Title: New Beginning
Giftee: Littleblackbow and Summerborn
Rating: PG13 to be safe
Pairing: Um, yeah...Snarry fest, right?
Warnings: Preslash, AU
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: After his divorce, Harry spends his summers in his cottage in
Author's Notes: Written for the 2008 Snarry Hols fest for littleblackbow and and who wanted: I looooove "awkward first time" fics. "building a mystery", "on a dark and stormy night," "Snape's illegitimate child." I chose one of those and went with it. Hope you enjoy! S, thanks for the fabulous beta!
Harry looked out the window at the storm that howled across the vale where his little cabin was located. It was the only property he had that no one save the realtors and his solicitor knew the exact location of, not even Ron and Hermione. He'd bought it when things began going downhill between him and Ginny three years ago and moved in when they'd finalized their divorce a year later. He had the flat in
He turned his gaze back to the fireplace and sighed, leaning over to refill his glass with the warming brandy he'd been drinking, before returning to his book. He rather liked it out here, despite the sometimes devastating loneliness that struck at the oddest times. He had to deal with the odd hiker straying onto his property every now and then, but mostly he got to enjoy the quiet beauty of the
Some hours later he extinguished the lamp, and banked the fire in the fireplace. He was closing the window when he felt the tingle of his wards across his skin and saw a thin, huddled figure moving slowly through the tree line. He frowned; it didn't look like a hiker In fact, the way the figure moved one might think the person was hurt. Frown still in place and wand in hand, Harry carefully made his way outside and toward the still moving figure. He was a mere three yards away when the figure suddenly crumpled and hit the ground hard.
Harry didn't even think; he simply cast a light binding spell around the limp form then levitated the person into the living room of his home. It was the one place that just about anyone could enter as all the entrances to the other rooms were warded to prevent entry to anyone save himself. When he expected guests - usually Ron and Hermione, maybe Neville, and of course his children - he modified the wards, but otherwise, they were the best form of protection he had. Bit paranoid perhaps, but it suited him just fine.
He settled the figure on the sofa then established some personal protection charms before he unbound the person, then relit the fire and turned on the lamp. The first thing he noticed was the inky black hair that spilled from the hood, then the thinness of the actual frame under the cloak. The second thing he noticed was the water dripping from the cloak.
"Shit," he swore softly, then quickly cast a drying charm. Still, whoever it was would need to be warmed properly of risk catching a chill. He headed down the hall to the closet and pulled out several spare blankets, then went back into the living room to wrap them around his unexpected guest. It was as he was bundling the person up that he got the biggest shock of his life.
The person he'd just brought bound into his home was none other than Severus Snape.
It was all Harry could do to keep from dropping the blanket he'd been about to wrap around the man's shoulders. Snape was alive. He shook himself and tucked the blanket around the thin form, went to the kitchen and put some water on for tea and returned to the living room to sit in the chair by the window, eyes focused outside and thoughts turned inwards.
Snape's portrait had never shown up at Hogwarts and his body had never been recovered. He'd been given a quiet memorial service and a plaque had been placed near Albus'. He'd even been awarded the Order of Merlin First Class - posthumously of course - and his sacrifice for the side of Light made known through testimony from Harry, Kingsley and the other members of the Order of the
Harry had looked for Snape after the battle, despite protests from Ginny. He hadn't been able to believe the man had actually died, especially as there was no body. He hadn't been able to find him, not even when Kingsley had lent him the help of the Ministry. After a year they'd stopped searching, and Harry had moved on.
Or so he'd thought.
Now, ten years, two children and divorce later, he was confronted with the man once more. Harry glanced at the forlorn form on his couch, noting with some relief the even rise and fall of Snape's chest that indicated sleep, and stood as he heard the kettle begin to whistle. He went ahead and prepared the tea tray for two, set milk, sugar and plain biscuits on the tray then headed back into the living room.
He wasn't surprised to find Snape standing - blankets at the end of the sofa neatly folded - by the door in a defensive position.
"You," Snape hissed. The voice was the same; softer perhaps and rusty with disuse, but still Snape.
"Me," Harry confirmed, setting the tray down. He sat down where he'd been sitting before and proceeded to pour for them both, then said, "You may as well sit down and get warm. The tea is hot, and the door won't open unless I open it." He glanced outside then turned to regard Snape as he added, "It's going to rain again, and given the slow way you were moving and the fact that you never even sensed me behind you, I doubt you're in any condition to brave the weather any more tonight. Tomorrow is soon enough."
Snape cocked his head in surprise, then when Harry did nothing more besides get comfortable and sip his tea, he finally sat down and lifted the teacup. He took a cautious sniff, then waved his hand over the cup murmuring a few words and waited for a few seconds before he nodded, then took a sip.
"So that's how you did it," Harry commented quietly. "I'd wondered."
For a moment Severus was confused, then a smirk curved the outer edges of his mouth. He said nothing however, merely took another sip of the tea. Harry took that to mean the tea was fine and continued speaking.
"We looked for you, you know. For a full year before we finally stopped, not that Kingsley and I believed you were actually dead. We simply couldn't justify looking anymore, not officially." He set his cup down and picked up a biscuit, ate it, then looked at Snape once more. "Now that I know how you've been getting by without a wand, perhaps you could tell me exactly how you survived."
Snape was silent while he finished his tea. He was silent still as he helped himself to a biscuit and ate that as well. He found it interesting to see just how much Potter had grown, and how very different from his father he actually looked. He still had Lily's eyes, but the hair was shoulder length and the glasses were missing. He also didn't appear to be in the least bothered by Severus' silence, which was interesting. What he remembered of Potter was someone who hated to be kept in the dark about anything; an impetuous, impulsive, inconsiderate child.
However, the man in front of him was definitely not that person. This was a composed man, one who was quite comfortable in his own skin and looked fully prepared to wait as long as necessary to obtain an answer to his inquiry. Unwillingly, Snape found himself impressed. Oh, he knew all about Potter's success, not to mention his marriage and divorce, but to see the man now made him think that perhaps all that hadn't been the result of sheer luck after all.
"I built up an immunity to Nagini's venom," Snape said finally. At Potter's raised brow, Snape sighed, blaming weariness and the warmth of the fire - not to mention human company that he surprisingly did not find abrasive - for the next words that left his lips. "Over time I realized the Dark Lord was particularly fond of feeding those who displeased him most to his pet. Therefore, I took samples of her venom and analyzed it, breaking it down into relatively harmless doses and ingested them. Over time, a natural tolerance for the venom built in my veins and I had the added security of having developed an antitoxin."
Harry nodded. "I thought it had to be something like that. I refused to believe that the man who told all his first years he had the ability to 'stopper death' would be so careless as to not be prepared for any eventuality." He had many more questions, but it was late, he was tired and Snape looked exhausted. He tilted his head curiously and asked, "Would you mind standing and giving me your hand for amount?"
Snape blinked. "I beg your pardon?"
Harry grinned as he stood. "You do want to be able to leave this room at some point, right? You'll need to know where everything is, and I'll need your hand to key you to the wards. You're welcome to try to move around the house if you like, but I doubt you'll get very far."
Raising a skeptical brow, Snape none the less stood and moved to the open arch leading into the hallway. He glanced at Harry once more, then made to step into the hallway, only to bounce back a few steps as though he'd hit an invisible wall. Magic crackled along his skin and he held his hand up to see the knuckles were red where they'd bumped the 'wall' for lack of a better term. "Paranoid, Potter?"
"I'd have reason to be, don't you think?" Harry returned mildly. He walked over to where Snape stood and took his arm by the wrist, then pressed it to the invisible barrier alongside his own. He murmured a few words too low for Snape to catch and stepped back, letting Snape's hand fall.
"I've a guestroom down the hall to the right. The sheets are fresh; did the laundry yesterday. You're welcome to sleep there or you can sleep where you were earlier. Choice is yours. I'm knackered. There's food in the fridge is you're hungry and there's stuff in the bathroom for guests if you want a bath. I'll see you in the morning. Sleep well." Harry was halfway down the hall before he turned and said, "By the way, wouldn't try opening the door if I were you. You'd be in for a bit of a nasty shock. I'll open it in the morning."
Bemused, Severus watched as Potter entered a door at the end of the hall on the left and closed it before he finally began his own journey in search of the room Potter told him he could use. Potter was right about one thing at least; it was going to rain again. If nothing else, he'd welcome the respite from the weather.
As it happened, Snape did not leave the next morning, nor did he leave the morning after. He had been too long in the cold and had been wandering for well over a week. Wandless magic was good for a great deal, but conjuring a home, furnishing and a wardrobe was not one of them. He was wise enough to accept Harry's offer of a place to stay, and Slytherin enough to appreciate the backhanded way Harry delivered the offer. The fact that he'd be supplied with ingredients and a place to make his precious potions only helped sweeten the deal, despite Harry having told him that making the Wolfsbane for the werewolf would be how he paid for his stay.
There interactions were different from when Potter was younger, Snape thought as he worked on a sleeping draught. Potter wasn't as excitable as he'd once been, although he did return Snape's sarcasm with comments of his own. Their repartee had become banter, almost friendly, and lacking the usual animosity.
It was baffling.
He stirred the potion counterclockwise as procedure dictated, still deep in thought. Severus knew the years of freedom from two masters had mellowed him somewhat, allowed him to be the person he could have been without the constant need to watch every word he spoke and guard his mind from invasion, but truly, he hadn't changed all that much. Potter, on the other hand, seemed to have changed a great deal. He'd tried baiting him, tried using his father against him just to see if he could start an argument, but while Potter responded to his other baiting, that particular tactic simply had the maddening man agreeing that his father had been a right bastard to Snape.
Despite himself, Snape had found he respected Potter and perhaps - dare he say it? - even liked the man a little. It was disconcerting to say the least. Over the last two months, Severus found himself initiating more actual conversations and les arguments for the sake of argument, although their conversations were still peppered with the occasional barb. Even worse than liking Potter, Snape had begun to have...dreams...featuring green eyes, a wicked mouth and...other parts of Potter's anatomy he had no business dreaming of.
He took the potion of the fire and set it aside to cool, then began preparing ingredients for the next. This could not go on, he decided. Something needed to be done.
That evening found the two of them enjoying an after dinner coffee - something Harry had introduced Snape to - in front of the fire, a companionable silence filling the room before Snape broke it.
"Do you not find this...companionship we have strange?" he asked.
Harry turned his head from the window to look at Snape. "Hmm? Oh you mean the fact we've become friends?"
"Friends is stretching it, Potter," Snape remarked dryly. "We simply are no longer enemies. Does that not strike you as odd?"
Harry shrugged. "Not really. It's not as if we're just now meeting; we've known each other for a long time. We've been in each other's minds, had each other's back, and fought some of the same monsters. Things like that tend to bond people, form friendships where they might not have happened any other way."
"Why do you persist in calling what we are to each other 'friends'?" Snape asked, frown marring his face.
"What would you call it then?" Harry challenged.
Severus sat in silence for long moments as he attempted to find another word that fit, but none did. "Fine," he huffed, "friends." He couldn't believe that had actually left his mouth. Friends with a Potter; life truly was strange.
Harry chuckled softly as something occurred to him. "My children will find it interesting to see you here."
"Well they are rather young still, James is three and Albus is only two, but James is exceedingly bright..."
"One wonders how he managed that given who his father is," Snape couldn't help but to interject."
"...and will no doubt wonder if you're the man his younger brother is named for," Harry continued as if Snape hadn't spoken.
That brought Severus up short. Somehow he'd quite forgotten the younger boy had been named after him. "What will you tell them?" Snape asked.
"The truth of course. You are one of the men I named him after. There's no shame in it."
Snape tilted his head slightly as he inquired, "Why did you name him in such a manner?"
Harry shrugged and turned his head to the window once more. "I wanted to do something to honour your memories. Oh, I knew you weren't actually dead, but few enough people believed that, and you two were the men I respected the most despite our relatively combative histories."
Severus digested that in silence before he decided that perhaps now would be a good time to broach the subject that had been plaguing his mind - and dreams - for the last few weeks. "Potter...Harry...may I ask a rather personal question?" Being polite might garner him an honest answer, and he knew the use of Potter's given name would grab hold of his attention.
Surprised, Harry turned to face Snape once more. "Of course," he replied. He just managed to keep the smile off his lips at hearing Snape use his first name. He'd been after him to use it for weeks now.
"In my travels, I've heard...rumors...that you have a taste for both sexes. Won't your friends be disturbed by my presence here when they learn of it?" Slowly, he reminded himself. Build to the actual question slowly.
Harry shrugged. "I do, but that really doesn't matter. And if they are, they'll get over it. I like your company." It was the truth after all; he did enjoy Snape's company. More than he'd expected to when he'd offered to let him stay. At the time he'd been thinking it was the least he could do given all the man had done for him, but now he realized he'd miss him once he left. If he left.
"It would not disturb you if your friends believed we were more than merely friends sharing a home?" he asked. That was the question he really wanted an answer to.
"Why should it?" Harry asked, curiosity clear in his voice. "It isn't true, and even if it were, it really wouldn't be any of their business, would it?" Harry's eyes narrowed as a reason for this questioning entered his mind. "Would it bother you so much to be associated that way with me, even knowing it wasn't true?"
Grabbing hold of what confidence he had when it came to entering relationships - which was very little - Severus asked, "And if I wanted it to be true?"
Harry was silent so long while he considered that Severus began to think he'd make a grave error.
"It could work, I suppose," Harry said thoughtfully. "Better than my relationship with Ginny at any rate. You understand my darkness more than she ever did; you even know the reasons for it. We respect each other - at least I think you respect me - and we like each other. We already live together. I suppose the only things missing are the actually dating and the sex."
Severus blinked. That hadn't been what he'd been expecting. Some emotional outburst perhaps but not a calm analysis of their situation. "If you aren't interested, Potter, you only need say so."
Harry stood from where he sat and moved over to stand next to Snape's chair. "Stand a moment would you?" Harry waited until Snape stood and then said, "Only one way to find out how compatible we are," before he kissed him.
It started lightly, just a brush across Snape's narrow lips, then another, before Harry slid his tongue along the seam of the surprised man's mouth, politely asking for entry. Recovering from his surprise, Severus opened his mouth and slid his arms around Harry's waist, returning the kiss as tentatively as Harry had begun it.
It didn't stay tentative for long; the taste and feel of a hard body in his arms and a willing tongue sliding against his own had each man delving deeper the longer the kiss lasted, until when they pulled apart Snape was shocked to realize he'd been backed into the wall.
Harry took a deep breath and said, "I think that shows definite compatibility."
Snape nodded, for once lost for words. He hadn't expected a kiss to have much effect, but Harry's kiss, the taste of the other man on his tongue, the feel of his body pressed against his own, had brought to life many of the images from Snape's dreams.
"So, dinner out tomorrow then?" Harry asked.
"Are you proposing a date, Mr. Potter?" Severus asked, one corner of his mouth turning up in amusement.
"Only if you're planning to say yes," Harry responded.
"I like a good red wine, al dente alfredo and I insist on being properly attired."
Harry smiled and said, "I think I can handle that," then kissed Snape again. No, dating Snape wasn't what he'd expected at all, when he'd told the man he could stay, but it was definitely something Harry found himself looking forward to.