Title: But We're Not Married... The Prequel
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Summary: Have you been wondering how Harry and Severus grew to become lovers in But We're Not Married...? Here is the story of their coming together, just as Harry was about to fall apart. Told from Harry's PoV.
A/N: This is the first part in a second mini-series that prequels But We're Not Married... I'm hoping to explain how they came to be together and what exactly 'together' has meant for them. I know there has been a lot of confusion as to the nature of their relationship. I hope this helps. And if there are any particular points that you would like me to address, feel free to let me know by review. Enjoy!
Nightmares. It started with nightmares. Harry had never had the greatest track record with sleep, but after the horrors of the war, his sleep deprivation got to unhealthy levels. The long hours of work helping to put Hogwarts back into working order, combined with the horrific nightmares he wrestled with every night, and never taking time to mourn properly or recover from the strenuous year he had just finished, began to take its toll. iSomeone was calling his name down the corridor, but he was too busy running from Death Eaters to look back and find out who it was. He turned down the next corridor and felt the floor disappear from underneath him. He cried out, throwing his hands out in front of him to brace his impact/i—and he woke up smacking into a cushioning charm. He stared at the invisible layer that had protected him and the jagged rubble underneath, the rubble that surely should have killed him. He looked up, stunned, to see Snape standing nearby with his wand out and a glare on his face so dark it was a miracle that Harry's skin hadn't melted off yet.
"Professor? What's going on?"
"You appear to have been sleepwalking, Mr. Potter. It is lucky that I was taking a midnight stroll and saw you on the fourth floor, or you would have walked off that ledge and killed yourself."
Harry tried to sit up, a task he found difficult given that the cushioning charm felt like he was moving on marshmallows. "Looks like I owe you my life again, then, sir. Thanks." He reached up, hoping Snape would give him a hand up, only to receive a raised eyebrow. He sighed and ended up rolling off the side of the cushion, into pokey rocks that scraped his bare chest and arms and tore a hole in his sleep trousers. He stood, brushing the dust off himself, and turned back to Snape. "Thanks," he repeated.
"Do you take sleep aids, Mr. Potter?" Snape asked, crossing his arms and straightening as if preparing for a lecture.
Harry sighed again, too tired to deal with a telling-off at the moment. All he wanted to do was crawl back into bed for another few hours. "No, maybe I should though. I can't sleep for shite anymore."
"Language. Come with me, and I will give you a Dreamless Sleep so that I do not need to keep vigil at your door to assure myself of your safety." He turned on his heel and strode away, obviously expecting Harry to follow.
Harry did, careful of the rocks and rubbish on his bare feet. "But… why do you care if I walk off a ledge? My job's done, isn't it? I would have thought I was the least of your concerns anymore."
"I have spent quite a bit of time and personal risk in keeping you alive and upright. I am not going to stand by while you tear all my efforts to pieces. Your mother would never forgive me." He didn't even bother to look at Harry or slow down for him, but Harry could hear the sincerity in his voice.
It wasn't the first time Snape had made reference to Harry's mother since he walked out of the infirmary in June, but every time caught Harry by surprise. "But…"
"Would you prefer that I let you walk yourself off a cliff without aide?"
"No, of course not. I already said thank you, sir. I just… I'm still getting used to you caring about me."
"I don't care about you. I care about your mother. You are a byproduct."
Harry decided to ignore his denial. He was grateful that Snape was on his side, no matter what the reason was. They arrived at Snape's rooms a moment later, and Snape ushered him inside. It was only the second time Harry had been there (the first being when Snape first left the infirmary and Harry had given him back his memories), and he glanced around to find the space warmer in tone and color than on his previous visit. There were more rugs and the furniture appeared to be a bit more comfortable than it had before. Harry stopped next to the sofa and watched Snape go through to his bedchamber, only to emerge a moment later with a potion.
"You will stay in my spare chamber tonight so that I can monitor you. Dreamless sleep will take your nightmares away, but it might not stop you from walking."
"I don't want to inconvenience you."
"You've already done that. Take the potion and find your bed through there." He pointed to a door set into the bookcases several shelves away from Snape's own bedroom.
Harry stared at the potion, then at the door, then back at the potion, before finally taking it from Snape's hand and swallowing it down. He felt droopy and heavy right away, and made his way to the other door without further protest.
He never remembered getting into the bed, or even what the bedroom looked like, nor sleepwalking again, but he must have, because he awoke the next morning curled up on Snape's chest with Snape's arm tight around him. He cried out, shocked, and tried to sit up, but the arm around his waist held on too tight. He pushed against Snape's chest, and Snape growled, "Stop moving."
Snape's eyes snapped open and he stared at Harry in groggy shock. "Potter, why are you in my bed?"
"I don't know? Could you let me go, though?" Snape did, and he immediately sat up.
"Obviously, the potion didn't help your sleepwalking," Snape said as he sat up.
"Obviously," Harry muttered.
"Perhaps we should lock your chamber door to prevent further incidents like this."
"Did you dream?"
Harry thought about it. He couldn't remember dreaming. And he felt better than he had in a long time. He stretched his hands up high over his head and twisted, cracking his spine with several audible pops. "No dreams. I think I got a good amount of sleep, too. I feel better than I usually do. Thank you, Professor."
"You'll better thank me by removing yourself from my rooms. I will have a house-elf deliver the potion to your rooms from now on. You will take it. And you will lock your chambers at night."
"I normally do. I must get through my own wards when I'm asleep."
"Then, have Granger do it. I cannot always be there to save you."
Harry nodded and swung off the bed, doing another, longer stretch and shaking his muscles out to loosen them up before heading to the door. "Thanks again, Professor. I'll see you at breakfast."