Oh forgive me. For more drama. For a long break between updates. For writer's block. For any mistakes in the chapter because I've literally spent all day writing and I'm too lazy and exhausted to proofread. O.o
Glimpses – Chapter 17
Snape selected a thick book from the bookshelf and settled down into his armchair, letting the tome fall open in his lap. He looked down to read but found his head drooping down to his chest in exhaustion.
He had put Harry to bed. Christmas had been exhausting, and his body wanted more rest than he could afford to give it. Not to mention that classes were resuming in just under a week, which meant working with the dunderheads again. And he would have less time with Harry, less time with his son.
Of course, if he asked, Dumbledore would give him time off – as much as he needed. But Snape couldn't do that. The Headmaster depended on him too much. And besides, the dunderheads would destroy his dungeons if he wasn't there to supervise.
So he had a week – less than a week. Less than a week to make sure Harry was ready to be left alone for any period of time at all. Not that he had any doubts about the boy's ability to care for himself. His blasted relatives had made sure of that.
Before he knew it, Snape's eyes were drifting shut and he was too tired to even bend down to pick up the book as it tumbled from his grasp and snapped shut on the floor.
Something was touching him. Something was on top of him.
Snape stiffened, immediately pushing the unfamiliar object off of him, snapping his eyes open. Harry yelped and would have fallen to the floor if Snape hadn't reached out and caught him at the last second.
Snape blinked tiredly as the boy burrowed into his robes. He clutched the child tighter. "Why are you not in bed, child?"
Harry looked up at him, hugging him. "I couldn't sleep."
The man looked into the green eyes in interest. "I see," he muttered and picked up the boy easily, sweeping him toward one of the many dark rooms in the quarters.
Harry laughed delightedly, asking, "Where are we going?"
"Bed, you fool," Snape answered, pushing open the door to his bedroom with his shoulder. He was never this open with anyone, especially not a child, and especially not after being woken up in the middle of the night by the aforementioned child climbing all over him.
He settled Harry in the bed before climbing in himself. The boy snuggled up next to him, and he let himself be reassured by the steady warmth of the child sleeping quietly beside him.
They were chasing him. They were after him. Throughout his entire life, he had been able to run, to hide in his cupboard, but for once, he couldn't seem to run fast enough. He pushed his sluggish legs, willing himself to move faster, but he couldn't.
Uncle Vernon was behind him, bounding up the stairs after him, belt in hand.
He turned the corner, running back down the stairs and into his cupboard, slamming it shut behind him. Hoping. Praying. And yet he knew it would make no difference.
The door banged open, hitting the wall loudly. Aunt Petunia wouldn't step in this time with one of her weird looks that Uncle Vernon seemed to understand. She wasn't home. And she surely wouldn't save him now.
Uncle Vernon looked surprisingly ominous as he stared down at him, his large frame blocking nearly all light from the doorway. His breathing was labored, but his eyes had narrowed, nearly invisible in his fat face. But this was not a time to laugh. It was far from a time to laugh.
"You thought he would keep you?" Uncle Vernon bellowed, laughing horribly. "No one wants you, boy. NO. ONE. WANTS. YOU."
He whimpered and pulled in on himself. Of course. He was so stupid. How could he have thought that anyone would take him in? That anyone would love him? The man had dumped him back on the Dursleys' doorstep as soon as possible. So much for fake hugs. For broken promises and Christmas presents.
Uncle Vernon struggled to get through the door. He grabbed him by the hair and dragged him out into the entrance hall.
As he watched Uncle Vernon looking meanly down at him, raising the belt, he screamed. Not a high-pitched, un-phrased call for help. A desperate, terrified yell for the only man who had ever come to save him.
"DAD!" he cried, the beginnings of tears forming in his eyes. "DAD!"
"Your blasted father can't save you now!" came Uncle Vernon's bellow, and with it the first crack of the belt against his unprepared back.
Snape snapped awake quicker than he ever had before at the sound of the scream from beside him. He sat up in shock, looking down at Harry. The boy was writhing on the bed, sweating and screaming, flinching as if he were being hit by an invisible belt. With a murderous glare, Snape realized he probably was.
He flinched just as badly as he had the first time, and watched as tears began to flow from the boy's eyes.
"DAD, please." The boy's voice broke, his next words coming out as a whisper. "Help me. Don't leave me."
Snape's heart clenched violently in his chest. The boy thought he was leaving?
"Harry," he whispered tentatively, moving closer to the boy. His voice was firmer as he repeated the name. "Harry."
He grabbed the child's shoulders, shaking him lightly, and the green eyes snapped open, unfocused, terrified.
Harry twisted away from him, nearly falling off the bed. "No!" His voice was a breathless gasp.
"Harry, it's me!" he soothed, reaching for the boy. Harry looked at him for a long moment, blinking in confusion, before launching himself at the Potions Master. Snape grunted but nevertheless wrapped his arms around the shaking child sprawled across his lap. He leaned back, letting Harry lay across his chest. The boy clung tightly to him, still breathing heavily. After a few moments, his ragged breathing evened out.
"I thought you had given me back," Harry whimpered against his robes – robes he quickly realized he had forgotten to remove. They were dreadfully uncomfortably to sleep in.
"Excuse me?" came Snape's sharp voice. Harry flinched slightly but stayed put. "You think I would give you back? After the last week? After all of this?"
"I didn't know. He was coming after me." He shuddered lightly, and Snape tightened his hold on the boy.
A dozen questions were spinning around in his head. He let one tumble from his lips, one he needed to know the answer to. "You thought I had given you back and yet you called for me." It wasn't a question. It was a statement of fact. Then, "Why?"
"You're the only one –" Harry ducked his head, Snape's robes muffling the remainder of his answer. At the questioning look the man gave him, Harry continued. "You're the only one who ever came to save me. You're the only one who ever cared."
Snape stared, trying to bend his mind to fit around the boy's words. You're the only one who ever came to save me. You're the only one who ever cared.
"There are so many people who care about you, you foolish child," he whispered, brushing his lips against Harry's sweaty forehead. The child sat up abruptly, anger flaring in his eyes. He reached for his glasses and Snape handed them to him silently, judging his reaction with calculating eyes.
"Then where were they?" came the unsteady reply. His voice raised suddenly, quickly becoming a loud bellow. "WHERE WERE THEY WHEN I WAS CRYING? WHERE WERE THEY WHEN I SCREAMED AND PRAYED FOR SOMEONE TO COME FOR ME? TO SAVE ME?"
Snape barely kept from flinching. "They didn't know. I didn't know. Harry, if we had known, we would have come for you. I promise. There are so many people who didn't realize, and they cannot forgive themselves now for what they have done."
Realization dawned in the boy's eyes. "Dumbledore." Snape was silent. "Well? That's what he was apologizing for, wasn't it? FOR LEAVING ME ALONE FOR NINE YEARS TO BE BEATEN! Well, I don't forgive him. I don't."
"I implore you to reconsider," Snape replied. Simply. Quietly.
"Why? Why should I? It was his choice, wasn't it? He sent me there." The boy's voice was steely.
Snape picked Harry up and set him on his feet on the stone floor.
"I believe we need to talk, young man."
"Don't. You've done nothing wrong." Harry marched angrily toward the kitchen, where he plopped down in a straight-backed chair. Snape followed, waving his wand to put the tea on. He choked back his reply. Harry gave him a weird look. "And why did you choose to come get me from the orphanage? Why didn't you take me straight from the house? How did you find out?"
"That would have been kidnapping, Harry," Snape remarked lightly, wanting to avoid this particular subject. "And as for your other question. . . The Headmaster sent me."
"You hated me, didn't you? That's why you never called me by my first name. That's why you never wanted to touch me. You hated me!" Snape didn't have an answer. "How could I be so stupid! How could I not see it! You didn't even want me!"
The silence in the kitchen was overwhelming, broken only by the whistle of the teapot. Snape stood abruptly to tend to the tea. When he returned, the boy's head was in his hands, his face well-buried within his arms.
"Of course I hated you. How could I not? You look exactly like your father. You were responsible for the death of the woman I loved most in the world. You were the Savior of the Wizarding World. I could only assume that you were spoiled beyond belief." Snape paused to take a deep, steadying breath. Harry shuddered slightly. "The Headmaster told me you had been removed from your relatives' home. I assumed you had run away, that I had been called to return you, and I dreaded that. I didn't want to see your wonderful life. I didn't want to see your aunt again." He paused again. "When I arrived at the orphanage, the woman mentioned that you had been… abused." Harry shuddered again. "I was shocked. At this point, I knew that I was not returning you to your former home. I was called to adopt you. I took you home with me, not knowing what to expect from you. I was so surprised the first morning, when you ran around the kitchen, trying to make breakfast for me. I didn't know the extent of your abuse yet, but just the fact that you had been treated like a slave shocked me. And then you kept running for that cupboard, and you had those nightmares. And then you tried to run away from me, Harry. I didn't understand. I thought you didn't want me as a father, and I was both angry and hurt. And then I realized that it was so much more than that. It was my insecurity making me think of you differently. And so I began to consider you as my son. And Harry, I'm not lying when I say I love you. Harry, I will fight for you. I will die for you. I will sacrifice everything I have for you. What else could I give – what else can I give but my entire being for you, my son? I will be there every time you need me and even when you do not."
Harry was breathing hard, and Snape looked away, staring down at his tea. He was going to need much more than just tea to wash away the pain of this day.
"I don't even know whether I can trust you anymore!" Harry jumped to his feet, turning to run to his room. Snape stood up just as quickly, stepping into the way. "NO! Get away from me! Stay away! Never come near me again!"
Snape grabbed the boy's wrists firmly as he began hitting him in the chest. He writhed dangerously. "I can't do that, Harry."
"Stop it! I'm tired of this, of you, of everything! I need some time to think!" They struggled for another moment. "Let me go! I hate you!" Harry ground out, and Snape stepped back suddenly, shocked.
He watched the boy run toward his bedroom, his mouth slack, his eyes reflecting his pain. And through it all, he wondered why he cared so damn much.
And he pulled out the Firewhiskey for the first time in a while. He almost needed it more than he ever had before. Almost. Almost.
Oh, God. Please don't hate me. Review?