The Future Flows From Here
If I Didn’t Have Your Love
It’s the week before Christmas when Severus arrives home. Saskya stares at him for many minutes when he walks through the door before throwing herself into his arms. They hold each other in the warm kitchen with the aroma of baking bread filling the room. She apologises for shouting at him and calling him a bastard. He isn’t. He begs forgiveness for his comment about Lyrus. The children rush in as they hold each other and fling themselves at their mother and uncle. The rest of the day is spent catching up on their news about school and their excitement about the Noël festivities.
He retires to his room that night pleased with how things have turned out. He is back in the safe haven of his family and Harry Potter is out of his life. Why then is the world grey and dark? Why does the world seemed filled with a thick fog he cannot see beyond? The fire crackles as he sits and tries to read; he lets out a groan as the book drops to the floor. Why is every other word Harry?
There is a soft knock on his door. ‘Come in,’ he calls.
‘Would you go through a recipe with me, please?’ Sabine asks.
‘Of course chérie,’ he smiles at her, grateful for the distraction. ‘Let’s go upstairs.’
They walk together to the top of the house ‘I want to see if I can brew it from memory,’ she says, gathering the ingredients.
‘What are you brewing?’ he asks slipping into French. He knows he should be encouraging Sabine to use English, but he enjoys using French; it makes him think.
‘Well … don’t get cross, but it is something of my own concoction. I found a very old recipe in school; it is a sort of wound healing potion, but it doesn’t use Dittany. So, I experimented … I included Dittany and …’ she blushed.
‘And what?’ his tone is enquiring, not critical.
‘And milk of the poppy … it acts a binding ingredient as well as a pain killer when applied directly to the wound,’ she rushes the last sentence.
Severus smiles as he watches and listens to her. She is very, very good and will make an excellent Master Potioneer.
‘I know it’s dangerous to mix the milk of the poppy with sulphur, which is in the original recipe … because it can combust … but I am very careful … and it worked. So … I want your opinion on the finished brew.’
She moves with precise actions, confident and self-assured. The flame is just right; measurements absolutely correct; she is meticulous in her execution as she mixes, stirs the brew. He finds himself very proud of her. Finally, she looks up.
‘It has to simmer for ten minutes, so I can talk to you while we wait.’
‘Oh, is there anything in particular you want to talk about?’ He moves to the work bench and looks at the potion for the first time.
‘Ah. Any particular boy?’
‘Yes. And please don’t mention anything to maman. I just need your advice … as a man,’ she blushed, deeper this time.
‘I won’t breathe a word to your mother … so ask away.’
She leans against the work bench as she gathers her thoughts. ‘He is in my year, but a different House.’ He goes to sit in an armchair; she follows and perches on the arm.
‘And you like him?’
‘Yes, at least … I thought I did. I thought he liked me as well.’
She fell silent.
‘I notice you say liked not likes.’
‘Oncle … do boys think any less of a girl because she … lets him do … things?’
‘Ah,’ he takes her hand. ‘Sabine …’
‘No! I haven’t slept with … well no …’ she blows her hair out of her face. ‘This is more difficult than I thought.’
‘Check your potion … I’m not going anywhere,’ he gives her hand a squeeze. He watches as she checks the potion and turns the flame off and gives the brew a stir with a glass rod. He is honoured that she is confident she can come to him for advice, even though his own experience with affairs of the heart is less than perfect.
‘Would you check it as well?’ she asks. He goes to the workbench and she hands him the recipe; her method is also explained in her Book of Potions. He reads it through and scrutinises her method. He leans in and sniffs the potion; aroma and sense of smell are vitally important in potion making. Combinations of ingredients should always have a signature aroma. This one had the astringent base note of juice of the Poppy.
Well-developed taste buds are also a must in potion making. So he tastes just a drop from a dosing spoon. Of course, many, many potions are disgusting when tasted, the trick is to make then just palatable. The taker needs to shiver in revulsion, not throw up, as sometimes happens with something like Polyjuice potion. This potion is somewhere between sweet liquorice and bitter aloes. And while the potion is not for ingesting, its flavour is not bad at all.
Severus picks up a small, sharp knife from the work-top and makes a shallow cut at the base of his thumb. The blood oozes out. Taking the dosing spoon again, he dips it into the potion and drops enough of the potion to cover the wound. It stings at first, but as the liquid is absorbed into the wound, the pain disappears and the bleeding stops. After a full minute, the skin is already repairing itself. He nods in satisfaction.
‘Finish it off,’ he says.
Sabine takes her wand and moves it in graceful arcs over the potion, whereupon, it changed colour to a vivid blue, bubbled gently then settled down.
‘You used non-verbal incantation,’ he says, ‘… have you been doing that long?’
She blushes and bites her bottom lip. ‘Only a few weeks. Is it very wrong?’
Oh how he loves this young witch; so confident on so many levels, yet uncertain about her ability, and her emotions.
He pulls her into a hug. ‘Not wrong, just … exceptional. I suggest you don’t flaunt this ability at school or outside of the house, d'accord?’
‘Mais oui, bien sûr,’ and she hugs him back. ‘I thought I wanted to … you know … but in the end I didn’t let him. He is very handsome and I thought he was a nice boy. But … when I said no and that I didn’t want to go the whole way … anyway, he seemed to enjoy what we did.’
‘Not really … it was over very quickly … then he just left me … and the next day, he wouldn’t speak to me and went out of his way to avoid me.’
‘Let’s bottle the potion, it should be cool enough. How long before it can be used?’
‘Two full moons.’ She found bottles and together they decanted the potion, she labelled each bottle. ‘Are boys always so casual about … sex?’ She glanced at him.
‘Some are, not all. Young, inexperienced men tend to regard sex as something for their own … gratification … not as something to be shared and enjoyed together, especially for the young woman.’
‘I’ve made a complete fool of myself, haven’t I?’ They place the bottles on a high window ledge so they will catch the light of the next two full moons.
‘No. You thought you wanted something and the young man concerned would … give that to you. It is very normal, Sabine.’
‘Does it mean I won’t fall in love again?’
‘No, of course not, you are only fifteen … you have plenty of time. Next time though, you may want to be a bit more cautious.’
‘Like you,’ she gives him a cheeky smile.
‘What do you mean?’
‘You are being cautious with ‘Arry … too cautious, perhaps? Are you in love?’
Yes, you,’ she giggled. ‘I think you are really in love with ‘Arry.’
He raised an eyebrow. ‘And why do you say that?’
‘Because your mind and eyes are always elsewhere.’
They cleared the workbench and left everything clean and orderly. ‘I am too old and broken to be in love … or loved.’
‘Arry loves you even though you are old and broken. He is young and broken. Maybe you can fix each other, n’est pas?’ She leans up and kisses his cheek. With a wave of his hand, he puts the lights out and they make their way downstairs.
‘Do you really think … I am capable of loving someone … Harry … for the rest of my life?’
‘Of course!’ she disappears into her room and closes the door, leaving him with a world of possibilities.
Sabine came to him again after supper and they talked more. Now, as he lay in bed staring at the ceiling, he recalls what she said. She wanted to know if the boy concerned would spread bad things about her in school. He had told her honestly that yes, it was a possibility. And if that happened when she went back to school, all she had to do was smile when she was with her girlfriends and tell them, that the boy may have the equipment, but he certainly doesn’t know how to use it and she should wink, knowingly. She had thought carefully about what he said, her face then lit up as she understood.
He groaned to himself. When had he become such an expert on love? How was it that Sabine, so young and inexperienced could tell that he was in love, hopelessly in love with Harry? How was it possible and why had he let it happen? The student, awkward, belligerent and confrontational, had matured into a man; attractive, intelligent, surprisingly knowledgeable about sex and … attractive.
And Sabine was right about something else as well. Harry was also broken. The memories he had seen of the young man’s life told of a childhood not so dissimilar to his own. The sacrifices Harry had made during the war were on a par with his own. And the pain and suffering he had experienced, Harry had suffered as well. They share the same experiences and pain. Can they heal each other? Could he allow Harry in?
He turns over and drifts into sleep with an image of Harry lying in his arms, panting gently, sweaty and glowing in the aftermath of making love.
Harry sits at his desk in the Auror office he shares with Ron and four other Aurors. Promotion had not brought him the privilege of his own office or even one he shared with fewer people. His desk was clear of reports as he had thrown himself into work since the day he had left Spinners End. But he was uncomfortable with the outcome. In the cold light of day he knows he had handled the whole thing badly. He should not have left without a word; much better to have stayed and talked and made his point properly, as an adult. But he hadn’t and that made him a prat, a childish prat to boot.
He twitched and fiddled with the quills on his desk until finally, reaching into a drawer, he pulls out a fresh parchment and writes.
I have tried to write this letter to you many times only to realise that what I was writing was utter rubbish. You are not into rubbish or drivel, so I always stop and chuck it away or better, incinerate it …………………..”
He incinerates it.
I apologise for my behaviour shitshitshit shit.”
“My dear Severus,
I miss you. I love you. Talk to me. Please.”
He incinerates it. Too pathetic, too needy.
The door opens and Ron comes in. ‘Give it up Harry; he’s made it clear he doesn’t want you.’ He sits on the edge of Harry’s desk.
‘Ron, how long have you known me?’
‘Er … forever … why?’
‘And what is the one thing you know about me?’
‘Easy! After four Fire whiskies you sing dirty songs.’
‘Not that, the other thing.’
‘Oh the other thing. Yeah, after five Fire whiskies you fall over unconscious?’
‘No … the other other thing.’
‘You mean the Harry Potter never gives up thing?’
‘That’s the one,’ Harry grins at his best friend.
‘Sorry mate, no idea what you’re banging on about,’ Ron grins back. ‘You coming over tonight? Mum and Hermione are cooking.’
‘What they making?’
‘It’s a surprise. Probably Gibbon curry … again.’
‘Nah, thanks anyway … I want …’
Ron leans over and places his hand on Harry’s shoulder and stares into his eyes. ‘Harry, mate, it’s not what you want; it’s what you need,’ and he winks, knowingly.
Harry blinks at the profound words. ‘Blimey Ron, when did you become quite the philosopher?’
‘I know a thing or two,’ Ron says, touching his finger to his nose and tapping it. Harry stares hard at him. ‘Alright, alright … Hermione knows a thing or several thousand’, he grins back. ‘Anyway, I’m off home. Minister Shacklebolt is in a meeting with various Heads, so …’ he glances around conspiratorially and drops his voice … ‘we can slope off.’
‘Right … there’s nothing happening here anyway,’ Harry gets up and gives Ron’s arm a friendly punch.
‘Well, if you change your mind you know where we are,’ and he gives Harry a thump on the back and leaves.
Later that night, in bed, it comes to him. Sitting up, he puts on his specs and moves to his writing table. It is three in the morning and this time, the words simply flow from the quill. He smiles as he signs the letter and gives a soft call for Monty. The Snowy owl is sitting on his perch, opens his eyes and gives a hoot. Harry gives him the letter, ‘Severus’ is all he says and he opens the window.
He climbs back into bed and falls asleep thinking about Severus laying a tail of kisses down his chest and over his belly before coming to rest a little further south.
He moans into the dark night.
Severus sits at the kitchen table; the house is quiet, his family having gone to Haute Village to do shopping. Harry’s letter lies open before him. He has already read it twice. He leans back in the chair, his fingers playing with the edge of the parchment. He reads the final part again.
“… you must know how much I not only love you, but respect and admire you as well. Your courage puts whatever I did or achieved during the war into the shade.
I shared your tears of joy when we made love over the summer. I would like to share your tears of anguish, pain and loss as well; just as I would like you to share mine. I am not Lily and James’s son. I am Harry, a grown man, capable of making my own choices; of making my own judgements and deciding my own future.
I am no longer the boy or a student. I am a man grown to adulthood through tumultuous times and my scars will heal in time.
Your scars will also heal if you allow me to help.
Please don’t diminish what we shared over the summer; it was real in every sense of the word. Do not belittle me and my love for you as in doing so, you belittle yourself – and you of all people do not deserve that.
I have now said it all. Reply or not, it is up to you. I will not write nor will I seek you out again. My love is in your hands: deal with it as you please.
Your friend and heart.
He picks up the letter and retreats to his room. Snow is falling heavily as he looks out over the garden.
“My love is in your hands.” Such a Harry thing to say, yet he smiles. How well Harry knows him, even after only two weeks together.
“I will not write nor will I seek you out again.” Harry could twist the knife in his gizzard as expertly as any Death Eater. He knows that a life of solitude and loneliness that stretches before him.
‘Stupid, damnable man,’ he mutters. Harry or himself?
The door to his office opens and Penny Lane, the Auror secretary walks in and hovers by his desk. Harry is deep in reports so doesn’t look up immediately.
‘You have a visitor – outside,’ and she nods towards her office.
‘Who is it, Penny?’ he asks. It is nearly Yule and the Ministry is winding down for the annual holiday, so a visitor is unusual.
Penny clears her throat and leans closer to him. ‘Erm … it’s Severus Snape,’ she whispers then looks around as if something is going to jump out at her.
‘What here?’ Harry yelps.
‘Right here, right now,’ she says.
Harry’s cheeks redden as he stands up and then sits down again, flustered. He clears his throat. ‘Yes, yes, of course,’ he hopes his voice under control and he sounds official. ‘Show him in please.’
She goes to collect Severus and ushers him into the office. Harry stands up. ‘Severus, how good to see you,’ he says as jovially as he can. ‘How can I help? Thank you Penny, that will be all,’ he dismisses the secretary who is hanging around the open door.
‘I came to give you this,’ Severus hands him a parchment, turns on his heel and stalks out without another word. Harry recognises the parchment as his letter.
He sits down with a bump. The git has come to the Ministry just to give him back his friggin’ letter. Bastard! He unrolls the parchment and is about to incinerate yet another French letter when his eyes are drawn down to his signature. There, underneath, scrawled in Severus’s distinctive handwriting is …
“Tonight. Spinners End. Merry Yule. ~~SS~~”
“Sev, I have taken Elise into the mountains. I will explain when I get back. Don’t worry, we will be quite safe. You and Harry make yourselves comfortable. Oh, the children only know that Elise and I have gone to the Haute Village.
We will be back soon.
Love to you both.
The letter is sitting on the kitchen table when the two men arrived. It is warded of course, but with a wordless flick of his hand, Severus picks it up and reads it.
‘What is it?’ Harry asks.
‘Sassi … she has gone into the mountains with Elise,’ Severus replied as he tucks the letter into his pocket.
‘Is that safe?’
Severus gives a Gaelic shrug. ‘I hope so.’ Any further discussion is halted by the noisy arrival of Marius and Sabine, they fling themselves on Harry. They hug and kiss him, chattering all the time.
Severus clears his throat. ‘Hrmph … Hello! I’m also here you know.’ With more laughter, Marius and Sabine hug him as well.
‘Maman has taken Elise to Haute Village,’ Marius says. ‘I think it is girl stuff.’ This statement earns him a cuff around the head from his older sister. ‘I’m only saying …’ he protests.
‘Are you staying for Noël, ’Arry?’ Sabine asks.
‘Yes, Severus invited me,’ he answers and takes Severus’s hand in his. Marius makes an ‘eeww’ face and Sabine grins at the men.
‘I’ll take Harry’s things to my room … then lunch I think.’ He picks up Harry’s case and leads him to the back of the house and his room. Once the door is closed, he pulls the young man into him and kisses him.
‘Your soft centre is beginning to show, Severus,’ says Harry when the break apart. Severus can only grin as he holds the young man close.
He opens the front door of Spinners End to Harry and this time, he invites him in with a sweeping gesture. The shabby sitting room is warm from the small fire. Harry stands in the middles of the room, filling it with his presence. He removes his jacket and places it carefully over the back of a chair.
Harry’s eyes pierce his own.
He speaks at last. ‘Thank you for coming, Harry. You had every right not to and I would not … have blamed you.
Harry nods his acknowledgment.
‘I …’ he stops, unsure - then takes a deep breath. He has always found it difficult to speak of such things. Too many years of keeping his emotions and feelings tightly buttoned is a hard habit to break. Harry waits. Another deep breath. ‘I know you are possibly wondering if you are what I want. The answer to that is … no. You are not what I want. You are what I need.’ There, he has admitted it.
Harry makes no response at first. He frowns, then a smile creeps across his face as he realises what he has been told. His eyes light up and he crosses the room in three paces and stands before him.
‘You will have to admit to Saskya that she was right, you know.’
‘Yes. She always was the brighter of the two of us,’ he allows his lips to twitch as if to smile, but he doesn’t – quite yet.
‘I’ve been invited to spend Christmas with the family,’ Harry has placed his hand over his heart.
‘Hmm. So I was informed. Will you?’
‘Only if you ask me.’
‘Harry … would you care to spend Christmas with me and my family in France?’
‘Let me think about it while I kiss you, OK?’
For once, he does not resist or object. There is no point anymore.
Hand in hand, they walk back into the kitchen.
‘We shall have omelettes,’ Sabine says, busying herself with a large pan, butter and half a dozen brown eggs.
They all help and are soon enjoying cheese omelettes with a simple salad of tomatoes, cucumber and onions. There is chatter and laughter as Marius and Sabine talk of events of the last term. Harry joins in by telling them how he would spend Christmases, usually by not going back to the Dursley’s if he could help it, especially as he got older.
‘Yes, it was the same for Oncle,’ Sabine smiled softly. ‘We would miss him, but …’ she shrugged, ‘now we understand how dangerous it would have been, especially towards the end of the War.’
Severus reaches across the table and takes Harry’s hand, giving it a squeeze; he is rewarded by a light blush that spreads across the young man’s cheeks.
Then Marius and Sabine tell him how Noël is spent at Fermé Malefoy; walking in the snow, decorating the tree, gifts, hot punch, stories, visits to the Village, sitting in front of the fire playing games or just sleeping.
‘Oncle mainly does the sleeping, but sometimes, maman will join him, then we tiptoe around the sleeping beauties,’ Marius laughs. ‘And the snoring! You wouldn’t believe the noise,’ and he rolls his eyes.
They all help with the clearing up.
‘I’m going upstairs to check on a potion,’ Sabine announces.
‘And I’m going to the owlry, I’m expecting a message from a friend,’ Marius says.
‘Wrap up,’ Severus adds, ‘it’s snowing again.’
They are left alone in the kitchen. Outside, the snow is falling in thick, heavy flakes, covering the landscape with a white blanket.
‘Will Saskya and Elise be alright in the snow?’ Harry asks.
‘I expect so,’ Severus replies as he takes Harry’s hand and leads him to the bedroom.
The experience of opening his eyes and having a warm body next to him is one Severus knows he can get used to. They had not made love, simply climbed into bed and held each other until they drifted off to sleep. Severus nudges Harry awake.
‘I think Sassi is home,’ he says.
Harry smiles sleepily, rolls on top of him and kisses him soundly. Just as things are getting heated, he pulls away and leaves the bed.
‘And you really mean to leave me in this state?’ Severus complains.
Harry glances at his obvious arousal and grins. ‘Hmm, best save it for later, don’t you agree?’ he said while pulling on his clothes.
Severus swings his legs over the edge of the bed. ‘No. As it happens … I don’t,’ but he dresses anyway.
They walk into the sitting room where Saskya and Elise are sitting with another woman.
‘’Arry!’ Elise cries and flings herself at her hero.
‘Why does everyone ignore me when Harry is around?’ Severus asks.
‘Perhaps because Harry is handsome, clever, young …’ Saskya laughs as Severus finds himself with an armful of his niece, kissing him.
‘I love you too, Oncle,’ she says.
Saskya stands. ‘Severus, Harry, I would like to introduce you to Senora Valerina Lopez.’
The woman stands and holds out her hand. ‘I am delighted to meet you both; Saskya has told me all about you. It is a great honour to meet two heroes of that war.’ Her accent speaks of sunshine, thyme strewn hills and the pine forests of Spain. Severus bows slightly as he kisses her hand, Harry shakes it. ‘
Senora Lopez is a striking woman. Although of average height, she has a flawless, olive complexion, deep violet eyes and full lips. But it is her hair that makes you look twice. It is long, thick and white with flecks of black and grey. Her teeth when she smiles are even and perfectly white.
They sit down and Saskya turned to Elise. ‘Chérie, would you give the grown-ups a moment please? The others are upstairs.’
‘Oui, of course maman,’ Elise closed the door as she left the room.
‘I have spoken to Sabine and Marius,’ Saskya said, ‘you two were … indisposed,’ and she gave them a knowing smile.
‘We were sleeping,’ Severus corrected her assumption.
‘Yes, well ... anyway. You know of course that since the summer I have been venturing into the mountains?’
The men nodded.
‘And there was wolf?’
Again, they nodded.
‘Senora Lopez is that wolf,’ it was Severus who spoke.
‘Yes,’ Saskya replied.
Senora Lopez sits quietly; her hands in her lap but her eyes never leave Severus. The silence in the room is only broken by the crackle and splutter of the logs in the fire.
‘Severus,’ Saskya continues. ‘I need to apologise to you for my reaction to what you said to me those weeks ago.’
‘I have said many things, Sassi. Please … be more precise.’
‘The time you said I made an idiot of myself with Lyrus.’
Severus nodded. ‘I remember.’
‘I was angry with you. Angry because you were right,’ she paused as if gathering her courage to continue. ‘You see, I knew what he was like. I loved him so much that I simply … ignored it. When he was away …’
‘… You knew where he was … and who he was with,’ Severus continued, staring directly as Senora Lopez.
‘Yes,’ Sassi looked down; suddenly the rug was the most interesting thing in the room.
‘I didn’t know what had happened to him. No word came … and he did not come back,’ it was the soft lilting voice of Senora Lopez that now filled the room. ‘I knew of his other family of course, but the location …’ she shakes her head … ‘he was always vague about the details.’
‘I’m sorry, I don’t follow,’ Severus’ tone was sharp. ‘Are you telling us that Lyrus … was your … husband?’
‘Yes,’ the woman’s eyes never left his.
The atmosphere in the room was suddenly icy. Severus was on his feet, his anger about to surface. ‘And you thought it germane to find his … family? To what end … for what purpose other than to destroy my sister’s heart?’
Senora Lopez stood and faced him, unafraid. ‘I needed to know what had happened to him if what I felt … was correct.’
‘And just what was it that you felt?’ Severus snapped.
‘That part of my soul had died and fled my body,’ she said as she sat back down.
‘Sev, sit down … please,’ Sassi said.
‘I don’t think so,’ he turned and paced the room. ‘Sassi, why is this woman here?’
Now Saskya stood and went to him. ‘Listen carefully Sev. Elise is having her first bleed … and her first change … Valerina helped.’
For once Severus was rendered speechless. ‘When?’ he finally managed.
‘Two days ago … while you were in England ... to see Harry.’ She took his hand and led him back to the sofa and made him sit down; she sat next to him but kept hold of his hand. She then told him of her first encounter with the wolf back in the summer. When they finally met, she knew there was a connection, but at that time, she did not know what it was. Then Valerina had shown her human-self three months ago, after she was sure Saskya was trustworthy.
‘It was the way she spoke about Lyrus that convinced me I should reveal myself,’ Senora Lopez added.
Saskya nodded. ‘I would sit with the wolf and tell her all about my life with Lyrus and the children … I found it helped. When Valerina showed herself to me … we talked and talked.’
‘Which one of you was first?’ Severus left the sofa and stood over Senora Lopez again, although his anger was now gone.
‘It was me,’ Senora Lopez answered. ‘Lyrus and I married many, many years ago,’ a terrible sadness filled her voice.
‘Do you have children?’ Severus pressed his cross-examination.
‘No. We … no,’ she stood up. ‘I should go …’
‘No Valerina, please stay,’ Saskya pleased.
The older woman smiled gently. ‘You know where I am. I will stay close by for a time … at least until the young one doesn’t need help any longer.’ She embraced Saskya and kissed her forehead. ‘He loved you very much,’ she said. She inclined her head to Severus and Harry and walked out into the dark garden … and was gone.
The silence in the room was broken by the door opening and children coming in.
‘Oh! Has Senora Valerina gone?’ Elise asked.
‘Yes, chérie, but she will be close by should you need her,’ Saskya embraced her youngest daughter. ‘And tonight, we shall eat out in celebration of you reaching womanhood.’
‘And wolfhood!’ Elise added.
‘And wolfhood. Where shall we go?’
‘Chez Pierre,’ the children chorused.
‘Chez Pierre it is then … now go and get ready.’
The three ran from the room talking excitedly about what they were going to order.
She turned to the men. ‘And you two can’t wriggle out of it.’
‘Is it in the wizarding village?’ Harry asked.
‘Oh no, Chez Pierre is in town; you will love it.’
She said nothing to Severus nor made any move towards him before leaving the room.