This one took a lot of finagling - my beta and I read through it together four times! And that was after I rewrote it a few times on my own. Mind you, I wrote half of it at seven o'clock this morning, after getting up at noon yesterday, which could have had something to do with the original quality. . .
I am glad I made it to post it on Christmas, 'cause if I hadn't I probably would have sat on it till next year. This is the fic that I mentioned in my Christmas drabble as the original idea, and it did end up a lot closer to the original idea.
Anyway, I promise it is better now, although it is definitely in need of a couple of warnings. . .
Warning! This ficlet contains large, possibly dangerous, doses of sap and fluff! Read at your own risk!
Severus stood in the doorway to their sitting room, watching Harry, who was sitting on the - probably cold - floor, watching the merrily twinkling tree that the brat had somehow managed to convince him to acquire and help decorate.
Harry looked solemn, but not sad, as he had always done when performing this particular ritual in his years at Hogwarts - sometimes even sitting for hours, wide green eyes occasionally leaking tears which would slip, unnoticed, down his upturned face. Not that Severus had been watching because he was concerned for the young Gryffindor or anything.
Severus sighed at the rather pathetic defensive turn of his thoughts. It wasn't as if it wasn't already common knowledge that the Boy-Who-Lived had set up house with his once much-hated Potions Professor, though he was still known to most as the traitorous Death Eater.
Harry held out a hand, inviting him to come closer. Without even turning to look at him, as if he had known all along that Severus was standing there watching him. Severus momentarily considered holding out - Severus Snape did not curl up to stare at Christmas trees, much less on the draughty, dirty floor - but he knew he would join Harry on the floor eventually, and it felt wrong to argue. For the moment, anyway - he and Harry still had the occasional spat, and Severus expected that they always would. The difference being that, though they fought, and occasionally fought dirty, they always had the reassurance of the underlying current of their affection.
Severus crossed the floor and, at Harry' gesture, sank down to settle on the floor next to his younger lover. The floor was, just as he had guessed, draughty and chilled.
They sat for some time, silently, shoulders brushing, Harry watching the tree and Severus watching Harry, just as before.
Suddenly, Harry broke the silence. "You know I used to do this every year at school?" It was not truly a question, but Severus nodded affirmation anyway.
Nothing else seemed to be forthcoming, though he knew there must have been more to the train of thought, so he inquired, "Why?"
Harry sighed, turning his head to look at Severus, though he appeared to be looking rather unsettlingly through Severus, perhaps at some other Christmas night, lonely and cold.
"I was wishing." Harry hesitated and Severus suddenly knew why. He bit nervously at the inside of his cheek, half afraid to ask, but unable to keep quiet, "And tonight? What are you wishing for tonight?"
Harry looked at him, actually looked at him this time, and said, in a surprised tone, "How did you know I was wishing now as well?" Severus felt his heart sink at the innocent words, but berated himself - after all, it wasn't as if he could make Harry's life suddenly perfect, after all that he had been through. . . His thoughts were suddenly derailed by Harry's continued murmurings.
"I was just wishing, well, that I could go back, and talk to that me that used to sit under the tree in the Gryffindor common room, just to tell him something. Something he would never guess." Harry laughed, "It would probably blow his mind too."
Severus drew the shreds of his sharp wit to him, but couldn't bring himself to be too harsh - it wasn't even Harry's fault that he was upset; how could the young man have known that his bitter and taciturn older lover had hung so much on him? It was foolish and not at all like Severus to do so, after all.
"Your head being so implacably empty anyway, of what particular bit of knowledge did you wish to go back and inform yourself?"
Harry leant his head against Severus shoulder, murmuring happy little noises when Severus' arm automatically came up to cradle him closer.
"That someday I'd find everything I always wished I could have." Harry paused, "The bit that would really blow his mind though, is that I'd find it with you." Harry sighed, content within his little world.
Severus felt as if something cold and clawed had seized his throat at that, and he turned his head sharply to look down at Harry, who was no longer regarding the Christmas tree solemnly - or at all, for that matter - and was now looking up at Severus warmly.
Severus swallowed hard at the look, warm with love, and leant down a moment later to kiss the expression away.
A few minutes later, when he pulled away, not only was Harry no less sappy looking, but Severus strongly suspected that he looked just as gormless, himself. Unexpectedly, Harry laughed.
Severus raised one eloquent brow at him. His momentary insecurity passed, he felt no particular upset from the oddly timed laughter, only curiosity. In response, Harry put one hand up next to his mouth, as if it would help him breathe or perhaps cease laughing more quickly. It didn't seem to help, but eventually he choked it down and explained.
"I just don't think that my younger self, at school, would believe me if I said that Sev- Professor Snape would one day be all the family I've ever wanted."
Severus had to agree; a school-aged Potter would most likely have been not only horrified by the very idea, but convinced that whoever presented such a preposterous possibility must be mad. A moment after that thought made its way across his mind, the rest of Harry's statement sank in fully, and Severus looked down at him again, wide-eyed.
Harry was looking up at him, sitting up on his own now, not leaning against Severus - who noted absently that he had been unconsciously missing the warmth - and grinning up at him. He had known the effect the words would have on Severus, and had been waiting for them to sink in, the little pest!
Severus cleared his throat awkwardly, glancing down at the knee of his dressing gown - noting that it would be time to replace it soon; it was starting to look more than a little threadbare - and back up at Harry, who put a hand to Severus' lips to stop him as he drew breath to speak.
It was Harry's turn to try kissing an expression away, and he was more successful at it. When he pulled back, Severus no longer looked as though he'd swallowed one of his own, viler creations, still in its early - and particularly repulsive - stages.
Before Severus could gather up his thoughts again, and try to restart the nonsense Harry was sure he would have been spouting if he had managed to get out his thoughts, he simply told him, "I know." and tucked himself back into the comfortable embrace that was - as ever - waiting for him at his lover's side.
"I love you." Severus murmured quietly into his hair, petting it affectionately with one hand. "Pest!" he added a moment later.
Harry stifled a giggle, and replied calmly, "I know." He pressed a light kiss on the underside of Severus' jaw, and added a moment later, more seriously, "I love you too, Severus."
Severus shifted slightly and tugged at the lock of hair currently under his hand. "So can we return to bed now? This floor is not getting any warmer." Or cleaner, he added silently, and made a mental note to mention the sitting room floor to their house-elf in the morning.
Harry groaned in protest and stretched slightly, carefully, so as not to disturb Severus' grip on either his waist or his hair as he did, and then whined, "But Se-ev! I'm comfy!"
He was, as he'd expected, promptly dropped onto the floor as Severus rose to his feet - and the floor was, as Severus had just reminded him, cold and uncomfortable, particularly when compared to the warm comfort of his lover's lap. Severus loathed that shortening of his name - any shortening of his name, actually - with a passion, and did not put up with it from anyone, even his beloved partner.
Harry laughed, unoffended by his sudden relocation, and looked up at Severus, who was now looming over him, regarding Harry's laughing self, sprawled uncaringly on the floor, with a considerably less than amused expression.
Harry restrained his merriment and pouted fetchingly up at Severus, who sighed, not fooled, but uncrossed his arms and offered Harry a hand up anyway. Harry took it and was pulled smoothly to his feet, and into Severus' waiting embrace.
Harry risked a quick kiss, trying to head Severus off before he could get going into his rant about nicknames again. He scrunched his eyes closed as he drew back, knowing full well that trying to distract Severus when he was angry or upset about something was hardly ever effective, and expecting a prompt and solid verbal smack for even trying.
A few long moments later, when everything was still silent, he cracked open one eye warily. Upon catching sight of his lover's face however, he opened both eyes wide. Severus was grinning at him. Harry was now half-convinced that he'd just fallen asleep there before the Christmas tree.
Severus cuddling with him, even on the floor, was certainly plausible enough, though Harry knew Severus would deny it haughtily if he were ever asked.
Severus giving him sappily romantic looks - and getting tongue-tied over voicing his similarly sappily romantic thoughts - also absolutely plausible. As intelligent as Severus was, he wasn't particularly adept at emotional talks.
Severus forgoing a righteously annoyed, sarcasm-ridden scolding over the subject of nicknames? The chances were fairly close to nil. Even less likely was the prospect of him beaming instead of snarking after being subjected to such an indignity as the 'puerile and juvenile butchering' of his name.
Severus chuckled at his look of shock, which was, Harry allowed, probably hilarious. Wary shock of course, as he still wasn't entirely certain this wasn't a trick to lure him into complacency. Severus ignored the look and simply tugged him closer. "Come on love, let's go to bed. It's almost dawn."
Harry allowed himself to be tugged along without protest, following Severus up the stairs and into their still-warm bed. A handy warming charm placed on the bedding prevented their bed from ever being truly cold, though the one they used was mild enough that you could hardly tell from the feel of the sheets.
After they settled in to sleep, curled together, just as he was drifting off, Harry's last wakeful thought was, 'I think I have a new tradition this year.'
Thank Merlin for wishing. And Christmas trees.
A/N: I hope it wasn't too sappy or out-of-character!