The Usual Disclaimer: Jo's characters and setting; my plot. Her galleons; my reviews.
Thank you for reading this story, which I loved writing, and which opened up a whole new world to me. I love Snape and Harry together... I hope I have made a worthy addition to the whole of the Snarry story mythos. It has been an honor to, once again, work with such lovely gentlemen, and I thank them as well as you. Please review. Thank you.
A long time later, they lay trembling against each other, one of Snape's arms around Potter… around Harry, one hand at the man's head on his shoulder, his fingers in the boy's hair, his thumb tracing the line of his brow. Snape pulled away a little, and searched his face in the light of the stars through the window and the faint glow of the fire. He traced the line of his hair and his eyebrows with a thumb, trailed it down the angles of his face to his chin, his eyes on Potter's.
"Are you okay?" Harry asked.
Snape snorted softly and took inventory. His lips were bruised… but it felt… good. He shook his head and laughed lightly. Was he okay? Well… he would be. "I'm a little sore."
"I'm sorry, I…"
"It's all right. I'm fine. We… we have some things to learn, I think." He was amused when a jar of… something… appeared on his nightstand. "Look," he said, and gestured with his chin.
Harry turned his head toward the nightstand, then back toward him. "Where did that come from?"
"I guess the castle approves then."
"So it would appear. How are you?"
"I'm okay," the man said. "We'll have to practice."
Snape shook his head and laughed quietly. "Practice?"
Harry raised his hand to trace Snape's face, then let his fingers drift lightly across the scars on Snape's neck and chest. He paused there, his hand over Snape's beating heart.
I love you, Snape thought, then realized he had said it aloud, at the same moment as Potter had said it. We're in each other's minds, he realized.
"I love you, Severus," Harry said again.
Snape frowned at him. I love you, Severus… It occurred to him that he had never heard those words… not once in his life. I love you. He shook his head in denial. It was as if the words belonged to someone else.
Harry raised his hand to Snape's head and held it still. He pressed his forehead against Snape's, his eyes open, Legilimency and Snape's unwillingness to invoke Occlumancy letting the boy look into him. He allowed it. "I love you," Harry said slowly and clearly. He did not allow Snape to shake it off, so he held still, trying to take it in.
"I… I love you," Snape breathed. That was the truth. "I know you'll leave, Harry, but… I want you to know… I do love you." That was honest… the full truth.
Harry shook his head. "I'm not going anywhere. Home… my home… is wherever you are. I'm not going anywhere, Sev – I promise," and he drew Snape in, let Snape read him, let him see the truth of that. Snape looked him in the eyes for a long time, searching… for something. He went to trace his features again, but Harry took his hand and held it still.
"I love you, Severus. Marry me. Let me make an honest man of you." Harry's lips curled in a slight smile, but his eyes searched Snape's pleadingly.
"You don't even know me."
"Yes I do. You're a good man."
Snape snorted softly, but Potter insisted.
"You're a good man, Severus. You're honest. You're strong. You have such a gentle touch. You're brilliant, and you're poetic…" He took a breath. "You're the bravest man I've ever known. And…" he chuckled softly, "you're a good cook." He stopped and looked Snape in the eyes. "You're my protector. I only feel safe when I'm with you. I only feel at home with you. Let me stay with you. Marry me."
"Harry… I'm a teacher…"
"What difference does that make?"
"None, of course, except that… I'm here… what would you do?" You'll leave me.
"I'll go back to work."
Snape made a sound of protest, and Harry put his fingers against his lips to stop what he was going to say.
"Administration. I can't do fieldwork anymore. I can't… I just can't," he said, and his voice trembled.
"It's all right," Snape said, giving him a shake and then drawing him closer. "You don't have to go back to that." I'd do anything, he thought. "I'll take care of you."
Harry laughed softly. "They've been after me to do administration. I'll just take them up on it," he said.
Snape's heart protested. "You'd be listening to reports all the time – of killing… or of chasing down people like McKinnon. You can't go back to that. I can't let you go back to it."
The boy shivered.
"You should ask McGonagall," Snape said.
"You should ask her – for the Defense post. You've seen McDuffie… he's in over his head. Ask her."
"… Then I'd be home… with you… every night." Harry's eyes closed a moment and he leaned into Snape, wrapping himself around him, and Snape had such an urge to… just… stay there… the two of them wrapped around each other, where he knew the man was safe.
He found himself kissing the top of the dark head, repeatedly, his need to keep the man safe pounding through his veins in time with the beating of his heart.
"You said… anything…" the man reminded him. "I love you, Sev… I need you. I need to know you'll be there for me."
"I'll be here for you," he said. "I'll always be here." He pulled back and looked the man in the eyes. "I can't help it… I don't want to help it," he admitted. "I'll always be here."
"You'll marry me, then," Harry said, as if he knew, but his voice and his eyes said, Please.
Oh, gods… not fair, Potter. But… I'd do anything… Anything…
Snape gave a low laugh, shook his head, kissed the man's forehead, and wrapped his arms around him. Harry… "This is number one," he said, bemusedly.
He drew back to look the man in the eyes. "This is the first day."
"… Of my life," Snape said, and he allowed the tears in his eyes, and brushed away the tears that rose in Harry's. And then he kissed the man – a long, slow, lingering kiss, that they did not finish until morning.
A New Beginning