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05:22 pm: Acceptable Gifts
Title: Acceptable Gifts
Author: lesyeuxverts
Beta: Huge thanks to [info]angela_snape, [info]svartalfur, [info]gingertart50 and [info]brienze for the fantastic beta work
Word Count: ~5300
Rating: R
Pairing: Severus/Harry, Ron/Draco
Prompt: "Snape has feelings for Harry, but it's unrequited. What does Severus do to change Harry's mind?"
Warnings: Character death, violence, no DH spoilers.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
AN: Written (very belatedly) for [info]bewarethesmirk's birthday.



The whip burned across Harry's back, the Cruciatus burned through his nerves until he broke, and the pain stopped only when Snape threw a green vial on the floor. It shattered, the potion puffing out as a smoke that blinded Harry's captors but left his eyes clear.

Harry struggled, forcing his hands up to his mouth until he could undo the bonds he'd already loosened with wriggling. Curses spat through the thick smoke, shooting sparks and missing their targets.

He grabbed Bellatrix Lestrange's wand from her hand and ran through the smoke, pausing only to grab Snape and drag him along. "Don't," Snape said, gasping for breath and yanking his hand from Harry's grip.

"Don't wait for me. Get through the wards before they recover."

"I'm not leaving you." Harry grabbed Snape's elbow, pinching him when he protested.

"Don't be stubborn, Potter. Get out of here."

"Don't be melodramatic and don't waste your breath." Harry tugged at Snape, urging him to greater speed. "Come on."

They made it through the wards, Harry catching Snape just as he coughed and fell. He cursed and squeezed his eyes shut, Apparating both of them to Grimmauld Place.

Harry stretched Snape out on the kitchen table, his black boots sticking up and his arms at his sides as though he were a corpse, abandoned among the remnants of Molly Weasley's cooking.

"Shit," Harry said, clambering up onto the table. "Hang on, Snape."

He started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, grimacing as he pushed Snape's greasy hair out of the way, and stopping only when Snape's hand shot up to grab his wrist. Harry pulled away. "Hey," he said. "You okay there? You got a lot of that smoke."

"You have all the grace of an elephant, Potter, and you're twice as heavy. Get off me."

"Oh." Harry slid down off the table and bent to check Snape's pulse, failing to find it at his wrist and then fumbling around his neck.

"Here," Snape said, placing Harry's fingers at the correct place. "As overwhelmed as I am by your solicitude, is there no competent nurse here?"

Snape's pulse was faint and fluttery under Harry's fingers. "No one's here just now – raid in Cornwall. You'll have to make do with me, I'm afraid."

Snape levered himself up on his elbows, glaring at Harry. "You will follow my instructions."

"Yes, sir," Harry said, and took down the pewter cauldron, beginning to brew according to Snape's orders.

He closed his ears to Snape's acid-tongued comments, crushing the valerian and spiderweed. It was the Half-Blood Prince that Harry heard in his mind, with clear explanations, and Harry lost himself in that half-dream, obeying Snape without hearing him.

It was a lumpy, glutinous mass when he was done, and Harry shuddered as he ladled out a cup. "Is this all right?"

Snape glanced at it, still coughing. "It will do."

He downed it in one gulp, not reacting to the taste. "Passable," he said.

Harry checked his pulse again, offering him a glass of water and trying to bustle around the kitchen with cool efficiency. "Sir?"

Snape grunted, and Harry asked, "Why didn't the smoke affect me?"

"Phoenix feather," was all Snape said, and Harry stared at him.

"It was tailored for your rescue," Snape said at last.

"Oh." Harry watched Snape stand and stretch the kinks out of his muscles, black robes flapping around him. "Do you – did you always carry it with you, or did you know –"

"All things considered," Snape said, popping his shoulder back into place, "you did well under those circumstances."

Harry stared at him as his mouth twisted into a crooked gargoyle smile, and fled the kitchen when Snape took a step toward him.

-----

Snape was in the kitchen when Harry came down for breakfast, and he inclined his head toward a white cake box on the table.

"A token of my affection for you," he said in his driest tone of voice, "and an addition for your collection."

Harry opened the box, his fingers lingering on the lid at the thought of Snape having affections.

"Ugh," he said.

It was Bellatrix Lestrange's severed head, sitting in a pool of congealed blood. Her eyes were still open and staring, and Harry shut the lid, taking a step away.

"I'm not – I don't, I don't collect those," he said.

"Ah," Snape said. A furrow appeared between his brows, and Harry found himself blushing at his penetrating gaze. "Then ..."

"It wasn't a trophy or anything," Harry said, gripping the kitchen counter. "It – it was the only part of Voldemort that was intact enough for ... enough for proof."

"Ah," Snape said again. "I see."

After a moment, he said, "And Rodolphus?"

"That was for Neville," Harry said. "He needed the evidence – for his parents' sake. You can give this to him if you like."

"Well," Snape said. "You can rest assured that Bellatrix will never be able to hurt you again, at least."

He watched Harry, and Harry blushed again at his scrutiny, turning to flee. "I don't think I'm hungry for breakfast after all," he said, and he let the sound of his footsteps cover Snape's command to wait.

-----

"Harry," Ron said, moving his knight to take a pawn, "why is Snape hanging around Grimmauld Place?"

"No place else to go," Harry said with a shrug. He took Ron's knight, losing a bishop, and scowled at the board. "The Ministry took Spinner's End from him, and the Death Eaters found him out."

"Ron," Hermione chided him from her cushion by the fireplace, her knitting needles clacking, "you know that Grimmauld Place is headquarters for all the Order, not just the people you and Harry like."

"Quite right," Ron said, frowning as his bishop ducked out of the line of Harry's rook. "Malfoy'd never be here if I had any say."

"Go on," Hermione said. "Just admit that you fancy him and give up on all the sexual tension. You both need a good shag or three to loosen up."

Ron turned fire red and spluttered denials, and Harry grinned, taking advantage of his distraction to capture a bishop.

"But really, Harry, what happened that Professor Snape can't spy anymore? And why hasn't the Order been told?"

"Everyone's still out doing the clean-up on the Cornwall raid," Harry said, shifting in his chair. He'd slathered salve on his back as far as he could reach, but the reminder brought the pain back. His nerves still stung with the Cruciatus, raw and crackling.

"As for what happened – I was stupid, got captured by Bella, and Snape rescued me. A nifty little smoke thing that came from this vial he smashed –"

"Oh, I've heard about that," Hermione said. "He made it keyed to himself?"

Harry hesitated before he said, "No, it was made for me. I think – I think he expected me to leave him there."

"Oh, Harry, you didn't."

"Of course I didn't. Do you think I'd do something like that?"

"Good," Hermione said, setting down her knitting. "Ron, doesn't Draco usually come downstairs to help with dinner around this time?"

Ron knocked his king over, grimacing at Harry. "I think we're on patrol, aren't we, Hermione? We'd better go if we don't want to be late."

"Late? There's another hour –" Hermione let Ron pull her from the room, and Harry laughed, setting the chess pieces back in the box.

He heard footsteps and whirled, his wand at the ready, but it was only Snape and Harry lowered his wand. "Sorry."

Snape forced his lips into a smile again, his hair falling across his face in greasy clumps. "On the contrary, I'm glad to see that your reflexes are sharp."

Harry shifted in his chair, his scars twinging at Snape's presence. "Thanks."

Snape extended his hand, palm up, a jar of white salve on it. "Will you accept this token of my affection?" he asked, one eyebrow raised in a spiky arch that mocked his own words.

"What is it?"

"A salve for your back," Snape said evenly. "I noticed that there was none in the potions cupboard, and with Madam Pomfrey gone –"

Harry blushed, shifting in his chair. "I took it," he said. "I can't really reach, though."

Snape watched him and then knelt, opening the jar. "If you will allow me?"

Harry nodded and rucked his shirt up. Snape warmed the salve in his hands before he started to slather it on Harry's back.

"She was vicious with that whip, but these will not scar." He finished spreading the salve and hesitated before recapping the jar.

"I had thought that her death would please you, after all she has –"

"No," Harry said. He tugged his shirt down and turned away. "Death doesn't please me."

"Ah." Snape stood, looking down at Harry. "See me when the salve needs to be reapplied. Don't hesitate to disturb me for it – if it isn't done, it will scar."

He gave a short bow and turned to leave, saying, "Consider it my gift to you."

-----

Snape was sitting at the kitchen table, a pile of leaf-thin, dust-dry doxies around him and a needle in his hand, when Harry came down the stairs. Harry edged around him, reaching for the teakettle, and he nearly dropped it when Snape said, "Molly Weasley found a fresh Doxy infestation this morning."

"Er ... that's nice."

Snape pierced a Doxy with his needle, hitting it just over the breastbone. It disappeared in a flash of dust, leaving the tiny red heart on Snape's needle. He pushed it down onto the thread, reaching for the next Doxy.

"I wish to gift you with their hearts, and the work of my own hands, as testament of my affection for you."

Harry jumped. The word affection, again soft-shaped from Snape's lips, and the half-twist of a smile on his face – Harry backed away a step, bumping up into the counter. "Are you all right?"

"Of course I am," Snape said, threading another Doxy heart onto his needle. "I'm not fool enough to let their venom touch me."

"Right," Harry said. "I didn't mean ..."

"No, of course you didn't."

Snape pricked another Doxy and stabbed his needle at the kitchen chair, the dust falling in an arc to the floor. "Sit with me."

Harry dropped into the chair, his legs giving way at Snape's stare.

They sat in unbroken silence, Snape looking up over his work at Harry. The tiny hearts hung on the thread trailing from his needle, a bright drop of blood dotting each one. Harry watched them swing with Snape's movements, and blushed at his regard.

Scrubbing his palms on his denims, Harry pressed them flat against the table. The wood was rough under his skin, and he pulled his hands away, shoving them into his pockets.

Snape's hands were scrubbed white, the potion stains gone. His fingers were graceful as he worked, sorting through the doxies.

"Tea?" Harry asked.

"No," Snape said. "Thank you." He gave Harry a sharp look and bent to stab another Doxy. The thread full, he took it off the needle and knotted it together, pricking his finger to draw a drop of blood.

He pressed his finger to the knot and stood, towering over Harry. "Will you accept this?"

Snape's blood dripped from the necklace to land on the table where Harry's hands had rested. Harry tipped his chair back, leaning away from Snape with his intense regard and greasy hair, the twist of his mouth and the red drop of blood welling up on his finger.

"Er," Harry said, staring at the Doxy hearts that glistened with blood like teardrops, "it's very nice of you and all, but I don't think ... that is ..."

"But it is not acceptable to you."

Snape's lips twisted down, and he leaned over Harry, slipping the necklace of Doxy hearts around his neck. "It is not acceptable to you," he said, "but it is necessary. In these days, with the risks you take – consider it my gift, given freely."

The Doxy hearts thudded, red and wet against Harry's shirt, and he watched Snape leave the room. Left alone, he took his hands out of his pockets and took the necklace off, holding it at arm's length and hurrying up the stairs.

Ron came out of his room at the sound of Harry's footsteps, following Harry into his room. "Say, what's that?"

"Nothing really," Harry said, opening his trunk. He found the pair of mismatched socks that Dobby had given him for Christmas, unrolling them on his bed and dropping the necklace onto them.

Ron grabbed his elbow, stopping him before he could release the necklace. It dangled from his fingers, and Harry froze. "What?"

"Are those Doxy hearts? Put it back on."

Harry stared at him, and Ron guided his hands to his neck. "Put it on, Harry. You don't want it to lose its charm, do you? Doxy hearts have powerful protective magic."

Harry slipped the necklace around his neck again, closing his eyes as the blood smattered onto his shirt again. "Ron, this is kind of creepy."

"It's perfect for you. I wonder why we didn't think of it before –"

"Because you're too kind-hearted to kill simple, brainless Doxies, dangerous household pests?" Draco asked from the open door. "I'm impressed you had the guts to do it, Saint Potter ... and impressed that you were smart enough not to stop him."

Ron opened his mouth, and Harry grabbed his arm. "Neither of us asked you, Malfoy. Do you mind? We were having a private conversation."

Malfoy left, after a last barb and a suggestive look at Ron, and Harry looked down at the smears of blood on his fingers and the Doxy hearts still red with fresh blood. "This is really weird," he said.

"You didn't know about the Doxy hearts then?"

"No," Harry said. "Snape gave it to me."

Ron backed away from him as though he'd been contaminated by Snape. "I'll just go find Hermione now," he said. "I'll, umm ... I'll ask her if she can think of any other useful protective charms."

Harry Transfigured the pair of socks into a scarf and wrapped it around his neck, putting another layer between himself and the Doxy hearts, and then flopped back on his bed. "This is really weird," he repeated, staring up at the ceiling.

Draco came back into the room, standing over Harry and smirking at him. "You know, for someone who values privacy so much, you should learn to close the door."

"What now, Malfoy?"

He sat on the edge of Harry's bed, leaning forward to tug at the edge of his scarf. "The closer those are to your skin, the stronger the spell will be."

"You're disgusting," Harry said. "The sacrifice of their lives –"

"They're pests, Potter. It's no worse than exterminating mice."

"What do you want?" Harry sat up, scooting away from Malfoy to lean against the headboard, arms crossed over his chest.

"That is the question, isn't it? What do you want, Harry?"

"Is there a point to this, or are you just trying to annoy me? You can leave any time, Malfoy."

Draco finished pulling the scarf from Harry's neck, ignoring his protests. "With Voldemort dead, the war almost over, and my family hidden in a safe-house, there isn't much I don't want – although I'd give a lot to get in the Weasel's pants, it's true."

"You'd get a lot further if you called him by his name," Harry said.

"I like watching his ears turn red." Draco leaned forward, propping his chin on his hand with his elbow on his knee.

"Somehow, that's not the point," he said, watching Harry through his eyelashes. "If that's Snape's handiwork on the necklace, and it certainly looks like it is, I think the real question is – what do you want, Harry? What do you want most in life?"

Harry stared at him for a moment before flinging the blood-dotted scarf at him. "None of your business, Malfoy. Get out of my room."

----

Snape had a roll of parchment clenched in his fist, and he held it out to Harry, the tendons in his arm bulging and his veins dark against his skin. He was silhouetted in the morning sunlight, the grease in his hair shining. "Will you accept this token of my affection?"

Harry hesitated, looking up at Snape. "What is it?"

"Read it before you decide."

Snape's fingers shifted as Harry reached out to take the scroll, and Harry jumped back when their fingers touched. Snape was watching him, and Harry took a step back.

He unrolled the scroll, blinking as he read it. "A pardon for Sirius? What – how did you –"

"I called in a few favors," Snape said, "and I delivered the rat into Ministry custody." He stood, reaching out to touch the edge of the parchment and waiting for Harry's response.

"Wow. This is great."

"Is it an acceptable gift to you, then?"

"Acceptable?" Harry asked. "This is bloody fantastic – thanks, Snape."

He dashed off without a thought, seeing Snape's half-bow out of the corner of his eye as he ran up the stairs, calling for Ron and Hermione.

Draco poked his head out of his bedroom, rumpled with sleep and glaring out at Harry. "What is the reason for this insufferable racket?"

"We're celebrating, if you can't tell," Harry said.

"I'm not an idiot," Draco said. "I know what a celebration is."

Ron whooped when he read the scroll in Harry's hands, and turned to scowl at Draco's glare. "Come with us then, Malfoy."

They went to an outdoor café a few blocks from Grimmauld Place, and Draco insisted on ordering the wine. Harry rose to make a toast to Sirius, but the words caught in his throat and Hermione pulled him back down. "We understand," she said, squeezing his arm.

Ron glared at Draco throughout the meal, and at last Draco flushed, his pale skin turning rosy. He drained the dregs of his wine and went to one knee next to Ron's chair, slipping a heavy gold ring from his pocket. "This is a family heirloom," he said, holding it out to Ron. "One of my ancestors received it as a gift from one of yours, the last time our families intermarried. I want to offer it to you now, as a token of my sincere affection for you."

Ron reached out and took the ring, his fingers lingering on Draco's hand. He turned the ring over, looking at it from all angles, and slipped it on his finger to test the fit. "I accept this, your gift," he said at last. "It is more than acceptable to me."

Draco stood, brushing his fingertips across Ron's knuckles. "It looks good on you," he said.

"What?" Harry said. "Ron –"

Hermione reached over and put her hand over his mouth. "Shush," she said. "Don't spoil it for them."

Ron and Draco looked at each other for a moment longer before Draco winked at Ron and turned to Harry. "So, Scar-head, fancy me for a brother-in-law?"

"That's not the ritual question," Ron said.

"He's not your real brother, either." Draco crossed his arms and smirked at Harry. "Now, if he marries one of your siblings, you can make me be nice to him ... maybe."

Ron grasped Draco by the forearms, pulling him down for a swift kiss. Their lips were mashed together, Draco fighting to free his arms, and it was clumsy and rough, but they both smiled when they separated.

Ron cleared his throat. "Just ... checking."

"Mmhmm," Draco said.

"What the –"

Hermione clapped her hand over Harry's mouth again. "Stop it, Harry. I don't care what you think about Draco, it's sweet and they're perfect for each other."

Harry forced Hermione's hand away, twisting her wrist back at an angle. "I just want to know what the hell just happened here, and you've got no right to muzzle me like that. Keep your hands to yourself, Hermione."

Draco glared at Harry, knocking over a glass of water as he reached across the table to take Ron's hand. "There's no excuse for feigning ignorance just because you want to ruin our first exchange, Potter. Don't be disingenuous – I know very well that you're acquainted with the Courting rituals."

"Courting rituals?"

Hermione reached over to smack his arm. "I told you not to –"

"I told you not to touch me," Harry said, knocking his chair over as he rose from the table. He crossed his arms, looking each of them in the eye. "Tell me what this is about or I leave now."

Hands warm on Harry's shoulders, Ron pushed him back into his chair, glaring at Hermione and Draco. "Why do you think that Harry knows all of this? He was raised by those –"

"He knows," Draco said. "His Muggle relatives are no excuse – Professor Snape is Courting him now. He knows the rituals."

Copper, bright and fresh in his mouth – Harry turned his head and spat, his blood red on the pavement. He gripped the arms of his chair, turning to stare again at Draco. "Snape is what?"

"Courting you," Draco said. "The doxy hearts – and I heard him offer you the petition. There's a vent that carries sound from the first floor up into my room."

"Why, you dirty little spy –" Ron grabbed Draco's collar, pulling him out of his chair. "We trusted you."

Draco broke out of his hold, sitting back in his chair with all the dignity of an offended cat. "I've done nothing to betray that trust," he said. "I'm not fool enough to destroy my only chance for a safe refuge. I spoke of it to Harry, who was there, and to the two of you, who would have known it soon enough, as he tells you everything."

"It's an ancient and well-respected Wizarding tradition," Hermione said. She folded her napkin into stiff pleats, spreading it out into a fan over her empty plate. "It has the most serious of connotations – if Snape is Courting you, Harry, that means that he really loves you and intends to marry you. Why didn't you tell us?"

The peaks of Hermione's napkin were bright in the sunlight, the valleys taking on a darker shade of white. Harry bit his lip, his head spinning as he stared at the pattern. "I have to think about this," he said.

----

Snape was sprawled out on the worktable, his black cloak in velvet folds around him and a glass of green liquid at his right hand. Harry stood at his feet, looking up at him. "Professor?"

"Mr. Potter." Snape sat up, reaching for the glass and the open box of sugar cubes.

Harry blocked him, taking the glass and sniffing it. Bitter, alcoholic, as vile as its murky color – Harry frowned. "I think you've had enough of this."

"Gryffindor," Snape said, popping a sugar cube into his mouth. He let it dissolve on his tongue before he closed his mouth and swallowed. "You're all the same – meddling with my life, my decisions and my alcohol."

"I – Draco told me about the Courting ritual," Harry said. "I – I didn't know about it before."

Snape stared at him, then snatched the glass from his hand and downed its contents. "You didn't know? What were you doing, accepting my gifts?"

"I – I don't know," Harry said. He offered the box of sugar cubes to Snape, and then twisted his hands behind his back.

"You don't know." Snape sprang up from the table to pace the room, measuring its perimeter with slow, even steps. The jars and bottles filled with pickled slugs and syrup of hellebore and Flobberworms shimmered with his passage, reflecting the edge of his robes or the gleam of his heavy boots.

This was as mellow as Harry had ever seen Snape, human and approachable. This was Snape, the Half-blood Prince – sarcasm stripped away, and flesh and blood revealed. Harry bit his lip and approached, feeling small and over-bright when he stood next to Snape.

They were reflected in a jar together, Harry's Muggle clothes, red and blue, a stark contrast to Snape's black robes. Their reflections leaned together, brought closer by the curve of the jar, but never close enough to touch.

"I'm sorry," Harry said.

"Go," Snape said. He folded his fingers together and looked up from his hands at Harry. "You may keep the gifts, of course."

Harry took a step closer, freezing at Snape's glare. "Sir?"

"This Courtship is over, Harry Potter. I wish you well in your future romantic endeavors. May you find joy in love."

Snape turned away from Harry, striding back to the table and hoisting himself up onto it. He gave Harry a last look and then closed his eyes. "Get out."

----

Ron accepted Draco's second offer, Hermione enrolled in university and started dating a Muggle, Kingsley caught another Death Eater and brought him to justice, and Harry, still confined to Grimmauld Place for his safety, buried himself in the library with books about the Courtship.

Snape had loved him. The words of the traditional marriage vows blurred on the page, and Harry set the book down.

Snape had saved him. Echoes of the Half-blood Prince, with his clear instructions written in spiky letters, hints of his personality shining through the terse words – echoes of the Professor, Snape who had belittled and tormented him – and Snape, the man who had saved him, who had expected Harry to leave him, who drank absinthe and who was flesh and blood, not evil or hateful – it all rang through Harry, echoes and images mingling. Snape loved him.

The strange looks, the odd phrases that had accompanied the gifts, Bellatrix Lestrange's bloody head, Sirius's pardon – Snape loved him. Harry shoved the book back onto a shelf, haphazardly, and ran down to Snape's basement workroom.

Snape looked up at Harry, the curtain of greasy hair parting to show his face. He dropped the stirring rod on its rest, leaving his cauldron and crossing the room to Harry. "Is something wrong?"

Licking his dry lips, Harry tilted his head back to look up at Snape. "I –"

"Potter, what's wrong? A Death Eater attack? Another raid? Has someone been killed? You're as white as a ghost."

Snape put his hands on Harry's shoulders, guiding him to the nearest chair. "Sit. Take deep breaths."

Harry's pulse hammered against his breastbone, pressing against the knowledge that Snape loved him. He fumbled in his pocket, finding the jar of salve that Snape had given him, and offering it to him.

"I – my back," he said. "I forgot."

Snape took a step away from him, snatching up the jar and opening it. "You haven't used any of this, Potter. What sort of idiot –"

"I know," Harry said. "I know I was an idiot."

He stood and stripped off his shirt, turning to show his back to Snape. "Will you help me?"

Closing his eyes, shutting out the image of Snape reflected in a jar of bubotuber pus, Harry waited. The air was cold against his bare skin, and he shivered just as he heard Snape take a step.

"Here." With one warm hand, Snape guided him to the worktable, sweeping the ingredients back onto their shelves with a simple spell. Harry lay facedown on the table, waiting.

Snape warmed the ointment between his hands before slathering it onto Harry's back. His strokes were slow and rhythmic, professional yet soothing. Harry relaxed into his touch with a small sigh.

The loss of Snape's hands on his back, the sound of the lid screwed onto the jar – Harry twisted around and sat bolt upright, facing Snape. "I accept this, your gift," he said. "It is more than acceptable to me."

Snape stared at him, and then crossed to the sink to wash the residue from his hands. He dried them on a white towel, looking at Harry the whole time. "You don't mean that," he said.

"I mean it," Harry said. He jumped up from the table, crossing the room to stand in front of Snape.

As always, he felt small, dwarfed by Snape's height, but now – Harry reached up, putting his hands around Snape's neck and pulling him down. "I don't mind being shorter than you now," he said.

He brushed his lips against Snape's, a whisper of a kiss, and Snape broke away.

"You – you know what you're doing?"

"I do," Harry said. "I accept this, your gift, and I accept all of your gifts, for they are more than worthy unto me."

"Harry ..." Snape traced the line of his cheekbone, the line of his jaw, the slope of his nose, with a finger. He stared at Harry for a long moment, and bent down to claim his lips in a firmer, longer kiss.

Harry kept his eyes open, watching Snape's face as they kissed. Severe lines gentled, Snape was not ugly to Harry now. He slid his arms up around Snape's neck, holding him close even after they broke from the kiss.

"I haven't got a third gift for you," Snape said. "I hadn't thought –"

"Make this second chance my gift," Harry said. "Or the time that you rescued me from Bellatrix Lestrange, or the box with her bloody head in it, or that kiss, or the smile that you're giving me now –"

Harry reached up, traced the contours of Snape's smile. There was nothing awkward or unfamiliar in the feeling of the skin and muscles under his finger, nothing to suggest that Snape didn't smile every day.

"This second chance," Harry said, stealing another kiss. "That's what I want for my gift."

Snape pushed him away, holding him at arm's length. "You don't know what you want, Potter."

"I do know," Harry said. "I want you."

Snape didn't answer, only tightening his grip on Harry's shoulder. His face was folded in frowns, the wrinkles deepening as he watched Harry squirm.

"I didn't understand," Harry said. "I do now – the Half-blood Prince, the Professor, the spy, everything you are, all wrapped in one. You're – you're not ugly to me anymore, you know."

"What a stellar commendation." Snape released Harry, sending him stumbling to the floor. "Forgive me if I am less than flattered."

"You love me," Harry said. "The Courtship –"

"Yes, Potter, I love you. What do you want, flowers and chocolates?"

Snape whirled to face him, robes billowing around his ankles. His face and hands were pale. "I gave you a chance at a Wizarding Courtship, rather than pursuing you in an insipid Muggle fashion, because I thought you worthy, deserving of more than sickly sweet romance – and you come to me now, insulting me in this fashion –"

"Severus," Harry said, staggering to his feet and standing before him. He took Snape's hands and held them. "I didn't mean it like that."

Harry pulled Snape close, putting his arms around his stiff back and leaning against his warm chest. "I'm sorry I misunderstood at first," Harry said. "I never meant to hurt you."

They were pressed close, body against body, warmth against warmth, and Snape relaxed at last. He put his arms around Harry, rubbing circles on his back and sending tingles down his spine.

Snape's hand caught one of the scars left by Bellatrix's whip, and Harry squirmed, pushing Snape's hand to less sensitive skin. He rested his head against Snape's chest and smiled up at him.

"Rescue me from myself, from my mistakes," Harry said. "Save me, the way you always do – and I will love you. I do love you."

Snape brushed the words from his lips with careful fingers, holding him close. "If you are certain –"

"I am."

Severus's heartbeat was strong and sure, vibrating through Harry, and Harry said, "I'm more than certain," as he pulled Snape down for a kiss.

Current Mood: happy
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Comments

[User Picture]
From:[info]gingertart50
Date:August 18th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
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I really, really like this fic! I love bonding fics anyway and Snape is so - Snape. Who else would offer a severed head and hearts on a string as romantic gifts? Great fic!
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:06 pm (UTC)
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So glad you liked it - thank you so much! :D
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From:[info]ivylady
Date:August 18th, 2007 10:07 pm (UTC)
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*squee* I love this story, especially the ending. It's short and sweet, and Harry really does a lot of growing up in a short amount of time. I'm glad Severus gave him grief and didn't take him back right away. *g*
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:06 pm (UTC)
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Yay, I'm so glad you liked it! Especially that bit about the ending, which I was a little unsure about tbh. :D
[User Picture]
From:[info]ivylady
Date:August 25th, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC)
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You shouldn't have worried--it worked quite well. *g*
From:[info]effie_chan
Date:August 18th, 2007 10:37 pm (UTC)
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love this. more than words. that was just. It was perfect. *walks away in a daze all weepy-eyed*
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:05 pm (UTC)
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awww ... thanks! It's lovely to hear that it touched you so much. :D
[User Picture]
From:[info]arielhime
Date:August 18th, 2007 11:01 pm (UTC)
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Aww... I love it. And it's so like Harry to be clueless and the get it after being pushed in the right direction.

Lovely, as always. ^_^ Thank you! This is what I needed.
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:05 pm (UTC)
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Yay, I'm so glad you liked it! :D
From:[info]carpet_diemon
Date:August 18th, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
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ee! It was so serious, and then it was funny, and then it made me melt into a little romantic puddle. Lovely!

*dumps the cat off my lap and runs for a sponge*
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked it!

*sneaks in to pet kitty* :D
[User Picture]
From:[info]angela_snape
Date:August 18th, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC)
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I love the ending! The tie-in with the HBP, comparison to Muggle dating... fantastic!
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC)
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Yay, I'm so glad you liked it! I had problems with the ending, so I'm super-glad to hear that you liked that part! :)
[User Picture]
From:[info]sweetmelodykiss
Date:August 18th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)
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That was beautiful! Lovely, lovely story!
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:03 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much! :D
[User Picture]
From:[info]bewarethesmirk
Date:August 19th, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
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I'm amazed and astounded. When you were to write me something for my birthday, I never expected anything like this. I am humble and appreciative. You are such a good friend. :-)

On to my comments:

"Will you accept this token of my affection?" he asked, one eyebrow raised in a spiky arch that mocked his own words.

Lyv, I'm sorry, but that's sexy as fuck.

I love how freaked out by all of Snape's shows of affection.

Draco's interactions are hilarious. He's so perfect.

"Acceptable?" Harry asked. "This is bloody fantastic – thanks, Snape." Harry = oblivious.


Snape was sprawled out on the worktable, his black cloak in velvet folds around him and a glass of green liquid at his right hand.


Absinthe? -- Yes! I was right.

Their reflections leaned together, brought closer by the curve of the jar, but never close enough to touch.

Gorgeous.

It's amazing how Snape is Courting Harry, but doesn't spell out much of anything -- unless one knows about the ritual, I can't blame Harry for not being overly suspicious.

YAY with the romanticness. :-) I love it. Thank you so much, dear.
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC)
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Yay, I'm so glad you liked it! I really, really enjoyed writing this one, and knowing that you liked it so much is just icing! :D
From:[info]ex_lucian581
Date:May 3rd, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
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Bloody romance - I love it.
[User Picture]
From:[info]firefly124
Date:August 19th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
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Very sweet and yet very IC. Great story!
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!
[User Picture]
From:[info]swansong33
Date:August 19th, 2007 04:49 am (UTC)
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Wow! This was a great fic! I truly love courtship fics, and this one had it all. The details about the ritual. The fantastic, twisted, truly Snape-ish gifts to Harry. The misunderstanding and the reconciliation. Great job!
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
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Oh, thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked it! :)
[User Picture]
From:[info]snowpuppies
Date:August 19th, 2007 04:53 am (UTC)
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This was very interesting! I really liked Snape's strange (and, at times, gruesome) gifts!
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! I hope it wasn't too gruesome for you! :D
[User Picture]
From:[info]fleurdeliser
Date:August 19th, 2007 04:57 am (UTC)
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Awww. So wonderful. I love it when Harry's completely in the dark over something and nobody bothers to make sure he knows what's going on. Excellent, babe!
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:00 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! :D
From:[info]emila_wan
Date:August 19th, 2007 05:07 am (UTC)
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Oh, my. How wonderful. Snape offering Bellatrix's severed head as a token of his affection. It really doesn't get any better than this.
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 01:00 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much - I'm so pleased to hear that you liked it!
From:[info]xanphibian
Date:August 19th, 2007 05:38 am (UTC)
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Oh, how fabulous! Squee! I love fics with new wizarding customs and rituals, and this one was just the right amount of sweetness and humor and a pinch of angst. Loved this. :)
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 12:43 pm (UTC)
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Oh, thank you so much! I'm so glad! :)
[User Picture]
From:[info]vamp2puppy
Date:August 19th, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC)
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Wonderful, Doxie hearts and severed heads, who knew Snape was such a romantic! Lovely story.
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC)
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Hehe, he can be a romantic in his own way, I think!

Thanks, I'm glad you liked it! :D
[User Picture]
From:[info]snarry_fan7
Date:August 19th, 2007 02:59 pm (UTC)
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A really great story! I like the Courting ritual and also the Draco/Ron interaction. Grand work!!~Sophia
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 12:39 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much - glad you liked it! :D
[User Picture]
From:[info]willidan
Date:August 19th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC)
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Aww, poor, clueless Harry. I love him. This was lovely. Thanks for sharing.
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 12:38 pm (UTC)
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Oh, thank you! I'm glad you liked it. :)
From:[info]elinevere
Date:August 19th, 2007 08:11 pm (UTC)
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Ooh, I'm a fan of CourtingHarry!Snape, and this one is especially delicious! The only thing that would make it that much better, is if it were 50k. ;)

Is it okay if I friend you?
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 12:38 pm (UTC)
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Oh, thank you so much ... I'm glad you liked it! I'm afraid the birthday ficlet would have been really late if it was 50k though, so I hope short works as well. :D

sorry it's taken me so long to reply to comments ... of course you can friend me! I love making new friends!
From:[info]kateri_e
Date:August 19th, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)
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Oh wow, that was wonderful.
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 12:37 pm (UTC)
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Thanks so much! :)
From:[info]winnett
Date:August 20th, 2007 06:41 pm (UTC)
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I love the gift of Bellatrix's head. And the whole 'will you accept this token of my affection'. I loved it!

Very cute story.
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 12:25 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much! :D
[User Picture]
From:[info]jadzia7667
Date:August 22nd, 2007 06:00 am (UTC)
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This is gorgeous. I love bonding/courtship fics. Snape is so so perfect here.
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:August 25th, 2007 12:24 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much - I'm really glad you liked it! :D
From:[info]ulreyn
Date:August 25th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
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That was great, thanks!
[User Picture]
From:[info]chiralove
Date:October 6th, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much!
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