All characters belong to JKR, I'm only borrowing them.
Many thanks to PuzzyPower for beta'ing this on such short notice.
Written for PhoenixXharm180 who provided the beautiful picture that inspired this story. The link for the picture can be found on my profile.
"Professor?" Harry called into the empty Potions classroom.
"What, Potter?" Snape's voice answered, though the man was nowhere to be seen.
"It's time to go out again."
Harry heard several thumps and a string of words even Harry wouldn't dare to repeat. Moments later, Snape appeared at the door and scowled down at him.
"Yes, alright. Do you have your tools?"
"Yes, sir." Harry replied.
Snape nodded and made to leave the room, though Harry was blocking him. Blushing, the young wizard stood back so the elder one could pass him. Snape locked his classroom door and set off at a brisk pace- leaving Harry to almost jog in order to keep up with his long strides. The rest of the castle was fast asleep, the time nearing midnight. It was a Friday night, and Harry was rather thankful that he didn't have any classes tomorrow. Though, if he was honest with himself, it didn't matter. Classes or not, Harry would still go.
The pair reached the main entrance in minutes and the doors opened for them. Snape passed through without saying anything and Harry followed. Harry walked close enough to Snape to find him in the dark, but not close enough to touch. They reached the edge of the Forbidden Forest and Snape stopped walking.
"You remember the rules, Potter?" Snape drawled.
"Yes, sir. Stay close, don't wander off, keep my eyes and ears open and keep my wand nearby."
"Good, so you do pay attention."
"Indeed." Harry smirked.
Snape gave a noise akin to a snort and walked into the forest. Harry dutifully remained close by walking through the dense crops and trees, and listened to the sounds of the forest. They had been going into the forest once a month for the past six months. At the end of his sixth year at Hogwarts, Snape had been found out as a spy for the order. Voldemort had been livid and almost killed the man. Harry was unaware of the details, but Snape had escaped his clutches and somehow made it back to the castle. Dobby, the house-elf he had freed from Lucius Malfoy, had turned up in his dorm crying. Harry, in a panic, had grabbed the elf and demanded to know what was wrong. Instead of answering, Dobby had apparated them both to Snape's quarters- or more specifically- his bedroom. Harry had been faced with the bruised, bloody and broken body of his potions professor.
For once in his life, Harry had been grateful that he had paid attention when Madame Pomfrey had healed him over the years. Harry had worked tirelessly through the night, casting healing spell after healing spell. Eventually, an almost normal Snape was before him. Snape had glared at him, Harry had glared back. After several minutes of stony silence, Harry had left Snape's quarters without a backward glance. Many of the professor's lessons had been covered by one teacher or another until he had been fit to return. Even then, they had worked from textbooks and nothing practical.
It had been nearing the full moon when Harry remembered that Snape normally brewed the Wolfsbane Potion for Remus Lupin- Harry's other Godfather. Tentatively, he'd gone down to Snape's office and asked what would happen to the making of the potion if he was unwell. Snape had barked that it was just like Harry to be more concerned with 'his precious werewolf' than whether or not Snape was alright. There had been shouting, screaming and even a few punches thrown. Harry had argued for some time before he managed to get Snape to see that he wasn't just asking about the potion, but more if Snape would be safe to do it.
The man had blinked at Harry stupidly, for once stunned, and unable to form words. Snape had explained that he could brew most of it, but would need help. Harry, with his hero-complex, had offered to help in any way that he could. Of course, Snape had laughed and said that Harry could barely make a Pepper-Up Potion without something going wrong. Surprisingly, Snape had agreed. He'd gone with Harry to the forest, shown him what ingredients were needed and instructed the young lad on how to extract them for their growing spot.
Finding himself enjoying the time with the broody professor, Harry had requested to return the following month to help. And again, Snape had laughed but agreed. And so there they were, on their latest excursion to extract their ingredients. They only ever needed one every month- the Moonflower. It had to be removed when the moon shone on it, or it wouldn't flower. The flower, Harry knew, would close back into a bud as soon as dawn began to light the horizon, and would only bloom again when the moon's candescence hit it.
"Sir, do we need anything other than the Moonflower tonight?" Harry asked quietly.
"We need some aconite. That is it, I believe."
Harry nodded and followed Snape to the place where the Moonflower grew. Snape gestured for him to continue and said he was going to retrieve the aconite. Harry pulled out his dragon hide gloves, slipped them on and took the scythe from its sheath. Harry checked his watch and it was exactly midnight. Gently grasping the stem of the flower just below the head, he held it straight up and whipped the scythe through the stem. The only sound was the blade hissing through the air. Harry placed the cut flower into a large vial and pocketed it in his robes. Snape had drilled it into Harry that the Moonflower could only be cut at midnight, or the flower would be useless. Something to do with optimum conditions, that the moon was at its most powerful when one day bled into another.
Looking over at Snape, Harry noticed that he had already plucked the aconite and was walking back toward him. He offered a small smile and Snape's lips twitched slightly. Harry took that to mean he was smiling back. Their… relationship… had become one not wrought with hate and tension, more one of acceptance and tolerance. Snape tolerated Harry, and Harry accepted that.
"Come, Potter. We are finished."
Harry climbed to his feet and followed Snape out of the forest and back to the castle. Once ensconced in the walls of the potions classroom, Harry began setting up a cauldron to make the Wolfsbane. He added the base while Snape cut the Moonflower- Harry still couldn't get the segments even enough.
"Potter, please ground the aconite. A mortar and pestle are in my stores cupboard."
Harry nodded and followed the order. Harry located the tool- on the top shelf. Great, Harry thought. He would have to use the ladder. Harry wasn't afraid of heights, just wooden ladders that were rickety and dangerous- and top shelves that were a good ten feet off the ground. Sliding said ladder to where he needed it, Harry climbed the rungs and snagged the mortar and pestle off the shelf. He was climbing back down when a voice interrupted him.
"What are you doing, Potter?"
Startled, Harry jumped and lost his footing on the ladder. He dropped the mortar and pestle. The clay tools smashed on the stone floor, but Harry paid no notice. He tried to regain his footing on the ladder, but he couldn't get his feet to cooperate with his mind. The one hand that had remained on ladder could no longer hold his weight. Harry screamed as he fell, arms wind-milling in some sort of grotesque cartoon parody. Instead of colliding with hard, cold, stone floor, he connected with something warm and solid.
It took Harry a moment or two before he realised that the warm something was Snape's chest and arms, which were wrapped around him. The man had darted forward and caught Harry before he could hit the floor. Blushing furiously, Harry fought to be let down. Snape complied with a grunt and went back to the potion without a word. Harry felt foolish. Once again, he had made an idiot of himself. Snape's chest was so solid, so warm. Harry shook his head at his own thoughts.
"Uh, Professor, I'm sorry about the mortar and pestle," Harry mumbled.
"Why were you on the ladder, Potter?" Snape asked- his face over the steaming cauldron.
What? "To get the mortar…"
"There was one on the bottom shelf if you had bothered to look."
"For not looking or for breaking my mortar and pestle? Which, by the way, was a gift."
Guilt assaulted Harry. "Both."
Snape sighed. "Go and retrieve the one of the bottom shelf."
Harry frowned but did as asked. He had been prepared to be shouted at, called names and even thrown out of the room. Harry saw the broken tool on the floor. He tried Reparo with no effect. The guilt surged in him once more. It had meant something to Snape and he, Harry, had destroyed it beyond repair. Seeing the alternate mortar and pestle, he grabbed it and went back to Snape.
The two worked in silence until the potion was complete. It would simmer for twenty-four hours before Snape would bottle it and send it to Remus. Harry said a soft goodnight and left the potions room. He was exhausted. At least it was Saturday; he had no classes and would be able to spend some time with his friends.
Eleven o'clock saw Harry in Hogsmeade- alone. The guilt over breaking the mortar and pestle still weighed heavily on his mind. Snape hadn't seemed overly upset over the loss, but Harry had seen the flash of disappointment. Heading over to the apothecary, Harry entered the gloomy shop and spoke with the shop owner about purchasing a new one. He made some story about it being for his potions class, that he had broken his own the other day.
The shop owner seemed to know just what he needed and showed him one that was covered in intricate Celtic designs. His pocket ten galleons lighter, Harry felt the weight of his guilt lift. The gift was wrapped in basic brown paper- standard for most shops in Hogsmeade. Harry wandered around the various shops but bought nothing else.
Heading back to the castle, Harry caught up with Ron and Hermione. Both hadn't wanted to go out and he had left them in the common room, where he found them again. The pair were cuddled up on the couch. It was sweet, Harry mused. Their relationship was still new, though it had taken a fair amount of years for the Gryffindors to admit their feelings for one another. Harry had come out to them both at the end of their sixth year- nothing had changed. Ron had hugged him and said that he was off limits, but was welcome to comment on how gorgeous he was. Harry had playfully punched him and then hugged back. Ron was the person whose reaction he had been most fearful of. Hermione had shaken her head, mumbled something about it being time and pulled him into a hug.
"Harry, did you get what you wanted in Hogsmeade?" Hermione queried, noticing standing in the room.
"Want to go flying, mate?" Ron piped up.
"Sure. Just let me put this upstairs."
Harry withdrew his purchase from his robes and swept up to the dorm. He locked it in his trunk and went back down to Ron and Hermione. They grabbed their brooms and went out into the afternoon sun. Spring was well under way, the days warm and bright, with a slight breeze. Hermione tagged along, bringing a book on Charms with her and sat under a tree in the shade. Ron kissed her cheek and Hermione blushed. Harry rolled his eyes, sniggered, and then dared Ron to catch him. Mounting his broom, Harry took off into the sky with Ron chasing close behind.
Their games lasted a good two hours. They joined Hermione on the ground, sweaty and laughing. Ron had caught Harry a fair few times, and Harry had eventually admitted defeat. If it wasn't a snitch he was chasing, then he wasn't very good at catching anything- let alone a person. The trio went back to the castle. Hermione sat in the common room and waited for Harry and Ron to shower and change for lunch. The Great Hall was half full with students, the other half no doubt at The Three Broomsticks having lunch. Neville was at the Gryffindor table with Luna Lovegood from Ravenclaw. Interhouse seating was frowned upon, but Harry never cared about it. Luna was a good friend and Harry would always make the time to talk to her if they were between classes and such.
"Harry, you might want to pop down to the dungeons. Professor Lupin is there." Luna advised him.
Harry glanced at his friends, not wanting to seem rude.
"Go on, Harry. It's fine." Hermione smiled at him.
Thanking them, Harry dashed from the hall and ran for the dungeons. Stopping outside the potions room door, Harry knocked loudly. He heard Snape's baritone call out 'enter' and Harry pushed the door open.
"Sorry to interrupt, Luna said Remus was here." Harry spoke softly.
"Indeed he is."
Harry walked further into the room and saw Remus sat at one of the desks. He grinned at his Godfather and ran over to greet him. Remus stood, laughing, and embraced Harry in a fierce hug.
"It's been a while, hasn't it, Harry?"
Harry nodded and hugged Remus tighter. Since the loss of Sirius, Harry and Remus had become so much closer. Harry was aware that Sirius had been Remus' lover, and had felt the loss of his mate keenly. The intense guilt that Harry had felt over it had been crushing, and Remus had taken weeks to pull him from it.
"How are you, cub?"
"All is well. I decided to come pick up the Wolfsbane in person from Severus."
As Remus spoke, Snape handed the wolf the vial of the potion. "We will discuss your theory later, Lupin." Snape said.
Remus nodded and thanked Snape. The dour man grunted and swept from the room in a mass of swirling black robes.
"Theory?" Harry asked.
"Just a thought I had on the Wolfsbane Potion."
"What kind of thought?"
Remus smiled at Harry's inquisitiveness. "I was wondering if there was a way to alter the potion that it would stop the transformations at the moon."
Harry frowned. "You mean like a way to stop your reaction to it?"
"Precisely so. Severus agreed to talk it over with me and see if we could come up with anything."
"It would be brilliant if that were possible."
"Indeed it would." Severus' voice came from across the room. "Potter, if you would excuse us."
"I… I'd like to help." Harry blushed.
Snape blinked slowly. "Potter, forgive my bluntness, but your potions skills are poor at best."
Harry blushed further. "I've been doing fine in helping you make the Wolfsbane."
"I agree. But we are talking experimentation here, not following pre-set instructions."
"True. I'm good with formulas though, just not the brewing aspect."
Remus chuckled. "You're not going to win, Severus. Let him lend a hand, three heads are better than two."
Snorting, Snape agreed albeit reluctantly. "Very well, any suggestions, Potter?"
Harry asked for a piece of parchment and a quill. Snape presented both and Harry took them, his fingers brushed the older wizard's. Warmth rushed up his arm. Blushing, Harry snatched his hand away and began jotting things down. Harry wrote down several formulas until only one was left with a potential result.
"Harry, you alright?" Remus asked softly.
"Fine, just… just give me a moment."
Harry continued writing down equations and potions ingredients until he thought he had the answer. He ran back over what he'd written and turned it through his mind. He was almost certain it would work.
"I think I have something. If we increase the amount of Moonflower, decrease the aconite and add a drug in the Muggle world called Gabapentin, it should block your brains reaction to the moon. It's risky, but there's a strong chance it could work."
Snape stared at Harry, amazement colouring his features. "Potter, how did you come up with that?"
"The Moonflower is what keeps Remus from turning into Moony, the aconite lessens the pain of the transformation, so it wouldn't be needed, and thus we can decrease the amount. The Gabapentin should stop his brain from reacting to the light the moon casts and stop his need to transform."
"If it weren't for the fact you cannot brew worth a damn, you would make a fine Potions Master."
Harry blushed under the compliment. "Thanks, I think. It's risky, like I said, but I think it'll work."
"Risky how?" Remus asked.
"Well, ah, if we increase the Moonflower too much, it could kill you."
Remus nodded thoughtfully. "I understand. I want to go ahead with it."
"Lupin, you're mental! What if something goes wrong?" Snape yelled.
"I don't think it will. As loathe as I am to admit it, you're the best Potions Master around. You don't let things go wrong."
Snape stared at Remus, stunned to silence. "We can attempt it, professor. We have until the next full moon to tinker with it." Harry stated.
"Very well. Potter, return to the lab tonight and we will put your theory to the test. In the meantime, Lupin, accompany me to Diagon Alley. We are going to need a vast supply of this Gabapentin."
Remus agreed and said he would see Harry later. He hugged the young wizard and Harry left feeling quite proud of himself. It might have taken seven years for Harry to accomplish it, but Snape had just complimented him. He remembered the feeling of Snape's fingers brushing his own and smiled to himself. He liked it. Maybe they could form a friendship after all.
Harry excused himself from dinner and told Ron and Hermione not to wait up for him. Neither questioned where he was going, knowing that they wouldn't get an answer. Harry quickly went to his dorm and retrieved the purchase from Hogsmeade. Slipping it into his robes, Harry left and made his way down to the dungeons for the second time that day. He was excited to work on the potion- it would make Remus' life so much easier knowing that he wouldn't have to transform anymore. He would still have to take the potion monthly, but it was a small price to pay for his freedom.
Reaching the classroom door, Harry knocked and waited to be called in. 'Enter' Snape called out and Harry pushed the door, closing it behind him. Snape had already set up a cauldron, and the various ingredients were placed around it. The fire wasn't lit, and Snape hadn't chopped anything up yet. He seemed to be waiting for Harry.
"Professor." Harry greeted him.
"Potter. My apologies, I was waiting for you to get here and realised that I hadn't set you a time to come down." A pink tinge suffused Snape's cheeks.
"It's alright, sir. I figured after dinner would be a suitable enough time."
Snape agreed with a nod and gestured for Harry to come over to the workbench. Before they began, Harry wanted to give Snape the mortar and pestle he had bought.
"Professor, I… I'm really sorry about yesterday and breaking your mortar and pestle…" Harry began.
"It's not the end of the world, Potter. You need not keep apologising." Snape interrupted.
"No, let me finish. I was in Hogsmeade today. I… I felt really guilty, knowing it was a gift and I had broken it. So I… I went to the apothecary and well… Yeah." Harry stumbled over his words.
Unable to find the right words for some reason, Harry pulled the basically wrapped gift from his robes and handed it to Snape. The man looked at it for a moment before taking it from Harry's hand. Their fingers brushed again and Harry couldn't help the feeling of warmth that crept up his arm.
"What is it?" Snape asked softly.
"Open and you'll see."
Snape glared at Harry. "Brat."
There was no malice in the word, and there was amusement dancing in his eyes. Harry watched as Snape peeled back the tape and paper from the box it had been placed in. Harry stopped breathing when Snape pulled it open and stared at the gift inside.
"Potter… You didn't have… It's…" Snape seemed lost for words.
"I know I didn't. But your other one was a gift and it obviously meant something to you. I can't replace it with the same one, but this one seemed likeable enough."
Snape glared at Harry again, but without dislike. The stare was filled with disbelief. "Potter, this is… It is… Thank you. It is a very intricate piece of work."
Harry blushed. It seemed to be all he did lately. "You're welcome."
Snape pulled the tool from its box and placed it next to the cauldron. He clearly intended to use it for the potion and Harry felt pleased that the man thought it nice enough to use.
"Come along, Potter. We have a potion to play around with."
Harry laughed at Snape's obvious glee in having something new to work on. The man truly was a Potions Master.
Harry dutifully approached the bench and waited to be instructed on what Snape wanted him to do.
"Do we have everything that is needed?" Harry asked.
"I believe so. Lupin helped to acquire some Gabapentin; we have enough Moonflower left over to do this twice, and plenty of aconite. So I believe we have everything needed."
Harry nodded and began preparing. He lit the fire under the cauldron and added the base needed for it. Snape chopped up the normal ingredients but faltered when it came to the tablets from Diagon Alley.
"What is it, sir?"
"I am… unsure of the best way to proceed with the medication." Snape admitted.
"Grind them. It will dissolve fastest as a powder."
Snape agreed and reached for the gift Harry had given him. He ground two tablets into a fine dust. Harry added the other ingredients that Snape had prepared and set the potion to simmer for the allotted time. Normally it required twenty-four hours before it could be consumed, but with the changes that Harry had made to the formula, he knew that it would not need so long.
"I am curious, Potter. Why have you never mentioned that you are adept at formulations?"
"It's something that never came up. I don't have much use for it and so never thought to mention it."
The timer Harry had set went off and they added the powdered medication slowly. The potion hissed furiously before settling down. It had turned a dark, murky red and bubbled slightly. Harry turned down the fire until it was almost extinguished. Judging by Harry's calculations, it should simmer for about thirty minutes, be allowed to cool for ten and then decanted. Harry set another timer to go off in half an hour.
"I'm curious about something else, Potter. Why did you buy a new mortar and pestle, I told it you was no matter that it was broken."
Harry frowned. "I saw the disappointment in your eyes. It had obviously meant something to you, so I bought a new one."
"It once meant something, not so much anymore."
"Who bought it for you?"
"Your mother." Snape whispered.
Harry blinked. Blinked again. "My mother?"
"Yes. It was our third year. She bought me it for my birthday."
"You loved her, didn't you?" Harry asked gently.
"Yes, though not in the way you are thinking. Lily was my best friend, a sister I'd never had."
The two stood together in silence, each remembered the green eyed woman in their own ways. Snape with his friendship of the talented witch and Harry the small memories he had of her. There weren't many, just snippets of things. He remembered being sung to, Muggle nursery rhymes. Playing on a toy broom that his father had bought him for his first birthday. Remus had confirmed that his memories were just that, and not fabrications of a teenager wishing he had memories.
"She was a special woman, your mother. She was talented, especially in potions." Snape offered this small piece of information.
"Yes. Had an aptitude for charms as well. Your eyes are just like hers, yet not."
"I don't understand."
Snape sighed. "Lily's eyes were a vibrant green, not that yours aren't. More… It's not something easily described. Yours are flecked with black, or a very dark brown, like your father's."
For once, Snape managed to mention James Potter without sneering. "I'm sorry for what he did to you." Harry offered.
"It was a long time ago. We were children. I have since… let it go."
"Since you broke into my mind during your Occlumency lessons."
Harry blushed to the roots of his hair. He hadn't meant to break into Snape's mind. It had been an accident, and not one he wished to repeat.
"Sorry about that too."
Snape waved it aside. Before Harry could say anything else, the timer for the potion went off. Harry extinguished the fire and moved the cauldron to a wire rack on the workbench. It would cool faster than if over a burner than had been lit for over an hour.
"We will need some more Moonflower if this and the next is not adequate." Snape commented.
Harry nodded. "We can collect some more tonight, if needed."
Snape agreed silently. He would never admit it, but he had grown used to the boy's presence. They stood in silence as the potion cooled enough to be decanted. Once completed, they set everything up again, the only difference being that the medication was added whole, and the simmering time increased. Instead of half an hour, he set it to an hour. It should be enough time for the tablets to dissolve fully.
"Why do you help with this, Potter?"
"I like brewing, even if I'm not very good at it."
Snape chuckled. "Potter, you are terrible at it. Now, what's the real reason?"
"I… I like this… This truce between us."
Snape sighed. "Potter, I may seem like a bastard in classes, but you know why that is."
"I know. Voldemort knows you're a spy, but to be empathetic toward me would make things worse, with the Slytherins and such."
Snape nodded. "Yes. As much as I would like to drop all pretences of denying my position of a spy, I cannot. Dumbledore made sure that I would have to continue trying to look as though I am on the side of dark."
Harry looked at Snape in puzzlement. "What's Dumbledore got to do with it?"
"When the Dark Lord targeted you as his enemy when you were an infant, I went to Dumbledore to try and have you all put into hiding, he made me swear the Unbreakable Vow. I was to serve two masters."
"He. Did. What?" Harry growled.
"It was a necessity, Potter. He would not have tried to help your parents if I didn't. Lily meant more to me than anything else."
Harry couldn't believe it, and yet, he wasn't at all surprised. For seven years Harry had been Dumbledore's pawn in a way he wanted no part of.
"Dumbledore is willing to risk your life for the sake of getting information on Voldemort?" Harry whispered.
"Yes." Snape agreed.
Something in Harry snapped. A scream of rage tore from his throat. He span to leave the room and confront Dumbledore on it, demand to know what the hell he was playing at, but strong arms wrapped around him keeping him where he was.
"Let me go!" Harry screamed.
"No, Potter. It is done. No matter what you do, or say, an Unbreakable Vow is just that- unbreakable."
Harry was aware of what the Vow meant. Either party had to die for the Vow to be broken, or if one of them didn't follow the Vow, then they would die. It was a dirty thing to do, and Harry knew it. To make Snape risk his life constantly for the sake of information was a horrible thing to do.
"It's still not right!" Harry cried out.
"I know it's not, Potter, but it is the way things stand."
Harry sagged against Snape, the fight leaving him. Snape didn't move away and Harry leant back into warmth of Snape's chest. It was solid against his back, comforting almost.
"He can't get away with it."
"He can and he will, Potter. It matters not anymore."
"It does matter!"
Snape sighed. He turned Harry to face and looked into his eyes. "Listen to me. I took that Vow knowing full well what Dumbledore wanted from me. It was the only way to protect you and your parents. It may not have worked, but it was worth the try."
Harry stared into the black eyes that had once looked at him with hate. Now they looked at him with kindness? Respect? Harry wasn't sure. "All these years, you've never stopped protecting me."
"No. When I first saw you, in your first year at Hogwarts, you reminded me so much of Lily. I hated you for that. You were a constant reminder of what I had lost, what I had destroyed. If I hadn't delivered that prophecy to the Dark Lord, your parents might still be alive. But as time passed, I realised that although you are a lot like her, you are your own man too. Lily would be so very proud of you." Snape trailed off to a whisper.
Harry felt tears sting his eyes. He wrapped his arms around the man and hugged him, more for his own comfort than in acknowledgement of what Snape had said. Snape didn't respond at first, his arms remaining at his sides. But eventually, his arms wrapped around Harry and he held the young wizard close. Harry pulled back and looked back into Snape's eyes. Harry wondered what those eyes would hold if he kissed the man. But the moment passed when the timer for the potion went off.
Snapping back to the present Harry went to attend to it. Setting it aside, he placed it on the rack to cool before they could decant it. He turned back to Snape but the man's eyes were closed off. They waited for the time to pass and decanted the potion. They labelled it as Wolfsbane Test Two, making sure they wouldn't confuse it with the one made earlier.
Harry cast Tempus and saw it was nearing midnight. "Should we collect some more Moonflower?"
Snape fetched the necessary tools and the pair walked through the castle to the main entrance. The sky was clear, the moon almost full. It would be a full moon in one days' time. Harry wondered if it would be possible to test out their potion for it rather than waiting until next month.
"Professor, do you think it would be possible to test the potion this month rather than waiting for the next?" Harry asked.
"It has crossed my thoughts. I think it might be worth calling Lupin back to Hogwarts and we can test it out, see if he reacts to the moon in one days' time."
Harry agreed with him. They walked to the edge of the forest and entered. It seemed Snape did not think Harry needed reminding of the rules two nights in a row. Harry found the Moonflower, waited for midnight and withdrew the scythe Snape had handed him when they'd walked through the castle. He grasped the stem and cut through it with no trouble. Once safely placed in a large vial and ensconced in his robes Harry stood.
Harry walked in silence back to the castle with Snape. They passed through the doors of the main entrance and Snape stopped.
"I'll take the Moonflower, Potter. Come back tomorrow and we shall meet and discuss our plans with Lupin. If he is agreeable, then we will make preparations for the testing."
Harry handed over the flower and bade goodnight to Snape. Before he turned away, Harry threw his arms around Snape's waist and hugged him. Snape did not hug him back, but it didn't matter. Harry stepped back, stood on his tip toes and kissed Snape's cheek. It was the barest of kisses, a mere brushing of lips against cheek, but Snape didn't pull away, and that filled Harry with hope.
The next day passed in a blur. Sunday was relatively uneventful. Seventh years were allowed to leave the castle for weekends away so long as they obtained permission from the Headmaster. Ron and Hermione had gone to the Burrow for the day, but Harry had chosen to remain behind. It wasn't that he didn't want to see to Mrs. Weasley, more that if he saw the Headmaster, Harry was certain that he would not be able to contain his anger. Plus, Harry didn't want to ask the old coot for anything.
For once, Harry took Hermione's advice and spent the day studying in the library. He got a good portion of his Charms homework completed and managed to finish the essay set by Professor Binns for History of Magic. Images from last night rose unbidden to the forefront of Harry's mind. The way Snape's face lit up with the prospect of playing with a new potion, how slender his fingers were, and the graceful way the man would attend to a potion. Snape's potion making was like a dance, one where only he heard the song. Mostly though, Harry thought of kissing Snape. It had only been one on the cheek, but it was daring enough for Harry. Snape hadn't pulled away in disgust, or pushed him away or yelled at him.
Harry's heart beat a little faster at the prospect of seeing Snape again that night. Did he really have feelings for Snape? Yes. Did he know what those feelings were? No. Did he intend to find out? Definitely. The questions went around and around in his mind. He wasn't really sure what he wanted from Snape, but he damn well intended to find out.
Evening soon came around. Harry ate in the Great Hall, rushing his meal of roast chicken, potatoes and various vegetables. Harry couldn't remember the last time he had been so excited about something. The war with Voldemort was the only thing that seemed to occupy his time, now though; he had something new to focus on. For once, the war could wait.
If the potion worked on Remus, then perhaps they could see about using it as a weapon against Greyback. The werewolf that was one of Voldemort's henchmen had killed so many people. The vile creature was the reason that Bill would always have scars on his face, the reason that Remus was a werewolf. Harry would never be able to take the curse of being a werewolf away, but he could lessen it.
Finished with his meal, Harry dashed off to the dungeons. When he reached the potions room he didn't bother to knock, he just went straight in. Remus was stood at one of the windows and Snape sat at his desk. The professor didn't comment at Harry's barging in. Risking a glance at Snape, he saw the man's eyes were sad.
"What is it?" Harry asked to both men.
Remus turned to Harry, his hazel eyes wet with unshed tears. "I'm so sorry, Harry. I swear, I never meant for anyone to find out."
"Find out what?"
"Lup… Remus accidentally let slip about your new formula, and the Dark Lord is aware of it." Snape spoke.
Harry frowned. "Okay, but there was always the chance that he would find out about it."
"Yes, except that now, Greyback will be harder to reach. I am quite sure that it has already crossed your mind to turn this into a weapon and try to hone it so that Greyback would be unable to at least infect others."
"Of course it has. Admittedly, it seems too good for him. I'd rather he just no longer existed."
Snape's features twisted into a smirk, one without the usual malice. "I concur. Now, it will be almost impossible to get to Greyback."
Harry shook his head wryly. "It's not as bad as you're both making it sound."
"That's because there's more. Voldemort is planning to attack the castle, and soon. He has been working quietly, behind the scenes, which is why it has been so long since there has been any movement in this war. He has already recruited the Dementors, the giants and many other dark creatures."
"We always knew that this was a possibility also. It's just happening sooner than we had anticipated. It will be alright."
Harry brushed off Remus' further complaints and worries. He wanted to test his potion out and not be weighed down with what Voldemort might be doing at that moment in time. The final battle would sooner than expected, but they could still win, Harry was certain of it.
"Come on, we have a potion to test. Now, Remus, I'm sorry, but I have to shackle you down."
Remus gave his permission and Snape conjured shackles that fastened into the stone floor. Neither man could take the risk that the potion might do the opposite and make Remus even stronger if he became Moony. Harry was almost one hundred percent certain that Remus would not transform, but there was still the small chance that it could happen. Neither Harry, nor Severus, were faultless and sometimes uncertainties were going to be present.
"It would probably be best if you administered the potion, Potter. It will leave me free to gauge any reaction to it and deal with the situation accordingly." Snape advised.
Harry agreed and removed the potion from where it had been placed on Snape's desk. Remus eyed him carefully.
"Move back straight away, Harry. I don't want you getting hurt if this goes wrong."
"I will, Remus, I promise."
Harry approached Remus and held the vial up, signifying he wanted the wolf to open his mouth. Harry poured the potion in and stepped back as promised. The trio waited for the full moon to break from the cover of clouds. A single window was in the dungeons, the only one down there where the moonlight would filter into the room. Time passed slowly, each person nervous for different reasons. Two hours went by before the moon made an appearance. Remus looked directly at the silvery orb and waited, muttering a whispered prayer that nothing happened. Harry almost forgot to breathe before he realised that it had been a good minute or two since Remus had looked at the moon, and nothing had happened. In third year, Remus' reaction to the moon had been instantaneous.
"It worked," Harry whispered.
"It appears so," came Snape's wry voice from behind Harry.
"Do you think it would be safe to unshackle me yet?"
"Yes, I believe that if anything were going to happen, it would have done so by now." Snape replied.
Snape waved his wand and the shackles disappeared. Remus rubbed his wrists and gave a half-hearted glare at Snape. The black haired man smirked back. The wolf kept his distance from Harry and Snape, afraid that any reaction to the moon had just been delayed by the potion and not stopped. More time passed and still nothing had happened. Remus swept Harry up into a hug, his laughter and smiles filled with gratitude.
"I can never thank either of you enough for this."
"It was Potter's formula, Remus. You had the theory."
"Only because Remus gave me the idea. If he hadn't mentioned it to me then I would have never of thought it up. It's something that had never crossed my mind."
"You will still have to take the potion monthly; however, so long as you keep taking it, you should never undergo the transformation again." Snape said.
Remus nodded. "I would take the potion every day if it meant not having to go through that every month."
Harry hugged his Godfather tightly. "I wish I could take it away permanently, but this is the best that I can do."
"It's more than enough, Harry. You both have given me the most precious gift. I can never repay you, or you Severus." Remus' voice was thick, as though he was fighting tears.
Snape glared at the two. "Enough of all this display of emotion."
Harry laughed and pulled away from Remus. The young wizard approached Snape and smirked at him. Snape opened his mouth, no doubt to give some kind of scathing remark, but Harry rushed forward and wrapped his arms around the man. Snape stiffened for a moment before relaxing, and allowing one arm to loop around Harry's shoulders. Harry surreptitiously burrowed further into Snape's body.
A throat cleared behind Harry and he gently pulled away from Snape, giving the man a soft smile. Remus was looking at Harry intently, and Harry fought not to blush- a futile effort. He would not be made to feel embarrassed about hugging his professor. Remus opened his mouth to say something, but obviously thought better of it.
"I think I should be off then." Remus said.
"I'll see you to the entrance, Remus. Potter, you should be off to your dorm."
Harry dipped his head, hugged Remus goodbye and gave Snape another smile. This one the man returned. The hope once again fluttered in Harry's chest.
A month passed quietly with no more advances from Voldemort. The quiet made Harry uneasy, as if it was the quiet before the storm. Snape had become even more unpredictable and moody. Harry knew it couldn't be directly linked to the Dark Lord- Snape no longer served him since being outed as a spy. But there was something that was making the man so testy.
A chance to worm it out of the man arose a few nights later. It was time to brew the potion for Remus and Harry would be joining Snape in the Forbidden Forest to collect the necessary ingredients. Harry went about the day normally. He attended his lessons, ate his meals with his friends and listened to Hermione's incessant babbling about homework and their NEWTs. Evening soon rolled around and it found Harry stood outside the potions room door, waiting for permission to enter. It didn't come.
Frowning, Harry pushed open the door anyway and Snape was sat behind his desk appearing to be grading essays. Harry stood before the desk and waited patiently. Snape continued grading, paying no mind to the young man before him.
"Sir?" Harry asked softly.
"It's almost the end of the month."
"Your point being?"
"We need to brew the potion for Remus."
"Correction, Potter. You need to brew the potion. I, do not."
"I don't understand. We always work on this together. We have for several months."
Snape finally looked up from the essays. "We have done nothing, Potter. You have situated yourself into these monthly brewing sessions, I have merely allowed it. I am no longer doing so. There is nothing to misunderstand."
"Has something happened? With Voldemort, I mean?"
"Why would anything have happened?"
"It's been a long time since you have acted this way toward me, even in lessons."
Snape smirked at Harry in an unpleasant way. "Has it ever occurred to you, Potter, that I do not like you? That I do not feel the need to be nice toward you."
Harry stepped back as if he had been slapped. "Then why the hell did you hug me back when Remus was last here?"
Snape rose and sauntered around his desk, coming to stand in front of Harry and drawing himself up to his full height. "Because you threw yourself at me. I saw no way of getting you to release me other than by accepting, and returning, your embrace."
"Bullshit!" Harry yelled.
"What?" Snape hissed.
"You heard me. You're talking bullshit. You might be able to brush that off, but you can't deny the fact that I kissed you, and you didn't pull away."
"Potter, you kissed my cheek. The way a child would kiss a parent's cheek."
Harry's anger doubled when he felt tears threaten to fill his eyes. "Why are you doing this?"
"Doing what? Telling you how it really is?" Snape's icy glare pinned Harry where he stood.
"Behaving like a bastard! We've been making the Wolfsbane for months, so if I was such a problem, why didn't you say something ages ago?"
Snape opened his mouth to reply and snapped it closed again. Harry realised he had no answer to that. "I'll ask you again, why are you behaving like this?"
Snape grabbed Harry by his robes and slammed him against the nearest wall. "Because you insist on placing yourself directly into my life. Because everything I have ever cared about has been snatched away from me. Because you do things…" Snape trailed off, his harsh voice dropping to a whisper.
"I do what things?" Harry whispered.
"Hug me, kiss me, and look at me as if I am the only person in the room with you."
"What would you like me to do now?" Harry's voice was husky with desire.
Before Snape could answer, Harry did so for him. He grabbed the back of Snape's neck and dragged his head down. There was no hesitation when his lips met Snape's. They were warm, soft, and pliant- everything he had thought they would be. Snape gave a gentle moan and Harry used the opportunity to slip his tongue into the other wizard's mouth. A groan sounded through the room and Harry realised it was his own, the only feeling was Snape- Severus'- mouth moving against his own. It was heaven. It was like coming home. Severus' tongue tentatively stroked his own, and Harry couldn't help giving another moan. Waving his hand, Harry locked the potions room door and threw up wards that would alert them if anyone tried to enter.
"What are you doing, Potter?" Severus mumbled.
"Making sure no one can get in."
Pulling back, Severus glared at Harry, hurt colouring his face. "Are you ashamed to be found with me?"
"Of course not! I was more afraid of what you would think if we were found like this." Harry replied.
"Foolish boy! All these months that we have been working alongside one another, and you never once guessed why I was allowing it? Gods, Harry!"
Severus attacked Harry's mouth and he allowed it. It took several moments for Harry to realise that not only had Severus called him by his given name, but that he had been admitting something.
"Are you telling me you were… feeling something all this time?" Harry murmured.
Severus blushed slightly. "Yes. I presumed it to be our lack of animosity, but on further analysis I came to the realisation that I enjoyed having you to myself for a small time once a month."
Harry moaned and threw himself back into kissing Severus. The normally dour man pulled Harry away from the wall, moving them back to where presumably Severus' rooms were, not once breaking the kiss. As they passed through the store room, Harry realised that there was a back entrance into Severus' rooms. They walked through the living room, though Harry paid no attention to the décor, and into Severus' bedroom. Once in there, Harry broke the kiss long enough to pull his robes and jumper off. Reattaching his lips to Severus', Harry went to work on the thousands of buttons on Severus' frock coat, and slipped the outer robe from the man's shoulders.
Finally, he had all the buttons open and pushed the coat off. Severus pulled at Harry's shirt and he lifted his arms so Severus could remove it. The chilly air of the dungeons hit Harry's bare chest and his nipples hardened. The man waved his wand at the fire and soon there was warmth permeating the room. He set his wand down on a table and resumed ravishing Harry. It was all sensation and Harry was overwhelmed with it. Never had he thought Severus would be capable of such passion and tenderness. The hands that roamed his rib cage were gentle- questioning. Harry gave the barest of nods, signifying he was Severus' to do with as he pleased.
The moan that hit his ears was not his own this time. Harry quickly undid the buttons on Severus' shirt and shoved it down the man's arms. The Potions Master was not gorgeous, but more classically handsome. Broad shoulders and chest gave way to slender hips, and a small trail of dark hair led into the belted trousers. Harry's mouth watered at the prospect of what lay beneath them. Harry was grateful for the few inches that he had grown over the year, he was no longer as short as he had been and Severus didn't have to bend so low to reach him.
Harry's heart raced as Severus kissed him into oblivion. He had never had more than the few kisses he and Ginny had shared and the one with Cho Chang in fifth year. None of them compared to the way Severus kissed him. Scars littered the man's chest and Harry laid a kiss on each of them, worshipping Severus. Harry arrived at Severus' left nipple and lathed it softly with his tongue, watching the man for any unsavoury reaction, unsure if such an act would be welcome. Judging by the hand that had wound its way into his hair, Harry was certain it was very welcome.
"Harry…" Severus groaned.
Harry switched to the other nipple, paying them equal attention. Severus used Harry's hair to wrench his head away and latch on to Harry's neck. The man kissed, sucked, licked and nibbled at the sensitive skin. Harry moaned shamelessly, his body on fire with need. Hands going to Severus' belt, Harry tugged at the leather in frustration, needing it open. Finally, he had it and Severus' trousers unfastened. They sat loosely on his hips, making the man look all the more delicious. A small push had them pooled around Severus' feet. Stepping out of his boots, Severus made quick work of putting Harry in the same state of undress he was in. Jeans followed trousers, trainers followed boots, and lastly, boxers followed each other.
Blushing furiously, Harry fought his insecurities on how he looked. Years of being starved by his family had taken their toll, and no amount of nutrient potions would help him gain any weight. His mop of hair was unruly, and nothing could tame it. Lastly, his eyesight was terrible, his glasses were horrendous. Basic prescription ones. His Aunt Petunia had refused to spend any more than necessary on him, thus he had ended up with the awful things.
"Beautiful." He heard Severus whisper.
"There's no need to try and make me feel better, Severus. I know what I look like."
Severus grabbed his chin and forced Harry to look at him. "Do not put yourself down, Harry. You have a wonderful body- very lithe."
Harry blushed under the compliment and didn't continue the discussion further, the last thing he wanted to do was ruin their moment. Glancing behind him he saw the bed and walked off for it. Looking back, he saw Severus stalking him. It was erotic, and Harry's already throbbing cock twitched at the idea of it. Climbing onto the green silk sheets, Harry lay back and patted the area next to him. Once Severus appeared to be comfortable, Harry hauled himself up and on top of his professor. He nuzzled Severus' neck, nibbling at the skin and trailing kisses down past his chest and stomach until he arrived at the man's groin.
Standing proudly erect, Severus' cock leaked precome and twitched with apparent enthusiasm. It was larger than his own, and Harry wondered how it would all fit inside him. Harry had never received nor given a blow job before, but he was suddenly very interested in doing so. Not giving Severus any time to question what he was doing, Harry licked Severus from root to tip, finishing at the tip and lapping at the precome that had pooled there. The sharp hiss of pleasure told Harry that he'd made a right move. Without pausing, he engulfed the head of the cock in his mouth and suckled lightly. Harry had to place a restraining hand on Severus' hip when the man bucked into his mouth and almost choked him.
Lowering his mouth slowly down, Harry took more and more of the cock in. It was a strange sensation yet not unpleasant. Taking Severus' cock as far into his throat as he dared, Harry began bobbing his head up and down in a steady rhythm. Severus moaned and trembled above him. He used his tongue to trail the length of the thick vein underneath on the upward stroke of his mouth.
"Harry… Stop… I'm going to…"
That was all the warning Harry got before something hot and slightly bitter filled his mouth. Harry swallowed everything Severus had to give, milking the cock for every drop. Harry concluded that it was something he would be happy doing on a regular basis. Satisfied with himself, Harry lay back down next to Severus with a smirk gracing his lips.
"Pleased with yourself are you, brat?" Severus growled playfully.
"Very much so."
Severus was beautiful basking in the pleasure of his orgasm, his skin giving off a healthy glow. For once, he looked completely relaxed. Since he was normally always so tense, it was a novel idea to Harry.
"Rather impressive for a first attempt, if I do say so myself," Harry chuckled.
Severus blinked at him. "What? Harry, have you ever been with another man before today?"
"Harry, are you sure this is something you want? I am not a kind man, nor am I one for simple… relations. When you are with me, you commit only to me. Any dallying behind my back would have very severe consequences."
Harry took the words Severus spoke on board and agreed with them wholeheartedly. He was not one for quick shags when they could be grabbed. He shivered slightly at the possessiveness in the man's voice.
"I'm sure. I've wanted you for a while. I just never had the guts to say anything to you. The same goes here, too. If you are in a relationship with me, I won't tolerate you sharing your bed with anyone else nor sharing anyone else's bed with them."
Severus rolled on top of Harry and growled before taking his mouth in the most brutal kiss yet. Stubbles rasped against one another, fingers dug into skin where they grasped and bodies melted together. Severus moved down Harry's body, kissing and biting skin as he went. He paid attention to every bit of skin except the area Harry was desperate to be touched. His cock throbbed painfully, his body humming and screaming for the release it sought and was continually denied. Harry writhed around pitifully, moaning like a wanton whore, and was aroused further by it.
Moving down Harry's body, Severus summoned a jar of clear liquid. Dipping his fingers in, Severus lowered his head to Harry's cock and ghosted his breath over it while a finger circled Harry's entrance. Harry was aware of how men had sex together, and knew that it could hurt, but he trusted Severus to take the care needed so Harry would be as comfortable as possible through it. Just as a finger pushed into his body, Severus took Harry's cock in his mouth. There was a mild burn where Severus' finger had forced its entry into Harry's arse, but it was far outweighed by the pleasure he was receiving from the mouth that suckled on him. The mouth was hot, wet and so delightful. Harry had never felt anything like it. Severus looked up at Harry through his lashes and Harry growled at the man. His cock pulsated and his body trembled with need.
Fingers fisted the sheets and his hips bucked, torn between grinding himself on Severus' finger and up into the hot mouth that surrounded him. A second finger pushed in and the burn resumed, but not as harshly as the first one. The fingers twisted around inside him, almost searching for something- and then they found it. Pleasure shot down Harry's spine as something was brushed. Prostate, his mind whispered to him. Severus' fingers brushed it again and at the same time, his mouth took Harry's cock all the way into his throat. Harry all but screamed his ecstasy at the sensation. A final finger pushed into Harry's arse and kept twisting around while Severus' mouth continued its relentless persuit of Harry's release. Another brush against his prostate and that was Harry's undoing. His back arched as his orgasm shot through his body. Harry had no time to warn Severus of his orgasm before it shot from his body with the force of a volcano. Soon, he slumped back against the bed, his breathing erratic and his body sated.
Severus lay down next to him, a smirk on gracing the lips he was licking. Harry had never seen something so erotic before, and his cock gave an interested twitch after being already sated. Rolling on top of Severus, Harry kissed the man gently, softly, almost lovingly. It was insane the depth of emotion Harry had for the man who had been his professor for seven years. Severus' cock was stood to attention and Harry leant to the table for the jar he had seen Severus summon earlier. Reaching behind him, Harry lathered Severus' cock in the lube, making sure he was properly slicked. The moment had come.
"Last chance, Harry. Is this what you want?" Severus asked softly.
Harry smiled at the man. "Yes. You are what I want."
Raising himself up, Harry positioned Severus' cock against his entrance and slowly began to lower himself. He felt the head of the cock breach him and he whimpered in pain. The burn was back full force, but Harry fought against it. Hands gripped his hips, rocking him back and forth. Together, they worked Severus' cock inside Harry. He had no idea how it would all fit, he felt so full already. Tears pricked his eyes- the pain was more than he had thought it would be. Severus reached a hand up and brushed the stray tears away with his thumb. Halfway there, Harry didn't think he could continue, his arse afire with pain.
"Shh… It's alright. Hold onto my shoulders," Severus murmured.
Harry nodded and did as asked. Before he had chance to ask what Severus was going to do, the man grabbed him and thrust his hips up, forcing his cock all the way into Harry. Biting his lip, Harry didn't let loose the scream he held back. Tasting blood, he realised he had bitten through it. Severus leaned up and kissed the blood away.
"Shh… I'm sorry, Harry. So sorry."
Looking at Severus, he could see his pain reflected in the man's eyes. The burn had already begun to lessen, leaving only the feeling of being full. His cock had wilted under the pain. Raising himself up again, Harry lowered back down and the head of Severus' cock brushed his prostate and pleasure shot through him once more. Harry moaned and repeated his motions and enjoyed the feel of Severus inside him. The man's hand grasped his hips and rocked him up and down, both groaning at the pleasure each felt.
"Gods… So tight!" Severus growled.
Flipping them over, Severus was on top, pulled Harry's legs over his shoulders and pounded into Harry. Each thrust Severus made forced his cock past Harry's prostate and his orgasm was quickly rushing in.
Grabbing Harry's cock, Severus set a rhythm that matched his thrusting and soon, Harry was on the brink. "Come with me, Harry." Severus growled in the younger wizard's ear.
Harry screamed Severus' name to the room and his orgasm washed over him. Severus' cock pulsed in his arse before he was filled with the man's release. Collapsing on top of Harry, Severus rolled to the side and held Harry close. Each clung to the other, both basking in their afterglow of coming together.
Sleep began to take hold and Harry's eyelids fluttered. "I love you," he mumbled before sleep stole him.
Harry surveyed the damage done to the castle. The war had been won, and the Dark Lord defeated. He had gone to his death willingly, just as Headmaster Dumbledore had been planning. Voldemort had cast the Killing Curse and Harry had been taken to somewhere that resembled Kings Cross Station in London. He knew he'd been given a choice. Severus had been attacked by Voldemort's snake, Nagini, in the Shrieking Shack. Harry had been unable to do anything to save the man he loved, and had left his body where it lay on the filthy floor. Harry had looked into the white nothingness, and knew that he could go on and be with Severus forever. But something had pulled him back, telling him that he needed to stay among the living. So Harry had gone back, knowing that Voldemort was mortal, the only Horcrux in existence destroyed. It had been left until the last moment before Harry was told what had happened the night his parents had been killed. When Voldemort had cast the Killing Curse at Harry, his mother's sacrifice for him had left the Dark Lord unable to harm the child. When the dark wizard's soul had been wrenched from his body, a part of it had latched onto Harry.
They had met the final time of the grounds outside the castle doors. Voldemort had been surprised that somehow, Harry had once again survived. Harry had no idea how he had defeated Voldemort. Their wands had met and Harry's spell had overpowered Voldemort's Avada Kedavra and the Dark Lord had disintegrated into nothing. The damage to the castle had been extensive. Severus, Harry and Remus had worked together and honed their potion into a weapon. Using something akin to a dart gun, they had injected Greyback with the altered Wolfsbane and the werewolf, though dead now, had not been able to infect anyone else. Unfortunately, before they had chance to neutralise him, the werewolf had killed Lavender Brown and managed to attack Ron, Harry's best friend. Like his brother, Bill, the scars would be with him for life. It had been Hermione's quick thinking that had saved his friend's life.
"Come on, Harry. It's time to go." Remus spoke from behind him.
"I know. Just give me a moment."
"He's gone, Harry. There was nothing you could have done."
"I know. It doesn't change things though."
Remus sighed. "You loved him."
Harry knew it wasn't a question and didn't reply. Walking away from the man he had loved like a father, Harry headed for the castle to see what help he could offer to the wounded. He had no idea how he was going to continue without Severus in his life. The only thing that kept him putting one foot in front of the other was the one night they had shared together. Somehow, some way, Harry would continue with his life, and live it for the both of them.
Two Years Later
The end of the month approached and it was time for Harry to collect the ingredients needed to brew Remus' altered Wolfsbane Potion. For two years, his Godfather had not suffered the change into a werewolf, the potion holding strong. Harry hoped to one day tweak it further and make it so that Remus would take the potion once and the result would be permanent, and Remus would no longer have to take the foul tasting treatment. Harry had the formula almost perfect, but there were still some problems with it. Harry had taken over the Defence Against the Dark Arts position, a Master from the Potions Masters Guild had replaced Severus until the Headmaster could find a suitable person to take the post permanently. Unfortunately, no one had matched Severus' brewing ability.
As Harry left the main doors to head for the Forbidden Forest he looked up to the night sky. The moon shone brightly and the stars winked at him. Harry smiled sadly, wondering if Severus had become one of the many stars in the sky. It was a comforting thought to him. Stopping at the edge of the forest, Harry recalled the rules Severus had set for him. Ears alert for any noise and wand in his arm holster at the ready, he ventured into the dangerous forest. Nothing stirred around him, no sounds reached his ears. It was unusual for the forest to be so still, there was normally at least some of the night creatures rustling around, but nothing that night.
Finding the moonflower, Harry looked at his watch and waited for it to hit midnight so he could harvest the beautiful flower. Just as his watch beeped to signal the hour, a hand reached out at the same time as Harry's and grasped the flower's stem with him. The fingers belonging to the hand were slender, potion stained and pale. Harry stopped breathing. Impossible! he thought. The only person that hand could belong to was dead, killed by the snake Voldemort had owned as his familiar. Risking a look up, emerald eyes met onyx ones.
"How?" Harry rasped, his voice all but leaving him.
"A potion I carried. I knew that the Dark Lord would one day want me out of his way forever, and I spent many hours creating an antivenin to Nagini's bite."
"But in the Shack… I saw you, you weren't breathing or moving. You were… dead."
"No. I appeared dead. For the antivenin to work, my body had to be in a coma, so it could heal. The potion made sure that happened, merely simulating death."
Harry slapped Severus' cheek. "Why didn't you come to me sooner?"
"I didn't know how. I thought you would be angry, and no longer wish to see me. My only defence is that I was a coward."
"How do I know it's really you?" Harry asked.
"I believe you once told me you loved me. Does that still stand?"
Harry gasped. He didn't think Severus had heard him. As he'd fallen asleep after their first, and only, night together, Harry had whispered to Severus that he loved him. Tears fell down his cheeks, joy bursting through his heart. Cutting the flower so as not to lose it, Harry stored it in a vial and pocketed it in his robes. Reaching both hands out and grasping Severus' face, he leaned close enough to kiss the man.
"What do you think?" Harry whispered.
"I think nothing. I know that I love you." Severus whispered back.
A small groan escaped Harry as he closed the distance between them and came home. Lips met and both were lost to the dance of one another's mouth. Harry disengaged, stood, and held out his hand to the man he loved.
"I am home." Was all Severus whispered before they returned to Harry's rooms.
Severus and Harry made love several times that night. Each needing to be close to their lover. For too long they had been apart. Harry was angry at Severus for taking so long in coming back to him, but it was outweighed by the love he had for his former professor. Tangled together, Harry laid his head on Severus' chest meaning to sleep, both sated and exhausted, but happy.
"I love you," Harry whispered.
"As I you. Always."