Title: (These are the) Days of our Lives
Genre(s): AU & Romance
Warnings: Bad language. This is a story I wrote a couple of years ago for a fiction competition. I hope they don't mind my posting it here - but it is a couple of years old now.
Other warnings: For external use only, do not ingest. Slippery when wet. If product gets into eyes, seek medical attention. Store between 5°C and 30°C. Always enjoy this product responsibly. Wrapping can be recycled where facilities exist. Investments can do down as well as up. Does not enable the wearer to fly.
Other notes: The exact point where this AU diverged from the book universe may not be immediately apparent.
Thanks: Tiggersong, Snakeling, Rakina, Corieltauviqueen and Rons, for beta efforts above the call of team-mate-ness and various members of my flist for Latin suggestions.
Summary: Harry Evans thinks he has problems. He is wrong; until now, he's only had normal teenage angst.
(These are the) Days of our Lives
"Just when you need to save the world, there's a world for you to save," said Ginger.
"Yeah," said Victor. "Lucky old us."
(Moving Pictures, by Terry Pratchett)
Harry Evans' game of 'anywhere but here' wasn't working, even though he had a very specific 'anywhere' in mind. He could no longer tune out Uncle Vernon and that was never good news. His mother's tight lips showed she was having the same problem, but while she could possibly get away with making her views known, Harry couldn't.
He might have spoken up had he thought it would get him sent home to Godric's Hollow, but unfortunately that was unlikely. It was only day two of a week-long holiday in Torquay, and he was here for the duration. Lily might say sometimes that Harry was getting to be a grown-up, but that didn't yet translate into allowing him to stay at home alone.
He tried. He really had tried.
Aunt Petunia, prompted by who knew what vestige of familial affection, had invited Harry and Lily to go on holiday with them every year since he was very small. Every year, faced with the prospect of his Aunt, his Uncle and his cousin Dudley for a whole week in a seaside town with little money - and therefore nothing to do and nowhere much to go - Harry tried to get his mother to make an excuse and turn them down.
It never worked. No matter how much he said he didn't mind not going anywhere, that Ron didn't have holidays either, that he couldn't see the point and even that he couldn't stand the Dursleys, she accepted. He had only realised very recently that it was probably her guilt at having so little to give him that made her accept, and that she really believed she was doing it for his sake. That made him whinge somewhat less, but it couldn't make the holidays fun.
And it couldn't get any lower than this. Harry looked around the dingy hotel dining room again as if hoping for inspiration, and caught the eye of the waiter, who came over. "More tea?"
Harry nodded, "Thanks."
This turned out to have been a bad move; it drew Uncle Vernon's attention. "What are you going to do with your day, then, eh?"
"I'm not sure, Uncle," Harry thought desperately. "I thought I might go and see the...the museum." He was sure he'd seen mention of a museum in one of the leaflets he'd picked up, and it didn't sound as if it would be too expensive.
Apparently Uncle Vernon couldn't find anything wrong with that plan because he grunted and went back to his copy of the Daily Mail.
"That sounds as if it could be interesting," Lily said. "I might join you."
Aunt Petunia frowned but didn't offer to come as well, and Harry knew there was no chance of Dudley showing interest in anything like a museum. He would spend his day playing video games in one of the arcades. He'd been doing this all day every day during every holiday since he was about twelve and he certainly didn't want Harry's company. The only difficulty was getting him to return to the hotel at night.
"Your Uncle Vernon doesn't get any better, does he?" Lily said, as they wandered round the museum.
"No, not really," agreed Harry.
"It's kind of them to ask us, though," she went on. She sounded to Harry as if she was trying to convince herself as much as him.
"Yes." Harry stared absently at a photo of a young girl in a particularly absurd example of the frilly bathing dresses of the Victorian era. "Dudley told me they went skiing in Austria at Christmas. I think he was trying to make me jealous, but I told him I had just as much fun at school." Lily looked stricken and Harry immediately felt a bit guilty. "I'm sorry you had to work," he added. "I would much rather have been at home with you."
"Well, it can't be helped. The Ministry were very busy around then, and the Minister insisted I go with him to the meeting. I just wasn't going to be there to meet you from the Hogwarts Express and..."
"I know, Mum. Really. I had a great time."
She frowned at him, but accepted his word, and they strolled on, looking at the exhibits. "A wizarding museum would better," she said, this time looking at a photo of a young man holding an early and rather Heath-Robinson-looking bicycle. "But this is quite well done."
"I suppose so," said Harry.
Without warning, she hugged him to her side. "It is good to have my boy back!"
"It's good to be back with you, Mum." And it was, even if the Dursleys were here as well. Harry knew, though, that however good it was to see his mother again, he couldn't put it off. They turned a few more corners in the museum, and finally he said, "Mum...I've something to tell you."
"Have you decided what you're going to do when you leave school?"
"I'm going to be staying in Hogsmeade."
"I'm not sure yet."
"In that case why do you have to stay...Harry, what are you trying to tell me?"
"I've met someone."
There was a curious silence while Lily took this in. "Go on."
"You know last year I told you that I liked men?"
"I remember. I said then that I didn't mind as long as you were happy. Who is he?"
"His name's Snape. Severus Snape. He owns the Apothecary in Hogsmeade. He's a bit older than me and...Mum?" Harry could not interpret his mother's expression and stopped before he got in any deeper.
After a moment, she said, "Severus Snape is not just 'a bit' older than you, Harry."
"Do you know him?" Harry was surprised; Severus had never mentioned knowing Harry's mother.
"I was at school with him," she said. Then, "Not only was I at school with him, your father was as well."
Harry hadn't ever met his father. At least, he was told he'd seen his father when he'd been a small child, but had no memory of it. He asked, "Why bring him up?"
"I...I'm sure he'll be interested to know what your plans are."
"Why? He's never shown any interest before." Harry tried hard to keep the bitterness out of his voice.
"I'm not sure that's entirely his doing."
"I know you're trying to be fair, Mum. But really, he hasn't given a Knut to help you in sixteen years," Harry tactfully left out the fact that he'd got her pregnant and then married someone else, "and he's never paid the slightest attention to me - not even a birthday present - so if he has the slightest intention of coming the heavy parent over anything I do I'm going to greet him with exactly what he deserves: a punch in the mouth."
"I mean it, Mum." He sighed; he hated to see her upset. "I know you think that Bella's behind his ignoring me. But he must be pretty wet if he has to have his wife's permission for everything."
Lily smiled, "From what I remember of Bella Black, she's probably pretty difficult and anyone who had to live with her would do his level best to make sure he didn't upset her. For instance, I'd imagine she'd be very upset if she found her husband was having contact with his Mudblood ex-girlfriend and his illegitimate son."
Harry wasn't taken in by the smile, but knew he it would be best to leave it there. "You could be right," he said.
Dinner in the hotel had been a rather silent affair. Possibly in an attempt to enliven it, the waiter dropped the soup in Uncle Vernon's lap, and the hotel manager hit the waiter on the head with a tray. Harry and Dudley found this mildly amusing - at least, they exchanged surreptitious grins - but neither of them dared break the gloom that hung around their table.
When the bar closed and Uncle Vernon finally decided to go to bed, Harry and his mother were able to escape to their room at last. Another discomfort of the holiday to add to the many was that Harry had to share a bedroom with Lily, though thankfully not a bed. Harry was rather surprised when, as soon as they were alone, his mother collapsed into giggles.
He smiled at her, and waited for an explanation. When none was forthcoming he said, "So? What is it?"
"It's Vernon...well...both of them, really." Lily started to giggle again.
"Petunia's furious. She was waiting to see me so she'd have someone to unload it all on to. Vernon...well, he's been seeing another woman."
"Uncle Vernon?" Harry was stunned. He couldn't imagine any woman, however desperate, having an affair with Uncle Vernon.
"She was a temporary secretary who came in when his usual one was off work with a bad back. It started then and he's been seeing her on and off for a couple of years. Don't laugh yet, Harry, it gets worse. It seems this woman's had a baby and she says it's Vernon's." Lily lowered her voice. "I think Petunia would even put up with that - for Dudley's sake, she says - but the girl's made a claim for child support."
Harry considered. "Yes, I can see that would give Aunt Petunia the collywobbles. I know she's your sister and everything, Mum, but she's awfully fond of money."
"Exactly. I love Petunia dearly, but I know what she's like. And of course she really is quite upset about the idea of Uncle Vernon going out and finding someone else." Lily giggled again. "I know he's not most people's idea of the perfect mate, but like the man said, 'At least it makes two people miserable instead of four.'"
"Assuming the new woman doesn't feel the same way," suggested Harry. It occurred to him that most people would be completely unable to understand his fascination for Severus.
"Oh, dear, yes." It seemed Lily hadn't thought of that. "That would be a complication."
"And what if Uncle Vernon prefers the new woman?"
"That would be a nightmare. We'd have Petunia throwing herself about and striking attitudes all over the place."
"You think she'd want to stay with us?"
"I think it quite possible. And if we're really unlucky she'll bring Dudley."
It was Harry's mother's turn to see him, Ron and Ginny off at King's Cross on September 1st. She was lucky to be able to get the time off at all, and only managed it by doing some swift swapping of hours with a colleague.
Harry was grateful; he always preferred being able to say goodbye to his mother properly, and giving her a last hug in the living room of the cottage never felt right.
The second person he saw on Platform nine and three quarters was his half brother. They didn't speak. They never did; Harry had been excited when, just before the start of his fifth year at school he'd found that he was to be joined by his half brother and half sister, Caligula and Messalina Potter. That had lasted until he'd accompanied Hermione to check on Crookshanks; her cat had wandered off down the train. They'd heard him yowling before they'd seen him and had found Messalina Potter subjecting him to a stinging hex. Harry had never been quite able to forget the gleeful look on her face, or Caligula's laughter. He had as little to do with the twins as he could.
On the platform, Caligula gave Lily a slow look up and down as if she were a tramp off the streets. Harry scowled at him, and Caligula moved off.
"Well then, Harry," Lily straightened his collar. "Have a lovely term. And remember what I said, won't you?"
"I'll remember, Mum."
"Send me an owl as soon as you get there, just to let me know you're safe."
"Yes, Mum." Harry and Ron exchanged a glance. They'd gone through this already with Molly Weasley.
"Look after yourself, all of you."
"Yes, Mum," said Harry.
"Of course, Auntie Lily," said, Ron and Ginny obediently.
"On with you now." Lily smiled at them all and gave Harry a last hug, and a swift kiss before he could pull back.
"So," said Ron, when he, Harry and Hermione were alone. "What did she say to you that you have to remember?" his expression was facetious.
"I told her about...about Severus and me."
Hermione looked stunned, "What did she say?"
"She's not completely happy about it. Well, I didn't think she would be. She thinks he's too old for me " he was at school with her and...and my father. Apparently, they didn't get on too well."
"Her and your father?" Ron's face creased in puzzlement. "How did...?"
"No," Harry said. "My father and Severus."
"What's that got to do with you?" Ron asked.
"That's what I told her."
"I mean, the 'too old for you' thing I can see, though too ugly for you would be nearer the mark..."
"Well, he is. But that your Dad didn't like him about a hundred years ago, I mean, why is that your problem?"
Harry grinned. He knew he could rely on his friends.
Hermione left them for the Ravenclaw table as soon as they arrived at the school. Harry saw her squidge in between Luna Lovegood and Terry Boot. He also noticed that Ron chose a place on the Gryffindor table where could see her and smiled to himself.
As a seventh year, Harry was able to go into Hogsmeade on any weekend he chose " seventh years were, after all, legal adults in the wizarding world. In theory anyway. September 1st was on a Thursday that year, so it was only two days later when he wandered down to the Apothecary in the High Street.
The bell called Severus out from the back of the shop and his face relaxed from suspicion to as much of a smile as he ever gave. "Oh, it's you," he said.
Harry slid under the counter to pop up on the other side.
"I'd have opened it," said Severus.
"But it wouldn't have been as much fun." Harry slid his arms around Severus's waist. "Did you miss me?"
Severus removed Harry's arms as if he were taking off a jacket. "Did I have time to? You wrote to me every other day."
"Once a week."
"Well, sometimes. I missed you." Harry resumed his interrupted hug. "I brought you a present, even."
"Oh, yes?" Severus kissed Harry's forehead swiftly. "Come through to the back."
"I don't care if people do see us."
"But I do." Severus led the way through the door at the back of the shop. "I'm disliked enough in this village without making it worse."
"I know that. But once a rumour starts it may not make a difference."
"And you have your living to earn." Harry sat down on the worn sofa. "You and my Mum have a lot in common, you know."
Severus quirked an eyebrow at him; he put the kettle on the range and sat down beside Harry. "You said something about a present?"
Harry produced a brown paper bag from the book bag at his feet. "Here."
Severus poked inside and produced a shocking pink stick, a jar of marmalade and a mortar and pestle. He waved the pink stick, a horrified look on his face, "What's this?"
"Rock." Seeing Severus's expression, Harry went on. "It's a Muggle sweet. It's minty and lasts a long time. Look - it's got Torquay down the middle. Mum made the marmalade."
"Does she know you've given it to me?"
"Not exactly," admitted Harry. "But she knows I'm not that keen on marmalade and gave it to me anyway."
"You told her about us?"
"Harry, I won't see you behind your mother's back, I..."
Harry broke in, "I know that. She hasn't said I can't see you. She wouldn't do that." He looked into Severus's face. "My word on it. You can owl her if you like."
Harry smiled. "You wouldn't be you if you just took my word for it."
Two weekends later, Harry returned to the Apothecary. This time he had to wait while Severus served an elderly witch who didn't seem to like him very much; Harry was rather taken with the juxtaposition of the stuffed vulture on her hat and the added decoration of bobbing cherries. He wondered which had come first, the vulture or the cherries.
Severus looked pale, paler even than usual. "Are you ill?" Harry asked, as soon as the witch had gone, the bell was still tinkling behind her. He couldn't think of any reason other than illness for him to look like that.
"So what's wrong?"
"I received this," Severus handed Harry a letter. "It's from your father. He forbids me from having anything further to do with you."
"What?" Harry shouted in disbelief. "The bloody cheek! That bastard, I..."
"He's never done anything, not a single thing, for either Mum or me. So it's a bit much for him to come over all sentimental about me now."
"Harry, I don't think you're being quite fair."
"Fair? He got Mum pregnant and then dumped her. How fair is that?"
"I don't think he had a choice. Look, come through to the back." Severus raised the counter for Harry to walk through.
Severus went through to the kitchen, it seemed as if he were in a hurry - but if he were, surely he would just send Harry away? Harry noticed, too, that the room was different; he could hardly miss it, gone was the pile of Potions magazines and most of the cups and saucers from the dresser. The sofa had been cleaned, and the table had distinct signs that a 'Reparo' spell had been used on it in the not too distant past. Why on earth had Severus, of all people, suddenly taken to domestic cleanliness?
When they were finally sitting down with cups of tea, Severus continued, "Your mother will have told you, I expect, that she and I were at school together."
"She mentioned it. And that my father is the same age."
"Exactly." Severus took a sip of his tea. "I...I told you that your father and I didn't get on particularly well. His friends would tell you that I envied him and that's partly true. I didn't, however, envy him his parents; it was obvious from the start that the Potters expected their son to make a good marriage with someone from his own social station. I was vaguely friendly with your mother and with her friend, Remus Lupin."
"Yes. That's how I know as much as I do. Remus was very worried when your father started seeing your mother, as was I. But we neither of us could do very much about it. It didn't help, either, that both of us were convinced that your father...well, I thought he loved your mother, and had he been able to do would have married her in a minute. His parents made it very clear that wasn't going to happen. They had arranged for him to marry Bella Black and were not going to stand for any nonsense about love."
"That makes him a spineless bastard rather than an abusive dickhead, but I don't see how it affects us," said Harry, after a moment.
Severus sighed as though reluctant to speak, but finally said, "The other problem is that your father saved my life. He has never asked for anything in return - until now."
"That's what the letter means when he talks about the debt between you? I thought he was talking about money."
"James would never lend me money." Severus seemed amused by the idea.
They had both started together and both broke off. Severus said, "I know you must dislike your father and you can't see why he's interfering in your life, but," he swallowed, and started again, "I have to do as he asks. I can't see you again. Not like this. You can come into the shop, of course, but it's best that you don't come alone." He sounded as if the words cost him his livelihood.
"But I love you," Harry swallowed.
Severus turned away, as if he didn't want Harry to see his face. "I feel strongly about you, too."