Please Read this Before Proceeding: This is Rated-M Content, and will be highly graphic with a LOT OF SMUT. ALL

chapters have MAJOR spoilers for Harry Potter, so beware of that if you haven't read the books or seen the movies.

Disclaimer: These characters are not my own. They belong to J.K. Rowling.

Background: This is an alternate universe of the Harry Potter world, meaning that some things will be VERY different than the books or the movies.

Please do not copy or steal my work. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Strawberries & Phoenix Tears: Harry and Severus' New Beginning

Chapter One: A Look Into the Past

Harry leaned up against the glass wall, silently cringing as Nagini attacked Snape against his will. He heard the man cry sharply, and incoherently, until the snake was called back to its master. Voldemort and Nagini apparated away from the Astronomy Tower, leaving Severus Snape to die.

Harry felt the tears beginning to form in his eyes as he stumbled to the other side of the glass. His face sagged devastatingly when Snape looked up at him. Harry grabbed his neck to hopefully stop the bleeding, but he knew it wouldn't do much good.

Snape's coal black eyes bore into Harry's gaze. Harry had never seen the man so utterly frightened. Harry began to weep softly as Severus Snape's head was cradled in his hands. Up until this point, he still thought of Snape as a Death Eater—a man who had betrayed Dumbledore by killing him. A two-faced spy, who'd double crossed everyone at Hogwarts.

But now, in this painful moment, as Harry's tears fell onto Severus' open wounds, he finally understood that this man—this brave man—was always protecting him, and him alone. He's dying for me, Harry thought, as Snape started to cry. Harry's mouth gaped. Snape is crying in my arms, he thought, completely and utterly bewildered.

"Take them," Snape motioned to the tears on his cheek, "My memories…take them all! Please!" He cried more, as Harry got out an empty vial from his pocket. The tears streamed into the vial. Harry shakily took it away from his face, putting a stopper over it, shoving it quickly but carefully into his pocket.

"Look at me, Harry." Snape said, as Harry's eyes snapped back into the fading black ones.

"You cry for me…for me?" He wiped a tear from Harry's cheek. Harry leant into the pale hand, cupping it with his own. He didn't know why, but he kissed the back of Snape's hand. It seemed like a silent way of communication. I'll miss you, Harry wanted to say. The professor squeezed Harry's hand in response to the boy's kindness, meshing their fingers together.

Harry scooted closer to the brave, dying spy before him. He embraced him very gently, as not to cause more bleeding. "You…" Harry stammered, catching his breath, "It's always been you, Sna—Severus." He corrected, knowing it would mean more to Severus if he used his first name. After all, the man was dying in his arms—it is an intimate moment, Harry admitted to himself. You've always saved me, after all this time, Harry thought, with hot, red cheeks.

"Always." The raspy, rich voice said in Harry's ear. Both their cheeks were wet with sadness and tears, dripping down to Snape's wounds. Harry looked down at his lashed neck, all from Voldemort's doing. The bastard, he thought, as he leaned his head down to touch his lips lightly above the bleeding scratch. He couldn't have said why he kissed him there; it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Harry moved up to Severus' damp cheek, kissing it softly, then to his feverish forehead. He even kissed his nose—which, strangely, now seemed to be…angelic? He tore his lips away from the man he once thought was a traitor, stunned from his own thoughts.

"Ha-Harry?" Severus breathed on the student's neck. Harry looked into his eyes, shushing his Potions Professor. "Always, Severus…I'm right here." Placing his forehead on Snape's with shut eyes, Harry gently rocked him back and forth in the darkened Astronomy Tower. All of this seemed to happen so quickly, it was almost like a race to show each other kindness within their final moment together.

The least I can do for the poor man is comfort him now, Harry thought, with an aching heart. "Always" seemed to be the most comforting thing to say, after all that's happened between the two rivals. Behind the word lain an understanding sentiment, and a painful amount of care.

After receiving such warmth, Snape now saw Harry as a completely different boy. A man, in fact, he thought as Harry had his forehead pressed up against his own. Of all things in his final minutes, he would never have guessed that the Golden Boy would be comforting him, let alone crying for him. Crying…for me? An old, used-up and spit-out Death Eater? He felt so safe in Harry's grasp, yet so morose to abandon him in such a cruel wizarding war. He pinched his eyes shut, unknowing of where he'd go in the afterlife. Hell, perhaps? Could a Death Eater possibly have a chance at Heaven? Will my mistake I made thirty years ago haunt me even after death? The older man shivered in the younger's arms.

With all these thoughts swirling through his mind, Harry held him closer, letting the tears drop onto his slashed cheek. Those burning questions had melted into nothing, as he opened his eyes, giving in to Harry's gaze. Severus had no idea what came over him, but he had a sudden burst of energy. His neck, his arms, and then even his legs had stopped hurting. He tried to speak, he really did, but he was too baffled by Harry's rapid blubbering.

"Oh, S-Sev-erus…don't leave…" Harry begged, opening his green eyes to meet Severus' onyx ones. As much as he used to hate Snape, the so-called "Evil Potions Master" at Hogwarts, he'd never wished him such a horrid tragedy. As Harry's steamy tears trickled thickly upon Snape's neck wounds, both men looked down. The wounds clasped shut, just like Fawkes' had done when he cried on Harry in the Chamber of Secrets.

Severus was in disbelief; the older brought a finger to wipe a tear from Harry's face then dragged it across another wound on his arm. The wound tightly closed, and Severus felt no pain at all.

Snape was no fool: he knew he should've been a soulless corpse by now. Nagini's poison was clearing itself from Snape's bloodstream, Severus knew it. It was the only plausible explanation to how he was, in fact, still breathing.

Neither men knew why this was happening, but they went along with it. They worked together on taking more of Harry's tears and wiping them across each wound—which wasn't a problem, since Harry was still weeping immensely from shock. Harry would swipe one wound shut, and Severus would press the wizard's warm tears against another. It became mechanical, and, even Severus Snape would admit that not many people would want to save his wretched life.

As the last slash was sealed, Severus's eyes were no longer dim and faded. He stared into Harry's shiny emerald eyes, as if looking into them for the first time. Although neither wizard knew what to say, Harry broke the silence.

"How did—I mean, I didn't know I could do that. How—how do you f-feel?" He stammered so quickly, he thought about saying it all over again. Even on his deathbed, I still worry he'll call me an incompetent brat, Harry thought, with the frustration shown on his face. Snape opened his lips, then closed them, thinking for a moment. It was simply perplexing.

He remembered reading something a long while ago, after Harry had been saved by Fawkes in his second year. He wanted to do research on Phoenix tears, when he came across a book called Phoenix Tears: Love's Match and Savior. It was quite intricate and complex, the way Phoenix tears could work in the human body. Once someone had been healed by a Phoenix, they could also heal others, but the other individual also had to have been healed by a Phoenix. That's peculiar, Severus thought. He had never been healed by a Phoenix—certainly not Fawkes. The damned bird always squawked at him whenever he accepted lemon drops from Albus. He doubted the thing cared for him at all. Once Fawkes even set his robes ablaze when he was the new Headmaster. The daft creature, Snape thought bitterly.

After this quick thought, Severus opened his chapped lips, still recovering. He knew, at the very least, that he was unable to answer Harry's first question. "I…I feel alive. Merlin, I thought…" He trailed off, apparently befuddled. What was there to say to the boy—the man—who saved his life? Harry smiled so big, in such a relief, that he started laughing, with his arms still wrapped around Severus. He let out a reveled sigh, and hugged the man before him. "Always," Harry repeated, barely audible.

Harry couldn't see, with his head against Severus' but Snape actually smiled. He held Harry close and grinned like a fool, knowing he was alive and could still protect him. It's what Lily would have wanted. How he loved her—as a best friend, and no less than that. It was James he'd lusted after—the one who always teased him and picked on him. No matter how harsh James' insults were, he couldn't help his school-boy-crush. A handful of times, James had even reciprocated that lust, but James frowned upon Severus' obsession with Dark Magic, so he chose Severus' best friend Lily.

Severus pulled Harry away from him, who was still trying to comprehend the situation. He attempted to stand up, but his legs felt like gel. He grunted in irritation.

"No, Severus," Harry said sternly, "you can't move. If you move, he'll find you again, and try to kill you. I won't let that happen." He stated with newfound bravery. "It's far from over, but I'm going to fight him soon." He felt his robes for his wand slyly.

"I can't let you go unprotected, Pot—Harry. It was what your mother would have wanted—for me to protect you." Snape said just as sternly as Harry, half-sneering. "You can't protect me this time. It just has to be me and him." Harry said, quickly retrieving his wand. Somehow, he knew Snape wouldn't believe him. Before Snape could get another word out, he cast a spell putting the older man into a deep slumber. He then bent down to him and whispered, "If I make it out of this, I'll come back for you."

He decided to scribble a note for Snape on a piece of parchment for when he woke up. By then, he should be fully healed anyway, Harry thought. He laid the note on Snape's lap and spread his father's invisibility cloak over the unconscious professor. Harry then wiped away his tears, leaving his cheeks all red and irritated. Remembering the vial of Snape's memories, he decided to go directly to the Pensieve. If he didn't now, he may never get the chance again.

Then, he'd find Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest to finally end this war.