Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I'm just playing with someone else's toys. May I be forgiven in my next incarnation... (and what you do not recognize is mine, such as the MOSSes -Ministry Officers of State Security). Flamers will be adopted by my family (if you don't believe it's a threat... too bad for you!).
Note: Parseltongue is noted like that: //----//
Readers: Mikee and Stephanie. Thanks a lot! The remaining mistakes are all mine, and I apologize for those.
Chapter Twenty-Four - One Hundred and Sixteen
The number of students who enter the groups that Harry and Severus tutor increase and some of them - and not only the Quartet - are very eager to learn thanks to these additional sessions of work.
Matthew, Sarina and Harold also take some of the time of the DADA and Potions professors, but the teachers are enjoying their family life.
Harry and Severus even manage to find time to do things for themselves.
Harry is helping in Quidditch, and Severus is working on a potion for Remus.
Severus isn't sure that he can ever find a cure for Remus's condition, but he has fairly good hopes to improve the Wolfsbane and its effects.
Remus has agreed to come and visit Severus before and after the full moon so the Potions master could adjust the doses of ingredients in each new batch of Wolfsbane.
The Christmas break has started for two days when Remus comes back to Hogwarts. He doesn't need to lean on his husband this time, but Jules is on holidays and he takes this opportunity to visit his best friend.
Everything is quiet on the Hogwarts ground, because most of the children went back home to their families - one of the advantage of a world at peace.
When they walk past Hagrid's home, they spot three people flying and they wonder who is with Harry and Matthew.
On their way down to the dungeons, they meet Albus and Minerva, and the couple promises them to join them for tea.
They go straight to the Potions lab situated behind Severus's classroom and they're forced to chuckle when they see that Ginny is with Severus in the lab. Mrs Malfoy is knitting and watching the twins and her son.
'It's a pleasure to see you here, Ginny,' Jules says. He and his husband peck her on the cheek, then they turn to Severus and give him the same treatment while he's busy with his cauldron and he cannot protest.
'Very funny, gentlemen!' growls Severus.
'Don't be all Slytherin with us, my dear friend, we have amazing news about your last batch of potion,' Jules announces, grinning widely.
With a flick of his wand, Severus freezes the potion on which he's working and turns to face his guests. His eyes are twinkling and his expression betrays his curiosity.
Jules holds out his hand towards his husband.
Remus sighs, takes a small pouch and places a Knut in Jules's hand.
Ginny giggles, but Severus is too eager to know what happened to comment on anything - even Remus losing some bet.
Remus takes a step towards Severus and hugs him. 'Thank you,' he says, his voice betraying his emotion.
Severus hugs him back and asks, 'What happened?'
The three of them sit on a bench near Ginny and the children, and Jules tells what happened.
'First, Severus, you'll have to promise me that you won't hex me for not sharing this with you sooner, but I had to make sure that it was not just a side effect or some one-time miracle.' Severus waves his hand to make Jules go on with his tale. 'What I'm going to tell you happened the last three nights. The first, I thought it was just luck; second night, I started having some hope, and it happened again last night.'
'What happened?!' asks Severus, visibly losing patience.
'Remus took your new potion and as soon as the moon rose, he fell asleep... without transforming,' Jules says.
Sarina, who had been listening to the adults in her playpen, giggles and applauds at the good news.
Severus takes one of Remus's hands and he puts some spells on his friend.
'What did you feel?' Severus asks.
'Absolutely nothing. I fell asleep instantly. For the first time, the moon didn't make me a wreck, and you are the man I have to thank for this. I know some healers who are going to worship you - of course, there are others who are going to hate you. Thanks to you, I can hope to have a much more pleasant life,' Remus says, barely above a whisper.
'Well, we'll have to make sure that the potion takes control over the werewolf poison next month again... and this is far from being a cure, Remus, I'm sorry,' Severus says.
'You're sorry?! Severus! For the first time since I've been bitten, I didn't transformed into a monster and I didn't go through some awful pain - of course, the last potions you sent had already suppressed all the pain of the transformation, but I remembered being trapped into that beast. You're giving me hope. Even if there is never a cure for lycanthropy, you can't imagine how I feel this morning. You woke me from a hideous nightmare. You will be the man who gave hope to all the werewolves in the world,' Remus says.
They are rewarded with the unusual sight of a blushing Severus Snape. 'Well,' he says. 'I did it for you, Remus. I don't know the other werewolves in the world.'
Ginny's eyes are curiously shining and the three wizards look at her. 'Oh! Don't mind me... I'm just happy for you,' she says.
//Mama// James says.
Severus smiles, but Ginny is lost, because she doesn't understand Parseltongue. 'Your son called you "Mama",' Severus informs her.
Ginny goes to her son, takes him in her arms and starts crying.
'What's wrong, Ginny?' the three wizards ask simultaneously.
Between sobs, she manages to say that James said his first word and she didn't understand him.
//You must use the other language// Sarina tells James.
'Ma... Mama,' James says.
Ginny holds her son and sobs again.
'All right, this is all very nice, but this lab is not a place for children. Jules, will you do something useful?' Severus jokes.
'Then will you go back to the Slytherin common room with the children, help Mrs Malfoy to entertain them and...' Severus teases his best friend.
'And?' asks Jules.
'I'd like you to lend me your husband... for some additional tests. I promise to give him some chocolate afterwards,' Severus says.
'Oh... If you give him chocolate, I guess it's fine,' Jules answers.
'Slytherins!' both Ginny and Remus say, pretending to sigh in exasperation.
'Why do we marry them?' Remus asks Ginny rhetorically.
She takes Harold and gives him to Jules and then takes Sarina, who settles close to James. 'Well, if yours is like mine, there are two or three spells of theirs that I quite enjoy,' she answers.
'Mrs Malfoy!' Severus exclaims.
'Maybe we should have a chat with Harry someday, and compare parchments with him,' Remus suggests.
Jules looks at Severus and both say, 'Gryffies!'
Jules and Ginny have fun with the children while Severus thoroughly checks Remus's condition.
In the middle of one of their games, someone knocks on the door, and using Parseltongue Harold orders the portrait of Slytherin to let the person in. Remus, to whom they had forgotten to give the new password, comes in.
'What are Severus's conclusions?' Jules eagerly asks.
'He repeated over and over that he's neither a mediwizard nor a healer, but he has good hopes that the effect of his latest potion will be reproduced next month,' Remus says.
'It's fantastic! I'm so happy for you!' Ginny sobs.
'There's more,' Jules announces.
'What?' Harold asks.
Surprised by his intervention, Jules turns towards the child, kneels and answers without using that voice that adult have with children. 'If the werewolf is tamed, Remus agreed that we can adopt a child.'
Harold smiles and Ginny hugs her former professor.
'Where's Severus?' Jules wonders.
'He sent me to you and said that he would have time to finish his potion before tea time,' Remus says.
'And as usual, someone will have to go and take him away from his lab,' Jules states.
They all keep on playing with the children, who are absolutely delighted.
Albus and Minerva arrive minutes before five o'clock and they announce that the Quidditch players have stopped flying and that they thought it was the signal for tea.
Jules volunteers to fetch Severus.
He enters the lab and leaves the door open.
'Thank you,' Jules murmurs.
'That was the least I could do, my friend.'
'I know you worked a lot on that. You have transformed our lives overnight.'
'I'm happy that I could do that, but you know me, Jules... It was a fantastic challenge. A dream for a Potion master; transform an existing potion, improve it and obtain new effects,' Severus says, bottling the potion he just finished brewing.
'It might have been a challenge, but you worked on it during the few moments you had free, and you locked yourself in your lab, away from your bonded and children. It means a lot. You are a good friend, Severus.'
'Most of the times, Matthew and his friends helped me with the preparation of the ingredients, and they had an eye on the twins as well. Harry has been busy.'
That remark makes Jules twitch.
'What do you mean?' the priest asks, suddenly extremely concerned.
'He's been flying and playing Quidditch with Vlad a lot.'
'Nicolai Vlad. New Muggle Studies teacher, great Quidditch player, gorgeous man, certainly you noticed him,' Severus says, sealing the phials of potion.
'Severus Silly Snape, you aren't implying what I think you're implying?!' Jules asks, paling.
'I'm glad that Harry has him, it's only fair that Harry spends time with such a handsome man. With all I've done in my life, it's a good compensation for Harry. That's just.'
'I'm flying with Niki. That's all.'
Jules and Severus turn around towards the one who just said those words.
Harry is standing on the threshold, livid.
He takes one step in. 'How could you imagine that I...' Harry's voice trails off, he lets his broom fall on the floor, turns around and runs away.
'Go after him, you fool!' Jules yells.
The phial that Severus is holding shatters on the floor and he runs.
As he reaches their quarters, he hears an explosion and opens their door with wandless magic.
Harry isn't there.
The vase and the flowers that Severus gave to Harry for their first Valentine are reduced to confetti.
'Gods. What have I done?' Severus wails.
'He's not in the common room,' Jules tells him as he enters the devastated parlour.
'I'm going to search the grounds and bring him back,' Severus says.
Jules goes back to the common room where he whispers to the adults what happened.
Sarina uses Parseltongue to tell Matthew what she and her brother felt.
All they can do is wait and see if Harry will forgive Severus.
When Severus reaches the doors of the castle, Harry is already in Hogsmeade. His tears turning into ice on his cheeks remind him of the bitter cold and he walks into the Three Broomsticks. Thankfully, it is almost empty and Harry can seek refuge in a booth in a corner of the pub.
Rosmerta comes to take his order and cheerfully greets him. Then she notices his tears and she leads him to the kitchen.
'Thanks,' he whispers.
'What can I get you, Harry?'
He searches his pockets and says, 'I don't have money. I'll just go.'
She gently pushes him back on the chair where he's sitting and repeats, 'What can I get you, Harry?'
'That bad, huh, Love?'
Harry starts crying and Rosmerta hugs him, without asking one single question.
Three glasses later, Harry still feels miserable and Rosmerta advises him to go back home.
When the night fell, Jules forced Severus to come back inside.
Like a lion in cage, Severus walks up and down before the front door of the castle. He's sneezing because of the cold he caught, but he refuses to take anything before Harry is back.
'Why don't you try to locate him?' Ginny suggests.
Severus runs to his office to fetch what he needs to cast the most powerful Location spell he knows.
While he's down in the dungeons, Harry stumbles back in and directly heads upstairs.
Severus locates him in the empty Gryffindor common room and he runs there as if his life depends on his finding Harry.
Severus's bonded is lying half on a sofa, half on the floor.
Long before Severus takes Harry in his arms, he can smell the alcohol.
Harry opens his eyes and pushes Severus away.
There is so much pain in Harry's eyes, that Severus gasps and feels tears rolling down his cheeks.
'You're the only man I'll ever love. Now, fuck off my common room,' Harry says.
Severus obeys and spends his first night alone since he and Harry won the War.
The next morning, when Harry goes down to the dungeons, he finds his three children in the Slytherin dormitory.
//You're no more angry, Dad?// Sarina asks.
//You should say "no longer"// Harry answers.
//So you're still angry// Harold concludes, when his father ignores the question.
Matthew woke up when Sarina spoke and he asks, 'Is it going to be all right between you?'
Harry caresses his elder son's cheek and declares, 'I'm taking Severus away for the day. Then we're going to be fine. Can you take care of our home for us?'
Matthew nods enthusiastically and Harry kisses his children. When he closes the door, the twins are already sleeping again.
Harry opens the door of their quarters.
Severus is kneeling on the floor, sneezing and trying to fix the vase that Harry's magic destroyed the day before.
Harry takes his wand and his Mending charm operates on the vase and flowers he didn't even know he had damaged. Then he levitates it back onto the stool where he always places it when Câly brings it from Oxford.
Harry kneels next to his bonded on the floor and he notices the cuts on Severus's fingertips; apparently, when magic failed to repair the vase, Severus tried other ways and the sharp shards cut him. Harry heals him with a simple spell and forces him to stand up.
'Harry, I...' Severus starts, but Harry's index on his lips silences him.
Harry summons their winter cloaks and he silently leads Severus out of the castle and off the grounds. When they reach the gates, Harry takes Severus's hands and Apparates the both of them inside the room that Severus occupied in Albus's house in Hogsmeade.
Harry takes his cloak off and Severus thinks that he should imitate him, for they have certainly reached their destination.
Severus turns around and opens his mouth to apologize, and Harry slaps him so violently that he lands on the bed.
'How could you even think that I could look at anyone else?!' Harry yells.
One hand on his burning cheek, Severus opens his mouth again, and again, Harry forbids him to speak, pointing an accusing finger at him.
'Not a word, Snape!' That makes Severus flinch visibly. 'Do you have any idea how much you hurt me? So I'd like you to keep in mind that you are the only man I love, the only man I want in my bed. I bloody well know that you shagged other men before we met; I'm not stupid and you should know that some well-meaning bastards took some real pleasure in telling me some of the things you had done - I even had some confidence from blokes you fucked, or so they said. I bloody well know that you're feeling ill-at-ease because I was a virgin, but you're my love, my lover, my soulmate, my bonded, and the father of my children. You're the only one I want in my life, Severus. There's not one other person in this world who's worth my time. You're my darling husband and the mere thought of anyone else's hands on me makes me sick. You hurt me, Severus.'
Harry sits on the bed next to Severus and takes him in his arms.
'Last night was the only time we didn't sleep together. It was awful, and I don't want this to happen ever again,' Harry declares.
Severus nods in agreement, and asks, 'Will you ever forgive me my stupidity?'
'You are a bleeding idiot sometimes, but I love you and,' Harry hands him the first gift Severus ever gave him and says, 'One hundred and sixteen.'
Severus looks at the number of pages; he's lost.
'Not the page, silly! The sonnet! Read it aloud,' Harry says.
Severus opens the book and obeys, 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit impediments, love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds, / Or bends with the remover to remove. / O no, it is an ever-fixed mark / That looks on tempests and is never shaken; / It is the star to every wand'ring bark, / Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. / Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks / Within his bending sickle's compass come, / Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, / But bears it out even to the edge of doom: / If this be error and upon me proved, / I never writ, nor no man ever loved.(1)' Severus looks at Harry, closes the book, places it on the bedside table and hugs his bonded. 'I think it's not by chance that you're the one who untied our ribbon and I'm really sorry.'
'What do you mean, Severus?'
'If you were not such a caring and faithful companion, my silliness...' his voice trails off and he surrenders to his tears.
'Good thing I'm a Gryffindor, because I'll fight for you if I have to. I'll even fight you if I must,' Harry whisper against Severus's ear.
'I'm yours and I'm really sorry. I thought it would be fair if you...' Harry doesn't allow Severus to finish his sentence; he seals their lips together and rolls under Severus.
'If you're mine and you're sorry, prove it and make love to me. Make me howl until I forget how stupid you've been,' Harry suggests.
Severus uses their favourite spells.
Hours later, Severus snuggles up against Harry. His quiet heartbeat soothes Severus.
'You know... You've been really stupid,' Harry says.
'I know. I have never been more afraid in my entire life, and I do mean never. I thought I had lost you.'
Harry caresses Severus's back and murmurs, 'You'll never get rid of me, but it's about Niki that you were wrong.'
Severus flinches, but Harry's hand on his back quiets him.
'I'm going to betray Niki's secret. You won't comment and you're going to help me,' Harry says.
'Niki is straight and he's spending time with me because he's got a huge problem.'
'As an arrow... and pray... Mister Head of Slytherin, who is the only seventh-year student in your house who takes Muggle Studies?'
Severus jumps up and croaks, 'Helena DeWinter.'
'He loves her, and I think she loves him, too.'
'Vlad spends time flying, with a wizard, not to be tempted, and to respect deontology... Merlin! I'm such a plonker!' Severus exclaims.
Harry chuckles and says, 'I think that you should apologize some more, don't you think?'
How could Severus not obey?
The couple comes back to Hogwarts for dinner.
While Harry goes to give back his key to Albus and to thank him, Severus calls one of the elves to order dinner for his family.
'Dinner for five?' Matthew asks.
//Of course// Sarina quietly answers.
//Are you a seer, my Princess?// Severus asks.
//She's something other// Harold says.
//"Something else"// Harry corrects him.
'What can she be?' wonders Matthew.
'I think she'll tell us when she wants,' Severus concludes.
'Severus... did you do magic on the flowers?' Harry asks.
'No, I didn't. Is something wrong with them?' Severus asks, slightly worried.
'Not really wrong, but strange. I'll call Jules,' Harry says.
Minutes later, Jules Floo'es in.
'What's up, Harry?' the priest asks.
Harry takes him to the parlour and shows him the lilies and the red roses.
Jules casts a spell on the flowers and starts laughing. 'I don't know how you did it, but you're right, Harry,' he says.
'The number of roses changed,' Harry whispers.
Severus pales and sits on the armrest of his chair, 'What have I done?'
'We have more roses now,' Harry says, with a small and happy smile.
Jules cuffs the back of Severus's head and says, 'You have a very good husband. Prove that you deserve him!'
Flabbergasted, Severus sits, frozen.
Harry grins when Jules pecks him on the cheek on his way out.
'More roses?... In spite of...' Harry's lips on his stop him mid-sentence.
Matthew blushes when he comes in to tell them that dinner is ready.
Harry's love washed away one silly blunder.
His head resting on Severus's chest, Harry hears his bonded say "one hundred and sixteen" in the middle of the night, and he knows that they're going to be fine. It was just a silly blunder.
To Be Continued...
1. . William Shakespeare, The Sonnets, sonnet 116.
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