Title: When Harry Left Severus

rating: R for adult themes including male/male relationships.

Chapter 23
by: Raven Dancer

disclaimer: All characters belong to J.K. Rowling except for the Drs. Barnes, Daniel Murphy and Beryl. I receive no monetary compensation for these works.

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Severus Snape glanced around the table. Albus, both healers, and both lovers were helping themselves to breakfast. Today he was going out to his manor.

With too many people!

He'd argued unsuccessfully with Jeffrey and Albus to limit the group. Snape had only wanted Albus and James to go with him. But Jeffrey insisted as his counselor he go along. Then both Lupin and Black had professed their undying support and desire to be with him. Officer Murphy would be meeting them at the manor site.

It was too much. Too many people to satisfy that he was all right. Too many people wanting to hold him if he fell. Jeffrey and Albus in full protection mode, Remus and Sirius wanting to be his emotional shield.

Snape knew it was going to be emotionally devastating to see his ancestral home destroyed. Jeffrey had discussed that with him to distraction in hopes to reduce the shock. Those four wizards would do anything to lessen his pain.

But Snape needed his pain. Needed to purge himself of the bad memories and dreams. He knew once he got through this day his life would fall back into its paths. He glanced at the sympathetic look coming from Black.

If they'd allow him his pain. Snape doubted it greatly.

a gentle voice called to him. He looked up reluctantly expecting to see pity and concern. But most of his retinue were plotting and planning in quiet whispers. His eyes met Dr. James'. No pity there, rather a mischievous twinkle.

We have over an hour before we're suppose to meet
Daniel. Why don't we go for a short walk while these
gentlemen get organized... James suggested.

Snape nearly refused thinking James would just try placating him until it was time to go. Something about the twinkle in his eye, the almost-smirk on his lips, didn't bespeak consoling.

Yes, Severus, why don't you go with James for a bit?
Jeffrey and I have some things to discuss, Dumbledore encouraged. There was something in Albus' benign gaze that seemed a bit off too. With a sigh the Potions Master stood and meekly followed the Healer out of the room.

They moved quietly through the halls down past the Great Hall. It was quiet now, students gone for the summer. Soon they were standing in the courtyard bathed in sunlight. Used to being told what he could and could not do Snape stayed just behind the Healer's left shoulder.

Albus sent me an owl last night, Barnes said as he drew his patient next to him, arm around Snape's back.

He didn't use that muggle computer of his? Snape asked as he moved closer to the safety of the Healer.

He knows Jeffrey checks the clinic's computer, the older man said.
He told me about your request, to go to the manor with
a much smaller group. Snape stood seemingly searching the shadows along the edges of the courtyard.

Snape sighed. Not bloody going to happen.

It seems to me it's a reasonable request, James murmured as he pulled something out from a pocket.
In fact, Albus endorsed the request whole-heartedly. A handkerchief was produced.

You and Albus agree. It's the other three who do not, Snape replied quietly wondering what the kerchief was for. James flipped it back and forth until a thin leather pouch was exposed.

Albus regrets he cannot come along. He's detained with
some guests in the office... James said kindly proffering the small brown pouch. The Potions Master stared for a moment before accepting it.
We'll just run along now. Albus will come with the others
in a while.

Thank you, Snape breathed deeply, still leaning against his Healer. He closed his eyes as the familiar tug pulled him away.

The air around him changed. Still warm with a hint of a breeze. Snape stayed carefully nestled against Barnes allowing his nose and ears to gather information first. It smelled of damp charred wood, the acrid odor rose to meet them. There was still a drone of bugs in the background.

It's gone, isn't it? The wind plays on and there are no
eddies or swirls around the edges... Snape began mournfully.

It is gone, Severus. Come, Dr. James encouraged. He shifted his patient against his side bringing him to face the ruins.
Just look Severus, just look.

Snape slowly opened his eyes, blinking as he began to take in the scene in front of him.

It was a shambles. Worse than a shambles. Walls were in heaps of charred timbers. Skeletal remains of supports leaning haphazardly against them. Trembling Snape took small steps around the perimeter of the ruin.

This was the morning room, he whispered, hand outstretched towards the melted glass.
I loved the sun when it came through.

A butterfly, unconcerned with the trials of man, floated around them in a graceful dance. Briefly the potions master's eyes were drawn from the wreckage and followed its path. Barnes stayed close, his arm linked around his patient's. Snape continued his slow walk.

My li... library, he looked at the torched walls of stone. The hot fire had scorched every binding.

Some books survived Severus. They will need rebinding, Dr. James pointed out. He nudged Snape on not wanting to make a foray into the rubble just yet.

I thought... Snape began.

We thought more had been lost, between the fire and the
muggle and magical fire teams. I'm glad we were wrong, he tugged on the man.

I forget how powerful those spells are, Snape said quietly a few steps later.
I never cast one but I've seen the results many years ago.

Barnes agreed. They had reached the bedrooms at the end of the wing. A tear has trailed down the recovering wizard's face.

I hated this place, Snape said more calmly than Barnes felt possible.
Father was a tyrant and mother, well mother viewed me as
her own whipping boy. I never wanted to come here once I
went to Hogwarts. The Healer waited patiently for him to continue. They turned to stroll into the gardens.

I wanted to sell the place when they died, Snape continued as he headed towards a bench.
Well, I wanted to destroy it. But Albus wouldn't let me
and then I became involved with Voldemort. Never got
around to either. They sat together on the concrete and Barnes made sure they were close, his hand clasping Snape's.

More tears fell as the black eyes slowly traveled over the wreckage.

But you came to live there... Dr. James prompted gently. Snape remained silent for long minutes before resting his head against the older wizard. The Healer shifted his arm over his patient's shoulder.

For all the bad memories, it was still my home. After more
than twenty years those memories dwindled. I am a Snape.
This is where generations of Snapes lived and died. It
defined who I am, the Potions Master sniffled.

Another butterfly wheeled around the seated figures coming to rest on a nearby flower.

I used to love capturing butterflies in the garden, Snape murmured.
Catch them and let them go. So delicate, so beautiful.

Why did you let them go? Barnes asked.

Because I could. Because I was never... let... go, Snape said with slow realization. He lifted his head and sat upright. Barnes dropped his arm and waited.

Let go. He could finally let go. His parents were dead. Voldemort was dead. The family mansion destroyed. This was never where he belonged, never home. In his mind Albus' warm smile and kind eyes pulled at him. Home... He recalled Remus' breath against his neck as they slept nestled together. Home... Sirius' arms as they held him close. Home... Dobby's annoying cheerfulness. Home.. Jeffrey's teasing and concern. Home... And this man beside him, Dr. James. Home...

A set of footsteps approached them crunching on the gravel path.

It is only Daniel, Barnes told Snape. The head of security quietly stood next to them.

Good afternoon Officer Murphy, the Potions Master said very quietly.

Good afternoon Professor Snape, Murphy responded in kind.
Are you ready for your guests? They waited as the wizard considered the question. Snape finally pushed up off the bench and looked towards the officer.

Actually Daniel, I would rather go home, Snape said.


~Finis~