Of Mirror, Boy and... Man
Beta-read: Suite Samba
Harry Potter, snarry, almost canon almost
Word Count: 3300
Disclamer: Don't own the characters. No profit is being made from this story.
A/N: This tale was meant for the autumn fest, but then... I think I´m not so patient;-)
Suite Samba, thank you very much!
Of Mirror, Boy and... Man
The First Year
Once again, there he was, sitting on the stone floor. A boy with messy dark hair and old round glasses, a boy too skinny and tiny even for his age of eleven. At first he was so excited that he had found this room, this magical huge mirror that brought him joy and peace such as he'd never experienced before. But now he was only sad. Sad and tired because he could never have what he saw in the glittering surface of the mirror of desires. Nevertheless, every day after his classes he came here and had to look because it was all he had of his past. Of his family.
But now, in this very moment, it was too much for that small boy with the lightning scar and a fate so complicated that no one could ever foresee his next steps. He tilted his head and a single tear slipped down his young face. And then... there were more tears, more grief in his green eyes, more misery floating through his head. Too much.
It was too much even for a man who was lurking in the shadows of that ancient grey-stone room with a gothic ceiling. This man was watching that little boy with anger at first, then with curiosity, and last of all with concern. A teacher with eyes so dark that they had to be black, with tongue as sharp as a knife, with a choleric and strict temperament. Master of the dungeons, Potions master of Hogwarts, a teacher of the aforementioned boy.
The man shook his head and stepped out of the shadows, heading toward the child. And then he just stood there, next to him, waiting for the green eyes to lift up to him.
The boy wiped his eyes and startled a bit when he saw a black robe that wasn´t there before. He gasped when he recognized five shiny black buttons on dark trousers belonging to his most hated professor. He didn´t dare to look up or turn his head. He almost couldn´t catch his breath. And then he heard it, the whispered words spoken in a low voice:
"What do you see, Mister Potter?"
Harry gulped, lifted his reddened face to the man and saw no smirk, no frown, only weariness and care in his black eyes.
"My parents, Sir, my parents with me... What do you see?"
The man turned his head and closed his eyes for a brief second.
"I see them, too..." he said and then - in a whirl of his cloak - he was gone.
The Second Year
Fear. Fear everywhere. In everybody. Fear from the unknown. Fear that managed to dim the joy and smiles on students' faces. The staff was restless, rattled, the kids began to suspect one another, their friends, even their best friends. Severus doubled his effort to protect them, kept his guards on the corridors, yet there were three students, one cat and a ghost in Hogwart´s infirmary already.
And then there was Potter in the middle of everything. A boy who'd grown a bit taller this year but stayed as bony as before. A boy full of wonders, who could speak with snakes as if it were as ordinary as breathing.
There was something odd in that little child who drew attention by his every move. Something that only the Dark Lord might recognize when it was fortunately too late for him. The boy held power and determination that suited only adult men and maybe not even them. Severus could almost taste it on his tongue.
Today he spotted Potter in the Astronomy tower. There was no one else with him, even the Weasley brat was gone. Potter was standing at the metal railing, gripping it tightly with his small fingers. The wind was strong, it ruffled his hair even more - spring was almost there, still he stayed in this place, looking a bit lost in the huge world.
"Why are you here and not with... your friends?" Severus asked when he was close enough to be heard.
Harry turned his head to his professor, not surprised that he saw him there, and shrugged.
"Why would you care... Sir?"
Green eyes challenged him and Severus could see the energy in them, only a spark, a flash of light, but so strong that it could set fire to a house, and he held his breath.
Locked in his eyes Severus nodded. "True. Why would I?" he agreed thoughtfully and waited.
He could see how Potter´s eyes widened when the boy figured what he might mean. A moment of understanding that probably had started a year ago in front of the magical mirror. It was a year full of misunderstandings, confusion and heroic exploits; still they were here looking at each other as if they didn´t have to be on opposite sides.
Then the moment was gone. Severus turned and headed to the stairs. There was nothing more to be said or... to feel.
The third year
It was so fast. One second Severus was sitting in his office dealing with students in detention and then he was hurrying over school grounds to save the foolish boy and his friends from the evil arms of a killer and a traitor and a werewolf, too.
Why today?! Why during the full moon? Dementors and Black weren´t enough? Did fate have to bring more danger to everyone? Why for Salazar's sake?!
Everything happened so quickly. He thought he managed to pull all the students out of danger in the Shrieking Shack and arrest both traitors to bring them to justice, but there were more factors. Factors he hadn´t counted on...
Potter and his hero complex. The boy who couldn´t trust him enough after all these years of inequity to just shut up and follow his orders.
Because of him Severus lost his wand, his consciousness and now he had to run like the wind to salvage what remained. He hoped they lived through this horrible night.
The tunnel ended abruptly and he got outside. Granger was there, right behind the exit, Weasley and Potter, too - Severus could breathe a sigh of relief despite the dread in their eyes. He turned his head and gasped, too. His nightmare came back to life – the outraged werewolf returned from his past to kill him and not only him. He shielded the children with his body, he could feel how they clung to him, he could smell their fear while he wasn´t able to stop a monster from his dreams from reaching them all.
And then there was a huge black dog and a warning whirring and a lot of fighting with teeth and nails between them. The dog didn't stand a chance against this powerful creature from the dark, still he was trying, biting and jumping and distracting the former professor and current werewolf. A moment later both of them were gone, into the forest.
Severus exhaled loudly and a lump formed in his throat. Potter pulled out of his grip, running after them and Severus could only wheeze out:
"Potter, no, please!"
But it was too late. Green eyes turned back on him with disbelief although the boy didn´t slow down at all, and Severus thought that first in the Shrieking Shack he'd lost Potter´s faith, and now he'd lost him, too.
Merlin help us!
The fourth year
Snow. Christmas. And dance. Hogwarts not only housed representatives from two different magical schools in Europe, but also organized a Yule ball. All the decorations, lights, sweet candies, laughter... contrasted with the threat of war and the Dark Lord´s return.
Severus shook his head. The first task was over; all the dragons returned to their reservations where they belonged. All four champions escaped with only small injuries. Crazy year, really. And only the first term was over.
Severus was standing in the corner of the decorated Great Hall, watching the crowds of children and staff in robes. They were enjoying the night despite the slightly uneasy start with all four champions and their partners on the dance floor.
He had enough of watching, music and laughing. He had to escape for a while, breathe some fresh winter air. So he slipped from the Hall to the corridor and out through the main entrance. But he was not alone there. On one side of the court full of carriages there was a smaller figure in formal dress with his back a bit arched, with tousled hair and a distant look on his young face.
Severus reached him. Potter didn´t change his posture, only tilted his head slightly to the side and waited to see what his professor wanted.
"Where is your partner, Potter? Doesn´t Miss Patil like dancing?"
Harry frowned and then lifted his eyebrows nearly as well as the Potion Master himself. Severus had to snort.
"She does, but I don´t like it," he repeated in defiant voice as if Severus wanted to argue with him about that matter. But he didn´t want anything like that. He only blinked and continued to observe him with a fixed stare.
Harry sighed and passed his hand through his black hair. "I wanted to know..." His voice trailed off and then he lifted his head to the man. "Tell me something, Sir..."
"And what exactly do you want to know?"
The boy´s green eyes studied him thoughtfully, with curiosity, with a thorn of desire to reveal the mystery called Severus Snape. And then it was gone. Again.
"Nothing, Sir, nothing," the boy whispered into the darkness of the night and hurried back to castle.
The fifth year
There was pain in Harry´s dreams, he could feel everything Voldemort wanted to show him; there was pain in his days, when he couldn´t understand what was wrong with the world– how was it possible that no one else believed him – his mates, his friends, his teachers, the press and public. The headmaster of Hogwarts himself turned his back to him. He was all alone. Too much pain, too much pressure from everywhere. And furthermore, after the attack on Mr. Weasley, he had to take extra lessons with Snape.
Harry felt like there was no light in the dark. As if nothing was left to him. Only pain and fear of the future, of... himself.
Severus could see it in him, too. He spent half of his life in this state. Abandoned. But what could he do for him – as a spy? He steeled himself and cast again, because there was nothing that could be done, right?
Flashes of misery switched with flashes of loss. He could feel Potter´s pain. His void. His distress. Where was the happiness of youth? Severus shifted his attention to the other area of Harry´s mind, to one which was carefully hidden, and found a precious memory.
Sitting on the floor Harry was watching the surface of the mirror of Erised. His family, Lily and James, stood by his side. And finally Harry felt complete.
Severus ended the spell, immediately left his mind and turned away from the boy. There was a silence between them. Silence that became heavier with every passing second, every breath.
And then... the question snapped into the silence like a whip despite the quiet and surprisingly calm voice:
"Why is it possible that you could see my parents in the mirror?"
Severus uttered a sigh and then slowly turned to face him.
"Because, Mister Potter... I want them to be alive, too."
The boy blinked with confusion and then frowned a bit as if there was another question on his tongue. But he didn´t dare to ask and Severus wasn´t willing to provide the answer either.
Finally Potter just nodded and left his place. Because he now knew what he´d wanted since that first year.
The sixth year
The end of every one of Harry´s years at Hogwarts was a disaster. But this year was... the worst. When Sirius died he blamed himself for his death, when Dumbledore died he immediately knew it was all his fault. He was so sure he could understand Snape a bit, he was so sure he could trust him with his life. There was concern and care in his eyes when he crossed his path on the Astronomy tower and forced him to stay quiet. And then... everything went to hell. His hopes, his dreams, his future. Sirius was gone, Dumbledore was gone and Snape, too, was gone.
He challenged the man to fight for his life and failed. His dark eyes were as cold as ice, his mouth twisted in his typical sneer. And despite it all, Harry´s mind couldn´t believe his eyes. Just could not.
Harry cast another spell and Snape blocked it. Harry wanted to repeat his action, but then something changed in Snape´s face. The mask of stone broke and for a brief second revealed his true feelings. Feelings that Harry could discern even in the dark where no moon shone.
Harry stood there, face to face with the man who had just killed his mentor, and he couldn´t take the last step. Because there was pain in his black eyes, pain that was mirrored in his own.
Pain that was mixed with overwhelming guilt.
The seventh year
The snow was falling again, white snowflakes seemed as beautiful as jewels to Harry´s emerald eyes. The young man was leaning against a tree, thinking about nothing, only dreaming with open eyes and looking at the falling snow.
So many things happened that year. His transfer to a safe place, Bill´s wedding, their escape, their break-in into Ministry of Magic, Ron´s departure, Nagini´s attack... Harry sighed. Even his wand was broken. Now he was sitting in the Forest of Dean, on guard, so that Hermione could sleep a bit so she'd be able to think up what to do next...
If only they knew something more. More about Voldemort, more about Dumbledore, more about Snape and their own fate. Everything would be less complicated if they just knew. But it was how it was and he was aware with absolute certainty that he knew almost nothing.
He lifted his head and looked around his surroundings. He had a feeling in the back of his mind that he was being watched. And the feeling was growing stronger with every second. He jumped to his feet, concerned, although he knew that their protective spells never failed to work.
And then there was a light... a shape... a doe. He stared at the glowing beauty and his breath caught. There was something in her eyes. Something so familiar that... he could almost feel it.
"What..." he started to ask, but the doe turned and began to walk away. Harry couldn´t help but follow her into the depth of this unknown forest, over there near a small pond.
The doe stopped and turned her head to him. And he had a feeling that he needed to touch her, touch her coat, even though he knew it was impossible. She was made out of air, wasn´t she?
He lifted Hermione´s wand and conjured a spell that Remus taught him in his third year.
"Expecto Patronum," was whispered into the rustling of falling snow.
The next moment there was a shining stag standing in front of him, a stag that could touch his chosen one from his dreams.
Because, Harry realized in his heart, this silver stag and doe belonged to each other. He just couldn´t find a reason why it was so...
The end of all times
Severus knew that if Potter returns to Hogwarts it would be the very end of everything. The end of all pretence, the end of this horrible term, possibly the end of the Dark Lord and for sure the end of his life. Because his fate led to this destination nearly from the moment he was born. He'd made too many mistakes to be chosen as one of those who would survive. And he knew the Dark Lord was up to something about his wand but was waiting for the very last moment because so far he needed Severus where he was – at Hogwarts, in the school that Harry Potter loved so much as his home, and would definitely do anything to preserve.
The fight had already started, all creatures of the dark stood by the Dark Lord´s side next to his loyal Death Eaters and other servants. It seemed that the Light didn´t have a chance but Severus knew better – he knew the hearts of those who fought for the Light. Their stubbornness, their determination. They had something that the Dark Lord never understood.
And when his Lord called him to the Shrieking Shack, he was certain that whatever happened there, the Light had a chance. It always had.
There was only one thing he wanted to know before he left the world – if certain green eyes would understand him at the end. Because after all this time, he'd started to care for them even though he forbade his heart to act along with his emotions.
Because it was sick, it was bad, it was so... impossible that his stomach twitched in knots every time this thought appeared in his mind.
When he came to the Dark Lord, everything went quickly. His wand was taken, his throat was hurt and then... Nagini´s turn came.
Before the darkness swallowed him though, he saw a pair of green eyes that was looking at him not with contempt or mockery, but with something almost like... affection, and fear of losing him.
The new beginning
He woke up to a new day even though he didn´t know which day precisely it was. There was a light in the window, the sun was shining brightly and he could smell the fresh scent of mowed grass.
His eyes focused on a man by his bed. His eyes was green, his hair a bit messy and dirty, his glasses almost broken in two pieces, still he was there, alive and all right and smiling a bit at him as if he enjoyed watching him.
Severus tried to clear his throat and Harry handed him a glass of water. Once he swallowed the liquid and the glass was back on the night table, he locked his eyes with Potter´s and simply asked:
The young man smiled a bit. There was concern in his eyes when he gave him a brief explanation:
"The Resurrection Stone. It´s quite safe to use within a few hours after one´s death."
Severus blinked. He called me from beyond the veil?
"Quite safe? Don´t tell me that..."
Harry diffidently shifted on his chair, his head bowed.
"Yeah, we are bonded for life. Literally." Then he lifted his hand as if to swear. "But I assure you, you are completely free, you can do whatever you want, meet whoever you want, even marry anyone, you don´t need to stay with..."
Severus took his hand in his and squeezed it firmly. "Harry... hush, you are babbling."
The younger wizard tilted his head to their linked hands, confused.
"Wha- what does it mean?" He had to be sure.
Severus smiled, then lifted his hand and put it close to his lips – almost touching them – and whispered:
"It means, Harry, that when I look in the Mirror of Erised now, I wouldn´t see your parents there. Because I am exactly where I want to be and nowhere else..."
And then... he finished his move and kissed the back of his hand. Because for now there was nothing more to say. Because from now on they could allow themselves to feel, too...