Author's Note: Here it is, world! The third - and probably final - chapter of my very first story. This has both a third chapter and an epilogue, but it is noticably smaller... funny how that works. I tried to keep it simple, but it all just came out, like it was waiting for me to type it.
Much thanks and credit goes to Badbonita, who gave me an excellent idea on how the school would find out about our favorite couple. I am shamelessly stealing it.
Also, I wanted to thank all of you reviewers, favoriters, and alert-ers for swamping my e-mail. I was - quite literally - drowning in love for the fic. I'm glad no one suffocated on the fluff. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Hmm? What? You think- I wrote Harry Potter? It's okay. We'll get you help soon. Stay calm. Te nice big men with the nice long needles will be by to take you to the spongey room where you can look at all the pretty colors on the white walls. Just hold on.
In a lesser known and traversed section of Hogwarts castle, a lone figure strolled, taking long strides in the hopes of getting to his destination faster. He needed to get to his last class quickly, and he was taking what he hoped to be a short-cut. He had never really timed how long it took him to get to each class. He needed to get to the second floor for Transfiguration, but unfortunately, Divination was very high up. Why had he taken that class again?
Oh, right. Mum.
Either way, he was going to be late if he was walking any slower than he was now, which was as fast as he could go without breaking into a sprint. Slytherins could never look less than perfect.
He turned the corner, just happening to glance out a window emitting large rays of fading light. If he hadn't, he wouldn't have seen the thing that made him stop in his tracks, barely stopping himself from falling over at the sudden loss of velocity.
Two people were out on the roof adjacent to one of the towers he was currently in. He recognized them.
Professor Snape and Potter.
They seemed perfectly at ease with each other; The latter firmly ensconed in Snape's arms, leaning against him. Snape looked almost... pleasant. Snape leaned forward slightly to murmur something which caused Harry to throw back his head in mirth.
Now, if he had passed out at that, he wouldn't have seen the even more shocking thing to come.
Severus Snape, greasy bat of the dungeons, looked fondly at Harry Potter, The Chosen One, as well as Gryffindor's poster boy, and smiled! But that wasn't the most shocking, astoundingly. The man leaned forward and kissed the still smiling lips. Dark eyes widened almost comically, and Blaise Zabini stumbled back a few steps. He had to go tell Drake and Theo.
Walking into dinner, Harry discovered that people were staring at him more than usual. He thought they'd gotten over that. Oh well, he thought. Probably just something in the Evening Prophet.
He sat down at the end of the table, near Dean, Seamus, and Neville. Up the table he could see Ron scoot further away from Harry, and Hermione sitting stock still. She had not spoken to him since... since he had told them, but she had done nothing negative either. Ron whispered something to her, and she shook her head lightly. Ron frowned and grabbed her upper arm, pulling her with him, further from Harry.
He took note of the silent Hall, and of the stares of his other dorm-mates. Dean had a contemplative frown on, Seamus' eyes kept flicking to the head table and back to Harry, and Neville's eyes were fixed on his plate, not eating or touching anything, merely looking confused.
He looked up at met Severus' eyes, a silent question passing between them.
One small mumble in the Great Hall started a tidal wave of exclaiming, guesturing, and questions. Harry caught his name and Snape's. Fingers pointed first at himself, then at the head table. Eyes followed every move both of them made. A feeling of dread entered the pit of Harry's stomach. Seamus spoke up first.
"Snape?" He asked incredulously.
Dean cut in before Harry could say anything. "Word leaked out that... well, that you and Snape are together." As though Harry needed clarification. "It came from Pansy Parkinson, I think, and they could just be starting the rumor for a laugh..."
But Harry looked over at the Slytherin table, and most looked shell shocked. The only ones with any amusement showing were the ones that were snickering at Harry's discomfort. There weren't many. Theodore Nott and Draco Malfoy were having a serious discussion, while Blaise Zabini looked looked down at his food in much the same way as Neville, though without the confused look. His eyes seemed permenantly wide, as if he could not blink. Pansy Parkinson's eyes were gleaming as she gushed to her female friends, Millicent Bullstrode and Daphne Greengrass. Both looked bored, and Harry suspected Parkinson had been telling them the same story over and over.
"No, it's true." Harry said, refocusing on Dean. The puzzling frown returned, as if he was trying to figure Harry out. Seamus' eyes flickered again to Severus.
Suddenly, Harry's vision was filled with red, and feminine arms embraced him. They felt so much different, so much more delicate than Severus'.
"Ginny." He said, and she pulled away, beaming.
"I've always wanted a gay best friend!" She laughed and made herself more comfortable next to Harry.
This seemed to break up most of the tension between the four friends; Dean grinned, And Neville looked up with a shy smile. Seamus didn't know what to think.
"I'm fine with you being gay, but... Snape?" He asked again, seemingly dumbfounded.
Harry nodded. "We... bonded, I guess you could say." Harry said, grinning. "Though, I didn't exactly know who he was, at the time..."
Ginny looked captivated. "You'll have to tell us all about it- later."
Harry nodded. Ginny, at least, understood his need for privacy. Espeically when chatter had died down again in order to hear what Harry had to say. He was grateful. Though, his appetite had flown out the window. Instead he looked for reactions.
Luna Lovegood was eating serenely, her eyes fixed upon a random spot in the charmed ceiling. As if sensing him watching, she half-turned and smiled gently, before resuming her fixed staring. Most students were staring at him, occasionally mumbling something to their friends.
At the Head Table, McGonagal looked shocked for a few moments, then looked at Severus, then Harry, and smiled secretively about something. Flitwick was tittering happily, Hagrid looked bemused, Sprout looked like she always did- like she wanted to jump up and give the Earth a hug. And Dumbledore- his blue eyes were twinkling, looking at Harry with a bright beam on his face, and he winked.
He looked up the table at his fellow Gryffindors, and looked upon the disgusted face of Ron Weasley. A pang resounded deep within his chest. Hermione was turned away from him, and was shaking her head again at Ron, saying something. He could hear her voice, just not the words.
Ron's face turned red as he protested whatever she was saying, guesturing wildly to Harry and then to Snape, where his face took on a malicious, hateful look. Hermione leaned away, looked as if she was about to stand, but Ron grabbed her hand and kept her still, his argument growing louder. Harry's eyes were fixed on Hermione's hand, and the way it was turning red at her fingertips, and white around Ron's clenched fingers. Ron was gripping her hand with all of his strength, and as Harry knew from the time Ron had given him a bruise, that was a lot. He was crushing her hand.
Harry stood and stormed over, not aware that the sea of onlookers had gone silent as they waited to see what would happen.
"What is your problem!" Harry shouted, taking their hands and ripping Ron's off of Hermione's. She rubbed at her hand, tears in her eyes, and Ron jerked his back as though electricuted.
"Don't touch me, you fairy!"
Angry tears filled his eyes, and he struggled to swallow through the lump in his throat. "Can't you see you were hurting her?" Harry asked, getting in his face to get between his two friends. Ron jumped up to face Harry standing. His stance was defensive, and the anger in his eyes was hiding a hidden fear.
"First I find you're a perv, and then I find out you're with him!" Ron pointed up at Snape. "You better not let your boyfriend see that you're trying to touch me, and get Dean, Seam, and Nev too! Then again, maybe he doesn't care. Maybe all he cares about is making you scream. Do you scream for him, Harry?" His malicious tirade stumbled to a false calm, belied by the ugly look in his eyes and on his face. "I bet that's all you're good for, to him. Just a good little fu-"
"Shut UP!" Harry screamed, and a few of the nearby plates and goblets shattered. A shard found it's way over and sliced open Ron's cheek- a few gritty peices plinked off his glasses, and he looked down to see a large piece of glass embedded in his shoulder, but felt nothing. His glare refocused on Ron, who stepped back, as though finally realizing who he was dealing with.
"Don't even presume to know anything about us! Know this, Ronald Weasley, the world keeps turning without you. You don't need to be my friend, in fact, I don't want you to be. But even if Hermione shares your opinion, what gives you the right to touch her that way? What posessed you to hurt her? The Ron I knew would never do that. But things change, eh? And apparently, you're still stuck behind and haven't realized that everyone has moved on without you. I actually feel sorry for you." Harry was relatively calm by the end of his tirade, staring down Ron. But the redhead wasn't done yet. The worst part was, Harry could see that Ron actually believed what was spewing from his mouth.
"I bet all he's told you are lies. And you probably poured out your soul to him- poor baby. He's just using you, like you used us-" He guestured to himself, Neville, Dean, and Seamus, "You probably jerked off to the thought of us changing in front of you. You just never told because you liked the view. You're a freak." He spat, unknowingly using the Dursley's favorite word. It was the last straw. Anything left of Harry's self control broke. Every single knife at the Gryffindor table rose as one, forming a large cluster, aimed at Ron.
Long-fingered hands gripped his shoulders. Severus. "Harry," His voice came, near his ear. "Drop the knives."
They quivered, but remained in the air. Ron stood stock-still, eyes wide on the gleaming silver knives.
"Harry. He doesn't deserve such a quick and easy exit." Severus' silky voice promised months of torture. They pointy untensils clattered as they hit the ground. Harry was glad for the next two years- as a professor, Severus could make Ron's life a living hell. Harry leaned back slightly on the man, drawing strength and comfort, before stepping away. The hall looked even more shell-shocked than before. He sought out Hemione's eyes, which were still leaking tears, holding the hand with a Ron-shaped bruise on it to her chest.
Severus lead Harry out, and the bushy haired girl followed. They could hear McGonagall yelling furiously. As soon as they were out of the Great Hall, Hermione began to sob, and she clutched Harry like he was a bouy in the sea.
"Oh god... oh god, Harry. Thank you." She sobbed, creating a wet mark on his shoulder. "Harry, I'm so sorry. I just didn't know what to do, and if you weren't in classes you were always gone and I could never talk to you..."
"Is that the first time he's hurt you?" Harry asked, keeping her away at arm's length to inspect her, praying she would say yes. Severus was keeping his distance, understanding that the two friends needed a few minutes.
"No." She whispered, her breath coming out harsh and erratic from crying. Harry's eyes darkened. "He... squeezes my shoulder when he wants my attention." She said, Slipping her robe and shirt over her shoulder to show a fading handprint. She took a moment to control her breathing. "And... and my arm." She pulled up her sleeve. Handprints, handprints, handprints. Different shades, multiple colors, all in different stages of healing. All the same handprint.
"And then once." She said, her face blank, "Something set him off. He... He..." She cancelled a glamour and showed off another handprint, hard enough to bruise and break the skin, directly under her eye.
"Why, Harry?" She asked, sounded lost, and alone, and afraid, sounding younger than she had even in her first year. "Why would he do that? God," She sobbed, "Why didn't I tell anyone?"
Harry wrapped her up in his arms, shielding her from the world. "I don't know, Hermione. I don't know."
Ron got detention for the rest of his days at Hogwarts. The entire house of Gryffindor hated him for loosing them three hundred points, thus ruining their chances at winning the house cup. Hermione went to Madam Pomfrey, and with Harry's support, managed to tell the whole guesome tale. Pomfrey healed her bruises and made a schedule for Hermione to visit bi-weekly to come out of the shell she'd retreated into these past few weeks, and get over the physical abuse.
Madam Pomfrey called it therapy. Hermione called it 'Tea with Poppy'. She was hesitant to talk about it, but at least she was showing signs of returning to herself- a week ago Hermione had requested that Harry go study with her - OWLs were already over.
His dorm mates, sans Ron, who got a small room of his own - solitary confinement - had heard the whole thing, and assured Harry that they hadn't believed a word of what Ron said. In fact, Dean and Seamus announced that they were a couple. Harry and Neville shared a look that said, 'finally'.
The school soon got over Harry and Severus' relationship, and with Hufflepuff's win of the house cup, all the students of the school prepared to leave.
Almost all of them.
"I've let you have enough of a lie-in. It's almost noon, and the train will be leaving soon."
"I'm not leaving, remember?"
"Even so, don't you wish to send off your friends?"
"I did last night. Come lie down with me, Severus."
There was a sigh and a rustle as an outer cloak was abandoned, before the bed dipped down and there was warmth.
"Mmm..." Harry hummed as he snuggled into Severus' side.
"You are a strange creature." Severus said, shaking his head, but putting his arm around Harry.
"You know you love me." Harry murmured sleepily.
"That is true."
They sat in silence for a few moments, and Harry extended his hand to rest above Severus' heart. He felt the thumping through to his hand.
"Is it true that I don't have a heart?"
Harry snorted. "Of course you have a heart. You wouldn't be alive right now without one."
The silence stretched on. Harry was content to bask in the heat radiating from Severus, in the comfort Severus' mere presence gave him.
"I was born to Eileen Prince and Tobias Snape." Severus stated quietly. Harry raised himself slightly and cracked open green eyes to peer at the man he was curled up against. "Well, I have to get started on telling my life's story, seeing as you've already gifted me with yours."
The green eyes shone. Severus knew that the 'pouring out your heart' comment from Ron had come a little too close for comfort. He knew how much this meant to Harry. He lowered himself back down, nestled between Severus' side, his arm, and the soft matress.
He let Severus' deep voice wash over him. "I was born to Eileen Prince and Tobias Snape..."
[The Epilogue : Nineteen Years Later]
"- And the wand movement is an arc to the right - smooth, not that sharp, Miss Finch-Fletchly - good. Left handed people, same to you, just to the left - that's right. Okay everyone, repeat after me: Expelliarmus!"
"EXPELLIARMUS!" The entire class bellowed as one. There was a clattering and around three-fourths of the class' wands hit the floor.
"Great, now, everyone pick up your wands, and we'll try again-"
There sounded a great ringing through the rooms and corridors and across the grounds, and everyone scrambled to pack up.
A knock sounded on the already open door.
Green sought out black. Harry wondered how the man could be so imposing while looking amused, leaning against the doorframe with his legs crossed at the ankles and his arms crossed over his chest. He figured it was the robes.
Harry barely stopped himself from bounding over, contenting himself with crossing the room to his lover quickly to place a chaste kiss on his lips.
"Good afternoon." Harry said brightly.
"I must agree that it has gotten considerably better." Severus conceeded.
Harry's first year Hufflepuffs and Slytherins started filtering out of the classroom. One hung behind.
"Hey, Scorpius. Tell your dad his godfathers said hi."
"Will do." The carbon copy of Draco Malfoy replied, with a cheeky grin and a bow. "And- get a room, Uncle Harry, Uncle Sev."
"Of course." Severus replied, giving Harry a look that had his face blazing.
"It's professor Potter and professor Snape to you, Mister Malfoy!" Harry called after weakly.
"It's not class hours, is it Uncle Harry?" And the blonde menace dissappeared around the bend of the corridor.
Harry shook his head and pulled Severus back into his classroom. A long-fingered hand pulled the door shut behind them. "Now I understand why you just wanted to poison us and get it over with."
"Finally." The Slytherin smirked, and he swooped in to get a better kiss than the one recieved upon his arrival. The younger reveled in their contact, pressed up against the lean body and held there by potion-stained fingers.
"Mmm..." Harry smiled into the kiss. "I love you."
"And I, you." Severus agreed. "Now," He said, looking serious. "Do you want to see if we can make it to your rooms, or will we have to make use of this lovely desk?"
Harry smiled wickedly and guided Severus by the back of his head to his lips once more. Everything was perfect. His presence was here. But this time, he had substance, he was a definable person. Severus. And in essence, they were all each other needed.
Author's Note: Taa daa! I think it is finally complete! Be sure to tell me if it needs something else, I live to please! Anyways, you didn't think all that fluff was going to go unbalanced, did you? *wicked smirk* of course, it still ended with a little bit of fluff, and quite possibly a chiche, having all of the chapter titles in the last paragraph, but I liked it. Or, at least I do now. Years from now I'll look back and think - 'wow, I thought this was good?' - or something. But- oh well. I hope everyone liked it!
Also, I'm still on the lookout for a nice beta. Most of my problem is that I'm too lazy to edit it myself, but... oh well.
Challenges are also very much appreciated. I have a few ideas for a story or two swirling around in this crazy brain o' mine, but having something set for me to accomplish would make me work towards it harder.
Have a happy Thanksgiving, to whoever celebrates it!