A New Year's Surprise


10. . .9. . .8

"There you are Harry!" Ron yelled in his ear. He took no offense - it was too loud to be heard otherwise.

"You seen 'Mione mate?"

"No. Sorry." Harry stretched up onto his toes, peering around, looking for a particular, familiar shape amongst the crowd of witches and wizards, most of whom were milling about and shrieking madly.

He heard Ron turn back to him, and saw, out of the corner of his eye, a puzzled look - quickly followed by a pleased one - flit across his face.

"Oi! You looking for your mysterious girlfriend? She here?" Ron immediately started to look around as well, as if, by some unknown power, he would recognize said girlfriend if she appeared.

Harry turned back to look at him. "Um," he hesitated briefly, mildly annoyed. "No, Ron."

Honestly, I've told him, told them both, I don't have a girlfriend!

"I don't believe you! Who're you looking for then?"

Well. Might as well! Harry drew in a deep breath,

"My," there was a slight pause, "my boyfriend."

He glanced up just in time to see a look of shock on Ron's face - though thankfully he saw no disgust. He would never have just run off after dropping that bombshell, but just at that moment he spotted the dark figure of his, well, boyfriend, off behind his best mate and it was nearly midnight already. . .

"Sorry Ron, I have to go. . .if," he hesitated, debating. Suppose it's a little late for that! "If I want to kiss him at midnight!"

He darted off into the crowd, feeling rather like he was running away, but determined to manage kissing his boyfriend, at midnight, on New Year's, for the first time ever! And he was going to do it this year.

It had been hard enough to convince his boyfriend of several years to come here, even with Harry explaining his desire to have that midnight kiss.

Harry knew that his boyfriend felt the whole thing was rather silly, but after he'd explained the reasoning behind his - honestly, rather unreasonable - desire, all the reaction he'd gotten was an indulgent acquiescence accompanied by a shake of his head.

*Flashback Beginning* -

"Well, you know what they say?"

"No, what do 'they' say, love?"

"Whatever you're doing at the stroke of midnight, that's what you'll be doing all year."

*Flashback Finished*

"There you are!" Harry panted. It'd been a bit of a scramble, trying to get over here to the place his lover had staked out by the wall when they first arrived - everyone else appeared to be trying to get away from the wall.

Likely they want to get to their boyfriends or girlfriends as well. Harry thought charitably, brushing off his annoyance. After all, no need to be upset, I did make it on time. . . he had time to add, just before a slim, strong hand took hold of his chin and wiped everything and everyone else out of his mind completely.

With the last remnants of his focus, he heard a deep, familiar voice breathe, "Happy New Year, Harry, love."

7. . .6. . .5

Someone bumped into his elbow, and he turned to deliver a properly baleful glare only to find young Miss Granger at his side.

"Oh!" She gasped, "Sorry Professor! I was just, um-" She stopped, blushing. Likely she just remembered who she is speaking to, and that I don't care what she is doing.

"Looking for Mr Weasley, I presume?"

Miss Granger nodded automatically, looking a bit shocked at his atypical behaviour. It was rare for anyone to get an unprompted response from Severus at one of these Ministry parties. I wonder when it will occur to her that I am hardly ever presentat these ridiculous things.

"I believe I saw him in that direction." He informed her, his greater height allowing him to scan the crowd much more easily than she could.

He excused his friendly behaviour to himself, After all, if Harry ever does actually manage to tell his friends about us, it would be nice if they had some memories of me other than as their evil git of a Professor.

It is unlikely to help, he added pessimistically, but still, I suppose it's worth the attempt. At the very least, it will make Harry happy that I'm trying.

He didn't mention to her, before she nodded, replied happily, "Thanks, Professor!", and ran off, that he'd only noticed the tall redhead at all because he had come into the small circle of space Severus had already been watching, around Harry.

Severus knew it was getting awfully close to the stroke of midnight, and that if Harry didn't come and find him soon, he wouldn't make it in time. He still found himself hesitant to try venturing out into the maelstrom of humanity milling about madly in the room proper.

He would stay here, where he had the wall to his back, at least, and Harry would simply have to find him. It shouldn't be that hard for him to find me anyway. Severus mused. Everyone else appears to be wearing festive colours of some sort.

He returned his gaze from Miss Granger's rapidly retreating form to watch Harry once more. His stomach dropped momentarily when he registered the noticeable lack of Harry in the space he had been occupying before.

Weasley is still there, of course, but Harry, oh no, that would be too easy! He knew he was being slightly irrational, but he couldn't quite bring himself to care. It was only inside his own mind anyway.

Just as he was about to start a deeper and more involved mental rant, he heard a familiar and much-loved voice, panting out, "There you are!" at his side.

Severus turned to regard him with feigned disdain, which fa├žade dropped almost immediately when he saw the distantly upset look in Harry's eyes. He opened his mouth to inquire as to the cause of Harry's distress, but before he could do so, That was the final count being called. . .

He noticed Harry looked a little absent, not paying much attention to the noises, both from the countdown and the milling crowd, filling the air around them.

Well, if he isn't going to do it, I suppose I'll have to. I'll never hear the end of it if I don't. Severus thought, refusing to admit that he might, just possibly, have found the idea behind the ridiculous tradition rather, endearing.

He took a firm grip on the younger man's face, sliding his long fingers gently along Harry's jaw, tilting his head back and leaning down slightly.

"Happy New Year, Harry, love." He breathed.

4. . .3. . .2

"Happy New Year!" Everyone yelled.

1!

Everyone but Ron, staring, speechless, at Harry and his 'boyfriend'. Hermione and he had shared a friendly kiss, and then broken apart, smiling, to shout along with everyone else. Until Ron looked around for his best mate, and found him kissing Snape.

Actually, Harry was also silent. Had to be really, as he had someone else's tongue down his throat. Ron would have been angry more than shocked, if it weren't for the fact that Harry's hands, which were tangled familiarly in Snape's hair, made it blatantly obvious that Harry was precisely where he wanted to be.

Ron reached out, mutely, for Hermione's arm. After he grabbed hold of her she turned from her budding conversation with his sister, looking as though she was prepared to start an upset lecture about interrupting so rudely. He gestured, still unable to make words come out of his mouth, towards the, still kissing, couple, about twenty feet away.

His best mate dating a bloke, that was one thing, and perfectly acceptable, but Snape?

Hermione rolled her eyes, and exasperatedly grumbled at him, "Honestly, Ronald. Are you no longer capable of speech?" he ignored the blatant sarcasm and simply nodded, pointing to the couple again.

He could see the precise moment when his best friend identified the couple, who were no longer kissing, but were still rather closer together than was strictly necessary, even considering the masses of people present at this function. Not even mentioning the fact that they're still wrapped around each other. Ron thought, on the edge of hysteria.

"Is that-" Hermione wondered aloud.

Ron nodded mutely, satisfied now that the extremely capable woman would take care of everything. Whatever it was that turned out to be necessary.

"Well!" She said. "No wonder he didn't want to tell us who he was dating! I mean, I knew it was a man, but I never would have guessed it was Professor Snape."

Ron looked at her, knowing, in some vague corner of his mind, that he was probably staring at her as if she had suddenly grown a second head. "How'd you know it was a man Harry was dating? He never told me!"

"Oh, Ron." Hermione sighed at him, shaking her head. "It wasn't what he said. It was what he said."

Ron replayed this in his head for a moment. Nope. It still doesn't make any sense. "Sorry Hermione, but I don't understand what you mean."

"Well, he was always so insistent that he didn't have a girlfriend," Ron nodded, "Ye-es." He was with her so far. "But, of course, we knew he was dating someone."

"I'm sorry 'Mione. I still don't understand how you could have put all that together to get the fact that Harry's dating a bloke."

"Well, he never could lie very well. Particularly not to us! And he never wavered when he said he didn't have a girlfriend. And he doesn't!"

"Oh!" Ron nodded, understanding.

Hermione grabbed his arm, marching off through the crowd towards Harry and Snape. Man, that just doesn't sound right, 'Harry and Snape', just doesn't go together.

"Um, 'Mione?"

"Yes, Ron?"

"Where are we going?"

She looked over her shoulder at him, genuinely shocked, "Why, to congratulate them of course!"

"Ah. Of, er, course." He'd been afraid of that. Well, that they really were heading towards the, still embracing, couple for some reason.

Hermione seemed to have cottoned on to his reluctance, and stopped to scold him. "We have to reassure him! He's probably absolutely terrified that we'll hate him, or not want to be around him, just because he's in love with someone we don't really care for."

Ron's mind stuttered to a stop. "Love? Wait, how do you know if Harry's in love with the git?"

Hermione clucked her tongue disapprovingly.

"Oh just look at them Ronald." He did. They were standing a bit further apart now, but Harry had one hand on Snape's arm, which was curved around him so that Severus could grasp his waist - preventing him from being swept away in the crush of people.

None of whom, miraculously, appeared to have noticed Harry Potter snogging Severus Snape in the middle of the Ministry of Magic's annual New Year's Eve party.

"Well, alright." Ron sighed. Might as well accept it. His best mate had fallen for the greasy git. "Hold up! Does this mean I have to-" Hermione interrupted him, "Yes you have to be nice to Professor Snape, no you may not insult him, and no, you may not tell Harry that you hate him and try to get him to choose somebody else to snog. Alright?"

Ron nodded reluctantly, "Alright. Got it." Hermione gave him a searching look, apparently found what she was looking for, and gave him a brilliant smile. "Wonderful!"

They headed off again, though, after a few minutes, Ron slipped in front of Hermione. It wasn't that he was in any particular hurry to get to their destination, but at the rate people were moving out of her way, they'd be here until next New Year's. At least with his height people tended to make a little room for him to pass.

When they got close enough the couple noticed them, Harry immediately paled and, after a moment of pause, tucked his face away in Snape's shoulder. Snape smoothed his hair back and tucked Harry's head under his chin.

That, more than anything, decided Ron.

Not the renewed embrace - though Snape's protective hold on Harry did rather make Ron feel better about the whole thing - but Harry hiding away from them, from him, his best friends since he was eleven. It wasn't right, and he shouldn't ever be afraid of what they would think of him.

Ron strode forward, nodded politely to Snape, and tapped Harry lightly on the shoulder.

"Hey, mate." Harry looked up at him, not leaving Snape's arms. "Hey." He replied, a little weakly.

Ron looked at Snape, then back at Harry. "Can I talk to you for a minute?" Harry looked as if he were about to protest, but Snape let him go, kissed him lightly on the forehead, and pushed him gently away.

Harry relctantly headed off a little ways, followed by Ron, who noticed, as he walked away, that Snape looked, resigned?

They came to a stop, out of earshot but still within view of Snape and Hermione, and looked at each other in silence for a few moments.

"So."

"So." Harry echoed.

There was a long, awkward pause, then Harry opened his mouth, "Look, Ron, I-" Ron interrupted him. "Let me speak a minute, hey? You owe me that much for the shock you gave me earlier!" They laughed, but it was weak and a little forced on both their parts.

"So 'Mione tells me that you were nervous to tell us about dating a bloke." Harry nodded. "And that you've been afraid we won't want you around anymore, 'cause you're dating him." Harry looked away, but nodded. "You love him." Harry looked back upp and met Ron's eyes defiantly, and nodded again. "He loves you." Harry nodded and opened his mouth to speak, but Ron cut him off. "That one wasn't a question, mate."

Harry looked up at him with wide eyes. He explained. "Can tell, can't I? Just lookin' at you together, and the way," his face twisted a little, and he flushed, "the way he holds you. It's obvious, innit?" Harry flushed too, and Ron decided to try and change the subject, as this one was more than a little awkward and uncomfortable.

"Tell you the truth," Ron said, suddenly, "I'm just gald you didn't fall for one of me brothers." Harry looked up at him, confused by the subject change, and Ron raised his eyebrows significantly.

Harry got it. "Or you?" he asked, innocently.

Ron coughed. "Oi, mate, you're my best friend an' all, but," Harry laughed suddenly, "Don't worry Ron. Fit as you are," He leaned closer and continued, conspiratorially, "You're just, not my type."

He leaned back again, and they both laughed, awkwardness gone now, as if it had never been. Ron slung his arm around his best mate's shoulders as they headed back to the watching pair. "Y'know, you're gonna have to explain a little better than that for 'Mione, right?" Harry nodded, looking glum.

"But you. . ."

"I'm fine mate. You love Snape, Snape loves you. Got it. Good with it." Ron looked down at Harry again, and added seriously, "Glad you aren't alone."

Harry smiled up at him, and, just before they got back to where Snape and Hermione were waiting, hugged Ron impulsively. "Thanks mate." He mumbled into Ron's shoulder. Ron patted him on the back. "Anytime."

As Harry pulled back he said, "Well, not really. I mean, anytime, you aren't going to have another surprise like this one, are you?"

Harry shook his head very emphatically, and they headed back to the, now intensely curious, waiting pair.

When they approached, Harry ducked back into Snape's hold, wrapping one of his arms around his own waist, and leaning into Snape's side as he automatically tightened the arm holding Harry against him.

Hermione looked between Ron and Harry, dying of curiosity. "Well?"

The boys looked at each other, then back at her. "We're good." They said simultaneously.

Hermione shook her head, "Boys!" they heard her mutter under her breath. By the quick snort Snape let out, he'd heard it too.

Harry looked up at Snape, appearing nervous.

Snape tightened his arm around Harry reassuringly, and then asked, "Would the two of you like to come back to our house for tea? If you have no other plans, of course."

Harry grinned, Hermione looked dumbfounded, and Ron smiled at Snape, whose expression relaxed slightly. "Of course we would. We don't have any plans more important than that, right 'Mione?"

Hearing her name snapped her out of her slight daze, and she hurriedly agreed. "Oh! Oh no, of course we don't. We'd love to come."

Harry turned towards the lobby, taking Snape along with him, and said, "Shall we?"

~Fin~


A/N: I decided to post the New Year's fic and drabble at the same time, rather than the drabble today and the fic tomorrow, as originally planned. The drabble is already up!