In the Still of the Night Title: In the Still of the Night Author:masterseverussincerelysnarry Prompted by: We'll fill this in for you. Other pairings/threesome: None Rating: PG Word count: 2767 Content/Warning(s): None Summary/Prompt: Prompt #:51 Prompt: Severus never sleeps as well when Harry isn't in bed beside him. Up to three deal-breakers: Just the ones required by the fest. I especially like: Snarry - all kinds from fluffy and light to the darkest of dark themes. A/N: Thank you to whoever created this prompt, I had a wonderful time writing this!
In the Still of the Night
Severus's hand brushed the soft fabric of Harry's pillow, his stained fingertips reverently tracing the smooth plane where his husband's sleep-tousled head should have been cradled beside his own.
Should have been being the main reason why Severus Snape was still awake at such an ungodly hour.
Drawing out a sigh of defeat, Severus slowly slid his lean form onto Harry's side of the bed and laid his weary head on his husband’s pillow, spilling his hair across the snowy linen like India ink.
In the ten years following their bonding, the couple had slept apart only twice, and each of those times was due to Harry’s work as head of the Auror Department. Both nights had been miserable for Severus, although he would rather have gone through bouts of Cruciatus splayed out naked in front of the Dark Lord, before admitting what he considered to be a humiliating weakness...especially to his own husband.
The stark reality of the situation was that Severus Snape, former Death Eater and feared, but respected, Potions master of Europe’s most prestigious Wizarding school, could not sleep without the reassuring warmth and comforting presence of Harry Potter beside him.
Severus was never one to entertain ridiculous scenarios or what if’s, but on those rare occasions when he found himself without his beloved, and there was no plausible explanation as to his whereabouts, his long-held paranoia and deeply ingrained insecurities usually began to surface. They crept into his thoughts and wrapped their cold tendrils of doubt around his heart, shaking the foundation of love and stability which he and Harry had built together brick by brick through trial and error over the course of many years.
As his restless fingers clutched Harry’s pillow, Severus buried his face into the softness and breathed deeply the lingering scent of the man who had blazed into his bleak existence and permeated every corner of his life to the extent where he could no longer tell where he began and Harry ended. He knew he sounded pathetic, but his pride no longer mattered where Harry was concerned. The man had given him a second chance at life and something even more precious he never considered could be a possibility for someone such as himself: love.
Harry loved him, of that he had no doubt. The man had moved heaven and earth to clear his name after the war, fighting viciously to garner him the accolades and respect of the Wizarding world, which Harry claimed were long overdue.
A fragile smile tugged at the corners of his lips as Severus recalled the day of his trial when he had been acquitted of all charges. Unbeknownst to him while he was locked up in Azkaban, Harry Potter had spent the better part of a year preparing Severus’s defence for the impending trial, including gathering testimonies from the many people Severus thought would never forgive him for his past misdeeds. All of his colleagues and several Order members gave testimony on his behalf, but most surprising of all had been the vehement defence voiced by many of the students who had suffered under his tenure as headmaster. Overwhelmed by this outpouring of support, Severus could only sit there in stunned silence as the Wizengamot began to cast the votes which would decide his ultimate fate.
Regardless of the hand he was about to be dealt, Severus knew he could now accept it without the shame or humiliation which had suffocated him since his incarceration. The people who mattered most in his life had rallied together to fight for his freedom, and in doing so, had given his battered soul the one thing it needed more than anything else: forgiveness.
One by one each member of the Wizengamot stood, nodded in Severus's direction, and gave the same single-word response until only one person was left unheard. As all eyes turned to the Minister for Magic, Kinsley Shacklebolt slowly rose to his feet and made his way to the centre podium. The new minister gazed around the crowded courtroom, his knowing look seeming to penetrate each individual present, until his dark eyes finally fell upon the man in question. The room itself seemed to hold a collective breath as he began to speak.
“The Wizengamot recognizes the tribulations and difficult choices Severus Snape has had to face in order to further our cause. Though many of his actions were without a doubt reprehensible, they were nonetheless an intrinsic part of the defeat of…Voldemort…and his followers. Your courage and sacrifices in this war will not be forgotten Severus, nor will the importance of your role in helping to save our world.”
Minister Shacklebolt smiled gently at the stunned Potions master, then allowed his gaze to drop completely. He slipped his willow wand from the sleeve of his richly embroidered robes and pressed it over his heart, before lowering his head in a sign of deepest respect between wizards.
“For all the tremendous personal sacrifices and unimaginable suffering you endured to secure victory for our people, we give you thanks. The Wizarding world will be forever in your debt, Severus Snape.”
Lifting his head, the minister gave a small flick of his wand in Severus’s direction, releasing the metal cage and painful shackles which had been used to bind Severus in place.
“Severus Snape, you are hereby acquitted of all charges against you. May you find the peace and happiness to which you are justly entitled.”
Not caring that the eyes of the Wizarding world were trained upon him, Harry had jumped up as soon as the minister announced the verdict, and amidst the thunderous applause which heralded Severus’s newfound freedom, had crossed the courtroom with quick strides to kneel directly before him. As the painful shackles fell away from his wrists and feet, releasing Severus from the chair where he had been bound during the trial, Harry tentatively reached over and collected each of his filthy hands in his own before bringing them up to his lips and pressing the most gentle of kisses over his bruised skin.
Severus, who was still reeling from the outcome of his trial, was too shocked to do anything more than gape at the man kneeling before him. As green met black in silent triumph, Severus lost himself in the strength of those emerald depths. Never before had anyone fought so hard for him or bestowed such acts of kindness. Suddenly, nothing else mattered but the man in front of him who was cradling his hands as though they were fragile glass. Everyone else melted into the background and were completely forgotten.
In that instant, Severus Snape had ceded his heart and soul to Harry Potter. Even though it would still take the young Auror three years to patiently court the Potions master and another two before they were properly bonded, Severus knew it was this singular moment after his trial where his entire being had been captured and claimed by the boy who lived.
Fifteen years had passed since that monumental day, and although he was no longer the same broken man he had once been, thanks in part to Harry’s constant love and support, there were still moments when unremitting fear gripped him in a stranglehold and refused to let go, crippling his mind with the sins of his past and filling his heart with doubt as to why Harry would want a man like him to begin with. From there his fear would snowball into full-blown panic, and the only one who could breach those dark depths was Harry.
Harry, who was nowhere to be found, even as the night slowly bled into dawn.
His unexplained absence rocked Severus to the core and made the emptiness of their bed seem as cold and desolate as a freshly laid tomb. Pulling Harry’s pillow to his chest, he curled into a tight ball and tried to block out the fears assailing him like sharpened knives.
Would Harry even come back? Perhaps the man had finally come to his senses and figured out there were far better things in this world than what Severus could offer him.
When was the last time Severus had spoken the words 'I love you' to his husband? There was never a day that went by in which Harry did not proclaim his love for him verbally, even going so far as to never allow himself to enter Severus when they made love until their gazes were locked, just as they had been that first time in the courtroom, and he told Severus he loved him. Only then would Harry push home, and drive them both to earth-shattering completion.
Severus closed his eyes and tried to push down the despair that was threatening to engulf him. Though it was difficult for him to express his heart as freely as Harry did, he still tried to show his husband with actions rather than words, how deeply he was loved. Perhaps it was simply not enough, and Harry needed more. The savior of the Wizarding world could have anyone he wanted, especially with his boyishly good looks and generous personality. What could Harry possibly want with a used-up former Death Eater nearly twice his age?No wonder Harry chose not to come home. Why would he? He had nothing but a sniveling coward for a husband who…
As if pulled through a torrent of water to finally gasp fresh air, Severus hissed a sharp intake of breath at the sound of Harry’s concerned voice, which he had started to believe he would never hear again. Suddenly the air was filled with the usual comforting sounds of Harry quickly unfastening his Auror robes and unlacing his heavy boots before the bed dipped beside him and he was being pulled into a strong embrace. Harry’s arms were like bands of steel as they encircled him, drawing him even closer. No longer caring about his dignity or the fact that his cheeks were streaked with tears, Severus buried his face in the crook of Harry’s neck, and wrapped his shivering body around Harry’s smaller, but sturdier frame. Years of Auror work had added considerable bulk to his body, which Harry never had in his youth. It was a distinction Severus appreciated when he needed to separate the man he married from the boy who had been his former student. As Severus inhaled Harry’s familiar scent - sweaty from work and slightly musky - his racing heart and treacherous thoughts began to abate. When Harry’s stubby fingers began carding through his dark locks in that special way which always made him feel treasured, Severus let out the breath he had been unconsciously holding in, and slowly began to relax.
Harry continued to stroke Severus’s hair for some time while his other arm held the Potions master firmly against his chest in a protective embrace. When he felt that Severus’s breathing was back to normal, and his body had stopped trembling, he kissed the top of that dark head he loved and spoke softly.
“Severus, I can’t tell you enough how sorry I am that I was unable to Floo or send any word that I was going to be detained for some time. We finally got a break on the Tolbert case at the very last minute, and I needed to bring him in before the bastard slipped through my fingers yet again. Staking out his flat was long and tedious work, but it paid off in the end. That monster will no longer be a threat to society. I did my job, now the Ministry can deal with rest of it.”
Harry hooked two calloused fingers under Severus’s chin and gently lifted his face so they were eye to eye, gazes locked.
“You were never far from my thoughts the entire time, my heart. I was hoping my unexplained absence wouldn't send you into a spin, but I can see that it has.” Harry bent down and kissed each damp cheek, his shadowed stubble tickling Severus’ own smooth skin, before lowering his head further to claim Severus’s lips in a hungry kiss that left no doubt as to his feelings.
“I love ...”
Before Harry could continue with the declaration, Severus placed two long fingers over Harry’s lips to silence him. Severus couldn't help but chuckle softly at the surprised look which crossed his husband's face.
“I love you, Harry Potter. I have loved you for over fifteen years, perhaps even longer. You claimed my heart permanently the day of my trial when you got down on your knees to kiss the wrists of a Death Eater and felon…..”
“You are NEITHER, Severus!" Harry exclaimed with his usual Gryffindor stubbornness. It was always the same circular argument. "I am tired of you disparaging yourself, Severus. I thought we agreed this would end? Don’t ever say…”
Again Severus stilled Harry’s protests with a single finger placed on his lips. Harry huffed irritably, but stayed silent as Severus continued.
“I was both, Harry, and you and I know that. It is not something debatable. Even if my loyalties changed early on, I was still a Death Eater who continued to commit unspeakable acts.” Severus shook his head before Harry could continue this endless debate. “The point which I am attempting to make is that, no matter how dark my past or how bitter my personality, you still pushed beyond all of that to give a man you had no reason to like, let alone eventually come to love, a gesture of tender affection such as you did that day. It was something I had never experienced until that very moment. It was then, after you had kissed my bruised wrists, treating them like rare gifts rather than the dirty appendages they were, that you looked into my eyes and I knew, as sure as the moon rises and the sun sets, that I belonged to you Harry Potter...and only you. Always.”
Harry tenderly cupped Severus’s face before pulling him into a long and possessive kiss. They drank deeply from each other, letting their burning need fuel the raw hunger that was always bubbling beneath the surface of their relationship. Their tongues delved deep, entwining and stroking in that familiar rhythm that quelled even the deepest fears in Severus's heart. When they finally parted for breath sometime later, the dampness on Severus’s cheeks had been replaced with a bright flush from their exertions. Although both of them were aroused, Severus could clearly read the exhaustion in Harry’s face, and now that his husband was back where he belonged safe and sound, his own body was starting to crave the sleep it desperately needed.
Severus let a genuine smile bloom on his lips as he realised by the muted light of dawn that was gingerly peeking through the heavy drapes of their window, it was Sunday morning. Harry was off for the next two days and he had no classes to teach until tomorrow afternoon. All of his grading had been completed as he awaited Harry's return.
In other words, they could afford to have a nice lie-in and make love all afternoon. Hell, they could make love all night if they wanted to. They had time.
Harry was home where he belonged, and exactly where he wanted to be. That was all that mattered to Severus.
Severus tugged Harry down for one last lingering kiss before settling himself comfortably in Harry’s arms, his dark head resting beside his husband’s on the pillow they always ended up sharing by morning. Within minutes, Severus was sleeping soundly, with Harry not that much farther behind him.
Harry watched Severus drift off to sleep before quietly removing his own round spectacles and setting them on the nightstand next to Severus’s antique silver reading glasses. Somehow, the view of them resting side by side was a comforting thought for Harry, who struggled with his own set of insecurities. Loving the sleeping wizard in his arms had saved him as much as he had saved Severus, although he knew that his husband would never quite see it that way.
As Harry settled himself on what he considered to be their pillow, he laid his messy head beside his husband’s and pulled his snoring wizard closer, burying his face in Severus’s familiar lank locks.
“I can't sleep without you either, my love,” Harry murmured before slipping into blissful slumber.