Note: I actually wrote this so I would have a place to put this poem. Take from that what you will... The usual disclaimers apply.


Private Poem

Harry worked swiftly and efficiently, sorting through owl posts, tossing bits of rubbish and organizing those things that actually required a response of some sort. He separated journals that had comments in the margins or scrawled across paragraphs from those that looked to be as-yet unread. He piled parchments of homework essays to the right of the desk, sending those that were graded to the classroom, and retaining those still in need of critique. He laughed lightly and shook his head as he brushed crumbs into two teacups that sat, still half-full, amidst the clutter, and banished those. He cleaned and re-cut quills, capped inkwells after renewing the never-spill, never-dry charms on them, and summoned a stack of fresh parchment, placing it in the left-hand drawer. Then he sat to review those things that bore Snape's distinctive handwriting.

They'd been doing things this way for three years – ever since Snape had been released – finally – from the infirmary following the last battle. At first, it was out of necessity – Snape's hands and wrists had been simply too damaged for fine spell-work, and his handwriting nearly as illegible as Harry's. And he'd been too exhausted to manage domestic spells, and too paranoid to let even the most familiar of Hogwarts' contingent of house elves into his personal space.

He tolerated Harry – Merlin alone knew why. Harry surmised it was because Snape had been so used to tracking Harry's movements, monitoring Harry's behavior, protecting him, that it had been reassuring to have Harry underfoot, as it were, visible… proving that Snape could stand down… that Harry was safe, and right where Snape could see him… And… he honestly had needed the help.

At first, Harry only did physical tasks – carrying things that Snape could not manage, clearing things away, scrubbing cauldrons and crucibles… Eventually, Snape accepted his help sorting potion ingredients, then chopping and dicing and grinding… When he found Harry deciphering his handwriting for a first year Potions student, he begrudgingly began to allow Harry access to his comments on essays, then to his correspondence… and finally to his beloved Potions journals and his own notes.

Harry took to transcribing Snape's notes on a semi-weekly basis, and along the way, encouraged Snape to submit, first, letters to the editor, then critiques, then journal articles of his own, living up to his reputation as the youngest Potions Master in history. He guessed he was a bit of a research assistant, now, and his access to Snape's quarters, his personal lab, and his desk was a testament to the strong working relationship that had developed ever so slowly over the past years. Maybe it was friendship.

Harry laughed and shook his head at himself. Right. As if Severus would ever allow something like that… He caught himself using the man's first name. Watch it, Harry… don't want to give it away, do we? He lived in fear that Snape would find out how Harry really felt about him, and banish him forever.

He set to work, transcribing Snape's latest annotations in the system they had worked out, noting the author, publication date, article, journal, and pages, then expanded on some of what Snape had written by pointing to other, related notes, recorded in a complex, cross-referencing methodology that would have made Dudley's computer's hypertext markup language have a heart attack and freeze up. He had until dinner to complete this week's notes – Snape taught until three, and then there was a mandatory faculty meeting in McGonagall's office until dinner time.

Two hours or so into his work, he pulled the third of this week's journals toward himself, and flipped to the index. Snape always marked articles he had annotated, and Harry had learned to decipher even these marks – heavy lines and deep imprint on the page meant Snape had found something in the article objectionable, while a light, barely-felt mark meant the author supported Snape's own theories. If the quill had bent or broken while making the mark – discernible by the amount of ink in the blot next to the article – Snape's displeasure had broken into outright apoplexy. Every time he found one of those marks, Harry would grin and turn eagerly to see the snarky, critical, hostile… and… brilliant… remarks Snape's increasingly heavy, agitated hand had written.

Three years of staring at that handwriting had altered Harry's so that his and Snape's were nearly indistinguishable now, Snape's gradually recovering from his injuries, and Harry's more and more influenced by the man whose intellect he had grown to admire and respect… and like… or something… were he to be honest with himself.

He flipped open to the index for this issue, found that much-anticipated blotch that indicated Snape's full intellect and personality had become engaged in an article, and eagerly turned to that page.

A piece of flattened parchment was tucked in between the pages, just at the start of the article. Harry's heart sped up when he saw it. He'd seen it before, of course… he was just surprised… shocked, really… to find it here. He pulled it carefully from where it had been nestled, right up to the spine of the journal, as if it belonged there, picked it up in trembling hands, and read, yet again, the words written there.

Private Poem

I keep finding myself here,
finding myself with you,
mindful…
mind full.

I keep seeking heat,
seeking heartbeat.

I keep seeking the pulse in your wrist…
at the place where
neck and jaw and ear converge…
where fingertips and fingertips commune.

I keep finding you
in the morning light,
keep wishing you dreamless sleep,
fall asleep with you in mind… in heart.

I keep questioning.

I keep seeking the line between then and now,
punctuate the story differently,
rise in expectation of
a different day.

I keep writing love songs,
poems of friendship and connection,
sort agape, philia, and eros,
finding you everywhere.

I keep finding you.

I keep questioning.
I keep finding myself here…
I keep finding myself…
in you.

He read it again, his heart pounding in his chest, though he did not know what, exactly, he was supposed to be feeling. Private Poem, it said. Not meant to be read… not meant to be shared… a private meditation on… relationship. No one would know which of them had written it, so identical was their handwriting by now. No one would know if the single name scrawled across the bottom of the page was the signature of the author, or the person about whom it was written… or indeed, if it had merely been a notation between them that meant, Read this. Only he and Severus knew the truth of that. And only one of them knew what it really meant. Harry ran his finger along the words, wondering at the preservation spell he felt there, in Severus' magic.

He read it through again, as if he had not already memorized it, shook himself loose from it with a small smile and a snort, and replaced it carefully, tucking it into the spaces between one page and the next, as if it belonged there. Then he turned to his work, noting the article in question on his page of notes: Severus Snape, 2001, On the Ethics of Amortentia, Potions Master Monthly, page 394.