Recently went to see the first part of the last movie and of course for all wound up with Snape again :P It's been a while since i wrote anything and i've been itching to get another story out. But my lack of time to watch or read anything has pretty impinged on me getting any new ideas..:( so when the idea struck me at work i seized the opportunity!
We had a secret Santa at work the other day, and it struck me how much thought some people put into the little gifts you get. and how the santa never stays secret :P mine came over to explain that my gift was based on an offhand conversation we had had two or three weeks previous about me reminding her of Abby from NCIS. The idea of Snape and or Harry being forced to give each other small meaningful gifts amused me XD
Snape crossed his arms and glared at the short Scottish woman in front of him. She raised an eyebrow and shook the bag insistently. They has been standing opposite each other for five minutes now and an audible groan went round the remaining staff members and Snape continued to refuse to take a piece of paper from the bag under his nose,
"I fail to see why I have to participate in this ridiculous game" it was the first words he'd uttered for the entirety of the staff meeting
"It's a staff secret Santa and you are staff" Professor McGonagall said and shook the bag again
"Oh for God's sake" the bag was snatched from her hands by the stocky form of Madam Hooch "there's only one name left in there anyway." She shook the folded piece of paper out and slipped inside the breast pocket of Snape's waistcoat before brushing her hands together and stomping out of the room.
There was a deathly silence as the remaining staff held their breath waiting for the inevitable storm, but Snape had simply paled at the contact and shook for a few moments before sweeping stiffly from the room.
"Well, I pity whomever's name was on that bit of paper" McGonagall remarked
A grumble of agreement went around the room and one by one the rest of the Hogwarts professors slipped from the staff room, unfolding similar pieces of paper.
Snape sat at his desk glaring at the tiny piece of paper, still folded, sitting on his desk, he sighed and sat forward, slender fingers coming up to rub at his forehead. It was stupid really, he thought, that he should get so annoyed over such a silly thing, he wasn't even sure why it irritated him so much despite appearances he really had no objection to giving or receiving gifts, anonymously or otherwise. In fact it had been a pleasant surprise when he found out he had been included, for so many years the other staff members had neglected to include him in their yearly festivities. Partially he knew because of his attitude toward the entire holiday, partially because no one wanted to be stuck with him and partially because of questions over his allegiances. The first two he always felt where a little unfair though understandable and the third reason had stopped being an issue a year ago when Voldemort had finally been defeated. Apparently his miserable demeanour had ceased to be such an issue once it became clear he was on the right side. Perhaps that was what annoyed him so much, that people were swayed so easily by petty rumours and an unfortunate past. Or perhaps it was simply he was unused to such niceties and treated them with suspicion. He groaned and sunk even further into his arms, he had never particularly good at lying to himself, hiding from the truth yes, he did that with a practised ease. But he was always uncomfortably aware of the truth even if he refused to acknowledge it and he knew the only reason he was so against this was because he couldn't bring himself to trust these people with his emotions. He had happily placed his life in their hands several times over but could not allow himself to let go and allow himself to become friends with them or them with him. This inclusion into a staff secret Santa represented a whole new level of closeness he had never been good at, and doing things he was not good at was one thing Severus Snape hated.
Steeling himself as though taking the lid of a particularly explosive potion he gingerly unfolded the paper,
His head hit the desk with a thump, on second thought, he amended, this was why he hated secret Santa.
Harry had started working at Hogwarts almost immediately after the war ended. He had thrown himself into repairing the old building, restoring the castle to be fit as a school again. He had travelled to each Professor personally requesting they return as soon as possible, some had been easy, almost eager to go back others had taken months of convincing. Those such as Hagrid who had only ever known Hogwarts as a home and Sprout who had not been as involved in the war as others, came gratefully. Those who had seen first hand the horrors of the final battle and had lost close friends and family were more reluctant. Then there had been Snape, Harry had left him until last, not wanting to face the man. He had spent so many nights awake trying to decide if he should even extend the offer of a job to him, but no matter how he justified it not giving him the option was not fair and not right. The man had saved his life, several times over, no matter his methods or his faults he had been one of those responsible for ending the war.
Harry had turned up at his house, an entire speech prepared, fully ready to argue and fight and be ripped into and leave more damaged and defeated than ever before, but Snape had simply opened the door looking thinner, paler and older than ever before. He had sighed and hung his head before breathing out the word 'fine' and slamming the door in Harry's face. Four months later at the start of the new term he had coldly informed Harry that any debt he had to the younger man was paid in full before sweeping towards his old quarters looking every inch the imposing Potions Master he had once been.
That had been almost 5 months ago, Harry had been polite and friendly to him when required, and in turn after the first month (and Snape had seen Harry was not an incompetent fool) he had received the same level of cordiality in return. Seeing him from a fellow teachers perspective had changed a lot of what of Harry thought he knew, for instance he never would have expected to find the man curled up under a heavy quilt reading muggle literature. But sure enough two weeks into December when the coldest weather had hit, that was where Snape could be found each free period he had. The fact none of the other staff found this odd lead Harry to believe it was a normal occurrence even during his school days. As a teacher he had learnt why Snape had been such an ass to students, aside from the fact the majority were morons for most of their time at Hogwarts. A potions class and defence class had much the same level of danger and Harry had learnt quickly being nice, polite and patient with students was not the best way to protect them from that danger.
He looked at the slip of paper in his hands and frowned, he had been eager to take part in the secret Santa for a long list of reasons, but one of the larger ones was the hope that he would pull Snapes name out of the hat. Luck however had abandoned Harry this time and he was left with Filius Flitwick, a man he knew nothing about. Setting his face determinedly he threw a thick robe over his shoulders and headed off towards Hooch's office; it was time to cheat.
The weeks leading up to Christmas slid by quickly, the castle falling victim to heavy snow and freezing ice. The dungeons kept barely habitable by strong charms and constant fires burning on the walls. Contrary to popular belief Snape did not like the cold and the damp and though he never showed it to the students, the rest of the staff knew he was suffering during the potions lessons that were held there. It was no longer an oddity to find him sitting in the staff room under a blanket or quilt in an effort to regain some warmth before heading off to his next lesson. Snape had never been built for cold weather and he hated it, he had to keep himself under almost constant glamours during lessons in order to hide the fact he was deathly pale and nearly always shivering. At some point during the last week, hot cups of coffee or chocolate, depending on the time of day had started to appear on his desk during lessons. At first he suspected a prank, but after much prodding he had discovered nothing wrong with the drink and had clung to the warm cup almost desperately. He had a sneaking suspicion who was responsible, through a process of elimination he had narrowed it down to Madam Pomfery, Headmistress McGonagall or Potter. While the first two were viable for several logical reasons he just knew it was Potter. He tried not to think about it too much, because as much as he wanted to ridicule the fact he would go to so much effort just to appear kind, he knew it hadn't been done for attention. And the thought that Potter may actually care enough for even that token gesture made him very uncomfortable indeed.
He had spent several agonising days staring at his little slip of paper, walking halfway to the Headmistresses office to tell her where to shove her stupid game. Before changing his mind again and walking halfway to Hogsmeade before changing his mind yet again and eventually giving up and settling himself back down in his rooms. He had at last bought a present for Harry, a thick set of winter robes. He had noticed that most of Harry's clothes were old and a little threadbare, he amused himself by viewing the gift as a subtle mockery of Potter's inability to properly clothe himself.
Today was the last day all the staff would be present, those who were not needed or had family to go to left a few days before Christmas and returned shortly after, the majority of students had left the week previously and would not be returning until the new year. So today was the day where everyone swapped gifts, Snape sneered, trying not to feel nervous as he entered the staff room to find most of the staff already gathered. He dropped his gift under the huge tree Hagrid had somehow forced into the room before crossing to his customary seat and sitting stiffly down, his arms crossed as he listened with half an ear to the conversation going on around him,
"Nice of you to join us, Severus" Mcgonagall had spotted him and had sat down on the other end of the couch "I had my doubt's you would bother"
"As did I" he replied icily
She smiled at him and patted his hand "come now, I happen to know you have a very nice gift"
Snape raised an eyebrow "Am I to assume then you bought my gift?"
"Very nearly, I was propositioned for a trade. However I'm sure it worked out for the best"
Snape stared at her for a few seconds then snorted "someone actually wanted my name? I'm sure we are in for a great laugh then" he made to stand up "excuse me if I don't stay to witness this embarrassment"
McGonagall shoved a small rectangular package into his hands "Oh, do stop being so dramatic Severus" she said before crossing the room to hand out the other gifts
He stared at the metallic black wrapping and wrinkled his nose; the assumption he liked black was far too prolific. However he did have to admit as wrapping paper went the silvery sheen was rather pleasing. He rubbed his forehead gingerly and forced himself to stop stalling. Gingerly he ran his fingers along the edges of paper peeling the ends apart and watching as the paper fell away to reveal the photo frame beneath. His heart skipped a beat and for a few brief seconds the noise and chaos around him fell away, as a finger moved of its own accord to brush gently at the picture held within. A single old fashioned muggle photograph, coloured slightly with age depicting himself at perhaps 13 or 14, a rare smile on his face as an over enthusiastic Lily flung her arms around his neck. He stared at it for a moment before looking up, his eyes searching for the only person this could have come from and Harry had frozen (in the middle of putting on the new robes Snape had given him) his eyes wide. Snape stared at him, waiting for the inevitable joke, some unforeseen hilarity at his expense, when none came he took the chance and swept from the room before anyone could notice.
He slammed into his office barely noticing the damage he did to the door and the wall before collapsing into his chair, his hands shaking slightly as he looked at the picture again. Hi eyes slid closed as he tried to remember when it was taken, before their fifth year obviously, over the summer at some point, it must have been second or third year before James had started visiting in the summer in the hopes of gaining her affections
"I like the robes"
Snapes eyes snapped open, he hadn't even heard Potter come in
Harry laughed quietly, nervous "Only you could give me something useful and insulting at the same time"
Snape couldn't help but smirk slightly at that, he hadn't held much hope the man would realise the underlying commentary on his state of dress. His face hardened again though "Come to reap the benefits of all your hard work" he said bitterly "come to watch an old man cry over a forgotten memory"
Harry stepped forward "No!"
Snape snorted "I heard you swapped McGonagall in order to get my name, I didn't think even tormenting me was worth what ever she made you trade"
"I think giving you at least one good memory of your relationship with my mother is worth having to supervise a new duelling club for first years" he said softly
Snape looked at him "I have plenty of memories of your mother thank-you" he ground out
"I know, I have most of them. But they are all coloured with so much anger and hate" he stepped forward looking at the picture "she was happy and so were you, I figured you don't have many reminders of that. I found it in amongst some things my aunt gave me when I moved here, I've been trying to find a way to give it to you for a few months but it never seemed like the right time"
Snape stared at him, searching his face for any trace of deceit "you mean to tell me, you genuinely wanted me to have a picture of myself and your mother for no reason other than to make me happy"
"Well…yes" Harry looked confused "what other reason would there be?"
Snape sat back slowly, before he reached inside his robe and wordlessly took out a small vial, he held it out to Harry "I presume you have a penseive" he said, his tone final as his eyes flicked towards the door. Harry took the vial and the hint, leaving quietly as Snape continued to stare at the photo.
It was several hours later when McGonagall went looking for him, the castle had fallen into darkness and the only light in the now freezing Potions classroom was coming from a small desk lamp. Drawing her robes around her even tighter she walked across the room trying not to startle Snape,
He jumped and the frame clattered to the desk
"How long have you been down here?" she said, "we haven't seen you since you left the staff room"
"What time is it?" he asked looking around almost surprised
"Just before dinner, I've not seen Harry since this afternoon either, but I presume he is clever enough not to sit in a freezing dungeon for 3 hours." The reprimanding tone was not lost on Snape and he sneered at her as the cold hit him and he began to shiver.
Sighing she cast a small warming charm to get the worst of the cold out of him "come on, I won't have my staff accidentally killing themselves"
Snape muttered under his breath but followed the domineering woman out of the room, photo tucked safely in his robes.
He noticed immediately Harry was no where to been seen, there were very few students and staff left in the castle and Harry always stood out like a sore thumb. He ate quickly and in silence giving single word responses to anything anyone asked him before standing to leave, ignoring McGonagalls insistence he stay until the end of the meal. The large doors to the Great Hall swung open with a loud band as he turned to walk toward them, a breathless Harry Potter stood between them his eyes frantically searching before settling on Snape. His breath quickened despite his efforts to stop it he could only assume Harry had looked at the memory he had given him. He waited for what seemed like forever before Harry began to move towards him,
The students and staff alike had stopped and were watching, frozen in place. It was well known that while Potions Professor and the Defence Professor tolerated each other for the sake of the school they did not get along, the few confrontations they had had at the beginning were almost legendary and the students had found themselves looking forward to the next one.
Snape closed his eyes, accepting and waiting for whatever Potter threw at him, it was his own fault, he should have known Potter would misinterpret the memory and react angrily. It took him a few seconds to realise that no angry words had been shouted and no punches thrown, instead he had a pair of strong arms thrown around his neck, a warm body pressed against his and full, chapped lips pressed against his. His eyes opened in shock and came in contact with a brilliant green that looked so familiar yet so distinct and unique. The lips broke away from his and in the background he heard chaos erupt as the students began to talk excitedly and loudly, all he could hear though were the soft words whispered in his ear,
"I'm sorry, Severus" and Harry's arms tightened pulling him closer as his own limbs betrayed him and wrapped themselves around the warm body pressing tightly against it.
A loud cough sounded behind them "As touching as your new found, ah, affection is I hardly think dinner is the appropriate time" McGonagall was looking at them, an eyebrow raised
Harry laughed and ran a hand through his hair "Right, well I'll just be borrowing him and leaving then" and before Snape could object his was dragged out of the great hall by his arm.
Breathlessly he arrived at his office and dragged Snape inside, stopping to face him as the door slid shut,
"Uh, I didn't really think about this part" he said grinning "to be honest I though I'd have been hexed long before now"
"Trust me Potter, that option is still very open" Snape growled, his face scowling at the younger man, despite the irritatingly warm afterglow he couldn't quite shake off inside. It had been worrying him for a while, that after each thought or encounter with Harry the usual irritation and anger had been replaced with a sense of comfort and ease, almost longing. The memory of those lips pressed firmly against his was not helping.
Harry scratched his head "I guess I should apologise for making a scene"
"That would be a good start"
"I meant it though" for the first time Harry looked nervous and unsure, apparently the adrenaline of molesting Snape was wearing off and the reality of provoking the man was setting in
Snape snorted "I doubt that, you've always been prone to thoughtless and impulsive behaviour"
"It wasn't thoughtless, and it wasn't totally impulsive" Harry defended "I watched the memory you gave me hours ago"
Snape was silent, watching Harry carefully "You're not angry?"
Harry seemed surprised "No, why would I be? It was beautiful and it must have taken a lot for you to give that to me. I mean I suppose on the one hand you really shouldn't have been spying on them like that" Harry grinned slightly "but I'm glad you did, I'm glad someone was watching her." He set the vial on the desk and looked at him "I want to watch it with you" he held his breath, waiting for a response, silently cursing the fast pace of his heartbeat he was sure was audible.
"Why?" the question was quiet, almost silent
"Because it's yours, and because I want to show you something"
Snape snorted "you want to show me my own memory? I already know what it is Potter. I had to live through it, I have no desire to torment myself again"
Harry looked at him and poured the memory into his penseive before holding out his hand to Snape. It may have looked like a request but Snape could tell from the hardness in those green eyes he was being dragged into this whether he liked it or not. He gritted his teeth and took the offered hand, at least he could go with some semblance of dignity, he thought as the office dissolved around them and was replaced by the foggy grey cloud of his memory before setting them down roughly on the neatly mowed lawn of Hogwarts front lawn. It was an unusually warm September afternoon and if Snape closed his eyes he could almost smell the freshly cut grass,
"There's no point coming if you won't look" Harry was smirking at him as he dragged him forward from behind the tree and passed the younger Snape who was sat there under the shade out of view. Dark eyes focussed on the young couple splayed out on the grass, book lying forgotten in his lap; James Potter and his girlfriend Lily.
James was propped up on his side looking over the relaxed face of Harry's mother, his hand sneaked up her stomach to drop the small square box on it, his eyes watching her carefully as a smile crept onto his lips. Thick lashes opened to reveal hauntingly familiar green eyes as she lifted the box gently and held it above her head, opening it and allowing the sun to glint on the ring inside. The moment seemed frozen, perhaps it was Snapes recollection of the event or perhaps for a few brief seconds time stood still as Lily's face broke into a smile and she turned to fling her arms around James neck, no words needing to be spoken as he silently slipped the ring onto her finger.
"Why are you showing me this?" Snape sounded choked as he turned to Harry "you said yourself this was hard for me to give to you, do you have to rub it in my face?"
Harry continued to look at them seeming not to have heard him "This was the moment you realised you had truly lost her." It wasn't a question "I spent hours trying to work out why you would give this to me, it was obviously painful for you, yet you cling onto it. I still don't understand, and I'm not sure you do either to be honest."
Snape couldn't disagree, he was still trying to work out why he had chosen to share this with Harry. The boy had plenty of happy memories of his parents, adding another served no purpose and yet he just knew the right place for this memory to be was with him.
"It doesn't matter" Harry was talking again, he had turned away from his parents and was facing Snape "I want that," he said, "I deserve that" for a second a brief moment of anger broke through.
Snape opened his mouth to insult him and tell him to grow up and stop being so self-centred, the old irritation at constantly being used to make this boy feel better coming back. A hand gently touching his cheek stopped him,
"You deserve that, you deserve to look that happy and content and maybe I am being stupid and self-centred but I want to be the one to make that happen" Harry had stepped closer. "You know I've watched this a couple times before, the first time I just saw what you saw" he gestured to his parents. "But the second time, I just watched you" he indicated over his shoulder where younger Snape was still sitting, his face set in stone as he fought tears. "And it hurt, all I could think about was touching you and trying to make it not hurt anymore" he laughed "I even forgot you can't touch memories for a second"
Harry's hands were carding through his hair and Snape was stood perfectly still, tense, waiting for the moment he would laugh and reveal the joke, but Harry just stood there looking at him,
"Of course that's where my impulsiveness comes in" he scratched the back of his head with his other hand "I didn't even realise what I was doing until I slammed open the door of the Great Hall. All I could think about was finding you."
"And apologising? Did you think that would fix anything? That somehow two words from you would make the pain of losing my only friend go away?" Snape said bitterly.
"No" Harry whispered softly grasping the thin face with two hands "I plan on spending the rest of my life doing that" and he sealed his lips over Snapes again, tangling his fingers into the long dark hair.
Something in Snape snapped and he gave in, cautiously pressing back as that now to familiar sense of comfort and ease settled over him. The memory faded away leaving them standing in Harry's office, arms wrapped tightly around each, the gentle laughter of Lily Evans still echoing around the room.
I have no idea if this is an accurate representation of James asking Lily to marry him or if snape and lily would have ever been photographed as children...but whatever :P i'm using artistic license ^_^