Title: The Truest Christmas Wish

Email: tirel@pcnuthut.com

Site: http://www.angelfire.com/tv2/firebird_ascending/

Author: Constant Vigilance

Disclaimer: JK Rowling is God. I own nothing.

Distribution: Sure. Just lemme know where my baby’s going.

Spoilers: Book 5 and then AU.

Summary: A rewrite of a traditional Christmas story, Harry Potter style.

Pairings: Harry/Snape

Author Note: Written for the Merrywizards Christmas challenge, 2003. Listing #36

Requested: H/S (delivered) Mpreg (delivered—implied) Mushy (delivered) Time travel (sort of) Happy Ending (yup…no matter what it looks like.)

 

 

Severus Snape watched as Harry Potter sat crying quietly beneath the huge Christmas tree at Hogwarts. He leaned against a doorframe, halfway across the room and hidden from sight. “One would think the savior of the wizarding world would be at least entitled to a happy Christmas,” came a voice from behind him. Severus kept from jumping by reflex alone.

 

“Haven’t you anything better to do, Albus, than sneak around the castle spying upon your charges?” he asked tonelessly.

 

There was a smile in Albus’s voice. “I haven’t any object of affection to dote upon, as does my potions master, no.”

 

Severus stiffened. “I have no object of affection.”

 

The smile remained. “Of course not, Severus. And he has no reason to cry.”

 

“No, he doesn’t,” Severus retorted quickly, glancing back at the Headmaster. “He’s the bloody Boy Who Lived. Thousands love him; worship the ground he walks on. He can have anything he desires and yet he chooses to sit here on Christmas Eve sniveling.”

 

Albus’s eyes dimmed for a moment. “Perhaps you don’t know our Mr. Potter as well as you think, Severus.”

 

The Potions Master snorted. “Perhaps I have no desire to know him any better.”

 

Albus sighed. “If you could have anything at all, Severus, anything in the world for this Christmas, what would it be?”

 

Severus shook his head. “I’ve been given my gift Albus. You know that. As has the rest of the wizarding world. Voldemort is dead.”

“And that would be your truest wish for Christmas?”

 

Severus nodded. “As it has always been.”

 

Albus placed his hand on Snape’s shoulder. “Harry Potter has given you your truest Christmas wish, then.”

 

Severus snorted. “Yes, Albus. Once again, I’m indebted to a Potter.”

 

“Indeed,” Albus smiled. “And so the world rejoices in the gift brought to them by one small boy who spends his own Christmas crying alone beneath a tree.”

 

“What is your point, Albus?” Sev finally asked in irritation.

 

“Do you know what his truest Christmas wish is, Severus?”

 

Trying not to bite the old man’s head off, Sev gritted his teeth. “No. What?”

 

Albus shook his head. “I don’t know either, dear boy. I honestly think that no one knows. Not his friends, not his family. Don’t you think that sad? The hero of the world who gives such a grand gift to one and all…and not one of those people know what would make his tears stop. Rather poignant, hmmm?”

 

“He did his duty, Albus. We all did,” Severus hedged in a low tone.

 

“We chose our own road, Severus. He had his chosen for him.”

 

“What do you want me to do, Albus?” Snape closed his eyes. “Find out his wish? Make it come true? Why would you ask me, of all people, to do that?”

 

Albus smiled kindly. “Because, dear boy, you of all people want him to be happy.”

 

Snape glared. “And how did you come to that conclusion, if I may ask?”

 

“You hide hatred well, Severus,” Albus began. “You hide anger. You hide fear. You’ve the most accomplished mask I’ve ever seen in that arena. But you don’t do quite as well hiding the other emotions. Kindness, affection…love.” Snape’s face smoothed out and he raised an eyebrow. Albus just chuckled. “See? You’re afraid. Thus I have no idea what you’re feeling. Nor does he.”

 

“Good,” Severus drawled. “I’d hate to think Mr. Potter is under the delusion that my feelings for him are anything other than professional.”

 

Albus looked sadly at the boy crying across the way. “Perhaps, Severus, that is the problem. Well, I must be off. I have a get-together at which I must make an appearance. Have a Happy Christmas, Severus.”

 

Snape inclined his head. “And you as well, Albus.” Severus watched Harry for a few more minutes before retiring to his room in disgust.

 

He prepared for bed angrily. “I hate Christmas anyway,” he snarled, yanking the covers back. “A holiday full of happy fluffy feelings is not a holiday for me. I’m perfectly satisfied with my life as it is.” He kicked his shoes off and pulled his nightshirt from the bedside drawer. “I have no one I’m forced to waste scads of money on. I don’t have to waste valuable time toasting bunches of intoxicated relatives at some horrendous Christmas party.” He finished changing into the silken shirt and picked up a magazine. “I can just curl up in bed with the latest issue of Potions Quarterly and forget this bloody time of year doesn’t occur.”

 

But he was irritated enough that even the thought of reading till he fell asleep wasn’t pleasant. “Fine!” he tossed the magazine to the end of the bed and thrust his legs under the covers. “I’ll just go to sleep. I’ll not waste one more moment thinking of holly or evergreens, of presents or eggnog.” Or of how alone I truly am and how much I hate that there is a boy crying his heart out downstairs that wouldn’t accept my love if I offered it, he completed in his head.

 

With a snort, he punched his pillow and determinedly shut his eyes.

_________________________________________________________

 

A hand on his shoulder awakened him. Odd in itself as no one knew his password, odder still in that he didn’t react as he normally did…with a defensive spell. He merely opened his eyes and sat up. “Lily?” he asked in confusion as his eyes focused. The beautiful redhead smiled at him, a smile so reminiscent of her son that his heart clenched.

 

“Hello Severus. Happy Christmas,” she said.

 

“I’ll assume I’m dreaming,” he cocked an eyebrow.

 

A giggle that transported him straight back to 5th year. “If you like. You aren’t, but you were ever a stubborn one and I haven’t the time tonight to try and convince you otherwise.”

 

“A ghost on a schedule,” he smirked. “How droll.”

 

Lily gently smacked his arm. “Funny, Severus. Very funny. And I’m a spirit, not a ghost.”

 

“I wasn’t aware there was a difference.”

 

“Well, if the great Severus Snape isn’t aware of it, it mustn’t be true,” she snarked.

 

Snape smiled. “I’ve missed you Lily,” he said softly.

 

She took his hand. “And I you, Severus. But I haven’t long to stay.”

 

“Why are you here, exactly?”

 

She stared seriously into his eyes. “I’m here to give you a push in the right direction, Severus, since you are so disinclined to head that way on your own.”

 

“How so?” he asked warily.

 

“I am to show you Harry’s past.”

 

Snape snatched his hand away. “And why would you want to show me your son’s past, Lily?” he asked bitterly.

 

She deliberately took his hand again. “Because you and Harry have much more in common than you think, Severus. And that commonality gives you a base on which to begin.”

 

“Begin what?” he snapped.

 

She smiled fondly, “To begin to live again, Severus. To allow Harry to begin to live at all. To take comfort in each other and each offer the other the rest of his soul.” He started to speak but she cut him off with the gentle application of her fingers on his lips. “Shush, Severus. Just come with me and see.” She pulled him from his bed and reached for his other hand. When a circle had been formed with arms and bodies, Severus felt a lurching pull not unlike a portkey, and he shut his eyes.

 

When he opened them again, they were standing in a tiny cramped room, no bigger than a closet. He glared at Lily, but she just pointed. He followed her finger to see an infant sleeping in a pile of blankets. “What is this?” he demanded.

 

“This, Severus, is my son’s first Christmas without me,” she whispered sadly.

 

Severus took in the room. “This is a hall cupboard.”

 

Lily nodded. “This is his room. This will be his room until he is called to Hogwarts.”

 

“But, he’s a toddler. Where are his guardians?” Severus frowned.

 

Lily smiled sadly. “He was sent to live with my sister and her family when James and I died.”

 

“Yes, yes, I know that, but…”

 

“They hated me. They hated magic. They hated Harry.” She traced a finger down little Harry’s cheek, not quite touching the skin.

 

“Surely this is the exception, Lily. Dumbledore would have never let him stay where he was abused.”

 

“They never hit him, but neglect can be a harsher punishment sometimes than violence,” she followed the lightening scar down Harry’s forehead. “If someone is hurting you, at least they’re paying some kind of attention to you. My sister and her husband took him in, but they didn’t love him. As I said, they didn’t even like him. They had their own son, on whom they doted. Harry was a waste of space and energy to them. He was ignored on good days, emotionally assaulted on bad days. He wasn’t allowed to make friends. As you can see, he wasn’t even allowed to have a room of his own,” she gestured around them. “He never celebrated a birthday or a Christmas until he came to Hogwarts. Does that remind you of anyone, Severus?”

 

Snape glared at her, but couldn’t help recall his own childhood companions: nannies and butlers. House elves who were told not to fraternize with the young master, family gatherings in which he was allowed in the company of others for perhaps an hour, never more, and then was shuffled off to his room again. He’d spent the bulk of his childhood in quite a similar room, granted much larger than this, but nearly as alone.

 

Lily stood again, smiling a last time at her sleeping son. “Come Severus, lets see another Christmas in my son’s life.” The tugging, portkey feeling occurred again and Snape found himself in the same closet, though more cramped. The pile of blankets had turned into a thin mattress, the baby into a slightly bigger child, but the rest of the room stayed the same.

 

Harry was bent over a piece of paper, coloring furiously by the light of a small-watt bulb. He finished and carefully placed the crayon in a cardboard box near the foot of his mattress and then he sat up with a huge smile. Snape found himself hard pressed not to return the smile. It was full of light and love. Harry placed what he’d been working so hard on onto his pillow. It was a picture of a Christmas tree, done entirely in green crayon, shaded dark and light. It was a lopsided tree, with huge decorations hanging off of only the outer branches and several not-quite-square packages underneath it.

 

“Happy Christmas,” the small boy whispered. “I miss you mum, dad. I wish you were here. I know I won’t get any presents this year, but I wanted to ask for one thing anyway.” He shrugged. “What can it hurt, right? I wish I had someone to love me. I know I ask every year, but maybe this year, you could send me someone? Anyway, I love you both and hope you have a happy Christmas wherever you are. Good night.” With that, he tugged on the light cord dangling from the center of the room and laid back down in the darkness, his face resting on his drawing.

 

Lily tugged Severus out of the room, melting through the wall until they were standing in a small living room. When he looked at her, she was wiping tears from her cheeks. She smiled up at him when she caught him looking. “Sorry. I can’t help it. It hurts to see him so alone.”

 

“The presents, the cupboard…things didn’t change, did they?” he asked, knowing the answer in his heart already.

 

She shook her head sadly. “No. They didn’t change. Not until Hogwarts.” A smile came to her face. “Come, let’s look there.” She grabbed his hand and pulled, not giving him a chance to resist. A lurch and he was in the Gryffindor common room. A Harry that Snape remembered from third year sat curled up in a chair in front of the fire. He was crying, silent tears running down his face, but he also wore a smile.

 

“What is this?” Snape asked gruffly.

 

Lily smiled and sat on the arm of the chair. “The whole school was terrified of him. They thought he was the Heir of Slytherin.” Snape snorted and Lily shrugged.

 

He looked closer and saw a wad of knitted yarn in his lap. “What is that?”

 

Lily ran her fingers over it, still not touching. “That was his only salvation for most of his teen years, Severus. Molly Weasley knitted him a jumper.”

 

Snape rolled his eyes. “A Weasley jumper was his salvation?”

 

Lily frowned. “No, don’t be silly. The fact that someone…anyone cared enough to give him a present, to go to the trouble of making him a present. Sometimes it was all that kept him going. Knowing that he had some kind of love…even if it was the love of someone else’s mother.” Snape hmphed and sank into a chair across from the boy. “Do you remember that feeling Severus?” Lily asked quietly.

 

Snape stared at Harry’s tears, reflected in the firelight. Slowly, he nodded. “Perhaps Lucius Malfoy was a bastard, Lily,” he whispered, “but he was a bastard that saw me.” Frowning, he shook the melancholy feeling away. “But that isn’t the case here. Everyone sees Potter.”

 

Lily sighed. “Everyone sees The Boy Who Lived. Very few people see Potter. Even fewer see Harry. Come, Severus. My time is nearly up. There is another who will come to you to continue this story.” Snape opened his mouth to speak and found himself back in his bed. Lily smirked at the shocked look on his face.

 

“So who is this other person?”

 

“You won’t like it, and I don’t want to spoil it for you,” she grinned. “Or for me. I miss you Severus Snape,” she said softly.

 

“And I you Lily Evans,” he replied.

 

“Take care of yourself.”

 

“Don’t you mean take care of Harry?” he asked drolly.

 

She smiled slightly and shrugged. “Perhaps they will come to be one in the same.” Between one breath and another, she was gone. Severus closed his eyes, still able to smell her perfume. He sighed sadly. As much as he’d disliked James, he’d always had a soft spot for Lily. Lily his defender, Lily his confidant, Lily his…

 

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake, shut the hell up, Snape.” Severus’s eyes shot open to see a new figure leaning against his closet door. Sirius Black grinned at him and wiggled his eyebrows. “Hi there Snivellus,” he laughed. “Miss me too?”

 

“Of course,” Snape sighed. “I haven’t gotten my regular dose of irritation and acidic hatred since you’ve been gone, Black.” Sirius just smirked. “So how do you figure into this little dream I’m having?” Snape asked, giving in.

 

“I’m going to take you through the present,” Sirius stated.

 

“Is there some reason you feel I can’t see the present just fine from here?”

 

Sirius rolled his eyes. “Not your present, idiot. Harry’s.”

 

Snape actually laughed. “Now I could maybe understand Lily’s acceptance of Harry and I as a couple, but you? There’s no way that you would ever promote a relationship between your godson and I.”

 

Sirius’s smile evaporated. “I’m not so trapped in my views as I once was, Snape. Dying opened my eyes. I can see it all now…the past, the present, the future. I can see the paths that lay in front of both of you. I see those that lead away separately, each of you to your own life, and I can see those that converge.”

“So you are here to tell me that without Harry in my life I’ll become a bitter old man and die alone?” Snape chuckled. “Thank you, Black, but I’ll take my chances.”

 

Sirius shook his head sadly. “I’m not here to tell you your future, Severus. There is another for that. I’m here to show you the present…Harry’s present.”

 

Snape frowned at the solemnity of Sirius’s tone. “Very well, then. Lead on. I’d like to get to sleep sometime tonight,” he snapped, unsure of how to react in the face of this new Sirius. The other man nodded and the stomach wrenching pull came. Snape opened his eyes to a dormitory lined in red and gold. He twisted his mouth in a moue of disgust. “Lovely.”

Sirius rolled his eyes and pointed to a bed against the far wall. Harry Potter sat on it, surrounded by piles of various items. Snape moved forward and stood with his arms crossed. He watched as Harry picked up an item, turned it over in his hands, smiled softly and placed it in the open trunk at his feet. “What is he doing?” Snape asked grudgingly.

 

Sirius sighed heavily. “He’s going through his life, Snape.”

 

“His life?”

 

Sirius nodded. “All that he owns is in that trunk. Everything that was given to him, everything that means something to him…its in there.”

 

“It…it’s a rather small trunk isn’t it?” Snape mentioned hesitantly.

 

Sirius laughed humorlessly. “It is at that, Snape.”

 

“Why is he going through all of his belongings?”

 

Sirius’s face shuttered. “I can’t tell you that, Snape. It’s for the next to tell you.”

 

“So what are you here to tell me?” Severus glared.

 

“Tell you? Nothing.” Sirius shook his head. “Show you? Just watch him.” And so Severus did. He watched as Harry finished placing each item in the trunk and closed it with a sad smile.

 

“There it is,” Harry whispered. “My life in a box.” He laughed, a strange hollow sound. “And how sad it is.” He moved around to another bed, plucking up a picture on the nightstand. Snape moved closer to see a waving Hermione Granger and a grinning Ron Weasley looking back at him. Harry sighed. “I’m glad you two got together. You deserve better than spending your whole lives chasing after me, trying to save me from myself.”

 

He stared at the picture for long moments, and then carefully placed it back from where he’d taken it. He shook his head and moved out of the dorm. Snape and Sirius followed him down from the tower to the great hall where he took up residence at the base of the Christmas tree. Snape recognized his placement from hours before.

 

“Happy Christmas,” Harry whispered. “I miss you mum, dad, Sirius. I wish you were here. I know I won’t get many presents this year, but I wanted to ask for one in particular anyway. What can it hurt, right?” Snape was struck by the similarity of the words. Did he ask for the same thing every year? Harry smiled but Snape could see the tears begin to form in his eyes. “I wish I had someone to love me. I know I ask every year, but maybe this year, you could send me someone? Anyway, I love you all and hope you have a happy Christmas wherever you are. Good night.” At that Harry dropped his head to his knees, silent sobs wracking his body.

 

Severus felt his fingers twitch and he was astounded. Never before had he had the desire to comfort. Never had he felt the need to offer anything but the equivalent of ‘buck up’, yet now…he felt an almost tangible need to take Harry into his arms and rock him. He glanced over at Sirius, seeing the other man watching him with a sad smile.

 

“It’s okay,” Sirius murmured. “It’s okay to feel, Snape. It’s okay to care.”

 

Snape shook the feeling away. “No, it isn’t,” he insisted. “It’s a weakness that can be exploited.”

 

Sirius sighed. “Who will exploit it? Voldemort is dead. You’re free, Snape. Free to be, free to feel…free to love.”

 

“Free to ask you to get on with it so that I may get my rest?” Snape snapped.

 

Sirius hung his head. “Yes, I suppose even that,” he said wearily. “Come on. Next stop.” Snape looked back reluctantly at Harry, his eyes straining to watch the boy even as the spinning lurch in his stomach drug him from the great hall and into a crowded room full of items and people. He pulled his robes closer to him as he realized where he was.

 

“The Burrow?” he asked nastily. “Why on earth would you bring me here?”

 

“Because this is the last bastion that Harry has,” Sirius stated in irritation.

 

“What?”

 

“Every person who truly loves Harry, and who is left alive, is in this room.”

 

Snape looked around to see every member of the Weasley clan, Granger, Lupin, Hagrid and even Dumbledore. “And what is your point?”

 

Sirius raked his hands through his hair. “Not a whole lot of them considering that he saved everyone, is there?”

 

“I suppose not,” Snape agreed. “However, gratitude and love is not the same thing. I wouldn’t expect that there exist that many people who can see past the infamous scar.”

 

“You can.”

 

Snape snorted. “And isn’t it precious that I’m here too?”

 

Sirius sat on the arm of the couch. “Who isn’t here, Snape?”

 

Severus looked confused for a moment. “What do you mean?”

 

“Who is the one person who should be here, but isn’t?”

 

Snape looked around, and then wanted to smack himself. “Potter.” Sirius nodded. “All right,” Snape sighed. “I’ll play. Why is that?” Sirius waved his hand to the conversation occurring at the other end of the couch.

 

“But he said he had things he had to take care of,” Hermione said.

 

“What things?” Molly Weasley asked.

 

Ron shrugged. “He was awful closemouthed about it all. He just said that he couldn’t come. He had other commitments.”

 

“Why, whom would he have a commitment with?” Molly asked, confused. “Everyone is here.”

 

“He just said that he’d make sure everyone got his or her presents and then he practically shoved us out of the castle,” Ginny piped up.

 

The conversation faded into murmurs again and Snape looked up at Sirius, a disbelieving look on his face. “You aren’t suggesting…”

 

Sirius just looked at him sadly. “It’s time for me to go, Snape. The next will be along shortly. We need to get you back to your room.”

 

“Wait!” Snape protested. But he was pulled again into the darkness. He opened his eyes and found himself back in his bed, Sirius leaning against his door again.

 

“Can’t say it was good to see you again, Snape,” he said with a grin. “But then, I can’t say it wasn’t either. Take care of yourself. Take care of my godson.”

 

“Black! Wait!” But he was gone. “Godammit!” Snape screamed, flinging off his covers and reaching for his trousers.

 

“Hullo,” came a small voice. Snape spun around, his feet tangling in his pant leg. He flopped back onto his bed. A giggle came out of the darkness and a small girl right after it.

 

“Who are you?” Severus demanded.

 

“My name is Kirby,” she announced. “I’m 10.” She crawled up on the bed next to Severus and he watched in astonishment as she snuggled under his covers. Her hair was long and dark, with just a hint of curl. Her eyes were like pools of chocolate, a deep and warm brown. Her eyelashes curled up to perfectly arched brows and her button nose wrinkled in amusement.

 

“But who are you?” he asked again, bewitched by this limpet.

 

“I’m Kirby,” she giggled. “I’m one possible future.” She added offhandedly.

 

“Whose future?” He asked warily.

 

“Yours. And my daddy’s.”

 

“Who is your daddy?” he couldn’t help but ask with a sinking feeling in his gut.

 

“You, silly,” she smiled. “And Harry Potter.”

 

“Are you implying that in one possible future, Potter and I have a child together?” he asked in disbelief.

 

She nodded, and then frowned. “But only if you try.”

 

“Try? Try what?”

“To feel. To love. To live.”

 

He sighed. “So, what are you here to show me? Blissful domesticity?”

 

She shook her head. “No. I’m all the proof you’re getting tonight of my future. I’m here to show you what you might get in the other futures.”

 

Snape smirked. “Oh, well, then do lead on. I really must know how to plan for it.”

 

Kirby looked at him disapprovingly, and he tried not to care. “Come then.” So they went. He stood outside. It was cold. The wind was blowing off of the lake and the sky was cloudy. He heard weeping and he turned slowly. He was expecting…well, he didn’t really know what he was expecting. But it wasn’t to see himself sobbing insensibly in front of a headstone. He moved around to get a look at the engraving. His heart sank. Harry James Potter. Of course.

 

He waved at the scene in front of him. “Why? How?” He couldn’t even form a complete sentence. Kirby hopped up on the headstone and sat kicking her legs. Snape suppressed the urge to snatch her off of the top of it and chastise her for her inappropriateness.

 

“Christmas Eve,” she said expressionlessly. “He killed himself. He’d spent his last evening going through his belongings; sorting out who would get what for their last present and then he went down to make his traditional Christmas wish beneath the tree. Same wish, same results.” The lack of emotion, especially from a child as young as Kirby, was making Snape’s skin crawl. “He waited till the stroke of midnight and swallowed a full bottle of dreamless sleep.”

 

Snape shut his eyes. Kirby smirked. “It worked perfectly.” She said examining her nails. “After all,” she glanced up at him, “You made it.” He flinched away as though she’d slapped him. “They buried him here. This was the only real home he’d ever known. And it keeps down on the tourists who come to gawk at the last resting place of the savior of the world. The savior whom no one could be arsed to save.”

 

Snape opened his eyes and glared. “You’re a right little bitch aren’t you?” he snapped.

 

The corner of her mouth came up in a smirk. “I take after my daddy,” she inclined her head.

 

“Fine. So I’m a bastard.” She nodded and he chose to ignore her. “Why am I—“ he waved at his double, rocking back and forth, crying.

 

Kirby rolled her eyes. “Because you love him, Daddy. Because in this future, you didn’t realize it until you held his lifeless cold body in your arms. You found him, you know,” she added helpfully. He winced again. “You went to his funeral, but hid in the back. Only after everyone left did you come out to pay your respects… and finally tell him you loved him. A day late and a dollar short, if you ask me,” she said with a shrug.

 

He snarled at her. “I didn’t ask you.”

 

She grinned. “Sorry.”

 

He sighed and sank to the ground, staring at himself. “Why did he do it?” he asked softly.

 

Kirby shrugged and plopped down next to him. “You tell me, daddy. You’re the one who has spent the entire night rummaging through his life.”

 

Snape dropped his head. “But why me?” he whispered. “Why share this…this not-quite-a-dream with me? Granted, I l-love him. I suppose I can admit that, at least. But I can’t imagine he feels the same about me.”

 

Kirby sighed. “How do you know? You’ve never asked him.”

 

“I’ve been a bastard to him his entire life, child. “

 

Kirby chuckled. “Daddy is nothing if not perceptive. He knows why you act the way you do. He knows better than anyone else in the world how you feel. He understands the loneliness, the pain. He gets how to look beneath the surface. Maybe he loves you, maybe he doesn’t. It’s not my place to tell you. But I can tell you that you’ll be sorry if you don’t find out for yourself.”

 

“I know how he’s going to kill himself,” Snape said, suddenly excited. “I can stop him. I wouldn’t have to spill my heart out to him, I just have to keep him alive!”

 

Kirby rolled her eyes. “Great. So you keep him alive for what? Another day? Another week? Another year maybe? Till next Christmas, when the loneliness overwhelms him again and he attempts suicide without you to save him this time?” She sighed. “Daddy, this isn’t a quick fix. This requires a long-term solution. The only question is…do you have the knackers to do it?” Snape frowned at her language and she smiled cheekily. “I get that from my dad too. The other one.”

 

He sighed. “Fine. I understand.”

“So you’ll try?” She asked eagerly. “Cause I’d really like to be born.”

 

Snape glared at her. “Who actually carries you?”

 

She fluttered her eyes innocently. “Well, would you look at the time? Gotta go! Love you daddy!”

 

And he was back in his bed. “Little brat,” he muttered. Sitting up suddenly, he looked at the clock. 11:50. “Bloody hell,” he cursed. He leaped out of bed; jerking on the trousers he’d been fighting with earlier and quickly searching for his shoes. When they weren’t readily apparent, he cursed again and gave up, bolting for the door. He’d made it to the main corridor when he heard the clock begin to strike.

 

His heart stopped beating for a moment and then he put on a burst of speed. He slammed through the great hall doors just in time to see Harry tilting a bottle up to his lips. “Harry! No!” he screamed, charging down the aisle. Harry stopped, a bewildered look on his face as he watched Snape bear down on him. Severus slid to a stop next to him and slapped the bottle out of his hands.

 

Together, they watched as the silvery liquid spread over the floor, seeping into the small cracks in the stone. Harry looked up and there were tears in his eyes. “Why?” he breathed. Snape fell to his knees and pulled Harry into his arms. The boy lay stiffly for a moment, and then he melted into the embrace.

 

Severus held him as the sobs shook his smaller frame, rocking him, as he had wanted to earlier that evening. “It’s all right now, Harry,” he whispered. “You aren’t alone anymore. Never again. They heard you, love. They heard you. Every year. They never forgot about you. Any of them. And they answered you, Harry. They answered you.”

 

Harry pulled away, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. “How--?” he asked wide-eyed.

 

Severus just smiled. “I just do. Maybe someday I’ll tell you. When we’re old and grey…and still together. Because I’m not letting you go, Harry Potter. I’ve seen my future without you. And I never want to see it again.”

 

Harry stared into his eyes, confusion and hope warring in his expression. “Does this mean that you…”

 

Snape choked back a laugh. “I love you,” he managed. “I love you now and forever. I know you might not feel that way for me now, but I’ll do everything in my power to someday change that. And even if I never do, I want you to know that I’ll love you anyway.”

 

Harry’s eyes filled back up with tears. “You don’t have to wait,” he hiccupped. “I’ve been in love with you since 5th year.” Severus brushed the unruly hair out of vivid green eyes and smiled again. He lowered his face to Harry’s and lightly brushed their lips together. Harry moaned in the back of his throat and pushed into Severus’s arms. He deepened the kiss, darting his tongue out to taste the thin lips until Severus allowed him entrance. They wrapped their arms around each other and tightened their embrace. Hands explored skin, finding sweet spots and reveling in the closeness. When they finally pulled apart, the tears had stopped.

 

“Are you sure?” Harry asked.

 

Severus nodded. “Would you do me the honor of accompanying me to my chambers?” he whispered.

 

Harry smiled, a huge bright smile that lit up the last remaining recesses of darkness in Severus’s heart. “Yes.”

 

They stood, arms still wrapped around each other and made their way out of the room. As they moved through the doors, Snape looked back at the spot that had just changed his life. There stood Lily, Sirius and Kirby. They were fainter now, transparent as they hadn’t been in his room, but they were smiling. Lily leaned into Sirius, who wrapped his arms around her and rested his cheek on her head.

 

Kirby skipped around their feet in never-ending circles and as the door closed behind him, he could almost hear the piping voice chanting, “I’m gonna ge-et bo-orn. I’m gonna ge-et bo-orn.”