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Both Sides Now

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Title: Both Sides Now
Author: MK Malfoy
Pairing: Severus Snape/Harry Potter, Harry Potter/Cho Chang, and past Harry Potter/Ginny Weasley
Rating: NC-17
Word count: 8250
Warning(s): past character deaths
Prompt: #173: On the Eve of his marriage to Cho Chang, Harry realizes he's in love with someone else ... Severus Snape. It's a good thing that Harry catches her sleeping with Oliver Wood, isn't it? And the marriage is called off—freeing Harry to pursue Severus? I took several liberties with the prompt.
Summary: Harry has loved and lost, loved and lost again, and he is about to love once more, but something/someone lost is about to be found.
Date Written: February 2010
A/N: Written for the Snarry-a-thon10.  A very big thank you to my amazing beta, RaeWhit. Because of her, this fic is much better. Also, a huge thank you goes out to Accioslash and Torino10154 for all of their hard work with the Snarry-a-thon.

Part I

Harry gave a final wave to Neville and Hannah as the two walked to the end of the pavement, and when he heard the familiar pop of Apparition, he closed the door, relieved that the rehearsal dinner was over, and grateful for the blissful silence that reigned throughout the small flat that Cho and he shared. The past several hours had been emotionally draining, much more so than Harry had anticipated them being. All of his friends had warned him that this would be the case, but Harry hadn't listened. He'd thought he would be able to handle the emotions of the night that everyone warned him would be reminiscent to that other evening three years previous when he and Ginny had celebrated their upcoming wedding.

For the most part, Harry had held it together and presented a happy front to his fiancée and guests, but his magic had been fluctuating all evening, as if something bad were about to happen. It was disconcerting to Harry; he hadn't felt this uneasy since Severus died. Was someone trying to tell him something? He couldn't imagine that marrying Cho could be a bad thing, but what if …

No.  This change was more than likely simply a case of nerves getting in the way.

He leant against the door, closed his eyes, and attempted to clear his mind.

It would more than likely be a futile effort.

The door from the kitchen opened.

"Looks like George has been up to his old tricks, mate," Ron said as he entered the sitting room.

So much for silence and trying to clear his mind.

Harry opened his eyes and sighed, but didn't say anything for a few seconds. Ron was his best mate, but sometimes he was as dense as Voldemort's common sense. Couldn't he take the hint that Harry wanted to be alone?

For the past half hour, since Cho had excused herself, Harry had been trying to get everyone to leave. Luna had been the first to go. She had whispered in Harry's ear that she was proud of him, and she'd kissed him on the cheek before she left. Most everyone else had followed her lead, but a handful of others hadn't seemed overly anxious to leave, but eventually, one by one, they'd begun to trickle out … all except Ron.

The reason for Ron's presence was obvious. Harry understood, but he wished Ron would understand that his presence wasn't helping the situation; in fact, it was exacerbating Harry's pensive mood. "What is that?" Harry asked, his voice not hiding his frustration as Ron held out something in his hand that looked a bit like a Canary Cream, or whatever they were called. Harry hadn't seen one in years.

"One of George's Canary Creams. He set it out earlier, hoping Cho would take the bait. She didn't." Ron Banished the Canary Cream, then walked to the sofa and shrugged his shoulders as he sat down. "Sorry. I know George's being a right git about everything, but he means well, Harry."

Harry shrugged his shoulders. He didn't want to have this talk again, but he knew there was no getting around it, so he walked across the room and sat on the bricks in front of the fireplace. He studied his hands for a few seconds before he looked at Ron, who hadn't a clue that his presence was quickly depleting Harry's good mood. "Yeah, I know. I guess I should thank you for being supportive. I know you think it's too soon, but I just … I'm … well … a part of me can't imagine marrying anyone else, but there's this other part of me—the same as it was after Severus, I guess … I don't want to be alone. Can't everyone understand that?" Harry wanted them to understand. He needed them to understand.

Ron looked around the small flat, then back at Harry, and nodded. "I hope you and Cho have a long and happy life together, truly, I do. Ginny … and Severus--"(Ron said this name much softer, and a bit reluctantly) "-- they would want that for you, Harry." Then Ron stood and walked to the door. Several seconds later, without turning around, he added, in a rather shaky voice that was uncharacteristic for him, "If you need anything, anything at all, I'll be up all night. If you need to talk …" He left the rest unspoken as he opened the door and left.

Harry walked to the door and watched as Ron Disapparated, and he forced a smile. Ron could be a complete git at times, but then he could turn around and be the best mate ever.

Yes, Ginny and Severus would want him to be happy, and the knowledge that Ron had been the one to voice the thought meant everything to Harry, because Harry knew how very difficult the past few years had been for Ron.

Slowly, Harry's forced smile relaxed. In less than twenty-four hours, he would be as happy as he could possibly be, and he couldn't wait.

He knew how fortunate he was.

Five minutes later, butterbeer in hand, Harry surveyed the results of twenty people celebrating an upcoming wedding, and he had to admit that even though the past few hours had been rather difficult and emotional for him, his friends had behaved themselves.

Maturity and tact were not at all overrated, Harry mused.

He'd thought—with good reason—that everyone would have too much to drink, and that he would have to sit through everyone telling embarrassing stories about him and Cho.

Neither had happened this time, as they had at Harry's previous rehearsal dinner, a fact that relieved Harry, yet the absence of such antics was evidence that his friends hadn't wanted this night to remind him of that other evening: the one where he and Ginny had been so very happy.

As much as Harry appreciated the good behavior of his friends, there was no possible way that he could have made it through the past few hours without thinking of that previous evening.

He never wanted to forget.

To be sure, just as this night had not been an easy one for Harry, not one second of that previous evening had been easy for him, but looking back now, Harry knew without a doubt that it had been one of the best nights he'd ever experienced. Harry had reveled in the love of his friends, but mostly he had delighted in the abounding radiance of his beautiful fiancée, Ginny. She had been the center of attention that winter evening, and she'd glowed as the two of them danced atop the white, pristine snow, beneath the large, fluffy cumulus clouds that gave way to a breathtaking sunset, which disappeared and left a clear sky filled with a large, bright moon and sparkling stars in its wake.

Ginny had been an angel that night.

As a ten-year-old, one of Harry's teachers had told him that angels walked amongst everyone on earth, but that their time here would never be long, for they had important tasks to fulfill elsewhere.

For the past two years and three months, Ginny had been someone else's angel, fulfilling important tasks.

Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath before reopening them. He needed to buck up. Ginny would kick his arse if she knew he was being so maudlin about the past. Then there was Severus, who would no doubt berate Harry for such nonsense. If he were here now, he would do something mean to Harry for being so dramatic, such as withhold sex for a day—his weapon of choice when he'd had his fill of Harry—which had happened more often than not.

The thought caused Harry to grin, but he certainly hadn't grinned when his love of sex had been used against him. Severus had known how to hurt him, but Harry had known how to hurt Severus. They had had a tempestuous relationship at the best of times, but they made it work, and it had worked very well for almost eight years.

The loss of Severus had very nearly been Harry's undoing.

Taking another deep breath, Harry forced himself to cease his walk down memory lane. He didn't mind the memories, but he and Cho were going to be married the following day and Harry wanted to attempt to live in the present.

It would be far too easy to live in the past, but Harry couldn't allow himself to do so.

Speaking of his present … Harry heard the bathroom door shut. When Cho had excused herself a half-hour earlier, she had done so in order to Floo her mother about their plans the following morning, then she was going to have a shower.

Harry knew that she was preparing herself for a long night of lovemaking—one that was long overdue. Her playing Quidditch for the Holyhead Harpies put a rather large dent in their sex life; it had been more than a week since Harry had so much as touched Cho's arse or breasts, and it had been even longer since he had been inside her. As a result, his cock was in dire need of attention, and from her coy, sly looks over the past few hours, Harry had an idea that he wasn't the only one in need of some tender loving care.

His body reacting to the thought of what would be happening in the not-so-distant future, Harry thought about joining Cho in the shower—his overzealous cock certainly liked the thought of doing such a thing—however, another glance around the flat made Harry decide that he should go ahead and do some tidying tonight; he knew he'd be even less inclined to do so in the morning, and Cho would be too busy doing those things that witches did before their wedding.

So tidying it was.

He turned towards the dining room, but hadn't taken three steps when his eyes caught a glimpse of the Evening Prophet on the corner of the table. Hadn't he told George to throw the paper away? Knowing Ron's brother, Harry thought that the paper probably had been left on purpose. He let out a rather sad sigh. While everyone else was trying to help him move forward, George seemed intent on reminding Harry that no one would ever be as good to him as Ginny Weasley had.

It was the truth, but Harry didn't need reminders of that fact.

He took several steps forward, but then stopped. Thus far, he had succeeded in not reading the article about his upcoming nuptials, and he knew he'd be smart to keep it that way. However, as Severus had reminded him on more than one occasion, Harry was too curious for his own good. He wanted to know what lies were being propagated about him and Cho. It was a bit like a magic carpet wreck, really: you knew you shouldn't look at it, but the lure was too great not to.

More than a bit apprehensive, Harry walked to the table and picked up the paper that seemed well-creased. It was likely that Harry was the last of the twenty-two people at his and Cho's rehearsal dinner to read the article.

That no one had questioned him about it was the mark of true friends.

He read the headline: Harry Potter Weds For the Second Time. Will His Third Attempt at Happiness Be the One That Lasts? and shook his head, wondering if he was completely mental for wanting to read this tripe. He knew the answer to that.

He continued reading.

Harry Potter, who needs no introduction (we've all been fans of his since he was in diapers), will wed Cho Chang (see page 3A for an in-depth article about the future Mrs Potter) tomorrow evening at six o'clock in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. This will be Miss Chang's first marriage.

If you have followed Mr Potter as we at the Prophet have, then you will no doubt remember that in 2007 Harry married Ginevra Weasley. They seemed a perfect match, and we all thought the two would grow old together. Unfortunately, that was not to be. She was killed in a violent goblin attack in retaliation for a wrong that, in the goblin's words, Harry Potter had committed.

Harry Potter and the Weasley family have denied that any wrongs were committed against the goblins by Mr Potter, but if you will remember, there were allegations that Mr Potter lied to the goblins regarding the sword of Gryffindor before the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998.

As a historian and defender of goblin-rights, I know first-hand how very important honesty is to a goblin. If you cross them, you are risking much more than you might think. Mrs Weasley-Potter found this out in a rather harsh manner.

We at the Prophet do hope that Mr Potter has learned a rather valuable lesson.

Not even the Chosen One is immune from rules of etiquette.

Previous to Mr Potter and Ginevra Weasley's relationship, Mr Potter was involved in a relationship with former Death Eater Severus Snape. The unlikeliest of couples, the two were together for eight years. Mr Snape died in 2006, as a result of the injuries he sustained in 1998 during the Battle of Hogwarts.

We here at the Prophet extend our warmest wishes for a long and prosperous life to both Mr Potter and Miss Chang.

Bristling at the audacity of the Prophet taking this opportunity to once again blame him for Ginny's death, Harry felt his magic fluctuating. It was as if someone dark were near. Harry shivered as he looked around the room, but as before, he figured the change in his magic was simply his nerves. He shook his head and returned his attention to the picture of him and Cho that had been taken a fortnight previous. Cho waved to him, and Harry grinned. She had been ill the day they took the picture, but one would never know it by the way she smiled.

Harry Banished the paper—he had no need of it—and proceeded to clear the table and return everything to where it belonged. His sour mood was slightly diminished when he read what Rolf had written on Luna's serviette: Perhaps one day you and I will be celebrating our marriage. You know you're the only one for me. Those two were destined to be married, Harry thought, but Luna had this weird notion that she didn't want to marry until she was absolutely certain that Rolf was the one for her. Harry admired her for that, but, really, did anyone ever know with absolute certainty that the one they loved was the one for them?

Once the dining room was back to its pre-dinner state, Harry returned to the sitting room and pointed his wand at the sofa, where there were bags of crisps and a Wispa wrapper (no doubt that had been Cho's); then he aimed his wand towards all but one of the chairs. Once each had been cleared of the serviettes, plastic plates, and utensils, he turned his attention to the bookcase, where he had seen a few people standing around. Thankfully, it didn't appear as if anyone had rifled through the books, but Harry did see something black sticking out from behind the bookcase.

He walked over to the corner and knelt down to get a better view of the book to see if it was what he thought it was. He picked it up, and wished he hadn't. It was the photo album Ginny had given him three years earlier, filled with pictures of her and Harry during happier times. Harry could easily lose himself in the pages if he allowed himself.

These pictures were all that Harry had left, other than his memories, to remind him of his time with Ginny, and he would be forever grateful to her for thinking of him and for giving him this most treasured of possessions.

Against his better judgment, Harry opened the album to the last page. There, in the middle, was a picture of him (smiling) and Severus (frowning and looking bored) waving to Ron, who was taking the picture. Harry ran his fingers over the photograph and shook his head when Severus turned his head, looked at the smiling Harry, and turned his frown into a smile as he pulled Harry to him and kissed his head. It was painful to see how happy Severus and he had been that day, and it was even more painful to know how much he had loved Severus, and how much Severus had loved him. They had been so very …

No. Harry would not go down that path.

Instead, he smiled, even as he willed the burning in his eyes to go away. Ginny had placed this picture in the photo album, not to make him sad, but to remind him of a time in his life when he had been happy and in love.

Harry reverently closed the book.

After Severus's death, Harry had worked hard to continue without him, and when he and Ginny had begun seeing each other, and then when they married, Harry had thought he might have, at long last, found happiness. He and Ginny had had a little over a year together, but then she had been taken from him as well.

Time healed all wounds, Harry'd heard. He knew no one believed that—he certainly didn't—but he'd appreciated the sentiment, and now, almost a year later, here Harry was, about to be married to someone he loved very much. No, his wounds from the loss of Severus and Ginny would never heal, but Harry was okay with that. All he asked for was to be happy, and he was so much more than happy. Harry loved Cho more than he thought it possible to love someone other than Severus or Ginny.

He knew how fortunate he was.

After returning the photo album to its proper place, Harry continued tidying the sitting room, and was disheartened to see that someone had spilled red wine on his favorite chair, and it wasn't a small area that he could easily cover up—it was all over the cushion. He pointed his wand at it, but knew that the stain had more than likely already set in. As expected, only half of it disappeared. Harry shook his head. There was no excuse for this. Everyone present had been a wizard or witch. All it would have taken to remove the evidence of the spilled wine was a point of their wand and a short incantation.

Aggravated, Harry Summoned a cushion from his office and covered the soiled cushion. Cho wouldn't be happy—she'd given the chair to him six months earlier, and it was in this chair that he'd proposed to Cho. It was also in this chair that Cho had given him one of the best blowjobs of his life. If he lifted the now stained cushion, there would be a reminder of that night: a stain of mixed come and cherry juice. Harry licked his lips, expecting the next few hours to be as fruitful as that night had been six months earlier.

Ten minutes later, the goblets sent to the kitchen and most of the food put away, Harry decided he had done enough; the kitchen and what little that remained in the sitting room could wait. His cock needed some tender loving care—the kind that only Cho could give it. To that end, Harry made his way towards the bathroom to join Cho in the shower, but he knew that she'd probably finished by now and was waiting for him in their bed.

Harry grinned, and his cock gave a sharp indication that it was ready for Cho.

There was a knock at the door.

Harry stopped. It was late, so he knew it was more than likely either George or Lee, coming to retrieve something they had left behind. He began to turn to go see who it was, but then he decided that whoever it was could wait. He had more urgent needs than to see who had left what behind. They could get whatever it was tomorrow.

The knocking stopped, and Harry began walking towards the bathroom again, but then the knocking started again a few seconds later, these knocks much more insistent. As much as Harry wanted to ignore whoever was at the door, he shouldn't. What if it were someone important? He looked towards his and Cho's bedroom, then behind him. Cho yelled out for him to ignore whoever was at the door.

Harry nearly decided to ignore the knocking and heed Cho's pleas, but he wouldn't. He turned around and approached the door.

The closer he got to the door, the more his magic began to surge, so much so that Harry gasped. What was going on?

When he got to the door, he looked through the peephole, and froze. If the person had been Voldemort, Harry wouldn't have been as shocked.

He somehow managed to unlock and open the door with his hands trembling, but before he could get a word out, a man who looked like Severus Snape fell into his arms, unconscious.

Part II

Harry stood outside the hospital wing, not knowing what to do or think. It was as if he were in a dream, and he thought he must be. His life had been filled with the unexpected, but this … this was … Severus was alive? How? Harry thought he might go crazy. When he'd lost Severus, it had been expected, but that hadn't made the grief any less painful. Harry had ceased eating, closed himself off to everyone, and hadn't taken care of himself for the better part of six months. It had been Ginny who'd finally managed to pull him out of his depression, but it had taken months for her to do so.

Severus was alive?

Finally, after what seemed like forever, the door opened and out walked Madam Pomfrey, looking tired, worried, and anything but happy.

That didn't bode well.

"How is he?" Harry asked, trying his best to keep his voice calm, but he was anything but calm. Severus Snape was alive! The man whom Harry had loved for seven years was not dead. It was almost more than he could take. He began to shiver uncontrollably.

"Harry, you need to calm down, dear," Madam Pomfrey said as she shook her head. "I should have given you something earlier. Follow me; you'll do no one any good if you work yourself up further." She led Harry into the room Severus was in—he was asleep—and retrieved a phial from the top shelf by the bed. "Here, drink all of this, love; it'll calm your nerves."

Harry took the phial and looked at the potion briefly before downing the pungent contents. He handed the phial back to Madam Pomfrey, and was disappointed when he didn't feel any immediate effects from the potion. "Thanks. Is he going to be okay?" Harry's eyes travelled back to the figure of Severus, who looked so very small and ill. How was it that he could be alive? "He doesn't look too good." Truth be told, Severus looked similar to how he had the day he'd died ….

Madam Pomfrey ran her wand over Severus a few times, then looked at Harry. "No, he doesn't, but he should be fine, Harry. His condition seems to have somehow stabilized; according to his vitals he is no longer in imminent danger of death, as he was before he … before we thought he died," she added, her voice somewhat shaky, "but don't ask me how—we'll have to ask Severus when he wakes. I didn't think there was any way he would ever improve from how he was, but he did. He is dehydrated, exhausted, and suffering from exposure. Nevertheless, he should be as he was before he died. Now I must warn you that he won't ever be completely healed, Harry, and he will remain fairly weak; his movements will be limited as they were when the two of you were together, but from what I can tell, he shouldn't be in danger of leaving us at any moment, as he was before. I'd say that within a fortnight he'll be as irascible as ever." She smiled, then said in a rather soothing voice as Harry looked at her as if he didn't believe a word she'd said, "Harry, dear, I would not lie to you. His future will not be an easy one, but he is alive. We will take this one day at a time."

As happy as the news was, Harry wanted to know more. "How?" was all he could say, and he hoped Madam Pomfrey understood. Was this a bad dream? It had to be. He was to be married the following day … er, this day. Harry wasn't sure what time it was, but he was almost certain it had to be past midnight. How could he marry someone else when Severus was alive? "We watched him die, Madam Pomfrey. He told me that he loved me, then he closed his eyes and died. I don't understand." Harry wanted to understand. He was tired and exhausted, and he wanted to understand.

"Neither do I, dear, but when he wakes, perhaps he will tell us, but I dare say that you should be getting home to your fiancée. You've been here for hours. Cho and you have a big day ahead, and even as we all know you and Severus have a past, Harry, I don't think it would do either you or Cho any good for you to spend the day of your wedding with the man you once loved."

Harry frowned. Madam Pomfrey's words were harsh, but her face showed her genuine concern. She had to know this wasn't easy for him. He shook his head. No, he needed to stay with Severus. Severus needed him.

Didn't she understand? Severus was alive.

Severus was alive!

But he swallowed as reality crashed in on him.

Cho didn't deserve this.

Harry closed his eyes, felt a tear as it tried to break free, and made a decision.

He stared at a sleeping Severus, who had his head turned away from him. More than anything, Harry wanted to sit by Severus. He wanted to hold that pale hand in his, and he wanted to rub some warmth into it. But he couldn't, or he wouldn't, at least not now. He would come back to talk to Severus, but only after his and Cho's wedding.

Severus was Harry's past. Cho was his present and future.

Harry nodded as if trying to convince himself that this was the right thing to do.

Yes, it was the right thing to do. He glanced once more at Severus, then followed Madam Pomfrey into the other room and closed the door behind them. He looked at her and had to work hard to keep his voice steady. "Take care of him." Then he left.

As he prepared to Disapparate, he knew he was making a mistake. He had loved Severus Snape with all of his heart, so why was he returning to Cho?

He hadn't any answers, and could only hope that he was doing the right thing. Besides, he hadn't completely accepted that Severus was alive yet. Perhaps he was having a nightmare.

He didn't know which he wanted more: for this to be a nightmare or the truth.

As soon as he Apparated into the alleyway behind his and Cho's flat, Harry thought things seemed odd. His magic prickled, but not the same as it had earlier. Harry's senses became heightened. Was someone in the flat trying to get to Cho? He began walking towards the flat, but stopped when he heard voices moving towards him. One of the voices belonged to Cho, but he couldn't be sure whom the other voice belonged to, but he could tell that it was male.

He hid behind a tree so he wouldn't be seen, and when Cho and Oliver Wood became visible, Harry went rigid.


He wanted to think it was innocent, but he knew better. If it had been any other male, Harry would more than likely not be suspicious, but this wasn't any male, it was Good Time Oliver, as Oliver Wood was called by those in the know. Even though Oliver and Cho were both professional Quidditch players, the two had never got on particularly well in the past, so Harry knew that Oliver wasn't here to give Cho his best wishes on a happy marriage.

Still, Harry tried to believe that this could be innocent. Perhaps …

A hand reached up and began caressing Cho's right breast.

Harry shook his head. He couldn't believe it. Cho wasn't that stupid, was she?

But Harry had to stop that line of thought. He had almost been that stupid not so long ago.

However, he had not been engaged to be married at the time. That night had been entirely different. Harry would have had every right to sleep with Oliver if he had wished to do so, but he hadn't.

To add insult to injury, Oliver's hands made their way down to Cho's private bits. Yes, they were covered with cloth, but that made little difference. How dare he! Then there was the way Oliver looked at her, and the way she looked at him.

Cho had never looked at Harry that way.

Harry was livid.

But then he wasn't.

Hadn't he just come from the hospital wing at Hogwarts, where Severus Snape lay sleeping?

Cho was giving Harry the out he needed, and he wished he could be sadder or angrier about it.

Although, to be sure, he was not at all happy.

"You should go, Oliver. Harry'll be home soon," Cho said as she pried one of Oliver's hands from her hips and the other from her crotch. She didn't look happy. "You'll need to stay away for a few days, but we've managed to keep this quiet thus far, so I see no need to change how we've been seeing one another. Harry hasn't suspected a thing."

That was true. Harry hadn't suspected a thing, and it was likely he would never have. He just didn't work like that. He trusted completely.

He knew that was a shortcoming he needed to remedy immediately.

Oliver then leant in and kissed Cho until she pushed him away, giving him a look—a look Harry knew well. It meant that he had better do as she said. Oliver pulled her to him and gave her another kiss and caressed her breasts before finally pulling himself away. He didn't say a word as he Disapparated.

Cho didn't move for a few seconds, then she continued on into the flat.

Harry was flabbergasted. He had never suspected Cho of having an affair, and especially with the ladies man, Oliver Wood. It hadn't been a year since Oliver had propositioned Harry one night after the two had had a bit much to drink. Harry had been tempted—very tempted—because he'd heard that Oliver was quite the cock-sucker and arse-buggerer, but he had declined because he loved Cho.

His mind made up as to how he was going to deal with this, Harry stormed into the flat, his temper building with each step, and made his way towards their bedroom, where he heard the tap running. Cho was no doubt removing the evidence from her lovemaking with Oliver.

Harry gathered his resolve and asked … something or someone, anyone who was listening to him … for some guidance. No, he wouldn't turn this into a huge scene. He had no plans to hit or overly berate Cho, but he wanted her to know how much she had hurt him, and yes, she had hurt him. Harry had trusted her.

Perhaps this was a mistake, but he removed his clothes and joined Cho in the shower—she'd always loved her shower time with him—Harry thought this the perfect ending to their relationship.
If he received a little satisfaction out of it, then all the better.

She was, of course, shocked, and it took her a minute or two to warm up to having her private time interrupted, but within five minutes, she was sucking Harry dry.

After he recovered from his orgasm and could speak, he opened his eyes and looked at Cho, who was seated on the tile floor, her eyes closed, ejaculate dripping from her chin. "Open your eyes, Cho, and look at me," he said forcefully. She did as asked. Harry watched as that serene smile gave way to a confused look. Harry wanted to smirk, but what was about to take place was not at all funny or anything to smirk at. Someone whom he loved had cheated on him and had broken him down. He felt deflated.

"You look upset, Harry. Is anything wrong?" she asked, her voice trembling.

"You could say that." His eyes bore into hers.

"Is it Severus?"

Harry wanted to make a remark about how she could have asked about Severus earlier, but he decided not to.

This wasn't about Severus.

What this was about was a marriage that had been ended before it began.

Severus had not done this.

Cho had. "The wedding is off, Cho," was Harry's response. He wished he could say more, but he hadn't the strength.

"Wha—no, Harry, we can't call off the wedding. We have over three hundred guests coming to see us be married. We can—"

Harry interrupted Cho's pitiful response. "Then perhaps you should have thought about that before you and Oliver had your little fuck earlier."

"I—h—we—I—we—" Cho tried to speak, but couldn't form a coherent thought, it seemed.

"Save it, Cho. I don't want to hear it, really, I don't. You're free to be with Oliver now. That's what you wanted, right? I really do feel bad that in a week or two he'll decide to go on to his next conquest, but that's your problem, not mine. I'll have my things out of the flat by seven this evening."

Part III

Harry Apparated to the Burrow as the sun peaked out from the early morning clouds that had gathered overnight. He had wanted to return to Severus, but Severus needed his rest, as did Harry, and Harry had no other place to go. He knocked on the door and looked around. There was no place like the Burrow. Since his very first visit, he still thought it was the absolute best place on earth. He felt welcomed here as he had nowhere else.

The door opened, and Molly Weasley smiled.

"Harry, dear, to what do I owe this visit? I thought that you and Cho woul—"

"The wedding's off." Harry didn't want to explain, but he did, as soon as Ron's mum and he were seated by the fire, drinking hot cocoa. He left out nothing, not having the energy to decide what he should and shouldn't say. He knew Ginny's mother would be the perfect person to tell his tale of woe to. She was as protective of Harry as she was of her own children, and ever since Ginny's death, Harry had depended on Mrs Weasley for emotional support almost as much as she had depended on him.

An hour later he fell onto Fred's old bed, exhausted. He wanted to go to sleep and wake up to find that none of this had happened. He knew that unlikely, but he needed the rest, nonetheless. He closed his eyes.

When he awoke, well rested, he thanked Mrs Weasley for her motherly advice, then decided he needed to check on Severus. He Disapparated to Hogwarts and made his way to the hospital wing. The castle was almost barren, the occasional ghost the only other beings around. It was eerie, but Harry knew that in a few short weeks the corridors would be teeming with students.

He entered the back room of the hospital wing and watched as Severus slept. Severus was alive. It wasn't a dream. Harry had to try hard not to let the moment overwhelm him.

"I know you're there, Harry," Severus said, his eyes closed.

Harry opened his mouth to say … he hadn't a clue what he would say. "You're alive," were the words that came out, his voice sounding weak and nervous. This was no dream. Severus was really alive. Harry had to close his eyes and catch his breath.

"Yes, so it would seem."

Harry's breathing sped up.

"You should calm yourself, Harry. You always were overly dramatic. It wouldn't do either of us any good if I were to return only to have you worry yourself to death. I did not return to you to lose you. Do. You. Understand?" were Severus's terse words, his eyes still closed, his voice not much more than a whisper, yet very clear.

Harry immediately forced himself to calm down. "How do you feel?" Harry walked to Severus's side and sat in the chair by the bed so he could look at Severus.

"Markedly better than I did when I knocked on your door."

"How is it that you are alive? I watched you die, Severus. You don't kn—"

Severus opened his eyes, or attempted to. After a few attempts, he succeeded and looked at Harry. "Please, Harry, not now. I shall explain everything in great detail, just as I always have when you do not understand my reasoning for doing certain things the way I do, but not now."


"But nothing, Harry. All you need to know is that I did not die that day. I was ill, near death, and I didn't wish you to watch me deteriorate, so I contrived my death." He then shut his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

As Severus slept, Harry wept.

He had had one of the worst and best days of his life in the span of a few hours.

Perhaps if he hadn't discovered that Severus was alive, the cheating Cho had done would have hurt him much more, but being that Severus was alive, nothing—and Harry was serious when he thought this—absolutely nothing would make Harry hate Cho. She had made a mistake.

She had cheated.

Severus had faked his death.

Which one was worse?

Harry didn't know.

Part IV

Just as Poppy had said, it was a fortnight later, and Severus was back to his irascible self—his irascible, infuriating, frustrating self.

And Harry loved every second he had with that man, and he would for the rest of his life. Never again would he ta—

"I thought we were going to have a shower, Harry. Or, perhaps you'd rather stare out of that window like a lovesick puppy?" Severus said, rather bitingly as he walked—naked and fuckable as ever—into the sitting room of the flat Harry and he were now living in.

Harry glanced up at the clouds as they continued to pass, and he smiled when the sun peeked through. He then closed the drapes and retrieved his wand. He was naked within seconds.

He stood and smirked as he walked towards Severus, and watched as Severus's eyes took in his body. Severus had always loved that Harry was short and lean; he'd said Harry and he fit together perfectly. Harry agreed completely. "You mightn't like being with me now. I've been doing it rather hard this past year." Harry didn't have to say with whom he had done it hard with. Severus was well aware of Cho Chang and what she and Harry had done. Harry reached out and took Severus's hands in his, and was immediately brought to Severus's chest, where the two stood, embracing. It had been so very long. Harry couldn't believe this was happening. He hugged Severus to him even tighter. "Don't leave me, again, Severus. Please." When he felt Severus's fingers running through his hair, Harry had to try hard to keep his emotions to himself; Severus didn't like it when he was overly emotional. "I love you, Severus." Harry closed his eyes and luxuriated in the feel of once again being in Severus's arms.

"And I, you, Harry. I know that you'll never understand what I did, and why I did it, but I did it to spare you. I was wrong to do what I did, however, and I now know that. I will never purposely hurt you ever again." Severus then lifted Harry's face and leant down to kiss his lips. He then pulled away and took Harry's hand in his. "To the shower?"

All Harry could do was nod. There were many things he wanted to say, but now was not the time or place.

As they entered the bathroom, Severus turned towards Harry. "As far as you doing it hard this past year, I see nothing at all wrong with that. I preferred to do it slow and easy with you because with you I could do it slow and easy. I didn't have to do it hard and rough, as I did when I was one of the Dark Lord's faithful minions. I think enough time has passed that I'll be happy doing it any and every way. At some point in the not-too-distant future, I'd like to bugger you hard, and I'd like you to bugger me just as hard, but Poppy told me to take it easy for a few months. Actually, to be precise, she said I should consider taking care of myself and not do anything too strenuous ever again, but she told me that when I woke from my coma after Nagini's bite, and we know how that turned out. Nevertheless, I will heed her advice for the foreseeable future. I am not in any hurry to part ways with you again. Once was enough."

That last bit was whispered, and sadness was evident as those black eyes looked at Harry.

Harry had to turn away from such a somber look. He had no doubt that Severus had been lost without him, but Severus had no idea what it had been like for him. Harry had cried himself to sleep for three months. But that was then, and this was now, and Severus was very much alive. Harry turned back and smiled at Severus before he headed towards the shower and turned on the tap. He waited for the water to reach an acceptable temperature (the hotter the better), then stepped into the shower.

Severus followed.

Neither said a word for minutes as they stood beneath the spraying water and looked at one another. Harry lifted his hand and touched Severus's face, reveling in the familiar feel of stubble that he had so missed. Severus then leant down, kissed Harry, and gently guided the smaller body until it was leaning against the tile wall.

He then stepped back and looked at Harry again, his eyes roaming over every inch of the body before him. "I want to taste you."

Harry's cock liked that idea, as did he. It had been so very long. "Which way: front or back?"

"Front first, then back," Severus said, his voice once again that deep baritone that washed over Harry like rain to a parched crop.

Harry closed his eyes as he spread his legs so Severus could kneel in between them. Ginny and Cho had quite liked cock deep down their throats, but being sucked by Severus, who did it as only a male could, strong and firm—it was a feeling that made Harry giddy with anticipation.

He gasped when Severus licked the underside of his cock, and every nerve in Harry's body became hypersensitive. This continued for what seemed like minutes, then Harry felt Severus's teeth as they grazed over him. Harry broke out in goose pimples and awaited the next step. This was even better than he remembered. Harry pushed himself towards Severus, and let out a moan when the tip of his cock was sucked into Severus's mouth. Then that talented tongue, which had always driven Harry mad, swirled around his cock, and Harry wasn't sure he could last. Severus then concentrated on sucking more of Harry into his mouth, and soon swallowed. Harry felt the very beginnings of his orgasm, and he thought he could die of happiness.

And he also thought he would come at this very moment, but he hoped he could stave off his orgasm for a few minutes longer. He wanted more, and Severus never liked it when Harry came early. "Moooooore," he managed to moan as his hands grabbed onto the soap dispenser behind him and shoved his cock a bit further into Severus's throat. Two hands promptly grasped Harry's hips and stilled them. Harry knew he'd have bruises on his hips for the next few days, but the end would be well worth the means in this situation.

Severus then moved his hands and began to fondle Harry's balls as he began to hum. Next he withdrew one of his hands and snaked it around Harry's arse so he could access the needy pucker that had always been Harry's most sensitive area. Severus teased the opening with his finger for a few seconds before he slowly eased in one, then two of his fingers inside Harry's arse and found his prostate.

That was all it took.

Harry came hard. His breathing harsh and labored, he still tried to listen as Severus swallowed every bit of the come that he squirted out. It lasted far longer than his orgasms of late.

When he felt his cock slip from Severus's mouth, Harry opened his eyes and smiled when he saw Severus grinning at him, a come moustache and beard making him look like the greedy lover he was. "Stand up. I want to taste what you tasted," Harry said, his voice husky with need. Severus complied and leant down so Harry could meet him in a kiss. Harry licked and sucked and kissed and moaned.

He never wanted this to end.

When he pulled away, Severus's eyes were shut, and Harry thought he had never seen a more beautiful sight. Harry then turned around, spread his legs apart as far as he could as he gripped the soap dispenser, preparing himself for what was to come. He had missed sex with Severus so very much. "I'm ready for you."

When Harry felt Severus's breathing next to his arsehole, his cock twitched again and began to return to life, and he could tell by Severus's hitched breaths that his own cock was rising as well. Harry grinned.

It had always taken Severus longer to have an erection, and he was still recovering from his illness, so Harry knew it would be a while before Severus would be able to do much. While Harry very much wanted to bring Severus to orgasm, he would understand if Severus wasn't able to. He was just thankful that Severus was here. What they did or did not do this afternoon, evening, or any other day mattered little to Harry. They could stare at one another and never have sex again, and that would be more than fine with him.

When Severus's tongue entered him, Harry became an incoherent blubbering idiot. It felt so good. He tried to spread his legs wider and relished having Severus's fingers prying his bum open. Harry heard slurping and began to shake. Then Severus began fucking him with that sinful tongue and it was over. Harry shot his come all over the tile, then began to rub himself in it as Severus continued to push his tongue in and out of Harry.

A few minutes later Harry heard Severus give a small moan as he withdrew his tongue. Harry turned his head and saw Severus sitting on the floor, looking at his cock as come squirted over his chest. He then looked up at Harry and motioned for him to join him on the shower floor. Harry did. He leant down and licked Severus until all of the come was gone. The expression on Severus's face was one Harry would never forget. He looked so very lovable, and the thought that this man, whom Harry loved, had almost died—had died as far as Harry was concerned—hurt.

His thoughts were interrupted when Severus's long finger wiped away a tear that was about to fall off his chin.

"No tears, Harry," Severus said, his voice not so different from the one he had used in Potions lessons. "None. I am here and I am not going anywhere. Understood?"

All Harry could do was nod, then Severus kissed him. It was slow and thorough, and when Severus lowered his mouth to Harry's neck, Harry lifted his head, knowing how much Severus liked sucking his neck.

In future, they would make love as they had in the past: slow and easy, and then they would try it as Harry had learned to do it: hard and fast. They would do it in every room of their home; they would break tables and soil furniture, and they would be sore for days after they pulled muscles.

And through it all they would do it with each other, and not take a second of their time together for granted, for they had seen both sides now.