For Carla: a belated birthday story|
by Beth H.
(c) January 2004
Even after so many years - the War over, and the dead buried - the dreams do not stop.
His dreams are not about the horrors of the long months of battle between the forces of the Light and the Dark, nor are they about the atrocities in which Voldemort's Death Eaters had engaged for so long a time. Severus lived through all those things already, and somebody, somewhere, deemed his unending waking memories of those years sufficiently painful to spare him the need to relive them each night while he slept.
No, Severus Snape doesn't dream about the War. Instead, although his time serving as Potions master at Hogwarts is now only a distant memory and relatively few old associations from those days remain, his dreams are all about Harry Potter.
The easiest ones to cope with are the dreams in which Harry approaches him - always in the Potions classroom, always after the side of Light had emerged triumphant - to thank him for the role he'd played in the fight.
Severus waits, silent and austere, as the young man stands before him, looking ill at ease, yet determined as only a Gryffindor can look.
"I want to thank you . . . Severus." Harry licks his chapped lips. "We worked well together, and I hope . . . I hope now that it's all over we can be friends."
Severus stares, incredulous. He wants them to be friends? Is he mad? Does he really believe that's possible?
*Is* it possible?
Harry takes a deep breath. "In fact, I hoped we could be more than friends."
Then The Boy Who Lived leans forward and kisses him. The kiss is soft and warm and gentle, but with a strength and passion behind it that promises much more. However, Severus - entirely incapable of imagining any scenario in which the famous Harry Potter would do such a thing except as part of a final prank or dare left over from a childhood cut short far too soon - bristles and steps back.
"I haven't the slightest notion what led you to believe that I would welcome your attentions, Potter," he says coldly, "but you are sadly mistaken in this belief."
Although Harry had long since grown into a man - tall and strong and courageous - enough of the boy remains in him that Severus's words make him blush and look down. Then he raises his head and meets Severus's narrow-eyed glare, not with a glare of his own, but with a small smile.
It is the smile that infuriates Severus. Yes, perhaps he had imagined seeing that smile turned toward him one day, but here . . . now . . . no! He feels his chest tighten painfully.
"You are no longer a student at this institution, Potter," he hisses between clenched teeth. "Remove yourself from my classroom."
"Professor, I . . . "
"I'm sorry if . . . I'm sorry. Our time working against . . . I thought we might be good together. Like this." Harry gives him a last unreadable look, then shakes his head and starts to walk away. Before he reaches the door, however, he turns back. "Despite everything, I still do."
And then Harry turns away again and walks through the door, and Severus is left alone.
He's alone and it hurts, as it has always hurt to be alone, although he always prided himself on never letting that hurt show. But in these dreams, at least, he can recognize himself. He recognizes the anger and the fear that always kept everyone at bay, including Harry Potter.
Harry Potter, with his strength and his courage and his striking green eyes and the ability he still had, even after all he'd seen and done in his young life, to blush.
More difficult by far are the dreams in which Severus has somehow shed the armor he'd worn his entire life and sees a vision of a future in which, perhaps, he does not have to be alone.
In these dreams, many years have passed since he last saw Harry.
Not all potions ingredients can be easily found in England or Scotland, so during the term break, Severus travels to the continent.. He apparates directly onto the Rue D'Arc in the center of wizarding Paris, and when he looks to his right, he sees a familiar face peering into the window of a patisserie.
He is alone, as Severus is alone - and all at once Severus would give anything for this not to be the case.
Despite his best efforts to keep himself safely distant from Harry Potter during the final months of the War, Severus was drawn to him , and the more time they spent in each other's company, the more he discovered about the young man - enough at first to develop a grudging respect for his unwelcome comrade-in-arms, then enough to actually begin to . . . like him.
More than enough to know just how alone Harry had always felt himself to be.
And now, in this moment, watching Harry, Severus finally realizes that perhaps neither of them need be alone. That the past does not always determine one's future.
He walks up to Harry, speaks his name, smiles . . . and Harry smiles back automatically, although his smile falters a bit as recognition comes over his features.
"Oh, hello . . . Professor Snape."
"I think we're long past the need for titles, don't you, Harry? Please, call me Severus."
"All right," he says slowly. "Severus."
The sound of his name on Harry's lips sounds . . . perfect. He reaches out and touches Harry's shoulder.
"How have you been keeping yourself, Harry? You just made the All-England Quidditch team, did you not?"
Harry smiles "I don't know how much playing time I'll get, but yeah. It's been brilliant. Actually, I'm sort of surprised you heard the news already; the teams haven't even been announced to the press yet."
Severus smiles back at him. "Oh, I have my contacts."
He laughs. "Can't quite shake your spying past, can you? I have my sources too, you know. Hermione said she heard you left Hogwarts and started a pharmaceutical development company."
"Indeed," Severus nods, then licks his suddenly dry lips. "Harry . . . would you care to join me for dinner this evening? If you're free."
The surprise Harry feels at this question shows plainly in his eyes.
"I'm sorry, Pro . . . Severus. I have plans tonight. Maybe some other time?"
"That would be fine, Harry. Just tell me when you're free and we can. . . ."
A red-headed shadow falls between the two of them.
"All right, Harry?" asks Ron Weasley, shaking with barely suppressed laughter.
"Yeah, I'm . . . what's so funny?"
Ron looks at Severus and then he does laugh, gasping for breath. "Never thought I'd live to see you getting chatted up by Snape."
"Don't be a prat, Ron. Professor Snape was just . . . ." Harry looks up and sees the expression on Severus's face. His eyes widen.
The door to the patisserie opens, spewing forth more Weasleys.
"Oi! Fred, George!" Ron calls out to his brothers."Over here!"
They approach, and Severus is inexplicably rooted to the spot, unable to leave as another round of laughter begins at his expense. Once upon a time, his first reaction to this kind of humiliation would have been to draw his wand and hex the lot of them, but what point would there be in that? It wouldn't change the look of pity on Harry's face, nor would it alter his own foolishness at believing, if only for a moment, in hope.
But this dream is not the worst of Severus's dreams. The very worst are the dreams in which he and Harry have, against all odds, forged an unbreakable bond.
They've lived together for years, neither of them quite believing his luck in having somehow found the *right* person. It isn't as if either man has forgotten the very real antagonism between them during Harry's school days (although sometimes it seems to Severus that he has stronger memories of his cruel behavior than Harry does), but time does a great deal to erase old hurts . . . and love does even more.
Late at night, the two men lie together in bed, exhausted but content after making love for what feels like hours. Severus smiles into the back of Harry's neck, and when he pauses for a moment, Harry turns around and wraps his long legs around Severus's narrow waist.
"Harry," Severus says. He hears the catch in his voice and tightens his arms around his lover..
"Severus," Harry answers, and Severus's cock is already twitching again, just from the sound of Harry's voice.
For long minutes, the two men occupy themselves by kissing, licking, nipping each bit of sweaty skin within reach, their arms wrapped tightly around each other. Then both men stiffen at the same time - they are no longer the only ones in the room.
"What a touching sight."
Severus closes his eyes, and he knows Harry is doing the same. They have grown complacent over the years, and both have left their wands on the table in the entryway.
"My Lord . . . ." Severus says, and Voldemort laughs.
"No, Severus. It's quite clear I am no longer your Lord and I don't have the leisure to listen to whatever lies you may choose to manufacture tonight, amusing as they may be."
Harry squints myopically at the man who seems no more substantial than a shadow. "We thought you were . . . ."
"Dead? Yes, it suited my purposes to be thought so. Now, however, it is your turn to die, Mr. Potter, and I do not believe *you* shall be returning."
And then Voldemort - or the shadow wearing Voldemort's form and features - extends his hands toward Harry . . . and before the green light fades from the room, Harry is dead.
Severus holds Harry's lifeless body in his arms, too stunned to move.
"As for you, my dear traitor," Voldemort says. "I believe *you* shall stay alive, to fully appreciate all you have lost."
With that, Voldemort disappears as if he'd never been.
Severus wraps himself around the corpse of his lover and weeps.
Each time Severus has this dream, he discovers that the tears, at least, are real.
A pair of strong arms hold him tightly. Hands calloused from years of Quidditch playing rub small circles on his back.
"Wake up, Severus. Come on. Wake up. It's okay."
He comes to full wakefulness with a start, reaches instinctively for his wand, but is held firmly and safely within Harry's embrace.
"It's okay," Harry says over and over again. "You're here. It's just a dream. I'm okay. It's okay."
And then, finally, it is.
Severus turns around in his lover's arms, breathes in Harry's warm living scent, and listens to the strong beating of Harry's heart until, once more, he falls asleep.
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