Author's note: Well, here we go, the next chapter. After analyzing the story to no end, I tried to figure out what was going on and how to fix all the odd. Can't promise it's perfect since I barely had time to edit it. Like I've said in previous chapters, having a Beta would be excellent! Let me know if any of you readers are interested. I could really use feedback on my chapters. I am not the previous author and I am working hard to try and continue a story that another author wrote so I can't promise that the story is going to go the way the initial author had planned, so I'm just trying my best. Having an extra hand would help greatly (and may help me update faster). Also, any beta-like feedback in the form of a review is just as good.
I also have one tiny apology. I had hoped to update earlier, but while rereading the fanfic I found myself in the possession of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the ending of which left me in such a state of mourning that it took me a week to even look at fanfiction. I still haven't brought myself to reread the books or watch the movies yet. 10 years of a character can leave you in a serious state of disrepair if the character dies. So I walked away from this for a little bit in my time of mourning. Luckily it wasn't another two years.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, since it is JK Rowlings. I do not own the original plot of Necessary Affections, the honor of which goes to Cotton Tail. In fact, all I really own is the laptop on which I am continuing this story.
Harry couldn't believe that he had forgotten how comfortable the chairs in Gryffindor tower were. While Hermione had been right in assuming that Severus' pillow would truly settle him down, he had not been that far off already. The squashy armchairs were quite possibly one of the most perfect sets of furniture that Hogwarts owned. He sighed in slight content and allowed himself to forget his current situation for a moment.
Hermione was in the boys' seventh year common room waking up Ron, but if the thumping noises coming from the stairs were any indication, she had accidentally woken up every boy in his year. "Harry!" Seamus exclaimed as he burst into the common room. "It's been a long time. Finally able to get away from Snarky Snape?"
Hermione tutted but didn't say anything else and perched herself on the armrest of Harry's chair.
"We haven't seen you in so long." Neville sighed and plopped down in a nearby chair. "Since last year we've only been able to see you at Quidditch matches, if at all."
"I was in classes with you," Harry defended weakly.
"Yeah, but across the room. And you can't even talk to us! That Snape is a right git!" This time it was Ron who complained, obviously glad at the chance to do so without Hermione being able to openly chastise him.
Dean nodded furiously in agreement. "Did you know that last week he docked thirty points from Gryffindor, simply because I was running a little late for class from being caught on the staircases while they were changing. And it wasn't even his class I was late for! He just happened to be in the charms room at the time."
Harry grimaced. Last week Sage had been especially fussy, most likely because the baby had finally realized how little attention he was going to get for his efforts and decided to cry louder instead. Severus had been really off about that. Harry's lips formed a tiny frown. Hermione noticed and patted his shoulder lightly.
"So you're taking Charms, Dean?" Hermione interjected quickly. "What work do you plan on going into?"
All the boys groaned this time, save for Harry, who was a little confused. "Can we not talk about this?" groused Ron. "We already have to talk about it enough in classes. Even Professor Sprout won't shut up about 'Our bright futures'."
That's right, Harry had forgotten that this was his last year of Hogwarts. What would he do once he graduated? Would Severus still have him around? Where would he go? He hadn't even given the slightest consideration as to what he was going to do with his life. "Oh Merlin," Harry groaned, "I have no clue what I'm going to do."
"You had better all get thinking," Hermione said sternly. She was quite like McGonagall when she had to be. "We have less than a year left before we have to start applying for jobs," there was a collective groan around the room, "not to mention the N.E.W.T.s," more groaning, "and goodness knows how much you'll have actually learned by the end of the year. We have to be sure we're prepared." Harry was torn between giggles and worry over over Hermione's words. He had groaned along with the rest.
"Do any of you know what you'd like to do yet?" Harry asked. He was sure they had discussed it at length and he hadn't been there to see it. He hadn't been there for a lot of things.
All the boys looked nervous, aching to not be the first one to speak. "Neville knows," Dean finally piped up, "Don'tcha, Nev?"
"I think I'd like to go into herbology," said Neville quietly, but with a hint of confidence. "I'm quite good at it when I'm not bungling something up. And I do like plants."
"Do you think you'd like to be a professor?"
"Oh no, Harry. I'm too nervous as is. I'd definitely kill the lot of I tried to teach them anything." This had everyone laughing. Harry noted how good it felt to laugh again. But it felt empty for some reason. Why couldn't Severus make him laugh like this anymore?
Ron was the next to speak, noting that Harry's face was falling. "I'm studying to be an auror, but as you can see, it's quite a task keeping up with all these nutty professors. I'd like to join the Chudley Cannons someday, assuming I can ever learn to play Quidditch properly."
"Why would you need to," Seamus blurted out. "The Cannons can't play properly themselves."
"Take that back," Ron growled.
"Oh Ron," Hermione sighed. "No sense negating something that's true. And you know it is."
"What would you know! You'll see, the Cannons will be champions someday."
Suddenly the rest of the room was filled with confidence. Each was spouting off what they would like to do. Seamus was showing some interest in magical experimentation, something that had everyone fearing for Seamus' life, while Dean said he was showing interest in muggle-magical relations. Hermione had the most ambitious hopes yet, saying that she would like to be an arguer (what she explained was the magical equivalent of a barrister) in the ministry of magic, preferably in order to take S.P.E.W. ("It isn't spew Ronald, stop laughing.") to the next level.
Now everyone was waiting on Harry, or at least it felt that way. The room had not gone quiet by any means, but they were all eye-balling him curiously in between speakers, expecting him to jump in at any moment with his hopes and dreams. What did he want to do? He could only imagine how much more Severus would hate him if he made a decision like this without discussing it with him first. Everything had to be run past Severus so he could ask "Will it interfere with Dumbledore's grand plan?" "Is it feasible in our current relationship?" and "How will it effect Sage?"
Who cares how this would effect Sage? Harry shouted at his inner Severus. This was about him, not the baby.
"I want to be a healer." He blurted out suddenly, causing everyone to turn to him in surprise. "I-I mean, not really a healer like the ones in St. Mungos... more like what Madame Pomfrey does I suppose. Or maybe even just create the medicines..."
"I thought you told McGonagall wanted to be an auror," Ron said. Everyone else nodded.
Harry shook his head. "I like plants and I'm getting sick of fighting all the time and now that I think about it..." I don't even expect to live past Voldemort. But he wasn't going to say that out loud. Now that he thought about it, what would happen after Voldemort? If he defeated him, would Severus still be okay with the bond? Would he still love Harry? Or would he only be content with Harry because of Sage? What would keep them together anymore? Suddenly Harry's mind was filled with too many questions for him to handle and he shuddered, leaning closer to Hermione and wishing for a moment that Severus was there to make it all better.
"What?" Seamus interjected, pulling Harry out of his thoughts. "Now that you think about what?"
"Fighting bad guys gives me more responsibility than I think I want. I have enough as it is."
"But being a healer takes just as much responsibility," said Hermione softly.
Harry blinked. "I hadn't thought about that... I guess I haven't been thinking about a lot of things lately."
Ron and Hermione looked at him sympathetically. Everyone else just looked a little confused but chose not to say anything. The tension seemed to be stuffing the room and eventually Seamus had to change the subject back to quidditch to get out of it. Finally everyone but Ron and Hermione went to bed with their heads a little too full, both with thoughts of the future and with the knowledge that Gryffindor was probably going to lose the quidditch cup again this year.
The common room was quiet for a few minutes. Hermione and Ron were both waiting for Harry to say something and Harry was feeling too jumbled to even form words. He pulled his feet up onto the chair and brought his knees to his chest, leaning slightly against Severus's pillow. Finally, he turned to Ron. "How do you think your mom and dad handled having Bill?"
"What do you mean?"
"Never mind, forget I asked." Harry sighed again.
Hermione slid off the arm rest and took a chair for herself so that she could look at Harry directly. "Don't worry, Harry. No one is a perfect parent right away."
"Yeah," Ron chimed in before Hermione could continue, "I'll bet Snape is an awful dad!"
Hermione sighed and shook her head. "Really, Ron..."
"Actually," Harry said softly, "he's become a very good father."
"Really?" Ron looked shocked.
"Yes." And suddenly something burst in Harry and he started saying things before he could stop himself. "He loves Sage much more than I do and spends hours a day worrying about him, which I suppose is natural, but isn't something I find myself doing. Not to mention we haven't had decent... well... you know... in months because I'm not into it anymore!"
"Too much information!" Ron shouted, but Harry kept going.
"And all I can think is that all the affection from the bond is being directed at Sage, but if that were the case wouldn't I be able to love Sage equally? And we don't talk about my future anymore and he really doesn't seem to try to teach me anything in the same way he used to. What happened to us? Why can't Severus love me anymore?" He nearly shouted the last part and took a number of deep breaths afterwards in an effort to calm himself down. In his head he could still hear Severus whisper calming words in a language Harry didn't recognize, just like he used to.
"He still does." Hermione said softly. Ron was too horror-stricken to say much of anything, so she let herself continue. "Harry, you haven't given him much choice. Babies are hard to take care of and you're not really stepping up."
"Let me finish," she spat. Ron snorted compulsively. "I can't believe I have to spell this out for you! Every parent has love for his or her child which is separate from the love he or she shares with the other parent. If you keep thinking that Professor Snape loves Sage more than you then you're not going to get anywhere and you will find yourself not communicating with your own bond mate and without a real connection with your son." Now she was the one breathing heavily. Ron was giggling out of sheer nerve and Harry was taking in what she had said while playing with the tassel on the end of his arm-rest.
Finally, the pause was broken when Harry turned up and, with a slight smirk on his face, told Ron to stop laughing. "S-s-sorry m-mate." He choked out and convinced himself to stop. "I just realized how ridiculous this all was. I mean... you're bonded to Snape."
Now it was Hermione's turn to start giggling. "Oh Ron."
"I think I'm going to need therapy after this conversation."
"Finally sinking in, is it?" Harry asked, forcing Ron into another fit of laughing.
Harry burst into his and Severus's rooms, doubting the fact that Severus would be asleep despite the fact that it was past midnight. In fact, he wasn't remotely surprised to find that Severus was leaning over a potion with the baby's bassinet sitting just barely in reach. He didn't look up when Harry stomped through the room, in fact, he didn't even flinch. However, while Harry was ready to just put what he wanted to say away until Severus was ready, Severus surprised him by setting his ladle down, though the potion clearly was not finished, and looked up to stare at Harry with those deep, obsidian eyes that still made Harry shiver.
"You left your friends?" He asked softly, although it was not really a question.
"They're asleep. I couldn't stay up there, it was getting to uncomfortable." Harry threw Severus's pillow across the room.
"Quite a bit of noise you're making this evening. I do hope you're done because Sage has only just gotten to sleep and I don't need two over-emotional children while I am brewing."
"Severus..." Harry whispered, the words almost riding on his breath.
And then Harry heard two words that were so unusual coming from Severus that Harry thought he might nearly die from hearing them.
Harry's eyes widened and his legs gave out under him so that he was forced to sit down on a nearby sofa, just barely landing on it.
"You didn't need to hear that. I should be more sympathetic."
"No you shouldn't!" Harry exclaimed. "I-I mean, sometimes it would be nice, but recently I've been the stupid one." He could see that Severus was inclined to agree and was grateful that the man held his tongue. He took a deep breath. "I'm sorry for what an arse I've been but that doesn't mean that-"
"I want you to talk to Poppy if you feel comfortable."
"I want to be able to talk to you, Severus!" He jumped up and grabbed his wrist. "But I can't do that when all your time is monopolized by Sage. I won't compete." In an impulsive grab for some form of dominance, Harry yanked Severus down just low enough so he could reach up and mash his lips to Severus's. He could feel the taller man nearly completely unravel against him and knew that at least he could have this with Severus. He would still be the person who knew just where to run his tongue across the roof of Severus's mouth to make him groan in just that way. For now, that was enough, and he pulled away.
"But I'll try... really, I will."
"I have a few things we can suggest, but we can talk about those later." It was then that Harry noticed that Severus's arm was twitching.
"It's him, isn't it? Voldemort."
"The Dark Lord," he confirmed sternly. "Yes. I have to go."
Harry nodded and stepped away from the other man's grip. "Go. You're right, we can have this conversation later." Just another person Harry had to compete with.
He sat down on the couch and looked away as Severus made his preparations to leave. He wouldn't watch him go tonight. Instead he pulled Sage's bassinet closer and allowed himself to watch the baby sleep. He didn't know what he was doing, but he promised Severus that he would try, and that was the best he could do for the time being.