As Harry walked into the Great Hall his eyes automatically traced the path to the staff table. He wasn't there. Harry wasn't overly concerned as Voldemort had been defeated earlier that year on Halloween night and all of his Death Eaters had been rounded up subsequently. Voldemort had planned to attack Hogwarts and kill Harry and Dumbledore using the element of surprise. As he knew there was a spy within his ranks Voldemort had not told any of his followers his plans. As a result Snape could not inform the Headmaster.
Harry, however, had seen all of his plans during one of his frequent unintentional visits to the Dark Lord's mind; luckily the young wizard had mastered legitimacy finally so Voldemort never discovered him. He had quickly informed the Headmaster. Harry had finally fulfilled the prophecy.
But there was a price to pay for a Voldemort-free world. Barely a day went by when there wasn't a new article in the Daily Prophet about 'The Boy Who Lived You Defeat You Know Who Six Times'. Harry often wondered just who came up with all of the ridiculous titles. He swore that if he ever found out he would hex them into next week and beyond.
Harry tried to laugh the articles off but they began to grate on his nerves. Women saying that they had given birth to Harry Potter's love chid were very common. Harry was really amused by those as he was gay and had never been with a woman or even a man yet. Luckily the prophet hadn't gotten wind of his sexuality yet. He was very careful. But it was the stories from people he had considered friends that hurt the most.
The messy haired Gryffindor was absently-mindedly munching on his toast as he remembered the Final Battle…and Snape. Harry had spent the rest of the summer at 12 Grimmauld Place once he turned seventeen and happily left the Dursleys for the last time. Vernon had literally thrown him out of the house at the stroke of midnight. Harry had caught the Knight Bus to London and then walked around till he found his godfather's home – no his house. Sirius had left it to him in his will.
The house had been empty apart from Snape who instantly contacted Dumbledore. It had been agreed that they would spend the summer together and that Snape would tutor him in all subjects. Well, Dumbledore agreed to it anyway and that, really, was the only thing that mattered. Once Harry had apologised for looking in the man's Pensive, explained the reasoning behind his reasons, swore that he had never told anyone and finally admitted that he was disgusted with his father's action he had been forgiven with a short, "A simple apology would have sufficed, Potter."
He finally mastered Occlumency and even Legitimacy, which had proved vital to the war. At some point during the summer the animosity between them lessened and they gradually became friends. Snape discovered, to his shock, that Harry wasn't the spoilt Gryffindor brat he had believed him to be. Instead he realised that he was a sensitive, loving and intelligent young man who had seen too much to really be a classed a child anymore.
And Harry found out that the hated, sarcastic, greasy Potions Master actually had a heart and emotions to go with it. Snape had a wicked sense of humour that he only showed to those close to him and was fiercely loyal whist being extremely calculating and cunning. He was a Slytherin after all not a Gryffindor.
Harry was so lost in his reminiscing that it took Hermione's elbow in his ribs to return him to reality.
"Don't look at me like that Harry! Hedwig has a letter for you. She's been trying to get your attention for five minutes. Move your plate so she can land." She huffed in response to his glare.
Harry moved his plate to make space, took the letter from his faithful bird and stroked her head affectionately. Whilst his attention was fixed on the letter in his hand Hedwig helped herself to his bacon and a sip of his pumpkin juice before flying back to the Owlrey. Harry finally opened the letter and read.
You may by now have noticed my absence from the Great Hall this morning. I have left for America and will not be back for some time. It is my hope that by the time I return you will have come to your senses as I have.
'He's gone! But why? What did I do wrong? Did he get bored of me? He promised that he never would. I love him! How can he be gone?' Harry was devastated. Thoughts were running around in his head but the fact was simply this; his lover had left him, and Hogwarts, without so much as a reason why or even a goodbye. He had believed that Severus was happy with him. 'I thought he loved me'. They had been together ever since Severus had found Harry mortally injured on the battlefield next to a pile of smouldering ashes that had once been Lord Voldemort, the most powerful Dark wizard this century. Severus had thought that Harry was dead and had, quite emotionally for the dour Slytherin, confessed his love. Harry, who was only actually exhausted and severely injured had opened his eyes a fraction to whisper back, "I love you too.
Once he overcame his shock the Potions Master had carried his love to the Hospital Wing and refused to leave until Harry woke up.
He was stunned. He didn't hear Ron and Hermione shouting his name as he stood up and walked out of the Great Hall dazedly, leaving his breakfast mostly uneaten and ran to the bathroom, the letter gripped tightly in his hand though Harry seemed unaware of the fact.
In his daze Harry failed to notice the sympathetic look on the headmaster's face, the confused look on Ron's or the suspicious expression on Hermione's.
He remained in a daze all day, culminating in the loss of fifty points from Gryffindor and extra homework from all his classes. Even Neville didn't get as much extra work.Chapter 2 - Consequences
A week passed and then another and another as Harry became more and more withdrawn. He would only speak in monosyllables if at all; it was more likely that he would just look through you as if you weren't there at all. It was as if he wasn't aware of anything happening around him. Even Ron and Hermione couldn't get him to snap out of his depression. They tried everything they could think of but without knowing what the problem was in the first place there was little they could do. He spent all of his free time either in the library or in the Owlrey with Hedwig. His grades, however, had never been better. He was drawing with Hermione in most lessons and actually beating her in a few, much to her surprise.
"I'm worried about him, Albus. Ever since Severus left he has withdrawn more and more into himself. He's even quit the Quidditch team and stopped teaching the DA for Merlin's sake! He's so thin it's unhealthy. Have you seen him at mealtime, that is if he even decides to attend? I fear what he will do if this carries on." The irate woman confessed.
"I completely agree my dear but what can we do. Severus has broken off the relationship. It is his choice not ours." Albus Dumbledore told his wife.
"But he seemed so happy, they both did. It seemed like they were made for each other. They fit perfectly. What went wrong?" She asked him.
"They were very much in love, my dear. But you know Severus, he believes himself unlovable and therefore unworthy of Harry. He is too stubborn to see how much Harry loves him." Albus explained to her.
"Albus, the child is slowly killing himself. Granger and Weasley have told me that all he does is study and spend time in the Owlrey. If you do not do anything about this then I certainly will. Who knows what will happen if we leave them to their own devices." And with that ultimatum Minerva McGonagall-Dumbledore stormed out of her husband of fifty years' office.
That Saturday Harry received another letter, this time in the library whilst he was doing the Potions essay Dumbledore had set the day before.
Would you please join me in my office at seven o' clock tonight for tea and cakes? There is something important that we must discuss.Yours truly, Professor Dumbledore A small part of Harry vaguely wondered what the headmaster wanted. He hadn't done anything wrong recently. With a mental shrug he returned to his report on the twelve uses of dragons' blood. As he put the finishing touches to the parchment a figure passed behind him before taking the seat facing him. It was Hermione. She fixed him with an all-knowing gaze. The ever observant witch had been aware that Harry had been in a relationship with someone and apart from herself and Ron Harry had only really spent time with Professor Snape. Obviously their relationship had shifted after the war. She had known he was gay, of course, and he had been so happy recently. Surprisingly the young witch had never thought that it was a bad match. But then it all changed that morning Harry received a letter. Without ever seeing its contents she knew what information it contained and who sent it. Harry's reaction told her everything. Now she wanted to help her heartbroken friend. "Did he say why?" The once bushy-haired witch asked bluntly. Harry looked up in shock. Hermione caught a flash of panic in his eyes before it was quickly masked, "Who?" Harry asked smoothly. "Professor Snape. Did he tell you why he left?" She elaborated. "Dumbledore said he went to a Potions conference in America. Not good when our NEWTs are next month really." He replied lightly. Hermione had to hand it to her friend, he was a fantastic actor. If she didn't know better she would have believe his nonchalant tone. "Yes, I know that. I just assumed that he had told you more in his letter. You know the one he sent you three weeks ago." She stated. Then her face softened, "He broke it off didn't he?" Harry felt caught. He desperately wanted to talk to Hermione but he and Severus had sworn to keep their relationship a secret. Did that still apply when the relationship was over? Fresh tears gathered in Harry's eyes but he refused to let them fall. Instead he simply nodded, "He said…he said that he had come to his senses." His voice was barely above a whisper. "Oh Harry! I'm sorry." Hermione got up and wrapped her arms around the young man she loved like a younger brother. The Gryffindor took comfort from the embrace until a familiar drawling voice interrupted them, "Well what do we have here? Two Gryffindorks getting fresh in the library." Hermione mock scowled at the blonde, "Give it up, Draco. That attitude doesn't work on us anymore, remember? And you know I'm with Ron." Draco Malfoy just rolled his eyes and grinned before flopping gracefully into the chair beside Harry. "You alright, Harry?" His tone was concerned. "Yeah, Dray. Thanks." Harry pulled out of the warm embrace. "You not with Ginny today?" "Obviously. She has to cheer up her friend apparently. Finch-Fletchley is a bastard. Or so I've been told." Draco joked. Harry laughed, "Poor you." "Yeah. I get deprived because Finch-Fletchley can't stay with the same girl for a week." His tone was mock outraged, trying to provoke a reaction from Harry. The other laughed appropriately. This was the most responsive Harry had been in three weeks. Draco exchanged a look with Hermione. 'She knew.' He decided. On impulse he mouthed, "Snape?" and motioned with his eyes towards Harry. She nodded. Of course Draco would have known about them. The receded into silence, reading and only talking now and then. Chapter 3 - Help
When Harry entered the Headmaster's office he first noticed that there was a Pensive on the table between them and second that there was a different portrait on the wall behind the desk. It was Salazar Slytherin; Severus' room guardian.
"Ah Harry! So glad you could make it. Please sit down. Lemon drop?" Dumbledore asked the teenager, holding out the tin.
"No, thank you, sir." Harry replied with a shake of his head. He seated himself in a plush but garishly covered armchair which almost swallowed him.
Albus put the tin down and instead offered, "Cake, biscuit? They are very good."
"No, thank you, sir." Harry repeated.
"Tea?" Obviously the Headmaster simply was not going to take no for an answer.
Harry mentally sighed, "Yes, thank you sir." He said taking the offered cup.
Dumbledore gazed at his student wondering how best to tell him this next piece of information. Finally he decided to go with the way that would garner the most extreme response. Under the professor's scrutinizing gaze Harry became nervous and feared that something terrible had happened.
The Albus Dumbledore spoke, "Harry, I know that you have been in a relationship with Professor Snape for a few months now and that the letter you received three weeks ago was him ending that liaison."
His student's response was unforgettable. Harry immediately spat out the mouthful of tea he had just taken and went red then white faster than Dumbledore had believed possible. Harry didn't say anything, desperately trying to remember if there had been a rule against student/teacher relationships added to the school rules since he had last read Hogwarts: A History.
"No Harry there is not any rule against student/teacher relationships as long as the student is of age and the teacher doesn't start to favour the student during class." The Headmaster informed his frantic pupil.
'Wow! Did he read my mind? Hang on I have my shields up! Oh Merlin, can he hear me now?' Harry thought in despair.
"Your metal shields are quite excellent, Harry." Dumbledore told him.
'But then how did he know that was what I was thinking?'
"I am quite skilled in reading body language. I could tell by your expression both times." Dumbledore reassured Harry.
A voice interrupted them, "Whilst this is truly touching could you please get on with it." Salazar Slytherin finally spoke up in irritation.
Hello, Salazar. How have you been? I have not seen you for many weeks." Harry hissed in greeting to the portrait.
I'm fine, Little One, but you look awful. You haven't been eating or sleeping have you? Salazar asked him in a fatherly tone. What ever few people alive knew was that the great and feared Salazar Slytherin was a mother hen towards those he thought of as his 'children'.
You know that Severus has gone to America? He has left me, Sal, and I fear he will not reconsider. Harry confided in his friend with tears in his eyes.
A soft cough drew Harry and Salazar's attention back to Dumbledore.
"Oh! I'm sorry professor." Harry apologised sheepishly.
"It's quite alright, Harry. Now to 'get on with it' as Salazar so eloquently put it; I would like you to view the memory in the Pensive." Dumbledore instructed his student.
Harry looked at the bowl suspiciously. What would he see? The swirling liquid-like memory glistened in the soft candlelight. Gathering his courage around him like a cloak Harry slowly got up and cautiously put the tip of his wand into the swirling silver liquid.
The room began to spin and then he was back in Dumbledore's office. No, not back, Severus was there. He and Dumbledore were arguing about something. Harry moved closer to listen and was astonished at what he could hear.
"He is seventeen years old, Albus. He has no idea what love is. He is merely in lust and will soon tire of me when that fades, it is inevitable." The memory-Potions Master pronounced sadly.
'He really thinks that of me?' Harry wanted to scream and shut against the injustice but it would not make a difference. This was a memory. Severus was already gone.
"My dear boy, Harry is more mature than some adults I could name and incredibly loyal. He does not give his affection lightly as you well know. He has never been in a relationship before you because he knew that they all wanted The Boy Who Lived, not Harry. He needs someone who sees past that. The poor boy has had the weight of the entire Wizarding world on his shoulders for seven years. It has aged him far beyond his years as you well know. Even without that his childhood was never a happy one. You can sympathise with that and help him move past it. You both wear masks which you hide behind though they are completely different in design and you both lower them when you are together." The oldest of the pair argued passionately. They belonged together. If only he could get Severus to acknowledge it.
Harry himself was silently cheering the headmaster on. He gazed at his lover. Experience allowed him to read the stark, homely features like only Albus could. Severus was sad but grimly determined. Harry knew that Albus would loose the fight, after all, he had received that letter and his lover had even left Hogwarts.
"Perhaps, Headmaster, but I am still hated by the majority of the Wizarding world. I am an ex-Death Eater, used and bitter. Someone such as I is unworthy of our saviour, a young man of such purity. I have to let him go, Albus, my feelings are irrelevant. Harry deserves so much better. I will attend the Potions conference in America. I have not been in some years and when I return he will have forgotten me and moved on with his life. I cannot bear to face his rejection later. It will not hurt as much if I do it now. At least I will be able to see him every day until he graduates that is, and then I shall be content with the newspaper articles. I will have one thing to be thankful to that wretched Skeeter woman for." He was convinced that this was the right decision, of that Dumbledore was sure.
"Severus, at least tell Harry your reasons. Don't hurt him needlessly." Albus pleaded with his long time friend. He was sure Harry would be able to change his lover's mind if he was made aware of the situation before Severus did irreparable damage.
Severus drained his cup, "I will send him a letter once I have left." He promised, rising up from his seat, "Good night, Albus."
The whole room went black and then Harry was once again standing in Dumbledore's office, in the present this time, with tears streaming down his face.
"Is that how he really sees himself?" He asked the two men brokenly. Both man and portrait nodded simultaneously. "Oh Sev!" His voice was harsh with emotion.
"Do you understand now, my dear boy? Severus is terrified of rejection." The old man said sadly.
"I can't believe he would think that of me. How could he think that I would ever leave him? He makes me so happy. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me." By now Harry's tear had dried up.
"Severus does not believe that he deserves to be happy. He is convinced that he still needs to atone for sins long since paid for and forgiven." Salazar informed the young snake-speaker. "You know that I care for him like a son, Little One, look after him, show his that he deserves to be loved. To be happy." Salazar said to Harry.
"I won't let him go without a bloody good fight, I promise, Sal. I still love him." Harry stated firmly, his Gryffindor nature asserting itself again. "Sal is his password still the same?" He asked with a smirk.
For the time being yes, however, you don't need one. I know you mean my Head of House no harm. If only he would realise that too, stubborn man. I swear he is as unyielding as my Godric. I would have expected such behaviour from a Gryffindor not from one of my own house. He is more like Godric than I suspect either would ever admit to. Salazar hissed to him with a wicked smirk.
Harry burst out laughing. His lover would be insulted by the comparison but Harry could see the resemblance. Severus, however, would always be a Slytherin at heart.
Albus watched the exchange. True, Parsletongue was seen as a Dark ability but it was a gift. Harry made it look so easy. He was almost envious of the talent. A small snort of laughter escaped the headmaster at the thought, drawing the Boy Who Lived's attention to him.
"When does Severus return, Professor?" Harry asked with an almost Slytherin-like smirk on his lips.
Over the next two hours the three planned how Harry would prove his love to the reluctant Severus. It was finally decided that Harry would sneak into his quarters the day after the got back and confront the man. It would be a Sunday. Next Sunday. A whole month since Harry had last laid eyes on his lover.Chapter 4 – Harry Watching
When Severus arrived back at Hogwarts it was almost midnight on Saturday. He couldn't be bothered making the trip to the kitchens so he called a house elf to his rooms and asked for a sandwich.
As he ate his thoughts wandered to Harry and the unfeeling letter he had sent to his love. Severus had spent his entire time he was in the States obsessing over his now ex-lover. He knew he had done the right thing but that didn't matter to his bleeding heart. 'It's only sooner rather than later.' He assured himself. 'I merely ended it my way rather than face him rejecting me for someone else. I don't deserve him. Severus thought dejectedly.
After he finished his snack he washed and crawled into bed, dreading the coming morning when he would be forced to face the school, Dumbledore and last but most definitely not least his beloved Harry.
Even the other Potions Master had noticed a change in his attitude and many of them hadn't seen him in years. One such Master, Manfred Cruz, a Latin-American man, Severus had known for a decade, had commented, "Bloody hell Snape! You look like death warmed over. Are you ill? You know I don't think I've ever see you this civil since….well ever."
Another had asked him if he was cursed or if he had been hexed too many times during the war.
One woman had even made the joke that if Severus Snape was being almost civil then he was either so distracted by something that he was tuning everything else out or he was in love. Or perhaps both. She had been hexed painfully and after that Severus was declared quite well and left alone to brood in peace.
Severus woke up after a broken night's sleep and for one blissful moment remembered nothing. Then the contents of the past three weeks came rushing back to him with the force of a rampaging hippogriff. Groaning he staggered into the shower, got dressed and braved the Great Hall, his robes flapping about him in his usual intimidating manner.
Harry had been up for hours, unable to sleep for fears that everything would go wrong. That Severus wouldn't admit that he loved him. When he finally saw Sev walk into the Great Hall, scowling at anyone who dared to meet his eyes and sit down in his customary place at the staff table as though he had never left, he had to put his head down to hide his grin. Oh yes, Severus Snape was back.
Dumbledore surreptitiously watched Severus, unbeknownst to him. He saw the heartbreak the man hid behind the layer of contempt. The headmaster's own heart ached in sympathy for the man he loved like a son. If Severus would just listen to Harry then he was sure he would finally be happy. Everything would be fine.
A few minutes passed then Ron and Hermione joined Harry at Gryffindor table for breakfast. They were still mildly shocked when Harry greeted them happily, as he had been doing for the past few days. The first day he had scared them shitless. Hermione suspected that his talk with Dumbledore was what prompted the attitude change so she just waited patiently for Harry to tell her what was going on, all the while observing him for clues.
Draco Malfoy strutted into the Great Hall. Before he made his way to the Slytherin Table he came over to Gryffindor to greet his girlfriend. He got half way across the hall before turning back and calling, "Hey Harry, are you coming flying with me later today?"
"Sure Drake. At one?" Harry replied with a broad grin.
"Ok. See you on the pitch. Prepare to loose Potty!" Draco smirked. The whole school had nearly fainted when they had first done that but it was a common occurrence now and no one batted an eyelid.
Severus kept a watchful eye on his ex-lover while he was in the Great Hall. Harry never looked up at him, not once. 'Maybe he's moved on.' Severus acknowledged with more than a little pain.
***Later when they were on the pitch***
"So Harry…how are you holding up?" Draco asked his friend interested in how the Gryffindor would react. Harry had been devastated when Severus first left and it was only after a meeting with Dumbledore that he started to be himself again. Draco blamed his godfather for Harry's condition previous condition. Although he was intensely curious what had prompted the change.
Harry flew in lazy circles around the blonde, "I'm fine. Honestly!" He insisted at Draco's disbelieving look, "Dumbledore, Sal and I concocted a plan to help me get him back. I'm going to sneak into his rooms tonight. Do you think it is a good idea? You've known him for longer than I have." He asked the Slytherin his opinion; he would know how Severus was likely to react.
Draco thought about it for a second, "Yes, I think it is a wonderful plan. Quite Slytherin actually. Just don't corner him – he wouldn't react well to that. He loves you, of that I am sure. I hope he will admit it. Severus can be a stubborn bastard at times." He told him with a smirk. "Let's head back."
The NEWTs started the following week so Hermione made them do some last-minutes revision. Harry was quietly confident that he would do well. He had been studying hard all year.
During dinner Harry had to fight to stop himself looking up at the man he loved. Hermione smiled at him in sympathy. Ron, as usual, was oblivious to everything but his plate, having as Hermione said "the emotional range of a teaspoon".
Severus watched Harry discreetly, like normal. He was trying to work out if he had actually moved on or not. Of course the Potions Master had heard of Harry's recent depression from the rest of the staff as soon as he walked into the staffroom, he could even see that his ex-lover had lost weight, but according to the professors Harry had perked up considerably this past week. Not that Severus expected him to be upset for a long time, in fact he was rather surprised that he had been so depressed for a month. It was not that he doubted that his ex-lover cared for him; he knew that Harry did, but he was young, his hormones and emotions were running rampage at his age.
He did not fail to notice that Harry was getting very friendly with Draco Malfoy. Then he recalled himself and was immediately embarrassed. 'Oh Merlin! I was there when they put their differences aside. I can't believe I'm getting jealous of my godson's friendship with Harry. Draco is as straight as a wand and dating Ginevra Weasley if I'm not mistaken.'
He was brought back from his inner chastens by the headmaster's voice, "How is it to be back, dear boy?"
Severus gave a half hearted sneer, "As though I never left, headmaster. The third year Gryffindors managed to ruin three perfectly good cauldrons in the space of two hours."
The twinkle he got in reply was enough to put him off his dinner.Chapter 5 – Ambushing Sev
Harry waited until he was sure of not being noticed by his friends or anyone else on the way back to Gryffindor Tower before wrapping himself in his invisibility cloak and leaving for the now familiar dungeons.
He tread the well known path to his beloved's rooms. Good evening, Salazar. Wish me luck. I hope he doesn't throw me out. Harry attempted to joke with the Founder but his uncertainty showed on his face.
Fear not, Little One. I do not doubt that he will listen. Anyway, if he tried to throw you out I will refuse to open the door. Just tell him what is in your heart. Salazar reassured him before swinging open.
Harry hid in the corner of the living room. Even invisible and with the man absent he wouldn't dare venture into his bedroom. It was as yet uncharted territory as Severus always refused to do anything more than kiss and touch. It suddenly made sense to him. Severus didn't want to take his virginity because he thought he was unworthy.
He didn't have to wait long before Harry heard Sev's dulcet tones talking to Salazar. He gave the password and walked through into his chambers. Harry held his breath knowing that the Potions Master had very good hearing. He watched as Severus took off his outer robe and sat down on the two-seater couch in just his pants and shirt. He rubbed his eyes. "Oh Harry. I miss you so much. It kills me to see you and know that you will never be mine." He whispered to himself but Harry heard him.
Still under the cloak Harry spoke, "If you miss me then it's your own fault. You did have me." Mentally wincing as he said those dispassionate words. 'You can still have me Sev. Just say 'yes' and I'm yours forever, love.'
Severus' head shot up, "Harry?" Severus questioned the air with a small frown on his face as he glanced around the room. 'I don't normally hear him when I talk to myself. Perhaps I'm finally going mad. One too many Crucios during the war.'
He gave a faint gasp when Harry took off his cloak, revealing. Harry just stood in the corner of the room, looking at Severus with unshed tears glistening in his eyes. 'Merlin, what if he rejects me again? I couldn't bear it.'
Taking advantage of the man's current speechlessness Harry began to talk, "I saw a rather interesting conversation last week between you and Professor Dumbledore. It was apparently the last one you had before you left for the States. The one where you told him that you were unworthy of my love and that I was too young to know what love is. Remember it?" His voice was getting harsher as his anger took over. "Who are you to decide who I can or cannot love? Who I can be happy with? I do not want someone my age, they don't see me. I want, no I need, an older lover. I need someone who can help ground me, who can counter my Gryffindor impulsiveness and save me from myself. I don't just want to physical relationship like most teenagers. I want a partner to share my life with. I want you! Don't you understand that? I love you, you imbecile! You are the only one I want. You see the real me. You see Harry, not The Boy Who Lived or even the Gryffindor Golden Boy anymore. Just Harry. I want you to be my first, my only, because without you my life is meaningless. I don't live, I merely exist."
Harry's anger suddenly melted away as he gazed sadly at his former love. "All I can pray for is that you actually do care for me and haven't met someone in America. I am sure that there are many wizards out there much better looking and more intelligent than me. Do you know what your letter did to me, you bastard? How much it hurt to read those unfeeling words? You promised that you'd never hurt me" He finished his rant, red in the face from lack of oxygen. Harry kept his eyes firmly on the man before him, waiting for a reaction.
Severus was speechless for possibly the firs time in his life; his mouth was even hanging open slightly. 'He loves you, you idiot! Don't send him away explain! Say something!' His brain yelled at him. "Harry, the last thing I would ever knowingly do is cause you pain but you are only seventeen. How do you know what you want? I could not bear to be pushed aside when you tire of me. I love you too." Harry's heart leapt. That was the first time since that day on the battlefield that Severus had told him that.
"But I'm a selfish old man. I would hold on to you and never let go again. Slytherins do not relinquish what they want." Severus told him. Against his better judgement a faint hope rose in his heart which just happened to be in his throat at that particular moment causing him to choke.
"You are not an old man and I am just as selfish. I would never let you go either. For all we know it could be you that tired of me. You could easily find someone much more attractive." Harry argued sadly. Nethertheless he took a few steps forward, towards his love.
Severus moved forwards and captured Harry's lips with his own thin ones, "That would never happen, that I can promise you, my love." He declared when they parted.
They carried on kissing until the need for air was simply too great to ignore. Harry was on cloud nine.
He went to unbutton Sev's shirt as the man's hands did the same to remove Harry's robes. Once that obstacle was removed Harry moved his hands to Severus' trousers and began to take them off.
The older man paused for a second, "Are you sure Harry? This is your last chance before I claim you. I've wanted this for so long I don't think I could stop." His possessive nature would not allow Harry to change his mind later. Once he took him Harry would be his forever.
"There is nothing I want more. I want you, Sev. I need you. Now." Harry insisted kissing the man into silence.
"Then let's move somewhere more comfortable, shall we?" Sev suggested as he picked Harry up, bridal style, ignoring his younger lover's undignified squeal and walked into the richly furnished bedroom. Not that Harry noticed the decoration of course.
Harry was placed on the bed gently. He watched his lover curiously as he walked around to the other side of the bed, opened the bedside cabinet top drawer and took out a jar.
Seeing his lover's blank face Severus informed him that it was a lubricant with a muscle-relaxant, ideal for a first-time.
Harry nodded in understanding. He knew it hurt the first time, he was expecting it. It was a surprise then when he felt Severus finally slide inside him with absolutely no pain, just an amazing feeling of rightness.Chapter 6 – The Morning After and Graduation
Harry was the first to wake up the following morning. He found that he was spooned up against Severus and smiled as he felt the other's arm thrown over him protectively and remembered the events of the previous night. Harry rolled over and just lay there, mapping out his lover's face. Then he got an idea. Harry grinned wickedly as he started to kiss Sev's neck. His mover shifted in his sleep to give him better access. He worked his way down and had to stifle a laugh as Severus moaned. Harry threw the covers back and swallowed his love whole. As he came he woke up and Harry smiled brilliantly at him.
"That I could get used to," he panted and lent down to capture his lovers' lips.
"Let's go take a shower. Breakfast will be starting soon. The NEWTs start next week. We don't have to hide for much longer." Harry told him as he moved towards the bathroom.
"I can't wait to see Weasley's face. But are you sure? There will be reporters at your graduation for sure. It will be front page news the next day."
"I'm very sure Sev. Besides 'Mione and Drake already know and can restrain him for me if need be. But he's fine with the fact that I'm gay. He just doesn't want any details." Harry mentioned as he kissed his love before pulling him into the shower with him.
They each washed the other which led to more heated kisses and stroking. Finally they got dressed and walked into the Great Hall. They separated at the door and walked over to their own tables without a glance at the other. As Harry sat down he looked over to the Slytherin table and, catching Draco's eye, smiled. He then did the same thing to the Headmaster, who turned around, twinkle on full blast, and said something to his Potions Master which made him choke on his pumpkin juice.
The NEWTs started the next day. Harry, being too busy, didn't see much of his lover outside the Great Hall.
Finally the Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests, and were they ever, were over. The seventh years were finally free, fully trained wizards. The last day of term was graduation day, following that an after party for the faculty and ex-students who would have to find their own way home afterwards, usually at the wee hours of the morning, as they were officially adults after all.
The week after the NEWTs the Daily Prophet printed another article about Harry. Not a woman giving birth to Harry Potter's love child article but something that was actually true. As Harry walked into the Great Hall all eyes turned to him.
Frowning in confusion Harry carried on to Gryffindor Table. Hermione and Ron were there, Hermione had a copy of the Daily Prophet. She handed it to him silently as he sat down.
Suddenly he understood perfectly. The headline screamed 'Harry Potter Gay!'
The Gryffindor cringed as he read the article. Most of it was completely false, as always, but there was one nugget of truth. Some of the quotes from the newspaper rang a bell with Harry. He, Ron, Hermione and Draco had been having a conversation last weekend in Hogsmeade. Apparently Rita Skeeter or someone overheard and drew their own, unfortunately correct, conclusions.
The following morning the post arrived. Practically hundreds of owls descended upon Gryffindor table, many of them carrying howlers.
"Vile" "disgusting" and "perverted" were common themes for the howlers. It seemed that people hadn't expected their beloved hero to like his own sex. Apparently he was expected to marry a nice witch and have lots of babies. Fat chance! Harry thought ruefully.
A bonfire appeared behind Harry for the next week, he didn't even bother opening the howlers anymore, just threw them straight onto the fire.
But howlers weren't all that he received. He got letters from other gay wizards, some just saying that they supported him, others declaring undying love and a wish to get to know him better. Others were from witches who were convinced that Harry just hadn't met the right girl yet. Yeah right. I'll just forgo my love of men and fall into your arms. He joked as he read yet another missive.
Eventually the letters stopped coming. Luckily only a few people approached Harry from Hogwarts. Once he had turned them down word was spread and no more asked him out to Harry's eternal gratitude.
The day of their graduation came, eagerly awaited for so long. Harry spent the day with Ron, Hermione and Draco, wandering around the beloved corridors of the castle that had been their home for the past seven years. The blond Slytherin had become an inseparable member of their group since they had settled their differences. When it was time to get ready for the graduation ceremony they went to the dorms to change into their formal robes. Harry was so nervous he could feel his stomach doing summersaults. 'How will everyone react to us?' He thought anxiously. He put on his robes and ran a comb through his hair. He had grown it over the past year and it now reached his chin. As a result it was much more manageable, the weight of the hair forced it to lie flat unlike the bird's nest he used to sport.
"Are you ready, Ron?" He asked his best friend.
"Yeah Can you believe that we're actually graduating? I got my test results back from the Ministry. I passed. I'm going to be an Auror!" He yelled ecstatically.
Harry hugged his friend, "Well done Ron. I'm sure you'll be great." He assured the red head.
They met up with Hermione in the common room and went down to the Great Hall where they took their seats. The room was filled with students, family members and reporters. The teachers had their own table next to the podium. The press was there only because it wasn't everyday that the saviour of the wizarding world graduated and they wanted to get an interview with him or at least a photograph.
When Harry's name was called he stepped up to the podium, received his certificate and then walked along side the staff table. They each said something to him and shook his hand. Then he got to the last teacher, Snape. Everyone held his or her breath, straining to hear what the Bane of Gryffindor would say to Harry Potter, Gryffindor's Golden Boy.
"Potter…I'm impressed. You actually managed to graduate. I, however, am more inclined to think that the graders went easy on you because of your fame than believe that you can brew a potion successfully." Sev told his lover with a smirk on his face that was more teasing than menacing like it used to be. Harry just smiled cheekily at him and shook the offered hand before going to sit down.
Once all the students had been given their certificates Professor Dumbledore announced that three students would be giving speeches. Hermione Granger as Head Girl, Draco Malfoy as Head Boy and Harry Potter as Valedictorian. Hermione spoke of how hard they had all worked to get here and how there experiences had changed them. She wished everybody luck with the rest of his or her lives. Draco, on the other hand, recollected all the good times they'd had and the way they had all grown up. Then it was time for the person all the reporters had come to see, Harry Potter, 'The Boy Who Lived To Defeat You Know Who Six Times.'
Everyone waited with anticipation to hear what Harry Potter had to say. The young man stood up and quietly made his way to the podium. Once he was in the middle of the stage he cast sonorus on himself and took a deep breath. He had been preparing this speech for almost a week.
"Hi everyone. Well…we made it. Who thought back when we were all tiny first years that we would be here and everything that we would have gone through. It seems as though every year has been very eventful. I think that Defence Against The Dark Arts has had it the worst. I mean we've had a teacher with Voldemort (Harry paused while almost everyone flinched) stuck onto the back of his head. In our second year there was the giant basilisk running around petrifying students and in third year all those Dementors. I know I wasn't the only one who was badly affected by them. We've had a Triwizard Tournament, where we found out that our fourth DADA teacher was actually a Death Eater in disguise and a Hogwarts High Inquisitor. Professor Dumbledore has been removed from his position twice without just cause. We have had a DADA teacher that had the IQ of a five year old, one who performed the Unforgivables on us, one that was a vampire and one was actually Peter Pettigrew dressed as a woman. Our best teacher was a werewolf and he had to quit because our parents refused to let him teach us. We can't say that we didn't have an interesting time at school. Hopefully we have learnt a lot as well. We've made friends, made enemies, fallen in love and been betrayed." Harry paused to take a breath. After glancing at all the reporters avidly recording his every word he carried on, "I would like to take this time to thank the Daily Prophet for the edition that told the world that I was gay. I was beyond mad at the time but at least it gave me the chance to see how everyone would react. It was not always a good reaction. Many people seemed to think that I was unnatural and others were convinced that they could change my sexuality, I would like to say for the record that they failed." Everyone laughed. His heart was fluttering wildly now but Harry was determined to finish his speech. He just had one part left. "I would like to thank all the teachers for helping me through the years, for protecting me, occasionally from myself. There is one professor in particular I would like to thank. Ever since I first walked through those doors he has protected me. Even when he hated me and only saw my father." Harry walked over to the staff table and stopped in front of Severus. He had gone pale and was looking very nervous. "So, thank you, Professor Snape. Without you I would not be here today." Harry leaned over and kissed him.
The whole room gasped. Molly Weasley fainted and Ron soon followed suit. The reporters' quick-quote pens were running across the page. Hermione, Draco and Dumbledore were grinning and enervating those who had fainted.
Severus rolled his eyes at his lover's antics. Deciding that now was as good a time as any, he had planned on doing this later today anyway. He stood up and walked round to the front of the table. Once he was in front of Harry he knelt down on one knee and took a small black box out of his pocket.
Harry's eyes grew wide. Was Severus doing what he thought he was? As he began to speak he realised that yes, he was.
"Harry, I can no longer I imagine a life without you. Will you bond with me?" He asked; opening the box to reveal a beautiful gold ring with emerald stones set along the top.
Harry was speechless. He looked his lover in the eye. Severus saw his answer in those expressive orbs. He slid the ring onto Harry's left hand ring finger. A matching ring appeared on his own hand. The younger man snapped out of his trance and threw his arms around the other man before kissing him soundly.