Disclaimer – Nothing is mine.

Chapter 10 – True Love

Snape was beside himself. He'd seen Harry finish and walk towards the castle and had hurried down to meet him only to find no sign of the young man. He'd searched the entire castle from top to bottom with the rest of the staff but he was no where to be found.

'It's obvious that he hasn't just up and left of his own free will, I mean, the wards are all still intact.' Minerva spoke up.

The blood drained from Snape's face. 'Oh dear Merlin.' He breathed. 'He took him. He's taken him.'

'What are you talking about, Severus? Who's taken him?' Minerva huffed.

'The same person that hexed me.' Snape said quietly.

'Oh Severus, you can be sure it was them.' Poppy insisted.

'Well, as Minerva said, he didn't get up and leave.' Snape shouted. 'That man was after Harry, and now he has him.'

Poppy and Minerva exchanged glances and the Deputy Headmistress began herding the rest of the staff from the room as Poppy tried to calm the potions master.

'Severus, Harry will be fine. He's a strong young man. If he has been taken, he could have been Portkeyed anywhere, there is nothing we can do. He can get through this. Have faith in him.' Poppy said quietly as she pushed the man down into the chair in front of Harry's desk.

'I can't just sit here.' Severus insisted.

'Then why don't you go and prepare some healing potions. I believe the hospital wing is running low.' Minerva glanced at Poppy who nodded. 'That will keep you occupied until we hear anything.'

'A good idea, Minerva.' Poppy said briskly hauling the man back to his feet and pushing him towards the door. 'Merlin forbid, Harry comes back and needs something I've run out of.'

Snape glared at the two witches who just smiled at him before he turned on his heel and stalked out of the office and down the stairs. His mind was racing as he tried to guess where Harry might have been taken. He went over the hissed threats in the hospital wing as he struggled to put a name and face to the voice and he desperately pushed away the thoughts of what Harry might be enduring as he swept through the deserted corridors of the school in complete safety.

He pushed open the door to his lab so hard it flew back against the door with a bang, crossing the room in swift strides and yanking his largest cauldron off the shelf, setting it on its stand and lighting it with the flick of his wand. He murmured softly and water poured from his wand filling the cauldron to half as he reached for the base ingredients.

He poured in the crushed newts eyes and the fish scales and moved towards his private storeroom for the unicorn blood he kept locked away.

'DON'T TOUCH IT!' came the cry from the doorway causing Snape's head to whip up as his hand hovered only inches from the door.

'What the hell do you want?' Snape growled harshly.

Hermione stared at him through tear filled eyes and raised her wand. Snape stiffened, wishing he hadn't left his on the bench beside the simmering cauldron.

'Aeternus.' Hermione whispered brokenly and to Snape's surprise the spell flew past him and hit the door knob causing it to glow so brightly the potions master's had to shield his eyes as he stumbled away from it.

'What in Merlin's name?'

Hermione stepped forward, past the older man and grasped the door knob lifting it easily away from the door and handing it to Snape.

'It was cursed.' She cried, tears falling down her cheeks. 'He put it there so that you would touch it. It would have poisoned you leaving Harry for him.'

Snape's eyes widened and he grasped Hermione's shoulders and shook her. 'Where is he? Who has him?'

Hermione began to cry harder. 'I'm sorry. I was just so angry with Harry for not helping Draco, I agreed to help him but I think Harry's in danger now. I think he might hurt him.' Hermione sobbed.

Snape wanted to kill her there and then. 'For Merlin's sake, woman. Pull yourself together. Where is Harry? Who took him?'

Hermione sniffed loudly. 'Ron. Ron took him.' She stammered. 'To the Shrieking Shack.'

Snape all but threw the young woman to the floor as he shoved past her, slowing only long enough to summon his wand before running from the room.

Harry's head whipped up as he saw the potions master burst into the room and incant the killing curse, a look of absolute menace on his face.


'NO!' Harry screamed, knowing that if Ron died he'd never get this collar off.

'Kedavra.' Snape finished and the green light hit Ron square in the shoulder flinging him backwards off Harry.

Harry didn't know whether to be more relieved that the probing fingers were gone and the nightmare was over, or horrified that unless they could find someway of negating the runic collar he would remain a squib for the rest of his life. Either thought caused him pain and he curled into a fetal position as tears fell unheeded from his eyes.

'Harry.' Snape murmured, sitting on the edge of the bed but hesitant to touch him. It was obvious from the state of him that he'd been abused, but how far the red head had gone Severus didn't know. Harry solved his dilemma though and moved until he could wrap his arms around the man's neck.

'Severus.' He sobbed brokenly and Snape quickly gathered him in his arms and hugged him tightly. 'He said you'd be dead. He had set a trap for you.' Harry cried.

'I know.' Snape murmured holding Harry close. 'It's alright, Harry. It's over now.'

Harry shook his head rapidly. 'No. No it isn't. I have no magic. No power whatsoever.' He cried.

Snape placed a hand on either shoulder and gently pushed Harry away from him until he could look into the young man's eyes. 'What are you talking about?'

Harry hiccoughed and pointed to the collar on his neck that Snape hadn't even noticed. 'It took all my magic. I can't use it at all. I couldn't even use it to stop him. I tried but it hurt so much. I tried to stop him but it was all gone.' Harry babbled and Snape quickly pulled him close once again.

'It's alright Harry. It hasn't taken it. It's just locked it away. The wards of the school are still standing so you must still have it inside.'

'Yes, but I can't get it off. It has a password only Ron knew, and you KILLED HIM.' Harry shouted. 'Now I'll never get it off. I'll be like this forever.' Harry dissolved into tears again and buried his face in his hands.

Snape lifted his wand and pointed it at Harry's neck. 'Aeternus.' he whispered. And the collar clicked open and fell into Harry's lap startling the younger man for only a moment before the excess power flooded out of him, swirling about the room around them and making Snape's hair stand on end.

'Oh my god.' Harry breathed, staring in awe between the collar that was now in his hands and the potions master. 'How?'

'Mrs Malfoy.' Snape murmured. 'Her conscience got the better of her.'

Comprehension dawned in Harry's eyes. 'She helped him. She found what he needed and gave him the money.'

Snape nodded. 'I can only assume so. She apparently was upset with you.'

Harry's expression darkened. 'I'll give her something to be upset about.' He growled, tossing the collar across the room and throwing a wandless Incendio at it.

Snape looked into the angry green eyes and smiled. Yes, Harry would recover from this. He had no doubt. With this in mind he lifted a hand and wiped at the tear stained cheeks. 'Come on, let's get you back to Hogwarts.'

Harry hesitated. 'Severus, I...'

Snape looked at him intently. 'It matters not, Harry. Let's just get back to the castle. I want you to take a few potions and get some rest. We can talk more in the morning.' He said firmly as he stood and took off his cloak, wrapping it around Harry's shoulders.

Harry hesitated further. 'You won't leave me alone will you?' he asked in a small voice.

Snape pulled the young man close to him. 'Never again, Harry.' He vowed before kissing him softly.

Tears pricked at Harry's eyes again as he allowed the man to help him from the bed. Every step was painful but Harry refused to let the older man carry him. He wouldn't give Ron the satisfaction, even if the man was now dead. Once Harry was standing a few steps away from the bed, he allowed the potions master to wrap his arms around him tightly before he apparated them away with a pop.

'Oh Harry.' Poppy cried as they landed in the hospital wing. Harry stumbled and Snape ignored Harry's protests and swept him up in those strong arms and placed him gently on the nearest bed. The entirety of what he'd been through over the last six hours finally came crashing down on him as Poppy reached forward to undo Severus robe that Harry had clutch tightly around him. He let out a cry and all but launched himself at Snape, curling himself into the man's chest.

'Please don't touch me.' He whispered.

Poppy's mouth dropped open and she started in shock at Harry. 'Severus?' she questioned.

Snape rested one arm protectively around Harry's shoulders as he gently ran his fingers through the messy black hair with the other. 'I think perhaps a couple of pain killing potions and a bruise salve might just be best for the moment.'

Poppy nodded and after a final glance at the trembling form in Snape's arms quickly hurried to get what was needed.

'Shhh, Harry. You're safe now.' Snape murmured.

Poppy returned quickly and Snape took the potions from her and quietly coaxed Harry to drink them before spreading the bruise salve over the rapidly blackening cheek and lip. Harry baulked however when Poppy held up a familiar blue vial.

'Please, Harry. Take it for me.' Severus pleaded softly. 'You need to rest and you won't do that without it.'

'Severus, please.' Harry shook his head.

Snape knew exactly what he was afraid of and gently cupped his cheek, mindless of the medi-witch standing before them. 'I won't leave you, Harry. Not for a moment. We will be safe in your rooms and I'll let no one in till you wake. I swear on my magic.'

Harry's green eyes stared intently at him for several moments before the Boy-Who-Lived nodded slowly, taking the proffered vial with shaking hands.

'I swear.' Snape said again when he hesitated. Harry swallowed heavily before closing his eyes and knocking back the vial in one go.

Snape caught him as the darkness took him and lifted the sleeping figure as he stood.

'Severus, what on earth happened?' Poppy asked, reaching out to smooth Harry's hair back off his face.

'Ron Weasley happened.' Snape said darkly, his eyes unable to hide both the anger and concern. 'He kidnapped him.'

Poppy gasped and her hands flew to her mouth. 'What?'

'Bound his magic with a runic collar and was proceeding to show Harry how much he meant to him by almost raping him.' Snape had to swallow heavily himself at the mental picture of Harry naked on the bed, bleeding, with the hulking figure of Ron Weasley lying over him, his hand up Harry's arse as the young man screamed at him to stop.

'You cannot be serious, Severus.'

'I am, Poppy. The body of that blasted Gryffindor is currently lying in the Shrieking Shack where I found Harry. I would appreciate it if you could let Minerva know what has happened and ask her to contact the Aurors. They will need to secure the Shack.'

'Of course, Severus. I'll tell her straight away.' Poppy promised.

Snape nodded and walked swiftly towards the door, stopping just inside the door to look back at the medi-witch. 'If you could also pass a message on to the Aurors for me?' He asked, waiting until she nodded before going on. 'Tell them I wish to press charges against Mrs Malfoy.'

'Whatever for?'

'Aiding and abetting both a kidnapping and attempted murder.' Snape said curtly.

'Severus, you cannot be serious.' Poppy repeated her words of only moments earlier.

Snape glanced down at Harry and when he looked up his eyes were glittering like shards of onyx. 'Deadly serious, Poppy.' He whispered menacingly before spinning on his heel and disappearing out the door leaving Poppy to sink down on the bed, shaking her head in disbelief.

Snape stared down at the sleeping figure in his arms, gently running his fingers down Harry's cheek, noticing that the bruise had faded and he wondered how long the other scars of the evening before would take to heal.

He had carefully removed the robe he'd wrapped around the young man, magicking on a pair of pyjamas before changing himself and crawling in beside the young man to hold him tightly.

He couldn't believe that he'd almost lost him again. If Hermione hadn't stopped him from touching that door he'd have died a painful death by morning and Harry would be alone once again. He hated to think of just how the young man would have coped with that.

Harry shifted slightly and Snape bent his head to place a gentle kiss on his temple. 'You're safe, Harry. I'm here with you.' He murmured and Harry settled almost instantly.

Snape lay there for many hours, his eyes never leaving Harry's face as his thoughts swirled almost out of control through his head. They eventually spiraled down to a single one. Something he couldn't deny, especially in the middle of the night without a soul to hear him. 'I love you, Harry Potter.' He whispered, leaning down and kissing the young man chastely. With this admission made, Snape finally closed his eyes and let sleep take him.

Snape had woken and removed himself from the bed before Harry awoke the next morning. The last thing he wanted was to make the young man uncomfortable. Instead he moved over to the chair by the fireplace and conjured some tea, sipping it in silent contemplation of where to go from here.

'Severus?' He heard Harry's slightly panicked voice ring out almost a half hour later.

'I'm here, Harry.' The potions master lent forward and Harry let out a sigh of relief, looking away in embarrassment at the loudness of the action.

Snape placed his cup down and moved to the bedside. 'How do you feel?' he asked gently, sitting on the edge as Harry sat up.

'I'm fine.' Harry said automatically. 'Nothing hurts.'

Snape rolled his eyes. 'How are you really?' he amended the question staring into the vivid green eyes.

Harry looked away again. 'I'm alright...I just...I...'

'Harry?' Snape couldn't hide his concern. He wondered just what Harry could be embarrassed about.

'I...Severus...I'm sorry.' Harry sighed, closing his eyes in defeat and waiting to be rejected.

Snape reeled back as if struck. 'What on earth are you apologising for this time?' He asked, reaching for the young man.

Harry flinched away. 'I didn't want to, I mean he was doing things and I...but I didn't mean to.' He stammered. 'I didn't feel anything for him...but he was doing things and I couldn't help it.'

The words gave some idea of what was going through Harry's mind and ignoring the flinch he reached out to the other man. 'You have nothing to be ashamed of, Harry.' Severus said firmly but gently as he pulled the younger man out from under the blankets and into his arms. 'Whatever happened has no bearing on what we feel for each other. Your body's response was not something you could have helped, no matter who was doing it to you. You have nothing to be ashamed of, Harry.' Snape repeated, clasping Harry chin and tilting the young man's head so that he could stare into the verdant green eyes. 'Nothing that happened in that place is your fault, and nothing that happened is something that you could have stopped.'

Harry looked at him intently as if searching for the truth. He was obviously satisfied as he lifted a hand and curled it round the back of the potions master's neck and pulled his head down, running his tongue over the man's lips before kissing him with all the passion he could muster. Snape kissed him back heatedly for several moments before his brain kicked in and he pulled away.

'Harry, I don't think.'

Harry silenced him with a hand over his lips. 'Please Severus.' he whispered. 'I need to know that that isn't all there is.'

'It's too soon.' Severus insisted.

Harry looked at him with pleading eyes. 'If we leave it much longer it might be too late.'

Severus stared at him, the black eyes searching for the truth. And he found it. Harry was scared. Scared that what Ron had done was all he would ever know. That that was all there was.

'I will show you what true lovemaking is, Harry, on one condition.' He murmured.

'Anything.' Harry breathed, his eyes shining.

'That you look me in the eye and tell me you are truly ready. That after everything that happened yesterday, you are still of sound enough mind to know what it is you are asking of me.'

Harry hesitated before looking Severus boldly. 'I want you to make love to me, Severus. I want you to show me what it really should be between two people who feel the way we do.' He said, unable to hide the slight pleading in his voice.

It was all Severus needed though as he bent his head and resumed the heated kiss he had pulled away from. Harry groaned as the older man's tongue traced his mouth, tongue mapping every inch of it before moving cross his cheek and down neck.

Snape's hands hesitated at the top button of Harry's pyjamas but Harry nodded and not long after that lithe body was laid out before him.

'Merlin, Harry.' Snape breathed as he quickly shed his own clothes and moved to lay beside the young man. 'You're beautiful.'

Harry sucked in a breath his eyes wide.

'What is it?' Snape said instantly.

Harry swallowed. 'Ron, he...he said...'

Snape gently caressed his cheek and smiled. 'Just because He said that doesn't mean it isn't true, Harry.' Snape murmured, staring into the green eyes and willing Harry to see the truth. 'He may have gone the wrong way about it but it doesn't mean that what ever he said to you in there was a lie.'

'I just...I never...'

'Do you trust me, Harry?'

'Yes.' Harry whispered without reservation and Snape smiled leaning down and kissing him again.

'Then just let yourself go.' Snape murmured into his neck as his hand moved from Harry's head to his hip.

Harry relaxed and closed his eyes. He knew Snape would never hurt him and he knew the older man loved him, even if he hadn't said it, so he allowed himself to sink into the feelings Severus was drawing out of him.

He gasped when he felt a hot tongue thrust into his navel, he snickered when he felt a soft pair of lips tickle his inner thigh, he hissed when Severus finally took him in his mouth, and he only lasted a moment before he came.

He recovered a few minutes later and opened his eyes to see Snape staring at him, his dark eyes glittering with many things Harry couldn't place.

'I'm sorry.' Harry murmured sheepishly.

Snape crawled forward until he was hovering over Harry. 'Shhh.' Snape's head dropped to his chest and his hands began running themselves gently over Harry's sides just as he had imagined them doing and Harry found himself hard again within minutes.

When he came the next time it was like nothing he'd ever felt before and he thought he might just pass out from the force of it. Once again Snape was watching him when he opened his eyes, this time a soft smile gracing his features as he bent his head to Harry's chest for the third time.

This slow and steady build up was driving Harry crazy. Every nerve in his body was crying out, even after coming twice. This was Snape at his most skillful, most intent. He was worshipping every inch of Harry's body until the young man was like putty in his hands.

'Severus, please.' Harry begged as the man's mouth did things to him Harry couldn't even comprehend. He heard Snape murmur softly and then he felt slick fingers probing at him and he tensed.

'Relax, Harry. I've got you.' Snape whispered and Harry was in no position to do anything but. He relaxed allowing the probing fingers to gently breech him. It was nothing like the rough, calloused, cruel hands of the night before. These were the hands of a concert pianist and they played Harry like a concerto of Bach. When they hit his sweet spot Harry almost launched himself up off the bed.

'Severus, Severus, please.' Harry begged again and finally the older man deigned to listen, murmuring once more before sliding carefully inside. Hesitating as he tried to give Harry time to get used to the feeling.

'Oh Merlin, Harry.' Snape hissed as Harry shifted.

'Severus, please do something.' Harry pleaded and Snape once again obliged, lowering his upper body and kissing Harry thoroughly as he began moving slowly.

Harry couldn't believe the feelings of completion and sanctuary that were currently welling up inside him. He couldn't imagine a life without the other man now and even as Snape moved a hand between them and curled it around him, Harry idly wondered if he could live in a world where he was equally adored and hated for the sake of the potions master.

All thought, coherent or otherwise, was promptly flung from his head a moment later as together with Severus he came a final time. An orgasm so far reaching it left his head spinning and his body trembling.

Harry was completely out of it for sometime and when he finally managed to slow his breathing, steady his shaking hands and open his eyes, he found himself curled in the potions master's arms once again, Snape's onyx eyes watching him intently.

'Thank you.' Harry whispered. Severus just smiled again and pulled him closer.

When they joined the rest of the staff for dinner they were besieged. Well, Harry was, anyway. Minerva subtly pulled Snape to one side and told him to Aurors had taken custody of Ron Weasley's body and that Hermione had given herself up before the Aurors could even go looking for her.

'Amelia Bones will want a word with him tomorrow. Will he be up to it?' She asked hesitantly.

Snape looked over at Harry being fussed over by Poppy and the rest of the staff, the young man's face breaking out into a smile when he saw Snape looking at him. 'Yes, Minerva. I believe he will be.' he said quietly.

And Harry was up to it. He sat stoically in his chair behind his desk and told the story of what had happened from start to finish, without deviation or sign of embarrassment.

'And the collar?'

Harry looked down, a blush covering his cheeks for the first time. 'I...um...I destroyed it.' He said sheepishly.

Amelia shook her head. 'It's alright, Headmaster. I imagine I would have done the same.'

Harry glanced up, taking in the expressions of the Aurors, McGonagall and Snape before looking back at the head of the MLE. 'Madame Bones, what is going to happen to Hermione?' he asked softly ignoring the sharp intake of breath beside him.

'She will be brought to trial, just as Mr Weasley would have been had he lived.'

Harry looked down again. 'Is there anyway to stop that happening?' he whispered.

'Harry!' Snape hissed. 'What are you doing?'

Harry turned in his chair. 'Severus please,' He whispered. 'She has lost so much. She doesn't deserve this.'

'You didn't deserve what happened to you either and she helped it happen.' Snape retorted quietly.

'She was upset, Severus. When people are hurting they often lash out.'

Snape made an abortive movement with his hand that Harry knew would have been a caress. 'She hurt you, Harry, indirectly, but she still hurt you.' Snape whispered so softly only Harry could hear.

'Please, Severus, just give me this. To me, she saved your life, and that counts for so much more than the help she gave Ron. Even without her Ron would have gone ahead with his plan and while he wouldn't have known about the collar, what he left for you wouldn't have changed and you would be dead if not for her.'

Snape studied the pleading green eyes for several moment before nodding slowly. 'Fine, but she is not to return to the castle.'

Harry's eyes widened but eventually he nodded in agreement. 'Alright.' He said with a sigh before turning back to Amelia who had been watching the whispered conversation curiously. 'Madame Bones, is there any way?' He repeated.

Amelia Bones frowned. 'The charges against Hermione Malfoy were brought about by a civil suit from Professor Snape. There was not enough evidence really to hold her other than her confession which, coming so close after the Kissing of her husband may be put down to extenuating circumstances.' She explained.

'And if Severus were to drop the charges?' Harry asked hopefully.

Amelia glanced at Snape. 'Then I imagine she would be remanded to St Mungos for assessment pending her release.'

Harry's eyes once again found Snape's. 'Please, Severus.' he whispered.

Snape eyes narrowed marginally before he sighed. 'Fine, I request the charges be dropped.'

Harry beamed at him, taking some of the sting out of the action, before he turned back to Amelia. 'I would prefer to keep this as quiet as possible.' He murmured. 'There are still three runic collars out there and I have no wish for anyone else going looking for them.'

'I understand, Headmaster. The usual secrecy spells will be used.' Amelia promised and Harry smiled.

'Thank you.' He breathed, standing up and offering the witch his hand. Amelia stood and shook it in response before the group of three left through the floo.

Harry sat on the grass twenty yards from the castle, able to feel the potions master nearby but not letting it interfere. The more time they spent together the more the older man's magic aligned with his own. A soul bond, Albus called it, and neither Harry, nor Severus, could disagree. The feelings they shared went far beyond what either man had ever heard of. Harry sometimes wondered of Snape had felt such things while he was a student. Whether the hatred of Harry's birth father had been a convenient cover for the unwanted feelings the teenager, at that time, had stirred in the older man.

A nudge from Hogwarts herself quickly pushed Harry's mind where it should be and he dropped back into the meditative state he needed to begin sifting through the wards.

It had been almost a month since Ron had kidnapped Harry and Severus had found him. He spent his days out on the grounds working through the wards and his nights curled up in the potions master's arms. Nearly all of the staff had gone home for the holidays. Only Minerva, Poppy, Hagrid and Flitwick remained, other than Harry and Severus of course. Harry had been working diligently through the mass of wards, dismantling those that could be and anchoring others to the castle itself; something Hogwarts seemed to approve of.

He could actually see a light at the end of the tunnel. Another couple of days and the load would be small enough to pass onto almost anyone who wasn't a squib and he planned to see if Hogwarts would accept Minerva as her new ward bearer. It hadn't taken as long as he'd originally thought, mostly in fact because he spent eight hours a day at the task.

He'd go out onto the grounds shortly after breakfast and stay there as Snape read quietly nearby till dinnertime and come in. He could see the end in sight now and he could feel himself slowing on purpose. He knew now that he didn't want to stay after the task was finished but he also knew he didn't want to leave Severus. In fact, he wasn't sure he could. He'd spent many hours talking to Albus about it but he still couldn't come to any firm conclusion.

By the end of the day he'd tie down whatever wards he was working on and allow the older man to pull him up from his position on the grass and tug him gently towards the castle. He'd sit quietly through dinner with the few staff members there before retiring to his room and letting Severus relax him in a way that no one else could. The older man could practically make his muscles sing and Harry was always sure to return the favour before both men would drop off to sleep curled tightly in each other's arms.

Tonight though, sleep was elusive and Harry waited until he could feel Severus had fallen asleep before he slipped out of bed and dressed silently, leaving the room and trekking up to the Astronomy Tower.

He stood there for many hours as the thoughts swirled in his head, deciding this wasn't something Albus could help him with. He had to make a decision. When he had first arrived he sworn to himself that he wouldn't remain. That once the wards were capable of being handed off to another then he would leave.

But that was before Severus.

Before he'd fallen deeply in love with the other man.

And now he had no idea of where to go from here.

He started slightly as warm arms slid around his waist. 'Your thoughts are very loud.' Severus murmured silkily in his ear. Harry turned slightly to stare up at the man, raising an eyebrow. 'You've been projecting confusion and reluctance all day.'

'Oh.' Harry said quietly, dropping his eyes.

'Does the thing troubling you have anything to do with the reason you have been much slower with the wards the last few days?'

Harry's head shot up. 'What?'

Snape turned the young man so that he could look at his face, holding him tightly so that he couldn't move away. 'You've been slowing. More each day. As if to put off finishing them. I can feel it. You're mind wanders for sometime before Hogwarts draws you back in.'

Harry's eyes were so wide they had almost fallen out of his head. 'How can you know that?' he whispered.

Snape reached up and tucked several strands of messy black hair behind Harry's ear. 'I just do.' he murmured. 'What I want to know is why.'

Harry sighed and closed his eyes. 'I don't know.'

Snape raised an eyebrow and waited until Harry opened his eyes once again. 'I think you do, Harry.' He said softly. 'I think you're scared.' Harry turned his head away but Snape quickly grabbed his chin and forced him to look back. 'Be honest with me, Harry. You owe me that much.'

'I owe you so much more than that.' Harry muttered in barely a whisper.

'Harry?' Snape prompted once again.

A single tear fell unnoticed from Harry's eye. 'I don't know what to do.' He breathed. 'I always said I wouldn't stay, but I love you so much. It's tearing me apart. I can't live here, in this world, but I can't live without you either.'

Snape raised another brow. 'Did you every think of asking me to go with you?' he asked curiously.

Harry nodded, swallowing heavily. 'Yes, but I can't ask you to leave all of your friends and family, just for me. It wouldn't be fair.'

'But you think I would expect you to leave yours?'

This time Harry did pull away, using enough force to unwind the potions master's arms and crossing to stand only feet from the edge. Snape sucked in a heavy breath but Harry didn't seem to notice. 'Severus, I have no family. All I had was Albus.' He murmured.

'You have me, Harry. I am your family.'

'Which makes it all the more reason not to force you into coming with me.' Harry insisted.

'Who said anything about forcing me?'

Harry's shoulders shook and he wrapped his arms tightly around his waist. 'I can't stay here, Severus. It's too hard.'

'No one is asking you too.'

'But I don't think I can go without you.'

'You don't have to.'

'God, I don't know what to do.' Harry breathed, moving away from the edge as if to ward off temptation. Snape moved then to stand between the Boy-Who-Lived and the edge of the tower in a subtle, yet powerful display that he wasn't going to let Harry get out of this problem so easily.

'Harry, you're not listening to me.' He said softly but firmly. He pulled out the small box that he'd had Hagrid collect from his vault on the day Harry had been taken and opened it, admiring the two circles of gold before holding it flat on his palm and offering it to Harry. 'I told Minerva and Poppy three days ago that we would be leaving Hogwarts, both of us, within the week, and neither was surprised.'

Harry stared in stunned silence before the box in Severus' hand and the man himself. 'I...I don't understand.' He stammered.

Snape moved a few steps closer to Harry and picked up one of the rings from the box and held it out to Harry between his thumb and his forefinger. 'I love you, Harry.' He whispered. 'And wherever you go, so do I.'

Tears filled Harry's eyes even as he found himself unable to speak. Instead he just shook his head and threw his arms around the older man, hugging him tightly even as he sobbed uncontrollably on his shoulder. 'I love you too, Severus.' he said tearfully.

Snape wrapped his arms around the lithe figure and held him tightly, knowing he'd made the right decision. He belonged with Harry, wherever that may be. His work here at Hogwarts was finished now and it was time for him to enjoy what life had given him.

A life with Harry.

Albus had been right, as always.

True love can be found in the most unusual of places.

And the most unusual of people.

There you are. The first one to go back up. Thanks for reading...again.