snape said with another sigh, sounding contented.

He glanced at his beloved, smiling at the young man's attempt to provide him modesty; didn't he know that was not necessary? He had nothing to hide from Harry. They were companions, if not yet lovers. He knew this as he had no recollection of their ever having been intimate, but he also knew it was only a matter of time. He had given him everything, all of himself. He had shared his heart and very soul with this young man, the one he had protected and been willing to die for. Harry had taken it and used it to free them both from the madman who had enslaved him and tortured Harry most of his adolescence.

Then he'd returned and helped him, waited patiently, watched over him. Severus could be patient, too. He could and would gladly wait for when Harry was ready, for when they could finally be together. Until then, he would enjoy what time they spent together, even at something as tedious and unromantic as this.

He finished up and resealed the hinged lid on the chamber pot.

"Thank you for your help, Harry."

"Anytime," he muttered, feeling dreadfully embarrassed, but merely taking the pot by the handle and tucking it back under the bed. Then he helped Snape lay back, bundling him to the chest with the bed-covers.

"You'd make a good Mediwizard."

Harry smiled. "I don't know. I was thinking of being an Auror."

Snape looked suddenly stern. "You are free now. You should do as you wish, not as others expect. You do not owe the wizarding world a sense of security."

Harry felt a bit riled.

"It would be what I wished. I'm not a puppet."

Snape studied him for a moment, and then nodded. "Good. So long as it is your own wish, and not the wish to do as others desire."

To Harry's surprise, Snape did not grow angry, nor did the expected argument materialise. The man merely closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep.


~



"Where are your friends?"

Later that morning Harry looked over his bowl of porridge to Snape who was also eating. The thick, heavy bandages had been replaced by less cumbersome gauze & tape, merely covering the wound for protection as it finished healing. It also made it easier for Snape to swallow, something he had complained of the day before when spooning up soup.

"Hermione's in Australia. She had to sort her parents out -- it's a long story. Ron is at the Burrow. The funeral was five days ago. They're still kind of holed up with visiting family and the Lovegoods who are living with them, since their house exploded."

"Which explains why you are free to be here," Snape nodded. "I had wondered, although I am very glad you are."

Harry decided to ignore the last comment and focused on the first two.

"No, actually I volunteered to sit with you. For one thing, the healers reckoned someone should be close by at all times in case you showed signs of waking. For another, we're still not sure who we can trust near you. There were a few death threats, even though everyone knows the truth now of what you did, how you helped destroy Voldemort."

Snape winced, but did not correct Harry, and Harry remembered how the name used to make him so angry.

"Sir? Are you afraid of his name?"

"Severus."

"Sir?"

"No, just Severus. You shouldn't call me sir, Harry, or Professor, as I am neither. To you, I am Severus. Or Sev, if you prefer."

Harry was so flabbergasted his porridge spilled down his shirt before he righted his spoon and used his wand to try to remove the sticky lumps from the fabric. Snape did not seem to notice.

"To answer your question, it is a learned response. His name, used by a Death Eater, alerted him. His name and touching the Dark Mark, could summon him."

Harry nodded, nearly finished cleaning his shirt. "Then last year the Ministry had that spell in place so you couldn't use his name without causing Snatchers to arrive."

"Just so." Snape set his spoon down. "You shall have to tell me the adventures you had."

Harry smiled as he set his wand down, shirt mostly clean, but now bearing faint discolouration where the porridge had fallen and been magically removed.

"So long as you tell me about your own, here at the castle."


~



The morning had passed quickly with their quiet conversation, and Harry had slowly gotten used to the odd looks Snape occasionally gave him.

Whenever he'd recounted some anecdote that illustrated their resourcefulness, the man's dark gaze seemed to smoulder.

It gave Harry an odd feeling in the pit of his stomach. Snape was looking at him the way he'd seen Hermione looking at Ron. But this was Snape. Surely he was mistaken?

Harry finally left off at the Shrieking Shack, merely saying uncomfortably, "Well, you know what happened there."

Snape's expression grew shuttered, and then he reached for Harry's hand. Harry gave it, smiling as Snape squeezed it, surprised, but pleased at the man's demonstrativeness. The whole morning had been an eye-opening, but pleasant experience; seeing Snape as a person, very like a friend, instead of an adversary.

Now Snape closed his eyes and sighed. After a moment, he nodded, but did not open his eyes.

"I merely hope I can prove myself worthy of your care and devotion, my Harry." Then, to his companion's utter astonishment, he lifted that sturdy hand to his mouth and gently kissed each knuckle, before rubbing it to his cheek and sighing again, this time contentedly.

The young Gryffindor's mouth fell open and he fumbled for words with which to respond, but before any came, the sound of Snape softly snoring belayed them.


~



Snape was still napping when the meeting was held. He still slept a great deal, particularly after having lunch, so this was when Pomfrey, McGonagall and Harry all met in the Mediwitch's office.

"He seems quite well, considering his injuries on arrival," the Headmistress noted.

"He's different," Harry noted. Pomfrey nodded.

"I agree. Moreover, he seems... well... taken with Harry."

"I beg your pardon?"

The Mediwitch looked apologetically at Harry. "I was listening... and observing you from here this morning."

Harry nodded, not upset, and in fact, glad someone else knew something odd was happening. Poppy continued explaining.

"Minerva, the man seems to have a new-found interest in Harry here."

"In what way?"

Harry blushed. "It's like he thinks we're, well... as if we were... dating."

McGonagall blinked. "Would you mind repeating that, Mr. Potter?"

Harry flushed scarlet. "It's like he fancies me."

The Headmistress frowned slightly, and then nodded. "I thought that's what you meant. Although I'm sure I've no idea why it would be so. Is it something we missed, Poppy? A spell or curse or hex?"

Pomfrey shook her head. "I ran a scan earlier whilst Severus and Harry were chatting. I did it from in here so as not to disturb them and it showed nothing, not even anything as innocuous as a minor cleansing charm."

Harry was suddenly glad he has used a wet flannel instead of magic on Snape the other day. McGonagall looked concerned.

"So if he's not been hexed--"

"It could be a result of his injury. He suffered a great deal of blood loss and he was left near-death for a long time. It's possible his memory of events has been affected."

"He seems to know and fully understand everything else, though."

"At least from this last year, yes. I heard him speaking to Harry, but haven't heard him speaking of anything that took place earlier."

"He's mentioned a few things, but only in passing," Harry admitted. "Like why a Death Eater didn't like to hear Voldemort addressed by name."

"So he remembers last year and some of his history."

"But he thinks we're... a couple," Harry added, embarrassed.

"What can be done?"

Harry and Minerva watched Poppy, but the Mediwitch shook her head.

"Nothing. He's still too fragile, health-wise, to risk a set back, especially an emotional one."

"Well, that precludes Mr. Potter here absenting himself, which would have been my suggested course of action," Minerva admitted.

"That would be inadvisable. We could explain that Mr. Potter was busy or needed at the Ministry and the like, but the explanation would only work for so long, and Severus could become depressed or even agitated waiting for word or sight of him. Agitation would be only slightly better than depression. Depression could set him back in every way and I'd really rather not see all the healing he's accomplished begin to deteriorate."

Harry shrugged. "I don't mind. I mean him thinking that, I don't really mind. It's not like he's hurting me. It's kind of nice getting to know him as a friend."

"But he wants rather more than friendship, if I understand you and Poppy correctly, Mr. Potter."

Harry nodded, flushing slightly again. "Yeah, but it won't hurt me any to listen to him and let him hold my hand. It's the least I owe him. Besides, he'll probably remember everything soon and go back to yelling at me and calling me a first class dunderhead with delusions of godhead."

The Headmistress nodded. "Well, if you're sure..."

"I am. I'll stay with him and keep him company. It's not so bad. It's nice not having him yell at me. He's like a different person and I kind of like him, too, as a friend."

"Very well. I just hope, for both your sakes, that he remembers sooner and not later, and that the remembering is not traumatic or damaging."

Harry peeked around the doorway to where Snape lay peacefully sleeping and could only agree.


~



Pigwidgeon arrived later that afternoon, delivering a letter from Ron and two pies from Mrs. Weasley.

He had read it as Pomfrey helped Snape perform his exercises.

Harry,
I heard about Snape - worst luck! Still, without You Know Who around maybe he'll be better behaved.

It's hard to believe the funeral was a week ago already. George is re-opening Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes tomorrow. I'll be helping out for awhile, although he might hire Katie. She came up to him at the funeral and she's been by twice, as has Neville. He and Ginny sure are full of stories. They and Luna did more last year than you, me and Hermione got up to the six years before.

Y' know, Harry, I'm not sure if Neville isn't sweet on Ginny. She sure does laugh a lot with him and they go on long walks. Even though Luna is staying with us, they don't talk much to her, either. She's been spending time with Charlie, actually. They've been sharing stories about dragons and nargles and what not. Charlie's the only one that seems able to chat with her without rolling his eyes. Wouldn't it be funny if they got together?

Hermione wrote the other day. Did she write you? Her parents weren't where she left them. Turns out they went on holiday! Funny, isn't it? They headed off to Mexico the day before she got there for a month's vacation. It's summer here, but winter there and their landlady said they fancied being somewhere warm. Hermione was trying to decide if she was going to try to find them or just sit tight and wait. I told her she should wait and maybe I could come over after George is settled. I've never been to Australia and it could be fun, being with Hermione and maybe seeing the sights.

I hear from Dad that Kings is doing really good work in the Ministry. Did you hear Dad is in charge of his department now? He was promoted and given a proper pay rise. He hadn't got one in years and Kings reckoned it was overdue.

Even that hasn't lifted Mum's spirits any, though. She's been spending a lot of time in the orchard and in the kitchen. If she's not cooking, she's planting. The only thing that makes her smile is news from Bill. Fleur is due to have the baby any day now. I can't wait. It might be just the thing to cheer Mum up.

Please write her, and write me back. Tell me how the castle is doing and if the snake poison helped Snape's greasy hair problem. It couldn't hurt I guess.

Ron



"You've been awfully quiet since mail call. Not bad news, I hope?"

Harry shrugged, uneasy. "I'm not sure, actually."

Snape eyed him, and then said sombrely, "Trouble shared is trouble halved."

Harry nodded, and then said, "Ron says Neville and Ginny are getting on well. He reckons maybe too well."

Snape studied him. "How do you feel about that?"

"I don't know. We're not together anymore. I had to be free to finish what Dumbledore had started. No matter what happened, I just wanted her to be happy. Neville's my friend. He's a good man. I'd... I don't know."

"Mr. Weasley is perceptive, if inconsiderate in his phrasing, no doubt. Mr. Longbottom and Miss Weasley were found where they should not be, after curfew, more than a few times this last year."

Harry smiled. "Yeah, well, they were the underground, weren't they?"

That black gaze was unusually soft, almost sympathetic, and Harry felt like squirming, but kept from moving.

"Harry... I would not seek to distress you."

"Go on. You know something."

Snape nodded. "Mr. Longbottom and Miss Weasley were not always conducting guerrilla activity, nor was it always after curfew. On at least four separate occasions, most often between classes, your Head of House and Professor Flitwick had cause to reprimand them for excessively romantic behaviour."

Harry swallowed. Somehow he knew Snape was going to say that, and he knew if Ron had noticed something, that it was probably dead obvious to everyone else, but it still rankled somewhat. He had waited, but--

No. I was busy and I didn't even think of her. So why does it surprise me that she didn't think of me? I didn't make any promises and I didn't ask any of her.

"I regret bringing you distressing news," Snape said quietly.

Harry looked up, and then shook his head.

"No, it's all right. It's not all that distressing. I just--"

"You had expectations. Despite knowing in your heart, the unlikelihood of things, you had expectations."

Harry nodded, sighing.

"I understand."

Snape said nothing else, but Harry considered the statement and what he now knew about the man and realised that this was an understatement of Grawp-ian proportions.


~



To Harry's consternation, the Headmistress insisted on sitting with Snape for dinner, stating emphatically that it was good he was awake so that she could discuss the coming term and the many issues involving the war-torn school with him.

Harry understood it was McGonagall's way of trying to help him deal with the memory-addled man, but at the same time he truly did not mind sitting with Severus and quietly discussing things as they had, friend to friend. It was rather nice getting to know him as a friend and he was surprised to learn he truly liked the man he was getting to know.

Still, it felt good to have a long bath instead of a quick Infirmary shower, so he took his time, luxuriating in being alone and able to enjoy the hot water. Once out, he dried, drying his hair with a charm Hermione had taught him, and put on his pyjamas, then threw his robes over them, packed his clothes for the morning into his satchel and headed down to the Infirmary.

The Headmistress was just leaving, giving him a wave and smile. He smiled back, but before he could step in, Madam Pomfrey stepped out and seeing him, headed over.

"A word, Potter, since you've been sitting with him. Severus is still suffering occasional nightmares, is he not?"

Harry nodded.

"In that case, I could recommend Dreamless Sleep and that would allow you to rest in your dorm. There's no need to have you sit by him."

He shook his head. "If he wants Dreamless Sleep, fine. But I really don't mind. Having suffered my share of nightmares I know how nice it is to have someone there to talk to, to reassure you. It's better than any potion."

Pomfrey considered this, looking impressed with his assessment. Then she smiled, patting his shoulder. "Just don't let him hear you say that."

Harry smiled broadly and stepped into the Infirmary as the Mediwitch headed down the corridor.


~



"No! I need to find him!"

Harry lunged up in the dark of the Infirmary and took Snape by the upper arms as he thrashed, until he opened his eyes and he was able to speak to him. He hoped Madam Pomfrey would not wake.

"It's all right, Severus. It was just a dream. You're in the Infirmary and you're going to be all right."

"Harry!" The black eyes were wild in the moonlight that streamed from the window above. "Take it! Take it!"

"Severus." Harry squeezed his arms and urged him to full consciousness. "It's a dream."

Snape blinked a few times, and then began to tremble. "H-Harry."

"I'm right here. You're in the Infirmary, and you're going to be all right. It's all over."

The black eyes looked momentarily confused, then cleared and Harry was gratified when the man sat up, shaking off his hands.

"Riddle is gone?"

Harry smiled; glad to hear the clipped tone. It was the first time Snape had sounded like himself.

"Yes. He killed me, but I came back again, this time without him inside me. And I destroyed him."

"You survived." Snape sighed, and then spoke through gritted teeth. "That accursed old meddler."

Harry smiled. "Yeah, but he was brilliant. It did the trick. We're free of him, of V- Riddle."

Snape looked up at this and then said firmly, "Say his name."

Harry straightened, nodding. "Voldemort."

Snape's cheek twitched, but he drew in an even breath and released it, his eyes growing suspiciously bright, before he blinked and looked down at his left arm, the forearm of his pyjama sleeve having ridden up. The Dark Mark still could be seen, but it was more like a faded tattoo on aged skin, a grey shadow of itself, no longer black and malevolent, more like a smudge.

"Blessings of Merlin," he muttered, unexpressed emotion thickening his tone as he slid his hand over the remnant of the mark.

"So you remember now?"

Snape looked over at him, then away again, letting his hair hide his face.

"Yes. I... I appreciate your attentiveness during my stay here, Potter. It was quite magnanimous of you."

His tone was not bitter, but dismissive, and it held the echoes of pain in it, making Harry shake his head.

"Don't be silly. I wanted to do it. It's the least I owe you."

"You owe me nothing," Snape said with finality, hand still covering the Dark Mark.

"I disagree. We, the whole wizarding world, owe you a great deal. You helped give us freedom."

"Potter." The black gaze was now very familiar to Harry, fiery and determined. "Do not make me into something I am not. I am no hero. I did as I was ordered. I kept my promise to L... to your mother. That is all. It is enough."

"I still disagree."

"Fine. Do so elsewhere. I wish to be alone." Snape looked away again, down to his arm, although Harry did not think he was still looking at what remained of the Dark Mark.

"It's not a good idea. You're still having nightmar--"

"I wasn't planning on sleeping."

Harry looked troubled. "You're still recovering, Severus."

Snape's head whipped up and Harry paled, but stood his ground. Snape looked away first, speaking into the shadows.

"It's kind of you, P... Harry. But unnecessary, I assure you. I'm quite myself again."

Harry sighed, but finally conceded. "All right. I'll see you at breakfast then."

"You needn't b--"

"I'd do the same for any of my friends, Severus. Sleep well."

The silence that fell was broken only by the sound of Harry fetching his satchel and walking out of the Infirmary.


~



The next morning found Harry looking for Snape in the Infirmary.

"He's in his quarters, his old quarters in the dungeons," Pomfrey said with not a little disgust as she noted Harry glancing into her office.

He looked at her, aghast. "He's barely recovered. He can't walk further than the loo yet, what's he thinking?"

"He's not. He's... he recovered his memory."

Harry nodded. "Last night. After a nightmare."

Poppy eyed him, but merely said, "It's no more than I expected. I never could hold him here against his will, even when he was near death. He's not that ill this time, fortunately, but I think he's feeling rather... self-conscious."

Harry looked grim. "Damn fool. I'll go down to him."

"It might be best to just leave him be. The years I've known him, he's never been in a situation quite like this."

"I won't let his embarrassment cause a setback," Harry insisted. "He needs his potions and, whether he believes it or not, he needs a friend. And I consider him a friend."

Poppy smiled.

"I repeat -- he's never been in a situation quite like this."


~



The pain from his still healing throat was slowly numbed by the effects of the brandy he sipped.

He ignored the pain, or rather, he used it to mask the other pain, the deep and terrible shame that burned in him unceasingly every time he recalled what he had said to Harry-- Potter, what he had done...

The bright silver light slowly roused him and he turned to find a shining silvery stag, Harry's Patronus, standing and bowing its antlered head before him.

"We need to speak. Please let me in."

Snape gulped the remainder of the brandy, wincing as it seared his throat, then set down the glass and lifted his wand and waved it at the waiting Patronus.

It trotted silently away and he sighed. This would be the most difficult time, but it would soon pass. Pot--Harry would leave him alone after awhile and he could gather his wits and his things and depart for his home and deal with his wounds in private.

"Somehow I knew that would be your answer."

He started, looking over to find Harry standing near his doorway. He scowled.

"I see you've acquired new skills during your year evading Snatchers and the Ministry."

"I don't forget new skills... or my friends."

Snape said nothing. Harry sighed and sat carefully in the chair next to him.

"Whatever else might have been going on -- I thought we'd become friends. And I'm worried about my friend, about you, Severus."

"You wouldn't if you knew."

"What? That you were the one that gave Voldemort the stupid prophecy? That you tried to save my mother? If you hadn't, I wouldn't be here now. If you hadn't asked for her life, and if Voldemort hadn't asked her to step aside, she wouldn't have sacrificed herself for me, she would just have died, and so would I."

"I'm in no mood to have this particular discussion," Snape murmured, not looking at Harry now, staring into his fireplace.

"Yeah, well, you were the one who left the Infirmary. We could be sharing breakfast and chatting about whatever's in the Prophet today instead."

"I did not wish to see you... or to be seen."

Harry sighed. "It's not as bad as all that. You got confused is all. A great bloody snake nearly killed you and you lost a lot of blood and the details got mixed up in your head. It happens and everyone understands. It's not something you have to hide--"

"I've been hiding this particular detail since the end of your fifth year, Potter."

Harry frowned. "It's Harry, not Potter. We've been through too much for that, Severus. And what have you been hi--"

Snape's sudden look stopped him. That black gaze reflected a plethora of emotion Harry had a hard time deciphering, but he could sense the shame, the bitterness, and the regret.

"I confused nothing, Po-- Harry. I merely mistook the circumstances we had last seen each other with my prior awareness of your status in my head."

"What?"

Snape looked away again, into the fire. "You undressed in the Forest of Dean. I watched you from behind a tree."

Harry was only briefly taken aback, before he nodded, remembering.

"When I got the sword of Gryffindor. You sent the doe and you watched to see if I got it and to make sure the Snatchers or Death Eaters didn't find me."

Snape snorted. "I watched you because I could not look away. I watched you because I could. I watched you because I would never have another chance to see you... see what you would never show me on your own."

He looked over now to Harry who stared at him, dumbfounded, and added bitterly, "I watched you because I wanted you, Potter... Harry. I have since the end of your fifth year, when it became clear that you did not gloat over seeing that wretched memory in the Pensieve nor relate the memory to your classmates, and when you proved your resourcefulness after being caught by Dolores Umbridge. It was unexpected and unwelcome and no amount of firewhiskey or Occlumency or maddeningly reckless behaviour on your part thereafter washed the feelings away. All I could do was hope the end would be the end, and release me from the torment... and release you from the shame and dishonour of being wanted by someone like me."

He looked back to the fire again and cleared his throat in a painful sounding way.

"I could not even accomplish staying properly dead."

The silence that fell was broken only by the sound of the fire crackling. Then Harry spoke quietly.

"I'm glad you're not dead."

"That makes one of us."

"I'm not ashamed, either. Nor should you be. One thing I've learnt over the last year is that love is special and should be treasured."

"Who said anything about love?"

Harry smiled, although Snape could not see him, still looking into the fire. The man started when he felt the hand squeeze his and turned to find Harry carefully leaning over him. His voice was whisper-quiet, but firm.

"You didn't have to."

Before Snape could respond, Harry leaned over, still holding his hand, and gently, carefully, kissed him.

When he did nothing, Harry did it again, slowly and softly, then again, testing this new situation and finding it surprisingly pleasant.

Unlike the time with Cho, when he had been nervous and uncertain, or the few times with Ginny, when he had been cataloguing the differences, this time he felt tender and giving.

When Snape reached his free hand up to touch his face, Harry turned to kiss it, then went back to kissing those thin, but mobile lips. They were warm and slightly damp and tasted of brandy and not a little salt. The implications behind that flavour filled Harry with an almost unbearable feeling of compassion, and he kissed the trace of tears away.

Snape clutched at his hand, bringing the snogging session to a halt. His forehead pressed against Harry's chest.

"What is this, P -- Harry?"

"We're kissing."

Snape made an indescribable sound before asking in a tight voice, "Why are you kissing me?

"I want to."

There was a silence, and then he spoke in a more even tone of voice. "What do you intend?"

"I don't know. I mean, there was nothing about it in the Prophecy. It didn't say the Dark Lord would fall and the Chosen One would scarper off with his brave protector and they'd snog and shag happily ever after, now did it?"

Snape moved back and Harry felt himself being pulled down until he was kneeling and they could see one another eye to eye.

"I do not find amusement in this situation, Harry."

"Nor do I. Look -- what I know is this -- you're alive and I'm alive. You cared for me and watched over me and protected me even when I made it difficult for you in every conceivable way. I appreciate that. And I never knew what you sacrificed and all you did to make it possible for me to do what I did. So far as I'm concerned, you're as much a hero as anyone that fought against Voldemort, and we both deserve whatever good comes our way that we care to enjoy."

Snape did not look particularly convinced, but he also did not let Harry go. He sighed.

"You want to know what else I've learnt, Severus?"

Snape nodded.

"Time is precious. I don't mean to waste the time I've been given, however long it turns out to be. And I don't think we should waste whatever this is, for however long it turns out to be. Even if it's just one year or one week or one night. Would you treasure it less for it being brief?"

Severus swallowed. "I'm afraid I'm rather overprotective of my... things."

"I'm not a thing."

"Yes. You are far more precious yet. I... I don't share well, Harry."

"There's no one to share with, Severus.

Snape nodded, and then oddly, blushed. He looked down again.

"If you are hoping for an innovative and/or sensational encounter, you will likely be disappointed. I have no experience to speak of."

"Then we can learn together."

Harry's hand slid under Snape's chin and lifted it, making him meet his gaze. His other hand slid around Severus's and their fingers interlocked before he leaned in and confirmed his intentions with a kiss.


~



Severus was still too tired and ill to do very much, but since he had experienced a wet dream without ill effect, they figured they could at least share something special even if they did not have penetrative sex.

So it was Harry found himself undressing for an avid Severus in the candle-lit bedroom.

Snape had admitted he was a bit voyeuristic and the only thing that had marred his enjoyment of watching Harry retrieve the sword of Gryffindor had been Harry keeping on his boxers.

This time Harry did not stop at his boxers, facing away from Severus to lower them, providing the man a good long view of his rounded, muscular buttocks, before stepping out of his pants and turning around. While he had seen Severus already, having been witness to his being bathed and then later, his wet dream, but this was the first time Severus would see him naked. He hoped he was not a disappointment.

When he glanced up, Snape looked like he was scarcely breathing. Harry smiled gently.

"Sev. If you pass out I'll have to call Madam Pomfrey."

Severus nodded, gulping, but drew in a few unsteady breaths and clenched the bed-covers in his fists. Harry could see the lump beneath the bed-covers that marked Snape's arousal, his interest in him.

It was not something the man could hide and Harry found himself glad of it. It was different with girls. He could never tell if they were truly interested, desirous of him, or merely desirous of being with The Boy Who Lived.

That mounded fabric spoke of genuine desire, however. Harry could feel himself responding, his own cock growing rapidly hard. He wanted to show Severus how he felt, he now realised. He wanted him to see his response and desire.

He cupped himself, cradled his bollocks, and watched as that lump seemed to twitch beneath the bed-covers.

"Would you like to watch me?"

Severus nodded again, still clutching the bed-covers tightly, but this time he bit his lip as Harry fisted his prick, and moaned as he began to stroke.

The obvious desire the man had for him was heartening. Harry had never felt so wanted or as crucial to another as he did in this moment.

He smiled, wanting to make this moment special for his new-found lover.

Harry gently pulled back his foreskin, and then used his fingers to slide it back and forth over his sensitive glans. He heard Snape moan and continued to manipulate himself, surprised to find he did not feel awkward or uncomfortable masturbating before him. He wanted to give Severus this experience, much as he wanted to share even more.

Fully erect now, he moved his hand back and just pumped himself gently, but firmly. He looked over to Severus and decided the man had had quite enough.

Severus was staring, wide-eyed, biting his lip and still clutching the bed-covers, his rearing erection pushing up the bedclothes as his hips gently thrust of their own volition. Harry wondered if he was even aware of what he was doing.

He stepped closer now and pulled back the bed-covers to slide in beside him, smiling appealingly. Severus watched him almost fearfully. He wore only one of his comfortable grey linen night shirts.

"Why don't we take that off," Harry enquired.

Snape said nothing; merely staring as Harry gently undid the buttons of his shirt and carefully pulled it up, revealing his dark, and heavily swollen erection. Soon he had slid the nightshirt off to the side and lifted the bed-covers back over them both.

"There."

Snape's cock twitched between them and Harry moved close again, to kiss him.

Severus eagerly complied and soon they were kissing and pressing tightly together.

Harry reached a hand down and gathered both pricks in his fist. Snape froze.

"It's all right. I just want us both to feel really good," Harry murmured, gently squeezing, before beginning to stroke their erections.

"Harry..."

Snape's eyes closed and he groaned, then convulsed, thrusting his prick into Harry's grasp as he spunked hard and long.

"Merlin, Harry..."

The slippery fluid made the strokes feel more exciting, and the increased sensation Snape provided with his thrusts made Harry start to come, too.

They both slowly stopped trembling and soon lay replete, gazing at each other.

Harry wondered how he ever thought those eyes to be flat and inexpressive.

Severus wondered why had waited so very long to share such a precious thing with anyone.

Harry smiled as he read the wealth of emotions in that black gaze. He reached without looking for his wand and when he found it, waved away the sticky fluid from them both, before tucking the wand under his pillow. His voice was quiet.

"So. Still friends?"

To his delight, Snape blushed, but nodded.

"Always... and more."

Harry's smile widened.

"Yes. Much more."

Then they shared a heartfelt kiss that confirmed their new status to one another, before relaxing back onto the comfortable bed and falling into a deep, peaceful, healing sleep.

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