AUTHOR'S NOTE: Another one shot with no point. I was pissed off at work and had to vent my frustration one day. Angst goes a long way with that, don't you agree. Is SLASH. No like? No read. Simple, isn't it?
Severus sat in his armchair by the fire, contemplating the drama that was his life. He never could do anything the easy way, and that included the man he'd fallen in love with; the man who was the very reason why Severus was sitting in his armchair by the fire, contemplating the drama that was his life. He sighed.
Harry had gotten out of bed. Again. Harry had left the dungeons in the middle of the night. Again. Severus frowned. Where did Harry go on his midnight excursions? He wanted very much to follow Harry in stealth, but felt he'd be betraying Harry's trust by doing so. His sense of honour, however, was slowing waning under the pressure of Harry's absence. The Gryffindor was a young, beautiful, agile, intelligent, loving, caring person who could have anyone he wanted. Why would he choose to spend the rest of his natural life with an old, irascible, cynical, bitter ex-Death Eater? Severus had known from the start that he'd been fooling himself by believing that Harry could love him.
Harry, for his part, spent all of his time making sure Severus knew he was loved. All of his time when he was in the dungeons, that is. Severus wondered if Harry thought he didn't know about these little late night wanderings. Did Harry think he was stupid? Or blind? Severus knew with utter certainty that Harry had a lover out there somewhere. It was only a matter of time before the young man realised that he'd be much better off with someone younger and more attractive than Severus. Aside from that, Severus knew he could never give Harry the romance he desired. Death Eaters just weren't romantic people.
There was only one solution to this problem; he'd have to let Harry go. He'd heard the adage before: You only truly love someone if you're willing to let him go. He'd never believed it… until now. He knew that if Harry came to him and requested that they go their separate ways, he would agree with minimal questioning, if only to make Harry happy. All he wanted was for Harry to be happy. If that meant letting him go, so be it.
He blinked in surprise when he felt something wet on the back of his hand. He reached up to his face and was astonished to find that he was crying. He hadn't cried in years, not since his mother had died when he was still a Hogwarts student. He hated that he'd allowed himself to be put in this position. He hated that Harry was stringing him along. He hated, more than anything else, that he was perfectly willing to be strung along as long as it kept Harry with him. Pathetic didn't even begin to describe him.
He looked at the clock only to realise that Harry would be back soon. He should get back in bed before Harry found him. Just as he stood to do just that, the door opened. Damn.
"Severus?" Harry asked sounding moderately surprised. "What are you doing up? I didn't wake you, did I?"
Severus did not turn to face his wayward lover. "No, I wasn't really asleep," he said, astonished at how tight his voice sounded.
"Severus?" Harry asked again. Severus could hear him moving farther into the room. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Severus replied, his voice still forcing its way passed the lump in his throat. "I'm fine, don't worry."
"You certainly don't sound fine," Harry observed. Severus flinched. "Has something happened?"
"Nothing," Severus said again, hating that he was falling apart like this. He may be willing to let Harry go, but he certainly didn't want to do it tonight. Was it really too much to ask to have just one more night? He couldn't help but notice that Harry hadn't come any closer.
"Have I done something to upset you?" Harry asked after a long silence.
"No," Severus replied, and this time only a whisper managed to get out.
"Then what is it?"
"I've told you, it's nothing."
Harry sighed, sounding somewhat defeated. Severus could just picture him running his hands over his face. "You always do this," Harry said.
Severus forcibly kept himself from turning around. His face was still wet. "What is it, exactly, that I 'always' do?"
"You get pissy at me for something I've done and then won't tell me what it is," Harry snapped angrily.
The tone, more than anything else, made Severus spin around. Harry's eyes widened at the sight of his tear stained face.
"What's happened?" he asked again, moving as though to embrace the Potions Master.
"Don't," Severus said.
Harry stumbled to a stop looking stung. "What's wrong?" he asked, his own voice down to a whisper now.
"Don't you think it's time that we stop pretending?" Severus asked.
Harry straightened himself out. "I don't know what you're talking about," he declared.
Severus only just kept himself from laughing bitterly. "How can you stand there and lie to me so blatantly?" he mused aloud. "You go out every night. Did you think I hadn't noticed? I noticed. You always get up after midnight and you always stay out until after four."
"I still don't know what you mean when you say 'pretending'," Harry muttered, running a hand through his hair. "I just can't sleep, that's all."
"Oh?" Severus raised his famous sardonic eyebrow at that. "And where do you go when you can't sleep, hm?"
"Don't you dare take that superior tone with me, Severus Snape!" Harry snapped. Only Severus' mother could induce the kind of submission that Harry could with that tone of voice. It had been a long time since Severus had been able to intimidate Harry. "I know what this is, and I'm not going to let you do it! Do you hear me! I won't let you!"
"Do what, precisely?"
"You're trying to push me away again."
"I'm trying to push you away? Who do you go to when you leave me here alone? Who's arms comfort you while I'm left here to wait for you to tell me? Who? Tell me!" Severus' well of self-control had finally been drained. The waiting game, it seemed, was one he could not play.
"What are you talking about?" Harry asked, and his tone was no longer accusatory. He seemed genuinely perplexed.
To Severus' horror, he felt more tears rolling down his cheeks, so he turned away again, lowering his head and crossing his arms defensively over his chest. "I…" His throat seemed to tight for speech so he cleared it and tried again. "I was always expecting this, Harry. I'm not angry. I know I'm not enough for you. I-I just want you to be happy, that's all." He sounded defeated and he hated it.
Harry was silent behind him.
"I won't stop you if you want to go to… whomever it is you go to."
"I-I can't believe this," Harry muttered at last. "You think I'm cheating on you?"
Severus didn't respond.
"Severus, I've never been more angry with you than I am right now! How could you think that of me? I love you! You know I love you! How could that even…" He fell silent for a moment and Severus turned to look at him. Harry was kneeling on the stone floor. "Dear gods, I've failed you, haven't I?" he whispered.
Now it was Severus' turn to feel perplexed. "Failed me?" he asked, his arms dropping to his sides.
Harry looked up at him, and Severus was shocked to see tears and hurt in those emerald orbs. "All I ever wanted was for you to love me," he murmured, almost too quietly to hear. "I thought I could get you to open up to me, to trust me. I thought you knew how much I love you. I thought I could take that doubt away." A tear fell from his eye, rolling slowly down his cheek and Severus felt that, perhaps, he'd been a bit hasty in his assumptions. "I've completely and utterly failed you."
The dam around Harry's emotions broke then and he began sobbing brokenly on the floor. Severus was holding him in an instant, rocking them back and forth. "I don't understand," he whispered.
Harry looked up at him but said nothing.
"Where do you go at night?" Severus asked again, no longer dreading the answer.
"To the lake," Harry replied. "I go to the lake and talk to Dumbledore about how much I love you. About how I just can't seem to make you happy."
A great wave of emotion, such as he'd never felt before, flowed through Severus at this declaration. "Harry," he whispered, burying his face in Harry's hair even as the tears began to flow freely at last. "I'm never happier than I am when I'm with you."
"How could you doubt me so, Severus?" Harry asked, sounding small and broken.
Severus hated that he'd been the one to do that to Harry. "Because I know I'm not good enough for you," he replied.
Harry pulled back, cupping Severus' face in his hands. "No one is good enough for me except you," he said firmly. "No one."
And somehow, Severus finally believed him.