Severus awakened to the sound of fists pounding against the door to his personal rooms. He was alarmed, rather than annoyed. Albus never came to the dungeons himself, he’d always beckoned him to his own office instead. And his students should all certainly be asleep at this hour. He shuffled his tired feet as quickly as they’d allow across the cold dungeon floor. Severus pulled the door open without hesitation. At his door was the last person he’d ever expect to see at four o’clock on a Thursday morning.
The young man’s body shook rigidly as he sobbed.
He pulled his hands slowly away from his face, his fingers trembling. His lips quivered and he gasped for air. Tears fell quickly from those famous green eyes.
It took him several attempts to even his breathing enough to finally speak.
What do you need, Potter? Are you in pain?”
He nodded. Severus had never seen him so distraught, not even before Voldemort’s fall.
“Should I take you to Madame Pomfrey?”
He shook his head.
Severus sighed. “Tell me what is wrong.”
“He… he doesn’t… want me!” The sobbing returned, his chest expanded greatly with each gasp for air. “Make it stop! Please, make it stop!”
“Who does not want you to do what?”
Harry shook his head. “I love him. And he… he doesn’t want me. I hurt! I hurt so badly. Make it stop. Like… like the opposite of amortentia. Is there anything like that? There must be.”
Severus had never been skilled at comforting or soothing other people. There was not a wizard alive who believed otherwise. And now Severus could understand why Harry had come to him. Severus knew the purpose he so often served for others.
Potter thought he wanted a potion, something to numb the heartache. But what Severus knew he really wanted was to be berated, to have someone argue with him. He wanted somewhere else to direct his hurt and anger.
Severus wouldn’t give it to him.
Not this time.
He was done fulfilling that purpose. He’d had enough of being the villain.
So, instead, he stepped forward into the doorway and wrapped his arms around the young man and held him. Harry continued to tremble and sob, so Severus held tighter. Harry didn’t fight him, and Severus didn’t let go. The wails came further and further apart. His body began to relax. The shaking all but stopped. And, finally, he wrapped his own arms around Severus’s waist.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d offered anyone comfort. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d embraced another.
And he certainly couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a head of unruly hair tucked beneath his chin. It smelled wonderful and he inhaled the scent deeply. He filled his lungs with the pleasant smell of the saviour in his arms. He nuzzled his chin and nose into the thick dark hair. Harry moved his face into the crook of Severus’s neck.
“If he is idiotic enough to deny you, he is too idiotic to deserve you. Do you understand me?”
“Thank you,” he whispered. He pushed himself up onto his toes, kissed Severus’s cheek, and walked away.
Severus watched him retreat until his silhouette was swallowed by the darkness of the dungeon corridor.
Severus tried to find sleep again, but he found that he was too unnerved to do so.
He went about the following day as if nothing had ever happened. He taught his classes. He ate his meals. He marked essays. Occasionally a thought of green eyes attempted to make itself known in his consciousness but Severus pushed it away.
He didn’t particularly want to seek Harry out. He didn’t want to speak to him. When had he ever? But he could admit he was curious as to who had been able to upset him so much the previous night. Who had such power over the saviour, to wrap him around their finger? But he would be fine without the answers. Or, that’s what he told himself.
To make it to the further, usually abandoned, stairwell to retreat to the dungeons, one would pass by Remus Lupin’s quarters. Severus would occasionally see the man in passing when he took this path, and they would bow their heads respectfully to one another in greeting. But this evening after supper, he did not see the man.
Instead he found Harry Potter sitting in the corridor, his back against the cold, stone wall.
He sighed. He didn’t want to be involved. He didn’t want a repeat of the night before. He fully intended to walk quietly by as if he’d not even seen the man, but that is not what happened. Instead, he stopped.
He slowly looked from Harry, to the entrance to Remus’s rooms, and back to Harry.
Ah. That made sense.
“No. Get up.” He reached down and grabbed Harry by his elbow, forcing him to stand. “If you told someone you were not interested, and then found them waiting for you outside of your rooms, would it change your mind?”
Harry looked at him guiltily.
“No, it would not. You are not a lost puppy. Have dignity. Let Lupin be.”
“I need to talk to him.”
“No, you do not. If it were a school matter, you would meet him in his office, not here. You have nothing else to say to him. Not after last night.”
“That’s easy for you to say. I’m sure you’ve never allowed anyone to break your heart. If you even have a heart, that is.” Harry’s voice lacked the venom required to make his words truly hurt. It was clear he spoke out of sadness, and not in any real attempt to insult him.
Severus sighed. “That is where you’d be wrong. Unfortunately, I do have a heart. And, unfortunately, it has been broken. You will listen to me and you will return to your own quarters. Do you not see what a great disservice you are doing to yourself?”
Harry pulled his arm from Severus’s grasp and walked away.
Severus’s eyes fell closed in frustration with himself. He turned around.
Harry turned to face him, curious.
“What is this hold he has on you? A werewolf nearly twice your age?”
Harry took a step forward. “He’s kind to me.”
“There are many who are kind to you. A romantic partner ought to be more than kind.”
“As are many others.”
“Kind, intelligent, attractive. You’ve described half of the wizarding world. If that is all it takes to bed Harry Potter, I daresay you will easily find others who meet the requirements.”
Harry snorted humourously. “Good night, Professor.”
For the second time in a day, Severus watched Harry walk away, feeling oddly disappointed by his departure.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Severus always sat in the seat closest to the staff entrance to the Great Hall. It made for hasty comings and goings, particularly when he was eager to avoid conversation with another staff member, usually Albus or Minerva. Occasionally Hagrid. Remus and Harry stayed to themselves, as did most of the others.
Tonight, however, Harry had sat in the seat next to Severus’s before he’d even arrived. He gritted his teeth and sat next to him. He knew this was a rebellion against Remus. It was his way of telling the werewolf, ‘You’ve upset me so badly, I’d rather sit by my least favourite person here than you.’
Severus was sure Remus received the message loud and clear.
But if Remus were to look at Harry now, he wouldn’t see a brooding, upset man. He’d see a smiling one. Smiling at Severus Snape.
He struck up a conversation with Severus easily. At first talking about lesson plans, then moving on to talk about the difficulties his students had been having. Harry’s impressions of a few of the students made Severus chuckle.
Harry was charming. Oh, he was charming. And Severus hated it. Hating anyone with the surname of Potter had been the one constant in his life. And now that was gone without any notice.
Actually, he began to think, perhaps those feelings had been gone for some time. When, exactly, had he stopped hating this charming brunette next to him?
Harry placed his hand atop Severus’s and squeezed gently.
“Thank you,” he said with a small smile. “I needed a friend this evening.”
Severus looked at Harry, feeling dumbfounded.
“We aren’t friends.” His words held no anger or hatred. They were simply a fact.
Harry let out a small sigh, but didn’t move his hand away. “Fine. I suppose I just needed you. Whatever you are to me.”
Harry stood slowly and looked down at him, waiting.
Severus couldn’t say what had compelled him to do so, but he stood as well and followed Harry from the room.
“I’m not too keen on being alone tonight,” Harry said once they were in the dim corridor.
Severus understood the suggestion but refused to acknowledge it.
They walked a bit further, closer to where their paths should part. Harry looked at him again. Severus could see him in his peripheral, looking very much as though there were something more he’d like to say. It drove Severus insane. Spit it out or go away!
But he said nothing.
Finally, they approached the staircase, where Severus should descend, and Harry should say goodnight. Instead, they both stepped down into the dungeons stairwell.
Severus stopped and looked at the shorter man quizzically
“I said I didn’t want to be alone tonight,” he said insistently.
“You intend to disrupt my sleep two consecutive nights?”
“You don’t sleep.”
“Contrary to popular belief-“
“-shut up. My rooms or yours?”
Severus clenched his jaw. “Yours. I feel it would be easier to leave when I desire to do so."
Harry shrugged and grinned. “Fair enough.”
They both turned around, towards where Harry’s rooms should be, though Severus wasn’t sure of the exact location. He’d had no reason to go there before.
Harry’s rooms were burgundy, nearly the colour found on the Gryffindor crest. Though the accompanying gold was absent, replaced with accents of black leather, marble, and soft tan blankets thrown haphazardly over the back of the chairs in front of the fireplace.
Harry had the money to afford these fine things. Severus often forgot how wealthy the man was. He didn’t carry himself with the same entitlement that the Malfoys or other wealthy families did.
He wanted to ask why the hell Harry even spent his time teaching when he could easily afford to travel the world, or relax in a private castle somewhere, with no responsibilities. But he didn’t.
He tucked that question away for another time.
He wanted to go to bed.
He wanted to be far away from Harry Potter.
“I have a new bottle of bourbon," the young man offered.
“No, thank you.”
“Oh, I’m capable of drinking. You, however, are not.”
Harry furrowed his brow but moved towards his bar cart anyways. “A nightcap won’t hurt me.”
“I’m sure it won’t. I only fear you might hug me again.”
Harry chuckled. “You hugged me.”
“I hardly had a choice.” Severus chose the black leather wingback and sat slowly.
“You always have a choice.”
“Been reading philosophy texts?”
“Huh? Oh, er, no. You taught me that.”
“I doubt I taught you anything.”
“We’re alone. You can drop the act. Hell, you were nicer to me at dinner with an audience.”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”
Harry took a seat, drink in hand. He rubbed his eyes tiredly.
“We don’t have to do this,” Severus said.
“Sit here together as if we are friends simply because you panicked and came to me in a moment of weakness. It will not offend me for you to admit that was all it was.”
“I came to you for a potion.”
“Yes. So, may I leave or am I obligated to stay a bit longer because of societal ideas of manners?”
Harry looked him over from the corner of his eye, humour playing on his lips and reddened cheeks.
“I like you.”
Severus scoffed and rolled his eyes. “You’ve never.”
Harry shrugged. “I do now.”
“Don’t expect me to say it in return.”
Harry closed his eyes and leaned his head back against his chair, exposing a delectable Adam’s apple.
Severus swallowed hard and licked his lips.
“How did he break your heart? I wasn’t aware you were even seeing anyone.”
“We weren’t seeing one another,” he responded, eyes still closed. “I’ve cared for him for a very long time. I was beginning to think he might feel the same way. Obviously, he doesn’t.”
“Did he explain why?”
Harry’s left eye cracked open only enough for him to glance at Severus momentarily.
“He did, but it was all excuses. I could see that he didn’t mean a word. Which, honestly, doesn’t help.”
Severus turned his glass over in his hand looking over the melting ice. Nearly time for another drink.
“Not knowing why makes it more difficult,” he finally said.
Harry nodded his head in agreement. “I feel like I’ve done something wrong. He and I have always been close.”
“I want to ask more, but I’m not sure that I should.”
“I trust you to not get involved.”
Severus snorted. “Then you know me well.” He sighed. “I suppose I’d like to know what drew you to the werewolf in the first place.”
“I don’t know.”
“Well. I can see why he’d turn you down.”
Harry’s eyes snapped open and his head turned in his direction immediately. The hurt in his eyes was clear.
“Because I’m a spoiled brat just like my father who basks in his celebrity?”
“No. Because he’s known you since you were a boy.”
“As have you yet you’re still here having a drink with me.”
“Not to mention his relationship with your father.”
“Over twenty-five years ago.”
“And he’s terrified to hurt someone. He keeps everyone at arm’s length.”
“I don’t have to be around him in the form, and even so-“
He knew Harry wanted to point out how hard it would be to hurt him, given how powerful he was. But he stopped short, afraid it would seem as if he were boasting.
“I’ve just given you three perfectly reasonable explanations to why he wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with you.”
“The more likely is that he just doesn’t see himself with me. I’m not attractive enough, or his type at least, perhaps he’d like someone more well-read, someone funnier.”
“Perhaps someone with higher self-regard.”
Harry grinned and leaned over enough to swat at his arm.
The ease at which they shared their space and sat for hours drinking and talking was almost disturbing to Severus. If Remus knew Harry the way the young man was now, his unintentionally flirtatious touches, his humour, the reflection of the fire flickering within those emerald irises- well, then, he was a fool for turning him away.
He wanted to blame the alcohol for how gently he found himself assessing the man by him. But he knew the alcohol was not the culprit, nor was holding him in his arms the night before.
No, he’d begun to see Harry differently quite a long time ago. Perhaps even before Harry had started teaching at Hogwarts.
Harry accio’d the bottle and poured Severus and himself each another glass.
“Last night you said he was a fool to turn me down.”
“I still think him a fool.”
Harry grinned. “Thank you.”
“I don’t believe he’s ever had a romantic partner. I think it could be good for him. And,” Severus took a long drink, thinking over his words carefully. “And, despite understanding his reluctancy, I think he’d be lucky to have you. I also think he knows that.”
Severus shrugged. He was hesitant to tell Harry the truth, but he found himself saying it anyways. “There is a way he looks at you...”
Harry smiled, his eyebrows rose high into the strands of dark hair that fell into his face. “Do you think I have a chance?”
“That I cannot tell you.”
Harry leaned forward and squeezed Severus’s thigh just above his knee appreciatively. “Thank you.”
He felt his pulse quicken at the innocent touch. “To be clear, Potter. I am not encouraging you to pursue him. I feel that would be unwise.” He pushed himself out of the comfortable chair and walked to the door. “Goodnight, Professor Potter.”
“Goodnight, Professor Snape.”
Severus took one last look at Harry before leaving. He looked as if the warmth of the room, large chair, and alcohol was finally bringing him peace. His eyes were closed, spreading his dark lashes out along his tanned cheeks. His chest expanded and contracted in an even rhythm.
Gods, he was beautiful.
Lupin didn't deserve him.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
He looked in the mirror as he buttoned his shirt up, dreading the coming hour. He couldn't effortlessly make conversation with Remus and pretend nothing had happened between them. He couldn't meet those amber eyes and see anything other than Remus telling him that he'd mistaken the man's affection for romantic love, and that he should leave. And although he'd already avoided him successfully for a few days, he still worried he'd be forced to speak to him before he was ready.
He pushed his fingers through his mess of hair, and assessed his reflection. He wouldn't be able to look any better today.
Harry entered the Great Hall. Dull chatter hummed through the air from the four house tables. The staff table was mostly quiet.
Severus looked up from his meal and met his gaze. He glanced to the seat beside him and back to Harry. An invitation? It didn't matter. Harry's feet had already made a straight line, and before he could think on it too long, he took his place beside the man.
"Thank you," Harry told him. He wasn't sure what he was thinking him for. For opening the door for him two nights prior? For the encouragement? For allowing him to sit by him?
Severus inclined his head just a bit and turned his attention to his tea.
Harry heaped food onto his plate, not even sure of what he was taking. He desperately wanted to look down the table to see Remus. Did he, too, look ridiculously tired from loss of sleep the previous nights? Or did he look well-rested and unaffected?
As if reading his mind, Severus leaned his head a bit closer to Harry's. "Don't," he whispered. "Have dignity."
"Get out of my head," Harry hissed in return, not looking at him.
"Are your occlumency guards not in place?"
"Of course they are."
"Then perhaps I am not in your mind, and you are simply all-too-easy to read."
Harry glared at him then. Severus smirked, looking infuriatingly self-satisfied.
"Are you, or are you not The Saviour of the Wizarding World?"
Harry's eyebrows furrowed. He so detested being called that, but he nodded meekly.
"Then act like it."
Harry learned Severus was left-handed the previous night, as his right hand continuously bumped into Severus's left as they ate. The man never indicated that he was annoyed by it, for which he was grateful. His words were particularly nasty when he was annoyed.
It was a large reason for why they'd barely spoken, despite Harry having been teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts for five years now. Severus so hated to be bothered, and it seemed as though Harry's entire presence bothered him. Harry made it a priority to stay out of his way. It was easier than the bickering that would surely ensue.
But the quiet ease they found sitting together at breakfast was calming and pleasant. Perhaps Harry should have run to him crying years sooner. Harry smiled to himself at the thought.
Soon the one breakfast together had become three meals a day for several weeks. Halloween was quickly approaching, and the students were excited. The Great Hall was deafeningly loud at supper, everyone talking about their plans for the extra day off from classes.
Severus and Harry had taken to speaking quietly between themselves at meals, but it was so loud tonight that they could speak in normal tones and still have the same level of privacy. Not that they particularly needed it. They didn't talk about anything of importance.
Since Harry had learned to avoid Remus, Severus had stopped chiding him about the matter and their conversation had evolved to encompass other areas of interest.
Now they spoke about lesson plans, other residents of Hogwarts, their individual research projects, and even quidditch on occasion. Harry learned Severus had a secret passion for it, and he'd even admitted to following Ginny's professional career and supported her success.
Harry cut into his chicken and idly thought how he wished he'd found this friendship with Severus sooner, but his thoughts were cut short by the feeling of eyes boring into him.
He could often feel when eyes lay on himself a bit too long. It might be a leftover talent from his years as a child thrown into the limelight, or fighting a war for as long as he had. Regardless of why, he felt eyes on him now. As if sensing the tension inside of Harry, Severus looked at him. He looked over Harry's shoulder and back to him.
"Tell me who you are," Severus commanded.
"I am Harry Potter."
"And you will let no man affect you."
Harry grimaced. He couldn't fight the urge. He turned.
Remus's eyes met his. The older man offered him a small, apologetic smile. It wasn't Remus's fault that he didn't want Harry. He shouldn't make the man feel bad for it, should he?
He smiled in return. He could see the relief on his face that Harry's smile had offered him.
Harry turned back to Severus. He rolled his eyes at him.
"I couldn't help it."
"You have abysmal self-control."
It'd truly been a confusing few weeks, to say the least. Harry had once sought out every moment he could with Remus. Now he avoided him. Severus had suggested that Remus might have a hesitancy about Harry that didn't involve emotions. Perhaps he did return Harry's feelings but there were other factors that kept him away. Somehow, that made it worse. It made it harder to face Remus, more complicated.
Severus's company now filled the hole left by Remus. Harry thought maybe some part of him sensed that he'd be able to find comfort in the man that night, and that's why he'd awoken him, to literally cry on his shoulder. His sixteen-year-old self would have retched at the thought. He huffed out a chuckle beneath his breath and shook his head.
"What do you find so amusing this evening?" Severus asked between sips of tea.
"Us." He braced himself, expecting Severus to quip about how there was no 'us' and Harry was a nuisance. Instead, Severus said, "Ah. Yes." As if he understood completely.
"I have quite a bit of marking to do tonight."
"As do I, but involving vials of potions. My office, then?"
Harry smiled. He leaned over just enough to touch his shoulder to Severus's affectionately. "Sounds great. See you in a bit?"
Severus took his last bit of tea then stood and left the table. Once Severus was out of the Great Hall, Harry dared another glance at Remus. He stared straight ahead as he chewed. He'd been quiet, not even speaking to Minerva or Hagrid.
He missed him. Christmas was approaching and they'd both be going to visit with Sirius for the holiday. He hoped their relationship might be better by then. He felt lost without the man's presence, and replacing him with Severus's friendship didn't make him feel any less so. If anything, he only felt confused.
He allowed himself to watch Remus just a moment longer. Trying to act as if he wasn't in love with the man was potentially the most difficult task he'd taken on in his tumultuous twenty-seven years of life.
He finally stood and followed Severus from the room.
Severus lifted a student's vial in one hand and his own in the other. He held them both to the light to compare the colours and consistencies. He made a thoughtful look, replaced the student's vial on the top shelf, then wrote a note on the parchment to his left.
"Seventh years doing well so far this year?"
"I always have hope," he said, his voice flat. "I am always disappointed."
"Did I disappoint you my last year?"
Severus looked at him. "Not at all."
"Because I had incredibly low standards for you in the first place."
Harry laughed. "Prat."
Severus grinned and turned his attention back to the potions. The man always made the same face when he was marking. He'd set his jaw and narrow his eyes. Severus tucked a stand of hair behind his ear and bent over to write a few more notes.
He wasn't beautiful. But he was uniquely handsome when one took the time to really look at him. And his personality, now that Harry was beginning to really know him, made him even more appealing.
Harry wondered if maybe he'd be up for a shag. Then immediately groaned. Was he really so desperate for affection that he was considering Severus Snape as a bed partner? How sad.
"I can hear you thinking. You think too loudly," he said, without looking at Harry.
"I was thinking I need a shag. Interested?"
"Now who's the prat?" Severus retrieved his wand and flicked it in Harry's direction, splattering him with cold water.
Harry removed his glasses and dried them on the hem on his shirt. "Still you."
"There are pubs, you know."
Harry wasn't sure what to say.
Severus continued. "Gay ones, even."
"London. Are you finished?"
Harry looked at his stack of essays still left to mark. "Close enough."
"Come on, then." He crossed his arms over his chest.
"Didn't I just tell you there are pubs?"
"You're going to help me get laid?"
"You're crass. Neither of us have very many free evenings, so are you coming or not?"
"I need to get dressed." He stood from Severus's desk and grabbed the stacks of essays. Severus looked him up and down. "Your clothes are acceptable."
"Are you wearing your robes into London?" Severus rolled his eyed and tapped his hip with his wand, transfiguring his black robes into black jeans and a black, silk button-up shirt.
The look suited the man, the trousers especially.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
The entire street was lined with night life. People walked through the streets dressed nicely, or dressed so that immeasurable amounts of skin were bared. Severus seemed unaffected by the vibrant muggles around them. They walked together a few streets over from the portkey and turned a hard right. A small pub was tucked out of the way off of a side street. There was no sign indicating its name, but there was a fair amount of people outside beneath the neon OPEN light, passing cigarettes between them.
They stepped closer to the door. Harry was a bit out of breath, having struggled to keep pace with Severus's long stride.
A muscular, dark skinned man looked at Severus approvingly as he lit the cigarette dangling from his lips.
"Hi, Brian. Haven't seen you in a while," he said to Severus.
Severus shrugged. "Been busy."
"Busy with this one, eh?" he said, looking at Harry. He winked and took a long drag.
"Something like that."
They stepped into the warm pub and inspected the bar for somewhere to get comfortable. The room was small and dimly lit. Music played from an old jukebox. A few barmen leant over the bar speaking to patrons. They found two empty seats at the bar and settled in.
"Two whiskeys, neat. Thank you." Severus laid a few pounds on the bar.
Harry grinned. "Thanks for the drink, Brian."
Severus looked at him from the corner of his eye. "Well? Go talk to someone."
"What? Now? I haven't even properly looked at anyone."
"So, er, you've been here before?"
"I didn't know you were gay."
"Why would you need to know?"
"I suppose I don't. Are you going to talk to anyone?"
Harry sighed and pushed himself away from the bar, drink in hand. He walked a few metres then looked back at Severus. He arched an elegant eyebrow urging Harry to go on.
"You look lost."
Harry turned to see a tall, blond man looking down at him, friendly grin in place. He looked a bit like Draco, if Draco were less ferret and more human.
"I am a bit. Never been here before."
The man glanced at Severus who now was in deep discussion with one of the attractive barmen.
Harry felt an odd pang in his stomach.
"If you're here with Brian, you're in good hands. I like him. He's so… mysterious."
"Yes. He is, isn't he?"
"Is he your partner?"
"Professionally, I suppose."
Harry laughed, "No."
"Matthew," he said and extended a hand.
Harry spit out the first pseudonym he could think of. "Jaime."
"Could I buy you a drink, Jaime?"
Harry looked hesitantly back to Severus, still utterly engrossed by the barman now leaning far over the bar to speak to him more closely.
Matthew ordered two drinks for them and they sidled up to the far wall. They blended in well with the other small groups of men circled around one another in happy conversation.
"What brings you out tonight?"
"Se- erm, Brian's idea."
"Getting over a heartache, eh?"
"You can tell?" Harry looked up at him, perhaps a bit too surprised, as it made the man laugh.
"I have a sense for these things. Tell me about him, then. How long were you together?"
"We weren't. I've never. Er, I told him how I felt and then… nothing."
"Oh, I see what this is." The man's eyes sparkled like he knew a secret.
"What is it?" Harry felt hopeful, but he didn't know what response he was hoping for.
"He's taken you under his wing, being the 'baby gay' that you are."
Harry spluttered. "Baby gay?"
"Sure. He's showing you the ropes and all. How to be a gay man in London."
"Maybe they should just write a book on that."
Matthew laughed. "I like you. You're funny. But I warn you, don't go getting attached. Every new, young gay who has an older man take him in ends up getting attached. It's usually not like that for the older one. He's just giving you what he wishes he'd had at your age- someone to introduce him to society, as it were."
Harry nodded, feeling a bit disappointed. He'd thought what he and Severus were developing was more than that. More than some awkward gay mentorship.
"Oh, no," Matthew said. "I know that look. You've already gone and gotten attached."
He shrugged. "It's complicated. He used to hate me. The bloke I liked- Brian hated him, too. I was just hoping this was becoming something... different after all of those years of animosity."
"Doesn't look like he hates you now," Matthew said, looking towards Severus. Harry looked over, too. Severus was eyeing them, his face blank.
"Anyways, I've got to head out. Here's my number." He pulled a pen from his back pocket and scribbled the digits on the back of Harry's hand.
"Good luck, Jaime." He winked and walked casually out of the pub.
"Will you call him?" Severus asked as they walked back to the portkey.
"I saw him give you his number."
Harry looked at the ink on his hand. "Probably not."
"He was handsome."
"So are you." Harry felt his face burn hot. He hadn't mean to say that aloud.
Severus grabbed Harry's hand. His pulse quickened. But Severus touched his other hand to the portkey and pulled them into his sitting room.
"Did you enjoy yourself?" Severus asked.
"I did, thanks. Looks like you did, too."
"That sounded a bit like jealousy. No need to be jealous of Eric. We've been friends for a long time."
Harry assumed Eric was the barman that held the man's attention all evening. Harry wasn't jealous of him. Why should he be? He was a little disappointed that he didn't get to spend as much time with Severus, but that's all.
"Anyways, I couldn't call Matthew if I wanted to. I don't have a muggle phone."
Severus gave him a look that suggested it wasn't any of Harry's business why he owned a muggle phone. As much as Harry tried, it was difficult to learn anything about the man other than minuscule bits of information here and there.
"Well, what do you plan on doing for the rest of the evening?"
"Are you attempting to subject me to your presence for the coming hours?"
Harry smiled. "If you will tolerate it."
"I feel I've been tolerating you quite well recently…. Being the Remus Lupin replacement that I am."
Harry's brows furrowed. "No, you're not. You're not a 'Remus replacement.'"
"Oh? Can't even live up to the werewolf?" Harry could sense the teasing tone, but he still detested the words being used.
"Don't be self-deprecating. And don't refer to him that way."
Severus's lips quirked up in the corners so slightly Harry almost missed it. He was goading him. But why?
It didn't matter. Harry refused to give in to it.
He patiently waited for Severus to answer the initial question. Finally, the man gave in with a tired sigh.
"I have a new book I'd like to dig into."
"I like to read, too. Could we- ?" Harry nodded his head towards the settee.
"If you insist."
"Is it a potions book? Haven't you read them all yet?"
"I have other interests, too."
"You will be, if you don't stop talking."
Harry pulled a book from the shelf, not even looking to see what it was. He really did enjoy reading, but he was more interested in the man across from him. He was a puzzle, a riddle, a mystery, as Matthew had said.
Severus tapped a finger to his tongue and turned a page. His eyes moved quickly across the lines of words. He read more quickly than even Hermione. He turned another page. Something about his long fingers tortured Harry. A heavy weight settled in his abdomen, resting peculiarly above his groin. An elegant finger hovered over Severus's thin lips until he touched it to his teasing tongue once more and turned the page. Another weight sank slowly down into his stomach and warbled a bit before settling, like a pebble sinking in a pond.
The weight felt an awful lot like guilt.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Severus's life is... complicated.
Severus looked into the anti-nausea potion and assessed it. It was perfect. Naturally. He’d brewed it about a thousand times. He bottled it for Madame Pomfrey, set aside the cauldron to clean later, and looked up at the clock.
His last class of the day had ended hours earlier, and Harry’s last class would be over in about fifteen minutes. He had nothing else to occupy his time and decided he should meet Harry outside his classroom.
They always walked together now, when they could. If Severus didn’t wait for him, he’d pout. Oddly enough Harry’s face when he was pouting was appealing. The little wrinkle between his eyebrows, the rosiness of his pursed lips. But he’d better not chance having an unhappy Harry on his hands today if he hoped to get anything done this evening. When he was upset, Harry would be endlessly distracting to him until Severus made things right again. It was never quite an apology. Severus Snape does not apologise. But he knew just how to change the subject to lift Harry’s mood again.
He stepped off of the staircase and turned towards the Defense classroom. A figure approached from the other side of the corridor, seemingly making its way to the same destination.
A few strides later and the figure came into view. Remus Lupin, in his tattered brown robes.
He offered him a polite grin, but Severus couldn’t help but to scowl in response.
“I think you’ve missed your level. Arithmancy classroom is a level down.”
Remus grinned. “I’m aware.”
“Are you? Because I’m certain you’d have no other business on this level.”
“Severus, please.” Remus lifted his arm to cough against the back of his wrist. “I came to see Harry.”
“To see him turn you away? If memory serves, only a few weeks ago you had him in hysterics because of how badly you hurt him. What more could there possibly be for you to say?”
Abusing Remus was too easy. The man had no spine and hated confrontation. It wasn’t even fun to insult him.
“I owe him an apology, Severus. I know.”
“You don’t deserve enough of his time to apologise.”
Remus’s eyes narrowed. “Why are you suddenly so protective over him?”
“I believe the better question is why were you not?”
He frowned and looked away. “It was my way of protecting him. I just didn’t... I didn’t know it would change our relationship forever.”
Severus knew the feeling well. He almost pitied the man.
The door to Harry’s classroom was pulled open and a queue of second year students pooled out into the corridor and past the two professors. Finally, Harry’s head emerged. His eyes fell into Severus’s quickly.
Something about the eye contact made Severus’s body feel lighter, like all the tension he’d acquired and held through the day evaporated. He wondered if that was why Harry was so effortlessly and universally adored. Did he make everyone feel this way?
“Severus! You waited for me today.” He offered him a wide, toothy grin. Harry went to shut the classroom door but stopped, having finally seen Remus. His body went rigid.
“Oh. Er, hi. Did you... did you need something?”
It was clear Harry was genuinely curious and not being malicious, but Remus was obviously stung by the lack of warmth in his greeting.
“Well, I wanted a chat. But, it can wait.”
Harry shifted his weight to his other foot uncomfortably. “Yeah. Sure. Sure. Er, let me know when works for you.”
Remus nodded, turned on his heel and strode away.
“Did he say anything to you? What does he want to talk about?”
“We didn’t speak really. Hungry?”
Harry’s smile returned.
They began to walk together back towards the staircase.
“I was thinking...” Harry stepped closer and let their arms touch. It always took Severus off guard, the affectionate touches Harry offered. “See, there’s a new restaurant I’ve been wanting to try.”
“Then try it.”
“Would you come with me?” He asked hopefully, the way a child would ask his mum for a lolly. Severus didn’t particularly feel up for leaving the castle tonight, but recently he’d found himself more and more unable to deny any request of Harry’s. It was infuriating.
His once very detailed and punctual, never-changing schedule now bent and twisted around Harry’s responsibilities, desires, and whims. He stayed up entirely too late because Harry couldn’t sleep and wanted to stay awake reading in Severus’s sitting room all night. He was late to supper because Harry was constantly running behind schedule but Severus couldn’t begin his meal without him. His marking took twice as long because Harry now joined him and distracted him incessantly.
The most infuriating bit? It didn’t bother Severus in the slightest. In fact, his heart still stuttered just slightly at the sight of the young man, even if it was the sixth time seeing him that day. The cadence of his voice brought Severus comfort. And that was what friendship was, right? He’d not had a real companion since Lily. And that had been all too long ago. Even so, Severus was sure this was just what friendship was, complete with its comforts and annoyances.
Severus, the man of habit, wanted to tell Harry that no, in fact, he felt a bit of headache coming on and would like to eat his supper and do his marking and be in bed by nine, thank you very much.
Instead, Severus said, “Of course I will. Should I change attire?”
Harry didn’t even look at Severus’s clothes. He smiled and looked over Severus’s face.
“Not at all. You’re perfect.”
Severus extinguished the small flame flickering atop the skinny white candle and moved the votive to the far side of the table. Harry chuckled and rolled his eyes.
“That candle was nonsense,” Severus complained.
“It was supposed to be romantic.” Harry looked amused.
“What needs to be romantic about sharing a meal?”
“Erm, everything? Depending on the company, of course.” Harry sucked on his lower lip. Why did he insist on being so annoyingly distracting?
Harry turned his attention to the soup in front of him. Severus had already finished his own.
Harry’s hair had gotten long and so he had to use his free hand to hold his fringe out of the way when he hovered over the bowl.
Severus sighed. “He said he wanted to apologise to you. I told him to leave you alone. I wasn’t particularly nice about it. I shouldn’t have involved myself.”
Harry looked up suddenly. His jaw dropped just a bit in surprise but he quickly corrected himself, training away any emotion. “Should I go speak to him?”
Severus didn’t want him to. He knew that if his relationship with Remus were to be reconciled, Severus would again be cast aside. To sit alone at the end of the staff table, to sit in silence in his office with his lesson plans. It’s not that he minded the solitude. But he’d grown quite accustomed to having Harry close by.
“No,” Severus told him.
“Well it’s not like I can avoid him forever.” He took his last spoonful of soup and pushed it to the side next to the abandoned candle.
“Can’t you? You avoided me for five years. I can count on one hand the number of times we spoke between the day you were employed at Hogwarts and the night you first came to me.”
Harry winced. And only then did Severus realise how angry he’d sounded.
“Okay, you aren’t wrong. But you and I didn’t have any type of previous relationship. You’d hated me since I was eleven. This is different.”
“You hated me, too.”
“No I didn’t, I just-“
“Fine. Sure. But you were mean!”
“You were a brat.”
Harry grinned and shook his head. “No, I wasn’t.”
“You aren’t now but then-“
“-No, not even then. But you were mean. Still are, sometimes.”
“When am I mean to you?”
“Last Tuesday! You went to supper without me.”
“Not this again. I haven’t made that mistake since, have I? You’re a brat when you’re cross.”
Harry chuckled. “Well if it taught you a lesson, I can’t say that I’m sorry for acting like a brat! See, this is just like what I was saying to Matthew last night-“
“- the man from the pub? The muggle?”
“Yeah! I was telling him how you-“
“You went to London last night?”
“What? No. I called him.” Harry’s grin was quickly replaced with a look of confusion.
“Yeah. Arthur had a spare muggle phone he found at work. Said I could have it.”
“The Weasleys know about your muggle boyfriend?”
“No, they don’t know about Matthew. And I haven’t got a boyfriend. Just asked Arthur for a phone is all. And what’s wrong with having a muggle boyfriend anyways?”
“I suppose better than a werewolf.”
“Severus! What has gotten into you tonight?” Harry put his hand over Severus’s and searched his eyes. He drew a ragged breath through his nose. He didn’t want Harry to touch him, but he couldn’t bring himself to pull his hand away.
“We were having a good time, I thought. Can’t I take you out and show you that I-“ Harry stopped himself suddenly.
“Show me what?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Harry removed his hand. “I’m sorry I wasted your evening.”
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Things start to get complicated.
Harry put his index finger into the small circle and swirled around the dial on the rotary phone. Even the Dursleys had had a more modern telephone, but it did the job. He only had the phone for one person, anyways.
Matthew answered quickly. "I had a feeling you'd call today."
"Oh, did you?"
"Call it my magic power."
Harry chuckled. They were silent for a moment. "Brian called himself a replacement for Lupin, the bloke I fancy."
"Did he sound… I don't know… er, bitter at all or was it, like, flirtatious…?"
"He tried to make it sound like he was teasing."
"They say there is truth in every joke. Maybe I was wrong."
"Maybe you aren't just a baby gay that he's taken in. Any chance Brian feels something for you?"
Harry laughed. "No, not at all. That would be absurd. We have a really rough past. We've only just gotten past it."
"There is a very thin line between love and hate."
"Do you always speak in clichés?"
"Another one of my magic powers." Matthew laughed. Something rustled against the microphone.
"What was that?"
"Pulling on a jumper. Bloody cold out. I'm headed to the pub here in a bit. Care to join me?"
"I shouldn't. I think our friendship makes Brian feel left out."
"Left out, or jealous? It's no matter, bring him along."
"I'll ask him. Thanks for the chat. Talk later?"
"Of course. Bye, Jaime."
Harry pulled off his teaching robes and replaced the t-shirt he wore underneath with a white collared shirt, just in case Severus agreed to going to the pub after supper.
But when he walked into the Great Hall, he immediately got the distinct feeling that Severus wouldn't be interested in doing much of anything with Harry tonight. Severus had not waited for him by the staff entrance and so Harry pushed open the door and stepped inside. Severus didn't even lift his head to look at him. And as he stepped closer he saw that Severus had situated himself between Madame Pomfrey and Minerva. Harry looked along the table, the lone available seat was between Remus and Hagrid.
Harry held his breath as he pulled the ancient heavy chair away from the table and made himself comfortable. His heart began to race erratically. He wasn't sure if he should say hello to Remus. Would it be awkward? Or would it be more awkward if he didn't say hello? But, if he did say hello, would he be sucked into a conversation he didn't want to have tonight? And if he didn't say-
He released a breath of relief.
"I'm glad you're willing to sit with me again. Although, it has been nice to see that Severus has made a friend."
Harry nodded and spread butter over his bread.
"Or more than a friend?"
Harry nearly choked.
"Perhaps I shouldn't have asked. My apologies."
"No, it's fine. But, er, he did take me to a gay pub."
It was Remus's turn to look distinctly uncomfortable.
"Oh? Did you… meet anyone?"
"I made a friend."
"That's good. That's really good."
"Yeah. I guess so."
Remus sighed. "Harry, if this makes you uncomfortable, we don't have to do this. We don't have to speak until you're ready. We don't have to force things to go back to normal."
"Neither of us have ever been particularly normal anyways."
Remus snorted. "Right you are."
"And, anyways. ChristmasiscomingsoonandIwasthinkingthat-"
"Harry. Slow down. Say that again?"
"Christmas is coming."
"Yes, it is."
"And we will both be at Grimmauld, with Sirius, and maybe we should have that chat before then."
"That sounds nice, Harry. Come by to my rooms when you're ready."
The two returned to eating their meals. Harry glanced to his right out of the corner of his eye, to see Severus. But, he was gone. The staff door slammed closed.
Harry sighed. He'd lost his appetite, suddenly.
"Do you need to go after him?" Remus asked him, as Harry stared at the closed door.
He wanted to. He wanted to see what'd upset him. He cared about Severus. But this moment was the closest to normalcy he'd found with Remus since that night, and he was unwilling to walk away from it.
He turned to Remus and smiled at him. "No, I'm sure he's fine."
"Are you free for the next bit? Ready to have that chat?"
Harry wasn't sure that he was, but he followed Remus to his rooms anyways.
Remus picked up a biscuit and bit into it as he crossed his ankle over the other knee and made himself comfortable in his favourite chair.
"I didn't mean to ruin things," Harry said apologetically.
"You could never."
Harry ran his hand through his hair and rolled his eyes. "This is the part where you tell me you've always loved me like a son and nothing could change that- yeah, spare me. Can't we just be honest? I changed things between us that night."
"Yes. Things changed. But I'm glad that you were honest with me. I never want you to feel that you must keep things from me."
"But now I do. It took me a year to work up the courage to tell you those things."
Harry nodded and placed his tea back onto the coffee table. "I suspect I'd had these feelings longer than that."
"You still feel the same?"
Harry leaned forward, his hands worrying themselves in his lap.
"Of course I do. That won't change in just a month. I can try to make things the way they once were, but it'll take time."
"You and Severus seem close recently. Be honest with me, Harry. Is it more than friendship?"
Harry closed his eyes for a moment and reopened them slowly. "No."
Remus tried to take a deep breath but was overcome with a fit of coughing. He turned his head and placed his mouth into the crook of his elbow.
"You've been coughing for weeks now, Remus. Are you getting sick?"
Remus shook his head before being sent into another fit of coughing that left him bent over with his head between his knees. Harry rushed to his side and rubbed his back soothingly.
"Harry, I- how much do you know about werewolves?"
He shrugged. "As much as you've told me, I suppose."
"We don't... we don't tend to live long."
Harry's heart began to pound, fearing what would surely come next.
In an instant Harry found himself wrapping his body around Remus's. Harry held him tight. This couldn't be happening. It couldn't be true. He'd misheard, surely. Remus was young. He was too young. He couldn't be leaving him. Not yet.
"I wouldn't have... ya know. Told you- told you all of that if I knew what you were already going through. I shouldn't have burdened you with my feelings. Remus, I'm so sorry."
Harry relaxed his embrace and pulled away enough to look into Remus's eyes. He was crying. He tried to remember the last time he'd seen Remus cry, but he couldn't. Perhaps this was the first time. Remus ran the sleeve of his jumper down over his face.
"You're never a burden. I'm glad that you told me."
Harry placed his hand onto his chest, just over his heart. Remus lifted a trembling hand and put it over Harry's. They stood like that, searching one another's eyes, for a long moment.
Remus licked his lips and took a deep, ragged breath. "I suppose it's my turn to be honest. Harry, I've loved you... gods, I have loved you... for, for I'm not even sure how long. But your life has been so complicated, so marred by pain and loss. How could I have ever told you my feelings, even when you expressed your own so freely? I will not live long enough to see an evolution in our relationship beyond dating. I am too dangerous, even with wolfsbane, to be near you when a full moon approaches. I am too weak to make love to you."
It was now Harry who wiped away bitter tears. "I don't care about those things. Let me be with you as long as I can be."
"No, Harry. I do care about those things. If you love me, I need to see you moving on and living a full life before I go. Can you do that? Could you do that for me, Harry?"
He looked away angrily. Tears still welling up along his lower lashes. He begrudgingly nodded.
"How much longer?" He asked, still determinedly not looking at him.
"Weeks? A year? I don't know."
"Have you told Sirius?"
He sighed. "Yes."
"I have to oversee quidditch practice," he said suddenly. It was a lie. He hadn't exactly meant to lie, but it was the first excuse to come to mind. He couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't stand here and look at this man, hearing him say he was dying. But instead of walking away, before he could think, he'd reached out to pull Remus to him. He placed his lips to the older man's tenderly.
How often had he thought of this? This potential, but always hypothetical, first kiss between them. He'd wanted it so badly. But not like this.
Not with Remus's soft lips tasting like salty tears, not after admitting to Harry that he was not long for this world.
Harry's lips parted and he flicked a tongue into Remus's mouth even as a sob escaped his lips.
The muscles along Remus's spine rippled beneath his palms.
Harry pulled away and rested his forehead against the man's collar bone, still holding him tight.
Remus chuckled weakly. "I thought we were going to let things go back to normal."
Harry shook his head against his chest. "No. Nothing will ever be normal again."
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Severus would do anything for Harry.
Saturdays were the one damn day Severus could relax. Usually he wouldn't even leave his rooms, instead preferring to relax with a book and a glass of whichever alcohol he had on hand. Today it was brandy. He hadn't had it in some time and his nerve endings tittered with anticipation as he poured himself a glass.
Despite his excitement to have a day to himself, it felt a bit odd to not have Harry here. Harry had required so much of Severus's time recently and he'd become accustomed to the presence of the young man. Usually he would have appeared by now, but Severus knew he had likely ruined that at dinner. Why was he so hellbent on ruining everything in his life the moment it started to go right? No matter. He liked his solitude. Always had. And now he could return to letting his life revolve around himself once more, without having to make considerations for someone else's schedule or emotions.
Just as Severus made himself comfortable, his door flew open to reveal a manic and wild-eyed Harry. Seeing him for the first time in nearly two days, he could have sworn he felt like he'd missed him. But that couldn't be. Severus liked his time alone.
He really did.
"Just because you know my password doesn't mean you should use it without notifying me first." He was aware his tone held no acidity to it as it once would have. Harry closed the door behind him with a bit too much force.
"Why do you hate werewolves?" He demanded.
Severus sighed and pressed his fingers into his eyes. "I'm not ready for this conversation."
"I don't care." He fell onto the settee by Severus haphazardly, half sitting on Severus's thigh until he settled in.
"I don't," he finally answered in a breath.
"Then why do you hate Remus?"
"I don't… anymore. Not really."
"You know what I'm getting at so just tell me!"
Severus felt differently these days whenever he looked at Harry, but he was still enraged to be forced into a conversation he didn't want to have. He'd never had to answer to anyone before and he wasn't willing to start now, but Harry knew just how to get under Severus's skin.
"You want to know? I shall certainly tell you with no hesitancy in honesty, but I'm afraid the discrepancy in what I say and what you believe might anger you. And so, whatever this sparks inside of you, keep it to yourself because I have no desire to hear it."
Harry looked at him expectantly, showing that Severus's red-faced response had no effect on him.
"Because that werewolf is a goddamned coward. When your father and that dog harassed me in school, he stood idly by and let it happen, although I could see that he knew it was wrong. He was terrified to stand up to them. And when he turned, he hid away like some type of hermit. How pathetic! Couldn't face the world around him until Albus drug him here to teach. We all have trials in life. You don't see me living on the fringe of society, do you?" He should have stopped there. But he couldn't. The worlds were set free and had a mind of their own now. "And when he was offered possibly the best luck of his life, he denied it because he was too cowardly to reach out and grasp it!"
"You, Potter! You! A young, handsome, powerful man goes and fall in love with him, beyond any discernible reason and he just pushes it away! And I do not hate him, but I certainly do not understand him. Cowardice is the ultimate weakness in my eyes. He could have been a successful man, but he was scared of it. Whereas I've worked for years, years, and have had half the opportunities at my fingertips as he has."
"You're jealous," Harry was not arguing. Only stating.
"Of a weak, cowardly werewolf? I think not. I have plenty of reasons to dislike him, not to mention the matter of him absolutely destroying any self worth you might have possessed before he hurt you."
Severus couldn't remember standing, but he now found himself breathing hard and peering down at Harry who remained on the settee.
Harry sighed and collapsed in on himself, looking pitiful and defeated.
Harry looked at him. And now he could see the redness around his vibrant eyes. Could see his swollen lips and pink cheeks, making the remnants of his boyhood freckles stand out.
"I said he's dying." Harry took Severus's hand and squeezed it gently. "Can you save him?"
He knew that he couldn't. So many had tried to prolong the lives of werewolves for centuries, but little headway had been gained. Severus was intelligent, he knew he was brilliant with medicine and potions but he knew he cold not invent what his predecessors had been unable to.
"No. I know of nothing that could help."
"Can you try?" He pleaded; his voice so soft it sent chills down his spine.
But that look of desperation on Harry's gentle face made him want to promise that man the world. "Do not put all of your hopes on me."
"Is that a yes?"
"Yes, Harry. I will try."
Harry smiled weakly.
"How long has he been declining?"
"I don't know."
"What has he told you?"
"He's been coughing. He told me he was dying. It's all I know."
Severus nodded. He'd need more information, but he hated to question the man himself.
He accio'd a quill and parchment to himself and quickly wrote down two lists. One, a list of books he could reference. The other, information he would need from Remus.
He handed both lists to Harry.
"Get these answers, and these books. I'll clear an experiment cauldron for us to work in. Meet me at nine o'clock." He took a deep breath. "But, Harry. Do not be too hopeful. I'm not optimistic that anything can be done. And even if it can, I'm not sure we will find it in time."
"Thank you." He kissed Severus's cheek and slipped from the room.
He slowly lowered himself back onto the settee and looked around his sitting room. It now felt so empty without Harry. He was irritating, demanding, unyielding. He was handsome, kind, and he made Severus smile. He wanted to be far away from him, and he wanted to be near him.
Severus didn't know what he wanted. He'd never been more confused.
But he knew he would do anything for Harry, regardless of whatever unknown drive was encouraging him to do so. He didn't care about Remus, why should he? Werewolves didn't live long, and that was a simple fact. And he had never been the man's friend. He loathed that man.
But he couldn't let him die.
It was the right thing to do.
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Matthew slid another drink over to Harry.
“Is it cancer?"
Harry looked up, startled by the question. “Er, yeah. Yeah.”
“And now he says he’s always been in love with you. But he knows he’s dying and doesn’t want to subject you to all that he’s going through.”
“You’re after the wrong type of love, mate.”
“So, this Remus – odd name, by the way- was one of your parents’ best mates. Your dead parents that you never really knew. As a child he was always coming ‘round your house because he’s a friend of your godfather’s. He was your teacher when you were a teenager. He’s twice your age. Do I have all that right?”
Harry nodded and took a long swallow of his drink.
“Mate, you’re not looking for a boyfriend, you’re looking for someone to give you the love and validation you never got from your parents.”
“You’re looking for a father figure and mistaking it for romance.”
“My wank fantasies disagree.”
Matthew snorted and jostled Harry with his elbow.
“Okay, hear me out. With me, I like a bloke- I think he’s cute or whatever- so I decide I want to attract him. I go about it by making him laugh, make him think I’m clever. I dress nice and do my hair up and all so that I can make him think I’m cute, too. But, let me guess, with Remus none of that even occurred to you. You tried to attract him by making him proud of you- high marks, doing well in sports, going into his same profession…”
Harry set his drink down and stared at Matthew. He felt his lips part as his jaw dropped just slightly. “Fuck.” Harry’s jaw twitched. “But, Remus does like me. He told me he loves me. We kissed… that’s… that’s not parental.”
“Do you look like your dad?”
“Everyone says so.”
Matthew shrugged. “You make him miss his dead friend.”
Harry winced. “Harsh.”
“I hate how simple you make everything seem. Anyways, I have to get going.”
“Rushing back to Brian already?”
Harry laughed. Rushing away from having a drink with a friend so that he can sit in silence with the surly Severus Snape? That was absurd.
Except that it was true. But they had work to do and, oddly enough, he missed him.
Harry bid Matthew a good night, tucked himself behind a garbage bin, and apparated to the edge of Hogwarts.
The night before, Severus had nearly frightened Harry. In the small office off to the side of his classroom he began to push over glass vials, letting them fall to the ground and shatter with no worry that the potions were splattering and mixing on the ground. He kicked two cauldrons off of their suspensions causing them to clang heavily against the stone floor, even cracking one of the tiles. He cursed and swore and screamed. He didn’t have enough room to work! How was he expected to get anything done? And all for what? A werewolf? He didn’t have time for this!
Harry quietly waved his wand around, cleaning the messes as they were made. The room was finally put back together and Severus was out of breath after his tantrum. Harry watched him quietly. Severus leaned against his desk, heaving. He finally looked up at Harry. Something behind those black eyes was different. Those eyes offered Harry a silent and sorrowful apology.
“It’s okay,” Harry whispered. “I’ll set up a work space in the room of requirement.”
Severus nodded. “Thank you.”
And so tonight, Harry didn’t descend into the dungeons, but found his way to the room of requirement instead. Severus hovered over a cauldron. It glowed an eerie green colour across Severus’s pale face, making him look like a witch from a muggle children’s story. Sweat gathered over his brow as he stirred forcefully.
“I could have used some help. Where the hell have you been?”
“You told me nine. I’m half an hour early.”
“Isn’t this the love of your life that we are trying to save? I would have thought you’d take it a bit more seriously.”
“Severus, I do take it seriously. You told me nine. I am early. Tell me how I can help you.”
“It doesn’t matter. Go back to whatever you were doing. Obviously, it was more important.”
“I was just at the pub. No importance. I’m here now, tell me how I can help you.”
Severus stopped stirring and looked up, the green bubbling potion reflecting in his black eyes. “The fucking pub?”
“You told me nine. I had time. I had a drink with Matthew.”
Severus stalked towards Harry. He was intimidated, but he refused to move away. Severus was now so close Harry could feel his warm breath on his face.
He stared down into Harry’s eyes and sneered. “Saving Remus isn’t as important anymore now that you’ve got Matthew-the-Muggle on your arm?”
“I’m not dating him. We are friends.” Harry bit his lip and looked away. It was always better to be honest, right? “Actually, I think… I don’t know. Things have changed with Remus. We, er… he told me he loved me and we kissed. So, if I'm dating anyone it'd be-"
“-This is how you cope with stress and pain? Coop me up in a laboratory to do your work while you’re out having your arse fucked by muggles and werewolves alike.”
Harry took a step back. The words hit him like a physical blow. “I’ve not fucked anyone. Matthew is my friend. And if you were my friend, you’d be happy for me that Remus has told me he loves me. You know the feelings I have for him.”
Severus growled and walked away, his arms crossed over his chest.
Harry followed him. “You don’t get to speak to me that way and then walk away. What the fuck has gotten into you?” Severus turned on one heel to face him, sending the hem of his robes into a spin that brushed against Harry’s trousers. Severus reached out to grab Harry’s hand suddenly, causing him to gasp. His skin ignited where he touched him.
“I want to be pleased for you. I want to be that type of man, the selfless type. But, I am not. I am self-serving and always will be. If you have deceived yourself into thinking I am someone I am not, then you are the culpable party in this. I have never misled you into thinking I am a changed man.”
“I don’t need you to change for me. I believe I see you more clearly than you see yourself.”
Severus sighed and released Harry’s hand. “Get out.”
“Are you done?”
“Working on the cure, I mean. Are you done trying?”
“Please leave.” Severus sounded so tired. Harry wanted to embrace him and reassure him, tell him that he believed in him and his abilities. But, Harry was tired, too.
“Good night, Severus.”
“You’re leaving so easily?”
“You told me nine. I was here early and it wasn’t good enough for you. You tell me to leave, but then become angry when I opt to obey you. Tell me, Severus, please: what the fuck can I do to make you happy?”
Severus remained silently glaring at him.
Harry laughed bitterly, “Hell, I can’t even take you to dinner without you starting an argument. Do you just want to be miserable?”
Severus sighed and his expression softened. “I don’t want you to leave just yet.”
Harry knew an apology when he heard one. He brushed his fingers against the man’s forearm. “Then I’ll stay.”