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A Different Kind of Family

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Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: So this is the fic I have done for the Back to Hogwarts Fest. Please let me know what you think of the story.

Title: A Different Kind of Family
Author: Laurenke1
Other pairings/threesome: Harry Potter/Severus Snape, mentions of past Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione.
Rating: R or N-17
Word count: +/- 17,000
Warning(s): Slash, 8th year student! Harry, first time, sexual situations in public, hurt/comfort, bit of angst and sex of course.
Summary: When Snape institutes a family night at Hogwarts, Harry has to find one. He knows just who he wants to be a part of it... and who he doesn't.
A/N: I want to give full credit to Scarlet for being such a great editor. She is really the best one in the world for not only nitpicking my entire fic but also for everything else she has done for me. This story is dedicated to her. I want to thank the mods for the fun fest and for being so understanding. I had a lot of fun doing this.

A Different Kind of Family

"You don't know how this feels. Your parents are dead! You have no family!"

- Ronald Weasley, from the sneak preview of Deathly Hallows Part I at the MTV movie awards.

Harry Potter looked around the Great Hall, from his chattering best friends who were nearly feeding one another, to the other students bustling with excitement at the new school year. For a while it had been unclear if there was going to be a new school term. Hogwarts had been damaged pretty badly in the Final Battle and there had been major remodeling and repair work during the summer and even now at the start of term. Parents had initially refused to send their students to the newly reopened school. It had taken Harry's public declaration that he would attend to get the other registrations trickling in.

Not as many as there had been in previous years, but that was to be expected when the school had been run by Death Eaters. The Ministry condemned the decision to reinstate Severus Snape as Headmaster, despite his full pardon.

Harry suspected that Kingsley had cornered Snape in the courtroom and extended an offer he couldn't refuse. Harry suspected that Snape had intended to leave right after the war and claim his reward: a large sum of money and a clean slate to do whatever he wanted.

Somebody cleared their throat. After being taught by Snape for the better part of six years, Harry turned towards the Headmaster. The tall, thin man rose from behind the Staff Table and the noise in the Great Hall dimmed. Snape waited until the last of the murmurs died away and then made his announcement, speaking in a clear voice without any malice in it.

"This year marks a new era at Hogwarts. An era of tolerance. For years this was a prestigious school which hid its curriculum and its students from outside influence. This ends here. The most significant change is that families will have greater access to the school. I and the Board of Governors have decided to hold a family day every two months. In two weeks time we shall be hosting the first one with a proper meal and a chance for the students to go to Hogsmeade accompanied by their family."

Snape paused to allow the students their reaction. Finally the older wizard raised his hand and silence fell again.

"Families do not always consist of parents and siblings, but can also contain spouses or children. Thus these versions of families will be allowed as well. But there must be a certificate of adoption, a birth certificate or a marriage certificate handed in to your Head of House so we know how many people to expect."

Harry tuned Snape out, too engrossed in his own thoughts to think further on what Snape was saying. He looked around to see Ron sharing an excited grin with Hermione as he leaned over and said, "Great, isn't it? Can you imagine my Mum being here? Oh, and Dad and Ginny?"

Harry did his best to smile but he couldn't. Ginny had chosen not to return to Hogwarts, instead opting to sit her NEWTS at the Ministry and to pursue a career in healing. They had broken up shortly after the war when Ginny had said that Harry was too needy and too dependent. According to her, she wasn't ready for the commitment Harry sought.

He sighed. The recent losses and fights had only served to remind him of the one thing he wanted most in his life; a family. It was hard enough to know that he would probably never settle for the normal kind of family, that of a wife and children

He refocused his attention as Ron elbowed him and said. "It will be brilliant when Mum and Dad are here. Mum can finally stop nagging me about not eating right and my school schedule. I'm sure she would love to come with us to Hogsmeade. What should we show them first? The new Three Broomsticks? Or the new shops that are opening up?

"I can't come with you guys," Harry muttered irritably. He glanced down at his half finished plate, pushing the food around that was left over.

"Why not?"

"You heard Snape. Unless they have an adoption certificate then I can't come with you."

"Oh come on, I'm sure Snape will make an exception." Ron grinned at him and as Harry turned to look at his friend he felt his anger slip.

"Well, perhaps I don't want to be an exception! Snape made the rules and you made it quite clear when you left us in the woods last year that I would never understand how you felt because I don't have any family. So I suppose that unless I marry somebody within the next few weeks, I'll simply stay away, shall I?"

Ron looked a little bit uncomfortable as he stuttered his response, looking around. "I didn't mean it that way."

Perhaps it was the fact that Ron had never apologized to Harry about that or perhaps it was the fact that underneath it all, Harry had always wanted a family. He had always assumed that one day he could count the Weasleys as his own and, when Ron had left them hanging for his own reasons, accusing Harry of not understanding family, Harry had known that Ron hadn't counted him as a family member. It had been a bitter truth to swallow, and while he had been forced to do it then, today was too much. So he snapped.

"But you did say it. I'm better then being shuffled around to be stored away whenever you decide you don't like me anymore or I'm a danger to you. I'm not some worthless orphan that can't possibly understand how it feels to lose somebody they love or that I'm putting people in danger. You said that I can't possibly understand it when I put your family in danger because I have no family. So obviously you don't consider me a part of your family or unless it is in a time of peace. I always thought that wasn't how families worked. That they supported one another or they don't but they don't turn their backs on each other and change their mind whenever they can. I'm better then being put in the proverbial cupboard to be stored when I'm a danger and taken out to be paraded around in a time of peace."

Ron's eyes were hard as they looked at Harry before he said. "I really didn't mean it like that. But you have to see that people were hurting my mum and dad."

"In case you forgot they already hurt mine! And they hurt my godfather! You still have your family," Harry snarled.

Ron's eyes locked with Harry but the younger man refused to back down. Let his supposed best friend see what it was doing to Harry, to be surrounded by families without one of his own.

"Look mate, I'm sure you would do the same."

"What, abandoning my friends instead of sticking with them? No, I wouldn't do the same, Ron. I would protect you guys. I would do whatever was in my power to protect you because, you see, that's what family does."

"How would you know that? You don't have any family! You just romanticized family like only a child would do. There are feelings involved you know, and sometimes it makes it messier. But family is also about forgiveness and you don't seem to want to forgive me…" Ron's voice was harsh and bitter. Fred's death had done that to his best friend.

"You haven't even said you were sorry. All you keep saying is that you didn't mean it like that but that is all. Perhaps if you would apologize."

"I have!"

"When?" Harry saw Ron's expression falter as his best friend tried to think when he had apologized to Harry for the words. Harry wondered what was going to come next but instead Ron's expression hardened as he stared at Harry. Harry's heart did an uncomfortable somersault. Ever since he and Ginny had broken up, there had been awkward scenes with the rest of the Weasley family.

"Yeah, you see, you don't even remember. I guess that is how much I mean to you, that you won't even apologize to me." With those words Harry rose to leave.

"Mr. Potter, is there something in particular you would like to share with the rest of the school?" Snape's silky voice filled the hall and Harry groaned quietly to himself. He had forgotten Snape, and while he had finished his speech, he would never stand for outright yelling in the Great Hall as Dumbledore sometimes had done.

"Actually, yes sir. Is there a place for people who have no family to go during those days?"

Snape's smirk made Harry's blood run cold as the Headmaster purred, rich voice filling the silent hall, "There will be arrangements made for those students whose family cannot attend or have other arrangements. But as for you, you will be with me those days to help with organization. Unless you have a family of your own you would like to see?"

People in the hall snickered and Harry swallowed thickly past the lump in his throat. Trust Snape to rub it in. He narrowed his eyes as he tried not to let himself explode. This wasn't the time or the place but after the fight with Ron Harry couldn't help himself as he shouted. "Yeah, well seeing as you were responsible for my family being murdered, I think you know where my family is. So you will also know where I'm going to be spending my time. Get bent, Professor."

With a final glare into Snape's dark, widened eyes, Harry walked out of the Great Hall. Fine. If nobody wanted him here, then he would go someplace he wasn't going to be pushed away. Damn the family day anyway.

The first time Harry had visited the graveyard where his parents were buried had been during the winter. Since then he hadn't returned, except briefly, when the battle had ended, to tell them that the war had been fought and won. It was important to him. He stood here now, on the edge of the graveyard that was filled with leaves and a cold autumn wind that made Harry shiver. He pulled his cloak further around himself and stared down at the graves in front of him.

The flowers he had brought with him didn't stand a chance in the wind and Harry contemplated throwing them away. He sighed. Today was the first of the family days and Harry had left Hogwarts as soon as he was able. Harry regretted what he had said to his best friend, but Ron refused to even look at him.

This had not been the way he had envisioned this year. This year was supposed to be fun because finally, finally, he was close enough to the man he had fallen in love with the previous year. Apparently, Harry was one of those people who fell in love with somebody, with Snape, who Harry knew had hated him since Snape had first laid eyes upon him. He had hoped to impress Snape with his newfound maturity but he knew that after the display at the Welcoming Feast, he had a way to go yet.

Harry had always believed that there was a thin line between love and hate. Why else would Snape protect him for all these years? Surely it wasn't just because Dumbledore forced him to do it, or because he did it for Lily's memory. Snape couldn't be so delusional that he was still focused on forgiveness seventeen years after the fact.

Harry didn't think so. All his tries at befriending the man or even visiting him had ended in fights and a fair amount of curses. Still, those curses served a purpose. Severus Snape was the only man who in the weeks after the Final Battle could draw Harry out of the numb place to which he had retreated to escape all the grief that was taking place around him.

Harry had returned to Grimmauld Place alone when when his relationship with Ginny ended. The first few weeks he had lived at the Burrow with the Weasleys and divided his time in between Hogwarts, the Burrow and trying to work up the courage to go and visit Snape. The Burrow was a small place even when everybody had been alive and now that a blanket of grief hung over the crowded rooms it was even harder.

Harry had tried to be a good friend to the family but he couldn't ignore the glances they kept shooting him or the way conversation stilled when he entered a room. He was unwanted. An extra burden.

So he moved out when Ginny told him that she thought that they were better off being friends. He moved to Grimmauld Place. It was a house that brought back even worse memories for him, but he bore them stoically. He finally found his courage and began to visit Snape in St. Mungo's.

It wasn't the only thing he did. Needing to take his mind off things, Harry was quick to respond when Kingsley Shacklebolt, the new Minister for Magic, called him to give his testimony in some of the most important trials of the century, those of the Malfoys and Snape. It had paid off because in the end Snape had been exonerated, Lucius Malfoy sent to Azkaban, Narcissa Malfoy condemned to house arrest for the next five years and Draco was to be brought up under the watchful eye of his aunt Andromeda Black.

Draco returned to Hogwarts, as did Harry but the arrogant younger man was changed, replaced by someone quiet and pale. He moved as if he were a ghost, surprised to be back at Hogwarts. Draco wasn't the only one.

Harry crouched down as he removed some of the leaves from his mother's grave. His thoughts returned to Snape.

It wasn't as if Harry had expected Snape to thank him on bended knee after Harry had made sure the wounded man had been exonerated, but he had expected Snape to at least acknowledge him.

"Why is it that I always fall in love with people who clearly don't like me as I am?" It was a stupid question and nobody was going to answer it but Harry felt better when he said his thoughts aloud. He used his wand on the unpaved patch of road and banished some of the leaves before he sat down. He faced both graves, looking from one to the other before he began to talk. He knew his parents couldn't hear him but that didn't matter to him. He just needed to get this off his chest.

"Hi Mum, Dad. Yeah, I know, I don't visit enough, though can you blame me when I only learned about your grave a year ago? And it's been a pretty busy year too. I'm not sure how the reception is up there but perhaps you saw some of it… I can never seem to stop making mistakes. I broke up with Ginny, or she did with me. Ron's pissed at me."

He spoke for what seemed like hours, of everything that was bothering him. He didn't care if other people heard him or not. He just needed to get these things off his chest. He told his parents about the fight with Ron and, after some hesitation, his feelings for Snape. Those feelings terrified him. It was the first time he had ever felt something like this for a man. It wasn't something with which Harry was sure he was comfortable.

What was it about Snape that drew out Harry's strongest emotions? Harry couldn't remember a time when they hadn't shouted, threatened each other or fought when they were in the same room together. Snape was definitely passionate when it came to Harry. Even Harry could see that. Snape's very demeanor changed whenever Harry walked in the room. If Snape really loathed Harry as much as he said he did, then why would he always need to belittle Harry? He could simply do as the Dursleys had done and ignore Harry; it certainly always worked to leave him feeling small and unloved.

"If he really didn't care for me then why would he react to everything I do? It is almost as if he likes the fact that I talk back to him. I didn't get in trouble when I shouted at him in the Great Hall. Though he may just be saving it up for me. I can't predict what Snape will do."

It seemed that like all those years when he had misread Severus Snape, Harry was mistaken again. Everything Harry did brought out a response in Snape. This time Snape's response was to host another Family Night, at Halloween, one he said was important for everybody to attend. There was going to be the customary Halloween feast but, like last time, Harry had no intention of attending. Even if it had just been the feast without the family Harry still would not have attended.

He intended, for the first time ever, to commemorate the anniversary of his parents' death properly. He should have done that so many years ago but something always came up. Now was the time for a proper goodbye and anniversary of their death. He needed to find closure and to move on with his life.

He carefully set down the candles he had brought and placed a bouquet of flowers on his mother's grave. His father received a miniature stag Harry had found somewhere. It was childish, he knew, but it made him feel better. He sat down carefully on the spot he had chosen the time before, wrapping his cloak tightly around him.

Had Sirius ever done this? Had he remembered his best friend when he was in Azkaban, or did he lose track of time and not even remember what day it was?

"I thought I made it exceptionally clear, Mr. Potter, that everybody was to attend the Family Night on this night especially." The soft voice behind Harry had him jumping up in shock, his heart racing.

He turned around, wand drawn, to see Snape standing behind him. "Don't scare me like that," Harry snapped.

A dark eyebrow rose above the equally dark eyes before Snape snarled, "I should not scare you! Mr. Potter, on this night of all nights, there are far more frightening things that walk this earth than me. Now be so kind as to tell me why you are not enjoying the evening with the rest of your friends. You deliberately disobeyed my orders!"

"Perhaps you could show a little bit more sympathy. You insisted on throwing that stupid family night. Why did it have to be on this night of all nights? If you had simply stuck to the schedule and organized it this weekend then I would not have needed to sneak out."

"You believe it is my fault you chose to leave school grounds and apparate halfway across the British Isles rather than have a meal with your friends?"

Harry shook his head, and growled, "No, I'm not. You say that this night should be spent with family. Well, that's what I'm doing. It would be very disturbing if my family were to sit in the Great Hall with the rest of the parents. Unless you are blind, you may notice that because of those rules of yours that insist on adoption certificates or birth certificates, I can't sit with any family because I haven't got any alive that are keen to visit."

Harry's eyes narrowed in a glare but Snape merely returned the stare, unruffled.

"I suppose I should remain here until you are done with whatever you are going to do." Snape settled himself against the headstone closest.

"Then you'll be here all night."

"You plan to hold a vigil? It is only done on the anniversary of a family member's death, so that it can be clear that the spirit has moved on and will not linger."

"Well, it isn't like I've ever been here before. The first time I came here was on Christmas Eve last year." Harry lit the two candles on the tombstones and stepped back to view his handiwork. The candles cast a soft glow over the two graves, showing the names that had been carved into the headstones.

Harry was aware of Snape's presence behind him, but the older wizard did not say anything. Harry slowed his breathing, forcing himself to be calm. He had seen his parents' spirits, or whatever they were, twice now. Once during the confrontation with Voldemort in Harry's fourth year, and then again when they had walked him to his death three years later. He still had no idea what one was supposed to do on a vigil except to sit with the tombstone and…well, wait?

So he settled himself on the blanket he had brought, shivering in his cloak as he stared at the headstone.

He turned back to Snape to see the older wizard lifting his eyes from Lily's headstone.

"Sir? You said that it was customary to hold a vigil on this night for people who have died, to see that their spirits are well taken care of…"

"No, Potter. I said that on the first anniversary of a loved one's death, the family will hold a vigil by the grave to see the spirit off. As Halloween is the night of the year that the veil between the spirit world and our world is very thin, there aren't that many families who would actually hold a vigil on this particular night. They prefer to simply remember their family members who have crossed over. But because your family died on this night, it would be right to do this vigil. I doubt that Black or Lupin actually thought to do this."

"But it is important, right?"

"It is just a custom. One I should have thought about when I planned these family nights. There are not many students, even after the war, that are without any family at all…"

"Or family who don't want them." Harry's voice was soft, so soft that he wasn't even sure if Snape heard it. The older wizard merely stared at him for a long moment before he looked away.

"This is one of the first times that you have come here?" The Headmaster asked. Harry thought for a moment. What would he answer? Could he trust Snape with the truth? He hadn't even told his closest friends. He had hinted at this and he knew that Ron, Fred and George had seen the way the Dursleys had treated him when they had rescued him during second year, but Ron had never mentioned anything about the circumstances.

Could he tell Snape that he hadn't even known until last year where his parents had been buried? Could he trust the Headmaster with this news? Or would Snape use it to belittle him and to humiliate him? Harry could live with the fact that he was alone; he couldn't miss something he had never had.

"Mr. Potter, I'm used to being answered when I ask a question of a student. Unless you want me to cut this night short and haul you back to Hogwarts by your ear." There was a subtle promise in Snape's voice and Harry's temper rose.

"You wouldn't dare! I'm of age and I can spend my nights where I want to." His ears colored when Harry realized what he had said but he refused to back down.

"As a student at Hogwarts you are to comply with the rules, unless you wish to be expelled. That can be arranged. You would then be free to spend your nights as you see fit. But as long as you remain a student at Hogwarts then I'm to know where you spend your nights if you decide to spend them away from the castle."

If I said that I wanted to spend my nights with you, what would you do?

Harry merely grimaced, then looked back to the tombs and said, "Until last year I didn't even know that they had been buried here. The family I lived with, they always said that my parents died in a car crash and that they were lazy drunks. I think they would rather adopt me legally than to have me visit their grave."

"You were not adopted by your Aunt's family?"

"No, I was fostered by them, I suppose you could call it."

Harry peered up from underneath his fringe at Snape before he continued, "Anyway, when I came to Hogwarts nobody told me they had been buried here."

"But then why did you choose to visit them now?"

"Because it is important to me, alright!" Harry knew that Snape was likely to punish him for it but he couldn't help his temper around the man.

"Have you ever imagined what it is like to see everybody else with their families? If not their parents, then their aunt or uncles or even godparents. The people that are proud of them and happy to be a part of their life mingling with each other and sharing stories. Can you even think of how much it aches to know that you will never be a part of it? That even though you want to be so desperately you cannot because of those fucking stupid rules that state you need a bloody adoption certificate to be a part of somebody's family. I've broken rules before, but this is one nobody wants to break with me."

"Is it worth breaking?"

"Of course it bloody well is! I never wanted anything more then to be a part of a family and even now…" Harry turned away quickly, feeling as though a dam were breaking. The old hurt inside him, the one that he always made sure to hide in a dark place suddenly broke free. He couldn't contain the sobs anymore as his body was wracked with them. He buried his face in his hands.

He tried to keep hold of his breathing but it was no use, and he began to pant. A hand gripped his shoulder and drew him into a stiff embrace.

"Holding it back never helps, Potter. Get it over with and you'll feel more like yourself.

Harry clung to Snape, twisting his hands in the coarse fabric of the man's robes. He buried his face in the Headmaster's shoulder, allowing Snape's surprising warmth to ground him. His own shoulders shook underneath the strong hands but he couldn't contain the sobs. He tried to swallow them away but it wouldn't work as they kept on coming, making him choke on his tears as he closed his eyes tightly.

"Take those damnable glasses off before you put a dent in my shoulder." Harry raised his face before gentle fingers that belied the harsh tone plucked his glasses away.

"I'm sorry…really don't know what's wrong with me." He tried to breathe in deeply but the lump in his throat made talking clearly impossible.

"Hush." Snape's silky voice was so close that Harry squinted up at the face in front of him before a strong hand at the back of his head pushed his face back against Snape's shoulder. Harry didn't struggle; he was too overcome by the movement and the sobs that kept breaking free. He kept himself tense against Snape's firm body. Harry had not been hugged many times in his life, but he recognized this for what it was. Snape's warm hand rubbed circles on his shoulder, trying to comfort and console him and Harry allowed the older wizard to do so.

It felt too good to be held like this. Not even when Sirius had died had anybody held him. Sure, Ron and Hermione had looked at him and Harry had wondered if Lupin would have comforted him if he had known that Harry had been struggling with nightmares and his feelings of guilt. He had hidden himself away, not wishing for anybody to see him failing to cope. Dumbledore had never asked him if he would have liked to talk to somebody and it had steeled Harry's conviction that nobody cared.

Harry's sobs eventually died down but he was still aware, as he sniffled occasionally, of Snape's warm hands, one on the back of his skull and the other rubbing slow circles across his shoulder-blades. They stood together like this, warm despite the cold wind. He breathed in deeply, recognising the scent that clung to Snape. It was a scent that brought him right back to the Potions classroom and the cupboard full of ingredients. He could feel the deep breaths Snape took and the beating of Snape's heart. He opened his eyes and stared out at the darkness. He could faintly see the candles but he couldn't make out the tombs. Harry sighed.

He knew he should step away from Snape before he was pushed, but it felt so good to be held in such a way. He could feel himself tensing, wondering when it was going to happen. It was inevitable. Harry pushed himself away reluctantly. It was better that he untangled himself before he did something he regretted.

He squinted up at Snape nearsightedly and finally Snape murmured, "Now, I think that it is about bloody time that we have a very long chat, Mr. Potter."

Harry worried his bottom lip in between his teeth. Would Snape cut short his vigil? But instead it seemed that the older wizard had other ideas as he handed Harry's glasses back to him and transfigured a small rock into a blanket for them to sit upon.

"Since it will be proper to hold this vigil and I do not wish for you to hold it alone, we shall talk here."

Harry winced; this wasn't going to be pretty.

Snape's stares were always very uncomfortable but right now Harry wished the ground would swallow him up.

"What was your home life like, Mr. Potter?" Snape's voice was soft but it was strict and Harry knew that he couldn't ignore it.

He sighed and then said, "It was abysmal, if you want to know. I think I would have been better off if I'd lived with Voldemort. I mean, yes, Voldemort would have tortured me, but it would be better than living with the Dursleys. I would have had a cell instead of a cupboard. I would have had a blanket and regular food, even when it was spoiled. It was better than working at the Dursleys without getting a drink on a hot day." He tried to joke about it but by the look on Snape's face he knew he wasn't succeeding.

"Do you consider this a joking matter, Mr. Potter?" Snape asked, giving Harry an incredulous look.

Ashamed Harry looked down at the feet and he shuffled them before he said, "No, it isn't."

He ran a hand through his messy hair. What could he possibly say to Snape that the Headmaster didn't already know? Snape had seen Harry's memories during his fifth year.

He glanced back up at the narrowed eyes before he said, "What is it exactly that you want to know?"

"Everything," Snape answered promptly.

So Harry began to talk. At first his tale was stilted, but it became easier the more he spoke. He told Snape everything, from his earliest memories to the later years. Of his freakish ways and the accidental magic and the way he had been punished. It wasn't easy to say but he found that he couldn't stop once he began. Snape never once interrupted him, allowing Harry to finish.

He realized that he wanted to tell someone what had happened to him. He wanted somebody to acknowledge what he had gone through during the summers he was sent back to the Dursleys.

When Harry reached the summer before his sixth year he paused, the words choked in his throat as he glanced up at Snape. The older wizard looked to be the picture of composure unless somebody looked at the way he clenched his hands in his lap. He spoke of Sirius' death and then finally ended with the fact that Sirius had invited him to go and live with him. He didn't know what Snape's reaction was going to be but he didn't care. All he wanted was to tell his tale. Snape could hardly punish him for that.

Silence fell between them when Harry was finished. He glanced up at Snape through his fringe. The silence deepened and it became heavier, making Harry shift uncomfortably. He flushed as he realized just how much he had told Snape. He shuffled forward and then rose from his place.

"And just where do you think you are going, Potter?" Snape snarled at him but Harry didn't care. He wasn't going to sit here and wait until the Headmaster decided that his tale was utter bullshit. Everybody dismissed his stories like that. Uncle Vernon had always accused Harry of being a lying freak.

"You obviously don't know whether to dismiss what I've said or to take me at face value. Why should I wait around while you make up your mind?" The embarrassment made Harry's tone sharper then he intended it to be.

"And who made you think that nonsense?"

"Everybody! Everyone I meet, everywhere I go! And if they don't say it then they're thinking it! Don't you think I know what an unnatural freak I am? I can't even want the right person!"

Harry closed his mouth with a snap when he realized what he had let slip. Snape's eyebrow rose and then the man said, "What on earth are you blabbering about, Potter? What would make you a freak?"

"I can't even make up my mind about what gender I like best." Harry's voice was bitter. All his life he had been taught what was normal, and what was unnatural, and he knew that he wasn't normal in the slightest.

Snape looked confused before he asked, "Do you mean that you are attracted to both men and women?"

Harry only nodded. He looked down, not wishing to see Snape's expression. Snape would be disgusted by him, he knew. Why couldn't Harry just like either boys or girls? Was it really so hard to decide if he should like men or women better?

He eventually struck up the courage to glance up at Snape. The older wizard had leaned back against the headstone behind him, crossing his long legs at the ankles and his arms over his chest. Snape wore a thoughtful expression, one that Harry was not used to seeing on him.

Snape said, "It is not uncommon to be attracted to both sexes, especially at your age when your hormones are running amok. Some people use that time to try and sort out who they feel most sexually attractive to while others remain fixed in their preference for both. I do not speak of personal experience, as my preference has always been fixed, but some believe that one can only be certain after experimentation."

"You always were…." Harry couldn't finish the sentence because his throat was so dry. He wanted desperately to know the answer but he was afraid to ask the question. Would Snape answer him?

"My preferences always seem to run towards men." Snape's voice was soft but it seemed to Harry like he had shouted it right at him. He stared at Snape, mouth opening and closing before he blurted out.

"But in your memories there was my mum…."

Snape's eyebrow rose and his lips curled in an amused smile before he replied.

"Where I grew up there was never anybody around to play with. I had no friends and when I met Lily, a companion close to my age but who also had a magic ability, I wanted her to be my friend and only my friend. I guarded her jealously and never wanted her to be friends or anything else with the Marauders and especially your father. At first I assumed that I had fallen in love with her but by that time my hormones were stirring and it wasn't women I was fantasizing about. She was my best friend and even before I could confide in her, we had a falling out and she had moved on with her life. We spoke of many things but there were some things that we never spoke about, such as our feelings regarding each other. I may assume that Lily believed I was in love with her because I was always with her. I never said anything to contradict the claims because it is hard enough to be a social outcast at a boarding school without digging your own grave."

Snape fell silent for a moment and then continued. "Perhaps I should have confided in her but I had already learned to hide myself away and to lie about who or what I was. It was something that could be used against me and I knew how our society viewed men with my preferences and tastes. I would never be considered for a teaching position or any other position if they knew. Though I must confess that it was an anticlimax to come out of the closet. My colleagues merely looked at me as if they already knew and then went back to their business at hand. Professor Dumbledore told me the same thing that he told every staff member, that I was not to form a relationship with a student who was not of age."

Snape glanced back at Harry before sneering. "I expect that was not something you were thinking you would ever hear, now was it, Potter?"

"I always thought that you loved my mother." Harry was a bit stunned by what Snape had revealed but he tried to swallow away the strange mixture of relief that flowed through him.

Snape likes men…does that mean he may even like me? But I'm his student, even though I'm of age. Would he think of me in such a way?

"I loved your mother as a friend, impossible as it may seem."

"You love her like I love Hermione," Harry blurted out. Snape turned to look at him and then the older wizard's lips curled into a smile.

"Exactly, Potter, just like you love Miss Granger, like a sister."

But when Snape uttered those words Harry knew he didn't deserve Hermione's love because truthfully, when was the last time he had been kind to them?

Evenings in the Common Room of Gryffindor were a noisy affair, Harry decided as he descended the stairs. He looked around at the crowded room, noticing the fire that blazed in the fireplace and the snow that framed the windows from the outside. It was a place where people relaxed, finishing their homework and talking to friends. Friends. Harry had been avoiding his for most of the term, but now he wanted their company more than anything.

The "little chat" with Snape yesterday had shed some light on things. They had stayed in the graveyard until dawn and then Harry had blown out the candles and ended his vigil. Snape had stayed at his side all night and Harry felt even more strongly about the older wizard. He had assumed no one would have stayed with him during one of the coldest nights of the year at a creepy graveyard. Today, in the warmth and brightness of the Common Room, he felt like an idiot for not asking Hermione and Ron. Still, he would not give up that night spent with Snape for anything.

Harry had wanted to talk to his friends the moment they returned to Hogwarts but Snape had sent him to bed. That had been more then half a day ago. Harry had slept through his classes and even straight through dinner. It was a testimony of how bad things were between him and Ron that his best friend hadn't come to wake Harry.

Slowly Harry approached the chairs standing in front of the fireplace. They were closest to the warm fire and instead of sitting in separate chairs Hermione had enlarged one and she and Ron were cuddling close together. Harry felt a pang in his chest. Hadn't he wished several times last night to be in the same position as they were, except with Snape? He hadn't dared to confide in Snape, but perhaps it was time to stop hiding and take responsibility for himself

So he took a deep breath, reminded himself to stay calm, and moved to the edge of the chairs surrounding the fireplace.

"Hello," he said, standing at the edge of the circle of chairs.

Hermione disentangled herself from Ron and looked up from her homework. She smiled at Harry, though her eyes remained wary as if she were expecting another fight between him and Ron. Ron took his time, slowly closing his book before he looked up at Harry.

Harry forced himself to be patient, knowing that getting annoyed was not going to fix things. No, it was up to him to stay calm.

He exhaled, a long breath, and then asked, "Do you mind if I sit? There are some things I have to tell you."

He moved to a nearby seat as he spoke, trailing off as he saw Ron regarding him coolly. Hermione nodded and, relieved, Harry sat down. He rested his hands in his lap, folding his fingers together so he wouldn't betray his nerves by fidgeting.

He said, "All right. This isn't easy for me to say, so please just let me finish. I don't know if you've noticed that I've missed the Family Nights, but I went to the graveyard where my parents are buried. I know it's against the rules to leave school grounds, but I just wanted to be with them. I held a vigil last night, and Snape found me. I thought I was going to be in trouble, but he stayed with me. I... I sort of cried all over him, talking about things, and I know you'd think he'd hex me for that, but it helped. He helped. He made me realize that I'm making myself lonely by not acknowledging the family I've got."

He glanced up at them, meeting Ron's narrowed blue eyes before he continued.

"What I'm trying to say is that I've been a real prick lately. I want to apologize. You don't deserve whatever I've been accusing you guys of. You guys are the only ones who have stuck with me through all the bad things that happened the past couple of years. I've been acting like I don't remember any of that."

"I was out of line too, saying those things to you like that. It isn't your fault that the family you grew up with was fucked." Ron was quick to interrupt, and Harry allowed himself to feel optimistic.

Harry smiled as he answered, "But that doesn't take away that I have been an arse to you both since the beginning of the year. So I owe you both a huge apology for that."

Hermione said, "We accept the apology, Harry. You've had a hard year and we have all been on edge about everything. We've all said things that we don't mean but Ron was wrong regarding one thing, weren't you, Ron?" Hermione looked back at her boyfriend and Ron stared back, puzzled. He looked as confused as Harry felt, and Hermione smiled and leaned forward to place her hand on Harry's hand.

"We're a family, Harry, the three of us. But we aren't a family that is joined by blood, but by experience, and a bond of friendship and love. And that sometimes counts for more because we have chosen to be a family together."

"Blood brothers then, mate?" Ron held out a hand to him and Harry took it, curling their fingers together. His throat closed up and he couldn't speak. He could only nod at them, too thankful that they were his friends and that they loved him. But what would they say to his next piece of news?

He glanced back up and, still holding both their hands, said, "There is something else I need to tell you…I…think I might be gay or at least bisexual."

He curled in on himself, awaiting their reaction but when none came, allowed himself to look up at them. Ron was studying him with a grin on his face.

"So, Hermione will have somebody to discuss fit blokes with, now, won't she?" he asked.

All the tension left Harry and he grinned too, despite himself. Hermione laughed and Harry leaned forward and wrapped both his arms around his best friends. He could only mutter his thanks in a quiet voice, afraid that if he spoke normally his voice would shake with his relief.

As he basked in the knowledge that he had found a part of a family, he wondered, could he persuade Snape to accept him as well? Harry knew that it was something he was keen to try.

Basking in the knowledge that all was well in his world, or at least as well as could be, Harry sat down to eat breakfast by Ron the next morning. Out of habit he glanced up towards the Staff table to see where Snape was. The Headmaster was speaking in an animated way to Professor McGonagall and Harry wondered if Snape was explaining where he had gone off to yesterday. The Deputy Headmistress didn't seem to buy what Snape was saying because she kept drawing him back into conversation whenever Snape turned back to his breakfast.

Harry had to fight the urge to laugh as he saw Snape scowl into his eggs before he turned back to Harry's Head of House. He frowned when he noticed Snape's expression change before the Headmaster shook his head slightly, eyes narrowed as they glanced around the room once before settling upon Harry. They immediately shot back to the elderly Scottish witch as if Snape didn't want to be caught watching Harry. Professor McGonagall turned slightly in her seat to glance at Harry and smiled before she turned back to Snape and spoke.

Snape recoiled as she laid a hand on his arm. She spoke to him again, seeming to urge him but Snape once more shook his head, this time more forcefully. His eyes held hers for a moment as if he were pleading for her to understand something that Harry couldn't quite grasp. She spoke again and tried to lay a consoling hand on his arm. Snape's lip curled and then he roughly pulled himself away, leaving the table. Harry watched the exchange in confusion.

He turned back to his eggs. Something significant had just taken place. He glanced back up to see Professor McGonagall looking at him as if she were gauging his reaction.

"Harry, why do you keep staring up at the Staff table?" Harry turned back to Hermione. She was watching him and she had managed to draw the attention of Ron as well.

"Oh, it's nothing. I just thought that there was a fight between Professor McGonagall and Professor Snape."

"You always watch out for Snape. Don't tell me that he's the bloke you fancy," Ron joked, grinning at Harry.

Harry could feel the smile sliding off his face. Surely he couldn't be that transparent, could he?

Ron leaned forward and turned Harry roughly to him. "Hell, I was kidding. You do?

Searching his best friend's face Harry could only nod. What else could he say? He could lie to them but it wasn't going to help. He steeled himself for their response, wondering if he would be rejected again.

Ron shook his head and laughed.

"Can't you ever pick somebody simple? I mean first there was Cho, who cried all over you and then my little sister, and now Snape? You do make it difficult for yourself, don't you?"

"Ron, that isn't nice," Hermione scolded him.

"Though you do know what this means, right? He'll bugger it up on his own, no offense, Harry, so we'll have to help him."

Before Harry could even get a word in it had been decided that Ron and Hermione, authorities on the workings of love, would help him to woo Snape. He blinked, too stunned by how quickly things were moving. He looked from one to the other, trying to work up the courage to say anything.

Finally he blurted out, "But it's Snape. He'll skin me alive just for suggesting I'm romantically interested in him."

"Well, consider this. Have we ever seen Snape with anybody else before? He must be available." Ron screwed up his face, deep in thought.

"But isn't there a rule against student teacher relationships?" Harry directed the question at Hermione, knowing she would know the answer.

"Not when the student is of age and there is proof that the student hasn't used sex to gain favors in class or extra grades. Veritaserum would solve that problem. So, really, there isn't much stopping you from going after Snape."

"Apart from the minor fact that he won't be interested in a scrawny runt like me."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that, Harry. He has been watching you for a long time. You may be surprised. But isn't that what love is about, daring to put your heart on the line and all?" Hermione smiled at him with the knowing expression of one who was in love.

"Yeah, but not if it's going to get smashed."

"Then, we'll have to think of a good plan that won't fail."

"Yeah and since we've been doing this for years, we know how to make plans that don't fail. Or at least, make sure that nobody gets killed." Ron said, grinning at Harry. Despite knowing that whatever plan they came up with would never work, Harry allowed himself to be drawn into the planning, glad for the support.

The plan they had come up with wasn't brilliant as far as plans went. No, brilliant plans involved weeks of intensive planning and the guarantee that the recipient of the plans would be swept off his feet. This plan might make Snape sway a little, if Harry tossed a lot of stiff drinks in the mix. They had not had time to develop the finer details, because Harry had been summoned to Snape's office before they could speculate who would do what and when.

Hermione had told him to keep his cool and to take it easy while Ron had said that at the first sight of trouble he should leap over the desk and snog Snape senseless. If Snape really desired him, he would be out of trouble, or in a whole new set, Harry decided.

He tugged at his shirt and thought about Hermione's plan. It was pure and simple. Tell Snape how he felt about him.

Yeah, simple, my arse, nothing with Snape is ever simple.

If only Snape wasn't the Headmaster or the bitter man he was, then perhaps Harry would have dared to put his heart on the line. But if his life had taught him anything, it was how to protect himself.

He was still contemplating these thoughts when the gargoyle leaped aside and the wall moved to reveal the very wizard he had been thinking about. His breath caught in his throat as Harry got a good look at Snape. It was only two days ago that he had spent an entire night with the man, but it seemed like he saw Snape in a new light. Harry wasn't sure but it was as if Snape was looking at him with a new intensity.

The older wizard cleared his throat, smiling slightly.

"Mr. Potter… Harry. I summoned you to my office but not, as you may have expected, to discuss your punishment for leaving school grounds. Something has been brought to my attention by Professor McGonagall. She had a visit from Hermione Granger, who seemed particularly worried about you. They both thought that I was the only one who could…ah, help you."

Snape peered down at him, uncertain, and Harry frowned. Hermione was worried about him? He had only told her he was gay a week ago. Surely she couldn't really be trying to play matchmaker already.

"And you can help me with whatever it is that they think I suffer from?"

"It depends on what you are suffering." This time Snape's expression changed and there was a hint of something predatory in his eyes, something that made Harry's breath catch in his throat. "Minerva is convinced I suffer from the same thing."

Harry's eyebrow rose at the cryptic message and then Snape said, "Perhaps it would be better if we spoke outside. We are guaranteed more privacy than standing in the hallway.

His mind supplying him with images of what they could with more privacy, Harry could only nod. When Snape turned to lead the way, Harry groaned under his breath. His imagination was running overtime and it was the last thing he needed at the moment. He followed the Headmaster out of the corridors, walking right behind him so that it looked like he was facing whatever punishment Snape chose to bestow upon him. His mind was racing with questions.

What had Hermione spoken about with McGonagall? What did his best friend think Harry suffered from that he required Snape's assistance of all people? Harry had only spoken to Hermione about hating these Family Nights; surely it wasn't Snape's responsibility to do something about that with Harry.

Unless it was. Snape was the Headmaster and thus it was his responsibility that all his students were happy. But what could Snape change about those dreaded nights that made it easier for Harry? Cancelling them was not an option and to be truthful Harry had no intention of spending every Family night at his parents' graveside. Once in a few months was enough for him. If he stayed there too often, he'd be lost trying to get back memories instead of building something for himself.

He shook himself from his thoughts and quickened his pace when he noticed that Snape had slowed his stride to accommodate Harry's shorter ones. Harry fell in step beside him and together they exited the castle, blinking into the strong sunlight of one of the few nice days left. The sun was shining and while it was cold, Harry closed his eyes to enjoy the warmth on his face.

Although he had explored most of Hogwarts castle, Harry had never explored the grounds. Therefore, he didn't know where Snape was taking him until the older wizard drifted away from the path and towards the lake. Harry could only followed the Headmaster as Snape pushed past a hedge that concealed a well-hidden path that by the looks of it had rarely been used.

Finally they came near a clearing where a stone bench stood, much like those near the lake. They were close to the water's edge, concealed by the trees that grew around them. Harry was drawn to the place. It provided solitude, he decided, and he wondered how many times Snape had come here in the past to think or…to escape certain people. Harry shrugged with the shiver that ran down his spine.

Snape turned to him and said, "The bench is safe for sitting. It was built with sturdier people in mind than yourself, Mr. Potter."

Rolling his eyes, Harry hurried forward. He knew he was still skinny but that was no reason for Snape to rub it in. He stepped over the bench, pushing his robe away and showing the jumper and jeans he wore underneath.

He turned back when he was sitting and was taken aback by the expression on Snape's face. The heat in those dark eyes made him flush and immediately he looked away. It was hard enough to keep himself under control without getting looks like that from Snape.

He wanted to slide forward a little and to find warmth against Snape's body. Perhaps he could persuade the Headmaster that he didn't know a warming charm. Warming charms were nice but there was something to be said for sharing body warmth. Especially with Snape. Harry was sure that he could fit right into the crook of Snape's arm. Harry knew of a few more ways to keep warm, even without clothing.

He shook himself firmly and then focused on Snape. The older wizard was staring out at the water.

"Professor McGonagall has brought it to my attention," Snape said, "that I, as Headmaster, seem to lack some experience in important areas. Professor Dumbledore and his predecessors all became Headmaster at a later age. I am one of the youngest Headmasters in the history of Hogwarts. As you may be aware, wizards grow to very old age unless we are killed by an accident or a curse. I'm young for a wizard, especially so for a Headmaster, but the Board of Governors decided that my lack of age was made up by my experiences in other areas. They decided that since the Minister for Magic vouched for me, and because I promised I would be gone by the end of the year, that I was their best bet for the students who returned to Hogwarts. Though I suppose that I have to thank Minerva, Filius, Hagrid and some of the other staff for their support as well."

Harry tried to listen politely but he had no idea where Snape was going with his story. He nodded at the times he thought appropriate but then Snape glanced at him and said, "I seem to be rambling. There is a point to this story, I promise. Perhaps I should steer toward that before I bore you to death."

Harry's eyebrows rose as he noticed the amusement in the dark eyes. Snape's tone was light, almost as if, Merlin forbid, the older wizard was flirting with him.

"I suppose you would have to revive me, then," Harry said, to see how this new Snape would react to a little flirtation of his own.

This time the thin lips curved up, and Snape said, "Well, I must say that I am sufficiently qualified to perform mouth to mouth."

Harry's breathing caught in his throat as he imagined what Snape's mouth to mouth might feel like.

Seeming oblivious to the way Harry was beset by his imagination, Snape continued to speak.

"However, I did not come here to discuss my first aid techniques. It seems that according to Minerva, there are some situations in which I seem ruefully out of my depth. Such a situation arises with you and the Family nights. She is convinced, and Miss Granger shares that opinion, that instead of allowing you to visit your parents' grave each and every time I should settle on a different course. Especially in light of recent revelations..."

Snape fell silent and Harry glanced up to see Snape watching him. "Which revelations would those be?"

"Well, according to Miss Granger as she saw fit to tell Minerva, it all has to do with your recent coming out. They feel that I, as a man who also shares your preferences, should be the one to guide you through this process."

Couldn't Hermione simply play matchmaker herself? Did she have to bring Professor McGonagall into this?

"Oh…but I don't really need any help, I suppose. I mean, I'm already out of the closet and at the moment, well, there isn't all that much to it now, is there? People can only accept it or not… it isn't like I should be concerned with that. People have judged whatever I've done all my life, so I suppose that it is just another thing that they will comment about and frown upon. They probably won't believe it anyway. I suppose that the only way to prove it to them would be to appear with the person I love, but that's impossible. I mean, it isn't like he would love me."

Harry realized he had misspoken when he heard the sharp intake that Snape made next to him. He looked up, for the first time seeing the pain in the dark eyes before Snape could hide it behind his usual mask.

Harry immediately began to shake his head as he said, "I think that I am just not the sort of person he would go for."

"But that isn't what you said," Snape rose and began to pace, his cloak snapping about his legs before he turned back to Harry and hissed. "What did you mean when you said that he probably wouldn't love you? Do you not consider yourself worth loving?"

Helplessly Harry watched as Snape took a step closer and poked him in the chest as he growled, "You really think that the person who loves you wouldn't go as far as to die for you? To remain at a place for another year so he could see you and guide you, instead of finally living his life as he should be doing? Do you know how heart-wrenching it is to see the one you love smiling at everyone but never at you? I imagine that that person would rather leave than be subjected to that daily, knowing the love was never returned. "

Harry stared up, confused. What was Snape talking about? "No, I don't think that. I would be honored if somebody would do all those things for me…even though the last thing is a bit weird. I mean, why would somebody go away when you love somebody? Doesn't it make more sense to give it a try?"

"You would be honored," Snape sneered, "but nothing more."

"I would be a lot more, if that person returned my affections. Otherwise, it wouldn't be fair and it would be awkward. But it isn't like he would return my feelings. He's hated me all his life. Why should that change now?"

"Have you perhaps considered that this person may have just been hiding his true feelings? Or that he has only recently discovered that you may return his feelings?

Harry couldn't decipher Snape's tone.

"How would I even know if he likes me when I can't ask him?

"You could, though he has been dropping enough hints in the past few minutes that even you should be able to figure out how he feels about you by now."

Harry looked up. Snape stood in front of him, the sunlight directly behind him, making it impossible for him to read Snape's face. Harry bit his lip, still not quite certain enough to make the first move or declare himself.

Snape sighed and rolled his eyes before he swooped down and kissed Harry. Harry sat frozen, too surprised to react, and when he finally recovered, Snape had already broken away. He blinked up at Snape, momentarily stunned.

"You kissed me?" His voice was incredulous and Snape smiled, causing Harry's breath to catch in his throat.

"I did. Did you mind?"

He seized the opportunity to pull Snape's head down as he whispered against the thin lips, "I don't mind that you kissed me. But I do mind if that is the only thing you are going to do. I mean, one kiss, come on Severus; I have thought about this for months. How am I supposed to survive on one kiss? Especially if you just implied that you love me."

Satisfied with the arms that wrapped around him, Harry smiled as Severus answered.

"You expect me to move quickly, when it was only just now I discovered your interest in me, and only yesterday Minerva gave me the chance to hope?"

"Oh, so that was what you were talking about at breakfast."


"You were talking quite passionately. You kept shaking your head. Am I to understand that you are against such a relationship and that we shouldn't flaunt it in front of the rest of the school?" Harry tried to keep the grin from showing on his face as he teased Snape, "No, instead, I bet that you would rather that I return to sneaking about the castle so that you can pull me into a shaded corridor and divest me of my innocence. Or that I should go to you for detention, and instead you-"

Harry could have spoken about his fantasies all day long, but he found his body suddenly pressed tight against Snape as the older wizard lowered his head to forcefully crush his lips against Harry's. Harry had been kissed a few times in his life but never like this, and in this instance he realized that this was what a kiss was supposed to feel like. He only wanted more and moaned as he curled his hands around Snape's shoulders, seeking a deeper contact.

He opened his mouth and after a quick exploration by Snape, the older wizard drew away. Harry keened in his throat, bemoaning the loss as he tried to tug Snape's head back down. The Headmaster resisted with a smirk.

Snape said, "As much as I would love to kiss you for the rest of the foreseeable future, at the moment that is not what we were discussing. What you thought you saw, and interpreted as a dismissal on my part was actually an attempt not be manipulated by two bright witches. You do realize that if we are seen in public together, we will never hear the end of it. We shall be the talk at every occasion when people ask us how we ended up together. Do you really want to tell them that we were incapable of managing it ourselves, and required the intervention of my colleague and your friend?"

"Well, if not, then we might never have figured it out," Harry said.

"I doubt that," Snape relied. "With your track record for idiocy you would have no doubt found a way to make sure the whole school knew how you felt about me. I naturally would have been obliged to respond in kind."

"By kissing me in the middle of the Great Hall?" Harry asked innocently.

"No, by taking you to my office and giving you such a thorough lesson that you cannot sit down for a week."

Harry blanched as he said, "You mean spanking? I'm not sure if I'm into that."

"There are other ways to ensure that you cannot sit still for a week, and those are very enjoyable." There was a predatory gleam in Snape's dark eyes, and Harry swallowed thickly.

"But you wouldn't really do that to me, now would you?" There was so much that he didn't know about Severus. So much he wanted to know.

"No, Harry, I will always heal you unless you request otherwise. Or unless I'm too engrossed in our mutual pleasure that I leave more marks then I should."

Harry's imagination was working overtime. Marked and owned by Snape; that was what he wanted.

"I would wear those marks proudly, for all to see who I belong to."

Snape's expression softened and Harry was kissed again. Snape then rested his forehead against Harry's so that they could look in each other eyes. Harry knew that he would never tire of this. He leaned up for another kiss.

How could he have even imagined that he could live without this? It would be like living without breath. He hadn't even noticed that he loved Snape liked this. Snape, like a true spy, had sneaked past the walls Harry had erected to protect his heart and had made a place for himself there. Harry just hoped that Snape had no intention of leaving, ever.

He was kissed again, hungrily this time, his lips devoured by a mouth that knew just how to reduce him to a quivering mass of need. Delightful shivers ran down Harry's spine and his fingers itched to take clothes off. A cold wind put an immediate stop to that train of thought as Harry shivered with something other than the desire from Severus' kiss.

He burrowed further into Severus' arms, seeking to stay warm. The cold wind blasted again and Harry shivered once more.

"I know that my kisses can be shiver inducing, but this is ridiculous. You are trembling. What is the matter?" The deep voice rumbled through Snape's chest.

Harry didn't lift his head as he said, "It is cold out."

"Ah yes, it does happen when once goes out in the winter. Perhaps we should take this inside. I have the perfect place in my private rooms in front of the fireplace where I am sure that I can sufficiently warm you." As Harry glanced up and saw the heat in those dark eyes, he knew that he wouldn't be cold in Snape's room, not at all.

As the term progressed, so did Harry's relationship with Severus. The Headmaster was usually busy with all the various tasks that his position demanded but he always tried to find time to spend with Harry. On most nights they sat together, Snape filling in his own paperwork and Harry working on his homework. Harry would have loved to spend more time with his lover but it was impossible and this new change was nice. It was a slow relationship and at the moment Harry was glad for the steady support Snape provided.

There were not many people who knew of their relationship. Hermione, Ron and Professor McGonagall were the only ones, though Harry suspected that the rest of the staff knew that something was up with Snape. Severus had changed significantly. He had relaxed and was not so quick to snap at people. Being a Headmaster seemed to agree with Snape more than being a teacher. Without having to deal with students every day Snape was not prone to fits of anger or showing his short temper.

Harry secretly hoped that it had something to do with having Harry there as well but he knew that it was just wishful thinking. Perhaps sex could soften Snape even more but, so far, although they had kissed and Harry was sure that he wanted to have sex with Snape, it was one line they had not yet crossed. He was sure that if he suggested it to Severus, the older wizard would comply in a heartbeat. He could feel Snape's eyes on him every time, the heat and hunger making him shiver.

Harry had tried on occasion to wait up for Snape because he knew the demanding schedule of the Headmaster but on all those occasions he had fallen asleep. There was one memorable occasion when Harry had set out to seduce Snape, waiting naked in his bed. He had failed to take in account the fact that Snape had been in a meeting at the Ministry and by the time the older wizard had returned, Harry had fallen asleep. He had barely even woken up when Snape had moved him in the bed before slipping in next to him and drawing up the blankets over them both.

It was the first time that Harry had ever shared a bed with Severus, though it hadn't been the last. In the past weeks Harry usually stayed over once or twice a week. Snape's days were long and his nights were short but Harry didn't mind. If he could just spend a part of the night with his beloved in a bed, then he was happy.

It was in this fashion that they had filled out the weeks until another Family Night rolled around. He was sitting at the breakfast table when Ron leaned over.

"So, will you come out with mum and dad or will you go visit your parents again?" Ron asked.

"You know it isn't allowed, Ron. The rules are clear on this. Unless your family has adopted Harry, he can't come with you." Hermione's voice drifted from behind the paper. She lowered it slightly to look at Ron as she raised an eyebrow.

"Yeah but I mean…come on, Harry is Snape's lover…." Ron lowered his voice slightly before he continued. "Surely he can persuade him to bend the rules a little bit. Harry doesn't deserve to spend another evening at his parents' grave."

"I won't," Harry said. "Severus made plans for us to do something together tonight. He says that it's stupid that I should try to make up for the years that I never visited by going to the graveside each Family night."

Harry was distracted as he buttered his toast; not only by the conversation that took place around them, but by what was going to happen tonight. He had a faint idea of what Severus had planned, but that wasn't the only thing. He wondered if he was ready. What would Severus think of him? Would he think Harry was any good, or would he think that Harry sucked?

Harry was nervous. He had heard the stories and he knew that if he asked Hermione for some advice, she would give it to him with a stack of books before you could say Quidditch, but in his opinion, it just wasn't fair that a girl knew more about sex between two men than he did.

Were there even books on this subject? Harry wondered. He glanced up at the staff table. Snape was watching him again and the heat in those dark eyes and the way Snape licked his lips slightly made Harry realized that tonight was going to be just fine. Snape would guide him.

He turned back to Hermione just as she folded the paper. She said, with a knowing look in her eyes, "He watches you the whole time now, you know."

"Yeah, I know." Harry shrugged. He could feel Snape's eyes upon him.

"He must like you a lot." She leaned forward, eyes intent upon his.

Harry focused upon his breakfast for a moment before he glanced up at her and said, "I know."

"So he made plans for you both, then. That is very generous of him."

"Yes, I know."

Harry knew it infuriated her when he didn't provide answers and he shared a grin with Ron as she leaned forward and hissed, "What do you have got planned, Harry James Potter? Answer me properly."

He fixed her with a look a look, his eyes twinkling innocently as he whispered, "Do you really want to know what I think he has got planned for tonight? Probably some boring stuff like having sex in his bed or in the Headmaster's bathtub. There are benefits about having the Headmaster for a lover. The tub is huge, and his quarters are massive. We have privacy, not like in the dorms. But you don't care about those details, do you? You want to know what we'd be doing. I think I'll be too distracted to make a list for you of the way he undresses me, touches me with those hands, that mouth. I'm sure he'll make me scream."

Harry looked down at his breakfast as he took another bite of his toast. He then glanced back up to see dilated eyes staring back at his own before Hermione swallowed, grabbed Ron's hand and said, "I think I forgot my books upstairs. Come help me find them."

"But classes start in 10 minutes," Ron argued.

"We can afford to miss the first class."

Ron grinned and nodded happily at Harry and then disappeared upstairs with Hermione, Harry's joyful laughter following his two best friends.

"Ah, do come, Mr. Potter."

Snape's look could have melted the arctic and Harry shivered in response. The thin lips curled in a smirk and Harry echoed it with a smile. Snape rose, stretching as Harry eyed the black jumper and dark pants Snape wore. They didn't conceal much of the shape of Snape's body and Harry swallowed as he realized that soon he would be exploring everything those clothes hid.

Snape picked up his robe from the back of his chair, pulling it on as he stepped towards Harry. "Accompany me downstairs," he said, "so that I can give my speech, and then we shall retire. I think that you should stand by my side. It will convey the message I want."

Harry paused in his step. What message was Snape talking about? Did Snape want to state to everybody that he was capable of holding on to a lover? Would he flaunt his relationship with Harry in front of the parents and parade Harry around to show everybody he was taken?

He started when Snape's hand dropped on his shoulder.

"What are you thinking about, minx?" the Headmaster asked.

"Nothing." Harry forced a smile to his face. Snape frowned and stepped in front of him. The older wizard peered down at him and then raised an eyebrow.

Harry found himself faltering before he blurted out, "What message are you trying to convey that would require me to stand beside you?"

"That there are all sorts of families out there, not bound by blood or a flimsy piece of parchment. That the less conventional families can hold just as much happiness. If you do not wish to stand beside me, then say so now and I shall step up alone."

"You would openly admit that you are my lover? In front of all the parents and students, who would no doubt whisper it back to everybody in the Wizarding World?"

"Of course."

Snape sneered at him as if the very question was infuriating and Harry grinned before he tugged the man's head down and kissed him deeply.

"I would be honored, no, more than honored to stand beside you wherever we are."

Harry barely had the time to suck in a large breath before Snape kissed him again, deeper this time. Harry moaned, wrapped his arms around Snape's scarred neck to draw him even closer. He ignored the murmurs that came from around them as travelling students saw Snape devouring him. The murmurs grew to muted conversation. Harry had no desire to end the kiss, but he wished that those people who were staring would continue on towards the Great Hall.

He lifted his head, licking his lips as he and Snape broke apart. The Headmaster glanced around at the people gathered in the Entrance Hall. Harry realized with a flush they had been standing at the top of the marble staircase. Below, quite a crowd had gathered, watching them. Some were murmuring and others were simply staring.

"Well, looks like you don't need to make a speech any more," Harry said. "Shall we retire then?"

Snape turned to look at him. "I suppose I can grant Minerva the honor of welcoming the rest of them. She has been practically begging me to give her a little bit more responsibility. Let us go before I drag you into an empty classroom and have my wicked way with you."

Harry merely smiled sweetly as he turned as he turned, knowing Snape would follow. "Promises, promises," he said.

The moment that they stepped on the rotating staircase that moved up to Snape's office, Harry was pulled to Severus' side. He barely had the time to draw in a large breath before he was kissed. He was crushed underneath Snape's mouth as it sought entrance to his. He gave the access willingly, moaning when hands tugged at his jumper, seeking to remove it.

"You move awfully quickly," he managed to pant.

Severus merely moved his mouth to Harry's neck. The wicked hands tugged his jumper up from his pants before diving underneath.

"I do not plan to wait much longer," Snape said. "I plan to ravish you tonight. I have already waited too long and I need to put in an appearance later this evening."

"And I need to accompany you?" Harry had a little bit of trouble focusing. Snape lifted his head and smirked.

"No," he purred, "but knowing that you are waiting for me in my bed will enable me to make it quick and return to you. Besides, once I'm through with you, you will be too sore to move."

The thin lips met Harry's in a mind-blowing kiss and together they stumbled against the door that led to Snape's office. Snape's mouth never left Harry's as the door opened. They moved inside, ignoring the sudden whispers from the portraits. Snape directed them towards the staircase that led upstairs to his private rooms. But at the moment, Harry had other ideas. He kissed Severus back enthusiastically, running his hands up Severus' chest as he broke the kiss. Snape stared down at him, ignoring the catcalls that came from the deceased Headmasters.

Harry looked up at Snape, daring the other wizard to say or do anything. Snape's look was intense, as if he was daring Harry to continue. Slowly Harry reached with trembling fingers to undo the first button on Snape's robe. The older wizard tensed but when the button popped open Snape relaxed visibly, seeking the confirmation he needed when Harry continued with opening another button.

"I have no desire for these voyeuristic old men to see us together," Snape said. "I'm sure that would be the highlight of their bleak existence. I can guarantee you that my bedroom will be more than adequate for what I have in mind for us."

"Oh I think the bedroom will do nicely. We can try the office next time." Harry grinned at the look of horror he saw in Snape's eyes. The older wizard shook his head sharply and then gestured.

"Lead the way, Mr. Potter. I will appreciate the view." With those words Harry turned, lightly swaying his hips as he glanced over his shoulder at Snape.

It was nice to be desired by somebody, he decided, especially if you desired that somebody back. He could see the heat and hunger in Snape's gaze as it followed him. The pale hands twitched slightly as Snape adjusted his stride a little. Harry fought his smile as he led the way upstairs, knowing Snape would follow.

He waited at the top of the stairs. Turning around he grinned and stepped forward to boldly kiss Severus as the older wizard reached the step below him. Taking a moment to appreciate the fact that he could for once kiss his lover without having to reach up or stand on his toes, Harry stepped back and undid his shirt. He smiled, secure in the knowledge he was wanted when he saw Snape's black eyes widen as Harry allowed his shirt to fall open, display his pale chest and flat belly.

He ran a hand down his own chest as his eyes continued to hold Snape's before he reached for his belt. He undid it slowly before moving on to his zipper. He glanced down to make sure he wasn't accidentally unzipping something else. Immediately strong hands came to rest upon his waist and pulled him to rest against Snape's hips and hard chest. Harry glanced up and without having a chance to say anything, he was kissed hungrily. He moaned against the brutal force behind it, the hunger that made his very skin prickle.

Severus pulled away just as quickly as he had swooped in and said, "If you seek to tempt me again on these stairs, I'll have you against the wall with all the past Headmasters watching."

"You wouldn't. Not with Dumbledore there." Harry's conviction faltered when he saw the raised eyebrow. Snape leaned in and purred.

"Oh, believe me when I say that I will." The Headmaster smiled in such a way that Harry was immediately reminded just how ruthless Snape could be.

Severus made use of the distraction to slowly unzip Harry's jeans as he said, "I think that we need to take these off."

Harry barely had the time to yelp when the door opened behind them and he was pushed inside. He stumbled a little but met the dark eyes and the smirk as Severus advanced, his stride a panther's prowl. Hands reached for his shirt as fingers snapped quickly to light candles. Harry blinked in the sudden light as the door banged shut behind Snape.

The dark eyes were smoldering as Severus divested Harry of his shirt before he asked, "Unless you prefer to do this in the dark?"

There was more behind this question than at first glance and Harry frowned. Somehow, he knew that his answer could alter their very relationship. Taking a moment to think before he blurted something out, he rested his hands on Severus' arms, merely focusing upon his thoughts.

Why would Severus ask that of me? I could care less if the lights are on or off. If I take my glasses off I'm not going to see anything anyway. Unless, he doesn't like to look at me, but that doesn't make any sense. He wouldn't have drawn my attention to the lights otherwise. No, this isn't about me…it is about him.

"Come on, you can't really mean that. I can barely see without my glasses even with all the candles blazing. Why would I court disaster by doing it in the dark? I wouldn't want to damage anything and besides… I want to see everything I can." He emphasized his words by using a spell to open all Snape's buttons at once. He had researched the spell because he had no mind to be forced to pop open button after button. There were millions of them on Snape's robe.

Harry could almost believe he was imagining it again, standing here undressing his lover. He could feel Severus' body heat and although he was aroused, he was still thinking clearly. That changed completely when Severus took off his robe, tossing it away towards one of the chairs that stood in the corner. Harry gulped when Severus pulled off his jumper and it joined the robe on the chair. He realized he was staring when Severus crossed his arms over his broad chest, hiding himself partly away.

Chastised, Harry looked up, feeling the flush beginning in his neck and creep up to his cheeks until they burned. But he couldn't help himself when his gaze drifted past the scarred neck, down the broad chest and towards the flat belly and the hair that ran down into the waistband of Severus' trousers. Finally Severus uncrossed his arms and Harry licked his lips unconsciously as his eyes fixed upon what had been hidden.

His gaze flickered up towards Severus' face when the older wizard moved. Severus stepped in closer, one hand reaching out to touch Harry's skin. Harry's muscles tensed as Severus' hand touched his stomach, slowly sliding around his side to come and lie against his back before it applied pressure. Harry stepped forward, standing chest to chest with Severus before the older wizard bent his head again and kissed Harry, slowly nibbling at his lips before Harry parted them with a moan. The skin to skin contact felt incredible and he wanted more. He wanted Severus to be inside him. He wanted, no, he needed…

Their kiss intensified, and Harry realized he was hard when his hips began moving against the firm thigh that was suddenly in just the right place. Their mouths moved in a rhythm that only they understood and Harry bucked, his hands his hands clenching against Severus' chest. Before he could buck his hips a third time, Severus pulled away.

"I will not have this end prematurely and if you keep this up then it certainly will," he said.

Harry tried without much success to control the urge to do what his body wanted. Severus yanked Harry's shirt off, throwing it to one side of the room.

"If you are determent to hasten this, then I think we should be naked. Take your clothes off, Harry."

It was the first time that Harry followed a command from Severus' so quickly. He had his trainers kicked off even before the man finished his sentence. He gripped his partly undone jeans and those too dropped to the ground. Within the space of a few seconds Harry stood in his boxers, looking at a still partly dressed Severus.

"You said clothes off and you are the one who is slow," Harry said.

Severus raised an eyebrow and then silently pointed towards the bed.

"I think you will find me fast enough to your liking in a moment," he said.

Harry turned towards the bed, slowly crawling on top and lying there, watching Severus undress. He had never seen Severus naked before, and he was not prepared for what he found now. Severus wasn't wearing any underwear, but whether he did it all the time or just this once was a question for another time because Harry was preoccupied. His gaze focused on the heavy cock that stood proudly erect and he swallowed. He clenched his buttocks when he realized that that thing was supposed to fit inside him.

Severus was right. I won't be able to sit down for a week.

As if sensing his thoughts, Severus approached him and laid a careful hand on Harry's knee. "We can do this another time if you wish. There are ways to find enjoyment without penetration."

"No, I'm okay, but just be gentle, please."

He nervously glanced up at his lover and Severus smiled. "Always."

The smile was gentle and tender. Harry knew it was aimed completely at him and relaxed. He had never doubted that Severus would be anything but gentle, but it wouldn't be the first time someone had told him one thing and then done the exact opposite. He tugged at Severus' hand, trying to coax the other man to come and lie down beside him.

Their lips met in a kiss as the older wizard leaned forward. Harry sat up, wrapping an arm around Severus' shoulders to draw him back down to the bed. The older wizard groaned with pleasure as he settled in. Harry allowed his legs to fall open, noticing with a strange delight how well Snape seemed to fit in between his thighs. Their cocks were nestled together but at the moment, neither man seemed inclined to move. They kissed lazily, exploring each other's mouths.

Harry's fingers gently explored Severus' back, feeling the raised skin where scars were. He wanted to explore those scars with his tongue. He pushed some hair behind Severus' ear so that he could lightly touch the scars on his neck.

Severus tensed underneath his fingers but Harry merely leaned up to softly kiss the raised skin. Severus shivered against him. Harry couldn't help but smile before he moved down to suck at another sensitive part of Severus' throat. The older wizard growled. Harry had discovered this spot before, and knew it never failed to get a reaction.

He licked at the spot before he suddenly yelped. When he had been preoccupied Severus had pinched his nipple. This time the older wizard grinned at him before moving down to suck it, hard. Harry groaned. He closed his eyes, surrendering to the sensations. He really hoped that this would never end.

Harry had never felt anything like this with a girl. He arched his back as Severus moved down and his thighs fell open without any conscious thought. He wanted Severus to be inside him. The need was building with every touch of Snape's fingers, and Harry writhed when Snape gripped his cock, needing to come and desperately trying to avoid it. He might be eighteen, but that didn't mean he wanted to go off straight away. No, he wanted his orgasm to come as close to Severus' as possible.

Severus was licking his way down Harry's stomach towards his prick, making him squirm. The older wizard was trailing the line of dark hair from Harry's navel towards his pubic hair. The close proximity of the wicked mouth to his prick was nearly enough to make him come and Harry hissed.

"Please, stop," he gasped.

Severus raised his head immediately, fixing Harry with a look that was as sharp as the dark eyes narrowed. "What did you just say?"

"I don't want you to make me come. Not yet at least. I want to come when you do. When you are inside me. So yeah, I need you to stop, or I'll..."

Harry hissed sharply again when Severus' quick fingers stroked his cock.

The older wizard chuckled when Harry threw his head back helplessly, moaning low in his throat before the fingers withdrew. Harry turned to look at his lover, who was summoning a small jar from a nearby cupboard.

"It is lubricant. I think that you know what it is used for," Severus said drily.

Harry did. He felt a twinge of fear in his belly for a moment but when Severus leaned over him to kiss him it disappeared. The warmth of the lips lingered and then Severus asked, "Are you ready?"

Harry could only nod, breathlessly, and roll to his front. He pushed himself up on his hands and knees, and heard the sharp intake of breath behind him. He glanced back to see Severus staring at him, wetting his lips briefly before he coated his long fingers in the lubricant. The sight of those fingers and knowing what they were going to do made Harry nearly come right there and then.

The sight was only slightly less arousing when he saw Severus coat his cock in the thick liquid. Harry wriggled when he felt the rush of a cleaning charm. He breathed in deeply and tried to steel himself for whatever was coming next. He wasn't prepared when instead of fingers breaching him there was a wet, warm tongue licking him. He started and closed his eyes. This was almost too much. He knew that Severus could talk him into an incoherent mess but for him to lick him into one was a new experience.

Harry felt the hot, wet muscle of Snape's tongue pulsing against him, seeming as though it would push inside. He gave a broken moan at the sensation, and wondered if he could come just from that alone.

He curled his fingers in the duvet as instead of the warm tongue he had come to expect, a finger slowly circled his hole before pushing inside. Another finger was added and Harry wondered how he could have gone such a long time without having something up his arse like this. It felt incredible. Snape's fingers moved inside him, making him pant with the need and want for more. He wanted this feeling to last. He was conflicted, wanting more but also wanting this feeling to last forever.

Harry jerked and groaned when Severus' fingers brushed something inside him and shot intense pleasure up his spine.

He bore down against the fingers, wanting Severus to touch that spot inside him again. Why had he waited so long for this? If he had known that this was what it was going to feel like, he would have tried to seduce Severus earlier.

He groaned loudly, the sound vibrating through the room. If this was what fingering felt like, he couldn't wait to be fucked by Severus' cock.

Harry waited until Severus had pulled his fingers away and was busy with lubricating his cock before he turned around and launched himself at Severus. He kissed his beloved, not caring that Severus' cock dug into his stomach or that he was getting lube all over himself. All he wanted was to be close to his wizard.

He pulled back to stare at the Headmaster as Severus purred.,"And what is this? Have you changed your mind, brat, about how you want to do things?"

"Yes, I want to be able to see you."

"I'll enjoy watching you ride me, then," Snape said. Then the hungry gleam in his eyes softening into something gentler. "I'll make sure you enjoy it too."

Harry glanced down at Snape's proud, erect cock. The tip glittered with pre-come and lubricant. Before he could change his mind he pushed himself up and lowered himself into Severus' lap. He tensed when the blunt head nudged his hole. He bit his lip, not noticing that he was steadied by Severus' helpful hands before he moved himself down. Finally the head of Severus' cock slipped past his loosened muscles and although Severus urged him to go slowly, Harry threw all caution to the wind and lowered himself to the root.

He had to take a moment to catch his breath but he wasn't the only one. Severus seemed to be slightly short of breath as well but the hands that held Harry's hips were steady.

"I said slowly," Severus finally managed to growl.

His glare was slightly distracted however and Harry raised himself experimentally before he lowered himself again. A strangled breath brushed his face and he reveled in the knowledge that he was the one in control. He moved up and down, trying to set a pace. Severus rose up to meet him, bucking his hips as they moved in a rhythm only they knew and understood. Harry was lost in the feeling of ecstasy that moved through him.

He was only aware of Severus' dark eyes fixed upon him, the pounding of the cock inside him, his own cock rubbing against Severus' stomach. Severus reached down to stroke his cock, and it took only a few swift tugs to tip Harry over the edge of his climax. It was all too much, and he screamed behind clenched teeth. Stars exploded behind his closed eyelids and his muscles clenched violently.

His own shout was followed a moment later by a growl that would have done a panther proud. He could feel Severus emptying himself within him but he didn't care. He didn't care that his own sticky come was drying on his chest and on Severus. He didn't care as he was eased onto his back and Severus pulled his softening cock out of him. He didn't care that Severus kissed his temple. He did care when the older wizard sought to move away.

Snapping back to himself instantly, he reached out and caught Severus' hand.

"Where are you going?"

Severus turned back to him and he couldn't have looked lovelier to Harry if he had tried. The normally sallow cheeks were alight with a glow and the eyes shone with something that, in people who weren't Snape, Harry would have called happiness. But with Severus, he wasn't sure what to call it. Severus squeezed his hand as he said, raising an eyebrow, "I'm going to get a towel so that we will not wake up stuck together."

"But that isn't such a bad thing, is it?" Harry was careful of how he phrased the question. He lowered his eyes slightly.

"If you are not going to complain to me about sticking to each other in the morning, then it is all the same to me."

"Perhaps we could take a bath together tomorrow morning. In fact, it could be our ritual together, like each morning taking a bath or a shower together before we go our separate ways." Harry fell silent when he noticed how Severus' face seemed to close suddenly. The older wizard looked away.

Horror flowed through Harry. He had messed up again. He had assumed things that he shouldn't have assumed; what kind of fool had he been? He had thought he had a future with Severus, but now that they'd had sex, Severus wasn't interested any more. Had he been that bad at it? Why was he so stupid that he had never seen this coming? He was a fool. Immediately he pulled himself away, refusing to show how much this was hurting him.

"Harry?" The soft call of his name had him looking up into Snape's confused eyes. "Where are you going?"

"I think I should go back to my dormitory. You obviously don't want me here. It's all right, I understand-"

Even before he could finish the sentence he was enveloped in strong arms. He held himself stiffly, not wishing to give into the comfort only to have it taken away again. A hand moved through his hair and Severus sighed.

"Harry, it is not that I find the idea of being with you distasteful. Quite the contrary. It's that I find myself not wanting you to leave. It's one thing to talk about showering with me every morning, but I may be inclined to never allow you to leave. You're young, and will surely want to experiment once you finish your education."

"You would want me to be your boyfriend?" Harry peered up from underneath his fringe. Severus' mouth turned down at the word and the older wizard looked as though he had tasted something sour.

"I have always detested that word. Boyfriend would imply that I am dating a boy. You may still be young and, on occasion, immature but you are not, I hope, a boy. No, I would rather use the word partner or, if you would be inclined, spouse. It is much more elegant than the word boyfriend."

"But by spouse you would mean that we would be married." Harry held his breath, waiting for Severus to answer.

"It would. Would it bother you if I were to ask you to marry me?"

"No! In fact, I would even go as far as to call it brilliant. That is, if you were to ask me, of course."

"Very well, then you may consider this a proposal."

"Oh no, if we are going to be married then I want a proper proposal. The ring, going down on one knee and everything."

"Brat can't even be satisfied with a simple question." Severus grumbled but he did move out of their embrace and went to a cabinet that stood by the bed. After rummaging through it for a few moments, he withdrew a velvet box and returned to Harry's side.

"Well, I suppose it has to be done properly," Severus said. "It isn't like it is going to be done a second time."

Harry grinned to hide how nervous he was feeling.

"If you are planning on doing this properly, then we should wait to have sex again until we are married."

Severus groaned as he sank down upon one knee, and Harry took mercy on him.

"I'll floo call the Ministry tomorrow and we'll be married by the end of the week. Well, at least before the next Family Night. I want to participate in one finally." Harry was not going to wait months or years until they were married.

"The Ministry is not that quick when it concerns bonding ceremonies." Severus was distracted as he fiddled with the opening of the box.

"They'll do so for me. I am the Chosen One, after all," Harry said, giving Snape his best cheeky smirk.

"Then there may be one aspect of your fame with which I can live," Snape replied. "What do you say, Mr. Potter? Will you do me the honor of becoming my Chosen One?"

Harry could only nod breathlessly. He grinned when Severus moved the ring onto his finger and then he pulled his fiancé to his feet. He didn't mind when Severus tugged him into the bed and pulled the covers over him, kissing him lightly.

"With that out of the way, can I finally get some sleep?" Severus asked. "I have to put in an appearance in an hour and I would prefer not to look like I have been shagged senseless."

Harry grinned, not bothered in the slightest by Severus grumbling tone. He knew, listening to Severus' breathing evening out, that there was someone beside him who be with him not only as a lover, but wanted to be bonded with him for life. Harry had found his family.