The first thing Harry became aware of was that Severus was already awake. His bedmate's thin body was pressed lightly against his back, curled around him, and Severus was trailing a finger down Harry's arm.

Harry groaned and heaved a sigh, like he was just drifting up from sleep.

Severus stiffened immediately and snatched his hand away. After a moment, he began to slowly ease away from Harry.

Harry held back a disappointed sigh. He turned to face Severus, who was already sliding out of the bed.


He stilled, one foot on the floor and the rest of him still in bed.

"I, er…" Harry wanted to ask him to stay, but what if he was just off to the loo? What if he'd slept horribly and wanted an hour in his own bed? Maybe he had a potion going that needed attention this morning.

He settled on the obvious. "Are you leaving?"

Severus looked around the room and pursed his lips. Then, he pointed at the clock.

"Time to get up?" Harry guessed.

Severus nodded and reached to the floor for his robes. He folded himself into them before standing straight.

"Did you, erm, sleep well?" Harry asked in a desperate attempt to keep Severus from leaving like that, like he was ashamed or something.

Slowly, Severus inclined his head.

Harry grinned. "Oh, good. Me, too."

After staring at him for a moment, Severus once again nodded his head then turned to exit the room.


Severus decided to spend the day brewing. He'd start making up potions if he had to, but he was staying in the lab.

He was aghast at the things he had told Harry. A few St. Mungo's employees and Simeon Maverick knew the beginning, and the Dark Lord and a handful of Death Eaters knew the end, but no one except Lucius knew the whole story.

In twenty-six years, he'd never willingly told a soul. Well, up until last night when he'd gone and spilled all his secrets. Gods, he might as well have said he was a thirty-nine-year-old virgin!

What had possessed him? Had he truly been so worried about disappointing Harry?

When the third cauldron exploded in his face, he decided perhaps the afternoon was best spent preparing ingredients.

As he crushed, shredded, and vacuum-sealed, his mind continued to reel, thoughts flitting in and out like flutterbies.

The way Harry had looked at him that morning, so open and pleased. The way Harry had been so angry on his behalf, as no one had before. The way his own body had responded to Harry's looks and touches and words so eagerly, so easily, as if it were completely natural.

When he sliced open his index finger for the second time, he settled on taking notes.

Was it natural? Harry had seemed rather pleased at the time, so perhaps it was. Surely, though, the constriction in his chest and the ache in his belly and the tingling in his extremities were not usual.

Obviously, there was something wrong with him.

Harry startled him when he came to say that dinner was ready. Severus glanced down at his notebook, only to find the paper blank but for an inkblot the size of a Sickle. He hurriedly closed the book and followed Harry upstairs.

After a mostly-silent dinner, Severus sat in a corner of the sofa with a book in his lap. He tried to focus on the words, but his mind kept drifting to the man a few feet away from him.

He did not understand Harry. He had taken in one of his greatest enemies, a man he had hated for years, and nursed him back to health with no expectation of anything in return. He had kindness overflowing in him, but thought he would make an unfit father. He was absolutely beautiful in his bashful resoluteness and determined blundering, but for some reason, when anything and anyone was his for the asking, he wanted to be close to Severus.

"It's getting late," Harry said, eyes down. "I was… I'm going to bed soon. You, erm…"

Severus stared at him, willing him to form a coherent thought.

"You could come with me. If you wanted."

Severus clenched his jaw so as not to gape or sputter and tried to get his bearings. He pulled out his little notebook. #To sleep?#

Harry bit his lip. "Yeah."

#You want that?#

"Look, if you don't want to, I under – "

Severus cut him off with a stiff shake of the head. #I'll join you momentarily.#


Harry had only thought he was frustrated before. After a week of sleeping chastely with Severus, he was ready to murder someone if it meant a break in the maddening stagnation.

Sometimes he would wake up in the night and find Severus petting his hair or tracing the contours of his shoulder or just staring at him. It always lit a fire inside Harry, seeing Severus like that, open and wanting him. Or curious, at the very least.

But Severus would invariably pull away when he saw that Harry was awake. Most of the time, he simply closed his eyes and rolled over like nothing had happened, but if it was late enough, he'd get up and start his day. Harry wanted to grab him and shake him, ask him what in the name of the founders was holding him back, but he was afraid to push too hard.

It did not escape Harry's attention that he hadn't had any nightmares since Severus started sleeping in his bed. Or not bad ones, anyway. None that woke him. He wasn't totally certain, but he didn't think Severus had, either.

Surely that must mean something, that they were good for each other, right for each other, that they were better when they were together. Of course, anytime he tried to talk about their new sleeping arrangements, Severus would sneer and call him a sentimental fool, so maybe he was just imagining things.


Severus was anxious. He kept himself from fidgeting with monumental effort, but feared it was showing anyway. He'd made a decision and the tentative beginnings of a plan to see it through, but he could not stop his mind from playing out various scenarios of how he might fail spectacularly.

When it got to be their habitual bedtime, Harry stood and moved toward the hallway. Contrary to recent custom, however, he did not pause on the way and ask Severus to join him.

Severus stared after him until he had almost disappeared down the hall, then rushed after him. He stopped in the doorway and held out a note.

#What are you doing?#

"Going to bed. It's getting late," Harry answered.

Severus searched for a proper response, but in the end, only wrote, #Oh.#

His dejection must have shown in his face, because Harry looked at him askance. "Did you actually want to come with me? I was starting to think maybe you were just doing it, I don't know, to humor me or something."

#No, I do! I had intended to# Severus stopped writing abruptly, but Harry had been reading along.

"Oh?" Harry asked with a cautious smile, "Is that what you were worried about all evening? You were… planning something?"

Severus shook his head, then nodded, then looked away and sighed. It seemed he was not cut out for this sort of thing.

Harry reached up and tucked a lock of hair behind his ear, letting his fingers linger on Severus' jaw. "What was it you wanted to do?"

He pursed his lips and did not answer.

"It's all right, you can tell me. Anything."

Severus wondered if he would ever cease making a fool of himself in front of this man. He thought it unlikely. #I was going to kiss you.#

Harry beamed. "You still can, you know." He started stroking his fingers up and down Severus' neck, making him shiver, and leaned closer. "I promise to kiss back," he murmured, so close that Severus could feel his breath against his lips, "I promise."

Unable to resist, Severus took the invitation. After a few tentative touches, the kiss quickly grew heated. He felt desperate, but for what he was not certain. He tried to concentrate on what was happening, to really pay attention, but his mind would not focus.

In fact, he didn't even realize Harry had unfastened both their flies until he wrapped his hand around their bare cocks and squeezed them together.

He let out a low, desperate moan and clutched at Harry's shoulders. His hips were rocking of their own accord and he panted into Harry's hair.

"Oh, Severus, yes…"

And then, before he even noticed it building, he was coming. Merlin, was it supposed to happen so fast? Harry kept gently squeezing throughout his orgasm, until Severus leaned back slightly and looked down between them.

He was surprised, and oddly pleased, to see that Harry's prick was slowly softening as well. Harry's hand still rested against their cocks, glistening, covered in both their seed. Severus couldn't tear his eyes away from it.

Too soon, Harry cast a cleaning spell and the mess vanished.

"Did you, er, still want to…?" Harry trailed off and waved his hand toward his bedroom, biting his lip.

Severus swept his arm forward, palm up, gesturing 'after you'.


"Hey now, love, it's all right, you're okay," Harry cooed. He brushed his hand through Teddy's hair in a hopefully soothing manner.

He and Severus had begun to catalogue Teddy's repertoire of hair colors. Red meant he was angry or upset; deeper red was for pain. When he was hungry, it turned blue. It went white when he was happy and wanted to play. When he slept, it was mousey brown.

At the moment, it was green. Green was not on the list.

"What's wrong, sweet boy?" he murmured, lightly bouncing the baby on his hip. "I've got you, it's all right."

"Severus, I don't know what's wrong!"

#Maybe he's tired. Put him down, let him rest.#

"But…" Severus glared. "Oh, all right."

Harry laid Teddy down on his blanket on the sitting room floor, and he immediately sicked up a puddle of oatmeal-colored goo.

"Oh, ew."

Severus made a soft, distressed noise and rushed forward, hands out. By the time he got there, Teddy was smiling and grabbing at his own toes. Severus stopped short and smoothed his hands down his robes, flattening imaginary wrinkles.

"Huh. I guess green is for indigestion, then?"


The baby was staring at Severus.

They were alone in the sitting room, as Harry was working in the shop. He'd probably be down there for another couple of hours, at least. It was not such a long time, really. They'd be fine, as long as Ted didn't stare at him the entire time.

Severus stared back.

The baby was perched in his 'bouncy chair', as Harry had called it. His hair had been mostly white since the oatmeal incident, for which Severus was thankful.

But what was he supposed to do with the child for the next few hours? Andromeda was at St. Mungo's again for a series of tests, the purpose of which she had not disclosed, and would not return for the boy until much later.

He eyed the baby speculatively. Ted was waving his little fists about and smiling his three-toothed smile. Severus waggled his fingers back at him and caught one side of his mouth twitching upward before he could stop it. He may not know what to do with the boy, but he had to admit that he was not all that put out at having to care for him.

After a few more minutes of mutual staring, Ted started to fuss.

Severus picked him up and checked his diaper. No, not the problem. He sat back down and settled the boy against his chest, the chubby little legs sprawling over his lap. He gave him a little bounce, which seemed to do the trick.

What to do now. Normally, he spent at least some time each morning practicing, but today he wasn't alone. He could stand to skip it for just one day, surely?

Severus shook his head, displeased with himself. After all, the boy was barely a toddler. He would not notice Severus' faltering speech, much less judge him for it. He would hardly go running off to tell his grandmother about it, or even worse, Harry. Severus gave him a preemptive scowl, just in case.

He opened his mouth, but hesitated. Clearing his throat, he began again.

"Onthe upon a dime, youw father twied do kiwl me…"


Severus was watching him again. Harry had no idea what time it was, but it was still dark out. Severus, whose body was stretched out tantalizingly close behind Harry's, brushed a finger lightly across Harry's hip. Ah, that must be what had woken him.

Harry lay very still, trying to give the appearance of sleep. He had hoped that after their encounter in the hallway a few days back, Severus might loosen up a bit. Unfortunately, Severus seemed determined to act like it had never happened.

He never initiated physical contact unless Harry was asleep, and the moment Harry woke, he pulled away.

Harry's first instinct was to wonder what he had done. That, needless to say, got him nowhere, and he tried to assume that if he had done something wrong, Severus would've told him.

He sometimes fancied he could see longing in Severus' gaze. Was he imagining it?

Severus shifted a bit, and Harry felt something graze his arse. He held his breath… Surely not?

Severus groaned.

He was! Severus was hard!

Harry must've given himself away in his excitement, because Severus suddenly rolled away from him.

"No, Severus, I…" he mumbled, voice thick with sleep and gruff with arousal. He turned over to face him. "You don't have to go away."

Reaching over, he guided Severus' head around to face him. "You could stay. I could take care of that for you."

Severus whimpered.

"You like that." Not waiting for a response, he leaned in and kissed him.

When he pulled back, breathless, he asked, "Is it all right if I do?" while running his palm down Severus' chest.

Expressive eyebrows furrowed in confusion and perhaps a small amount of trepidation, but Severus nodded.

Wasting no time, Harry repositioned himself and gave Severus' cock a lick. Severus shouted an incoherent monosyllable and twisted his fingers into Harry's hair.

Harry grinned as he opened his mouth wide and swallowed down his glistening, pink prick. There would be time for long and drawn out later; for now, he just wanted to hear more of those lovely sounds.

And he did. Every time he swiped his tongue across Severus' slit or swallowed with the head lodged in his throat or squeezed his bollocks just so, he was rewarded with moaning and writhing and beautifully contorted grimacing.

After far too short a time – next time was for leisurely, he reminded himself – he felt Severus tensing, then he was twitching and pulsing in his mouth. Harry drank down the hot, bitter offering with relish.

When Severus' fists unclenched, taking several of Harry's hairs with them, Harry clambered up his body to kiss him.

Severus' chest was still heaving a bit and his eyelids drooped. Harry found it altogether adorable.

He waved a hand toward Harry's midsection and raised a half-hearted eyebrow.

"Don't worry about me," Harry assured him, snuggling up beside him satisfied, if unsated. "I'm fine. Go back to sleep."


They were having breakfast when the owl came.

Harry stared at the parchment for a long while, much longer than it should've taken to read it twice over, apparently impervious to Severus' attempts to will him to look up. Severus cleared his throat, and still Harry paid him no mind. He was beginning to worry.

Cautiously, he reached out and covered Harry's hand with his own, and Harry's head snapped up. His eyes were wild.

"She died," he croaked.

#Who?# Severus penned hastily.

"An-Andromeda. She died!" He waved the letter. "It's from her… her lawyer. He says she died last night."

#What happened? Was she ill?# It seemed likely, with all the visits to St. Mungo's, but she'd never come right out and said what she was suffering from.

"Tiber-Fenn's disease. She…" Harry bit his lip. "Severus, she named me Teddy's guardian."

Severus felt his stomach lurch. #That's wonderful, Harry.#

"Is it? I… I don't…" He trailed off, his face twisting into a grimace.

#Of course. Ted will be lucky to have you for a father.#

"I have no idea what I'm doing! What if I… if I… I don't know, but I'll mess him up!"

#I'll be here with you, Harry. Calm down,# Severus implored.

Harry blinked. "You will? You'll help me?"

#You know I will. I'll always be here for you. I will never leave you.#

When Harry gaped, Severus looked back down at his note and flinched. Had he really said that? Where was his brain?

"Do… do you mean it?"

He hesitated for a moment, but Harry's pained eyes were pleading with him. #If it is your wish.#

"Severus, I… Well, yes, but… I don't… Not…"

Severus could feel himself getting colder as Harry stuttered, fumbling about for an answer.

"I don't want you to stay with me just because of the baby."

He let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. #I would have stayed anyway. For as long as you wish.#

Harry beamed. "Oh!" He shot a quick glance back down at the letter and bit his lip. "That's, erm… yeah. Good."


Severus was in Harry's room – their room, actually, as his old one was being set up for the baby – practicing. A few choice sounds were still frustrating the hell out of him, but he was improving immensely, even if he did say so himself. Of course, he still had quite a bit of work to do.

What he wanted to know was why in the name of the founders there were so many alveolar consonants in one simple phrase. One thing he wanted to say, and it had to involve some of the most troublesome sounds.

If he could articulate it in, say, French, that would take care of one of his problem spots. But really, French just wouldn't do. He supposed it could be worse – imagine trying to say it in Greek!

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, calming himself for one more try.

There was a knock at the door.

"Severus?" Harry called through the still closed door. "The social worker was just here, she – "

Severus pulled the door open and Harry stopped mid-sentence, giving an audible gulp. He led the way down the hall to the room that was now Ted's, and Severus followed silently.

They stopped in the doorway and Harry spoke softly. "He's tuckered out from all the activity. Fell straight to sleep." He took a few steps closer to the cot. "Merlin, Severus, he's so small."

Severus moved to stand next to Harry. After a moment's debate, he raised a hand and gave Harry's shoulder a squeeze.

"I… I'm scared, Severus. What if I'm pants at this?"

He pulled out his notebook. #Don't be stupid. He could have no better parent than you.#

"Except his real ones," Harry said sadly.

#That is no longer possible. They would be pleased to know you are here for him.#

"I guess so. This just feels too good to be true."

Severus had been thinking the same thing for weeks now, but he kept that to himself. He tucked his notebook into his robes and squeezed Harry's shoulder again.

"We should let him sleep. He'll need his energy – Hermione's already planning play dates," he said with a small smile, and they turned to leave.

Before they got to the door, they were stopped short by Ted pulling himself to a standing position by the railing in his cot.

"Hey, look who's awake!"

The baby bounced and smiled. Severus wished he were half that cheerful on waking. He tried to be irritated, but was largely unsuccessful.

The baby reached one chubby hand out toward Harry. "Pa pa pa!"

Harry froze. "No, sweetie. I'm… I'm not…"

Severus scribbled quickly. #You are. He's right. You're his Papa now.#

"He… he doesn't know what he's saying," Harry insisted.

#That may be. But the fact remains.#

Harry gave a pained smile. "Maybe. I… Thanks, Severus."

Severus acknowledged him with a nod. Yes, Harry was Ted's Papa now, and Ted was his son. So where did that leave him?


Harry let himself collapse onto the bed. "Merlin, I'm exhausted. That kid is gonna be the death of me."

Severus carefully placed his bookmark and laid his book on the bedside table.

"It's only been a week, and I already feel like I haven't slept in a month!" He glanced over and caught the ghost of a smile on Severus' lips. "Yeah, he's a treat though, isn't he?" he said with an answering smile.

He leaned against the headboard next to Severus and pulled the blanket over his lap. "I'm so glad you're here. I wouldn't be able to do this by myself."

Severus answered with a stiff nod, his eyes averted.

"Really, Severus," Harry insisted. He stroked a hand down a stubbled cheek and guided his face around. "I'm so glad you're here with me." He let his fingers trail down Severus' neck and across his shoulder.

Severus shuddered and let a soft sigh escape his lips.

"You like it when I touch you like this?" Harry murmured, brushing his fingers through the course hair on Severus' chest.

Severus' cheeks tinged pink, and he looked away again.

"No, don't be embarrassed. I like touching you." To reinforce the message, he rubbed his palm over Severus' nipple, relishing the gasp it elicited. He leaned over his bedmate and pressed an insistent kiss into his thin lips.

Severus' arms came around Harry, but as soon as his palms touched Harry's back, he snatched them away. Harry grabbed one hand and placed it back against his skin. "It's okay. I like it when you touch me, too."

Severus tentatively moved his fingers along the ridges of Harry's spine, and Harry moaned. "Yes, like that."

He moved to cover Severus' pale body with his own. "Is this okay?"

After a moment's hesitation, Severus nodded, and Harry let his weight rest on Severus. They shared another intense kiss, which Harry was glad to note Severus participated in more, then Harry began kissing and licking his way down Severus' body.

When he was nearing his destination, his nose buried in the wiry hair at Severus' groin, his progress was suddenly halted. Severus shook his head and grasped at Harry's shoulders, pulling him back up.

"What is it?" Harry asked, worried he'd done something to make Severus uncomfortable.

Severus opened his mouth then closed it with a click of his teeth. He bit his lip and, with a furrowed brow as if concerned he might be doing something wrong, spread his legs wide, letting Harry's hips nestle between his thighs.

"Oh, Merlin," Harry groaned. "Is this…? Are you…? Severus." His hips thrust of their own accord, and he let his head fall onto Severus' bony shoulder. "Please, I…"

Severus bent his knees up, cradling Harry's lower body. Harry felt a hand brush his hair and looked up to see Severus' face. His eyes were dilated and his cheeks were flushed. He moved his head in a jerky nod and Harry could trace the path of anticipation coursing through his body at the prospect.

He summoned lube from his bedside table and kissed Severus hard. "Merlin, Severus, you're so gorgeous, absolutely magnificent," he babbled, panting. "I can't wait to be inside you, feel you clenching around me. I want to hear you moaning, see you all incoherent with pleasure."

Severus whimpered and rocked his hips up.

"Are you sure?" Harry asked, trying to uncap the lube with trembling fingers. "Is this really what you want?"

In answer, Severus snatched the pot out of his hand and took the top off himself, then handed it back.

Harry smiled. "Right. Okay." He slicked his fingers and slipped his hand down between them. He first spread some over his cock, to lessen the possibility of totally embarrassing himself in a few minutes, then reached lower. He paused to give Severus' lightly furred bollocks a little squeeze and continued to his target.

Severus' hands clenched in the sheets when Harry stroked over his entrance, smearing it with lube. Carefully, Harry pushed a finger inside, gently thrusting in and out. Once it was sliding easily, he crooked and twisted it, searching until he found the right spot.

"Nng!" Severus groaned and started rocking his body.

"Yes, that's it," Harry hissed, pressing another finger into Severus' entrance. "You're so hot, so tight. Does that feel good?" He added a third finger, thrusting gently, determined to get the gracefully writhing man beneath him as loose as possible.

"I – uhnnn…" Severus reached down and pulled Harry's hand away.


Severus nodded, chest heaving.

"Pull your knees back for me." He did, and Harry groaned at the sight of Severus spreading himself wide for him. He snatched his pillow and shoved it under Severus' hips to help position him.

He took a moment to drink in the desire plain in Severus' face, then carefully pushed the head of his cock through the tight ring of muscle.

Severus gasped and clenched his teeth.

"Bear down," Harry implored, "Push back against me." Severus took his advice, and Harry eased farther in. He rocked his hips gently, trying to restrain himself until Severus was ready for more. Gradually, he began to thrust harder and deeper, canting his hips this way and that until he heard Severus groan.

Merlin, he'd never felt anything so incredible! And the wondrous look Severus was giving him certainly didn't hurt. He steadied himself on one hand and wrapped the other around Severus' leaking prick.

"Oh, my… Ah!" Severus bucked and wrapped his legs around Harry's waist, grasping at Harry's shoulders with insistent hands.

Harry did his best to squeeze in time with his thrusts, desperate to give Severus as much pleasure as possible. He was getting close, though, and his rhythm began to falter. "Severus, I… Merlin, I'm not going to last much longer. You feel so good."

Severus moaned and tightened his legs around Harry, stroking his fingers up and down Harry's back and sides. Moments later, his cock suddenly twitched and orgasm rippled through Severus' body.

Feeling Severus clench and pulse around him, Harry started thrusting wildly. "Oh, sweet… Fuck! Severus!" he gasped as he spilled himself inside his lover.

He fell limply onto Severus, groaning when his spent prick slipped out. Harry was panting, and he could feel Severus' chest heaving under him. They lay tangled in a sweaty heap and caught their breath.

"Fucking hell, Severus," Harry muttered. "That was amazing. I can't wait to feel you inside me," he added with a contented sigh. He shifted a bit so he wasn't crushing Severus anymore and twisted his head so he could see the man's beautifully flushed face.

His lips curved in a slight smile, Severus threaded his fingers through Harry's damp hair. "I…" He cleared his throat and swallowed, then started again. "I love you, Harry."

Harry stilled as he ran the carefully enunciated words through again in his head and gaped. He tried to say something, but all he could do was sputter. He brought a hand up to Severus' mouth, as if trying to determine if it had spoken the truth.

Under his fingers, Severus' little smile grew into a grin. Harry nodded frantically, hoping to convey what he seemed unable to say.

Severus nodded back once then pressed a kiss to Harry's lips and, drawing Harry closer and curling around him, settled in to go to sleep.



Harry sat in his chair, trying to balance his account book.

Five-year-old Teddy came barreling into the sitting room. "I brushed-ed my teeth!" he announced, and promptly flung himself onto the couch next to Severus.

"Brushed," Severus corrected automatically.

"Brushed," Teddy dutifully repeated.

"That's great, Teddy. I'm proud of you," Harry assured him.

"I even brushed the bottoms, too, Papa!"

"Good job!"

Teddy quirked his mouth, considering, and his hair slowly went from white to brown. "How come I get to call you Papa, but I have to call him Sev'rus?" he asked, nudging Severus with his leg.

Severus' eyes widened and his fingers clenched against his book. He said nothing.

"Well, you don't have to have call him that. Is there something else you'd like to call him?"

"Can't I call him Papa, too?"

Harry watched Severus' eyes flutter closed. "That might be confusing, calling us the same thing, don't you think? How would we know who you were talking to?"

Reluctantly, Teddy nodded.

"Can you think of anything else?"

Teddy bit his lip in concentration and Harry found himself holding his breath. After an endless moment, Teddy grinned. "I got one!"

"That's great," Harry answered carefully.

Teddy jumped up and ran over to Harry. "Love you, Papa!" he cried, flinging his arms around the parts of Harry he could reach, which turned out to be mostly knees. Then he turned and rushed back over to the couch, launching himself into Severus' lap. Straddling Severus' legs, he pecked him on the cheek and said, "I love you, Daddy."

Harry could hear Severus' gasp from across the room. When the man just sat there, stunned and silent, Harry waved his hand in an attempt to snap him out of it.

Severus blinked and raised a hand to brush through Teddy's hair. "I love you, too, son," he said softly. "But now it's time for bed."

"Yes, that's right," Harry chimed in. "Why don't you go get under the covers and we'll come tuck you in in a moment?"

Teddy pouted, but went without fuss.

As soon as he was out of the room, Harry rushed to sit next to Severus. He raised a hand to rest on his shoulder. "All right?"

Severus finally turned his head to face Harry, blinking rapidly, and Harry moved his hand up to gently stroke the soft hair at the nape of his neck. "Severus?"

Severus swallowed thickly. "Fine."

"Are you sure?"

"He… I don't deserve this! I can't believe he actually…"

Harry smiled. "I know. Isn't it wonderful?"

"It's like we're finally…" Severus broke off. "I know that words do not change anything, but…"

"It's like we're a real family, now," Harry supplied, pulling Severus into a tight embrace.

Severus nodded against Harry's shoulder and clutched him harder.

"And we always will be," Harry added resolutely.

Severus nodded again. "Yes."