Title: Two of a Kind
Word Count: 100x11
Content: Non-magic AU, pre-slash
Disclaimer: Not mine. They belong to JKR.
A/N: Unbeta'd. Written for snarry100 Challenge 298: Merry Christmas. Happy Christmas to all those celebrating today. ♥
He had no children at home, tucked into their beds. No wife waiting for him, lips already pursed in a kiss. No mates down at the village pub drinking to his good health.
So Severus stayed and sent all but a skeleton crew home.
The whistle blew at midnight and the men took a fifteen minute break. Sensing someone at the door, he looked up.
"Did you need something, Potter?" Nothing like most of the men Severus supervised, Potter was a bit of a puzzle to him.
"Happy Christmas," Potter said, holding out a bottle of alcohol. Unattached, just like Severus, Potter often volunteered to work so others could be home with their families.
"We can't drink on the clock," Severus said automatically.
"I thought maybe we could have a glass in the morning." Potter ran a hand through his messy black hair, his cheeks colouring slightly, green eyes bright behind his glasses, and something deep inside Severus warmed infinitesimally. "It being Christmas and all."
Severus took the bottle and put it in the drawer of his desk. "You should get back."
Potter nodded wordlessly and left.
Though he'd always been a night owl, the hours between two and six in the morning were the worst, crawling at a snail's pace.
When the whistle blew, most of the crew punched out in minutes and were likely halfway home before Severus had gathered his things. He took the bottle from the drawer, figuring it would keep him warm for the rest of the day.
As he went to punch out, he saw Potter standing next to the clock.
"Don't you have somewhere to be on Christmas day?" Severus asked as he clocked out and started for the door.
"Nope. My parents are dead, my aunt and uncle threw me out. Free as a bird, really." He sounded cheerful but Severus recognized the underlying emotion. Loneliness.
Potter kept up, walking next to him, quickening his pace to match Severus's longer strides, a dusting of snow crunching under their feet. When they got to Severus's flat he fumbled in his pocket for the key.
"Just one drink and then you should get home."
Severus took Potter's coat, noticing how thin it was. If only he had the money, he could buy the man a proper, heavy, wool one.
Wondering just where that thought came from, Severus shook his head to clear it, strands of hair falling loose from the tie he kept it in at work.
"Sit down," Severus threw over his shoulder as he walked to the kitchen to get two glasses. He wasn't sure what he was doing, but it was Christmas and he couldn't just send Potter away without the promised drink first. Yawning widely, he poured them each a shot of whisky and went back to his sitting room.
Potter must have plugged in the fairy lights because the modest Christmas tree was twinkling.
Potter was stretched out on the sofa, feet hanging off the end, eyes closed.
Setting the drinks down on the table, he took Potter's glasses from his face. Severus then pulled the old blanket his grandmother had made from the back of the sofa and covered Potter with it. He untied and slipped off Potter's boots.
Sitting down in the armchair in front of the cold, empty fireplace, Severus sipped his whisky, slowly unwinding after the long night's work.
Finally he set his glass down and fell asleep in the chair, the sound of Potter's breathing lulling him to sleep.
The sound—and smell—of rashers and eggs sizzling woke Severus from his slumber. He rubbed the back of his neck and rolled his head back and forth.
"You're awake," Potter said, carrying a tray with tea as well as toast, beans, eggs and rashers. "I thought it was the least I could do."
Severus was starving and replied gruffly, "It's much appreciated." He took a fork and plate and tucked in immediately.
"I didn't mean to fall asleep." Potter seemed to be studying the hole in his sock.
"You'll get used to the late shift after a few years."
Halfway through his plate, he realised Potter was watching him and why.
Severus stopped, fork in midair. "You haven't eaten."
"There was only enough for you," Potter said. "It's all right. I'm used to being hungry."
Severus could barely swallow, his mouth suddenly dry. He picked up his teacup and drained it. "Wait here."
Going back into the kitchen, Severus looked up at the clock. A bit early for Christmas supper but he quickly prepared the meal. Since he planned to be alone, he had a chicken rather than a goose, some potatoes and vegetables. Into the oven it went.
Two hours later, Severus sat at his kitchen table and watched Potter eat more than half the chicken and he found he couldn't have been happier.
As he washed the roasting pan, Potter came up and took up a towel, drying plates beside him.
"You needn't do that."
"It's only polite," Potter replied and Severus had no argument. They finished the dishes in companionable silence.
"Tea?" Severus asked when it seemed they'd run out of reasons for Potter to stay.
Potter nodded and looked somewhat relieved, as if he didn't want to leave.
Severus put the kettle on.
Three games of chess, two pots of tea, and one bottle of whisky later Potter was pulling on his boots.
"I hope I didn't spoil your holiday," he said as Severus handed him his coat.
"Don't be absurd," Severus said with a scowl. "I'd have sent you home hours ago if that was the case."
Potter beamed at him, eyes soft. "Actually, this is the best Christmas I've ever had." Potter added quietly, "Thank you."
Severus opened the door to his flat, tempted to let Potter go without another word but there was something about him, a familiarity of circumstance.
"Happy Christmas, Potter," Severus said, lingering in the doorway.
Potter's face was split by a grin. Severus felt the corner of his lips twitch, trying to resist returning the smile. Potter turned and took two steps then stopped abruptly, spinning back around.
"I could bring something for Boxing Day, if you'd like. I make a brilliant fish pie."
It took Severus a moment to respond. "That would be acceptable."
"See you then." Potter shoved his hands into his pockets. Severus shut the door.
Striding to the window, Severus watched Potter walk through the snow until he disappeared around a corner.