Authors Notes: In-The-Shadows (or as I like to say, Abby ^^), write Severus' charming POV. I write Harry's cute POV ^_^ The POV's may change fast, but I believe, along with our beta reader, Blessedsilence(thanks Chantry! ^^) that it's still easy to follow.
Part 7 - My Own Worst Enemy
By Shadows and Redrum
The next morning was met with very clear skies and sunshine filling the manor with its soft, golden light. Severus rose around nine. He was not normally a good sleeper, so rising at what would normally be a ludicrous hour for ones day, was normal to him. He dressed quickly and made his way down to the kitchens to collect Harry’s breakfast and a few other things he’d had Dobby fetch for him. He made his way back upstairs with a tray and a small box with the outfit he’d picked out for Harry. The outfit was nothing special: black pants, an emerald sweater to match his eyes, and a change of underwear and socks.
Sliding quietly into Harry’s room, Severus shooed Padfoot off the bed with a healthy glare; at which point the big dog once again joined Remus on the carpet. Severus settled the tray between them. Jessica had made a breakfast they could eat together, (a plate full of large croissants covered in chocolate with mugs of warm cider) thinking it an appropriate way to set up breakfast since Severus delivered all of Harry’s meals anyway.
Sitting gently at the foot of the bed (the boy was small enough that he only took up half the large bed), and leaning against the headboard, Severus opened his latest book and waited for Harry to wake up. He didn't notice how open his emotions were as they played over his features when he read. Since he’d become more guarded with emotions, reading was one of the few things that had really opened him up, and up until now he’d always done it alone. He had to say he liked the company. There was something refreshing and comforting about having Harry in the manor; like he’d finally found a kindred spirit. Severus moved away from that line of thought and tried to focus on his book, grinning softly all the while.
Several minutes passed after Severus' quiet entrance before Harry's eyes finally opened. His eyes widened when he saw Snape sitting at the edge of his bed, but seeing him absorbed in his reading, the small teen smiled. From what he could see of the half lidded eyes, his black orbs were alight with emotion, ranging from happiness to anger when he came over certain parts in the book. The thin lips were curved at the corners, barely noticeable, but they were as plain as day if you were used to seeing Snape's lips set in either an indifferent line or scowling during class.
Harry looked down at the plate in front of Severus. His eyes widened at the steaming croissants layered with chocolate. He'd never had one of those before, but he had definitely heard about them from his peers and his aunt and uncle when they ate it for lunch. Especially Dudley, it was hard not to notice when he was rubbing it in Harry's face, teasing him about not being able to eat at the table because he was just a nobody. Not the most creative of insults, but it had hurt Harry since he felt that way often enough.
Finally deciding to alert the man that he was awake, Harry smiled softly, sleep still making him warm and his eyes half lidded and heavy. "Morning," he said, his voice even quieter than it normally was.
Severus glanced up from his book and meet Harry's half lidded gaze, a genuine smile spreading over his features. "Good morning Harry," he said softly as if afraid to disturb the morning quiet. 'I've never seen him so relaxed when he's awake,' Severus mused to himself, taking in Harry's lithe, sated form. Already, there seemed to be something of a glow to his skin to indicate his improving health. Once he gained a little more weight, his already good looks would only multiply. Trailing his gaze casually back up to Harry's face he murmured, "you look better today. Please have some breakfast, they're Jessica's specialty."
Taking a sip of his own cup of cider, Severus asked, "how did you sleep last night, Harry?" Glaring pointedly at Padfoot for good measure, who in turn pointedly ignored him, he added, "those two didn't keep you up did they?"
Was it just him, or was Severus checking him out? He wasn't positive, since he'd never actually been checked out before, but he'd seen the looks that the other boys had given pretty girls, and the way Snape was looking at him, it sure looked like it. Though he didn't really see what was so interesting. He was too skinny, too pale, his eyes were too big, he had several scars (physical as well as mental), he was short, his hair always looked like he had just finished running against the wind even when he was inside, and his lips were fuller than most men's and looked like they could belong to a girl. He knew he wasn't ugly by any means, he just wasn't the type of person that was attractive enough to get a once over or even a second look.
Reaching over to grab a croissant, Harry looked up to meet Severus' dark gaze. "I slept really good," he said, smiling brightly, finally truly waking up. "I think I've slept more fully these past few days than in my entire life." He bounced slightly on the firm mattress, the tray jiggling slightly at the movement. "It's the most comfortable place I've slept in too. I thought I was going to have trouble falling asleep since it's a new place and everything, but I actually feel more safe here and a he-" Harry cut himself off quickly, " more comfortable." He finished, smiling and blushing faintly when he caught himself from swearing in front of his teacher.
"And no, they didn't keep me up. Padfoot tried jumping on my bed once, but Remus made him go back down onto the floor. It's really funny watching those two interact. It's like they're acting like humans, it's kind of weird actually. But I don't mind Padfoot sleeping up here with me, he's really warm and it's like sleeping next to a really big pillow." Harry smiled, looking down at said dog, who was looking back at him with his tongue hanging out of his mouth in a mimic of a smile, as if he knew what Harry had said. Yes, definitely weird how these animals were so intelligent.
Severus chuckled lightly when Harry censored himself. He was so polite for someone who had been treated so badly, and more open with his emotions than Severus had been at that age; both things the dark haired man considered miracles. 'Very strong for a creature that looks so small,' Severus mused to himself while biting into his own croissant, 'like a diamond in the rough.'
"Well, dogs are actually very intelligent creatures. They have the capacity to do simple arithmetic and a very complex social structure. Mostly it's just wolves, but dogs come from wolves, so the instinct is there. Besides, Remus is half wolf and Padfoot is as close as you can get to being part wolf without crossing the line from dog, so their intelligence is not surprising to me so much as is their capacity for mischief." Severus watched Remus and Padfoot wrestle together on the floor for a moment before turning back to Harry.
"Oh I almost forgot," he said sliding over the box of clothing, "this is for you. I think it's about your size and it should tide you over until we go shopping. I hope you don't mind me taking the liberty of ordering it."
Harry's eyes widened in surprise. For him? And actually in his size? How would Severus know his size? Harry frowned and brought the box closer to himself. Removing the lid, he set it to the side slowly. Carefully pulling out the small green sweater, Harry's eyes widened in awe. It was so beautiful! He touched the soft fabric in reverence, he'd never been allowed to have his own clothes before.. and new even!
Harry smiled and pulling the sweater over top of his bare chest carefully, gently maneuvering his right arm through the sleeve without too much pain, and quickly slid his other arm in and pulled the sweater awkwardly over his head with only one arm. It fit perfectly! It was actually snug for once, instead of hanging of his frame like a large garbage bag. His smiled brightened and hugged himself. Feeling so happy at such a small thing might have been weird to some people, but Harry had never even had his own clothes, none the lone something that was actually soft to the touch, well, if you didn't count the well faded and worn clothes he used to have.
Still smiling, Harry pulled the white cotton briefs and black socks out of the box, he was even grateful at receiving this. Disgusting as it sounds, he'd always had to wear Dudley's old boxers, so it would be nice to have something that actually fit him in that area, he hated boxers anyway, he didn't like hanging loose. It tended to hurt more when he got kicked there by Dudley's friends. And his socks had always been too big for his small feet and had ended up drooping at the ankles, a very comical sight maybe, but also very annoying and uncomfortable.
Harry set the undergarments beside him, and looked back into the box, not really expecting anything more, but he'd noticed the bottom was black, and since most boxes didn't come like that, he figured there was something else in it.
The excited teen pulled out the long, sleek, black pants. Running a hand along the cloth, he grinned. It was even softer then the sweater. He smiled and carefully folded the pants (though it was a bit sloppy with only one hand to work with) and put them to the side. Reaching across him to move the tray to the night table, he literally leaped at Severus. Ignoring the stab of pain when his arm made contact with the older man's chest, he wrapped his other arm around Snape's neck, not caring about the croissant in the one hand. "Thank you!" He exclaimed, still at a loss for words other then being able to thank the generous man. He'd never received a gift before, and for it to be something he had never had for himself in his whole life.. it was definitely something to be happy and excited about, and Harry was definitely feeling both those things.
Severus' eye's widened in shock when Harry flung himself at him. It took him a few moments to recover, but when he did, he smiled wider than before and wrapped his arms gently around Harry's small frame. "You're welcome Harry, any time," he said, still a little surprised at the force he'd been hit with; nothing strong enough to knock him over, mind, but nothing he expected from Harry quite yet, given the state he'd been it. 'Strong in spirit and body eh? This one's a regular lion.'
After a minute or two, Severus pulled back slightly and produced an actual sling from his pocket. "I'm not letting you walk around the manor without some proper support for that arm," he said, laying the small contraption beside them on the bed. Looking back at Harry he grinned slightly. That sweater really did bring out his eyes. "Well, I've got to let those two out," he said motioning vaguely towards the still wrestling dogs behind them, "and I'm sure you'll want to change before I show you around. It's a big place, but it's pretty simple once you know the layout."
Giving Harry's good hand one last affectionate squeeze, Severus pulled away and motioned for the dogs to follow him. They all but bolted out of the room, just waiting for the chance to run around outside and chase rabbits and what not. Before closing the door, Severus looked back and said, "feel free to help yourself to more croissants if you're still hungry; I'll just be a minute." And with that he was gone, the echo of barking dogs trailing after him.
Harry smiled and ate another croissant, savoring the melted chocolate on top and washing it down with lukewarm cider. Setting the tray so there was no chance of it falling off the small table, Harry picked up his clothes and headed towards the bathroom.
The floor was incredibly cold on his bare feet, but he grimaced and tried to ignore it. Putting his clothes over the rack near the shower, he grabbed a towel from the closet that he had noticed earlier from his second visit last night before going to bed, and put it on the silver rail just outside the shower door. Stripping his baggy jeans and loose boxers, he chucked them near the door, where he would pick them up later. Pulling off his sweater with more care, Harry set it on top of the other clothes. Since he was getting new clothes, he didn't think he'd need those anymore. And if he was forced to rely on just the clothes on his back, he'd be better off with what Snape had given to him since they actually fitted.
Harry stepped into the large shower and closed the glass door gently behind him. Looking around, he spotted several hair shampoo bottles and a plump Dove Ivory soap on a small rack underneath all the bottles. Harry frowned and chose a red bottle, turning it over he read 'Pears Strawberry shampoo'. Clicking open the lid, he tilted it towards his nose. Taking a large whiff, he smiled at the pleasant smell. Closing it, he put it back on the shelf, remembering to keep it separate from all the other brightly colored bottles.
Looking down at the different buttons, he frowned. Who knew a shower could be so complicated? He finally decided on just pressing the middle button. He yelped when a large stream of warm water suddenly rained down on him. At least it was a good temperature. Standing back straight, he tilted his head towards the steady stream, letting it soak him thoroughly. He smiled at the pleasant sensation of warm water raining down on his body. He'd always had to take showers out in the back yard with the hose, so this was definitely a nice change, among the many other new things that had changed in his life. A new bed, his own room (one that he could actually walk all the way around without bumping into a wall after two steps), new friends, no more abuse, privacy, all the books he could ever hope to read, food.. the list went on. He'd never had those kinds of luxuries at his relative's house. He just really hoped this wasn't all pulled away from him, he didn't know if he could survive after knowing what it was like to live so freely.
Pulling the bottle off the self, he opened the cap and put some of the red soapy liquid onto his hair. Tilting his head back so it wouldn't run into his eyes, he closed the cap again with one hand and put it back in its original location, just in case Snape had it in some kind of order that he needed or something like that.
Stepping back from the spray so it just hit his chest in a steady rhythm, he soaped up his hair, letting the suds collect in his long strands. Finished with soaping his hair, he stepped back into the spray and ran his hand through his wet locks, where the red soap traveled down his slim frame and into the large covered drain (some kind of silver cage thingy seemed to be placed over top of it so large objects -like soap- wouldn't fall down).
Grabbing the white, which looked to be mostly unused, soap he rubbed it over his body, another pleasure he had never had before. He'd never been allowed to use the family's soap since it supposedly cost a lot of money and he'd been taught from an early age that their money would never be wasted on a nothing like him. So he'd just relied on the harsh cold spray to wash away the dirt and bacteria and whatever else soap was supposed to wash away, off his skin. It wasn't too bad in the summer, but when it was winter, he'd found himself going for weeks without showers because he knew he would just freeze under the hose. But eventually he had begun to smell, so the Dursley's forced him to wash while they watched from the window, standing warm and cozy inside while he stood outside naked under the hose. None of the neighbors had seen this of course (because he knew how unlucky he was, it only made sense) due to the tall wooden fence running around the property.
Shaking his head to stop himself from reliving the past, he slowly rotated, letting the blessedly warm spray run over his back and buttocks, before turning back around. Frowning slightly, he decided to press the middle button again, luckily enough (though he'd never thought of himself as that) it was the right button to push to turn the spray off.
Stepping out of the shower, he grabbed the large, fluffy, navy blue towel and dried himself off thoroughly. Tossing it to the ground, he picked up the tight briefs from the nearby rack and pulled them on, smiling at the snug fit. Pulling the warm socks over his small feet, he was surprised that Severus had been so good with his measurements. Wiggling his toes, he grinned. He really loved the stretchy material at the ankle, who knew socks were supposed to actually stay up? Harry giggled quietly, and awkwardly pulled on his pants. He finally decided to sit on the cold ground to pull them up easier. They fit perfectly too. Maybe a bit loose around the waist, but it definitely fit better than he was used to. Taking the last item on the rack, he pulled it up over his messy hair, making it even messier. Once again he had to struggle to put his injured arm into the hole and trying to pull the sweater over his head with only one hand.
Finally, he got everything into the right place. Bending down, he picked up the discarded damp towel and tossed it into the hamper. Walking over to the sink, he found a toothbrush still in it's package. He wasn't too sure it was his, but considering the only other one in the holder was a black toothbrush that obviously belonged to Severus, he guessed it could be a safe bet. Opening it up, he placed the wrapper into the small metal garbage bin beside the sink and pulled out the dark red brush. He smiled sadly, another luxury. He guessed it wasn't too bad, since he didn't get to eat often enough to actually need to brush his teeth. But now that he was having regular meals, it only made sense to brush after each one.
Taking the time to brush his teeth, he spat and rinsed out his mouth and the brush and put the small toothbrush into the silver plated cup holder. He smiled at himself in the mirror, pleased at the mint flavor in his mouth. His teeth actually looked a bit whiter too, probably because there had always been a very thin film over top of this teeth. At least it was gone now. He opened the brush that had also been in a package and used it to untangle his hair. He actually managed to get it into a semblance of order.
The long black bangs now brushed his chin, instead of just reaching his eyes (he'd always been able to grow his hair fast, but this wasn't much of a change considering he had used discarded bobby pins to discreetly pull back his bangs so they wouldn't go into his eyes at much. He figured he didn't much need them now. The rest of his hair was long enough to reach his shoulders. It actually looked a little bit shinier and even bouncy. A drastic change compared to his previous limp and dull hair. Obviously he had not been able to get any shampoo while washing outside, so he'd never been able to fully wash his hair either. At least it had never been oily, just unhealthy looking.
Sighing gently, he placed the dark red brush into the larger glass holder, already home to a similarly styled brush except for the black tint to the handle.
Grinning, he walked back to his rooms. Snape wasn't there and Harry figured he was still taking the dogs out, so he grabbed his glasses and placed them over the bridge of his nose. Picking up the professional looking blue sling that Severus' had given him, he gently placed his injured arm into it and put the strap on the other side of his shoulder over his head. It definitely felt a lot better. His makeshift sling had really not done the job.
Smiling at how good he felt, physically and even mentally, he sat down on the bed to wait for Severus to come to his room.
Severus just barely avoided being knocked over by Padfoot and Remus as they burst out the door and into the gardens. He paused a moment to glare after them before turning about and quickly making his way back to Harry’s room. He tucked some of his, still slightly damp from his morning shower, hair behind his ear as he walked. He noticed his footfalls echoed loudly on the hard marble floor of the foyer as he made for the left of the pair of sweeping staircases. It then occurred to him how quiet the house was and had been for so long. He could probably count the number of rooms he’d used on his hands alone. Severus had conditioned himself to live mostly alone over the years, and it was only the recent three additions that made him realize what a pathetic existence being alone really was.
He’d always wanted to have more than just Lucius in his life, especially since they rarely saw each other now that Lucius had married and had a child. If he were to be truly honest with himself, Severus knew he was a basically solitary person, but even the most solitary of people wants a little company. He had Harry now, but he didn’t know for how long; would he really want to stay here while he went to college or got a job? Pushing those thoughts aside, Severus told himself to ask Harry about his intentions when it felt right.
Upon reaching Harry’s door, Severus knocked lightly and almost before his fist connected with the door a second time he heard a soft, “come in.” Opening the large door and sliding inside the room, Severus met Harry’s gaze almost immediately and they both smiled upon seeing each other. “Green really suits you, “ Severus commented, glancing briefly down at Harry’s sweater, “it brings out your eyes.” Smiling again at Harry he asked, “are you ready to go then?”
Harry smiled at the compliment, though he still doubted it. Although Snape did not seem like the type of man to lie, maybe he was just being nice? When the raven haired teen had looked into the mirror in the bathroom, all he had seen was bright green eyes. They didn't look any different from what they normally did, even with the dark green sweater. Maybe it was just because he had no fashion sense? Harry grinned and stood up from the bed. He trailed behind Snape until they exited his room, then matched his pace with the older mans. "So, where are we going first?"
"Well I thought we'd start in the foyer because that's where you enter the manor." Severus replied, leading Harry down a long hallway with rich cream colored walls, a thick hunter green carpet, and some electric candlesticks lighting the way. "This wing is mostly bedrooms, so seeing as it's just you and me, it should be pretty quiet most of the time," Severus explained, turning a corner and leading Harry down a sweeping marble staircase into the foyer. The large black walnut front doors were accented on either side by actual torches. "I have a taste for some old fashioned things," Severus explained when he noticed Harry gawking at them. The foyer was two stories in height with the same cream colored walls as the hallways and a beautiful domed ceiling that was painted to resemble a thunder-storming sky. If you had just come inside and were facing it with your back to the front doors, you could see the hallway of the second story that passed through the foyer with two staircases of the same white marble as the floor sweeping down on either side. Under the gap between the stair cases was a short hallway and another set of large oak doors. The final cozy touch was added to the room by a few potted trees interspersed throughout the room, obviously carefully tended.
Severus was facing the stairs as though he'd just come home, watching Harry’s gob-smacked gaze graze over the room, and fought to suppress a chuckle. He's jaw would get sore from hanging open like that if he kept slack like that the entire tour; though he had to admit it was rather amusing to watch such wonderment spread over the teen's face. He stayed quiet for a few minutes, allowing Harry to poke around before he pointed to the doors through the gap in the stairs. "The ballroom's just through there if you'd like to have a look," he said a small smile playing on his lips.
Harry obviously hadn't seen any of this part of the house, since he'd been asleep when Snape carried him in. The only things he'd seen was his own bedroom, the hallway outside, and the bathroom. He'd never been anywhere else in the manor. But he never would have expected any of this.. not in his wildest dreams.
He'd never even been around any thing remotely this.. expensive or tasteful. Or even in a place this.. cozy, there was no other way to describe it. He actually felt safe in these walls, if a bit lonely with how silent the whole house was. But he was used to being alone and in silence, so it wouldn't be too much of a difference. At least he would know Severus was under the same roof as him, and his bedroom was even right across the hall.
Harry looked towards the space between the elegant stairs. "A ballroom?" He'd never seen a ballroom before, he'd only heard of them while reading a trashy romance novel that he had managed to scrounge up from the trash bin where Aunt Petunia has tossed it out because it was missing it's cover. But.. "Why would you have a ballroom?" Snape didn't seem like he knew a lot of people.. He didn't want to say that though, it was probably a touchy subject. Severus looked like he enjoyed the lack of companionship. Then again, everyone needed *someone* sooner or later. If a man like Severus needed someone, then Harry sure did.
Harry wasn't as good at blocking his emotions from the world unless he really needed to and put some effort into it, but Snape was an expert. Although the raven haired boy had seen plenty of smiles and laugher pass those thin lips, and even his eyes had a certain spark at times, he doubted many other people got to see the same thing. Maybe Mr. Malfoy, since he was long time friends with Severus. But they didn't seem very close now. Harry felt really grateful that Severus would trust him with showing his emotions.
He knew that some people closed off in fear of getting hurt; he was one of them. Although he tended to put on a smile, deep down he always doubted himself. So that was just another thing that Snape and him had in common. It was almost odd for a man at least twice his age to have so much in common with him, but it was definitely nice to have that close companionship with someone else. Being able to understand, and be understood without much trouble was almost a dream come true.
"Seems out of context, doesn't it?" Severus mused, looking at the large wooden doors as though trying to commit them to memory. "This manor was built in the 1800's by some of my ancestors. They were Lords or dukes of some sort and nothing less, but a manor of the highest elegance and formal entertainment only would do. When the manor came to me I did a lot of remodeling. I felt no need to tear down the ballroom for some other purpose because I use so little space in the manor already. It's rather large, and it doesn't lead to anything else."
Severus led Harry forward under the stairs and pulled back the doors to reveal a room half the size of his library, with tall elaborate windows all along the opposite wall (all of which were heavily draped in white silk that sparkled slightly), and a polished Thyme wood dance floor from wall to wall. The walls seemed gray, but upon further examination, sparkled with silver paint and one massive chandelier whose crystals caught all the light from the windows and reflected it in rainbows across the room.
"I must admit it's a bit much for my tastes," Snape admitted, scanning the room, "but it's not a bad room and it could very well come in handy for any future occupants. For me it just seems a bit too formal... fake almost... like it's trying to make itself too important. The view’s nice though." And he was right, because outside the forest was visible for miles through the trees.
Harry stared at the room with wide eyes. The morning sunlight bouncing off the crystals made colorful lights dance around the room's walls. Harry smiled and stepped further into the room, trying to get a better view of the outside. It was definitely a beautiful sight. "This place must look beautiful when it's dark outside and only the moon casts light into this place." He could almost picture the moon's rays casting shadows over the forest, making it look dark and mysterious, yet the faint light pouring into the large room would be enhanced by the crystal chandelier. It would make far corners seem darker, yet the walls would be sparkling like the night sky.. definitely a beautiful image. Harry closed his mouth, blushing when he realized he had been talking out loud. He really had to stop that habit.
An amused smile found its way to Severus' lips as Harry walked around the room in awe of the view. "Yes it is," Severus replied to his comment, sweeping his gaze over the forest beyond. Like a fortress protecting his home, and least that's how he always though of it. He would be the first to tell you that he was a possessive man. "You can't appreciate it properly from this room though. When we go up to the observatory you'll see what I mean. "
Harry turned around, a faint blush still marring his cheeks, and walked back to join Severus by the entrance. Closing the door behind him, the older man led the way up the stairs towards the observatory. Harry frowned and sped up his pace, trying to match Snape's. Looking up at the pale profile, the small teen asked, "what exactly is an observatory?" while trying not to sound breathless as he tried to match his short steps with the man's larger ones.
"Exactly what the name says; a place to observe. More specifically to observe the stars, though from mine you also get a great view of the forest. You really should see it the first night it's clear; the view is unbelievable." After walking up to the fifth floor of the manor, Severus led Harry down another hallway much like all the others except this one had no windows at the end or along its side, only a small piece of rope hanging from the ceiling.
"Stand back a little," Severus warned Harry, as he pulled on the rope and a sturdy wooden ladder slid down from the ceiling. "It's just up here," Severus explained, climbing the ladder into the observatory. Once inside he turned around and offered Harry a hand getting off the ladder. Once they were both inside, Severus took a good look around. It was a bare circular room with thick white carpeting and instead of walls it was incased in a large glass dome offering a 360 degree view of the sky and surrounding forests.
"This is the highest point in the manor," Severus explained. In fact the room meant quite a lot to him, being above even the library in his list of favorites. It had been a sanctuary for him ever since childhood. This is where he'd hidden from his father in general, and also where he'd hidden and read the first books in his collection that he hadn't wanted his father to find; the first that were burned. The one night he'd been foolish enough to try to bring one of the books back to his room. That night that haunted Severus for so many years and to this day he still had the neurotic compulsion to check the locks himself before he went to bed. Even then there was a tiny feeling of uneasiness.
Severus shuddered slightly , his eyes darkening even further at the unpleasant memories. It was then he realized that Harry had stopped in his gaping and had turned to look at him curiously as though he was thinking of whether or not to ask him what was wrong out loud.
Severus took in a breath to change the subject, slightly alarmed at that slip in emotions, something that hadn’t happened in years without his permission, but he stopped himself. Harry still had a lot of healing to do, and for a lot of that he'd need to trust Severus. How could Harry trust him if Severus was elusive? Friendly and elusive wouldn't solve anything. So instead, with a force of will, he managed to remain silent; letting Harry do as he wished.
Harry gaped at the circular room. He'd never seen anything so amazing! It frightened him a bit with its openness, but other then that, it was beautiful. He had never seen a room that was actually encased in glass. It definitely had an awesome view of the night sky and the forest. Harry had always loved looking up at the sky when he was forced to sleep outside; it was a huge comfort to him to watch the swirling grey clouds flow over the dark blue sky, the faint twinkling of stars seeming just out of reach, yet almost touchable.
Harry smiled and turned back to Severus to tell him what he thought. The smile quickly vanished at the look on the other man's face. He'd never seen him look so depressed and almost.. scared? Harry took a step closer to the somber man, wondering if he should ask what was wrong, when suddenly Severus seemed to blink out of whatever memory he had been caught up in, and the dark gaze turned to meet his. Harry opened his mouth to ask what was wrong, but closed it instead. It wasn't any of his business, and he was pretty sure that Snape wouldn't want to be telling his life story to anyone anytime soon. Harry only wanted Severus to tell him things about his past when he felt like he needed to or wanted to, not leave it up to Harry to ask. Although the young man had asked him several questions, he'd never asked any real direct questions about his professor's past. He had a feeling it was similar to his, since Severus understood him so well and knew the signs of neglect and abuse.
Harry erased the small space between them, and wrapped his good arm around the man's chest (he wished he could use both of them to give Severus a proper comforting hug..). Turning his head to the side so his cheek pressed against the firm chest, Harry tightened his grip the best he could with only one arm.
He whispered quietly, "we all have bad memories, some more than others. It's okay if you don't share them with others. I don't want you to just share your past with me simply because of my own childhood. Just because I hav-had a bad home life, doesn't mean that I have to hear every life story that is similar to mine." Harry paused and took a deep breath, wondering if he should continue.
Tightening his grip, he plowed ahead, not really thinking about what he was saying, just going on instinct. "I'd like to know about your past, but if you don't wanna share it, then don't. I understand that, hel-heck, I can relate to it." Harry smiled sadly. Rubbing his cheek against Severus' smooth black shirt, he continued, "but please.. don't just tell me because you think it will make us closer, tell me because you want to, just for the sake of telling someone else that can understand or try to understand. Not for the sake of making me trust you. I do trust you, but I doubt myself so much that it's hard to understand exactly why you seem to like me and care about me. But I do trust you."
Harry sighed, and stepped back slightly to look down at the carpeted floor. He hoped that this would make Severus easier around him, stop him from being so tense and forcing himself to talk about his past simply because he thought it would make Harry trust him. The teen wasn't that stupid, he had figured out what Snape was doing after awhile. Not many people talked about their past, especially if it was bad, and the older man definitely did not look like the type that would. Harry didn't want him to force himself to do anything.
Sighing, the raven haired boy looked up into Severus' face; he hoped he hadn't over stepped anything. Harry wasn't good with words when it came to speaking out loud. He always came out too emotional or he didn't make sense. His old friend had even told him that. He just wasn't good when it came to talking. It wasn't that bad though, he made up for it with his poetry.
Harry sighed and looked up at the night sky. The room was completely silent, he knew he had over stepped the line. The professor would probably just send him back to his room now or.. send him back. Harry muffled a sniff in his sleeve, trying not to call attention to himself as Severus looked deep in thought. He wouldn't start crying now, there was nothing to cry over. Of course Snape wouldn't just boot him out of the house. He may ignore Harry for a few days until he got his personal shields back up, but that wasn't too bad. Although Harry would miss the closeness that had been building between them since day one.
Harry sighed. He should have just kept his mouth shut.. when had it ever done him any good to talk? Vernon had certainly taught him that lesson well enough. It was too bad that he had forgotten it. But all he had wanted to do was comfort Severus.. he didn't like seeing pain in those dark eyes. He wanted to see the man smile again, laugh again, the deep throated laughter that made his stomach flip in an almost pleasent sensation. He just wanted to see Severus happy.. that wasn't too much to ask for, was it?
Shocked silent and still at Harry's actions and words, Severus was only able to watch like an outsider looking in as the small teen attempted to comfort him. It should have been unsettling how he almost seemed to be reading Severus' every thought, but... instead it was comforting. It was the most open thing Harry had ever done, and on some level he felt that drive to help someone who had a past like his shatter and blow away. This wasn't quite about a rescue mission anymore; it was a little more personal. Even more shocking to Severus was that a man nearly two decades his junior was so insightful... Severus was just...blown away. It was an amazing shift of perspectives, like seeing Harry more as a young adult than an abused teenager.
It was a minute or two before the shock wore off enough for Severus to remember exactly where he was. Looking over at Harry, he found him fighting back tears and staring hard at the floor. Despite the doubt the teen must have been feeling at his actions at that moment, no one in their right mind could deny they were both compassionate and brave, even if Harry didn't realize it yet.
"Harry..." Severus murmured, placing a gentle hand on the teen's shoulder to gain his attention. Harry slowly lifted his head and watery emerald eyes met black-brown. With a small smile, Severus stepped forward and embraced Harry gently so as not to hurt his arm. "Thank you." he said softly, before stepping back to look at Harry again.
The minutes continued to tick by for Harry as he stared hard at the floor, trying not to just burst out crying. He'd had enough of that these past few days. Snape didn't need to see anymore of his tears.
A large hand on his shoulder pulled him from his self-degrading thoughts. Looking up, Harry sniffed again and blinked sharply, trying to rid himself of his watery vision. His eyes widened in surprise when Severus pulled him into his arms and actually said 'thank you'. He'd never had someone thank him before..
The large man pulled back, his hands still remaining on Harry's shoulders as he looked down at him. The young man frowned and asked, "you're not mad?" Surely Snape would have been mad at having his personal life laid out and brought into the open like that?
"No, I'm not mad," Snape said calmly, "You were very observant just then, and it means a lot to me to know that you trust me. I trust you too." Snape looked calmly down at Harry, for once in his life at a loss for what to say. After a few moments he just nodded and said, "thank you," again.
Harry smiled brightly. "I'm glad," he said simply, and pulled Severus into another half-hug (well, on his part due to his arm). He *was* really glad that Snape trusted him. He knew that showing Harry his scar had cost a lot of trust, but Harry still knew it was because Severus felt that he had to show him things from his own past in order for the younger man to trust him. So he had just wanted to tell him that he no longer had to do that. If he wanted to share something with him, then he was all ears. But he didn't want Snape talking to him about his past simply because he thought Harry should know so Harry himself would open up more.
The young man didn't think that he would just spill out his whole life story to the older man, but he knew that he would let bits and pieces slip every now and then, let Severus piece it together; he was smart enough to. If Snape wanted to do that, then he was fine with it. If he wanted to spill his whole life story in one setting to get it over with, that was okay. If he didn't want to talk about it at all, that was fine too. Harry would accept whatever he was given.
Harry sighed and pulled back, tentatively putting his smaller hand into Snape's. He looked up and smiled shyly. "Where are we going next?"
A small smile found it's way to Severus' features; he hadn't met someone so understanding since he met Lucius, and that was saying something. "The dining room and the kitchens are next, though we may only get a glimpse of the kitchens because Jessica is very possessive of them." His smile widened a little, "she's a brilliant cook, just don't get in her way when she's cooking."
He led Harry back down the stairs, into the hallway above the foyer, and turned left. About 30 yards down, there were two large cherry wood doors which Severus pulled open to reveal a large rectangular room with a table of dark walnut to fit it, a large fireplace on the opposite wall, two large windows on either side of the fireplace, a carpet in burgundy to match the drapes, cream colored walls covered in paintings of nature at night or just the stars, a small white door in the far right hand corner of the room that obviously led to the kitchen, and a ceiling painted to look like the canopy of a forest. Overall, the room had a warm, rich, homey feel to it; perfect for meal times.
Leading Harry inside, Severus watched him look around while silently reviewing the events upstairs in his mind. For all his musings he came to one conclusion: he was going to enjoy getting to know Harry more, quite a lot.
Harry walked around the room slowly, admiring the various paintings. He wished he was able to capture these kinds of landscapes. He loved looking at these kinds of pictures, he always found them really relaxing. Turning back around, he scanned the room again. He had definitely never pictured this as a dining room for a mansion. He'd pictured shiny hard wood floors that echoed eerily when you walked, a large room that made you feel even lonelier when you ate by yourself at the head of the table, and an incredibly long table that would make the other person on the end barely visible. But Snape himself had said he'd made some adjustments to the manor, so obviously making it cozier was one of them. Considering he lived on his own, Harry could understand that. He wouldn't want to be in large rooms that just reminded you of how lonely you truly were.
Harry sighed, looking at the kitchen door. He was obviously going to have to figure out the times that Jessica was in there so he wouldn't run into her. Once Harry was better, Severus and him were obviously going to go back to school. He usually ended up getting midnight snacks when he woke up from a nightmare and couldn't get back to sleep, so maybe Jessica would be asleep with the rest of the staff?
Harry looked back towards Severus and tilted his head. "Does she have people to help her?" If Severus was the only one living here that would be served, it seemed odd that she would need help to make one meal. Although she must make the rest of the staff's food too.. if she had help it would make it harder to sneak down here. Harry didn't want anyone to know that he woke up frequently at night because of nightmares.
"No, she's a very efficient cook," Severus said, studying Harry for a moment. He looked almost nervous. "I didn't mean to frighten you against her with that warning; she really is the most charming woman. She just likes to be left alone when she's cooking, much like I'm sure you like to be left alone when reading a really good part of your favorite book. I don't think she would've started lunch yet, so we should be just fine."
Leading Harry forward through the white door they found Jessica, a blue eyed, auburn haired woman, just closing a book with the bookmark halfway through. She sat at a simple table of ash wood. The kitchen around her was one of the few rooms without rugs. Instead it had a warm brick floor, cherry wood cabinets and drawers and light gray marble countertops. There was one door in the far left hand corner for the pantry, and a silver door opposite that for the freezer. The oven was a large brick oven in the center of the back wall with a crisp fire already burning. "Good book Jess?" Severus inquired in his usual tone.
Jessica looked up from the table and grinned devilishly at Severus. "I hate you. I was up until two in the morning reading this."
Raising a questioning eyebrow in her direction Severus replied, "it's not my fault if you can't control yourself in reading a book."
Jessica, unlike most people, seemed undeterred by this while not hostile, somewhat aloof manner and just smiled ruefully and shook her head. Standing, she put the book in the pocket of her apron and stood before them. "Is there something I can get for you then?"
"No, I'm just showing Harry around the manor."
Jessica looked over at Harry and smiled slightly, “No, I don't suppose it would do to have him getting lost now would it? Well I hope you enjoy your stay here Harry; if you ever need anything just call. Don't let Severus scare you off, I'm not that bad when I cook."
"The food? No. The demeanor? I've seen pregnant woman with more stable attitudes."
Jessica laughed ruefully again, "yeah, okay. So I get a little defensive."
"A little?" Severus inquired, but Jess just laughed again and turned to Harry, "So how do you like the manor so far Harry?"
"I-it's re-really nice." He felt his cheeks heat up as he started stuttering again. It wasn't that Jessica was a bad person or anything, she actually seemed really nice, but people always made Harry nervous, well, with the exception of Severus, and it was always his first reaction to distrust them until he got to know them better. But he tended to stay away from new people, so that wasn't likely to happen anytime soon.
And once he did calm down around them and stop stuttering, they would always question him about why he stuttered and then they would get angry, saying that he was lying to them the whole time because they thought he had a real problem with stuttering that was unfixable. It had happened to him with his earlier friends, including Ron, who he had thought wouldn't have reacted so big. So after that, he'd just kept stuttering even when he wasn't all that nervous. The first time he had stopped stuttering with Severus, he had had a strong hunch that Snape wouldn't think his stuttering was fake, think that it was just him lying to people. That it really was a nervous habit around people in general. He had been correct in that hunch, Snape hadn't even commented when he'd stopped stuttering.
Harry sighed and focused on his feet, another nervous habit; never looking people in the eye. He'd learned that bullies hated that. So did most people for that matter. Jessica would probably end up thinking his stuttering was some kind of disability or something, and he was fine with that. She could go on believing it like everyone else had, and did. He wasn't going to correct her.
If Harry stopped to think about it, which he often did with all the time he had on his hands and the amount of times he just spaced off to think, it was a defense mechanism. He subconsciously knew that most people got tired of people who stuttered and would eventually just give up. That's why he had been surprised when Ron had become his friend, but as soon as he stopped stuttering and became more comfortable around the red head, Ron had left him. So Harry didn't bother to stop, he even did it when he was comfortable with the person, which wasn't often since he didn't feel comfortable around anyone. Then there was Severus.. he'd felt safe and comfortable around him from the first day. It was weird, but Harry figured that Snape and him shared so many things in common that he would naturally feel more comfortable around the older man.
Harry shook his head slightly, trying to dislodge his thoughts so he could actually pay attention to the other people in the room.
Jess smiled warmly at Harry and said, "good, I hope you'll be comfortable here." She looked like she was about to say something else when the clock chimed 11:00. "Ah, I'd better get started on the lunches then. It was nice meeting you Harry, make sure to check out the library if you haven't already." And with that parting statement, she promptly ushered them out the door.
Once back in the dining room, Severus stared indignantly at the door for a few moments as though daring it to do something out of the ordinary, then shook his head and muttered, "if I didn't know better, I'd think she thinks she owns the place." Severus had had Jessica on his staff for many years, and although he wasn't particularly close to her, he felt they understood each other to an extent.
Turning back to Harry, he sighed briefly before tipping his head to the side and asking, "So would you like to see the gardens or the Library next? Other than more guest rooms and other rooms I really never use, that's all that's left."
Harry frowned thinking. If they went to the library last, then he could grab a book from there since he had finished the book that Severus had given him. Besides, he really wanted to see the gardens. He loved reading outside, so he'd obviously need to know where the best location would be.
"Lets go to the gardens. I'd really like to know of a good place to read outside." Harry said, smiling, his stutter completely gone now that he and Severus were alone. He also wanted to see Snape's bedroom, but he figured that it must be pretty private and would mean a lot to the older man, so he would only enter if Severus asked him to or if it was an emergency of some sort.
"Alright, follow me then," Severus replied, leading Harry out of the dining room on the third floor back down to the hallway that passed through the foyer and this time to the right. They walked down a few hallways before they came to a large door engraved with a beautiful garden scene. Pushing through that, Severus lead Harry into a corkscrew fieldstone stair case much like you would expect to find in a castle tower. There were no lights, but a handrail bolted into the side wall all the way down as a guide. Glancing over his shoulder, he noticed Harry shivering slightly in the dank atmosphere despite his sweater.
"This is part of the old secret passageway system that used to run though the manor," he explained, "I made good use of them when I was little and my father had the ones he could find destroyed. There are a few small hallways and alcoves still left along with this staircase, but the only real remaining section runs from the wall behind my desk to the fireplace in the dining room." Severus paused a moment before continuing, "I'm sorry about the chill, it's because this is the oldest part of the manor; but there should be some coats at the bottom of the stairs."
Harry wrapped his arm around himself, resisting the urge to snuggle into Severus' side where he knew it would be warm. Looking at Snape from where he had been watching the stairs to make sure he didn't fall and end up with even more injuries, he waved off his apology, "it's okay. It's not you're fault that I get cold easily." Shivering all the while, he tightened his half hug, but it still wasn't doing much good.
They finally reached the bottom of the stairs, where a large arched door obviously led to the garden. A tall rack held several coats, all of them various sizes and only ranging from black to gray, although one of them stood out with it's startling pure white colour. Severus grabbed the smallest one for him (the white one he had spotted earlier). Maybe he had worn it as a child, and he'd just upgraded until the largest coat hung there? The older man helped him into the coat, which, while it was small, still hung to his knees and his hands were half way inside the sleeves. Harry wrapped his arm around himself, at least it was warm.
An amused smile played over Severus' features as he turned to get his own black coat. Once he had it over his shoulders, Severus turned and opened the medieval style arch door to reveal a stone path with a white and red rose vine bushes forming over the arch. The closed in archway lasted for about fifty meters before opening up into a small lot that didn't look like the traditional garden at all. Instead it looked like an organized forest of maple, oak, birch, and willow trees with white and red rose bushes interspersed throughout, various archways made completely of vines of various flowers, wild flowers here and there, and a stone walkway all throughout lined with what would in spring be black daisies. Severus led Harry to a small stone well under a pavilion that was wrapped in wild grapevines.
"It's not much now except for the roses, but when spring comes there will be wildflowers all over the place and rich white lilac bushes in bloom." Leaning against the well, Severus closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, smiling slightly at the hint of roses on the crisp fall air.
"Oh," he said, suddenly remembering, "down the path a little bit further is the greenhouse, but it's nothing but herbs in there, no flowers."
Harry gaped. It was so beautiful! He wished he could stay out here forever! This would be the perfect place to read, very tranquil and mellow. He couldn't wait for spring if it really did look like Severus said. Though.. would he still be here?
Harry shook his head, not allowing himself to indulge in those kinds of thoughts. He looked over at Severus, eyes still closed while his nostrils flared slightly as he smelled the roses in the air. Harry smiled and pulled the coat closer to him. It was still cold out, chilly to anyone else's standards ('I can't wait till winter,' he thought sarcastically, 'it's probably going to be really, really cold to me'), and Harry kind of wanted to go inside now. But he didn't want to disturb the older man. He looked really relaxed with the way he was leaning against the gray stone well; calm and mellow looking.
Opening his eyes and pulling his coat tighter around himself, Severus glanced at Harry. He was obviously freezing, but he wasn't saying a word. He needed to stop being so polite and start voicing what was bothering him; but that would come with time. Frowning slightly at his shivering, Severus said, "we should probably go back inside now; I wouldn't want you catching a cold your first day out of bed. How do you feel by they way? Anything bothering you?" Severus lead the way back down the path and into the tower as he spoke.
Harry sighed in relief as he followed Severus. He was glad they hadn't spent any more time out there, he probably would have turned blue. Quickening his steps so he matched Snape's fast pace, Harry looked up at the man's profile. "Beside being really cold, I don't feel that bad. I do feel kind of tired though. I don't want to take a nap now or I'll end up staying up tonight." It wasn't like he actually *wanted* to go to sleep, but the nightmares would be inevitable. Sometimes he got lucky and he didn't have any, like those two times he slept in Severus' presence, but other than those times, he usually ended up waking in the middle of the night.
Snape pulled open the large doors and lead Harry inside the chilly room. Harry stood on tip toe to put his coat back on the rack, somewhat embarrassed when Severus stood over him to put his own coat higher up the rack. The man's warm presence at his back made him somewhat nervous, but also caused a weird twisting sensation in his stomach. Maybe he was hungry after all.
Severus backed up and Harry followed him up the long flight of stairs. Trying to control the blush that had crept into his face for some reason. He could just blame it on the cold if Severus asked. Though he personally didn't really know why he would be blushing, even if he did happen to do it a lot. Usually it was caused by *something.* Harry sighed, and continued to climb the large steps. 'I really hate being this short, it's a bitch to get up steps that are spaced far apart,' he thought, all the while huffing and puffing quietly.
"That's good. The library's the last stop, like I said before, so you'll have a chance to rest there. I've asked Dobby to set up lunch for us in front of the fireplace there," Severus said, as they climbed the stairs; a small smile creeping onto his lips. He knew they both loved books and he was really looking forward to Harry's reaction to the library; another bookworm being so rare these days and all.
Once they were back in the hallways again, Severus made an effort to slow his pace, mindful of not wanting to wear Harry out; the last thing he needed was a relapse. He quietly led him up to the third floor hallway in the east wing. About halfway down the hall there were two very large red oak doors intricately carved with various scenes from classic novels and other such stories. Grinning over his shoulder at Harry for a moment, Severus pushed the doors back and stepped aside so Harry could see.
The library was indeed three stories tall and so wide it must have taken up almost half the wing. It was crammed with rows and rows of books with shelves so high they had sliding ladders hooked onto them in case you wanted a book on one of the top shelves. The walls themselves were bookshelves, top to bottom with the same sliding ladders at various intervals. If one could get past the massive array of books, one might also notice the plush hunter green carpeting with vines running in a diamond pattern all over it and the ceiling where a massive collage was painted that was obviously based on some fantasy slash novel. You could guess bits of the story it portrayed and just nearly piece it together. All the collage images faded into each other, and at the very center was a brown haired gray eyed swordsman and a blond blue eyed archer back to back, both ready for adventure.
Far on the right hand wall, though not visible over the bookshelves, was a good sized fireplace, a coffee table and two chairs with their lunch ready and waiting just as Severus had asked.
Harry frowned in confusion when Severus grinned back at him. It was obvious he was anxious and excited to show off his collection. Harry smiled and picked up his pace so he was right behind Snape when he pulled open the door.
Stepping inside, his head still tilted towards the ground, the older man quickly following him and coming to his side (Harry suspected it was because he wanted to see his expression), Harry looked up and gasped.
He had never seen so many books in his life! Jaw slack, he walked in further, swinging his head around to look at the huge room. Surely this wasn't real? How could Severus get all these books?
Harry smiled brightly, his eyes still wide in surprise he walked up to one of the many, many, bookshelves and pulled out a random novel. Skimming the back, he smiled wider when he found that it was exactly the type of book he'd always wanted to read, but had never been able to get his hands on. The slash books in the library obviously took up at least half of the material here, if not more, since Severus himself said he loved to read those types of books.
Harry put the novel back and continued to look around. When he looked up to see how high the selves really were, he gasped at the collage on the ceiling. He'd never seen a painting on a ceiling before. Standing in the center of the library, Harry stood there; his head tilted back, raven locks sweeping to brush the top of his shoulder blades, and his eyes wide as he studied the beautiful scene. That must have been from one of the books that Severus had read.
Harry smiled and looked back down, still taking in the vast amounts of books in *one* place. Finally, he broke his gaze away from the beautiful image of thousands of books, and fixed his bright emerald eyes on the older man watching him intently. Striding over to him, he wrapped his arm around his waist, hugging Severus tightly, he looked up at his down turned face. "Thank you!" He exclaimed, smiling.
He had his suspicions that Severus hadn't been allowed to read these kinds of novels all that much when he was younger, so obviously when he grew up, he would hold his books close to his heart. Harry was just glad that Severus had decided to share this wonderful gift with him.
At the present moment: his arms around Snape's waist, smiling up at him, surrounded by thousands, if not millions of books, he had to have been the happiest teenager alive. And it was all thanks to Severus. He would have no more abuse in his life (except for at school, though with how he was being treated now, he would probably be able to take care of himself), all his injuries would heal perfectly, he would have no more new scars to add to his collection, he would sleep in his own bed every night, he would never be starved, he had a new friend, and he had thousands of books lined up for him to read. Who wouldn't be happy after having their one hope and dream finally come true? Yes, Harry was definitely the happiest teenager alive.
Severus smiled as he watched Harry take in the library; utterly gob-smacked. After years of all but hoarding his collection, a nervous habit he'd begun in childhood, it was really nice to be able to show his collection to someone with similar interests. It made it more special that he could share it with someone. He was a little surprised when Harry turned around and hugged him, but he returned it gently, grinning at the teens kid-in-a-candy-store expression. "You're welcome," he said quietly into Harry's ear as they embraced. It was ironic how he'd set out to help Harry and Harry had given him companionship he hadn't even realized he'd missed.
"Feel free to take any number of books you want at any time." After a few more moments in the embrace, Severus pulled back slightly to smile down at Harry. "I'm sure you want to explore, but I think you'd better eat something first," Severus said, fighting not to chuckle when he heard Harry's stomach growl.
Harry shivered at the quiet voice breathed over his ear as they embraced. He smiled and looked up when Severus pulled back slightly.
Of course he wanted to explore! His own stomach interrupting that train of thought, Harry grinned and rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment.
Severus gave a small smile down at him and gently guided him along to the far right hand wall where their lunch was set up, his hand gently pressed against the small of Harry's back until the raven haired teen sat down on the large, comfy black chair. Harry sighed, a smile on his lips, as he wiggled into a more comfortable position, socked feet placed up near his butt as he leaned on the sofa arm, left arm placed on the arm rest. He sighed when he felt his lids drop. Stifling a yawn, he was surprised at how tired he was. But he would probably sleep better if he actually had lunch.
Severus picked up one bowl of stir fry and chopsticks and as he was handing them to Harry he noticed his tired, but happy, expression. "You might want to take a nap after lunch Harry. Like I said, it's not good to overdo things." Severus commented as he picked up his own bowl and chopsticks and settled into the chair across from Harry, folding one leg under him and manipulating the chopsticks with practiced expertise.
Looking up at Harry he saw him struggling a little with the chopstick and felt another smile play over his lips. It felt so good to see him happy. As Severus had originally guessed, it suited him much more than all the sadness and pain that had first marred his features. When he was happy, like now, he glowed with energy. Placing his bowl down on the coffee table Severus tipped his head to one side and asked, "Would you like some help with that, Harry?"
Harry chuckled and nodded. He'd never been allowed to eat with a fork or any other utensil, but it was pretty easy to spear things with a fork, or to figure out the logics of the other utensils. Now chopsticks.. well, that was a bit different, considering you had to try to pick something up with two sticks…
Smiling, Severus walked up and crouched beside Harry's chair, positioning his hand over the one Harry was using to hold the chopsticks. "It takes a little while to learn how to control them right. It's best to just start by stabbing stuff that's big enough to stab and using them as a shovel; the rest comes on it's own," Severus explained, rearranging Harry's hand so that he gripped the chopsticks properly. "There, now just try to get them under the rice a little," Severus said moving Harry's hand so that he was able to scoop up some stir fry. "Then you just hold the stick steady until they're in your mouth," Severus finished guiding the small mouthful of food to Harry's lips. Once Harry had eaten that mouthful Severus let his hand fall to rest lightly on Harry's upper arm. "Does that help?"
Harry felt his cheeks heat up when Severus placed his hand on Harry's to show him the proper way to hold the chopsticks. The larger hand was incredibly warm compared to Harry's own. His was so cold that the veins stood out in stark contrast to the pale skin, and it definitely had a blue tinge.
His blush deepened when Severus helped him guide the mouthful into his mouth. Why was he reacting like this? Maybe the other man's heat was too much, and it ended up making Harry hot? The older man rested a hand on his bicep, and Harry smiled slightly. "I think I'd rather be using a fork." He chuckled nervously. He didn't want to make a fool of himself by not being able to do it properly after Snape had just showed him. He also didn't want it to fall to the plate while he was bringing it to his lips, that would look real mature.
Harry sighed. God.. he really had to stop thinking like that. It wasn't his fault that he was so new to everything Severus had showed him today. Maybe he was just on overload or something; too much in one day, or over the course of a week actually. He'd never had someone to care about him, so that was the first of firsts. And the rest just kept piling up. At least it wasn't *unpleasant* firsts. Although he couldn't imagine anything more unpleasant then everything the Dursley's had put him through. Of course, he could have ended up being molested by Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia, hell, even Dudley could have done it, but luckily, that had never happened to him. It was bad enough he had to go through all those beatings.
Harry shook his head slightly. No.. stop thinking about it. He was safe now, protected. And he would never be hurt again, physically anyway. The raven haired teen sighed. He really wished he could just shut off his brain sometimes. His worst enemy would always be himself, no matter who came along.
Noticing Harry's discomfort, Severus patted his arm lightly in understanding and retrieved a fork from the coffee table. "Don't be too embarrassed; it took me a while of fumbling around to get this right. If you every feel the impulse to learn, I could teach you." Scanning Harry's face one last time as he handed him the fork, Severus noted something deeper than simple embarrassment riding just below the surface, but decided not to push it. If he wanted to share his problems, Severus was all ears and he knew it.
Sliding around the coffee table again, Severus took his bowl and nestled back in his chair with one leg folded under him, eating with a relish. Worrying, something he'd been doing almost nonstop this past week, had depleted his appetite and now that things had settled down at last it had finally returned. Pausing to sip his tea, he noted he really appreciated a little peace after those tense days of stress. Setting his tea cup down and turning to Harry, he tilted his head to one side and asked, "so what other things do you like to read besides poetry?"
Harry accepted the fork gratefully, glad that he didn't have to try wrestling with the chopsticks. He didn't think he'd be trying to use them any time soon. Not until he was used to the routine of this place and he didn't feel so overwhelmed.
Harry frowned and tilted his head to the side, thinking. He loved to read novels, specifically slash, and he knew his professor did too. But he wasn't sure if he should just bring that up.. Harry sighed and decided to speak the truth, what harm could it do? "I like reading slash novels, well written romance books, be it het or homosexual. And supernatural books are pretty neat too. I like reading about vampires, angels, that sort of thing. I forget the title now, but I read a really good story about an elf and a man that got together even though their races were completely different and hated each other. The last book I read, besides the one you gave me, was some badly written romance smut that I got from my aunt Petunia." Well, stole from the trash, but it was the same thing. He had just wanted something to read, it didn't matter that it was poorly written. He needed something to escape to, besides his writing. His writing would have just depressed him further.
"What about you? You seem to read a lot." He smiled and motioned towards the books. Now that he was staying here, he hoped to read all the books in the library. To share them with someone would be really nice. Severus seemed like he would have an excellent memory, he would probably be able to remember the very first book he read and who it was written by. Harry wished he could do that, but he was only good at remembering the picture on the cover and then after seeing it he would be able to recall vaguely what the novel was about.
Harry finished the last of his meal and put it back on the table. Leaning back into the chair, he snuggled into the warm mound, watching Severus for his answer.
Severus nodded as the young teen spoke, listening intently, and a small smile formed over his lips. It was nice to see they had very similar interests in reading, though from what Severus knew of Harry he hardly doubted it would turn out any other way. It was good to know they could attack the library together during their time here; however long that turned out to be. "Hmm Yes. Romance smut novels do have their place, though not always for the most intellectual purposes," Severus mused aloud. As he was taking another sip of his tea, some of the cream colored liquid spilled over the rim and down his chin. His tongue darted out to catch what he could and a quickly retrieved napkin took care of the rest of the evidence of the small slip. "Sorry," Severus said wiping his jaw lightly; a reaction of years of training in manners.
Chuckling about Harry's comments on his reading habits, Severus looked around his library and murmured, "Oh just a little." Grinning at Harry he continued, "I like the same things you do really. I mostly just read slash now because they can come in many varieties like comedies, tragedies, and dramas." Pausing, Severus pointed up at the ceiling mural, "that is from the first slash series I ever read by Lynn Flewelling. It was called the "Nightrunner" series with three books: Luck In The Shadows, Stalking Darkness, and Traitors Moon. It's a fantasy series mainly, but the slash is excellent as well." Looking back at Harry he asked, "Do you have a favorite book?"
Harry fought down the giggle when the cream (he didn't want to think about what it resembled..) trickled down Severus' chin and the quick grab for the napkin. Good manners, indeed. Harry grinned. Who'd have thought that the great and meticulous professor Snape would ever spill something?
He had been right too. Severus did remember the very first book he read, even the author. It would definitely be neat to talk to him about all the books he was going to read in the library.
"I don't really read enough to have a favorite." He looked down, closing his mouth before he could continue with, 'I'm not allowed to.' "But I really liked the book you lent me, so that has to be my favorite so far." Harry grinned. It was a lot better than reading those trashy cliché romance things that Petunia called a novel. "I also don't remember book titles or authors of the books that I do read, but I do remember the picture on the cover. So when I see it I'll be able to remember vague things about the novel. My selective memory doesn't really help me when it comes to school though." Harry grinned sheepishly. 'Though it lets me remember thing that I don't want to remember.' Harry thought to himself, frowning as he looked down at his lap.
Severus saw Harry‘s mood brighten and then dampen, and frowned slightly to himself. It was never good to dwell on bad memories; all that ever did was drive one crazy. Severus would know. Talking sometimes helped you get to the point where; if the memory reared it‘s ugly head, you could acknowledge it and let it go. Whatever horrible things that had happened to the dark haired teen, Severus hoped he would be able to put them behind him while Harry was under his roof.
“Hmm.. I don’t think you need to worry about that. It’s a problem I face as well. I might have an excellent long term memory, but I have a very bad short term memory. Besides, you can’t be so bad, or you never would’ve made it to twelfth grade. Not to mention you do have a talent for poetry. Do you plan on trying to get published some day?”
Harry had never thought of that. A bad short term memory would mean that Severus would have done bad at tests, unless he knew and completely understood the work. Just goes to show that Snape was human too and had other flaws besides his scar.
Harry looked up at the compliment, blushing. His eyes widened at the question. Him, published? He was good (even his low self-esteem had to admit that), but he wasn't *that* good. Not good enough to get published anyway. Harry frowned and tilted his head down to the right slightly. He'd thought about it occasionally, but poetry was more of a release for him than anything else. Harry sighed and looked back up to meet Severus' intense gaze. A weird fluttering in his stomach made him pause momentarily in confusion.
Shaking his head, he answered honestly, "I've thought about it occasionally, but poetry is more of a.. release, I guess you would say." Frowning, he continued, "I know I'm a bit above average, but I don't think I'm good enough to get published. Besides, I would need to write a lot more poems before I could fill up a book." Harry sighed. "Do you write poetry at all?" He wanted to take the subject off of him. Though he was interested if Severus wrote poetry. He'd love to read some if the older man would be willing to share.
Severus nodded occasionally as Harry spoke; listening intently. “I don’t know about that. The more you write the more you improve. I think you could be published if you wanted to.” Pausing to lift one eyebrow towards his hairline, a smirk tugged at the edge of Severus’ lips and he continued, “oh, I don’t know. That notebook of yours seemed pretty full.” Seeing distress cross over Harry’s features. Severus held up his hand and spoke before the teen could. “I didn’t read it. It fell when Neville handed it to me, and as I picked it up I saw writing crammed on the back inside cover.”
Harry relaxed a little after that, but was still kind of tense so Severus decided to take the change of subject. “Yes I’ve been writing almost as long as you have. Poetry at first and then short stories. I still write poetry, but only to vent emotions every so often. Most of the time I work on a novel I’m writing,” he said calmly, sitting back in his chair, regarding Harry with a small smile.
He knew Severus would never read his journal. But.. not all of it was poetry, it was kind of half in half between journal entries plainly discussing his feelings over a particular subject, and then there were a few pages where he would just break off into poem. But it was so crammed because he wasn't able to get another book. It wasn't like he had any money at all. And like he had already previously thought, he couldn't just go stealing a notebook from Severus' class when students weren't allowed to have a notebook except for class work. The school kept stock of their books, so it would be on Snape's shoulders if one were to go missing. Harry couldn't do that to the man. He'd just have to keep finding scraps of paper, or finding small margins that he still hadn't filled in.
But he had been worried that Snape might have glanced at the open journal, due to curiosity sake. It was kind of hard not to glimpse *some* words when they were lying right in front of you.
Harry sighed and sifted in the chair so that he was snuggled into a corner, with his long legs dangling off the opposite arm. He looked over at Snape, frowning in curiosity. "If you don't mind me asking, what are you writing about?"
"Well with my poetry, it's mostly just emotion and sometimes they're put in the form of stories. My novel, on the other hand, is a fantasy epic about a war between two countries. To make a long story short the 'evil' country is strict to their religion and makes everyone's life miserable. This religion also forbids gays.
"It starts with a well educated young man, Damion, who's just lost everything he had because he's been found out. Not only that, but the man he thought he loved has told him he never loved him and that he was deceived by forces of evil. It's basically about his journey to the 'good' country and helping them battle the 'bad' country with special forms of magic.
"That and Damion ending up together with his lover, Alastar, at some point through the book; he eventually sees the light and comes back to him," Severus explained, occasional making gestures with his hands to emphasize his point. He paused briefly before adding with a small smile, "Oh and there's this little subplot about vampires who help the 'good' country. I'm almost done really; I just need to figure out how Damion can forgive Alastar for leaving him and the rest should come easily."
Harry frowned thoughtfully. So he didn't just *read* gay novels, he also *wrote* them. Maybe he was gay? Or at least bi? Harry sighed. Then again, he could just be a very open minded straight person that just enjoyed reading and writing about gays.
"It sounds really interesting." Harry paused for a minute, thinking, before continuing on, "It depends on what Damion is like. If he's the forgiving type of person, then he'll realize that Alastar really didn't mean to leave him and that he does love him. But if he holds grudges, then Alastar could try to convince him that he loves him and will never hurt him again."
'If it was me,' Harry thought, sighing, 'I would accept him back. Not many people get the chance to have true love, so how stupid would I be if I let that chance go?'
"Thank you." Severus thought about Harry's words for a minute before saying, "Well it gets a little complicated there. You see, in the 'bad' country the nobility rule everything and they have very strict complicated customs that could make or break you. Damion can fake it with the best of them in that setting, but he's always hated it because it was like one big lie after another, and he's had few people he could trust in his life so he really doesn't take to betrayal well. Alastar isn't easy either, because he's a very proud man whose fighting every belief he's ever been taught and he's never been with a man before Damion.
"It's kind of like Pride and Prejudice, if you've ever read it; the both of them are too proud and prejudiced against each other to get to the truth of how they really feel about each other. The ultimate message of their love story is that they will always love each other, even if one or the other really doesn't deserve it."
Severus stopped there, thinking that part of the plot over again for what must have been the millionth time. Glancing down at Harry who also seemed to be mulling it over, a small smile came to his lips. He'd never really been able to talk to anyone about his work before; it was really nice to be able to bounce ideas of off another intelligent being.
Harry mused it over, frowning in concentration, his small pink tongue peeking out just the tiniest bit at the corner of his lips. Finally, he looked over to meet the intense gaze. "Do they have to end up together? Maybe they could just love each other from afar, both having feelings for the other, but ones too hurt to admit it, and the other is too proud. Unless you're going for a happy ending," Harry paused, looking down at the side, "then I don't do those well, and I couldn't be much help to you there."
"Why do you think I'm having so much trouble with that part of the book?" Severus mused, "I'm used to sad endings in my writings myself. But I figured a good ending was long overdue. They're rare, but sometimes, if you work hard enough at it, things do end happily."
With a small sigh, Severus continued, "I suppose something will reveal itself in time." Returning his gaze in Harry's direction he asked, "do you like to do anything else besides reading or writing?"
"It depends on the overall tone of the book. If it's angst and sad all the way through, then it'll be really hard to create a happy ending. But.." He shrugged, deciding not to continue with that line of thought since it was up to Severus whatever he decided to do.
Harry frowned at the question. He didn't really do *anything*. He was never allowed to. He knew he wasn't too good at sports since he was so frail, though he was good at short distance running (one had to be good at running if one's life depended on it..). He liked looking at drawings, but he couldn't draw. Harry sighed, deciding to just say what he had been thinking.
"I don't really know. I haven't done enough things to say that I like anything besides reading and writing." He paused, before adding, "but I've always wanted to watch movies at home.. except, well, I didn't really have one."
Harry frowned and looked down, sadness sweeping through him, making him sniffle before he closed his eyes tightly, determined not to cry over a stupid think like not having a home to watch movies in.. or do anything else besides cleaning.
Rising from his chair on the other side of the coffee table, Severus crossed over to Harry and knelt by his chair. Taking one of the teen's small hands in his, Severus looked up at him with concern and said softly, “you have a home here with me Harry. I know it's a little confusing with me being your teacher, but I'm also your friend. You have a home here for as long as you want, and I'd like to help you in any way I can. Whatever you've been through you don't deserve it; you deserve so much better." Stopping himself before he got too sentimental, Severus gently moved his thumb over Harry's hand, trying to offer him comfort. He hated seeing Harry in pain like this. He was such a smart young man and Severus had meant every word he'd said. He would never abandon Harry; not for anything. Severus was nothing if not loyal.
Harry sniffed and opened his large emerald eyes to stare down at the kneeling man. A single tear slipped his previously closed lids and trailed down his cheek. He let it fall down into his shirt, not being able to wipe it since his only good hand was being held between Severus' two larger ones. He blinked sharply, clearing his blurry vision.
Harry sighed and looked down at their joined hands. The large thumb stroking the back of his hand was surprisingly soothing. Looking back up into the concerned dark eyes, Harry smiled weakly. "Thank you. Thank you for everything.. I know sooner or later I'll probably have to move out," the small raven haired teen looked away from Severus' eyes, thinking; 'because sooner or later you'll grow tired of me and probably kick me out. You might do it nicely, but sooner or later..' Harry sighed and continued, "but thank you for giving me a home and for.. caring... when no one else would. Thanks." He whispered the last word, the quiet and very real sentiment, almost not making it past his parted lips before he gave a small smile at Severus.
Reaching up, Severus wiped away the tear track left on Harry's cheek, returning the small smile on Harry's face. 'Stubborn,' Severus thought to himself, 'he still doubts himself, I know it. No matter. I'll be there for him, and eventually he'll realize that I'm not going away.' "You're welcome," Severus said, softly squeezing Harry's hand. "And I meant what I said. You have a home here for as long as you want."
They both looked at each other in silence for a few minutes until a soft scuffling came from around the corner. A few moments after that, Remus and Padfoot stumbled around the corner, leaning against each other; their fur decidedly ruffled. Breaking eye contact with Harry to take in the two dogs, Severus snorted and shook his head at their appearance. "You two are absolutely shameless. Do you know that?" Padfoot simply looked arrogantly at Severus with another of his "And I should care why?" Looks, and if Remus wanted to hit him for it, he was too tired at the moment.
Following Severus' gaze, Harry gave a small giggle at the two dogs. "I guess even dogs get tired afterwards." The teen blushed when he realized what he had let slip.
The older man slowly stood up, a small smile on his face at the younger man's comment. Harry chuckled and followed the other's example. He stood up and wobbled a bit, feeling a bit dizzy from getting up to fast. Severus placed a hand on his shoulder, gripping tightly until Harry regained his balance. Smiling in thanks, he looked down at the two sated dogs. Bending slightly, Severus' hand still on his shoulder lightly, he patted the two dogs on the head before standing up straight.
Turning to look at Snape, he tilted his head slightly to the side in question. He wondered what they would do now.
After sending one last glare at Padfoot for good measure, Severus looked down at Harry and regarded him for a moment. "How are you feeling? None of your injuries are bothering you too much are they? If you're tired I think you should take a nap; you've been doing a lot today for someone who's supposed to be in bed."
He was feeling tired.. and he was starting to get another headache, but he didn't really want to go to sleep. Sleeping meant the possibilities of nightmares. Sure, sometimes they wouldn't come.. but.. Harry sighed. There was always the huge chance that they would come, but Harry couldn't resist sleep forever. At least he never really woke up screaming, he just woke up to a wet pillow and tears streaming down his face as he tried to catch his breath while he sobbed. Wasn't that bad really, Harry thought sarcastically.
"I guess I am a little tired," Harry said regretfully, looking down. God.. he really didn't want to go to sleep. It was worse if he took a nap, since the others in the house would be awake, and might be able to hear him if he sobbed to loudly while they passed by his room. But he had to sleep sometime. Can't be putting it off forever. Though he really wished he could...
Placing his index finger under his chin, Severus lifted Harry's face so that he would look him in the eyes. "Harry, is there something wrong?" He asked softly, concern showing plainly on his face. "You know you can talk to me about anything that's bothering you." It wasn't good to keep things bottled in, Severus knew that first hand, but he wasn't going to push anymore than that. Sometimes it's better to talk, and sometimes it's just better to enjoy good company and feel safe. He just wanted to help Harry any way he could.
Harry blinked hard, god, he really had to stop crying. Severus probably thought he was some snot nosed kid that cried at the drop of a hat. He sighed and looked up into the older man's dark eyes, trying to decide if he should tell the truth. What could go wrong? Maybe if he told Severus, then he would just ignore him when he did start sobbing, because he knew he was just dreaming. Or maybe he'd think Harry was immature and a child.
Harry sighed and looked down towards his right, not looking Severus' in the eye. He didn't want to see Severus' disgust at knowing how childish he really was. "I.. I have nightmares a lot of the time. Makes it hard to sleep." He lifted his good shoulder in a half ass shrug, trying to look nonchalant. "I'll be fine though. I don't always get them, so I'll be fine." Yeah, I'll be fine. Harry sighed softly, continuing to blink hard. He would *not* cry *again*!
'He's got so many demons,' thought Severus, studying Harry as he mentally sank in against himself. 'Not so different from you, eh?' came that cynical self loathing voice in his head, but he shook it off. Severus slipped an arm around Harry's shoulders and pulled him in for a gentle hug. He decided being alone was not the best thing for Harry right now, nor would it be for a while. He needed the reassurance that he was safe and wanted here, and definitely not worthless.
"I have trouble sleeping myself sometimes," he confided not for any other reason then he felt comfortable sharing it with the young man. "Old demons die hard, but you don't have to fight them alone."
He pulled back after a few minutes in the silent embrace and studied Harry's still slightly sad face. "If you think you're up to it, I would very much enjoy your company for the afternoon. You said you liked watching movies, right?" At Harry's slow nod, Severus continued, "Well I have a fair collection in my sitting room if you'd like to join me. I think we both need a little rest from exploring the manor; it's a bit of a hike all around here."
Harry grinned weakly, and tried not to sigh in relief when he found out he wouldn't be going to sleep just yet. It was also nice to know that he shared something else with Severus, even if it was a depressing thing like demons and trouble sleeping. It was still *something* he could share with someone else. Besides, he never seemed to become as depressed when he was around Severus. Maybe it was just because the older man didn't let him fall into those kinds of thoughts. Or maybe it was because Severus put a stop to them before they could really start, just his presence seemed to help..
Harry sighed and shivered. He was still feeling cold, even with the heat of the manor around him. Slipping an arm tentatively around Severus' waist, he tried to feed off the heat that radiated from the taller man's very being. "Sure… I would like that. I didn't really say that I liked watching movies.. I've just never seen one before.." Harry's voice went quiet, before he just decided not to elaborate further on the reasons as to *why* he wasn't allowed to watch movies.
Severus nodded, slipping his arm around Harry's shoulders. "Then this can be your first time. There's quite a few movies, so you can pick out whatever you want." Gently, he lead Harry out of the library, leaving the two sated dogs to lounge together in front of the fire and god knows what else, and went up the stairs into the west wing. Severus kept Harry as close as he could while they walked, having noticed his earlier shivers. Most of their walk to Severus' room was silent. Not the strained kind of silence, but the silence of two people who don't need to fill the air with empty words.
Once they reached Severus' room Severus opened the door and steered Harry inside, closing it behind them. The right hand wall was another built in bookshelf, much like the library, and in font of it was a large oak desk, something Severus obviously used for paperwork and grading papers. The rest of the walls were painted to look like the daytime sky with a few clouds here and there, and were adorned with paintings of various country scenes and moonscapes.
On the far wall there were two large red oak doors that led to Severus' bedroom and one ordinary bookshelf pushed into the left-hand corner that contained all the videos; the rest of the left hand wall was taken up by a medieval style window, an old willow trunk, and a mural of a golden dragon guarding a treasure heap interspersed with the books. There was little else in the room except a fireplace in the center of the front wall that had the television, DVD player, and a few extra books on top of it, a rich oak coffee table, and a plush tan colored sofa that was a little big even for Severus.
Leading Harry calmly over too the bookshelf full of DVD's, Severus glanced over at Harry and asked, "what would you like to watch?"
Harry glanced around the room, giving a small smile at how simple it looked, yet how elegant it was all put together. It definitely fit the man. Harry was curious as to what Severus' bedroom looked like. It was probably neutral colours and dark mixed together. Harry shook his head and looked up at Severus before looking over the huge collection, his eyes wide in surprise. "You sure have a lot of movies.." Harry frowned, looking for one that stood out.
Finally finding one, he pointed it out to Snape, who grabbed it for him, since his good arm was still around the older man's waist and he was still cold, so he wasn't very tempted to let go. He hoped he wasn't making the other man uncomfortable.. but he would have moved his arm from around Harry's shoulders if he was, right?
Severus guided Harry to the sofa, where he sat in the middle of the large coach, it was so large, or he was so small, that it made him look even smaller then he was. Snape turned on the TV and pushed in the DVD, Allan Stein, and moved back towards the sofa. He paused to light the fire in the medium sized fireplace, and sat at the corner of the couch, his back against the sofa arm facing Harry. Severus looked over at him. He raised a predictable eyebrow towards his hairline at seeing the younger man shivering, and he curled a finger for him to come closer. A faint blush marred Harry's cheeks, but he complied, so desperate to seek comfort and warmth.
They shifted until they were comfortable, Harry resting his head on Severus' right shoulder, his back against the sofa and lying in between the man's long legs, Snape's arm lightly curled around his waist to hold him in place (probably to stop him from… rubbing against anything. Harry stifled the giggle that thought caused). Both watched the movie intently, not talking to each other, but just sharing Harry's first experience at actually watching a movie at home..
Eventually, the young man's eyes began to grow heavier, and even though the movie was just coming to an end, Harry fell asleep against Severus' shoulder, his good hand lightly curled under his chin as he slept peacefully, for once with out any dreams.
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