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Two Steps Forward by Wildmoon
Chapter 8 : Comes the Future
 
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Snape rolled over and stretched. The breaking sunlight peeking through his window curtains caused him to blink several times.

Next to him, Alara yawned. "Come back here." She reached across his chest and grabbed his waist, weakly trying to roll him back over next to her.

Snape complied, but not before grabbing his wand off the nightstand and closing the curtains tighter, shutting the emerging day out from them. He wrapped his arms around her and breathed in her scent. "I wasn't leaving you," he said softly, kissing her forehead and reveling in her presence. He would never leave her. Not if he could help it.

Alara intertwined a soft leg with his. "What time is it?"

"Dawn," Snape whispered, pulling her closer. The reality of Alara was so much better than any ancient Irish talisman could ever have imagined. He brushed her hair away from her face, not minding the tangles that the hours of their love-making had left. His other hand found the small of her back and he pressed her to him, feeling her warmth along his torso. Snape was overcome with the power of simple things: the smell of her hair as he kissed it, the Goosebumps her touch evoked as her smooth leg slid between his. He had never experienced anything like it, and he was utterly helpless before it.

Alara seemed equally content to lie in the afterglow of their long night. "I don't want it to be dawn yet."

"The future comes Alara. Whether we want it to or not. You yourself pointed that out last night."

Alara hugged him tighter as she kissed his chest. "What of our future Severus? We've just complicated the heck out of our working relationship."

Snape inhaled her aroma. "Our relationship has been complicated for some time as we've denied our feelings. It is now simply a matter of how we move forward." He pulled back slightly and looked her in the eye, his dark hollow tunnels having been replaced by liquid pools fully alive with every emotion he was feeling. "Outside Minerva needing to know that two of her staff are involved, I don't see that it's anyone else's business." He ran a slow hand along her curves, greedily appreciating his view of her. "Can we leave your friend the Werewolf out of it please? Until we get our footing."

Alara giggled. "Was he really quoting Shakespeare the rest of the night?"

Snape nodded as he toyed a tendril of hair on Alara's shoulder. "For a Hufflepuff, he's remarkably competitive. It nearly made me long for the days of Gilderoy Lockhart and his damned Valentine's Day shenanigans."

"You wanted Brandon to cover the Great Hall in roses?" Alara looked shocked at Snape.

"No, I wanted to be able to hex him without risking Minerva's ire."

Alara laughed and pulled him back close. "Fine. I won't mention a word to Brandon on the condition that you meet with Potter."

Snape rolled onto his back, his eyes hardening slightly at the mention of Potter's name. "Look who's negotiating....and in bed no less. How very Slytherin of you."

Alara cuddled into his chest, refusing to let him go. "No, I'm just in love with a Slytherin. If I were negotiating like one it would be so subtle that you wouldn't realize it and I'd have already talked you into naming your first-born after me."

Snape thought of his prophesied first-born, a son named Sebastian Brandon and his eyes softened once again as he toyed with her shoulder. "And if my first-born is a boy?"

Alara laughed. "I definitely won't make you name him after me."

"Or Brandon Brewer?"

Alara laughed as she turned his face to hers. "Or Brandon Brewer. Now will you shut up and kiss me?"

Snape smiled, knowing he could bring this conversation back if the prophecy ever held true and their relationship matured into having a family. Of course, he'd relent if she insisted. He rolled her over and moved on top of her, staring into those bluer than blue eyes, the eyes that he would do anything for. As he kissed her deeply and his hands began their explorations once more he knew he would do anything for her... even meet with Harry Potter.
~~~

Snape stood as still as a statue in front of a bookcase in his office, the familiar footsteps of Harry Potter assaulted his ears across the floor of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Alara had pushed for someplace more neutral for them to meet, but Snape refused. If Potter brought a Weasley- either Ginny or Ron, or God-forbid that know-it-all Granger, he wanted to be on familiar ground.

"Professor Snape," Harry said nervously from the door to Snape's office. He was alone.

"Mr. Potter," Snape said, sitting down confidently in his chair behind his desk. "Welcome back to Hogwarts." Snape focused on Harry's eyes, allowing himself to be reminded of Lily, not his hair or other features which looked so much like the bully, James.

"Thank you sir. And congratulations on your Defense Against the Dark Arts post. I know how much you always wanted it."

Snape motioned him to a chair on the other side of his desk. "What can I do for you?"

"Sir... do you remember the first words you ever spoke to me? At school I mean, in class. Do you remember what you asked me that first day?"

Snape carefully shook his head no. He had no doubt insulted the boy somehow. He had spent years venting his frustrations on him.

"You asked me if I knew what would happen if I combined powdered root of asphodel to a wormwood infusion."

"Have you come to offer me a Potions lesson Mr. Potter? Or perhaps you would like to me to drink a toast to old times with the results of that combination?"

"No... sir... my point is..." Harry paused as if expecting Snape to launch into him at any moment.

Snape was tempted, but held his tongue. He had promised Alara. He focused on Potter's green eyes, Lily's eyes.

"Sir... my point is, is that from day one, from moment one you have been telling me how much you cared for my mother, how much you regret her death. The asphodel is a type of lily which in the old flower language means 'my regrets follow you to the grave.' Wormwood means 'absence' in that same language."

"I know that Mr. Potter, I did not become a Master Potioneer without a basic knowledge of herbology." Snape menaced.

Harry stammered a moment, then regained his courage. "Sir, when I came to Hogwarts I knew next to nothing about my parents, and was crazy to hear anything I could about them. From the first day, you started telling me about my mother. You were telling me how you felt about her death despite the pain you were in, but I didn't have the knowledge or the ears to hear. I could go through seven years of arguments between us. But the bottom line is that every time I thought you were trying to sabotage me, you were trying to protect me. I know that now."

Harry took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, sir. I'm sorry for how I treated you when I was a student, especially considering what you were doing for me. And... I wanted to say thank you. I couldn't have done what I needed to do without your help."

Snape was floored. He wasn't sure what to expect out of this meeting, but it wasn't this. It wasn't humility and thanks from a Gryffindor, from James Potter's son.

"When I faced my battles with Malfoy, or with Voldemort, I had the best friends I could hope for at my side. When you did all those things...you went through all those things for me... for my mother, you did them alone."

Snape nodded. "Some would argue that I needed to do them alone. That I deserved to."

"I don't know about that, sir." Harry held his gaze firm, but it was clear that he was nervous. Both of them were. "I saw what joining the Death Eaters did to Draco Malfoy, and I can only imagine the price you paid for it. I just wanted to thank you realizing your mistake and for making it right. I think... I think my mum would forgive you, I think she'd be grateful to know how you worked to protect me in spite of your feelings towards my dad. I think my dad would be appreciative too, even though you two didn't get on. And I'm sorry, sir, if I may speak on his behalf. What he did to you was wrong. I'm sorry I didn't say so when I first learned of his bullying you."

"Is this pity, Mr. Potter?" Snape forced control in his voice as he forced himself to remember Lily.

"No, sir." Harry answered. "You worked for years to make your mistakes right, my dad never got that chance. I'm just trying to make it right now. How he treated you was wrong. Sirius Black admitted that when I talked to him about it after I first saw your memories fifth year. I should have come to you straight away and apologized. I just didn't know how."

"Frankly, it was better off for both of us that the Dark Lord knew there was enmity between us. He believed it was because you dared to survive. He didn't know..." Snape's voice choked and he cursed himself. "Getting caught up in 'what if's' will not change the past, Mr. Potter." Snape said after clearing his throat. " And given who lies in our past, it is dangerous to try. I thank you for your apology, let's leave it at that, shall we?"

Harry stood up, not wanting to break the man's dignity. "Thank you Sir, thank you for protecting me, and for listening to me. It can't have been an easy thing to agree to."

Snape nodded his acknowledgment and Harry walked to the door.

"Mr. Potter?" Snape brought his voice back under control.

"Sir?"

"It took a great deal of bravery to come here today. For all you knew I would jinx you straight out through the walls of the castle and land you on the front lawn." He stood up at his desk, rising to his full height. "Thank you."

Harry Potter nodded and began to leave.

"Mr. Potter," Snape repeated and Harry turned back toward him.

"For all my work behind the scenes, it is you who ultimately brought down the Dark Lord. It is you who saved the day. I would be remiss in not acknowledging that." Snape stepped out from behind his desk. "In working to arrange this meeting Professor Ayoni reminded me that you testified at my trial, in my defense. That you tried to do what was surely impossible in protecting the privacy of my memories."

"I had some help from the Professor." Harry answered. "I'm sorry we lost."

"None-the-less. It took a great deal of maturity to fight such a battle given our mutual hostilities over the years; it would have been far easier and far more advantageous to you to simply let me rot in Azkaban while you kept all the glory for yourself. I do not believe we shall ever be friends, Mr. Potter. However... " Snape looked into the eyes that reminded him so much of his beloved Lily as he held out his hand. "I believe my thanks are in order, as well as a certain amount of regret for the way I have treated you across the years. It is possible that my earlier judgments regarding your character were mistaken. You are clearly your mother's son."

Harry took his hand and the two shook.
~~~


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