He Never Moved On
Severus Snape sat in the back of a muggle taxi, clutching a small cardboard box possessively to his chest. He wore a grim expression, while he grunted out one syllable answers to the cabbie that seemed intent on talking his ear off.
The taxi made its way down the windy coastal highway, and Severus looked out of the window, his eyes staring vacantly at the scenery, while the thumb of his right hand idly stroked the box, and the thumb of his left hand absently worried a simple gold band worn on his third finger.
He always played with his wedding ring when deep in thought. And he was deep in thought...very, very deep indeed.
The memories flooded back as if it were yesterday.
"Is there someone else?"
Severus stared coolly into Harry's wide green eyes. He hadn't wanted it to be like this. He had planned to tell him that weekend, when they were both home and there was time for him to explain.
But Harry had seen them at a pub. A stupid muggle pub in the middle of nowhere. Harry had wandered in with a Quiddich teammate for a pint and a laugh and seen Severus and Quentin sharing a bench in a corner booth, engaged in what had looked like a very intimate conversation. Harry had turned on his heel and walked straight out of the pub. Severus had stayed until last call.
Severus walked through the front door of the house he had shared with Harry for the past 5 years and found his companion waiting up for him.
The plan had been shot...the time for talking was now...
"I asked you a question, Severus. Is there someone else?"
"I think you know the answer to that question, Harry." Severus answered.
The last thing he had wanted to do was hurt Harry, but the time had come for honesty, and Severus knew that no matter what happened now, Harry would be hurt. There was no avoiding it.
"How long has this been going on?" Harry asked, his shaking voice betraying his emotions.
"Almost a year."
"And do you love him?" the question was asked in a whisper.
"No, Sev...tell me, do you love him?"
Harry took a deep breath and looked away quickly. A tear slid slowly down his cheek.
"When were you going to tell me, Sev?" There was a hint of desperation in Harry's voice that Severus had not heard before.
"This weekend. I was going to tell you this weekend. I'm sorry, Harry. I never meant for you to find out like this.
Harry nodded slightly before turning his face towards Severus again, tears freely slipping down his cheeks. "So, what's the plan now?"
Severus straightened up and looked down at the younger man. God, he looked so small in that ridiculously huge chair. He took a step towards Harry and reached out to tenderly stroke his hair.
"I'm going to move out," he said quietly.
"God, nooooo." Harry sobbed as he clutched Severus' hand and pressed it tightly to his dampened cheek. "No Sev, nooooo, please don't...don't leave me..."
Snape had never seen Harry in such as state, and it unnerved him. And when things un nerved Severus Snape, he tended to resort to the old stiff upper lip approach. It was the English way, after all.
Pulling his hand free from Harry's, he backed away and looked down at his sobbing partner.
"Harry...cease this at once. It is not the end of the world. We had a wonderful relationship, and I will always care for you, but it has run its course. It is time for us both to move on."
Harry's sobs grew louder and he slipped from the chair onto his knees.
"Please Sev...please..I'm begging you, don't go. I .. I love you. I love only you..."
Severus, being a conservative man, was horrified at this outburst.
"Potter, cease this dramatic display at once or I shall leave immediately!"
The threat had the opposite effect, and Harry only seemed to sink further into himself. He was crying uncontrollably now. In all of Severus' memories, he had never seen Harry let go like this...
Severus, for once in his life, had no idea how to react to this hysteria. In a decision that was to haunt him to the grave, Severus looked down at Harry and sneered. "I'm leaving, Potter. I'll return when you are calm and we can discuss this further, like two adults."
With that, he spun on his heel and walked out the door. He could hear Harry's sobs as he walked away from the house and through the gate. Yes, he would return the following day when all was calm again.
He apparated to Quentin's.
Severus really had had the best of intentions. And when he arrived at Quentin's, they had conversed well into the early morning, and slept throughout the day. As well the next day was taken up with arranging the house for his things that he would be moving in.
Love has a way of melting minutes into hours, hours into days, days into weeks and weeks into months, and Severus was a man who was truly in love.
He had loved Harry, of course; one didn't spend five years with someone they didn't love, but Harry was still a child in so many ways...needy and insecure about commitment.
Quentin was a man who shared Snapes love of books, and academia. He was an intellectual, whom Severus found stimulating to talk to, and he was experienced in the art of love, often taking charge in the bedroom, which was something Harry definitely did not do.
So it was that three months had passed before Severus found himself walking up the path to the house he had shared with Harry. He truly hadn't meant to leave things as long as he had, and he hoped Harry wasn't angry with him for that. The young man had enough abandonment issues as it was.
He walked to the front door and knocked loudly. It was early enough in the morning, Harry should still be home.
There was no answer, and Severus knocked again louder.
He was about to pull his wand out and cast Alohomora when a female voice sounded behind him.
"Are you here for the viewing?" she asked
"Excuse me?" Severus asked, turning to look at the well-dressed lady with the ridiculously loud lipstick smeared onto her lips.
"The viewing...I'm showing the house today, are you here to see it? she asked as she juggled some papers in one hand, and an expensive looking briefcase with the other. Severus noted her nail polish was as obnoxious as her lipstick.
"Showing the house? But I live here." Severus sputtered, clearly frustrated at his lack of knowledge of events that were playing out on his front step.
"Oh..." the lady said, her smile fading somewhat. "You must be Mr. Snape then."
"Yes I'm Mr. Snape, now would you care to tell me what in the blazes is going on?" Snape was coming close to losing his patience, and he could feel a dull throbbing starting up behind his left eye.
"Yes sir, well, you see sir, Mr. Potter has asked us to sell this house on his behalf."
"And what, pray tell, are Mr. Potter's whereabouts now?"
"I've no idea, Sir. He informed me that he was moving to America, and he would contact us in regards to the money."
"America? Where in America?"
"I assure you, I don't know, sir" Something about this tall man intimidated the young real estate vendor, and she felt herself regressing to a schoolgirl with her need to refer to Mr. Snape as sir. "Ah, but he did leave me this to give you, should you show up."
She walked over to the front step and lay her briefcase down. It took her three attempts to get her combination correct, her hands were shaking so, but she finally succeeded in opening the briefcase and pulling out a small manila envelope.
Wordlessly, Snape accepted it and walked away. He waited until the lady had entered the house before he tore the envelope open and looked inside.
your furniture and belongings are being stored at EZ Mini Storage,
Building 3, Unit 11.
Severus looked at the note
with the familiar handwriting. The boy did truly have
penmanship. He tipped the envelope further, and a small key popped out onto his hand.
The key to the storage locker. The only thing left of his time with Harry.
Wordlessly he walked away from the little house he had shared with Harry. He didn't look back.
Severus had expected to hear from Harry once the pain of their separation had eased, for when all was said and done, they had really been close friends as well as lovers. He was surprised when months turned to years and still no word.
Life went on for Severus. He and Quentin were married in a small civic ceremony, and opened an apothecary in Diagon Alley. Life was good for Severus, and he had settled into a happy routine of work and companionship.
was a calm soul, a gentle man who complimented Severus' moodiness.
Where Quentin was learned, Harry had been ignorant Quentin's
inner peace had
contrasted with Harry's insecurity. Where Harry had frustrated Severus, Quentin calmed him. In the shop, Severus slaved away over the cauldrons, while Quentin interacted with the customers in that calm gentle way of his that people found so pleasing.
Severus hadn't thought about Harry in years.
Then the letter came.
On a simple piece of lined paper was Harry's almost illegible chicken scratch.
"My dearest Severus,
I'm sorry to write to you out of the blue. I know that many years have passed since our paths split, and I hope this letter isn't a shock to you, but I am in need of you now. I have no one else to turn to.
Severus, I know that you released me several years ago. It was hard for me to accept it, but I loved you and wanted you to be happy. So I let you be.
Your happiness came at my expense, though, and to be honest, I have to tell you that my life has been wretched without you. Not a day has gone by where you have not been in my thoughts.
I've been living in Morro Bay, California. I've made a life for myself here. I own a local diner. It's not much, but it's mine. It seems the Dursleys taught me to cook rather well, and my skills at whipping up a burger has solidified my reputation with the locals.
It's beautiful here, Sev, with miles of cliffs and ocean as far as the eye can see. So many times I've imagined you standing here next to me, taking in the beautiful view that I never seem to tire of.
Which brings me to the reason for this letter.
I'm ill. Very very ill. And want very much to see you before...well, lets just say before things progress.
I live above my diner. You can't miss it, it's on the main street, and it's called "Harry's" Snicker if you must, I never was very original. However, I think you might have more luck finding me at the general hospital in Santa Cruz.
Please say you'll come...
I want only one thing, and that's to see you again.
Still loving you,
Severus looked at the postmark. It had been sent over two months ago. Harry had not known where to find Severus, so he'd mailed the letter to daft old Mrs. Figg, who had sat on it until her next trip to London.
Severus hurriedly packed and made arrangements to fly immediately to California.
Quentin accompanied him to the airport, and wished him a safe trip. Severus noted the look of unease upon his husband's face as he kissed him goodbye before he turned and walked to the gate.
The flight had been long and it had given Severus ample time to think about Harry.
How he used to be infuriated by him when he was a child. How as he had grown he had lost the mannerism's Snape had associated with James and he'd started seeing Harry.
Harry who bore the weight of the world on his shoulders and never once stumbled.
Harry who had set his sites on his snarky Potions Professor and had patiently waited to be noticed back.
Harry who had ignored all other advances from those younger, prettier and more exciting suitors, forsaking them all for Severus.
Harry, who had lain beneath him and whispered words of love to Severus. Who had broken down the hard cold walls surrounding Severus' heart, and shown him what it was to love again. Enabling Severus to love...another.
Severus' walked through the halls of the hospital. He had been directed to follow the blue line on the floor, and seek out a nurse by the name of Lynn.
They must have alerted her to his arrival, as she was waiting for him by the door to the ward.
She was a young thing, certainly too young to be a nurse. She smiled up at him warmly, a smile that reached all the way to her eyes. Severus liked her immediately, and felt himself relax slightly in her presence.
He felt her loop her arm though his, and she led him to a small room with soft dim lights and a cross on the far wall. Severus realized immediately that he was in the hospital chapel.
Lynn motioned for him to sit. Severus swallowed and took a few deep breaths. She seemed to be waiting for him to say something.
Finally, he turned to her and asked what he did not want to know.
"How long ago."
"About three weeks ago." Lynn said quietly, her face serious and her voice soft.
"Did he suffer?" Snape asked.
"Well, cancer can be painful, but he was kept heavily sedated on Morphine towards the end. I really don't think he felt much of anything."
So it had been Cancer. Had Harry been afraid? Or had he borne his destiny stoically, like he had borne everything else life had thrown at him?
Severus was not a sentimental man, and he didn't know what motivated him to turn to Lynn and ask to see Harry's bed.
Wordlessly Lynn rose and led the way to a private room at the end of the hall. It was a beautiful day, and a sunbeam shone across the empty bed. It was a bright, almost happy room, and he felt soothed that if Harry had to die, his last days were spent in such a room. It wasn't bad at all, as far as hospital rooms went.
He looked down at the bed and tried to picture Harry laying there.
"You know, he always thought that you'd come." Lynn said. "He kept a photo of you here," she said, pointing to a small bedside table. "Towards the end he was hallucinating due to the amount of Morphine. He actually thought you were here. He would talk to you for hours."
Severus felt his eyes well up, and swallowed an unnaturally large lump in his throat.
"What did he say?" he asked quietly. His stiff upper lip was becoming harder and harder to maintain.
"He would just talk. He was not very lucid, so a lot of his babbling didn't make sense, but he seemed to refer to children he thought he had."
At that, Severus buried his head in his hands and wept openly. Lynn stood next to him and quietly rubbed soothing circles on his back.
In that quiet sunny room, Severus Snape wept for a man who he'd not thought about in years. A man who had never moved on, and never given up loving him.
The taxi arrived at its destination. A bluff overlooking the vast ocean, and Severus asked the driver to wait for him before climbing out and hiking to the top of the bluff.
The sun was close to setting, and the metallic blue of the ocean next to the golden light of the dying sun left Severus feeling breathless in its majesty.
He looked down at the box that he still clutched tightly to his chest. He frowned openly at it. A simple common cardboard box that now housed the ashes of the boy-who-lived. If he had only known, he could have arranged for a more tasteful urn.
It was Lynn who had given him directions to the funeral home where Harry had been taken. He had paid for his own cremation, and since he had no family or anyone to retrieve him, he had been placed on a shelf with all of the other unclaimed ashes. Seeing that had almost broken Severus heart. He had to sign copious amounts of documents before they would release Harry's remains to him, but they eventually did.
Severus knew what he had to do...
Overlooking the ocean he opened the flap of the box and looked at the ashes within.
He sighed deeply and let the tears spill from his eyes and drip solemnly down his face. He was glad he was alone for this. He wouldn't want anyone else to see him in this state.
"Harry, my dear dear Harry...I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you. I'm sorry I never looked for you after you left. I got so involved in my little world that I forgot there was a heart I had broken.
"I just don't understand why you never moved on. I wasn't worth you wasting your life on... silly boy...sob silly...lonely...foolish..."
Severus' sobs were pulled violently from his body as he sunk to his knees.
"I'm sorry I hurt you, Harry. Please forgive me...please please please forgive me."
Severus stayed on his knees and cried until he could cry no more.
As the sun kissed the ocean, Severus stood and held out the box.
"Harry James Potter, I release you from this mortal coil. May you find peace in your freedom."
With that he flung the ashes into the wind.
It was odd, for such a windless evening, the ashes seemed to be caught up in a breeze.
They circled Severus once, twice, three times before flying away from him and dissipating over the ocean. Perhaps it was only a trick of the dying light, but Severus got the distinct impression that Harry had finally released him.
He had finally moved on.