A/N: For everyone who has been following any of my other Harry Potter fics besides this one, I'm sorry for the long delay. I got distracted updating my AO3 account, and then when I started writing new stories again, they were either about Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes, or the Hobbit. I've been trying to get my head together to update my Harry Potter fics, but so far this is the only one that has cooperated. So, sorry for the long delay in updates. I'm working on new chapters for each of the four Harry Potter fics I have in progress in this site. I've got half a chapter of Outtakes and Forever & Always written, and I'm going to attempt the new chapter of Severus Snape & Catherine Belleza next, then I'll work on The Life of Minerva McGonagall. Sorry for the long author's note; on with the story :)
The coming months were something of an adjustment for the both of them.
For Harry, his schooling had been through Hogwarts since he was eleven years old. Going to a muggle university would take some time to get used to, but he was already happy there. A haircut, with a small glamor to hide his scar and contacts instead of glasses changed his appearance slightly from that of the Savior of the Wizarding World. He enjoyed being just another student, not the Boy-Who-Lived, not the Chosen One, not the Savior of the Wizarding World… He was able to be just Harry, and he was enjoying that.
Severus, for his part, hadn't spent more than a few months each year in the muggle world since he graduated from Hogwarts. He had trained at muggle hospitals, and knew muggle medicine, but it was still disconcerting at first. What made it slightly harder to adjust was the fact that no one judged him on basis of his name. The name Severus Snape meant nothing to these muggles. No one knew that he had been a spy, that he had joined the Death Eaters as a teenager. He gained a reputation for being silent, sarcastic if bothered when busy, but with a dry wit. He would never be a social butterfly (Merlin forbid!) but he did have several acquaintances now, possibly friends.
Harry and Severus also needed to get used to living with each other. They took turns cooking and split the chores. Harry would usually do the shopping, as he had more patience with other people while Severus would take care of the dusting and sweeping. Harry learned not to bother Severus until after he had had his first cup of coffee in the morning, while Severus learned that Harry turned stubbornly petulant if he didn't sleep enough.
Both had nightmares, at first (who wouldn't, after what they went through). The first time Harry woke to the sound of Severus in the grip of a nightmare, the boy hadn't known what to do.
He started awake and grabbed his wand. He'd heard something, although he couldn't say what.
There. It sounded like…screams?
Slipping out of bed, Harry padded along the hallway, wand at the ready, searching for the noise. It took him a few minutes to realize that they were coming from Severus's room.
He slipped inside, the Stunning spell on his lips, when he realized that the room was empty, except for him and Severus. Severus, who was writhing on the bed. Severus, who was screaming.
"Stop, please. Don't hurt them. Not the children, please. No, they're burning. Stop! Stop you sick bastards!"
Harry wanted to put his hands over his ears and run away. He didn't want to know what those words meant, why he was begging for help too late. But he couldn't leave him there.
Screwing up his nerve (in case Severus was angry when he woke up), Harry cast Augamenti.
Severus shot upright as soon as the water touched him, wand in hand and pointing in Harry's direction.
"Severus, it's me, Harry," Harry said, holding up his hands.
"Harry?" Severus said, blinking sleep-fogged eyes and moving his wet hair out of his face. "Why am I soaking wet?"
"You were having a nightmare," Harry said, lowering his hands when he realized he wasn't in danger of being hexed. "It didn't seem smart to touch you; I do have some self-preservation you know."
Severus didn't laugh, but Harry didn't really expect him to. It took a lot to make him laugh on a good day, and waking up in the middle of the night because of a nightmare was definitely not the best time.
"What happened?" Harry asked after a few minutes, giving in to his curiosity. He expected to be snarled at, but Severus just sighed.
"Memories, nothing more," Severus said, running a hand through his hair. "I ordinarily place a silencing charm, in the event that I do have a nightmare."
"Do you have them often?" Harry asked, thinking of his own nightmares. He always used a silencing charm too, so that explained why neither of them had heard each other before.
"Occasionally," Severus replied, looking at the clock. Far too early to be awake, or too late, depending. "My time as a spy furnished me with some rather unpleasant memories."
"Do you want to talk about it?" Harry asked. He figured it was a lost cause but he had to try.
Severus shook his head, as Harry knew he would. "I will be fine. I have dealt with this on my own for many years Harry. It's late; go back to bed."
Harry bit his lip, then shook his head. He was asking to be hexed…but Snape had done so much for him so far. Now he had a chance to pay the man back a little. But first, he needed to get him to open up.
"I have nightmares, less than I used to, but they're still there," Harry said. "Basically they're about everything that I did turning out differently. If I didn't get the stone from Quirrel. If I didn't stop Riddle from killing Ginny. If I had died when the basilisk tried to kill me."
"The important thing is that none of that came to pass," Severus said, "You lived and defeated the madman and now the Wizarding World is safe from everything except their own idiocy."
Harry laughed at that. "Yeah…"
Severus sighed. Now Harry was waiting for him to confess. It went against everything he had ever done, but he decided he could trust Harry. The boy knew so many of his weaknesses that holding back this one would be laughable.
"They vary," he conceded, "But all revolve around my time with the Death Eaters. Tonight, it was a meeting a few months before your parents' deaths. I had already realized, after the first meeting actually, that I wanted nothing to do with them, but I couldn't get out then. I helped where I could, sending anonymous tips to the Order and sabotaging a few missions without being caught. One that I couldn't…"
Severus trailed off and Harry let him. He knew the other man would talk; he just needed time.
"We were sent to a muggle orphanage," Severus continued, and Harry could almost picture it as he spoke. "Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Nott, Rabastan, and I were sent on that mission. Malfoy cast the first Incendio, the others following moments later. They didn't notice that I didn't cast anything, but they would have noticed if I attempted to put out the flames. People began running out, and they began targeting the muggles directly. It was rather like a duck hunt, with flames instead of bullets. Children went up in flames in front of me, and I could do nothing to help them."
Harry had been shaken to discover the source of Severus's nightmare. He wasn't surprised that the things he had seen as a spy were the basis for nightmares, but he hadn't been prepared for the horrors that Severus had seen.
And he hasn't told me half of it, Harry thought ruefully. Said I had enough nightmares of my own. That night had set a precedent for them both though. They gradually stopped placing silencing charms and when one of them woke the other up, usually they would talk.
A year after the war ended, Severus was working at the local hospital and brewing potions for a small owl order business in his spare time. Harry was in college, studying to become an art teacher. He occasionally helped Severus with his potions business, brewing the easier potions under Severus's watchful gaze. He would never be the master Severus was, but at least he had stopped blowing up caldrons.
They continued to visit Andromedea and Teddy, Harry mostly visiting alone but occasionally dragging Severus with him. Harry loved playing with his godson, but remained happy that he had chosen to allow Andromedea to raise him. With his schoolwork and Severus's job, they would have never been able to take care of him.
The Wizarding World was still firm in their belief that the Chosen One and the Death Eater spy were going to take Voldemort's place, with Harry as Voldemort and Severus as his right hand. Howlers still came for the both of them, and they were used for target practice. None of Harry's friends had tried to contact him, either through Howlers or other means, and that frustrated him. He wasn't Dark, he wasn't going to go Dark, and Severus wasn't going to turn him Dark.
Aside from the continued stupidity of the Wizarding public, everything was falling into place in their lives. Neither had been in control of their own lives for so long, that they now enjoyed the freedom anonymity brought. They occasionally ventured into the Wizarding World, mostly for potions ingredients or the like, but they wore glamors or used Polyjuice. No one knew where Severus Snape and Harry Potter disappeared to, and the two men liked it that way.
Perhaps, in time, people would realize that neither of them were evil, but until that happened both of them were perfectly happy to stay mostly in the muggle world. Their new life was as close to perfect as they could get, and they both finally were able to relax and enjoy life, instead of worrying about wars and psychotic madmen.
Sometimes Harry looked back on his time in the Infirmary after the Final Battle. He nearly laughed each time, considering how things changed between then and now. Then, he was waiting for his friends to come after him, congratulating him and hanging out with him. Now, he had little faith that they would ever realize his (and Severus's) true loyalties, and he was fine with that. He was friends with the snarky bat of the dungeons who had terrorized him throughout school, and the man had turned into a fine mentor in both parts of his life, the magical and the muggle.
Neither Harry nor Severus would have expected their lives to turn out this way (especially since both fully expected to be dead before the war was over), but they really can't find a reason to complain. Peace and acceptance is all either wanted and now, enmity long forgotten, they have found it.