Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any related characters/locations, etc.
Author's Note: The title of this chapter comes from-you guessed it!- the song "Change your Mind," by the All-American Rejects.
Chapter 5: ...just drop those thoughts behind you now
Harry sat trembling, his face in his arms. He knew Severus had just heard everything he had said to Hermione, and he was terrified. Terrified that Severus would be even more disgusted than he was in the Great Hall. Terrified that Severus would scorn his feelings. Terrified that Severus would yell at him for taking advantage of him.
Terrified that Severus would say all the things that Harry knew he must be thinking in his head. Terrified that Severus would go on and on about how nobody could ever love an ugly freak like him. Harry's chest tightened as he tried his best to stifle his tears. Tears would only remind Severus of how pathetic Harry really was.
Severus felt his own eyes sting when he looked down at the shaking form of the man he loved. Harry looked so small and fragile with his head bent down like that. Severus met Hermione's eyes, and she nodded and stood up.
"I hate to do this, but I have to get going. I still have a bunch of work to do at the house. I'll talk to you later Harry."
Harry heard Hermione say goodbye and started trembling more. He had yet to look Severus in the face, but from Hermione's higher-than-usual-voice and her speedy departure, Harry figured that Severus was really angry. He wanted to cry out and beg Hermione not to leave him alone with Severus, but Harry knew he deserved whatever the older man decided to do to him. Harry heard Hermione walk away and knew that he was now alone with the man he loved, the man who would never love him back. Harry kept his head down.
Severus waited until Hermione left before turning his attention back to Harry. Severus knelt down in front of Harry and placed his hand on the younger man's cheek, rubbing it with his thumb. Harry's head immediately flew up in surprise. Severus felt his breath hitch when he saw the pain and anguish in those beautiful emerald eyes.
When Severus's hand cupped Harry's face, and his thumb gently stroked Harry's cheek, Harry's eyes flew open to look at Severus. Harry's breath caught in his throat as he saw the love in Severus's obsidian eyes. Harry shook his head; he had to be imagining things. There was no way that Severus loved Harry. Harry slowly lowered his eyes again.
"I'm so sorry."
Severus saw the brief flicker of hope in Harry's eyes before they dulled again. He was about to say something when Harry spoke.
"I'm so sorry."
Severus paused for a moment, not knowing what to do.
"What are you sorry for?":
"I-I'm sorry for what happened last night," sobbed Harry.
"You have nothing to be sorry about," Severus told him. "It is I who should be apologizing."
"You didn't do anything wrong," mumbled Harry.
"Yes I did. I took you last night without ever asking you if I could. That was wrong of me, even if I was drunk." Severus paused. "Why didn't you tell me you were a virgin, Harry?"
"I didn't want you to stop," whimpered Harry, determined to not look at Severus. "I was afraid if you knew how inexperienced I was, you would stop. And I knew last night was the only chance I would ever have to be with you. I'm so sorry."
"Why would that be the only chance you'd have?" pressed Severus. He of course knew this from eavesdropping, but he needed to hear Harry tell it to him.
"Because you'd never want me if you were sober," said Harry, sniffing.
"And why wouldn't I want you?"
A new wave of tears filled Harry's eyes at Severus's last question. This only confirmed what Harry had known all along: Severus hated him now. That was the only reason Severus would be asking that question. He knew, of course, everything that was wrong with Harry; he simply wanted to hear Harry put himself down. That must be it. Sniffing again, Harry took a deep breath and began to speak.
"Because I'm an ugly, stupid, child who has nothing to offer you," Harry whimpered, subconsciously reciting words that the Dursleys had been telling him for years.
Severus gaped at the young man in front of him. How could Harry think that he was ugly? He was the most beautiful person Severus had ever seen. Noticing that Harry was trembling again, Severus did the only thing he could think of doing. It was something his mother had done for him long ago when he was a small child who needed to be comforted. He gathered Harry into his arms and began to rock him back and forth.
Harry felt arms around him and immediately stiffened. After a moment, though, he noticed that he wasn't begin attacked; he was being hugged. He was being hugged by Severus. What was going on? Despite Harry's doubts, he slowly began to relax into Severus's embrace.
Severus felt Harry relax and lean into his touch. He loved the feeling of having Harry in his arms. He gently ran his hand up and down Harry's back. Kissing the top of Harry's head, Severus pressed his lips to Harry's ear.
"You are the most beautiful, intelligent, caring person I have ever met. You have so much to offer. How could you ever think of yourself as anything else?"
Harry heard the words Severus was saying, but he didn't understand them. Why was Severus saying those things? They weren't true. Was Severus trying to hurt him? That had to be it. Severus was mocking him. Why else would Severus say he was beautiful? Now knowing for sure that he meant absolutely nothing to the man he loved more than anything, Harry felt his already-broken heart shatter into a million more pieces. Fresh tears (he never seemed to run out of them) streamed down his face, and he trembled more than he ever had before. Pushing himself out of Severus's embrace, Harry tripped and started to fall to the ground. Severus's arms wrapped around his waist and prevented him from falling. Harry looked up into the face of the man who had caught him.
"Why are you trying to hurt me?" he asked brokenly.
Severus looked down at Harry in confusion. Why did Harry think Severus was trying to hurt him? All Severus had done was tell Harry he was beautiful.
"I'm not trying to hurt you," said Severus sincerely.
"Then why would you lie like that?" demanded Harry, tears still falling down his cheeks.
"I wasn't lying," Severus insisted. He looked into the damaged eyes of the man before him and decided to take a chance.
"I love you."
Harry heard the words and wanted to believe them. He wanted to believe them so badly but he couldn't. They weren't true; they couldn't be. Beautiful, intelligent people like Severus didn't just suddenly fall in love with ugly, brainless people like Harry. That just wasn't how life worked.
"No you don't."
"I assure you, I do," said Severus, leaning down to rest his forehead against Harry's. "I'll swear it under Veritaserum. Would you believe me then?"
Harry was surprised by Severus's words. Why would the man promise to swear if he knew he didn't mean it? Harry was sad, tired, and confused. He needed to lay down.
"You don't have to do that," he told Severus.
"Does that mean you believe me then?"
"If you l-love me, why did you leave this morning before I woke up? Why were you disgusted as soon as you set eyes on me?" The questions hurt, but Harry had to ask them.
"Oh Harry," said Severus sadly, looking Harry directly in his eyes as he spoke. "I've loved you for the past two years. I've always wanted to be with you, but I figured I didn't stand a chance. When I woke up this morning, I was sure that you would regret what we did. I was sure I had raped you. So I left. I thought it would cause you less harm. I went to the Great Hall. When I saw you, I was disgusted with myself for taking advantage of you when I was drunk. I wasn't disgusted with you, Harry, I swear. Please believe me," he begged.
Harry stared at Severus in shock. He wanted more than anything to believe what the man was saying. He just couldn't. That was, until Severus begged. Severus Snape doesn't beg; Harry knew that well. Severus was one of the proudest men that he knew. Nothing would have made Severus beg. He certainly wouldn't beg simply to humiliate Harry. That would mean that Severus loved him. But how could he?
Harry looked into Severus's pleading eyes, trying to determine if he was telling the truth. Harry bit his lower lip. He wanted to believe this so badly. If he believed Severus, and it turned out Severus was lying, Harry would be without Severus. If he didn't believe Severus, and it turned out that Severus was telling the truth, he would be without Severus.
What did he have to lose?
Still uncertain, Harry leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Severus's neck. He whispered, "I believe you," before pressing his lips against Severus's. Severus kissed back. It was chaste and gentle and full of passion. In short, it was perfect. Severus pulled Harry closer to him. He leaned back and, with his thumb, gently wiped away Harry's remaining tears.
"I love you," he said again, pressing a kiss to the top of Harry's head.
"I love you, too," whispered Harry shyly. He saw Severus beaming down at him, love apparent in his eyes. Harry smiled. He felt so safe and warm in Severus's arms. He snuggled his face into Severus's robes and sighed in contentment.
Severus felt Harry snuggle into his robes and smiled. He began rubbing Harry's back again. He felt happy for the first time in his life. That should have been a scary revelation, but, as Severus looked down at the happy face of his love, he found he wasn't nearly as afraid as he thought he'd be.
He'd survived seeing the disgusted look on his father's face when he found out his son was gay. He'd survived feeling disgusted with himself when for the first time he realized that he was falling in love with a student.
He'd survived the antipathy he was faced with on a daily basis due to his (ex)Death Eater status. He'd survived the antipathy he felt towards himself as he thought about all the bad decisions he had made in his life.
He could definitely survive the love that he saw shining from Harry's eyes. And he would most definitely survive the love he felt for the young man. They had each other now. Nothing was going to tear them apart. Severus wouldn't let it. And neither would Harry.
See, I can so totally write happy endings! LOL Sorry if this was a bit clichéd. I did warn you all at the beginning that this would be unoriginal. I hope you all liked it anyway. Please review and tell me what you think!