The Last Night
It was the eve of the final battle and Harry Potter knew he was going to die.
Perched on the ledge of the Astronomy Tower, he quietly blinked back tears. The crisp autumn wind gently rustled the trees of the Forbidden Forest, the sun had fallen behind the horizon some time ago, and, for a moment, all was still. Inhaling deeply, Harry desperately tried to memorize the way the night smelled, wanting savor these last few hours before the dawn.
'Pathetic. There's so much I'll never... If only I could have had a... I should have...'
"Potter? How predictable. You ought to be conserving your strength for the fight tomorrow or does The-Boy-Who-Lived think himself above such things as sleep?" Harry's body pulled taut at the sound of that silky-baritone voice.
"Snape," he grumbled under his breath.
"Am I mistaken in my belief that the decades worth of arduous work, where I have been risking life and limb to secure the downfall of The Dark Lord, are, at the final moments, demolished by a petulant child not ready for bedtime? Many have died so that you could see this day, Potter. The least you should do is honor that sacrifice with a nights sleep and a clear head for the battle tomorrow."
Snape sneered, "I have risked everything to come back here tonight to warn you about the Dark Lord's plans. If I am discovered within these walls- "
"Stop," whispered Harry forcefully, turning towards the invader of his privacy. "Just…stop. I know. I know what people have sacrificed for me, for The Order. I know what you've risked. Don't think that I am ungrateful for all that you have done. I'm not. I am well aware that if they find you, they'll capture or kill you. I'm not as dense as you seem to think I am."
Snape's eyes hardened with indignation. "Then if you know, why are you here?"
"Why are you here instead of in the dungeons where it's safe?" Harry countered.
"That is none of your concern."
"None of my…?" Harry growled in frustration. "It won't do anyone any good if you're spotted. Do you want blow your cover? Or are you above such things as secrecy?"
Snape bristled. "If you must know, I intended to send a missive to the Dark Lord's camp so that they would not become suspicious as to my whereabouts on the eve of battle. I did not want to risk being discovered by sending it from the Owlery. As a result, I came here, as I believed this area to be secluded."
"Well…I mean…that makes sense," Harry murmured.
"There are people in the world who have keen minds and, consequently, use them, Mr. Potter."
"Snape, just do what you came here to do and leave me be!" Harry barked in obvious dismissal.
Snape geared up to begin a scathing tirade, but was cut off before he could utter anything more than a syllable.
"I just wanted some time to myself before tomorrow. Is that too much to ask for?"
"You don't have the luxury of personal time, Potter," Snape sneered.
"I'm going to die tomorrow you insufferable git! I think I've earned the right to sit here in peace. Not that I even really want to be alone tonight," Harry said with a frustrated sigh.
"Everyone has someone. Ron and Hermione, Neville and Luna, Remus and Tonks, everyone has someone. They'll get...they get to feel safe…even if it's only for the night. I don't even get that. I just want to make peace with some things…before...before I can't," Harry railed while pacing the small tower.
"Is it beyond you? Are you so cold and unfeeling?" Harry laughed bitterly, "Of course you are! What am I saying," he scoffed. "It's a wonder you've managed to live all these years, seeing as you've no heart!"
Sharply turning back towards the night sky, Harry tried to rein in his temper. "I-I've never had the charmed life you thought I had. I…I think I deserve this, this moment to myself."
As suddenly as it came, Harry's anger melted away, leaving him tired and hollow. "I'm only seventeen. Why did it have to be me?"
Snape had no answer to give as he stood silently observing the boy. He'd never seen this side of Potter, never considered the possibility that the boy was any deeper than the shallow, self-involved persona he thought him to be.
'The boy is not his father,' Snape reminded himself. 'It won't break me to show him a bit of kindness. There is something of Lilly in him, however small.'
"You don't know if you're going to die tomorrow. There is no point in dwelling on an outcome that might never come to pass."
"I know that it will be him or me. The Prophecy…" Harry's voice trailed off as he gazed out over the grounds of Hogwarts, his shoulders hunched in resignation.
"Let's not fool ourselves. We both know I'm not strong enough to defeat him. How can I compete with the power of the greatest dark wizard since Grindelwald? He's going to win and it will have all been for n-nothing. All of it for nothing," he whispered, tears streaming down his face.
The sight of his most hated pupil reduced to a simpering mess would have, at one time, filled Snape with quiet glee. He had long wished to see the boy cowed, but the reality of Potters gut-wrenching sobs pulled at the core of the normally impenetrable Potions Master. With uncharacteristic tenderness, Snape wrapped his arms around the broken boy in front of him.
"I'm going to die and all I ever wanted was to live a normal life, have friends, be like everyone else! Not be The-Boy-Who-Lived. All I ever wanted to be was just Harry. "
Drawing away from the embrace, Harry turned and looked once more out the window. A sound between a sob and a laugh rushed past his lips. Here in his final hours he was pouring his soul out not to someone with a kind word and a sympathetic ear, but a man as sharp as a knife's edge; A man who made no secret of his rabid abhorrence to his presence. Life's little ironies never failed to surprise him.
He supposed it was fitting in a way, this pseudo-closure with the man who had been his only consistency. Snape had never wavered, never altered course. He was the same now as when they had first met. Even at the end, despite their tumultuous and antagonistic past, Snape was saving him, as he always had.
"Gods Snape," Harry chuckled darkly as he carded a hand through his hair, trying to pull himself together. "I've never even had a proper kiss."
Taken aback by the admission, Snape acted on impulse, closing the distance between them. If he had been thinking rationally, he would have stopped himself from cupping Harry's tear stained cheeks, compelling those brilliant eyes to look at him. It was a shock to both men when their lips met in a chaste kiss.
When it ended, they looked into the other's eyes: emerald and onyx meeting without rancor or malice.
"Harry..." Snape's whispered before they fell upon each other.
The world melted away in a flurry of heated kisses; neither Voldemort, nor impending doom could encroach upon them. There was only the warm press of lips and teeth and tongue. An unrestrained moan echoed in the tower, from whom it came from was of little importance. Snape's knees weakened as he felt strong arms wrap around him, pulling him closer until they were flush.
Nothing was more imperative in this moment than kissing the boy before him. It felt…right in a way nothing ever had. Harry's whimper sparked something deep inside of Snape; some primal urge he hadn't known was there. He growled as he melded their bodies together, wishing they could get closer than flush, slipping his hand lower and lower, down to that deliciously firm arse. Snape practically purred at the feel of Harry's hands sliding up his back, clutching tightly at his robes.
Merlin' how he wanted this boy and with a jolt, Snape realized what he was doing.
'I'm kissing Harry Potter.'
He abruptly broke the embrace, shoved the boy away, and recoiled in disgust. What had possessed him to engage in an act of this kind with someone like Potter? He had taken advantage of the boy's vulnerable state, something he had sworn never to do to any, let alone the Potter scion. The Harry would never willingly submit to an intimate encounter with someone like himself.
"Har-Potter...I apologize. I should not have done that-"
"No. Snape, please don't-"
"—to you. I'm older, I known better than to allow that sort of behavior..."
"—say that. Stop. Please," Harry pleaded. "I didn't mind. I don't mind. I'm glad you kissed me."
"—to take advantage while you are emotionally compromised."
Snape retreated towards the exit. He placed his palms against the doorframe, forcing the tremors that threaten to expose his weakness to be suppressed; unable to bear looking into the face he knew would hold contempt and revulsion.
"You can't mean that, Potter," Snape sneered, disgust boiling inside him. "You don't mind that an old, greasy git just took advantage of you in a vulnerable moment?"
Harry stammered, "It…it wasn't like that."
The contemptuous words that hovered on the tip of Snape's tongue died when whipped around to face Harry and noticed a pale, rose coloured blush creeping up the boy's neck and face.
'Is he blushing for me? No. It can't be. It must be a trick of the light. I...he doesn't even like men. He couldn't...doesn't like me. I'm disgusting!'
Snape turned to flee, from the torrent of emotions that had been unearthed in this place, which held far to many memories for his comfort, from those haunting green eyes. "You're right. You have earned one night to yourself. Good evening."
The door to the tower closed with a dull thud and, once again, Harry was alone.
"Oh my gods," he sighed as he collapsed back onto his seat at the window's ledge.
Snape had kissed him and he'd liked it. Had the world gone mad? It must have for never in all his life had he felt so content. In Snape's arms, he had found a refuge. Who could have ever guessed that kisses from that wicked mouth could renew his resolve?
Harry felt he could conquer anything- slay any dragon, defeat any foe- over just a kiss.
'Now I have something to fight for,' Harry marveled.
For the first time since he could remember, Harry gently stroked his lips and headed off to bed, his thoughts filled with possibilities.