"Careful, Harry," a soft voice whispers near me as I slowly regain consciousness.
"Is he going to be all right?"
"Severus is a survivor just like you, Harry. I'm sure he'll be fine."
"I don't—he's going to be mad, Professor."
"I seriously doubt that, Harry. If anything, he'll understand you didn't willingly go down there."
"But…I…well…I did go down there, though."
"You are affected by a curse, Harry. It wasn't your fault, and if he does get mad, I'll hex him."
"I'd…" I then swallow harshly. "I'd like to see you try, Sinistra." Slowly, I open my eyes. Harry is staring down at me with those same sad eyes his mother had. Aurora, on the other hand, is smiling.
"I bet you would. You look like hell, Snape."
"How…how am I not dead?" I rasp out.
"It's better if you don't know, Severus." Aurora then glances at something out of view. "I take it overheard our conversation?"
"Bits and pieces," I reply before glancing at Harry. "Lockhart cursed you?"
"Yes, sir, and…um…according Madam Pomfrey and Professor Sinistra and everyone it was one of those bad curses." I glance back to Aurora for verification of my thoughts.
"Imperio," she calmly states. "Madam Pomfrey, however, believes that it wasn't willingly, though. She found evidence of someone altering his thoughts. The headmaster said he'd fill you in on the details later, but it appears that our resident evil guy acted through Lockhart to get to Harry."
"Wonderful," I cough. I then glance at Harry. The boy is in near tears. "Speak your mind before you end up killing me, Harry." Within seconds, his arms envelop me in a hug. I grunt at the shooting pain caused by that harmless activity. However, I wrap one of my arms around him and return the embrace. If anyone gives me grief, then I am clearly stating that it is a side effect of a potion Pomfrey gave me, not that I am being overly emotional.
"I'm sorry, Snape. I'm so sorry. I was wrong. You did want me," he chokes out through his sobs.
"Whatever changed your mind?" I reply rather tired.
"Ron and everyone told me how you were searching for me, and, well, only someone who really cares would be that concerned. I know, I know," he says holding up a hand to prevent me from interrupting. "You weren't concerned, but—"
"I was not going to dispute that, Harry," I respond. I then sigh. "Your safety is my number one priority. You may call it concern, and you might be right. However, if I ever hear you repeat that to Mr. Weasley or Mr. Malfoy, I will ground you. Is that understood?" He nods feverishly. I then glance away before drawing a pained breath. "Has anyone informed you of your living status yet?"
"Well, other than that you're my guardian, no, not really," he replies curiously.
"I regret that I signed the papers without seeking your approval." Yet again, the boy's arms wrap tightly around me. It is as if the boy is purposefully squeezing all of the oxygen out of me. It takes me a few minutes to recover before I can breathe properly. "Am I to believe that you are agreeable to this?"
"Oh, god, yes," Harry replies with a huge grin. "I've always wanted a family. You know that right?" I nod in response. I must admit that I hadn't thought he'd be happy about my rash decision. "I think Mum and Dad would want me to be happy. I already know that I'm going to have to work harder, and I'm willing to do that. I will also help clean and cook and do whatever else—"
"I only wish you to focus on your schoolwork for now," I interrupt. "The rest is to be done by house elves and me. However, if you ever run off again, I will not hesitate to punish you. Your safety is my main priority, Harry. If I do not know where you are, then I cannot protect you properly. For my own sanity, please do not do such a thing ever again."
"I understand, and I'm sorry."
"Do not apologize any longer. What is done is done." I then glance at Aurora and catch her approving smile. "You must understand that I cannot show you my feelings. However, you must know that my signing those papers—"
"A big step, I know, Professor Sinistra told. We can take it slow if that helps."
"We are not in that type of a relationship, Harry," I say with a raspy chuckle. He grins and nods.
"Harry, Severus needs his rest, as do you. Go on. I'm sure Ron and the rest are going to drag you out of here for the match later today. I'll bring you back here after dinner. I give you my Witch's Oath."
"Thanks," Harry says before hugging me. He then leaves, and my heart pangs with the loss.
"You're becoming a big softy, Severus."
"Say that again, and you will suffer a particularly nasty curse, Aurora," I respond.
"Harry's been here almost every night waiting for you to wake up. That boy loves too easily, Severus. Luckily, he won't have that issue with you, will he?" There is no contempt in her words. She then sighs. "You saw her, didn't you?" I nod slowly. "I'm sorry, Severus, but I couldn't let you go. I…"
"You need not say it, Aurora. I know," I say sighing.
"That makes me petty for making sure you didn't die, doesn't it?"
"No. It makes you the reason why I nearly died and why I am alive. I…admit that a part of me did wish to let go, but I do not believe it was my time. She wished me to protect Harry, not go with her."
"You deserve happiness too, Severus."
"Who says I will not have it, Aurora?" I ask staring at her. "Harry is truly like his mother and is remarkable. He is a good reminder of her, but I…I do not believe it is her that I need anymore. I wished for nothing more than to go with her, and she never said that she also wanted it. She only wanted me to protect her son, which I have done and will do until the end of my days."
"But not fully," I reply glancing at the window. If I am to admit the following, I know I must avoid her eyes. "I…I nearly gave my life for you. I didn't even think about my own wellbeing. I only thought as I heard you scream. The potential of you harmed was great, and I couldn't bear that. I…I have lost one woman I loved, Aurora. I cannot bear to lose another. However, I cannot just push my feelings aside. It affects me still in times of need as it did down in the chamber."
"What are you saying, Severus?"
"You know precisely what I'm saying, Aurora," I respond quietly. "You told me that you did not wish for me to die before we showed Harry a happy family." I then snort. "As if we could ever truly show a happy family," I drawl. "Perhaps a distorted and extremely deranged family could be pulled off, but I shall endeavor with you for a happy family. I will after all need someone to help me get in touch with my emotions so that I do not damage the poor boy emotionally."
"Forgive me here, but are you saying what I think you are saying?"
"I am merely saying that I am willing to give this…relationship a try if you are."
"Oh," she states.
I am not expecting that type of reaction from her. I close my eyes and sigh heavily. I have waited too long again. I knew it. I then shake my head. I am perhaps the biggest fool in the Wizarding world.
"I'm mean not 'oh,' like 'dear god, no,' but more of an 'oh,' like 'I was so not getting that." She then glances at me before laughing. "You're not doing this because you're afraid I'll hurt myself again, right?" I shake my head. "Because I won't," she states firmly. "I've lived without you for twenty years, and I surely can live without you for another—"
"Shut up, Aurora," I say rolling my eyes.
"That death scare really affected you, didn't it?"
"It has made me reevaluate my priorities, yes," I respond.
"Well, if I knew that, I would have tried to kill you earlier," she teases before resting a gentle hand on my chest. "I'm not sure if my mother would ever approve of us marrying. I mean, I'd have a former Gryffindor turned Slytherin stepson. She doesn't like those turned people. People in her mind should only be black and white…or in our case silver and green."
"Then be glad your mother is far away."
"Oh, I am," replies Aurora laughing. "You do realize that poor Harry is going to have a lot to get used to know because you keep making such rash decisions at a moment's notice." She then scrutinizes me as if searching for an answer. "You're not a secret Gryffindor too, are you, Severus?" I only roll my eyes. "I love you, Severus. I always have and always will." She then kisses my lips gently. The sensation is rather electrifying, and I cannot help it as I deepen our kiss. She then pulls back. "Even if you are a particularly nasty evil bastard," she jokes. "Yep, we're going to be one big happy family."