A/N - Posted this just before the bombings at the Boston Marathon occurred. Hope everyone is okay. I'm dedicating this fic to everyone affected.
One distressed floo call from Arabella Figg had Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore scrambling to get to the Dursley house. There they found a gleeful Dursley and a barely alive eight year old Harry. Beaten to within an inch of his life, the boy was little more than a sack of bloody skin stretched tight over a collection of bones.
Leaving Dumbledore to exercise his fury over the Dursleys, Severus took Harry to Arabella's and flooed immediately to the Infirmary at Hogwarts. From there, he and Poppy Pomfrey poured potion after potion into the boy's small abused body, but it wasn't enough.
It simply wasn't enough.
Sequestered behind a privacy screen, Severus sat next to the bedside of one Harry James Potter, the dying Boy-Who-Lived. The boy's lips and fingertips were already blue, and every breath sounded worse than the prior. Severus knew that it wouldn't be a very long wait.
Reaching out a hand to the thin calloused one of the boy in front of him, Severus gently curled his fingers around it. Not expecting to feel his hand squeezed back, he looked on with shock as familiar green eyes opened.
They were hazy with muted pain, but the look they fixed on him was transfixing.
"Who . . . you?" Was the boy's hoarse whisper.
Severus' voice caught in his throat.
Swallowing, he managed a soft, "I'm Professor Snape." Then he blinked and realised the absurdity of titles at a time such as this. "But you may call me Severus, if you so wish."
"Why, what?" Severus answered, fearing a host of questions. Why didn't you save me? Being foremost in his mind, despite its unlikeliness.
"Why . . . you here?"
"I'm here for you," Severus answered after a moment of pause.
Harry turned his head back and forth in the negative at this answer.
"No one's . . . here for me. Go back to your . . . own boy. No one . . . wants . . . me."
Severus' heart clenched hard and he squeezed the boy's hand harder.
"You're the only boy I'm here for."
Green eyes became questioning as they stared back at Severus.
"I'm . . . your only . . . boy?"
"You're my only boy," Severus agreed, raising his other hand to rest gently on the boy's messy head.
The corners of Harry's lips turned up, and he said with some delight, "Your boy."
"Yes," Severus whispered, stroking Harry's hair.
Then Harry's eyes closed one final time, and he breathed his last. He died with a smile on his lips, and Severus leaned his head back and valiantly fought against the urge to cry.
"Is he gone then?" Said Poppy's voice from the foot of the bed some time later.
Severus dropped his chin to his chest and grunted in the affirmative.
. . .
Severus locked himself away in his lab directly after, making it known that he was not to be disturbed at any cost. He set himself to the soothing method of potion making, secretly hoping to become lost in it and never to return.
When an interruption did come, it was in the form of the Slytherin house ghost, the Bloody Baron.
"Can I help you?" Severus managed somewhat charitably to the ghostly spectre floating near his head.
"I think you should open the door," the Baron said with as much amusement as Severus had ever seen from him.
"I am not willing to speak with anyone—," Severus started.
Interrupting, the Baron added, "It's not whom you expect. Open it."
Frowning, Severus let the argument drop and with a swirl of his robes, he went to the door and unwarded it. Pulling it open, he sucked in a breath at what waited for him on the other side.
A luminescent figure stood there, floating only a couple of inches off of the stone floor as he did. It was a small boy still dressed in the soft cotton pyjamas issued by the Infirmary. The boy's face was missing the horrible glasses that would have shielded his brilliant green eyes from Severus, and he realised that they had not been on when he had died either.
"Harry," Severus breathed after he finally managed to find his breath.
Harry's face lit up with joy at being recognized.
"Your boy, right? You said I was your boy, right?" The child's voice had a hopeful lilt to it and the feelings clashing within Severus' chest knew no bounds.
"I—yes. I did," Severus answered, making a decision then and there.
"And you won't get rid of me, right? You won't tell me to go away?"
"I won't," Severus affirmed in a creaking voice. "Why don't you come in?" He stepped aside and then watched in morbid amusement as Harry skipped soundlessly into his Potions' lab.
. . .
From then on, the fearsome Potions Master of Hogwarts had a small companion that trailed after him in his lab and many classes. And once Harry became knowledgeable about Slytherin House, he was also often sighted in their common room. He liked to sit with the first years and ask them questions, and after some initial hesitation, he was welcomed as one of their own.
He wasn't seen very often in the Great Hall. It was too much noise and bustle for him, but occasionally at Christmastime, the elves would leave a chair open for him next to Severus, and he would take in the sights beside his Professor.
The rest of his time was spent in his Professor's quarters, curled up on the sofa beside him as Severus read all varieties of books out loud.
It was a happy death, made more ironic by the fact that his death was more enjoyable than his too short life had been.
. . .
Time passed, and soon—all too soon by some standards—Death found Severus too. Harry sat beside him at his bedside as his much cursed and hexed body struggled for breath. It was a short battle, and soon Severus breathed his last much as Harry had done some ten years before.
The ghostly form of Severus sat beside his body in some shock. Harry reached and touched his shoulder and his Professor turned slowly toward him.
"Harry? Did I die?" Was Severus' question.
"Yup," Harry answered and then scrambled over to hug him senseless.
"Can we go visit your Dumbles now?" Harry asked.
"Yes," Severus answered, standing up with his small boy firmly in his arms. Harry smiled and they disappeared from their quarters.
A moment later, a ghostly man with a small ghostly boy on his hip reappeared in Dumbledore's office.
"We've come to say goodbye," said the man to Dumbledore.
"So soon?" Dumbledore whispered.
"It's the right time. I'm going to take my boy home," the man said with a rarely seen smile.
"Goodbye, my boys."
. . .
Albus sat in some shock as they faded from existence. Fawkes flew over to his shoulder and crooned in his ear and he sighed aloud.
"I know, Fawkes. My boys are finally at peace, but that does not mean that I shall not miss them."