DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter and all related characters belong to J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., Scholastic Books, etc. I am merely borrowing them for my own twisted purposes.
WARNINGS: This story is slash, containing male/male relationships. If you find it offensive, then I suggest you go elsewhere. Post-Hogwarts and slightly AU.
A big thanks to my beta reader, Rosalind Carelli.
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30 Days Guide to Finding Your True Love
Chapter 01 - Bearing the Bad News
By: Deranged Firefly
"ALBUS, what in nine hells is the meaning of this?" Severus Snape, the most feared Hogwarts professor, roared as he stormed inside the Headmaster's office. It was very uncharacteristic of him to lose control but Albus Dumbledore's latest scheme nearly drove him to the edge. He brandished a piece of parchment in front of Albus' face, his black eyes glittering dangerously. To Albus it meant nothing less than proclaiming his untimely doom. The old coot had requested or rather forcefully and politely ordered Severus' permission to have the 'Boy-Who-Lived' stay over at the Snape Mansion over the summer. The reason behind it was beyond Severus. Potter was of age, both in the Muggle and Wizarding world and had just graduated from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If not for the constant threat from the Dark Lord, the boy could very well stay wherever he pleases. He impatiently waited for an answer when he heard a soft voice behind him.
"Actually, Professor Dumbledore, that's what I want to know myself." Harry Potter spoke up and that's when Severus noticed another person in the room. Speak of the devil, thought Severus snidely. Harry was seated comfortably in one the leather armchairs before the desk. He inwardly cursed himself not noticing the brat earlier and for his unwarranted display of emotion. He huffed as he placed himself in a seat opposite of Harry's, as he sat down, he glared.
Albus merely smiled serenely. His eyes twinkled behind his half-moon glasses.
"Would any of you boys care for some tea? Or perhaps a lemon drop?"
Harry shook his head while Severus scowled in reply. Already, Albus was pouring three cups of steaming tea and had a tin of lemon drops at the desk. As if someone could refuse the old man!
"Well," said Albus, after handing the cups of tea to the two males. "You wish to speak to me?"
"You can't possibly let me stay with him;" Harry began,"can't I stay here instead?"
"I'm sorry, but the wards had to be reset during the summer as it is the only time it can be done."
"12 Grimmauld Place?"
"Under renovation." Albus replied in a quick fashion. After Sirius' death, the rights to the property were given to Harry who in turn gave it to Remus Lupin. He knew that the werewolf needed a place to call his own and though he was always welcome there, it's hardly the place to spend summer. The old house was used mainly as a headquarters for the Order.
"Harry, I'm sure the Weasleys would love to have you over but I can't allow it. It's very dangerous for both you and the Weasleys once Voldemort gets the wind that you're staying there. I'm doing this for your own protection. Severus' home is that last place that he'll expect to find you and the place. There are also ancient wards in and around his mansion that even Voldemort could not break. I am also sure that you're not keen on going back to the Dursleys."
Harry shuddered. He was not going back to the Dursleys. Ever.
"It is settled then – "
"Wait! Don't I get anything to stay in this? I am not looking forward to spending my summer with the brat." Severus interrupted. His privacy and sanity was at stake here.
It's not like I want to send the summer with a git like you, thought Harry.
"I'm sorry, Severus." Dumbledore looked anything but sorry. "Harry needs a place to stay. Voldemort is still at large. Besides, you two need to be at close proximity if you two are going to work together."
"WORK TOGETHER?" Both men were aghast.
"Of course," The old man chuckled as if it was the most obvious thing in the world then his tone became more serious. "Severus, I want you to continue teaching Harry his Occlumency lessons and the basics in Dark Arts. Harry, I believe that Severus is researching a potion that could mean the end of Voldemort. Your assistance would be of great help."
Severus stared, wondering if Dumbledore had indeed gone senile. Harry opened his mouth to argue but the Headmaster held up his hand.
"No arguments, both of you. You are on the same side now and we all can't afford petty fights over simple matters, such as this. You two must learn to cooperate with each other." His words were grave and of finality.
With a sigh, Harry nodded and took his leave. His head bowed, as if in defeat.
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Harry trudged back to the Gryffindor tower, dejectedly. He'd rather face Lord Voldemort any day than spend a month with his most hated ex-Potions professor. If possible, the animosity between them had intensified over the last two years. Harry knew he wouldn't survive being alone with the man for an hour and here he was, spending this entire summer with him. Dumbledore had just signed his death sentence. When he entered the common room, he was met with a sympathetic Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
"Bad news, huh?" Ron asked.
"Leave it, Ron. I don't want your pity." Harry replied as he sank in one of the comfortable chairs around the fire. He stared at the fiery embers deep in thought.
"Cheer up, Harry. I'm sure Prof. Snape can't be as bad as he seems." Hermione urged.
"Hermione! Have you lost your mind? This is Snape we're talking about."
"I have not, Ronald Weasley! I just can see both sides of the coin, or so says a Muggle."
"You and your Muggle wisecracks..."
After seven years of constant bickering, Ron and Hermione finally realized how much they care for each other and officially became a couple a few weeks ago. It was Harry that encouraged their relationship. To him, Ron and Hermione's relationship was like a beacon of hope. Seeing his best friends happy made Harry forget the weight and threat of Voldemort on his shoulders, however temporary it was.
But sometimes, Harry wished that someone would care for him. Sure, he had plenty of people who love him. There was Ron and Hermione who loved him like a brother. Lupin was someone he can talk to about most things and his mentor. The Weasleys considered Hermione and himself like an extended family. Hagrid was of course his first friend. He even had Draco Malfoy on good terms with him! The two had come to civil terms during Harry's sixth year when Harry found out that Draco had joined Dumbledore's side. Draco was still Harry's rival and competition, someone who could keep Harry's feet planted on the ground. Harry wanted someone different. Someone he'll have a special place in his heart.
He turned to his friends but found that they were still busy quarreling. The ways of love, thought Harry ruefully. With one last look at the couple, he went up to the boy's dormitory where he planned to spend his last night a Hogwarts.
"Just this once, I wish someone would love me for me for who I am and not for the Boy-who-Lived." Harry whispered into the night. Outside, a star fell from its heavenly post towards earth, just as Harry closed his eyes.
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Meanwhile, Severus was having a hard time adjusting to the thought himself. Not only had the old bag managed to stick the two of them together for the summer, but he had allowed the brat to invade his home. Albus had really gone too far this time. There was nothing he could do. Once the wizard had the wheels in motion, there's no force on earth that could stop him.
The words of the Headmaster a few minutes ago came back in full force.
"You want me to get along with him. Albus, what you're asking is nearly impossible."
"I'm not asking you anything. I just want you to understand him."
"Understand him? What is there to understand?" Severus asked angrily. He stood up and without much a goodbye, left the office.
The old man just looked sadly at Severus' retreating back.
He went to his wine cabinet and poured himself a glass of fire whiskey. Maybe he could drown himself in the fire whiskey and wake knowing it was all a dream, a very bad dream. Again, that was uncharacteristic of him. He was a logical person and he would go through the situation analytically, but it was useless. All he could think about was how he hated that Potter brat.
Grumbling to himself, he went to his sleeping quarters to prepare himself for bed.
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Harry woke up early next morning wondering if the world had conspired to drive him crazy. He dragged himself out of the bed, noting that Ron hadn't slept in his own bed. As a Head Girl, Hermione got her own private room and it was pretty obvious where Ron spent the whole night. One thing he hadn't told his friends was his sexual preferences. He preferred the company of men and he wasn't sure how he'd break the news to them.
Harry proceeded to the Great Hall alone and went of his breakfast. When he was about to finish, a small brown owl came by and dropped a piece of parchment on his lap. He fed the owl with the rest of his toast and read the contents of the parchment.
Your presence is required at the Headmaster's office at 4 in the afternoon. Bring your things and don't be late.
Harry snorted. It didn't take a genius to figure out whom the letter was from. He glanced at the Head Table. Snape wasn't there.
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The rest of the day passed painfully fast for Harry. He hadn't had a chance to talk to Hermione or Ron; the two of them have their own matters to attend to. Before he knew it, it was nearing four in the afternoon. Sighing, he shrunk his trunk and went to the Headmaster's office. Much to his chagrin, Snape was already there.
"Glad you made it on time." Snape said sarcastically holding out an empty bottle of beer, which served as a portkey. Harry took hold of it and in a few seconds felt the familiar feeling of being jerked forward, the howling of the wind and swirling colors. Before he knew it, his feet hit the ground, he felt a bit unsteady and almost stumbled. Snape who was in front of him, looking calm, cool, and collected, merely raised an eyebrow. Damn it, how does he do that? Harry thought. He didn't finish his thought when Snape turned and walked towards where they'd be staying over the summer. Before he knew it he had to jog to keep up with his former professor.
They both kept their distance and thought simultaneously, this is going to be a dreadfully long summer.
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Next Chapter: Harry sees Severus' home for the first time.
Author's Notes: Well, that went alright... I think. Not really original and rather cliche but the next few chapters will be the turning point of the story. Let me know what you think! Reviews are appreciated and inspire me to write. :) Reposted this chapter after being beta'd.