A/N: so I've been trying to make the chapters longer but what seems like twenty pages in a notebook only equals to about ten on the computer so. . . I hope the confrontation is to everyone's liking, though I'm sure there will be a few unsatisfied customers. Anywho…
Harry left the niche with his wand poised for an attack. He was crouched low to the ground and casted Protego as a reflex, treating this situation as if it were a real duel, just like Severus had warned him to. As Harry made himself known in the hallway he felt the pressure of a rather weak Expelliarmus being absorbed by his shield.
"It's Harry!" he heard Hermione cry. Harry saw two heads poke out from behind one of the stone gargoyles guarding Dumbledore's office. Out of sheer anger Harry casted Incendio at the head of the stone guardian. The magical stone didn't chip away or crack, but there was a large scorch mark where the spell had hit the stone.
"Harry it's us!" Ron yelled stepping out from behind the granite beast. Hermione followed him. Harry stood still, back ridged and shoulders square. He fiddled with his wand watching the two walk towards him with a set jaw.
"Are you alright mate?" Ron asked stopping a few feet from Harry. The betrayed teen sized Ron and Hermione up, the hurt that his friends would invade his privacy in such a way ached in his chest. Harry crossed his arms.
"Just fine," he said in a strained voice.
"Are you sure?" Harry nodded. "Good, we need to get up to Dumbledore's office," Ron said walking away from Harry, not looking to see if he was being followed. "You know the password right?"
"Ron," Hermione called out in a barely audible voice. Ron turned around and saw Harry glaring at him, arms crossed over his chest, unmoved from his spot.
"What's wrong Harry?"
"Why do we have to get up to Dumbledore's office?" he asked. Ron missed the storm that was brewing around them.
"We need to tell Dumbledore about…" he trailed off unsure how to proceed.
"Tell Dumbledore what?" Harry demanded. "That you magically bugged me? That you've been watching me? That I can't even trust my best friends anymore?"
"Harry we just wanted to make sure you were okay! That Professor Snape was treating you fairly," Hermione said realizing the mistake her and Ron had made.
"My word wasn't good enough for you?" Harry asked. "I told you that if Snape was hurting me I would tell you!"
"Harry, mate, Snape's obviously has you under some kind of Fidelius charm! There is no way Snape's got the kind of money it takes to make anyone want to do what you were doing with him. The Malfoy's don't even have that kind of gold!" Hermione gasped at Ron's words. Harry felt white hot anger bubbling in the pit of his stomach. He gripped his wand impossibly tight. His bloodless knuckles stood out ominously against the dark wood.
"And why would Snape have to pay me?" Harry asked in a startling calm voice. Only his flashing eyes and ridged posture gave away his inner emotions.
"Because no one would ever touch Snape like that!" Ron exclaimed, "It must cost Snape quite a few gallons to get any at all. That is if anyone actually has the stomach to—." Before he could finish his sentence Harry lost the grip on his temper and lunged for the red head. Harry's fist impacted with Ron's nose and a sickening crack filled the hallway. With a groan the tall wizard fell to his knees before falling over sideways onto the floor, tears welding in his eyes. Hermione hesitated to move. Harry stood rooted to his spot, body tight with restraint.
"Harry, I'm so sorry," Hermione whispered, tears glistening in her eyes. She flinched under Harry's poignant stare.
"Me too Hermione, me too," he said quietly before turning away from her and marched from the scene.
Severus watched Harry pass his alcove. The youth didn't even notice Snape as he stormed by. His heart ached to sooth the teen. The words that came from the youngest male Weasley's mouth were aimed at himself, but stung Harry in the end. Severus stepped out from the shadows and glanced down the hall at the couple on the ground.
Hermione was kneeling over Ron who was still holding his nose, but was now sitting up, his back to Severus. The young witch looked over Ron's shoulder when she felt the strong aura of her professor enter the passageway. Snape met the large caramel brown eyes with a guarded expression, unsure of Hermione's thoughts.
After several unmoving seconds Hermione nodded once, giving Snape her approval. Severus returned the gesture before turning away, leaving Hermione to deal with Ron while he went to comfort his significant other.
Hermione watched Snape's retreating back disappear around the corner before turning her attention back to Ron.
"Come on Ron," he said giving Ron a poke to the shoulder. "Get up and go to Madam Pomfry."
"Wha' 'bout Harry?" the ginger asked through his clogging nose. His eyes were still watering from the blow.
"I don't think he's particularly keen about seeing you at the moment," Hermione pointed out in a sharp voice. Ron looked up at Hermione with a queer look.
"Do you believe Snape's doin' some'fin to Harry now?" Ron asked blood beginning to dribble through his clenching fingers.
"Right," Hermione snapped. "Because what you said had nothing to do with Harry feeling the impulse to take a swing at you."
"Wha' do you mean?" Ron asked.
"You called him a whore Ronald," Hermione said callously. Ron's eyes widened.
"No!" he cried scrambling to his feet, his nose forgotten. "I wouldn'! Wha' I mean' was—"
"It doesn't matter what you meant! What matters is what you said! Did it ever occur to you that Harry had complete control over himself down in the dungeons? Did you ever stop to think that Harry's a big boy and knows what he wants?"
"How cud Harry wan'—"
"How could you want me?" Hermione shot at him.
"How cud I not?"
"Malfoy views me just as you view Professor Snape."
"But Malfoy wouldn' know a beau'iful, smart, amazing girl if she bi' him in the arse!"
"Well then maybe that's how Harry feels about Professor Snape! We don't know how Harry feels! We don't know how long this has been going on, how serious it is, or how long it is going to last, but damn it Ron! This is what Harry wants!"
"But. It's. Snape! Have you gone mad? We're 'alking about the Greasy Dungeon Bat, who docks points, gives detention, tries to get us expelled! He's a Death Eater years older then us! Do you wan' to think about his boney, potion stained hands all over Harry?"
"If that's what Harry wants," Hermione said in a final tone. "Why can't you stand behind him on this?"
"Because Harry could be fucking Snape!" Ron cried feeling almost frantic. "Harry's suppose to end up with a nice guy his age that can give Harry anyfing asks for! Not a vindictive Death Eater who hated us six months ago! Why can't you see this?"
"Because Ron I can see how happy Harry's been these past few months and that's all that matters," Hermione said coolly. "And until you figure that out Harry won't want to talk to you. And I don't really want to either."
"Are you breaking up with me?" Ron asked in a wounded voice. He felt his stomach tumble unpleasantly. Hermione looked at him with somber eyes.
"No," she said with a small shake of her head. "No, I'm going back up to the common room to wait and see if Harry comes back tonight and try to make this up to him. You should probably go up to Madam Pomfry. You're bleeding all over."
Hermione left Ron standing in the middle of the corridor, blood seeping from his nose, trickling down his face and neck, staining the collar of his white shirt crimson.
Severus followed Harry through the halls. Twilight was shinning through the large windows he past, casting long shadows on the stone wall opposite him. He watched Harry enter an unused classroom, slamming the door shut. From where he was Severus heard the dark wood creak and groan in protest from the force that was used to shut it. He approached the door and cautiously opened it. Harry sat on a desk with is back to the entrance, looking out the windows.
The dying light outlined the slime figure and Severus could see Harry's frame shaking with silent sobs. Severus took a few steps into the room, and noiselessly shut the door behind him. He walked over to Harry ghost-like and stopped a few paces away from him.
Severus gently allowed his magic to pulse outward towards the hunched over teen, letting Harry respond to him in his own time. Harry turned to Severus, his eyes rimmed red, when he felt the soothing waves of magic around him. Severus stepped forward opening his arms. When Harry closed the distance between him Severus wrapped his arms around Harry, pulling him close and holding him tight.
"Shhh…" Severus murmured when Harry sobbed loudly into his chest. He reached up and stroked the black mop tenderly. He allowed Harry to cry out his anger and pain, feeling relieved the teen was no longer trying to keep all of his frustrations bottled up inside.
Severus whispered quiet words of reassurance to Harry as the weeping wizard balled his fists in the front of Severus' robes and grew quiet. Severus buried his nose in Harry's hair and inhaled deeply, enjoying the unique scent, before speaking quietly.
"Can you really blame them for worrying about your well being?" he asked. Harry's head snapped up.
"What?" he asked in dismay, his eyebrows pulling together.
"I do not justify your friends actions and I fully agree they went about the situation all wrong, but their behavior speaks volumes of their friendship and devotion to protect you." Harry wore a look of confusion and Severus continued. "The fact that they went to such lengths to watch over you proves it. They feared that the Greasy Dungeon Bat was torturing you deep in the bowels of Hogwarts where no one could hear you scream, so they risked your friendship to watch over you." Despite his crestfallen mood Harry smile at Severus's words. He loved to hear the pale man ramble on about anything with his deep voice, wordy sentences and his infinite amount of word variations.
"Don't let Ron hear you actually saying something positive about him and Hermione," Harry warned with mock grimness.
"Yes, I believe Mr. Weasley would assume that hell has finally frozen over," Severus agreed with a ghost of a smile pulling at his lips before he placed a kiss upon Harry's brow.
"Are you going to make me go back to the common room tonight?" Harry asked in an utterly pathetic voice, looking up at Severus through his long black eyelashes with an utterly miserable, heartfelt gaze. Severus exhaled through his nose quietly.
"You know how I feel about you staying in your dormitory on school nights," he said looking down at the watery green eyes, already knowing he was fighting a losing battle. Harry nodded slightly.
"Yes I do, but I—" Harry sighed and let what ever he was going to say go. "Never mind." The sigh from his young partner was what broke Severus' heart and crumbled any resistance that he thought he might have had. He pulled Harry closer and brought his lips closer to the younger wizard's ear.
"Given the current circumstances, I suppose I can make an exception tonight," Harry looked up with a brilliant smile.
"Thank you Severus," he murmured.
"You're welcome, brat," Severus muttered tenderly.
Hermione paced an invisible path through the common room, her nails long since been gnawed down to nothing. The rest of the Gryffindors gave the frazzled witched a wide birth, not getting in her way or addressing her. With every lap of her unseen track she would glance up at the clock. Every time the portrait door opened, she would freeze in her movements and stared intently at the door, watching to see who came though the whole in the wall. And every time she would sigh in frustration and continue her never ending journey though the common room. It wasn't until Ron entered through the portrait did Hermione have a change in behavior.
The worrisome brown eyes met the darkened hazel ones and the atmosphere in the small common roomed changed. Everyone in there held their breaths as something invisible passed between the couple.
The two's fights were legendary to the Gryffindors, but they had never seen anything like that moment. It was usually Ron who lost his head and Hermione would storm off after harsh words were shared, but neither of the two said a word and Ron merely bowed his head before disappearing up the staircase, leading to the seventh year boys' dormitory. The dozen of other students in the common room turned their gaze to the lone witch still standing in the middle of the common room. She was staring at the stairs Ron had just gone up before she started her invisible path through the tower, still nibbling at her nails.
Ron wondered into the quiet infirmary holding on to his nose with a sleeve covered hand. Only two of the beds were filled. The one closest to him had a small Hufflepuff in it, sniffling quietly, holding his left hand close to his chest. And the bed on the other side of the room had a motionless lump covered in the characteristic white blankets of the Hospital Wing. As Ron approached Madame Pomfry's door the matron exited her office with a sigh. Which Weasley was it this time?
"Take up a bed Mr. Weasley and I shall be with you momentarily," she said motioning towards an empty cot, moving to the young Hufflepuff. The red head did as he was told, his mind still spinning from earlier events.
Had the castle been flipped upside down? How could Harry be with Snape? He half expected someone to jump out and yell "Surprise!" telling him it was just a big laugh on him, but as he sat in the middle of the hallway staring at the stone walls, he came to realized that no one was going to jump out. His best mate was more likely then not shagging their greasy Potions professor, said best mate and girlfriend didn't want to talk to him, and to top it all off Ron was certain his nose was broken from Harry's punch. He looked up suddenly, startled by a frustrated looking Madame Pomfry.
"Huh?" he asked. The witched huffed placing her hands on her hips.
"I asked you, what happened, Mr. Weasley," she asked again.
"I uh…tripped," Ron said allowing Madame Pomfry to pull his hand away from his face.
"You tripped?" she asked skeptically. Ron nodded. "Peculiar, because it looks more like someone clouted you quit nicely."
"I tripped into a stone step on the Grand Staircase," Ron insisted. His nose hurt from the break and his sinuses were congested with the coagulating blood. The mediwitch in front of him looked him over doubtfully before bustling around him, working to set and heal his nose.
"Drink this," she said handing him a pale blue Pain Relieving Potion. Ron took it without question and swallowed the foul concoction. She placed both hands on Ron's awkwardly shaped nose and instructed him to take a deep breath and to expect an unpleasant grinding sensation. With one quick movement Ron's nose was set back to its original shape, waiting to be healed fully.
"You should expect blood draining from your sinuses over the next few hours and your nose to be tender for the next few days, but there will be no permanent damage," Madame Pomfry informed Ron as he moved to hop down from the bed.
"Thank you Madame Pomfry," Ron said.
"You're welcome, Mr. Weasley," the witch said handing Ron a pass to be out after curfew. "Try not to stumble over any more stairs."
"I'll see what I can do," Ron murmured heading for the Hospital Wing exit. Just as he was about to exit, Ron stopped and turned back towards to Madame Pomfry, who was silently leaning over the unmoving patient, removing a goblet from the table beside the bed.
"Madame Pomfry?" Ron called out quiet as he asked towards the mediwitch. She turned around her hands full.
"Is there a problem Mr. Weasley?" she asked raising a graying eyebrow. Ron shook his head.
"No, I was just wondering, do you know what the password is to the Headmaster's office?" a curious looked passed over the witch's face before her eyes narrowed and she straightened up, gaining an authoritative air about her.
"I thought you tripped," she said inquisitively.
"I did trip," Ron said quickly. "It has nothing to do with my nose, but I just wanted to talk to him."
"Well the headmaster's a busy man," she huffed, sounding still unconvinced "I'm sure what ever you need to say you can talk with to your head of house. Then she will do what ever or contact whom ever, if required, to help you with your problem."
"It's about Harry, Madame," Ron said quietly. Madame Pomfry looked Ron over crucially.
"Harry Potter?" she asked. Ron nodded. "What has that boy done now?"
"Please, Madame, I just really wish to speak to the headmaster." The elder witch shifted the objects around in her hands looking Ron up and down before exhaling through her nose, the corner of her lips quirked upward.
"The password is Pink Coconut Ice," Madame Pomfry said hustling past Ron.
"Thank you," Ron called after her before exiting the Hospital Wing.
Ron retraced his footsteps to the scene of the fight between him, Harry, and Hermione; the hallway leading to the headmasters office. Ron stood in front of the stone gargoyles. The one closest to him still sported the char mark where Harry had hit it with his spell.
"Pink Coconut Ice," Ron said watching as the stone guardians jumped out of the way and he hesitantly stepped onto the revolving stone steps after a few revolutions. When they stopped he finished climbing and paused before knocking at the heavy wooden door. For the first time in his life Ron stopped and thought about the consequences of his actions.
How would Dumbledore react to the relationship between his employee and his student, between the Chosen One and a Death Eater; between Harry and Snape? How would this affect Harry? He didn't really care about how harshly Dumbledore would punish Snape, but Ron felt a pang of guilt when ever he thought about hurting Harry.
Perhaps Harry was finally happy; he did deserve it, after everything that he had been put through since entering the Wizarding World. His best mate deserved someone who would take care of him, but was that person Snape? Ron thought back to the scene he witnessed in the mirror.
The red head hadn't noticed the playful barter between the two males, but instead saw it as a methodical battle between good and evil. Ron now clearly remembered questioning why Harry wasn't fighting back, trying to get out from under Snape; it was because he didn't want to, because Harry chose not to. Harry wasn't under any spell or being bullied into submission. Harry was happy with Snape.
Ron stood in the same position, poised to knock on the headmaster's door, lost in deep thought. Harry had been in a noticeably better mood for the past several weeks. He paid attention more in classes and to conversations, ate more at meals and laughed more. His face had fewer lines and his eyes even seemed brighter. Ron still had a hard time registering that it was because of their Potions Master; the man who hated them.
But times were changing. People were changing. Unforeseen alliances were being made, people coming together for a single cause, but Ron had been so sure that Snape was sided with Who-Know-Who and Dumbledore was insane for trusting him, but could Harry make the same mistake?
No. It was the only possible answer. Sure Harry forgave easily, and would lend a helping hand to anyone who needed it, but he wouldn't make such a mistake when it came to judging a person's disposition. Ron was confident enough in Harry's choice of character that if Harry trusted Snape then Ron had no choice but to do the same. Now all he needed to do was admit he was wrong and apologize, and swallowing his pride was not something the youngest male Weasley excelled at.
With a sigh Ron ran a hand though his blazing locks and backed away from the headmaster's door. He refused to risk hurting Harry and in turn losing his best mate and possibly Hermione all in one fellow swoop. No, Ron was going to go back to Gryffindor to lick his wounds in private, and think about what he as going to say to Harry when he next saw him.
Harry felt the bed dip as Severus sat on the edge. He sighed leaning back on the pillows, enjoying the warmth of the bed. He heard the rustle of blankets before he felt Severus lie down beside him. Harry routinely curled around the older man as Severus settled the coverlet over them. Harry relished the feeling of Severus' bare chest against his. A strong arm wrapped itself around Harry's shoulders, pulling him closer as the younger wizard hitched his leg over Severus' middle. Severus gently pulled the glasses from Harry's face and set them down on the bed side table before finally leaning back into his own pillows, his left arm behind his head.
"Do you think Ron hates me?" Harry asked vulnerably as the candles that lit the room were dimmed considerably. Severus looked down at the dark messy head, affectionately running his fingers through the dark tresses.
"I believe that he is shocked and doesn't know what to think," Severus said quietly. Harry enjoyed the deep rumbling coming from the chest he used as a pillow. "Give Ron some time to think, let him come to you."
"But what if he doesn't?" Harry asked looking up at Severus' blurred face.
"Mr. Weasley couldn't help but approach you again, whether it's to make amends or not. He wouldn't have the sense to let the situation go if the circumstances called for it," Severus sneered. Harry nodded despite his apprehensive feelings, knowing Severus spoke the truth.
"Sleep Harry," Severus murmured leaning down to place a kiss on Harry's head. "We can not escape what the future will bring, so we must face it and try not to surrender ourselves to the pain and sorrow that may accompany it. Do not worry, things will work themselves out." Severus felt Harry nod against his torso in understanding. The older wizard continued to run his fingers though Harry's hair, even after the teen had fallen asleep, kept awake by the anxious feelings that swelled in his gut.
The Weasley's were a good family, good people, loyal to the end and true friends, but he couldn't help the small voice in his head, whispering to him that Ron wouldn't be able to accept Harry's choice and ultimately destroying his young partner. As he watched Harry sleep, Severus desperately wished that Harry's friendship wouldn't crumble under the pressure like his had all those years ago.
Hermione rubbed her palms against the thigh of her jeans. The distant toll of the clock tower told her it was three.
The young witch stared unseeingly into the fireplace. Her eyes were slowly dropping, heavy with sleep, and her body gradually fell back into the chair before she suddenly jerked awake, perching herself back on the edge of her seat. Only to repeat the process until she no longer jerked awake and her body slumped back in an uncomfortable position, falling into an uneasy sleep, still waiting for Harry to return to the common room so she could apologize until her throat was raw.
Harry stumbled though the halls, yawning and rubbing his tired eyes. Falling asleep against Severus and being kissed awake was worth the early morning stagger back to Gryffindor Tower at five in the morning.
Severus had sent Harry off with a pleasant kiss and the promise that everything was going to work out. Harry could count on one hand how many times Severus had been wrong and he hoped he wouldn't have to add another finger.
As Harry approached the portrait of the Fat Lady he gently rapped his knuckles against the frame, waking his house guardian as nicely as he could.
"Another late night Mr. Potter?" she asked sleepily.
"Ice Mice," Harry said instead of answering the question.
"Fine, dodge my questions, but I'll find out where you're always off to at night. I have eyes and ears everywhere."
"I'm sure you do," Harry muttered climbing though the portrait hole. After shutting the Fat Lady behind him, Harry stumbled into the empty common room. His eyes feel onto a strange lump peeking out from behind the back of one of the plushy chairs. He quickly came to realize it was a head full of familiar bush hair.
"Hermione?" Harry called out quietly. When the witch didn't move Harry slowly drew nearer the chair, forgetting about the extra hour of sleep he could have gotten.
The fire in front of Hermione was almost out. The slightest of orange embers twinkled through the cool black ash. The cool winter air settled around the common room and the awkwardly sleeping girl was shivering. Harry sighed reaching for the blanket that was draped across the back of the nearest couch. As Harry began to cover Hermione she sat bolt upright with a startled gasp. Her eyes frantically took in the room before they fell upon Harry.
"Oh Harry!" she cried jumping to her feet and flung her arms around Harry's neck. "I'm so sorry! We shouldn't have—I don't know what got over me! I shouldn't have even—please forgive me Harry! I never meant—!" she broke off with a sob Harry dropped the throw he was holding and wrapped his arms around the shaking witch that clung to him.
"Calm down Hermione," Harry whispered, "just calm down." Hermione hiccupped nodding, trying to stop her tears as Harry set her back into the chair that she was sitting in while he sat across from her on a worn coffee table.
"What were you doing down here?" Harry asked, gently wiping away the stands of hair that stuck to Hermione's face.
"Waiting for you," Hermione confessed quickly. "I just wanted to apologize! I never meant to hurt you Harry! We just thought that Snape—we should have just trusted you! We should have known that you would have told us—should have given you the chance to—"
"Hermione breath," Harry ordered firmly, rubbing her upper arms soothingly. "Just breathe and calm down. It's okay."
"No Harry it's not! I shouldn't have—"
"It wasn't just you," Harry said in a quiet voice laced with resentment.
"But it was my idea!" Hermione cried. "I was the one who thought about the rune to watch over you! I've destroyed your trust because of my own stupid curiosity!"
"Hermione, who do you think you're talking to?" Harry scoffed. "I've stopped counting how many times my curiosity has come back to bite me in the arse! But as long as you learn from your mistakes…" Hermione looked at Harry in disbelief.
"Are you forgiving me?" she breathed.
"Sounds like it," Harry said with a kind smile, but Hermione shook her head.
"How can you be so forgiving? I helped invade your privacy, watched you—," Hermione broke off, Harry saw redness bloom in her cheeks, even in the dim light of early morning.
"Hermione, you fell asleep in a chair waiting for me to come back so you could apologize. If you truly meant to hurt me, you wouldn't have done that. Besides, what kind of a friend would I be if I didn't forgive you?"
"Harry, I don't deserve your friendship after what I did to you!"
"Hermione," Harry sighed taking the red-eyed witch's hand between his. "If I had just told you about—"
"Don't you dare say it Harry Potter," Hermione hissed, bristling as she pulled her hand away from Harry's. "Don't you dare blame yourself for not telling us about your relationship with Professor Snape! If Ron and I had just told you about ours you would have told us about yours!"
"Can we agree on the fact that two wrongs don't make a right?" Harry asked. "Look, last night Severus told me something, something I find completely true, I don't have many in my life that I can trust, and you and Ron are in the top slots. I hated lying to you guys and I'm sure neither of our relationships came out like we had planned, but I really need you Hermione, both you and Ron, for what's to come. I don't what a fight and I don't want an apology—"
"Oh Harry!" Hermione cried wrapping her arms around Harry's neck again.
"Come one Hermione, let's get you to bed," Harry murmured gently helping her up and leading toward the staircase. Once at the Head girl's bedroom door Harry stopped.
"Go to bed Hermione, sleep until you wake yourself up. We're not doing anything important in class today and I'll take notes for you."
"They will be the best notes I have ever taken," Harry promised with a smile. Hermione opened her mouth to speak again, but closed it with a fond smile.
"Alright Harry," she said placing a kiss on his cheek. "Thank you." And she disappeared through the door.
Harry stretched, scratching at his stomach. He his watch read quarter to six. Knowing Ron could be waking up soon, he thought it would be best if he took his shower in the Prefect's bathroom.
A/N: so I thought one confrontation between Ron and Harry was enough for one chapter, but another shall come soon enough! I have a general idea how I'm going to end this but I need your help. Should I draw it out for a few more chapters and add the end of the war or should I end it before the war and add an epilogue?
Let me know what you all think. I love reviews just as much as the next author.