Here it is, the last chapter! I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I did writing it.
"What happened?" Hermione asked. "I mean, the whole thing that produced this split you mentioned?"
Harry sighed when he saw Severus wince out of the corner of his eye, but he knew he had to tell the others.
"I lived for a period of three years, from Halloween 1976 to Halloween 1979, at which point Cyrus LeStrange cast a curse at me. It was supposed to send my soul to the land of the dead, leaving my body behind. A fairly new curse, LeStrange didn't cast it right - Voldemort wasn't very aware of the ineptitude of his followers and himself, was he? - and instead of sending all of my soul, it only sent part of it. It split into two parts, really....
"Actually, half of my soul was sent to the land of the dead, otherwise known as the other realm. This plane is the mortal plane, and the other half of my soul was sent to reside within my mother. At that point, the part of me that was in the land of the dead, had no idea of what was to come, and it wasn't until the other half of my soul was born as Harry Potter that I gained a sense of..." Harry hesitated, not sure how to put what he felt into words. "I guess you could say that I became resigned to what was happening."
"Did you have any idea of what was going on down here?" Ron asked, finally speaking.
Harry shrugged. "I did, but not until Voldemort tried to kill me the first time. I didn't realize what was going to happen until I watched as first my father then my mother was killed. I never got the chance to stop that bastard...."
The room started to shake the more Harry got agitated, before Dumbledore cast a quick calming charm on him. It didn't lessen Harry's magical burst, so the headmaster cast a sleeping charm on the man. As soon as it took effect, Dumbledore sighed in relief.
"I suggest we take a small break," he lightly suggested, as he looked at the half-frightened, half-worried faces that were watching the slight form on the bed, his chest rising and falling in the soft cadence of sleep.
Harry smiled at Severus as everything settled down once again and he woke up from the enchanted sleep Dumbledore had sent him into. Poppy had threatened him with the body bind if he got agitated again - she did not appreciate her infirmary looking like what the quidditch pitch currently looked like, thank you very much. Now, they were all gathered around his bed once more, Severus seated closer than he had been before thanks to some not-so-subtle manipulation by Dumbledore.
There were a few things he wanted to talk about with Severus alone, but in the meantime, he would have to wait until at least Dumbledore and Remus were satisfied for a while. He knew that they would have questions later on, when they'd had a chance to think things over. Hermione would hurry to the library - dragging Ron with her despite all of his protests - to look up all the information she could before coming back for answers. And Remus would patiently explain everything to Sirius a couple of times because he was too busy fuming over his godson's relationship with the greasy git of a potions master to listen the first two times.
Harry hid the smile that came with the last thought. It would take a little while for Sirius to feel comfortable with Harry's love life, but he wouldn't let it interfere with his relationship with his godson. Well, at least not too much.
"What was your name?" Hermione asked, "The one that the Sorting Hat called you."
"The Lightning Child," Severus answered. "He couldn't be sorted because the Lightning Child 'belongs in all houses and in none.'"
"So then why didn't the hat recognize you the second time?" Hermione still wanted to know.
"Because of a couple of things," Harry said. "The second time I was sorted, I had, at the time, only half of the soul that I'd originally had when I met the Sorting Hat. It couldn't tell that I was missing that half, and so it thought that I was a brand new soul it had never met."
Harry could tell that Ron was still as lost as he'd been since they started this meeting. Sirius was trying to muddle through, as was Hermione. The other three were in various thinking modes.
"I know that it's a little difficult to understand - after all, it took me almost a year to really know what was going on."
"Only that long?" Severus retorted.
Harry grinned at him. "Considering I got to speak with some of the greatest minds and they were just as confused as I was, I'd say I did pretty well."
"Like who?" Remus sat forward eagerly.
"Godric Gryffindor for one." Harry smirked at the six incredulous faces directed at him. "Um," he pretended to think, "Merlin. Annabeth Christopher. Garth MacBeth...."
"Annabeth Christopher!" exclaimed Hermione. "Really? She was the witch who discovered..."
"Garth MacBeth!" came from Severus. "The potions master?"
"Gryffindor!" Ron and Sirius shouted. "Hogwarts' founder?" Sirius continued.
"Merlin," Dumbledore said, a bright glow to his face as his mind obviously wandered to the man.
Remus and Harry exchanged amused looks as they both sat back in their seats. They both knew that the meeting was over for now as the other five excitedly tried to ask Harry questions all at once about their heroes.
Severus sat by Harry's bed, content with just watching him sleep. Dumbledore had convinced the other to leave when Poppy had come in to yell at them for keeping her patient from getting some rest. The headmaster had winked at him before ushering Poppy into her office.
He knew that Harry still had some things to say just by how the other man had hesitated. A lot of years may have passed, but some things didn't change. Plus, he'd had the boy in his classes for a little more than six years, and he knew the telltale signs that there was more to the story.
When Harry had been explaining everything earlier, he'd' had a hard time listening before he realized he was looking for differences between his lover and his student. Once he had stopped doing that, Severus had been able to relax. The knowledge that *his* Harry wasn't really gone had been reassuring, a soothing balm, to a still wounded heart and soul. In fact, just being able to gaze at Harry had gone a long way to start the healing process, as well as the glances Harry had sent him during the earlier meeting.
He wasn't going to be optimistic by thinking there weren't going to be any problems in their relationship, but he was willing to give his best effort to make it work. Too much time had passed for them to slide back into the rhythm their relationship had followed before. He wasn't going to give up on the only person he had ever felt comfortable with, even if he was also the person he sometimes, well, most of the time, couldn't stand the presence of.
He could manage that.
Two weeks later and Severus was torn between throttling the idiot and kissing him senseless. The reckless prat had escaped Poppy's care sometime after lunch, and when he'd failed to show up for dinner, the matron had come ranting for the headmaster. A quick discussion between Dumbledore and Poppy - who really had been shouting - revealed that he had supposed to have gone with the nurse they had hired to help with Harry's physical therapy.
His body had sustained a lot of damage between the years part of it had spent laying in the dungeon and the effects of the spell he had used to finally rid the world of Voldemort once and for all. The nurse, out of St. Mungo's, would come and get Harry and the two would floo to the hospital, where they had specialized equipment that Hogwarts didn't have, for the afternoon. When Poppy had inquired after her patient, the other nurse had told her that Harry hadn't been there when she arrived, and had left a note that her services were no longer needed, and they he would settle the bill in a couple of days.
Armed with that knowledge, Dumbledore had gathered several of the staff and the prefects as well as Weasley, and sent them off on a search of the castle. Severus had been volunteered to look through the dungeons, nobody else willing to go down there - not even the Slytherin prefects, from seventh year Draco Malfoy to fifth year Mariah Moon.
As Severus got nearer to his rooms, he noticed a change in the air. It was as if someone had traced a magical trail through the hallways. The closer he got to his rooms, though, the more that Severus wondered if that wouldn't have been Harry. The magic that had followed what had gone before felt strangely familiar. Harry familiar. Severus sped up once he realized it was Harry's magic that he was feeling. The man must have used the latent magic Severus threw off during the day to find his chambers.
He hurried to his chambers and lifted his wand to engage the wards guarding his rooms. He went to utter his password when the door opened. Inside the door, the front chamber was dark, but there was a soft glow coming from his bedroom. Severus cautiously entered his chambers, alarmed when the door shut behind him. Raising his wand the tiniest fraction higher, he looked around, trying to see if there was anyone in the room. A strange sound came from his bedroom, and Severus moved towards it. It sounded again, and it was a lot like someone... talking....
An exasperated sound left Severus' lips as he looked at the scene presenting itself in his bedroom.
Harry lay sprawled across the big four-poster bed that dominated the bedroom. The covers had slipped to reveal a bare chest, pale skin covering a thin layer of muscle that Poppy and the therapy nurse had helped to create over the last two weeks. Next to the huge bed laid a damp towel, and Severus picked it up, knowing that Harry had always left his towels on the floor. With another swift glance at the sleeping man who was muttering about French fries, Severus left to put the towel in its proper place despite the house-elves. In the bathroom, he found Harry's hospital robe and gown, tossed to the side, a sure sign that he'd been too tired to toss them in the hamper that sat next to the tub.
Finally he was standing next to the bed, wondering just how to solve his dilemma. Severus wasn't sure if he should forgive and forget everything that had happened and start anew, or if he should take the time he had spent waiting and hoping for Harry to come back to him and release all of his hurt and frustration in one giant burst of emotion. The first thought was linked to his thought of kissing Harry senseless, the second to throttling the sleeping prat.
"Sev?" a sleepy voice came from the bed. Green eyes, still half-lidded, glistened in the faint light of the fire crackling merrily off to the side. They followed Severus' movements as he sat down on the bed and reached a hand out to touch Harry's cheek.
"What time is it?"
Severus sent Harry a weak glare. "I should take you up to Poppy and let you suffer."
Harry sat up, putting his face within inches of Severus' own. "And give you the chance to avoid me again? Sev..." he sighed. "We need to do something - talk, argue, anything as long as we get everything out in the open."
Severus nodded slightly. He had been hoping that Harry would be too occupied in the infirmary getting back in shape that he would forget, for the time being, that the two of them needed to sort through things. Well, that answered his question of whether or not Harry had been pushing himself to better health, so he could hunt down Severus when the time came to talk.
Resolving himself to whatever consequences that came of his actions, he leaned forward and touched Harry's forehead with his. Severus stared deep into the green eyes that opened wide before closing at his closeness. He leaned a bit further, so that their noses were full against each other.
The green eyes snapped open. "Sev?"
Harry's whisper breathed across Severus' lips, his breath the same sweetness he'd been missing for the last eighteen years. And now, Harry was here, alive and warm and healthy and touching him with a soft touch to the back of his neck.
Taking a shaky breath, Severus shifted slightly to the right and pressed his lips into Harry.
Much like their first kiss, it was a communication - a communication of everything and nothing and there would never be anything that would ever feel like it. The kiss completed them, healed them, made them whole again. This time, though, the entire world contracted and expanded around them as magic wove their souls together. Severus could feel Harry deep within his own soul, and knew that a part of himself now resided within Harry's. They *were* each other, *are* each other, and would always *be* each other.
Severus pulled back the tiniest bit and watched as the green eyes opened. It seemed as if the entire universe was shining in them, a strange reflection burning deep within Severus as well.
This would work.
He definitely knew this would work.
Severus scowled at the seventh years that were waiting for their name to be called. The damn brats couldn't sit still through the boring parts of the special ceremony in which they would be granted their license to practice magic as the school year drew to a close - despite Severus' voluble protests against certain nameless students that go by the initials Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger. Just a small matter of principal on the last one. She may be one of Harry's friends, but she wasn't going to last long in the academic career she had decided upon if she acted like she knew everything already. The former - he had forty-two cauldrons around the dungeons in various states of disrepair to back him up on that one.
The scowl deepened when Draco Malfoy's name was called. That particular brat turned out to be the reason why Voldemort had been able to approach the grounds. The Slytherin prefect had somehow found the cornerstone of the wards of the school and destroyed it. Oh, he hadn't been marked a Death Eater, but he hadn't exactly been on the light side either. He'd pled ignorance at his trial and, having pulled it off, was allowed to graduate with his class. Of course, the judge may have taken pity on the now parentless boy.
His potions grade had certainly reflected Severus' true feeling on the subject.
Didn't matter to Severus one way or the other on that, as long as the imbecile was far away from him now that he didn't have to deal with the family attached to him. And Harry.
Speaking of Harry....
He looked next to him and found Harry fiddling with his robes. The other man looked very uncomfortable to be up on the raised platform for this ceremony. Harry had argued that he really hadn't graduated from school, until Dumbledore had pointed out he already had a degree, and the new Minister of Magic had declared that all accomplishments of 'Harry' had actually been done by Harry Potter on a secret mission in the past.
Who knew that Arthur Weasley could lie like a Slytherin?
Harry glinted out of the corner of his eye at Severus. 'I'll do it if I want to,' he responded.
'You look foolish,' Severus pointed out.
'I can look nervous if I want to.' Harry's tone had suddenly turned quite childish sounding. 'And why did you insist on taking that telepathy potion without really bothering to test it? I still don't like this.'
Severus smirked, forgetting where they were for the moment as Dumbledore introduced Padma Patil's accomplishments to the gathered crowd. 'You don't like it because you can't gripe about me even in your head. All five months of it,' he gloated.
'Bugger off, Sev.'
The potions master chuckled quite evilly internally. Who knew that it was this easy to tease his partner? Of course, he'd never admit that he hadn't meant to really drink the potion - that had been an accident. The only good thing about it was that he'd seen Harry first, and not Black, who had been following him.
That would have been *bad.*
The fallout from that had been one of those things that Severus and Harry had been avoiding to do while patching up their relationship. It had taken a couple of months past that for them to realize that it was fine and stable and all manner of things that Harry's friend Granger had so kindly pointed out.
'Stop thinking about Hermione with that sneer in your voice,' Harry interrupted his thinking.
Severus silently cursed. Harry may not have been able to really think to himself, he had mastered the problem of the potion to the point where only exceptionally loud random thoughts could be heard by Harry. Well, unless it was deliberate.
Not dignifying that with an answer, Severus glared at the back of Dumbledore's head as he extolled the virtues of Harry Potter to the crowd. The idiots were hanging by their seats to the story the headmaster was weaving, and their gaping jaws and glazed look to their eyes made Severus want to retreat to his cauldron.
'How about the bedroom?'
Shit. Severus hadn't meant to broadcast that last thought. Harry knew how to turn anything into a come-on. Well, anything Severus said.
'Nine-thirty?' Harry continued in spite of Severus' silence. 'That gives us a half hour to shake off the "imbeciles" as you put it to the headmaster.'
Severus leveled a glance at Harry. There was a lascivious glint to the mischievous look on his face, despite the two of them being seated in front of five hundred witches and wizards who had come to watch the prestigious 'graduation' ceremony that Hogwarts presented each year.
Well, he may be doomed to spend the rest of this life with Harry - the rest of eternity from what he'd gathered, thanks to the spectacular bonding they'd accidentally performed in the dungeons when Harry had escaped - but it didn't look like they wouldn't have a boring relationship. Or a sexless one, either.
The best of it all, though, was the interesting looks he could get from Black whenever he got close to Harry.
Yes, he'd make it work in his favor.
AN: Please don't ask for a sequel. There won't be one. As much as I love sequels, I really can't see one coming from this story. Reactions from everyone (excepting Sirius, whom I think you can guess what his is) is kind of pointless as far as the story goes. Repeating what I said at the beginning – I hope that you liked reading this story. I honestly didn't expect more than a handful of reviews when I put this up, so all of the lovely things you've said have surprised me. Thank you very much:
Otaku freak, Phoenix353, CastusAlbusCor, Felion, anonymous, Bianca, bookwrm580, AlphaBeta, sen, Rebecca Cecilie, Tash, Artemis-chan, candy-thedreamer, Bianca, Lexi-formerly Katy999, Hanaus, nan-chan, Misty DevilChild, Angel, Harmoni, Sarah, della luna, ShadowHunter, Rhiain, Savi2070, Nagini: c r i m s o n, GoldenRose, slytherin-cool, Endless-luv, silv3rang3l, White Rider, amythest, Lady Russell Holmes, Death, Acyla, Felion, Darragh Tieraneux, owlchik41, Ice Lupus, Silver Angel, Jewelclaw Lady of Wind, zeynel, athenakitty, smoofie, smilez, spacecatdet, Rowaine GJB, Werewindle, Cettia cetti, athenakitty, Kateri, mp, The Red Dragons Order
I apologize if I've missed anyone. I finished this as soon as I got home from work, and there was a nasty customer who absolutely wanted his money back 'cause he thought The Matrix Reloaded 'sucked.' I'm grumpy, and all I want is to curl up in front of the TV and watch The New Detectives with my butter pecan ice cream and my cats fighting over who gets to lick the bowl clean (when they both know it'll be the dog).