A/N - I own nothing and all that jazz. This is seriously AU, Voldemort was defeated at the end of sixth year, and so Harry is there for his seventh year. This centers completely around Harry/Severus, so no other pairs are really mentioned. Dumbledore is alive, and you can assume anyone not dead at the end of sixth year is still alive although they aren't actually mentioned so it doesn't really matter. Anyway, I hope you enjoy :D
Pairing - Harry/Severus
Prompts - Minimum Word Count 2500 / Snow must be present / Must take place during Harry's time at Hogwarts (including 7th year) (Can Be AU) / Unlikely meeting / Fleur-de-lys / Melted Wax /Green /Babbity Rabbity
Word Count without A/N - 5220
Where The Future Lies
Harry sighed as he lay in bed, staring at the canopy. He couldn't sleep. Of course, that was nothing new, he hadn't had a full night's sleep in well over a year. The absent snores in the dorm room made him feel lonely, though he knew it was by his own choice. Ron had invited him to the Burrow for Christmas, practically begged him in fact, but Harry had declined. He had no wish to be the odd man out, and though Ron and Hermione had tried to convince him that wouldn't happen, Harry knew it would.
It was through no fault of anyone's, Harry was pleased everyone was loved up, but he hated watching couples, all cuddling and kissing, feeding each other, doing what loved up people did, when he was all alone. Since Voldemort was defeated, Harry had been left feeling bereft, without a purpose. He had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, had never given it much thought. He had never truly believed he would be alive after Voldemort, had never put any thought into what life would be like without his enemy.
The teachers, Headmaster Dumbledore in particular, had noticed Harry's attitude change. Dumbledore had called him to his office numerous time's since the start of the year, each time about the same subject. What did Harry want to do when he left school? Did he want to pursue Quidditch, did he want to be an Auror? Did he fancy working in the Ministry or did he want an outdoor job? The questions were endless, and Harry had no answer for any of them. As his last year at Hogwarts passed him by, Harry had less answers everyday.
Harry got up, tired of staring at the canopy of his bed, and pulled his invisibility cloak from his trunk. It had been a long time since he last wandered the hall late at night, and as his time at Hogwarts was coming short, he thought he should make the most of such an enjoyable activity while he still had the chance.
"I solemnly swear I'm up to no good," he muttered, tapping the marauders map with his wand. He run his eyes over the corridors, looking to see if any of the Professors were doing rounds. Seeing no one, he stored the map away and left the dorm. The common room was empty, the fire left to go out, the silence eerie as Harry crossed the room to the portrait hole.
A surprised squawk punctuated the silence as he pushed the portrait open, and Harry could barely hold the chuckle at the look on the Fat Lady's face as she swung closed again. He set off, letting his legs take him wherever they wanted to go. He barely concentrated on his surroundings as he roamed the school, a place so familiar to him he thought he could make his way around blindfolded. Eventually, he found himself climbing the stairs to the astronomy tower.
The tower had always been a favorite place of his, somewhere to come and enjoy the quiet, to ponder feelings he had no desire for others to know about. It was here he had spoke to Dumbledore just after Voldemort died. It was here he had decided not to continue the relationship with Ginny. It was here he had figured out his sexual attractions run towards men.
He rarely ever got disturbed here, and with the castle so quiet, with many of the students having returned home to their families to celebrate Christmas, Harry doubted anyone would disturb him tonight either. He took the cloak off, placing it next to him as he sat by the window. Snow had begun to fall over the grounds, a sight that made Harry smile. He loved snow, loved to watch it fall, loved to hike through it, loved snowball fights and making snowmen, loved everything it represented. It was so pure, and to him it symbolized innocence.
Harry no longer felt pure. He could no longer be called innocent. He had taken a life, one filled with anger, hate and destruction, but nonetheless, a life. He felt dirty at the thought of being a murderer, something that his friends could never understand. They thought it was brilliant, and Harry could see their point of view. Voldemort was gone, most of the Death Eaters dead or locked up, the Wizarding World was at peace once more. Harry was the nations sweetheart once more, and everything was supposed to be right with the world.
Softly muffled footsteps broke Harry from his musing, though not in time to save himself from being discovered. As he laid his hand on the cloak, intending to pull it over himself, the door flew open and Severus Snape walked in. They stared at each other for a moment, before Snape sighed.
"Of course you would be here Potter. How could you not be?" he murmured quietly. The potions master seemed to fight with himself for a moment, before he took a seat next to Harry.
Harry glanced at him, surprised and curious that the man hadn't taken one hundred points from Gryffindor before banishing him back to the dorm room. Neither of them spoke for a while, and the silence was surprisingly comfortable.
"What are you doing up here, Potter?" Snape asked eventually.
"I come here to think. I couldn't sleep," Harry answered honestly, surprising both of them.
After Voldemort, they had fallen into an uneasy truce. Neither apologised for their actions of the past six years, but both decided to leave the past behind them, to treat each other civilly, to stop with pointless arguments that neither had the heart for any longer. They had fought a war, side by side in a way, and they had no wish to continue fighting for the sake of fighting.
"You come up here often?" the Professor replied, raising a slim eyebrow in the younger man's direction.
"Not as much now as I did in past years. Sometimes, lying in bed isn't enough," Harry replied tiredly.
Snape seemed to be choosing his words carefully, for it took a moment for him to speak again.
"You have been different this year, Potter. More reserved. Care to explain?"
"Have you decided where your future lies?"
"You too? Everyone is very interested in that, none more so than me. I have no idea what I want to do, no idea at all."
"It's time you decided then, is it not?"
"Because it's just so easy. Don't you get it Professor? I don't know what I want to do, because I'm only just coming to terms with the fact that I am alive to do anything at all. I didn't expect to survive! I still haven't decided if that's a good thing to begin with."
"Potter... Harry, you survived because you were stronger. Because you had the will to survive. To question that is an insult to yourself and all the people that died at the hand of the Dark Lord. You can do whatever you choose to do, if you put the work and effort in, you have the power to take you wherever you want to go."
"I know it's an insult to the people who died, but I can't help the way I feel about this. I... Everything is different, and I don't even know who I am anymore. I'm a murderer. Its... People keep congratulating me, and thanking me, for becoming a murderer. Do you know how twisted and confusing that is?"
"I... I know how difficult it is to take a life. No matter the nature of the life. I also know that if you let this eat at you, if you let the feeling overwhelm you, then it will kill you from the inside. You need help, Harry, whether you want to accept it or not. For a long time, I felt like you do now, and when I eventually let it all out, I finally felt clean again."
"I need to go. Thanks for the talk, Professor."
Harry could feel eyes on his back as he made his way to the door, before his professor spoke one last time.
"Potter, ten points from Gryffindor for being out past curfew."
Harry smiled to himself, at least some things could stay the same.
Harry was summoned to see the Headmaster for 'tea and a chat', the following day. Upon entering the office and seeing the Potions Master already seated, Harry couldn't help but feel a little betrayed.
He took a seat next to Snape, refusing to meet the eyes of either the Headmaster or Professor.
"Harry, my boy, Severus here has had rather an interesting idea. He feels you are being left alone too much during the holiday, and want's to know if you would like to serve a temporary apprenticeship with him, to show you what being a teacher would be like. From our previous conversations, being a teacher was one of the few careers you haven't outright rejected. I think it a marvelous idea, what say you?"
Harry could hardly believe his ears, and he was immediately suspicious. Why would a man who had barely treated him like a human for the first six years of their relationship, and who only just tolerated him now, offer to spend an inordinate amount of time helping him over holidays that said man could be enjoying in much appreciated solitude?
"It's a very kind offer, sir," Harry replied, very much aware that he hadn't given a real answer.
"But?" Snape prompted.
"I'm not sure I understand why the offer is there at all, Professor. No offence meant, but you're hardly the first person I can imagine offering to spend such an amount of time with any student, let alone me."
"The offer is there, Potter, so you can see if you enjoy teaching as much as you did when you ran your defence club. It is not at all as easy as you will have previously thought, and I intend to show you every aspect, from dealing with irritating miscreants on night time patrols to grading dunderhead essays that have been copied word for word from a text book."
Harry snorted. He couldn't help it.
"While I wouldn't have worded that quite the same, I believe this is a good opportunity for you Harry," Dumbledore pushed.
Harry knew he wouldn't be getting away with a negative answer, he had no good reason not to accept. It was a good, a brilliant opportunity, and he knew as much. Spending so much time with Snape though, the thought sent a shiver down Harry's spine, and it wasn't a shiver of fear.
"Okay. Thanks," he replied, resigned. Snape rolled his eyes while Dumbledore twinkled away, beaming at the two of them. Harry inwardly groaned. It was going to be a long two weeks.
Harry knocked on the door, nerves jittering around in his stomach. He couldn't believe it was only yesterday when he had agreed to spend the rest of his Christmas vacation in the dungeons. And sleep in Snape's spare room. And spend all of his time with the narky Potions Master. He didn't know what had possessed him to agree, other than the fact that he knew he wouldn't be allowed to disagree. The decision had already been made before Harry ever entered the Headmaster's office.
Snape opened the door, standing to the side so Harry could enter. His trunk was being placed in the spare room by Dobby, and Harry was thankful he didn't have to carry it all the way down from Gryffindor Tower. The entrance opened into a cozy looking living room. Harry had been expecting... well, truthfully, he hadn't known what to expect, but this certainly wasn't it. Two armchairs and a two-seat sofa were arranged strategically around the fireplace, a rug on the floor in between them. One wall was filled with bookshelf and bookshelf, all heaving with heavy tombs. The room was decorated in muted tones of brown and cream, and to Harry it seemed very restful and relaxing. He fell in love with the room immediately on entry.
"Your room is through there, the bathroom is that door, and that is my bedroom. This is the door to my private potions lab, please don't go in there without me. During the holidays, I brew the more toxic potions, and they can be very dangerous if you don't know what you're doing," Snape told him, pointing out the different doors.
"I will allow you to settle in for the afternoon, before you begin work with me this evening. You will be grading first year potions papers, and then you will join me on my nightly rounds. With less student's in the castle, the ones that do remain occasionally get brave and decide to be reckless."
Harry nodded to show he understood, not really seeing the need to speak nor knowing what to say. The Professor was behaving... almost humanly. It was quite a difference from what Harry was used to. Harry left the living room through the door Snape had pointed out as his 'bedroom', and collapsed backwards onto the bed. It was comfy he noticed, absently. The room was normal. White walls, a desk, a wardrobe and the bed.
Harry didn't realise he had fallen asleep until Snape woke him a few hours later, just in time for dinner.
"We'll be eating here, tonight," Snape informed him as Harry reentered the living room. "Minerva has great hall duty this evening, although we will return to eat there tomorrow. Sit," he said, gesturing to the small dining table that had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. As Harry sat, and Snape sat across from him, a house elf appeared.
"What can Mitzy be getting you this evening Master Snape," she asked respectfully.
"I'll have the lamb, please, Mitzy, and for you Potter?"
"The same, I'm not fussy," Harry replied, not really caring. He hadn't eaten much, or paid attention to what he was eating in so long it no longer bothered him what he did eat.
As the elf disappeared, Harry found himself under the uncomfortable gaze of the Professor.
"You understand why I offered this opportunity Potter?" he half asked, half stated.
Harry shook his head, to which Snape sighed.
"After our rather unexpected meeting atop the Astronomy tower, I pondered what could be done to make you see reason. I didn't and still don't hold the same hope as my colleagues, that you just need time and space, and so i questioned the Headmaster on what you had seemed even remotely interested in pursuing as a career. I made no mention of our chat, do not worry. He informed me that the only career mentioned was that of teaching, and so I offered this. What I didn't tell the Headmaster, is that every night, we will spend an hour talking about any issues you feel necessary to talk about. I will not push you, you can choose the subjects, but you need to talk, Potter."
Harry mulled over the semi-speech, growing angry as he did. He couldn't put his finger on what was making him angry, just that he was.
"What gives you the right to tell me what I need?" he growled. He hated the look of smugness radiating from Snape, as though he had been proven right already.
"Potter, I know how you feel. Believe me on that, even if you believe nothing else I ever tell you. We haven't had the best relationship in the past, and yes, I understand that is an understatement, but have I ever lied to you?"
"Then why would I start now? If you continue in this downward spiral Potter, you will find yourself in serious trouble. Take it from someone who has been there and understands exactly how you feel."
Harry was saved from answering when their food arrived. They ate in silence, or rather, in Harry's case, he nibbled, pushing the rest around the plate. He contemplated what Severus said to him, still wondering why the man was even interested in helping him. As he came to the conclusion that having nightly talks about random stuff wouldn't exactly be a strain, he also wondered why Snape was allowing him to choose the subjects. Surely that was counterproductive, as there was no way Harry was going to talk about the feelings that were really bothering him.
The week passed by rather smoothly much to Harry's shock. In that week, Harry had been given permission to call the older man Severus, had in turn convinced Severus to call him Harry, and they had enjoyed some rather unusual conversations. A memorable one, a conversation Harry never thought he would forget, was about Babbity Rabbity, a wizarding children's tale that Severus had been rather shocked Harry had never heard of. Harry laughed so hard he thought his ribs would break as Severus told him all about it, in complete seriousness and had been rather offended that Harry just found the whole thing amusing.
They had been taking patrols together every night, something Harry found he enjoyed a lot. Severus was patient when Harry wanted to stand at the front door of the castle to watch the snowfall for ten minutes before they retired, and Harry found himself tell Severus all about his thoughts on snow. Severus had been quiet as Harry explained his feelings, and Harry had been rather surprised to find he didn't mind talking to the normally stern man.
Today was Christmas Eve, and Harry had spent the past two day's wondering what on earth he could get the stoic man as a gift. The answer waited until it was almost too late to kick Harry in the brain, and it meant Harry had little time to plan. He had managed to escape the watchful eye of the Potions master, and made his way quickly and quietly to the one place in Hogwarts only he could go. He felt the need to repay the man for his kindness, and this was the only thing he could think of. Though he personally didn't think it could ever make up for the help the older man had given him, he had no idea just how priceless his gift would actually be.
Christmas morning dawned, and Harry woke up early. For the first time in what felt like forever, he had slept solidly for eight hours. Padding into the living room, he found Severus waiting on him, a book open and resting on his leg.
"Morning, Merry Christmas," Harry said as he sat down in the armchair that had become 'his' in his short stay in the quarters. He marveled inwardly at how quickly the rooms had come to feel like home to Harry. He acknowledged, to himself only, that he would be sad to leave at the end of the holidays.
"Merry Christmas," Severus replied quietly. "Would you like breakfast before present's, or the other way around?"
"I'm not bothered, you choose," Harry replied easily. He had never enjoyed Christmas because of the present's, probably because he had been brought up without them.
"Then I believe we should open present's first. Albus will surely want to know if I like whatever he has gifted me with this morning, and you can be sure we are expected to eat in the hall today. Headmaster's orders," he said, rolling his eyes.
Harry shrugged, getting up from the armchair he was occupying and sitting on the floor by the tree.
"We could summon them Harry," Severus teased, staying in his seat.
"Come on, it's traditional. At least I think it is...besides, you have a delicate present that can't be summoned, so please, come sit," Harry said, patting the floor beside him.
Severus frowned slightly, but did as asked, sitting rather close to Harry on the rug. Harry handed him a present from the pile, one that was clearly from Dumbledore judging by the lewd purple and green wrapping paper. As Harry unwrapped a box of WWW products, sent by the twins, Severus sat looking disgusted at a bright pink robe.
"You'll look spectacular in that, Severus," Harry chuckled as he looked up and spotted the robe. Severus scowled and put the robe to the side, clearly unimpressed with it.
"If you tell anyone about that, I'll chop you up for potions ingredient's," he growled, making Harry laugh more.
As the present pile went down, both of them rather satisfied with the present's they received, apart from the robe of course, they were left with with two presents, one each, from each other.
"You didn't have to -"
"You shouldn't have-"
They both began to speak, stopping when they realised the other was saying the same thing. Harry blushed, and Snape half smiled. Exchanging present's, Severus didn't open his. He sat and watched as Harry opened his gift, the half smile turning into a full smile when the younger man looked confused.
"Many people are unaware that after we left Hogwarts, your mother and I kept up a correspondence. She sent me this with one of her letters, joking about how it made her royalty. You must understand, as easy going as your father was, he was still a pure blood, and he kept up with many of the traditions. One of those traditions was to change the coat of arms to reflect the new members of the family. Your father had this made just before they married, a new Potter Coat Of Arms. That symbol is called a Fleur-de-lys, its a symbol that also means Lily. Your father had that added to show her how much he loved her. I didn't know if you had seen it, but I thought you should. The book is your mother's old Charms book, filled to the brim with her own connotations and spells."
When Severus finished his explanation, he was surprised to see tears running down Harry's face. Harry wiped them away quickly.
"I'm sorry. People often tell me about my dad, nobody ever tells me about my mum. This... You've given me a piece of my mum. I don't know how to thank you. I can't thank you enough."
"I'm glad you like it. Perhaps we can go through the book this evening, and I'll explain the added spells?"
"I'd love to. Open your gift, though I must tell you, it pales insignificantly to this," Harry said, gesturing to the present he had carefully wrapped.
Severus unwrapped the present, raising his eyebrow when he saw vile upon vile of different substances in a box.
"I wrote on them what they are," Harry told him.
"Basilisk blood... Harry, where on earth did you get this?"
"The Chamber of Secrets. Apparently there's a preservation charm because the basilisk was still in brilliant condition. Untouched from the last time I saw it. There's an IOU in the bottom of that box. I'll take you down there, and you can harvest whatever is useful. I wasn't really sure, so I fetched up a bit of everything I could find."
"This is... Harry I can't accept this. Do you know how much this stuff is worth?" Severus said, his voice breathless, his face incredulous.
"Severus, I have no idea how much it's worth, nor do I care. I have no use for it, and I have enough money to live on forever if I so choose to do so. You've given me my mum. Nothing can top that, so please, just... accept it."
After a minute of tense silence, Severus pushed the box gently to the side, standing and pulling Harry with him. Hesitating for a second, he pulled Harry into a hug.
"Thank You," they said at the same time, before releasing each other with a chuckle. Severus looked at the clock and groaned. Time for Breakfast.
The second week passed by far too quickly for either of their liking and in no time at all Harry had moved back into Gryffindor tower. The two barely got any time to see each other as their regular schedules took over quickly. Professors were piling on the work for the N.E.W.T students, and Severus had lots of work to do. Harry walked up to the Astronomy tower occasionally, hoping for a repeat meeting with Severus, but to no avail.
He found himself missing Severus, missing him in a way he had never missed anyone before. His heart pined for the man, and it took Harry a long time to realise what it meant. He had so much to thank Severus for, from helping him decide on a career, to helping him realise he wasn't a murderer. Or rather, that it had been the only way.
During their last nightly chat, Harry had confided that he was gay, and been surprised when Severus had informed him that he too was gay. The revelation had almost stopped Harry's heart, though he had no idea why at the time. As realisation dawned, Harry had no time to process it, as Newts fell upon them and all Harry could think about was passing them well.
Severus occasionally stopped in the corridor, for a quick chat, but that was all they had time for. It irritated Harry, and he longed for nothing more than to knock on the Potions Master's door, to sit in 'his' armchair, to talk and laugh and joke the way they had at Christmastime.
Graduation approached quickly, too quickly, and Harry was called once more to the Headmaster's office.
"Ah, Harry, thank you for joining me. I hope I find you in good spirits?"
"I'm fine thank you, sir. Glad the test's are over," Harry replied, taking a seat in front of the desk.
"Yes, they are rather tiring. How do you think you have fared?"
"I have no idea. I hope I've done well."
"Well, that is actually why I called you here. As Headmaster, I have the privilege of finding out the exam scores early. I have your's and I'm happy to say you passed wonderfully."
"Thank you sir, but, why are you telling me? I thought we had to wait until tomorrow at Graduation to find out how we did?"
"Normally you did, but this is a rather different situation. You see, you passed with the highest Defence score Hogwarts has seen in almost two hundred years. I wanted to approach you with a job offer, before one of the other schools 'poach' you, so to speak. I'd like to offer you a year's assistant professor placement under our new defence Professor, Sam McLean, before offering you the position of Professor the following year. Sam is a researcher, and has kindly offered to train you for a year before departing our school once more. What do you say, my boy, does that interest you at all?"
Harry was speechless. Interest him at all? Was the headmaster daft?
"Thank you, so much, sir. I'd love to," Harry replied, the feeling of joy in his chest almost painful.
"Well that is marvelous news. I'll speak to you further about it the day after tomorrow, when the rest of the students leave. Go on and enjoy your last full day as a student, Professor Potter."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled brightly at the smile Harry bestowed on him. Before Harry could leave the office, the old man had one last thing to say.
"I must say, Harry, the change in you since Christmas has been most welcome. It seem's the apprenticeship with Severus worked wonders."
Harry nodded, unsure what to say. Dumbledore always had the air of knowing more than he should. As though to prove that very thought, he dismissed Harry with a parting comment that made Harry blush from his hair to his feet.
"Strange what an unlikely meeting in the middle of the night can lead to. Off with you, have some fun."
Graduation was over, the party in Gryffindor common room was in full swing but as Harry gazed at a candle, watching the melted wax make patterns as it dripped to the candle holder, he couldn't help but feel like he was missing something.
Nobody noticed as he exited through the portrait hole, and without really knowing where he was going, while at the same time going to the only place he could possible want to be, his legs carried him once more to the Astronomy tower.
Sitting in his usual place by the window, he lamented the loss of snow. Without it, the grounds looked dull, uninspiring. Harry couldn't wait for winter to come upon them again. As he watched an owl fly passed the window, muffled footsteps on the stairs made him smile.
The door didn't fly open this time, rather it was opened and closed with a quiet click.
"I wondered if I would find you up here, Harry," Severus said as he took the seat beside Harry.
"I wondered if you would join me," Harry replied, turning to face Severus.
"So much has changed since out last conversation, much for the better I think you'll agree," Severus said quietly, not much more than a whisper, his eyes never leaving Harry's.
"Yes, I agree. Has the Headmaster told you of my news?"
"He has. A rather good decision on the whole."
"I'm glad you agree. Do you remember the rather loaded question you asked me the last time we were here, Severus?"
"Which one, I asked rather a few."
"The one about my future," Harry whispered, their faces so close, they could feel each other's breath on their lips.
"Ah, yes. Have you decided where your future lies, Harry?"
"I've decided where I want it to lie," Harry replied.
"And where is that?"
"If you'll have me, I'd very much like my future to lie with yours," Harry said, pressing his lips gently onto Severus'.
The kiss was reciprocated immediately, arms wrapped around Harry, pulling him forward so he was sat almost in the older mans lap.
"You should know Harry, that I protect was is mine rather jealously. I am not likely to ever let you leave."
"Then we'll both have what we want. I'd say that sound's like a pretty good future to me."
"Then we'll make it a reality. Come home, Harry, I miss you."
"Where I am, you will always have a home. Always."
I hope you enjoyed that. I'm contemplating a Severus POV of this, so if it's something that you think you would like to read, let me know :) Also, that box below is your friend. And mine :D