AN: Dear, dear readers, this is the final chapter of Silence, for now. I will be posting the story of how Harry and Severus got to this point soon, under the label 'The Price of Sanity'. It is already a long tale, and I have much left to write, so settle in for the long hall, and look for it after Christmas. Once i start posting, it will be on a tight schedule, posting every Monday and Friday.

Enjoy,

Rose


In grief, there is Hope.

Severus' hand ran smoothly through Harry's hair, spell-cleaned of the dust and blood of battle. The smoothness of the rhythmic movement tamped down Harry's wildness and the sobs until he was blinking slowly, eyes unfocused.

"Is Fred...? He's next door. I heard Ron's voice..." Harry said in an airy, unfocused voice. The memory of the terrible siege engines ravaging his school was blissfully, mercifully silent. Severus' voice rumbled against Harry's cheek as he answered in a low tone.

"He will survive. Soon, he will wake and we will have to watch the food again. The other one sleeps." Harry's heavy sigh stirred Severus' long hair, where it hung in front of his face,

"That's... good." Was all Harry could think to say; he wasn't in a fit state to see the Weasley's yet, that intensity would have to wait, but they were alive and that was important.

"Where's Teddy?" He murmured into Severus' chest, unable to raise his voice above a whisper, "Was he here? Who... who's going to-"

A hand wound into his hair and held his forehead more firmly against Severus' neck, "He was here, but remained unhurt. He is with his Grandmother."

Harry nodded silently against Severus' robes and let his jumbled thoughts tumble around his head; there was so much to do, so many to grieve and so many people who still needed him... He hadn't deluded himself, during the War; he'd known that he, like Dumbledore, would never be free of the world he had led to freedom, of the people he had saved. He had known what he was getting into when he had become Headmaster, and when he had become Teddy's Godfather, but now, as tired as he was, it was just... just too much.

His thought went down another route, as he shied away, mind racing and chaotic; he wanted to see his godson. He may be an orphan now, but he wasn't alone and he hoped the child would never feel that particular sensation, that crushing loneliness that Harry had escaped, barely whole.

But, he was Remus Lupin's son. Tonks' son... he wasn't sure he could handle that; he felt like he might shatter at any moment, if Severus let him go. He took a deep, shaking breath and turned his head slightly to press a kiss to Severus' neck, partly in thanks and partly of a desperate need to know that he was still there.

"I want to see him..." He asked, despite his misgivings; even if he cried, if it was too much, it wouldn't matter because the war was over and Severus was right there. But... he couldn't stop seeing, people who had become family, people he had taught, blood and green light and the noise of the battle field. He let his head fall into the grip of Severus' hand, eyes staring at the Enchanted Ceiling blankly.

"Cho died. Did you know? And the Ravenclaw Luna was tutoring. The Auror who was at my Apparition exam, one of the wolves had... Severus..." His throat choked him, air burned his lungs and his eyes could no longer focus,

Do not pity the dead, Harry.

He shook violently, his head tossing before Severus caught it and tucked it back against his robes,

"So many...!" He choked out, screwing his eyes shut and tightening his grip on Severus' waistcoat. "Albus..." his voice turned thin and breathy as he struggled against the sobs building in his throat and failed. They tore through his chest, making him shake again, his fist wrapped tightly in Severus' robes. The exertion made it hard to breathe and stars popped in front of his tightly shut eyes.

He didn't see the flash of silver as Severus' Patronus trotted off, he simply clung tightly to Severus, to the comfort and warmth of him. As the minutes passed and the exhaustion stilled him and begun pushing him back into sleep, his mind begun to go blank. Too tired and too sad to think anymore, he lay still in his lovers arms while the tears simply rolled down his face with every blink.

When Severus offered up a glass of water, he drank slowly. The cool liquid felt glorious and he let his eyes stay closed, this time.

"Thanks, Sev... Love you." He mumbled with a thick tongue, not protesting when he was laid back against cool pillows since Severus' hands never left him for more than a moment.

"Foolish, sentimental Gryffindor." Was his reply, but Harry felt the brush of warm lips against his temple and the unspoken spoke itself, loud and clear. He hovered on the edges of sleep, drifting thoughtlessly and listening to the voices in the Hall; it would have been easy to throw up a silencing ward, but Severus had not, and he doubted anyone had. The gentle sounds of life were too beautiful to give up... and if he wasn't very much mistaken, Tristan and Isaac were on their way back. Such tiny, delicate lives...

Harry fell asleep, deeply, to the sounds of two young wizards carrying a tray of breakfast and his lover conjuring a table for them.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

When Andromeda Tonks arrived in response to his Patronus, she looked more that tired. Her face was proud, however, and fierce and Severus felt something akin to respect. This woman, holding her Grandson, was strong in the one way that Harry, raised by the Dursley's was not. The loss of her daughter and husband were clear shadows in her eyes but that gaze fixed on Harry the moment Tristan pulled back the curtain to let her in.

Severus stood to welcome her, placing a hand on her shoulder and looked down at little Teddy Lupin, barely six months old and fast asleep.

"He needs a feed when he wakes up, same as his Godfather," She said with a hint of a smile making it past the weight of sadness.

"I will see to it, you should have breakfast. May I?" He asked, glancing again at the little face visible from amongst the blankets and absurd little bobble hat that Dobby had knitted. The grandmother nodded and passed the precious bundle over with care. Severus forced himself to not mind that Tristan was staring and Isaac had that knowing look again and propped the bundle in the crook of his arm and robes.

"Now, you boys! Have you been looking after my Harry?" Andromeda was saying quietly as she joined the pair for porridge.

Severus was at first surprised that it was Isaac who answered, rather than the talkative Tristan, but the words he spoke were all the more valuable for it.

"We kept the nightmares away, Ms Tonks; he was tired, so very tired..." His musical, welsh voice quavered over the words.

"Aye, I'll say he still is. We'll look after him, wont we now, boys?"

Severus turned his back to them with a feeling of cheer lifting in his chest. When his eyes fell on Harry again, he silently repeated the sentiment. After a moment of drinking in the sight of that pale, delicate face, he shifted the baby in his arms and laid him down in the crook between Harry's right arm and his body. He couldn't help but smile gently when Harry's body shifted slightly to curl around the warm bundle, cocooning Teddy safely away from the world, even while both of them slept on solidly.

By the time Severus had finished his tea, disdaining the porridge, Teddy was beginning to grizzle quietly. Isaac picked up the child's bag and, to Severus' amusement, handed it to him, after only a glance at Andromeda. The boy had obviously come to the same conclusion as Severus; the woman was tired, and being strong for her grandson wasn't as easy as she would have everyone believe.

Severus took the bag with only a little trepidation and thanked Isaac quietly. Tristan was keeping Andromeda occupied for the moment, telling her about the goings on in their little group of Gryffindor and Slytherin first and second years. Harry stirred at the grizzling in his ear and turned further towards Teddy, his eyes fluttering open. The swiftly filled with tears, big, heavy, fat droplets that rolled down his skin peacefully. Instead of being dashed apart by screwed up eyes and sobbing, they simply fell freely onto the pillow and Teddy's silly, colour-changing bobble hat.

Severus sat on the edge of the bed and offered Teddy the warm bottle. The baby latched on obligingly and Severus felt strangely rewarded by the strong sucking that shifted the bottle slightly in his hand. His free hand went to Harry's hair and he knew he had made the right decision; there was peace in those green eyes, holding Harry together, and Severus empathised; it was difficult to not be affected by the simple enjoyment little Teddy was getting from his filling stomach.

The shadows of war flickered in Harry's mind, Severus knew, but this... this was the future.