The day Harry Potter has sex with Severus Snape for the first time, none of them is happy.
It is awkward and rushing, drenched in insecurities and denial and sweat. It ends too soon, and if Snape was asked, he’d say it wasn’t nearly as satisfying to worth the trouble.
The day after, while being at the weekly auror meeting of the Ministry, drawing sketches out of boredom as Kingsley talks, Harry decides that his life is already a fine mess of nothingness, and there is no space for more mistakes in it. He avoids Snape altogether, the two times Snape visits the ministry that year, and apart from a curt nod, he doesn’t greet him at the New Year’s Eve ball either.
It takes him some time to solve his marriage out and end it. It's been three years since the last time he actually talked to Snape; it's been two since he promised himself to never look back. It takes him much less time to begin a relationship with some guy he meets in a bar. It ends dramatically five months later, after they've both cheated on each other countless times to continue calling it a relationship.
The kids don’t know anything, of course. Ginny does a good job lying to them about the cause of the divorce. Harry convinces himself it is the best thing to do. School is a torturous place to be, and James experiences his first encounter with bullies at the age of eleven. Harry is broken; what to explain to a child that has been pushed around because of an abnormal father? How to sooth the pain of a kid that was expecting to be treated heroically for his father's virtues but instead was wounded for his faults? Al and Lily are too young to understand, but James hates Harry. Ginny tells him so. Harry's lawyer disagrees. They go through a marathon to hell and back to win the weekend custody again. By the time they do, James is fourteen; an aggressive teenager who couldn't care less.
He is supposed to give a decent explanation to Ron and Hermione, but he never does. Their friendship grows thin as the years go by; they still love each other, and they still hang around together every now and then. But that is all.
Harry himself is sick of encountering people who are more than willing to discuss his personal life with him. They all seem disappointed to see him apart from Ginny Weasley. People are curious. Harry is tired. The disgrace of what he is, is something he can’t let out. He goes with incompatibility.
He does end up to Snape again. And Snape takes him in. And Ginny and Ron and Molly hate him. It’s because they are both broken, perhaps, or because they are nothing alike – but Harry and Snape stick together. The sex isn’t fabulous, nor their everyday lives. But they know when to ignore each other and when to push and fight instead of giving up. They don’t have secrets to share; what can’t be told, is already known to both of them. What isn’t known, it doesn’t have to. They ignore the memories of the war, but never pretend it didn’t happen; the hate burns beneath their chests so often it’s hard to avoid it. They throw it to one other often and they regret it shortly after. They never ask for forgiveness; they don’t need to, and they are guilty of so many things, so many deaths, so many tragedies, that a row over who drank the last bottle of milk simply isn’t worth it.
They spend some time in Spinner’s end and then they move into an underground flat in London. It’s small and dark, mold over the place, cracks in the walls and broken locks behind the door. They are more than willing to fix it all. They are more than willing to make it work.
Soon, the whole wizarding world whispers about where the Chosen is living now, with whom, and yes, it could be a close friendship, but could it? And what a disappointment, their hero, their saviour, a man of law, a man of honour, ending up not being a man.
Why would he choose this? He is handsome after all. He is known to women. Does he feel forgotten, now that the press ignores him? Now that peace no longer depends on him? Does he do it to provoke? To draw the lights upon him? Is he so desperate for attention? Or just perverted and damaged by war? Damaged by Snape himself? Are they taking drugs? Could it be that? Could it be that poor weak Potter needs Snape for this?
And what does Snape, a grown up man, murderer, traitor, liar, dangerous scum, has to do with such a young boy? Isn’t he ashamed? Isn’t it outrageous?
…Some mornings they find leaking garbage bags at their doorstep.
They never go out together. They know how to protect what they have, or how to hide it, and it did them little good the times they did go out together. Molly was entirely unhappy to encounter them in Diagon Alley, shortly after Harry quit his auror position. She greeted them openly, a wide smile of pretence on her face, a “don’t-know-don’t-tell” game people have recently decided to play with them. An “I-know-you-live-together-and-are-not-normal-but-you-haven’t-told-me-yourselves-so-I’m-going-to-pretend-I-don’t-know” look. She wasn’t happy. Disgusted, was the right word.
And who could blame her, or her daughter, for being so?
The world is ashamed of what they are not. They exchange nods of pity for Harry in the shops and streets, behind his back, but never for Snape; often they are politely asked out of coffee shops, even though there are clearly many empty seats in sight.
Harry falls upon Ginny, once, and she lets Harry greet the kids although it isn’t the weekend yet. She is about to ask him to keep them for a couple of hours, when she sees Snape. She’s angry with him, and Snape regrets kneeling down to stroke Lily’s hair and tell her how beautiful she is. Ginny seizes her hand and yanks her away; she hisses to Snape that perverts are not to touch her kids. That she wants none of this shit near them. She brushes with her own hand Lily’s hair on the same spot, to make the touch go away.
She explains to Harry a few days after that she didn’t mean to. That she’s tired of “trying to understand”. That she doesn’t want to be okay with this. That she wants to vomit every time she remembers that she was having sex with someone who wanted a cock up his arse. That he’s a bad example for his own kids – that sometimes they’re bored to go and see him on weekends. They need a permanent household, a permanent bed, a permanent place to have their books and toys. This back and forth is tiring them. Perhaps he should just opt out of custody anyway. She’s worrying herself sick when the kids are with Harry and him.
And then she breaks and cries.They were family once, she says. She’s never going to forgive Harry, she says. She’s never going to forgive him for having put her kids through accepting that their father is bent. The phone call doesn’t end until Ginny asks him for a medical confirmation assuring that he doesn’t have any chronic decease “like so many of your kind have” in order to see the kids again.
Olivander speaks of sin right in Harry’s face. And Harry thanks him for his new wand polisher and leaves. Snape finds a job in a small shipping company and Harry works in a lunch counter. He notices how some people avoid to touch his fingertips when he gives them money in the cash desk.
Every Christmas, and only then, Snape receives a letter from his mother. She never forgets to wish him happy Christmas, and that’s all the intimacy they have. She knows about him; she always knew. She knew long before Snape told her. But she never forgets him on Christmas.
She never sends for birthdays.
Snape says he doesn’t mind; Harry thinks he does. So they spend birthdays on bed, tucked under huge blankets to keep them warm, tugging at each other as though their lives depend on it. They make love, and they drink hot chocolate, and they read children’s tales to each other and snort at their own silliness.
What the world fails to see, is that, although they have nobody else, they have each other. It is enough.
The apathy of the people they used to trust, the hate of a society that dreads them, makes their love stronger. They mind, and it hurts. But not much.
One night, Hermione finds herself passing by their flat; a heavy weight tightening her chest, because of everyday troubles, because of obligations that demand her presence, and suddenly, because of sadness for her best friend’s life path.
She cuts her steps short, because the window is half open, and there is music coming from inside. A fancy melody, almost inaudible, but present. The sweetest one she’s ever heard. And on the window ledge, there is a huge, blooming camellia. Its leaves are wide and green; the flowers as red as blood.
She is sure she can hear voices from inside, and wants to peer down closer, but is afraid to be seen.
She sees them; they do a slow dance, all awkward and irrelevant to the music, both of them laughing, both of them holding on each other tight, wearing baggy pyjamas and dark night robes. They don’t see her, because they look at each other, and laugh at jokes she can’t hear, and Harry steps on Snape’s feet as Snape tries to move around.
Her children wait for her, and her husband too, and her normal beautiful successful life seems to be scolding her for wasting time. As she returns home, she is jealous of something she barely knows, and guilty of something she cannot understand.
And she feels lonely.
Harry doesn’t, because he’s almost gotten the steps right, and Snape doesn’t feel lonely either, because more than tiresome, trying to teach Harry how to dance a simple waltz is wonderful.
Snape doesn’t know what he’s teaching him anyway, because he never danced before, but this is something Harry doesn’t know. It gives Snape that sense of an expert he admires to use.
He suspects Harry knows this too, but he never asks, and Harry throws him on a chair and ends up on his lap when the song changes to something more cheerful.
When they kiss, nothing else matters.