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For the Best

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The room is dark, the air slightly cold and stale - Severus Snape's home has always had a staleness about it: a home that's barely lived in or used, an impassive emptiness. Evidence that this is more his second home, while Hogwarts is Snape's real home. The emptiness of this place used to disconcert Harry, but he's grown used to it. It's become almost endearing in a warped, highly unorthodox way, a bit like how Snape himself is. A characteristic familiarity that once irked Harry with uncertain intrigue is now a part of him. Severus Snape has become a part of him. Like a tattoo permanently etched underneath the skin.

And because they are friends of a sort, Harry decides to confide to Snape his plans to ask Ginny Weasley to marry him. The reaction is not what he expects.

“You cannot be serious about proposing to that woman." Sudden, inexplicable fury rolls off of Snape in waves and he is practically vibrating with it. "Still trying to recreate the family you lost, Potter? Complete with the cozy cottage in Godric's Hollow, a beautiful redheaded witch, and a cat. Pathetic.”

Harry draws himself up to his full height and puts his hands on his hips. “You're a fine one to talk. I’m sick and tired of this, Snape. Sick and tired. You have to make it some huge character flaw of mine, don’t you? It has to be something intrinsically wrong with me, because if you think about this specific relationship I have, with this specific woman, there’s nothing wrong with it. Absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t propose to her, marry her, and live happily ever after.”

Snape looks down and away, and Harry is positive he is right. That the expected sense of triumph doesn’t flood his veins is probably due to his weariness at going over this again and again with each of the friends he's told.

Just one more pressing of the point. “You can’t do it. You can’t give me one good reason why it wouldn’t last between me and –” He hasn’t even breathed the first sound of his girlfriend’s name when Snape’s lips press to his, rendering him mute.

It is a hard kiss, with something to prove, open mouthed but with no tongue, Snape’s hands gripping Harry’s biceps for balance. Harry isn’t used to the angle, someone swooping down from above. Surprised, he doesn’t even have time to close his eyes before Snape lets go and pulls back.

There is the beginning of a smirk on Snape’s face and Harry wonders about that for half a second before instinct kicks in and he surges forward, hands to either side of Snape’s neck, thumbs on his jaw, pulling his shocked face – caught you, you bastard – forward toward his own questing mouth.

This time Harry’s eyes close. This time there is motion, and heat, and tongue, and a tilting of his head to find the best angle to bring their mouths closer. His bottom lip has just scraped across stubble when Snape pulls away with a staggered step and utters simply, "Pleased with yourself, now?"

And, no, he's not. His face shows it, too. Harry says nothing; he looks Snape in the eyes, unblinking. So many things he'd like to say. So many things he can't say. How can he possibly begin to describe what he needs, has always needed, to someone like Snape? Deep down, he knows Snape would understand. Deep down, where no one can reach. And because it can never be reached, there is no point in trying. He has won impossible battles before, but now he is tired of fighting. It doesn't matter how much Severus Snape is under his skin. It can never, ever work. Not without a constant struggle and he is ready for something to come easily. 

His hand finds the door handle and Harry turns it slowly and pulls the door open as he steps over the threshold. Facing away from Snape, who is standing there, cold and unreachable now, Harry closes the door both to Spinner's End and to an unrealized future, quietly, but firmly behind him.

It's for the best.