WARNING: This is a slash story, which means it contains male/male erotic content involving consenting adults. If you're not of legal age or are offended by such material, please go find something else to read.

Warning: Justin's 15. If the thought of a minor being with a man twenty years (or so) older than him makes you feel icky, run away.

Title: Wasting My Time
Author: Millicent
Email: PoetGirl21@aol.com
Pairing: Justin Finch-Fletchley/ Severus Snape. Implied Justin/ Cedric Diggory
Rating: PG-13 (angst, attempted suicide and self-mutilation)
Summary: Set one year after GoF. Justin questions the choices he's made thus far. (Justin's POV)
Disclaimer: All of these lovely boys belong to their mommy, JK Rowling. ::sighs bitterly::
Author's note: I've been trying to write a Justin/ Snape fic for a long time now. But these two are being so damn uncooperative! It's been driving me utterly insane, incase you haven't guessed. Well anyways, here's the result. I hope that my fic does this list justice. :) Oh, and by the way. While this isn't a songfic, I got the title (and the following few lines) from a song by Default. I thought it fit.


"Well this is not for real
Afraid to feel.
I just hit the floor
Don't ask for more.
I'm wasting my time
Just wasting my time . . .
You can stop the feeling
There is no reason
Just make the call
And take it all
(Oh . . .) Again.

---Wasting my time



As I make my way back from the Slytherin dungeons, my thoughts turn back to my lover.

When I left, he was actually asleep.

This is somewhat of a shock to me. Usually my lover refuses to sleep while we're together, fearing the consequences of our relationship being discovered by the outside world. Or so he claims. He isn't aware of this, but I know his secret fear. To my raven-haired angel, sleeping renders him defenseless, even though he knows full well that I would never ever do anything to harm him.

But since we both have our demons, far be it for me to judge.

Of course I cannot blame him for his constant state of alert. In his thirty-five year old life, Severus Snape has gone up against more than anyone could ever imagine. As a Death Eater, he's witnessed so many innocents being cruelly murdered, and was even the assassin himself a few times. I don't know how he was able to overcome this chapter of his past, but each day I thank the powers that be for his strength.

I know Severus considers himself weak each time he looks at his left arm, and sees the glaring reminder of his dance with the dark side. I've tried countless times to assure him that the Dark Mark isn't a sign of weakness at all, but a permanent testimonial to how deep his convictions lie. Even though he knew deep in his soul that becoming a Death Eater was wrong, he went with his heart, even if it meant defying the core beliefs of our society.

Earlier tonight, after his lovemaking took me to the very mouth of heaven and back, we were laying curled together in his bed basking in the warm glow of the other. I don't know what possessed me to do this, but I took his offending appendage and began tracing the Dark Mark with trembling fingers. Severus tried to pull away from my touch, but actually broke down and wept when I placed an unsteady kiss in the very center of the cursed sign.

But then he told me something I just couldn't hear.

Why does he love me? What can an underage muggle-born ever hope to offer him? Part of me longs to dwell within this dream world with my Severus; free from the torment of his youth, as well as the anguish of my own past . . .

Which brings me to my own demon. As much as it pains me to admit this, I can never truly love Severus Snape. My heart will always belong to someone else.


From the moment I laid eyes on him, I knew that Cedric Diggory would change my life forever. Ever since my very first day at Hogwarts, I've always felt like an outsider. Or, the proverbial square peg trying to squeeze into the round hole, if you will. And being sorted into Hufflepuff really didn't help matters either. I begged the sorting hat to put me into Gryffindor with the rest of the brave souls, but the damn scrap of fabric actually laughed at me. After the hat screamed out my mediocrity to the rest of the population, I made my way to the Hufflepuff table with tears rolling down my cheeks. And there he was. Just sitting there, watching me with concern in his huge blue eyes. I'll always remember how he took my hand and assured me that everything would be all right.

For the next few years, Cedric and I were pretty much inseparable. He was my touchstone; my shoulder to cry on when things got rough. When I asked Hanna Abbot out in my third year only to have her laugh in my face, Cedric was there to hold me until I felt real again. And when the Slytherin heir attacked me a few years ago, Cedric was there beside me when I finally came to.

So it should really come as no surprise when I found myself head over heels in love with his at the start of my forth year.

I felt so torn up inside. Part of me longed to tell my beloved of my newfound feelings, although I would surely die if this declaration of love caused him to end our friendship. But as the year went on, I just couldn't bear to keep the way I felt from Cedric any longer.

A few days before Halloween, I heard that my angel was going to enter the tri-wizard tournament. With panic coursing though my veins like ice water, I begged him not to put his name in the Goblet of Fire, fearing that he would not live through the ordeal. When Cedric asked why I felt so strongly, the three little words crept past my disobedient lips before I could even attempt to bite them back.

But this wasn't a bad thing.

Trembling himself, my beloved whispered that he loved me as well. I really don't want to go into any details, but that very same night we made love. God, I can't even begin to describe how it made me feel. When Cedric and I were together, we lived in our own fragile little world. Deep down, I knew that our perfect little bubble would shatter someday; although we were so happy that this never seemed possible.

The end of our happiness came in the form of the Ravenclaw seeker, Cho Chang. Both Cedric and I knew that we would have to keep our relationship secret if either of us had any hopes of succeeding in the hierarchy of Hogwarts. But my beloved assured me that he wasn't ashamed of me, and that although he like the other tri-wizard contestants would be forced to take a female student to the Yule Ball, it would be meaningless. Like a naïve child I believed him, foolishly assuming that true love would conquer all.

I could not bring myself to stay at Hogwarts for the holidays that year, knowing that the sight of seeing my beloved with another would hurt more than all three of the unforgivable curses combined. So I packed my bags and kissed my angel goodbye.

When I left Hogwarts on Christmas Eve, we were a couple.

The day after New Years however, was a different story.

Rumors flew around the school like wildfire, calling Cho and my Cedric the cutest couple since Lily and James Potter. But I couldn't believe them. I could not open my mind to the horrific possibility that my darling had fallen out of love with me. And Cedric refused to talk about it, snapping at me constantly and accusing me of being jealous each time I brought up Cho's name in a conversation.

It wasn't until the day of the second task that I was finally able to see what had to be so painfully obvious to the rest of the world. I sat in the stands with the rest of the school, waving at my angel proudly and cheering louder than the rest of our house combined. But then Dumbledore informed us of what the task was . . .

"We've taken what you'll surely miss.
An hour long you'll have to look
And to recover what we took . . ."

Hearing this was like a slap in the face with a cold wet towel. Here I was sitting safely in the stands while Cho was somewhere in the dark water, just waiting to be rescued by her love.

Her love.

Not mine.

Never again.

From that day up until the very end of the year, Cedric and I never spoke again. There was no need to. I was no longer in the beautiful youth's heart. To kill the mind numbing pain I tried everything from meaningless relationships to muggle drugs, only to find myself more miserable in the long run. I thought of killing myself so many times, but ultimately feared the dark unknown of the afterlife far too much to actually act on it. I hated Cedric for making me suffer so, although I knew that if he ever wanted me back I would go to him in a heartbeat.

We never said goodbye.

Months later, right before it was his turn to enter the huge hedge-maze in search of the glorious tri-wizard cup, my beautiful Cedric actually asked for my forgiveness. Holding his heart in his hands, he told me that while he loved Cho more than anything, that he felt horrible for spurning me and wanted more than anything to make it right. But did I listen to him? Instead of hearing his heartfelt apology I shoved him aside and told him that he was nothing to me.

I never saw him again.

Suffice to say, hearing about the death of my angel hit me hard. For days I was unable to eat, sleep, or even leave my fucking bed. I hated myself so much that I actually did try to slit my wrists one night, only to be saved in the nick of time by goddamn Professor Sprout. Because of my fragile emotional state, Dumbledore decided that allowing me to leave the safe haven of Hogwarts was an absolutely stupid idea, even if it was only to return home. So I spent that summer in the infirmary under the watchful eye of Madame Pomfrey, which was no picnic. The bitch was so sure that I was going to try to kill myself as soon as I was alone that I wasn't even allowed the privacy of the bathroom. Okay I'll admit that she was probably right to watch me like a hawk, but still.

This was the worst summer of my life.

I managed to pass the time by reading my books for the upcoming year. While I was pretty damn pissed about being forced to study over my summer vacation, by the time August rolled around, I had managed to read through all of my textbooks, as well as memorize quite a few new spells.

Even though I was sure to become the star pupil with all my extra studying, when the start of the term finally rolled around, I found myself back in the same fucking mindset. As much as I longed to push it back into the dark recesses of my mind, Cedric's death haunted me day and night. While I've never really been what one might consider a social butterfly, as my fifth year slowly progressed I began systematically severing all my ties with the human community around me. Nothing mattered to me whatsoever. And in a year that should have been my best ever academically, when the first semester grades came out, I was failing everything. And I mean failing. I think my first quarter Transfigurations grade was maybe a 34.

It's not like the Hogwarts faculty was deliberately trying to see me flounder. Professor McGonagall kept me after class each day for hours, forcing me to do tedious and long-winded extra credit assignments. Once she told me that if I were somehow able to transfigure a mouse into a slice of Provolone cheese I'd be guaranteed an "A" in her class for the rest of the year. But was I able to? The only change I was able to make in my mouse was to infect it with a distinctively dairy smell.

Over time, the teachers that had tried so hard to see me succeed finally just gave up. Dumbledore called me into his office and basically said that he was sorry I was going through such hard times, but that if I didn't show extreme improvement within a month I'd be expelled. This was pretty much the wake-up call that I needed. While I still loved my Cedric with every fiber of my being, I was pretty damn sure that he wouldn't want me to ruin my life for him. If his little girlfriend Cho could pull her life back together and start dating Harry Potter, I'd surely be able to pass all of my classes.

Or so I thought.

When McGonagall and Flitwick realized that I genuinely wanted to be the model student once more, they practically spoon-fed me stellar grades. Trelawney made me somewhat of the centerpiece, asking me constantly what it felt like to look into the mouth of madness and come back sane. It didn't matter what utter nonsense I fed her; I still got an "A" for my troubles. Pretty much the only class I actually had to work in also happened to be my absolute worst subject.


From the start, Professor Snape made it perfectly clear that I was not going to receive special treatment simply because I was a stubborn and selfish little boy. I was used to his abuse by that point of course, but something about hearing the Potions master calling me "selfish" really hit me hard. I yearned to tell him the truth of why I was so apathetic but figured that I'd simply get points taken away from Hufflepuff for my trouble. Besides, why would Severus Snape care about my problems?

Like McGonagall, Snape too kept me after class each day, forcing me to complete all the work I'd been blowing off. But the potions he had me brewing were just insane. Snape had somehow gotten it into his head that I would be able to brew the Draft of the Living Death, or the most potent sleeping potion known thus far. And the way he kept hovering around me while I tried to work . . . I was so tempted to clock him in the head with my size two standard pewter cauldron.

This insane extra work continued for two more interminable weeks. I knew the Snape hated me for being such a burden, and I wanted so to tell him that I wasn't a bad child after all. I was simply a wretched soul being forced to live in a world without the love of his life.

All this changed the week before Winter break.

Of course I was in the Potions lab, meticulously tending to some horrible concoction. I think it was at least supposed to be the Deflating draft, although Snape kept snarling at me because it was too yellow. Just when I was about to tell my teacher exactly what he could do with the potion, Cho and Lavender walked by the classroom, talking excitedly about their Yule Ball dates.

And for a moment, it almost seemed like we had all been transported back to last year. Cho would be attending the ball with Cedric because he needed a partner and it would hardly be proper for him to ask me . . .

Snape was shocked when I began sobbing into my Gillyweed.

He didn't exactly pressure me to tell him what was wrong, but I needed to talk to someone so badly and it all just came out. Everything from my crush on Cedric to our nights of lovemaking and everything that followed became clear to the Potions master. To my amazement, Snape didn't take away house points or go off into some sarcastic tangent about gay Hufflepuffs. Instead he let me cry it all out while he held me so close to his body . . .

Just like Cedric used to do.

Stroking my hair softly, Snape whispered soothing words absolving me of all blame. I may not have believed that I was in no way responsible for the death of my beloved, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever believed that the unfeeling Potions master had such a capacity for tenderness.

To this very day, I still wonder why exactly Snape chose the following course of action. Maybe he felt nothing but pity for the pathetic little queer boy going through a nervous breakdown. Or for all I know maybe I had inadvertently turned the Deflating draft I was brewing into some sortof an aphrodisiac. Regardless of his reasoning, the professor took my pale face in two trembling hands and kissed me hard. I was shocked, to say the least, but there was no way I could resist his advances. After being starved of human contact for so long, I would have rather died right then and there then deny myself the most basic of comforts.

And from that day on, Severus and I have become somewhat of an item. Even if we must sneak around and risk all he has worked so hard to accomplish, to my lover it's all worth it. I have never felt as safe and protected as I do when I'm lying in the comforting circle of my dark angel's embrace.

But if this is so, why can't I love him?

When I didn't repeat his words earlier, I know that I had broken his already so fragile heart. I wish he would tell me exactly why he loves me so I can somehow get him to realize that I'm little more than worthless.


Back in the Hufflepuff dormitory, the tears roll down my cheeks so easily. I have the perfect, most loving man in the world, and I can't even appreciate it. Shivering from the cold, I fumble with the dresser drawer and finally find what has become the most treasured of all my worldly possessions.

My straightedge razor.

As the metal bites into the overly abused flesh of my inner arm, I can't stop a small smile from playing on my lips. For now, I have truly hit rock bottom.

And I don't know if I will ever again see the sun.


Snape's POV


I've always hated the Easter holidays, and this year's no different. Really, who would love an overly commercialized and mildly religious holiday made popular by muggles at the Hallmark card company? All the professors know that the only redeeming factor of this so-called holiday is that the students are all but shoved back into the outstretched arms of their families. And of course mummy and daddy dearest fill their little darlings up with sugar and ship them right back to me to deal with when they become a bore.

What a crock.

Maybe I wouldn't be so bitter if I actually had a place to venture back to. True, there are my parents . . . or should I say the horrible wizards who spawned me. Severus senior and Samantha Snape haven't been parents to me since I made the mistake of joining the Death Eaters heaven knows how many years ago. I try to tell them that I've changed my dark ways, but they never listen.

To my family, I no longer exist.

Scowling bitterly, I automatically take fifteen points from Neville Longbottom's Potions essay. How the little prat managed to spell "cauldron" wrong is simply beyond me. As pathetic as it sounds, grading these god-awful papers is pretty much how I've been spending my time off. Yeah, Justin comes to visit every now and then, but this is hardly a comfort. I can't tell if my lover actually wants to spend the time with me, or if he's just scared of what I'll do to him if he stays away.

But as much as I hate to admit it, my beautiful little Justin does have a life of his own. A life not based around his horrible Potions master, even if I do love him more than life itself.

Yes, it's true. I've never loved anyone before, and now all of my stored emotions are going straight toward my fifteen-year-old student. I know that if our relationship is ever discovered I'll be fired and sent to Azkaban faster than Dumbledore can say "pedophile". But I don't care. If loving Justin Finch-Fletchley is wrong, God must have one fucked-up sense of morals.

When it comes to our relationship, my little one is blameless. I knew he was in a vulnerable stare of mind, and when he told me of his secret relationship with Cedric Diggory, I totally took advantage. Although I didn't rape him, I was the one that instigated our first time.

Why did I seduce him? Contrary to some rumors about Draco Malfoy and myself, I've never been in a relationship with a student before. Nor have I wanted to. But there was something about Justin that made me completely doubt myself. He was so beautiful and in such pain that I had to make him mine.

Justin breaks my heart. Every time I look into his pained gray eyes and hear him speak words of self-loathing I wish nothing more than to take his inner demons away and banish them into the dark recesses of my mind. While he's still grieving over the death of his first love, I really think that there's more to his depression than this alone. I beg him to talk to me about his troubles, but all he'll do is look at me with one of his little half-smiles and assure me that nothing's wrong.

My lover is an absolutely terrible liar.

Take last night, for instance. After weeks of gathering my courage, I finally told Justin exactly how much I loved him. And guess what he did.

He asked me why.

Turning away, my little one asked me why I felt anything for him. Why I chose to be with a bland Hufflepuff instead of someone brave like Harry or beautiful like Draco. And most importantly, why I chose to spend my time with a hopeless case.

I wanted to tell him that he was the bravest and most beautiful creature that I've ever come in contact with, but I couldn't speak. The absolute despair in his words was like a skewer right through my heart. Unable to control myself, the battle-hardened ex Death Eater that is Severus Snape actually broke down and wept. I guess seeing me so distraught pushed Justin over a similar edge, because once he saw my tears I heard his own little snuffles and cries.

And to make matters worse, he actually tried to comfort me.

My beloved Justin held my shaking frame to his chest and tried to assure me through his tears that everything would indeed be all right. How I longed to believe him.

I'm not sure how long we were lying together like that - with me still sobbing into his bare chest while he stroked my hair, but the emotional exhaustion hit me like a ton of bricks. In a voice only his heart could hear, I whispered to Justin that I still loved him, and fell asleep in my little one's arms. I wanted so badly to beg him to remain in bed with me for that night and ever after, but I knew he wouldn't.

I may be able to kid myself about a lot of things.

But I knew deep in my heart that Justin Finch-Fletchley would never love me.


Thankfully, a tentative knock at my classroom door pulls me from my thoughts. I snap at whomever it is to enter, hoping against hope for my lover to grace me with his presence.

Unfortunately, it's only Hermione Granger.

Inwardly fuming, I glare at the girl. "Miss Granger, I've already told you. You earned a 97 on the last test, and no amount of begging will get you the extra three points."

She blushes, not meeting my eyes. "No Professor. I have a message for you from Dumbledore." Hermione thrusts a scrap of paper at me and makes herself scarce.

My stomach immediately falls to my feet as I read the elaborately done calligraphy. An office summons. Just fucking great. This could only mean one thing.

Dumbledore knows.


Justin's POV:



Great. Yet another letter from my parents. Haven't they realized that since I haven't responded to one piece of mail that they've sent all year, I really don't want to be bothered by them?

//Your father and I were far from pleased that you chose to remain at Hogwarts over the holidays. We should be spending this time together as a family.//

Harsh laughter escapes me. What right do they have to lecture me about family togetherness? When I needed my mom and dad over winter break, they went flitting off to the tropics without so much as a Christmas card.

I can't be home.

I can't face their accusing eyes and tactless questions about why I tried to kill myself.

Besides, alone in the Hufflepuff dorm, there's less of a chance that my secret will be discovered.

//Although we were very impressed with the drastic improvement in your grades, the fact remains that we are still at a loss with how to deal with you. Justin, you hardly ever write, and you out and out refuse to tell us anything about your " accident" last year. Unless you pull off a major attitude adjustment, your father and I have no choice but to pull you from Hogwarts and enroll you in Eton Academy. God, I should have known that sending you to that witch school was a mistake!//

My hands began to tremble. They can't just rip me away from my safe little haven. Just when things are starting to maybe seem all right again, once again it all goes to hell.

Anyway, I'd die before I left Hogwarts for good.

//I'll be sending an owl to your Headmaster to discuss the details of your transfer within the month. If you have any desire to remain at your precious school of witchcraft and wizardry, you don't have much time to convince us it's for the best. The clock is ticking.//

// This is for your own good Justin.//

And that was it. I wasn't expecting an "I love you" from my ice queen of a mother, but a simple "goodbye" would have been nice.

I'm shaking. I'm shaking so badly that the letter falls from my clumsy grip and glares up at me from the floor. I want so badly to go to Severus' office and lose myself in the warm safety of his embrace, but I can't will myself to move. Instead, I collapse into one of the neglected couches and take out my razor. I stare at the glittering shard of metal, knowing what I must do and hating myself for it. How many times have I done this?

How many times have I spilt my blood against the biting edge of my beloved razorblade while simultaneously promising my psyche that this was it? This was the absolute last time I would give in to the uncontrollable thirst for self-punishment. Well one absolute last time cutting led to another and so on and so forth. Now I can't fathom a day that doesn't involve adding yet another gash to my inner arm.

With restraint I never knew I possessed, I put the razor back into my pocket and left the warm safety of my dorm for the owlery.

If feeding a bunch of lies to my parents about being perfectly happy and well adjusted is the only way I can remain at school with my lover, then so be it.


Looking back, I can see that the following series of events was inevitable. Someone was bound to discover my secret, even if I did go to extreme measures to insure that this would never happen. However, fate must have put Harry Potter in the owlery that day to insure that life as I knew it would never be the same.

After composing what I hoped was a convincing piece of fiction. I convinced my rather temperamental owl Lukas that flying halfway across the country in a veritable downpour to deliver the nonsense to my parents was the best idea of the century. Lukas scowled at me, but did indeed sail off to do my bidding.

Just when I was about to go back to the solace of my abandoned dormitory, who should happen to appear but everyone's favorite do-gooder, Harry Potter.

I kept close to the shadows, hoping against hope that my presence would go unnoticed.

"Hey Justin!"

Damn. He saw me.

The smile I wore was fake, but neither of us seemed to care. "Hi Harry. What are you doing here?"

He ran a hand slowly down the back of his snow-white owl Hedwig. "I wanted to send Ron a letter. This is the longest we've ever been apart."

I'll give the little git one thing; he's probably the bravest student ever to grace the halls of Hogwarts. Unlike those of us forever destined to dwell within the closet (a.k.a: me), Harry isn't ashamed to be himself. When he and Ron Weasley became a couple, they didn't just refuse to hide it. Oh no. Not these Gryffindors. The two actually went around to all the house tables holding hands, and demanded to know if anyone had a problem with their closeness. Everyone (well, save for Ginny Weasley who's been in love with Harry for years) actually seemed all right with it. And wonders never cease, because the next day Draco actually went to the Gryffindor vs. Ravenclaw Quiddich game holding Dean Thomas' hand. I can't help but wonder what Draco's father would do if their relationship is ever brought to his attention, since Lucius Malfory isn't exactly the most tolerant of wizards.

The scars on my arm began to itch uncontrollably. "Why did Ron leave anyway? I thought it was tradition for you two and Hermione to stay at school over all the holidays."

Harry shrugged. "Ron's parents insisted that he come with them to visit his brother Bill in Egypt. But it's all right. He won't be gone for too much longer." He turned his brilliant green gaze made brighter by the magnification of his glasses to my gray one. "Justin, I had no idea that you were still here. I mean, I haven't seen you since Herboligy last Friday."

"I've been sick," I muttered, self-consciously pulling the sleeve of my robe.

"Well, I'm glad you're still around. I thought I was the only student still here."

My eyes darted back and forth quickly from Harry to the exit. "Would you excuse me for a minute? I have to find the bathroom."

He nodded, pulling out a scrap of parchment and a quill. "Come back when you're done, all right? I don't really want to be alone anymore."

Oh yeah.


I'd come back.

Smiling slightly, I all but ran from the unintentional scrutiny of the Gryffindor prefect's stare. Stupid. Why was I so goddamn stupid?! Now that Harry knew I was here, I'd have to start coming to meals and leaving my dorm and

"Fuck it!" The inviting men's room sign caught my attention instantly. I stood in front of one of the mirrors and just stared at myself. Where did I go? I barely recognized the boy that stared back at me. My face was so thin and my once thick curly hair was so flat and stringy . . .

Sobbing, I took out my razorblade. "This is all your fault Cedric!" I screamed, slicing at my arm. "You've done this to me! I hate you!" My tears mixed with the growing pool of crimson on my inner arm. I was cutting deeply now . . . maybe too deeply. The fire in my arm kept spreading with every vertical movement of the sparkling metal shard. This cutting was not only hurting myself but my parents and my lover as well. God I had to stop. I had to stop before it was too . . .

"What the fuck are you doing?!!!"

I caught Harry's eye in the mirror. He wore a twisted mask of complete disgust and utter revulsion.

"Harry . . ."

"Answer me Justin!!!"

The razor jumped out of my hands and fell on the bathroom floor with an amplified clack. "Leave Harry. This isn't your problem."

The Gryffindor prefect picked up the razorblade which was absolutely caked in my blood. "Justin, this is so disgusting."

Something inside of me finally snapped. "Don't you think I know that?!" I turned around quickly, glaring at Harry with something that vaguely resembled hate. "Do you think I like hiding in darkened bathrooms and hiding my arms?!" I stared at my hands, unable to look at my classmate a minute more. "I hate what I've become!"

"I have to tell Dumbledore."

It felt like Harry had just smacked me across the face with a cold wet towel.

"No! You can't!"

"I have to Justin," he said gently, holding a paper towel against the fresh gash on my arm. "You could kill yourself doing this someday. I won't let that happen."

"Please Harry!" I was begging the boy now; all sense of pride long since vanished. "I'm always careful. If you tell Dumbledore my secret, he'll tell my parents and they'll pull me from Hogwarts."

I distinctly saw two unknown emotions at war within Harry's expressive eyes. On one hand he obviously wanted to help me keep my secret, but I'm sure the Gryffindor in him would never allow it if it jeopardized my safety. Finally, he spoke. "I'm sorry Justin. I hope someday you can forgive me for this."


But it was too late. Harry had already gone off to ruin what little bit of life I still possessed. And to make matters worse, he still had my razor.

"This isn't happening . . . oh god this isn't happening . . ."

I was so distraught that I began to hyperventilate. The air that filled each and every crevice of the world, for some reason flat out refused to enter my lungs. At long last, the sweet numbness I'd been praying for finally crept over me like a warm fuzzy blanket.

And the world finally went black.


Snape's POV


Although Dumbledore's office was magically charmed to give those who enter a sense of peace and tranquility, my insides were curled into a ball in a dark corner of my body. I've never been so scared in my life. No lie. Even as a Death Eater I usually knew exactly what was to become of me, so I was never left with this awful feeling of the unknown. But now, sitting in the Headmaster's office and waiting for my fate to be sealed . . . I feel like I'm dying.

Dumbledore's pet phoenix Fawkes noticed me sitting in what must have been his chair. The regal bird glared at me for a long moment, as if asking me why I dared disturb his way of life.

I stroked the downy feathers on his back absently, still thinking about what was in store. There was no way in this god's world I'd let Justin become affected by this. If asked, I'd tell Dumbledore that I forced the boy to be with me. Even if I was surely to be sent to face the horrors of Azkaban because of this lie, I would not allow one mistake to ruin the life of the boy I loved.

"Severus, I'm glad you could come."

"Your note said it was urgent." My voice broke before I could mask it.

Dumbledore nodded his head gravely. "Indeed it is. When students are involved everything must be taken seriously."

Oh shit. I was right.

I tried to smile, but it obviously didn't come out quite right. I'm sure the expression plastered on my face fell somewhere between a grimace and a scowl.

The Headmaster took out a large manila folder. "You see Severus, it's about Draco."


It slowly percolated through my fevered brain that I was not about to be fired. A fifty-pound weight detached itself from my heart and vanished to lie in wait for my next close call.

"Yes. Recently, there have been some rumors floating around about the Malfoy boy actually becoming a Death Eater."

"But Albus, this in nothing new. Potter and his cronies accuse him of being a follower of Voldemort on a daily basis."

Dumbledore pushed the folder towards me. "This is true. But I've collected the testimony of over ten former Death Eaters turned spies such as yourself who have all sworn that Draco is becoming initiated in their ways."

"Have you talked to Dean Thomas about this? I mean he is Draco's boyfriend. I'm sure if there was anything going on he'd know about it."

"I don't want to upset him." Albus took my hand briefly, his face solemn. "Severus, I hate to do this to you again, but until Draco is out of danger I have to ask you to resume the Death Eater facade once more."

I knew it.

Once more, I have to resume my deadly flirtation with the dark side. I hope Justin can understand . . .

"Of course Headmaster. Anything I can do . . ."

Suddenly, the prim form of Minerva McGonagall appeared in the doorway. "I'm sorry to disturb you, but Harry Potter's here to see you Albus. He says it's an emergency."

I tried to stand on still shaky legs. "Should I go?"

Dumbledore shook his head. "Maybe you should stay for this one Severus. Merlin only knows what he's getting into now."

Minerva opened the door, looking at Harry curiously.

"You may go, if you wish Minerva."

Frowning a little at me, the Transfiguraitons teacher went off.

Dumbledore muttered a few words under his breath and a second plush chair appeared in front of his desk. Harry looked at it skeptically.

"I'd sit before Fawkes tries to take your seat Potter." Since I was officially in no danger of losing my job I was able to begin picking on the boy mercilessly.

But he bid me no notice. "Sir, you have to come with me right now."

One of Dumbledore's white eyebrows arched upwards. "What is it Harry?"

Then Harry said the few words that would change my life forever. "It's Justin Finch-Fletchley. He's in trouble."

It suddenly felt like I had not only been fired and sent to Azkaban, but I was also required to dig my heart out of my chest with nothing more than a rusty spoon. "What the fuck do you mean?!"


I leapt to my feet, and had to fight hard to restrain the urge to grab the wide-eyed boy by the robes. "What the hell is wrong with Justin?!"

"He's . . . he's been cutting himself with a razorblade." Harry handed Dumbledore a razor blade covered in my beloved's blood. "I went into the bathroom and saw him hacking at his arms. I thought you should know."

"Come Fawkes." The phoenix followed his master obediently, realizing this was no time for complaints. "Where is Justin now?"

"Um . . . I left him in the bathroom."

Trying to keep my temper in check, I glared at my student. "Potter, you idiot! If you saw Justin harming himself, why on earth did you leave him alone?!"

"I . . . I . . ." He looked to Dumbledore for help.

"Young Harry Potter did a brave thing by coming to me with this information, Severus. Now I'm going to get Finch-Fletchley and bring him to the infirmary. I strongly advise you both to return to your . . ."

"I'm going with you."

I'm sure Dumbledore thought I was behaving oddly by being so attached to a boy who wasn't even in my house. At that point though, the only thing that mattered to me was making sure my beloved was all right.

"Very well Severus. We must get there quickly to insure the boy doesn't do something he'll regret."

//It's too late for that,// I thought bitterly.


Although I tried so hard not to show it, when I first laid eyes on the lifeless form of my little angel, keeping every meal I'd ever eaten inside where it belonged was an uphill battle. Dear Jesus, what had he done? The entire surface of his delicate inner arm was filled with cuts of increasing severity. Shit, why had I not noticed this? I always thought Justin insisted on making love in the dark because he was far too ashamed of me to actually want to see my form clearly. But now . . . Fawkes placed his head against Justin's horribly abused arm and began to cry. While some of the smaller cuts did heal with this magical aid, the large open gash he had just inflicted upon himself showed no sign of vanishing.

Which could only mean one thing.

My little one had lost the will to live.

And I could do nothing to help him. This was the absolute kick in the ass. As I stood there in the doorway, silently weeping over the condition of my young love, I could not take the few measly steps over to his side.

Thankfully, Dumbledore arrived at the bathroom minutes after I did.

"Is he . . ." Those two monosyllabic words were all I could force past the torrent of sobs.

Dumbledore placed his head on Justin's chest, trying desperately to find some sign of life. "He's breathing. Most likely, he had a panic attack."

Having determined he could do nothing more for my little one, Fawkes came over to my side and began crying against my chest. Smart bird. Not like it would do anything to mend my shattered heart, but it was a nice try all the same.

"What's going to happen?"

The Headmaster shrugged, looking much older than ever before. "I honestly don't know Severus. It's safe to assume that Mr. Finch-Fletchley is hurting much more than any of us ever realized. Maybe the best thing for all would be to send him away."

"You mean expel him?"

Dumbledore traced his ancient thumb across the unmarked brow of my angel. "Yes."

This was too much. It seemed like all the pent up emotions over my lifespan were finally being uncorked simultaneously. On one hand, I was absolutely infuriated with Albus for playing disciplinarian and sending away an innocent boy simply because he made a mistake. True, slitting his wrists had been an almost lethal mistake, but this was indeed a mistake nonetheless. And I found myself also becoming angry with my own lover. Why had he done this to himself? Were things going so badly in his own life that he could see no other way out?

Feeling my lunch once again try to escape the confines of my stomach, I sprinted from the room and the all-knowing eyes of the Headmaster.


I'm not sure how long I ran blindly though the castle, but when I had calmed down enough to care about my location, I was collapsed in a corner of the Great Hall behind the Slytherin table. This was a nightmare. It had to be. And when I woke up Justin would be in my arms and not the infirmary with Madame Pomfery bandaging his slashed wrists while Dumbledore told him to pack his bags . . .

"Justin," I wept loudly, pulling my knees close to my chest.


Startled, I jerked my head to the side. Professor Sprout knelt beside me, looking concerned.

"Are you all right?"

"Just fucking peachy!" I spat bitterly at the stout little Herbology teacher. "Now if you don't mind, I'd really like to be alone."

Sprout handed me a slightly muddy tissue. "Severus, I've never seen you this upset. So neither of us are going anywhere until you break down the walls you've put around yourself and talk to me."

Damn herI sighed, beginning to shred the flimsy piece of soft white paper. "Fiona, believe me when I say that you really have no desire to hear what's on my mind."

"Try me."

"By now, I'm guessing that you've heard about Justin Finch-Fletchley's . . ." The tears threatened to come back. "accident, if you will."

Sprout nodded, and I saw some of the light leave her dark brown eyes. "I never thought Justin would be capable of doing such harm to himself. I mean, he was really upset when Cedric died, but all my Hufflepuffs were. And just when it seemed like he was getting better, he goes and pulls this shit." She looked at me curiously. "But what does this have to do with you Severus? From what I've heard, Justin wasn't exactly the Draco Malfoy of his class when it came to Potions."

"I know, damn it all, I know!" I was at a crossroad. Should I tell the seemingly concerned Herbology teacher the truth about my lover, or make up a blatant lie? As tempting as it seemed, I just didn't have the strength for the latter anymore. "Last semester, Justin started coming to me for some extra help. I resented the boy at first for making me do so much extra work, but as I really got to know him, I found myself wanting to spend more and more of my time with him." I had to stop for a moment to gather my scattered thoughts.

"Go on," she said softly.

"After a few weeks of this, something stupid pushed Justin over the edge. He just collapsed into my arms, crying as though someone was ripping out his heart." I became fixated with looking at a spot on the floor. "I'm only human Fiona. Even though I knew it was wrong, when Justin had calmed down a little, I kissed him."

Instead of screaming like a banshee and bashing me over the head with something heavy, Sprout touched my shoulder sympathetically. I stared at her large, earth-covered appendage in shock.

"Were you lovers?"

I couldn't answer her.

"Severus, please believe me when I tell you that I won't betray your trust. Anything that you tell me now will stay between us."

Even if I wasn't exactly sure if I could believe her, Fiona's assurance did make me feel a little better. It's funny. Until this very moment, I never thought that I would be able to trust any of the other Hogwarts professors. I made a mental note to start being a lot nicer to my Hufflepuff students from then on.

"Yes," I whispered. "Although our relationship wasn't really about that. It was more like a mutual need for safety. When my little Justin was in my arms, all the demons of my past seemed to vanish. I thought I had the same effect on him, but I guess I was wrong."

Sprout seemed to ponder my words for a while before speaking next. "You're in love with him. Aren't you?"

I had to laugh, in spite of myself. "Is it that obvious?"

"How long have we been working together, Professor Snape? Ten years?"

"Thirteen actually, although I don't think it's any . . ."

Sprout silenced me with a glare. "Like I was saying, until now I never thought you had the capacity to be human. But hearing you talk about Justin and seeing something finally come alive within your empty stare is a dead giveaway." She smiled into the distance. "I'm really happy that you two found each other."

"Fiona, you've conveniently forgotten that Justin just tried to kill himself. And besides, as soon as he's over the shock of his injuries, Dumbledore's kicking him out of Hogwarts."

"No he won't." A look of utter determination appeared on Sprout's face. "I will not allow another one of my students to vanish from right under my nose."

Dear god, the woman meant it. Come hell or high water, I could tell that Fiona Sprout would do everything in her power to keep Justin Finch-Fletchley safely within her Hufflepuff community.

Tears of utter gratitude pricked up in the corner of my eyes. "Thank you so much Fiona."

"No need to thank me Severus," she said briskly. "Now why don't you go over to the infirmary to pay Justin a visit? I'm pretty sure he's awake by now."

I stood up and straightened my robe. "Just out of morbid curiosity, why weren't you upset when I told you that I was sleeping with one of our students?"

Sprout grinned broadly. "It would have been rather hypocritical of me to damn you when I'm guilty of a similar crime."

My jaw dropped. "You're kidding!" She shook her head. "Who is it?"

"Um, he graduated years ago. Do you remember a shy young Gryffindor named Charlie Weasley?"

I was so shocked that you could have knocked me over with a feather. "You and Weasley? I guess it does make sense, come to think of it. The long hours in the greenhouse under the pretext of getting herbs to cure his dragons . . ."

Fiona giggled. "You and I can be cell mates at Azkaban!"

Waving . . . yes waving to my colleague, I left for the infirmary with a small smile playing on my lips.

Looking back, I really should have treasured this bit of happiness, since it was the last I would have for quite some time.


"What are you doing here, Severus?"

Once again wearing my "I'm a sarcastic bastard so don't fuck with me" attitude, I glared at the nurse. "I'm here to see Justin Finch-Fletchley."

Poppy frowned. " He's not exactly awake yet. Can't whatever you have to say to him wait until he's fully healed?"I scowled at her. "Look Poppy, I'm not going to do anything to hurt

him. I'm really worried about Justin, and I'd like to see how he's doing."

Madame Pomfery shook her head sadly. "I can tell you exactly how he's doing, Professor. He's been sleeping the day away, knowing that when he wakes up, he has the consequences of his action to deal with." She sighed. "I can't magick away the scars on his arm. Unless Justin can come to terms with whatever's making him so unhappy, he'll have them for the rest of his life."

"Five minutes," I pleaded. "Just let me see him for five measly minutes. I won't do anything to disturb him, I promise."

Something in my plea must have made the tough-as-nails nurse soften. "Very well Severus. But only for five minutes."


Even in his emotionally overwhelmed state, my little Justin was still the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on. True, he had gotten rather thin and pale, but hopefully as his mind became better so would his body. And his poor arm! Since Poppy couldn't heal the cuts using any magical means, she had to resort to the cruder muggle methods. Several of these gashes were actually closed up with tiny stitches. It made my poor angel's skin look like a Thanksgiving turkey.

"It'll be all right Justin," I whispered, kissing the top of his head while he slept. "I swear to you it'll always be all right."

He made a soft noise that fell somewhere within the realm of a yawn and a sigh. I froze, fearful that I had deprived my little one of his much-needed rest. Thankfully though, he continued to sleep . . .

"Cedric," he moaned, still lost in his dream world. "No Cedric, don't leave me! I love you."

These were the words that I both suspected and feared. His lost love for Cedric was truly the cause of his recent attempt on his life.

I began to weep again, knowing that there was only one thing I could do to help my poor little Justin.

I had to let him go.


Justin's POV


Even the most tired man in the world can only stay asleep for so long. While I would have loved to spend the rest of my insignificant life drifting forever through a sea of dreams, this wasn't meant to be.

Stretching my arms and wincing at the shooting pain that followed, I allowed my eyes to flutter open.

"Glad to see you're finally awake, Mr. Finch-Fletchley."

Oh fuck.

Dumbledore was sitting on the foot of the bed, staring at me with the oddest expression. Quickly, I tried to form a plausible explanation for why I was in the infirmary with my arms cut to shreds. That fucking cat of Ernie's . . . what was his name? Blessed Precious? Maybe the molting bag of fur decided to use my left arm as his personal scratching post.

One look at the Headmaster though, and I knew that he would never believe me.

"Justin, you know we need to talk."

His voice totally killed me. I would have been much more comfortable if the older man was screaming at me, or speaking with some sort of anger in his voice. But the only emotion perceivable in Dumbledore's tone was nothing more than disappointment.

I nodded, feeling the tears well up in my eyes. "I'm guessing Harry told you about my problem."

"Indeed he did. How long has this been going on?"

I couldn't meet his eyes. "Since the start of the term. I knew that I couldn't kill myself, so I found some other way of making myself pay."

The Headmaster looked confused. "Making yourself pay? For what?"

"Cedric's death. No matter what anyone else says, I know it was entirely my fault."

To my horror, Dumbledore actually seemed to break down in front of me. "I blame myself for this Justin. After you recovered from your self-inflicted injury last summer, you seemed to be perfectly all right. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that you were still hurting so badly." He wiped his eyes with a large purple handkerchief. "I've contacted your parents. They're coming to pick you up later this afternoon."

Ice water replaced all the blood flowing through my veins. "You're expelling me?"

The Headmaster took one of my hands in his two. "Heavens no! I'm just giving you the rest of the term off so you can get better."

"How can I possibly graduate if I miss three months of school?"

He smiled weakly. "Every week or so, I'll send you an owl with all the work you've missed. Your professors will grade it as if you were indeed still here."

"But I will be able to return next semester, right?"

"Only if you're healthy again."

Maybe this wasn't as bad as I thought. At least I could possibly return for my sixth year, provided my parents don't lock me up . . .

Suddenly, I sat bolt upright. "Don't let them send me away!"

Dumbledore tried to calm me down. "Justin . . ."

"Don't let them send me to St. Mungo's! I'm not insane, I swear!" Dear god, would my parents really send me to live with those shrieking drooling maniacs? I wouldn't put it past them.

He stroked my hair gently, as though I was a scared wild animal. "Your parents would never do that to you Justin. When I spoke with them, they were quite concerned, but eager to have you home. I know for a fact that they found a therapist for you to talk to that specializes in helping teenagers cope with issues just like yours."

"My parents were worried?" I was shocked, since I really never thought they cared about me one way or the other.

Dumbledore nodded. "They love you very much, and only want what's best." He stood up, and straightened his robes. "Well, I'd better be going. I'll tell Poppy to let you go pack whenever you're ready."


He turned around, looking at me curiously.

"Did anyone come to visit me while I was asleep?"

It may have been my imagination, but I could swear his face darkened. "Yes. Harry Potter came a few times, as did Professor Snape."

So my lover knew the truth. Great. Before I could leave, I'd have to find him and try to explain my actions.

Would he ever be able to forgive me?


Two hours and three suitcases later, I went roaming the Slytherin dungeons, hoping to find Severus and dreading it. What would I tell him? So much of this was closely tied to my lingering love for Cedric.

It didn't take long for me to find the older man. Severus was sitting in his office, reading what appeared to be a term paper.

"Severus," I muttered, setting my bags by the door.

He looked up, and only then did I see the dark circles etched under his eyes. "Hello, little one. I'm glad to see you're feeling better."

"They're sending me away," I said, hearing my voice break.

"I know." He went back to reading the essay, instantly seeming to forget about my presence.

Shit, what was going on here? Why was he being so cold?

"Severus, I don't want to leave you."

My lover sighed bitterly, and pinched the bridge of his nose. "You have to, Justin. This is the only way you'll get better." His black eyes pierced right through my very being. "What we had was wrong, and you know it. Things will be much better for you once you're as far away from me as possible."

"But I thought you loved me," I whispered, feeling tears of pain roll down my cheeks.

This must have put the fatal blow in the walls he so desperately tried to keep around himself. "Oh my angel, of course I love you! Shit, if I thought it would do any good, I'd keep you in my arms until the end of time." Snape began to cry as well. "But tell me something Justin. Who is it you really love? Me . . . or Cedric?"

The name was like a blow right to the heart. "I could try," I wept. "I could learn to love you Severus, only please don't let them take me."

He was out and out sobbing, which was a sight I had hoped never to see. "That isn't how it works. You can't force yourself to love me simply because you're afraid to face life alone." Snape kissed the large gash that snaked up my inner arm. "I know you'll be able to live through this, my angel. Even though you don't think of yourself as being strong, there's so much strength within you. The sooner you're able to realize this, the sooner you'll be able to move on with your life."

"Please believe that I never meant to hurt you." I touched his cheek, shivering when he leaned into my tentative touch.

"I know Justin. I know."

My lips brushed over the older man's, needing the intimate contact to truly give this chapter in my life some closure. I could feel Severus try to deepen the kiss, but I pulled away, staring intensely into his eyes. "I wish I could have loved you."

"Don't dwell on what might have been, little one." He leaned forward, resting his forehead against mine. Our tears mingled as they fell like rain onto the mahogany desk below. "You should go. It's getting late."

Wiping my eyes sheepishly, I got up from the Potions master's desk, and began the near Herculean task of gathering all of my bags. A random thought hit me and I turned back, wearing a big stupid smile.

"Tell me one thing Professor. Did I pass last week's exam?"

Snape looked a bit taken aback, but managed to crack a sad little smile as well. "Yes, Mr. Finch-Fletchley; you passed the test with flying colors. Take ten points to Hufflepuff."

I opened my mouth in a comic display of shock. "I never thought I'd see the day you awarded a Hufflepuff house points."

The Potions master rolled his eyes at me. "Oh come on Justin. I'm not that biased towards Slytherin."

"Only Draco Malfoy."

He snorted. "That does it! If you're not out of my sight in ten seconds, I'll take away your ten points and give them to Potter!" Snape's black eyes sparkled to show these words didn't contain his customary malice.

With only a small wave, I left the Potions lab, not sure if I would ever see my ex lover again.


The time passed too damn slowly as I waited for my parents outside of the castle. Dumbledore thought it would be best for me to wait out here, so as not to draw attention to myself when they finally arrived. Although the school was so empty it probably wouldn't have mattered.

I stared off into the distance, looking for any sign of my parents horribly expensive silver Jag.


That voice.

Of all the people still at Hogwarts, I never would have expected Cho Chang to actively seek me out. I stared at the girl frostily, loathing her with every fiber of my being.

"Hi Cho," I said coldly. "What are you doing here?"

"I got back to school a little early, and heard about your accident." She gestured to the empty space beside me on the castle steps. "May I?" I shrugged, hoping she'd be able to tell that her presence was about as welcome as a Malfoy's at an Auror convention. But I guess the stereotype about beautiful girls being as dumb as posts has some basis of truth to it.

Staring at her hands, she spoke again. "I know that I'm probably the last person you want to see right now Justin, but I couldn't let you leave without hearing my apology."

"What do you have to apologize for?"

The Ravenclaw seeker either couldn't or wouldn't meet my eyes. "You loved Cedric too."

I laughed bitterly. "Great thinking Chang. Did you figure that one out all by yourself?"

I guess she was mentally prepared to take my abuse, since she didn't even flinch at my insult. "Justin, please listen to me. At the Yule Ball last year, I had every intention of leaving Cedric alone. But he was just so lonely and unsure . . ." She sighed. "Cedric told me that he was confused about his sexuality. While he was pretty sure that he was gay, some aspects of the lifestyle scared the hell out of him. So when he asked me to kiss him, I couldn't refuse."

She looked at me expectantly, waiting for my reaction. "Go on!" I spat bitterly.

"Please believe me Justin when I tell you that neither myself of Cedric ever meant to hurt you. I didn't want to love him, but the choice wasn't mine to make."

Some of the ice that coated my heart melted a little. I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to forgive her and Cedric for falling in love and leaving me by the wayside, but I was beginning to see that maybe Cho wasn't an evil conniving bitch. "I'm sorry that you and Harry broke up. You seemed like the perfect couple."

Cho smiled sadly. "Thank you. It's kind of funny, actually. The-Boy-who-lived was the ideal boyfriend. I never would have guessed that each time he was with me, he was trying to pretend I was Ron."

"Well at least he's happy." My heart stopped when my parents pulled up in front of the school. This was the moment I had been dreading ever since Harry had walked in on me cutting myself. "I gotta go."

Cho actually hugged me, which was a surprisingly nice gesture. "Take care of yourself Justin, all right? I expect to see you on the Hogwarts express next September first."

"Only if you agree to stop falling in love with my boyfriends."

"Deal." Cho watched me until I opened the car door, and then went back into the castle to pursue her own life.

I held my breath, slipping into the cool leather interior. "Hello Mom. Dad."

Neither said anything at first, but my mom soon did something unexpected. With only a small sob as her battle cry, she reached in the backseat and pulled me into a bone-crushing hug. I melted into her embrace, feeling tears roll down my cheeks.

Funny. I've cried so much over the past day that I really didn't think I had any tears left within me.

"I'm so sorry Mommy!" I wept. "Please don't hate me."

"Oh my baby, I could never ever hate you. Your father and I both love you so damn much." I was kind of surprised to hear tears color her normally so collected voice. "We couldn't live if we lost you."

"She's right Justin," my father said, glancing at me quickly in the rear-view mirror. "Even if we don't exactly show it all the time, you mean the world to us. Regardless of what you've done in the past, I'm proud to call you my son."

If he only knew the truth about my lifestyle though, I bet these words would be forgotten faster than my former presence at Hogwarts. Neither of my parents knew anything about my sexuality, or that I was romantically involved with one of my male professors.

But I refused to hate myself any longer. The past was indeed behind me, and I really didn't think I'd change anything that transpired. As clichéd as it sounds, all the pain of my past has helped to shape who I am today.

I glanced back at Hogwarts once, smiling genuinely for the first time in so long. Who knows? Maybe when all is said and done, there would be hope for a real relationship between Severus and myself after all.

But not now. Deep inside, I knew that I had the capacity to forgive Cho and Cedric for hurting me so deeply when I desperately needed to feel love.

However, I didn't know if I'd ever be able to forgive myself for my role in all this.

Someday though, when I am able to think of myself as a real person again, maybe my lover will be waiting.