Many, many thanks go out to the other two who are the best... Raya and Yengirl, both whom have helped to beta this.
This is the end. I hope that you all have enjoyed this small trip through my imagination. I thank all of you who have taken a moment to tell me that you liked this since I was very, very insecure about it. *smiles* Onward to the end... Ree
Confessions and Jumping Through Hoops
Harry headed for Severus' lab with a smile playing about his lips. The meeting between Master Cummings and Severus had been somewhat of an anticlimax. Severus had just glared at the man for presuming to hold Harry back after he had the skills to pass his Mastery and the man had crumbled. It had taken Harry two years instead of the standard three to gain his Mastery, but that was because Severus had worked him relentlessly.
Shaking his head, Harry knew he should have realized at that time just how much Severus had come to care for him. Instead, it had taken almost another year.
Knocking on Severus' lab door, he waited to be invited in. When no response came from the other side, Harry decided to start dinner. Either Severus wasn't in the lab, or he was working on something that he could not tear his attention away from. Harry wouldn't take the chance that it was the latter and ruin the potion. He spotted Severus at the table shelling beans as he entered the dining room.
"You're back." Severus didn't look at him as he dropped the beans into a bowl. The hulls dropped onto the table.
"Yeah. I have the diagnostic report, if you want to look at it." Harry stopped behind Severus and tucked an errant lock of white hair back behind his ear before dropping a kiss on the shell of the now exposed ear. 'Of course Severus would have white hair. Couldn't mess up the color scheme by making it silver or gray.'
Moving around the table, he settled opposite of Severus and laid out the parchment. "You can look in my head, if you want."
Meeting the dark eyes, Harry realized that he wasn't the only one remembering long ago events. He could see in Severus' eyes a different conversation held at this table. Tucking those memories away, he pushed the reports across the table. "Death wasn't there."
Severus nodded and read over the parchment. Tapping a finger on the edge of the table, a frown marred his face and then he lifted his eyes to the rich green pair that were watching him. "I need to see that memory."
When Harry indicated that he was ready, he slid effortlessly into the other man's mind. It had taken a while, but he had finally taught the younger man the mind magics. He enjoyed the familiar welcome enveloping him as well as the slight tinge of arousal underlying the welcome. Smiling slightly, he waited for Harry to show him the memory.
He was suddenly standing in a dimly lit room. Looking over his shoulder, he spotted Harry near the door. He crossed the room and took a moment to read the potion bottles that lined the small table, waiting to look at the girl until Harry had moved over there and started casting.
He squelched the startled jump when he felt a warm hand slide over his arm.
"If you were here, she wouldn't have had to chance getting too cold." Harry twined his arm around Severus'.
"Harry..." He stopped when the fingers on his arm tightened in reassurance.
"It's fine. I understand why you didn't want to go." Harry nodded towards the bed. "Watch. I did my best to take in everything."
He smiled lightly as Severus pulled him closer to the bed. The mental manifestation of the man was not any different than the one that had first appeared in his mind the day he had perfected both Legilimency and Occulmency. It had taken him by complete surprise, but Severus had just smirked at his reaction. Even though Severus' manifestation never changed, his had aged. His mental manifestation of himself now looked to be about forty, the same age as Severus'. When he had question Severus about it, he was told that their manifestations were how they viewed themselves.
Shaking the thoughts out of his mind, Harry watched Severus, trying to remember when the last time the man actually had no white hairs.
Severus studied the young lady before moving about the room. He took a moment to listen to the old lady before turning back to the current Harry. "Is there anything else important that happened?"
Harry shook his head no, and let the memory fade.
Before Severus could leave, another memory appeared, stopping him.
Harry glanced at the memory that was floating enticingly near them. It was the one from the table. He had just finished meeting with Dean and Seamus about running his wand shop. He had purchased a store next to the Weasleys' joke shop, and needed someone to manage it. George had suggested he call his store "Not a Gag Wand" but Harry wanted something simple instead, so it was called Pope Wands. He had used George's idea as a window sign and added "Those are Next Door" to it. Even too this day, no-one but the Weasleys, Dean, Seamus, and Neville knew that Harry Potter was Harry Pope. He did his best not to be seen in customer area of the store. But that was not what this conversation had been about.
He looked over at Severus. "Do you want to see it? It seems to be a day for remembrances."
Severus glanced at his partner before gesturing towards the memory. Following Harry in, he remembered feeling very anxious about the conversation that day. He had felt the need to convince Harry to find someone. He was sure that that would end his attraction to the younger man. He watched as the conversation unfolded, the current Harry's hand tucked in his.
"Now that you have secured your future financially, I assume you are planning to find a wife to enjoy it with?" Dark eyes watched the rapidly changing expressions on Harry's face. "Go ahead. I'm certain that we can easily add a few rooms to the house. We can build up."
Harry tightened his grip on Severus' hand. This had been one of the hardest things he had ever done.
Harry played a bit with the edge of parchment that held his notes from his meeting, imagining Severus' disgust once he told him the truth. It would make their lives uncomfortable, at the very least.
Taking a deep breath, Harry garnered all the courage he could find before he spoke. "There won't be a wife."
He jumped up and went to stare sightlessly out the window. "I hope this doesn't make you nervous or upset... but I prefer men to women."
Severus watched himself as Harry said those words. He didn't see it, but he could still feel the attraction he had been fighting take a firm root and begin to flourish. He had been doing his best to kill it by telling himself that there was no way that Harry could ever return it, but the moment Harry gave this tantalizing hint that there was a chance, his mind had shown him every lingering glance Harry had cast upon him in the past three years.
Severus stood up and crossed the room. He stopped behind Harry, fighting the urge to put a comforting hand on the younger man's shoulder. Touching Harry was off limits. It would feed the attraction, which he couldn't allow to happen. They were living together amicably now, and he wasn't willing to jeopardize that. He listened as Harry continued.
"So, any wife or kids here will be your own."
Severus shook his head even though Harry couldn't see it. "Then, there shall never be any here." He smirked as he continued. "And I have no reason to feel nervous or upset. It would be hypocritical to do so as our preferences mirror each other's."
Harry spun about, his eyes wide as he took in the implications.
"You could find a partner to share your life with. It doesn't have to be a wife." Severus watched as the green eyes dimmed.
"Harry Potter can't. Just ask the Wizarding world."
Severus felt his hand moving too late to stop it and not have it be noticed. Instead, he changed the motion from pulling Harry to him to pushing aside the lock of hair hiding his scar. "Harry Potter might not be able to," he tapped the scar lightly before allowing the hair to fall back to its accustomed place, "but Harry Pope can. We know that there are people out there who only see the scar and messy hair. All you have to do is what you've done these past several years, hide the scar. You're hair had grown out just enough that it looks different to the unobservant."
He watched as the green eyes brightened. Fighting his desire to kiss Harry, Severus turned and walked out the door.
Severus watched his younger self flee, glad that it didn't look that way. He had ended up in his lab, telling himself that there was no way Harry would really be attracted to him. He just wished that he had the courage to hold the younger man for just a moment. He could have always claimed it as just a comforting hug, which would have been at least partially true.
Turning his attention back to Harry now, he was curious as to what had happened after he had walked out. He was surprised to see that he wasn't the only one watching him go and at the longing that was on Harry's face. He felt the older Harry tighten his fingers around his hand.
"Yes, I was attracted to you even then. I hadn't planned on acting on it though. I didn't think my advances would be welcomed." Harry shook his head slightly. "What did you go do?"
Severus stared a bit longer at the memory Harry. "I went to my lab and wore the same expression on my face there. I also had not planned on acting on my attraction to you."
At Harry's snort, he turned towards him. Memories of past desire were rushing through him, adding fuel to his current desire. Nodding to himself, he slipped out of Harry's mind.
He was around the table before Harry had reoriented himself. Threading his fingers through the silvering black mop, he pressed a kiss onto Harry's lips. Just as Harry started to respond, he pulled back and tugged him over towards the window.
Severus then wrapped Harry in his arms, holding him like he had wanted to that long ago day, and continued the kiss. He felt Harry's hand thread through his hair and brush against the nape of his neck. Groaning lightly, Severus deepened the kiss, letting his own hands travel over the familiar body pressed against his. Harry's hands followed suit, trailing little paths of fire over him.
When the kiss ended, Severus peered into the happy face that was beaming up at him. "That is how that conversation should have ended."
Harry chuckled lightly as he pecked a kiss on Severus' cheek. "I don't know if I could have handled it, but it certainly would have changed things."
Hugging Harry close for a moment longer, Severus released him. "I'm going to be in the lab. The beans are shelled, the ham is in the oven, and the potatoes are in the sink."
Harry brushed his fingers across Severus' cheek. "I'll let you know when dinner is ready."
After dinner was finished and the dishes done, Harry helped out in the lab. He looked over at Severus cutting up roots while three different cauldrons were boiling away at the edge of the table. 'If he had kissed me then, would we ever have gone to that club? If he wasn't pushing me to meet other people, there wouldn't have been a need to.'
Severus caught the look that on Harry's face. "Yes, we would have eventually gone. Just as a couple instead of the way we went."
Harry smiled. "The way we should have gone."
Severus raised an eyebrow and pointed at the mortar and pestle with his knife.
Pulling them towards him, Harry's smile broadened. He could tell that they were both remembering that day.
ハリーポッターmemory lane セブルススネイプ
They stood on the front steps of Grimmauld Place, both feeling uncertain about entering the house. Severus finally opened the door and walked into the dusty room. "I'll use the same room as last time."
"I'll do the same," Harry replied as he stepped inside and watched Severus heading up the staircase. It had taken him five months from their mutual coming outs for him to accepted the fact that Severus was the only person he wanted. He had honestly tried to look for someone else.
When he had been at Diagon Alley for weeks on end putting together the shop, George and Ron had both set up blind dates for him. It had taken a long talk with her family, but Ginny had eventually accepted that there could be nothing between them. After that she convinced Hermione that they had to help find someone for him as well. Not one of the men sparked the level of interest that Severus did. They were good looking, funny and smart, but they just didn't make him want to talk to them about important things, to touch them, to tease a response out of them. He had doubted George when he insisted that people wouldn't recognize him right away if he wore metal framed glasses, and put just enough gel in his hair that it was partially tamed. The fact that his scar had faded was another bonus according to Ron.
It did work for a little while. Typically about ten minutes into the meeting, his date would figure out who he was, and it would become a fawning session. The only difference would be whether they tried to disguise the fawning or not.
After that, Harry had spent weeks holed up in his workroom making the stock for his store. He had a unique line of wands that used plants as their core. Severus casting a spell using his first walnut wand had made him curious to know if quality material would make a difference. Both the walnut and the heather had been so old that they barely were worth using. So, he had made Severus another one out of walnut and white heather. He knew that Severus was carrying that wand as his secondary one. He also had secondary one made of holly with an apple core. They were in London, and as Severus had pointed out, you can never be too careful. It may have been years since the Death Easters ran about, but there were others out there.
It was nearing the end of those weeks that he decided to act on his attraction to Severus. That was what brought them here. Narrowing his eyes slightly, Harry planned how to use the day he had gained with Severus to his advantage.
Severus shut the door behind him and leaned up against it. Three days ago he had been working in his potions garden when Harry had come outside.
Severus had had quickly run through his mind everything he knew they needed to get from the market in London and was prepared to list it off. Instead of the request he had expected, Harry had hesitated near him, before finally meeting his eyes. He remembered the pink blush that had covered Harry's face and brightened his eyes. He remembered reaching out to see if the young man had a fever, but stopped when Harry stepped back.
Dragging his gaze away from where Harry was worrying his lower lip with his teeth, he had raised an eyebrow in silent query.
"I like you."
Severus had felt his eyes widening at that confession, his heart picking up pace. Then he narrowed the former and did his best to get the latter to slow down. "You need to meet other people. You think you like me because we are already living together."
Harry had shaken his head. "No, I am attracted to you. I want to give this a try."
Shaking his head at that memory, Severus dropped his traveling case on the bed. Harry had convinced him to come to London to check out the wand shop, and to see how his potions lines were really doing in the stores. They were also going to visit a Muggle nightclub at Severus' insistence so that Harry had a chance to be Pope not Potter.
Harry agreed, but he pointed out that they needed to go clothes shopping and then dinner. Severus hoped that he had convinced Harry that it wasn't a date.
Running a hand over his face, he sighed and stared at himself in the mirror. 'I was a bleeding spy; I can handle getting through this afternoon and evening. Harry will find someone else and never has to know just how much I wish it could be me. There is too much of a chance that we wouldn't work out. That would lead to too much tension in the house. I refuse to die because I didn't know how to control myself.'
Stepping out the door, Severus went to face the rest of the day.
Harry took in the selection of clothes that Severus had picked out for himself: dark gray and black trousers and white button-down shirts. He, himself, had a collection of jeans and different colored trousers ranging from black to khaki. His shirts were about as colorful as a rainbow. Nothing too flashy, but at least not monochromatic. He surreptitiously glanced at Severus' shirt size and then added a dark blue and green to his collection.
Harry braced himself for the scathing comments when he gave Severus the other two shirts as soon as they returned to Grimmauld Place. All the man did was raise an eyebrow and take them upstairs.
Harry didn't expect to see them again and sure enough, Severus wore dark gray trousers and a white shirt for the evening's outing. At least Harry had changed up his own appearance, wearing khaki trousers and a black button-down shirt with the sleeves cuffed.
Dinner was so ordinary that it might as well have taken place in their dining room. After they had finished, Severus took them to a Muggle club.
Folding his arms, he glared down at Harry. "Go in and mingle with a younger group, Harry. Have fun."
Harry narrowed his eyes. "You have to mingle as well. No hiding in the corners."
Severus raised a dark eyebrow. "I won't hide in the corners."
Harry studied him a bit longer before spinning on his heel and stalking through the door.
Severus waited for a few minutes before he entered so that it wouldn't appear as if they were together.
Harry had started mingling with the younger patrons, but out of the corner of his eye, he watched Severus settle at a table in the exact center of the sitting area and order a drink. 'Fine, I'll mingle, talk, dance, and prove to him that it isn't just because I have no other options.'
He flashed a smile at a blue-eyed, black haired boy that reminded him a little bit of Sirius. It took him around ten minutes to realize that the boy was actually a year older than himself. Harry forced himself to not to show annoyance at how immature the group was acting.
Severus rolled the bottom of his glass on the table top, the scotch reflecting the light as it swirled. They had been there for almost an hour. Not one patron had approached him. If Harry brought it up, he would deny that his glares had anything with that. With no distractions, he watched as the Sirius want-to-be and his entourage entertained Harry. They talked, laughed, and in general acted like a group of seventh years after their NEWTS were done. Harry had also danced with each one.
He could tell Mutt Jr. was very interested in Harry. Glaring at the boy, he hoped Harry wouldn't pick him. He knew it was petty to not like someone due to the resemblance, but he would have a hard time giving up his attraction to Harry if it was for that boy.
Dragging his attention away from Harry, he surveyed the rest of the club. The dance floor was crowded, and the volume of the music was almost painful though Severus could get used to the songs themselves. The older crowd was over near the bar. There were obviously two different celebrities in that group. One was a dominating personality whom he was fairly certain practiced BDSM, and the other was an easy going man who smiled as much as Harry.
Severus' gaze drifted back to the younger crowd and came to the conclusion that Harry had found the reigning celebrity of the younger crew. He watched with distaste as Mutt Jr. pulled Harry out onto the dance floor again. Taking a sip of his scotch, he settled back in his seat and observed them.
Harry could feel the black eyes boring into his back as he danced with Jamie. He knew Severus had been watching him all night, and it was adding to his aggravation; if Severus liked him that much, he could at least spend a few moments with him. Harry would appreciate the higher level of conversation, if nothing else. As the song wound to an end, he headed towards the Potions Master.
"Harry! Where are you going?" Jamie reached out to pull Harry back towards his group.
Harry easily evaded the grasp. "I want to see what the man over there wants."
Jamie searched the direction that Harry had waved in and frowned when he saw several older men over there. He wanted Harry to go home with him that evening and was not going to chance losing him. "I'll come with you."
Harry shrugged. He couldn't keep Jamie away, and he kind of wanted to see what Severus' reaction to the Sirius-look-alike would be. As he approached Severus, he took in the empty tables around the Potions Master. The rest of the club was crammed to the gills, pulsing with energy and passion, but somehow, Severus had created an island, an oasis of calm all around him. It took one look into those dark eyes to know how he had done it – it was Professor Snape sitting at that table. It gave Harry a moment's pause before he shrugged it off. He had faced an angrier looking Snape before.
Jamie stared at the table Harry was heading for and its sole, glowering occupant. That man would take Harry apart. "Oh, come on, Harry, you don't want to talk to him."
Harry fought the smirk that wanted to erupt at the trepidation in Jamie's voice. A Snape Scowl could still make grown men quake. And it was a light one at that. "Yes, I do. He's been watching me all evening."
Harry breached the ring of silence with Jamie right on his heels. Resting both hands on the table, Harry leaned forward, so that he would be sure that Severus heard him. "If you like what you see, why don't you come dance with me?"
A shocked gasp sounded near his shoulder, and Harry felt Jamie tugging at his arm. He ignored it as Severus glared at him.
Jamie blanched. What was Harry thinking? Anyone in that club could tell that this man was not one to approach lightly. It was obvious by the absence of people near him. The most submissive of the club's patrons were wary of him even though he reeked of control and dominance.
"A bit confident in yourself, aren't you?" Severus refused to let Harry know just how much he wanted to do just that.
Harry leaned a little closer. "Or are you too cowardly to get on the dance floor?"
He watched as the black eyes narrowed. He could see Severus' fury at being called a coward.
Fire blew through Severus and he wasn't certain if it was because he wanted to kiss Harry or kill him. As neither was a good idea, he squelched his temper. He wasn't sure if Harry really wanted to dance with him or if he was just attempting to goad him.
Narrowing his eyes for just a moment, he then raised an eyebrow to question Harry's maturity. They had long passed the point of name calling.
Harry refused to lean back, but did drop his eyes briefly as an apology. Looking back up, he gave Severus a look that dared him to dance with him.
The dare showed that Harry did want to dance with him. Accepting the dare, Severus let his gaze rest on the hand that was still feebly tugging at Harry's arm. "If you can lose Mutt Jr., I shall dance with you."
Harry almost laughed out loud at the moniker. Relief flooded him, his apology was accepted and Severus was going to dance with him. He glanced over to the scared looking man beside him. "Jamie, it will be fine. He can't tear me apart on the dance floor."
Reluctantly, Jamie let Harry go. He did not like this, but in the end he couldn't stop it. "I think he is dangerous. Be careful, Harry."
Harry watched as Severus quickly masked the mirth that sprang up in his eyes. The scowl never changed.
"I think I will be completely safe with him, don't worry." Taking Severus' hand, he tugged him towards the dance floor aiming for the least crowded corner.
"Now that you have me out here, what did you want to talk to me about, Harry?" Severus danced gracefully even with the techno beat vibrating through the floor. He made sure that there was a space between them.
"I've just spent the most annoyingly dull hour. I wanted to have some fun so I went to find you." Harry moved closer to Severus, brushing his fingers against the white clad arm.
Severus raised an eyebrow, but didn't move his arm. "Fun? Me? Those two do not go together, Harry." He fought the bubble of warmth that rose in his chest at Harry's laughter. "And you appeared to be having fun."
"They're kids, Severus. I was bored with the conversation ten minutes in." Harry brushed his hair out of his eyes.
Severus glared at the group watching him carefully. He was amused at the open concern on their faces. "They are your age."
Harry followed his gaze. "And I am not like people my age. Seen and done too much."
"Let them show you how to have fun, Harry." Severus looked Harry over, taking in the ease in his movements, before resting on his face. "You deserve it after all you have done."
Harry caught and held Severus' gaze. "I tried. They were lacking wit and sarcasm. I'd rather spend my time with you." He moved closer, until there was less than a hand's breadth between them.
"Harry..." 'Tell him to move away. Do not savor this. Do not wish for one more step forward.'
Harry waited until the dark eyes were completely focused on him. Neither heard the driving beat of the song, and they didn't notice that they were both standing still.
"You understand me. You know what I have walked to and what I been through. I like your sarcasm... your ability to cut someone down with a look... the way you raise an eyebrow to speak an entire sentence."
Severus grabbed hold of his sanity and offered the other feasible solution. "If the younger crowd is too young for you, try the older crowd." He scanned the green eyes that were giving him a resigned look.
"For you. I will go talk to them, maybe dance with them, and sit with them because you asked me to. Then, we will talk." Harry turned as the song ended. "See you later, Severus."
Severus watched Harry head over to the bar area as he went back to his table. His heart was still beating fast in reaction to Harry's closeness. 'He is doing this for me?' Pushing the thought away, Severus decided that he wasn't going to even think about what had been said. If he did, he might start believing it. He was relieved that the area around his chosen table was still empty.
Harry nodded to the blond at the edge of the bar. "Hi, my name is Harry."
The blond raised his pint in a salute as looked between him and Severus. "Name is Nathan. No one has been able to get near Black. What is your secret?"
Harry whipped about, scanning the room before closing his eyes while a smile tugged at his lips. Severus would hate that name. Pulling himself back under control, he turned back to Nathan. "Secret? Nothing. I just didn't let him intimidate me."
Nathan nodded slightly. "Black has been watching you all evening so it makes sense that he let you near him. Care to introduce me?"
Harry knew he looked surprised. "You want me to introduce you to... Black?"
Nathan grinned. "Yes. Then you can go see Arnold. He wants to meet you."
"Arnold?" Harry scanned the crowd near the bar.
"The tall man with the brown hair. Over there at the other end."
"Okay." Harry turned around and walked back to Severus' table, Nathan following him. It was about time the Potions Master had some company.
"Nathan, this is … Black. Black, this is Nathan." He smiled at Severus' glare. He could tell it was for the name more than the other man's presence. "It is the name they've given you. If you want them to know your real one, you are going to have to tell them."
He watched as Severus' glare became more pronounced. Grinning, he waved bye and turned back towards the bar, wishing for his invisibility cloak so that he could slip back and witness this conversation. "Have fun, Nathan."
Severus leveled a glare at Harry before looking at the easy going celebrity that he noted earlier. "You wish to join me?"
Holding his mug, Nathan slid into one of the empty seats. "I haven't seen you around here before."
Severus noticed Mutt Jr. trying to catch Harry's arm. Harry neatly evaded the grasping fingers, and started talking rapidly to the brat. "It has been a very long time."
Nathan nodded as he settled back into his seat, sipping his drink. His eyes roamed the crowd.
Finally rid of Jamie, Harry stopped behind the crowd that surrounded Arnold. Looking the man over, he recognized that the brunette had a dangerous edge to him, but Harry had faced scarier and far more dangerous wizards and other creatures, so he didn't let that deter him. He was deciding if he wanted to deal with the crowd or just go find someone else when the others shifted and Arnold was suddenly standing near him.
"Welcome. Sit." Arnold gestured towards a chair while he looked down at the young submissive who had caught his interest earlier.
Harry considered telling the man that he didn't take orders, but decided not to push it at that moment. He had told Severus he would sit, talk, and maybe dance. Having a seat, he looked at Arnold. "I hear that you wanted to see me?"
Arnold walked around him, peering at him from all sides. "You are perfect. I want you for mine."
Harry raised an eyebrow at that. "As yours?"
Arnold nodded. This normally worked quite well with the young ones. They were looking for someone to tell them what to do, to guide them.
Harry held in a laugh. He refused to be anyone's. His life had been controlled for way too long.
Nathan's attention was caught when Harry sat down. Glancing over at his table companion, he was not surprised that Black was watching the events unfold. The man had been closely watching the boy all night. "Arnold was looking for a new submissive tonight. He was worried when his choice went to you."
Severus shot a quick look at Nathan before turning his attention back to Arnold and Harry. "Why was he worried?"
Nathan let a snort. "It is obvious that you are a dominant. And Harry reeks of submissiveness. Arnold has been a bit antsy since you came through the door."
Severus felt the side of his mouth quirk up. Harry as a submissive was a notion that anyone who knew him would laugh at. Hardheaded and stubborn were better descriptors.
"You've had your eye on Harry since you came in here."
Severus just nodded, only giving Nathan a part of his attention. The rest of his focus was on the brunette talking to Harry. The man's body language spoke volumes. He was trying to get Harry to agree to whatever idea he had presented.
Studying the way Harry was holding his shoulders, he smirked. "Arnold needs to learn to read body language better."
Nathan shifted his attention back to Harry and Arnold. He didn't see anything to indicate that Arnold didn't have Harry enraptured with him. "Are you sure? Arnold is really good."
"He is missing the clues. As a dominant, he should know what to look for." Severus watched as Harry's shoulders stiffened just a bit. "Harry is about to tell him off, or just storm away."
"A submissive about to tell off a dominant? Not likely, you should know that."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "But Harry isn't a submissive."
Nathan looked from Black to Harry. "His head is tilted down; he isn't looking Arnold in the eye. All signs of submissiveness."
Severus nodded. "Unless you are dealing with a younger person who does not want to seem disrespectful. Look at his shoulders. Harry's head is bowed, but not his shoulders."
Nathan took in the stiffening shoulders before looking back at Black. "So, if he is not a submissive, why are you interested, Black?"
Severus scowled at the name. "Pope, not Black. I am not a dominant; therefore, I do not require a submissive." He ignored the snort of laughter that came from Nathan.
"Right, Pope. Then how do you know how to read body language so well?"
"Working in a boarding school for more than ten years will teach it to you." Severus watched as Harry's back and shoulders clench and release. "Arnold just lost."
Nathan jerked his gaze back over to Harry, mouth falling open as the boy shot to his feet.
Severus smirked. Whatever Arnold tried to convince Harry of must have hit a sore point. Harry turned and stormed back towards him with Arnold following behind.
Catching Harry's eyes, Severus narrowed his before looking over at the other people around. Green eyes pinned him to his chair, and Severus could almost swear he heard the word 'snowball'. Harry then spun on his heel, cast a scathing look over Arnold, and strode off to find another group to mingle with.
Out of the corner of his eye, Severus caught Mutt Jr. trailing after Harry. "Someone needs to take Mutt Jr. in hand. I have no doubts that Harry could handle him, but I doubt that at this moment Mutt Jr. would enjoy it."
Nathan looked about trying to determine who 'Mutt Jr.' was. "You seem to know Harry pretty well..." His eyes widened. "You know him, don't you? You are here to watch after him."
Severus cut a look over at his table companion. "Yes."
"You do know that the boy is interested in you, right?" Nathan watched as Arnold stalked away from where Harry was ignoring him.
Severus glanced about the club before returning his attention to Nathan. "What boy?"
"Harry." As a black eyebrow arched higher, he realized that calling Harry a boy was the issue. "Okay, Harry isn't a boy. But it doesn't change the fact that he would rather be with you." He raised his mug to take another drink.
Whatever Severus' reply would have been was cut off by the arrival of Arnold. He leveled a formidable glare at the man as he sat down uninvited.
Undeterred, Arnold rested his elbows on the table and matched Black's glare with an intimidating look of his own. "What do you have over the boy?"
Severus raised an eyebrow and settled back into his seat. Arnold's look was nothing compared to Malfoy's much less Voldemort's. "Boy?"
He ignored Nathan's snort of amusement. The blond quirked a smile as he swallowed a mouthful of beer.
Waving his hand in Harry's direction, Arnold frowned. "Harry. He was doing perfectly fine until someone mentioned that you were too thin and sallow to be up for consideration." He let his eyes rake over the thin man. "I, of course, agreed. Harry then stormed off."
"I have no control over Harry." Severus could tell that Arnold was dismissing his response. "It was the way you were talking. He took it as an attack on me."
"A submissive will not do that. They will follow their dominants' lead. I think he has chosen you as his dominant, and I want to know why." His expression showed that he thought Severus left a lot to be desired.
"You misread the entire situation. I will caution you to take more care reading the people you try to control." Severus smirked as he took in the other man's expression. "You took caution and curiosity as submission. A rookie mistake."
Severus looked over at Harry just in time to catch his eye. He could tell that Harry was finished here. He gave the barest of nods, knowing that the young man would catch it. "You have also mistaken someone who is acerbic as a dominant. Another rookie mistake. You should attempt to limit that."
"I am not a rookie, and I know that I am right." Arnold leaned forward, putting himself closer to Severus.
Severus caught sight of Harry walking out the door. Completely ignoring Arnold, he turned towards Nathan and nodded.
"Have a good night," he said and left without a glance at Arnold.
Severus Apparated back to Grimmauld Place and went in search of Harry finding him in one of the smaller parlours. Harry started in as soon as he crossed the threshold.
"The man was an idiot. A complete idiot. They all were idiots. For some reason, that Arnold person thought he had the right to control me. Not happening, Severus," he fumed.
Walking forward, Harry stopped in front of Severus, handing him a cup of tea before he continued. "Mutt Jr. and his crew were annoying and childish, and the other adults were just as annoying."
He took a sip of his tea, attempting to calm down. "I gave it my best shot. It didn't work. It didn't work when Ron, George, Ginny and Hermione tried either. I want you, Severus."
Severus closed his eyes so he wouldn't have to see the longing mixed with the anger in the face that peered up at him. He already understood it quite well from his own personal experience. "Harry, if we try this, and it goes bad, we still have to live together."
The tea cup was taken from his grasp, and Harry rested his hand in its place. Opening his eyes, Severus instinctively closed his hand over Harry's.
Leaning forward, Harry brushed his fingers along Severus' jawline. "I want to know what we can get out of this. If it fails, then we are no worse off than when we began this bargain. We didn't like each other then, and we made it work. If we have to, we can do it again." Green eyes met black. "Please, Severus."
The pleading note in Harry's voice was his downfall. Severus caved. Harry had done everything he requested. "Very well, Harry. But if this ends, then we will just avoid the other as much as possible."
At Harry's nod, Severus pulled him into a tight hug and their very first kiss.
Harry glanced at the potion case set on the table. "Are you coming with me?"
Severus cleared the breakfast dishes off the table. "I will. This time."
"Let's go then." Harry watched as Severus slipped a coat on before picking up his potions case. Flashing a smile, he headed out the door.
It was a quiet walk to the village, Severus surveying the area as Harry walked beside him. Occasionally, one would brush their arm against the other.
Harry knocked on the door, and nodded to the elderly lady he had met the last time.
"Master Pope." Faded blue eyes flicked from Harry to Severus and back again. "Were you able to find something out to help her?"
Harry gestured to Severus. "I wasn't, but he was. May we come in?"
She stepped back from the door and motioned them in.
Severus swept into the house behind Harry, and followed the younger man to the sickroom. He barely prevented himself from wrinkling his nose and scowled instead. "Harry, open the windows."
Crossing the room, he pulled out his wand and cast his own diagnostic spell over the girl. He read over the scrolling information and nodded. He might not be a healer, but after all the years of substituting for Poppy and the Dark Lord insisting that he was qualified to heal his fellow Death Eaters, he knew enough for this.
"What are you doing? Do not open that window!"
He shifted his scowl over to the elderly lady. "He is doing as I instructed, Madam..."
"Mrs. Garret." She glared over at Harry. "It is too cold out there for her."
"Madam, the smell in this room will do her more harm than the slight nip in the air coming in. She also needs a bath." He watched in satisfaction as her eyes widened in disbelief.
Severus transfigured a tub and a screen out of empty potions bottles and placed them in the middle of the dingy room. He heard Harry filling the tub with water as he flicked his wand, removing the covers off the patient. The smell that escaped made him wonder when the last bath had occurred.
He ran a critical eye over the young lady, before levitating her to the tub. "Mrs. Garret, if you will assist with her bath."
"She should be tucked in bed. I will not..."
"Fine." Severus cut her off. "Harry, will you see to the changing of the bedding? I will wash the young lady myself."
Even as he stepped towards the screen, Mrs. Garret stomped over to the other side.
"You will not. I'll do it. Clean sheets are in the closet across the hall."
One side of Severus' mouth quirked up as Harry went for the covers. While Harry changed the sheets, he set out the potions.
"Donald! Get in here and find Annetra a clean gown."
Severus raised an eyebrow as Mrs. Garret's voice resounded throughout the house. He met Harry's amused eyes when Ferguson rushed through the door, looked about, blanched when he spotted Severus, and then found the required night clothes.
Casting a quick Scourgify over the area around the bed and potions table, Severus waited for a sign that Mrs. Garret was finished.
"You can take her back to her bed now."
Levitating her carefully, Severus settled Annetra back onto the clean, fresh smelling bed. 'Harry did a good job with those freshening spells.' Propping her on the pillows, he narrowed his eyes at her. "Miss Annetra, wake up."
"Humph. As if that would work. If it would have, then she would have woken up at St. Mungo's." Mrs. Garret folded her arms and glared at them. Her face fell when Annetra's eyes fluttered.
Harry suppressed a chuckle at Mrs. Garret's expression. He knew that it was the bath and fresh air, not Severus' command, that caused the girl to wake up, but it was obvious that the old lady didn't. At least he thought that was the cause.
Severus' voice cut through his amusement. Turning slightly, he raised a questioning eyebrow. When the dark eyes glanced at Annetra and back to him, he knew that Severus wanted help.
Severus gazed into the overly bright sky blue eyes. "Good morning, Miss Annetra. You have some potions to take. The purple vial, Harry, and then help hold her up."
Harry handed him the Nutrient Potion before supporting the girl.
"Drink half of this one." Severus pressed the vial to her lips, and watched as she drained half of it. Stoppering it, he set it back on the table and picked up the green and brown vial.
"Now, you have to drink this entire potion." He pressed the poison neutralizer to her lips and made sure that she drank every last drop, even though she tried to stop halfway.
"Good, now three drops of this one." The brown potion came out in large drops. "Now that you have finished that, Mrs. Garret will take you to the restroom."
Mrs. Garret shot a look over at Harry. "You, Master Pope, will levitate her there for me."
Pulling his wand, Harry did as requested.
Once the girl was back in bed comfortably, she drifted back off to sleep.
Severus gestured to the bottles. "Those are her potions. She shall take half a purple vial at night, and the other half in the morning. The green vial shall be given at this time for the next four days. The brown shall be given with the purple. Remember it is only three drops from the brown vial. She shall be bathed daily. Be prepared for vomiting and diarrhea."
Ferguson looked from Severus to Harry. "What is the matter with her? Will she get better?"
Severus scowled at him. "Of course she is going to get better. She just came in contact with something she shouldn't have."
"Then why didn't St. Mungo's catch it if it something that simple?" Mrs. Garret's gaze settled on Annetra.
"Simply because it is hard to detect unless you know to look for it. The symptoms mimic too many other types of illnesses, especially in the early stages. But knowing the plants around here, having all these symptoms can make it only one thing. I doubt that the St. Mungo Healer, no matter how proficient, knows all the plants that grow in this area."
"And you do?"
"I have studied them for quite some time, Mrs. Garret." Severus' tone could have frozen water in less than a second.
Mrs. Garret nodded. "What do we owe you?"
Severus tapped a finger to his thigh. "That is up to Harry."
Harry fingered the quilt he had put on the bed earlier. "Are you a quilter?" When she nodded, he continued. "Then I would like a King size quilt in this pattern," he held up the edge of a 'trip around the world' patterned quilt, "done in Hogwarts' colors."
"Hogwarts?" Mrs. Garret frowned. "That Wizarding school in Scotland?"
"Yes. Red, green, blue and yellow," Harry replied.
"It will take a while, but I can have it for you next month."
"Next month then. Now, we shall leave you." He watched as Severus swept through the door before he nodded and followed him.
Walking back towards the house, Harry directed them off the road and into the woods. Once the trees blocked them from sight, Harry slipped his hand into Severus'.
"Why a quilt in Hogwarts' colors?" Severus threaded his fingers through Harry's.
Harry smiled and stepped closer to Severus until their shoulders brushed. "I thought it would be a nice Christmas present for Minerva. Since she retired as Headmistress, she has missed the colors. Haven't you noticed that she has been adding the all four of them to her decor?"
Severus smiled as he nodded. He was glad that he was not similarly inflicted. It might be because he was Headmaster for only one year. Minerva took it back over after Harry had graduated. "What about Molly? Arthur might enjoy it since he was complaining about how the cold was seeping through the walls."
Even though the family was much better off, Molly and Arthur refused to move out of the Burrow. So everyone, even Harry and Severus, made a point to swing by on occasion so that they were not rattling about in that big house on their own. Severus and Harry were fortunate not to be on any schedule but their own, since neither ran a shop.
Harry bit his lip and thought about the jam he had almost gotten himself into. "If Mrs. Garret does a good job on Minerva's, then I'll commission a quilt for Mum Weasley."
"What are the plans for the rest of the day?" Severus scanned the ground looking for ingredients.
"We are expected for Violet and Marcus' birthday party. Mum Weasley wanted us to come over a little before lunchtime." Harry tugged Severus away from the wood sorrel.
"Do we have a present for them?" Severus gave into Harry's tug and noted where to come back to tomorrow.
"They are sitting in my workroom."
"They should pick out their own wands, Harry." Severus frowned at the surprised look that crossed Harry's face.
"Of course they will. Rose is bringing the twins to the shop at the end of the week. Grandma Hermione and Grandpa Ron are coming along to watch the event. No, I figured that since Violet and Marcus were going to Hogwarts this coming school year, they should have a way to communicate with each other. You and I both know that those two are inseparable."
"The Sorting Hat will end that." Severus' frown lightened. The twin's personalities were night and day from each other. "What did you find?"
"Mirrors. Small, compact sized ones. I cast an unbreakable charm on them just in case." Harry knew that Marcus would be the one to accidentally slam the mirror into something.
Nodding, Severus stopped just outside of the woods, taking in the view of their home. He was silent for a long moment and then he turned to Harry and smiled. "Thank you."
Harry blinked. "For what? I normally get Violet and Marcus their birthday presents."
Severus shook his head. "For giving me this home, for coming back for me, for... for us."
Harry felt a slow, gentle smile curve his lips. The years had flown by so fast… "You helped. You bargained better than I did. You helped me see that I could change my dreams and live with it. You pushed me to do better at my choice, even though it wasn't something you knew much about. You were the one that accepted me. He searched the warm eyes looking at him. "You are welcome, and thank you, too."
Severus pulled Harry to him and brushed a gentle kiss across his lips. "It was my pleasure." He looked over at their home and back down to Harry. "There is one long-lived snowball residing in Hell."
Both of them took a moment to think of the deal they had made with Death. And even though neither wanted to see him, it had become a tradition to leave the snowball's hooded guardian Christmas presents over the years. After leaving Death 'Knitting for Beginners – how to pass too much free time creatively!' their second Christmas together, they had stuck with scythe-related things. They had come up with some creative ideas and no matter how much those sockets had glowed with anger, Death turned up on time each year for his gift. Since the third year, he always gave them something knitted.
"That's because there are two stubborn wizards who have enough will power to keep it from melting. Death should have paid a bit more attention to who he was bargaining with." Laughing, Harry returned the kiss.
Laughter was still in his eyes when he pulled away. "We need to hurry, or Mum Weasley will be mad at us both."
As they walked into the house, there, draped on the back of the sofa was two knit jumpers. They were dark gray with a snowball on the front.
Severus stared at them while Harry searched the room. There was only two beings that would leave them matching jumpers, and only one would leave them on the sofa without a note.
Harry picked up one, and examined the stitch. "It is Death's knitting." He held out the slightly larger one to Severus. "I guess we aren't the only ones dwelling on past events today."
Severus held it up and smiled. Death had made the snowball look like it was just about to melt. "He is giving hints." He pointed to the shiny section of the snowball.
"He knows he just has to wait. We aren't getting there any time soon." Harry pulled off the jumper he was wearing and put on Death's present before turning to face Severus.
"Still visible." Severus looked at the jumper in his hand, and then changed into it as well.
Harry's eyes widened. "Mum Weasley is going to be very curious about where we got them from."
Severus smirked at thought of Molly's annoyance since they would never tell where the jumpers came from. "Let's get our robes and head over. We wouldn't want to face the wrath of Molly. We are already going to annoy her. "
Their eyes met as they both agreed: Molly Weasley's wrath was scarier than facing Death.
AN: Yengirl wrote a really nice scene to go with this. It is now posted as "From Death's Point of View: A Snowball's Chance Epilogue". Enjoy her contribution. ^-~