A Rose is Arrows is Eros:

A Comedic Tale of Love Overcoming Goodness

By Tangledhair

Summary: When an angel falls in love with Harry, Snape is forced to reveal his true feelings before this beautiful, perfect, idyllic being decides to stay for good. This proves easier said than done. Featuring: SociallyAwkward!Snape. Humor, romance, pre-slash.

X

XIX

XIXIX "A Rose is Arrows is Eros" XIXIX

Snape had just come into view of Harry's position on the hill when all Hell broke loose. Literally. The Dark Lord turned around, raised his wand, yowled some ancient incantation, and then the Earth split open and the bowels of Hell were released into the human realm.

Blasted boy. Turn your back on him for four measly hours of open warfare, and something like this happens!

Snape had been trying to fight his way through the throng to get to him for what seemed like an eternity. The Dark Army had come. The Light Army had rallied. And before Snape even had a chance to summon his partner to do his duty, Harry Potter had gone into the thick of it. Fearing the idiot boy would make some foolish and overzealous mistake, there was nothing for it but for Snape to follow.

Every second of what would hopefully become known as the 'Final Battle'—the 'Final Battle Victory,' Snape amended—the 'Final Battle Victory for the Light Army,' he amended further—stretched on hopelessly as Snape clashed with his enemies, desperately searching for Harry. Harry couldn't do this without him. He was young and brash and foolhardy. Without Snape steadfast at his side he stood no chance, really. Harry needed him.

And four hours later, Snape found him just in time to watch the boy quail as Hell demons erupted in a volcanic torrent. Voldemort turned back and Snape saw that now was the moment his Harry would need him most. Except…

Harry, too, raised his wand, keened out some ancient incantation and Snape was shocked to see the sky split open. Heaven's minions poured forth from the cavity in the sky, smashing into the battle below with a heady abandon. Snape battled on, drawing ever closer. Harry and Voldemort raised their wands to each other. Snape noticed an Angel hovering nearby Harry.

Very nearby.

A jealous indignation flared up in his gut. How dare that beautiful and divine creature get that close to his Harry?! Snape had half a mind to march over there, yank the boy away and tell that Angel a thing or two about coming on to wizards who were already romantically attached to someone else.

He refrained from doing this because 1) just then some Death Eaters sent a few pesky killing curses this way, thereby keeping him from getting any closer for a few minutes while he dealt with the offenders, 2) Harry was busy trying to kill the Dark Lord and Snape didn't want to distract him with some love-sick tirade about etiquette in relationships, and 3) Harry didn't technically know that he and Snape were in a relationship because Snape hadn't ever technically told Harry how he felt and so Snape might get caught in the technicality that the Angel was actually allowed to come on to Harry, even given standard relationship etiquette rules.

During the few minutes Snape was distracted by the band of Death Eaters trying to kill him, Harry finished off the Dark Lord. Death Eaters with active Dark Marks started dropping like flies. Snape added this as another reason he was glad he'd joined Dumbledore. He didn't particularly fancy the idea of dying right now. No, staying alive right now was a far better option. He turned to Harry, headed toward him at a trot.

A battle of supernatural proportions raged on all around them, but all Snape saw at that moment was the Angel slipping its arms delicately, lovingly, around Harry's shoulders. Snape stopped dead in his tracks. Harry was still staring at Voldemort's fallen body. He hadn't noticed Snape yet. But the Angel had. He looked up and met Snape's eye with a beatific smile.

And winked.

Snape snapped. He stalked forward, intent on putting an end to this at once. As soon as he was within hearing distance, the Angel gently turned Harry around and spoke to him with a voice that was like music at sunset.

"When this battle ends, the other Angels will return to heaven. But I will stay for love of Harry Potter."

Snape stopped dead in his tracks. Again. This time he was merely four feet away.

The Angel continued, its voice a serenade. "I will stay for 48 hours."

Snape sighed in relief.

"And then, depending on your choice, I will either return to heaven, or I will cut my wings and remain with you for your lifelong happiness."

Snape took back the sigh. He drew himself up to his full height and bellowed, "Mr. Potter, what is the meaning of this?!"

Harry jumped and spun toward him. His face was flushed. And sure, he'd just killed a terrible Dark Lord after four hours of battle, including opening up an entrance to a supernatural realm, but Snape wasn't willing at this moment to make such allowances and so assigned Harry's flushed cheeks to the Angel's declarations of love. He pulled up his lip into a disgusted snarl.

"I… er… that is… Voldemort's dead," he ground out finally, motioning to the nearby corpse.

Severus didn't spare it a glance. "And you decide to celebrate by ensnaring an Angel? Send it back at once!"

Harry tensed. "I didn't…"

The Angel moved his fingers over Harry's shoulders protectively. "I stay for love of Harry Potter," he repeated. "I will stay for 48 hours…"

"Yes, yes. I heard you the first time." Snape waved off the Angel dismissively. "Potter, he said it is your choice. Send. It. Back. Now."

But the Angel wrapped its arms around the boy's torso, lifting him up. "I will stay for 48 hours," he said again. "Come, Harry Potter. The battle will be over soon."

And he flew away. With Harry. In his arms. Snape watched them go, his mouth suddenly very dry. How the hell could he compete with something so beautiful and perfect? It was over. Harry was gone and he had never even had a chance…

Snape meant to give up hope. Instead, he looked at his watch. It was 3:00 exactly, Friday afternoon. He had 48 hours to convince the boy to send away an Angel who was in love with him.

Blast.

XIXIX

8:42pm, Friday.

Chaos. That's what this was. And that's what had reigned for almost six hours (ten, if you counted the tedious four hours of war that proceeded it) since Harry had been carted off by the love angel to unimaginable happiness. The supernatural battle ended eventually and every being not-of-this-earth, save one, had returned to their respective not-of-this-earth homes. The dead were being accounted for. The wounded were being attended to. The press was being dealt with. And several members of the Order, and an Angel, were crowded into Dumbledore's office.

Severus pinched the bridge of his nose. This was going nowhere. But he couldn't help himself. He tried again.

"That thing," he said distastefully, "Does not belong on this planet. It must be sent back. All of the others went back. I don't see why it has to…"

"It chose to stay with Harry!" snapped Molly Weasley. "And frankly, after what he's done he has every right to a bit of happiness."

"Yes… they will live in perfect happiness forever…" warbled Trelawney. Snape glared at her. He still couldn't understand why Dumbledore had let her join the Order. Only yesterday she was predicting Harry would trampled to death by a herd of rabid unicorns.

"Well, I think it's sweet," cut in McGonagall. She lifted an eyebrow in Snape's direction. Bloody old cat. She knew how he felt; had figured it out long ago. She was just needling him to get a rise. Well, she wasn't going to get it.

"And entirely romantic," she continued. "I mean, can you imagine this beautiful being of pure goodness staying behind because he fell in love with Harry Po—"

"He is not pure goodness!" Snape thundered, pointing accusingly at the Angel.

Remus cleared his throat. "Um, Severus? Yes he is. That's kind of what Angels are."

Snape scowled darkly. He opened his mouth, hoping some clever and biting comment would figure its way out of it, but then Ms. Granger-Weasley cut in.

"But don't you think it's kind of weird? I mean, Harry had only just opened the floodgates. Even the Angel admits he had only been in our realm a matter of minutes when he decided to stay."

Snape gestured at Hermione briskly. Case in point. The creature was probably just using Harry to escape heaven. Never mind that heaven was supposed to be perfect and this world was anything but as of late. Right now Snape was willing to believe all manner of nefarious scheming, no matter how improbable, if it would get that blasted beautiful Angel out of Harry's life.

"Still," Hermione continued. "Harry should have the final decision."

Everyone turned to Harry. Harry looked around at everyone. Then he shrugged.

"He already said he's staying for 48 hours, no matter what I choose right now. And, look. It's been kind of a long day." Snape snorted at Harry's clever use of irony. Long day, indeed. "I'm really tired. Can't I just get some rest and figure this all out later?"

He did look weary. Snape wanted to gather him up in his arms and carry him off to bed, tuck him in, pet his hair as he drifted off to sleep. But he couldn't do any of those things. He glared instead.

And then the Angel grabbed him! Picked him up in his arms! Like anyone could just… do that!

He spoke. "I will take Harry Potter to bed." Fawkes stirred on his perch and let out a long, happy trill. Snape had half a mind to kill that bird.

"An excellent idea for everyone, I'm sure," said Dumbledore happily. "It has, after all, been a long day."

What with the war and all. Snape snorted again, glowering at that "being of pure goodness" that was currently stealing the only person he'd ever loved.

The Angel carried the half-asleep Harry Potter to the door. Everyone began shuffling out behind it. Snape started to follow, just to keep an eye on that thing to make sure that it didn't try to molest his partner while he slept.

"Severus? If I could have a word please?"

Snape turned back just in time to see the headmaster motion surreptitiously for McGonagall to stay as well. He glanced back at the door and watched the Angel's wings disappear down the curving flight of stairs, and sighed deeply. He dropped himself sullenly into the chair directly in front of Dumbledore and pinched the bridge of his nose.

After everyone was gone, Dumbledore said quietly, "Are you going to tell him, Severus?"

"Tell who, what?" snapped Snape. He knew perfectly well what the headmaster was talking about, but he had an image to uphold.

"You know perfectly well what I am talking about," said the headmaster.

Snape meant to argue. Instead he found himself raising his hands in defeat. "Oh, what's the point?" he snarled. "He'd have to be out of his bleeding mind to turn down an Angel. They're pure goodness, and he's had far too many dealings with darkness in his lifetime."

Dumbledore nodded seriously, but his eyes twinkled in that bloody annoying manner that suggested he had the inside track on some cosmic joke the rest of the world had been left out of.

"Yes, but I think you'll find Harry is not quite as immune to the darkness he's dealt with, as the Angel is."

Snape felt rage stirring in the pit of his stomach. "He will not become a dark wizard," he hissed. Snape would die before he'd let that happen. He had already threatened Harry with unspeakable acts of violence were he to ever turn dark. Plus, he'd taught him grounding rituals that would help him re-center after particularly gruesome ordeals. And he monitored him to make sure he did them properly and regularly. He was very careful to make sure the darkness could not build up in Harry enough to make him turn.

"And I wasn't suggesting he would," chuckled Dumbledore. "I am only offering up the idea that Harry is human, with human reactions to evil."

And the Angel will keep him pure, Snape finished in his head. Blast it. He didn't have a right to keep goodness out of the boy's life. Not after everything.

"Very well," he sighed. "I'll leave him alone."

He missed the pleading look Dumbledore cast at McGonagall.

He also missed how she rolled her eyes at the headmaster's pleading.

Then he missed how Dumbledore looked at her rather meaningfully, calling to mind some little bit of blackmail he had over her.

He further missed McGonagall's glare as she assented, along with a very pointed narrowing of her eyebrows which indicated she would get Dumbledore back for holding her free will hostage with those photographs.

And finally, he missed the sparkling of Dumbledore's eyes that clearly stated he looked forward to enjoying her failed attempts at vengeance.

McGonagall turned to the surly man who was staring at the floor.

"Well, thank the gods you've finally come to your senses, Severus!" She over-dramatized the relief a bit, but it certainly got Snape's attention. "I really thought you had lost all perspective after those many long months of working in such close proximity with Harry. I was afraid for a moment that you were finally going to rally your courage and attempt an actual, long-term relationship with him."

Snape glowered, looked away. Of course he had lost all perspective working with the boy. That was what happened when you fell in love. Or, so Snape assumed, seeing as how this was his first time to fall in love. And a long-term relationship wouldn't come amiss. He certainly didn't think he could stomach the idea of being away from Harry ever again after the many long months they had spent together. Minerva was out of her mind if she thought he had come to his senses!

Wait. Snape had the sneaking suspicion his thoughts had not reached the logical conclusion he had been aiming for. It must be something else. Something like,

"I assure you I would not have to rally my courage to tell Harry how I feel."

No, that didn't sound right either. It was supposed to have been something more rational having to do with leaving Harry to his happiness. He…

"Riiiight," said McGonagall skeptically. "You were always afraid to tell him how you felt. And now there's an Angel between you and you don't think he'd choose you."

Snape was on his feet, his hands balled into fists. "Of course he would choose me! That Angel doesn't have the first idea who Harry is or what he needs!"

McGonagall was on her feet as well. "Admit it, Severus! You're afraid to talk to him. That's why you never have!"

"I am not afraid!"

"Then why didn't you tell him months ago?!"

"There was a war on! He needed to concentrate. I couldn't distract him!"

"And now that the war's over? Were you going to tell him before he left Hogwarts to start his own life?"

Snape stumbled over the idea. Harry leaving Hogwarts. It wasn't something he liked to consider.

McGonagall scoffed. "You didn't think he was going to stay here, did you? He's long since graduated. And now that you-know-who is dead, he's not going to need a safe place to live and train any longer."

Snape stepped away, at a loss for words. McGonagall looked to Dumbledore to see if she was done yet. He raised his eyebrows to urge her on, to go in for the kill.

She took a deep breath. "No, I suppose now that the war's over and he has an Angel, Harry's going to walk away from this place and we'll never see him again. So you'll never even have another chance to prove you're not a coward."

McGonagall gave him a tart smile, as though that had settled everything. She strode from the room, and Snape had half a mind to call her back and beg her to tell him how one goes about telling the love of his life that he is the love of his life before said love of his life runs away forever with an Angel.

But the other half of his mind was still reeling—caught between the battling thoughts, "Harry cannot leave forever," and, "I am not a coward!"

Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling so enthusiastically Snape thought his head might explode. He vacated the office before he wound up with Dumbledore bits on him.

XIXIX

10:04am, Saturday.

Snape had been up half the night, pacing. This is in the sense of "half the night, pacing" which really means "he spent the past eleven hours going insane trying to figure out how to fix this, some of which time he spent pacing." And this is the sense where "going insane" really means "edging toward nervous breakdown, but not quite batshit crazy."

Ever since the conversation with Dumbledore and McGonagall, Snape knew he was not capable of simply sitting back silently and letting this happen. Clearly, Dumbledore thought the boy deserved a little goodness in his life. Rather, he deserved a being of pure goodness in his life. And clearly McGonagall was relieved that Snape had been too big a coward to ever come clean to the boy.

And maybe they were both right. But that wasn't to say that Snape wasn't going to try his damnedest to prove them both wrong anyway. He was, after all, a selfish man.

A stubborn, selfish man.

A stubborn, reclusive, selfish man.

A stubborn, reclusive, selfish man with absolutely no experience in romance.

Sex he had experience with. But love? Nothing. He had no idea where to begin with love. He didn't know how to act. He didn't know what to say. He didn't know what was required of him in these situations.

He had once spent over a month trapped in an underground bunker with Harry while all manner of dark creatures and wizards swarmed the area searching for them. The two men had passed the time quite pleasantly, actually, training in offensive and defensive battle tactics and preparing themselves mentally for their inevitable discovery when they would put this training to work in order to slightly prolong their inevitable defeat by a far superior force at which time they would both, inevitably, die.

Preparing for death with Harry had been a cakewalk. Figuring out how to woo him was nigh impossible. He was unequipped to deal with it. He was going to need some help.

XIXIX

10:17am, Saturday

Snape sat on the steps and glowered at the portrait. He was going to have to be respectful of their privacy and need for rest if they were going to help him. He certainly couldn't just slam his way into their quarters, drag them out of bed, and force them to facilitate his courtship of Harry.

So he would just sit here patiently and wait for them to exit their quarters at their own leisure.

Anyway, that unholy portrait was not going to allow him entrance. He'd tried. 'Do not disturb' orders, his arse.

XIXIX

11:51am, Saturday

Hermione and Ron didn't exit their quarters until nearly lunchtime. As if Snape hadn't lost enough time already! For all he knew Harry could've bonded himself to the Angel by now!

"Thought you'd have a bit of a lie-in, did you?" he snarled unpleasantly.

Hermione huffed at him and shifted the toddler in her arms to the other hip. "And a lovely good morning to you too, Professor," she said.

Snape nodded. She never got ruffled by him anymore. Snape found he rather liked the girl. Ron, however…

"I should say we deserve a rest after yesterday," he snapped in an impetuous whine. "And a bit of time alone with the family. Not that you would understand…"

"Ron," groaned Hermione.

"What? After everything we've been through…"

"Is there something we can do for you, Professor?" Hermione said over him. The miniature person in her arms grabbed a handful of frizzy hair and put it in its mouth. Hermione didn't seem to notice or mind. Bizarre things, children. Parents, too, for that matter.

"Yes," he said. "Yes, I, ah, require your, ah, assistance." Bloody hell he was starting to sound like Potter! Not that he minded when Harry stuttered. That was perfectly charming. But Snape rather doubted he could stutter so much without people looking at him like he was an idiot.

Sure enough, Ron gaped at him. Snape scowled more darkly.

"With what?" Hermione asked brightly, as though she hadn't noticed anything.

Snape paused. How to phrase this so they would help him? He should probably start by confessing he was in love with their best friend.

"I don't trust that creature that has attached itself to my partner! I want you to help me make it go away."

Snape missed the look of comprehension in Hermione's eyes, as well as the grin that followed. He was too busy preparing to argue with Ron, who was sputtering indignantly.

"You can't still be on about that! It's a being made of pure goodness!"

"It is not—"

"Snape'sright.It'sbesttobecertain!" cut in Hermione quickly, before things could escalate. Both men looked at her in shock. She cleared her throat and turned to Ron. "It's Harry," she said, as though that explained everything.

Ron sighed. Shrugged. Nodded. Snape looked to Hermione in amazement. How had those two words possibly won that argument? No matter. They were on his side now. Even if they were slightly misled as to the reason why they were on his side now.

"You're free right now, I take it?" said Hermione, turning back to Snape. He nodded. "Good, we're just going down to have lunch with Harry. You'll come with us. Ron and I will handle the Angel. I've read all about them. And plus, we've got little Tisamenus, here. Young children are supposed to be able to tell if goodness is true."

Snape nodded. "And you'll tell it to go away?"

Hermione rolled her eyes with a smile. "It's Harry's choice, now, isn't it? You spend the lunch talking with Harry. Ask him about the Angel. Nicely," she added sternly, as though in preemptive admonishment, "And then tell him why you would like him to choose for the Angel to leave."

"Like he would ever take my advice," muttered Snape.

Ron coughed angrily. "Harry's not stupid, you know," he growled. "He follows your advice whenever it's any good!"

"Ron…"

"What, Hermione? The man's got to know how much weight Harry gives his opinion! The least he could do in return is accept that Harry's got some brains in his head."

It's not the brains in his head I'm worried about, thought Snape to himself.

XIXIX

12:37pm, Saturday.

The meal had been going well enough. Hermione had managed to seat herself in between Harry and the Angel. She plopped her son into the Angel's lap and proceeded to grill the thing about all manner of Angel-facts. She knew an awful lot, as it turned out. If Snape had not already decided to loathe this particular creature even more than Longbottom, he may have been interested to listen in on their conversation.

As it was, he had to work on Harry.

"Did you ever wind up using that Hair Fire hex we found?"

Harry looked at him across the table and nodded. That had been a particularly good one. It caused all of the victim's hair to catch fire. All of the hair on their body. Harry sat up a bit straighter, then leaned forward over the table so he could lower his voice while he talked to Snape.

"You remember that multi-level shield we practiced in the bunker?"

Snape nodded, intrigued. He'd forgotten about that one and had never used it in battle.

"Well," Harry's eyes glinted, "If you time it just right, you can cast it so a curse coming at you gets caught between the layers."

Snape's eyes darkened. "You should not have let a curse get that close to you," he admonished. He should have been right next to him in battle. That never would have happened if he had been there.

"I was busy," explained Harry, unrepentant. "Anyway, it bounces around between the layers and actually draws strength from the shield. Then you can drop the shield while it's flying back out."

"Or while it's bouncing straight toward you."

Harry shook his head. "No, it's easier to control than you'd think. And when it goes back out, it's covered with a shield of it's own. So it's protected from a counter-curse!"

"Bloody hell," whispered Snape in awe. "Who did you hit with that?"

A grin. A touch of pride. "Several people. I got Nott, MacNair, both the LeStranges, and a few people who were still masked. They didn't figure out what I was doing, but it did make them more wary around me. It was easier to get through to Voldemort after that. Everyone else was afraid to try and stop me."

Snape shook his head. That was his Harry.

A booted toe struck his shin under the table. Snape looked over to Hermione, who looked at him, and then very pointedly looked at the Angel that was currently bouncing young Tisamenus on its knee.

Right. That blasted Angel. Snape needed to ask Harry a few questions about it, nicely, and then express his opinion that Harry should send it away. Hermione had said it was best to be honest with his true concerns. Right.

"Did you have sex with that Angel yet?" he bit out angrily.

Hermione winced. Harry flushed. The Angel cooed at Tisamenus. Tisamenus laughed.

"What? I… no! I didn't…"

"Or were you too busy trying to ensnare a whole harem of them?"

"No! I told you. I didn't ask…"

"I see. Everybody's favorite Golden Boy can prance about with as many unearthly concubines as he wants! Never mind the rest of us lowly humans!"

"What are you…? How could…? I wouldn't ever…"

"Harry? Could I have a word, please?" Dumbledore looked to Snape apologetically as he strode up. Harry glared at him before turning to the headmaster.

"Of course, sir. What can I do for you?"

"Harry, I'm afraid the press is here. They'd like an interview with you and the Angel."

Harry's face and neck turned bright red. He spared a glance to Snape before saying so eloquently, "Er… I… that is…"

"I'm sorry, Harry. I've put them off as long as I could. They're going to climb in through the windows if you don't just go out and talk to them."

Harry's shoulders slumped. The Angel was immediately by his side, with Tisamenus passed off to his mother. Dumbledore led the two toward the Entrance Hall. Harry looked back over his shoulder, his eyes almost pleading for Snape to rescue him.

Snape had, of course, spent many long months rescuing Harry from the press. But he was currently far too furious to bother. The boy was actually trying to gather an entire harem of Angels! The nerve of… oh… wait… he never actually said that was what he was doing. Snape had just never given him a chance to refute the accusation.

He dropped his head onto the table. That had not gone well.

XIXIX

7:23pm, Saturday.

Snape had not gone to dinner. He had watched through a window while Harry and that insufferable Angel fielded questions for nearly five hours. Harry had never noticed he was watching. The Angel had. Of all of the many dozens of windows on the eastern face of the castle, the Angel had looked up directly into the one Snape was standing in. And then he had put his arm around Harry, rubbing his back lightly.

It should have been Snape. Snape should be the one standing there with him, should be protecting him again from the press, should be touching him like a lover.

Snape had, in fact, touched Harry many times. He had massaged sore muscles after training sessions, had mended broken bones after minor battles, had applied burn salve on regrown skin when that Dragon Guardian had claimed most of Harry's back, had laid on top of him to shield him from the fallout when the Order finally found them that time and had blown their way into the bunker. He and Harry had even been naked together during that one escape through the Seeping Swampland that had dragged at their robes, pulling them down until they were almost submerged in the muck. They had to drop everything but their wands, and even then had had to carry each other through, pulling each other along every step of the way.

But he had never touched Harry the way the Angel had touched him then.

When they had finally turned to come back into the castle, Snape decided to go to him, to tell him the truth, to see where it led them. Instead, he went to his potions lab and hid. He didn't even bother going to dinner. He knew they'd be there. Harry and the Angel that touched him.

There was a knock at the door and for a moment, Snape's heart leapt into his throat. "Come," he croaked.

But it wasn't Harry. It was Hermione, Ron, and their spawn. Snape glowered at them, then went back to what he was doing. Which turned out to be nothing. Realizing this, he started moving things around to make it look like he was really busy.

Hermione and Ron stared at him. But he was really busy. He ignored them.

"You only have until 3:00 tomorrow," Hermione said finally.

Snape stopped to look at her. "I assure you I don't know wh…"

She spoke over him. "You know Harry. He's had precious little love in his life, and even less goodness. He's not going to send the Angel away if he thinks it's his only chance at happiness."

Snape drew in a deep breath. Ron took the child from Hermione's arms. It proceeded to stick his tie in its mouth.

"She's always right, you know," he said.

"You're in on this too, are you?" Snape's chances would really improve if both Harry's best friends were knowingly trying to help him. He dared not hope it.

His glower deepened. Ron looked away. Snape had thought as much.

But Ron spoke again, even though he didn't look at him while he did so. "Well, she put it to me like this: The only human on this earth who's been through as much as Harry is you."

"The only human," Snape repeated.

Ron nodded, continued. "The Angel has battled plenty of demons, I'm sure. But… it's pure goodness. It couldn't possibly understand what it's like for a human to have gone through all that."

"You understand him," Hermione added. "Harry knows that. He's said as much."

Snape looked at her sharply. "Does he know how I feel?" he demanded. "Would he send an Angel away?"

Hermione chewed her lip. "I don't know," she admitted. "But I think he deserves a choice."

XIXIX

9:59pm, Saturday.

Snape paced by the lake. Ron was going to use the kid to keep the Angel busy and send Harry out to talk to him. Hermione was going to stay out of sight and whisper romantic suggestions to Snape via magical earpiece. She would walk Snape through the process of confessing his love to Harry, and then they would see what happened.

"Why does it have to be by the lake?" Snape had asked. He would have been far more comfortable confessing his love in the dungeons.

"The lake is more romantic," Hermione had answered. You'll have a waxing moon, shining stars, the rippling sounds of water, and…"

She had handed Snape a dozen roses. The stems had been magicked perfectly straight, all thorns removed.

"And why do I need these?"

Hermione had rolled her eyes. "Roses are the standard romantic gift. This way he'll understand your intentions even if you have trouble speaking them."

Snape had to admit that sounded appealing. He wasn't exactly best with words where Harry and Romance were involved. Still, the roses had given him an idea. When Hermione had gone off to prepare the earpiece, he had set about improving them. He would meet Harry at the lake at ten.

He had only been out there a few minutes when he saw Harry approaching from the castle. He drew a deep breath, trying to still the pixies in his stomach. It was now or never.

"Okay," Hermione whispered. "When he reaches you, give him the roses, first off."

Snape nodded. Harry approached. Snape thrust the roses at him.

"Here," he barked.

"Be polite about it, at least!" Hermione hissed.

"Here, take these," he amended.

He thought he heard a slap from somewhere nearby. He had. Hermione had slapped her forehead.

Harry froze.

He stared at the roses, his mouth dropping open a fraction. He looked up to Snape and Snape was pleased to see that his eyes had gone wide. He knew Harry's eyes. This was a happy surprise to him. Just wait until he saw what more they were.

Harry carefully reached up and took the dozen roses into his arms. "I… I don't know what to say," he breathed. "Thank you." He met Snape's eyes again and Snape could tell he was flushed even in the darkness.

"Wait," he said, "There's more."

"More?" Hermione whispered.

Snape stepped closer to Harry, who drew himself up with a sharp intake of breath. Gently, Snape pulled one of the roses free. He drew it out of the bundle carefully. Harry's eyes narrowed slightly in confusion. Snape held the stem up for him to see. It was razor sharp.

"I put a Vis Acer spell on them," he said proudly.

Hermione groaned as she watched. Harry shifted his stance immediately. Where he had been holding the roses like a precious romantic gift, had been drawing toward Snape as though drawn toward a promise, he was now standing like they were planning a battle strategy. Hermione had to fix this.

"What does it do?" Harry asked, examining the rose critically.

"These stems will pierce any natural barrier. I was thinking about that time on the edge of the Dark Woods…"

Harry laughed, remembering. "Right. The drow citadel. Gods, what a nightmare! I walked right into their trap. Thought I was dead, for sure."

"Yeah, for a second I thought you were, too," grumbled Snape.

Harry grinned at him, waved off that concern long past. "Nah, you were there. You never would have let me die from so inane a mistake. Still, a rose like this would've been nice when we were trying to fight our way back out of there."

"It'll pierce stone, too," said Snape, prodding near the tip of the stem.

"Really?" Harry was clearly impressed. He turned the roses upside down to inspect all of their stems. Hermione watched on in horror as her romantic gesture was reduced to a bunch of pointed sticks.

"Cool."

"I started fashioning a bow, but I haven't finished it yet. The tension wasn't quite enough to get a proper distance."

"This is not romantic," Hermione hissed. "You have to tell him why you're giving him the roses. Tell him how you feel."

Snape felt a cold fist in his gut. He had thought this was going rather well. Clearly, Hermione did not agree. He didn't get it. He'd told him why he gave him the roses. The drow citadel. Harry knew what he was talking about right away.

"Wow. I really appreciate this," said Harry. "Everything you've done."

"I've done all this to keep you alive," he said stiffly. Because he wanted Harry to stay alive. That was how he felt. He felt it like a terrific pain in his chest.

Harry looked down. "You've done a great job of it," he said softly.

Snape bristled at all the possibilities that lay strewn in their past.

"Not good enough. You were almost killed at the drow citadel." Because Snape hadn't prepared him enough. But now Harry had Vis Acer arrows.

"But I wasn't killed," Harry snapped edgily.

"Because you were lucky," Snape snapped back.

"No. Because you trained me!" Harry growled.

"A lot of good it did you when faced with an unknown threat!"

"And how was I supposed to know the drow could cloak their fortress in darkness?!" He was yelling now.

"I knew!" And I should have told you.

"That's why I brought you!" Harry hollered at him. "Because you know things that I don't! And I was astute enough to realize I'd need you in a fight!"

"And yet just yesterday you ran off into the Final Battle alone," he seethed. "Tell me, Potter, where was the wisdom there?"

Harry threw up his hands. One of the roses slipped out of the bundle and speared into the ground. It stood upright between them, wavering slightly.

"Stop yelling at him!" Hermione said into Snape's ear. "You're supposed to be confessing your love."

Snape ripped the earpiece out of his head, crushed it in his fist.

"You knew it had to come down to me and Voldemort!" Harry barked. "That's what you've been training me for!"

"We trained as partners!"

"You said I'd have to stand on my own!"

Snape stopped short.

That had been years ago. Before the bunker. Before the Seeping Swampland. Before the drow citadel. Before the Malfoy Manor mission. Before the Dragon's Lair. Before the many long months of training together. And Harry really thought Snape would still mean that? After… after everything?

Snape grabbed the boy's collar up in his fist and pulled him close. "We trained as partners," he hissed. "For years. I gave up years of my life to train you. If I had known you were going to be so cavalier as to run off alone into a war zone, I wouldn't have bothered. I—"

He clamped his mouth shut, a muscle in his jaw twitching angrily. Harry had thrown him away yesterday. He'd thrown away years of partnership, and he could have gotten killed doing it. Snape had never been so furious in his life.

"You said I'd have to stand on my own," Harry whispered again. His breath ghosted across Snape's face. Snape knew at that moment that he was going to kiss the boy.

Instead, he thrust him away. "I should have let you die at the drow citadel," he said. "Hell, I should have killed you myself and spared everyone else the trouble."

He turned and stalked off.

XIXIX

8:43am, Sunday.

There was a knock at his door. But Snape was busy. He was lying on the couch staring at the ceiling, and he didn't possibly have time to get up and answer a door.

"Professor, I know you're in there!"

Ah. Hermione. She'd tried to rouse him last night as well. Well, if it didn't work then he didn't see why she would think it might work now.

The knocking continued for another two minutes, to be immediately followed by twenty minutes of pounding. But Snape was busy. She'd have to come back later.

She did.

XIXIX

10:24am, Sunday.

There was a smart rap at his door. Snape was still busy staring at the ceiling, but he knew he was not going to get away this time. He knew that rap. That rap had struck fear in the hearts of many a Hogwarts student, and even though Snape had graduated some twenty-five years ago, he would never forget that rap.

Of course, he and Minerva were coworkers now. She no longer had the power of intimidation over him. She could no longer just rap on his door while he was busy and expect…

"Severus Snape You Open This Door Immediately!"

The door was open three seconds later. Snape did not step aside to let them in. McGonagall pushed him out of the way and entered anyway. Hermione followed, although she at least had the courtesy to look a little fearful at the idea of barging in when he was so obviously busy fuming. And sulking. And hiding.

"Called in the big guns, have you?" he muttered at her.

Hermione pressed her lips together, all fear gone in a heartbeat. "Well if you had just opened the door earlier…"

"Leave her alone, Severus," snapped McGonagall.

Horrified, Snape realized he was ducking his head, suitably chastised. He drew himself up, hoping they hadn't noticed.

"You two had better have a good explanation…"

McGonagall cut over him. "You have less than five hours to win Harry's heart." She glared at him sternly, like she was lecturing a fifth year about dueling in the halls.

"You. Will. Do. This."

But Snape disagreed. He slumped down into the couch and put his head in his hands. "No, Minerva. I tried to confess my love to him last night and I wound up threatening to kill him instead."

McGonagall huffed. "Frankly, that doesn't surprise me. You two have always had a strange way of dealing with each other."

Snape looked up. McGonagall smirked at him.

"I'm sure he was very flattered that you took time out of your post-war schedule to threaten his life. Now, go do it again. With feeling, this time."

"This is not a joke," Snape growled. He stood up sharply and crossed the room. He grabbed a book off the shelf to make it look like he'd had some reason to do that, other than his useless reaction to this well of emotions that was struggling to come tumbling out.

"Of course it's not a joke," Hermione placated. "But this isn't a problem you can fix by holing up down here. And it's not going to go away if you ignore it."

"I'm not hiding," he told her. "There just doesn't seem to be a point. It's not going to work out."

"Yes it will," she insisted stubbornly. "One way or another, it's going to work out somehow."

"Ah, the optimism of youth."

Hermione narrowed her eyes. "You misunderstand me. An Angel had fallen in love with Harry. And if Harry doesn't have a reason to choose for it to leave, it is going to stay. Forever. Not until they fight and break up. Not until Harry decides he'd rather be with you after all. If you don't go do something right now, today, to make this situation work out the way you want it to, it's going to work out that Harry commits himself to the Angel. Permanently."

Snape glowered at her. Damn her, but she was right. Those were the only two possible outcomes to this situation. Snape or the Angel. And if Harry chose the Angel now, it was forever. Snape would have no more chances.

"Okay," he grumbled. "What do you suggest?"

Hermione and McGonagall traded looks.

XIXIX

12:06pm, Sunday.

Snape strode up behind Harry and tapped him on the shoulder twice. The Angel had watched him coming, as had Hermione. But Harry was caught unawares. He jumped and turned around swiftly, his wand already drawn before Snape's hand touched his shoulder the second time.

"Christ, Severus! Don't do that!"

Snape just nodded at his reflexes. They were good. Harry noticed the approval, gave a glare of acknowledgement as he stowed his wand back in his robes.

"Harry, can I talk to you a minute?"

"Sure."

Snape looked around the table. Every face was watching him.

"Alone?"

Harry looked down at the lunch he had only just started.

"Sure."

They moved to the far corner of the Great Hall so they could have the illusion of privacy. People wouldn't be listening in, at least. Not that it would matter if they were listening in. Hermione had had Snape write down his feelings so that he didn't get all bungled up and start flinging threats again. Then she had rewritten his feelings and made him copy them over again. When he had objected to some of the wording, she had just smirked, "Trust me. He'll eat this up."

And, well, if Harry were going to eat it up, Snape was willing to put that tripe in his own handwriting.

"What's up?"

"Um… Harry, I have something for you." He paused, trying to figure out how exactly to do this. Hermione had suggested he just hand him the letter and shut up. Snape felt a bit more of an explanation might be needed. "It's about last night, and about this whole Angel business. I just…" hand him the letter and shut up. Hand him the letter and shut up. Hand him the letter and shut up!

Snape handed him the letter and shut up.

Harry looked at the scroll. "Oh," he said. He opened it, unfurled it, and read it (much to Snape's horror) out loud.

"Dearest Harry?" Harry looked up as though validating he had read that correctly. Snape glowered and nodded. Harry continued.

"I gave you the roses last night in a last ditch attempt to win your heart."

Hermione had refused to allow him to call the roses 'Vis Acer arrows' and refused to allow him to explain that he wanted to make sure Harry was prepared for any battle contingency.

"I know you may think the Angel is your only chance at happiness…"

Hermione had refused to allow him to say that under no circumstances would that wretched Angel bring him happiness. She said he should try to be understanding of Harry's feelings.

"But I want you to know that I would offer myself to you."

Hermione had refused to let him simply say, 'I want you.'

"Please consider sending the Angel away."

Instead of 'That Angel can burn in Hell for all I care.'

"Give our love a chance."

Instead of 'Send it away at once.'

"All the sincerity of my heart, Severus Snape."

Instead of 'S.S.'

Harry looked up at him. Snape couldn't help it. He held his breath.

"What the hell is this?"

Snape narrowed his eyes. "I thought that would be self-explanatory."

Harry held up the letter and reread a part of it as though damning Snape with its words, " 'I would offer myself to you. Please consider sending the Angel away.' Do you really hate him so much that you're willing to sell your soul to me to make him go away?!"

Snape scoffed. "I'd hardly be selling my soul."

"Fine. Your life. Whatever."

"Harry, I just don't want you to choose to spend your entire life with this creature without really thinking over your options."

Harry's eyes widened in shock. And then fury. "You don't trust me!"

"What? I…"

"You think I'm still that kid that's gonna run straight into every trap that's laid out for me! Goddammit, Severus! Haven't these years meant anything to you?!"

"Of course they have! That's what I'm trying…"

"What? You're gonna save me from the Angel? And then what? After he's gone, you'll just throw me out?!"

"I would never…"

"Just like with Voldemort, right? You'll stand with me at the drow citadel. You'll come with me to rescue Draco from Malfoy Manor. You'll fight with me against a friggin' thousand-year-old Dragon Guardian! But when it comes down to the Final Battle with Voldemort, where the hell are you?!"

"You're the one who…"

"Even after everything, I'm still just some screw-up kid to you," Harry snorted wryly. "This whole time you're just waiting for it to be over to get me the hell out of Hogwarts, and the hell out of your life."

"That's not true," said Snape sternly.

"Yeah? Then what is this?" Harry crumpled the parchment and shoved it into Snape's chest. "Those aren't your words. 'Give our love a chance.' Pfft. Yeah right."

This time Harry stormed away. This time Snape stood there and watched after him. And this time, that revoltingly beautiful Angel followed Harry out of the Great Hall, even having the nerve to fly across the room to meet him at the door. Snape turned and banged his head against the stone wall.

It hurt, but not as much as some of the other things Snape was feeling.

XIXIX

1:08pm, Sunday.

"Where are you going, Harry Potter?" asked the Angel with a gorgeous lilt. If Harry hadn't been so pissed off just then he might have taken a moment to appreciate it.

"Flying," he barked.

"You do not have wings, Harry Potter."

"Yeah? Well, I'm still pretty good at it," he growled, daring the Angel to challenge him on this. He was itching for a fight. He only wished Snape had drawn his wand. Then he could have cursed the ever-living snot out of him with a clean conscience. The man was bloody impossible!

Harry had thought that after the war was over Snape would just cast him away. He had certainly spent enough of the early days articulating his dreams of when Harry would leave him alone. In vivid detail. But then he came and sat with Harry at lunch—and this after the war was over and Snape's training responsibility had come to an end. Then he'd made Harry Vis Acer arrows disguised as roses.

But it was all just to get rid of the Angel. Harry wondered what he had against Angels anyway. There was no telling with Snape. The man had fought so many battles in his life…

He stormed to his room and changed. He stormed to the storage cupboard and removed his dusty broom (it had been forever since he'd flown, what with the war and all). He stormed to the Quidditch Pitch. And then he was off the ground and into the air like a storm.

The Angel followed him every step. And once he was in the air, the Angel followed him at every turn. As the fog of fury began to clear out of Harry's mind, he noticed that the Angel had been weaving in and out of his flight pattern. Harry started making turns, looping the Angel and somersaulting the rings the Angel shifted into. He twisted once and the Angel dove into a death-defying plummet. Harry charged after him, cutting him off, forcing him to alter his dive. Spinning around each other, they curved off just before hitting the stands, flew straight back up and then into a wide arch.

Harry slowed down, feeling better. He'd really needed to blow off some steam. The Angel flew lazily next to him, beating his wings in slow time with the gentle breeze. Harry reached up to shift his hair off his forehead. He was covered in sweat. He wondered how long he'd been flying. He looked to the Angel, and realized he was surprised that it would be there with him. He wondered what time it was. He wondered if it was here permanently now, or if he could still send it away. And if the latter were the case, he wondered what he would choose.

He had put off thinking about it as long as he could. With the war only just ended, his head had been swimming with thoughts of the past. Thoughts of the future. He had no idea what would come next, although he supposed he'd leave Hogwarts and go get a life for himself. Settle down like a normal wizard might.

"Is it time yet?" he asked.

The Angel smiled, a beatific gesture. It warmed Harry to look at it. "No, Harry Potter. Not yet."

"Are you going to stay?"

"I will let your choice guide my actions."

"The love of an Angel," Harry mused to himself. It was bound to be perfect. Angels were pure goodness, after all. The Angel cocked its head to one side, watching him. It was so inhuman. So unfamiliar. So new to this world.

"You don't know me," Harry said suddenly. "How could you love me? Why would you stay after watching me in battle? You watched me murder another human. You have to know I'm not perfect like you."

The Angel smiled again. "I can see that Harry Potter has great love in his heart. And I can see it is surrounded by the dark events of an earthly life. I can see Harry Potter must have love in his life. So I stayed though the others returned."

"So you're staying to make sure I feel love."

The Angel nodded.

"Not because you love me."

"Love, as you mean it, is a human emotion."

"And you're not human."

"I would have to cut my wings to stay longer," he reminded.

"To stay forever."

"It is the only way to stay longer. Pure goodness can only last so long in this place. I would not be able to return home in the same way."

"And you would do that?"

"Yes."

"For me?"

"Yes, Harry Potter."

Harry shook his head. It really didn't make sense. This being of pure goodness, willing to give away everything to stay with a young human warrior who'd faced so much darkness in his life he could never measure up to an Angel. Still, it was an offer he didn't think he should refuse. It wasn't like he was likely to find someone who even half-way understood everything he'd been through and still think his corrupted soul was worth loving. Outside of his circle of friends, people only liked him as a hero. They didn't like to think about the things he'd done to become a hero. The Angel had watched him kill Voldemort. Even if it was pure goodness… at least it knew.

The Angel looked down to the ground for a moment, then met Harry's eyes. Immediately it came closer. It placed one hand on Harry's shoulder and the other against Harry's cheek. "Harry Potter should have the love of someone who understands him. Harry Potter should have the love of someone who would carry him through the worst of what this world has to offer. Harry Potter should have the love of someone who would stand with him in battle, care for him in injury. Harry Potter should have the love of someone who would die for him."

Harry stared into the Angel's stunning eyes. It was like looking into eternity. The words washed over him and he could feel the truth of the Angel's words. He did need love. After everything he'd lived through, he needed it in order to hold onto whatever goodness was left in his life. And there were precious few people who fit the Angel's description. One person, really.

So yeah, the Angel was his best chance at keeping the darkness at bay, his best chance at love, his best chance at happiness.

A faint note reverberated in the air from somewhere very far away. The average person would have paid it no mind. Harry was not the average person.

"Look Out!"

He shoved the Angel backward, looping around to make sure it was clear. He struck out his hand just in time to grasp the Vis Acer arrow as it shot past, snatching it straight from the air. He glowered down to where Snape stood below.

Bloody hell, that was a long shot!

XIXIX

2:43pm, Sunday.

Snape couldn't wait any longer. Harry and that thing had been flying for too long. Time was about to run out. Harry was clearly not going to come back down and talk to him. Snape would need to retrieve him.

He stalked out onto the Quidditch Pitch, intent on calling Harry down. He would give him the bow, explain himself properly, and refuse to take no for an answer. That was the plan. Right up until the Angel looked down at him and then started pawing all over Snape's partner. He waited only long enough to get his hands to stop shaking. He wanted a good shot. This would end now.

He watched as Harry shoved the Angel away and caught the arrow. It didn't seem to have pierced his hand. Snape practically glowed with pride. He'd taught Harry that one. That had been a messy week, but Harry had only complained when the arrows lodged in his bone. Otherwise, he'd mastered the task without too much fuss.

Snape set himself when he saw Harry launch himself in his direction. Harry would have the clear advantage on his broom, but Snape could hold his own. Only, Harry didn't attack him from the air. He landed, dismounted his broom, and stomped over.

"What in Merlin's name is the matter with you?!" he cried. "You thought you'd just kill the Angel and be done with it?!"

"That was a good catch," Snape growled.

"Thanks," Harry snapped. "That was a good shot."

Snape nodded. "I finished the bow." He held it out to Harry.

Harry snatched it away from him. Waited for Snape to continue. When he didn't, Harry prompted him. "So?!"

"So, what?"

"Why were you trying to kill my Angel?!"

Snape winced at the possessive pronoun. "Don't be ridiculous. I was merely trying to get your attention."

"You couldn't call my name?"

"You looked busy," Snape accused. "Time was short. I need to talk to you."

"To tell me to send the Angel away? Well it's too late. I already…"

"It is not too late, and you will listen to me!"

Harry pressed his mouth shut and glared. Snape began.

"When the Dark Army came on Friday I went to find you so we could go kill Voldemort."

"You said I'd have to stand alone."

"Years ago! We've been through a lot since then and I had no intention of letting you face Voldemort on your own."

"You didn't think I could do it?!" Harry demanded.

"Idiot boy!" Snape snatched at the bow, but Harry held it firm. As he and Snape struggled for it, Snape managed to pull it up in front of Harry's face. "You were almost killed at the drow citadel because you didn't have a bow and Vis Acer arrows, and because I hadn't thought to tell you what that particular trap might look like."

"And I told you that's why I brought you!"

"Do you know how many seconds passed between the time I realized you'd gone out to face Voldemort alone and the time I finally found you?! 14,831!"

"You counted the seconds?" Harry spat skeptically.

"Yes."

"You were in the middle of a battlefield! That would be crazy!"

"Yes."

Harry looked at him. "You… you really did count the seconds?"

"It only took a second for you to walk into the drow trap. And the only reason you survived was because I was there with you and I recognized it when you didn't."

"But…"

"You belonged with me when you went to face Voldemort. We should have been together. And you belong with me now. And you will always belong with me. That's why I tried to kill your Angel just now. I want you to stay with me."

"You said you hadn't tried to kill it."

Snape paused, then muttered, "Well, I realized you would probably save it."

Harry regarded Snape for a moment. "And that letter?" he challenged.

Snape actually blushed. "The words are Hermione's," he snapped. "But the sentiment was my own."

"So when you say you want me to stay with you…"

"Goddammit, Potter! You know exactly what I'm getting at!"

XIXIX

2:58pm, Sunday.

While Snape and Harry argued and shouted and made very roundabout declarations of love, Hermione, Ron, little Tisamenus, McGonagall, and Dumbledore all watched from afar.

"It looks like they're fighting," said Hermione. "We should go out there and soothe things over."

McGonagall rolled her eyes. "They're not fighting. That's foreplay."

Ron choked.

Dumbledore chuckled. "Minerva, don't be crass." He looked up and smiled broadly at the Angel as it came toward them. It landed in front of the group with a triumphant grin. No one in the group was able to resist the warmth that spread forth from its goodness. They all smiled at it.

"I am leaving now," he said. "Tell Harry Potter he must hold on to this love he has found."

He looked over his shoulder to the Quidditch Pitch. The others looked as well. Snape and Harry seemed to be struggling over the bow Snape had just given Harry. Ron shook his head.

"You call that love?"

The Angel turned back. "They will work it out. My work here is done."

He started to turn, but Hermione called out, "Wait! What do you mean 'your work here is done'? Didn't you stay here because you loved him?"

The Angel smiled at her. "I stayed for love of Harry Potter. Neither Harry Potter nor Severus Snape was going to admit their love for each other. They have experienced much darkness in this earthly life. They have fought many times, but they have never had a reason to fight for each other's love. I stayed to help clear the way."

"You goaded them on by putting Snape in a jealous tizzy," said Ron, understanding.

"I encouraged them to make their love an imminent priority."

"What if it hadn't happened in two days?" he asked.

"I would have stayed until it did."

"You would have stayed here forever just to make sure Harry and Snape got together?" Hermione asked in amazement.

The Angel nodded seriously. "Of course."

"So they're in love now," she sighed.

Behind the Angel, Harry reared back and punched Snape in the face. The Angel looked over his shoulder and smiled. "They will work it out."

Indeed, they all watched as Snape grabbed Harry in a chokehold and kissed him.

"Peace and Goodness to you all," the Angel said, bowing to them each in turn.

"And Love, Harry Potter," he added quietly to the couple that had gone from kissing to archery in no time flat. Harry shot a Vis Acer arrow into the distance. He looked up to Snape and smiled. Snape put his arm around him and pulled him close.

And with that, the Angel spread his wings and took off. The sky opened up to accept him back into his not-of-this-earth home. Snape and Harry stayed behind to live earthly lives that were not entirely good and not entirely peaceful. But they were entirely filled with love.

And so, after everything, it all worked out in the end.

Fin.