Chapter Twenty-One , 'Firelight'
Harry walked down to the dungeons, shielded by his invisibility cloak. Ironic, he though, that his father's cloak was helping his son get to a man he had tormented so badly in school. Harry could hear his heart pounding in his ears, so loudly he wondered if others would be able to hear it. He saw the door to the potion's classroom, it was unlocked, he made his way down the rows of desks to the entrance to Severus' private chambers. Harry stood outside, resting his head on the cool wood of the door, working up his courage to knock and face whatever Severus was going to say to him.
"I can hear you breathing." Harry pushed open the door quietly and entered the dim room. Severus was standing by the fireplace, gazing into the flames. They made small popping noises every so often.
"Sit down, Harry." Harry did as he was bid and took a chair facing the fire. Severus still hadn't turned around. Harry stared at the older man's back, sensing the years of pain he had endured. He could only guess at what he was thinking about. Was he scared of what others would think? Probably not. Harry didn't think much could scare Severus. Then, "We both know this is wrong, Harry."
Harry breathed in gently, willing his courage to flee back to him. He found it hard to believe that he had fought off Voldemort and couldn't now get a word out. He almost laughed. Finally, after carefully planning what he was going to say, "I love you." No amount of planning could have helped Harry, though, those words had just come out on their own. He had been making up a whole speech in his head about why their relationship could work, and it had just slipped! "I...I...I'm sorry." He stammered. Still, Severus would not turn around. The silence became unbearable. Harry stood up and stepped a few paces behind him. "Please look at me, Severus. Please..!" He begged, hoping the words were not being said to deaf ears.
Very slowly Severus turned around, but he didn't meet Harry's gaze. Instead, he walked over to his small liquor chest. An antique passed down through the long line of drinkers in the Snape lineage. He reached down and sought a bottle of very old Scotch. He poured himself a glass and set it down on the fireplace mantle. Then, to Harry's surprise, he poured the younger wizard his own small glass and placed it gently on the stand next to Harry's chair. "Well," he began dryly, "considering what's already happened between us, I don't think me giving you a drink could cause any more trouble." Harry almost laughed as he returned to his seat, but Severus' face stopped him. It wasn't the face of a man about to give in to foolish sentiments of love from someone half his age.
Severus took the chair across from Harry and drank his Scotch in one large swig. Harry could only sip at the strong drink, though the feeling of it burning down his throat was oddly comforting. For long moments the pair only gazed at each other, half meeting the other's eyes. It was Harry who finally broke the icy silence, "What are you afraid of?"
"Potter." Severus said warningly.
"No, Severus, you sent me down here. I won't be turned away so easily this time! I know something must have happened to you to stop you from loving me back!"
"It didn't occur to you that I was more concerned with how the rest of the bloody world was going to take it? Me, an ex Death Eater, and you, the damned Boy-Who-Lived! Dumbledore's Golden Boy!"
"I know that wouldn't stop you. You're not the sort of person to be threatened by what others think. Please, just tell me what hurt you!"
Through the conversation, neither man had moved. Harry had never seen Severus quite so angry, not even when he had sent him out earlier. His guarded anger had boiled to pure rage. But, Harry knew it wasn't at him. He could see the pain in the man's eyes. He knew that someone or something had hurt him in the past. Something that hurt him so bad he never wanted to love again. "Please, tell me." Nothing. Silence filled the room again. Severus had dropped his empty glass and it had shattered on the stone floor sending little slivers of glass all around. He was starring at the firelight reflected so beautifully in the little shards of broken glass. Severus knew he loved Harry. He didn't know, though, how he could possibly tell him about Jenna. It was a secret he had so long guarded. Could he now so easily tell a boy half his age, a boy who had once hated him so greatly?
"Jenna." Harry's eyes darted up and he saw something he had never in all his years seen anything like, a small tear was making its way down Severus' pale cheek. "Her name was Jenna."
"Please, tell me." Harry had, almost without realizing it, moved his chair closer to Severus.
"I met her when I was a student. She saved me from your father's group of tormenters. I loved her and I married her. I didn't give a damn what the Dark Lord would do to me if he found out, I loved her so much. I loved her so much and she broke my heart. She killed our love!" Harry had never seen this side of Severus. It was so new he didn't know how to comfort him. With one deft movement, he seized his hand and squeezed gently. Severus didn't pull away. "She killed our baby, Harry! She lied to me about being pregnant and killed our baby!" Severus' mind was reeling, recalling how he had confronted Jenna, and her teary confession. She had claimed it was out of love, but Severus wouldn't listen. He ran. He ran out of the house and never saw her again.
All Harry could do was stand up and wrap his arms around Severus. Severus was crying. Slow, quiet tears. Tears of pain, of never forgotten love, of all the times he had never been able to share with anyone. Of all the times he had been ignored and forgotten. Then he realized; he had someone now. Someone who genuinely cared for him. Someone who would love him and be proud of his accomplishments. He couldn't believe it...he loved Harry. He needed Harry. He wanted Harry!
"Harry." Then he kissed him. Harry put his head down and kissed Severus lightly, so gently. Severus grabbed Harry and pulled him into his lap, kissing him for all he was worth. The years of pain melting away, melting into these new caresses. "I love you, Harry." The look Harry gave him was enough to make him smile. The first in years. Severus and Harry remained locked in a hug for long minutes. Neither moved, they just remained motionless and felt each other breath.
There was a voice in the back of Harry's head whispering to him, "This would be perfect, but you messed it all up. He'll never love you once he finds out at her. He'll hate you." Harry tried to will it away, but he couldn't. He could only hope it wouldn't be true.
There. I like this chapter, I don't know how everyone will appreciate this side of Severus that I've created. I hate how in the books he's always portrayed as a cold bastard. I think that he must have a sensitive side! Let me know, please. I'll admit, I'm kind of at a writer's block about what to do with Ellyn....one of those, 'I wish I hadn't thrown her into the story,' kind of things. Oh well.