By Nenya Entwhistle
Disclaimer: All characters belong to JK Rowling, I'm just borrowing them for a brief turn in words.
Warning: This is slash and this has not been beta'd. Read at your own risk and do not bother sending me flames about the homo-love-lines. I'll just assume you can't read.
Untamed dark hair and feral green eyes, who else but…?
"Harry!" Severus snapped. "Harry! Look at me! POTTER!" Before he might grab the boy and shake some sense into him, two foolhardy Gryffindors got into his way. Severus was blocked by none other than Weasley and Granger Weasley. "Get out of my way!" he snarled. "NOW!"
"No," Granger retorted, her eyes blazing with a self-righteous indignation. Severus thought how misplaced it was. She wasn't doing Harry any good by trying to be his protector. What Harry needed was a hard, brutal reminder of reality. Then maybe when his attention was caught, Severus might use a firm, gentle--- loving approach. But 'til then…
"We won't let you hurt Harry. Don't you think you've hurt him enough?" she cried out. "All that you let them," she spat, "do to him? You were supposed to protect him, but you partook in his multiple rapes! You are a vile, vile man, Snape and Dumbledore might have let you get away with it, but we won't! You'll pay for what you did to him!"
"It would be in your best interest," Weasley muttered darkly, infusing his voice with such a threatening tone that Severus was almost impressed, "to leave."
The lost boy, the terribly lost boy was trembling, rocking back and forth uncontrollably. Severus wanted to go to him, wanting to hold him tight and shake some veracity into him. Did Harry not realize? Did Harry not know? The war was over. Voldemort was dead. Everything was as it should be. It was thanks to him. He was… is the Boy Who Lived. And this time he had really survived.
"No," Severus whispered. "I'm not leaving him to you. I promised, I wouldn't and I am a man of my word."
"Don't you think you've caused him enough pain?!" Granger exclaimed. "Look at him! Look at what you've allowed to happen to him!" Tears were streaming down her face. "He's broken, Snape, and I'm not going to let you hurt him anymore. GET OUT!"
Severus tried to catch Harry's eyes, but the stubborn boy wasn't looking at him. His face was toward the wall, staring blankly ahead unseeing--- trapped in his own little world. He glared and whirled away, leaving them as they wished with Harry. I'm sorry, Harry, he thought. But I'll be back, I swear.
He heard Weasley's, "Good riddance" as he apparated out.
Severus stole Harry instead. He stole him in the middle of the night right under Granger's and Weasley's watch. He scoffed at their arrogance. They'd protected anyone from getting to Harry, but they had never thought to protect anyone from getting out. It'd been so easy. While he hadn't been able to get into Harry's room, Harry had fortunately walked out.
"Severus," Harry had whispered to him. Severus had seen a moment of lucidity in his eyes before Harry's eyes had clouded over and he started whimpering. He had curled up in a ball and started making the keening sound of someone distressed. Severus had felt his heart twinge painfully as he knelt down next to Harry and gathered the frail boy into his arms. Harry had tried to pull away, but eventually he settled and when he finally looked at Severus--- Severus' heart broke. "Who are you?"
"I'm S… a friend," he had answered. "A good friend."
A beautiful, achingly beautiful smile had broken onto Harry's face. Its beauty was innocence. "Will you play with me?" Harry had asked. "Will you play games with me?"
"Yes, yes, I will, but you have to go with me somewhere. Will you?" He held out his hand.
Harry had tilted his head, it reminded Severus too many times in the past of how Harry had done that when he was thinking, analyzing him. "Okay. But you promise to play when we get there?"
"Yes, I promise."
Harry took his hand and exclaimed, "Good!"
And so that was how Severus had stolen Harry.
Dumbledore was their Secret Keeper. Severus didn't trust anyone, but he had to keep Harry hidden. Harry wasn't ready to face the world. Harry, for so long was so old, had become so young, for who knew how long? Severus needed Dumbledore, so he used Dumbledore. It was not an ideal arrangement, but it would work. It had to work. Dumbledore owed them that much.
So they were hidden by the Fidelius Charm, and hidden so well that no one knew where they were. Severus would smirk and sneer at the Daily Prophet's headlines: Boy Who Lived Missing!, Where is Harry Potter?, Is our Savior Dead…? Fools, imbecile, the lot of them. Of course the supposed spottings of Harry's whereabouts were hilarious inaccuracies. Harry wasn't in Egypt at the Pyramids, or in Key West at the Beach, or Italy at the Ruins. No, Harry Potter was where he was always meant to be… at Hogwarts… in the dungeons… with him.
Now Harry was a happy boy. At least that's what Severus assumed. Harry was always smiling. He had what children wanted. He had his toys, and he had his books. He certainly did what children wanted. He played and he read. And when he got bored, he knew exactly who to scream for. Spoiled little child. When one of those times came when he got bored, it would be Severus he would call. And Severus despised the nickname Harry had given him.
"SEV," Harry cried. "SEV, SEV come here! SEEEVVVV!"
Severus would come.
"Read!" Harry demanded. Infuriating, bossy, irritating child, Severus thought as he entered into the room with his robes billowing with authority. But while there was a scowl on his face, it didn't seem to intimidate his bratty charge at all. It only caused the child to smile instead. Potter, he decided, was a very, very disturbing child. "Read me book!"
Severus looked at the bright red and gold book with lions all over it. Not that book again. NOT THAT BOOK AGAIN. It was "The Brave Lion who Roared." Severus sighed and picked up the book and opened it. He turned to the first page and started reading, "Now there was lion that lived in the wilds and…"
There were times when Harry was a sad man. Those were the times that Severus remembered that Harry didn't really have the mentality of a 4 year old or somewhere around there. Instead, Harry was a young, beautiful 21 year old man who had gotten trapped into a child's mind. As annoying as child Harry was, it hurt Severus' heart a tad bit less to see Harry not being sad.
It was a bad night. Harry was rocking back and forth from his feet to his bottom, from his bottom to his feet. His green eyes were no longer bright. They were tired and tragic. Severus hated it when Harry looked like that. When Harry would get sad and when he wouldn't call for Severus. When he would go hide in a little dank corner of the house and lose himself in the nightmares of the past.
"Go ahead," Harry would hiss when he would try to get closer. "GOOO AWAAAY!"
And he would flee.
"Ooooo," Harry ooed. "Ooooo."
He was being the stereotypical child watching a fake snitch that was floating in the air. Severus watched with a benevolence that must be from his increasing age. He couldn't imagine being this kind, even if this feeling was toward Harry. Whatever the case, this tenderness he felt wasn't going away and it was only becoming more profound. It would be disturbing if he cared to think about it, but all he could think about was how cute Harry looked trying to catch the golden snitch with his hand.
"Sev! Look!" Harry exclaimed. He waved the play snitch in his hand. "Look!"
Severus clapped his hand appreciatively while Harry beamed. Sometimes, Severus thought, Harry was much younger than he was on other days. Today, he must have the mentality of a three year old. Was he getting progressively younger or was Severus' mind playing tricks on him?
"Sev want play?" Harry asked, his gestures and mannerisms were that of a very young child but his body was that of a young man. Severus' heart twisted painfully as he had to see firsthand what Harry Potter had become, what the wizarding world had done for its salvation to an innocent. "Snitch! Snitch! Look!"
Severus smiled, well a deranged smirk. It didn't faze the Potter child a bit, Harry held out the snitch to Severus. Severus took it because Harry expected it from him. The little brat needed to learn to be more selfish and to stop looking out for others. Even at this selfish, needy period of a child's life… Harry was amazingly selfless and independent. And that was the problem.
"Thank you," Severus said because he didn't know what else to say.
"We…ll," Harry struggled to remember a rather difficult work for an adult with a toddler's mentality, "come…"
It seemed Harry had gotten into the two syllable era. Too bad Severus was hearing bad words.
"Severus," Harry said. It startled Severus to hear Harry say his full name. Harry hadn't said it in a long time, not since those terrible days. "Will you hold me like you used to?"
Severus felt his chest tight and felt his heart hurt. Did Harry remember those days then? Of course, he did, he scoffed at himself. But if Harry remembered how he used to hold him, did he remember the other stuff then? By then, he had thought Harry too far gone to ever remember what he used to do to him.
Severus rested his head on Harry's shoulder and drew his arms around the younger man. He pulled Harry to him until he was spooned tightly into his embrace. Until Harry's arse was pressed against Severus' groin. Until Severus was hoping that Harry still retained some of his childlike qualities not to notice the erection.
"I know what you did," Harry whispered.
Severus felt the air knocked out of him, but he kept holding Harry.
"I know," Harry repeated. "It's okay."
It's okay, Severus repeated. It's okay.
Then Harry started to cry and it wasn't the soft crying of an adult trying to hold back his tears. It was the full out crying that a child did when the grief and disappointment and whatever became too much for him to bear. It wasn't okay.
"Bear!" Harry demanded. "I want bear!"
His sentence structure, Severus noted, was improving. A week ago, Harry would have been more inclined to say, 'Me want bear.' It had taken weeks of patience to ingrain into Harry that the proper way to begin a sentence involving "him" was "I" and not "me."
Severus handed Harry his teddy bear. His smile, that bright childish smile was brilliant.
Time was an inconsequential thing. It passed and it ebbed along, but it didn't really matter. Nothing really mattered. Severus and Harry, they had all the world of time. Harry, so that he might get better and maybe function normally? Severus, so that he might overcome his guilt and admit his folly?
"You love me, don't you?" Harry asked one night in one of his moments of clarity. "Severus? You do, right?"
Severus was eaten by the guilt of Harry's question. Yes, he loved the brat. Yes, he was a fool in love when he shouldn't have fallen in love in the first place. What sick idiot was he? He fell in love with Harry when Harry was at his lowest, when Harry was needy because… what was it? It felt nice to be needed. Wanted.
"In your own way, you love me," Harry stated. "You know… I…" Harry, who Severus had been holding, suddenly shifted and started clinging to him. "Sev… Sev, I scare of dark."
Tears were starting to form in Harry's eyes and… Severus soothed them away by snapping, "It's not dark, Harry. Look, the moon's right there." He pointed to the full moon. "See, there's light."
"Too dark, too dark," Harry moaned, burying his head into the crook of Severus's neck. "Too dark, too dark."
"Food is good!" Harry declared, holding up his fork in exclamation. "Dessert is even better!"
Severus nodded patiently, mentally congratulating the proverbial brat for again using increasingly more complex sentences. Not only had Harry managed to get two syllable words into his sentences, he was going for four word sentences. Oooh la la, some perverse old bint would probably croon. But Severus was proud of Harry nonetheless and even managed a twisted smile.
"What would you like for dessert?" he inquired.
Severus sighed. Perhaps Harry hadn't grown up as much as he would have liked. Typical childish response, ice cream. Didn't the bloody child know the merits of a good shot of brandy? Ah, probably not yet…
"I don't want to remember," Harry whispered. He was rocking back and forth as he usually did when he was drifting between a child's mentality and a grown man's sorrow. "It hurts, Severus," he moaned. "It hurts," he cried while he buried his head against Severus' chest. "But I…"
"Hush, Harry," Severus responded, wrapping his arms around his Harry. "Don't think, don't remember. Just be."
"But what if I forget everything?" Harry murmured. "I don't want to forget everything. Just some things… most things…"
Severus pressed a kiss against Harry's forehead. He didn't want Harry to forget everything either, but the only way Harry could heal was to try and put most of the past behind him. If it had to be everything, then so be it.
Albus was a wanker. A complete and utter tosser. It was too bad the bastard was their Secret Keeper, or Severus would feel perfectly fine to piss him off. But keeping Albus happy was necessary as it was necessary to keep Harry hidden. Harry was making small, slow improvements. But he certainly wasn't anywhere near better, not yet. Severus had hopes for the future.
"Ron and Hermione would like to see Harry," Albus stated.
"No," Severus snapped. "Absolutely not." How the fuck had Weasley and Granger even found out that Albus knew where Harry was? Damn you, Albus!
"They're worried, Severus," Albus remarked. "They are Harry's friends."
"No," Severus repeated sharply. "No, Albus, no."
Albus sighed. "One day, though, Severus, one day."
More and more often, Harry would be startlingly lucid. Severus didn't know if he really liked those moments are not. It was painful having Harry, his Harry in front of him, only to have him snatched away a few minutes later. Maybe it'd be better if Harry just stayed as a child. He was happy as a child, as a brat. He was happier than Severus had ever seen him, and that almost made Severus happy. Severus certainly wasn't unhappy.
"I'm not getting better," Harry said one day.
Severus felt his heart freeze. "What do you mean?" he asked. He could see, he could observe that Harry wore tragedy on his face. The green eyes, bright when he was a child, were dull with the weight of what he'd suffer through. If Severus could have erased it, would he? He didn't know.
"Do you remember when I said I don't want to remember?"
Severus nodded his head slowly. Severus certainly didn't want him to forget.
"And I was afraid of forgetting everything?"
Severus reached out and pulled Harry to him, pressing the slender young man's body against him in a tight embrace. "Harry…"
"It's too hard," Harry muttered, tears were staining his pale cheeks. "I can't do it. I have to forget, even if I have to forget you. I have to forget Severus. I have to. I have to. I can't live with myself remembering. It's too hard, it's too hard…"
"Ssshhh…" Severus shushed. "Ssshhh… Harry."
"I'm sorry, Severus, I'm sorry."
Severus was sorry too.
Brat, Severus thought, dirty little brat.
Harry was playing, well more like rolling in the mud. The clouds had decided to unleash its rain and soak the ground. For some inane reason, Harry decided it would be fun to play in the disaster area that was the yard. Severus watched him because what was there to do? He'd made watching Harry his job.
"Sev!" Harry cried, gesturing at him. "Come play with me! Sev, come play with me!"
Severus scowled, but Harry beckoned so he went.
"I don't want to stay as a child," Harry whispered.
"I thought you didn't want to remember?"
"As a child, I forget, but I still don't forget everything."
"I want to I forget everything. Everything."
"Start over again."
It was a miracle. Albus was stunned. His mouth wasn't quite gaping, but it was nearly there. Severus almost smirked with satisfaction. However, that wouldn't be very professional of him, would it? Above all else, he was a professional. But that didn't stop him from doing all the smirking he wanted inside.
"You do realize what this means?" Albus questioned. "You may have to take care of him for the rest of your life if I do this spell."
"I realize," Severus responded. "It's why I'm proposing it. You're the only one I know who could do this and have him come out of this relatively well."
Severus held up his hand. "I know, Albus, but it's the only way."
"It is Harry's wish, is it not?"
Severus nodded. "It is."
"Then so be it."
Severus didn't feel great about too many things. But it felt great to hold his Harry in his arms, great to hold Harry and not be afraid of what tomorrow would bring. Well, he was sort of afraid. He'd have to start all over again. Would it be harder? Or might it be easier?
He didn't know. The not knowing was what made the waiting for tomorrow uneasy.
Severus felt his chest tighten. "Are you sure?"
Harry smiled a sweet thing of beauty. "I'm sure."
Severus lowered his head, and Harry tilted his upward. Their lips met to completion.
"I'm sorry," Harry whispered later that night. Severus knew that he was. He could see it in Harry's sad eyes, a sadness that he wanted to erase. He didn't want Harry to be sad anymore. The only thing Severus wanted Harry to be was happy, completely and utterly happy. It didn't matter what it took. If this was what it took, then as Albus said: then so be it.
"I know." He opened his arms, and Harry went to him like before. It felt good, just holding him. It felt right, being with him. He let his long fingers trail up and down Harry's spine. He was gentle because he remembered how that spine had been abused in the past. Even he had abused it, had to, to save Harry.
"You know, I love you right?" Harry whispered, his head resting now on Severus' shoulder. It was a position of trust, Severus knew. It was nice knowing that Harry still trusted him, even after all that they had been through. It sort of made sense that Harry had to trust him, had to if he wanted to retain any of his sanity. He had, but not entirely. Not enough to remember the good and the bad together.
Severus pressed a kiss against the corner of Harry's mouth. His tongue flicked out and licked, tasting Harry. Harry, Severus decided, was like ambrosia. He tasted like what life tasted like. He reminded Severus that life was worth living, even if living was painful. And Harry was living, even though he had to start over again. "I know."
"Do you love me?" Harry asked. His eyes, his beautiful green eyes, Severus saw as he jerked back, held such innocence that Severus almost thought that the other Harry was back and he'd lost his Harry. "Severus," Harry murmured, "do you love me?"
It was his Harry. "Do you have to ask?" Severus responded. He didn't know what else to say. He held Harry tighter and held him for dear life. "If you do, then we've still got work to do to correct your disillusions."
Harry smiled. "I'll love you again, I promise."
It was a hard thing to promise, to love someone again. But Severus wanted to believe Harry, needed to believe Harry. So he nodded and gave a grimace of a smile back. It wasn't going to be easy, what they'd decided but it was the only way that Harry could go on and Severus had to have Harry go on. The only other alternative was unacceptable. If he had to lose Harry, at least he wasn't really losing him. It was only a new beginning after all.
"You will love me as much as I love you one day."
Harry kissed him for the first time. "I swear. I swear."
Tomorrow came as tomorrows do. It came right after the day it followed. Severus stood with Harry, who had fought to remain lucid for him through the night and the early morning. It was nice to hold his Harry one last time before he'd lose him. It was nice to kiss him one more time. It was nice to just be with him one last time before everything changed.
"I'm ready," Harry declared.
And when Severus looked up Albus was there. Had Albus been there the entire time?
"Please step back, Severus," Albus requested, his wand pointing at Harry.
Severus stepped back reluctantly and he moved away until he was standing next to Albus. Harry nodded and Albus swished his wand in a wide arc, an encompassing movement that only the most powerful spells used. "Erasiere vita!"
Author's Note: I know, I suppose people will be requesting sequels, but before you do. Sit down and appreciate the "hidden and unsaid" (for the most part) beauty of Severus' love. Despite Severus thinking Harry's a petulant brat, he takes care of him and he's kind. Also, Harry really is trying, but he knows him being sad makes Severus sad. So what can he do but forget everything and start over again? I would say a prequel might also be needed, one day in the future to tell what happened to Harry to break him like this. So what did you guys thinks? P.S. Severus hearing bad words was "We'll come." A wordplay if you will. P.S.2. Erasiere vita means "erase your life", basically it's a more extreme form of obliviate.
Last note, there is a sequel, "Terminus Genesis" and it's complete and will be posted soon.