Harry ran.

He didn't pay any attention to who he was passing, where he was going. He was just following one basic instinct-get out. Get away from the source of hurt and pain. Get away from the shreds of his broken heart.

He plowed through obstacles, be they something like doors or furniture, or the-considerably more inconvenient-people.

Especially when said people were doing their best to halt his headlong rush away from Hogwarts.

Finally, Ron's superior size and strength won out, and, between him and Hermione, managed to wrestle Harry to the ground just inside the forest. Ron grasped Harry's shoulders and shook. "Harry! Talk to me-what happened?"

Hermione observed with an oddly detached air. Finally, when it was clear that they were going to get no answers from Harry, she spoke. "You told him, didn't you?"

Harry cringed and shook his head. "I...I didn't...I couldn't, not after...." He lapsed into silence, tears still running down his face."

Draco, who had finally caught up with his friend, sank to his knees beside the other two boys. "Either way, he knows. I had to tell him after you ran out of there."

"What happened?" Ron's eyes narrowed, and the aura of anger was almost tangible.

Draco sighed. "Snape confronted the two of us with some...assumptions." He looked at Harry, trying to meet his eyes. "I swear to you, if I knew what he was going to think, I'd have *never*--I mean...." Draco's eyes lowered. "I never meant it to turn out this way."

Harry blinked, clearing his eyes, and laid a hand on Draco's shoulder. "I don't blame you," he said softly.

"Ummm...we still don't know what happened." Hermione's expression had shifted to the one she usually wore when on the trail of some interesting research.

Draco opened his mouth, but Harry beat him to the words. "In a nutshell-Snape gave his blessing to Draco and I. *After* giving his opinion on how unlovable I am-for him, anyway." He sighed, outwardly calm, though his eyes clearly showed his inner turmoil. "Don't know what I expected anything else," he added. "I mean, he's right."

"*Never* say that!" shouted Ron, taking his friend into a brief but fierce hug. "You *are* lovable."

Draco nodded. "He's just stupid...doesn't know what he's passing up, the bloody git."

Harry shook his head slowly. Somewhere along the line, he had stopped thinking and just started reacting. All he knew was that he was alone and hurting, and heartbroken. So he did the first thing that came into his mind.

He kissed Draco.

And Draco, either from surprise or desire-it was hard to tell-kissed him back.

**********

Snape realized that he didn't have to work too hard to find Harry-all he had to do was follow the trail of mayhem.

However, due to Harry's head start and speed, it took him a few minutes to catch up. By that time, harry was surrounded by his friends, and Snape dropped back to observe the small group. His heart broke at the sight of tears on Harry's face. 'If...if I could take back the words, if he knew....' Finally, Harry seemed to calm down, and Snape made up his mind to approach him, even if it *did* mean risking life and limb with the young man's friends.

Resolution made, Snape closed his eyes for a minute, steeling him to approach this in a calm and rational manner. With a deep breath, he opened his eyes and saw something that chased all thoughts of 'calm' and 'rational' very far away.

Harry.

Draco.

*Kissing*.

Snape acted on instinct, emotion propelling him forward, pulling Draco off of Harry. Ignoring the stunned-and angry-looks he was getting, Snape regarded Draco and began shouting. "What on *earth* were you thinking, Malfoy! You said you don't love him! Why were you kissing *my* Harry?"

Draco's eyes flashed. "Since where is he *yours*? Last time I checked, you thought he was plain and clumsy, someone whom you didn't want!"

"But you don't love him!"

Draco practically snarled. Ron moved from where he was, with Hermione, flanking Harry, to stand next to Draco, supporting him. "Neither do you. And in my opinion, Draco is *much* better for Harry. At least he *cares*."

"I-"

"No answer to that?" Draco spat.

Snape didn't have one. At least, not a verbal answer. Instead, he turned to Harry, gently pushed Hermione aside, and kissed him.

Harry swore that the world had stopped in that moment, that he had died, and this was Heaven, having the man who he knew cared nothing for him kissing him with such passion. He was either dead or dreaming. Harry's arms wrapped around the other man's neck, determined to savor every moment of this dream.

Snape felt Harry responding, and moaned into his mouth, triggering an answering moan. Tongues dueled, intertwining and caressing, and if it weren't for the need of air, Snape might've never stopped kissing Harry. Eventually, though, he drew back and gazed into glazed green eyes. "I *do* love you," he said, gently, yet with conviction. "I just thought that you and Draco cared about each other."

"Then why did you say those things?" It was Hermione's voice that made Harry realize that he was, in fact, *not* dreaming, and he looked down, away from the man that he loved. The memory of pain came rushing back, and he began to cry again.

Snape softly brushed away the tears, and though he addressed his words to Harry, he spoke so the others could hear him. "I said what I did because I thought you were beyond my reach, and that it'd be better to push you away from myself with words, if I couldn't have you. I just wish I knew that I breaking your heart as well as mine."

"How do I believe you?" Harry whispered sadly. "How do I know that this isn't sore cruel joke?"

Snape tilted up Harry's chin, forcing him to meet his eyes. "Harry, I can't make you believe me. All I can ask is that you try."

"I-I need time," Harry gasped out, pulling away from Snape's embrace. "I'm hurting, and I need...time." Grabbing Ron's arm, he turned and fled, Draco right behind the two.

Hermione turned to follow, then paused and regarded her professor. Snape looked right back. Breaking the silence, he said, "Tell, me, Ms. Granger...what do you think will happen next?"

"Think, or hope?"

"Both."

Hermione chewed on a hangnail, trying to figure out how to phrase her words. "I think Harry needs, time, like he said. You hurt him terribly, and he needs to decide whether you're worth the pain you're so capable of doling out to him. I can't predict what he'll do. However," Hermione's gaze turned to steel, "I *hope* that he'll run from you as fast as possible. You don't deserve him. If, however, if he *does* decide that he wants you, I hope you will get down on your knees and thank every deity ever imagined for the gift he'd be giving you."

"Ms. Granger, I'd give my soul itself to correct my errors."

"It might be too late for that." Turning on her heel, Hermione followed her friends, leaving Snape alone with his thoughts.

**********

Graduation night.

Five weeks had passed since the scene under the trees, and nothing was even close to being resolved.

Snape watched as the soon-to-be graduates filed into the Great Hall, mind and eyes fixed on one certain young man who had managed to ensnare his heart.

The weeks had been...well, 'unpleasant,' didn't describe it quite right. 'Cool' or 'formal' might have been better. In the classroom, he had been faced with a chilly Draco, an angry Ron, and a protective Hermione. Harry, though....

Harry didn't react. He did his work, and should Snape speak to him, he responded with the minimum amount of conversation and no eye contact.

It was driving Snape insane.

However, he *did* promise Harry time. However, he had hoped for a resolution sometime *before* Harry was scheduled to leave his life.

The ceremony passed by in a blur, and before he knew it, he was being drawn back to reality by loud applause. Without Snape's knowing, the seventh-years had graduated.

Harry was lost to him.

As soon as was politely possible, Snape withdrew from the following festivities and retreated to his private quarters, determined to give himself one night. One night to wallow in sadness, to mourn what could've been if he hadn't been such an arse. Not bother to lock the door behind him, Snape drifted to a chair in front of the fire and stared into the flames, feeling tears stinging his eyes.

Before he could start crying, though, a knock at the door froze him. "Figures, the one night I truly desire to be left alone," he muttered. Knowing that whoever it was probably was stubborn to boot, he called out, "Come in." 'Better to get this over with now.' He turned to regard his visitor, and gasped when his eyes locked onto Harry's form.

Harry twisted his dress robes around his fingers and looked at the floor. "Did I come at a bad time?" he asked timidly.

"No, of course not!" Snape stood and guided Harry to another seat by the fire. "I figured you'd be celebrating with your friends."

"It's hard to believe I've graduated. I thought I'd never see this day."

Snape didn't have to ask what Harry meant. "Can I do something for you?" he asked, trying to keep the conversation off subjects best forgotten.

"I...I think we need to finish a conversation. I'm sorry I haven't talked to you before this. I wanted to, but...."

"But?" Snape was curious.

"But I wanted also to say this tonight, to say what I need to without risk of nasty repercussions."

Snape's heart sank slightly. "Please," he said, gesturing for harry to say his piece.

"You hurt me terribly, and I'm sure you know that. I never realized how much rejection could hurt, even it was apologized for. I tried to forget you, but...." Harry's voice trailed off into a whisper. "I couldn't. I still love you, even if it means my ruin."

Snape's jaw fell open. This was more than he had been hoping for, and his heart resumed its normal place in his chest. "I love you," he said, sincerely, simply. "If I had known what I was doing to you, I'd have never said anything. If I had known how you felt about me, I'd have acted differently."

Harry nodded. "I know. That's the only reason I'm here. When you," he blushed, "kissed me, I could feel it. I love you and want to be with you. I hope you want the same."

Snape moved to kneel next to Harry's chair and too the young man's hands in his own. "I don't want anything else." Slowly, giving Harry time to change his mind, he leaned in to kiss his love.

Their second kiss eclipsed their first, as this one was filled with pure love. Harry's hands threaded themselves in Snape's hair, while Snape's arms wrapped around his love. Slowly, Harry slid out of the chair until the two were on the floor together, Harry straddling Snape's lap.

Harry broke the kiss to breathe, leaning his forehead against Snape's. Realizing something, he began to giggle.

"Harry?"

"I just realized-I don't know what to call you! I can't call you Snape, and you're not my professor anymore...."

Snape laughed, a sound filled with love and joy. "Call me Severus." He leaned in and kissed Harry again, the next of a night filled with kisses, touches, caresses...and love.

**********

Hermione watched Harry leave the party, and she knew where he was going. "I just hope that he's making the right choice," she said to no one in particular.

Ron came up behind her and leaned his chin on her hair. "Harry's strong. If he wants this to work, he'll make it work. That won't stop me from killing the bastard if he hurts Harry again, though."

Draco stood in the shadows near his friends and reflected on the past months. All of this began from one fateful night where he discovered the humanity of The Boy Who Lived. There had been times when he had wished the whole thing had never happened, but now....

Draco smiled as arms pulled him close, snuggling into the loving embrace. Now he was glad of everything. He had found real friends, helped one of those friends achieve his heart, and found love himself. All because of three people whose lives he used to make miserable as often as possible.

"Draco? What are you thinking?"

Draco looked up from his place in the secure embrace at the person talking to him. "Just thinking of the definition of 'dichotomy,' he replied. "Of how this situation seemed so farfetched at one point."

"You're right. But it's all so wonderful now. Not a thing should be changed." Lips met his own, and Draco was hard pressed to disagree.

Everything *had* worked out, after all, for the good. What more needed to be said?

**********

The End