Harry was well aware that the beginning of the school year was bound to be a hectic time for the headmaster, so he didn’t feel bad at all about simply letting himself into the office, taking up residence in his favorite armchair, and patiently waiting for the man to arrive at his convenience.
It was hardly the first time he had done so, anyway, and after years and years of a slowly developing friendship with the man (and the gargoyle at the door that had always liked him anyway), he was relatively certain it wouldn’t truly irritate him.
Besides, he thought to himself with a satisfied smirk, he knew very well those Quidditch Quarterlies left around the office weren’t for the headmaster’s benefit.
He removed his coat and looked around for an appropriate place to store it, eventually deciding to just make himself at home and fling it over the back of a wingback chair. It did feel rather homey to him in the headmaster’s office, Harry thought. Hogwarts would always be home for him, and he missed it terribly whenever he was away. Particularly now that all his children spent most of the year here. Harry settled in to amuse himself while he waited, hoping that perhaps he would help Harry figure out what to do with his present abundance of free time.
He began making his way through the reading selection strewn about the room. Although it was really only the periodicals that interested him most that were arranged in such a haphazard fashion, the potions journals and academic books were arranged neatly in handsome wood bookshelves. Shortly after Harry had familiarized himself with the latest and greatest in the world of Quidditch, the headmaster finally arrived, muttering to himself while rifling through a stack of parchment in his hand.
“Hullo, Severus,” Harry called out.
As expected, he was not met with surprise but a simple roll of the eyes. “Harry. How kind of you to guard the room for me. I was under the impression that this was my office and I’m certain I have never given you the password.”
“Oh, have you changed it? The gargoyle still accepts Harry Potter is my favorite person.”
A heavy sigh, but Harry could tell it was mainly to cover the twitch of the corner of his mouth that might almost be called almost a smile. “I can assure you, that has never been the password.”
“Hmm,” Harry tutted. “Security problems.” Harry moved toward the headmaster’s desk to sit across from him, bringing along the tea service he had helped himself to while waiting patiently. He prepared a cup for Severus and placed it in front of him.
“Is there a reason you’re here? I do have a school to run,” Severus said, nodding in thanks at Harry as he took a sip of tea.
“Since when do I need need a reason to drop by for a chat?”
“You’ve been forcibly dropping by for chats with no reason and following me around for, what, a decade now?” Severus asked, with an exasperated tone that would have annoyed Harry, if it had any actual bite in it. “So no, I suppose not.”
“Oh, longer than that. At least since you woke up in the infirmary after the war. That’s over twenty years now, that we’ve been friends.”
“Friends? Is that what we are?” Severus asked, pulling the plate of biscuits Harry had helpfully prepared towards himself and selecting one.
Harry smiled and continued their familiar routine, started years ago and fallen into again every so often. “Well, you’ve been my friend that long,” he said, echoing himself from a conversation a decade prior. “How long have I been yours?”
“I’ll let you know when it happens,” Severus completed as expected, with a smirk and a sip of tea.
Harry rolled his eyes and the two fell into a comfortable silence for a moment, sipping their tea and munching on the provided snacks. There was really nothing like the food at Hogwarts, Harry thought. The elves already accustomed to both his and Severus’ tastes, and ready to do almost anything for Harry besides.
“Has it really been twenty years?” Severus finally interrupted Harry’s quiet musings, speaking more to the room than specifically to Harry. He shook his head. “Good gracious, you’ve got old, Potter.”
Harry laughed, gesturing to the man’s hair, more silver than black. “I’m 39. If I’m old, then what does that make you?”
“A classic,” Severus responded decisively.
“If you say so,” Harry said with a snort. Severus really did look good, Harry thought, even nearing sixty. He had put on a nice bit of weight, no longer looking so drawn and weary as he did when Harry was a student. His skin, still sallow by complexion, had a healthier tinge to it. No longer being under constant stress as a double agent and under threat of torture and death did wonder’s for one’s health it would seem. Harry thought the long silver hair, only flecks of black left now, looked very nice tied back and slightly styled. The main difference over the past decade or two, Harry realized, was that looked much happier than he ever had before. And happy and healthy was a very attractive look on the man indeed.
“Congratulations on your daughter being sorted into Ravenclaw, by the way,” Severus said, breaking Harry out of his musings and possibly a bit of undignified staring. “She must take after her godmother more than either of her parents.”
“After a ten minute hatstall, anyway. You almost got another one for the snakes,” said Harry.
“Indeed,” Severus said with a chuckle, leaning back in his chair. “I will forever enjoy that the unfortunately named one turned out Slytherin.”
“Oi, stop calling him that! He’s your namesake.”
“Which is why it’s so unfortunate. Although to be perfectly fair, I refer to your eldest in the same way.”
“I do love that Lily sorted Ravenclaw. I was actually secretly hoping for it,” said Harry. “I’ve got the complete set now.”
Snape looked confused. “Set?”
“Four kids in four houses. Godson Teddy was in Hufflepuff like his Mum, Jamie in Gryffindor, Al of course in Slytherin and now Lil, a Ravenclaw.”
Ah, yes,” Snape replied with the barest hint of amusement. “Proof you’ve made good on your threats of inter-house unity.” He quirked the side of his mouth in a half-smile, then put on a face of mock concern. “So, how are you coping? The stay-at-home father with no children left at home?
“Oh, I’m going absolutely spare,” Harry said with a groan, grateful the subject had been brought up so he could properly complain. He’d always been the primary caretaker of the children anyway, with Ginny’s hectic schedule for the Harpies, but ever since the divorce he’d had full custody of the kids. He’d devoted all of his time to being a stay at home dad for years now. Ginny was a wonderful mother and saw the children as often as possible, but Harry couldn’t help but be grateful they’d fallen into the roles they had. He loved being a father more than anything, and it was exactly how he wanted to spend all of his time. With the children finally all growing up and off at Hogwarts most of the year, he was having difficulty with the looming possibility of months on end alone in his too-big house.
“Your youngest has been at Hogwarts for less than a fortnight. Are you telling me you’re unable to be left alone with your thoughts for that long?” Snape asked with a smirk.
“Oh, I barely lasted three days. I’ve irritated every family member I have. I even called my cousin to see how he’s doing.”
“Most people find hobbies. Or jobs.” Severus replied. “I’m certain you could just walk into the Ministry and ask for any job you want and they’ll make one up for you.”
“I don’t want that,” said Harry. Although, he thought to himself, on the subject of making things up, surely there was something he could do at the school! It would be nice to find a way to be closer to his children. And he’d see Severus every day, which would be an excellent bonus. Before he could think of a more Slytherin way to phrase it, his Gryffindor mouth jumped ahead of him— ”Why don’t you give me a job here?”
“No,” Severus said immediately, though more out of surprise than actual lack of interest in the prospect, it seemed to Harry.
“Oh, please Severus,” Harry said with a slight whine. “I’ll stay out of the way! There must be something you need doing. I can be useful!”
“You wound me.” Harry replied, clutching his heart in a show of melodrama that earned him an eye roll. After years and years of imposing himself on Severus and realizing how very similar they are and how much he genuinely liked him, an unlikely friendship had developed. And although Harry was grateful to consider his formerly hated professor among his closest friends, occasionally something--a lingering touch here, a heated glance there seemed to hint at the possibility of more. It wouldn’t do well to rush into things, but if he was here every day, living at Hogwarts...a warm burst of hope fluttered through Harry’s stomach. Well, didn’t just the thought make it worth a try?
Severus huffed an irritated laugh. “Why would I want you here every day bothering me? It’s difficult enough to concentrate on my work when you only stop by for a visit!”
Interesting. A slip of the tongue? Harry decided to lean into that train of thought, testing a bit of flirtiness. “Is it difficult to focus around me, Severus?” Harry said, with a light and teasing tone. “Because you’re so charmed by me?”
Severus seemed at a momentary loss for words, and the interesting twitch to his expression was something Harry would have to examine later. He decided to rush forward in his pleading, not wanting potential discomfort to ruin his chances. “Honestly, though, Severus, isn’t there anything you need help with? I could assist Quidditch coaching, or be an on call substitute or something like that. It really would be nice for me to be closer to the kids.”
Severus’ expression softened a bit. “It is rather...endearing how much you love your children.” He sighed, and Harry was pretty sure he was about to give in. “As it happens, the Muggle Studies professor has informed me she’s pregnant, and does not intend to return after the winter hols. Perhaps you could assist her, and she can train you to take over next term?”
“Yes! Severus, yes I’ll do it! Thank you,” Harry said excitedly. “And I can help with anything else you need before I fully take over!”
“I intend to hold you to that.” Severus said with a very put-upon sigh. Harry knew him well enough by now to see through it to the slight smile to his expression that meant Harry had definitely won this conversation. “I’ll send an elf to ready rooms for you. It’s nearly dinner, why don’t you go visit your children? We can work out the details later this evening.”
Harry beamed. “You won’t regret it, Severus. You might even like having me around a bit more often.” He dared a wink at the man, before setting off hastily before he could get hexed for it..
“I want to start a movie night for the students.”
“One day, Harry, you’ll say, ‘Hello, Headmaster. How are you today?’ instead of bursting in here with some kind of nonsense declaration. But, alas, today is not that day,” Snape said wearily, looking up from the work on his desk at Harry’s sudden announcement.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to give you an apoplectic fit from the surprise.” It was lovely, living and working in the same castle as Severus. It was much more convenient to burst into his friend’s office and impose himself now that he didn’t have to bother with Apparating or a Floo, and could simply walk upstairs.
“How considerate,” Severus replied with a roll of his eyes. “So what are you blathering on about?”
“Professor Winslow was going over the syllabi she uses with me, and I like her focus on how Muggles views magic. We were brainstorming examples, and she mostly assigned Muggle books for that sort of thing, but then I thought what about movies?”
“You want to show a film in class, for what? The NEWT students? That’s hardly a request worth bursting in my office like a madman for.”
“You love when I burst in here, it adds excitement to your day,” Harry said, while dodging something heavy being tossed in the general direction of his head. “Oi! Anyway, no we were talking about which classes to show them to, and I thought, why not make it a real event? Most of the pureblood students have never even seen a Muggle film, and it would be…” Harry thought fast, “very educational to see examples of Muggle culture.”
“I see. So this is an educational endeavor then?” Severus said with a quirked eyebrow, and Harry got the impression he was not yet convinced.
“Yes, exactly!” Harry replied, quickly coming up with a valid argument. “I’ll show movies that deal with magic, from a Muggle point of view. Teach the children about the cultural differences. How Muggles view magic, what they think it can or can’t do, that sort of thing. Maybe have a short lecture beforehand, and questions and answers afterward, depending on the group size.”
Severus appeared to actually be considering it, removing his reading glasses and tapping them against his chin in a thoughtful gesture. “And how would you determine if the students actually learn anything? Assign an exam? Set an essay?”
“Well...I could. Yeah. Set an essay on each, and they can turn them in for extra credit or house points if they aren’t taking Muggle Studies.”
Severus almost smiled. “I might allow it, if only for the pleasure of seeing you grading essays.”
“Oh, how bad could it be?”
“I’m sure you’ll love it,” Severus said in a tone that indicated he was absolutely certain that Harry would not love it, but Harry didn’t care. He really had enjoyed working with Professor Winslow and was already excited for his turn to take over the class. Ever since his first son was born, Harry had been fascinated by Muggle movies. He rarely had the opportunity to watch as a child (although Dudley was often taken to the cinema) and certainly never at Hogwarts. But ever since the war he’d picked up the habit of going to the cinema, then renting films, and finally amassing quite a collection of videos and DVDs. His kids were quite the film aficionados along with him and, if they could appreciate regular movie nights, he’s sure the other students would.
“When I was a student, besides holidays, Quidditch games, and Hogsmeade weekends, there wasn’t much in the way of structured entertainment. I’m sure it would help keep students out of trouble, having an activity like this.”
Severus likely didn’t buy this excuse, but he at least seemed ready to overlook it. “There are a few academic clubs now, you know, not that you would ever have taken advantage of those in your youth anyway.” He searched Harry’s face for a while, and Harry did his best attempt at charming. “Oh, very well. I’ll allow it. What were you thinking of doing, specifically?”
“Maybe one every two or three weeks? They’d be voluntary, except for the Muggle Studies students, since it would be part of the curriculum.” Harry paused a moment, considering the logistics. “I wonder if the Room of Requirement would work for this. We need a space big enough and maybe the magic there will allow the Muggle electronics to work?”
“Why wouldn’t the electronics work to play the film in a classroom?” Severus asked.
“Because...electronics don’t work at Hogwarts?” Harry asked, slowly, not sure why he was explaining this to the headmaster.
“Hasn’t your son told you? The warding has been changed, electronics work certain places now-- in a limited capacity. So many Muggleborns’ and Half-bloods’ parents insist on a way to contact them with a mobile instead of an owl.” Severus shrugged. “Technology.”
“Oh. Well that’s clever,” Harry said in surprise.
“You really didn’t know? As I understand it, the unfortunately named Mr. Potter has quite the side business selling charm work that extends the capabilities and enhances features on mobiles.”
“Al?” Harry asked, incredulous that the shy thirteen-year-old had some kind of thriving entrepreneurship going on.
“My apologies, I meant the extremely unfortunately named Mr. Potter.”
“Jamie’s inventing technology based spells and selling his expertise? I didn’t...wait a second. Okay, that does explain why he had me buy that collection of electronic odds and ends for him this past summer. He told me he wanted it as a gift for his grandfather!”
Severus just quirked an eyebrow. “It appears I could have had all three of them in Slytherin. More’s the pity.”
“Wait, shouldn’t he get in trouble for that?”
“I have an eye on it. Loath as would I be to discourage innovation and entrepreneurship. And,” he added looking meaningfully at the portrait of Albus Dumbledore behind him, “I am hardly the first headmaster to look the other way for certain rule-breakers.”
Harry was certainly not going to be the one to tell Severus he’d gone soft in his old age. But he appreciated his kind words about James, and was pleasantly surprised the headmaster was getting along with his eldest. He smiled. “Thanks, Headmaster.”
“Indeed,” Severus replied with a slightly embarrassed tone at being caught showing a bit of favoritism toward a Potter, and a Gryffindor one at that. “Well, don’t think I’m not aware of, and have the ability to confiscate, certain items he seems to have inherited from you?”
“I am...sure I don’t know what you mean,” Harry said unconvincingly, thinking of the Invisibility Cloak and Marauders map he’d gifted James. He’d included a stern warning to be responsible with it, but perhaps a reminder was in order. He quickly changed the subject. “Well, to start with I was thinking of showing The Wizard of Oz. Have you seen it?”
Severus allowed the topic to be derailed with grace. “I can’t say that I have. I will need to watch the film before I allow it to be shown, to ensure that it’s appropriate.”
“Of course! Why don’t you come to my room tomorrow after dinner and we can watch it together? Apparently Jamie can help me get the player working. I’ll make sure it’s ready to go.”
“That would be acceptable.”
“Perfect,” Harry replied with a grin. “It’s a date.”
Harry busied himself with readying the DVD, tidying up the already tidy space, and contemplating what to offer his guest when he arrived. Firewhiskey this early in the evening while watching a children’s movie seemed a bit...lecherous, but Harry didn’t think Severus drank Butterbeer. They’d just finished dinner, perhaps something for pudding? Or just tea and biscuits, maybe? Oh, why was he overthinking it? He was just coming over to preview a movie before showing it to students and here Harry was acting like it was a date or something. Well, he had said that, but he hadn’t meant it. Did he want this to be a date? Harry would have chosen something besides Wizard of Oz, he thought to himself, if he wanted this to be a proper date.
Thankfully, Harry was pulled out of his spiraling thoughts by the sound of a polite rap at the door.
Clearing his head, he opened the door and greeted his guest with a smile. “Welcome to my humble abode, good sir,” he said bowing dramatically while Severus rolled his eyes and made his way towards the new telly.
“Much less red and gold than I expected,” Severus said, taking in the neutral decor in Harry’s quarters. He hadn’t had time yet to really decorate other than a few family photos and necessities from home.
“Inter-house unity remember? Plus I’m a professor, I can’t be caught showing favoritism.”
Severus snorted. “Pass that along to Minerva.”
Harry laughed good naturedly and offered Severus a cup of tea. “The movie’s ready to go,” he said, suddenly a bit awkward. “If you want to join me on the couch?”
"The young Mr. Potter was successful in getting the machine running, I take it?"
"He was. I did ask why he's been holding out on me with all this charmwork expertise but he seemed uncharacteristically humble and very ready to change the subject about recommendations for future movie nights.”
“All dependent on if this first one goes well, of course,” Severus said, settling himself on the couch.
The movie began to play, and the two were soon swept away with Dorothy into the magical world of Oz, with witches and singing and yellow brick roads.
Severus was surprised when the first song played. “I’ve heard this song before,” he said. “I never realized it was from this film.” Without thinking, he began humming a few bars, and softly sang a line, as if lost in memory and forgetting that Harry was seated next to him. Harry turned and looked over in surprise. How had he never heard Severus sing before?
Severus suddenly noticed the attention and cut himself off abruptly, clearing his throat and turning his focus back to the television screen.
"You have a really nice voice," Harry said, moving closer. "You should sing more."
"I think not," Severus huffed, obviously embarrassed.
"It is!" said Harry, taking over and singing off key. "Once in a lullaby-high-high". He smiled. “See. Much better than I am."
"Your voice is not...unpleasant," Severus said, his attention still fixed firmly ahead at the screen in front of them. But before Harry could comment on the unexpected almost-compliment, Severus spoke again. “I was just remembering. My parents must have both seen this film. I remember them singing this song, when I was very young.”
Harry hesitated a moment, before venturing, “I thought your Dad didn’t like magic.”
“This would have been before he realized my mother was a witch. Accidentally setting the rug on fire when I was five was what later tipped him off,” Severus said, though not as bitterly as Harry might have imagined. It would have been so long ago now. “Perhaps, he preferred magic to stay strictly in the realm of fantasy.”
“I saw this movie for the first time in primary school,” Harry volunteered. “Aunt Petunia wouldn’t have allowed this sort of freakishness in her home, fantasy or reality.” He continued, looking back at the old memories through a different lens, decades later. “I think it would have upset her, reminded her I would be going off to Hogwarts one day like Mum did, and she’d be left behind again.”
“Do you ever speak to her?” Severus asked, surprising Harry with his curiosity.
“Yes,” Harry said. “Very occasionally. I do keep in touch with Dudley from time to time, so I think he shares news back and forth. She moved to a new house closer to my cousin a few years ago, after my uncle passed away. I’ve sent her photos of the kids. Got a Christmas card, even, several years in a row now. I don’t think I’m really interested in more than that,” Harry said with a shrug. “And neither is she.”
“No real loss, there,” Severus said, then looked uncomfortable for a moment. “But it is...difficult. With family.”
“Yeah,” Harry said, suddenly at a loss for words. Unthinkingly, he reached over and squeezed Severus’ hand, then let his arm fall into place against his. They both were quickly caught up in the story again, following Dorothy and her new friends on their mission to meet the eponymous wizard and find a brain, a heart, courage, and a way home. They laughed at the silly moments and Severus offered a few wry comments about the ridiculous bit about water melting a witch, wouldn’t last a day in England, then, and even offered a couple suggestions for discussion points in the class.
It wasn’t until after the movie was finished, Severus had bidden him goodnight, and Harry was readying himself for bed that he realized that Severus had never once moved his hand away.
Harry was roused from staring at the eleventh barely comprehensible paper by a throaty chuckle. “How bad could it be, indeed,” Severus asked, moving to the table in the staff lounge and picking up one at random. “Enjoying yourself, Professor Potter?”
“Please tell me I was never this stupid,” Harry replied. His eyes followed the path of Severus’ fingertips as he combed through the stack of ungraded essays. Close quarters was leading to more time with Severus, and familiarity was breeding quite the opposite of contempt, at least on his end.
“You don’t actually want me to answer that, do you?”
“Do you remember when I was in your Potions class, and I wasn’t exactly your best student?”
“Do I--do I remember?” Severus let out an exasperated sigh. “Yes, Harry, I’m sure if I think very hard I can recall that you were the bane of my existence for the better part of a decade.”
“But I did write separate sentences, didn’t I? This essay is one sentence long, and it’s eight inches on the parchment.”
“Ah, yes. Those are the fun ones.” Severus said with a chuckle, clearly delighted at Harry’s annoyance. “Well, Professor Potter, the idea seems to have gone over well with students and staff. If you could get Filius to cease chattering on about it, I would be eternally grateful.”
“It’s a great movie! And you liked it too.”
“I did,” Severus allowed. “Have you thought about the subject of the next showing?”
“I have a few ideas, actually. I think I have the list over here somewhere--” He stopped, rifling through the bag propped up against the table.
“Have you ever seen Mary Poppins?” Severus interrupted.
“I have! Oh, Severus that’s a brilliant idea!”
“Ah,” he replied, an odd note creeping into his tone. “Well, as we have both already seen it, I suppose we don’t need to watch this one together beforehand.”
Was that...disappointment in his voice? Harry had really enjoyed watching the film together, just the two of them, and he was not about to stop now. He may have been joking when he referred to it as a date in the first place, but something about the Headmaster’s cautious sort of reply gave him the idea that perhaps “a date” might not be unwelcome.
“Oh, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, I need to watch it again to decide what to set the essay about. Maybe you can help me decide?” Harry asked, turning on his most winning smile.
“If you insist. It’s been...quite sometime since I’ve seen the movie myself. This Sunday, perhaps?”
“Sounds wonderful,” said Harry. “Oh! Well if we’re going to do a proper movie experience, I should get us some sweets. I’m chaperoning the Hogsmeade trip this Saturday. Would you like anything from Honeydukes?”
Severus looked thoughtful for a moment. “I would not be averse to a few Pepper Imps.”
“Ugh,” Harry said, making a face. “Why does it not surprise me that you would like the pain candy? Any acid pops, perhaps?”
“Yes, actually,” Severus said with delight. “Oh, I haven’t had acid pops in years. Oh, and black licorice wands, if you’re buying out the whole shop anyway.”
“So, does a sweets obsession just come with the Headmaster title?” Harry asked, quirking his lips.
“You offered,” Severus said, offended. “Forgive me if my palate is more cultured than simply swallowing a bag of sugar or whatever it is you were planning to purchase for yourself.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Well, if you want to dissolve your tongue and cry from flaming pepper candy, that’s on you. I’ll see you Sunday with a bag of Honeydukes’ worst candies.”
“It’s a date,” Severus said softly, and Harry was pretty sure Severus had seen the small smile on his face at the words before he’d turned and stalked out of the staff lounge.
The offering of candy had gone over quite well, and soon after Severus arrived, the pair were settled comfortably on the couch munching sweets and watching the story of the magical nanny and her adventures with the Banks children.
“When did you first watch Mary Poppins?” Harry asked. “I didn’t see it for the first time until probably ten years ago.”
Severus was quiet for a moment. “My mother took me to see it, actually. It was shortly after my first display of accidental magic. She was trying to cheer me up after my father’s...adverse reaction.”
Harry winced. He could imagine what that all must have entailed. “It was playing in the cinema?”
Severus nodded. “The nearest one was a couple of towns away. I’d never been before. After we saw it, she explained all about magic to me. How I was a wizard and would one day be going to Hogwarts, where I could learn to do things like Mary Popins could do.”
Harry warmed at the sight of the slight smile on Severus’ lips. “What did you most want to do?”
“Fly,” Severus said immediately. “Though I never quite took to a broom as I’d hoped.”
“No, too clever for that,” said Harry. “I’m still impressed by how you flew out the window that time before the Battle. I honestly thought for a moment you had turned into a bat.”
Severus gave him a playful shove that was a bit more forceful than strictly necessary.
“Oi,” Harry shouted, then laughed, tossing an empty Pepper Imps package back at him. “I really like this,” he said. “Spending time with you, I mean. Learning things.”
“You’ve known me how many years? You’ve seen my memories. You must know me well enough by now.”
And Harry did. He’d known Severus as his cruel and hated Potions professor, as a spy for the Order, Dumbledore’s man and as the bravest man he ever knew, as he often told his children. After the war, he’d been vocal to the press and the wizarding world as a whole about how much Snape deserved their undying gratitude for the things he’s done. Even in the past several years, as they grew closer and friendlier, he’d known things about him, how funny he was, how clever, how he liked to take his tea.
“I know you,” Harry allowed. “But I think--” he stopped, suddenly very nervous at what he wanted to say. “I’m just figuring out that, I might, er-- I like you quite a bit,” he said all in a rush. Severus turned to him, surprised. Harry continued before he could say anything. “I like you as in I fancy you, but if you don’t fancy me, that’s fine. But I think you’re wonderful and clever and it’s so fun to be around you. And I’m--I’ve just...” Harry trailed off, taking in the man’s pleased looking expression with a flutter of hope in his chest.
Severus was just smirking as Harry’s babbling fizzled out. “Tortured sentence construction though that was, I appreciate the sentiment.” Harry smiled hopefully but prepared himself for the disappointing possibility of being rejected. At his silence, Severus simply cleared his throat and continued. “I’ve found, irritating though you are, I might...fancy you as well. And it would hardly be the worst decision either of us has ever made.”
Harry laughed, but couldn’t help the wide grin that broke across his face. “You like me, too,” he said with a playful gleam in his eyes.
“I like you too, brat,” Severus said. “Now watch the movie.”
Harry spent the next several minutes trying and failing to smoothly pull off the “pretend to stretch and put my arm around his shoulders” move. After a few aborted attempts, Severus huffed and said in an annoyed tone. “For Merlin’s sake, Harry, just because you’re surrounded by teenagers doesn’t mean you have to act like one,” and settled into his side, moving Harry’s arm into position around him himself.
Harry chuckled, arranged them into a comfortable position and watched the movie, sighing in contentment.
“What are you huffing about?” Harry asked, feigning concern and confusion at Severus’ entrance to his office.
“Oh, just remembering a time when this was my office, and I didn’t have a lunatic making himself at home here, getting shortbread crumbs all over my desk.”
“But it’s the shortbread you like. The chocolate ones shaped like Scottie Dogs.”
“How does that make it better? That you’re eating the biscuits I like?”
“Because there’s another box here for you that I didn't touch.” Harry pushed the unopened box over to Severus, who opened it with a sneer, not taking his irritated gaze off of Harry. “And because you like me,” he said teasing.
Severus grunted, accepting a teacup from Harry. “I suppose,” he muttered.
“Now, sit down, I have some movie ideas I want to run by you.”
“Sit where? You’re in my chair,” Severus asked in a grumpy tone, though he seemed placated by tea, biscuit, and possibly Harry’s charm. He vanished the wayward crumbs with his wand.
“My sincerest apologies, Headmaster Snape,” Harry said in what could only be described as a casually disrespectful tone, and was met with a huff that might have been a cover for a slight laugh. Severus took a seat in his proper chair, and Harry hopped on the top of the desk to his side.
“James has made a suggestion for the next movie, but I need you to settle our debate over whether or not it qualifies.” Harry said, completely ignoring the distressed noises Severus was making at his desk being used as a chair.
“Qualifies as what?”
“As a Muggle movie about magic. For the purposes of discussing the view of magic in Muggle culture.”
Severus tilted his head. “I don’t watch many films, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to help you. What’s the movie?”
Severus froze. “Star Wars?”
“Yeah, it’s a movie about space? Like an adventure sort of film. And there’s this thing called the Force, which James says should qualify as magic, but I don’t think--”
“The Force qualifies. It’s magic. The Jedi can use it like magic and there’s some similarities to wizards when it comes to training in its use.” All the words tumbled out of Severus’ mouth at once, and Harry was so taken aback at the turn in the conversation he nearly started sputtering.
“I--what--” Harry stumbled over his words, but Severus ignored him, looking thoughtful.
“You’d just be showing the first one, I imagine? So you could ask the students to--”
“Wait, wait. Back up,” Harry said, shaking his head. “You’re a Star Wars fan.”
Severus met his gaze steadily. “...perhaps.”
“Oh, this is fantastic. Have you mentioned this around Jamie at all?”
“Why would I have?”
“Because James is some kind of superfan?” Harry rolled his eyes. “I like them okay, but not like him. You’ve seen the new ones they’ve released the past few years, then? And I think there's going to be another one soon?”
“Episode nine, yes,” Severus said impatiently. “Surely you’ve made arrangements to take him?”
“I thought it didn’t come out until the end of the year?”
“But opening night tickets have been on sale for weeks now.”
Harry was trying very hard to prevent himself from laughing. “I can not believe this. I love it. You’re such a nerd.”
Severus scowled. “Luckily for your son, I have purchased several opening night tickets already. Was planning on reselling, but I’d be happy to provide you with some. If you would...wish to accompany me, that is,” he added cautiously.
Harry grinned. “I would love to accompany you. And James is going to be ecstatic. He really likes you, you know.”
Severus offered a sort of half smile at that. “He is an intelligent boy who is only occasionally reckless and foolhardy. I would enjoy having the opportunity to discuss the movies with someone. I’ve attempted to get Minerva to see the last one with me but she has no interest whatsoever,” Severus said unhappily.
“So this means you’ll let me show it for movie night next week then?”
“You may,” Severus said, as if he wasn’t extremely excited by the prospect. “Will we continue the tradition of pre-screening them in your rooms?”
“Absolutely,” Harry said. “Come over tomorrow.” He paused for a few minutes, considering how to approach what he wanted. “And as a thank you for, the movie tickets...why don’t I take you out to dinner first? I know a quiet little place the next village over. And then we can come back and watch the movie afterwards?”
Severus searched his face, then quirked his eyebrow and said in a questioning tone, “It’s a date?”
“Yeah,” Harry said with a smile. “It is.”
As far as first dates go, it was surprisingly uneventful and unsurprisingly quite pleasant. Probably a symptom of going out after being friends for so long, and knowing each other for three quarters of Harry’s life. It was odd, actually, that making the transition from friends to more than friends was such an easy one, but Harry thought perhaps that said something about fate, or inevitability, or something else romantic like that he had no intention of saying aloud. At least until he and Severus had been together a little longer, anyway.
They had walked into the village from Hogwarts, and it was cold enough out that Harry could get away with sidling up as closely as possible to Severus. He was met with no resistance and they even clasped hands closer to the restaurant, chatting happily about whatever came to mind, films, and weather and Harry’s upcoming post as the only Professor of Muggle Studies, not just the assistant.
Over a delicious meal and a shared bottle of wine, they’d fallen into an animated conversation about life at Hogwarts, the troublesome students, and the irritating bureaucracy of dealing with both the Ministry and the Board of Directors. The conversation was lively and fun, punctuated by both the comfortable silence of longtime friends and the lingering looks of potential new lovers. The main difference between dining as friends and a first date, Harry thought, seemed to be the fact that their hands seemed drawn together like magnets, and neither could quite manage to keep apart. Not that either was trying too hard to do so.
Back in Harry’s room afterwards, he put on Star Wars a film both of them had seen several dozen times, though for different reasons.
“I’m glad Jamie’s going to have some new people to talk about this with,” Harry said. “The movie is fun, but I really couldn’t get into it. And I’m tired of getting eye rolls when I apparently mix things up.”
“How do you manage to mix things up?” Severus said. “It’s a rather straightforward plot.”
“Apparently I get the characters confused. I watched them out of order and now I can’t keep the timeline straight. According to James, anyway.”
Severus chuckled and shook his head. “You’re hopeless.”
"Well, it's not my fault all the villains wear masks and hoods. How am I supposed to know who's who?"
"Well, you could pay attention to--" Severus shook his head, cutting himself off. "Nevermind. I don't want to argue with you, I've had a very pleasant evening so far."
"It has been a pleasant evening, hasn't it?" Harry said, moving closer. "So you won't argue with me then, if I bring up any number of plotholes? Like how--"
Severus growled in warning. "I'm trying to remember that I like you, brat."
"Would this remind you?" Harry said cheekily, and pressed his lips to Severus'.
Severus let out a muffled squeak of surprise before sinking into it and kissing Harry back.
“You think you're very clever, don't you?” Severus asked when they finally parted.
“I do,” Harry replied, preening a bit and still flushed from the kiss. “Distracted you, didn’t I?”
“Is that the only way you intend to win arguments from now on?” Severus asked with a raised eyebrow. “Can’t say I’m opposed to your plan, but it doesn’t mean you win.”
“Maybe not, but if I keep kissing you, do you think you might forget to keep arguing?”
“Perhaps,” Severus said with a grumble, though his tone was much more hopeful than annoyed.
“Then I did win,” Harry said, grinning against Severus lips as he kissed him again and again, until neither could remember what they had been talking about. The movie played forgotten on the screen, while the pair ignored the ragtag band on the telly saving the galaxy, focusing on far more pleasant things.
Harry had walked into the Headmaster’s office uninvited as per usual. Although now that they were dating, he thought to himself, surely he had every right to be here. Before Harry could say anything, be it a greeting or an annoying comment, he realized the man at the desk was grimacing, attempting to stretch his neck and clearly in a bit of pain.
“Severus, what's wrong?” Harry asked, concerned.
“Headache,” Severus replied with a grunt, attempting to rub at his forehead. “Potion hasn’t kicked in yet.” He turned towards Harry and his expression softened somewhat. “Did you need something, Harry?” he asked, not unkindly, but with a pinched sort of tone.
“Just wanted to see you,” Harry said with a quiet smile. “Let me help,” Harry said, moving over to where the Headmaster was seated. He began smooth strokes over Severus’ scalp, starting at the crown of his head, massaging his temples and carding through the long, silver hair in a firm yet comforting motion.
A slight sigh escaped Severus’ lips as he leaned back. “What are you doing?” he asked, slightly suspicious but clearly pleased.
“I’m helping you with your headache, you git.” Harry continued with the scalp massage, working his thumbs in circles at the base of his skull, and Severus let out a much deeper sigh in contentment.
“Feel nice?” Harry asked after a few moments.
“Very,” Severus replied. “Is this a perk of dating you?”
Harry laughed, and moved to rub where the neck met the shoulder, smoothing over the ancient scars along his throat left behind from the snake. “Well, I’ve done this for friends too, but yes, at the moment this is a perk in the official capacity of being your loving boyfriend.”
“Do loving boyfriends use words like git?”
“Occasionally,” Harry replied with a chuckle. “What would you prefer? Honey?” He asked, testing it out, and was met with a grunt of disapproval. “Baby?” A scoff. “Sweetheart?” A noncommittal but certainly not overly approving huff.
“Less talking,” Severus said with a relaxed drag to his voice. He reached up and moved Harry’s hand back up to his scalp. “More doing that.”
“You’ve got it...love,” Harry added with a slight hesitation, and was surprised when that was met with leaning back further against him and a happy sort of tutt. “Relax,” he said with a smile, and continued his motions, easing away the pain in Severus’ head.
“So what’s on the agenda for tonight?”
“Actually,” Harry said while rustling up three different DVDs from his collection. “You’re going to have to help me choose.”
“We’re doing a section on fairy tales. Reading a Muggle version, a Wizarding version, and then watching a Muggle film. Professor Winslow and I can’t decide which one to go with.”
“Ah, fairy tales. Aren’t there quite a few films about those?”
“Something like a few hundred,” Harry said with a shake of his head. “Lily went through a princess phase so I think I’ve seen all the most popular ones at least once. We’ve got narrowed down to Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty. Those are the ones with the best Wizarding equivalents, according to her.”
Severus surveyed the options, reading through the descriptions on the backs of the cases. “These are all rather short. The night is young, I imagine we have time for all three, or at least two.”
“I think you’re discovering your love of Muggle films that aren’t Star Wars. Lily and Al do Disney marathons over the summer hols a lot, so I’m sure you’ll end up seeing all the rest.”
Severus started up Cinderella and moved into his accustomed position next to Harry on the couch.
“How do you suppose the children will accept our relationship?” Severus asked softly. “I wouldn’t want to cause them any upset, their Headmaster coming round the house, intruding on their family.”
“Of course not,” Harry said. “They all adore you. In fact I’m certain James has already figured it out, and I’m pretty sure he’s told Al too. Plus, Ginny’s already done the hard work of being the first to get married again after we got divorced, with Luna. So the kids won’t be upset about that or anything.”
“Very well,” Severus said. “At least I already know them, so it shouldn’t be too awkward whenever you want to...announce this.”
“It’ll be wonderful,” Harry assured him, pressing a quick kiss to his cheek. “You should come over for Christmas Eve. It’ll just be me and the kids and we watch holiday movies and drink cocoa and stay up late. The whole family goes to the Burrow on Christmas Day and Ginny and Luna have plans with the kids and Luna’s dad on Boxing Day, so we could do something just the two of us then.”
“I suppose that might be a good way to...ease in, as it were,” said Severus. “As I imagine I would be descended upon by Weasleys on Christmas Day.”
Harry chuckled. “That you would. But you could come for Christmas too, if you wanted. You won’t be able to avoid the Weasleys forever, I’m afraid, especially when the kids tell Molly.”
Severus snorted. “I imagine not. Will I receive a Christmas jumper, do you suppose?”
“Undoubtedly,” Harry said. “Should I tell her black or Slytherin green?”
Severus just laughed and the two fell into a comfortable silence for a while, taking in the film. They chatted happily for a bit about favorite fairy tales, wizarding and Muggle, and how they compared to the Disney versions. Partway through the showing of Sleeping Beauty, Harry asked a question he’d been mulling over all day.
“Have you heard of Disney World? In Florida?”
“The Muggle amusement park?” Severus asked. “Yes, I have.”
“Well, I’ve always wanted to go. And I was thinking of taking the kids over the summer, sort of celebrating Lily’s first year at Hogwarts. And honestly, because I think it’ll be fun.”
“I’m sure they will enjoy it,” Severus said.
"You should," Harry hesitated a moment, unsure how this request would go over. "You should come with us."
Severus didn't try to hide his surprise at all. "On your family vacation with you? You don’t suppose you’ll be sick of me by the summer holidays?”
“Well, I certainly hope not,” Harry said. “I don’t tend to do things halfway, Severus. If we’re in this together, you’re pretty much stuck with me.”
“I must really like you a great deal,” Severus said, “to be considering going to Disney World with you.”
“Well, do you?” Harry asked with a smile.
Severus sighed, and did his best put-upon expression. “Well, someone should come and ensure the children don’t bully you into buying them everything their hearts desire.”
“I’ll buy you anything your heart desires too,” Harry pointed out, teasing. “Why do I have the feeling that everyone is going to find a way to out-Slytherin me?”
“Oh, Harry,” Severus said, pulling him closer. “That isn’t terribly difficult.”
Severus had barely knocked at the door on Christmas Eve when it was thrust open and he was immediately shuffled inside by three energetic children, chattering excitedly about his arrival.
Before he knew it, his coat was removed and put on the rack, he was guided to a large, plush couch in the living room, and a neatly wrapped package was pushed into his hands.
Bewildered, Severus attempted to take in his surroundings. Harry was nowhere to be seen, but the warbling and off key sounds of a Celestina Warbeck song drifting from above indicated that he was likely upstairs. In his hands was a medium sized box wrapped in a mishmash of bronze, silver, and gold paper and ribbon as if the children had each wanted a representation on the gift. Severus did have gifts for the children but wasn’t expecting to present them until the following day, and Harry had not advised him that there’d be any exchange tonight.
Taking pity on him, James jumped in with an explanation. “It’s something for you to wear tonight, Sir. From all of us.”
As much as Severus wanted to make a good impression on his partner’s children, he sincerely hoped this wasn’t some kind of ridiculous Christmas hat, the type Dumbledore always insisted on wearing around the holidays. He unwrapped the box with trepidation, and telling himself to not make too much of a face at a sincere gift.
Surprisingly though, he opened the package to find a handsome flannel pajama set, drawstring pants and a button up shirt in dark gray.
“It’s a tradition!” Lily said, bouncing up next to him on the couch. “Daddy gets us all new pajamas on Christmas Eve, so we decided you needed some too. Teddy helped us with the spell! Look, I have an eagle on mine!” she chattered on excitedly, drawing Severus attention to the little bronze eagle that swooped in circle across her back and over her arms, following the blue fabric as if flying through the skies. He noticed the boys’ clothing: Albus Severus in emerald with a silver snake winding down his arm, and James Sirius with a gold lion prowling across the crimson expanse of his chest.
“They’re all animal themed this year,” Al added. “Dad’s wearing his already too, so you better go change before he sees you!”
Chuckling, he allowed himself to be jostled over to the bathroom, where he quickly changed into the comfortable pajamas and slippers. He felt a tinge of magic fluttering over his skin as the clothes automatically resized themselves to fit. He surveyed his arms and legs, expecting to see a snake somewhere, matching Albus Severus’ Slytherin mascot, but instead discovered a pale blue doe curled around his side, its gentle face looking up at him expectantly.
Still smiling and a bit perplexed at the children’s choice of animal, he exited the bathroom, banishing his other clothing to his bag near the door. He felt a bit silly parading around in pajamas but when in the Potter household, act like a Potter, he supposed.
“It worked!” he heard Lily say as he turned the corner back into the living room. “Daddy, look! Professor Snape’s wearing pajamas, and you match!” she said with obvious delight.
“When did you get those?” Harry asked, noticing the fact that Severus was in sleepwear before he registered the style. “You got a pair for Professor Snape?” Harry asked the kids, pleased.
“Your children insisted,” Severus said with a shrug. He noticed the forest green outfit in a matching style as the other sets, but no animal was apparent. He frowned. “What do you mean by match, Miss Potter?”
Harry laughed. “Oh, it’s your Patronus!” He turned, revealing a pale blue stag, which leapt up and bounded across the fabric at his sudden motion. His eyes were drawn to the doe on Severus, who moved around curiously, reacting to the sudden appearance of the stag. “Was that your idea, Lily?” Harry asked his daughter. “That’s why you asked for animals?”
“We decided together,” Lily said, but preening a bit at the acknowledgement of her cleverness.
Severus cleared his throat, still a bit uncomfortable at this obvious display of acceptance by the Potter children. “I was told this was a movie marathon, but there doesn’t appear to be a telly in here?” He quirked his eyebrow, questioning the room.
“Oh, it isn’t here, Professor,” James replied with a grin. “Come upstairs!”
The children bounded ahead of them, and Harry pulled Severus close and greeted him with a quick kiss. “Thank you for coming,” he said. “I’ve missed you.”
“You saw me three days ago,” Severus pointed out.
“Three days too long,” said Harry, taking his hand to lead him upstairs. “Now, I’m actually quite proud of this.” They mounted the stairs and turned the corner, leading them into a room filled with pillows, blankets, and other low-to-the-ground furniture.
“What’s this?” asked Severus, taking in the bevy of snack foods and sweets piled around the children.
“The movie theater room,” Albus Severus said in excitement, gesturing to the wall that was primarily taken up by a giant screen.
“A whole room? Really?” Severus said.
“Hey, we like movies in this house. I told you.” Harry said with a smile. “Besides, this is more comfortable than just gathering around a telly, especially when we have a lot of people.
Severus positioned himself on one of the many cushioned seats of the low couch, pulling Harry down next to him. He surveyed the variety of food options, from typical cinema fare to a few hot appetizers Severus was partial to.
“I had Dobby make some of your favorites,” Harry said sheepishly. “We typically don’t do a proper dinner, just snack all night.”
“Snack seems like an understatement,” Severus said, finding an unopened package of Pepper Imps. “I was under the impression there were only five of us tonight, and I’m sure there's enough sweets here for the entire school.
“Oh, hush,” said Harry. “It’s Christmas.”
Everyone had made themselves comfortable in what Severus would loosely define as a pile except Albus Severus, who was fiddling with the player.
“So everyone gets to pick a movie to watch, and this year it’s Al’s turn to start,” Harry explained. “So what are we starting with today?”
“The Princess Bride” he replied, inserting the disk and finding a spot among the family on the floor.
“Al, why are you choosing that, it isn’t even a Christmas film?” argued Lily.
“You’ll get yours next Lily, I can choose whatever film I want, and this is my favorite.”
“Settle down, settle down,” interrupted Harry. “Al’s got first pick this year so if he wants to watch The Princess Bride then that’s what we’ll watch.”
“Have you seen this one, Severus?” he asked.
“I have not.”
“Oh, I think you’ll like it,” Harry said, settling against his shoulder. “It’s romantic.”
“Professor Snape, if you like it can we watch it for Movie Night at school next term?” Albus Severus asked.
“That depends. Does it have magic in it?”
This sparked a bit of debate amongst the Potters. There wasn’t much in the way of magic in the traditional sense, but there was a miracle in it, and a reference to a witch, so perhaps that counted. Lily finally cast the deciding vote, with the declaration that of course it had magic. “It has true love!”
“Well, that settles it then,” Severus said with an amused expression. “True love’s kiss is very powerful magic indeed.”
“Agreed,” said Harry with a smile.
And with that, he pulled Severus towards him, capturing his lips in a kiss. Whether it qualified as one of “the most passionate, the most pure” since the invention of the kiss, Severus couldn’t say, but at that moment, surrounded by Potters though he was, he decided that kiss was all the proof of magic he needed.