He woke up feeling marginally better and walked down to the great hall unsupported by Ron or Hermione, who both looked like they hadn't had much sleep either. "Eat, Harry." Hermione commanded as soon as they sat down. "I will!" he protested.
"have an apple." She told him. "and some toast, and maybe you should have some pancakes as well. And bacon." She pilled it all on to his plate, Harry wouldn't normally take orders from them but…well he thought he should probably do as he was told.
He looked at it, and it looked totally un-appetizing. He knew that if he tried to explain this to the other two, they would have no idea what he was talking about, so instead he picked up a slice of bacon and ate it. It tasted like rubber, and it was hard to swallow. But Hermione looked relived that he had done it, so he forced down about half of his plate.
"You have to eat more than that Harry!" Ron objected. "I can't." Harry said feebly. "what's wrong with it Harry?" Hermione asked, obviously worried about him. "nothing, im just…not hungry. I'll eat more in a minute" he lied. An awkward silence fell over the three of them, something that hadn't happened in years.
"why aren't you sleeping Harry?" Hermione asked. Harry shrugged and said; "I just can't, its like I'm only ever get half asleep. I'm asleep enough to not be able to move, but im still aware of everything that's around me. And when I wake up in the morning, its like I barley slept, even if I got hours."
He looked down at his plate, wishing for the first time in ages that it was time for class.
"im sorry Harry." She whispered and Ron nodded his head. "lets get to class." Harry said, standing up. They arrived about five minutes early, but at least it wasn't as awkward as when they were in the dinning hall.
"Hey." Harry said as Draco walked towards them. He only really said it to cover up the silence of what was meant to be Hogwarts closest friends. Draco raised an eye brow and smirked at the look of shock on Ron's face.
"Hey." He said as he walked slowly towards them "you feeling better?" he asked Harry.
"ummm…marginally." Harry said, leaning against the wall.
"at least you've turned up for class." Draco said as he mimicked Harry.
Harry nodded stiffly. He was doing horribly in potions, he really needed to concentrate in this class; "you should sit with us." He mumbled to Draco as the doors opened and they filling in. Draco managed to get him to focus his attention more the other time they sat together, maybe he would this time too…
"Allright," Draco said, shrugging. "it could be a laugh."
Draco smirked more as Ron and Hermione looked extremely shocked when he sat down at their table with them.
"Hi." He said to the two of them. Harry sat next to Draco, with Ron across from Harry, and Hermione across from Draco. "err…hello." They both mumbled. Ron gave Harry a what-the-fuck-is-he-doing-here look while Draco was getting his books out and Harry just looked slightly guilty, but didn't answer the unspoken question.
"So how do you too, um, know each other?" Hermione asked, trying to be nice.
Draco looked her in the eye and deadpanned; "we go to school together." Harry kicked
him, hard in the shins. "Ow!" Draco pouted" What was that for?" "for being obnoxious." Harry told him.
Harry looked towards Hermione. "we…err started talking at one of the parties I go too."
"yeah, right 'talking.'" Said someone from a neighboring table.
"what does he mean Harry?" Hermione asked, having a feeling she already knew.
"ummm." Harry replied, looking at Draco.
"Don't look at me!" Draco said, smirking even more. "They're your friends, you tell them."
"I think by 'talking'" said the person from the other table "Harry means that they are normally the first to take their clothes off and start having sex. And yes I mean with each other."
"What?" Ron bellowed, looking like he might have a heart attack at any moment. "your gay?" he said to Harry, who had gone chalk white. Harry opened his mouth, but no sound came out.
"I'm pretty sue he's bi." Draco answered for Harry. "why didn't you tell us?" Ron asked.
"I….forgot." Harry said finally. "you forgot?" Ron demanded. "yeah…" Harry said, good job, you've screwed up once again. He thought miserably.
"soo…who bottoms?" Hermione said, trying to show that it was ok with her. It worked, a smile immediately appeared on Harry's face and he quickly said; "he does." The only problem was, Draco said exactly the same thing at exactly the same time.
They looked at each other in shock. "You always bottom, Potter." "no I don't!" Harry said with a red face. He never thought he would be discussing this in front of his two best friends.
"how can you not know?" Ron asked, looking between the tow of them. "we are normally pretty drunk…" Draco said, seeing how difficult this was for Harry. "for all we know we took all our clothes off and sat there signing Christmas carols." "I do not bottom ." Harry said with a blush.
"ive never seen you top before." Said the guy from the other table. Harry was mortified and was just about to deny it when Snape walked in, and the room feel in to a hush.
"Today we will be making a potion called the song of the damned, and if you did your homework, which I can guess most of you didn't, you will know what it is."
Harry felt like something was squirming in the pit of his stomach. He hadn't done the reading; he hadn't done any homework for today, apart from the paper for herbology. Way to go me, he thought bitterly, cant I do anything right?
"instructions," Snape continued; "are on the board. This is a particularly easy potion, so I expect that many of your will have trouble with it."
They all scrabbled to get their supplies, and Harry promised himself he would work so hard in this class. But he still lost concentration. Hermione would gently prod him and say "Harry?" in a very soft voice, but after his happened a few times, Draco got bored of it.
Draco would prod with his wand, which sent a shock wave though, Harrys body. It wasn't enough to seriously hurt him, but it was more than enough to make him jump and pay attention. "Tough love." Draco would say when ever Hermione gave him a reproachful look.
Severus meanwhile was in turmoil. He had overheard the tail end of Harry's conversation. He had always thought Harry would top. Severus had 'lain' with guys before, but he had allways been the bottom. The three male students that he had been with all thought it was a bit strange, but they never said anything, the principle was still the same. He had never really talked to any of the students that he had given 'extra credit' too, he just magicked lube on to them while he was giving them a hand job and they got the picture. He wished he had topped now, if Harry liked being the bottom…That was he could at least pretend that he had a hope in hell of pleasing Harry. Oh its not like it matters, it's never going to come to that anyways. Snape snorted and watched the class, he could see how hard Harry was trying, but the poor boy was just exhausted. Severus desperately wanted to gather him in his arms and tell him…
Harry was extremely relived when the class was over. By some miracle his potion had turned out ok, but that was mostly because Draco and Hermione had watched him like hawks, making sure he didn't do anything too terrible.
"Thanks." He said as they walked out of the classrooms together. Draco wasn't in his charms class, but they had Transfiguration together. Harry managed to get though his whole day of classes, wich was the first time this year he had done so. But strangely, he didn't feel proud. It just made him feel angry that Hermione and Draco seemed to think it was something he should feel proud about. No it isnt. He wanted to snap. Every one else can do it, I should be able to as well, I'm just being week.
After classes he immediately started to work. He had handed in his herbology essay, to the delight of professor sprout, who awarded Harry five points (this only served to make Harry more angry, no one else got points for doing the required work.). But anyways, he managed to catch up on his potions reading by 4 o'clock , and only took a five minute break before he started transfiguration work. By 6 he felt that he had finally got the hang of changing a candle in to a kitten. His kitten still had a wick for a tail tail, but he felt that McGonagall would still be impressed. He had lessons with her in an hour, and still hadn't sent that letter to Snape. Not because he had changed his mind about having Severus as his shrink, but because he had no idea what to say to him. Finally when he felt he could put it off no longer, he pulled out a fresh sheet of parchment and some blue ink.
"Dear professor Snape" He started. And then stopped, what the hell was he meant to say?
"You asked me to owl you, so I am" (God that sounds ridiculous, harry thought) "owling you about seeing you as (he was going to say therapist, but then realized he didn't know how to spell it. He crossed out the word 'as' and replaced it with 'on') on a professional level. You know I meet with my professors Monday through Thursday at seven, but apart from that I'm free. Harry" He looked over the letter and snorted. "Seeing you on a professional level?" he saw him on that level every day- as his teacher. God I sound so stupid…Well guess what? He thought bitterly. I am stupid and he knows it already, no point trying to pretend I'm something im not. He went to the owlery on the way to his transfiguration lesson, which went quite well compared to his last one.
By the time Harry came back there was a large black owl waiting for him by the fire. Ron and Hermione had also waited for him, wanting to make sure he came back safely. The owl was obviously snapes, it was cool and aloof, but Harry felt a warm connection to it and when he reached out to stoke his wing the bird put his head to the side and let out a soft 'coo' wich Harry took as a thank you. He gently took the letter away from the bird, which hopped closer to the fire after Harry was done.
"Dear Mr. Potter.
Yes, I think it would be a good idea if we met. Why not Friday night at seven?
Harry smiled, he didn't know why but he was very relived that he hadn't been rejected by Snape.
" Professor, Yes thank you, Fridays would be fine, do you want me to go to your classroom? Harry."
Harry desperately wanted to call Severus by his first name but felt that that would be far to assuming. He sent his reply off with Severus bird, who gave Harry an affectionate nip before flying off. Harry was just starting on a bit of charms when it was back again. Harry smiled as he read over the response;
No, come to my private rooms, I think you would be more comfortable there. Come at seven and do not be late.
Harry smiled and fed the owl a treat before it swooped back in to the night. "What did he want?" Ron asked. He hadn't really talked to Harry much since he found out about his sexual preferences. "He's a physiatrist. He thought it might be a good idea if I talked to him…" "oh that's sound like a good idea!" Hermione said encouragingly. "I hope he helps you Harry!" "Yeah mate..." Ron mumbled. They fell in to slightly stilted conversation, no one wanting to say anything that might upset someone else. After about half an hour Hermione started to do more work with Harry, who was still went to his extra help, although he wasn't really sure how much good it was doing him, But he wanted his friends to stay so badly that he would do anything to keep them.
Friday night came quickly for both student and professor, and at 6:30 Servus was nervously cleaning his living room. He wanted to think that he decided to hold their appointments in his rooms for Mr. Potter's comfort, but part of him knew that that wasn't entirely true. He wanted Harry. He wanted Harry in his rooms, to see him sitting on his couch, or warming himself by Severus' fire. The last time Harry had been in these rooms Severus' felt so content, just knowing that they were together. But Harry didn't have to know that. And he probably would like a relaxed environment more than the cold and dark one in his potions class room. He went over his notes, feeling slightly nervous. He knew he had to get this right. There were a million ways to screw up and only a few ways to do it right. The thought didn't comfort Severus. There were times, like these, where he just felt so utterly revolting. So…profoundly twisted, useless and guilty. He was thinking about coming on to his patient/ student, who was obviously in need of serous physiatrist help, not a much older professor gagging to have sex with him.
At a few minutes to seven and Severus heard a light tapping at his door. He opened it up to see Harry potter, who was panting slightly. "Mr Potter." He said silkily. Harry was breathing fast and he was slightly pink in the checks. Severus mean while was in basically the same outfit that he wore the last time Harry had been there, apart from his top, which was slightly tighter and slytherin green. His toned muscles were evident and Harry wondered briefly how he had toned them, did he work out? Because he defiantly didn't play quiddich. Harry hadn't really stood this close to him before (well, he had when Severus escorted him to his tower, but he wasn't really awake then. ) he hadn't noticed just how tall Severus was. He was head and shoulders above Harry. The perfect height for a hug, Harry thought wistfully.
"come in." Severus, who had just had a similar thought, said.
Harry walked in and Severus closed the door behind him, his eyes traveling down Harry's back to his behind, which was presented beautifully in a pair of light blue jeans. On his top half Harry wore a baggy white t-shirt that looked slightly old.
"Sit down." Severus told him. "where?" he asked. "anywhere you like." Inwardly, Harry groaned, it felt like a test, one he was bound to fail. Finally he sat on the couch that he had occupied when he was passed out. Severus, who had been getting something, drew a chair with his wand (in much the same way Harry had seen his old headmaster do so) but it was not a squishy arm chair that had appeared, in stead a sturdy but elegant chair came in to view. Sanpe sat down delicately in it.
"So." He said, looking at the boy, who had still not said a word. "why are you here?"
"for therapy." Harry answered him. Snape was sure if he was being humorous, or if he was being obstructive…in all honesty, Harry said it just to remind himself that he wasn't there on a social visit, even though as he wanted to be.
"but why do you need therapy?" Severus pushed. "what's wrong?"
Harry lent back, resting his head on the back of the couch and looking away from Severus. In hind sight, maybe this was a bad idea, he didn't really want Severus to know all of his problems, he wanted Severus to respect him, maybe even like him... "Well. I can't sleep for one thing, and I feel like I never want to eat, I'm getting kinda paranoid…" he took a shaky breath "and I feel extremely anxious when I'm alone, even if I'm alone for only a few minutes, and I'm failing of all my classes, and I'm more stressed than ive ever been before."
Severus let concern fill his eyes, and if Harry had been looking he would have seen. But he wasn't looking. "When you say your getting paranoid, what do you mean?" his concern bled in to voice, not enough for Harry to notice, but it was defiantly there.
There was a long pause but finally he said; "I get…" he didn't know how to put it, frightened, didn't cover it. "I get convinced that something's going to happen. Something bad. I don't know what, but its…terrifying. And I know how stupid it is, I know that Voldermort is gone and I've never been safer. But I can't help it. I'm on edge. I… it's like. Ah, I can't explain it, I'm just…frightened."
Severus felt something inside him break. "Can I get a drink of water sir?" Harry asked, feeling the back of his eyes sting. "Of corse" Severus said, "make yourself comfortable." He got up , feeling slightly shaky. He didn't think it would affect him this much, but it really did. He quickly got Harry a drink and walked back in to find Harry had kicked his shoes off and was sitting on his feat.
"Here." "Thanks." Harry said as he took the water. "I'm sorry to hear this Harry." Severus said, the concern now shinning out of his face. Now that Harry had seen it, he found that he couldn't look away from Snape. Harry lent his elbow on the arm of the sofa and put his chin on his fist.
"What set off this feeling? Its it always there? Does it get worse with certain triggers?" "Umm…" Harry said, his eyes flicking away from Severus's face, but his body staying the same. "It only really happens when im alone."
Maybe I could just stay with you forever. Severus thought. "why do you think that is?" he said, trying to be gentle.
"I don't know…maybe I feel more vunerable then?"
"Maybe…do you think it could be because you are no longer in control?" Harry gave him a quizzical look and he continued. "Well, during the war you were always left to be in control. And when you're alone you can't be, because there is no one else for you to protect. I can understand it Harry, I really can, but I think it's important that that doesn't become all that you are. It's very noble of you, to take responsibility for others. But you have to understand that they are their own and they make their own decisions."
Harry seemed to think about it for a moment and then nodded. "you might be right." By this time Harry's lower body was spread across the length of the couch, he looked luxurious and his face was still looking at Severus with…longing was it? Yes it was longing, but was it longing for his teacher or for a better life? Severus didn't know and didn't dare to hope.
"When you arrive, you were breathing heavily. Was it because you ran here? Because didn't want to walk alone?"
"Yes. " he blushed slightly. "very astute of you sir."
"You don't have to call me "Sir" Harry, I am calling you by your first name after all." Severus dearly wanted to know what his name sounded like, rolling of off Harry's tongue.
Harry smiled, and shiver a went down his spine. For one insane moment he contemplated simply pulling Snape towards him and devorining his lips. But he didn't.
"All right, Severus." Severus did his best to suppress a moan as Harry said his name.
"I really don't think it's a good idea for you to do that…run I mean. Your only enabling your fears…." Harry nodded, there was a slight pause, Severus waiting to see if Harry wanted to elaborate on that particular subject.
"Now, what are we going to do about your eating?" Severus asked, They talked for quite a while longer, Harry feeling more attracted to Severus than he thought possible. It wasn't just the physical attraction that he felt with other people, it was an emotional attraction. He wanted the best for Severus, he wanted to know Severus, he wanted…Severus. His mind and his body. They finished after an hour and a half, half an hour more than Severus was expecting. Harry flashed him another gorgeous smile. "you owe me three questions." Harry reminded him cheekily.
"What? No I don't. you said only after tutoring."
"I said after official meetings."
Severus wasn't convinced but he gave in anyways. "fine. you have three questions?"
Harry nodded, looking coy "What do you most want?"
"Love." Severus said simply, the magic pulling the answer out of him before he was even able to think about it. But as soon as he heard his answer he knew it was true. Harry felt a lightness in him, a kind he had never felt before. He smiled and continued. "What do you regret most?"
"Oh god." Severus said, "Everything. Everything I didn't do. The opportunities I should have taken but didn't, the times I second guessed myself, or hesitated just a little too long.." Harry looked at him in mild surprise. "One last question? Or do I get a reprieve?" Severus asked, gently teasing him.
"nope." Harry said, his smile growing. "Ok…was my father really as bad as you've told me he was?" Severus's smile faded.
"James…came from one of those family's that gave him whatever he wanted without him having to lift a finger." He paused as if remembering. "he did strut. And he was popular and he knew it. Everyone loved James. He was a crowd pleaser. He would do whatever would keep him popular. He did try and be kind, but often boyhood amusement and kindness were not the same thing. He was arrogant. But the war did change him. The war started when we were 20, by then he had matured quite a bit, and he knew how serious the war was going to be, a long time before most people realized it. He changed, in the end, but I was too bitter to forgive him." Harry nodded mutely. "Go to your dorm, Potter, or you'll be out after curfew." His voice sounded tired and sad and Harry complied, wishing him a good night as he departed.
Severus sat there for a long time, letting the warmth of the fire wash over him and mulling over the night. It had gone quite well, they didn't cover all that much, but they had time, there was no need to rush. Severus. Harry voice floated though his mind. Oh, Harry he thought. He knew that they would never be lovers, never hold each other naked or wake up next to each other. But what if they could be friends? Severus briefly imagined a life for himself that wasn't lonely and cold. Surly that was possible? They had got closer in the last month than he could have ever dreamed, who knew what could happen in a year? Severus envisioned Harry in a few years time…he was perhaps 25 or so, and was getting married to some face-less girl in white. Severus knew he wouldn't be the best man, but in his fantasies he was present, and welcomed. He would feel a pang of jealously, but maybe, maybe he could be happy.
And then a few years after that; Harry would want a big family he was sure, and perhaps they would come round for dinner sometimes, perhaps they would send him Christmas presents. He didn't expect them to know or remember his birthday, but some little thing… He let himself stare in to the fire late in to the night, each fantasy becoming more and more wild until Harry had no family, was 17 as he was now, and was naked in Severus's arms.