Title: Too Late for Love?
Pairing/s: HP/SS (which means SLASH, people. Relationship between two men!), mild mention of HG/RW
Disclaimer: Harry and Severus aren't mine, none of the characters of Harry Potter are mine, yadda yadda yadda, you know the drill. Oh, the plot to this story is also not mine, I got it from the That's Life Fiction! magazine, from the story 'Too Late for Love' by Margery Joan. Yeah. I think that's it. Don't sue me please. Thank you!
Summary: Harry and Severus are married, and have been for some time. Harry is getting sick of their familiar routines. Can Severus save their marriage? One Shot
Yes, I have posted this story before (so don't worry, it's not plagiarized!). This is merely a pathetic attempt of mine to get more reviews so I feel loved. )
Thanks to everyone who reviewed the last time I posted this: eudyptulaminor, nerd-girl, Cassa-Andra, aria-fic, Chibi Strawberry, Winnie2, Hungry (marina bobfield), KittenBabyGirl, Lyla SNape, illumine, Lady Darkness13, Nicole, Quill, Makalani Astral, Miyahara Yuuki and Kuramalovergirl15. And thanks to those who have reviewed (so far) this time: lilisnitch, Gryphnwng, SerpentSlaveChik, Pilas, Lisa13 also notorious-lisa, barbarataku and HecateDeMort. It is very much appreciated when you leave reviews!
Severus Snape flew to Hogwarts, to his office, a tight knot in the pit of his stomach. He was unhappy because he knew Harry was unhappy, and he didn't know what to do about it.
For ages now, months in fact, Harry had been so depressed. In the evenings and weekends, instead of the quiet companionship Severus used to feel and had gotten used to, there was a silence between them that was strained and uncomfortable. During the past week, the tension had become almost unbearable, yet Severus was too afraid to talk to Harry about it, and Harry hardly spoke a word.
Severus knew they needed help, but he didn't know where to turn. He had never been able to talk about his feelings, even with Harry, and the thought of doing so with a friend or colleague seemed impossible. The prospect of seeking the help of a stranger, some sort of counsellor, made him break out into a cold sweat. Yet he felt strongly that their marriage was in danger.
Severus sat at his desk, so preoccupied with worry that he wasn't quite sure how he had got there. He shuffled parchments without being able to focus his eyes or his mind on what was in front of him. His assistant, a lovely young woman by the name of Elizabeth Rowland that Severus had been forced into hiring by Albus Dumbledore, came in after her usual perfunctory knock, wanting to clarify some details for a potion she was making. He could hear the words, they made some sort of sense, but his mind was completely blank.
Elizabeth studied his face for a moment, then walked out of the room. After about thirty seconds, she came back in, and sat down.
"Turned the heat on the potion down," she said by way of explanation. "Now, what is it?" she asked softly, her brisk efficiency gone for the moment. Severus dropped his head into his hands with a helplessness that moved her deeply. He had always seemed such a master of himself, never showing his feelings.
"Are you ill?" she asked, clearly worried.
He shook his head, but the knot in his stomach called him a liar. He was sick. Sick with anxiety, confusion and unhappiness - he was afraid, but how could he share that?
Elizabeth watched his bowed head with eyes full of concern. She stood up, and moved around his desk to the fireplace. She flooed the Headmaster, and Severus heard her say "Hello, Albus. No, I'm fine, I just wanted to let you know I'll be taking dictation from Mr. Snape for about an hour. Thank you, bye."
She sat down again, calm as always. "Tell me about it," she said quietly.
Severus took a deep breath and, miraculously it seemed to him, began…
Before he started packing, Harry made himself a cup of coffee. It was a pleasant day, so he took his coffee out into the garden to his favourite sunny spot. As he sipped, his eyes went slowly over every detail of the garden.
He had loved their home, and taken a pride in their small garden of flowering shrubs and trees, with the lawn always neatly trimmed, and lush from careful watering. There were many memories tied up here, 15 years of memories in fact, and he was about to turn his back on them without any regrets.
No! That wasn't true! There were many things to regret.
He regretted that his marriage had become so barren. He had been so hopeful when he agreed to marry Severus - "such a good man" everybody said (after they realized what he had gone through as a spy for Dumbledore), "so kind to you and hard-working." And Harry had to admit that they were right. Severus had indeed proved to be a good provider, and Harry had wanted for nothing.
No! That wasn't true either! He had wanted desperately to have children (as was possible for gay male wizards) but none came. He had wanted desperately to feel loved and needed, and with Severus, Harry had never felt like he was more than a pleasant companion.
He couldn't remember Severus being romantic, even on their honeymoon. He was steady, rather than emotional. And he never told Harry that he loved him, although he must have when he proposed. In the early days…
Severus was a Potions master, and one of the very best in the world. He liked to keep abreast of the latest developments in his field, and Harry spent countless evenings viewing the top of his head over the cover of the latest Potions journal.
When Harry had tried to express his discontent, Severus had looked at him in such a puzzled, helpless way. Severus had a precise, logical mind, but he didn't know what Harry was talking about, and that made Harry even more frustrated. That had been years ago, before he stopped trying to communicate his feelings to Severus.
It wasn't that they had once been close and drifted apart over the years. It was worse than that. He had never felt real closeness with Severus, although Harry had wanted intimacy so much. There seemed to be a chasm between their understanding of one another. Severus didn't seem to notice the chasm, or mind it if he did.
Harry finished his coffee, and went inside. It was no use letting these thoughts run through his head. Carefully, he began to pack.
Harry made himself eat a light lunch, in spite of the butterflies hovering somewhere under his rib cage. He bought in the laundry and ironed the last shirts. As he performed each domestic ritual for the last time, he was conscious of a deep sadness.
For they had become rituals, small acts of caring for his husband and their home. Now he was setting off alone into the future with no home, no husband, no rituals to help him structure the coming days and weeks. He would have to get a job of course, and there would eventually be different chores, different rituals.
Harry had to fight a feeling of desolation as the afternoon wore on. The most difficult of all was the final task. He had already written the letter many times in his head, drafting and re-drafting how he would break the news of his departure. He needed only to put the words on paper, but he had to write through a shimmering blur of tears.
Yet somehow he did it. His letter was brief - there really wasn't much to write. Everything else should have been said long ago. He had been unable to say it then, and he was unable to write it now.
Harry knew that Severus simply wouldn't understand, and that was part of the tragedy of their marriage. Harry took comfort in the thought that Severus wouldn't suffer unduly. After all, he had never really loved Harry. After the initial shock wore off, he would adjust to his own steady and monotonous pattern of living.
Finally, it was time to go. He checked his mental list for the third time, and knew that everything had been attended to. He put the airline ticket on the hall table while he rang for a taxi, then made a cup of strong, black coffee to steady his nerves while he waited.
The taxi came promptly, almost too promptly. Harry carried his cases out to the car, dry-eyed but thoroughly miserable. Fortunately, the driver was not talkative, and once he had been give instructions, kept his attention focused on the afternoon traffic.
Soon they were on the freeway, and he tried to occupy his mind thinking of the reception he was going to get from his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger (now Hermione Weasley). Harry had written to say he would like to stay for a couple of weeks, to sort himself out and look for a job, and had left the couple to put two and two together. Their reply was full of unwritten questions. Harry had simply confirmed that he was coming, and gave details of his flight.
His flight! "Oh NO," Harry groaned aloud, and the driver half turned his head. "I've forgotten my ticket! We'll have to go back!" He was angry with himself for being so careless and looked at his watch. He had allowed plenty of time, but it would be almost impossible to go home for the ticket and still make the flight. "We'll have to turn around," Harry sighed.
"On a freeway? You've got to be joking. I'll have to wait for a turn off. What time does your flight leave?"
The driver whistled. "Well, I'll do my best, but I don't like your chances."
Feeling utterly foolish and even more miserable than before, Harry closed his eyes and rested his head against the back of the seat. One part of his mind could feel the seconds ticking away, while another part of him was operating in a peculiar slow motion of exhaustion.
The taxi stopped. "We're here," the driver said cheerfully, pleased with the speed of his return. Harry ran to the house and hurried into the hall where he knew he had left the ticket. He grabbed it and swung around to dash out again, and then he saw them.
There, on the hall table, reflected in the gilt mirror, was a huge bouquet of crimson roses. His fingers shook as he opened the tiny envelope. The card said simply: I love you, I love you, I love you.
Harry stood looking at the airline ticket in his left hand, the card in his right. And then he heard a sound he had never heard before. He heard crying - deep, shuddering sobs from Severus, the husband who showed no emotion, who didn't really love him, who took him completely for granted.
Harry went quietly to the door of the lounge room, and saw Severus slumped over in his chair, his shoulders shaking with the sobs that racked his body. Harry's farewell letter was clutched in one hand, and the other was covering his eyes, as though he wanted to hide the shame of unmanly tears.
"Severus…" Harry said, his heart full of pity and remorse. Severus looked up, and Harry flinched when he saw Severus' ravaged face. When Severus recognized Harry through his tears, however, his face lit up with relief and joy. He leapt to his feet, moving quickly to take Harry in his arms. Severus held Harry to him with a strength that frightened and thrilled Harry at the same time. He started to say 'I came back for my ticket' but half of the words got lost on the way to his mouth. "I came back," he said instead, with a feeling of wonder.
"Thank God! I thought I was too late."
"No, my love, it's never too late," Harry said gently, stroking the jet black hair, aware of the unexpected gift of another chance, a new beginning.
A car horn sounded its impatience, and Harry remembered the waiting taxi. He detached himself reluctantly from Severus' arms, and went out to the car.
"You've missed your plane," the driver said, and was rewarded with a smile.
"I know," Harry said happily. "It doesn't matter. How much do I owe you?" He counted out some notes while the driver took the cases from the boot.
"Thanks. Want me to take your cases back in for you?"
"Just put them on the porch, we'll take them in ourselves. And thanks for your help."
Harry watched the taxi drive away, and went back towards the house, towards the past which had suddenly become his future. Severus was waiting for him at the door, and attempted a grin as he lifted the cases. "Going somewhere, Mr. Potter?"
"No," Harry said, and the butterflies were back under his rib cage as he leaned in for a kiss. "I've only just come home."
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