Severus looked around his room in a panic, checking for any sign of his spectral visitors. Finding himself alone, he shakily sat down on the edge of their bed to reflect on everything he had learnt over the course of the evening. His hand drifted unconsciously to rest on Harry's side of the bed and he sighed.
Oh, Harry, what have I done?
He grasped Harry's pillow and brought it to his face. Severus inhaled deeply, breathing in Harry's unmistakable scent. A strangled cry left his throat as he recalled the things that Black and Lily had shown him.
His daughter. Sweet Merlin, he and Harry were going to have a daughter! Lillia was going to be a beautiful little girl, but if Severus continued to maintain the status quo with Harry, their daughter would grow up with the belief that her other father did not want her. And he was going to lose Harry to another man, a man who wasn't afraid to express the depth of his feelings for Harry, even if Harry could never fully return them.
Severus knew exactly how he felt about Harry. Despite his outward appearance of indifference, he was very much in love with the young man. But fear was a jealous mistress, and fear kept him from telling Harry how he felt. Every time he felt that he was ready to let Harry know that he loved him, panic would raise its ugly head putting thoughts of inadequacy in his mind. In his rational state, Severus understood that Harry loved him, and wanted to be with him. But his irrational self convinced him that Harry would not want to be tied to a used up former Death Eater, and that once he proclaimed his love, Harry would find someone younger and better looking, leaving him heartbroken. So, he kept his feelings to himself.
Severus was well aware that he was an insecure bastard, and being a bastard was his only protection from the unfairness of the world and the pain it caused. However, he was not so cruel that he would allow some of the things he'd been shown this evening become a reality. He glanced at the clock on the mantle and was surprised to see that only an hour had passed since Lucius had first appeared to him. That meant that there was still time. Severus came to a decision, and once his mind was made up, nothing short of death could stop him.
Dropping the pillow back onto the bed, Severus got up and strode to the other side of the bedroom with renewed purpose. He stopped in front of a painting of a high walled castle and rapidly moved it aside. Nothing but bricks and mortar was visible behind the painting, but Severus raised his wand and uttered a spell. The glamour dropped, and the wall dissolved with a shimmer. Severus began to meticulously search the enchanted space until he found exactly what he was looking for. Feeling satisfied with himself, he placed his find on top of the bureau and went into the washroom to clean up.
After he was finished, he went back to the bedroom and rummaged around in his wardrobe until he found the perfect outfit for the evening. He never had much occasion to dress up, but he really wanted to look his best for Harry. He pulled a pair of black trousers up over his slender hips and buttoned them up, then pulled a grey cashmere jumper over his head. After that, he performed a drying spell on his freshly washed hair. He stood in front of a mirror and ran a comb through his shoulder length locks, pulling it back with a silver clasp.
He decided that this was as good as he was going to look and sighed deeply. There was no putting off the inevitable, so he picked up the item from the bureau and prepared to Apparate to the Burrow.
Harry had finished his supper and was seated on the sofa, quietly talking with Charlie. Although he was fond of Charlie, he was not in love with him. His heart belonged to only one man, and that man couldn't even be bothered to be here for him. All Harry ever wanted was to be loved, and to be able to offer his child a loving, stable family. If Severus was not willing to provide that…Harry closed his eyes to shake off the bad feeling he suddenly had. Was he actually considering leaving Severus and going back to Charlie? He really didn't want to think about it.
"I'm going to go wash my hands. I'll be right back." Harry left Charlie sitting on the sofa and walked into the kitchen. He did not hear the sound of someone knocking on the front door of the Burrow.
Mrs. Weasley was in the kitchen humming a happy tune, getting ready to serve the Christmas Pudding. "Oh, Harry! I'm so glad you're here. Be a dear, would you and call everyone into the dining room for pudding. There's a good lad." Some things never change, and Molly Weasley would always think of him as the scrawny little eleven year old her Ron had met on the train.
Harry just shook his head and smiled at her as he headed back to the lounge to gather up the expanded Weasley clan. He stood at the door and cleared his throat to get everyone's attention. "If you are all ready, the Christmas Pudding is about to be served." He heard the nervous titters of Fred and George and wondered what he had done that was so funny.
Harry had just turned to head back to the dining room when a faint popping noise made him whirl around to face the lounge. Peering around the room, Harry saw all eyes fixed not on him, but at something directly above his head. A strange sense of déjà vu began to overtake him, and he scanned the room once more, looking up to see the bit of greenery he knew would be there.
"It's holly, Harry," the silky voice of the man he loved supplied.
Everyone grinned as Harry's eyes widened in surprise. "You came..." he stammered.
"Tradition states that when two people stand under it at the same time, they're supposed to kiss. Right, Harry?" Severus' face was a study in barely concealed humour as he watched Harry took a few tentative steps in his direction.
"Okay, then. Shall we kiss on the count of three? One, two…"
Severus did not wait for three as he captured Harry's lips in a tentative kiss that soon turned passionate. Harry forced himself to pull away before he ended up doing something he may regret.
"Wow." Severus could still cause his brain to become muddled even after all these years.
"Still as eloquent as always, I see." Harry was almost offended, until he saw the twinkle in Severus' eyes. Then Severus did something no one, least of all Harry, expected.He took Harry's hand in his and dropped onto one knee, gazing up at Harry with love and affection.
"I know I've never told you, and I am truly sorry for that. But I am in love with you, Harry. I cannot imagine living my life without you in it, and I never want to find out if I could." He took a deep breath and looked up at Harry, who was staring down at him looking gobsmacked. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a small velvet box. "Harry, I would be honoured if you would consent to bonding with me."
Harry dropped down to his knees and wrapped his arms around Severus' neck. His lips grazed Severus' jaw line as he whispered his response.
"Yes, oh yes!" Severus' arms pulled Harry close to him, and looking at the Weasley family, he spoke again. "If you will excuse us…"
They Apparated home with a loud pop, where Harry gave him the news that they were expecting a child. Severus lifted Harry up and carried him to their bed, planting kisses across his face and neck the entire way. They made love that night, and neither of them could recall being happier than they were at that moment. And as Harry was falling asleep, he could have sworn he heard Severus speaking.
"I kept my promise, and I'll spend the rest of my life making sure he knows how much I love him. Thank you, Lily."
A/N: We hope you enjoyed your holiday gift from us at HPRoundRobin. Have a happy holiday and a safe New Year.