Kayla's Journal (kibatsu) wrote,
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kibatsu

The Release of Sisyphus Chapter 14/18




Harry tumbled out of the fireplace. “Whoops,” he said as he brushed Floo powder off his robes. He stumbled to the kitchen, only to bump into something large and green as he turned the corner. Severus.

“What are you doing here?” asked Harry.

“Where have you been?” asked Severus.

“Normal people don’t answer questions with more questions,” Harry informed him.

Severus took Harry by the arm and steered him towards the kitchen. “I’m having work done on my kitchen. It will be finished tomorrow.” He helped Harry into a chair, then fetched a glass of water. His hunter green robes weren’t a colour Harry would’ve picked for him, but they were quite striking, and the silver accents only made him sexier. He’d been wearing a lot more Slytherin colours lately. Maybe the Gryffindor comment had been too much to bare.

As he set the glass in front of Harry, he asked again, “Where have you been?”

“I told you I was going out with my friends,” Harry reminded him. He hadn’t expected Severus to want to come along, so he hadn’t invited him.

“You left at noon and you have work tomorrow,” Severus chided him. He took a seat at the other end of the table next to piles of Ministry files. An empty plate sat pushed to the side. Had he been working most of the night?

“I’m calling in sick,” Harry said. When George had suggested a pub visit at 10, Harry had been ready to go home. George had convinced him to stay, and one drink turned into two, then three, then four...

“I can brew you a potion,” offered Severus.

“No. I want a short holiday.” Harry forced himself to drink the water. “Do we have any food?”

Wordlessly, Severus stood and prepared him a ham and cheese sandwich. He set it in front of Harry and said, “You should at least take something to clear your mind now.”

“I’m fine,” Harry assured him. “I like where I am now. It’s freeing.” He tore into his sandwich. “This is amazing,” he said between bites. “I forgot how good of a cook you are.”

“To a drunk, everything tastes good.”

“I’m not a drunk,” Harry protested. “I just still haven’t got the hang of travelling by Floo. Rotten things. Give me a broom and fresh air any day. What are you doing to your kitchen?”

“Making it wider.” Severus stood and put a kettle on. He fetched two mugs from the cupboard and pulled out the teapot Harry rarely used. “I’m also building a portions lab in the back, but that can wait.”

“I didn’t know you enjoyed brewing that much,” said Harry absently, hypnotized by the elegant movements of Severus’s hands. He’d brought a strainer and a container of loose-leaf with him; apparently teabags weren’t good enough for Severus Snape.

“I prefer to brew a few of my own. I don’t trust other people’s supplies or handiwork. Too many people take short cuts these days.”

Severus just couldn’t trust, could he? “Most people are good people, Severus. If you gave them a chance, you might discover that.”

“Most people are incompetent.” Severus set the mugs on the table with a little cup of milk and bowl of sugar. Fetching the tea kettle, he poured it into the pot and set the pot in the centre of the table on a cozy. “Longbottom is now a professor at Hogwarts.”

“Oi!” Harry glared at Severus. “When he doesn’t have a git yelling at him, he can be quite competent. He was an excellent Auror, and I’m sure he’ll make an amazing professor. He has a lot of patience, and he enjoys working with children. Unlike some people I know.”

“I’m quite glad I don’t have to suffer through another Hogwarts school year.” Severus poured their cups and added a bit of milk to his.

Remembering the bitter brews Severus favoured, Harry added a cube of sugar to his in addition to milk. “You could teach an Auror class.”

“Harry, whatever gave you the impression that I enjoy teaching?” Severus arched an eyebrow at him in a look that was all old Severus, despite the difference in features. The longer Harry had seen Severus’s new face, the less jarring it became, although he still prefered the old one.

“You were quite good when you actually taught me instead of bullying. Those lessons on dealing with fear were why I was able to pass my Auror training.”

“You’re more clever than most,” said Severus dismissively.

A compliment. Harry grinned. “I think you’re drunk.” He jabbed an accusing finger at him. “Since when am I ‘clever’?”

“I said ‘than most’,” Severus pointed out with a mischievous smile. “That speaks more about the quality of your coworkers.”

Harry playfully punched him in the arm. “Bastard.”

Severus caught him by the wrist. For the first time in a long time, Harry didn’t flinch. Nothing. Someone had grabbed him and he hadn’t reacted at all other than warmth flooding to his cock. So caught off guard was he, that he almost missed Severus teasing, “You’re stronger than you look.”

I’ll show you strength. Such a tiny action and already he was ready to throw away all self-control and pounce on Severus like some sex-starved teenager. Embarrassed, he pulled his hand away and took the file open on the table before Severus, pulling it closer to look at it. “Who’s Benjamin Young?” he asked, reading the name on the file. A handsome man in his 20s grinned up at Harry from the picture on the first page of the file.

“A Death Eater,” said Severus curtly, as if Harry was daft for even asking the question.

Harry rolled his eyes. “I can see that from his file. Why are you interested in him?”

“He was a member of the Knights of Walpurgis, which I suspect was behind this recent incident.”

“Lucius’s group?”

“Yes,” said Severus.

“We weren’t able to find much on the membership. Young told you?”

“Not intentionally.”

A shiver raced down Harry’s spine. As much as he appreciated Severus’s ability to collect knowledge, he didn’t think he’d want to know all the methods. “The file doesn’t mention any of that,” Harry observed as he read through the basics. “He wasn’t even involved enough in the Death Eaters to receive time in Azkaban, and he’s been a model citizen since. What makes you think there was more to their kidnapping attempt?”

“It was too easy. The-”

“Too easy?” Harry arched an eyebrow at him. “You nearly lost your arm.”

“Nik was not an idiot and he wouldn’t have chased you all the way here for nothing. I don’t believe his story that he merely wanted to capture you to trade you for imprisoned allies.”

“Merely? Wha-”

Severus ignored the outburst. “I suspect he was after something else. The Ministry is . . . lacking in its interrogation methods and-”

“You want to them use Legilimency?”

“At least Veritaserum,” said Severus evenly, his face devoid of emotion. “The Muggles use ‘lie detectors’, why shouldn’t we?”

Harry met the dark eyes, wishing he knew what went on in that meticulous mind. “You of all people should know how fallible it is.”

“Certain truths can still be gleaned by a skilled interrogator.”

A memory popped out of nowhere, filling Harry’s mind. Snape’s thin lips were pulled back, baring his crooked, yellow teeth and his black eyes glittered with contempt and malice, their darkness only amplified by the sallowness of his skin. “Do. Not. Test. Me. What has happened to you so far will seem like Paradise compared to what I will do to you if you continue to contest my authority. I know of a myriad of ways to torture you without alerting the Dark Lord to your pain. You will beg for forgiveness well before I have finished with you. Believe me Potter, when I do torture you, I will enjoy it more than you will ever know.”

He’d been terrified of him. Over time, that fear had faded, but it hadn’t been without justification. Severus Snape was a dangerous man.

Needing distraction, Harry stood and fetched the half-finished bottle of scotch from the cabinet along with two glasses. Severus said nothing as Harry poured them each a drink, pushing Severus’s across the table to him.

“I wouldn’t torture him,” Severus said quietly, his eyes on Harry, the glass untouched before him.

“No?” Harry challenged. “If he’d done something to hurt me, you wouldn’t want revenge?”

“That would be a different situation.”

Was this what it felt like to dabble in the Dark Arts? All that power under his control. Although he knew that it was wrong, that he should condemn Severus’s darkness, it still sent a warm current all the way from his toes to his head. Although he already knew the answer, he found himself asking, “Would you kill him for me?”

Severus turned his attention to gathering up his notes. “You already know the answer to that.”

“No,” said Harry. “I don’t. I just know rumors, one of which you denied.” He mimicked, “Don’t be stupid. How could I kill him without leaving here?”

Severus stood. Harry stood as well, blocking his path out of the kitchen. “Answer me.”

His face twisted, Severus spat, “I killed Hathaway and Avery. If Nik had done the same as them, he wouldn’t be alive right now.”

It was wrong to feel so . . . warmed by the deaths of others. “Avery never got to touch me,” Harry reminded himself more than Severus.

“He would have done.” Severus pushed Harry to the side, his hand leaving an impression of warm fire on Harry’s chest.

“Wait. Severus.” Harry caught his arm.

Severus glanced at him, his face so full of revulsion, it took Harry a minute to realise that the hatred wasn’t directed at him.

“Thank you,” he said.

Snorting in disgust, Severus pulled his arm away.

“I needed it then. Now I need to fight my own battles. Sit. Drink with me.”

Whatever companionship that had developed between them had vanished behind a solid wall. Severus’s changed face served as another reminder of the distance between them as he said in a cool voice Harry barely remembered from all those years before, “You’ve already had enough.”

He couldn’t let him leave like this. Even if he could never have Severus as a lover, he needed him as a friend. “Come with me, I want to show you something.”

Curiosity won against stubborn pride. Severus said nothing, but his eyes shifted just enough for Harry to know he wouldn’t leave.

Picking up their glasses, Harry led him to the sitting room where he set their glasses on the table in front of the sofa. Severus stubbornly took a chair on the other side of the table, a high backed one apart from the others. Harry headed over to a painting of Hogwarts along one wall. He lifted the frame and set it on a nearby table, casting the spells to remove the enchantments he placed upon it. Lifting up the backing, he removed the enchanted parchment he’d hidden between the backing and the portrait. He replaced the picture and carried the parchment over to Severus, offering it to him.

“The file I made on you. The parchment is enchanted with a spell few know about. You slide your fingers along the bottom to see more pages.”

As Severus read through the file, Harry plopped down on the sofa and picked up his scotch. Although it still wasn’t his favourite drink, he’d found he liked it the more of it he had. He’d finished his glass and summoned the bottle for a refill when Severus set the parchment down on the table and picked up his own glass.

After taking a generous gulp, he asked, “My portrait may be accessed by any other painting in the castle?”

Harry nodded. “That was the biggest piece of evidence for your death, although it never made sense to me that you couldn’t be seen or found by anyone. Do you think.... Do you think that the Sacred Bond of Thebes had something to do with that?”

Hermione handed Harry a thick scroll. “Here’s everything I could find on the Sacred Bond of Thebes.”

Harry groaned. “Could you give me a summary?”

Her eyes fixed firmly on his, she said, “At the moment of the Protected’s death, his soul clings to the Protector’s body. The Protector must then kill himself in order to return the Protected’s soul. In order for the spell to be cast, the Protector must love the Protected. It’s . . . powerful magic, Harry. Nothing can undo it.”


Severus shook his head. “No. If it had activated, I wouldn’t be alive. I died a clinical death. Maybe the spell helped to sustain me, but even if our roles had somehow switched, you would no longer be here.”

“I have nine lives,” said Harry. “I used up two of them.”

“You’ve used more than two,” countered Severus, his body relaxing and the iciness melting from his face. “I think you spent one each year at Hogwarts.”

Harry nodded to the scroll. “You weren’t the best behaved student yourself. I found out that you had removed your own records before you made me copy them.”

Severus peered at him over the rim of his glass. “Why the detailed attention to my early life?”

“I wanted to know who you were.” Noticing Severus had already finished most of his glass, Harry pushed the bottle towards him. “Hermione pointed out that a skilled spy like you could take on any role he wished. She made me promise to be certain that I sought the real you, not a careful construction of lies.”

Evenly, Severus asked, “Do you think you’ve found me?”

“Even now you hide behind that face.” He wrinkled his nose to show his disgust for it. “Why did you change it?”

“I needed a permanent, undetectable-to-magic form of disguise.” He arched a questioning eyebrow at Harry. “I don’t see why it bothers you.”

“Because it isn’t you. Severus Snape never gave a damn what anyone else thought about his looks.”

Amusement played at the edges of Severus’s lips. “I didn’t do it out of vanity. It was preservation, nothing more. I can change it back easily enough, and no one can use my body to prove that I’m Severus Snape. Even if you were to go and tell the Ministry my real identity, they would have no way to confirm it.”

“The box you keep-”

If Severus was surprised Harry had seen it, he didn’t show it. “No reason why Dimitri couldn’t also be obsessed with you.” He tapped his fingers against the edge of his glass. “The body in the grave? No one would believe that I had cloned myself. I’d claim it as my brother. Nothing remains of my family, no proof that Severus Snape never had a brother. Dimitri has adoption records.”

No reason why Dimitri couldn’t be obsessed with you. Did that mean that Severus was obsessed as well? Harry toyed with his glass. He couldn’t meet Severus’s eyes as he asked, “Were you in love with my mother?”

“In a way.”

“Oh come on,” Harry huffed, meeting the dark eyes. “What does that mean?”

“I was young.” Severus’s eyes bored into Harry’s. “She was . . . perfect. She had everything I wanted: a wealthy, caring family; teachers who adored and flattered her; and an instinctual, clever grasp of magic. It was she who taught me to fly. I was the one who taught the Dark Lord. She had figured out the basics before she even knew she was a witch. At Hogwarts, she lost that curiosity, that....” He shook his head, his brow furrowing. “That need to explore the limitations of the world. I gained that from her, but it was never as natural for me as it was for her.”

He poured himself more scotch even though he hadn’t finished his glass. “If you had asked me at the time, I would’ve told you that I loved her, but I see now it was more of an obsession with what she represented rather than a love of her. I wasn’t willing to give up the Dark Arts for her. I cared about my needs, but not hers. I wouldn’t have changed for her.”

Would you change for me? He couldn’t ask it. The Sacred Bond required love, but there were different types of love. For all he knew, Severus loved him the way a father might love a child. Their activity in the prison might have been forced by circumstance, although part of him found that impossible to believe, especially since Severus was bisexual. “When did you know that you were attracted to men?”

Severus’s eyebrows lifted in surprise and he sipped his drink slowly as if he needed to gather his thoughts before answering. He rested his glass against the armchair and said, “When I was forced to....” His eyes tightened.

“Have sex with me,” Harry supplied.

Severus gave a tight nod, his eyebrows knitting. “I found it . . . difficult, to say the least. I acquired magazines to help me as strong aphrodisiacs tend to cloud the senses and mild ones weren’t enough to get me over my aversions.”

Aversions. Although Harry knew Severus had plenty reason to feel disgust, his heart still tightened.

“I soon discovered that it was not your masculinity that I found abhorrent. Once your body took on strength and you looked more a man than a sick boy, it was easier to perform.”

Was that all it was? They’d fucked an awful lot for it to be just done as a performance. Even if Voldemort had been spying on them the entire time, Severus had been good at it, something which had taken Harry a few years and partners to fully understand or appreciate. That Severus openly dated men now wasn’t a complete surprise. At one time, he’d been certain that Severus had loved him, but if Severus had loved him, he wouldn’t have disappeared without any trace. He wouldn’t have abandoned Harry when Harry had needed him the most.

To break the silence, Harry said, “When I escaped, I had sex with Ginny for the first time and I bullocksed it up. I tried to make our relationship work because I did love Ginny, but it wasn’t enough. Ginny could tell that I wasn’t....” His cheeks burned and he looked away from Severus’s intense gaze. “I didn’t appreciate a female body the way most blokes do. At first I thought that I’d been screwed up since I had gay sex with that potion first before I got to have straight sex. I thought that maybe it had made me addicted to gay sex. Ginny dragged me to a gay club and made me dance with a bunch of men. I soon realised that just having a bloke’s hand on my arse or his body rubbing against mine wasn’t enough to keep me interested. I wanted a relationship. I met my first boyfriend there that night, although I didn’t work up the courage to date him for another year.”

Harry risked a glance at Severus to find him sitting with a tight expression on his face, his fingers clutching his glass so hard, the tips had turned white. He looked pained, as if Harry’s story had wounded him somehow. Jealousy, perhaps? The notion sent a prickle of warmth down Harry’s spine. Hoping to inflame it, he added, “The night I fucked him for the first time erased any doubts I had about my sexuality.”

Severus set his glass down on the table and stood, his face a solid mask of ice. “I should go.”

“Oh, don’t be such a prude.” Harry gulped more liquid courage, then set his own glass down. He strode over to stand before Severus. This close, he could smell that familiar earthy tone and his cock swelled eagerly. “If you don’t want to hear any more dirty stories, then we can talk about something else.”

“I have to work on-”

“No,” said Harry firmly. “I deserve a decent conversation if not a few answers. You can’t just show up and expect me not to have questions.”

“You sought me out,” Severus pointed out with an arched eyebrow.

“And you would have stayed hidden had I not?”

Giving Harry a look as if he were a daft first year, Severus answered, “Of course.”

“Why?”

Severus gave an exasperated groan and Harry grabbed his arm.

Don’t say the Ministry,” he warned. “I know that isn’t it. You could’ve told me. I would’ve kept your secret. I’ve kept a lot of secrets, especially about you.”

Severus ripped his arm away from Harry’s grasp. “I’m aware of that,” he spit out. “Merlin, Harry, did you forget the details of our relationship or shall I remind you? Shall I pin you against the wall and smack you until you remember?”

He hadn’t forgotten. Not a bit. It was those memories that stopped him from giving in to his longing. “Do you want to?”

The dark eyes didn’t waver from Harry’s. “I regretted it then.”

“I don’t expect you to treat me like that now. Do you think that you will?”

Letting out a sigh, Severus said, “I have a temper.”

“I do too.” Harry moved closer. He could practically feel the heat radiating off of Severus. “No one can make me as angry as you. When we ‘dueled’ for the first time, I couldn’t cast the Cruciatus not because I didn’t hate you enough, but because I didn’t know how to cast it. You successfully cast it on me, which means you must’ve really hated me at some point as well.”

“You drove me mad.” Severus put up a hand calling for Harry to stop his gradual approach. Merely a few handspans separated them, but Severus had shut himself behind a wall, perhaps out of guilt and regret. “I ought to have controlled my temper better.”

“So you left because you thought you’d hurt me?” Was that fear holding him back now? He stood rigidly, his lips pressed thin and the line dark between his eyebrows. Was his body filled with the same yearning as Harry’s, but his logical mind holding him back? It was an intriguing thought.

“You have no idea how much I manipulated and drugged you,” said Severus softly, his dark eyes never wavering from Harry’s face.

“Not then,” Harry agreed. “I never found mangoes that tasted as good as the ones you served me.” His nipples were so hard, they hurt. He wanted to grab those skilled hands and place them on his chest. Severus had known his body better than anyone. Known him better than anyone. “I still trusted you and, the more I learn about you, the more certain I am that my trust wasn’t misplaced.”

Severus’s eyes flickered, but before he could voice his disagreement, Harry grabbed his hand. Severus stiffened slightly, his fingers loose in Harry’s grip. “Look, I’m not some naive, stupid child. I broke free on my own, I defeated Voldemort, I’ve built a successful life and, although it took me a bit of time to come to terms with my sexuality after what happened, I did. So don’t treat me like I don’t know what I want or can’t make decisions on my own. I’m not being stupid when I choose to focus on your strengths instead of your faults.”

Severus pulled his hand from Harry’s and turned away.

Feeling as though he’d been punched in the gut, Harry wordlessly watched as Severus summoned and refilled their glasses. He held out Harry’s, his face neutral.

Thrown off balance, Harry accepted the glass. “I guess you’re no longer concerned with me being too drunk.”

Severus smiled slightly as he took his seat and motioned for Harry to do the same. “You handle your liquor better than before, although it would be amusing to see you in that state again. You were always very . . . honest when intoxicated.”

Honest was not a word Harry would’ve chosen to describe himself in that state. Did Severus only mean the moment Harry’d drunk the alcoholic capsules or was he referring to the potion as well? Thinking of what he’d said and done whilst under its control made his cheeks burn. To change the subject, he asked, “Would you change your face back? It’s distracting.”

Wordlessly, Severus raised his wand and his features changed, the face Harry remembered appearing exactly the same as it had during that last day in the prison. The sight of it made Harry want to crawl in Severus’s lap and taste those lips. Probably a good thing Severus didn’t wear it constantly. “Would you ever change it back?”

“If I feel that the danger has passed,” said Severus in a voice which suggested he doubted that would ever happen. “There are many who hold me responsible for Voldemort’s defeat and, unlike you, I’m a target that won’t inspire severe retaliation from the Ministry.”

“You will now. I could-”

“I don’t want to risk it,” Severus interrupted. “Besides, Dimitri can infiltrate groups of Death Eaters better than Severus Snape. These Knights of Walpurgis...” He glanced down at his drink and swirled the cubes of ice. “I have known of their existence for some time, but have never bothered with them because I thought they posed no threat to you. As I understand, they are a decentralized group and these recent actions may have been conducted by a small fringe wing, but they behaved rather bold for a small group.”

“Small groups may be powerful if the issue is important to them,” Harry pointed out.

“Yet to only want to release prisoners from Azkaban...” Severus’s fingers tapped against his glass, his eyes staring through Harry, looking in his direction, but his mind elsewhere. He was too clever for Harry to dismiss his intuition as paranoia, even if Harry had never seen any evidence himself that the Knights of Walpurgis were still active.

To help Severus’s thoughts along, Harry asked, “What other use could they have for wanting access to me? Even if it were these Knights, why would they want me?”

Severus glanced at him with a puzzled expression on his brow.

“The only thing I had access to that any other Auror doesn’t is the Deathly Hallows and-”

“The Elder Wand,” said Severus, straightening in his chair. “Where is it?”

“In Professor Dumbledore’s grave-”

Severus stood and raised a haughty eyebrow. “You just left it in his grave?”

Earlier, that would’ve been accompanied by an insult as well. “They can’t take it from it me,” said Harry calmly, not moving from his spot on the sofa. “I had Dumbledore’s Army publicly surround and duel me, then we took plenty of turns duelling each other. Any member could have control of the wand now.”

“You can’t voluntarily give it up,” Severus said, his fingers moving to his own wand in his robes as if remembering when he had possessed it. “Control never passed until you had genuinely overpowered me.”

“I did my best to hold onto it.” Harry stood. “Do you think they think I still have control?”

“I would.” Severus strode from the room. “We need to make certain that wand is still there.”

Harry followed after him. “I never told anyone where I put it. I said that I snapped it in half and threw it away after the dueling just to be certain.”

In this guest bedroom, Severus grabbed his traveling cloak and threw it on. He opened a drawer of the dresser and started shoving bottles into his pockets.

“Who do you expect to attack us?” asked Harry, amused.

“Never underestimate your enemies.” Severus changed his features back to Dimitri’s and turned around to face Harry. “I should go alone. It-”

“Like hell I’m letting you go alone.” Harry stepped into the room. “I know exactly where it is and I can Apparate us straight there once we leave my flatz.”

Severus stared at him. “You remembered what I told you about Apparation.”

Have gave him a look as if he were daft. “Why wouldn’t I? I haven’t shared it with anyone else, and I haven’t tried really large distances as I splinched myself a bit escaping from the prison, but I can Apparate to Hogwarts if I need to.”

Severus smiled and the look of delight on his face was so infectious, Harry couldn’t help but grin like an idiot too.

Severus said, “Not many would dare take that risk.”

“I’m a Gryffindor.” Harry held out his left hand as he pulled out his wand with the other to remove the anti-Apparition wards from his flat. “I’ll take us nearby in case someone is watching it.” He paused. “Should I get my Invisibility Cloak?”

“No.” Severus took Harry’s hand in a firm, yet gentle grip. “As soon as we land, we’ll set up wards and protection.”

Nodding, Harry closed his eyes and concentrated hard, trying to ignore the warmth seeping into his body from Severus’s hand. He pictured Albus’s grave clearly in his mind, and took them both there.

As soon as their feet touched the soil, they separated and cast the necessary spells. They didn’t need to speak. Harry immediately began working on the perimeter, while Severus softly cast detection spells. He walked towards the grave as Harry worked his way around it. Clouds covered the moon, providing very little light, but after having such a bad reaction to being blindfolded, Harry had got quite adept at working with little to no light.

Hogwarts stood a short distance away, surrounded by a low fog. Although it was the summer holidays, candles burned softly in more than a few windows. Harry couldn’t help but think, This was where it all began. What a beginning. He never could’ve imagined he’d end up this way.

Although it hadn’t ended yet, had it? For all his faults and his darkness, Severus also had shown Harry a lot of care and devotion. He’d left because he was afraid of their relationship, just as Harry had been in the beginning. Harry had plenty of friends and a good therapist to help him understand that his desires were organic rather than forced. He’d been able to forgive.On some level, what had happened in the prison had been harder on Severus than on Harry. Forced to hurt the man he loved, terrified that he’d damaged him, unable to forgive himself...

Harry wasn’t naive. Severus had made a lot of poor choices in his life and, at some point, he’d hated Harry just as much as Harry had hated him. He’d been an utter bastard at times.

Yet, he’d also been so determined to save Harry’s life, he’d tried to give up his own. Even now, he stubbornly refused to value his life before Harry’s. The last thing Harry wanted was to see someone else die for him, but Severus had a tenacity that no one else had. He’d survived impossible situations. He’d been reckless in fighting the Knights, not out of stupid sense of nobility or courage, but because he wouldn’t have been able to stand losing Harry any more than Harry would’ve been able to stand losing him.

Severus walked over to stand beside Harry.

“Do you ever miss it?” asked Harry.

Severus considered for a moment. “No. I may have to wear a different face, but I can live as myself now.” He held out the Elder Wand. “Try it out.”

Reluctantly, Harry took it from him. Instinct told him exactly what to expect and, when he cast Lumos, and blinding light burst forth, he swore.

“You can’t willingly give it away,” said Severus, almost admiringly.

“You do know what this means,” said Harry, backing several paces away.

Severus’s lips quirked and he drew his own wand, ready to attack. “No restrictions.”
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