Rising from the Ashes

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I know that it took quite some time to update again, but I hope that length and content make up for it

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Chapter 4: Dreams of the Past

As intended, Harry Potter went to bed just minutes after his visitors had left. But sleep wouldn't find him. Turning and tossing in his sheets for hours, he finally decided to give up on that and started with his daily workout. While jogging through London before sun set, he unintentionally remembered the times back at Hogwarts and how stupid he had been with selecting his friends. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger influenced him from the first day on. Looking back, he should have known that something was amiss when Ronald told him those stories about all Slytherins becoming evil – at the latest when the sorting hat wanted to place him in this house. Hermione telling him so many things about his family she shouldn't have known as there were and still not are books about them. Harry still couldn't believe how he was so naïve and got angry every time he thought about it. This time he smashed an old oak in a nearby park with a strong punch of his fist.

"Feeling better now?" Harry knew this voice much too well for his likings and became furious again, splitting the next tree into two halves.

"That angry today? Maybe we should do something about that, what do you think, Raven." The person came closer and let his hands wander up and down Harry's back.

"I told you never to call me 'Raven', Viktor. Why are you here anyways?" Harry didn't turn around to look at Viktor Krum but didn't stop his rummaging hands as well.

"Quidditch game against England tomorrow evening. Thought it would be nice to stop by. It has been quite some time since I last saw you. Did you miss me, little one?" The Bulgarian placed soft kisses on Harry's neck and every inch of skin he could find.

"How were you able to find me? And no, I didn't miss you as I had no time to during the last two months to even think about you." The slightly smaller man was leaning into the touches more and more with every passing second.

"Hm, that's sad. Maybe we should freshen up your memories a bit then so that you definitely will have to think of me in the future."

"You didn't answer my question, now did you? Tell me how you found me and I may consider your offer." If Harry were honest to himself, he had already given in to Viktor's caresses.

"I am a seeker, you know. I always find my little golden boy." His lips got hungrier and he pressed his body against Harry's back while his hands found their way to his stomach and drew circles around his belly button.

"Is that all I am to you Viktor, your little snitch you just catch when you feel up to it?" His voice was just a hush and rough from his increasing want of being just a simple man for an hour or so.

"No, little one. You are much more to me and I could show you if you would just let me."

"I have a meeting at nine in the morning."

"Then we have four hours left."

Viktor turned the green eyed wizard around and caught his lips in a heated kiss.

"Your hotel?" Harry stuttered between two pairs of wet lips, and just a second later Viktor had apparated them both to his hotel suite where they spent all time they had left smashing the furniture with their wild magic while pushing the other over the edge again and again.

A quarter to nine, Harry got dressed, placed a chaste kiss on Viktor's cheek, who was fast asleep, and disapparated directly into his own bathroom to get ready for the day ahead.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

When Viktor woke up, he found his rooms destroyed and without Harry as always. He was used to this behavior, but that didn't mean he liked it. Since their first encounter outside of Hogwarts, in muggle London, after Harry's sixth year, they would spend a night or two together and afterwards Harry left without saying good bye or talking about anything. Viktor never knew when he would see the former Gryffindor seeker again, but looked forward to it nonetheless. The last time, Viktor found Harry in the forbidden forest just two days after the final battle. Not even today was he able to tell Harry how happy he was that he survived and he didn't want to hear it either. All the dark haired man said was that Viktor had to take the unbreakable vow to never tell or show anyone about their sexual relationship. And so did Viktor simply to not lose the man he fell in love with. He knew what it meant when Harry wove their bloods into the contract to strengthen it. Viktor was aware of Harry's fears that he could possibly go to the press and tell them about everything, aware of Harry's survival instincts when it came to keep his private life a secret and Krum also knew that Harry never loved him and doubted that this would ever happen, but as long as Harry needed him he would be there and distract him from whatever is in his mind.

'Until someone else takes over and loves him even more and gets love in return.' Viktor thought without regret, because there was nothing to regret when someone trusts you enough to let you into his private life which was a complete mystery to the rest of the world. Even though his inner voice told him that Harry would not have taken the vow from him if he trusted him completely, he ignored it and hoped that he would find someone who is worth of Harry's love and trust.

Merlin he never thought to become such a romantic and rebound guy, but this wizard made his skin crawl and shattered his granite shell.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

Only the next evening, Harry was standing on the threshold to Viktor's hotel room and knocked softly.

"Lord Potter, pleasure to see you again."

Harry turned his head around wide eyed as he saw Severus standing just a few feet away while Viktor opened the door and unaware of the other person present crashed Harry into his embrace and kissed him passionately.

"Viktor, stop." Harry told him commanding which gained him a deep growl. "We have audience."

This made Viktor jump away from Harry as if he had just burnt his hands.

"Obliviate."

"Was that necessary, little one?"

"Unfortunately. May we enter?"

Viktor let Harry pass into his suite, closing the door and shielding it with every silencing, distracting and security charm he could think of.

"We need to talk Viktor."

Krum knew that this day would come sooner or later, but he had hoped it would be much later.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

Truly, this day couldn't get worse. He had one of those talks no one wanted to have with their partners – no matter how the relationship between those two was declared. Harry was aware of Viktor's love for him and he had tolerated it up till now. He knew right from the start that the Bulgarian would never win his heart and love; however, Harry didn't want to give him up as well and enjoyed the nights they spent together. Viktor was a generous and soft lover in general, nevertheless if wanted he could be like a bear hunting – wild, untamed and powerful, just like last night. But it had to stop; and Harry made his point clear to not return to him, that Viktor was not allowed to seek him out for whatever private reasons.

Harry was standing in his small bathroom getting ready for a shower while looking at his reflection. Five scratches on both shoulder blades were left from his last adventure and he like hell would heal them with magic, for he kept them as a reminder of using Viktor. When he stepped under the hot water jet the ripped skin burned. Harry drank the pain and hoped that - if there still is any god or gods – they might forgive him.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

The days passed and his meeting with Narcissa went better than he ever thought it would. He came in the morning and left, a bit tipsy, shortly after midnight with a lighter heart and more duties ahead.

He immediately fell asleep after he went to bed – with a smile on his face.

He was nervous, god damn it why had he to be so nervous right now. He had owned himself another detention with Professor Snape for making snarky side comments on his teaching abilities and now he was standing in front of the potions classroom being a wreck.

'Why had Slughorn to be ill today?!'

Harry knocked and entered after the well-known deep voice said so. Sitting in front of a bubbling cauldron, Severus Snape only wore shoes, normal trousers and a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves.

"Finished with gawping, Potter?"

As if struck by a lightning, Harry averted his gaze. "Sorry Sir. I didn't mean to stare at you. I was just…surprised…you know…that you show your dark mark so…openly."

The professor raised an eyebrow "As I was told and thought so for a while, you know that it is there – and, even if I don't like it, it is a part of me." Harry nodded shortly and asked for his assignment.

Having worked for an hour, Professor Snape took a look into the cauldron which was shimmering just in the right color.

"You got me marveling, Mr. Potter. Why is it that you can do it correct now, but that you failed miserably this morning?"

"Distraction, Sir."

"You call me a distraction? Who do you think you are, you little brat."

Harry rolled his eyes and pointed at his professor "Not you, they. All the other students with their talking, manipulations and need for help."

"Ah, so our boy wonder is annoyed by his classmates and can't handle to be around them. Should have thought of that. I'm sorry, your highness." He was far from even the slightest of being nice to the Potter sprig. He hated James for his arrogance and his son didn't seem to be anything better.

"Bullshit. Keep your sarcasm for those who are afraid of you or for your godson who seems to always have a lot of fun when it comes to throw something in my cauldron! Why do you talk to me as if I am a little child with absolutely no brain? If this is still because of what my father did then push it away from your eyes as I am not my father! If you would only look at me – really see me – than you would realize it. But no! You have to act like a pubescent kid even though you are years beyond that!"

"You are as arrogant as your father was! Pushing others into a fight you should fight alone! Your fame makes you walk on cloud nine and you stomp on the ones below you. You…"

"Oh stop it Snape!" Harry knew that he was going too far but saw no way to step back without losing the slightest acceptance Snape may have had for him "I did my potion correct – as was my task. I didn't comment on your mark and scars – as expected. And I listened to your revilement long enough. You wouldn't believe anything I could say even if my mother would give testimony…"

"Keep Lily out of this, Potter"

"Ah, a soft spot. Never mind. I will do as you expect of me. I am going to fail my potions. I am going to be as arrogant as you think I am and I am going to ignore your godson's plans on letting Death Eaters invade the school and that he has to kill Dumbledore. I am, after all, just a stupid little brat with no mind, no eyes, no grounding and, to quote Voldemort, 'no idea when it is time to die'. I will do as is expected of me. Fail with everything besides Defense Against the Dark Arts until it is time to kill or die. Good night Sir."

"Potter this is…" But Severus couldn't finish as Harry had already left the classroom. Head down.

Harry had tears in his eyes when he suddenly woke from his dream. As always when dreaming, he was a silent observer and could see things he wasn't able to see back then. His own soft blushing when caught staring at his professor and this minimal tuck at his left upper lip which indicated a shy smile. Summoning a glass of whiskey and downing it swiftly before lying back down. He tried to forget about that detention, but when he closed his eyes another memory started to visualize – unquestioned for.

Harry was silently walking through a forest, Hermione mentioned its name but he couldn't remember. Doing patrols gave him time to think, be alone and train his wandless magic. While he was in his fifth year, he started with training after DA sessions and by now had come to a point that no spell, covered in the curriculums up to fifth year, needed him to have a wand. Harry kept that a secret even from Sirius as he was sure he would tell Dumbledore. Not to kiss Albus' ass, but because he would have been proud and needed to tell somebody. He couldn't risk that. Would anybody know how powerful he was just a few weeks after his 17th birthday, they would arrest him right after his victory over Voldemort out of fear to create another Dark Lord.

Still walking and musing about the next horcrux, he saw a tiny bluish light coming closer. Raising more shielding charms around him, the light got closer and closer. It stopped right in front of him and turned into a doe, whispering low so that only Harry could understand it.

"Harry Potter. Await me in two nights at the exact same spot at the same time." It said before vanishing into thin air.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

He was again on patrol, but this time to make sure that no unwanted audience was near the meeting point. Granted, he got a bit paranoid and built a dome with a one mile diameter to be able to focus on matters at hand.

He thought about what the doe said for nearly a day. He couldn't tell Hermione as she sure as hell would rant about it being trap, and Harry sometimes thought she might be right. Only problem was that he had a feeling of being pulled to the place more and more with every passing hour.

'Well done Potter. If this is a trap you will lose without having had the slightest chance. You are an idiot! But if it is not…then this could get very interesting.' The former Gryffindor was sitting in a cozy armchair, which he had transfigured from a mushroom, waiting for a sign of companionship.

Suddenly, someone tried to enter his dome but never did the person push hard against it and seemed to be waiting at the border of it. Harry wouldn't move an inch waiting for things to come. Like two nights ago, a patronus came rushing through the thicket. It was the same doe carrying a new message.

"I mean no harm. Let me enter and I may explain some things to you." The doe didn't move. She seemed to wait for an answer to carry back.

"I will send my own patronus with you so that I know who wants to talk to me before deciding about letting your master enter." Harry said calmly and saw the doe was waiting for the other patronus to show it the way. Thus, the young man conjured his patronus, a royal stag, without being in need of his wand. For the next step, however, he had to draw it and hissed a complicated spell at his stag so that he would be able to see with its eyes and talk through it if concentrating on it.

The two patroni inspected each other for a second before running off to the border.

Just seconds later, Harry could see a dark clad figure looking at the appearing lights. He listened to the message of his own protector while observing the other person's hoodie covered face with intense gaze.

"Well, I think it is time you return to your master. I don't like waiting in a cold forest without proper protection. Go. What are you waiting for?!"

One mile away, Harry had immediately recognized the visitor. Not because of his frame or clothing style, but his voice gave him away. Severus Snape had asked for a meeting. Severus Snape was standing at the outer wall of his protection dome. Severus Snape's patronus is a doe.

'What a dramatic combination' Harry thought, smiling inwardly.

"No need for that. You may enter." And with a very soft and low whisper, his stag added "Severus Snape"

To say that Severus was amazed would not be enough. He looked at the patronus more closely and saw emerald green eyes instead of the usual blue points patroni have.

"You can see and hear me through your stag?"

"Yes" It was exhausting for the young man to do that and even more to make his patronus move on his human will. He bent his long neck and head to the level of Severus Snape's eyes, the stag towered him with nearly two feet, and looked deep into the dark eyes for the first time discovering that they held sprinkles of dark blue.

"As you are one mile away from our meeting point, you may ride on my stag if your doe is not able to carry you. He won't let you fall, well, it would be better to say that I won't but this could make things a bit awkward, you know."

Right now Harry Potter was lucky that his patronus could not blush for him as he let him kneel down so that his professor could climb on his back. Harry never expected that Severus knew how to make his patronus physical enough to ride on it but wasn't sure if he would rather walk then being carried by, well more or less, Harry Potter.

After short respite, the new headmaster swung his leg over the stag's back and tried to find a comfortable sitting. Clutching his hands on the long neck of his carrier, the patronus got up and started walking.

"You never rode a horse, did you professor?"

"No."

"Ok. Then we will take that slow and I try to give you some support." Harry now did something he had only done once to his patronus – he conjured a bridle for the professor to hold on.

He felt him relax on his back and now started to let his stag walk a bit faster.

Five minutes later, Severus Snape appeared in the small clearing looking a bit uncomfortable. He climbed off the stag as soon as it knelt down, absentmindedly caressed and thanked it for the ride and turned to look at a sweating Potter.

"Not taking caresses well, Potter?" Oh, how had the young man missed those snarky comments and that voice.

"Nah, I think those I can handle."

Harry, lying cozy in his bed, had to smile in his sleep.

The 'wizard with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord' made up an armchair for his guest and lit a small fire.

"Isn't it a bit stupid to light a fire in a dark forest, Mr. Potter?"

"No one will see it. You don't need to be afraid of being caught."

"I see. As a concerned teacher I have to ask this: are you in a fever Mr. Potter? It is minus five degrees and you are sweating as if standing in the Sahara."

"I will only tell you the following once: I expect you to keep your lips and mind closed about everything you saw, heard and will hear tonight or any other."

"Accepted. You are getting paranoid, aren't you."

"No. I just think taking precautions when talking to a Hogwarts headmaster is in order. I came to realize that they all are a bit…talkative."

"Well, that changed a few months ago. Now tell me, are you alright? Are you in need of any potions? Is Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley alright?"

"You are quite annoying when it comes to the topic of our well-being. As I don't think you came here to check on my medical condition – as Hermione nor Ron was invited – I think I should answer you so that we can talk about more important things. I am well. No fever, no cold. Now tell me why you are here."

Severus raised an eyebrow and looked very closely at the boy in front of him. Harry wore a three-day beard, his hair as unruly as ever and his eyes sparkling with something Severus couldn't identify – yet.

"As you well know, I don't appreciate lying. Take this." Severus threw a vial of pepper-up potion to his former student which he caught without any problems, uncorked it, sniffed at it and downed it with an ugly expression of distaste.

"Thank you professor. So, would you be as kind as to finally tell me why you are here? Did Hogwarts fall without our knowledge? Did someone important die?"

"No one died, yet, and Hogwarts and its students are as safe as possible. You can imagine that Death Eaters are walking the school freely now since Dumbledore was killed by me."

"He was killed by you because Draco was too weak and the old man a fool. How are the students coping with Voldemort's villains?" Severus only quirked an eyebrow at this statement spoken in such a steady tone.

"The DA is working hidden – waiting for you to come back and free the world from evil. They expect that you have a plan on destroying Voldemort and me, to be honest."

"Of course they expect it. They do know nothing!"

Silence made the air around them heavy and it seemed that it grew colder with every passing minute Harry kept his thoughts for himself.

"Why are you here professor?"

"To help you."

"Ah, and how do you think you could help me? Even old Dumbles couldn't."

"I know of your goal to find horcruxes. And I know where to find the next."

Harry looked at the man in front of him with a look of estimation before he spoke again "Well, finding the next is one thing, but destroying the one we already have is another."

"May I see it? Maybe I can find a way."

"Sorry Sir. But no, you can't see it and definitely not destroy it except you carry a basilisk's tooth or Godric Gryffindor's sword with you."

Severus kept thinking for a few moments before he met Harry's eyes and…smiled. Severus Snape smiled at Harry Potter. Not a loving smile, but a smile of knowledge and happiness to be of help.

"You know where Godric's sword disappeared to! Tell me right now where it is! I have to get it."

"Well, not where to, but to whom. And I know of a way to get it to you without risking that the Dark Lord finds out about your intentions. Meet me here tomorrow."

"No, not possible. Hermione is on patrol tomorrow. Two days."

Severus nodded, stood up and climbed on the waiting stag to carry him back to the borders.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.

Two days later, Harry was holding Gryffindor's sword, feeling his power rising by only being near this ancient weapon, when he recognized somebody getting closer and inside his shields.

"This must be Ron. You can't apparate from in here professor and Prongs can't carry you without being recognized. He is too tall."

Harry would not allow Ron to find out that he was plotting with Snape instead of killing him and that the potions professor was helping them without hesitation. The more people knew, the more dangerous it would be for everyone.

"Don't worry. Just charm my doe so that it can carry me or conjure a loop hole in your shields for me to apparate."

"No holes. Give me your hands please, professor."

"Why should I do that? I will not hold hands with you, Potter!"

"Oh stop that. I won't rip your clothes apart and I promise to not kiss you. Ready?"

"You indescribable brat! This is not a game!"

"Of course not, sir. Therefore we have to leave now. So give me your hands."

Unwillingly, Severus' hands were taken by smaller but at the same time seemingly stronger ones and just a millisecond later they were flying through the air in high speed. Two minutes later they were standing at the gates to Hogwarts. Harry let go of his professor's hands, inclined his head and took off after he spoke a spell that made him soaked to the bones. Lifting his head to look at Snape again, he saw a small smile on the older man's face and smiled back.

Seconds later, Ron found him lying beside a lake.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

Same time, same spot two days later he waited for Snape. It was two hours before sunset and he didn't show up. When Harry wanted to go back to their tent he felt his doe coming through the wards.

"I am not available out today. The Carrows are getting worse. You may enter my office when she is getting to you."

Harry knew that the headmaster took precautions in case someone else might find his patronus.

"You can leave. I am going to him." Harry shortly told the waiting deer.

As he could imagine there being anti-apparation wards for none-Death Eaters, or at least sirens, he chose to fly like two days ago – wandless, soundless, traceless.

"Good evening Professor."

Severus Snape was sitting by the fireplace holding a cup of tea.

"We have to hurry today. Did you destroy the horcrux?"

"Yes."

"You found another one?"

"No."

"Thought so."

"Hints?"

"Bellatrix Lestrange's vault. I am sure Voldemort gave one to her and she passes everything in this dreadful vault of hers."

Harry nodded. He was aware of the abnormal pronunciations and mumbling. Severus Snape never mumbled.

"Show me your face…sir." Of course Severus didn't and turned even more away from his guest. As Harry was in no mood for games like that, he just took some steps closer. With his thump on Severus' prominent lower jaw, he turned his face finding a beaten Severus Snape looking at him with dull eyes. "What happened? Why are you bruised?"

"None of your business, Potter." As always Harry did not obey and so he scanned the room for a small cupboard, hidden in a wall, in which Albus kept some potions, salves and other healing material. Having found it he accioed its contents and searched for something useful.

"What do you think you are doing Potter?"

"Helping you, what else." And with soft motions he applied a pain relieving salve on his former teacher's face anxious to not hurt him more – all the time being studied by his patient.

"Finished and ready for the next rumble, sir."

"You should shave. Looks as if you are carrying a scrub in your face."

"Ah, I see you are already better and back to insulting me. Why is it that you think about my beard? Do you want to kiss me and are afraid of being…stung?" Harry was grinning from one ear to the other being happy to having made Snape speechless.

"Brat. I have no intention of kissing you."

"Yeah, sure. And you didn't enjoy me caressing your face just minutes ago and you did never ever look at me all the time professor."

"Just leave Potter and stop calling me professor when you use 'kiss', 'caress' or any other stupid word in the same sentence."

Now Harry couldn't hold back his laughter any longer "So I will stop calling you professor at all, because I always say something stupid, aren't I."

"Just leave."

"See you in two days Snape. Hm, I think I could get used to that. Maybe I should call you Severus now that we are so close friends."

Ducking from a flying book, he left still laughing.

"Brat. Never will you call me Severus. DID YOU HEAR ME POTTER!" Shouting after someone gone was new for Severus, but he had to get his anger out.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

Three nights later, they met again. The golden trio found the cup and had destroyed it – paying a high price.

"Where have you been yesterday, Potter? My doe couldn't find you and I think I don't have to tell you that I hate waiting."

"In the caves of Malfoy Manor. You don't have any whiskey or brandy at hand, do you."

A bit surprised by his far away voice he summoned two glasses and a bottle of whiskey, placing all at a table near the fireside where an orderly shaved Harry was standing warming his hands. Having recognized the whiskey, he poured them a glass and called for a quite big vial of dittany from the cupboard he used three days ago.

Harry downed the amber liquid in one gulp, peeled off his jacket and shirt, uncorked the potion and let its content rush over his back not allowing any sound of pain to leave his lips.

"You idiotic boy! You just used as much dittany as Madame Pomfrey needs in a whole school year for what is surely just a scratch from an enthusiastic and hyperactive Miss Granger while…"

He didn't finish his sentence as Harry downed another glass whilst one of Snape's favorite armchairs got redder with every passing second.

"Show me your back." Severus couldn't find the anger in him to scream at the boy and therefore tried with a softer version which the young man opposite never heard before.

"Just leave me be, please. It is none of your business." Surrender. Sadness. Disappointment. Severus couldn't believe it. "As you said, it is surely just a scratch from a night of wild sex." Harry took another potion for on-body-use, a pain reliever, and also let it run down his back. While pouring the third glass of whiskey, Severus grabbed the bottle as fast as possible from the younger man's hand and used the moment, Potter was leaning in to the table to take his only slightly filled cup, to stand up and walk to his left. He took a deep breath as he saw the enormous wound which covered half of Harry's back. He saw pure flesh, muscles. No skin was left.

"Saw enough? Great then you can give me the bottle Snape." Still not comprehending how Potter got this cruel wound, nor how he could still be conscious and up to come here, Severus gave him the bottle. He saw from the corner of his eyes that no glass was needed anymore as Harry brought the flask to his lips and took a pull.

"Malfoy?"

"No. Bella's knife. Dobby was apparating us out of there and she threw this…" he placed a still blood covered dagger on the table "after us and it somehow came along. I don't know if you ever travelled by house elf, but you spin all the time and, as the lucky one I am, it was behind me spinning and shaking as fast as lightning, pealing of my skin. When we came to a stop, it swooshed past me and killed Dobby. End of tale. You see, no wild sex life with Hermione. Sorry to deceive your hopes."

"You are talking nonsense. Should you intend me having any sexual interest in this know-it-all you are absolutely wrong. She's not my type."

It was not typical for Severus to chit chat about something like that, but he needed Potter to stay awake so that he could treat his back.

"Ah, so it has nothing to do with her being your student? I mean, she is really good looking, gorgeous, cute, independent and clever. Everything a man could wish for." Harry smirked at his bottle and took another pull.

"Ok Potter. You win. If you let me heal your back, I will tell you why I am not interested in her. Deal?"

Harry turned in his seat and saw a worried, but at the same time slightly amused Snape standing beside him.

"Deal. You can take care of me and while you do so you explain."

"I don't 'take care' of you Potter. I will just mend you back together so that you will leave as soon as possible." Severus loosened his black blazer, vest and rolled up his sleeves.

"Call it what you want, but I see that you care about it and therefore you care about me." Smirking again, Harry turned his face to his former professor and waited for a surely interesting excuse.

"I just care that you keep alive long enough to kill the Dark Lord. That's all. Now lean forward a bit."

Harry's face turned ashen and impassive as he listened to Snape. He nodded, stood up, summoned a shirt which he softly pulled over his back and buttoned it up. Severus couldn't believe what this foolish boy was doing now and for the first time in many years he was speechless. He saw that Harry gathered his magic to carry him back to wherever the three of them would stay. He gathered more and more until the office was electrified with it. The fire roared wildly and its flames got higher and hotter, but Potter's feet were still standing on the ground.

"Damn it!" He called as the first glass shuddered into thousand pieces.

"You will sit down immediately Mr. Potter or I will make you!"

"What about I lay down in front of this niece fire…'eems 'o cozy." And so he did, spelling a normal carpet into a soft sheepskin to rest on.

"Foolish boy." Severus has been waiting for Harry to collapse since he saw his injury; using too much magic in such a state only made the patient weaker.

"Stop calling me 'boy'."

"Not as long as you behave like one, brat."

Harry shook his head and smiled a bit.

"Now, do what you have to; thus I can become a killer and make everyone happy."

"As far as I know, Potter, Dumbledore made the minister sign a paper that if you were able to kill the Dark Lord, you will not be sentenced for it."

"Still I'd be a killer. Would you now please do something else besides staring at me all the time! I've to go back to the others."

"Which 'others'?"

"Can't and won't tell. Do I have to plead for you to heal my back?"

Harry knew that something was amiss with his former professor because never before had he seen him as confused as tonight, but right now he was not in the mood to get him talking about it. So when Severus finally started to apply a cooling cream on his back, Harry started to relax bit by bit and slurred to Snape that he shall not forget their deal.

"You insufferable brat. Why can't you just fall unconscious and keep quiet."

"Nah, wouldn't be any fun, now would it."

"Okay. To keep it short: I am simply not drawn to her. Is this enough for your highness?"

"I don't like it when you call me like this."

"I know. That is why I keep doing it. It might hurt in a second."

Severus had to apply a pressure bandage to keep the blood from flooding freely and therefore Harry had to sit up.

Harry still remembered the softness of Severus' touches, when he pulled his head at his shoulder so that the he had someone to lean on while Snape rounded his torso with bandages, from time to time. Having finished Harry settled even more at him and for the first time in months felt safe.

Meanwhile, Severus seemed astonished that his patient did not once flinch or hiss from pain, but relaxed.

'Not good.' Was everything the headmaster could think of. (Harry, being witness in his own dream, saw it in his eyes.)

It must have been the same moment he thought 'Oh shite.'

As if a bin of ice cold water was shed over them, they jumped apart not daring to search the other's eyes.

"Why didn't Ms. Grange heal you?"

"She was a bit…distracted."

Severus nodded and wanted to say something, anything, so he decided to take on the topic of their deal: "Her being my student is not valid anymore as she quit her schooling when you three didn't come back in September. Thus, I could do anything with her I'd like, provided she would want me to, without getting into trouble. But I won't."

Black obsidian eyes met emerald green and Snape could have sworn to Merlin that Potter was inwardly laughing and…happy.

"Hm, I know that you think I am stupid and never pay attention, but as I see it – and you may correct me if I am wrong - you are simply gay. Well, and as I am not your student anymore, I have absolutely no regret with doing the following"

Harry took a few steps forward without breaking eye contact. Standing in front of him now, he took Severus right hand in his left and, with closed eyes, kissed him on his left cheek.

"You smell perfect to me." Harry whispered into Severus' ear before stepping away and preparing to leave.

"I think I will be back at school soon; I am sure the next horcrux is in here somewhere."

"Possible. And you won't get to kill Nagini while it is safe with Voldemort. Do I see you in two days then?" Severus whispered while his eyes spoke with Harry about different things.

"Not in your office. We will get here to destroy this damned piece of his soul and I have to bring aurors with me, to clean the school from Death Eaters." Pleadingly, the younger man looked at Severus and told him with this glance to keep safe.

"We keep playing our parts until the end."

"Why are you telling me your plans, Potter?" Harry wasn't sure if the man was deft or wanted to hear something romantic before they would part to kill or die.

"Because I am not afraid of telling you that I care for you. I want you out of here before aurors can get to you and imprison you for killing Dumbledore. I want you to go back to Riddle and keep your game on. I want you to survive this stupid war!" Harry was getting furious while he recognized with every sentence that he cared much too deeply for this grumpy headmaster.

"And what makes you think I want to survive? If I get back to Voldemort he might as well kill me right there or torture me brainless because I lost Hogwarts."

"Then be prepared, for heaven's sake! You are a potions master! Think like one!"

Harry woke from a loud rolling thunder.

"Keep your emotions at bay or you will destroy half of London."

"Sorry Salazar. Didn't want to wake you."

"Don't worry little one. Pictures never really sleep. Besides, it is nearly sunset so who cares."

Harry had to smile at his ancestor while he got up and dressed for his usual morning run. Still seeing, smelling and feeling his encounter with Severus he couldn't stop himself from thinking that too many things were left unsaid that night.

"Things have changed. And not for the better, I'm afraid." And he ran through the cold January night.