Chapter Six

Harry methodically began to ransack his house. He started with the parlour, mainly because Snape was not in that particular room. He opened every drawer and rifled through the contents. He tore books from the shelves and left them lying on the floor. He yanked open cabinets and haphazardly shuffled the contents, knowing there was only a slim chance that Snape had hidden his wand therein. Most likely the bastard had tucked it into a pocket of whatever brightly colored robes he had chosen to wear.

The mere thought of searching through Snape's robes while he wore them made Harry oddly hot and cold at once. The memory of what Snape had done to him slammed to the forefront of his mind with a heady rush. Harry sagged onto the sofa and put his head in his hands for a moment.

He heard Snape in the kitchen, humming as he prepared breakfast. Humming, for the love of God! Harry felt hysterical laughter trying to escape and choked it down. Was it all another bloody game for Severus?

He stood and stormed into the kitchen. Snape glanced at him somewhat warily. The humming ceased. Snape had changed into robes, Harry noted. No bright colors today, but a pale grey with a silvery sheen. They actually looked quite handsome on him, though Harry wished to hell the idea had not occurred to him.

He sighed heavily and began his search anew in the kitchen, tearing out drawers and tossing them randomly on the kitchen floor after a glance at their contents. After the fourth drawer emptied with the crash of utensils, Snape grabbed the front of Harry's dressing gown in both fists and gave him a small shake.

"Potter, what are you doing?" he demanded.

"I want my wand. I need to hex you out of my house and out of my life." And out of my head, he added to himself.

"I already told you; finish your Unbreakable Vow and I will give you your wand and be gone," Snape said quietly. Harry refused to meet the black eyes, terrified of drowning in their dark depths. He forcibly stepped out of Snape's grip and walked back upstairs.

He threw on a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt before curling onto the window seat and staring unseeing at the Muggle roofs below. He sighed and realized he had never really planned to do anything to Malfoy. Harry and Ginny had been finished long before Draco Malfoy had entered the picture. Harry had been married to Voldemort—so obsessed that there had been no room for anything else in his life.

Ginny had tried to wait for him, but his continuous shutting her out had caused countless arguments. She hated the fact that only Ron and Hermione had his true confidence, no matter what she tried. Harry thought she had turned to Malfoy in a desperate attempt to make Harry jealous. It had worked, but apparently far too late. She had actually fallen in love with the platinum-haired Slytherin bastard.

Harry sighed, feeling thoroughly depressed. He wasn't sure he'd really ever been in love with Ginny Weasley. He thought perhaps he'd been in love with the idea of being in love with her. He thought he had wanted the little house, children, pets—the whole stable family life. But not enough to actually put the idea into practice, apparently. Hell, maybe all he really wanted was another Voldemort; another chance to play the hero. It was easy for him and he rather missed the challenge.

He looked at the London rooftops and wished he could grab his broom and fly away, but it was far too light out. If he wanted to fly in the daytime, he should apply to join one of the professional Quidditch teams Ron was constantly haranguing him about.

Snape entered and set a breakfast tray on the desk.

"Write whatever you want for the Unbreakable Vow," Harry told him in a bored tone. "I'll sign it, or vow it, or whatever I need to do."

Harry sensed Snape's black eyes on him, but he didn't care. He heard the Ministry agent pick up a quill and scrawl on a piece of parchment. When he finished, Snape walked over to stand next to Harry's window seat. Harry vacated the spot and went to the desk.

The Daily Prophet was folded on the tray. Harry picked it up and opened it. Rita Skeeter had wasted no time. Harry's mostly-nude form gaped at him in horror and tried to cover himself while an expressionless Snape lay on the bed next to him. The headlines screamed: HARRY POTTER IN LOVE!

Harry refolded the paper and dropped it with a grimace, not bothering to read it. Truthfully, he had expected much worse. It wasn't the first time rumors about him had been bandied about the wizarding world; but this was the first time photographic evidence accompanied it. He ignored the breakfast Snape had brought up and turned his attention to the parchment. He barely skimmed the words that promised no harm to Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter. Harry didn't even care any more. He scrawled his signature on the bottom.

Snape sighed heavily and walked over to take the parchment as Harry tossed the quill aside. He rolled it up and tucked it into his silvery robe.

"Since you can't wait to be rid of me, I'll be going now. I'll send the Minister over later today with someone to Bond you to the Unbreakable Vow." Harry watched him expressionlessly and Snape's steady gaze was fathomless. His lips twisted in something that resembled chagrin and he continued, "I left your wand on the table downstairs."

Snape turned and walked toward the door, although he could have Disapparated from anywhere in the house. Number Twelve Grimmauld Place was no longer the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. It was no longer a secret. Snape paused in the doorway and looked at Harry with an earnest expression in his black eyes—the eyes that concealed enough hurt to kill a lesser man.

"Harry," he said softly. "For what it's worth… I never meant to hurt you."

And then he was gone.


Scrimgeour appeared later that afternoon with a dour-looking Ministry official in tow. Harry examined the strange man closely, wondering if Snape were Polyjuiced into yet another disguise, but the fellow barely glanced at Harry while Bonding him to the vow that would protect Draco Malfoy from well-deserved retribution. The Minister of Magic seemed satisfied when it was done and turned to leave. Harry stopped him.

"This was apparently done in order to protect the Ministry," Harry said flatly. "I'm letting you know right now, if you interfere in my life again, I will hunt you down, Ministry or no Ministry."

"Are you threatening me in front of a witness, Potter?" Scrimgeour blustered.

"You bet I am," Harry replied. Scrimgeour met his gaze evenly, but said nothing. Harry had always had an unspoken enmity with the Minister, but now he had declared outright war. Scrimgeour and the cheerless Bonder departed.

Harry lay awake that night feeling the emptiness of the house closing in around him. He missed the small sounds he'd grown used to in the past few days—Snape moving about downstairs or the chink of glasses and utensils. He even missed the humming. Unbidden, Snape's words kept sliding through his mind.

I've wanted you for a very long time. I never meant to hurt you.

Harry cursed and pounded a fist on the bed. Was he so fucking desperate for companionship that he missed Severus Snape? He made a mental note to go and visit some of his friends later in the week. Ron or Hermione or Neville Longbottom.

The problem was, none of them could possibly touch the nadir of despair that threatened to drown him lately. Only one person seemed to understand the darkness at the center of Harry's soul.

Only one.


When Harry walked into the Apothecary Shop, the only person in sight was a short, rather roundish witch waiting at the counter. She wore purple robes and a large pointy hat adorned with huge yellow flowers. And a hummingbird. It buzzed from flower to flower as Harry watched. She smiled absently at him.

Harry browsed the shelves, not seeing the various jars and bottles at all. He considered leaving. He wasn't even certain why he had come. It was possible Snape had not even continued with the Rodney persona. They could have assigned him a new identity by now.

Snape's voice, albeit with the odd Snyder-Smythe inflection, sounded from the back room.

"Here is your Bundimun secretion, Mrs. Murray. We should have the horned slugs in by the end of the week. If you'll wait a moment, I'll measure out your—" Snape's voice trailed off as he entered the room and caught sight of Harry. His eyes widened a bit, enough that even Mrs. Murray noticed. She turned to look at Harry and caught sight of his scar.

"By Circe, it's Harry Potter!" she breathed. "The actual Harry Potter!" She propelled herself forward and grabbed Harry's hand to give it a sprightly shake while the hummingbird zipped around Harry's head in a crazy spiral. Harry gave her his usual pleased-to-meet-you-get-the-hell-away-from-me smile. She stilled suddenly and looked back at Snape. Her mouth curled into an O.

"You and Rodney… I read about you in the paper! Oh my, you two would probably like some privacy. I'll just nip out and do some shopping. Come back later. Wait until Heloise hears I met Harry Potter!"

She released Harry and hurried toward the door. She turned back with the portal half-open and regarded them both with a happy sigh. "Such a cute couple," she gushed and fled.

Snape's eyes hadn't left Harry. He was dressed in forest green robes today. It seemed a depressing color for Rodney Snyder-Smythe. Severus walked to the shelves and began to rearrange tiny bottles.

"Did you come for revenge, Potter? Do you plan to Crucio me or something worse?"

"I haven't decided yet."

"I won't stop you. Do your worst." Snape's voice was heavy with something Harry had never heard from him before. What was it? Regret?

"Actually, I was looking for something. It's a particular type of mud. From Cork, I believe. It has healing properties."

Snape turned to stare at Harry as if he'd gone completely mad.

"What do you need it for?" Snape asked in a whisper. Harry stepped close to him.

"Someone I know has a large number of scars. I know the mud won't heal them… but it might make him feel better for awhile."

Snape's eyes slid shut and he tipped his head back as if trying to wake himself from a dream. Harry stepped even closer and reached a hand up to slide it behind Snape's neck. He felt a shiver jolt through Severus.

"What are you saying, Harry?" he asked hoarsely.

"The entire wizarding world thinks we're a couple now. I thought you might like to come home."

Before Snape could register the words, Harry leaned in and kissed him. He enjoyed the shocked moment of disbelief before the strong hands rose to grip Harry's shoulders and push him away. The black eyes were quickly hooded, but not before Harry caught the glimmer of vulnerability.

"Is this some horrible trick?" Snape asked.

Harry sighed deeply. "You caught me," he said in a dejected tone. Snape's hands tightened convulsively and Harry went on. "I'm out of biscotti and I need you to make more. I'm willing to do anything."

Snape stared at him and then his lips curved into a disbelieving grin. "Anything?"

Harry nodded. "I'll even suffer some of your home remedies."

The answering kiss nearly brought Harry to his knees.

Author's Note: It's finally finished! I'm not super duper happy with it, but considering the subject matter, I think I did okay! Hope you liked it, Marie Angele!