Warnings: child abuse, depression, suicidal tendancies
Summary: Devoid of the will to live, Harry decides that it is simply time to end it all. Too bad for him that one of his professors had to come and screw it up.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. I am simply borrowing them; therefore, do not sue me.
Chapter 38: Puzzle solved
Severus stayed up very late working most nights. It was pointless attempting sleep when he was guaranteed to be woken up by a cold nose burrowing into the side of his neck and cold feet wrapping around his own.
Harry always came.
So he always waited up. He always pretended to be surprised when Harry's arms were slung around him from behind. Even though he was always warned by the soft padding of feet across the floor.
He always said, in exactly the same tone of voice, "Wandering the school after curfew? That'll be points from Gryffindor Mr. Potter."
And Harry always replied, "No, they shouldn't be punished for my mistakes! Can't you think of anything I could do to make you forget?"
He always smiled then, mock cruelly. "Indeed, there is only one thing that might take my mind off the magnitude of this transgression."
It was what they always did.
They never had that much time to play chess anymore. Severus missed Harry being there constantly, the few short days that they had spent together before term started had been pure bliss.
He still saw Harry a lot though, every night. The boy couldn't sleep without him, it seemed that he was the only cure for Harry's insomnia. So sleeping together was really all for the boy's health. And happiness.
At least he had company while his lover was away. While he could not talk to the guardian snake that Harry had gifted him with on his birthday unless he had taken the appropriate potion, they had an understanding with each other. Just hearing the steady hissing always made him feel more secure, reminding him of the one he loved.
Not that it was any real substitute, but still, better than nothing.
Aside from nights and private tutorials, the only times he saw Harry were in the great hall and classes. Potions lessons had been hard to get used to at first, especially considering how overactive his imagination got when he was in his partner's presence, but they managed quite well.
Snape was absolutely neutral now. While he wasn't precisely nice, he did stretch himself to awarding points to Gryffindor if they were merited. Not very many points. But still, a marked improvement on his part. He still remembered the reward Harry had given him for 'proving you're not always a snarky bastard.' It had definitely incited him to hand out house points more often.
No one seemed to know what had caused his change in attitude though. No one knew. Two long months and no one had noticed anything. Severus was used to being discrete after all, considering his spying experience, and Harry had a lifetime's worth of being given roles to play. Of course, when he said no one...
Draco had picked something up. He didn't mention anything, but Sev had seen the sly smile when the boy saw the two of them together. Harry was comforted by someone else knowing, having someone else who understood the cause of his smiles, so Severus didn't mind.
As long as Harry was happy.
Severus didn't expect it to last though. He knew better. And he knew what happened to secrets in Hogwarts.
The news hit the wizarding world just before Christmas. Severus was actually glad of the timing as it meant most of the students had returned home for the holidays. He was really worried about how Harry would cope with this.
Harry moved back down to the dungeons to be closer to Severus, who knew that the comments in the newspapers had hurt the boy badly. He had seen how pale Harry had gone when he'd first read the article in The Daily Prophet, and noticed his reaction to the malicious whispers that had immediately sprung up.
Howlers were pouring in. And not just for him. He tried to block all of the ones addressed to Harry, but hadn't caught the first wave. He'd wanted to go out and beat the rest of the world with a sharp stick after holding Harry for hours while the boy cried.
The letters had accused Harry of consorting with the enemy, claiming that was why he hadn't killed Voldemort. They said he was turning dark, and should be locked up before turning into the next Dark Lord. They accused him of being filthy and perverse for liking other men.
Sev was able to ignore most of his own hate mail. It just didn't matter to him. He would go through anything to be with Harry, to keep his lover safe. But to say such things to an innocent boy was wrong, Harry had nothing to deserve their contempt.
People within the school reacted in different ways. Severus knew that Granger had written to Harry. Though the tone of the letter had been disapproving, conversely it actually served to cheer the boy up as it at least expressed a willingness to hear Harry explain and suggested the girl was open to having her opinion changed. He was glad about that, as he knew that Harry's friendship with her meant a lot to the boy.
Some of the teachers, despite being taken aside by Albus, reacted a lot worse. A few merely refused to acknowledge his existence, many made comments behind his back or even to his face, but Minerva, Minerva went a lot further.
She showed up in his quarters the night after the announcement, she had probably only held off so long as she was expecting one of them to refute it and sue the papers.
Severus wouldn't have minded dealing with her in his own time, but Harry was there too, shielded from her view by the sofa. The boy didn't need to hear this, shouldn't have to deal with anymore than what had been thrust upon him already.
"It's true then? How could you! With a student! With Harry Potter! I always knew... Albus always trusted you but I had my suspicions. You're a perverse, filthy type of scum, and you've obviously done something to Harry. I can't believe that you've raped that poor, innocent boy!" she screeched accusingly.
Hysterical he could understand, but this was going too far.
"I would never hurt a student. The relationship Harry and I have is entirely consensual." he stressed, practically hissing the last words.
"That's almost worse, to think that you have corrupted his mind to such an extent."
He was acutely aware that Harry was sitting right there, listening to every damning word coming from the Head of Gryffindor.
"Now look here!"
This had to stop.
"You've been doing harm to that boy and by Merlin's Beard, no matter what Albus says, I will contact the ministry and have you arrested."
Merlin no! How would Harry cope? This was what he had been afraid of. Stupid, interfering woman.
"No, don't! Leave it, for Harry's sake."
"It is for Harry's sake that I am doing it. The boy is very seriously disturbed and must be helped."
At this point Harry poked his head out over the top of the couch. Oh no, thought Severus, not now.
Minerva seemed a little taken aback, then further incensed. "Now Harry, it's in your best interests to go to St. Mungo's for a while where people can check if you are well." she said patronisingly.
Holy fuck. That was just beyond...
"Stop treating me like a ten year old." Harry replied icily. Severus was proud of his even tone, but detected the slight nervous trembling that the boy couldn't hide. "You all of a sudden care now. Where were you when my relatives beat me almost to death. Where were you when my scar bleed from the visions of Voldemort I got. Where were you when I tried to commit suicide..."
When Harry's voice broke, Severus longed to rush over and comfort him, but he restrained himself. This was something that the boy needed to do, to prove to himself that he wasn't weak. He took a great deal of satisfaction in the shock showing on McGonagall's face.
"You weren't there. You didn't care enough to find out. But Sev was there, he saved me more times than I can count, helped me learn how to live again, gave me something to live for." Harry's voice softened slightly. "I'm happy. I'm finally happy, like I thought I never would be. I belong, and I have a future. Don't try and take that away from me."
McGonagall opened and closed her mouth several times. Before she had a chance to recover, Severus showed her firmly to the door. How had she entered in the first place for that matter? With the snakes hissing a threatening accompaniment, he ushered her out, coming very close to a shove.
He then cast warding spells round both his and Harry's rooms of a strength that they hadn't felt necessary since Voldemort's demise. They would not be disturbed again. Even Aurors would have problems getting past his barriers.
Harry was still staring at the door through which the professor had exited Severus went and sat beside him, pulling the tense boy back into his lap.
"Shh, it's all right Harry." he soothed him.
The boy didn't stop trembling though.
Severus could tell that Harry was really upset with all of the attention and allegations being thrown their way. Not that the boy didn't try and hide it, but Sev knew him. Knew the slight crease in the brow and the tightness of the lips and what they meant. He tried to help Harry cope with it subtly, for he also knew that if there was anything his lover hated, it was having his weaknesses exposed and dragged out to be analysed.
He saw the way that Harry reacted to the slander. The way the boy started staring into the distance for long periods of time, became absent minded and careless with his potions, slept restlessly as he hadn't since before they had got together.
And so he worried.
His concern was proven justified the day he walked in on Harry standing in the bathroom. His lover was staring into the mirror and tracing the scars on his wrists with his wand. There was that look in his eyes, the one that Severus had prayed not to see ever again
Damn it, where had Sylrissin been? What was she thinking of leaving the boy alone when he was so obviously on edge?
When Harry saw him watching the boy didn't try and make excuses or run as he had before, almost a year ago. Severus reached out and took his partner's hand, leading him out to the couch where he sat and tugged Harry down on top of him. He brushed the tears leaking down his lover's face away, and silently willed him to talk.
"I..." Harry's voice came out broken and ashamed. "I'm so scared that they're going to take you away. It will be all my fault. I ruin everything. I destroy everyone I love."
As the fragile boy began to let out choked sobs, Severus held him tightly, knowing that Harry needed to release the poison.
"Harry, they could never take me away from you, never. I promise that I will always stay with you, even if we had to run away together."
"I'm so ashamed."
"You shouldn't be, love. You've done nothing wrong."
They lay there for hours, holding onto each other as though each was the last stable thing on Earth, reassuring each other of their love.
Christmas was spent in their rooms. Actually, they didn't leave those chambers for most of the holidays, choosing to dine there rather that in the great hall. No one came to see them. Draco had gone to stay with some distant relatives they had discovered who didn't despise him, and who were planning to adopt him. He was the only person they would have welcomed in their celebration. Not even Albus dared to show his face.
When Severus unwrapped his gift to find a jar of lemon drops, he gave Harry a death glare. The boy just laughed, and though Sev pretended to be annoyed, really he was happy to see his lover's playful mood.
He then got his 'real' present, a beautiful silver snake clasp for his robes that came alive under his touch.
"See, now we match." said Harry, twisting to show the hair clip he was wearing.
Severus really, really loved that boy.
He gave Harry a photo album filled with pictures of the two of them together. The boy was totally astounded as he hadn't even been aware that the photos had been taken.
Severus still retained his sneaky habits.
He'd known that this gift would be ideal for Harry, it would give him proof of their commitment and shared history, of their love. It would give Harry security.
He received a long, deep kiss as a thank you.
Then he decided that he hadn't thanked Harry properly either.
The little fairy lights that his partner had insisted they string up around the rooms finally gained his approval, as discovered he loved the way they glowed on Harry's bare skin and gave highlights to his glazed eyes. The twinkling in the background was a perfect accompaniment to the starbursts that filled the rest of his vision.
When he asked, having regained his breath, if they could keep the lights up they whole time, Harry just laughed.
"Only for special occasions."
Tease. "How special?"
"Well, I don't know. Every time you're in eyesight seems pretty special to me."
When everyone one returned from the holidays, things of course became worse. They returned to eating with the others, as Severus thought it was better to show that there was nothing wrong.
He saw Harry ignoring everyone's inquiries with great skill, and was proud of the boy. He didn't owe them anything, especially with the way they treated him, hero one minute, outcast the next.
Only Draco, and soon the Granger girl, accepted and stayed true to Harry. Severus saw the way that all of his teachers were awkward with the boy and brought it up in the next staff meeting. Things got slightly better, but not completely. Harry's relationship with his Head of House was beyond repair.
He knew that all of this had to be hard on Harry. One of his more pleasurable duties in trying to smooth the boy's way was taking the Weasly brat aside. The Weasel had been very abusive towards Harry, claiming that this whole thing was disgusting and that Harry was doing it as a publicity stunt. He stopped short of hexing the boy, but made sure that the bastard's ears were a stinging red by the end, while the rest of him was totally pale. He also took a great many house points.
Albus could only do so much, and things did not go as smoothly as Severus might have liked. He saw Harry become more and more withdrawn as the newspapers said that an official enquiry was underway into Snape abusing his teaching position.
It all seemed like things were about to go horribly wrong.
Then Harry left. Declared that he was no longer a student. He still stayed in the dungeons as Severus' full time apprentice, but now there were no longer any reasons holding them apart.
The impetuous boy had done this without Sev's knowledge of course, it nearly gave him a heart attack when Albus told him. He scolded Harry roundly for giving up his education. But knew that the boy was right in thinking he had enough going for him in potions to focus on it alone.
He could never stay angry with Harry for long anyway. Damn the boy for making him so sentimental.
Eventually there was acceptance from most people. All the people that mattered. It came very gradually. But it still came.
They gained widespread recognition for their translation of the potion's journal. Since there were few wizards in the world with the skill to actually make the recipes within, there was much demand for their services. Thanks to their work, the Ministry was able to decipher Voldemort's diary.
Harry soon became known as a good potion's master, and found work easily. He didn't have to go to the Ministry. Which was good, since Sev thought that they were the biggest bunch of assholes he'd ever seen.
Sirius was posthumously cleared of all charges. Severus remembered that Harry cried that whole day in bitterness and loss.
Some scars didn't heal.
But most did.
And so they lived.
When they went to a reunion many years later, the first thing they both noticed, and the only thing either remembered, was that Ron's hair was still green.