A/N: Okay, so because I have a slight impulse control problem, I have granted you lovelies another chapter. But from now on, you must beg! Mwahahahaha! That's not true, I'll probably write it anyway, but if you want updates more often than two-twenty weeks apart, I'll need inspires, and reviews are inspiring (mostly because I love the attention, I'm not afraid to admit it).
Harry woke up to an empty bed, and stretched languidly as he heard the shower in the next room turn off. He stood up and went to his dresser, digging out two pairs of jeans and a t-shirt. He tossed the second pair of jeans onto his bed, and then did a double take. His bed was…whole. He stared at it confusedly while he changed into his clothes for the day.
The bedroom door opened, and Snape walked in with a towel around his waist. "I see you've deemed to grace the world with your presence." The man said dryly as he used another towel on his hair.
Harry noted the scars that littered the man's slim, finely toned abdomen, and shuddered as he recalled the glee on Pettigrew's face as he carved the majority of them the night of Voldemort's resurrection. He pointed to the bed. "How did it…?" He trailed off when Snape smirked mischievously at the large mattress.
"Ah, yes…" he looked up into Harry's eyes, a glimmer of humor shining in the black depths. "If you had wanted to sleep with me, Potter, you could have merely asked, rather than cast a weak separation charm."
Harry blushed a violent red. "Sorry…you didn't get caught in it or anything, did you? I must've been more tired than I thought."
The almost-smile from the night before reappeared. "No, I was not caught between the mattresses when they rejoined, otherwise you would find a hole in the middle shaped like a very pissed off Potions Master. Luckily, I do not move much in my sleep, unlike you when you cannot sleep."
Harry smiled a little. "Yeah…I didn't exactly apologize last night for keeping you up. I'd honestly thought you were asleep already, and I'm sorry. But thanks for listening to my concerns, and helping to allay some of my fears. I got some jeans out for you. I'll go start breakfast while you change."
Snape moved to the bed as Harry walked past him to the door. "Am I to spend the day shirtless, Mister Potter?"
Harry flinched. "If you keep calling me that, then yeah," He mumbled. He turned from the hallway and moved back towards the bed. "No, I just forgot. I can clean your shirt from yesterday. As I said last night, my shirts won't fit you."
Snape retrieved the shirt from where he'd left it on the bedpost the night before. "Can you not clean my trousers as well, or do you simply wish to see the Dungeon Bat in jeans for once?" He teased.
Harry rolled his eyes. "I could if you like, but you'd be walking around in shorts. For some reason, when I try to clean pants the legs unravel halfway up, and the hem even re-trims itself. When it first happened, Tonks wasn't sure if she should be impressed, or disappointed." He took the shirt and started smoothing it out on the bed.
"That is odd," Snape admitted. "How did you feel about it?"
Harry grimaced. "Annoyed. The first attempt was on my favorite pair of jeans, which I favored because they hugged my calves just right to hide my calf holster for my secondary wand without being baggy. Luckily, Hermione was able to fix them."
Snape hummed in agreement as Harry raised his wand to cast the cleaning spell. "So, Potter…"
"Yes?" Harry murmured distractedly as he tried to determine how strong the spell should be.
"What would you prefer I call you?" The whisper ghosted over Harry's ear, making him jump and scourgify the bed spread by accident. He turned around sharply to see Snape staring at him innocently. "So I won't be forced to walk around with either a bare abdomen, or a dirty shirt."
Harry blushed for the second time that morning. "I didn't think you'd hear that. 'Potter' is fine, since you seem attached to that name, though I'd prefer 'Harry'. As long as you don't call me 'Mister Potter'…it makes me feel like I'm back in the dungeons waiting for you to take points." He turned back around and cast the cleaning spell on the shirt, willing the sleeves to shorten just because the man had made him miss the first. They remained stubbornly at their normal length.
"I suppose I could manage as much, Potter, so long as you do not call me 'professor' any longer. You are a grown wizard, and I have never required my former students to continue the sobriquet. You may call me by my given name, or, and I offer this hesitantly to you, you may call me 'Severus'."
Harry frowned as he grabbed his clothes again. "Why so hesitant?"
The man grimaced. "I fear you may do as your mother once did and shorten it to 'Sev'. She thought the nickname was cute, I thought it sounded like a cat coughing up a hairball. My name is not long enough to require a nickname, and if it must be shortened for any purpose, one could just as easily remove the syllable of the second 'e'."
Harry chuckled as he left the room. "Whatever you say, Sev'rus, it's your name. When you've finished changing, meet me downstairs. The kitchen is the lowest floor, just like at Grimmauld, and the stairs are directly across from the main staircase. I don't recommend you trying to wander, the house has automatic booby traps that don't deactivate until everyone keyed to the wards is awake."
Snape nodded that he understood and Harry left the room quickly, his bare feet slapping against the hardwood as he left the attic itself. He moved down the stairs quietly, careful not to wake his sleeping companions. He was always the first one up, and the others would follow soon when they began to smell breakfast. The Muggle ventilation system worked in that favor. When he reached the kitchen, Harry set out a mountain of ingredients for breakfast. Remus was always hungry the morning after the full moon.
The Gryffindor stood on his toes as he reached for the pans at the top of the cabinet, then started when another hand surpassed his, and a firm body pressed against his back. He turned to see Snape smirking as he put the pans on the counter. He blushed, though he didn't know why.
"Guess I'm still a little short," He muttered. "It's a wonder my pants fit you last night. Do you want to help with breakfast?"
"I had to use a lengthening charm on the pants. And I suppose it would only be fair to help, as you seem to be feeding an army," Severus replied, moving to the ingredients laid out on the kitchen's island.
Harry huffed, taking a deep breath. "Yes, well, Remus had a rather…full night." Snape glanced at him with an eyebrow raised at the lame joke. "That werewolf turns into a bear after a full moon if we don't feed him properly." Harry continued.
The Potions Master snorted as he sorted the ingredients into the different foods they would be making. "Where would you even get all this food without being seen somewhere?"
"It's called a supermarket," Harry said, grabbing the ingredients for the pancakes and beginning to measure them into a large white bowl. "Amazing thing, Muggles eat all the same stuff that Wizard's do." Snape looked at him dubiously, and Harry raised a hand in concession. "Well, alright, maybe not everything, but quite a lot of it. Anyway, will you start the coffee while I start the pancakes, then cut up the sausage and ham so we can start the meats? I assume you know how to use a Muggle coffee maker?"
Snape nodded and moved to the far counter where the electric pot sat beside the jar of coffee grounds. For nearly twenty minutes, they worked together in silence, Snape doing whatever Harry asked of him, and surprisingly capable with the Muggle utilities. They were both stood at the stove, Harry minding the sausage, bacon, and ham while Severus started on the large pan of cheesy scrambled eggs, at the same time as flipping the hash in a separate pan.
Remus stumbled in through a magical door specifically designed to connect the house and his cage the morning following a full moon. "Morning Harry, Severus," He muttered groggily as he passed the stove, ruffling Harry's hair and moving towards the coffee pot, where Harry had already set out everyone's coffee mug.
Harry glanced at Snape, who was smirking. "He'll notice, just give him a few minutes," He whispered.
A few minutes later, Tonks and Hermione came down the stairs. "Morning," They both mumbled sleepily, going straight for the freshly brewed coffee. Ginny followed within moments, skipping chipperly to her seat at the long table near the door. Harry knew she'd likely been up doing yoga since he came down the stairs.
"Morning all!" Ginny announced to the room in general. The two witches and werewolf scowled as they took their own seats, all three nursing their mugs of black ambrosia. "How'd you sleep, Professor Snape?"
Harry caught the man's eye and blushed crimson as he remembered that they'd spent the night in the same bed, even before his spell had cancelled itself. Before Snape could say anything, though, Remus interrupted.
"Snape?" He yelped loudly, followed by a thunk as he fell out of his chair. Harry and Severus turned to see the werewolf staring with something akin to awe at the Potions Master. "But you're dead…when the hell did that stop being a permanent thing?"
"Right about the time Potter needed someone to save his life…again. That's twice now I've prevented you from hurting this boy in your other form. You're welcome," Snape said nonchalantly before turning back to the eggs and hash.
Harry rolled his eyes at the man's dramatics, and looked at the three witches trying to help Remus off the floor, where he seemed frozen. "Guys, could you explain while we finish breakfast?"
They nodded as Remus finally stood up on his own and retook his seat. Harry turned back in time to flip the meats before one side burned.
"Not going to lecture me, Potter, about being nicer to your honorary godfather?" Snape asked quietly.
Harry shrugged, glancing over his shoulder to see Kingsley and Neville joining the others in their explanation to Remus. "Not really. I've tried to tell him a thousand times that he needs to try and be more aware when he wakes up, he deserves the little surprises when they happen, whether he likes them or not." He turned off the burners on the pan and Snape helped him put the food onto serving plates.
Together, they spelled the food to float over to the table, where everyone was munching on the miniature blueberry muffins Harry had made earlier, and were discussing the events of the night before. Harry moved simultaneously with Snape to the coffee pot for their own morning fix, handing the man one of the extra mugs while he filled his and Neville's. He went put sugar and cream into one of the coffees, then chuckled when Snape wrinkled his nose in distaste.
Harry jumped, glad he didn't have his coffee in hand. "Merlin, Ginny, don't do that!" He hissed as the girl jumped up to sit on the counter next to the pot.
"You knew I was in the room," She excused with a shrug.
Harry huffed. "I thought you were explaining to Remus about Snape, not wandering around the kitchen with the express intent of scaring the shit out of me."
"I wasn't wandering around the kitchen, Tonks and Kingsley took over the explanation and I decided you guys were more interesting. So what's funny?" Ginny argued.
Harry sighed, but decided there was no point in reminding the girl again that sneaking up on people before they'd had their coffee was just mean. "Severus is apparently of the same opinion as me as to the way Neville takes his coffee. Speaking of which, would you mind taking this to him?" He handed the girl the mug and she frowned, but took it anyway.
"Sure, Harry, I can tell when I'm not wanted. I'm hungry anyway." She hopped off of the counter and rejoined the group at the table as they all began piling their plates with food.
The Gryffindor turned and leaned against the counter as he sipped his coffee, forgetting Snape was beside him until the man spoke.
"Will you not be joining your friends for breakfast, Harry?" The Potions Master asked softly.
Harry hummed as he took a long sip of his coffee. "I don't normally, no, but you're welcome to. I don't like the noise at the table when it's this crowded, and I'm not really hungry for a while after I cook, anyway." He saw Snape nod in understanding out of the corner of his eye, and turned his head to look at the man. "You could go eat if you wanted, I'm used to standing by myself."
Snape looked at him with that almost-smile once more gracing the once stern features. "I prefer the company over here, Potter. I, too, prefer to wait for a time before I eat after I finish cooking."
Harry quirked up one side of his mouth, and turned back to watching his friends eat as he drank his coffee.
The group gathered in the living room, where Harry and Severus were already talking. They situated themselves comfortably on the couches and chairs, before Harry stood to address them.
"Alright, so as a group we need to make a decision about whether or not Severus can stay. I know the majority of you would like to say yes now, but before we even take the vote, Severus has agreed to tell us what happened in the graveyard last summer, and where he's been since. I've told him we'll respect his explanation, and not interrupt, nor ask questions until he's finished. Can you all agree to that?"
The group nodded and Harry sat back down in the chair opposite the Potions Master. After a few minutes of gathering his thoughts, Snape began. "Last night, Potter and I discussed his paranoia, and how sometimes he thinks he's too paranoid. Yes it's possible to be 'too paranoid', but I wish I'd had his paranoia the night the Dark Lord rose again. I was meeting with someone whom I thought I could trust to discuss…" Severus paused and glanced at Harry before continuing. "Something, it's unimportant now. We met over drinks, and he had already ordered for me when I arrived. I should have known then that something was off, because this person had never learned my drink of choice in all the years we've known each other, but I trusted this person enough to believe I had simply mentioned it before and forgotten about it. We spoke for several minutes before I picked up my glass, because my companion kept insisting I drink. A suspicious action that I again ignored because I assumed I could trust this person, and that they simply wanted me inebriated to try and prevent violent fallout from the topic of our conversation. The minute I touched my glass, I found myself port-keyed to the graveyard. I didn't immediately recognize the area I was in, and let my guard down, thinking it was a vicious prank. The Dark Lord arrived soon after, and Harry has told you the story of what happened at Voldemort's resurrection, as seen through the eyes of Nagini. I was disarmed and immobilized by Pettigrew, and the ritual took place. To be completely honest, I don't entirely know how I escaped. All I remember is the ground opening beneath me."
Harry cleared his throat, breaking his own rule. "I thought that had been some new spell Voldemort created," He said, his voice thick as he recalled the horror he'd felt at the sight of Snape being swallowed up by the grass and dirt. His screaming was what had broken him from the vision.
Snape nodded. "I had thought the same until I awoke on the ground outside of one of Albus' safe houses in Transylvania. The man arrived a few days later to explain that after my miraculous escape, Voldemort had destroyed the graveyard, as well as Pettigrew, the only witness to his resurrection, and that the Wizarding World thought I was dead. He left me in the house to recover, as the blade Pettigrew used that night was cursed, and any attempts to heal any of the wounds I received that night would simply make them fresher and deeper, as well the wounds healed ten times as slow as a normal knife wound. I was in the house until a few months ago, at first healing, and then unsure of what I should do if I left. I had no news, no idea of what had been going on, until I one day received a letter from Hagrid, who is apparently hiding amongst the giants with his mother's family. He had somehow found out I was alive; likely a delayed note from Albus, and the letter he sent me explained everything that had been happening in my absence. That was when I went in search of you, Potter, and whoever was with you. I looked for any trace I could hope to find for two months before I finally decided to simply bring you to me. I have to say I had not expected you to dismiss the House Elves into new lives immediately, as I had tasked one of them to return to me as soon as he could, should you arrive. Had you not forgotten the blue moon, I doubt I would have known you were there at all. However, that problem shall be eradicated, should you decided I can stay, as I spent the time I was recovering working on my experiments. One of the successes was a much improved version of my original Wolfsbane."
"Well, that settles my vote," Remus said immediately, leaning back in the chair.
The others nodded, with mutterings of agreement, but Harry frowned. "But hold on, we can't let that decide it."
"We aren't, Harry," Neville said. "We listened to his story, and he sounds legitimate, even sincere."
"Neville's right, Harry," Hermione spoke up. "Hagrid told us in his last letter, around the time he contacted Snape, that he was sending us help. There's no way Hagrid could've known we had hidden ourselves well enough to evade the master spy, and it makes sense that Hagrid would be the one told about Professor Snape, because he's the only person who was nearby that Albus knew could be trusted."
"But, wait," Remus sat forward. "How did you know we'd respond to the rumors of a wizard rebellion? We don't normally, because Harry's such an asset that we can't risk him by letting amateurs, or potentially dangerous people, know who he's with or where he is."
"I knew you would respond because Minerva swore that you would. While I was tracing you, I was led to an area outside of Sicily, where Minerva cornered me. She and several others have apparently laid false trails across the globe that supposedly lead to you, but in fact lead to ambush points. It was she who found the House Elves, and provided me with the run down cabin I was using as my quarters while I waited. It was a simple matter of starting a rumor about a wizard rebellion that no one had actually seen," Snape explained patiently.
"And Minerva was the one who told us it might be ex-aurors, who we'd know we could trust, or Death Eaters trying to lure in other rebels," Tonks acknowledged, smacking her forehead. "That's why we went in the first place!"
The group chuckled at her gross over-simplification of the three day argument they'd had over whether to go or not, and Ginny grinned at Harry. "See, it all works out, like pieces of a puzzle, Harry. Why are you so quick to distrust him? I thought it seemed like you were getting along."
Harry furrowed his brow and chewed on his bottom lip thoughtfully. "It does all seem to fit," He conceded. "And I suppose we are getting along alright, though that seems a little odd for us…" He looked at the Potions Master, his eyes narrowed ever so slightly in scrutiny. "What I don't understand is why you have yet to tell us who the man that betrayed you was? Why hide it?"
Severus sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, breaking eye contact with the younger wizard to stare at his hands in his lap. "I wasn't trying to hide it, Potter, but I'll admit I had hoped you wouldn't ask until later, or perhaps never. You have to find out, but I wish it weren't from me," He started slowly. He looked back up into Harry's eyes, and Harry saw and unbridled sadness there. "I'm sorry, Potter, but the man who betrayed my position as a spy was, and is, Sirius Black."
A/N: So, what do you think? Did you see that coming, or is there a shat brick somewhere around?