Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or the characters therein.

The First Time

The first time I saw you, you were an overwhelming little bundle of frizzy hair, bucked teeth, and flailing hands. I knew the misery of my life would increase a thousand fold by your presence. How I wondered what I did to deserve you.

…So insufferable.

Was there ever a question in your mind that you failed to ask, a problem you didn't demand an answer to, an injustice you didn't seek to overturn?

You set me on fire.

You solved my riddle.

You stole from my stores.

You let Potter hex me in the shack.

You shattered every rule while still abiding by them...there were moments when I believed you could have been sorted into my house. You had an unmistakable talent for subterfuge, though, even in your little deceptions, there was innocence.

You were the little know-it-all…just another annoying, if talented, child, until…

I remember catching a glimpse of you at the Yule Ball in your…fourth year? You looked so much older, standing on the cusp of womanhood, and for one brief moment, I allowed it to break my heart. I knew full well what horrors you would face and it seemed so unfair…so unfair that you were to inherit a war bred in a world you'd known for such a short time.

Did you ever call me a derogatory name? You seemed to trust me where others faltered. If you ever did fail in your belief…

…how could I hold it against you when I called myself murderer? You were just a slip of a girl, forced into a role she never should have played.

When it came, I felt I earned my execution.

You were with me that night, at the edge of the blackness as my world ceased its turning. I saw her eyes, but I heard your voice.

I never once expected to hear it again, but I did. It was the first thing I heard when…when my world suddenly and violently lurched forward, when the darkness retreated, and all I knew was the overwhelming brightness of white hot pain, and unguarded fear. I heard you, above all others.

I felt the touch of your hand, the words that you spoke to soothe me, and I wondered why.

You were the constant in that time. I know others came, but they seem to me as shadows, shades of people who I once knew. I heard the murmurs of forgiveness, of regret, of awe, and yet, yours was the voice that rang like a bell through my head.

I wanted to tell you to leave, to go…go and live your life. I wanted you to understand that you were a silly girl to care for me…it would serve us both better for you to forget about the collateral damage of Severus Snape. He was beyond repair.

…And then, I opened my eyes and saw you and you took my breath away. You were golden, and it was as if all light radiated from you. The hosts of heaven would have paled and hid their faces, ashamed of their meager luster. I would have wept if I'd had the ability…

I had to push you away, for you threatened to crush me. How could a man stand against you? A grain of sand cannot hold its place on the shore against the whole of the ocean. I glared, I sneered, and when I was again able, I cursed, I yelled, I fought. I hated you. I hated you for this thing that you were that overwhelmed me so, this ethereal kindness that you dared force me to know.

…And yet, you came, without fail. You never turned away at my harsh words, though I saw tears in your eyes more than once…and each of them burned me as if they were made of scorching ash. You were always gentle, turning away my wrath. How I longed for you to break…but your heart was not made from glass that I could shatter.

Suddenly, I was well. I was strong, I was…undone as you said goodbye. Outwardly, I was stalwart, but inside, I was being ripped apart anew, and ever more fiercely. I felt as if I would crumble when you took my hand in yours and clasped it with a gentle squeeze…then, like a breath, you were gone.

I was a healed man who was completely broken. I did not see you for six years…and for six years I hardly breathed. Then, as if by the turning of fortune's wheel, you were here again and all the sweetness of spring's first air rushed into my lungs. Such a woman you'd become. I longed for you. I told myself that the sight of you was enough, and I threatened to go blind from staring at your light.

The years passed by and still, my world was contained in the sweep of your robes as you walked, in watching you tuck a curl behind your ear, in hearing your laughter as we sat at the same table and were somehow still divided by a chasm that I could not cross.

You came to me; I remember the moment with perfect clarity. I heard your voice as it spread through my room like the break of dawn. I stood and turned to you as you walked, and my heart, how it thundered at the sight of you. You took my hand as you had all those years ago and I could hear your goodbye in my mind and I knew I could not let you go again. I would not. You laced your fingers between mine and looked into my eyes with that same kindness, that same unimaginable tenderness that I knew you held, and I swept you into my arms. I told you. I told you everything, how you had restored me, how I could not live another moment unless you were mine, how I so desperately loved you. I could hear you crying as you tightened your arms around me and I realized for the first time, that I was not the only one that had been damaged.

When had you ever known peace? When had you ever been free? Had love ever held you in its arms and let you settle there? For so long, you had to fight, strive, survive, and be ever so much more than a child, a girl, a woman. You and I were cut from the same cloth and it was threadbare long ago. We both bore so many scars and yet, you remained so unimaginably beautiful. I would never let anything touch you again.

Now, when I feel your hand in mine, I know it does not speak of goodbye, and I feel like a man raised from the dead, not once, but twice. And after all these years, here you are, so full of grace it overwhelms me. I would lay down my life for you a thousand times and more.

Everyday, since that first, I've wondered what I've done to deserve you and I still can't fathom it.

AN: I had to put my cat to sleep today. I've had her for nearly 20 years. I'm just heartbroken. I guess I just needed some kind of emotional outlet and this was it. Thank you very much for reading. If you would leave me a review, I'd really, really appreciate it.