OMG is this really happening? Did I actually finish? I think... I think I might have.
Harry shifted nervously while standing next to the blond man he assumed was Alcander Petra. He didn't like the idea of Severus being alone with that woman, even if she was probably rather harmless after what Hedwig had done to her. He was more worried about what Severus would do to King. Not that he cared about what happened to her, but if Severus did something he'd regret, he'd never forgive himself.
Petra stood quietly next to him, though every so often Harry caught the man looking at him contemplatively, like he knew about Harry and Severus. Old friend or no, Harry very much doubted Severus had told him, but the man had been an Auror and was now making a living as an investigator. Had he figured it out?
After a time- too long of a time for Harry's peace of mind- Severus stepped out of the door, the look on his face heavy. Harry wanted to run to him, make sure he was all right, but he couldn't in front of Petra.
"All right there, Sev?" Petra asked for him.
"Yes, Alcander. It's all taken care of. You can call the Aurors now if you like."
"And Ms. King?"
"Alive and well enough, under the circumstances. She won't remember a thing, however."
Petra nodded. "And perhaps that's best. You should take Mr. Potter there back up to the school, make sure no harm's come to him. I'll make sure you two stay out of this from hereon out."
"Alcander, thank you."
"No need to thank me. It's better that way. Open and shut case- Death Eater deal gone bad. Just promise me you won't wait for a life-or-death scenario to owl me again, eh?"
"Of course." Severus put a hand on Harry's shoulder. "Come on, Potter. You wouldn't want to be late for your detention tonight, would you?" He pushed forward lightly on Harry's shoulder and they starting walking back towards the castle.
"Detention! What for?"
"Officially? For being in Hogsmeade when you're not supposed to."
Severus' voice dropped to a near whisper, "For scaring the living daylights out of me. You promised me that you'd stay in the castle."
"I thought King was going to kill you! What did you want me to do?"
"I expect you to trust that I have twenty-odd years of experience at this sort of thing, whereas you are a minor with a penchant for getting into life-threatening situations."
Severus was silent for a moment. Harry knew without looking that Severus' mouth had twisted. It was something bad, then. "Not here," Severus finally said.
Harry nodded, rubbing at his arm where King had tried to inject him. And if he walked a little too closely to Severus on the way back, well, it was still a bit brisk out, and Severus didn't complain.
"Hermione? What do you know about this potion?" They were in the library together, studying for the end of the year exams, although there was something extra that Harry couldn't help but look up. He showed the book to his friend, who's brow furrowed at the title of the article.
"Oublier L'Amour? Harry, that isn't on the Potions exam."
"I know. It's for my lab with Professor Snape."
Hermione's mouth pursed as though she didn't quite believe him, but she let it slide. "Oublier L'Amour is a rather romantic name for a very horrible potion that Healers concocted during the Dark Ages. It's name literally means 'to forget love.' It was developed to treat witches hysterical over the loss of a husband or other loved one."
"That's what the book says." Harry grinned. "Almost word for word. But I don't understand what makes it so awful."
"Because it didn't just make them forget. Oh, the ones who took it willingly, it worked perfectly for. They forgot their husband or whoever without losing the years of memories- it was like he was just removed from their memories. Taken from them, if you will."
I have to take something from you, and it can either be given willingly or taken by force. It's really best if you don't resist. "And the ones who resisted it?"
"The magic had to claw its way out of them, and took with it any other love or attachment the witch had ever felt. And while nothing had affected their senses, the Healers at the time wrote that they seemed unable to perceive another human being interacting with them. They were left literally alone and friendless in the world. That's why the potion was outlawed shortly after its invention." Hermione frowned. "Why is Professor Snape having you research it?"
"He isn't." Harry said, finding it difficult to form the words around the block of ice that seemed to have formed inside his stomach. "I mean, he told me to research any potion I haven't been taught and I thought it sounded interesting, but I think I'll choose something else."
Hermione was looking at him with those curious eyes, like he was a particularly difficult question on an assignment. "Harry, are you all right? You've gone a bit pale."
"Yeah." He closed the book in front of him a little too hard. "Just thinking about those poor women. It's awful, yeah? So how're you doing on the Charms work?"
"Oh, I wouldn't worry too much about it," a familiar drawling voice came from behind Harry. "Flitwick took it easy enough. Question 7b is a killer, though. Granger." Draco nodded politely in Hermione's direction, sliding in next to Harry on the bench. Even though King had been discredited and was now in Azkaban, Harry and Draco had kept up their ruse. It was almost second nature by now, and with Lucius Malfoy still anxious to regain his standing among the Death Eaters, it was better not to arouse his suspicions. Although if Draco kept whining about his neglected libido, Harry might be forced to stage a rather public, rather messy break-up.
Draco poked Harry in the side. "Don't you have detention soon?"
Harry checked his watch. "Shit. If I'm late again, Snape'll give me another detention. At this rate, I'll still be serving detention when next term starts." He started throwing his things into his bag without looking.
"Anybody who didn't know any better might think you liked disemboweling toads."
"Don't be a prick, Draco."
"But that's the part of me you like best."
Harry looked up briefly to see Hermione blush vibrantly. He wagged a finger at Draco. "Be nice," he admonished, before running out the library door.
He hadn't been lying. Severus would add another detention to his already three weeks if he was late. Harry had not only broken the rules, but he'd broken his promise, and if Severus had to add more detentions, they wouldn't be pleasant. Harry liked them much better when they were pleasant.
Harry got to the dungeons sweaty and out of breath but when he checked his watch again, he had a minute to spare. He gave himself a moment to catch his breath and raised his fist to knock on Severus' office door.
The door swung open before he could and Severus stood there. "Potter," he sneered. "On time. For once." He stood aside to let Harry pass him. "Well? We haven't all day."
Harry walked into the office and waited for Severus to put his locking and silencing spells in place before turning back towards him. "You gave it to her, didn't you? The Oublier L'Amour? I thought maybe you'd Obliviated her when you said she wouldn't remember, but you gave her the potion that was meant for me."
"Yes, Harry. It was that or erasing the last twenty years from her memory which the Aurors undoubtedly would have noticed and broken through, putting your life, Draco's life, and my position as spy at risk."
"I'm not blaming you. I understand. I just don't understand why she would do something like that."
"She saw it as the most humane way of eliminating her competition."
Harry shook his head violently. "I don't ever want to forget you."
Severus' eyes were dark and full of all sorts of secrets. "I assure you, Harry, I won't ever let you."
Severus cupped Harry's face in his long, graceful fingers and drew their faces close. "I promise."
Author's Note: Okay, I seriously had way too much trouble ending this. Yes there will be a sequel. Also, Camp NaNoWriMo starts today, and I have a special little surprise planned for it to reward my lovely, clever readers. For more on that and updates and info about the sequel, check out my livejournal (see my profile).
Gosh, I feel like I should say something moving and gracious. My first fanfic is over. I have the best readers/reviewers/C2ers in the world. I love you all. See you soon, I promise.