Thanks to svartalfur and norbert02, for the fantastic beta.
Written for auntymarion's birthday, prompt "Snape and knitting."
Disclaimer: Not mine.
The house is buried in snow, pristine drifts covering the windows, and Harry cannot escape to the outdoors. He hasn't a prayer of surviving another day alone with Snape, and he lingers by the window until he can no longer stand the cold. There's nothing but white snow pressed up against the window, no hint of light or dark, no hint of the Death Eaters pursuing them.
Shivering, he is drawn into the warmth of the room, the rumbling of the old radiator, the metallic click-click-clack-clack of Snape's knitting needles, the golden light from the old-fashioned lamp. It's warm and welcoming, but Harry hovers on the cold edge of the room and rubs his arms for extra warmth. A howl echoes in the night air, a gasp of wind, the call of the darkness, and Harry creeps closer to the light.
Snape pauses, holds the black wool in his hands, and the silver needles are silent. "Come here, Potter," he says. "I need you to untangle this yarn."
His black eyes glint in the shifting light, the shadows throwing his cheekbones into stark relief. He's a monster, a goblin in the darkness. "Now, Potter," Snape says, and at the tone of his voice, Harry hurries to sit at his feet.
The snow insulates them, takes away nature and neighbors, takes away Harry's escape and leaves him with Snape. Harry tangles his fingers in the skein of wool, jerking at the knots, and waits for the inevitable sharp reprimand.
Click-click-clack-clack, Snape's silver needles make the only noise in the room, and Snape pulls on the yarn until he reaches the first snarl. One eyebrow arched, he looks down at Harry.
There's silence between them, and Snape's expression draws taut, his eyebrows knit together and his lower lip drawn between his teeth. The wind howls around the house, a darkness pressing in through the blizzard, through the drifts of snow, crashing in on them. Harry freezes.
"Focus," Snape says. "Follow the tangle, trace it with your fingers, focus on the yarn, on untangling the yarn."
Harry jerks at it, the knots tightening, and Snape reaches down to him. Before Harry can scurry away from him, before he can avoid the dark goblin's touch, Snape has put his hands under Harry's arms and pulled him up into his lap.
Snape is warm and lean, nothing like a dark goblin twisted with deformity, nothing like the darkness that presses in on their hide-away. He pulls Harry back against his chest and guides his hands to the knitting needles.
"Focus with me, Potter, if you value your life," Snape says, and Harry relaxes into the half-embrace, relaxes into Snape's control. Darkness presses in on them through the blanket of snow, waiting for them, creeping closer, and the wool in their hands is midnight black, soft and safe as a prayer. Harry focuses.
"Knit, knit, purl, purl," Snape says. Their hands move together, guiding the needles, with Snape's long confident fingers guiding Harry's uncertain ones. Click, click, clack, clack, the needles move at a slower pace, flashing silver in the light.
"Clear your mind of all other thoughts and focus on the yarn."
Harry begins to see the pattern, the intricate loops twining together, becoming more than yarn. The black wool is soft, the individual strands weak, and Snape guides Harry's hands in the creation of a stronger, solid whole. It's mesmerizing. Harry loses himself in the pattern, the clicking of the needles, the feeling of the wool against his fingers, the warmth of Snape's body.
He feels it, the darkness that Snape sensed, the howl of the wind around their house, the evil of the Death Eaters pressing in around them, the pressure against his mind. Through it all, Snape is guiding him, his hands on Harry's hands, his breath in Harry's ear. "Occlude," he says. "Clear your mind. Focus on the yarn, think of nothing else."
Click-click-clack-clack, the silver needles flash, the black wool absorbs the light and draws Harry into its pattern. Snape's heartbeat echoes in the silence, the storm pressing in on them, and the Death Eaters drawing closer. Harry pushes them all away. He focuses on the yarn, on the needles, on the pattern. Click-click-clack-clack, and Snape's hands are untangling the yarn, no longer guiding him, and Harry falters.
He takes up the rhythm again with little prompting, click-click- and then it is gone, the darkness flares to death and extinguishes itself. They're alone in the house, alone in the middle of the storm, the Death Eaters abandoning the search. Harry breathes again, the air warm in his lungs, and feels the echo of Snape's heartbeat against his spine. They've come to the end of the yarn.
"Bind it off, like so," Snape says, and guides Harry's hands again. They pull the last loop off the needle, and Harry's fingers tighten on the yarn, pulling the knot together. He sets the needles aside, strokes the dark wool.
Snape pushes Harry out of his lap and wraps the finished scarf around Harry's neck. His fingers do not linger, the warmth of his touch leaving Harry like a prayer, soft and swift in its departure. "You may go outdoors, if you are careful. Occlude if you sense them, and don't lose yourself in the storm. They won't search again tonight."
The shadows that heightened Snape's cheekbones, transforming him into a goblin, are gone. He reaches for another skein of yarn, this one a dark charcoal gray, and takes up his knitting needles.
Harry retreats to the window, his refuge on the edge of the room, and looks out the white-curtained glass at his escape. He turns and watches Snape cast on, watches his long skillful fingers, watches him knit, his eyes closed, focused on his work.
Click-click-clack-clack, the sound echoes through the room again, and Harry fingers the scarf around his neck. He steps away from the window, from the storm, from his escape, and comes to sit by Snape's feet. He takes up the skein of yarn from Snape's lap and begins unwinding it, soothing out the tangles and focusing on the soft texture between his fingers.