A/N:Yen and Pekeleke think I am ready for this, so I will nervously step into this large group and hope for the best.
This was born out of an aggressive plot bunny that has been nurtured knowingly by Yengirl and Pekeleke. OliverSnape, this is the one you were unknowingly telling me to write. (Yen betad part of this, but her life became really really busy, so I have taken all her advice and have done my best.) ed: Yen, bless her, just decided to finish the chapter. Now I know just how much I auto correct. And Raven's Dusk just gave a helping hand as well. Thanks dear. Raya Light was a wonderful contributor to making this just a slight bit closer to perfect. *hugs* Thanks!
Disclaimer: Unfortunately I don't own the universe or any of the characters except those you have no clue are. Hagrid just keeps feeding this plot bunny and its family at Severus' and Yengirl's command.
Chapter 1: Waiting
Squatting down near the compacted sand, Harry looked across the beach, his eyes tracing the footprints marring the surface. 'Is he here somewhere? There were a few sightings of someone matching his description, but it might not be him.'
He let his eyes trail over the marred sand, looking for what he knew he would not find; a clear indication that his quarry had walked over its surface. He had tracked down sightings like this throughout the British Isles and the Continent. Not one turned out to be his quarry. 'I don't think he would have left the British Isles'.
Reaching out a hand, he let his fingers trace the outline of the nearest print. He stretched out his senses and hunted for the magical signature that might have been trapped in the gritty surface if the man he was looking for had passed over it a number of times. Finding nothing, he stood up and peered out at the sea. 'You are here, I know it. There is no way you can hide from me. The bond that ties us will led me to you.'
The thoughts of the bond kicked his mind back in time as the afternoon sea breeze wrapped around him.
It all started one morning not long after his twenty-first birthday. Harry had rolled over, looked at the clock and groaned when he was finally able to focus on the numbers. It was a struggle to pull himself out of the covers, but he had to get moving or he was going to be late. He never did like rising at five in the morning, but he had first shift this month. You would think that after three days of it, he would be used to getting up this early. Stumbling into the shower, he let the water wash away the last dredges of sleep down the drain.
It was then that it had happened. A strange warmth had started in his toes and curled its way up his body leaving goosebumps in its wake. By the time it had reached his head, Harry was wide awake, aroused and sure that it was a delayed prank from George. There was just no way he would associate feelings of warmth and love with Severus Snape. 'It had to be in one of those drinks that George made me at the end of my birthday party.' Lightly occluding his mind, he locked the strange desire for Snape behind the wall.
After a week of experiencing the same feelings and worse, waking up to erotic dreams that would have had any self-respecting Gryffindor running away in terror, he subtly questioned the proprietor of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. The answer was not to his liking.
Harry had spent that afternoon in the Auror training room. As he slung hex after hex at training dummies and any unfortunate trainee that came in, the same mantra kept running through his head. 'There is no way I want to be with Snape. Sure, he is brave, loyal, stubborn, brilliant according to everyone. But that doesn't change the fact that he is a bleeding git.'
For the rest of that week, he was in the training room refusing to face his feelings and to work off his frustrations unless he was out with Ron on an assignment.
After three weeks, he accepted his feeling and decided to figure out what it could be. It obviously wasn't a prank, George assured him of that. So now he had to worry about curses or maliciously cast hexes.
He spent most of the morning rummaging through all his books on hexes and curses to no avail. Running a hand through his hair, he flopped on to his sofa trying to pull his thoughts together. 'It isn't a prank, not a hex or curse that I can find. So... what else could it be?'
Turning his head slightly, he caught sight of the book on bonds that Hermione asked him to read up on. She wanted him to help her and Ron complete one at their wedding. With a bit of trepidation, he lifted the book and started reading. Subconsciously, his brain started checking off the symptoms he had experienced for the past twenty one days.
Ten minutes later the book slammed up against the far wall, half of it resting against the wall the other half on the ground with its pages flipping gently towards the floor. Harry stared at it mutinously with his arms crossed.
An hour later, he was curled up on the floor, his back against the abused wall reading the book once again as it rested against his thighs. He combed through it looking for something that would cast doubts on his suspicions.
Two days later, he was staring at the sky, trying to imagine why he would initiate a bond in the first place. 'Could be because he's not that bad looking if you can get the scowl off his face. Nah, I wouldn't do it for looks. If that was the reason, then I wouldn't have left Anderson. I just couldn't get past the kissing again. Could this bond be the reason that all my relationships end the moment I try to kiss them? It was hard enough to figure out that I was homosexual due to that.'
Shaking his head, he dislodged the thoughts that were trying to take over. He had not dated everyone under the sun, but over the last three years, the four relationships he had tried had failed at the same moment. It was the same as the one he had started with Cho. The only one that had traversed further than the first kiss had been with Ginny, and that was only because he hadn't wanted to hurt Ron.
'Well, there has to be a reason I decided to do it... there had to be a reason he agreed, too. And considering that I don't remember bonding to Snape, that means that it has to be an Infinity bond of some sort. Doesn't it?' He let his eyes rove over the stars for a long moment before deciding that he couldn't figure this out himself. He had to get Hermione and Ron involved.
Hermione looked over at her friend as he sank lower in his seat. Glancing at Ron, she knew that this was going to be a difficult discussion. "Harry, I found the answer."
Green eyes brightened as they heard her comment. "So, is it a hex or curse? Can it be broken?" Harry was truly hoping he had been wrong in his research. Hermione was sure to have found something he had over looked.
The eyes dimmed when she shook her head. "No, it is a bond. Some time in the future you are going to complete one of the Infinity bonds with someone." She watched as Ron perked up at that. They had both researched them and were planning on bonding during their wedding at the end of the year.
"That is good, mate! That means there is someone out there you are going to totally trust, and it explains why no one seems to feel right when you go out with them." Ron grinned at him and pushed a butterbeer across the table to him. He knew that not having a long standing relationship had made Harry feel more like the freak that his relatives had once called him.
Harry took a sip from the bottle. He had gotten Hermione and Ron involved just in case it was something else. And to erase the doubts that he had. If Hermione said it was so, it was. Sighing lightly, he asked the question that had been bugging him since he had started his own research into bonds. "Then why is it only acting up right now? If it is one of the Infinity bond, aren't they supposed to bond you across all time? Making your souls connect and recognize each other the moment you meet?" That was what the book Hermione had lent him said.
Ron and Hermione nodded in agreement. Hermione leaned forward a bit, pulling an old, cracked, leather covered book into her lap. She flipped to a section that she had obviously looked at a lot since she found it easily without a bookmark. "But some of the types only allow the bond to be fully active once you have finished mentally maturing, like the one Ron and I are contemplating, or physically maturing, sometime between twenty one and twenty five. And you are just passed your twenty first birthday, so I would think it was one of those types. But there would have been some sort of connection if you had met them before."
Harry closed his eyes and repressed a groan. 'Some sort of connection... does growling, yelling and belittling count?' Looking back his friends, he contemplated telling them what else he knew.
Ron stiffened a bit before relaxing in his seat. "You, of course, know who he is. If you've met them before, you would have known as soon as the bond activated. It is someone we aren't going to like, isn't it?"
"How do you know?" Harry glanced into the blue eyes that were looking at him. They were calm at the moment. After the horcrux hunt, Ron had become more accepting of things that came about. He had taken Harry's sexual preference with hardly a bat of an eye and then told Ginny she needed to find someone else.
"Your face, the way you are sitting... because we've been best mates since forever. Is it Malfoy?" Ron tightened his hands around his own bottle.
Harry shook his head no. He watched Ron's shoulders relax and the bottle wasn't in danger anymore. Part of his mind wondered how long that would last.
Hermione narrowed her eyes. "Goyle? Zabini? Nott?"
Harry just shook his head, not sure that he wanted them to guess.
Ron narrowed his eyes as he studied his best mate. "Is he a Slytherin?"
Harry let out a humorless chuckle. "Definitely."
"Snape." As Ron proclaimed it, he leaned back in his chair, almost pushing it back on two legs."He is the only one that you have not nixed that you would even somewhat respect. And for you to bond with them you'd have to respect them at the very least."
Even as Harry closed his eyes and nodded, Hermione bounced in her seat. "That explains it!" Blue and green eyes pinned her, telling her that she had better continue. "Why you and he had problems in the classroom. The Infinity bond links you as partners. Equal partners. So, you did not like the subordinate role of his student. And you refused to back down to him. Snape did not like you defying him at every turn, and he could not treat you as an equal. So, it lead to the spats we had in class. He pushed you because he had to due to his role. You refused to back down and play along with the game he was having to play. Of course, you didn't know about the game. They never told you anything, which I doubt was his choice. The bond on his side might have read your refusal as rejection, which would cause him to strike out more."
Harry's eyes widened a moment before the narrowed. "He had to know there was a bond and that I didn't know about it. And he still acted like that."
Hermione quickly shook her head. "Not necessarily, one of them will only activate once both partners have reached physical maturity. That would mean that until this year he had no clue. And if he did know...he is a better actor than we thought."
'No clue, no idea why no one was right, why no kiss felt right, why no one's arms could hold you for long. For such a long time... He had to believe that there was no one out there for him by this time.' Even as he thought it, Harry felt a small pang of sympathy for the older man. He at least only had to deal with those thoughts until he was twenty one. Snape was in his forties. "So, he would snipe back because I would stand up to him and the bond felt threatened."
Ron sank his head into his hands. "I did not need to hear that. Now I can only see Potions class as a relationship fight that lasted longer than any of mine and Hermione's." Looking up at Harry, he pointed straight at the green eyed man. "You can no longer complain about our fights." As Harry looked to be about to argue, he waved him off and continued. "So, you going to track the man down and figure this out?"
Harry shook his head no. "Not yet. He knows where I am. Everybody in the Wizarding world knows. If he wanted to do something about this bond, he could track me down. Me tracking him down just for this would be useless." Blue and brown eyes rested twin worried gazes on him.
The next several months were spent adjusting to the idea that one day Snape was going to be part of their group.
Hermione had brought another arm chair for the living room, and Ron had added one just for Snape at the table. Books on unusual potions and ingredients found their way into the library at both the Weasleys' and Harry's place. Harry refused to add furniture to his collection since he wasn't planning on staying at his flat permanently. He explained it to Hermione by telling her that he wanted Snape to be able to pick out what he liked, not impose his own stuff on the man. In truth, he had no idea where they would end up, or if they would even end up together.
All through that time, Harry's best mates had both supported him and helped him come to terms with the bond. Hermione and Ron had taken the time to point out the positives that they could find about Snape, and insisted that he keep an open mind.
It was a year after that initial conversation that his opportunity to hunt Snape down had come up. The Head of the Aurors, Alexander Notesworthy, was looking for someone to find Snape and get his help with their current case. Ron had suggested Harry.
"Why should we send Potter on a mission like this? Anyone can find a missing person."Notesworthy looked at the redhead, waiting to see what Weasley would come up with.
Ron raised an eyebrow, consciously mimicking Snape. "Because it is Snape. Sure, one of the special trackers could find him under normal conditions," most of the others could hear the doubt in his voice, "but Harry is about the only one that would be able to find him if he is intentionally hiding his traces. And he is the only one who might be able to get through any wards the bat has up, not to mention the fact that he is the only one that might survive the first meeting long enough to explain what we need."
The other Aurors, most of whom remembered Snape from school, cast a worried look at Notesworthy who was looking at Ron intently before shifting his eyes to Harry. "So, Potter, you are hunting for Professor Snape." He didn't give Harry a chance to agree before he continued with the meeting.
Ron walked beside Harry as they were leaving the briefing. "Okay mate, you now have a reason to hunt him down. Get out there and do it."
A seagull cried from overhead dragging Harry out of his memories. It had been a long month and a half tracking down the elusive Potions Master, but he felt close. Letting his eyes drift to half shut, he focused on the bond that he had blocked out for the last year. As he did, he felt the cold that rested against his bones, the tiredness that was seeping through his soul leeching the colors out of his world. It was no worse than what he remembered from his first eleven years of life, and certainly not worse than having Voldemort hanging over his head. He could live with it; he had lived with it for the past year. Occluding helped to lessen the symptoms and it also blocked out the desire to hunt down Snape. All of it hit him as he used the connection to find his quarry. Wrapping his arms about himself, he repressed the shivers that were bone deep.
Turning a bit, he headed down the beach, his feet leaving a new set of footprints in the sand.
Fifteen minutes later he stopped. The clear sand had given away to wind swept dunes spotted with dune grass and rocks. He would have missed the side path if it wasn't for the bond with Snape. It had been warded to make it invisible to both Muggles and Wizards. Stepping forward, he stopped just outside the edge of the ward. 'Once I cross it, there will be no going back. He obviously doesn't want me around. He hasn't even contacted me.'
Closing his eyes, he drew a deep breath. He had accepted that just because there was a bond between them, it did not mean anything would come from it. He just could not imagine anything that would bring them together. 'Can I survive this? Surely he feels it, surely he knows. Can I take an actual rejection?'
Taking another breath, he squared his shoulders and locked everything dealing with the bond behind his shields. He was here on Auror business. He would not address the issue of their connection.
Stepping on the sand and stone strewn path, he crossed through the ward and felt Snape's magic slide across him wiping the cold and tiredness away. The world was all the sudden a brighter, more colorful place.
As he walked up the path, he looked about to see what the area could tell him about Snape's new life. The Ministry's file was decidedly thin when it came to this. The only entry had one sentence and all it said was that he was running a potions business. Not even the name of the business was recorded.
All about him he could see scrub brush and marsh grass. As he climbed further up, Harry started spotting plants tucked under larger Muggle plants. He recognized some of the smaller ones as potion ingredients. Eventually a tree line appeared in the distance on the right side of the path.
It wasn't until he made it to a gate that separated the open land and a lawn that he spotted a single green house. He let his eyes drift over the lawn to the double story house that was framed by the open sky and sea behind it. All about the porch that appeared to wrap around the house was a mixed garden. It was filled, haphazardly to his untutored eye, with potions ingredients, vegetables and flowers.
Harry looked at it with a bit of trepidation. 'He is a Potions Master. He should know what can be grown together.'
Looking about the gate, he hoped to find a way of signaling he was there. 'Of course there isn't anything. No one should be here except him.' Growling under his breath, he rested his hand on the gate, willing Snape to come out so that he wouldn't be trespassing into the other man's domain.
The door slapped open, and Harry had to bite back a gasp as Snape strode out onto the front porch. Onyx eyes met emerald ones with an almost audible snap. Forcing his eyes not to rove over Snape, Harry squared his shoulders, his hand still resting on the gate. "Master Snape. I am here on behalf of the Ministry to request your help."
Snape folded his arms across his chest as he glared. "Potter. Of course they would send you. What does the Ministry want?"
Harry glanced at the gate before lifting his eyes back at the darkly clad man who had yet to move off the porch. "There is someone who is using a potion to poison people. The Potions Masters at St. Mungo and all the other facilities they have asked to research it cannot find a cure." As he watched as a dark eyebrow rise, Harry realized just how much Ron's attempt was lacking. "They are requesting that you attempt to make one."
As the dark eyes slid down him to rest on gate, Harry had to suppress the shiver that was attempting to come out. 'This is going to be hard. I have to act normal. Or rather, my normal when I am not around him. Mature, thoughtful, intelligent.'
"Since this hasn't made it into the Prophet, the Ministry is once again hiding something from the rest of the Wizarding population. I take it you have more information to tell me about. Come on in. I'll make a pot of tea."
Harry almost missed the last sentence as his mind lingered on the undercurrents of warmth and welcome that were twined about the come on in. Mentally shaking himself, he pushed the gate open and followed Snape through the front door.
Snape gestured him to the chairs in the parlour when the front door softly clicked closed.
"I'll get us some tea," was all that he said before walking out of the room leaving Harry to pick his choice of seat.
The feeling of the dark eyes tracing his profile was the only thing that alerted him to the man's return. A tray of tea was sat on the low table in front of the couch.
"How do you take your tea, Potter?" Snape poured the hot liquid into a pale blue cup that had fine tracing of green vines swirling up to the rim.
"One sugar and a dollop of milk." Harry forced his eyes not to trace the fingers as they lifted the spoon to add the sugar to his cup. He leaned back a bit in his seat as Snape placed the cup and saucer down near him. The man's fingers came close to brushing his knee as his hand retreated back to the pot to pour his own cup.
Once they were both served, Snape looked at him. "As the Ministry sent you, surely you have some clue as to what is going on. You have never succeeded in staying uninformed when you were supposed to be."
Harry let a grin slip out. It was true. He had investigated more than the Ministry thought he should have. Ron wouldn't rat him out. As a matter of fact, the redhead and Hermione had helped him. Both of them agreed with them him that Snape would want more information than was in the Ministry file.
Harry removed a small, slim file from his pocket and resized it before he slid it across the table to rest in front of Snape. "That was all I could dig up on this at the time I started my hunt for you. The top sheet is the official information from the Ministry."
Snape picked up the folder and slowly flipped through it, scanning the pages carefully. When he was done, he leaned back in his seat, gazing into the fireplace, his tea left forgotten on the table. "I'll see what I can do." He shifted his eyes towards Harry. "The file says that you are to be working with me." At Harry's affirmative nod, he continued. "You will not tell them any details of my house or life. While you are working with me, you will take the guest room." The dark eyes slid down to take in Harry's robes. "You need to collect your trunk and be prepared for a long stay."
Harry tightened his fingers around his cup. 'A long stay. I'll stay as long as you let me. No... ignore it. He is, you can.' He forced his fingers to relax their grip. "About a week or two?"
A long dark eyebrow raised. "You have a lot of faith in my ability." The eyebrow dropped as a smirk slipped in to take its place. "At least a month, Potter. You will be going between here and St. Mungo's to collect samples that I need from the patients among other things." He stood up, leaving his cup on the table. "I'll show you the guest room. You can tell the two that helped you compile the rest of that file that you are staying with me, but not where here is. You can tell anyone else that you found me, that I am working on the cure, and that is it."
Harry did his best to ignore the dark glare that hit him before Snape swept out of the parlour into the house proper. This was going to be a long month.